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What's Important

What’s important to you right now? That’s a pretty easy question to answer, the harder question is what’s going to be important in five minutes? Likely you have some idea what’s going to happen in the next five minutes or even the next hour, but what if something changes?

Let’s look at the question hypothetically with a fictional story.

It’s early fall, you hiked up the ridge by flashlight before the sun came up. The crisp air feels good, it’s been a long hot summer. You’ve been waiting for this, the solitude, your time to leave town behind and worship nature…this is what’s important to you right now.  

 You’re standing on the edge of a small park, but you don’t walk out into the park, you stick just inside the timber. There’s a slight breeze but it’s in your face…that’s good…this is what’s important to you right now.   

You’ve seen this park before, in fact, in the past couple of weeks you’ve been watching this area a lot, but you’ve kept your distance. You’ve been watching a herd of elk that bed down here most every evening. You know that at first light they will begin to mill around, the cows will start talking and they will begin to move.

Recently the bulls have started to get agitated and aggressive, the rut is starting.

You watch as the sun starts to crest over the far ridge, it will be light enough to shoot soon. You pick up your bow and move to a better position while making sure to stay silent. You know that the slightest sound could ruin the entire hunt.  

Just as the light starts to enter the park you see them; the herd is there; your adrenaline starts to rise. After all the scouting, hiking, and watching its finally time. You take an arrow out of its quiver and knock it…this is what’s important to you right now.   



As the light starts to get brighter you can see just what’s going on, and just as you expected the cows are starting to move. You can hear them starting to talk to each other as they begin grazing, but you stay silent, not moving. Your position is perfect, you’re in the shadows behind some brush with a clear view into the park, that breeze is still in your face…this is what’s important to you right now.  

You look out past the cows and there he is, standing on the far edge of the park just outside of the timber, that’s the one you’ve been looking for, a six-point bull in his prime! He’s relaxed, just getting up from his bed. He’s too far away to get a shot at him and you know you can’t stalk him, you’ll get busted. You give a locator call to see if you can get him to come to you. His ears perk up and he is tense now, he’s not happy that your there. He starts to move toward you…this is what’s important to you right now.


As you start to draw your bow you give another call. Now the bull answers, only he’s mad, his call is sharp and raspy with grunts and growls. He moves between you and his cows and starts to shoo them to the other side of the park. He now turns broad side between you and the cows, he’s about twenty yards out…it’s perfect, you touch the release and you hear the twang of the bow string followed by a hollow thud…this is what’s important to you right now.  

Your adrenaline is pumping but you sit still, silent, not moving from behind your cover.

The big bull’s attitude changes in an instant. He’s no longer mad, he realizes something has gone wrong. He never saw or smelled you, but he’s hurt, and anger turns to fear, he turns and runs to the other side of the park into the timber. In an instant the big bull has lost control of the situation. As he leaves the park the cows disappear into the timber silently like ghosts…now your all alone, the stalk is over.

You slowly start to move, your hands are shaking. You feel the rush of adrenaline starting to dissipate, you find a rock and sit down. You ponder what just happened, you’re sure it was a good hit, all you can do now is wait. You know you don’t want to push him, the big bull has to go lay down and die on his own.

After several hours you move out into the park where the bull was standing when you took your shot. There’s good sized puddle of blood, this is a good sign. You slowly, carefully follow the trail of blood out of the park into the timber…the park is now empty.

Following the trail, you move downhill and come out of the timber again to the edge of rock slide. It looks like the bull traversed the rock slide on his way down the mountain. The terrain is steep as you step out of the timber onto the trail going across the rock slide, but your busy following the blood trail…this is what’s important to you right now.


Continuing to move across the rock slide you intently move from puddle to puddle, they are getting bigger…the bull is slowing down.

Suddenly your attention is pulled away from the blood trail by the feeling of the ground going out from under you! You are now tumbling and feel you pack come off, you’re also feeling every single rock you encounter. Then you hear an audible cracking sound and a searing intense pain moves up your leg.

Finally, you come to rest between two rocks, you manage to pull your head up and look down at your foot, it is sitting sideways, and you can see bone sticking out of your torn pants. At this point you almost pass out, but you can’t…you may never wake if you do.

Just like the big bull earlier in the day, you’ve instantly lost control of the situation…now what’s important to you?    


Our hero’s fortune has abruptly changed, what’s important to him or her has changed drastically in an instant.

I’ve made up this story to illustrate a point. Here at Wilderness Survival Systems we believe there are four major concerns during an emergency in the back country, and any one of those concerns can be the most important depending on the situation, making that concern “what’s important to you right now”.

We refer to those four major concerns as the big four and they are as follows.

  • Medical emergency (like our hero)
  • Temperature regulation
  • Being found
  • Water

That’s it…if you can manage these things you can survive at least 72 hours in the back country. Also, as I’ve said, any one of these concerns can be “what’s important to you now” and has to be dealt with first or you will die. In our hero’s case they will have to deal with the compound fracture on his or her lower leg, then he will have to deal with immobility, and then must figure out a way to be found soon!

You can see how this hierarchy of concerns can change depending on the situation. If our hero had been caught in a snowstorm instead of falling, the hierarchy of concerns would be entirely different.

The idea of the big four survival concerns will be something we will discuss a lot. So, in the next couple of posts we’ll go ahead and break these down and discuss how to deal with them in more detail.

Until next time stay safe,

Thanks for reading,




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