Parents worrying is a fact of life even when their children become older, move out of the house, and go about their daily lives without checking in every once in a while. It doesn't seem to get any easier even if they're local and can't go without talking to their mother on the phone a couple times each day, since there's always a period when we don't know what's going on. Now imagine being a mother whose son moved across the country, and then spends hours upon hours exploring unfamiliar and remote waters in search of wild trout, all by himself! I can assure you that there would be some sleepless nights in my house if this was a regular occurrence.
My Father's Day post had a photo of my father and I before heading out to do some muzzleloading for whitetails and some squirrel shooting in a section of Pennsylvania Game Land 143 which is close to home. The picture leads you to believe we're having a great time, and we did, right up to the point when I became hopelessly lost and was looking for a place to spend a very cold and lonely night. The sun eventually peeked through the cloud cover late in the afternoon, allowing me to get my bearings and stumble my way to a road and eventually to the vehicle. The point is, things could have gone terribly wrong and this moment in my life was very sobering with respect to Pennsylvania forests and wild areas.
Technology has come a long way in my lifetime, considering I saw the unveiling of the Casio Calculator Watch, learned BASIC computer programming in high school on a WANG, and had to navigate using a compass and topographical map (which I didn't have with me that day in the woods). Nowadays, our phones can do more than most of the machines 15 years into the computer revolution, and we can navigate by handheld GPS Units rather than relying on the sun for directional help. But what happens if you're lost and you don't have a cell signal, or injured to the point where you can't reach safety on your own.
Personal Locator Beacon or PLB bridge the gap and allow your loved ones to have peace of mind when you hit the woods or the water. They aren't GPS units in the traditional sense, but rather a communication link using satellites, allowing the user to post updates on their location to social media or to programs like Google Maps.
Some units can send text messages, or best of all, you can hit the SOS button immediately alerting monitors to your emergency and start a process leading to you're eventual rescue or extraction. ACR, DeLorme, and SPOT are three common brands that are definitely worth a look when heading out to the middle of no-where. And cost is negligible when you consider the alternative. Each one has features that may be attractive for one reason or another such as being designed to be used on the water while others are ruggedized and better suited to land events. Regardless of the unit, you're sure to set everyone's minds at ease when they receive a location update and they'll also know help will quickly be dispatched if you need it.
Being alone in the wilderness is something that many people enjoy but few are truly prepared for some sort of emergency event. They think their cell phones will be effective enough, and in many cases they will, but there are a lot of gaps in cell phone coverage and I can tell you that those holes happen to be where the most adventurous people want to be. Campers, hikers, hunters, and fishermen could all benefit from adding a PLB to their pack list along with the GPS, paper maps, compass, First Aid Kit and other survival equipment. A couple of these items will help you get where you're going, and the others might save your life in an emergency.
Brian "Beastman" Eastman
White River Fly Shop