Posts Tagged With: rule of three

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

by Todd Walker

Part of our Self-Reliant Summer series

You’ve heard the phrase “beggars can’t be choosers”, right? When your survival is on the line, don’t be ungrateful when a gift comes along. Survival gifts come in all sizes but it’s the small stuff that’s more likely to get you out alive.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

You’re probably familiar with the mnemonic, Survival Rules of 3.  You’ve taken care of shelter and water but your situation may require a longer stay in the wilderness.

  • 3 minutes without air (asphyxiation)
  • 3 hours without shelter (exposure)
  • 3 days without water (dehydration)
  • 3 weeks without food (starvation)

While there are documented exceptions to these rules, these are more like guidelines and depend on the context of your situation. People have survived well past three weeks with little to no nourishment. In fact, fasting may be your best bet.

You may be thinking, “I’ll forage enough wild plants to survive.” Wildcrafting is an excellent skill to possess. However, you’d have to eat a heck of a lot of seasonal wild greens to sustain you long-term. You need to find a source of protein and fat before you body resorts to cannibalism.

The days of prolific herds of deer and bison roaming the woodlands are gone. Big game animals aren’t hiding behind every tree. Even if they were, you may not be equipped to harvest them. You could make a primitive weapon from rocks and sticks but that costs calories too. Calories are the currency of survival, and everyone is on a tight budget. You burn 2,000 calories before noon crafting a weapon and stalking the animal and fail. Now what?

That’s when the small stuff saves you.

The Small Stuff

Could I put enough small stuff in the pot if I had to? Here’s how I tested my theory.

Start at the water’s edge. Creeks, rivers, lakes and ponds are where you’ll find bullfrogs, fish, birds, turtles, crawfish, rodents, and snakes. This is the easiest place to find small stuff.

Collecting Crawfish

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Boiled mud bug

Also known as crayfish, crawdad, mud bug, and creek lobster, these shellfish are quite tasty. The problem is they are hard to spot and catch without traps. As a child, my buddies and I walked creeks to catch these elusive critters by hand. They hide under rocks and ledges. If you’re brave enough, poke your hand in the crevices to locate the crawfish. If you’re lucky, he will clamp down on your finger and you can pull him out. It doesn’t hurt for long. You may also try gently lifting small flat rock to spot them. These methods take time and calories, two things you’ll be low on in a survival scenario.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Lost two tines off this cheap gig with only one creek lobster to show for it

It’s not likely that you’ll have a wire minnow trap with you. If not, consider a gig. Sweep your gig under ledges and watch for a lightening quick streak to exit. That’s your dinner. He probably scooted to his next hiding place. Now you’ve narrowed down his location and may have a chance.

Hollow Log Trap

This trap is an adaptation of the fish trap Steve Watts illustrates in his book, Practicing Primitive: A Handbook of Aboriginal Skills. Trapping small stuff conserves calories once the trap is built. Keep an eye out for hollow logs. They can be converted into crawfish or fish traps without a large expenditure of calories.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff -

A hollow log about 2 feet long with a 4″ opening.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff -

Plug the smaller hole with a stick or rock.

Hunt-Gather-Eat- Identifying Plants the Real Food Eats -

The woven funnel is inserted in one end of a hollow log with the other opening plugged to create a bushcraft crawfish trap.

Weave a funnel using vines and sticks and insert in one opening of the log. Plug the other end with a stick or rock. Bait the trap by placing fresh carrion, worms, or grubs inside the log. Fresh bait is best for crawfish. Secure the funnel and sink the log in a creek or pond with a heavy rock. Forget about the trap for a few hours. It’s highly probably that you’ll have dinner when you return.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff -

A few crawfish from the log trap in the bucket for dinner.

To prepare creek lobster, bring water to a rolling boil in container and drop your catch into the water. You won’t have corn, potatoes, and sausage for a wilderness low country boil. But you’ve got protein. Boil about 5 minutes. Hold the head in one hand and twist the tail off with the other hand. Gently pull the middle fin on the back of the tail to devein (optional). Crack the shell open to get to the tail meat. Pop the mudpuppy in your mouth and enjoy. Don’t forget to suck the head to remove all the yummy juice.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A creek lobster boil!

A word about gear. If man-made it, it’ll break eventually. Two tines on the gig pictured above were lose after hitting a rock. I was able to pull them out with little effort. I kept the barbed tines since they’d make great improvised fishing hooks for larger fish.

A better method and one which is more reliable for survival purposes is a homemade gig.

Assuming you have a cutting tool, cut a green sapling between 1-2 inches in diameter. Split the trunk end of the sapling to make four separate prongs. Make the splits about 6 to 8 inches deep. Insert a twig about the size of your pinky finger inside the split as a spacer for the prongs. Repeat the process with another twig spreader so that the two twigs meet forming a cross at the base of the splits. Lash the twig spreaders to the gig with cordage – natural or commercial. Sharpen the tines and go find some slithering small stuff.

Snake Stew

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Water Moccasin on a stick

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A closer look at the wooden gig which I didn’t lash

This homemade survival tool is effective on snakes, fish, and other small game as well. Check your local hunting and fishing regulations before practicing.

Water moccasin, like other venomous snakes in the eastern woodlands, are edible. To prepare a venomous pit viper, chop off the head a few inches below it venom sacs. Slit the belly and remove its entrails and skin. Skewer the meat with a green limb and roast over a fire until well done. You may also like snake stew with a few wild edibles. Rattlesnake is my favorite.

Warning: Bury the severed head in the ground. The muscular bite reflex continues even after the snake is dispatched.

Minnow Dinner

With enough small stuff, you can reload your reserves. Smaller minnows and sun-fish can also be used as bait for larger fish, turtles, and crawfish. I used a commercial minnow trap to catch several small bream at our cabin/shack. I wrapped a piece of bacon in tin foil and suspended it inside the trap. This prevents minnows and crawfish from feeding on the bait from the outside edge of the trap.

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

About a dozen bait-minnows in less than an hour

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

Floating Fish

Many indigenous tribes used plants to poison or stun fish. When ingested or passed over the gills, the fish would float helplessly on top of the water for easy gathering. In my state, Georgia, the Cherokee used the bark and green nut husks of Black Walnut trees and Polkweed berries as a fish poison. Once the fish reach un-poisoned water, they would recover.

No, I’ve never tried this method. From my research, I’ve found that the green husks must be pounded to pulp and introduced into a pooled area of a stream or slow-moving river or a still body of water. Processing enough husks or plant material may burn more calories than could be replenished by floating fish.

Rotenone and saponins are the active chemicals that affects the breathing mechanism of fish but not their edibility. How much to use? Not sure. Maybe one of our readers could enlighten us on this technique.

NOTE: Fish poisoning is illegal in most states in the U.S. I don’t endorse this method. I added it for educational purposes only.

MRE’s on the Half Shell

Surviving Large on Small Stuff

A snapping turtle I caught on the way to school one morning

Unfashionable now, turtle soup was once a presidential delicacy. President Taft, our most rotund White House resident, loved turtle soup. There is a smorgasbord of seven different meat flavors in a large snapping turtle – beef, chicken, goat, pork, shrimp, veal, and fish.

Turtles are slower than most animals in the forest. No surprise there. Snapping turtles do what their name implies… oh, snap. Unless your Turtle Man and have experience on which end to grab, these feisty creatures can perform instant digit amputations. Senseless injury in a survival scenario can be fatal.

I’ll leave it to you to research catching, cleaning, dressing, and cooking methods. Here are few useful resources here and here.

The prospect of feeding your body in a long-term survival situation is a challenge. Focus on the small survival foods. Choose a few methods to practice in case you ever have to depend on them for a meal. And remember to be thankful for any survival gift that comes your way. Bon appétit!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-reliance,


PP.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 22 Comments

Huh…It Must Be Something in the Water

by Daisy Luther

January 8, 2013

There’s definitely something in the water, and none of it is good.  There is so much garbage in our water that you practically need an advanced degree in chemistry to just to figure it out.  It’s not a subject that can be ignored, though, because water is the most vital and life-sustaining substance that we can store. We want to store the most pure, high-quality consumables that we can, in order to maintain our optimum wellness during any type of disaster scenario, and that includes the water we store.

Most preppers know the “Survival Rule of Three”:

3 minutes without air

3 days without water

3 weeks without food

Based on that heirchy, if the SHTF and you’re still breathing, your next focus needs to be on drinking water.  A well-prepared person will have that taken care of this by storing at least a one month supply of water for all members of the household, including pets. The basic rule for water storage is one gallon per day per person (and pet), and more if it is hot weather or you will be doing strenuous physical labor.

When I first began prepping, I used to get people to give me their empty 2 liter soda pop bottles. I blithely filled those bottles up with tap water and squirreled them away in my attic.  I had, quite literally, hundreds of 2 liter bottles full of water. I’d washed them carefully, filled them up from my faucet, and added a drop of unscented chlorine bleach, just as all the prepping forums recommended.

Then I began to learn more about the dangers that were rife in tap water.  I switched to bottled water….then began to learn about contaminants in bottled water.  I was stymied – how do you provide your family with a proper water supply when it all seems to be contaminated?  Moreover, what are you supposed to drink on a day to day basis?  I had already cut out all sugary beverages – we drank nothing but water throughout the day.  But was I still poisoning my family?

Environmentally Toxic Tap Water

The toxins present in municipal water supplies vary from city to city.  In the US Midwest, for example, there are high levels of pesticides (in particular, weed killer) due to agricultural practices that contaminate the groundwater (this also affects well water in the area).   In 22 states with military contractors, percholate, the explosive component of rocket fuel, has been found in the tap water.   In 2008, the AP released a report informing us that water treatment centers were unable to remove all traces of pharmaceutical drugs from the water supply.  (The drugs were introduced into the water by human and animal urine.)

To determine the extent of drinking water contamination, an Associated Press investigative team surveyed the water providers of the 50 largest cities in the United States and 52 smaller communities, analyzed federal databases and scientific reports, and interviewed government and corporate officials.

The investigation found widespread evidence of drinking water contaminated with both over-the-counter and prescription drugs, including painkillers, hormones, antibiotics, anti-convulsants, anti-depressants, and drugs for cancer or heart disease. Of the 28 major cities that tested their water supplies for pharmaceuticals, only two said those tests showed no pharmaceutical contamination. In Philadelphia, 56 different drugs and drug byproducts were found in treated drinking water, and 63 were found in the city’s watershed.


Also found in tap water are contaminants like aluminum, arsenic and lead (more on lead below).

Chemical Cocktails – It’s All for Your Own Good

If the outside contaminants aren’t enough of a worry, how about the chemicals that are deliberately added to the water supply by the treatment facilities themselves?

First of all, in North America, tap water is chlorinated.  This removes disease-causing bacteria, which is great, but it also creates numerous toxic by-products, like chloroform and trihalomethanes.  According to Dr. Michael J. Plewa, a genetic toxicology expert at the University of Illinois, chlorinated water is carcinogenic. “Individuals who consume chlorinated drinking water have an elevated risk of cancer of the bladder, stomach, pancreas, kidney and rectum as well as Hodgkin’s and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.”

Some facilities are also adding ammonia to the chlorinated water, which creates “chloraminated” water. Anyone who has ever cleaned a house knows that mixing bleach (chlorine) and ammonia is a no-no – so why are the facilities doing so?  Apparently it reduces the carcinogenic by-products created by adding chlorine – which must be done to meet EPA standards.  Unfortunately, it creates a brand new variety of toxins.  Fish and reptiles die when subjected to chloraminated water, and the effects on humans are just now being studied.

To make matters worse, chloraminated water reacts with the lead in water pipes, releasing yet another toxin into the public water system.  In Washington DC, when chloramination of the water first began, lead levels were found to be 4,800 times the UN’s acceptable level for the toxic heavy metal!

No discussion on water would be complete without a dishonorable mention for the inclusion of fluoride any many municipalities.  The fluoride added to the water supply is sodium fluoride, and is also sold as pesticide, bearing the warning “deadly to humans”.

While the talking heads of media and government are telling consumers that the fluoride in drinking water will assure them of good dental health, people are actually being poisoned.  The consumption of fluoride lowers IQs, causes infertility, has been linked to cancer and causes hardening of the arteries.  In fact, one study “published in the January edition of the journal Nuclear Medicine Communications, the research highlights the fact that mass fluoride exposure may be to blame for the cardiovascular disease epidemic that takes more lives each year than cancer. In 2008, cardiovascular killed 17 million people. According to the authors of the study: “The coronary fluoride uptake value in patients with cardiovascular events was significantly higher than in patients without cardiovascular events.”” (Source)

It’s also important to note that the inclusion of fluoride in drinking water has no discernible positive effect on dental health. In fact, it can cause dental fluorosis,  a visible overexposure to fluoride resulting in  subtle white flecks in the tooth enamel all the way to a pronounced brown staining,.

“Health Ranger” Mike Adams blows the lid off fluoride in this 9 minute video.

Bottled Isn’t Better

To add to the frustration, most bottled water is not that much safer than tap water.  In fact, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) found 38 contaminants in the top 10 brands of bottled water sold in the United States.  The contaminants included disinfection byproducts, fertilizer residue, and pain medication, to name a few. Two brands, Walmart and Giant, were chemically identical to tap water, but sold at approximately 1900 times the price of the water from your faucet. In fact, according to some reports, more than 40% of bottled waters on the market are nothing more than tap water (including Pepsi’s Aquafina).

In a report, the Environmental Protection Agency warns consumers that you just don’t know what you are getting with bottled water.  ”Some bottled water is treated more than tap water, while some is treated less or not treated at all. Bottled water costs much more than tap water on a per gallon basis… Consumers who choose to purchase bottled water should carefully read its label to understand what they are buying, whether it is a better taste, or a certain method of treatment.”

Another issue with bottled water is that chemicals leach into the water from the bottle it is contained in.   Chemicals like BPA and phthalates mimic hormones in your body, causing symptoms like brain damage, early puberty, prostrate problems, decreased sperm counts, decreased immune functions, obesity and learning issues.

What Can You Do?

With all of the bad news about the water supply, you’re probably feeling as frustrated as I was.  The good news is, there are actions you can take to ensure the best possible supply of water in our  increasingly contaminated world.

Get spring water right from the source.

Absolutely the best option for drinking water is finding a spring nearby and filling your own bottles with it.  There is probably a spring nearby with water free for the taking.  Use this interactive map to find a spring close to you. (Unfortunately, not all countries are represented on this map, but the US and many European countries are.) Spring water is naturally filtered by the earth, leaving a clear delicious water loaded with healthy minerals. Even better, in many places, spring water is free – just bring your containers and fill them up!

Filter your water.

Get a good, gravity fed water filter.  This will allow you to remove many of the toxins found in tap water or surface water.  I have the Big Berkey and have been very pleased with it.  If your municipality adds fluoride to the water, it is necessary to also purchase a specific filter to remove the fluoride. A gravity fed filter does not require power to work, making it an excellent choice post-disaster.

 Choose your containers carefully.

Glass is the most healthful option for water storage, however large glass containers full of water are heavy and can break.   If you are using plastic containers,the safest ones are marked Polyethylene terephthalate (PET or PETE) or High density polyethylene (HDPE).  Plastic containers that formerly contained juice or water are already compromised from the enzymes in those liquids. Water stored in plastic bottles should not be exposed to extremes of temperature, as this can also cause the plastic to leach chemicals into the water.

Reverse Osmosis and distillation alone are not enough.

The purification processes of Reverse Osmosis and distillation do not remove do not remove bacteria, viruses, or certain chemicals.  These processes, while good, should be followed by filtration.

 Water stored or purified with bleach should be filtered.

If you store your water with a couple of drops of bleach in it, you should put it through your water filter if possible.  I no longer store my water with bleach because I use my stored water on a rotating basis.  We only drink spring water, and the 5 gallon jugs are used within 6 weeks.

Author bio: Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor.  Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at

Categories: Preparedness, Self-reliance, Water | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: