Do You Know? Quick Outdoor Water Safety Tip

You are hiking in an unfamiliar area and are running low on water.  You find a meandering stream of water.

You put some sand and charcoal in a sock and allow the river water to seep through the sock — to remove the impurities.

Is it safe to drink now?

Assume all the Water You Find in the Outdoors is Contaminated


No.  It must be boiled — or chemically treated.

How long should it boil before you know the water is safe to drink?

Clean Water = Life!

Suspect water must be boiled or chemically treated.

The rule of thumb is:

Boil water for 1 minute plus 1 minute for each 1000 feet over sea level.


Thus, if you are 2000 ft. above sea level, you must boil the water for a total of 3 minutes: 1 minute for sea level and 1 minute for each 1000 ft. above sea level!

This is the absolute minimum.


If you have the fuel, boil longer.

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More than 1050 Rear Window Graphics in 28 Categories!


Published in: on March 7, 2011 at 12:05 am  Comments Off on Do You Know? Quick Outdoor Water Safety Tip  

10 Tips for Hiking in the Wilderness

Hiking in a Wild Area

The tough thing about venturing into a wilderness is that there are no convenience stores handy, if you forget something critical.  Thus, planning and making lists are critical.


Things in the Wilderness are Rarely as Easy as This Scene Suggests


The First 5 Tips

Cell Phones: Although you should make sure that your phone is fully charged & bring along a spare, be aware that getting a signal (to use your phone) is spotty, at best.

The further you are aware from a major highway or urban center, the less likely your cell phone will work.

Safety Through Communication: Make sure someone knows where you are going and when you expect to return.

“Wilderness” implies things that are unknown.  It is foolhearty to assume that nothing can happen while you are away from your support system.

Personal Items: Even if you are hiking in winter, take sunscreen, a hat and sunglasses.   If you are wondering why you might need them year-round, refer to yesterday’s article, ‘How Can You Help Someone Suffering from Snowblindness?’

Protect Your Feet: You won’t get very far if you don’t take care of your transportation system – your feet!  Take extra socks and a pair of waterproof shoes.

It’s better to use 2 thin pair of socks, not 1 thick pair.  Layering your clothing is a smart way to conserve heat, yet release perspiration. This method prepares you for whatever weather arrives.

Packing: Place the heaviest items you are carrying in the middle of the backpack, close to your back.  This balances the load.

The Second 5 Tips

Basic Equipment: Hikers need a compass and a pocketknife.

Getting Around: A map of the unknown territory where you will hike is important.   If you have a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, now’s a great time to use it.

Fire Supplies: You never know when you will need a fire.  Be sure to bring a lighter and/or waterproof matches & lint from your clothes dryer.

Keep Everything Safe: Zippered plastic bags are great for hikers.  They protect items from water, damp and other mishaps.

Water: Either be ready to bring your own water or bring a method of purification (iodine tablets, a filtering system, etc.).


I’m aware a hiker needs food, clothing and other necessities.  These items are better covered in a more comprehensive list.

Need a Camping Checklist?  Use ours!


‘Morning Glow’ is used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics


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Published in: on February 3, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on 10 Tips for Hiking in the Wilderness  

Outdoor Situations: How Can You Help Someone Suffering from Snowblindness?

With the wild weather outside, today might be a great time to talk about …


You and some friends have had a great day out in the snow!   It’s late in the

'Fun in the Sun' Calls for Quality Sunglasses Year Round!

afternoon when suddenly, Jim calls out that his eyes feel like he has grit in them and he is seeing red.

The group soon realizes that Jim is experiencing snowblindness.  It will be dark soon; what should you do?

Your Choices

For the conditions outlined here, which of these 3 possibilities is the best solution?

1) Someone offers to stay with  Jim while the rest of you go back and get help.

2) Cover Jim’s eyes and lead him back home as quickly as possible.

3) Wait until Jim’s snowblindness passes.

A Few Facts About Snowblindness

  • Snowblindness is an eye injury that can be serious and can be permanent!
  • It is caused by the reflected sunlight off of ice, snow or water.
  • Essentially, it sunburns the cornea of the eye.
  • Symptoms include:  dry eyes, headaches, seeing red, dizziness, swelling of the eyelids, pain.

The Solution

Snowblindness Occurs Most Often on Sunny Days, But Can Happen on Cloudy Days Too!

Jim’s snowblindness is not going to pass as long as he is out in the sun.  Therefore, waiting won’t help.  So neither 1 or 3 will work.

He needs to get inside quickly; into a darkened room until his eyes recover.  Covering his eyes while he travels home is important; his eyes can start to recover because he is no longer looking at the reflected light from the snow and ice.

How to Avoid Snowblindness

  • Wear quality sunglasses with at least 90% UV absorption.
  • Reduce glare by smudging the area under the eyes with charcoal (think football players).

Another Tip

Use a cool, damp cloth on the eyes.  Applying a hot, damp cloth to the eyes only increases the pain!


Tomorrow: 10 Tips for Hiking in the Wilderness


Occasionally: I’ll pose another ‘Outdoor Situation’ with Some Tips


This blog is a companion to my website:

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 12:01 am  Comments Off on Outdoor Situations: How Can You Help Someone Suffering from Snowblindness?  

Camping: Choosing a Great Campsite!

Factors to Consider

Choosing a great campsite isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Various factors are important to your choice.

  • The season,
  • The weather,
  • The wind direction and strength,
  • What amenities are available in the area you want to use?
  • What do you want to do while camping?  (hiking, fishing, geocaching, exploring, etc.)

Prepare for Unwelcome Visitors!

Taking Stock of the Situation

High on everyone’s list is choosing a scenic spot.  However, high winds and/or damp weather will be more important factors in choosing a site.

Experienced campers recommend a fairly flat area, with some shelter from gusting winds and damp.   Make use of a gully, a clump of bushes or trees, a low wall or even a rain fly — when wind and rain bear down on your site.

In case of rain, make sure that your site is not a low place where rain will settle.  Depending on the weather and your cooking plans, do you need to find a locale near wood?

Water Issues

During hot weather, each person will need 6 quarts of water per day.  Will you be bringing that with you?

In colder weather, 3 quarts of water per person, per day will suffice.  What do you know about the area where you will camp?  Is the water there drinkable?

I recently read an article by a ranger who stated that campers should assume any water source available in America is polluted.

That means you will need to have a way to decontaminate the water:  iodine, a means to boil water or a filtering system.

Make sure your water bottle is safe; once opened, bacteria and mold grow in bottles of water (I’m referring to using bottled water from the grocers) .

Locate your site some distance from a water source, so you do not contaminate it.

Wild Animals

Most animals are happy to scavenge for a free meal.  Raccoons love to show you how fast they can open the snaps on any Igloo container!

Leaving food in the camping area is an open invitation to night-time dining guests.   Go online for directions on constructing a ‘food cache’ — a way to hang your food up high — between 2 trees — at some distance from your sleeping tents.

If you are camping in bear country, be sure to decide on your ‘escape tree’ — a way for you to get away from an over-friendly (or aggravated) bear!

Still want to go camping? 😉


Need a Camping Checklist?  Use ours!


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Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 12:08 am  Comments (1)  
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Emergency Situations While Hiking or Hunting

No matter how well you plan, emergencies arise.  Are you ready?

Snake Bites 

If you remember the rhyme, " ... red & yellow kill a fellow, ...." you know this is not a venomous snake!

If a snake bites someone in your party, the day’s agenda will change!  The most important job you have is helping the injured party.

First, let’s dispel a few myths.  Rattlesnakes don’t always rattle before striking.  They may not rattle if they have just shed their skin.

You don’t have to worry about bites because you have chanced upon a mom snake with her babies.  Generally, snakes are live births and the babies strike out on their own rather quickly.

Solutions to Your Snake Problem

  • Is the snake venomous?  If you don’t know, don’t assume!
  • Keep the victim (and the rest of the group) calm.
  • Discourage folks from sharing gruesome snake stories!
  • Wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Keep the victim quiet and discourage them from walking around.
  • Keep the bitten area (usually a hand or foot) below heart level.
  • Take the victim to the nearest medical facility.
  • Don’t waste time trying to kill the snake; many secondary bites happen this way!

Animal Bites

This is a rare occurence in the field — but it does happen. How do you handle this?

  • If the skin is broken, wash the wound with soap and water.
  • Apply pressure to the bleeding, if any.
  • Determine if the attack was provoked.
  • If the animal attacked without provocation, you must consider rabies!
  • Notify the authorities as quickly as possible (county sheriff, etc.).
  • Seek medical attention for the victim.

Insect Stings and Spider Bites 

Black Widow = Shiny with Hour-Glass Shape on Lower Abdomen; Brown Recluse = Violin-Shaped Mark on Top of Head

Bees and wasps are common pests in the outdoors.  Solutions include:

  • Wash the sting with soap and water.
  • Put a cold pack on the injury for 15 -20 minutes.
  • Give aspirin (acetaminophen to children) and apply cortisone cream.

Some folks have an allergic reaction to stings/bites:

  • Their wound swells quickly – beyond normal bounds (toe sting swells the whole leg, etc.),
  • they can have shortness of breath,
  • have a sudden drop in blood pressure,
  • become anxious and restless,
  • have a rapid pulse

THIS IS A MEDICAL EMERGENCY! Get medical help immediately!


Black Widow Spider, Brown Recluse or Scorpion

  • Clean the wound with soap and water,
  • Apply a cold pack,
  • Seek medical attention ASAP!


This blog is a companion to my website:

Using a Topographical Map While Hunting

When hand-held GPS (global positioning system) devices hit the market, some hunters literally dropped their topographical maps and compasses into trash cans.

Topographical Maps are Usually Color-Coded: Green for Land, Blue for Water, Brown for Landforms, etc.

If you have decided to follow their lead, perhaps you should read further!

Topographical Maps

These unique maps are helpful to folks who travel cross-country not using roads — such as hunters!

Many of these maps are available from the US Geological Survey (1-800-USA-MAPS).

Note in the photo above, the contour lines show elevation.  The map will tell you how much elevation each line is indicating (such as, 40 feet of elevation between lines).

Contour lines do not cross.  As the mapped area gets steeper, the contour lines get closer together.  Thus, if you are hunting, you may want to avoid a very steep area.

Hunters Using Topographical Maps

When hunters use their animal knowledge coupled with their topographical maps, they are dramatically increasing their chances of a successful hunt.

If you are hunting elk, you know that they prefer to inhabit a high bench on a north slope — away from trails and traffic.

Looking on your topographical map, you would seek areas with widely spaced contour lines (gentle slopes) with high elevations.

If you find blue lines threading through the area (water, stream, etc.), this is even better!  You know that elk like water.

The beauty of one of these maps is that it shows the entire area, generally further than your eye can see.  The map and a compass are particularly useful during foggy conditions or where the terrain is difficult.

If you are searching for whitetail in a forested area, the map will show man-made trails that may help you get to the area under question.  The map will tell you were the higher and lower elevations of the forest are.

The more info you know — going into a hunting situation — the better the hunting session.  Remember, your prey knows all the nooks and crannies of the land.

Since he already knows — it is your business to find out — so you can  anticipate your prey.


This blog is a companion to my website:

Published in: on November 15, 2010 at 12:50 am  Comments Off on Using a Topographical Map While Hunting  
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Why Rattlesnakes are Important!

Until I started doing research about snakes, I thought ‘the only good snake was a dead snake!’  However, I found that snakes are important in keeping nature balanced.

The Rattler’s Habitat

The rattler evolved in hot and dry locations and that is where he prefers to stay.  Only the Massassauga (Sistrurus catenatus) rattler tolerates moist places.

Rattlesnakes live in desert regions, agricultural fields and they often migrate to high, dry woods for summer.

Their rattle would not function well if the rattlesnake had to swim, burrow or climb. The rattles are of the same substance as your fingernails.

This Image was Used (again) Because it Shows the Pits of the Rattlesnake. Draw an Imaginary Line from the Nose to the Eyes. Just Below the Line are the "Pits."

Why Rattlers are Called Pit Vipers

Rattlers, and their close cousins, are pit vipers.  This refers to the pits situated on either side of their faces.

These facial pits are actually sense organs that detect heat.   That means that they can detect objects that are warmer than their surroundings — which usually means another animal.

These pits are so sensitive that they can figure out the exact location of their prey by comparing the differences in messages coming to each pit (somewhat like triangulating their prey’s position)!

The rattler’s pits can detect warm and cold-blooded prey!  They also help the rattler find the best place to sink their fangs; they rarely miss the chest region of their prey!

The facial pits of rattlers limit  their choice of habitat — they would not work well in water, while burrowing into sand or while climbing!

A Rattler’s Dining Options

Because of those ‘heat-seeking’ pits, it isn’t surprising that rattlers eat warm-blooded mammals.  In fact, about 85% of their dining selections are mammals.

Certainly, what rattlers eat depends on the size of the snake and its situation.  It is most likely that the rattler is indifferent to seeking out specific mammals.

Biologists show that rattlers will eat whatever is available — and what will fit in their mouths!

Maintaining Ecological Balance

Rattlers control populations of squirrels, rodents, rabbits, hares, ground-nesting birds, lizards and other snakes.

They help farmers by controlling the numbers of rodents and other small animals that would spoil or decimate agricultural products.


Soon: The Rattlesnake’s Tongue & Jacobson’s Organ


‘Mojave Rattlesnake’ used by permission of Vantage Point Graphics


This blog is a companion to my website:


Published in: on November 9, 2010 at 8:38 am  Comments Off on Why Rattlesnakes are Important!  

What to Do When Bitten by a Snake (Some Surprising Answers)!

This is the last of the three articles about snakes:

After Being Bitten

Just Because You Don't Expect to See a Coral Snake in Water Doesn't Mean he Can't be There!

If you are bitten, there are some things you can do to lessen the effects.

  • Stay calm!  Remember that frantic activity will hasten the spreading of the venom throughout your body.
  • Stop extra activity; reduce your movement of the bitten limb.  Over 98% of all snake bites are to the hands and feet!
  • Try to keep the area of the bite lower than your heart!
  • Before the swelling starts, remove your jewelry (rings, watches, etc.) and any tight-fitting clothing.
  • Do not try to capture or kill the snake.  That’s how folks get multiple bites!
  • Don’t add heat of cold to the bite.
  • Do not try to remove the venom yourself!
  • Do not apply home remedies to the bite.
  • Do not use a tourniquet  or constricting band around the bite.
  • Do not use aspirin or related meds because they can increase the bleeding!
  • Get to a medical facility as quickly as possible.
  • Call 911 or the Poison Control Center (1-800-764-7661) to find out which medical centers carry antivenom.
  • Be able to describe the snake to emergency medical staff.
  • Don’t be fooled by a lack of symptoms!
  • You might be in an area where there is no hospital; look for a doctor’s office.
  • Walk – and don’t run; drive carefully – don’t race down the road;  keep calm – don’t use frantic movements.

The Movies vs. These Directions

If you are an adventure fan of movies, some of these directions fly in the face of old movies.  Do you remember when a hero applied a tourniquet to the hapless victim’s bitten limb?

Or better yet, remember how your face shriveled up looking at the hero cutting the victim’s limb and sucking out the venom?

Well, there was a problem with those solutions.

People spent so much time finding a tourniquet, getting a knife clean, etc., that they delayed getting the bitten person to a hospital.  Folks died from the help they got!

These directions urge you to get help from those best able to handle the crisis effectively!


Well, I’m tired of snakes; on to other subjects!


Snake photo – courtesy of Wikipedia!


This blog is a companion to my website:

How Can We Share a Snake’s Territory Without Getting Bitten?

This article is a follow-up to yesterday’s Would You Recognize a Venomous Snake?

This Mojave Rattlesnake is Ready & Watching!

As the earth warms up in spring, snakes come out of hibernation and reluctantly meet humans.

Given a choice, they would rather never see a human.  Perhaps it has something to do with our attitude.  Most folks admit that they’ve “…never met a snake they really liked.”

Sharing the Outdoors With Snakes

Folks who insist on camping, fishing, hiking and hunting are very likely to run into a slithery serpent.  Here are a few tips for preventing snake bites.

  • Are you in an area inhabited by snakes?
  • Are you wearing high leather boots and long pants while in “snake territory?”
  • Are you reaching into an area where you cannot see what you are touching?
  • Are you moving around in places where snakes usually hide?
  • Are you walking at night in an area known to have snakes?
  • Is someone in your group harassing a snake?
  • Are you stepping over something (log or rock), but can’t see what is on the other side?
  • Are you wading in shallow water?
  • Are you wading along banks in thick, wooded areas?

Caution On Land

If you are walking in an area that is known to have snakes, it is important to wear suitable clothing and leather boots.  Monday, I read an interesting blog, Denim May Guard Against Rattlesnake Bites.

The organizers of the study stated, “… denim clothing proved effective at reducing venom injection by both small and large rattlesnakes. Wearing long denim pants as an alternative to shorts may provide a simple, low-cost means of reducing the severity of snakebites.”

It is also advisable to carry a long stick, to test the waters before putting your hand or leg into an unfamiliar area.

Remember that snakes like to hide in logs or under leaves, waiting for supper.  These simple hiding spaces are successful;  a serpent can find enough mice and lizards (in this way) to stay fed.

Danger In & Around Water

Water Moccasins don’t seem to have a sense of humor.  They are always looking for a ‘bite’ so it is very important to stay aware when walking in and around water.


For More Info About the 4 Venomous Types of North America: see Snake Dangers & River Tubing


Snake photo – courtesy of Vantage Point Graphics


This blog is a companion to my website:

Are You a Female Interested in the Outdoors?


Catching Fish by Hook or Crook! Holly Speared a Northern Pike - Her 1st!


Because over 1/2 of the folks who order from my website are female, I thought that it might transfer to my blog.  For my women readers:  Here’s an interesting site I came upon yesterday.

This is a social networking site for women interested in the outdoors.  Some of the categories are:  hunting, fishing, boating, camping, hiking, etc.

The 2 site managers,  Melissa Ahonen & Joan Kleven, say they have created “a site for women of all outdoor lifestyles and stages to learn, share, and display their outdoor experiences.”

Education and Seminars


16 year-old Josie Gets her 1st Deer - A "Mega-Muley"

This site offers an incredible array of educational opportunities for those interested in learning outdoors skills.

They have info for each state. As an example, here’s the info offered in Texas (all areas) and Tennessee (bow hunting only).

Interesting Articles

Besides the photos and state round-up of learning opportunities, this site offers some interesting and informative articles.

Take a look at:  Flesh Eating Beetles Did you know that hunters in Europe have a different way to  display — and preserve — their trophy heads?  It is an interesting article — for folks of either gender!

A Little of Everything!

From product reviews to classified ads, this site has something for everyone.  And if you are into the “social” scene, this is a great site to share info, photos and recipes!

Take a look!  Enjoy!


This blog is a companion to my website:

Published in: on January 9, 2010 at 12:49 pm  Comments Off on Are You a Female Interested in the Outdoors?  
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