When the time comes that you have to fend for yourself, every little advantage counts. Â I sometimes find myself watching saved episodes of survival shows or reading my favorite websites the night before a survival challenge. Â Cramming typically does not work well, but knowing some tips and tricks is always a good idea. Â Here are a few that may help:
–Consider an atlatl for hunting. Â This ancient weapon is made by carving a spear and then fashioning a two to three foot throwing rod to hook onto the end. Â With some practice, this weapon can be accurate at great distances and has enough force to take down large game.
–Use a reflector wall behind your fire. Â This can be built with poles or rocks and needs to be at least a few feet high. Â The heat that would normally radiate away from your camp will be reflected off of the wall back towards your sleeping area. Â This makes your fire much more efficient.
–Attach something brightly-colored to your tools. Â This can be cordage, tape, or paint, but you do not want to set down your knife and then not be able to find it. Â
–If worried about intruders, make an alarm system. Â Run a trip line around your camp and then tie a can to the line with pebbles inside. Â If a person or animal tries to enter your camp, they will hit your line and make enough noise for you to run or fight.
–Watch out for copycat plants. Â Wild edibles are a great food source, but Mother Nature is sneaky. Â Often you will find a poisonous look-alike right next to the real deal. Â Make sure you know your identification before you start chowing down.
–Know some money spots to look for dry tinder when it is raining. Â You can always break open a cattail or thistle plant and use the fluffy seeds inside for tinder. Â Typically birdâ€™s nests are also a good source as they are often built in a dry spot.
–Use the reflective surface of your emergency blanket to stay warm. This surface reflects heat back to you, so wrap up with it or use it to line the inside of your shelter.
–Use char cloth to help start your fire. Â When using a ferro rod or lens, often a fire assistance product is needed to catch a spark or create an ember. Â To make char cloth, put small strips of cotton cloth in a tin and poke a small hole in the lid. Â Throw it in a fire and it will burn off the impurities leaving little black square of pure carbon. Â This is perfect to help with your fire.
–Plant a garden around the drip line of your shelter. Â The area where water runs off the roof of your shelter may be the best place in the immediate area to grow plants. Â Find edibles like wild potatoes or onions and transplant them to this area to let them grow large.
-Tampons are like gold. They can be used as tinder for a fire, to filter water, and to bandage a wound. Â If you find some, hold onto them.
–Use rocks to create a ring around your fire. Â These rocks will absorb the heat and radiate it back to you long after the fire has died down. Â You can move some of them into your shelter to get the warmth closer. Â They also contain the fire and keep it from getting out of control. Â Be cautious as wet rocks can explode as the moisture heats up.
–Only drink tainted water if it will save your life. Â Drinking from a contaminated source could give you diarrhea or vomiting that can further dehydrate you. Â However, these illnesses could take a week or two to get to their full strength. Â If you may die from dehydration first, take the risk and drink that water if needed.
–Do not toss your gut pile when you clean an animal. Â Organs like the heart, liver, kidneys, eyeballs, and tongue are all edible. Â The rest make great bait for fishing or trapping.
–Carry a ferro rod for a reliable fire source. Â Matches get wet and lighters run out of fluid, but a ferro rod will always produce sparks when paired with a high carbon steel blade. Â They get the job done even when wet. Â I carry three. Â One attached to my boot laces, one in my survival bracelet, and one tied to my knife.
–Make a solar still for clean water. Â Put green vegetation and/or tainted water in a hole in the ground. Â Place a container in the center and cover with clear plastic. Â Anchor it around the outside and place a small stone in the center. Â This only works in a humid environment. Â As the sun evaporates the water from the plants or tainted water, it will condensate on the plastic running to the center and dripping into your container.
–Hide your fire with a Dakota fire pit. Â If somebody is looking for you, the flames of a fire can be seen for miles. Â Dig a hole and then a second hole of equal depth next to it. Â Tunnel to connect the two and then build your fire in one side. Â The other hole will supply oxygen to keep it going, but the flames will stay below the ground. Â
–Use coconuts for water. Â Coconuts have a liquid inside that is full of sugars and electrolytes, but be cautious. Â Drink too much and it can give you the runs. Â Consider eating charcoal to help sooth your stomach.
–Build a debris hut to stay warm. Â This acts like a natural sleeping bag if you do not have a fire. Â Rest a long ridge pole on a bipod. Â Lean sticks against it at a 45 degree angle on both sides and then pile several feet of debris on top. Â It should only be large enough for you to wiggle inside. Â This should hold most of your body heat inside the shelter.
-Build an all-night fire. Â Use poles to create two 45 degree ramps facing each other. Â Find round logs and pile them on each side. Â Then build a few small teepee fires on the two bottom logs and the others will fall in place as the first logs burn through. Â This can keep your fire going all night without getting up to add wood.
–When lost, follow the water. Â Small streams flow into larger rivers and lakes where you are more likely to find people. Â Follow water downstream and you are more likely to be rescued.
Often when I am first acclimating myself to a survival situation, these little golden nuggets are forgotten. Â However, once I slow down and really think about my situation they all start to come flooding back to me. Â Get to know as many of these strategies as you can and you will have a much better chance of success.
Looking for more survival tips? Check out this full list with 117 survival tips and tricks!