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Equipment - Safety - Personal Locator
Thursday, September 13, 2007

After watching Survivorman the other night and listening to the news about that Fossett guy who is currently missing, I came to the startling realization that I engage in high risk outdoors behavior.  No, not that... nothing to do with meth or moonshine... fishing.

At 55, I am still addicted and, thankfully, still in shape to do the tough hikes into the remote places.  It's normal for me to walk a mile or two before I even think about beginning to fish.  In addition, I seek out the tough spots - I don't mind climbing over the huge rock boulders that protect the pristine brookie streams in the Shendandoah or sliding across the snot covered rocks of the North Branch.

I'm even ready for a bear or a wild dog with my spray.  But, I am 55 and there are some days - like after the 10 mile day I had going to both Ramsey's Draft and the North River - that I am really glad to get back to the truck.

But... what if? 

  • What if I took one misstep on a snot rock and broke a leg?
  • What if I got lost?
  • What if I finally ran into that bear that likes pepper spray?

Geez.  It could happen. 

If you are with a friend and have commo, you can get somebody to come pull you to safety and do the basic first aid.  If you are alone, the best you can hope for is that somebody notices you did not come home.  In the latter case, hopefully you left a flight plan on where you would be fishing and maybe even left an "upstream or downstream" card on your dashboard

 In either case, you are hours away from an ambulance.  The best case is that your buddy would have to leave you to go get help - potentially leaving you to fall into shock or start bleeding again or have to leave you unconscious on the bank of the stream.  The worst case is that you can start crawling back to where you can be found.

And... if you are 55 ... even though you think you are still pretty tough, you are not as nasty a guy as you were when you were 25. 

All this startled me.  Wow, I could really get into trouble - a slip away.. 

At about the same time I was having these morbid thoughts, an ad for the microfix (above) slid through my spam filter and popped in front of me.  This gear is an emergency locator.  Think of the hunk of electronics they have skiers or snowmobilers wear when they are in avalanche country that allows a rescue team to quickly find them under the snow.


Except this gear works with the global satelitte system and, when activated, sends a signal that is relayed to the rescue guys very quickly and provides them a fix on your location.  In addition, you have to register the device so they know who to call to confirm you are out and about and get any additional information from your emergency contact.

I was excited to see this and followed the link only to get slammed by the price of these things.  They are expensive!

There are two basic types - one with GPS and one without GPS.  The one without GPS is cheaper (run around $450) while the GPS models start about a hundred bucks more.

The difference is that it can take up to an hour for the signal to get to the rescue team and it only tells them your location to a 2.3 nm radius.  The GPS version locates you to a 110 yard radius and gets the signal to the rescue team within 2 - 15 minutes.  I guess the difference is that by having the GPS location, the system is quicker at sending the help signal to the right organization.  In either case, the rescue folks use their equipment to home in a signal emitted by the locator once they get into the area.

But look at that cost!!!

It took several days for me to come to the conclusion that I did not want to be Steve Fossett or those poor guys that died on the Mountain in a snow cave last January because the search team could not find them.  I made the withdrawal from savings and will start carrying the GPS equipped model above with me.

You should think about this and evaluate where you go and what you do.  If you are a road fisherman, you do not need this.  But if you venture into the back country...  give it a good long thought.

Here are some links to these things on Amazon so you can get more of the technical details.

 Unless stated otherwise, this article was authored by Steve Moore

Disclaimer and Warning:  The contents of this site reflect the opinion of the author and you, the reader, must exercise care in the use and interpretation of this information.  Fishing is a dangerous sport.  You can slip and fall on rocks and sustain severe injury.  You can drown.  You can get hooks caught in your skin, face, eyes or other sensitive places.  All sorts of bad things can happen to you when to go into the woods to visit the places documented here.  Forests, streams and lakes are wild areas and any number of bad things can happen.  You must make your own judgment in terms of acceptable behavior and risk and not rely on anything posted here.  I disclaim all liability and responsibility for any actions you take as a result of reading the articles on this site.  If you do not agree with this, you should not read anything posted on this site.

Finally, access points may be different or restricted based on changes in property ownership since posting the original article.  It is up to you to make sure you are fishing where it is legal.

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