SFNF officials are encouraging hunters to be well prepared before entering into the forest. Courtesy/SFNF
SANTA FE – Santa Fe National Forest (Forest) officials encourage hunters to be well prepared before entering into the forest and to operate safely.
People require rescue almost every year because they weren’t prepared to enter into the forest and wilderness areas.
“Hunters got lost in two separate instances in the Santa Fe National Forest within the past few days,” said Diane Prather, Forest staff officer and Search and Rescue Coordinator. “Luckily each hunter was found to be in good condition. We urge that if you are to hunt in the national forests, establish a “check in/check” out system with family members or friends.”
The fall months are especially dangerous with decreasing overnight temperatures and the potential for bad weather. Because of the increased chances for injury or death from exposure, Forest officials encourage visitors to prepare for fall hunting by wearing suitable hiking gear such as insulated boots and packing extra clothing layers. Be sure to carry adequate water, an ample food supply and first aid kit. GPS is very good to have, but batteries can fail. Learn the area, carry extra batteries, study your maps, pack a compass and signal mirror. It is also wise to carry a safety whistle to let rescuers know your location over a greater area if you get injured and are immobile.
The weather can change suddenly and dramatically; therefore, know the weather conditions before you go and be prepared for the possibility of encountering wild animals, rock falls, falling trees and snags, loose or uneven ground, mines, caves, ticks, water hazards, hypothermia, lightning, floods, hail, winds, and heat. “Know before you go” by visiting the USDA Forest Service web site, which provides “forest goers” with information for a more safe and enjoyable experience: https://www.fs.fed.us/visit/know-before-you-go. Leave No Trace, an agency partner also provides excellent information about pre-trip planning: https://lnt.org/learn/principle-1.
Wilderness areas are managed by the USDA Forest Service to provide visitors with primitive, challenging recreation opportunities that require a high degree of self-reliance and navigation skills. The beauty and peacefulness of the forest may make you feel carefree, but you must remain vigilant to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Contact the local Ranger District or the Forest Headquarters at 505.438.5300 for more information.