A minimum-maintenance road, 8 feet of fresh, drifted snow, and a 4-wheel-drive Toyota were the ingredients for my very first survival story. Back in high school, my buddy Chris and I were varmint-hunting fools, crisscrossing northeastern South Dakota each winter.

In those days, my hunting career was dependent on three things: maintaining my C average, avoiding traffic violations, and obeying the one command of my old man: Don’t be an idiot.

It was a sub-zero Saturday afternoon, and Chris and I were after varmints. We sat staring down a snow-packed road guarded by a yellow “Minimum Maintenance” sign.

Not a word was spoken as we chugged our Mountain Dews, buckled our seat belts, slipped the truck into four-wheel-drive, slammed her into first, and put the pedal to the floor. That pickup shot out of the blocks like a John Force funny car in the quarter mile. Snow was flying, we were screaming, and the RPMs were redlining. And just like that…POOF! There we sat, buried up to our windshield wipers in snow.

It wasn’t pretty. There was an explosion of plastic truck parts scattered across the prairie, and we were truly in the middle of Nowhere, South Dakota. But, somehow, surviving the elements without a cell phone or a shovel wasn’t my main concern. What really worried me was surviving my old man’s wrath when (or, if) I got home.

So, six hours, a 3-mile walk, and two John Deere tractors later, I finally returned home. Let’s just say the old man was not too happy, and I didn’t do much varmint hunting for the rest of the year.

But, as with all good survival stories, there’s a valuable lesson to be learned here: Next time, get a longer run at it! And pack some survival gear to ward off winter…and my old man.