The Outdoors Man
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By The Outdoors Man, May 26 2015 07:28AM

On a recent mediterranean trip, our avid outdoors man Michael stumbled across a very poisonous viper. This viper is native to the Med, as well as further afield in the Middle East, and the entire experience really shook him up. Fortunately, he received extensive training in his earlier years regarding snakes and spiders, and he was able to walk away from this encounter unscathed. But we wanted to put together a list of things that you can do to avoid a bite, or at least stand the best chances of survival if the worst was to happen to you.

Protective Gear

If there's one thing that the Mediterranean is known for in the summer, it's the scorching heat. The heat makes it very tempting to wear short sleeved shirts and a pair of shorts. The truth is that just a simple protective layer of clothing is often more than enough to deter sharp fangs - but the thicker the better. Consider wearing boots with metal toe-caps, as well as combats or at least jeans. They can be loose if you prefer, in fact looser may be better - especially if a snake decides to strike as the extra wrinkles can take the bite and stop the snakes' fangs from breaking your skin.

Avoid Low Trees

In the heat, it's not uncommon for poisonous snakes and spiders to nest around the base of low trees. The low tree provides enough cover from the direct sunlight, as well as protection from predatory birds that use taller trees as vantage points. If you need to find shade, be sure to check the ground area properly using a stick rather than your hands. Between May and June, most spiders and snakes will be mating - and some may even have laid their eggs by this point. If you go anywhere near these locations; you'll be greeted by an incredibly aggressive animal, so steer clear at all costs.

Move Slowly

If there's one thing that's guaranteed to trigger a response in snakes and spiders - it's fast movement. If you happen to come across a nesting parent, or a snake on its' travels, then be sure to stand entirely still. Don't shout, stamp or make any fast movements. Take a deep breath, gauge the situation and then retreat slowly. If possible, allow the snake to continue its journey as you remain in place. Snakes need direct sunlight for energy, so they'll often sit atop rocky outcrops, or within fields with stones. Just make sure to watch your step and listen for hissing from a few yards away to avoid the risk.

By The Outdoors Man, Oct 13 2014 12:08PM

Using the Sun to Tell the Time

The sun rises in the East and sets in the West and when it's in the center of the sky, it's usually about 12 noon. So anywhere on the left will be between 6am and 12 noon, with the sun being between 12 noon and 6pm on the right. Although the direct angles of East and West may vary depending on the time of year, season, weather clarity and so on - the sun will always rise on the Eastern side of the planet and then set on the Western side. It's important to note that you should never look directly at the sun as it can cause damage to your retinas.

Finding your Direction Outside

If you're outdoors without a compass, look for moss on trees and rocks. Moss grows facing North in the Northern Hemisphere (North of the equator) and South in the Southern Hemisphere (South of the equator). If you ever struggle to find lichen or moss outdoors, then try looking for areas where damp or rain may be present more so than drier areas. The wilderness is constantly changing as the months progress, so search under any loose rocks that may have fallen, or clumps of leaves that might have concealed moss and lichen. Even old moss will clearly demonstrate the direction of the sun, so leave no stone unturned.

The Stick Technique

If you find that the sun isn't as easy to locate (perhaps the weather conditions aren't ideal), then it's worth using the stick technique. Place a stick firmly in to the ground pointing directly upwards and then stand back. You'll see a shadow running in the opposite direction to the sun's rays. This shadow can tell you what time of day it is and the formula works in the following way:

- Mark the current tip of the shadow using a small stone or other marker as the sun rises.

- Wait for the sun to reach its height and then mark the tip of the shadow again (this will represent roughly 12 noon).

- Allow the sun to almost set and then place a final stone at the tip of the stick to represent the Eastward direction.

This method is very useful if you're outdoors for more than 24 hours as you will have a visual compass to refer to. If you find that you need to keep moving and can't rely on a static stick to help with your direction, then look to the distance and try to identify a feature in the direction of your Western marker. As long as you can spot this feature as you travel, you'll have a permanent reference for direction.

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