AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Maine is a state with vast and diverse wildland.
That’s why it is important to have a basic understanding of survival should you find yourself lost.
Michael Douglas is the founder of the Maine Primitive Skills School in Augusta. For years, he has been teaching people survival skills from the basic to the advanced. He says venturing out into nature with a plan is the first key.
“People get so caught up in the fun and the beauty of nature that they tend to forget to respect nature. The out of doors is unforgiving."
"Primitive navigation, as well as GPS, as well as learning how to use a map and compass, having a trip planned before you leave so people know you're out there and when you're supposed to come back and the route you're taking, all of these things are essential in that aspect of awareness."
Douglas says varying temperatures and weather make finding a location imperative to both surviving and being rescued.
"Once we find a place to sit and wait to be rescued, it should have lots of leaf litter, high and dry, southern exposure, ideally a place that is as close to where you think the trail is but also has a great expanse of sky so that you can hear not just airplanes, but traffic."
Shelter is one thing stressed by Douglas at the school. He says the ability to maintain body heat and stay off cold surfaces is a primary concern for anyone in the wilderness.
"Have a quick means of making an adequate shelter. Doesn't have to be a tent or a sleeping bag. It could be two trash bags you stuff with leaves to get yourself off the ground. "
The folks at the school also showed us some of the other basics, like how to build a fire and gather water.
"You can boil water in a paper cup. As long as those flames don't hit that container above the water line, they won't burn it. So boiling water is going to be huge, so we need fire as well."
"Have a knife, have multiple ways to light a fire. If you don't know how to do ferro rods or sparks then get two lighters, or five lighters. Have one in each pocket and two in the backpack."
In terms of wildlife, Douglas says it's rare for a non-rabid animal to approach a human minding their own business.
"The biggest animal to worry about is mosquitoes, black flies, those little biting bugs, because they will drive you mad."
Douglas also recommends completing these tasks at a calming pace rather than trying to accomplish everything at once.
"You're not really just going all out, you're kind of methodically getting things done. You're a craftsman and the craft is maintaining your life until someone comes finds you."
Most of all, keeping a positive attitude and a level head can be the difference while trying to survive.
"The primary approach for anyone, whether they're a POW, or sinking on the Lusitania, or being lost in the woods, or at sea for over a year, is finding what you're most thankful for and holding on to that as the reason for coming home."
To sign up for a class at the school, you can visit primitiveskills.com. The Maine Warden Services also offers up tips when venturing out into the wild. To see those, visit mainegov.