Friday, February 22, 2008

Pearls of Survival Wisdom

I took a survival course from the author of my favorite outdoor-skills book, Mors Kochanski. Here are my notes:

In a survival situation, your goals are to make yourself comfortable enough to sleep and to keep drinking water. If you can sleep and drink, you have it made.

Use your survival kit. Use it until it wears out. "I've done that" is far better than "I know that". 

Survival kit should essentials: 
50-100' paracord
fire and tinder
woven poly (like Tyvek, for shelter-building)
mosquito net

First aid kit essentials:
ophthalmic ointment
10 Telfa pads
safety pins

Know these knots, and know how to make them slippery as well:
Figure 8

Camping gear should include:
fire and tinder
first aid kit
navigation tools
more tools
rope (50 meters)
paracord (50 meters)
cord, 200# test nylon (50 meters)
stove wire (5 meters)
brass wire (5 meters)
knife sharpener

Walking staff: Used to lift pots, to carry pack, as a tent pole or to prop up tent. Diameter of a pitchfork handle. Wrap with paracord (emergency cordage) and inner-tube (emergency tinder).

beaver 9-10" loop, 2-3" off ground (if in water, 1/3 of loop above water)
coon 6-8" loop, 3-4" off ground
anchor snares to trees with 11- or 12-guage wire
support wire can be fastened to tree or speared into ground

"Sedges have edges, rushes are round.
Grasses have joints when police aren't around."

Knife use: Rule of "follow-thru". Do not carve on thigh. For heavy cuts do not put your thumb on back of blade - hold the knife in your fist, keep your wrist rigid and use more of your body. When limbing branches use a scooping motion to avoid nicking and weakening branch. 

Sawing: Guide the blade but do not bear down. Push and pull strokes should sound the same. Saw small pieces of wood by moving the wood on the saw blade instead of the saw blade on the wood

Twisting birch: (for use as wythes) Scrape a strip of bark off first

Splitting wood: Hit the near edge, vice the center or far edge.

Scatter fire when not needed to slow burning and conserve fuel. Push logs back together when you desire heat or light again.

Birch bark containers: Hold near fire to make bark flexible, fold, staple instead of using clamps, sew with spruce roots.

Almonds will work as candles, burned pointy-end up. And then you can still eat them.

Lashing: Flatten sticks where they will bear against each other. If you want a 90-degree angle, lash first at a lesser angle so it will tighten up when you increase it to 90.

To make a bow saw you'll need to bring: Blade, bolts, nuts, nails, non-stretch cord.

Pack frame: Can be carried with a walking staff. Use a curved stick for the bottom piece to keep it away from your back and provide a "shelf" for loads. To pack, put your tarp on it "diamond-wise" vise "square-wise". Use a 7-arm-span cord tied to the bottom to secure the load. Use a 7-arm-span rope for the shoulder straps and waist band: Double it, tie an overhand knot in the free ends, loop it through and over the top of the frame, put the pack on your back, hook the bottom of the frame on both sides, and tie around your waist.

Don't limb the saplings you use for shelter. "Rope" them for strength.

Boughs for beds: Use a chevron pattern for the most "bounce per ounce". 

Collecting boughs: Use a push-pull to break them off rather than cutting them with your knife.

Fire by percussion: Look for white rocks that reflect light.

"It's too late to learn to swim when the boat is sinking."

"The forest is foreign to city people, the city is foreign to forest people."

Guard against "Nature Deficit Disorder"

Parachute shelter:
two layers, stretched tight, not touching, both breathable
entrance crotch-high to conserve heat
door that falls closed
bottom logs raised and leveled by short logs.
11 1/2' radius cargo chutes work best - they're less spherical

Rope lean-to: Two sharpened poles can be used in the bottom of the canoe to keep packs dry, then used to construct a lean-to for the night. Drive them of them into the ground at an angle on the outsides of two appropriately-spaced trees, tie them to the trees, then tie ropes between them to support the roof.

Pots should have a bail and a lid with a ring (vice a knob).

A cave-man's knowledge would be about:
70% flora
5% fauna
1% rocks
20% techniques (fire, bindcraft, shelter, hunting, gathering, etc.)

Red Osier Dogwood: Very flexible when green, very hard when dry. Good for baskets and arrow shafts.

Cattail roots: Place them on coals until they char, peel off the charred part and eat.

Freshwater Mussels: Place on coals until they open and smell like bacon.

Quick ladder: Tie to poles together loosely at the tops, so they can be leaned against a tree with one pole on each side. Run a series of marlin hitches down each pole to support rungs. Place the rungs in the marlin hitches as you climb.

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