Wilderness Survival 101

One should never underestimate the emotional toll being lost takes on you. When it comes to survival the most important tool is a positive outlook and the will to survive. You will inevitably experience problems resulting from fear, despair, and loneliness. In a survival situation, you will experience immense highs and lows. It’s important to never lose your will to survive.wilderness_survival

A great analogy for this is the relationship between a hawk and a rabbit. The rabbit will see a hawk and seek cover under a rock. The hawk will make a loud screeching sound as it flys overhead. The more the hawk screeches, the more panicked the rabbit gets. Eventually the rabbit will break down and make a run for it. However, if the rabbit had just stayed calm it would have survived.

The first thing to do in a survival situation is to find a source of fresh water. You can survive for several weeks without food, but you can only survive a few days without water. The Greek philosopher Miletus once notably declared “The first of things is water.” Without water your chances of living are nil, and all the food in the area means nothing. This is especially true in hot climates where you sweat a lot. Even in cold weather your body needs at least two quarts of water each day. Any lesser amount reduces your ability to function properly.

If you are concerned about the cleanliness of your water, you may find it advantageous to boil it in order to kill any harmful bacteria or parasites. This can be done without the use of a metal pot. All one needs is a container to hold water, a fire, and some small rocks. Heat the rocks over the fire and then place the heated rocks into the water.

It is also important to focus on using your energy wisely. For example, you don’t want to spend more energy trying to catch a small fish, than the energy that fish will provide. Hunger, cold and fatigue will lower your stamina and ability to make good decisions.

This may seem as if I am pointing out the obvious, but one should be sure to keep what they have, add to what they have, and take care of what they have. You should discard nothing and keep an eye out for things that may be of some use. However, there are exceptions to this rule. Gear and supplies can weigh you down and slow your progress. If you are sure of your destination and your route, then you may be better off dumping everything but your bare essentials (knife, food, fire starter) and making a run for it. This however is a risk that should not be made in haste. Your most important tool is your ability to use reason. Despair and anguish will only hurt your ability to reason.

How to build a fire:fire
Perhaps the most important survival skill is the ability to make a fire. Shivering from cold will cost you energy. Being cold will wear you down both mentally and physically. Making a fire will not only provide you with warmth, but it will also give you a feeling of accomplishment that will raise your spirits. If the weather it wet, you can often find dry tinder under trees. You can also try removing the bark in order to get to the dry wood underneath.

Once you have procured dry tinder, you will be ready to start your fire. In an ideal situation you will have either a lighter or matches. If not, you can create a hot ember by the use of friction. There are several ways by which this can be accomplished.  One popular method is to use a bow fashioned with a shoe string. One can then twist the string around a dry stick. You can then work the bow back and forth a causing the bottom of the stick to quickly turn against your dry tinder.

If you have to build the fire on wet ground or snow, it is advisable that you first build a dry platform of logs or stones in order to create a dry area on which to build your fire. On should also build a windbreak or reflector that will reflect the heat of the fire toward you.  It’s also important to note that it takes less energy to keep a fire going than it does to start another one.

Picking the best route: 
If you are lost, you will undoubtedly want find your way out. However, picking the best route is easier said than done. The route that you select to travel depends upon the situation in which you find yourself the weather conditions and the nature of the terrain. Whether you select a ridge, stream, or dense forest the easiest route can often be the worst. You instinctively want to travel downhill since it is easier. In doing so, you may find yourself tired and surrounded by high hills. Your best decision is to first climb up a hill or ridge in order to get your bearings. From a higher vantage point you just might be lucky enough to spot a trail, road, or small town.

Traveling in mountains or other rugged country can be dangerous and confusing unless you know a few tricks. What looks like a single ridgeline from a distance may turnout to be a series of ridges and valleys. In extremely high mountains a snowfield or glacier that appears to be continuous and easy to travel over might cover a sheer drop of hundreds of feet. In densely forested areas, trees growing in valleys formed by streams reach great heights and their tops are at about the same level as trees growing on the valley slopes and hilltops where the water is scarce; this forms a tree line that from a distance appears level and continuous.

Wilderness survival food:snare 3
Procuring food is especially important during a survival episode when you need every ounce of energy and endurance that you can muster. It’s important for you to limit the amount of energy you use. The more energy you use, the more calories you need to consume in order to survive. Humans have adapted to thrive in almost every environment in the world. As such, there is a good chance of survival if you can keep your wits about you and focus on the task at hand. After you have found a source for fresh water and shelter, you will need to start thinking about food.fish

If you are lucky enough to either kill an animal, or come across one that is already dead, you can dry it’s intestines over a fire in order to convert them into a cord. This can be used to make a bow sting as well as a wealth of other uses. If you manage to kill some game it is important to start thinking about preserving it. The best way to preserve meat is to turn it into jerky. This can be done by smoking it. It’s of the utmost importance that you cut the meat into small thin strips.

It is generally safe to try wild plant foods you see being eaten by birds and animals. However, just because an animal is eating one part of a plant doesn’t mean that the entire plant in edible.

When fishing it’s important to note that fish tend to bite bait that is native to where they live. Generally worms and insects are your best bet. One can also use the fish’s intestines and eyes for bait. You can also try your hand a building a fish trap. The basic purpose of a fish trap is to funnel the fish into a confined area where they will either become trapped or easily speared.  However, this can be a physically taxing endeavor. As such, you should be relatively certain of success and consciously limit the amount of calories that are expended.
fish trap

Survival Shelter:

The “lean to” is perhaps the most commonly built and simplest timber shelter. No mater what kind of shelter you build, it is important that you locate it in an area where you can build a fire to spread warmth equally throughout the shelter. The proper placing of the lean to and fire in relation to prevailing winds is another consideration.

A “lean to” can be improved by the use of a fire reflector that is situated at the opening of the lean to. Large stones stacked behind the fire can also reflect heat.

One would do well to pick a campsite on a high spot of ground in an open place well back from swamps or wet ground. The ground will be drier. One should also make a bed. You do not want to sleep on the ground. You can easily make a bed from small branches covered in dry leaves.

A shelter can protect you from the sun, insects, wind, rain, snow, hot or cold temperatures. It can give you a feeling of well-being and safety. From a psychological standpoint it can help you maintain your will to survive.

1 Comment

  • Jurek says:

    My boyfriend had been wniantg a water purification system and I was never sure which one to get. The one you linked has awesome ratings, I picked it up just in time for his birthday.

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