Wilderness Survival Tactics

Lighting a camp fire with a flint and steel, using birch bark as tinder

What is Wilderness Survival Tactics?

The tactics that you use to survive in the wilderness will differ depending on a variety of factors like the time of year and the equipment that you have. No matter what, there are certain basic steps that you will need to follow to survive in the wild. If you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, focus on the following tasks:

Find a Good Campsite

The ideal location is one on higher ground, meaning at the top of a hill or a ridge. This keeps you out of spots where water may come toward you in a flash flood. In addition, the perfect campsite is one that is close to plentiful sources of dry wood and clean water. When you find the right site, clear it of anything that might catch fire like twigs or dry leaves. Inspect the area carefully for signs of insects and reptiles that could be harmful. Also, look overhead for branches that can fall on you.

Create a Fire

Fire can help you to cook food, stay warm and have light. Also keeps predators away. You can start fires in many ways. If you happen to be without a lighter, your options include ancient fire-starting tools like the fire plow. With the fire plow, you will be using two pieces of wood to create an ember. Start by gathering tinder for your ember. Creating a good bed of tinder is the most important part of this process. Next, cut a groove down the length of a long piece of softwood. Rub another piece of wood down the groove at a 45-degree angle. Keep rubbing until the temperature increases and you start to see sparks. Transfer the ember to your tinder bed. Please also our blog on how to make a bow drill.

Build a Shelter

Without a shelter, it is impossible to survive wintery conditions for very long. If you have a tent, then you have no worries; however, you will need to use whatever the landscape around you provides if you are without one. One option is to build a lean-to by setting a branch against a tree and stacking smaller branches together on one side of it. You can then layer leaves and moss in this wall. While will protect you from the cold air, it will not protect you from the ground. The ground will draw away your body heat so it is important to use more leaves and debris to cover your sleeping area.

Find Clean Water

Three days is how long you can live without water, which means that finding reliable sources of potable water should be right near the top of you priority list. Rain snow and dew are good sources of clean water, but may not be available. Other sources include puddles and streams, but these may not be as safe. Your best bet for rendering this water safe to drink is to boil it (also see our home made water filter). Boiling is not always an option so it is good to include water purification tablets among your survival gear. Some vines and cacti can also provide water if you take the time to squeeze it out of them.

Identify Edible Plants

Plants are an excellent nutritional resource for someone stranded in the wilderness. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals and some require very little preparation. The key will be identifying the right ones as there are many that can make you sick or kill you. Look for the characteristics of poisonous plants like spines, thorns or a bitter taste. Note that they are many edible plants with these characteristics; these are just guidelines to follow if you cannot make a positive identification. Learn to spot amaranth, asparagus and chicory. These common edible plants grow wild in North America.

 

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