Even if you read Hatchet as a kid and used that information to fashion a bow and arrow out of branches and your shoelace, that doesn't automatically mean you'll be eating some animal by nightfall. When trying to kill most animals, deer in particular, you're more likely to end up swallowing your own teeth and nose cartilage than any deer meat. That's because deer don't want to die any more than you do, and because now you've made one angry.
"You dummy, did you not see that my head is made of weapons?"
We generally think of deer as nervous creatures that bounce away at the slightest sign of danger, but depending on the time of year, deer are notorious for attacking people; the bucks go into rut in the fall, and the does are more aggressive in the spring to protect their fawns, as a result, they're more than willing to kick a human in the face if they suspect he or she might be a threat.
So unless you can kill a deer with one shot from the arrow you just made from a twig, there's a better chance you'll end up in a bleeding pile of broken bones than the deer will. And while there have never been any documented cases of deer eating people, they are opportunistic carnivores that eat other animals when they have the chance, so it would be particularly embarrassing to have your broken body tasted by the same deer you thought you were going to eat.
Making a fire while lost in the wilderness is not only one of the best ways to stay alive, but also one of the surest ways to help rescuers find you. Unfortunately, if you're in an area where you can easily find enough dry grass, bark and wood to create a fire, then you're essentially standing in a giant pile of kindling that's ready to ignite. Lost hikers setting signal fires are rarely careful about creating an enclosed fire pit first, understandably, because they just want to be rescued as quickly as possible. But as a result, they've also accidentally burned down huge chunks of forests. So while it's difficult to get a fire going out in the wild, it's shockingly easy to burn yourself up in one after you get it lit.
"I'm right here! See me? Next to the tree!"
Fires built for warmth inside makeshift shelters are just as dangerous. Even an expert in outdoor survival like Les Stroud accidentally burned down his lean-to during the Alaska episode of Survivorman. That's because the walls and the ceiling of your shelter are probably made of dead wood you found, which is like sleeping inside a tinderbox. Even if you keep the fire small, you'll have to huddle in close, which only increases your chances of setting yourself on fire or, at the very least, melting your synthetic clothes to your skin. So really it's lose-lose.
Of all the humiliating ways to die in the middle of nowhere, inadvertently starting a forest fire is probably the worst, because you're taking charred piles of wildlife with you, and possibly even a few homes, depending on how embarrassingly close to civilization you actually were.
For more from Soren, check out 5 Internet Prescribed 'Cleanses' That Made Me Immortal and The Most Appropriately Endangered Species on the Planet.