Basic Survival;Woodlands and Forest
Alone in the wild
This hub is part two of five and will be dealing with surviving in a woodland or mountainous environment.Different geographical locations produce their own specific hazards and difficulties that can be overcome with simple strategies and education.In the last Basic Survival hub some important and basic strategies were covered in attempt to introduce a fundamental system that can be adapted to many different emergency or survival situations.Knowledge and insight will produce a higher level of confidence which is paramount when faced with surviving alone in the wild
Where to begin
For whatever reason or chain of events you find yourself alone,lost and bewildered,take a moment to get yourself together and use the steps outlined in the previous guide.http://mrshadyside1.hubpages.com/hub/Basic-Survival
Make a thorough assessment of your physical condition and assuming you were at least somewhat prepared, attend to any injuries first before all else.If you are not in need of first aid or have already attended to your injuries then remember to think "S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L." This strategy was developed by the US Army and provides a systematic approach to collecting situational data and how to prioritize based on that data.Make every action be as productive as possible and get to work.Indecision and procrastination will leave you exposed and allow fear and doubt to creep into mind.Formulate a plan and busy yourself with following that plan,every small task you complete will increase confidence as well as improve your situation and elevate mood.
Creating suitable shelter
The rule of threes states that you can die from exposure to the elements within three hours,so building adequate shelter should be started promptly.The first thing to consider is location and if no immediate dangers are found you should construct your shelter as close to the location you were in when you realized you were alone and lost.
In locating your shelter it is recommended to choose an area that is slightly elevated or higher than the area around it.Look for natural outcropping of trees or brush,this will aid in reducing wind and rain as well as provide camouflage.Look for an area with two or more small trees grouped a few feet apart, this will aid in constructing your shelter.
Avoid low areas and gullies or ravines as these areas are subject to become flooded,and are the home to many insects.Cold air settles so these low places will get colder and remain colder longer.
Your shelter should be facing away from wind and rain so the entrance should be facing in a north eastern direction.This will also help to warm you and the inside of your shelter quickly in the morning and in the evening will provide shade from the heat.
Now that you have chosen a location and decided on the lay out you need to begin collecting the materials you will need to build your shelter and getting to work.There are many types of shelters but the simplest is the debris shelter,and it is also one of the most effective.Below I will provide numbered instructions and illustrations will be shown to the right.
- Support post - The length should be from the ground to just above the knee, This support could be an old stump,a small tree,or a limb scavenged that is in the shape of a "y".This post will need to be secured with vine or strips of sapling bark or drove into the ground with a stone.
- Main beam - This beam will bear the most weight and should be fairly straight and about the size of your wrist.If you don't have a tool to cut this from a green tree try not to use anything that is rotten it will break,If you have no other choice use two smaller pieces. Make sure that this beam is about two - three feet taller than you.This will make sure you have enough room to get completely inside the shelter.On one end place the beam on the ground and secure the other end to the top of your support post.
- Rafters - You will need to cut or find many of these and they can vary in diameter.They should be long enough to be propped up on the main beam on both sides and resemble an "A" frame house.The length should be approximately as long as your leg at the entrance to your shelter and can become smaller as they are placed to the end of the main beam.
- Lattice - For these you can cut or break some limber, finger size limbs. They do not have to be as long as the main beam but should be as long as possible.You should try to "weave" them over and under the rafters parallel to the main beam. You will need enough to place them about six - eight inches apart.
- Debris - This should be small sticks and pine needles and leaves.Start at the ground and work to the top.Cover the entire shelter with layer one foot thick then lay larger sticks approximately one foot apart parallel with the rafters.These will catch any water that may seep through and direct it toward the ground.Then starting at the ground and working up apply another layer of debris about two feet thick over the entire shelter.
- Bedding - try to find pine needle and straw or dry grass and line the ground inside the shelter as thick as possible.This will insulate the floor as well as make it more comfortable.
- Door - Leave a mound of sticks and debris piled up to one side and when inside your shelter you can pull the debris in to form a door.
Constructing a shelter is an activity that once completed will significantly elevate mood and build confidence.Although the physical work involved will have caused a loss of hydration and after some rest locating a source of clean water should be the next task .
Before setting out remember the strategies that have been discussed take a moment to think about the task.A safe source of water could possibly be a significant distance away and without careful thought you could lose your way back to the shelter.
A safe way to do this would be to divide the area into four parts and explore each area individually.Before leaving your "camp" grab several large sticks or stones.As you walk approximately every fifty to seventy steps create a way point marker with whatever you have brought along.Make an arrow that points back in the direction in which you came.
Remember to use your senses,running water can be heard and still water in lakes and ponds has a distinct smell.Also the croaking of frogs are a sign that water is close by.Make short trips to start covering all four areas then start again working further out. Most wooded areas have an abundant supply of water and locating it should not be very difficult.
Rapid moving water in rivers and streams tend to be the only choice when you have no purification options.This does not mean that you cannot become sick or that swift water is without bacteria,in swift water the concentration of bacteria is kept down,where still or slow moving water should not be consumed without purification.If you have a metal container you should boil water for about five minutes over a fire. If you do not have a metal container you can still boil water ,if you only have a glass or plastic container line the container with cloth(socks/tshirt),place several stones in the fire and leave them there for several hours.With the container lined well with cloth and almost filled with water add the red hot stones.Use caution when doing this,steam can burn you and water can erupt violently if too much heat is added too quickly.If you have no form of container consider carving a bowl from wood or mixing red clay soil or dark top soil with water and forming a mud container and allow to dry for several hours then fire the container by building a make shift oven from stones and placing it in the fire. This will take a little practice but is relatively easy with a little experience.
Can't find water?
If you have not found a water source in your area after a couple of days or you are injured and cannot physically search for water here are a couple of options.
- Wake before dawn and remove articles of clothing and wrap them around your ankles and calves,then walk around in high grass or weeds.This will soak the clothing with dew that can be sucked from the cloth or even wrung into a container and purified or saved.
- Bamboo can be found around the world and provides a good source of fresh water.Bend the green bamboo over and cut the top off,strap or tie the top down and place your container under the cut top and overnight you will drinking water.
After your injuries have healed enough that you can walk you should start trying to locate a good source of water.If water is a great distance away it may be time to move closer to the water.
Of all the skills and knowledge of the outdoors and survival, none bring the confidence and satisfaction that comes from knowing how to successfully create fire with primitive tools.Fire serves many purposes it provides warmth, enables the cooking of food,provides light,and frightens critters away.This is one of the most important skills and literally everyone should know how to start a fire without the aid of chemicals such as matches or a lighter.
First you should locate the area where you will build the fire.Ideally close to your shelter but far enough away that your shelter doesn't catch fire.
Next you will need to find
- tinder - dry pine needles,ground bark,dry moss,dry straw or rich pine knots
- kindling - small dry sticks and twigs,bark,leaves,or strips of wood cut into small pieces
- fuel - wood to add to the fire,hardwoods burn hotter and longer dry evergreen wood starts easier
There are many methods that will produce fire but the most practical and effective in a survival situation is by" sunlight refraction" and "bow,socket and drill" method. Before beginning any method of producing fire you should collect tinder,kindling and fuel(firewood) and have your kindling and fuel arranged in a tee-pee and ready to be lit.Below are the materials you will need along with instructions .
- The bow,drill and fire board - Finding the proper type of wood is very important,aspen,cedar or some type of evergreen will produce the fastest results.If you are not familiar with the different types of trees remember that evergreens are trees that have needles instead of leaves. Pine will be the most common and easiest to find,even though other woods are better for this pine will generally be the easiest to recognize by anyone .Cut a piece of green hardwood about as long as your arm and strip the bark away.Cut piece of hardwood that is as long as your forearm(from your elbow to the tip of your fingers).Try to find or make a fireboard that is softwood(cedar,pine) two or three inches wide,approximately two feet long and roughly an inch thick.
- Make the bow - Un-lace one of your boots or shoes and tie one end of the string to the piece you cut as long as your arm.Bend the bow until there is five or six inches between the string and bow in the center and tie the other end of the string to the bow.
- The drill - This will be the fore arm length hardwood,strip the bark from the drill and carve the top side in a rounded shape,carve the bottom into a slight point almost flat.
- The fireboard - Carve a slight depression for the drill to sit in. Cut a "v"type notch at the edge of the fire board under the depression for the drill and crumble some of the pine bark,pine needles,pine knot shavings and place it in and below the "v"notch.
- The socket - The socket should be a flat stone or piece of hardwood with a slight depression so it can be placed on the end of the drill to allow pressure to be applied while spinning the drill.
- Arrange your tinder and kindling just as you would to build a fire normally,Place the drill against the bow string and twist it until the string wraps around the drill.Place the tapered end of the drill in the notch of the fireboard,holding the socket in your palm place it on top of the drill and begin to push and pull the bow in a sawing motion.
- After some "sawing"the fire board will begin to blacken and then it will begin to smoke.The bark in the notch should begin to glow red and smolder.When the bark begins to smolder gently tap or shake the smoldering bark onto the tinder and gently blow until the tinder ignites and flames up.
You have just created fire!
This can also be done with the sunlight refraction method if you have eyeglasses,binoculars or a compass with a magnifying glass.This is by far the easiest primitive method of creating fire.This can only be done when the sun is not blocked by clouds or mist.
- Prepare the tinder,kindling and fuel in a tee-pee shape.
- Take whatever type lens you have and focus the sunlight to a fine bright point on the tinder until it begins to heat up and produce red embers.
- Gently blow on the embers until they ignite the kindling.
- Keep the fire fueled with dry hardwood.
What to eat?
When placed in a survival situation remaining well nourished is very important and mother nature provides a vast selection of food from insects to mammals, from vegetation to fish and birds. The initial inhibitions of eating things that seem foreign or unusual are usually outweighed when the belly begins to growl.Good nutrition will increase peace of mind and well being,along with higher energy and endurance.The means of securing food can range from very easy to highly skilled but in a situation where you are forced to survive alone unexpectedly, eventual rescue is the most probable outcome so emphasis is put upon safety and less risk.
Below are sources of food that can be found easily within most temperate woodland environments.As a rule of thumb you should cook everything before eating it.This helps to avoid parasitic infestation,poisoning and bacterial and viral infestation.
- Worms,grubs,beetle larvae,ants and termites.These are excellent sources of protein and can be easily found under logs or rocks ,in moist low lying terrain and under stumps and leaves.When lost or stranded in a survival situation these should be the first choice of food.Obtaining this food supply is very low risk and does not require the expenditure of large amounts of energy. Worms grubs and beetle larvae can be prepared by simply dropping them into water and they purge themselves.Ants and termites can be eaten boiled,roasted or raw and several different ant species are very sweet and in reality are a treat(when you get past the thought of devouring insects)
- Blackberries,blueberries,muscadines, wild onions,wild garlic,arrowroot,asparagus,cattails,dandelions,chestnut,daylily,oaks,persimmon,sassafras,strawberries,water lilys,wild rose and nettle are some of the more common food plants.Avoid anything that has a three leaf configuration,smells like almonds,brightly colored with yellows and reds,has seed pods,or are covered by spines,thorns or stinging hair.Most of the food plants can be eaten fresh but since the E.R. and the doctors office are now in another world it's the safe bet that counts.Boil in water or cook over heat or in combinations.
- Virtually any fish that can be caught can be eaten,but many people do not possess the knowledge on safely cleaning and preparing the aquatic menu.
- Birds can be caught and cleaned and cooked but energy expenditure is fairly high for the small gain.Although bird nests produce a very high and easy source of protein in the form of eggs.Just remember to leave two or three eggs at every harvest and the parent birds will continuously lay more eggs to replenish the clutch.
- Mammals could be taken with small snare traps and or spearing weapons,but would be difficult for many people to clean and prepare due to knowledge and inhibition.Take note that ALL mammals bite and when backed into a corner or when protecting offspring will attack in an instant and even a squirrel can cause painful damage that will most likely become infected.Some larger mammals such as the badger or raccoon can deliver serious damage to a full grown man that can render him immobile for days.Adult whitetail deer bucks outweigh an adult male human by up to two hundred pounds and can impale or kick and slash with hooves ferociously if they feel trapped.
So unless you just don't want to eat ,the chances of starvation are slim in virtually all woodland/forest areas.Don't allow yourself to become malnourished if possible and the other challenges that arise will produce less risk and psychological distress.
An experience that takes the modern conveniences out of someones life without warning may seem to many as unimaginable,but these events happen all the time.For some people being lost and alone were the way they spent the last days and minutes of life.Out of those a few probably succumbed to tragic events that were not preventable,but many have died when exposed to the very environment that humans are most at home in.Some amount of blame falls on lack of education and lack of tools and supplies.Sadly the majority of blame falls to fear and panic.As mankind moves ahead this problem will probably increase as dependence on technology increases and self reliance becomes a term to describe Artificial Intelligence and the point at which human beings became unnecessary in industry,military and governing.Preparing for survival is a habit that all should develop, in doing so we further understand from where we have come and may help to shape where we are headed.
The next hub in this set will be looking at how to survive the two extremes,Cold and Hot and the special requirements and hazards of each.