We have stated in previous articles that survival training should be conducted in a controlled environment where mistakes become a learning tool and not a death sentence. You can learn from your mistakes, but you must first survive those mistakes.
Training is important, and the only way to become proficient in anything is through hours of training. Then you apply the knowledge, and skills learned in practice sessions, and what better place to practice survival skills than while on a camping expedition.
The stage is already set, and for the most part, it is a controlled environment. It is recommended, however, that you have someone with you that can act as a monitor in the event something goes wrong.
It’s easy to survive when all you have to do is unload the cabin tent from the back of the pickup and find a level spot to erect it, but what happens when you don’t have a pickup full of camping gear and you need a shelter.
Do your zone assessment. Look for natural shelters first like uprooted trees where the root cavity can be turned into a shelter. Look for overhangs, caves, and heavy foliage that you can crawl under and adapt into a shelter. If natural shelters are not available, then one has to be made from forest debris.
There are countless videos on the Internet where people show the most ingenious ways anyone could imagine to create a fire. You don’t need ingenious or complicated methods. You simply need methods that work.
Forget the videos and concentrate on KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Matches, lighters and magnesium sticks, Ferro rods and flint and steel will always start a fire. It really is quite simple never leave home without them.
While camping, however, learn to make a bow and spindle, and practice with flint and steel, because starting a fire with either method takes hours of practice and patience. They will start a fire if you are caught in the wilds without the traditional methods, so it is important that you have the skills need to start a fire literally from scratch.
You have plenty in the truck, but remember you are in training mode so imagine if you will, that you only have a small bottle of water left and the clock is ticking. First, you have to find a source and then make it safe to drink. The most reliable way is by boiling, but you need to filter it first. This is why fire starting is critical, without fire, you can’t drink the water, and you need a container to boil the water in as well. You can use a plastic water bottle to essentially pasteurize the water by placing it close to the heat while not melting the plastic. It can be done but it takes 45 minutes to an hour of constant heat to destroy, any contaminates.
Filtering is important, as well. Get practicing and you can use heated rocks, as well, to boil water by making a small pit and lining it with your poncho or any sturdy plastic. Fill with water and place hot rocks in the water until you see steam rise from the water.
First, locate your campsite on a topographical map. Then study the map to identify prominent land features in particular water. From your location orientate your compass to the map and take a degree reading and mark a course that will take you to a water source or to other landmarks.
Practice walking 500 yards in all directions and then plot a course back to camp. Use two-way radios to stay in contact with the monitor back at camp in the event you do get lost. Blaze trees or use colored cordage or trail marking tape to mark your course. Make the blaze on the side of the tree you would see when walking back to camp, otherwise, you will not see the marks.
Find an elevated spot and go to it while someone stays at camp. Use a mirror to reflect sunlight and see if the monitor at camp can spot the reflection. Typically, you would signal aircraft this way but you can also signal those that may be searching from the ground. It does take practice and learning how to signal for help is important when lost.
Three of any markings on the ground that can be seen from the air indicates distress, and if you do expect rescuers are out looking, then a signal fire is a must have. Smoke can be seen for miles even by those searching from the ground.
Practice rudimentary flint knapping so you can make cutting tools for skinning game, cutting cordage or for sharpening spears and for making arrowheads out of stone or even glass. If you have cordage then you can make a longbow and then arrows for hunting, but you need cutting tools to turn a supple sapling into a bow.
You would need spears for fishing and self-defense. Spears are not ideal for hunting game because they are more of a thrusting tool than a throwing weapon unless you have considerable expertise in making a balanced spear with the proper spear points.
Practice Survival Fishing For Food
Practice making fishhooks from what you find on the forest floor, bone, wood, pop tops, paper clips, wire and so on can be made into fishhooks while virtually any cordage can be used as fishing line in particular 550 Paracord. The seven inner strands can be used for sewing thread, fishing line and used to make sutures to close wounds. Spoons, lures, and bobbers can be made from what you find around you. Pieces of Styrofoam, bottle caps and metal from a soda can, could be used to make fishing tackle.
We here, typically do not encourage people to forage for edible plants unless they are so common that anyone could recognize them because there are so many poisonous ones that chances are unless you are an expert, you would end up sick or worse from eating the wrong ones.
Everyone knows what a dandelion looks like, as well as blackberries and raspberries, cattails, wild apples, and blueberries. Beyond the most obvious ones, you are taking a chance, and the nutritional value from a few leaves is not worth the risk unless you know without a doubt that the plant is edible.
You will be hungry, but you will be rescued long before you starve to death, or in some cases, succumb to dehydration, hypothermia or from some accident long before you need to worry about starving to death. If you can survive long enough to starve to death, then you have the skills to find food.