Survival Skills

Okay, today let’s talk about learning survival skills.

can you pick up a fallen tree, and lay it in between two limbs on a standing tree? Look at the letter “Y”. See the gap at the top? Can you place a log or fallen tree in that spot?

That’s a good survival skill, by the way. You just made half a shelter. Remember those tarps I talked about in the “Stuff to buy” section? Hey, try draping one over the fallen tree. Now pile stuff over the edges of the tarp that are on the ground.

Hey, another neat skill!

Those are simple and easy to learn, right?

Of course. You’ve just built a quick shelter.

Survival Skill - Get out of Dodge

So, let’s postulate that the Antichrist has been announced, you multiplied 12 times 3.5, then divided that number into 14, and figured out you probably have three months before world war breaks out. You sell everything you have, buy all the tons of supplies I told you about, and left the week before the deadline.

You arrive somewhere in Idaho, Quebec, Montana, northern Maine, wherever. It’s three in the afternoon. It’s about to start getting dark, and cold. What do you do?

Survival Skill: Build Shelter

First things first, I’d look for a fallen tree, and grab it. I’d try to place it in the “Y” of two other trees. Now it’s an uneven H frame. I’d then lay the tarp over it, and fold part of the tarp underneath the tree. That’s your floor, so that bugs aren’t crawling up your nose while you sleep tonight. Also to keep you dry. Now, the outside of the tarp needs to be held down. Pile rocks and logs on it to keep it from being blown away.

The tarp should be shaped like this _/\_ and part of that folded underneath to provide a floor.

Okay, get some of your supply crates out of your vehicle and into the tent. Because essentially, you just made a military survival tent from a tarp. If you got waterproof tubs to keep your items safe, great. You did well. Now pile blankets on it. If you got a sleeping bag, it goes on them too. That’s your bed platform.

Survival Skill: You need fire-making skills.

Small tinder to larger tinder to logs is the progression. See, that’s the first thing a cub scout learns to get that merit badge! Wood shavings under tree bark are always dry, so even if you get there and it’s been raining, guess what? You’ve got survival tinder right there. Don’t strip all the bark around the tree… that kills them. It’s how beavers kill a tree so that it drops to the ground eventually, and gives them a supply of wood to build their dams with.

So, wood shavings on top of a pile of small sticks on top of larger ones. If you brought an axe, split some wood into small planks. Why? That’s going to be obvious in a minute.

If you brought an axe, you can now build a trench underneath part of the fire. it just needs to be shallow, to let air under it. put some of the wood planks over it, small branches next, smaller twigs on top, and then your pile of tinder. Now light it.

Did you learn fire making skills? They come in handy right now. Try one of those lighters I suggested on my “What to buy” list. If you ignored me and brought waterproof matches, hah, go ahead and use them now. did they light? If they did, hey, great. If not, use them as added tinder and get rid of the stupid things. Hopefully you bought lighters. And hopefully ignoring my advice didn't cost you your life.

It seems like I’m afflicted by people who listen to me preach against waterproof matches and respond with, “Well, I guess I should pack both…”. No. Don’t even bother with them. Really. Okay, go ahead and spend extra money getting something that doesn't work. be my guest. Before the Rapture, we called that “getting ripped off”.

Here’s how to start a fire. squeeze a little hand sanitizer onto a dry leaf, and place that on your tinder pile. Now take your lighter and apply it to everything. Small branches, the leaf, the tinder. You should have a nice roaring fire in a matter of minutes. If you use REGULAR matches instead, be sure to drop the match onto the fire when it starts burning your fingers. Yes, you can catch fire, but that’s not recommended tinder for your fire.

Remember hanging cloths/jacket edges/sleeves/Shemagh/Tallis when making your fire - they do catch fire, and nicely, and they don't care if you're wearing them at the time.

Hopefully you’re not by yourself, and you dispatched others to gather wood. If the wood is wet, pile it near the fire and it will eventually dry out. Keep that fire going, for the next seven years. if you let it go out, you have to relight it. The idea is to conserve your lighters, your matches, and the useless waterproof matches you ignored my advice and wasted your money on anyway.

 Fire Bow

fire drills are cool. Fire bows are cool. Should you learn how to use one? Probably. I doubt you brought seven years worth of lighters and matches, which is why I suggest keeping your fire going continually. It’s far better to learn how to use a fire bow or fire drill and not need it – than to need it and not have it. Most of the areas I recommend survival in are usually northern areas, and the cold and wet will kill you quickly. Even a rain soaked evening in the springtime or early fall can reduce you to hypothermia and kill you in a single night.

Survival Skill - hunting and harvesting

should you learn to hunt and fish? Yes. Hunting’s not really hard, you point a rifle at something and squeeze the trigger back in a smooth, even motion. usually the prey drops to the ground. If it’s a grizzly bear you’re shooting at, keep repeating that squeezing motion until the bear drops motionless, and you might want to consider once or twice more after that. I’d hate to be cutting meat from that thing and have it pounce on me while I’m doing it, because I guarantee Mr. Bear’s gonna be a little annoyed.

wolves… there’s some kind of a statistic floating around saying nobody has ever been reported being killed and eaten by a wolf. Well, yes. There’s also no reports of anyone claiming to have been being eaten alive by an alligator or shark, either… but we know it happens. One wolf is not a danger. Trouble is, they rarely travel alone. The one you see is usually followed by several others. now there’s a problem.

You should learn to hunt, fish, and trap. I think I talked about my feelings on trapping before. I like deadfalls, because its quicker. Have I ever hunted, fished or trapped? Nope. And you better believe I’d learn, and practice building traps, long before it was time to go.

Rule of thumb:

Skills you learn keep you alive.

Skills you do not learn will not keep you alive.

Survival Skill - Water Harvesting

Last is water harvesting. Learn this quick, because you cannot carry more than a week’s supply of water. It’s bulky, it’s heavy. You want to start on this the first day, the first hour. Drink from streams and standing water as little as possible – you don’t know what dead animal is lying in the stream just a hundred yards uphill from you. Rats need water too, and they continuously urinate everywhere they go. That includes in the stream you’re drinking from.

All water should be considered as contaminated. If you brought the makings of a purification kit, great. It’s as simple as taking a screen for a window, and piling three layers of sand and charcoal on it. Your best water purifier would be a plastic trash can you’ve rigged with a tap (like in a Colman’s cooler – hey, great idea!!!!) and building a wood frame you screw into place about a foot down.

staple two or three layers of window screen to it. When you get on site, pour a layer of charcoal, then a layer of sand. Repeat this twice more.

Tada. Now all you do is pour the water you collect through this. The first pint or so of the water is non-potable, because you need to rinse any garbage and oil off of the sand and charcoal. By the way, hardware stores sell bags of sand in the patio/deck section for putting under paving stones. Just an idea. You can get the sand, coleman’s water tub or cooler and charcoal ahead of time. You can even build it ahead of time, and simply pour in your sand and charcoal on site. That’s the best way, because now you can caulk the cooler where the screws are so you’re not wasting water.

you can boil your water also. Strain it through a t-shirt, then boil the water for five minutes. Remember all those soda bottles I told you to keep? Thats to store your water in. Hopefully you brought a funnel.

Filter or boil your water. If you REALLY want to play it safe, do both.