With the general deer season about to start in Texas, people all over the state are getting their gear gathered up and getting ready to go hunting. And rescuers all over Texas are getting their gear gathered up and getting ready to go hunting for hunters. This is because, every year, hunters get lost in the woods.The simple way to explain this common occurrence is that the lost hunters are stupid, but that’s not really fair. Some of them are stupid, sure, but sometimes hunters have medical problems, or they fall and bang their heads on rocks, or their flashlight batteries die, or something else happens they don’t expect, and they end up not being able to find their way back where they came from. Either that or they’re just stupid.Either way someone has to go find them, which can be a lot of trouble, and can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days. So it pays to be prepared to get lost, which sounds sort of like planning to fail, but it actually makes sense. Everyone who spends much time in unfamiliar territory gets turned around once in a while. I once wandered around for an hour looking for my pickup. I finally had to get a Wal-Mart cart guy to help me find it. So there you go.Besides, even if you’re stupid, it’s better to be stupid and alive than stupid and dead. At least that’s the theory.Now, all kinds of authorities and experts have weighed in on what exactly you should take with you, in case you get lost in the woods. Number one on just about every list is a compass and map, which is fine if you’re not stupid. But very few hunters, in my opinion, are able to use a compass and map to navigate, so your map should be made of something flamable, like paper, so you can use it to start a fire. Don’t bother with a compass.Fire starters and first aid kits are also on everyone’s list, which is probably a good idea. Most experts also recommend taking a mirror along, but my experience has been that it doesn’t much matter what you look like if you’re lost, so the mirror seems silly.A good knife is usually included on most lists, but using a knife is a good way to cut yourself. Multi-tools are also dangerous, and should be avoided. Flares are pretty much useless, unless you forgot your fire starters. Water treatment tablets can be handy, and if you’re in snake country a snake bite kit might be welcome, although you can probably manage to get bit without a kit.Some kind of shelter is always good, but if you want good shelter you should probably have stayed at home in the first place. I take trash bags and duct tape and zip ties, but I’ve never figured out why.One thing you probably won’t find on any survival kit list, anywhere, is a white wedding dress. At least, I’ve never seen a list with a wedding dress on it. Until now, that is. Kevin Cotter, however, of Tucson, Arizona, claims a wedding dress can be handier than a Swiss Army knife if you’re lost in the woods, or hiding out in a nuclear fallout shelter.But then, Kevin claims there are a lot of uses for a wedding dress no one else ever thought of. This is because Kevin has thought a lot more about wedding dresses than most guys probably ever will. Or something.Over the July 4 weekend in 2009, Kevin’s wife walked out on him, and about all she left was her wedding dress. She told him to do whatever he wanted with it. During the next several months Kevin looked at the box the dress was in, and wondered what he could do with it. His brother, Colin, got involved, and together they started coming up with ideas. Way more ideas than you’d expect, as it turns out.A grill cover, a tug-of-war rope for a dog, a yoga mat, coffee filters, pasta strainers, a scarecrow outfit (complete with Darth Vader helmet), a punching bag cover. The list just kept getting longer, until Kevin decided to put all the ideas together in a book. And the book, ‘101 Uses For My Ex-Wife’s Wedding Dress,’ comes out this week. You will definitely want a copy. At least I will.More than just humorous, or a way to get back at his ex, Kevin’s quest for wedding dress uses was theraputic. It helped him get on with his life, and put his past behind him. He had no idea it would strike such a nerve with people all over, and end up growing into a book. But it did.My favorite wedding dress use, by far, is as hunting camo in snowy conditions. There’s a picture in a TODAY story, written by Laura Coffey, of Kevin skulking through some snowy woods with a gun, wearing the wedding dress, complete with veil.All I can say is I hope I never go looking for a lost hunter, and find him wearing his ex-wife’s wedding dress . . .
Kendal Hemphill is an outdoor humor columnist and public speaker who almost never wears wedding dresses while hunting. Write to him at PO Box 1600, Mason, Tx 76856 or firstname.lastname@example.org