It pays to practice the art of observation always when in the great outdoors.
Knowledge gained may one day save your life.
Here is a look at why observation in the outdoors is your number one survival tool.
So you are hauling around a big bag of survival equipment? Do you know how to use it and practice with it constantly. If you do, awesome! Practice makes for better preparedness in case an emergency happens. What about observing wildlife? Knowing where wildlife will be is the key to staying fed during a wilderness survival situation and also might be a life saver in large predator country.
Where do you start the learning process? Well, you are already in the classroom when you are in the outdoors. Why not take a moment and observe the natural world around you instead of jogging down the trail or biking along merrily on your way?
For the easiest observations in snow country head out to do a little tracking. Where do the wildlife trails lead? Are they heading to food areas or to the bedding areas? The snow doesn’t lie and with a little practice you can determine in a rough estimate how long ago the critters moved through. We see below where a whitetail deer bedded down earlier that day.
Look up and peer also into sheltered areas where holes or dens might be found. What is in the trees above you watching everything? Squirrels certainly are top on the survival menu if you have an implement to pop them out of their lofty perches. Maybe you can set up some snares on the fallen tree trunks that have made a runway for the squirrels. The tracks in the snow prove they were there and certainly will be back. Like the old trappers saying goes, always set on sign.
Do you see the small red (or pine) squirrel in the tree? He certainly sees you!
Observation can keep you from being a bear’s next meal, or even perhaps a hungry cougar? A pack of coyotes or wolves might seem harmless at first until you observe them circling you. Being watchful of your surroundings also will keep you in the know even when two legged predators might be lurking ready to rob you of your gear or worse…
The art of wilderness observation also will help you with wild edible procurement. Note on your hikes where edible berries and other useful plants like to grow. Is it on a dry ridgeline or in a wet, boggy swamp? If you find yourself in such areas in the future the carefully brain noted knowledge will help you in a big way.
These ramps (leeks) are very tasty and are found in the early spring in well drained areas. They are usually the first to green up in an area.
Observe how wildlife also views you. What scares them? What sets them at ease? Now is the time to put on a pseudo stalk to see if you can get close enough to them when the chips are down. This practice will also help you if you are a hunter in normal seasons. A passing deer left some “smart pills” on it’s travels. What has it been eating? Even the scat tells a tale for those who know how to read it.
Next time you are out in the wilds remember these tips. Take time to enjoy nature, and learn from it. The great teacher has a classroom of knowledge out there for you. Open your eyes and become a lifelong student of the great outdoors. It might one day save your life.
Do you like articles about the outdoors? You can follow him @ericthewoodsman on Twitter, The Classic Woodsman on Facebook, and @theclassicwoodsman on Instagram, The Classic Woodsman, and The Classic Woodsman YouTube Channel.