If Patrick F. McManus Had Entered the Contest

by Patrick F. McManus

If you think you may have to spend the night in the woods, you may wish to fashion some form of temporary shelter. For one night, a tree with good thick foliage will serve the purpose. Thick foliage will help keep the rain off, and reduces the chance of falling out of the tree.

After a day or two, it is probably a good idea to build a more permanent shelter, such as a lean-to. A very nice lean-to can be made out of large slabs of bark, pried from a dead cedar, pine or tamarack, and leaned against the truck of an upright tree. If you have a tendency to walk in your sleep, the lean-to should not be more than fifteen feet from the ground. After a couple of weeks, it might be a good idea to add some simple furnishings and pictures.

Each day you are lost should be recorded by carving a notch on some handy surface. (This procedure should be skipped by anyone lost at sea in a rubber life raft.) I’ve known people lost only a few hours and already they had carved half a notch. The reason for the notches is that you may write a book on your experience and sell it to the movies. As is well known, a film about being lost is absolute zilch without an ever-increasing string of notches. The best film treatment of notches that I’ve seen was in a TV movie about a couple whose plane had crashed in the Yukon. They painted the notches on the plane’s fuselage with a set of oil paints. It was a great touch and added a lot of color to the drama. I for one never go out into the woods anymore without a set of oil paints, just in case I’m lucky enough to be lost long enough to interest a film producer.

More witty cautionary tales of outdoor life, by everybody's favorite expert on the subject, Patrick F. McManus.

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1 comment:

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