Traps and Snares

In a wilderness survival situation, it is imperative to know  your way around trapping and snaring animals and fish to use for food. With a few simple tools, a lot of patience, and a little bit of ingenuity, you can set up traps and snares to capture game animals, fish and birds with relative ease.

Traps and Snares for Game Animals:

Simple snare

To make a ground snare on a game trail, simply tie a “noose” from a line that slips easily, paracord works the best but fishing line also works, either using a slip knot or by feeding the line through a smooth ring. Tie off the end of the line to a tree or other sturdy object, and place twigs in the ground near the “noose” end of the snare. Then, suspend the “noose” from the twigs you placed in the ground, aiming to get it around the head height of the animal you are hoping to ensnare. The goal is to snare the head of the animal as it runs through the “noose,” so that it becomes trapped by its neck, and its attempts to free itself from the line tighten the snare further. Bait can be used to lure the animal to the snare.

Pit trapping


If you are in an area where larger game are plentiful and you have some time on your hands, you can also create a pit trap. Pit trapping can be used for deer or even elk, if you can dig deeply enough. Making pit traps is very time consuming and labor intensive, as you are essentially fashioning a grave from which the animal cannot escape. Begin by digging a hole in the ground wide enough to accommodate the body of the animal you wish to trap, and deep enough that the animal will not be able to escape once it falls in. If possible, shore up the “walls” of the pit with stones, creating a sort of makeshift masonry so that the integrity of the structure of the pit will not be compromised. Cover the pit carefully with thatch-work and leaves in order to disguise it, and wait. Note: be very aware of where you have placed the trap, lest you fall in yourself!

Deadfall

A deadfall trap is just what it sounds like: ideally, this trap makes the animal dead when it falls on top of it. In order to create a deadfall, find a large rock with a relatively flat surface on one side and use a tripod of sticks to hold it aloft. Bait should be placed at the center of the stick tripod. Make sure the sticks aren’t too solidly attached to one another, or the trap will not fall when the sticks are disturbed by the animal. Nor do you want them to be too weakly connected, lest the trap fall with a change of the wind!

Traps and Snares for Birds:

Net trapping

If you have a large net in your survival kit and feel like fowl, you may be in luck. By suspending a net between two trees in the flight path of a bird flock, you can ensnare one or more birds by trapping them in the netting. It is important that you leave a fold of netting down at ground level in case the bird should find its way downward—and since this method doesn’t involve any snaring of a specific body part, it is important to check it often if you are utilizing it just in case the bird should escape given time.

Perch snaring

Another method that can prove useful for bird-catching is a perch-style snare. Take a small stick and wedge it very loosely into the crotch of a tree branch, baiting the stick if desired. Then, tie a “noose” similar to that used in a ground snare, although very thin line is advised for bird snaring, such as fishing line and secure it to the tree, draping the “noose” end over the loosely-wedged stick. When the bird lights upon the stick, the stick should fall under its weight, thus trapping the bird by the feet.

Deadfall for ground birds

Just as you can use a deadfall trap for small game, you can use a similar trap for flightless birds. Using the same technique outlined for the small game deadfall, create a baited tripod of loosely-connected sticks holding aloft a large rock. When the bird disturbs the sticks in an attempt to reach the bait, the rock will fall and crush the bird or at least trap it in place.

Traps and Snares for Fish:

Trapping fish with a net


If you have a net, you can suspend it deep in the water of a river or creek by tying it off to poles place firmly in the ground, either at shore or further into the water. The net should be baited throughout, weighted at the bottom, and checked frequently to see if you have a catch. This is a simple, passive method for catching fish.

Bottle trapping

This method of fish-catching is painfully simple, but it does limit the size of fish you can catch. What you do is take a two-liter bottle such as those used for soda pop and clean it out, removing the label and the cap. Cut the bottle just below the neck, leaving a wide-mouthed container and a “funnel” that the neck has created. Cut off the threads of the bottle, leaving about a two-inch hole in the “funnel.” Place the “funnel” end backwards into the large portion of the bottle, so the neck of the funnel is facing inwards. Affix a line to the bottle, and add weights and bait—then sink your trap and wait for the fish to swim on in.

A line of lines

If you like, you can also make a line of multiple fishing lines in order to catch fish while you attend to other tasks. Here’s what you do: take a strong line such as sturdy rope or paracord and string it across a stream, tying it off securely to poles or trees on either bank, leaving it just above or partially submerged in water. Then, tie off weighted, baited hooks on fishing line to the cord and wait. When you return to your lines, you may find that your line of lines has taken all of the work out of your fishing.

Top 5 Mistakes When Selecting a Firearm for Hunting

Just like any other activity or practice, hunting requires a solid background based on thorough research in the field. No matter if you are interested in purchasing your first firearm or you want to know how you can take up hunting, you need to do your homework and build your knowledge base.

Before you even begin to consider purchasing a firearm for this purpose, it is fundamental to gather as much information as possible about hunting beforehand. It is highly recommended that you attend an education or safety course for hunting so you can learn the basics about how to stay safe and how to get started with this activity. In addition to this, future hunters are encouraged to learn from an experienced hunter; this is usually regarded as being an apprentice. After you learn the basics, you can proceed with purchasing your firearm for hunting.

If this is the very first firearm you will purchase, however, you need to be aware of several aspects related to the buying process. Selecting a reliable, best value firearm requires background information so you can make the right investment. Amateur hunters tend to make selecting and buying mistakes due to lack of knowledge and this can not only end up in poor shopping decisions, but also in potential safety issues. In this regard, this article aims to present the five most common mistakes when selecting a firearm for hunting.

1. Caliber

By far, one of the most frequent mistakes that beginners make when getting their first firearm is choosing the wrong caliber for hunting. Even though there is not an ideal caliber for hunting in general or for a specific animal, there is a range that you should take into consideration. This means that you need to know the difference between a .17 HMR and a 577 Nitro Exp, as well as when and how to use them. An infographic created by Hunter Ed supports the fact that you should choose the right caliber depending on the animals you will hunt:

  • Varmint hunting: .22 Mag, .22 Long or .17 HMR are all suitable for hunting small animals.
  • Deer Hunting: you can look into .22-250, .223 or .243 Win for hunting deer.
  • Big Game: for hunting bears or elk, choose .338, .300 Win Mag or 7mm Rem Mag.

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2. Ammunition

Another significant aspect you need to remember when selecting a firearm for hunting is your choice of ammunition. First of all, not all ammunition works for all types of firearms, so you will need to ask what ammunition will be suitable for the gun you are going to buy. Choosing the proper type of ammunition has critical safety aspects involved; if you select the wrong kind you will not only be wasting money on ammunition you can’t use, but you will also be putting yourself and the ones around you in danger. Always double check with the company you plan on buying your firearm from to see if the ammunition you get on the side fits and works for your choice.

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3. Scope

Most beginner hunters get excited when buying their first rifle and tend to forget about an essential component: the scope. You could spend a considerable amount on your rifle, not get the right scope and ruin your hunting experience from the beginning. Optics are just as important as the firearm you choose and also a basic part of the firearm selection process that many tend to overlook. The best way to avoid this mistake is to organize your budget with both the firearm and the scope in mind in advance.

hunt

4. Investment

Speaking of budget, this leads us to yet another common mistake when buying hunting firearms. Those who lack hunting experience might end up purchasing a firearm that is way over their budget. This results in not having enough money left for accessories (such as the scope we were speaking about earlier) or for carrying out the practice afterwards. You should always weigh your options and search through various sources before ordering or buying your hunting firearm from a store. If you decide to purchase your hunting firearm online, it is recommended that you search for a particular model through at least three sources to see where you can get the best deal.

5. Complexity

Last but not least, complexity tends to be a trending mistake among amateur hunters. This mistake can equally go two ways; a hunter can either purchase a firearm that is too complex for his or her level of training and knowledge at that moment, or they can get a gun that is too basic and won’t meet their needs. Be aware of your level as a hunter and choose the complexity of your firearm accordingly.

Hunting and Getting Food When SHTF

The first thing many think they will do to feed themselves when SHTF is grab ole Betsy and head to the woods to kill a bar’.

While this isn’t a bad idea in and of itself, but if you live near any kind of population center, you will be in direct competition with every Tom, Dick and Harry that owns a gun.

So how do we get food during SHTF?

Hunting
Yes, hunting will be viable in some cases, either where there are fewer people for competition, or when done in conjunction with other food gathering activities and taking targets of opportunity when they present themselves. 
Out in the wilderness, in many cases you will spend more calories hunting than you eat from actually getting something. Best to hunt while gathering food in other manners.
Trapping
Trapping will usually put more meat on your table than any other activity, with the possible exception of fishing. You set the trap and it works for you 24/7 until it connects. 
You only have to glance at it once it is set, to see if you need to pick up your food and reset it , or move along to the next one. 

Foraging
A vegetarian would have a hard time keeping themselves fed in the wild. While wild foods are not too difficult to come by, it is hard to get enough calories to maintain yourself if you are going to do anything besides gather food. A good field guide and time spent online familiarizing yourself with the local flora will help immensely. No one wants a diet of exclusively dandelion greens; because that is all you know how to identify.

If you have edible nuts in your area gather as many as you can find, since they are high in calories and fat, things you need to eat a lot of to keep going in the wild.

foraging
Fishing
If you have good fishing waters, you can feed yourself for a long time on the fish they will provide. A well stocked fishing kit (hooks and line) should be in everyone’s kit. If you are planning on only hunting for your food, you have a faulty plan. 
But if you plan for diversifying our gathering capabilities, you have a much better chance of feeding yourself and your family no matter what happens.

Basic Survival Hunting Skills

There are many reasons you should have some basic survival hunting skills learned and practiced. During the first few days of an event happening which leads to your move to the wilderness, panic can lead to very bad decisions. The lack of food and water can create even greater stressors, including bad decisions making, hallucination’s, and hysteria. Knowing just a few skills can make the difference between survival, and death.

Basic Survival Hunting Skills 
Part of preparing your family and your self for future survival, is learning a balance of hunting skills to cover many areas of potential resources. Being able to gather meat is vital, but along with that comes many other resources that can be useful.

Not only does an animals meat provide you with food to survive on, you can also utilize it’s other resources such as skin, fur, bones, intestines, blood, and the fats and oils from the body. Although consumption is not possible with all portions of an animal, it’s intestines can be used for bait, bones for tools, and pelts for warmth.

Fishing 
Although not directly a form of hunting, knowing how to catch fish can be very important to the initial survival process. This is usually the first and sometimes last resource available to those hunting and gathering their own food.
fish

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Some important skills to learn about fishing include creating makeshift fishing lines and poles, hooks, stringers, nets, and the process of cleaning fish. While out in the wilderness, fishing is a potential resource for unlimited food. Knowing how to cure a fish can help preserve your caught food for longer periods of time.

Trapping 
Trapping is probably the second most important skill for your family and your self to learn and practice. In most cases there will be plenty of small animals that can fall subject to your traps and provide another line of food.
trapping
One major advantage of learning how to trap, is the potential to capture food while not having to fully focus on the process. Once an animal trail has been located, you can set multiple traps throughout to increase your chances of catching an animal. Once your traps are set, you are free to leave them alone for several hours, and continue other work.

Projectile 
The most commonly known type of basic survival hunting skills is projectile. This consists of many different kinds of weapons ranging from spear, to firearm. Although it’s important to know how to fire a gun accurately enough to kill an animal, other skills such as shooting a bow or crossbow is even more important. The downside to using a firearm is the limited supply of ammo. Once you fire a bullet, you will never get a chance to fire it again, unlike arrows, slingshots, and spears.
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One of the most useful skills a person can learn for outdoor survival, is building your own bow and arrows. Even simple bow designs can be effective in killing small to medium game. The projectile is reusable, and they make very minimal noise.

There are many more skills to learn while preparing for your survival, hopefully these will be a good starting point for you. Learn as much as you can from the list above, practice them in real life application, and your family will be able to safely survive in the wilderness.

The Best Week for Deer Hunting

ctonycampbell-shutterstock-whitetail-buck-hunt-rut

If you’re anything like me, time seems to always be in short supply. With a full-time job, a family and everything in-between, finding time to spend in the whitetail woods each fall can be a challenge. But when that week finally arrives — a whole seven days — our intention is to make the most of every second, and ultimately come home with many whitetail encounters, backstraps for the freezer and some bone for the wall.

However, in our zest to take in every ounce of the hunt, oftentimes we are too aggressive and have an all or nothing mindset to our week of whitetail wonder. Although this approach sometimes has its rewards, oftentimes the deer figure out pretty quickly they are not the only ones in the woods and become almost invisible. Our once highly prized week that we’ve had X’d-out on our calendar for months now falls short of our expectations.

If you want to get the most out of your week when you head to the woods this fall, step back and take the whole week into perspective. If you look at every aspect of the hunt and plan each step, you might just have the week of whitetail hunting nirvana you’ve been dying for.

The Perfect Week

Picking the perfect week is a must when you’re looking to increase your odds at punching your tag, and it goes without saying the first or second weeks of November are prime. It’s then that lust-crazed bucks are on their feet most of the day and throw caution into the wind and make mistakes in their search for love.

However, if you work with other hunters, getting a chunk of time off could be difficult. If I had to choose a backup week, it would definitely be during the early season, which can be as early as August or September in some states. That time of year can also yield opportunities at giant bucks. Although you won’t find bucks dogging does then, they are usually easy to pattern, travel in bachelor groups and haven’t felt the pressure of other hunters yet. If you take the time to find where the bucks are feeding and can figure out their travel route, sticking one of them with a well-placed arrow is almost a sure thing.

Before You Get There

Scouting is a huge key to your week in the woods, especially if this is your first time hunting a particular piece of ground. And with gas prices at all-time highs, and our old trucks barely getting 15 miles a gallon, pre-season scouting can be tough. So in order for us to have a good idea of what the patch of ground we’re hunting has to offer, a little bit of research is a must.

For instance, I drew a tag for southern Iowa this fall, and I have decided to hunt a patch of public ground. After talking with the local conservation officer and hunters who have hunted there in the past, getting my hands on some maps, and checking the area out with online aerial photos, I have some good starting points. This by no means should take away from old fashion boots on the ground scouting, and I will definitely have to do some looking around once I get there in November, but I already have a few stand locations in mind. All I’ll have to do when I get there is fine tune the information and I’ll be off and running.

Fools Rush In

Well, the week has finally arrived and you’re ready to get into your stand. Before you jump into what you think will be your best setup, you might want to plan each day of the hunt. Consider hunting an outside-in approach before you rush in. This is especially true if you’re in a new area, but this principle is also usable if it’s a property you’ve hunted several times in the past. Things can change in and around a property from year to year when you consider crop rotations, logging and in some cases urban sprawl, all of which can change deer movement. So starting on the fringe of your hunting area can be a good approach. Hang that first stand in a low impact area that will give you the ability to watch and learn, but also the opportunity to kill a buck.

I have hunted a small piece of property in Kansas for years, and one that I know very well. One of the first stands I sit is usually an isolated row of trees that is between a crop and a CRP field. It is by no means the best spot on the place, but it lets me come and go without being detected, and allows me to see a good chunk of the property. In fact, a couple of seasons ago I watched a buck enter at a corner of one of the fields, and a couple days later I hung a stand there and ended up sending an arrow through him.

Once you have a good idea of what the deer are up to, it’s time to go deeper into the cover and start looking for funnels that lead from bedding-to-bedding and bedding-to-feeding areas. Bucks will be filtering through these areas as the rut begins to kick in. At this point however, it’s still early in the hunt so don’t set up too close to the best bedding areas unless you can come and go undetected. Spooking deer now can really be a damper on your hunt. Some good setups for this would be creeks, ridges, inside corners, saddles and pinch-points of timber.

Another area to consider for evening hunts is a staging area. These areas are typically close to food sources, so find the best food the area has to offer. Mature bucks will hang in these areas waiting on the sun to sink before going out to feed, especially in high pressure areas. Oftentimes these areas will be littered with rubs and scrapes.

Once you hit the latter part of the week, it’s time to put conservatism aside and get in the thick of things. Although spooking deer should always be a consideration, start hunting the edges of the best bedding areas. During the rut, bucks will visit these areas throughout the day. However, your stand must be on the downwind side. And if you have not hung your stand yet, you might have to do it at night when the deer are gone or on a windy day. Once you decide to hunt bedding areas, you need to be there all day. Trying to sneak in and out while they are there can ruin the area the rest of the week.

I did just that the second to last day of a recent Wyoming deer hunt. Although I had been covered up with deer all week, no shooter bucks ever presented a shot. So with time running out, I set up a stand that was within a stone’s throw of a bedding area and was in a staging area. Later that evening I had a mature buck wonder under my stand that proudly wore my tag when I headed home the following morning.

On the last day or two of your hunt a “no holds bar” mindset is necessary. Hunt the best areas you have found and plan on hunting all day. These are spots you have been avoiding early in the week because you know you will bump deer trying to get into them. However, if you keep the wind right while you’re hunting, bumping a few deer as you come and go at this point will not take you out of the game.

Making the Most of It

To get the most out of your week and come home with some head bone for the record books, the key to success is avoiding mistakes. The mistake hunters make most often is deer knowing they are being hunted early in the week. Having good scent management before you leave your truck is a given, but it doesn’t matter how “scent free” you think you are, never hunt a stand with a marginal wind. I don’t know how many times I’ve had a wise ol’ doe give that all too familiar warning blow and not had a deer come close to me the rest of the day. Also, a good entrance and exit strategy to your stands is a must, and be sure to have multiple stands up and ready to go. Burning a productive spot out early can make for a long week.

Furthermore, hunt all day if you’re hunting in November; this is the week you have been waiting for. Although you are burning vacation time to be there, and hunting all day at times is no vacation, it will definitely increase your odds of taking that happy-hunter picture by the end of the week.

Finding quality bucks in only a week can be hard enough, but having equipment failure along the way can turn that week of vacation into a disaster. Shoot a good quality bow or gun, use good optics, top notch treestands and ground blinds, and dawn on your best set of Realtree camo. Sometimes there is nothing you can do about equipment failure, but using quality gear minimizes the chance of a mishap.

Finally, make the shot. You don’t want to spend hours and hours in the stand and finally have that toad you’ve been after under you and miss. Prepare for that shot both physically and mentally, and practice. Be in good physical condition. If you can’t walk a couple of hundred yards in hilly country without keeling over, your chances of killing a mature buck are slim. Also, know your weapon intimately. Start a shooting regiment now. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard of hunters — me included — missing deer at 10 yards. They are solid at 20, 30 and even 40 yards, but overlooked those close opportunities that sometimes presented themselves, so be sure and hit the 10-ring.

When it’s all said and done, it’s your week in the woods, and making the most of it is what will ultimately lead you to success this fall. So start slow and finish strong and see if that puts a smile on your face at the end of the week.

Linked from: http://www.realtree.com/all/articles/a-week-for-whitetails

How to Blood Trail a Deer

cgraves-blood-trail

Blood-trailing game is a blend of art and simple technique. As in most bowhunting endeavors, it’s often a sequence of things that eventually leads you to success. With that in mind, here are the secrets I’ve discovered through two-plus decades of bowhunting and blood-trailing dozens and dozens of critters.

Taking a Visual Log

Immediately after the shot, there are three things you should do. First, don’t move an inch from where you shot. Then, note exactly where the animal was standing upon the arrow striking, and exactly how the animal fled the scene. These three factors will prove most vital to recovering your trophy. To help with this, pick out certain bushes, rocks or trees next to the hit spot or the route the animal used to escape. This will make it easier as things always look different from up close and as you begin the trailing process.

Analyzing the Hit

Next, visualize in your mind the animal’s position and where the arrow hit. If you suspect a perfect double-lung hit, then you probably won’t have any trouble finding your deer. These hits usually result in lots of blood on the ground and a relatively short, easy-to-follow blood trail.

However, this is not always the case. Sometimes animals bleed internally, even lung-shot ones, and when this happens, you’ll have to look for other clues, mainly fresh tracks and perhaps tiny droplets of blood; these will hopefully lead you down the path of recovery. Sometimes a general “zigzag” walk of the area, if you’re hunting in open country, will allow you to spot your animal.

If you find your arrow at the hit site, analyze it for clues as well. The blood on it tells a lot. Bright-pinkish, frothy blood is a positive indication of a solid lung hit. Darker blood without the telltale froth-like “bubbles” in it usually means a hit to the liver or heart. Greenish matter smeared on the shaft, usually with white fatty tissue, means a paunch hit. Beyond a solid strike to both lungs or the heart, blood trailing doubles in difficulty. Here are several scenarios to consider that involve less-than-perfect hits.

Single-Lung Hits

Shots that are taken quartering-to or at extreme angles often result in single-lung hits. Just so you know, it’s well documented that animals can actually live with just one lung. This is especially true of larger game such as elk.

On quartering-to shots, if deep broadhead penetration is achieved, then sometimes the liver and paunch can also be cut in the process, which is good. The liver is a vital organ and damage to it will eventually cause the animal to expire, usually within a couple hours. However, an animal can travel on a punctured liver, which means, if pushed, it can run into the next canyon, or well off your hunting property.

For this reason, you must wait a good amount of time before following up. It’s best to wait four to six hours on such hits. Sometimes the animal will expire within this timeframe or be sick enough that you can sneak up and shoot it again.

Severe angled shots, such as when shooting from a treestand, can result in the arrow hitting high. When this is the case, the arrow angles downward, only striking the top of one of the lungs. This usually results in good initial blood, but depending on the damage, the trail can go dry after a couple hundred yards. If not found within this distance, the animal is likely to survive.

Liver Hits

Shots that hit slightly behind the lungs (opposite the shoulder area) will likely strike the liver. This is a vital organ (served by large arteries) that filters the blood supply to the body.

If the broadhead laces the liver, the animal will die. However, liver-hit animals can live for a while, complicating animal recovery. With suspected liver-hit game, I suggest waiting two to four hours before following up. A common trait of a liver hit is dark, somewhat brownish-colored blood.

Paunch Hits

Unfortunately, this hit is quite common, and I would suspect it results in more lost game than all other hit types. Extreme patience is required for these shots. The worst thing you can do is “push” a gut-shot animal, as infection takes time to impair the animal’s ability to travel. Combine this with adrenaline flowing in the body from being chased, and the animal can travel for miles. Once that happens, your chances of recovery are virtually zero. This is even more so because arrows bisecting intestines or paunch rarely leave much blood.

I recommend waiting eight hours or longer before following up. Left un-pushed, gut-shot deer usually bed down within 100 to 200 yards from where the shot occurred and simply expire.

There is one exception to all of this. When hunting open-country, follow-up shots are sometimes advisable when the animal is clearly approachable and hunched up and/or sick looking. In this case, you should sneak in and shoot the animal again. In doing so, it’s crucial that you don’t let the animal see you, which could cause it to run frantically. Dense, noisy terrain could foil any attempts at closing the gap, and waiting is a better plan.

Shoulder Hits

Theoretically, shoulder hits occur just as often as paunch hits do, since this area is “far back” the other way. Sometimes a shoulder-hit animal will bleed for a while (the broadhead cuts the outer tissue repeatedly), giving the impression the animal is hurt worse than it is. But the animal will show little sign of slowing down, usually continuing on with regular behavior and eating habits within a few hours.

Ham Hits

A shot to the butt is fatal, believe it or not, since the heaviest part of the leg is ultra-rich in blood vessels. The femoral artery runs along the lower, inner side of each leg. If your broadhead clips it, blood will squirt out like water flowing from a faucet.

Of course, you should never deliberately aim at the animal’s butt. There’s simply too much margin for error and waiting for a solid lung shot is the way to go. However, if you happen to hit the area by accident, just know that it’s quite lethal, and as long as you’re using a scalpel-sharp broadhead that’s capable of severing every blood vessel in its path, you can expect to find your trophy in short order. Most solid butt hits down the animal within 10 minutes, if not sooner.

Spine and Superficial Wounds

On a broadside or quartering-away shot, a high hit will place the arrow directly in line with the spine or just below it. If you hit the spine, the animal will drop instantly, becoming paralyzed. Always shoot the animal again for a prompt kill if necessary.

If the arrow misses the spine but is still not low enough to catch lung tissue, then it ends up in the area commonly referred to as the muscle band. This area contains no vital tissue. It results in the animal bleeding quite profusely at first, but eventually surviving.

An extreme low hit, on the other hand, puts it below the lung tissue and at the brisket area. This usually results in good, bright blood, but again, it’s not fatal. A common trait of superficial flesh wounds is a plentiful initial blood trail which progresses down to tiny specks that eventually peter out, usually after 200 to 300 yards.

Neck shots usually fall under the superficial wound category as well. The only exception is if you happen to strike the carotid artery or jugular vein, both which are quite small. However, if you do, the animal will die quickly.

When Bad Weather Strikes

What do you do when it begins to rain or snow? My take on it is simple: follow the blood trail immediately, but only if you suspect a solid double-lung hit. Otherwise, always wait. Pushing marginally wounded game is a mistake, no matter the circumstance. I’d rather have the animal bed down and expire within 100 yards, where I can find it later in the day by grid-searching, than to have it run a half-mile because I pushed it.

Successful blood trailing is all about being smart. In nearly all cases, being foolish and/or anxious will end up costing you a trophy because you decided to force the situation. Analyze each shot closely, wait the correct amount of time based on the clues, and follow up, searching for blood and other details like a trained detective on a crime scene. Shots at big game are simply too precious to do it any other way.

 

Linked from: http://www.realtree.com/bowhunting/articles/expert-blood-trailing

How To Knap An Arrowhead From A Glass Bottle

How-To-Knap-An-Arrowhead-From-A-Glass-Bottle

 

Ingredients (required):
1 Beer Bottle (empty)
1 Hammerstone
1 Pressure Flaker
1 Notching tool
1 Leather Palm Pad (or heavy denim substitute)
1 Pair Goggles
1 Pair Heavy Leather Gloves
1 LARGE box band-aids
recommended:
1 hammer
1 tarp
1 file (for sharpening the pressure flaker)
1 abrading stone
1 dustpan
1 broom

 

Step 1: Selecting the Bottle

Don’t overlook the importance of this first step, finding a good bottle to start with will determine how successful your knapping attempt will be. The best part of the bottle to use is the bottom, because the glass tends to be thicker than the sides of the bottle, and much less curved. So when picking your bottle, pay special attention to the bottom.

  1. Colored glass is better than clear glass. Its very difficult to see what you are working on when you work clear glass. Amber or green glass bottles work well
  2. Flat bottoms are crucial. Wine bottles with big kick-ups are not good for knapping. Most bottles have some curvature to the bottom – its best to avoid noticeable concave bottomed bottles in favour of flatter bottoms. (This may entail switching brands of beer – so the decision is not always an easy one)
  3. Avoid bottoms with elaborate embossed markings, like makers marks, numbers, or other designs. These lumps and bumps can be tricky to get rid of.
  4. Begin with a smaller beer bottle before you try a larger flat bottomed wine bottle. They are less difficult to hold and its easier to cover a smaller surface with flakes than a larger one. You can work up to wine bottles.

Step 2: Breaking the Bottle

Now you are going to need to break the beer bottle. You want to break it in such a way that the bottom will not be broken. Throwing it against a wall or rock is NOT a good way to start as the bottom is likely to break. Try wrapping it up in a corner of your tarp or a very heavy plastic bag and hitting the shoulder of the bottle with the hammer. NOTE: Wrapping the bottle up like this contains the mess, it does NOT protect you from the broken glass – The breaking glass can cut through the tarp and plastic bag quite easily. WEAR HEAVY LEATHER GLOVES.

Its easier to break a bottle by hitting it in the middle, but you have a greater chance of breaking the bottom if you hit it there, so strike the shoulder. If you don’t have a hammer, try a hammer stone. Be very careful.

Alternatively, it is possible to cleanly pop the bottom off of a bottle by putting a nail into it (tip down) and shaking it straight up and down with your thumb over the mouth of the bottle. A bigger nail is necessary for wine bottles. I use a round file as a substitute. If successful, the bottom of the bottle will pop out as a sharp glass disc.

Step 3: Cleaning the Hanging Glass off the Bottom

Unwrap your broken bottle. Hopefully the bottom will be in one piece. If it is, it will likely still be attached to sharp glass from the sides of the bottle. You will need to trim these hanging shards off, so that you have a nice flat bottom to work with. Hold the bottom upside down so that the shards hang down. HOLD THE BOTTOM WITH LEATHER GLOVES OR WITH YOUR LEATHER PALM PAD. Brush the hanging glass off with your hammerstone or the hammer. If you have a stubborn shard, try changing the angle you are holding the piece before you try striking harder. Don’t brush too much, you just want the bottom to be flat – too much brushing will make nasty step fractures. Step fractures are failed flakes which break and end with straight edges, rather than gently feathering out. When you are done, look at the bottom and you will see “dents” on the inside of the bottle where you broke the hanging shards off. These dents are flake scars.

Step 4: The Serpentine Edge – Alternate Flaking

Now the fun begins! To knap an arrowhead out of a bottle bottom you need to 1) make a bifacial edge, 2) cover both faces with flakes, 3) shape it, and 4) notch it (optional). Points 2 & 3 will be discussed in the next section, and you don’t have to worry about notching yet. We are going to start by making a bifacial edge all the way around the bottle bottom. A bifacial edgeis an edge which has been worked on both (bi-) sides or faces. Look at your bottle bottom. If you followed the instructions in step 3, you will only have flakes scars from removed hanging shards on the inside of the bottle bottom, and none on the outside. Pieces worked only on one side are called unifacial.

[holding the piece]Ok, lay the bottle bottom flat in the leather pad in the palm of your left hand (if you are right handed), and clamp your fingers down on top, to firmly hold the glass. It doesn’t matter which side is up or down, just make sure that the edge you want to start working is exposed. You should have a little sandwich in your hand which goes; fingers, leather, glass, leather, palm. Now rest the back of that hand against the inside of your left knee for support. Using your copper flaker, you want to push down on the edge and detach a flake from the underside of the glass. [push, don't pry]Don’t pry the flake off, push it off. You really have to push hard to get a flake to come off. If detaching the flake hurts or bruises your palm, double or triple up your leather palm pad.

[alternate flaking, the serpentine edge]The flake removed will look something like a little half cone, and the flake scar will be a negative cone. You can fit the flake back into the scar to see what I mean by a positive cone (flake) and negative cone (flake scar). Ok, put your flake somewhere that people won’t step on it and get back to your bottle bottom.

Flip the glass over so that the flake scar that was on the bottom is now on the top. You will use that flake scar as the platform for your next flake. The platform is the place where you place the tip of the flaker to push a flake off. You want to place the tip of the flaker to the left or right of the center of the flake scar, so that the next flake you remove will be off to one side of this first flake. Again, push down with the flaker and take another flake off. What you should have now is a bottle bottom, with two flake scars: one on each face. Now flip the glass over again and use the flake scar left from the second flake removal to remove a third flake. Continue to alternate flake around the entire edge of the bottle. When you are done you will have a wavy, bifacial serpentine edge!

Step 5: Shaping

Now you have a wickedly sharp, bifacially worked bottle bottom. It doesn’t look anything like an arrowhead yet – why? Its not shaped like one, either in cross-section or outline. The flake scars are only around the edge, they don’t cover the face of the glass yet. You need to pressure flake it into shape. To do this, you need to change strategies a little. Instead of taking short chunky flakes off, like you did to make the serpentine edge, you need to take long, flat flakes off, which cover the faces of the bottle bottom, not just the edges. To do this, you change the angle you are flaking. Instead of pushing down, you want to push into the glass.

Shaping – Cross-section
[lens diagram]If you look at your beer bottle bottom from the side, you will see that it is now, more or less, hexagonal. It has two flat faces and steep bevelled edges. It will also have a slight curvature to it, with a concavity on the bottom face and a slightly convex top surface. Arrowheads are, most often, lens shaped in cross-section. To achieve this lens shape, you need to get rid of all the concave curvature of the glass. In the process you will also be covering the blank faces with attractive flake scars. Most of the work you need to do is on the bottom, concave side of the glass. It will be very tempting to remove flakes from the upper, convex side because flakes love to travel across convex surfaces. The flakes you remove from the bottom will be very short by comparison, but that’s okay. They will get longer as you work at removing the curvature of the glass. Taking beautiful long flakes off of the upper, convex side of the glass will only make the curvature worse.

To remove the cross-section shaping flakes you will need to use the serpentine edge you’ve created. Creating the serpentine edge has made a whole series of platforms. The wavy edge zigzags up and down across the centerline of the edge. This is important. Your edge has peaks which are above the centerline and valleys which are below the centerline. Your edge looks something like this: /\/\/\/\/\/\/\ You use the valleys as platforms to take off flakes. Look at you glass and find the peaks and valleys. The valleys are the platforms. Imagine the centerline. Now flip it over. Find the peaks and valleys. Find the platforms.

[shaping, long flakes]Hold the bottom in your hand, the same as when you made the bifacial serpentine edge. Make sure that the concave face is on the bottom. Find the peaks and valleys. Place the flaker tip against one of the valleys. Instead of pushing down, push into the glass. Push hard, build up a force and then push down a little to detach the flake. Remember push in, then down. Don’t flip the glass over. Instead, move to the next valley and remove your next flake. Go all the way around. Then do it again. Don’t be discouraged if your flakes aren’t very long. You may have to go around the glass 3 or 4 or 5 times before the flakes reach all the way to the center. Everyone’s flakes are short the first time around.

As you knap, your edge will get higher and your platforms (the valleys) will become less pronounced. So you will have to make new ones. You can do this a couple of different ways. One way is to use the tip of your flaker to brush up on the edge. This will remove tiny flakes from the upper surface of the edge (WEAR GOGGLES!). This will get rid of the thin brittle edge, making it stronger and lower. The second way to make new platforms is to grind the edge with an abrading stone. I just use one of my hammerstones. Again, you want to prepare your platforms in the opposite direction that you are flaking. Flip the glass over, so that the face you want to flake is facing up and brush the edge, in a downward motion, with your abrader stone. Flip the glass back over, look for the platforms below the centerline, and keep knapping.

Keep this up until you achieve the desired lens shape. Remember to spend most of your time removing flakes from the concave side. It won’t take you very long to cover the convex side with flake scars.

Shaping – Outline
[shaping, outline]While you are working on the lens shaped cross-section, you will also want to coax your bottle bottom into an arrowhead shape. There are no hard and fast rules for shaping the outline of your arrowhead. If the bottle bottom is circular you can arbitrarily select a pointy end and a base end. Gradually change your circular bottle bottom into a triangle. animated notchingIf your glass is not perfectly round, look for the longest axis, and align your triangle along that. The first step is to stop thinking about the bottle as a circle and start thinking of it as a chubby triangle. Instead of working around and around in a spiral, work from three directions – in from the two sides of your arrowhead and up from the base. When you abrade your platforms, keep the triangle in mind and work towards that goal.

Step 6: Notching

Wow! You made it – you have a lens-shaped triangular arrowhead. All you have left to do is notch it! The notching tools I typically use are sections of coat hanger mounted in broom handles, which have been filed to a chisel shape or copper wire which has been hammered flat (see the Pressure Flaker Page). Pick the point on the edge of the arrowhead where you want to start your notch. Use your notching tool to create a little nick in the edge, the same way you made your first flake on your serpentine edge. Flip it over. Take another flake of in the same place you took the first little flake off. Flip it over and keep doing it. Its the same sort of process as you used to make the serpentine edge, except you are flaking straight into the body of the piece instead of around the edge. Repeat the process for your second notch.

Tip: I like to make both notches at the same time, rather than finishing one and starting on the second one. I find that they turn out more uniform if I work on them together.

Linked from: http://www.reocities.com/knappersanonymous/bottle.html

Build a Bamboo Survival Bow in 30 Minutes

Bamboo has been used for millennia to make fine bows. It is tough, straight grained, very flexible, and easy to work. Bamboo is used for backing on many traditional laminated bows. This bow is neither fine, nor traditional, nor laminated; but it is quick and easy to make, and it works.

To build this bow you will need a nice large cane of bamboo. The walls of the cane should be at least three-eights of an inch thick, and the cane need s to be about five or six feet long. Pictured below: Bamboo for bow making

Use a hatchet, or heavy knife to split the cane in half. Pictured below: top, Splitting bamboo; bottom, two pieces of the split cane


Now take one of the pieces of bamboo and use your hatchet or knife to split off the sides and narrow the part that you will use to about two inches in width. Pictured below: top, Splitting off sides; bottom, two inch wide stave


Use you hatchet and knife to shape the front profile of the bow. It should be about two inches wide in the middle and taper to about one inch on the tips. Pictured below: top, Shaping bow with the hatchet; middle, tapering the limbs; bottom, finished profile



Next you can use your knife to carve a couple of notches in each end for the bowstring. Pictured below: Carving notches

Now it’s time to make the handle. Cut a stick that is about an inch to an inch-and-a-half in diameter and about a foot long. Taper the ends of the stick as shown below. Pictured below: tapering the handle stick

Carve out any joints in the area where the handle will rest then test the fit of the handle. Pictured below: top, carving out a joint; bottom, handle resting in place in the cane


If the handle fits you can take some cordage and wrap the handle to secure it in place. In the illustration below I am using some yucca cordage that I had made earlier, but you can use para-cord, a shoelace, or anything else that you have. Pictured below: Wrapping handle

All you need now is a bowstring. I used some more yucca cordage for my bowstring. Pictured below: Finished bow, strung and ready for use

This particular bow, which is only about a quarter inch thick, is not all that powerful, about twenty pounds; but thicker bamboo will make a more powerful bow. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this bow to try and take a rabbit, coon, possum, or other small game. Pictured below: Bamboo bow at full draw

Linked from: http://sensiblesurvival.blogspot.com/2012/03/build-bamboo-survival-bow-in-30-minutes.html

Types of Campfire

Having a campfire is a big part of camping. But do you know what type of campfire to make?

Don’t believe everything you watch on TV or see in the movies. There are different types of campfire. Some are best for heat and light, others are best for cooking over.

TV shows and films often have a roaring fire with pots and other items cooking over the flames.

Whilst it’s not impossible to cook that way, you’ll usually end up with burnt andundercooked food.

Hot coals and embers are actually much better to cook over as they give out a good steady heat, and it’s easier to control the temperature by adding or taking away hot coals.

Flame tends to burn yet not get that hot, at least not hot enough to cook the inside of your food before it scorches the outside.

If you want to do a lot of campfire cooking for your family, I recommend you get a Dutch Oven.

Dutch Ovens and other cast iron cookware work really well with hot coals, as the heat from the coals transfers to the iron, making it ideal for frying, baking, and roasting.

Let’s look at a few different types of campfire.

The Tepee is the classic looking campfire and is ideal when you want to create a quick fire to warm up with.

Pile up dry tinder kindling and set it alight. Then start placing sticks around it in a tepee shape, making sure that you don’t smother the fire.

As the fire gets bigger you can use larger sticks and logs.

This is a good fire that puts out a tall flame and heat in all directions, making it an ideal campfire to sit around in the evening.

You will need plenty of fuel close to hand as this type of fire burns quickly.

However, the tepee campfire is not a good choice if you want to cook food.

If you want a campfire to cook over, then you need to build a Criss-Cross fire.

You build this by simply placing a criss-cross of logs, stacked on top of one another.

I find it easier to light by creating a small depression in the ground and start a small fire with dry kindling first, then start adding more small twigs to the fire, and then build the crisscrossed logs above the fire.

Although the fire’s shape does provide a flat platform to cook things over, eventually the logs will collapse in on themselves.

This is not a problem, as it’s the hot embers and coals that this sort of fire makes that you then use for cooking with.

So what if you want to sit around a campfire and cook? How can you have a good campfire that does both?

Well, the ideal solution is a Keyhole Firepit.

You cut a keyhole shape in the ground and start a Tepee fire in the round part of the keyhole.  This fire provides light and warmth.

Now you can either wait for the Tepee fire to create enough hot embers or start a second fire for cooking with.

If you decide to wait, then rake hot embers from the main fire into the slot where you can cook food.

Alternatively, start a small criss-cross fire in the slot to create some embers while the tepee fire is warming everyone and lighting up the camp.

The Swedish Torch campfire is very popular on the internet. After all, using this design, a single log can burn for hours.  Sounds amazing, right?

The concept is quite simple.

You cut some slits into a log. You stand the log on its end and start a fire in the top. As the fire embers fall into the slits the log starts to burn.

Air is drawn into the slits and the log burns down from the top and the inside.

We’ve created something like this before, and although you can have a log burning for a long time, it doesn’t give out as much heat or light, so a group of you at a campsite won’t be keeping warm by this fire, unlike a tepee fire. Though if there’s just one or two of you and don’t have much wood, the Swedish Torch could be a good choice.

You’ll also want make sure the log is firm. You don’t want it falling over, especially with kids around.

If the top of the log is also flat you could place a small pan or pot on the top and use the log to cook on. The Swedish Torch does put out a lot of heat at the top of the log.

Here’s a video from the internet on making a Swedish Torch campfire.

So there you go, a couple of different methods of creating a campfire.

Here’s a handy summary:

6 Items You Should Pack in an Emergency Bow Aid Kit, Plus a Few Extra Considerations

Can assembling your very own home bow shop make you a better bowhunter? A huge component of successful bowhunting is being intimate with your equipment, and nothing helps you get there faster than amassing the tools for a home bow shop, and learning how to use them. But this practice is not for everyone.

If you have the time, money, and inclination, becoming a completely self-sufficient bow technician is indeed a great goal. But a more-pressing goal for every bow  hunter—and one that offers the potential to literally save a hunt—is to ensure you are always carrying at least a basic “emergency repair kit” that will help you thwart some common in-the-field mishaps.

Here are a few of the things I carry with me most every time I travel.

1. Amazing shrink fletch
On cold winter nights I dearly love to use my old trusty fletching jigs to carefully build some custom arrows, especially some eye-catching crested and feather-fletched arrows meant for my traditional bows. But these days, when it comes to arrows meant for my compounds, and especially for ultra-fast arrow repair, I’ve become a serious fan of the latest “shrink-fletch” products offered by Extreme Archery, New Archery Products, and Bohning. All feature a plastic “cartridge” to which is glued three plastic fletchings of various designs; to repair a fletching-damaged arrow simply scrape off any remnants of the previous fletching with a knife, then slide on a new shrink fletch cartridge and dip the works into boiling water. In 10 seconds your arrow is ready to rock again. Initially I was concerned about the durability of these shrink-wrap cartridges but have tested them extensively in some fairly extreme hot (and more importantly, bitter cold) temps. They are not only impressively durable, I now depend on them almost exclusively for my compound arrows; my emergency kit always holds a three-pack.

2. Portable bow press
My home bow shop holds a full-size bow press but when traveling—and especially on those trips when I don’t bring an extra bow—I bring along a portable press (mine is a Bowmaster). This compact unit doesn’t take up much space and allows me to install peep sights or string silencers, or even change a bowstring (be sure to bring one) if necessary.

3. Allen wrench sets
I always carry at least two of these lightweight, portable sets; one stays in my daypack and I’ll have another in my gear duffel just in case. I use them regularly to ensure my sights, quivers, rests, and more are locked down tight.

4. Extra string loop material/lighters
I’ve been on several hunts where buddies have had their loops fail; thankfully it’s never happened to me but if it does I’ll be ready. Also, my emergency kit always includes a few lighters that are required for proper installation.

5. Extra sight and rest screws
Most of these are small and easily lost when attempting to make an adjustment. Thwart Murphy by carrying a few extras.

6. Bowstring wax
I’ve never had a string severed while hunting but some of my friends have had this unfortunate failure. I have been frightened by the sight of my frayed and fuzzy bowstring halfway through a few backcountry elk hunts that required a good bit of bushwhacking. Nothing helps your string last, and otherwise fend off disaster, like regular applications of protective wax; a tube is in my pack at all times.

The Benefits of an Extra Bow
This might seem excessive for bowhunting newbies, but many who have been bowhunting awhile seem to have a spare around somewhere. The nice thing about toting a ready-to-shoot spare bow (that you’ve shot recently and is tuned for your current arrow/broadhead combo) is that it renders almost all the aforementioned emergency gear unnecessary. For those who can swing it the practice comes highly recommended. I’ve carried an extra bow for years, and it hasn’t been a hassle because I’ve always been a fan of airline approved “double bow” cases when I travel. My typical approach is to remove any “extra” layers of foam these cases typically come with, and simply use my hunting clothes as padding around my two bows. Lately I’ve been saving even more space by toting along a compact takedown recurve as my “backup” bow on some of my out-of-state bowhunts, although this approach does require separate arrows and broadheads and, of course, traditional archery proficiency.

Some Important Additions
In addition to the aforementioned, I’ll make sure my kit includes some Kevlar thread and a needle or two to reattach buttons (carry a few spares) and mend cuts in outerwear, and I’ll also include some adhesives (Super Glue gel, two-part epoxy) that might come in handy for a variety of gear fixes. Similarly, I find it difficult to leave home without at least one roll of do-everything duct tape, and I always carry extra batteries for headlamps and laser rangefinders, which have a nasty habit of powering down when you need them most. More smart items are extra broadhead blades as well as a compact carbide sharpening tool that can touch up heads as well as your knives. Also in my pack is a well-appointed yet compact first aid kit and one of those silver-lined heat-saving emergency bags, to provide a few options when a gear failure might impact the bowhunter himself. Knock on wood.

Survival Eating

Food is not just a source of energy and sustenance, but a comfort item as well. When you are hungry, morale goes down and chances of survival dwindle.  There will be several opportunities to find food after the supermarkets close, you just need to know where to look and what tools to have.

The first thing you need to know is that meat will only take you only so far.  If you read Meriwether Lewis’s journals from their exploration; the men still felt hungry although they were eating several pounds of meat per day.  You can eat 10 rabbits a day and still “starve” as rabbit lacks everything except protein for your body’s survival.

Food is not just a source of energy and sustenance, but a comfort item as well. When you are hungry, morale goes down and chances of survival dwindle.  There will be several opportunities to find food after the supermarkets close, you just need to know where to look and what tools to have.

The first thing you need to know is that meat will only take you only so far.  If you read Meriwether Lewis’s journals from their exploration; the men still felt hungry although they were eating several pounds of meat per day.  You can eat 10 rabbits a day and still “starve” as rabbit lacks everything except protein for your body’s survival.

Trapping

Trapping is the most feasible option to maintain a steady supply of fresh meat for the “table”.  There are several traps and many more that can be improvised.  Many people have trapped animals, even if it was just setting a mouse trap to get rid of a pest. The most important thing to prepare for using traps to supply food is to educate oneself on the habits and lifestyles of the animals in your area.  If you must travel to your secure location, remember to research and study the areas for the areas you will need to travel through.   My experiences are mostly in the Midwest and Southeastern US, so some tips or items may not be as suitable for a Western environment but I will try and offer tips based on what I have read or been told by trappers/outdoors-men in those areas.

survival-eating

Animal tracks are a sure sign that something is or has been in the area. Tracks can be the obvious footprints in the sand or dirt but can also be as subtle as the scratches on a tree trunk or small holes dug into the ground where your prey was hunting their own meal. Several books are available for studying the footprints of the animals so you can know what animal you are targeting is.  I’d prefer NOT to trap a skunk or opossum unless they are my only choice.  Time and energy spent on setting traps for the wrong animal are time and energy you will not get back.  Also, setting a rat trap or 110 body grip trap for a raccoon or ground hog is wasted time, as you will not be using the proper tools.

There are several different brands and sizes of store bought traps available on the market. The 3 major types are:

1) Foothold traps– These come in a variety of sizes and even styles.  There are single jaws (most common) and double jaws; toothed (think of the old bear traps) or smooth jaw; long spring or coil spring.  The long spring has single or double long springs which are made by “folding” a piece of spring metal over and then pinching it to allow the trap to be set.  Tension is supplied by the animal stepping on the “pan” and releasing the lock, which allows the long spring to expand back to its “U” shape and thus applies pressure holding the trapped animal. Coil spring traps use coil springs either in a double or 4 coil set up.  The more coils, the stronger the traps strength to hold an animal, but too much strength can break a bone and thus allow the animal to tear off its foot and escape (thus the legend was born of animals “chewing” their leg off to escape a trap). Trap sizes increase with the “number”.  The added weight of the long springs is useful for drowning rig set ups, but coil spring traps are smaller for packing.

2)  Body grip (commonly referred to as connibear)- These traps are square in shape and they normally kill the prey upon capture. They utilize 1 or 2 springs and a single trigger/lock mechanism.  They come in 3 common sizes, 110, 220, 330, size grows with the number.  Some manufacturers have “middle sizes as well, but they are not as common. When selecting these traps, read the description and choose the trap by the opening size (110 = 7inch by 7 inch opening; normally) and what you will need for the animals in your area for planning purposes.  I use 110’s for squirrel, muskrat, rabbit, etc for planning purposes, 220 for raccoon, ground hog, fox, etc; and 330 for beaver, coyote, really big raccoons, etc.  Some reading this will wonder why I included foxes and coyotes but if you are secure in your homestead and something raids the chicken coop or garden plot; you may have to trap for varmint control as well as food.

3) Snares– These handy gems can be bought already made or obtained by buying the different components and making custom sized snares for game not normally trapped in today’s normal living conditions.  Snares are designed to catch an animal as it walks through the hoop of the snare and then being strangled. You can fix these to small saplings or branches being bent and anchored to a stake with a trigger device to spring back to their original position and creating a very fast choke or even breaking the neck of the prey. Most modern snares are made from aircraft cable of 5/32 or 3/16 inch diameter. You can also use heavier gauge as long as it is pliable and you customize the hardware for the thicker cable. Snares can also be improvised from a variety of materials, fishing line being a natural choice. I carry braided line with 60# test or higher for such purposes and also to use for limb lines. Regular sewing thread or light weight (2-4#) fishing line is useful for securing the snare to brush or fencing to keep its shape and stay in place once set.   Snares made from 6-10# fishing line works well for birds. For hiking in parts of Alaska and Canada (possibly other locations), it is required by law that you have a couple snares in your pack and the knowledge to use them.

These are the main types of animal traps used for trapping fur-bearers for their pelts. They can add immense possibilities to the prepper for putting food on the table if and when the need arises.  Improvised traps are also very important; not only will they be used if caught in an emergency where you don’t have your kit, i.e. an aircraft crash since we can’t carry our kits as a carry on.

Deadfalls are probably the best known and easiest to construct improvised trap.  These are created by using an object or objects that weigh enough to kill the intended target by crushing it.  Rocks, trees, branches, cast off equipment or materials (bricks, sandbags, vehicle parts, etc) can all be used for the weight. You balance the weight and attach the bait to a trigger, a type 4 trigger is the most common but takes practice to make, and when the animal pulls on the bait, it causes the weight to fall and crush it.  You can also use a manual trigger by attacking a string or rope to the brace and pulling the brace out manually once the target enters the “kill zone.”  This can be practiced by using a laundry basket and catching birds in the back yard, great training and practice for the little ones and it will teach them patience and the need to be quiet and still.  The basket or a bucket can also be used in a survival situation to catch small animals in the same manner, just know that the target will still be alive and will need to be approached with care.

Pitfalls or punji pits can also be used. These are simple in design but require a lot of work to make. By digging a hole deep enough and covering it so the target does not see it, they can be lured to the pit or dig it along a trail they travel. The pit must be deep enough and/or lined so the target cannot climb or jump out.  By adding punji stake (sharpened sticks) to the trap, you will injure, maim or kill whatever falls into the trap.  This will help ensure the animal stays but can also become dangerous to unsuspecting people falling into the pit.  These are also dangerous to livestock or pets, so use common sense and care when utilizing these traps.

Fish traps are also a valuable commodity to use for gathering food. These are normally constructed on site, using natural materials combined with brought items.  By placing obstacles, sticks, rocks, boards, etc, in the waterway, you funnel the fish swimming through at a certain point.  At this point, place a net and anything swimming through will be captured.  You can also use fencing [poultry netting (chicken wire) works best for its pliability and small mesh size).  Form the fencing into a cylindrical shape and fasten it together with cable ties, rope, tie wire, etc.  After gauging the opening size, cut more of the fencing used to form a “funnel” to fit into the opening(s); if only 1 funnel is used, you must form a “wall” on the opposite end to secure the trap.  The funnel needs to extend into the trap about 1/8 – ¼ the length of the cylinder and reduce in size down to an opening that will allow the fish to swim in but not so big they can swim out extremely easy.  The idea is they will have room to swim out, but by have the funnel opening centered in the trap, most fish will miss the opening and not swim out.  You may lose some, but the majority of any fish swimming in will be there when you check your traps.  You can add bait by attaching small bags filled with bait to the fencing.  I like attaching mine to the bottom to get the fish to swim away from the opening of the funnel. A practice trap can be made by cutting a 2 liter pop (soda) bottle off just after it gets to its full size.  By turning this around and inserting it into the body of the bottle with the pour spout inside the bottle, you now have a minnow trap to collect bait. Punch small holes through the bottom of the bottle and sides to allow water to flow through it.  I use a small rod of re-bar to anchor this to the creek bed.  Secure the cut off portion with glue is best, but if the cut is made cleanly it can be held with friction.  Place the opening to the upstream side, so water pressure will build and help hold the top in the bottle body. This will also give a visual of what a bigger trap made from fencing should look like.   This type of trap will also catch crabs, lobster, crawdads and even some small marine mammals.

Traps can more than pay for themselves on the return of food and even pelts for clothing, pot holders, blankets, etc in a survival situation. There are several books on the subject written by people with a lot more experience than me.  If possible and legal to do so, practice trapping animals before the need arises and your learning curve means whether you and your family eat or not. You can get clips to hold body grip traps in the “set” position on the side of a tree.  Bait the trigger wires with corn or nutmeats, even peanut butter, and squirrels will come to feast on your offering and roasted squirrel or stew is on the menu.  The clips are sold via trapper supply houses for marten and fisher trappers.  The clips can also be improvised out of small pieces of conduit or pipe.  The spring on the body grip trap can have a rope tied to it and secured to a branch so it will swing the trap and your catch away from the tree to keep scavengers from easily stealing your meal.  I carry a few premade snares, two 110 sized body grip traps and 1 #4, four coil trap in my rucksack or in my MOLLE vest.  I also carry heavy weight (60# +) braided fishing line to improvise snares.  I carry lighter weight fishing line for snares for birds or to use as sewing thread to repair clothes or gear. Remember to get repair parts for any traps you have and acquire the skill to repair them.

Fishing

There are several articles written, as well as countless books, on the subject of fishing. I will only briefly touch on the subject.  Irecommend using limb lines in a survival fishingsituation. You use a heavy weight line and attach this to a very sturdy branch overhanging or very near the water source.  I prefer one with a little flexibility to allow for the fish to fight without breaking or ripping the hook from its mouth. Limb lines can be utilized using normal store bought hooks or improvising natural materials into something to hold the fish. “Skewer hooks” can be made easily and very quickly, even by a child. You take a piece of wood and sharpen both ends to a dull point.  You can rough up the “barrel” of the wood to help hold the bait or even tie the bait on with string.  You attach the line by tying it around the barrel in the center of the piece of wood.  When the fish swallows the bait and the skewer, it will lodge in its throat or guts, depending on size of fish.  When you pull the line, it will cause the skewer to turn sideways and thus make an extremely strong hold on the fish allowing you to haul it in.  If using limb lines in waters with a large turtle population, they can be used to catch turtles as well, but I would recommend using steel leaders to help keep the turtles from biting the line off.

Treble hooks work extremely well, but until used for a true survival situation, they are normally illegal, so check your local laws.  You can also cut pantyhose down, tie it around the bait and use it to help keep fish from stealing the bait.  Safety pins and needles can also be used to adapt something from its intended purpose to use as a makeshift hook.  These will not be barbed, so extra care is needed to maintain control over your fish once caught.  I would also recommend buying and using cane poles even during routine fishing outings.  I love my spin cast and bait cast reels coupled with a good rod, but if they break, a branch more closely resembles a cane pole than a $300 rod and reel combo.  Throw nets or casting nets are also valuable in obtaining fish.  These do require practice, but the return can be very rewarding and the difference between a full belly and an empty one. I’d even try and obtain topo maps of the lakes, rivers, streams, etc for the area you will be when the need arises. This will give you bottom structure and locations for optimum limb line locations.

Hunting

Several articles have been written and posted on hunting.  This is the method most people plan on obtaining their meat in a survival situation.  Study the animals in your chosen area and learn all you can about their habits, food sources, activity cycles (nocturnal or diurnal), and home (burrows, nests, meadow, water, lodge (muskrat and beaver), etc).  Choose a weapon that will easily take the game animal but not ruin the meat; you do not want to hunt a rabbit with a .308 or a 12 gauge slug.  A .22 long Rifle will take most animals, even deer, with proper shot placement. Using a .22 LR are illegal to take certain game, so read game laws before using in a non survival situation.  If I was able to choose just 1 higher powered rifle, I would choose a .308 Win./7.62mm.  They are available on an AR platform for those who want the self loader or even the battle proven M14 (Springfield’s M1A1).  A bolt action would be fine or even a pump.  The reason I would choose the .308 is several fold; 1)  They are a common caliber and ammunition will be available; 2)  They have much more range and power over the .223/5.56mm, I can hunt medium game like antelope and deer with a .308 but would NOT want to tackle a moose, elk or bear with a .223; 3)  The added firepower will allow me to keep the 2-legged varmints farther out of their preferred range and in the ranges I practiced at before I had to use it.  Optics are also a requirement in my opinion.  A good survival rifle will have open iron sights as a backup, as scopes get broken, but optics allow for a more accurate shot placement when the adage of “every shot counts” is truly “gospel” in a survival situation.  Ammunition can be in very short supply and harvesting that game means you and yours eat is not the time to try shots that you can brag about, the only bragging that needs done will be when you carry in that nice venison haunch.

Blackpowder weapons will be an excellent choice for a survival weapon if you also gain the knowledge to make your own blackpowder and cast your own lead balls. I would recommend a flintlock over percussion cap. Flint can be picked up in just about every corner of the US. By casting your own lead balls and making blackpowder, you can have a long term firearm to hunt with and conserve your center fire ammunition for real emergencies and self defense. Muzzleloading weapons act and shoot differently than center fire weapons; flintlocks can have a “lag” between the time you pull the trigger and the time the powder actually ignites to propel the ball down the barrel. If you choose to use this type of survival tool, please get one as early as possible and practice to learn the intricacies of this traditional food gatherer.

Archery equipment, especially the knowledge on how to build self bows such as the Native Americans, would be a great asset. They are quiet, can take a multitude of game, can be replaced (if capable of making them) and arrows can be made also. Their use will save ammunition for self defense and extremely dangerous game (bears, mountain lions, wolves, feral dogs, etc).

Do not underestimate the power and ability of a slingshot to put dinner on the table.  It is easy to find ammunition; any rock will do and are perfect for the younger hunters.  They are quiet and capable hunters, especially when using lead round balls. They are modestly priced and found at almost every discount and department store. You can “store” vast amounts ammo for it and nobody be the wiser; just do some landscaping and use river rock instead of mulch.

Regardless of equipment and tactics, make sure you get as close as possible and take the sure shot.  Those nice antlers only mean you can make another tool, while does and yearlings usually have more tender meat and are an easier quarry.  Always choose the sure shot.  Other uncommon tools for hunting include, spears, air guns,boomerangs/throwing sticks, and even a bolo. The biggest thing is to practice with whatever method(s) you choose so as to be an expert in their use as there is NO substitution for knowledge about your intended game animal(s).

Gathering

Gathering wild edibles will greatly enhance your meals and chance of survival. Several books are written and a must have at least in the survival retreat or Bug Out Location (BOL).  I would also find a small one to keep in your Bug Out Bag (BOB) like the book from  Judy of the Woods.  Sassafras root makes a good tea and even chewing the leaves will cause saliva to be generated to help reduce thirst or just give you peace of mind from food, similar to chewing gum. Cattails are one of nature’s greatest survival gifts. You can eat the young shoots, the roots are like a potato, and even the seed (the part on top that gets to looking like a dusty corn cob) is a great flour additive, added to stew or can be eaten on its own.  Some other plants to learn and know are: Solomon’s Seal, May Apple, wild berries, any nut tree, pine needles (for tea), pine cones for pine nuts (place a “closed” pine cone near a fire and they will “open” to obtain the nuts/seeds inside), birch sap (can be made into a great syrup for your acorn pancakes), wild mint, swamp cabbage palm in the southern swamps, fish eggs, mushrooms, etc. These items are edible in whole or in part and will provide extra flavor and much needed calories in an emergency.  Please read books or find someone who can give precise instructions on edible plants and try them before it becomes necessary.

Remember, all bird eggs are edible; many are small but they will provide calories and much needed nutrients.  Eggs dipped in wax can be held up to a month without refrigeration or spoilage. That little extra bird feed and the bird houses while times are good; could be a bountiful investment for when times get bad.  I would also recommend books on wild herbs to help with the seasoning of food and natural medicine once the pharmacy is looted.

Gardening

Gardening has been covered in depth, so I will only add to the obvious benefit of growing food, the garden plot will bring in wild game to trap or hunt.  Also, planting fruit trees in advance will supply fresh fruit to the diet and animals will travel long distance to eat a sweet dessert like an apple.  This will bring the game to you and thus reduce risk and visibility by having to venture further and further from your secure location.  I would also think about establishing a pond for fish farming and if the space is available, digging deep ditches for irrigation and drawing animals for water.  Dams can be used to control water depth.

Also, if able, a greenhouse will allow year round growing. You can add bee hives to the greenhouse and the bees will pollinate the crops and give you a natural sweetener. Honey also has many medicinal uses and when the going gets rough and many comfort items are no longer available, who wouldn’t want something sweet to help boost morale?

Livestock

Raising livestock is also important, but does require land to use as pasture.  Goats would be a prime animal, they will supply meat, milk and depending on the breed, wool to make cloth from.  This all takes more knowledge and land, which some of us may or may not have.  Poultry will help eat bugs in the garden, supply meat and eggs, act as an alarm system (geese and guineas), eat weeds from the garden (geese), and can supply down for quilts if the situation turns into a truly long term event.

These are but suggestions to stimulate ideas and comments from others to bring a more balanced and as close to full thought process on the subject of feeding ourselves in the worst of times.  Everyone’s location and access to land and other resources will dictate how we must personalize any ideas to meet our needs, abilities, and resources; not all can afford to dig ditches and a pond or have the land to do so.  I hope I have helped some or maybe caused others to think in a direction they had not thought of.  My purpose is to give basics to those who are starting, maybe add some insight to those who have not been able to experience some of these skills, and caused the experienced to share their ideas or knowledge in comments of things they have actually tried or even heard of so the group gains the knowledge to try or research tricks or skill sets that will help them survive.

Summary

I have eaten ground hog, raccoon, snake, fish, alligator, squirrel, rabbit, beaver, muskrat, crawdad, crabs, lobster, wild boar, deer, moose, elk, bear and even a rat to cover most of my vittles in the past.  Those who hunt, try carrying your day-pack and other gear (where legal) while doing so. This will allow you to see how it affects your shooting and whether the game animal will be spooked by what you have.  Sound is your enemy, so tie everything down secure.   When squirrel hunting, I wear my MOLLE vest, carry my emergency survival gear and a sidearm (especially handy because of the feral dog problem). I hunt with either a 22 LR rifle (normal) or pellet gun.  This allows me to continually improve my ability to move quietly through the woods while wearing the extra gear I will have when the situation(s) we prep for become a reality.  Also, if you have them, take the kids; the younger the better.  They will learn to move quietly and be still, get satisfaction in knowing they helped “earn” their dinner and it creates a bond not easily broken.  If you find it difficult to be patient with them when only a successful hunt is on the line; how will you react when the very meal you MUST have is cost?  Each child is different and will handle the experience differently. You must decide when they are ready to see an animal harvested and then again when they are ready to witness the butchering process.  I prefer skinning and gutting my game in the field, innards stink when in your garbage at home, but in the survival situation, they become bait for traps or fishing.  Animal stomachs, turned inside out and washed very thoroughly, make excellent pouches and/or water bags.  Learn to skin the game as cleanly and whole as possible to save the pelt.  Rabbit fur is soft and works well for mittens, ear muffs, etc; ground hog hide is extremely tough and makes good leather lace.

5 Easy Tips On How To Make A PVC Blow Gun

Real quick before we get started, if you don’t know how to make a PVC blow gun (or even if you do), you need to watch this video first.

Not only is this a Do-It-Yourself project, but it’s also an incredibly cheap, effective, sturdy, and FUN gun to shoot (and, best part is you can practice shooting darts at home before you get yourself into a real survival situation).

Real quick before we get started, if you don’t know how to make a PVC blow gun (or even if you do), you need to watch this video first.

Not only is this a Do-It-Yourself project, but it’s also an incredibly cheap, effective, sturdy, and FUN gun to shoot (and, best part is you can practice shooting darts at home before you get yourself into a real survival situation).

Now you might be wondering, “Well that’s great and all, but how is that really going to help me in a survival situation?” Little do you know blowguns have been used to hunt game for thousands of years. In fact, it’s one of the most primitive weapons the world has used.

You might not be able to take down a bear with one of these bad boys, mind you, but you can certainly go after small game with your own homemade blowgun and darts.

Aside from hunting game, these PVC blow guns are great for protecting your home and your garden as well. The darts are astonishingly quiet, leaving you the ability to sneak up to your window (or the perpetrator) unannounced and get their attention real quick. If you’re in a dangerous situation, this could help give you the advantage and allow you to take matters into your own hands.

I like to make things simple for you. And while written instructions for making a blowgun are useful a video with instructions is even easier to follow.

Check out how to make a pvc blowgun.

1.) Take Your Time:

The PVC blow gun fires its darts silently, so your game won’t know what’s coming until it’s too late. Plus, you can quickly fire one dart after another, so take your time and make sure to aim correctly.

2.) Get An Upgrade:

Once you’ve mastered the basics with a PVC pipe, you can move on to a steel or aluminum pipe instead. These materials are tougher than PVC, and are sturdy enough to not bend quite as easily when you’re handling it.

3.) Utilize Your Spare Time For Target Practice:

Now that you’ve made your very own weapon, you’re going to want to be sure how to use it and use it well (luckily these guys are fun to use, so you’ll want to practice). Grab an old dart board to do some target practice on your off-time; it’ll prepare you well for the long-term.

4.) Change Up Your Darts:

Nail darts are effective, but they’re not the only solution. Bamboo skewers (like for kabobs) can be used, as well as black locust wood, which is traditionally used in the southeast due to its weight and strength.

5.) Keep It SAFE:

Blow guns are fun, but they’re NOT toys. They should be treated with respect, just like any other weapon. When misfired, projectiles shot at close range can cause bleeding and infection – not to mention loss of private/public property if you hit a window (or the neighbor’s cat) by mistake. Use caution and common sense when operating this blow gun.

Now we recognize that sometimes, well, life happens. And when life happens, either the arrow doesn’t quite hit the target, the target moved, or someone was just being outright dumb.

When you think about it, and all the randomness and curveballs life throws at you, you really can’t afford tonot have one of these first-aid kits around.

5 GOOD REASONS TO INTRODUCE CHILDREN TO HUNTING

In 2010, the New York Times published an extensive report detailing the decline of hunting in America and its impact on conservation efforts. Throughout the previous two decades, most of the states saw significant declines in active hunting. The worst loss occurred in Massachusetts, where the number of licensed hunters fell by more than 50% between 1990 and 2010.

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In 2010, the New York Times published an extensive report detailing the decline of hunting in America and its impact on conservation efforts. Throughout the previous two decades, most of the states saw significant declines in active hunting. The worst loss occurred in Massachusetts, where the number of licensed hunters fell by more than 50% between 1990 and 2010.

Those numbers are starting to rebound thanks, in part, to a strong desire for locally sourced food. More importantly, Americans are also beginning to find a new appreciation for nature in a world where technology seems to be running our lives. If you are already an avid hunter, good for you. Here are five reasons to introduce your children to hunting as well:

1. IT BREEDS APPRECIATION FOR NATURE

The average American hunter is not the drunken bum who mistreats the land, kills indiscriminately and hunts without proper hunting lease insurance. He or she is someone who truly appreciates nature. Passing hunting along to your children will instill in them that same appreciation for nature and all of its wonders. A child exposed to hunting is likely to be more interested in the great outdoors than sitting in front of the TV with video games.

2. IT TEACHES RESPONSIBILITY

Anyone with a little cash can walk down to the local supermarket and buy a piece of beef or a full turkey. Nevertheless, how many Americans could take responsibility for themselves in the event the grocery store shelves ran empty? Hunting teaches personal responsibility not only through the hunt itself, but also through other things such as respecting private property, making sure hunt club insurance is in place, obeying hunting laws, and so on.

3. IT STRENGTHENS RELATIONSHIPS

More than one hunter has told great stories of spending quality time in the field with parents and siblings. Hunting builds strong family bonds based on a shared experience and a common interest. It also builds strong relationships among other hunters who may not necessarily be blood relatives. The hunting community is a close knit one where everyone looks out for everyone else. These are the kinds of relationships all of us need from time to time.

4. IT HELPS WITH POPULATION CONTROL

As much as animal-rights activists do not want to admit it, hunting is one of the most effective means of controlling animal populations. Take a wild boar for example. With a tendency to prolific reproduction and no natural predators, the wild boar is running roughshod all across the U.S. and Canada. It is so bad in many states that boar hunting enjoys a year-round open season with no bag limits. Only active hunting is preventing the country from being overrun by these animals.

5. IT CONTINUES THE PRACTICE

As with anything else, hunting will fade away into obscurity if adult hunters do not pass the practice on to their children. And if that happens, society will be completely reliant on government and corporate interests to both provide food and control animal populations. The inevitable result will be a big mess requiring a lot of extra effort to clean up. Better to pass on hunting and keep it a viable practice for generations to come.

As a hunter, you know how valuable it is for wildlife conservation. Be sure to pass it on to your children. And while you’re at it, instruct them on the importance of good hunting practices, including obtaining hunting insurance. A smart hunter has insurance coverage in place before he/she signs a hunting lease or heads out to the field.

What to eat in the wild

Today I want to talk about a subject that always creates a lot of buzz and has generated quite a few emails; what to eat in the wild. As I have said in previous posts about the 5 principles of survival, food is way down on the list as even the skinniest of people can survive for a few weeks without food. Despite that, I want to touch on this subject and answer the questions I have received from readers. The only real way of knowing what to eat in the wild is to do a taste test.

what-to-eat-in-the-wild

Today I want to talk about a subject that always creates a lot of buzz and has generated quite a few emails; what to eat in the wild. As I have said in previous posts about the 5 principles of survival, food is way down on the list as even the skinniest of people can survive for a few weeks without food. Despite that, I want to touch on this subject and answer the questions I have received from readers. The only real way of knowing what to eat in the wild is to do a taste test.

The taste test for unknown foods

The process is actually very simple, but time consuming, and there are a few things I want to stress before I go on

1. This system DOES NOT work with mushrooms and fungi, unless you are an expert then leave them well alone. Mushrooms and fungi will kill you in some pretty horrific and painful ways if you get it wrong. How can I tell a poisonous mushroom? Truthfully, it is just too hard to tell and is simply not worth the risk vs nutritional benefit received.

2. There are exceptions to every rule; what I am teaching is a rule of thumb but it is not fool-proof.

3. It is better to understand what plants and animals are in your area before you need them in an emergency. That should hopefully allow you to live off the land. The process that follows is to be used in extremis only (see point 2.)

4. Tasting something that you are unsure of can result in death, so never eat something that you cannot positively identify as edible or if you are in a true life or death situation. If you are truly starving then use the following taste test.

What exactly is the process then?

  • Take a very small piece of the food and rub it on your skin – Wait 24 hours
  • Take a very small piece and rub it on a small part of your lip – Wait 24 hours
  • Take a very small piece and rub it on your tongue – Wait 24 hours
  • Take a very small piece, chew it and spit it out – Wait 24 hours
  • Take a very small piece and eat it – Wait 24 hours
  • Take a larger piece and eat it – wait 24 hours
  • Gradually increase the size waiting 24 hours each time until you are content its not having an adverse effect on you.

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You are probably thinking, ‘I will have starved by the time I get to eat anything’ and you are not far wrong. Unfortunately the wait is the most important part of the test, you are waiting to see if you suffer ANY abnormal reaction. If you do, then under NO circumstances eat what you are testing. That is why education and practice are your best bet; positively identifying something as edible will mean you don’t have to do any tests.

But all is not lost there is a way to speed the process up slightly; however, see rule 3.

What to eat in the wild if you really have to.

Plants – If it is hairy, has a milky sap, strong smell or has brightly coloured berries then avoid.

Animals – Mammals and reptiles are generally a safe bet as are most fish. Avoid the livers of uncommon animals such as seals or Polar Bears which have toxic levels of Vitamin A
Insects – Okay, I know what you are thinking and trust me I feel the same… However, some of the most nutritious and easily accessible foods available are insects. Avoid if they are hairy, have spines, brightly coloured or are known to be venomous. It is also good practice to avoid insects that you would associate with your house as they will likely be diseased i.e. Cockroaches. And, honestly they don’t taste that bad, I have tried quite a few over the years.

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Funny story – When doing the Desert Survival Instructor course in the Nevada Desert we were being given a lesson on finding food. Our instructor (Chalky, you bastard!) told us that a delicacy in the founding years of the USA was
an insect called the perfume beetle. It is a small black beetle,
than when threatened, would do a little handstand and secrete a fluid from its butt.

So there we were as trainee Desert Survival Instructors all looking to impress and do well. When Chalky challenged us to eat the sweet tasting ‘Perfume Beetle’ we all jumped at the chance! So half a dozen of us at the same time took one of these live beetles, put it in our mouths and started chewing as quickly as we could to get it over and done with.

To say that the ‘Perfume Beetle’ tasted foul was an understatement, it is without doubt the most horrible thing I have ever had in my mouth. The moral of the story, never trust a survival instructor when he tells you insects taste nice; especially when its real name is the Stink Bug because of how bad they smell…. And taste!

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Fungi – Just to be clear, I am talking about all fungi, mushrooms and toadstools. They are very difficult to identify and can kill you very quickly. Simply put, do NOT eat them unless you are an expert!

All of the above food sources will still need to have the taste test completed if you are not 100% sure you have identified them as edible.

Time doing homework is never wasted

There you have it folks , should you find yourself in a dire situation and you cannot identify local foods then you may be able to work around the problem. The method described is not foolproof but it will help you should you be starving and in danger of eating anything you come across out of desperation.

Your best chance of eating the right thing is to get out into the wild with a couple of pocket books and identify your local plants and animals before disaster strikes. Better still, find out who the local foraging guru is and see what classes they run; it could just save your life.

I hope you enjoyed this article and it has generated some food for thought (pun 100% intended) and encourages you to get out and see what exists in your local area. Please dont disappear straight away, have a look at my other articles especially this one about eating food in a survival situation. Of interest will be this post on harnessing your survival instinct.

Hunter Gatherer Skills That Every Survivalist Should Have

As a survivalist, you will be hunting and maybe raising your own food. With that comes the responsibility of knowing how to do these things and how to store them effectively. You will need to know how to hunt, raise, preserve, and how to prepare it.

Hunting

Being able to hunt on your homestead or other grounds can provide you a variety of foods. From fishing to deer, you will be able to have several different meat sources. Be sure you understand your local regulations because every state is different. Check with your local game warden if you aren’t sure about the specific laws.

  1. Bow hunting – Bow and crossbow hunting can be used for a broad variety of game, including deer. Wild turkey and wild hog are also popular choices when it comes to bow hunting. Be sure to practice your bow hunting skills to ensure success while hunting.
  2. Shotgun – Okay, you may not find a hunter-gatherer using firearms for hunting, but our frontiersman-forefathers did. You can hunt small game, like rabbits, squirrels, and a variety of birds with a shotgun. Not many people hunt deer with a shotgun yet it can be done if you know what you are getting into. The range will be much less than a rifle.
  3. Rifle Hunting – Rifles cover a broad range of calibers and that means that you can hunt a variety of different animals. The big advantage over shotguns is the high degree of accuracy at a distance that you get with a rifle. You can hunt small game like squirrels or opossums to much larger game like deer, elk, moose, and even bear.
  4. Snares – Trapping with snares is popular for many different kinds of small game. Animals like groundhogs, wild rabbit and even possums can be caught by this method.

Raising Livestock

Raising your own livestock is a great way to know where your food is coming from. You get to determine how your food is raised and you control what they eat and what kind of supplements, if any are given to them.  There are many different animals that you can raise on your homestead or compound depending on the space you have.

  1. Small herd animals – Goats and sheep can also provide food by meat and milk. They are generally easy keepers and are versatile around the homestead.
  2. Fowl – Chickens are a favorite among survivalists, homesteaders, and preppers. (It turns out survivalists, homesteaders, and preppers have a lot in common.) They are easy to raise and provide two different sources of food with their meat and their eggs. They are relatively low cost to feed and easy to breed. And then there are turkeys have the same needs and environment as chickens, and they get along pretty well. Turkeys can provide a good bit of meat to store, and they can easily be raised.
  3. Rabbits are a great source of meat and most people think they taste like chicken, perhaps a little more gamey. The rumors are true about rabbits –they easily reproduce, creating a self sustaining meat source. Rabbits are also popular for their fur as well.

 

Cooking Off Grid

Once you have the meat (or other food) you have to do something with it — cook it! When you are cooking off grid, unless you have a solar panel, most of your cooking will either be done outdoors or on top of a wood heater. Knowing how to properly cook your food items is imperative. These skills take practice, but with time you will have no trouble cooking off grid.

  1. Smoking – Smoking is a great way to prepare your food and every week or so you may find me smoking a pork butt or some brisket. A smoker or even a smoke house can be created on your homestead with a minimal amount of effort. This method will give you great tasting food and even help you to preserve your food items.
  2. Campfire cooking – A broad variety of foods can be cooked over a campfire. From stews to meats, campfire cooking is highly popular. You will need to make sure that you have the proper items like wood (dense hardwood if you have it) and a large cast iron dutch oven.
  3. Underground Oven – Cooking underground will allow you to cook anything that you would like and can help to cook things like bread and even biscuits. Vegetables and meats can also be prepared by cooking underground.

Making The Food Last – Preservation Techniques

Preserving your food is a good skill. Whether you hunt or grow your own, you will often have an abundance of food leftover. You will need food for long term storage so it is imperative to know how to preserve your food.

  1. Canning – There are many foods that can be canned including meats and vegetables. Canning your food allows it to stay good for a year or more. Canning can be done on top of a wood stove with ease. Make sure you do your research and learn how to properly can your food without any risk of bacterial contaminants.
  2. Dehydrating – Just by using the sun, you can dehydrate your foods. The great thing is that you can dehydrate almost anything: fruits, vegetables, and even meats. This is a good way to store a broad variety of foods for future storage. After dehydration, you will want to make sure that you a proper way to store the food.

Conclusion

Raising your own animals, hunting, and preserving are all must-have skills of a survivalist or prepper. There will have to be a trial and error process but with practice and research, you will have no trouble finding or raising, and preparing your own food.

Air Rifle May Be A Better Option For Bugging Out.

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Benjamin Rogue .357 Air Rifle  One of the most powerful air rifles on the market.

The oldest existing mechanical air gun, a bellows air gun dating back to about 1580, is in the Livrustkammaren Museum in Stockholm. This is the time most historians recognize as the beginning of the modern air gun.

Air rifles have come a long way in recent years.  Modern air rifles come in a variety of calibers and types or propellant.

The most common air gun calibers are

  • .177 (4.5 mm): the most common caliber. All official shooting organizations mandate .177 caliber for both pistol and rifle competition. Used in ISSF shooting events at the Olympic Games. It has the flattest trajectory of all the calibers for a given energy level, making accuracy simpler. At suitable energy levels it can be used effectively for hunting.
  • .22 (5.5 mm & 5.6 mm): for hunting and general use.

Other less common traditional calibers include:

  • .20 (5 mm): initially proprietary to the Sheridan multi-pump pneumatic air rifle, later more widely used.
  • .25 (6.35 mm): the largest commonly available caliber for most of the 20th century.

Larger caliber air rifles suitable for hunting large animals are offered by major manufacturers. These are usually PCP guns. The major calibers available are:

  • .357
  • .45 (11.43 mm)
  • .50 (12.7 mm)
  • .58 (14.5 mm)

Custom air guns are available in even larger calibers such as 20 mm (0.79″) or .87 (22.1 mm).

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Some .50 Caliber Air Rifles produce more energy than .357 magnum  Size comparison from .22 caliber pellet and .50 caliber pellets

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In recent years we have seen a perceived shortage of some caliber ammunition.  Many believe that hoarders are purchasing large quantities of 22LR ammunition and artificially creating a shortage and driving the cost of what typically is a low cost ammunition.

WHY BUY AN ADULT PRECISION AIRGUN?

Target Shooting: It is not surprising that target shooting with airguns is so popular around the world. The top-grade precision airguns are now considered to be the world’s most accurate guns, bar none. In many countries such as Germany and England, target shooting at the local clubhouse is mixed with good fellowship and, after the contest, good beer! Americans also target shoot in clubs, albeit in a bit drier surroundings than their European counterparts. While Americans often think of airgun shooting as primarily a youth program leading to adult firearm events, they are now recognizing that serious airgun competition is an end in itself and something in which members of all ages can participate.

Airgun shooting in America is actively promoted by the National Rifle Association. In fact, airgun shooting is one of only three competitive shooting events that have grown in the U.S. during the last decade (combat pistol and silhouette are the other two). The NRA has established 15 levels of marksmanship awards in their 25-ft airgun shooting programs, awards which you can obtain by shooting right in your own home. Target shooters can also compete with each other via postal matches, and in-person at hundreds of airgun matches at the local, state, national and international levels. Airgun competition is also an official Olympic event for both men and women.

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Benjamin Marauder Synthetic Stock .25-Caliber Pellet Air Rifle

In addition to target shooting, many U.S. shooting clubs have started hunting style metallic silhouette and “field target” programs for air rifles and pistols.

Pest Control: With a proper high-powered airgun you ran reduce harmful pests in areas where a firearm would be unsafe or not permitted (please be sure to select an airgun with sufficient power to do the job humanely). Suburbanites, farmers and gardeners appreciate the adult use of airguns in the selective control of crop predators such as woodchucks, opossum and even raccoons. Airguns may he used to control destructive rodents and birds such as Norway rats, English sparrows, Crows, European starlings, and feral Old World Pigeons.

Hunting: Shooters enjoy adding to the larder using the new breed of “magnum” hunting air rifles with 40 to 50+ yard range. Hunting for food is especially popular for such delicate game as pigeon, squirrel and rabbit. And, believe it or not, even eating crow can be quite delicious if it’s not too old. Many suburban airgunners are able to hunt on local farms where firearms simply can’t be used!

The more proficient you become with adult precision airguns, whether to plink, pot pests, or punch paper targets, the more you will appreciate how exquisitely these elegant rifles and pistols are scaled to human sensibilities. Airguns are fairly quiet, modestly powered and extraordinarily accurate mechanical works of art. Learning to master the discipline of superior marksmanship, and training yourself to approach the performance of which these tools are capable can be an enduringly satisfying avocation. One which you might gladly spend a lifetime attempting to master.

Cost of Operation:  You can safely and economically fire thousands of rounds a year from an airgun right in your own home. A suitable range can be set up in minutes in a basement, garage, or even in the living room of small apartment.

Make Your Own Ammo: Since you only need lead and no gun powder, brass, or primers, one can easily cast their own lead air rifle ammunition just about anywhere you can build a fire.

Shooting Skill Improvement: All skill sports require frequent practice. The benign airgun can be used to teach the elements of marksmanship which carry over nearly perfectly to firearms shooing. The safe, sheer handiness of airguns means practice can be impromptu, informal and frequent.

Airgun Regulations: Airguns are not subject to the U.S. Gun Control Act of 1968 and many other firearm laws. There are little or no purchase or ownership problems in most areas. However. some cities and communities treat airguns as firearms. It’s always a good idea to check with your police department for the local regulations. Normally, you can ship, mail and take target airguns across state and even international borders when traveling and vacationing, although magnum hunting air rifles above 12 ft-lbs. of muzzle energy may he treated as firearms in some countries.

*Outdoor shooting may not be permitted in some localities. Check with police for outdoor shooting regulations.

Sources: Wikipedia, Crossman Website, http://www.pyramydair.com/, and http://www.extremebigboreairrifles.com/

How To Clean a Squirrel

When you or your family is hungry, just about anything that moves become food.  Squirrels are a plentiful and abundant source of protein.  This video and instructions below show you a simple fast way to skin and clean your squirrel.  I hope you didn’t forget your A1 sauce.

When you or your family is hungry, just about anything that moves become food.  Squirrels are a plentiful and abundant source of protein.  This video and instructions below show you a simple fast way to skin and clean your squirrel.  I hope you didn’t forget your A1 sauce.

Learn how to skin a squirrel in one minute. Realtree.com’s Will Brantley displays his squirrel-skinning prowess. Want more how-to information on cleaning and cooking your game?

  1. Start by getting the squirrel wet. To keep hair from getting on the squirrel meat, wet down the fur. Do this by either placing the squirrel in a bucket of water, or dousing the squirrel with a hose.
    • Leave the tail intact, you will use it later to help remove the pelt.
  2. Make incision under the tail. Lay the squirrel belly-down on a flat surface. Using a sharp knife or razor blade to cut a horizontal slit 1.5 inches (~4 cm) beneath the base of the squirrel’s tail. This slit will be below the anus running horizontally across the butt. The incision should be shallow, only deep enough to penetrate the skin, not the underlying flesh.
  3. Make incisions on the hindquarters. Holding the squirrel, carefully extend the original incision along the back of the hind legs (rump). The incisions should be shallow, only deep enough to penetrate the skin, not the underlying flesh. You will now have a long incision running up the back of both legs and across the butt, under the tail and anus.
  4. Pull the pelt off. Rest the squirrel on a flat surface that is clear of dirt and leaves. Grab hold of the hind legs, step on the tail and pull the squirrel out of its skin by its hind legs. Think of removing the skin as you would a sweater. The pelt should come off the torso in one piece. Stop when you get to the front legs.
  5. Remove skin from the hind legs. Holding the squirrel by the tail, separate the pelt from the flesh of the the hind legs. To do this work your fingers under the pelt and separate the muscle from the skin. This can take a little time, just be persistent. Do not try to speed up the process by using a tool. A tool is more likely to damage the skin, just use your fingers.
  6. Remove skin from the front legs. Separate the pelt from the flesh of the the front legs. To do this work your fingers under the pelt and separate the muscle from the skin. This can take a little time, just be persistent. Do not try to speed up the process by using a tool. A tool is more likely to damage the skin, just use your fingers.
  7. Continue skinning. Continue to pull the pelt until its around the squirrel’s neck.
  8. Remove the squirrel’s head, hands, and feet. Use a sharp and sturdy knife to slice through the muscle and ligaments of the hands, feet and head of the squirrel. Then with your hands twist and crack off the appendages. You may find pliers helpful for removing the hands, feet or head. Do not try to cut through the bone. This will dull your knife and splinter bone into the meat.
  9. You have successfully skinned a squirrel. Next gut it.

Method 2 of 2: Gut the Squirrel

  1. Make the incision . Turn the squirrel over with its belly facing you. Pinch the stomach and make an initial small incision. Use a sharp knife or razor blade to do this and keep the cut shallow. Insert your blade into this initial incision, cutting edge up, and run your knife blade from the pelvis to the bottom of the rib cage. You want to cut through the muscle and underlying membrane but not into the guts themselves, especially into the intestines or bladder, which can taint your meat. If done right there will be very little blood.
  2. Remove the innards from lower abdominal cavity . Spread the back legs, like a butterfly, to open up the belly area. Reach in and pull out the intestines, liver, stomach, kidneys, and visceral fat from the lower abdominal cavity.
    • Inspect the liver before you eat the meat. If the liver looks pale, off-color, or spotted, do not eat the meat. If the liver is deep, dark red and looks healthy, the meat is fine to eat.
  3. Remove the innards from upper abdominal cavity. Next, return to the main carcass. Use your knife or cooking shears to cut the ribs along the breastbone. Spread the ribs and reach into the chest cavity; and remove the heart, lungs and diaphragm from the carcass.
  4. Rinse. You now have an intact skinned squirrel carcass ready for cooking. Rinse it with some clean water. Then immediately cook it, or refrigerate or freeze it for longer term storage.

Source:  http://www.wikihow.com/Clean-a-Squirrel

15,000 Year Old Technology can Save Your Life – Bow and Arrow

Bow and Arrow have been the weapon of choice for the better part of 15,000 years until the invention of modern firearms.  There are many reasons bow and arrow should be part of your survival plan.

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Bow and Arrow have been the weapon of choice for the better part of 15,000 years until the invention of modern firearms.  There are many reasons bow and arrow should be part of your survival plan.  Here’s a list of reasons you should not only incorporate one in your bug out supplies, but also practice using this tried and true ancient but very effective technology.

Portability:

Bow and Arrows are portable and light.  Take down bows are best suited for travel with out taking up much room.  “Take-down” simply means that the bow comes apart in three pieces: the middle grip section and the two limbs. It is simple to take down – just the twist of a couple lug screws. The fact that it comes apart makes it very portable. You can stash the bow in your pack or Bug Out Bag. It’s perfect for a Bug Out Vehicle or BOL (Bug Out Location) cache as well. And importantly it is very light weight so packing a bow in if on foot is easily accomplished.

There are many types of bows, but they all use the same method of launching a projectile faster than otherwise possible with human strength alone.

Common types of bow include

  • Recurve bow: a bow with the tips curving away from the archer. The curves straighten out as the bow is drawn and the return of the tip to its curved state after release of the arrow adds extra velocity to the arrow.
  • Reflex bow: a bow whose entire limbs curve away from the archer when unstrung. The curves are opposite to the direction in which the bow flexes while drawn.
  • Self bow: a bow made from one piece of wood.
  • Longbow: a self bow with limbs rounded in cross-section, about the same height as the archer so as to allow a full draw, usually over 5 feet (1.5 metres) long. The traditional European longbow was usually made of yewwood, but other woods are also used.
  • Flatbow: the limbs are approximately rectangular in cross-section. This was traditional in many Native American societies and was found to be the most efficient shape for bow limbs by American engineers in the 20th century.
  • Composite bow: a bow made of more than one material.
  • Takedown bow: a bow that can be demounted for transportation, usually consisting of 3 parts: 2 limbs and a Riser.
  • Compound: a bow with mechanical aids to help with drawing the bowstring. Usually, these aids are pulleys at the tips of the limbs.

Arrows:

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An arrow usually consists of a shaft with an arrowhead attached to the front end, with fletchings and a nock at the other. Modern arrows are usually made from carbon fibre, aluminum, fiberglass, and wood shafts. Carbon shafts have the advantage that they do not bend or warp, but they can often be too light weight to shoot from some bows and are expensive. Aluminum shafts are less expensive than carbon shafts, but they can bend and warp from use. Wood shafts are the least expensive option but often will not be identical in weight and size to each other and break more often than the other types of shafts.

Source Wikipedia

Affordable

A good pretty good bow should only cost you a couple hundred bucks and if you take care of it, you can expect it to last your lifetime. Not only is the bow itself affordable, but the ammunition (arrows) are cost effective too. Once you hone your shooting skills, you should be able to retrieve your arrows after shooting and reuse them over and over again. With a little practice, you can also easily make your own arrows using wooden dowels or even natural-found wood and plant shafts.

Versatility

Modern technology of arrows have come a long way. Carbon fiber arrows are ultra lightweight and have a tip that accepts different screw-in arrow tips for hunting everything with small game stunner tips, broad-head razor large game tips, standard practice tips, hook tips and line for bow fishing and even batman style grappling hooks. You can hunt anything from squirrel to deer using a bow with various arrow tips. A large selection of arrow tips can be easily stored and doesn’t take up much room.  Of course there is always flint knapping so that if there was ever a need to make my own arrow points.  With practice you can do it.

Paperwork

Legal limitations and laws are much more lax on the bow and arrow than they are with guns and bullets. You don’t have to mess with paperwork and permits, even though, in the right hands the bow and arrow is equally deadly. The less you have to deal with this stuff the better.

Silent and Deadly

The bow and arrow is a very quiet weapon. You never know when you might need the convenience of a weapon that is nearly completely silent as well as deadly.

Many Uses

Bows and parts of bows can have multiple uses.  The first and most obvious multi-use piece is the bow string. Bow strings range in length from 4 feet to 6 feet and are incredibly strong. You could use a bow string in a variety of ways:

  • Bow drill for fire
  • To build a snare for trapping
  • Emergency Cordage for shelter or tiedown
  • A sling or tourniquet
  • Trotline fishing

If you are packing a bow then you are probably packing a few arrows as well. Arrows can be used as spears and gigs for small game and fish. They can also be lashed to a longer shaft and used as a larger spear for big game such as wild pig. This larger spear can be used in self defense as well. Imagine a spear with three arrows lashed to the end and each of the arrows with a razor broad-head on the tip – you can’t even buy a spear that effective.

Some Negatives

Bow and arrow require skill to use.  It’s not like a point and shoot weapon.  So if you do invest in a bow for packing or survival purposes, so yourself a favor and practice.  There are some guides for bow hunting in our library  to help out with techniques.  It is also a weapon that carries a certain amount of respect. Ninety-nine percent of being able to effectively use the weapon is the skill itself – not the equipment. The skill will always be with you.

Plan, Prepare, Protect yourself and your family.

We would love to hear any ideas you have on the multi-uses a bow and arrow would provide.

http://www.shtfandgo.com/

 

8 Most Important Bush Crafting Skills

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1:  Shelter

Shelter is an important aspect of every outdoor venture or survival situation.  Your first layer of shelter is the clothing on your back, this provides you just enough to stay warm and dry for short periods of time. Your second layer of shelter is a stationary structure whether it is a small tent or a full blown log cabin. Knowing how to either aquire or make shelter for you and your family in an emergency is an important skill.

Take shelter in your vehicle if travelling to your family designated meet zone or safe zone.  If SHTF it’s best to stay away from urban areas and park or set camp off  main roads away from view.  Back country roads and crop fields may provide the seclusion needed to avoid possible unwanted human contact.  If you’re on foot or traveling with a small group, try to set camp near a secluded water source.

2:  Water is Life.

You will need water.  The rule is 1 gallon per person per day in warm climates.  You and your family can survive on less, but it’s always best to have reserves.  You have many options once you find a source of water to treat the water to insure it’s safety and avoid health concerns.  If you know the water source is clean such as a well or city storage then it would be safe to assume it is drinkable.  If your only option is open water sources, you need to treat the water as unclean until treated.

Safe water treatment options.

Boil water after you have filtered out the large debri.  Boiling water will kill any bacteria or protozoa and male the water safer to drink, but will not remove heavy metals or smells.  After boiling let the water stand before consuming.

Add 4 drops of bleach per gallon of water and let stand for half an hour stirring occasionally.  Then consume. This also will kill bacteria and viruses but not address heavy metals.

Mechanical filtering and carbon filtering will remove all bacteria and viruses.  Mechanically treated water can also remove heavy metals, smells and radiation.  See SHTFandGO.COM for their line of mechanical filtering systems.

3:  Carry a Blade

A blade, machete, hatchet, axe or some other cutting tool is the most important tool to the Bushcrafter. It is as important as the sword to knight.  A good Bushcraft blade is sturdy and light and is made from the highest quality materials with the tang running the full length of the knife.  With appropriate use, the Bushcrafter can use this blade to give or take life.  A Survival Knife is just that, survival.  One can clean animals for consumption and make tools for hunting and trapping.

4:  Fire

The ability to make fire under almost any condition is essential part of Bushcraft survival.  Without Fire modern man is nothing more than a wild animal.   There are many techniques to building a fire; a fire drill, smoldering plants and trees, sunlight, striking rock that contains iron such as flint,  and of course matches, lighters, and modern fire starting tools.  Firecraft in the ability to create, control, and use fire to aid in one’s survival.  Another critical skill in Bushcraft is the ability to transport fire, usually by carrying a burning coal around in some type of dry sage grass to keep it smoldering.

5:  Rope, Cordage and Knots

The ability to tie or join two or more pieces of natural or man made material is a vital skill for survival.  By joining two or more pieces together, you not only increase the strength of the material but also the usability as shelter, a raft, a weapon or a sled.  Fishing and trapping are important survival skills and without the ability to tie knots and obtain or create cordage.

6:  Hunting and Trapping

Protien and fats are important to sustain nutrition.  Hunting and trapping is the pursuit of animals and fish for food.  A mastery of many elements in Bushcraft including tracking and ropecraft lead to the ability to hunt for food by use of traps, nets and snares or weapons that stab and cut.  The ability to capture and kill animals for food is a essential skill necessary to live in the wild. Once food has be caught and or procured, food storage and treatment is also a skill necessary to store enough food to last harsh winters.

7:  Tracking

Tracking animals and humans is an important part of Bushcraft survival.  Tracks made by humans and animals on the ground, when read correctly, show a pattern of the habits of the animal or human.  Once you establish this pattern, you will have the ability to continuously and carefully observe the animal’s movements and patterns.  It is important to recognize that animals you find in the forest are as much creatures of habit as human beings.  A particular animal you are stalking will follow the same path to and from water each day or to and from a food source.  It will hunt and forage in the same area and only leave when it is driven out by an outside force, predator, fire, flood or drought.  This pattern forming characteristic of all animals makes it possible for the experienced bushcrafter to predict the animal’s movements, and so he selects the sites for his traps, snares or ambush.

8:  Foraging

If you are just travelling from an emergency hot spot to your safe zone or to meet family, emergency food stores or food rations will be you best saurce of nutrition while you’re on the go. Once you are settled at a camp or in wild yoi’ll need a source of food.

Have you ever looked at a wild plant or bush, and wondered if you could eat it?  For the Bushcrafter, foraging is very important element to survival.  All hunters and fisherman know that if it was easy, they would not call it hunting and fishing, they would call it catching.  Being able to identify and eat plants without getting sick can make the difference between surviving and not surviving.