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


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

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

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!


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 12:08 am  Comments (1)  
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How to Take Up Hunting; How do I Get Started?


Targeting a New Sport!

Targeting a New Sport!


This question, asked on this site earlier last week, has required some thought. Traditionally, relatives have taken youngsters under their wing by ‘showing them the ropes’ and taking them on hunts and fishing expeditions.

With single parent homes, this tradition has fallen away. Fewer than 3% of hunters and anglers are now under 17 years of age. (For more info on this, see my earlier articles: Where Have All the Hunters Gone? parts 1 & 2, and Why Should You Get Your Kids Interested in Hunting?

A Generation of Non-Hunters & Anglers

I’m surprised to read how many people are trying to get started hunting and/or fishing. This is a wonderful sign, but it must be difficult for newcomers. How does an adult experience something he/she didn’t learn earlier?

Here’s the list, then I’ll explain.

Find a mentor/friend.

Would-be hunters need to take a Hunter Education class.

For anglers, take Boater Education class. (or like-named course)

Get proper license(s).

Start target practice, sighting in gun, with help of friend or mentor.

Go on a fishing or hunting trip (or 2 or 3) with mentor/friend (possibly using his/her extra equipment).

Now, go purchase gun and/or fishing equipment.

Getting Started

Finding a mentor will simplify the task greatly. You’ve probably heard hunters and anglers talking about their latest trip. Take someone you feel friendly toward aside and ask if you might join him/her.

Contact your state “parks and wildlife” department for info about hunter and/or boater education classes. These courses discuss archery, as well as conventional firearms.

Texas Parks & Wildlife Internet site is: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us and their telephone # is: 800-792-1112. They can direct you to info about your state.

Bear in mind, even learners must have a license to fish or hunt. Most sporting stores, gun shops and Wal-Mart have the annual issued by your state on this year’s hunting and fishing regulations.

Pick up a copy and read it carefully. Ignorance to the law isn’t considered a valid excuse for breaking a game law. A ticket can really dim your enjoyment of the sport!

Archery, Guns, Equipment

Most sporting newbies want to hit the  gun shops first. However, you lack the skill or experience to make a great choice. By borrowing or renting equipment, you have an opportunity to ‘test drive’ before you buy.


In my experience, hunters & anglers are a very generous group. Just letting others know you are interested is enough to get you started – in most instances.

But remember, once you are an experienced hunter/angler, share your knowledge with others! I’ll bet there’s a youngster in your family who would love to join you!  Pass it on!


Did I leave something out? Share your knowledge with others! Leave a comment!


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on January 4, 2009 at 8:02 pm  Comments Off on How to Take Up Hunting; How do I Get Started?  
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How Do I Get Started Bird Watching?


A Joyful Noise!

A Joyful Noise!


The growth in bird watching’s popularity is amazing; the US Fish & Wildlife Service estimates there are 51.3 million … and still counting.

Bird watching is as natural as watching the birds outside your window. It requires very little equipment to get started and the activity seems to be “good for the soul.”

Some folks get started watching birds as an off-shoot of feeding birds. Many conservation groups encourage people to feed birds, especially during the winter months, when food isn’t as plentiful.

It is estimated that there are over 900 bird species just in North America! According to http://www.BirdHouses101.com, it is easy to find about 100 bird species in any given region of the country.

Things You Need to Start

First, I’d suggest getting a field guide, so you can learn about the birds you observe.  Probably, the standard is: Birds of North America: A Guide to Field Identification, Golden Books, publishers.

However, looking at the ratings of buyers, that book has been surpassed by these: National Geographic Field Guide to the Birds of North America, Fifth Edition (5 stars out of 5 stars), The Illustrated Encyclopedia Of North American Birds: An Essential Guide To Birds Of North America (5 out of 5) and National Wildlife Federation Field Guide to Birds of North America (National Wildlife Federation Field Guide) {5 of 5}.

The full-color guides will add immeasurably to your satisfaction. They provide a comprehensive look at a bird’s habitats, behavior, flight, migration, songs, and plumage; strategies for watching and identifying birds and even a checklist of birds. Keep in mind: You will be happier purchasing a guide with a waterproof cover.

Next, wear comfortable clothes. At times, you may need hiking boots or a waterproof poncho, in order to be comfortable. Be sure to wear layers of clothing, so you can add or subtract garments as needed.

Taking Notes

Bring a notebook and pencil/pen. I’ve known more bird enthusiasts who have wanted to kick themselves for not keeping notes from day # 1. Some keep a “trip list” or a “date list” or a “year book,” while others keep notebooks by state or county.

In order to see birds in all their majesty, a pair of binoculars are needed. “Beg or borrow” a pair for the first few excursions.  Why? There are lots of variables in choosing the right pair of binoculars. You won’t know what you really need until you have some experience.

Finally, bring a friend. This is one of those hobbies where enjoyment is doubled by having a companion. One can be sharing info from the guide while another person reports on the bird’s movements. When trying to determine a species, four eyes are better than two!

Getting More Info

When you are ready to try further afield than your own back yard, you might want to join a class or a group.  Hop on the Internet and locate a local branch of the Audubon Society. They offer trips and lectures on a variety of topics related to birding.

Join the bunches of Winter Texans who come to our state for the mild weather and enjoy the birds wintering in hundreds of birdwatching locations. Here’s a helpful site (although it is offered by Texas, it gives ‘how to get started’ & US-wide info): http://www.birding.com/wheretobird/texas.asp

The Audubon Society: http://www.audubon.org Here’s a helpful interactive map, to find a state or local chapter: http://www.audubon.org/states/flashMap.php


This blog is a companion to my website:  GreatGhilliesAndGraphics.com

Published in: on November 1, 2008 at 9:23 pm  Comments (2)  
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