I want to know if you have ever been lost while hiking, or hunting in the woods. The closest I have ever come to being lost was on a rifle hunt with my Uncle Mark and my cousins Ryan and Mike. Utah has it set up so we have to choose if we are going to hunt archery, or rifle for a certain species. We used to be able to hunt both, but those days are long gone. The state made a special rule one year that any hunter under the age of 18 could hunt until he filled his tag, or the rifle season ended. This meant I was able to hunt archery with my usual hunting group, then rifle hunt with my Uncle and cousins.

I did not have success on the archery hunt, so my Uncle and my cousins were gracious enough to let me tag along with them on the rifle hunt. We got up to our spot very early that morning and Ryan and I headed down the mountain. Me and Ryan are the same age, and we had hunted for years together while growing up. When the state made us choose which hunt we wanted to go on it really disrupted our hunting group. Ryan and his family have decided to hunt rifle every year, and my family hunts archery every year. It had been a couple of years since we had hunted together, and we were both very excited that cold morning. We used to go out squirrel hunting together, while our dad’s were out all day, and I have several fond memories of hanging out with my cousin Ryan. So you can imagine the excitement we had that we would actually be hunting deer together, rather than just hunting squirrels.

We set up on the mountainside and tried to stay warm all morning. It had snowed the night before, and it was still coming down. After a very uneventful morning we decided to do a little hiking to warm up, and hopefully spook something out of it’s bed. Our plan was for me to go low on the mountainside, and my cousin would go high and possibly we would scare something to each other.

I started down the mountain and did a huge loop back up to the top of the mountain. The only problem was when I got to the top I was not where I thought I should have been. It was not a problem though as I could see the peak where we were hunting and I started to make my way back. On my way back I came across some deer prints, so I started following them. I probably followed that deer for about a mile and never saw it, or heard it. As I have previously stated, it was snowing, so I could tell the tracks were fresh and I must have been pushing him. As I was tracking the deer I came across a road, now this is where I started to panic a little bit because I had never seen this road before, and I had no idea where it was going. The clouds had really started to drop, and I had very limited visibility. I could no longer see landmarks to help me get back to camp, and I lost all sense of direction following the deer tracks. I was wet, cold, tired and lost. I had never been lost before, and I wasn’t sure what to do. I started to panic, and trying to remember what I had learned in scouts about surviving in cold conditions. I didn’t have any food, limited amount of water and my clothes were wet. I tried to calm down by telling myself that maybe someone would drive down this road and could take me back to camp. However, there were no fresh tire tracks on the road so I knew that was a slim possibility. I also knew that my Uncle Mark would eventually start looking for me, but how would he know to look on this road? I had hunted this area for years and I didn’t know this road existed, and I had no clue where it led to.

After a couple of minutes of the worst case scenarios rolling through my head, I realized I could track myself back to camp. I turned around and it was as if my footprints had runway lights surrounding them with arrows pointing me in the right direction. I followed my footprints all the way back to camp, and met up with my hunting party about 3 hours after our designated meet up time.

Here is the best part of the story; after I had followed my tracks almost all the way back to camp, and I knew where I was again, I looked up the hill and saw a nice 2 point watching me. I tried to get my gun ready, but he had bolted before I could get my scope on him. He was standing about 50 yards from our truck when I saw him, and he had come across the mountain right in front of where I was set up that morning. After all that work without seeing any deer, my best chance came right outside of camp. It was not very funny at the time, but now I look back and laugh at that situation and how ironic it was.

While I was lucky this time, I will never forget that initial feeling of being lost and how scary it was. I will always be prepared, and have a good compass and map on me at all times. I will also have some food, and water just in case I need it. It was a great learning lesson for me, and I was lucky that it turned out fine.

When you are lost it is easy for your mind to play tricks on you, and the best thing to do is try to calm down and think about every option you have. While it may not be as obvious as tracking your footsteps in the snow, you may be able to find an easy solution to find your way.

Have you ever been lost? We would love to hear about it in the comment section. Let us know what you did to find your way, so we can hopefully all return safe after our hunting adventures.

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  1. I’ve never been really lost. Mostly that’s because I don’t tend to go out into the woods by myself. I have a really bad sense of direction and I always figure it is better to be safe than sorry.

  2. I’ve never been lost either. It has taken me a couple seconds to find my way back after tracking a deer in the dark, but I can honestly say I’ve never been lost.

  3. Got lost once in, believe it or not, Garden of the Gods park in Colorado Springs. Got lost again near Sleepy Cat north of Meeker, Colorado on an elk hunt. There, my gps couldn’t get a signal due to the canopy (I know, I know, I had the compass but not a map). In both cases I made a conscious effort to study the surroundings so when I did get stuck, I was able to figure my way back by comparing the angles and distances to those features and how they looked when I started. Neither time was I more than a mile or so from camp or the trailhead.

  4. I’ll have to blog on this one. Short answer – yes, I got lost once. It was only a short time, but man, was I scared!!

  5. its sooo many times i been lost, it dont make no sine, i’ve cryed so many times when i was lost it dont make since! you understand what im sayin yal?

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