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If you needed to bug out at a moments notice, would you be able to survive on what you have on hand? If you’re among the 28% of the U.S. populace that procrastinates, even on the important things, today’s post may be the eye-opener that has you kicking your preps in gear. But you can’t stop at just “things” without training yourself on the how-to! It is imperative to practice the skills mentioned below until you’re able to do them reflexivity, even when you’re exhausted or overwhelmed while looking after others.
Ideally your bug out location is already familiar to you to the point that you know the trails leading in and out, where to collect water, where to pitch a tent or build a shelter, and what wild game is prevalent in the area.
You may feel that some of the skills mentioned in today’s post are not important if your plan is to Survive In Place. I understand that mind set. . . it’s what I pray my family and I are able to do as well, to stay as far downwind as possible while the insanity that follows a nationwide crisis flares and begins to fizzle out over time. But there may be circumstances where you are forced to bug out, if only for a short while, which will make the information in today’s post important to your and your loved ones survival.
#1: Plan Ahead
Planning ahead is where most Preppers excel. But, going back to the 28% who tend to procrastinate, it’s worth a gentle reminder that right now is a good time to inventory your prep goods and training and fill in whats missing.
The following is a list of basic supplies you will need for wilderness survival, and as you can see, the list is fairly extensive. If possible, cache any overflow of critical goods nearby your bug out location–it’ll lighten your load on your trek there and will allow you to stash more prep goods for a prolonged stay should that be necessary.
- Sleeping bag(s)
- Topographical and Street Maps
- Water Purifier/Bottled Water
- Reference Manual on Wild Edible & Medicinal Plants for Your Region
- Medical Emergency Reference Manual
- Rain Poncho
- Toilet Paper
- Basic Medical Supplies: Antibiotic Salve, Tweezers, Alcohol Wipes, Band-Aid’s, Sterile Gauze Pads, Suture Kit, Advil, Aspirin, Tylenol, Ace Bandage and Prescription Medicine (if applicable).
- Emergency Radio
- 2-Way Radios
- Hygiene Products; Soap, Shampoo, etc.
- Camp Cookware, Dishes, Utensils, Can Opener
- Extra Batteries
- Hiking Boots
- Extra Clothing, Socks and Underwear & Cold Weather Gear (if applicable)
- Fishing Pole & Bait
- Insect Repellant
- Material To Build Snares
- MRE’s/Dehydrated Food
- Garden Seed
- Ammo & Weapons
#2: Keep a Positive Mind-Set
Your brain is your most valuable survival tool. When you remain calm and maintain a positive mental attitude, even when others around you are falling apart, your levelheadedness will give you time to evaluate the situation clearly and focus on the tasks that will lead to survival.
# 3: Know How To Build a Shelter
During a crisis that impacts the nation, it is possible that lawlessness my force you to bug out for a short period of time, or in a worst-case scenario, the long term. For many Preppers, bugging out involves fleeing to a wilderness setting. If this is your plan, have you practiced building a shelter? If not, check out this Outdoor Life article entitled Survival Shelters: 15 Best Designs and How to Build Them, written by survival blogger Tim MacWelch. I encourage you to visit the site for instructions on how to build any one of the shelters described below:
- Round Lodge: The round lodge is a hybrid from many cultures. Part tipi, part wicki-up, and influenced by many architectural styles, a round lodge can block wind, rain, cold, and sun.
- Ramada: Sunny, hot environments require a shelter that offers shade. The ramada’s flat roof doesn’t give you leak-proof rain protection, but it does block all of the sun from beating down on you.
- Quinzhee: The quinzhee is a dome shaped snow shelter, similar in shape to an igloo, but much easier to construct. Snow must be just right to build an igloo, while most types of snowfall can be packed together for the quinzhee.
- Snow Cave: A snow cave may be the only shelter option in areas with deep snow. This is typically the most dangerous shelter to create, as the inhabitants could suffer from low oxygen or even be buried alive in a ceiling collapse. Snow selection is a critical part to the snow caves safe performance.
- Wedge Tarp: This tarp shelter is best suited for windy conditions with a constant prevailing wind direction. The wedge provides an aerodynamic shape which should resist the most biting wind and driving rain.
- Tarp Wing Shelter: This unorthodox tarp configuration is great for rain protection over a large area if you have a large tarp; or it can provide coverage to a smaller area when using smaller tarps.
- Tarp Burrito: The tarp burrito is a low drag shelter featuring zero frills and a 30-second or less set up. Simply lay your tarp in a likely shelter location.
- Tarp Tipi: A bit of rope, some poles and a tarp can give you all you need to build one of the most versatile and mobile shelters that Native Americans have ever employed – the tipi.
- A-Frame Tarp Shelter: The A-frame is a tarp design that gives great coverage against rain and wind, when built close to the ground. When suspended higher, it still provides coverage from rain, but it allows more airflow underneath.
- Desert Tarp: This “double roofed” shelter dates back centuries among desert cultures, particularly in northern Africa and the Middle East, but it finally found widespread fame through the last century’s military survival training.
- Tarp Hammock: This is a quick way to improvise a hammock to get off the ground in wet or bug-infested environments.
- Bough Bed: This is not a shelter by itself, but it makes an outstanding addition to any other shelter type.
- Wiki-Up: The wicki-up is a bit like a small tipi made from poles, brush and vegetation. This shelter can be found across the globe, but has been most frequently documented in the American Southwest. Thicker brush, grass, and leaf coverings along with a steeper roof can make this shelter suitable for climates with occasional rain.
- Leaf Hut: The leaf hut is a two-sided, wedge-shaped lean-to with much better weatherproofing and insulating qualities.
- Lean-To: The lean-to is one of the simplest and most frequently constructed primitive shelters. It can be set up in less than an hour with a variety of materials. This basic, one-sided design will give you a haven from wind and rain that the wilderness might throw at you.
#4: Know How To Build a Fire With What’s On Hand
Having the ability to start a fire can make the difference between life and death. A great resource that explains how to make a fire with what you have on hand (or don’t have) is the U.S. Army Survival Manual. In this life-saving manual, Chapter 7 gives instructions on Basic Fire Principles, Site Selection and Preparation, Fire Material Selection, How to Build a Fire and How to Light a Fire.
For example, the section on How to Start a Fire discusses the following methods to get a fire lit:
- Convex Lens
- Metal Match
- Flint and Steel
- Bow and Drill
Note: As pointed out in the U.S. Army Survival Manual, primitive methods such as Flint and Steel, Fire-Plow and Bow and Drill are exhausting and takes practice to perfect.
#5: Know How to Find and Purify Water
Although critical for survival, prep goods, a positive mind-set and shelter won’t keep you alive for any length of time if your don’t have drinkable water. Chapter 6 of the U.S. Army Survival Manual breaks down Water Procurement with the following sections:
- Water Sources
- Still Construction
- Water Purification
- Water Filtration Devices.
Keep in mind in a nationwide crisis that lasts for more than a few days, open waterways are likely to become contaminated with refuse and waste. It should always be assumed that water collected from lakes, rivers, streams and ponds is not safe to drink until it has been purified.
#6: Gathering Food, Hunting and Fishing
Gathering food is made a lot easier and safer with a descriptive reference manual on wild edible plants and herbs like A Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Eastern and central North America (Peterson Field Guides), but whatever manual you choose, it should show detailed, color photograph of plants along with one of a look-alike poisonous impostor, when applicable. It is also helpful for the reference manual to include habitat descriptions to note when a plant is suitable for cultivation.
Hunting is planned for by many Peppers. Sadly, hunting in wilderness areas during a protracted crisis is likely to be touch and go for several reasons (for the record, I’m all for hunting, but it should be in combination with gathering wild foods and gardening). Last year, I wrote an article about the likelihood of game being scarce due to over-hunting, entitled Wilderness Survival For City Dwellers.
In summary, based upon the U.S. populace and the number of wild game, within a fairly short time the meat supply may become scarce. Another issue is the safety aspect of hunting alongside inexperienced hunters. The final issue is something that isn’t discussed enough because it represents one of the biggest threats of eating wild game. In a July 18, 2013 post, Rabbit Starvation: What Preppers Need To Know was discussed. In short, it explains why we can’t depend solely upon the meat of lean game to sustain us.
Wild animals do not provide fat that our diets will require when we are constantly active. Game is naturally lean because of their environment and the enormous amounts of energy they must expend while foraging for their food and dodging predators. Now consider a time when the edible plants they forage is being eaten by a new competitor–man. It is probable that as edible plants and berries begin to be gathered by multitudes of hungry people, the game we hunt will be reduced to leaner meat. For this reason, it is a good approach to eat the organs of wild game for the nutrition it offers and for the extra calories our bodies need.
The good news is, even if you must bug out to the wilderness, it’s still possible to plant a garden!
Native Americans companion planted maize, climbing beans and squash, which was called the Three Sisters. The beauty and the success of planting in such a way is that the climbing beans needed poles to grow upon, which was provided by the maze–actually, the stalk of the corn, and the roots of the beans captured nitrogen from the air, which enriched the corn after the first years harvest. The third seed that was planted was that of the squash, which sends out long vines that remain close to the ground, providing excellent weed control, plus the shade cover the large leaves of the squash provided helped to keep the ground moist which helped to grow the beans and shade the roots of the corn, which in turn helped the corn to grow higher, which allowed the beans vines to grow taller. The spiny squash plant also discouraged predators from the corn and beans planted among them. Another words, the Three Sisters was perfect symbiotic gardening, all three crops planted in one mound that did not require a large garden plot. And there’s more. . . the carbohydrates provided in corn, the protein in beans and the vitamins from the squash and the oil from its seed combined with lean meat Native American tribes hunted like rabbit, buffalo and deer, made for a perfect diet.
If you would like to experiment with Three Sisters companion planting, here’s what you do: Build three flat-top mounds close together, each mound approximately 12 inches high and 20 inches around. In the center of each of the three mounds plant several maze seeds close together. When the maze has grown approximately 6 inches high in the mounds, plant beans and squash–altering them: beans, then squash, then beans and squash…there you have the Three Sisters which some Native American tribes depended upon for survival.
It’s a good idea to add a fishing pole to your prep list, but if you find yourself needing one, it’s worth reading Brass Pro Shop article, Emergency Fishing Techniques: Fishing for Survival by Keith Sutton which shows how to make improvised hooks, lines and lures, explains how to make a centuries old fish weir, and more.
#7: First Aid
We are all aware of the possibility that a medical emergency in the midst of a full-blown crisis means there’s a high probability we will have to administer emergency aid ourselves. If you haven’t had basic medical training that covers emergencies like how to apply a tourniquet, how to suture a wound, or how to treat a concussion (there’s much more, of course), it’s wise to take a course. And if you have any holes in your medical supplies, or haven’t gotten around to purchasing an emergency medical reference guide, these items should go to the top of your list.
Have you prepared for the eventuality of having to bug out at a moments notice? Have you practiced survival skills and have any tips to share? Please sound off with your comments below!
God bless and stay safe,
David Morris and Survival Diva