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When the wild calls, Doug Huffman knows how to answer

Huffman is a featured presenter at the El Dorado Fairgrounds’ 2nd Annual Gateway to the Sierra Sportsman's & Outdoor Expo, Sept. 30 – Oct. 1.
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“I was just…” Those are three words that search and rescue crews almost always hear when they find someone alive. You can finish the sentence many ways, ”I was just going for a nice drive in the country,” or “I was just gonna to take a few pictures and be on my way,” but, the end result is the same: suddenly a casual outing has turned into a survival situation. “Many problems arise because people are unprepared or underprepared,” says survival specialist Doug Huffman. “We just don’t think that anything bad will happen to us and if it does, we figure we can handle it easily enough. Most of us tend to overestimate our abilities.” Huffman is a featured presenter at the Gateway to the Sierra Sportsman’s Outdoor Expo. He’s the owner/operator of the Sierra School of Survival in Placerville with over 30 years of survival experience and a lifetime of experience in the backcountry. He’s worked with such agencies as the Navy SEALS, FBI, Search and Rescue and many more. After years of teaching military and law enforcement agencies the critical skills of survival—-both in the wilderness and in urban disasters--he now offers his advice and products to the public. “Would you know how to start a fire without a match or how to build a snow cave?” These two skills alone could mean the difference between life and death, says Huffman. “There are lots of different scenarios of dangerous situations that can occur, but there are three things that you should always be prepared for: hypothermia, hyperthermia and dehydration. If you can handle these, chances are you can survive.” And, it’s not just about the ability to survive if you’re stranded in the wilderness. Huffman says he’s had a big rise in interest about skills to survive in urban disasters. Events such as Hurricane Katrina and even 911 have created a heightened interest. A library of books has been written on the subject and television shows such as "Man vs. Wild," "Survivorman" and "Lost” have become hugely successful. What if a plane crashes or what if there’s an earthquake or the economy collapses and we have serious food shortages? “There’s a method where a person can have vegetables in three days — even without sunlight — rather than waiting 70 to 90 days for a garden to produce,” says Huffman. “It’s about life skills, being prepared for the unexpected and knowing what to do. Having prior hands-on experience can mean the difference between success and failure.” Huffman began acquiring survival skills at a young age. His father was an avid backpacker and outdoor enthusiast and he grew up hiking, backpacking and camping from California to Missouri. At the age of 17, he took his first of many multi-week solo backpacking trips throughout the deserts, mountains and Indian reservations of Arizona. He now trains military, law enforcement and civilians in wilderness and urban survival, tracking and counter tracking, escape and evasion, close quarter combat and team movements and communications. Huffman conducts survival seminars nationwide and has been featured in many local and national television shows and magazines. He’ll be giving a series of seminars at the Gateway to the Sierra Sportsman’s & Outdoor Expo, September 30 – October 2 at the El Dorado Fairgrounds, 100 Fairgrounds Drive in Placerville. All seminars are free with admission to the Expo. Visit www.eldoradocountyfair.org for more information, including a full listing of seminar times and events. Expo hours are hours are Friday, Noon-7pm; Saturday, 9am-7pm; and Sunday, 9am-5pm. Tickets prices are $7 for adults, $4 for children (7-12), and Free for children 6 and under. Parking is $5.