There’s no need to drop and roll when you’re lost but the Minnesota DNR does suggest you STOP.

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Lost hunters urged to STOP for survival (November 18, 2008)


Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation officers responded to several calls about lost hunters during the opening weekend of the Minnesota firearm deer season. Fortunately, in each instance the hunter was rescued.

Becoming lost in the woods can happen to even the best hunters according to Capt. Mike Hammer, DNR Education Program coordinator.

“If you are lost, just STOP,” added Hammer.

STOP stands for:

  • sit down, do not panic
  • think about your problem
  • observe area
  • plan what to do

“Hunters who have completed a DNR Hunter Education Firearms Safety Education course know about STOP,” Hammer said.

Other tips:


This is critical. If a person continues to assume they will find a familiar landmark over the next hill or around the next comer, they will just heighten their sense of panic. That sense of panic could even cause a person to discard clothing or hide from would-be rescuers.


Make plans to stay in one spot until you are rescued. Find a good spot to use as shelter. There should be shelter materials, water, and firewood close by. Sometimes there are “shelter helpers” you can use. A natural shelter such as a cave or rock overhang is great, but sometimes a large downed tree, a boulder, cliff base, or rock wall will do. Gather wood and start a fire. This will give you warmth and also act as a signal for searchers. Build a shelter with the top closest to the fire to reflect the heat. Use sticks, branches, and pine boughs if available. Gather plenty of firewood. You can estimate that it will take one hour to build a fire and three hours to build a shelter, depending on the shelter type and what you have to work with. Plan so that smoke and sparks don’t blow into the shelter.


Hypothermia is the main factor in making bad decisions in the outdoors. If you can stay dry, you will have a much better chance of staying warm. The head and neck need to be kept warm and dry since a lot of body heat is lost in this area. If the blood gets cooled because of no protection on your head and neck, it cools the body core and you become hypothermic. If the body loses one degree of temperature a person’s ability to think clearly is affected. If you get wet, fire and getting dry is a must.


Being lost in the woods does not have to be life threatening. Plan for it by having a cell phone, matches in a waterproof container, a compass, a knife, a small candle, a whistle, a pocket survival blanket, high-energy snacks, and a water container. A person can survive up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water.

Hammer said these few items can be carried in one small fanny pack and just may save a life. He also recommended telling someone where you will be going and when you will return.

“Be aware of changing weather conditions and plan to be out of the woods before a storm changes familiar surroundings into something that you no longer recognize,” said Hammer. “Survival is an attitude, but you need to plan and be able to think clearly for that to happen.”