Chapter 8 - Preparation and Survival

Preparation and Survival Skills

When hunting, as with any outdoor activity, there is a possibility for unpredictable incidents to occur due to the challenges of rough terrain, remote locations and rapidly changing weather. In Texas, there is a wide range of rugged habitats, each with their own hazards. Careful preparation and the development of survival skills will allow the hunter to safely endure most adverse situations.

Hunting Plan

Plan your hunt, then hunt your plan!

Before you go hunting, make a written hunting plan that lists everybody on your hunt and their contact information, where you will be hunting and when you expect to return. It should also list an EMS address for the property, GPS coordinates if known, vehicle descriptions, contact information of the property owner and contact information of the local game warden or sheriff. Find the game warden for the county where you will be hunting.

Download a Hunting Plan form

Leave a copy of the Hunting Plan with a family member or responsible adult. Plan your hunt, and hunt your plan!

Hunters in air boat

When hunting from boats and traveling on the water, especially on the Texas coast, use life jackets at all times. It is also recommended that boat operators become certified in Boater Education.


Your choice of clothing and how you wear it can have a major impact on your hunt. Being properly dressed for the weather conditions will make you more comfortable and reduce risks of adverse reactions. It is always a good idea to bring extra clothing to adapt to changes in weather, both hot and cold. It is also wise to always bring some rain gear. Another important choice is to include a jacket or vest, along with a hat in daylight fluorescent hunter orange.

cutaway image of layered clothing

Hunter outfitted for winter weather

In cold weather, it is important to layer clothing, especially if you will be sitting still for long periods and therefore not generating much body heat. As the day warms up or when you start moving and your body warms up, you can shed layers as the situation dictates. The bottom layer should wick moisture away from the skin but still retain warmth. The next layer is thicker insulating layer that allows your body to heat the air contained there. The outer layer should provide a barrier to the inner layers from wind and water. It can be of a variety of materials and configurations. Some hunters prefer overalls so there is no open seam at the waist. Others prefer uppers and lowers to make shedding layers easier.

hunter orange seen from across a field

Hunter Orange

Wearing a jacket or vest, along with a hat in daylight fluorescent hunter orange can be one of the most important choices you make. This color is not found in nature so it stands out from the surroundings, even at long distances. When you see this color when you are hunting it is the signal that another hunter is there. In many states it is required by law to hunt anywhere. In Texas, it is not required, but recommended on private lands, and is required on public lands.  Please see the Public Hunting Lands booklet for details and requirements.

hunters at Black Gap Hunters in orange at Black Gap

See what difference hunter orange can make in identifying other hunters?

Directional Aids

Hunter using a GPS

If you are hunting in remote or unfamiliar areas, there are a variety of ways to navigate your way.


Topographical Map Map Legend Compass

Topographical maps are very important maps to the hunter. Contour lines reveal changes in elevation, usually in 10 foot intervals. Lines that are close together indicate steep inclines. At the bottom of the map is a legend that indicates the location of magnetic north. Setting a compass to the declination noted there will allow you to travel along a true directional course.


handheld GPS unit

Global Positioning Systems receive information from satellites to precisely calculate your position. These readings can be taken at any time of day and under any weather condition. They are electronic so you will need fully charged batteries and it would be wise to carry fresh back-ups. There are Apps for cell phones that have rural topographical maps and GPS capabilities but these can be limited by reception.