Emergency Kit in Your Vehicle

It's a winter wonderland up here! The snow keeps falling and falling and falling! I'm hearing about all kinds of people going off the roads and into the ditch - yikes. For all of you in snowy climes, don't forget to have emergency items in your vehicle. Here's a list of possibilities:

Stay warm!
Gloves/mittens, wool socks, coat, boots, a blanket, hand warmers

Get out!
Cell phone/charger, booster cables, shovel, windshield scraper, tire chains/rope, road salt and sand, tool kit, road maps, compass

Wait for help!
Snacks, water, blaze orange flags, flashlight/batteries, emergency flares, first aid kit, waterproof matches and a can (to melt snow for water)

In more extreme locations, you may also want to include battery-powered radio/batteries. Personally, I've got the gloves, socks, boots, blanket, hand warmers, booster cables, scraper, maps, snacks. I'm planning on adding cell phone charger, flares, first aid kit, flashlight, and matches. Guess I'd better get going on that now that we've got over a foot of snow on the ground!

Notable Outdoor Women - Julie Kay Smithson

Outdoor Life Magazine just came out with "The Outdoor Life 25 - People Who Changed the Face of Hunting & Fishing" in the December/January 2008 issue. In it they recognize two women, Julie Kay Smithson and Jennie Richardson (more on Jennie here). I wanted to provide you more information and links on these notable outdoor women!

Julie Kay Smithson is noted as an unsung hero for her devotion to the cause of property rights. After a run-in with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding an endangered species on her land, she tutored herself on the issues of land-use, and environmental and endangered species. Since then she has been educating landowners and sportsmen through her research and website PropertyRightsResearch.Org
As you look through her website, you will realize that Julie takes very polarizing stances on specific subjects. You will likely agree wholeheartedly, or will be vehemently opposed to what she is saying. She's an interesting selection for Outdoor Life to add to their list - I doubt that she will be admired by the majority. She could serve however as a great resource for those who are struggling with land rights.
Unfortunately, I have to veer toward being opposed to her views. Specifically, I cannot agree with her comment on her website that "Climate change, i.e., 'global warming' OR 'global cooling,' has virtually zilch to do with production of so-called 'greenhouse gases'." Such disregard for the extensive research and intelligence of independent scientists world-wide, who state that humans are in fact accelerating the climate change, is an extremely arrogant and "cause-centric" stance and it makes her look foolish. I certainly would select her as an expert on land use rights, but I highly doubt that she's also a climatologist experienced in current climate research and theory.

Notable Outdoor Women - Jennie Richardson

Outdoor Life Magazine just came out with "The Outdoor Life 25 - People Who Changed the Face of Hunting & Fishing" in the December/January 2008 issue. In it they recognize two women, Jennie Richardson and Julie Kay Smithson (more on Julie here). I wanted to provide you more information and links on these notable outdoor women!

Jennie Richardson is noted as a leader for her work in getting school children involved in archery. They say, "In 2002, educator and national champion archer Jennie Richardson was chose as the state coordinator for a fledgling program designed to introduce archery to middle school students...." They further describe how that program has grown to the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) that is "being taught in more than 40 state and 4 countries."

So who is Jennie Richardson? According to her website, Jennie has been an avid bowhunter and angler since she was a child. After suffering a shoulder injury that ended her days as one of the top softball coaches in Kentucky, Jennie learned to shoot her bow with her teeth “Tim Farmer-style” while she went through shoulder surgery. She was soon back to shooting competitive archery. Her time in Semi-Pro classes didn’t last long – as she won seven out of 14 tournaments in 1998 and was named Cabela’s Shooter of the Year and won the World’s Championship. She is a two time World Champion, has logged 87 Top 10 finishes, 26 Top 5 finishes, 21 Top 3 finishes and six wins. (As of today when I got the info off her website - these numbers may have changed by the time you read this!) This list of accomplishments on her website is VERY impressive!

My first time cross-country skiing

Today was an outdoor first for me - the first time that I ever tried cross country skiiing! Someone gave me some old skis and poles, and a friend of mine loaned me some boots to try it out. I have downhill skied before so this wasn't a total stretch for me, and it went pretty well. I went on some paths on our land that were snow covered, so I think if I'd get them more packed down it would work better. To me it felt like a workout effort (which I should do every day anyway), but rather than be on a treadmill or eliptical, I got to be outside in the woods! Now is working out my favorite thing to do? No. But since I should do it anyway, I think that from now on I'll try to throw this in to mix things up every once in a while.

For those of you who regularly cross country ski, I have a question. Do you prefer to ski with someone or on your own?

Choosing a Site - Planning a Women in the Outdoors Event

We're still working on planning the Women in the Outdoors event that I mentioned in this earlier post. Here's an update of how the process is going.

One of the dates we selected will work for our first choice of the 4-H outdoor education camp. We chose that because a successful event has been held there before, it's centrally located, and it's on the water so that we can include water-based activities. To reserve the camp, we have to put a small deposit down. From what I understand, the actual initial money will come from one of the local NWTF chapters, and then we'll pay them back after we receive the registration money from the participants.

The next step is a fun one - selecting which courses to offer! In the end, we'll offer 12 or so courses and each participant will pick their top 4 choices. (Four courses in the one-day event.) So as planners, we have to narrow down to 12, from a hugely interesting list of possibilities! It should be a good mix that will appeal to shooters and non-shooters, crafters and non-crafters, water lovers and land lovers, etc. We're going to each narrow the big list that Women in the Outdoors provided, down to 15 or so each. Then the three of us will debate from our individual lists when we get together next. Finding instructors is a big factor in the selection.

I'll let you know which events we pin it down to!

Women on Snow

A friend of mine alerted me to this very cool event that some of you ladies may be interested in - Women on Snow!

Women on Snow is an annual snowmobiling event for women only, that brings over one hundred women to Wisconsin's Northwoods during the last weekend in January.
The next dates are January 25-27, 2008. According to their website, "Women on Snow draws gals who love to snowmobile from all over the Midwest for a weekend of trail riding." Based in Eagle River, Wisconsin, the women ride in one of six groups designated by color. The weekend includes a real Wisconsin fish fry dinner, trail riding, continental breakfast, trail riding, a support vehicle, trail riding, a themed Saturday night banquet, and more trail riding! There's also a Women on Snow Tour which occurs Monday through Wednesday after the weekend event. See their website for more info on the weekend.

The event has in interesting history too! The Flying Femmes were a group of women who in the late 1970's earned membership into their club by trail-touring on snowmobile. Word spread of their ride and the fun they had. Each year, more women joined the women riders. In 1984, the Flying Femmes went on their dream tour-- a 1200 mile, six day tour to Brainerd, Minnesota and back. The first official Women on Snow event was held in 1986. Ninety-seven women participated in what has become an annual event in Eagle River, Wisconsin.

See! Girls Hunt Too!

Rex's daughter Sarah got her first deer over Thanksgiving weekend! He's got that pic and many more at Deer Camp Blog. Matt at Bright Idea Outdoors also highlighted it.

Great Archery Photo!

This is not me.

It's a Miss Lilia Stepanova at the Archery World Cup final in Dubai, United Emirates, on Saturday November 24th. She's a professional contortionist, and does another nifty archery trick below, which is apparently her signature move. Amazing!!

What's a Personal Locator Beacon?

I'm starting to plan for an elk hunt in Colorado next year. I looked into a Personal Locator Beacon in case of emergency. Here's a synopsis of what I found for those of you who may be planning a trip to the wild woods.

What is a Personal Locator Beacon?
Personal Locator Beacons (PLBs) are for personal use and are intended to indicate a person in distress who is away from normal emergency services, according to Wikipedia. PLBs vary in size from cigarette-packet to paperback book. They can be purchased from hiking supply stores, online, or rented from PLB Rentals (among others). The cost varies widely with varying levels of performance and options. A site with excellent FAQs about PLBs is provided by the Equipped To Survive Foundation.

How Do They Work? - Generally
A PLB is activated manually by you. The PLBs signal transmission is picked up by one or more satellites. The satellite transmits the signal to its ground control station. The satellite's ground station processes the signals and forwards the data, including approximate location, to a national authority. The national authority forwards the data to a rescuers. The rescuers use their equipment to locate the beacon, contact your emergency contacts to verfiy it's not a false alarm, and then hopefully save you!

How Do They Work? - Technically
PLBs operating on 406 MHz transmit a unique serial number called a Hex Code, which is detected by the NOAA Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) and Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellites (POES). GOES, the first to detect a beacon’s distress signal, hover in a fixed orbit above Earth and receive the signals, which contain registration information about the beacon and its owner. The POES constantly circle the globe, enabling them to capture and accurately locate the alerts to within a few miles. The satellites are part of the worldwide satellite search and rescue system called, COSPAS-SARSAT. The COSPAS-SARSAT system is a cluster of NOAA and Russian satellites that work together to detect distress signals anywhere in the world transmitted from PLBs and from beacons carried aboard ships and airplanes. In the U.S. the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center acts as the single federal agency for coordinating search and rescue missions in the inland regions of the 48 contiguous states. NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of the nation’s coastal and marine resources. NOAA is part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Beginning Feb. 1, 2009, only 406 MHz beacons will be detected by the international Cospas-Sarsat SAR satellite system, so I won't even mention other types. Citation: "Personal Locator Beacons as a Rescue Device for Backcountry Travelers," by Ryan Jordan. (ISSN 1537-0364)., 2003-11-23 03:00:00-07.

When the PLB is purchased the Hex Code is registered with the relevant national (or international) authority. Registration provides Search and Rescue (SAR) agencies with crucial information such as: emergency contact phone numbers to call, a description of the person, any additional information that may be useful to SAR agencies. All of this allows SAR agencies to start a rescue more quickly. Remember, PLBs should not be used in cases where normal emergency response exists (i.e. 911.)!

Get ready for sticker shock - they aren't cheap. But would you want them to be? Really, you get what you pay for. Personally, I don't spend enough time in the really remote places to justify purchasing one. However, I'd sure consider renting one. Yes, it would add weight to my pack, but peace of mind should lighten the load!

Pro Athlete hunts with his wife

I found an old story on ESPN Outdoors about Cincinnati Reds pitcher Brian Bohanon. In it, he talks about how "his fondest hunting memory doesn't include a time when he was behind the scope. It was scoping out his spouse, Tina, as she took down an 8-point deer on her very first hunting trip, the first time she ever handled a rifle."

In the full story, Brian talks about his love of hunting and how he assisted his wife on that day. "I was just telling her about shot placement, where to put the crosshairs. I knew the gun was sighted in and it was going to shoot right there. I was just whispering in her ear, 'Just find the shoulder and just go about 2 inches behind it, and, once you get to that point, whenever you're not moving, pull the trigger.' "

He also talks about when his wife decided to start hunting, "I didn't really force her into it. She made the decision on her own to go and do it. And when she said she wanted to go, I said, 'Let's go.' I didn't coax her into it." Sounds like good tips for all the guys out there who'd like their wives/girlfriends to hunt!