The Natrona County Sheriff's Office responded this week after a hunter walked away from camp and got lost, prompting authorities to issue some tips for hunting and surviving in Wyoming's backcountry.

The hunter was able to walk out, and was found to be alright. Investigator David Hulshizer says these tips can help folks survive, should they find themselves disoriented or injured in the outdoors.

  • Tell someone the specifics of where you're going before you set off on a trip, including your specific route, camping location(s) and length of time you expect to be gone.
  • Have plenty of water. If you don't carry water, have a portable filtration container or water treatment solutions or pills to treat water obtained in the backcountry.
  • Ensure your cell phone or GPS is fully charged before going afield. Mark your starting point and start the tracking function in case you need help finding your way back to camp. If necessary, and if a signal is available, call 911 or text 911 for help.
  • Have a daypack or hunting pack with you at all times that has key items such as matches, food, water, extra dry clothing, rain gear, some type of material to make a shelter, utility tools, knife and/or saw, rope or 550 cord, compass, mirror, flashlight, extra batteries and extra ammunition in case of predators or the need to signal shots.
  • Light a fire so you can stay warm. Fire could also act as a signal for search and rescue personnel.
  • Don't travel in the dark, as finding landmarks is more difficult and you're more likely to become injured.
  • Have maps of the area with you, and store them where they're easily accessible. Be sure you know how to read your maps, and be able to correlate your position on those maps using known landmarks.
  • Build a shelter and try to stay dry to prevent exposure to rain or snow if you must stay in the backcountry overnight.
  • Prepare for unexpected situations and take an outdoor survival class if possible prior to heading into the backcountry.
  • Most importantly, stay calm and don't panic. Focus on staying dry, warm, hydrated and fed.

It's number one on the list for a reason -- Hulshizer says the most important survival tip is letting someone know where you're going. You don't have to give away your best hunting spot, but make sure someone has an idea of where you'll be so that search and rescue personnel will have an idea of where to start their search, should that be necessary.

Panic can be deadly, so in the event you become lost or hurt, Hulshizer says it's crucial to stay calm and keep a level head when thinking about how to get yourself out of the situation.

"Sometimes the best answer is just staying in one particular spot and allowing people to find you," Hulshizer says.

For out-of-state hunters, Hulshizer says homework is a must.

"Know the area that you're going [into]," Hulshizer advises. "Try to do some research before you get here and understand where you're going to be."

Weather, potential road conditions, topography and cell phone service are all important factors which hunters should note ahead of time.

Inadequate knowledge of the area and unexpected injuries are the most common factors which lead to search and rescue personnel being called out, Hulshizer says.

"Having a partner hunting with you is extraordinarily important," Hulshizer emphasizes. "We still advocate for the 'hunt with a buddy' system so that there's two of you in case someone gets hurt or injured, the other person can help."

The Natrona County Sheriff's Office can be reached at 307-235-9282.

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