Posts Tagged With: wilderness survival

How to Estimate Distance in the Woods with Right Triangles

by Todd Walker

As an eighth grade math teacher, a lot of the stuff we teach kids makes no sense. Students rarely get a chance to apply mathematics in the real world. We’re too busy pushing through the state mandated curriculum to get our hands dirty applying the concepts being taught.

How to Estimate Distance in the Woods with Right Triangles - TheSurvivalSherpa.com (1)

 

A little dirt time in the woods or a homestead would go a long way in helping students (and teachers) trade theory for action. So put on your boots. School of the Woods is in session!

Like any other skill, estimating distance takes practice. The method I used in the video below is based on the Pythagorean Theorem → a² + b² = c². Don’t freak out about the formula. We won’t even use it!

Here’s the cool thing about this method…

There’s no math calculations involved! No square roots, no dividing, no multiplication, no algebra. If you can walk a straight line and count simple steps, you can use this method to estimate distance. In fact, all you really need is a stick.

Estimating Distance with Right Triangles

Estimations are more than guessing. They are based on calculations and useful for many tasks in bushcraft, homesteading, and outdoor self-reliance.

Here’s a quick refresher on geometry terms we’ll be using. A right triangle has two short sides called legs (a & b). The long side of the triangle is the hypotenuse (c).

What if you needed to ford a river, build a fence, or erect a foot bridge over a creek in the woods? I’ve never seen any of my woodsmen friends pull out a 100 foot measuring tape from their pack. But you can get an accurate estimation of width without a measuring device.

Here’s how it works…

Step #1 ~ Locate a Landmark

Note: This method requires a fair amount of open space along side the river or creek. Hilly terrain will affect your estimate as well.

How to Estimate Distance in the Woods with Right Triangles - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Drive a stick in the ground to mark Point A

Spot a landmark (tree or rock) across the divide you intend to cross (Point X). Standing directly across from the landmark, mark the ground with a stick or scrap of your boot. Point Y is where you begin counting your first 20 steps.

Step #2 ~ Start Stepping

Turn 90 degrees away from Point X and take 20 steps in as straight a path as possible. Drive a stick in the ground at your 20th step. This is Point A. The stick should be tall enough to see later in this exercise. You may want to tie a bandana or other material to make it easy to spot.

Step #3 ~ More Stepping

Continuing in a straight path from Point A, take 20 more steps. Mark this spot as Point B with a small stick or rock.

Step #4 ~ Turn 90º

Standing on Point B, turn 90º with your back towards the river or ravine. Begin walking perpendicularly away from the river. Be sure to count your steps. As you step, look back towards the stick on Point A. Stop when you visually line up with Point A and Point X (the landmark across the river). This is Point C on the diagram.

The number of step from Point B to Point C is the approximate distance across the divide.

In an emergency situation where you may need to cross a river or creek, a tree could be felled to help you safely navigate the divide. Knowing the width of the river or creek now, how can you estimate the height of a tree you’ll need to bridge that gap?

We’ll cover estimating height on our next post. Stay tuned!

A little update. I used my video in Math class yesterday. Afterwards, we went outside to test the theory in the real world. Have some fun and take your kids out and practice this self-reliant skill.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.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, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 15 Comments

3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins

by Todd Walker

From the biblical perspective, sin is “missing the mark.” In wilderness survival, not hitting your target in one skill doesn’t have to mean certain death. However, fall short in these three critical survival skills, and, dude, you’re screwed!

3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You may not get a second chance to see your family again if you can’t stay warm and hydrated. Having the ability to regulate body temperature brings redemption.

Cold and Wet: The Perfect Storm

Your body does a remarkable job regulating core temperature. However, add moisture to the equation, drop the temperature slightly, and you’ve got a perfect storm for hypothermia.

Water saps body heat 25 times faster than air. And 70 to 80% of your body heat is lost through your head and neck. The remaining heat loss goes through your fingers, hands, and feet. The simple act of breathing in cold air and expelling warm air will chill your body.

A slight change in core temp, even by a degree or two, will affect your bodily functions. Shivering, lack of coordination, slurred speech, and numbness in the extremities are signs of hypothermia. Decrease to 91.4ºF (33ºC) and you lose consciousness. Complete muscle failure occurs at 82.4ºF (28ºC).

Core Temperature Equipment

This article is not addressing wilderness living skills or long-term self-reliance. We’re talking about staying alive in an unexpected stay in the woods. You can’t very well pursue long-term stuff if you’re not equipped to survive the short-term storm. And, by storm, I mean – when you need immediate help and none is available – in a wilderness setting.

The first step to being equipped is to always carry equipment. No matter how many debris huts you’ve built, you’d be a stupid survivalist, and possibly a dead one, to not pack some sort of emergency shelter option, fire kit, metal container, cordage, and a knife.

Below is my emergency kit I carry no matter how long I plan to be in the woods.

  • Emergency Space Blanket ~ The best 12 ounce item in my kit for core temperature control. I also carry two contractor grade garbage bag and a painter’s tarp  – too many uses to mention here.
  • Fire Kit ~ Three different ignition sources which I’m comfortable using – open flame (Bic lighter), spark ignition (ferro rod), solar ignition (magnifying lens), sure fire (diy and commercial), duct tape, and a bit of dry tinder material.
  • Knife ~ There is no such thing as “The Best Survival Knife”. Beware of the marketer’s hype surrounding these ultimate survival tools.
  • Metal Container ~ A metal water bottle can be used to boil water, make char cloth, cook meals, and perform self-aid duties.
  • Cordage ~ I carry both 550 paracord and tarred mariners line.

These items are my bare bones kit and go with me camping, hiking, backpacking, and hunting. Don’t think you’ll ever need these kit items? Think again. Read this real-life survival story of an injured hunter in the Idaho wilderness.

Core Temperature Control Skills

Conserving body heat is the key to survival. Your body produces heat from biochemical reactions in cells, exercise, and eating. Without a furry coating like lower animals, insulation to maintain a body temperature at 98.6 degrees F is critical.

It all starts with…

Skill #1 ~ Shelter

Sins of Sheltering: Not carrying an emergency space blanket and wearing improper clothing.

While having an emergency space blanket is important, your shelter is built before you ever step over the door sill of your warm and cozy home. Your clothes are your first layer of shelter.

Thermal energy always travels from warm/hot (your body) to cool/cold (the environment). To trap body heat, layer your clothing. Layers create dead air space much like the insulation in house walls and attics. Layering is activity-dependent. But the basic concept applies to any outdoor cold weather activity.

Here’s my layer system…

A.) Base Layer ~Your base layer should fit snuggly to your body. Long sleeve shirt and underwear made of polyester blend for wicking perspiration away from my body. Sock liners go on first before wool socks. Thin wool glove liners are worn inside my larger leather mittens.

B.) Insulation ~ Yes, I wear cotton, and sometimes fleece, on top of the base layer. This is dependent upon my activity. If I’m really active in really cold weather, I wear a wool sweater. Wool is my favorite insulation layer. Here’s why…

  • Wool fiber absorbs up to 36% of its weight and gradually releases moisture through evaporation.
  • Wool has natural antibacterial properties that allow you wear it multiply days without stinking up camp. Not so with synthetics.
  • Wool wicks moisture, not as well as synthetics, but better than cotton.
  • Wool releases small amounts of heat as it absorbs moisture.
  • Wool contains thousands of natural air-trapping pockets for breathable insulation.

Remembering the importance of dead air space, your insulation layer should fit loosely and be breathable. Apply the acronym C.O.L.D. to your insulating layer…

  1. C – Keep CLEAN
  2. O – Avoid OVERHEATING
  3. L – Wear loose LAYERS to create dead air space
  4. D – Keep DRY

C.) Outer Layer ~ Waterproof is not your friend. Yes, it will keep rain and wetness out, but it will also seal perspiration in eventually soaking your insulation. Wear a weather-resistant shell that allows moisture to escape. The main concern for this layer is to block wind.

Your head, hands, and feet are included in this layer. I’m partial to wool hats to keep my bald head warm. In subzero temps, I wear my shapka, a Russian red fox winter hat, I bought in Siberia in the early 90’s.

Cold feet are deceptive. Frostbite can happen before you know the damage is done. Wear polyester sock liners with wool socks inside your footwear of choice.

3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Our local BSA troop learning how to set up an emergency tarp shelter.

3 Skills that Cover a Multitude of Survival Sins - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A cheap painter’s painter’s tarp creates a micro-climate with a fire burning in front. See the Mors Kochanski Super Shelter below…

D.) Waterproof Shelter ~ Again, for emergency essentials, you can’t beat a good space blanket to block wind, rain, and reflect heat back to your body. Combined with a plastic painter’s tarp, a Kochanski Super Shelter can keep you warm in subzero condition in street clothes.

Use two large contractor garbage bags filled with leaves, wet or dry, for an insulating ground pad. This emergency shelter weighs ounces but offers pounds of insurance against a long cold night in the woods.

There are many more options for waterproof covering. The above items are for your emergency kit.

Skill #2 ~ Fire Craft

Sins of Fire Craft: Not carrying multiple ignition sources and all-weather fire starters.

Fire covers a multitude of ‘sins’ in your survival skills. Even if you deliberately commit the offense of not packing emergency shelter, fire forgives your lapse in judgement. Scantily clad in the wilderness? Fire covers your wrongdoing. No matter how you “miss the mark” in skills or equipment, fire can save you.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the woods I’m sure you’ve heard Mother Nature humming these classic lyrics…

“… Like it always seems to go, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.”

Are you a fair-weather fire crafter?

That’s a good place to start. Nothing wrong with learning in the most fire-friendly conditions. You’ve got dry tinder, kindling, and fuel to burn. This may not be the case when your life depends on making fire in the wind, rain, and snow.

Cheating is NOT a Sin

There is absolutely no such thing as cheating when it comes to building a life-sustaining fire. Who cares what Bushcraft purists think! Your loved ones aren’t worried about style points in fire craft. They want you home alive. So cheat!

For the weekend camper or woodsman, carry these foul weather fire cheats…

Fire Cheat #1 ~ Ask yourself this question, “Could a five-year-old start a fire with my emergency fire kit?” Don’t get too bushcrafty. I know  ferrocerium rods are popular, but you can’t beat a thumb drill fire (Bic lighter) when you really need fire.

Fire Cheat #2 ~ One of the most overlooked fire starters that should already be in your pack is duct tape. Loosely wad up about 2 foot of tape and ignite it with an open flame. A ferrocerium rod will ignite duct tape but don’t rely on sparks. You have to shred the tape to create lots of surface area. This isn’t your best option if your fingers are losing dexterity in freezing temperatures.

Fire Cheat #3 ~ DiY fire starters made of wax-soaked jute twine or cotton makeup remover pads. I also carry commercially made sure fire that will burn on water.

Fire Cheat #4 ~ Always carry enough dry tinder material to start a fire in sucky weather.

Fire Cheat #5 ~ Know where to find the best possible tinder material and how to process it to create surface area. Dead hanging branches, pencil lead size to pencil size, provide kindling even in the rain.

Fire Cheat #6 ~ Fat lighter’d (aka – fatwood, resin-rich pine wood) is my lifesaver in the south. Discover your best natural fire starter wherever you’re located or plan to travel. I keep this stuff in all my kits. It’s abundant where I live.

Fire Cheat #7 ~ Dry wood is available in all weather conditions if you know where to look. Standing dead Tulip Poplar (Magnolia) is one of my go-to fire resources. The trick to getting to the dry wood is splitting the wood down to tinder, kindling, and fuel size material. The inner bark makes excellent tinder bundles!

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

One 2 inch diameter stick of tulip poplar made all this: L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bark tinder

And that brings us to the next skill that forgives survival sins…

Skill #3: Knife Skills

A knifeless man is a lifeless man.

The “survival” knife market is full of gadgetry. Gadgets are for gawkers. You don’t need a Rambo knife to survive. You just need a solid knife and some skill. 

Carry a good knife and practice with what you carry. Your knife may become your one-tool-option. Most importantly, your knife should feel right in your hand as you use it.

Knife Sins: Carrying a knife but never becoming competent with your blade.

You’re not going to be carving spoons and bowls in a short-term survival situation. Your edged tool will be used to make shelter and fire to control core temperature. I’ve written about the number 1 knife skill here.

Have Knife, Will Burn

Even if you’ve committed the first two survival sins, your blade can save you. A knife in skilled hands can create fire from scratch. I don’t rely on friction fire as my first choice but do practice the skill in case I run into unknown unknowns.

With my buddy Bic in my pocket, I still need to process sticks to make fire quick. Both the cutting edge and spine of your knife are used to create surface area needed for ignition.

When cold and wet, your fine motor skills are probably suffering. Pretty feather sticks are for style points. Style won’t save you. Fire will!

Split a dead wrist-size stick with a baton and knife into thumb size pieces to get to the dry stuff. Split a few of those pieces into smaller kindling. Grip your knife with a reverse grip (cutting edge facing up) and use the spine of your knife to scrape a pile of fine shavings off one of the larger split sticks. If you’ve got fat lighter’d, scrape off a pile of shavings the size of a golf ball. Ignite this pile with a lighter or ferro rod and feed your fire its meal plan.

Here’s a demo of a one stick fire in the rain…

Knife and Shelter

Debris shelters can be built without a knife. Sticks can be broken to length between two trees without a cutting tool. Keep in mind that this type of shelter will take several hours and lots of calories to construct correctly.

The role of the knife in emergency shelter building is secondary compared to its importance in making fire. You won’t even need a knife to set up a space blanket shelter if you prepped your emergency kit ahead of time.

Blades are expedient in cutting cordage, notching sticks, harvesting green bows for bedding, making wedges to split larger wood without an ax, and a number of other self-reliance tasks.

Forgiveness

All three of these survival skills are needed for emergency core temperature control, but I’d place fire on top of my forgiveness list. Fire can make water potable for hydration, warm poorly clothed pilgrims, cook food to create body heat, smoke signals, illuminate darkness, and comfort the lost.

What’s your top skill for controlling your core temperature? Share if you don’t mind.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.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, Doing the Stuff, equipment, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Education, Survival Skills, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 38 Comments

Bombproof Fire Craft: 8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit

by Todd Walker

If you haven’t had a chance to read Part I of our Fire Craft series, I recommend that you start here.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You depend on your “Next Fire” kit in all weather conditions. It’s your go-to resource for building sustainable, repeatable fires.

But here’s the thing…

You can never have too many fire resources!

Get creative with your 10 Piece Kit and you’ll discover many items are hidden fire resources. As a refresher, here are the 10 Piece Kit items:

  1. Cutting tool
  2. Combustion device
  3. Container
  4. Cover
  5. Cordage
  6. Cotton bandana
  7. Cargo tape
  8. Cloth sail needle
  9. Candling device
  10. Compass

The second C above has “captain obvious” written all over it. Combustion equals fire, right?. But the beauty of the 10 C’s of Survivability is that each piece should have a minimum of three uses to help meet the following survival priorities.

Having the knowledge and skill to use these resources creatively in fire craft might end up saving your life.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources

Know the capabilities of the resources within your kit. This takes Doing the Stuff  to build Self-Reliance with your gear. No need to tell you this but UPS will not deliver skills to your door step.

Here’s how to use items in your 10 piece kit as a fire resource, excluding your orthodox combustion devices of course.

#1) Cutting Tool

A high carbon steel knife doubles as a flint and steel set. Simply find a rock harder than the knife steel and strike down the spine to scrape tiny metal shavings off which oxidize quickly and spontaneously combust.

Plus, your cutting tool can craft primitive friction fire sets to create an ember which ignites a tinder bundle. There’s too much a good knife can do to list here.

#2) Container

Metal containers can be used to char material to make next fire easier. Place 100% natural cloth or plant tinder in the empty container and place it in the fire. Be sure to seal the lid with a metal nesting cup or flat rock that will starve the process of oxygen. When the smoke stops coming from the container, remove the container and let it cool before opening the lid.

Test the charred material to see if it will take a spark from a ferro rod or flint and steel set. If not, your char material is not cooked enough. Repeat the process.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Also makes a mean cup of hot cocoa!

A sturdy stainless steel container can also be used to carry burning coals for a couple of hours if the need ever arose. I personally carried a cup of coals in my SS nesting cup for two hours while constantly blowing the coals to keep them alive… and then built a fire with what was left to boil 64 ounces of water. Not bragging, just letting you know the capabilities of a good metal container. Try that in a Nalgene bottle.

#3) Cordage

This item can be made from material off the landscape. However, it’ll take some skill, considerable time and energy. Carrying commercial cordage in your kit allows you to have sting for a bow drill set to make fire.

Friction Fire: The Art of Rubbing Sticks Together

Bow and bow string

#4) Cotton Bandana

This kit item has so many uses. In fire craft, a 100% cotton bandana or even pajamas makes excellent char cloth to help ensure your next fire.

Here’s a thought though…

There are too many other valuable uses for a bandana than char cloth if suitable plant tinder are available for charring. Charred plant tinder will be part of this Fire Craft series… stay tuned.

#5) Cargo Tape

Duct tape, like bandanas, have crazy amounts of survival uses. One being it burns like napalm.

Loosely roll a two foot section into a ball. Now light the tape with an open flame, if you have one, and it will burn for several minutes to ignite tinder and kindling. Very useful as a fire extender to dry damp tinder material.

Caught without a Bic lighter or other open flame ignition source, rip 1/8 inch strips from a one or two foot strip of tape (I assume you remembered to pack your best ferro rod). I’ve found Gorilla Brand tape to be the bomb. It’s more expensive but you get what you pay for.

With every strip, you’ll notice hair-like threads hanging off to create surface area. We’ve already discussed the importance of surface area in tinder bundles – see Part I of the series. When these narrow strips are piled loosely into a bundle, you can achieve ignition with a good ferro rod.

Here’s one of our video demonstration of this technique:

#6) Candling Device

When choosing a flashlight or headlamp, it’s wise to choose a torch powered by standard AA batteries. Even AAA batteries will work as an ignition source. I also have a cool little LED camp light that snaps on top of a 9 volt battery that I keep in my pack.

To achieve ignition with batteries, we need to move past the 10 piece kit. Steel wool is not a part of the 10 C’s of Survivability. However, as a cleaning and tool maintenance item, make it a habit to pack a bit of AAAA steel wool. You can find it at most any paint or hardware store.

Each AA or AAA battery has 1.5 volts. That voltage alone will not achieve ignition with steel wool in my experience. Daisy chain two batteries, head lamps and flashlights usually have at least two, by taping the junction of a positive and negative end together with Gorilla tape.

Now tear off a small strip of steel wool (1/16th inches or smaller) just longer than the two batteries. Fray the ends of the steel wool strip to create surface area. Hold one end of the steel wool to the negative pole. With the other end, touch the opposite pole while simultaneously touching a small batch of steel wool which will ignite and can be added to a tinder bundle. Steel wool is an excellent way to ignite marginal or damp tinder material.

For those that know me, I love to enjoy a fine, organic dark chocolate. The bars I buy are wrapped in foil. The foil can be used as a conductor if steel wool is not available. See, another redundant use for chocolate bars.

#7) Compass

Your compass is a source of solar ignition if you have a quality base plate compass with a 5x magnifying lens. I invested in the Alpine Compass before I attend the Basic Class at the Pathfinder Learning School last year. The magnifying lens on this compass will create embers on char cloth via solar ignition all day, every sunny day.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My instructor, Brian Manning, explaining details on my Alpine Compass

Now we’re officially out of the 10 piece kit. But here’s a bonus… my 11th C of Survivability which I’m never without in the woods.

#8) Cocoa Powder

Hot cocoa! The key word being hot. To make a hot cup of this luxurious, energy drink, you need fire.

And cocoa powder can give you the assist in your next fire!

Here’s how make Fire by Cocoa

[Note: I carry 100% raw cocoa powder not the Swiss Miss packets. I’ve not tried the pre-packaged hot chocolate mix full of sweeteners with solar ignition.]

Place a small dime to quarter size amount of dry cocoa powder on a “welcome mat” (leaf, leather or wood chip) as you would when creating an ember with a bow drill set. Whip out your magnifying lens or quality compass on a full-sun day. Align your lens perpendicular to the sun’s rays so that it focuses the solar energy in a tiny, burning spot on the pile of cocoa. You’ll begin seeing smoke rise from the cocoa in a few seconds. Hold the magnified sun spot steady for 30 to 60 seconds.

Remove the lens and watch the smoke rise from your smoldering ember as it grows in your cocoa pile. Transfer the ember onto a finely processed natural tinder bundle and blow the ember into flame.

Our quick video tutorial shows you how to start a fire with cocoa powder:

By the way, you can achieve solar ignition with dry coffee grounds and tea in the same manner.

After placing the burning tinder bundle under your kindling, boil some water in your stainless steel container, add the desired amount of cocoa powder (sweeteners optional), and enjoy.

Fire from cocoa for hot cocoa! One of the many unorthodox methods of fire craft.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.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, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Bombproof Fire Craft: Build a “Next Fire” Kit that Cheats Death

by Todd Walker

Of all the outdoor self-reliance skills, fire is king. Many will argue over my statement.

Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

You know fire is life out there! No one can deny its usefulness as a survival tool.

Here are my reasons it tops the list of wilderness survival skills…

  • Potable water via boiling for hydration – essential for Core Temperature Control (CTC)
  • Cooking  (especially hot cocoa)
  • Create charred material for your Next Fire
  • Fire hardening wooden weapons/tools
  • Burn and scrape wooden containers
  • Wilderness clothes dryer
  • Making pine pitch glue, straighten arrow shafts, bending wood, etc., etc.
  • Smoke for preserving meat
  • Hygiene – take a smoke bath to kill bacteria on skin and clothing and repel insects
  • Making medicinal concoctions
  • Emotional camp comfort and defense against uninvited wild visitors
  • Illumination
  • Hypothermia’s antidote (CTC)
  • As a southern Chigger magnet, the fact that smoke drives these tiny biting mites out of debris shelters is reason enough to make fire my #1 wilderness survival resource in the South. If you’re not personally familiar, they can cover your body with red, itchy welts that can drive you to the brink of insanity!

Fire is even a survival tool in modern homes. The crackling oak logs in your fireplace, the blue pilot light in the furnace, even your electric hot water heater and night-light in the baby’s nursery makes fire indispensable to every home.

To the modern mind, access to fire’s life-sustaining value is automatic. Press a remote for endless hours of TV entertainment flowing from coal-burning power plants.

Unfortunately, fire is not automatic in wilderness survival.

For this reason, and the chigger thing, your Next Fire kit should contain at least three different ignition sources to help you build a sustainable fire.

Ignition Sources

Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Plant tinder and ignition devices going clockwise from 12:00: Cottonwood inner bark, Tulip Poplar bark, Horseshoe Fungus, Flint and Steel w/ Char tin, Magnifying Lens, curls from feather sticks, and in the middle is Fat Lighter’d shavings, Gorilla Taped Bic Lighter, and Ferro Rod.

Depending purely on primitive combustion methods like a bow or hand drill is reserved for primitive living experts or backyard bushcraft practice sessions. Failure is always an option with friction fires. Heck, even modern ignition sources doesn’t guarantee fire in all conditions.

I’ve listed the advantages and disadvantages for the items in my Next Fire kit. Each device is easy to use with practice.

A) Bic Lighter (Open Flame)

Advantages

  • A new Bic will give you thousands times more open flames than a box of kitchen matches. A wet match is useless… well, except for picking your teeth.
  • Submerge a Bic and it can be back in service within a minute or so by blowing the moisture off the tiny ferro rod striker.
  • Easy to use. Even a young child can use a lighter (Tip: always remove the child safety device from Bic lighters in fire kits to make them easy for you and a child to use in an emergency).
  • Even an empty Bic is a useful combustion device. More on that later in our School of Fire Craft series.

Tip: Wrap Gorilla tape around the lighter and you have a built-in tinder and fire extender – a walnut-size ball of duct tape will burn over 10 minutes.

A-Waterproof-Tinder-Bundle-Hack-That-Guarantees-Fire

Use a carabiner to attach the duct taped lighter to your pack

Note: I only use matches for specific fire challenges. They are not a part of my Next Fire Kit.

Disadvantages

  • It’s difficult to monitor the fuel level unless the housing is clear like the cheaper, rectangular lighters. I only carry Bic lighters.
  • Extreme cold will kill a Bic. Warm it in your arm pit or crotch to get the butane flowing again.

B) Ferrocerium Rod (Spark Ignition)

Advantages

  • Scraped with a sharp flint shard, broken glass, or a 90º knife spine, 1,500º F to 3,000º F sparks spontaneously combust to ignite tinder material.
  • Sparks even in wet conditions.
  • The average outdoors person will never wear a ferro rod out.
  • Can ignite many tinder sources, even non-charred material.
  • Beginner skill level needed to learn to use one.
  • For more info on ferro rods, click here.

Disadvantages

  • They are consumable.

C) Magnifying Len (Solar Ignition)

Advantages

  • Beginner skill level. Ever drive ants crazy with one as a kid?
  • Ignites different tinder materials.
  • Saves other ignition devices on sunny days.
  • Self-contained – no assembly required.
  • Never wears out. Always protect your lens from scratches and breakage.

Disadvantages

  • Depends on sunshine.

D) Sure Fire – Not an ignition device but…

I consider this item essential to every Next Fire kit!

InstaFire: Lights in Wind, Rain, Snow, and on Water!

InstaFire burning in the creek! No toxic chemicals in this sure fire.

I carry commercially made chemical-based sure fire starters as well as DiY sure fire. There is no such thing as cheating when it comes to making fire in an emergency scenario. Practice primitive but prepare modern!

Advantages

  • Works with spark ignition or open flame.
  • Burns several minutes.
  • Burns when wet.
  • Easy to ignite.

Disadvantages

  • Sure fire is never a disadvantage.

D) Flint and Steel (Spark Ignition)

This primitive method may seem outdated or useless by some but I include it in my Next Fire kit because options in fire craft make us anti-fragile.

Advantages

  • Lasts virtually forever.
  • Any rock harder than the steel can drive sparks from the steel.
  • That same rock can be used on the spine of a high carbon steel knife to ignite charred material.
  • Intermediate skill level. Easy to use with prior practice.
  • For more info on flint and steel, click here.

Disadvantages

  • Sparks in the 800º F range – significantly less than ferro rods.
  • Charred material or specific un-charred plant tinder are needed to catch sparks.

E) Charred Material

Partners with flint and steel but is works with solar ignition and ferro rods.

Advantages

  • It only takes a spark to create an ember. Works with solar ignition too.
  • Easy to make and use – even without a metal container.
  • Any natural material (cloth or plant tinder) can be charred.

Disadvantages

  • Must be dry to use

With the exception of the magnifying lens and flint and steel, the other devices mentioned are modern. I’m bypassing friction as an ignition source but will cover the basics of ancient fire craft later in this series.

None of the ignition devices, modern or primitive, will build a sustainable fire without a proper pyre (pronounced the same as fire) – a.k.a. fire lay.

No matter how you construct your pyre, these common denominators must be present for a fire to grow.

Like all living things, fire must eat to live.

The Meal Plan for Fires

Mistakes I’ve made and seen others make when practicing fire craft, even with open flame ignition sources, were more times than not due to poor preparation and taking short cuts. This is especially true with primitive methods. With only a small ember to ignite a tinder bundle, choose the most finely processed combustible natural material available.

The following three-meals-a-day analogy may help you feed your next fire.

Breakfast: Tinder

This meal is truly the most important meal in a fire’s life. To help the flames rise and shine, feed it what it loves… a hearty helping of fluffy, dry, dead plant material.

We eat grits for breakfast in the south. My Yankee friends eat other disgusting mush.

Like food, tinder varies by locale. Your job is to spend time Doing the Stuff to test different plant tinder and find the best local breakfast to feed your fire.

Plant tinder, when processed or broken down to create surface area, will accept a spark or small open flame from a match or lighter to produce fire. In the eastern woodlands, the Piedmont region of Georgia in my case, we have an abundance of plants and trees which can be processed (shredded) down to create tinder the size of hair stands.

It’s all about the surface area!

Some of my Georgia favorites I’ve had success with are…

  • Tulip Poplar inner bark
  • Red Cedar bark
  • Cottonwood inner bark
  • Fat Lighter’d, fat lighter, lighter wood, non-Georgia natives call it fatwood (resin-rich dead pine stumps, knots, and limbs) – more fat lighter’d info here. Make a quarter-size pile of lighter’d shavings with the spine of your knife to create the Breakfast of Champions for any fire!
backyard-bushcraft

Fat lighter’d shavings lit with a ferro rod

  • White fluffy stuff – cattail heads, dandelion clock, and Bull thistle gone to seed are a few flash tinder that flame up quickly and should be added to other substantial tinder material for longer burn times.
Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Flash tinder (Bull thistle)

  • American Beech leaves die and hang around on branches well into spring just before new growth appears offering months of easy-to-reach seasonal tinder material.
Live Wild Where the Pavement Ends

Beech tree leaves

  • Pine needles – dead pine needles crushed and rolled (processed) in your hands will create nice bundles of tinder material. Look for mounds of pre-processed pine needles on roadside curbs courtesy of vehicle tires. Collect them and practice your backyard fire craft.
  • Dry grasses (flash tinder) – I like to use broom sedge to form a tennis racquet shape with a handle to hold my finest tinder material. A word of caution on grasses in humid climates like Georgia… they tend to hold moisture. Harvest grasses that have died naturally and are as dry as possible.
  • Black Sooty Mold – I first discovered this fire extender on American Beech trees and found it will take a spark from ferro rods and produces an ember via solar ignition. Click here for how to find and harvest this fire resource.

Lunch: Kindling

Nothing is more discouraging than watching your fire consume all its tinder and not eat the next meal… kindling. Your fire was hungry but didn’t like what you offered for lunch.

The best bet is to feed your fire the smallest and driest twigs available. This material is called “smalls” for a reason. Collect pencil-lead size to pencil-size material. The smaller the surface area the faster it reaches combustion temperature. If you have fat lighter’d or other resinous wood available, by all means, process it to use for kindling.

Post #500: The One Stick Fire Challenge

One 2 inch stick of poplar made this: L to R: Thumb, pencil, pencil lead, and bark tinder

If “smalls” are not available or rain-soaked, create them by splitting a larger stick or limb with your cutting tool. You’ll find dry, combustible wood inside larger dead wood. Click here for a tutorial on creating a One Stick Fire.

Now practice it in the rain…

Dinner: Fuel

After eating lunch (kindling), feed your fire progressively larger fuel. Finger-size up to the size of your wrist tops off your fire’s diet. Your fire will let you know when it is ready to eat more fuel when flames being licking up and through the pile of kindling. Add too much too soon and you’re in danger of choking the fire. Heimlich maneuvers must be performed to free air passages to nurse the fire back to life.

Fire loves chaos and randomness. However, fuel should be laid, not thrown, on top of young fires. As it grows and matures, kick back and let it eat.

Bombproof Fire Craft- Build a -Next Fire- Kit that Cheats Death - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Remember… fire is life out there but never automatic!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.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, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 35 Comments

How Busy People Extend the Shelf Life of Survival Skills

by Todd Walker

[Personal Note: I want to thank our online family for the prayers, love, and support after the recent loss of my brother. We appreciate you more than you can know!]

How Busy People Extend the Shelf Life of Survival Skills - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The most able are the most free.
~Wendell Berry

On the journey to self-reliance, we all start with different skill levels, locales, and motives. Some are even convinced of an inevitable zombie apocalypse. As we say in the south, “Bless their hearts.”

The Doing the Stuff Skills we promote here aren’t very flashy or of the “sky is falling” variety. They are, however, practical and useful for common sense living… a cross-fertilization of old and new paths of emergency preparedness, urban and wilderness survival, natural health, homesteading, energy independence, and making stuff to decrease dependence on others.

Skills require action beyond stocking and storing stuff because of these two little words…

Shelf Life

For instance, that extra pair of boots in storage will eventually dry rot without ever touching feet. Like food, leather and rubber have an expiration date. So do your skills.

The problem with skills is that there is no “out of date” label like the one you found on that dusty can of beans in the back of your pantry. But you already know which skill sets you’ve allowed to rust around the edges.

But here’s the good news…

Unlike food, skills are renewable!

Here’s a self-directed strategy to help busy people take survival skills from average to awesome.

Doing the Stuff on the Fly

Your busy. I know. Aren’t we all! Dedicated time for skills training is a luxury for most of us. We have bills to pay, families to feed, and routine responsibilities to fulfill. However, these three strategies keep my skills fresh – even during what seems to be a shrinking 24 hour period. Try them out. Hope they help you, too!

Take Mini-breaks

The skill you’re developing may take hours to learn. And the answer to the proverbial question, “How do you eat an elephant?” is… One bite at a time. Leverage your break times to practice a specific aspect of the skill. I’ve learned to tie several new knots with a short piece of cordage I keep in my Get Home Bag while standing at my desk on break.

Imagine what you’d accomplish if you find five of these 10-minute breaks in your day.

With today’s technology, watch an instructional video and take notes to ensure accuracy in the skill. Caution: YouTube can be a time sink. So be sure to find value adding channels to follow. I regret not watching more instructional videos over the years.

Take Mini-lessons

At times, all you need is a short lesson to keep moving forward. You probably don’t have time to read an entire book or take a full course. Find sources who summarize or curate content from value-adders in the niche skill your pursuing (self-reliance, wilderness survival, wildcrafting, self-defense, homesteading, food preservation, camping, etc.).

Prepper Website is an excellent curator of self-reliance stuff! Also, be sure to check out our Doing the Stuff Trusted Resources Page for a list of virtual hotspots to connect with and learn skills.

Find Mini-mentors

Questions are easily answered when you find a mentor. Local is best. But don’t discount online learning groups. Avoid groups that only post articles without real discussion of skills. I’ve found a couple of online groups where members, of varying skill level, actually engage and learn from one another.

Like I mentioned earlier, a local mentor is ideal. I’ve been fortunate to find knowledgeable local instructors and online teachers.

When time and money permit, take a class or workshop from a teacher who practices the E.D.I. method of instruction… (Educate: teach the skill, Demonstrate: doing the stuff with the skill, Imitate: allow you to imitate the skill). Two things happen with quality instruction: (A) your learning curve is shortened, and, (B) you build micro-communities and connections. These students of self-reliance share your passion and can be your best mini-mentors.

There is always more to learn on our journey to self-reliance. Finding the time to practice and learn skills is the challenge. Hopefully these tips will help.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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: Doing the Stuff, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scavenging resources in a wilderness survival situation can turn up life-saving stuff. That’s why developing a possum mentality is vital!

Our ancestors walked our woodlands and learned to use the resources most modern outdoor enthusiast overlook. Essential woodland resources seem to be invisible to the modern eye. The stuff you’ve got packed in your woodcraft/bushcraft kit or bug out bag are consumable. You’ll eventually use up that roll of duct tape… or, more than likely, you forgot to pack it.

Not a problem. Pine trees produce a sticky substitute with superior benefits!

Learning to identify and use natural resources has gotten me out of many sticky situations in the woods. Pardon the play on words as we explore the many uses of this tacky, amber-colored pine sap I call Jewel of the Woods!

Collecting Sappy Jewels

Pine trees secrete resin as a defense to close wounds from insects or other forces. The sap provides a protective layer or sealant over the injury . The sap hardens forming an amber glob which turns dark in color over time. On fresh wounds, you’ll notice a whitish layer of sap covering the damaged area. With time, large clumps form making it easier to harvest.

Harvesting fresh resin can become a sticky situation. The fresher the glob, the more sticky and pliable. On dedicated Jewel of the Woods harvesting trips, I carry a grub knife, one I don’t mind getting covered with resin. To remove sap from my good blades in the woods, I use a bit of Everclear (190 proof) from my flask on a piece of cloth.

For hardened resin, poke a sharp object (grub knife or sharp stick) into the base of the glob and pry it loose. It’ll break off and fall into your hand or container underneath. That’s when you’ll notice the crystalized form inside which resembles a beautiful piece of amber stone.

For hard-to-reach spots high in trees, my friend Joe at Feral Woodcraft shares his clever resin harvesting tool.

Now that you’ve gathered a fair amount, what’s this sticky stuff good for?

A.) Self Aid

  • Pine sap properties include: antiseptic, astringent, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial
  • Treat wounds – apply it to cuts like you would super glue. Follow first-aid protocol for cleaning/flushing first.
  • Stop bleeding – apply a soft glob (heat if necessary) to help stop bleeding.
  • Treat skin rashes and eczema with ointments,tinctures, and salves. For tinctures, use 190 proof Everclear since resin won’t dissolve with watered down alcohols.
  • Chew softer sap straight off the tree like a gum for sore throats and colds. You could pre-make “gum” with these ingredients: bees-wax, pine sap, and honey.

B.) Glue/Epoxy – Pine Pitch

  • Turn pine resin into pitch sticks. Jamie Burleigh has a great tutorial of his method on Primitive Ways.
  • Hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows and gluing other primitive tools and weapons.
  • Waterproof boot seams, canoes, and containers.
  • Patch holes in tents and tarps.
  • Pretty much any thing you need to glue or patch in the woods, pine pitch is the product.

C.) Candling Device

  • Place globs of dried resin in a fatwood torch to extend its burn time.
  • Pitch sticks, described above, can be used as a makeshift candles.
  • Melt sap and soak a cotton bandana or rag wrapped around a stick for a torch.
  • Melted or liquid sap poured over a dried mullein stalk works as candle/torch.
backyard-bushcraft

Mullein torch

D.) Fire Craft

  • Fire is life in a wilderness survival scenario. Even on weekend camping trips, fire offers core temperature control, cooking, and hot cocoa! Resin is your secret weapon to starting and keeping a fire going in wet conditions. Anyone who’s used resin-rich fatwood in rainy conditions appreciates its important role in fire craft.

  • Resin is highly flammable. Once lit, you can dry marginal tinder and small kindling.

16 Uses of Sticky Pine Sap for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

  • Harvest liquid sap into a container from a fresh cut in a pine tree to add to a makeshift torch. Secure the container under the exposed bark to collect the sap. Use this liquified sap as torch fuel.

Once you learn to identify this sticky life-saver, you’ll find it difficult to walk past a pine tree without scanning for this Jewel of the Woods!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.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, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 64 Comments

Top 31 Uses for “Killer” Cotton in Core Temperature Control

by Todd Walker

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cotton got a bad rap with the advent of modern synthetic outdoor wear. I love the properties of my synthetic base layers. In cold environments, I wear synthetic wicking material against my skin. I’ve also been known to wear…. wait for it… fleece! But I’m more a fan of natural fibers like cotton and wool.

Being modern is not always better. While some situations require a blend of new and old school clothing, nothing beats wearing my favorite flannel shirt as I brew my morning coffee on an open fire at the Dam Cabin.

IMG_0824

Abby is fond of fire too

In fact, besides being comfortable, cotton can be a life-saver! Wilderness survival is all about Core Temperature Control and cotton plays a vital role.

Here are my top 31 ways Killer Cotton can be used to control your core temperature and effect your Wilderness Survival Priorities…

Priority #1: Self Aid

Self aid is your number one priority in a wilderness survival scenario. If you can’t move effectively, your chances of survival plummet. If you’re a minimalist gear junky like me, cotton material excels to meet this survival priority.

self-aid-10-piece-kit

Shemaghs make great slings.

I’m not suggesting you not carry a first aid kit. That’s completely your choice. There’s a difference in first aid kits and prescribed medications. Carry all medicines you require. But for the most common injuries you’ll encounter in a wilderness scenario, your 10 Piece Kit is your first aid kit.

  • Bandaging
  • Sling
  • Wound compress and pressure dressing
  • Cleaning
  • Padding for splints
  • Cover burns and keep moist
  • Straining medicinals in the field
  • Hot/Cold wrap
  • Tourniquet as a last resort

Priority #2: Shelter

Clothing is your first layer of cover.

  • Yes. I wear this “killer” as mid-layers in the winter! Be smart while wearing cotton by following the C.O.L.D. acronym…
  1. C – Keep cotton CLEAN
  2. O – Avoid OVERHEATING
  3. L – Wear loose LAYERS to create dead air space
  4. D – Keep cotton DRY

Priority #3: Fire

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My buddy Joel making char cloth in his stainless steel water bottle. Photo credit: Iris Canterbury, The Pathfinder School

  • Char cloth for your next fire
  • Makeshift wick for tallow or other oil lamps
  • While not clothing, many folks use cotton balls/pads and Vaseline as fire starters
  • Wind screen to start a fire

Priority #4: Water/Food

Top 31 Uses of “Killer” Cotton for Core Temperature Control | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Pre-filtering with a bandana into a metal container. Photo credit: Iris Canterbury, The Pathfinder School

  • Container for foraged food and other resources
  • Waxed cotton material can be used in water collection
  • Pre-filter to strain larger “floaties” while collecting water from outdoor sources. This decreases the chances of clogging commercial filters. Bandanas won’t filter out micro organisms. Boiling is the best way to kill these nasties.
  • My friend Joshua over at The 7 P’s Blog has a great tutorial on building a DiY Tripod Water Filter using… you guessed it, cotton.
  • Collect and absorb moisture from dew and plants
  • Insulator to grab hot pots off the fire
  • Use it as a tea/coffee ball

Priority #5: Signaling

Pack at least one orange bandana in your kit.

  • Orange bandanas used alert rescuers
  • Strips hanging as trail markers

Bonus Uses for Cotton

  • Toilet paper – ever tried wiping your business end with synthetic base layers?
  • Feminine hygiene
  • Personal hygiene, wash cloth, cleaning your teeth
  • Cool looking dew rag
  • Handkerchief – Yup.

Cotton can be a killer. But as you can see, it can also save your life.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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

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, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Gear, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Top 13 Uses for Pine Trees in Woodcraft and Self-Reliance

by Todd Walker

Feel the nip in the air? Summer fades and autumn arrives to transform the forest canopy into an artist’s palate. Hunters, campers, and hikers are gearing up to enjoy the great outdoors.

Winter is on the way and many of your favorite edible and medicinal plants will fade into the landscape. But trees, they’ll stick around all four seasons. Now is the time to locate these valuable resources before their foliage covers the forest floor.

You may have a favorite season to tramp in the woods. For me, it’s Fall, Winter, Spring and Summer! Journal the location of these valuable resources. With the exception of evergreens, the only obvious identifying characteristics in the winter months will be the tree bark.

In this 5 Part Series, we’ll cover my top 5 useful trees found in the Eastern Woodlands; more specifically, in my home state of Georgia. These may be in your neck of the woods too. First up, a tree that is ease to identify year round.

pine-tree-uses-self-reliance

Pine (genus Pinus)

Let’s start with North America’s most familiar and successful conifer, pine trees. Whether you’re from the south or not, you know a pine when you see one.

There are 36 pines in North America to choose from. To narrow down the species, count the needles. The Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) is the only species with 5 needles in the fascicle sheath (the paper-like sheath surrounding the base of the needles). I’m just south of their natural range and haven’t had much experience with this variety. This tree is touted as the king of Vitamin C. But all pines are useful medicinally.

Self-Aid

Medicinal Properties include: antiseptic, astringent, inflammatory, antioxidant, expectoranthigh in Vitamin C for colds – flu – coughs, congestion, and even scurvy. Shikimic acid, the main ingredient in Tamiflu, is harvested from pine needles in Asia.

A.) Pine Needle Tea: Drink a cup of pine needle tea to extract the useful stuff when you feel flu-like symptoms in your body. More research can be found here.

How to Make Pine Needle Tea

Add a few pine needles to a cup of boiled water (Don’t boil the needles in the water as this will release un-tasty turpenes). Allow to steep for 3 to 5 minutes. Add natural sweetener if you like. I prefer pine needles only for a Vitamin C boost!

B.) Pine Bark Band Aid: The inner bark can be fashioned as an antiseptic Band Aid for cuts and scraps. Apply to wound and secure with duct tape, bandana, or cordage.

Inner bark Band Aid from the pine tree

Inner bark Band Aid from a pine tree

C.) Pine Sap/Resin: This sticky sap can also be used to cover wounds, blisters, and burns. Collect hardened sap from a wounded tree and heat it to make it pliable.

Mowers scared this tree on a power line. The white streaks are pine sap. Older sap is easier to collect when it forms a amber "ball" at a wound.

Mowers recently clipped this tree on a power line. The white streaks are pine sap. Older sap is easier to collect when it forms an amber “ball” at a wound.

D.) Pine Pollen: The yellow pine pollen that blankets the south in the spring is actually beneficial, not only for pine tree reproduction, but also for boosting our energy levels with small levels of testosterone.

Arthur Haines describes on his YouTube channel how pine pollen provides multiple avenues of protection against radioactive cesium. The endogenous antioxidants that are promoted by pine pollen are protective of DNA against radioactive particles.

Woodcraft Uses

E.) Bug Dope: “Nussmuk” (George Washington Sears) described his effective insect repellent in the North Woods with its main ingredient being pine resin. Once applied, a bronze protective film gave his skin weeks of protection from pesky biting insects.

Woodcraft and Camping by "Nessmuk"

F.) Firecraft: Fat lighter’d (fatwood, lighter wood, fat lighter, pine knot) is in every fire kit I own. It’s plentiful in Georgia and hard to beat as a natural fire starter/extender – especially in wet conditions.

Shavings from fatwood will ignite with a ferrro rod.

Shavings from fatwood will ignite with a ferrro rod.

G.) Pine Bark Bacon: Inner bark is edible . Check out this woodsman at Survival Topics frying pine bark like bacon!

H.) Core Temperature Control: Debris shelter roofing, pine bough bed for insulation against conductive heat lose, shelter construction,

I.) Pine Pitch Glue: Used for hafting arrowheads, fletching arrows, patching holes in tarps, seal containers, fire extender, waterproofing equipment – really, any stuff that needs adhesive.

J.) Illumination: Fat Lighter’d torches are simple to make and adds light to your camp or night-time trek.

Fatwood torch | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

K.) Hugelcultur: Dead wood in hugelcultur beds acts as a water retention sponge to help build food independence and self-reliance. Want to build one? One of our Doing the Stuff Network members shows you how Here.

L.) Signaling: To alert rescuers, a pre-made signal fire built with green pine boughs on top will generate enough white smoke to be seen for miles.

M.) Firewood: Burning pine on your campfire won’t produce BTU’s like hardwoods, but will keep you warm and cook your coffee. Plus, piney forests are littered with an abundance of dead limbs for fuel. The carpet of dead needles can be gathered for tinder material.

The lowly pine is listed first in our series for a reason. As you can see, its uses are many… too many to list here! Please add to the list in the comments anything I missed (I always miss something) to help us learn from each other.

Next up in the series: White Oak.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

P.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… 

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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, Doing the Stuff, First Aid, Natural Health, Permaculture, Self-reliance | Tags: , , , , , , | 24 Comments

7 Tips to Keep You Alive and Found in the Wilderness

by Todd Walker

Get out there!

Spend enough time with Mother Nature and you’ll likely experience emergencies.

7 Tips to Keep You Alive and Found in the Wilderness

Things went right this trip.

Even the most innocent outings are potential survival situations. That fishing trip can turn nasty for all the wrong reasons. Your day hike may find you sleeping under the stars with a busted knee.

Always carry a minimal what-if emergency kit. With these tools, a survival mind-set, and Doing the Stuff skills, you increase your odds of staying alive and being found.

A.) Mindset Training

No matter the crisis or survival situation, your ability to come out on the other side alive is largely dependent upon your attitude. Recognizing that there will be added stress – mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual – is your first step.

Let us train our minds to desire what the situation demands. – Seneca the Younger

All your other skills will be affected by your mindset. Obviously, the more skills and knowledge you have, the more comfortable you’ll be when starting a fire to stay warm when your lost in the wilderness. Being collected enough to start a fire not only provides physical life support but boosts morale.

The more you practice skills, the more you’re attitude improves. Doing the Stuff beforehand keeps panic at bay.

B.) There’s No “I” in Team

This clever slogan adorns team t-shirts and locker room walls in the world of sport. Unfortunately, the saying won’t work on surv”I“val. There it sits, smack dab in the middle of the word!

In some cases, “I” is all you have. This scenario requires you to be a team of one – without a camera crew filming or emergency personnel standing by. You’ll have to survive on your wits and create your own ‘luck.’

C.) Resilient First Aid

Injuries happen. A scrap becomes infected. A misstep twists your ankle. Now you’ve become the doctor. All the more reason to pack a basic first aid kit. Learning basic first aid builds resilience.

The larger threat in wilderness survival situations is hypothermia and hyperthermia. Getting cold and wet leads to hypothermia. You’re ability to make sound decisions is reduced when your body’s core temp drops.

D.) Improvised Emergency Shelter

I’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating. Mother Nature is temperamental. She likes to see how much hell you can handle while visiting her “house.”

Humans aren’t built for prolonged exposure to nature’s elements. We require shelter. We may stumble upon a cave if one is available. But one advantage we have over our furry critter friends is our ability to use logic and reason to survive.

Any crisis over a couple of hours in wet, cold conditions will likely escalate into a life-threatening setting. Shelter is more important than water in this case. Humans can only go three hours without shelter. Having experience in building emergency shelter can save your life. If you’re caught without a piece of plastic or a tarp, you’ll have to improvise and use what nature provides.

Here’s some ways to build a temporary ‘home’ in the wilderness…

E.) Fire

7 Tips to Keep You Alive and Found in the Wilderness

The fire triangle

The ability to make fire is everything in the wilderness. This skill aids in cooking, purifying, heating, signaling, security, and comfort. Fire affects all your other physical and emotional steps to survival and rescue.

Fire is life!

F.) Signaling Rescuers

This one doesn’t get much attention but may be your best hope of being found alive. A series of 3 of anything (sound or visual) let’s search and rescue know you’re in distress. Three whistle blasts, rocks, logs, and/or fires. Use fire at night and smoke during the day. Be sure not to set the surrounding forest ablaze.

If you want to be found, leave a trail or signs for search and rescue. Leave a bandana or strip of cloth hanging from branches if ground rescue is involved. Also build arrows with natural or man-made material to indicate your travel direction.

For ground-to-air rescue, find an opening or clearing and create large signals with straight lines and 90 degree angles or circles. Use logs or rocks that contrast with the background. Build a log cabin fire setup with dry tinder and fuel in the bottom and green leafy material on top that will produce lots of smoke. Fire it up when you hear airplanes or helicopters.

Number Message Code Symbol
1 Require Assistance V
2 Require Medical Assistance X
3 Proceeding in this Direction
4 Yes or Affirmative Y
5 No or Negative N

The above chart indicates to rescue how to proceed. Use any available contrasting material to make these symbols a minimum of 3 feet wide and 18 feet long to alert aircraft.

Shiny Object Signaling

A signaling mirror or any shiny object will work to alert pilots. Reflected sunlight can be seen for several miles. For more details on signaling with shiny objects, Creek Stewart shows you how to improvise here.

Always leave the 3 W’s with a trusted friend or family member:

  1. Where you’re going
  2. When you plan on returning
  3. Who’s in your group.

[I intentionally left water and food out of this post. Well, to be honest, I’m running short on time and don’t have the energy to cover these in this post. 🙂 We’ll chew on these later.]

Keep Doing the Stuff!

Todd

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Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Bushcraft, Camping, Survival, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

by Todd Walker

Could you survive in the wilderness with only a sling shot as your weapon?

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

A DIY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Lots would depend on your survivability. Having a means to harvest protein and animal fat would surely increase your chances.

In a perfect world, the sling shot would not be my first choice. But having options makes one more robust.

When Dave Canterbury first talked about hunting big game with a sling shot, I thought he’d lost his mind. But then again, I’ve seen him do amazing things with common, everyday items. [Note: Check your local hunting regulations before hunting with a sling shot.]

I first saw his video on his pocket hunter over three years ago before he was co-starring on Dual Survival. I was impressed. So much so that I turned my wrist rocket into a DIY version of his now patented Deluxe Pathfinder Pocket Hunter Kit

My version is rough, but functional. I have three points on arrows for my sling shot: fishing tip, broadhead, and judo points. Here’s a look at a judo point on a wooden arrow.

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Judo point ready to slay a spud.

The purpose of the judo point is to snag on brush, grass, or the ground and flip the arrow up to make finding a missed shot easier. It’s used for hunting small game animals.

The smallest game I could legally hunt today was Mr. Potato Head. Dirt Road Girl offered up a sacrificial spud. The hunt was on!

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Use the same draw technique as you would with a traditional bow.

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Dead spud at ten yards!

Both field points and broadheads penetrated this target about 5 inches at ten and 15 yards. Just like finding your anchor point in archery, shooting sling shots are no different. I anchor at the right corner of my mouth and aim instinctively.

Back when I built my pocket hunter, I secured a Whisper Biscuit between the arms of my sling shot with wire ties. I can fold the arrow rest down to shoot ball bearings or pebbles.

My arrow with the fishing tip is carbon. I secured a piece of nylon bank line to the arrow. This line is attached to the line spool on the PVC pipe on the wrist rocket. I mounted the pipe on a piece of aluminum plate screwed into the base of the wrist rocket. When shot, the line peels off the spool perfectly.

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

Bow fishing set up.

The main drawback of my pocket hunter is carrying full length arrows. Dave fixes that issue with take down arrows.

You can check out his kit at his Pathfinder Store. The Three-Piece Take Down Arrows are sold separately. I’ve added them to my wish list. This allows you to carry a silent, but deadly, weapon in your survival kit – all in one self-contained bag. Brilliant!

A DiY Survival Sling Shot with Big Game Capabilities

I use an old military surplus medic IV bag to store and carry my pocket hunter. Just need those break down arrows to complete the kit.

As I said in the beginning of this article, I would prefer to have a long gun for wilderness survival. But the pocket hunter is another option for redundancy in harvesting game quietly in a survival scenario. Options are good!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

Todd

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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, equipment, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 35 Comments

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