Why is learning wilderness survival skill important? Because it keeps you alive. If the time comes when all technology will lose its value and retreating to the wild is the only recourse, it is best to learn how to survive while you’re still sitting comfy in your lazy boy watching Lost on TV.
So, what wilderness survival skill should you know about? When prepping for the inevitable, everything boils down to one thing– the race to keeping oneself alive. To give you a headstart, here are some basic skills for you to reflect and learn upon.
1. Water is life thus, must be first on the list. Apart from finding a water source, purifying or, at the very least, learning to filter it will not only keep you from dropping dead out of dehydration and from ingesting monster microorganisms that will wreak havoc to your body and mind. It is best to remember that a person can survive without food for 3 days to a week but without water, you’re definitely toast. Here are some water sources one can drink in the wild:
- Collect rain, snow and dew using a clean handkerchief or bandana
- Squeeze water from thistles and vines; some cacti, too
- Maple tree syrup by cutting a hole in its bark
- Use a transpiration bag
Getting ready with handy water filters like this LifeStraw below will also allow you to drink water from virtually any source. Simply stuff it into your bugout backpack and off you go.
2. Ditch hypothermia and other nature killers by building a well-insulated shelter. Man can only do so much against freezing temperature, high winds, snow and sleet, heavy rains, and the sweltering heat. Getting your hands on knowing how to create a makeshift shelter will ultimately protect you from extreme elements.
Before creating a squirrel’s nest or a debris hut, a shade shelter or a lean-to, it is important that you know how long will you be holed in the area. The idea, however, is to build one before the dark starts to take over. You can simply set-up branches and then, cover it with a waterproof poncho or collect leaves and mound them on top. If you want to stay long, do improvements the next day and the next.. until it becomes a steady structure.
3. Starting a fire from scratch. Another important survival skill in the wilderness is firecraft or the art of making fire. Not that it’s artistically motivating, but making fire out of twigs, branches and dried leaves can be quite aesthetically pleasing in the dark. Fire delivers three elements critical to one’s survival in the wild– heat from the cold and the wet, light in the dark, and smoke for rescue signaling.
It is also a good defense system from various predators in the wild. (p.s. Do you know that by covering cotton balls with Vaseline or petroleum jelly eases your way to making fire? Just make sure to have dried leaves or any fibrous material in a bundle to start those branches and logs burning.)
4. Finding safe edible food. There are many plants in the wild that can satisfy one’s hunger pangs– amaranth, asparagus, burdock, clover, cattail, chicory, chickweed, dandelion, kelp, plantain, seaweed, and many more. The idea is to be able to identify them, so reading books on edible plants and learning what they look like should come handy.
Aside from vegetation, fish, lizards, snake and frogs also abound in the wild. One has to learn “gigging” to catch fish, snakes or eels in rivers. Game meat can also help satisfy hunger pangs. So hunting or snaring or tying-a-bowline skills can also come handy. Learning skills in catching meat must come handy with fire-making as it is deemed safer to grill or cook in open pit those game meat.
5. Navigating on your own or signaling for rescue. Unless you plan to stay forever in the wilderness, you need to learn how to navigate back to safety or send signal for rescue. Hunger, fear, the cold/heat and thirst can make a person disoriented. Learning how to navigate a compass or your watch’s dial or read the sky for direction will come much appreciated later on.
Signaling, or drawing attention to oneself, is another skill that must be learned. It’s not being Lindsay Lohan or Taylor Swift but the kind wherein you make fire on a hilltop or arranging a RESCUE ME sign. Take the picture below. These three men were rescued from a remote island down the Pacific by doing what? Writing HELP using leaves.
Yes it takes a lot of bravado to survive the wild. Without skills though, one’s bravery is nothing. One needs to learn, practice and eventually master these wilderness survival skills in order to live. As what experts survivalist always say– “prepare, adapt and overcome.”