Situational Awareness is the ability to identify, process, and comprehend the critical elements of information about what is happening around you. It's a skill we see as invaluable and are always trying to hone. Once tapped into, it's a skill that can be used to avoid danger in public, spot wild foods or identify potential dangers in the wilderness before they ruin your adventure.
A gentleman on one of our courses asked me about ways I develop my situational awareness, I said “my main lessons come from my Alaskan Malamute” Maska. Food and protection of his pack are the only things of importance to him, for him to achieve that he needs a particular skill set. He is always 10 steps ahead of us (literally), always observant and scanning his environment, always tuned into his senses. His instincts and behaviours don't always go well with living around people or other animals so in turn I must develop great awareness of my surroundings to avoid him getting into trouble. I'm not suggesting we all study the behaviour of wolves and follow their lead but there is a lot to be learnt from animals as without that vital skill they usually end up on someone else's dinner plate.
“The life of the American Indian was a satisfying but precarious one. Natural and human dangers abounded. To watch for these threats, the Sioux selected certain men to serve as two types of scouts — one for hunting and one for war. Part of the job of the latter was to secrete themselves just outside the tribe’s village at night and listen and watch for potential enemies in the darkness; Eastman describes these nocturnal scouts as having been so trained as to rival an owl or a cat in their ability to see in the dark.” Be ever alert, but not paranoid or fearful Charles Eastman, Ohiyesa