Turned Around

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Joined: 06/03/2010

Turned Around
            One of the things I learned at a very early age growing up in Upper Michigan was how to survive getting “turned around”. Yes, turned around was one of the phrases used to signify being lost! No self-respecting “Yooper” would ever admit to being lost but maybe turned around a few times or even going the wrong direction, or perhaps temporarily off track, but never lost.
            I was raised before the age of cell phones and GPS so it was important to learn how to find your way when you ventured out into the woodlands and wild places that abounded in the Michigan Northland of my youth, and still do if you get far enough off the beaten path in a peninsula that is largely State and National forest wilderness.
            Even with the current technology we still temporarily lose one or two hunters each deer season but fortunately they are usually found alive and well after a day or two in the wild. That wasn’t always the case in the past, especially before the era of search and rescue teams with airplanes or helicopters. Most of the time, if a hunter or fisherman got lost, it was up to fellow hunters or family to search before the sheriff was called and a formal search was instituted.
            I suppose that was why I always carried a kind of small survival kit along with my knife and gun. I grew up learning scout craft so I could take care of myself if I ever got “turned around”! Thankfully this helped me make it through several instances where I could have been in big trouble if I hadn’t had the knowledge I had learned as a boy. The first time is my tale from here on.
            One deer season I was hunting out of a relatives’ camp, which was located on three forties that bordered state land which encompassed several hundreds more acres and many, many acres of paper mill forest. I had hunted in this area for several years but there were still vast parts which I hadn’t really explored or walked over and therefore these areas were uncharted in my head.
            One day I told my companions I was headed north to an old logging trail and some dense hemlock and cedar stands where I thought a big buck might be hiding. They were all headed in various directions for their own hunting and nobody paid too much attention to who was going where, that’s just how it was and it never had been a problem.
            I hunted until almost dark when I saw a deer in a thicket sneaking away from me and I thought it might be a buck so I followed cautiously, trying not to spook it. Without paying much attention to what was going on around me or where I was headed I blindly followed the deer until I got a good shoulder shot with my 30-06 just as he entered a thick stand of trees.
            I had a blood trail as big as a highway to follow and I was certain I would have my buck in no time and be heading back to camp with a trophy to brag about. That was my first miscalculation! Before too long I realized the deer was still moving into the dense timber and hadn’t dropped like I assumed it would from the thick blood trail it was leading me on with.
            After what seemed like forever I finally found my buck, a nice 7 point rack and a full bodied deer. There was nothing to do now but field dress him and try to drag him back to the logging trail so I could get some help to bring him back to camp. When the messy job was done I suddenly realized I hadn’t paid much attention to my whereabouts or the time. I was nowhere near the logging road and it was getting very dark out fast!
            My first instinct was to get the hell out of there and come back for the deer later. I tried to remember which way I had followed the deer and I even looked for the blood trail but since it was dark I couldn’t see it even with the small flashlight I carried. I did what most people do, I refused to believe I was “turned around” for a little while and started walking around to find a trail even though there wasn’t one to find.  Luckily, I caught myself and quickly came to my senses, admitting I was in a predicament and would only make things worse if I didn’t settle down and think.
            I knew I couldn’t make it out of the woods in the pitch dark so the next best thing was to sit tight and wait for someone to find me or for daylight when I could see my way out. I had my kit with matches, compass and poncho along with my belt knife and my warm clothes plus it was an extremely mild November so I simply had to camp out until the situation resolved itself. I knew how to survive this situation and actually made it reasonably bearable once I settled down.
            Later, I had a nice, warm fire going, with a piece of fresh venison backstrap on a stick, slowly cooking for my supper and I had cut some boughs for my bed and my army surplus poncho was my blanket This was just like I had done as a boy, camping out with friends, learning how to survive. It wasn’t my first choice for fun that night but it was what it was.
            The next morning everything looked better and I soon found my way out and was greeted at the camp with hardly a concerned word. If I remember correctly, nobody even worried that I had stayed out all night or if they did they didn’t think I needed help. I guess that’s because we grew up expecting to be able to take care of ourselves and not depend on someone else to help us. I did make the guys help me get that buck out and hung on the pole; that seven-pointer always reminds me of my first turned around experience.
           Over the years I had one or two more “turned around” events but they turned out just fine too. I learned not to panic when the situation seemed gloomy. Once you know you can survive it’s a lot easier, and being prepared is often the difference between an unpleasant experience and a tragic one.

Joined: 07/08/2011
I must admit, I would have

I must admit, I would have pooped my gotchies in that situation.  Your background was far better than mine.  I've been "turned around" a few times and a few of them hunting alone.  But, the tracts we have to hunt in Ohio are nowhere near as large as the UP.  I have hunted black bear in the UP.  Really it felt like Canada - but I liked the Michigan people better.  Had a bear license and saw deer.  If I had a deer tag, bears would have been following me around!!

Joined: 06/03/2010
God's Country!

I often refer to the U.P. as God's Country, sometimes it is a bit overwhelming but I always felt at home in the woods since I grew up living in them most of my free time and when I lived away I kind of missed it, guess that's why I'm back here now. Chris