Bushcraft 101

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Bushcraft 101 John Smith “Disaster Prep Guides” Audio in player below! Bushcraft is a term for wilderness survival skills that was originally created in Australia and South Africa. There are some areas in Australia that are called “The Bush,” which is an area that is mostly wilderness. If you are lacking the needed survival skills, … Continue reading Bushcraft 101

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How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry

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by Todd Walker

How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Of all the pleasures of camping, sipping a freshly brewed cup of joe around the morning fire is, as the old TV commercial hummed along, the best part of waking up. Sorry, now the jingle is stuck in your head. Many campers employ a variety of gadgetry and complicated contraptions in pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee.

Wanna simplify the whole process? Of course you do.

The process is so simple you’ll kick yourself for purchasing, and packing, that expensive French press!

Harlton’s Hobo Coffee Maker

I dubbed this simple, yet amazing, bush coffee maker the “Harlton Hobo Coffee Maker” after watching a Karamat Wilderness video loaded with Kelly Harlton’s bushcraft ingenuity. I highly recommend this channel for simple solutions and philosophy of crafting in the bush!

Here’s what you’ll need to make one on your next adventure…


  • Cotton Bandana – Kelly uses a pre-cut triangular piece of parachute material
  • 3 finger-size, arm-length sticks
  • String long enough to tie around the sticks bundled together

This may be the shortest tutorial in the history of this blog. It’s so simple not much explaining is required.

Step 1: Build a Tripod 

Bundle the three sticks together. Tie your string around the sticks with a quick knot to hold them together. Fold them out to form a tripod. The height of the tripod needs to be high enough to allow your coffee cup to sit under the bandana.

If you’d like to make a more permanent tripod for base camp cooking or your backyard, check out our video below. This is a bit overkill for the Harlton Hobo Coffee Maker though. Just tie the sticks together.

Step 2: Attach Bandana

I keep a few multifunctional bandanas in my haversack. If you have a large bandana, you can fold it diagonal to form a triangle. If not, just tie two corners on two legs of the tripod with the remaining two corners secured to the third leg with a simple over hand knot.

Check to make sure your coffee cup will sit under the bandana funnel. Adjust as needed.

Step 3: Add Coffee Grounds in the Funnel

Not real complicated here. Depending on how you like your coffee, between motor oil or brown tea, add enough grounds to satisfy. I make my first cup strong. A couple of scoops filtered trough into my 16 ounce kuksa is about right for my taste. The next cup filtered through the grounds will be weaker.

Step 4: Add Hot Water

How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

An old bush pot I keep at base camp

Boil up some water up in a pot over the fire or stove. Once she’s boiling, place your cup underneath the bandana filter and slowly pour hot water over the grounds. Gauge the amount you pour for one perfect cup of steaming hot goodness. Have your buddy’s cup ready to slide under to catch the next cup if you happen to over pour the first cup. Don’t waste a drop.

How to Make Perfect Hobo Coffee without Modern Gadgetry ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The first cup dripping into my cup

All that’s left to do is sit back and enjoy. I’ve found my first cup is easier to swallow than my buddy’s embellished fishing tales.

Clean up is a breeze. Untie your filter and shake out the spent grounds. Be careful not to whip the filter in the air or you’ll cover yourself with used coffee grounds. Rinse out and hang the bandana to dry while you cook up a hearty breakfast fit for a woodsman. If you’ve got to get moving, tie the filter on the outside of your pack to dry while tramping to your next campsite.

The beauty of Kelly’s simple bush coffee maker is its weight, and the fact that you craft it on the spot. No modern gadgetry required to make the perfect cup of camp coffee.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Emergency Fire-starter: Start A Fire With Bare Hands

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Starting a fire

Starting a fire with your bare hands may sound like the manliest activity you can do, doesn’t it? Bear Grylls has a couple of episodes about how to start a fire without any gear available, for cooking some crunchy worms, right?

I am kidding, of course, but knowing how to start a fire in a survival situation is a pretty useful skill to have. Without fire you can’t cook your food, you can’t get warm, you can’t dry your clothes, you don’t have light, you can’t signal your presence, you can’t disinfect water for safe drinking, and so on and so forth.

We rely on technology to survive; even when it comes to wilderness survival. We are comfortable thinking that it will be OK because we have a cool survival knife, even better than Rambo’s, not to mention our top of the line survival/emergency kit, which contains all the things we’ll ever need if SHTF, including some cool BIC lighters, impermeable matches and what not.

However, life has the unpleasant habit of ignoring our plans, and emergencies don’t seem to care about our personal inconveniences.

The question to be asked and answered is — what are you going to do if SHTF and you don’t have your survival gear on your person?  Well, you’ll have to improvise or die trying, right?

This scenario is pretty far-fetched at first glance; I mean, finding yourself alone and close to butt-naked somewhere in the woods, without any type of gear and all that jazz.

Find out how this little survival stove that fits in your pocket can save your life!

Fire is what separated the humans from the animal reign, along with the invention of the wheel and Facebook. (I’m kidding again, of course!)

But I can bet that even the invention of the wheel was somewhat related to fire, i.e. there are “cultures” in remote parts of the world who didn’t invent the wheel, but they know how to make a fire without a Zippo lighter. The idea is that if some troglodyte who still lives in the Neolithic period, technologically speaking, can make a fire using what’s naturally available, so should we.

And obviously, making a fire with minimal gear that you can do yourself will require a paleo approach, i.e. we’ll have to see how primitive cultures mitigate this problem.

As far as primitive fire starting goes, most of the methods (all of them actually, if I come to think about it) involve the 2nd law of thermodynamics, and I am talking about mechanical energy — friction in our case — which is converted into heat, another form of energy which leads to fire and a happy ending.

So, as the Greek philosopher and inventor Heraclitus said back in the day, everything changes, and so does energy. But enough with philosophy and let’s get down to business.

How To Start a Fire Using Sticks

The simplest method for making a fire via friction in dry climates is the hand drill. The concept is pretty simple: you’ll have to cut a V shaped notch into a piece of wood, or fire-board if you like, then to use a rock/knife or whatever you have at your disposal for making a small depression adjacent to the notch, where you’ll place a piece of bark which will eventually catch the ember and burst into flames.

In the next step you’ll have to put the spindle (a stick basically) in the depression and roll it vigorously between the palms of your hands. You know what I am talking about. You’ve seen endless “Wild Survival” documentaries about it.

Some tried it in real life and failed miserably, but this guy seems to have got the hang of it.

Video first seen on Videojug

It’s worth mentioning that two persons can do it better, i.e. one person will apply downward pressure to the drill constantly, while the other will use a shoelace or a piece of string to rapidly rotate the spindle.

How to Start a Fire by Friction

If you’re alone, you can use this method , which is way better than rolling the spindle in the palms of your hands, especially if you’re not used to manual labor. This method involves using a little bow for rolling the spindle and it’s order of magnitude is more efficient than doing it with your hands only.

Video first seen on AZ Film Company

How to Start a Fire Using a Cord Drill and a Pump Drill

Check out this guy who makes it all look very easy. Watching this clip, you’ll learn how to make a cord drill first, then to upgrade it to a pump drill (this can be used for making holes in things, which may prove useful). The cord drill is a spindle featuring a flywheel attached basically and it works very well for making fires and more.

Video first seen on Primitive Technology.

How to Start a Fire With the Fire Plow Technique

Another primitive method for making fire is the fire plow technique. The concept is pretty straightforward, as you’ll cut a groove in a soft piece of wood, which will be the fire-board for all intents and purposes, and then you’ll rub/plough the tip of a harder shaft up/down the groove.

This technique produces its own tinder as the sticks rubbed together will push out tiny particles of wood ahead of the friction.

Video first seen on Survival Lilly

How to Start a Fire With a Fire Piston

Here’s a cool method called the Fire Piston and it works under the principle that air gets very hot when compressed at high pressure.

If you’ve ever used a bicycle pump, you might have noticed the heat that is created in the cylinder. When you compress air inside a fire piston, it happens so quickly and efficiently that it can instantly ignite a piece of tinder placed at the end of the piston.

Video first seen on Discovery

Ancient methods of making fire pistons involve hardwood for the tube or even a horn. The tube must be closed at one end, accurately bored and very smooth inside. The gasket can be improvised from fiber or leather for creating a seal for the piston in order to get the compression required.

How to Start a Fire With Flint and Steel

A classic in the field of ancient fire making is flint and steel. If you strike a softer steel against flint (which is harder), you’ll produce sparks to ignite your fire. But you can also make fire with just what’s available out there, i.e. flint, marcasite, pyrite, fungus, grass/leaf and quartzite.

Video first seen on freejutube

Remember that fire provides you with a cooking flame so knowing how to start one with your bare hands will make your survival cooking easy as 1, 2, 3!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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Cooking With Mud Like In The Old Days

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Cooking With Mud Like In The Old Days Improvised cooking was part of everyday life during the time of the pioneers. Most families were lacking even the most basic cooking utensils. In order to prepare a hot meal, they had to improvise and look for alternative cooking methods. Cooking with mud was one of the …

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Be a Better Prepper With Camping!

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Be a Better Prepper With Camping! If you think about it, camping for a prepper is kind of a no brainer as far as training goes. Sadly, few ever take the opportunity to actually go camping for various reasons. Maybe they think they know it all already, or they can’t stand the idea of sleeping …

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Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely

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by Todd Walker


On a modern homestead wood lot, one cranks a chain saw, cuts logs to the length, and splits the rounds to season. The motorized saw makes quick work of large and small wood. But in an operational base camp, lugging a chainsaw, bar oil and fuel, on a regular basis is not practical. A good ax weighs less but can get the job done. However, there are challenges to cutting firewood (not splitting) to length with an ax.

Here’s a simple solution which not only saves your ax bit from grit and rocks in the ground, but allows you to use a powerful vertical chopping stroke safely – described in our last ax work article. To cut a winter supply of firewood with an ax only, take the time to build this speedy chopping platform.

The Ax Chopping Platform

Adapted from The Ax Book (D. Cook)

Here’s what you’ll need to build your own…

  • 2 Base Logs – six to seven-foot hardwood logs about 10-12 inches diameter
  • Stop Stick – 5 inches diameter by one foot
  • Sturdy, heavy gauge wire
  • Ax, of course
  • Saw – chainsaw will speed up your project
  • Pliers for twisting and cutting wire
  • Hardware – 4 nails, 3 feet of cable or chain
  • 5 pound weight

Step 1: Cut Base Logs

For axmen, chop down a hardwood tree with your felling ax. Buck it twice to get two 7 foot lengths. Or crank your chainsaw for the task. Either way works.

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The opposite, or back cut separates the log

I chose a half-broken Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua). City folk hate them in their yards due to their pesky, prickly fruit, a scourge on bare feet and medieval projectiles when mowed. Trash trees in the view of many. But very resilient.

Now for the fun part… getting them back to camp. My good friend, Cokey, pork-butt-smoker extraordinaire, speaking in full southern drawl, always has this to say about any hard work,

“It’s like haulin’ logs. Ya gotta really wanna do it.”

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This size log would normally be split lengthwise, then quartered to haul back to camp.

And I did. I flopped and rolled my two sticks, dodging trees and obstacles, back to camp. My peavy was a fine companion to have along the journey.

Step 2: Secure Base Logs

For the sake of clarity, the end of the platform where the chopping happens we’ll call the “Head“. The opposite end of the platform will be, you guessed it, the “Tail.

Position the two logs side-by-side so the fat end of one mates up with the skinny end of the other. This will form the trough to hold the long wood you plan to chop into smaller wood. It’s a good idea to lay two length of cedar, or other rot resistant wood, perpendicular at the ends of the logs to keep them off the ground. This also makes the wiring job you’re about to do much easier, i.e. – passing wire under two real heavy logs.

Your choice in wire matters. In my video, the electric fence wire couldn’t stand the pressure. I cut lengths of rusty, but still strong enough, barbed wire from a fallen hog wire fence line near base camp. Be resourceful.

Wrap the wire around the Head of the platform and twist tight with pliers. You could also use a stout stick as a windlass. Beat the exposed barbs down if you use wire in the barbed variety.

Mr. Cook illustrates three wooden dowels driven through the two logs horizontally. If you’re building this project at your homestead, that may be feasible. Or, just drill and run all-thread rods through and secure with nuts and bolts. In the woods, I used the simple method, wire.

Step 3: Secure the Stop Stick

Butt the stop stick against the newly installed wire crossing the trough. Twist it down until taut. Too much twisting and you’ll sheer the wire and have to start over. Fencing pliers come in handy but other pliers work. Another option would be to use a Spanish windlass to tighten the wires. Ted, a member of our Doing the Stuff Network, pointed me to the Cobb & Co Hitch method.

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Stop Stick secured with front kickback guard installed

Step 4: Attach Front Kickback Guard

If you’ve ever had a wooden missile fly at your face while chopping through a horizontal stick, you’ll appreciate the importance of this step. A whole lot of pain accompanies a stick in the eye. To prevent this stick-to-the-face event, install a piece of domed wire 6 to 8 inches past the stop stick.

I cut a section of that old hog wire long enough to arch over the platform creating a two-square wide hood of sorts. It hugs the top of the stop stick with about 6 inches overhanging the platform logs. I used two 16d nails and washers to secure the four ends to the sides of the platform logs. This gives me enough room to chop firewood lengths while safeguarding my noggin from flying firewood.

Step 5: Install Rear Kickback Guard

As experienced wood lot choppers know, as the stick you’re chopping to size shortens, especially the final two short lengths, the butt end is free to fly, and often does. Another kickback guard will hold the last length in the trough. However, this rear guard can’t be secured permanently over the trough or the stock your chopping won’t rest flat between the platform logs.

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A wired rock works for an improvised backcountry weight

Screw or nail a section of chain or wire to the chopping side of the platform with a weight attached to the end of the chain. This will allow you to toss the restrain over the stock in the trough as it shortens.

The distance between the front and rear kickback guards depends on the length of firewood you need. For instance, at base camp, 18 to 20 inches is about right. Mark the trough at your desired length. From that mark, attach the rear guard about the same distance as the front guard towards the Tail end of the platform.

On a homestead, any metal 5 pound weight can be located to hold the rear guard in place. In the forest, not so much. I stole a jagged-edged rock from my fire pit, wrapped it with wire, and attached it to the end of my chain restraint. When engaged (flopped over the logs), the weight rests about midway down the opposite side of the platform.

Step 6: Wire and Notch the Tail

To wire the Tail, cut a 90 degree notch in the end of both logs. The depth of the vertical cut should be slightly past the depth of the trough. Now cut horizontally to meet the vertical cut and remove the notch and create a ledge. Wrap wire around the log ledge and twist taut. If you run the wire tight in the corner, you’ll have a small, horizontal “table top” to sit your hot cocoa while sitting on the platform around the campfire. Flat horizontal surfaces are a luxury at base camp.

Ax Chopping Platform: Speed Up Firewood Cutting Safely ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A view of the wired Tail end of the platform

Step 7: Get to Chopping

Green wood is easier to chop than seasoned. Both are easier to separate when chopped at a 45 degree angle to the grain. Feed your stock into the trough up to the stop stick. Position yourself at a 45 degree angle where you can make a full vertical, backed-up stroke in the trough on your marked chopping spot. The stock is easily separated with a single, well placed stroke. On thicker stock that doesn’t, rotate the stick in the trough and chop it once more. That ought to do it.

Remember to “engage” the rear guard as the butt end of the stock shortens and gets itchy to jump off the platform.

The Axe Cordwood Challenge

In our Ax Chopping Platform video, I mentioned Steven Edholm’s “Axe Cordwood Challenge” on his YouTube channel, Skill Cult. Some may be wondering, why in the world would a person chop a cord of firewood, a stack measuring 4’x4’x8′, with an ax only?! They’re still manufacturing chainsaws, ya know! They do indeed. I own a couple of these modern marvels.

But, the ax, a simple machine, unlike the chainsaw, requires minimal field maintenance. Granted, the chainsaw cuts firewood to length quicker than an ax. To accommodate modern cutting, you’ll need to haul the gas-oil-mix can, bar/chain oil, an extra bar and chain for saws stuck in a log, and other field maintenance tools. You’ll probably carry an ax alongside the motor saw as a backup anyway. But with modern means of travel, four-wheelers and trucks, that’s not a huge deal.

Here’s the thing, for me at least…

In my mind, more significant is the fact that ax-manship is an old-soul skill which few moderns wish to re-kindle, never seeing the possibility of a future dependent on axes to stay warm. It is neither convenient nor easy. However, ax work is my most personally rewarding, satisfying, and warming undertaking I’ve done over the years.

You find an axman, one who turns a tree into firewood by felling, limbing, bucking, splitting lenght-wise for hauling, and then, chopping wood to length, and he’ll confirm that the most challenging job of staying warm with his ax is chopping to final burning size. This chopping platform greatly increases the speed, safety, and efficiency of making long logs short.

So, Steven, I’m taking you up on your challenge. Updates will be posted on my progress. If nothing else, I’ll be in great shape from swinging steel and hauling logs.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Purify Pine Resin and Make Pine Pitch

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How to Purify Pine Resin and Make Pine Pitch Purifying pine resin is the key to make some great wilderness glue also known as pine pitch. Make some today and get some classic wilderness skills down! Well, I have to share this topic with you as my mind has been blown. Let me first start by …

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3 Steps To Start A Fire When Everything Is Wet

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Start a fire when everything is wet

Starting a fire in adverse weather, whether is rain or wind or both is a very important survival skill every outdoors aficionado must possess. The ability of igniting a fire when things are less than perfect is a fine art which must be learned and practiced until mastery is achieved.

The thing is, nature doesn’t care much about our best laid plans, mice and men alike and an emergency never comes alone. I mean, when confronted with a survival situation, you’d at least expect fine weather, cool breezes and sunshine.

In reality, your survival in an emergency situation will become much more complicated than initially thought and I would dare to say nine times out of ten, as you’ll end up not only lost in the woods or wherever, but you’ll also have to deal with rain, cold and high winds.

Emergencies almost always bring bad weather with them, it’s almost like a 2 for the price of 1 deal. And that’s fine as long you’re prepared both physically and mentally.

However, in critical times, your survival may depend on your ability to light a fire under rain and/or wind and any hardcore survivalist, even Bear Grylls will tell you that you should always carry at least 2 primary and 2 secondary tools for starting a fire.

The idea is that a regular fire starter may not always provide you with the best results, especially if it’s raining and it gets wet. Also, if it’s windy and rainy, your chances of igniting a fire with just one match are pretty slim. If it’s freezing cold, your BIC lighter (which uses butane) may not work at all.

Basically, starting a fire when it’s windy, cold and rainy is one of the worst situations imaginable, other than starting a fire under water, which is a skill only Chuck Norris masters (he uses phosphorus by the way).

I think I have already told you a dozen times in my previous articles about the holy trinity of survival, which includes fire as a means of providing you with (cooked) food, (safe) water and shelter (warmth, protection from wild animals etc), but also about the importance of location.

But do you know which survival essential is the first most important?

Find out how this little survival stove that fits in your pocket can save your life!

1. Find an Adequate Location for Making the Fire

Everything in life is location, as Van Helsing used to say back in the day, and the same mantra is true when it comes to making a fire.

The first thing to look for is an adequate location for making a fire in harsh weather conditions. The idea is to provide your fire with as much protection possible from both wind and rain if possible. And if you’re not in the middle of a frozen desert with no snow around, that’s not impossible.

Shelter means three basic things:

  • shelter from the wind
  • shelter from the rain
  • shelter from the ground water.

2. Shelter the Fire

Ideally, you should shelter your fire on more than one side (upwind).

Build a Windbreak

You can protect your fire by building a C shaped windbreak with the open side downwind. You can build a windbreak using wood, rocks, snow, dirt, just use your imagination.

To shelter your fire from the rain when outdoors is the hardest job, but it can be achieved.

Make the Fire Under a Tree

But pay attention! The easiest way is to make your fire under a tree, as evergreens can be regarded as a natural tent of sorts. All you have to do is to pick a big one and make your fire under the lowest branches.

Making a fire under a tree may not seem like the best idea, as there are inherent risks attached, like setting the tree on fire, but if you’re paying attention and keeping your fire under control, the chances of such an event happening are minor.

You can minimize the risks further by building a good fire pit with no combustible materials around the fire.

Build a Fire Pit

The third requirement is how to protect the fire from ground earth, with the previous two taken care of by now. The easiest method is to use rocks for building a fire pit on a spot where the ground is raised from the floor.

Or you can do that yourself, i.e. you can build a little mound and on top of the mound you’ll put a layer of rocks, thus preventing your fire from staying directly on the wet ground and also making sure any running water will be drained ASAP.

3. Tinder, Kindling and Fuel

So much for location folks, let’s move on to the next issue and I will start with an axiom: if you don’t have the Bear Grylls flame-thrower with you, starting a fire using wet wood is basically impossible and a no-go under any circumstances. You’ll waste your time and your gear, bet on a dead horse and the whole palaver.

Video first seen on CommonSenseOutdoors

However, there are ways, as Gandalf used to say, but ideally, you should try to find something dry for starting your fire. As a general rule of thumb, a fire gets started in 3 stages: tinder, kindling and fuel.

The tinder is a combustible material which is very easy to ignite, i.e. it will catch fire quick and easy.

The kindling can be improvised using pieces of finger-thick wood that will be lit from the kindle.

The rest is pretty straight forward, as far as your kindle gets ignited you’ll start the main fuel and you’ll have a fire burning in no time.

Two of the best survival-tinder (fire starters actually) which can be used for igniting a fire in adverse conditions (even with wet wood) are cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly and dryer lint mixed with paraffin. These will burn for at least 2-3 minutes, thus providing you with plenty of time to get your fire started. I’ve already written an article about this issue.

As an interesting factoid, even in the midst of a rainstorm, you can almost surely find dried branches under the bottom of big/old pine trees. Another great place to look for dry combustible is the underside of uprooted (or dead) trees.

Video first seen on IA Woodsman

How to Make the Best Fire Starter for Wet Wood

The best fire-starter for wet wood can be home-made using black powder (gunpowder) and nail polish remover (the one that contains acetone). The acetone will be the solvent for the gunpowder. The idea is to make something that burns slow and as hot as possible and the gunpowder/acetone mix is by far the best in this regard.

Making the mix is fairly easy, as you’ll start with a small quantity of gunpowder the size of a golf ball put inside a ceramic/glass bowl. Start adding nail polish remover so that the mound of gunpowder is totally covered then mix it together slowly and thoroughly (always wear rubber gloves).

Once the stuff inside the ball gets in a putty-state, you can pour off the extra nail polish and then start kneading the putty, just like when making bread. i.e. folding it over time and time again.

The purpose of the kneading is to create layers inside your fire-starter. In this way, the burn rate is more controlled. The more layers, the better your fire-starter will be. The finished putty can be stored in an airtight container, but keep in mind that you’ll want to use your putty when it’s still moist. If dried, it burns too fast.

This fire-starter burns at 3000 degrees Fahrenheit and a golf-ball sized piece will burn for more than 3 minutes. Basically, you can set anything on fire with this baby and even  dry out damp wood in the worst conditions imaginable.

One final thing, it would always be nice to use fire accelerants, like gasoline (or alcohol, paint thinner etc), for starting a fire in rain or wind.

If you have your car around, the better, as you can siphon out some gasoline from the tank and start a fire even with damp wood in a jiffy. Okay, you’ll not receive those extra bonus style points, but that’s okay.

You’ll always have the peace of mind knowing that no matter where you go and no matter how bad the weather is you’ll be able to start a fire and safely cook food and boil some water. Click the banner below to grab this offer!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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How To Build A Semi-Permanent Family Shelter

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How To Build A Semi-Permanent Family Shelter Shelter is one of the most important things you need to know how to make in an emergency situation. This awesome, family size shelter is just a large “debris shelter” for all intense and purposes but with the added protection from the rain because of the tarp or …

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How to Make a Healing Poultice

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How to Make a Healing Poultice Before you read this please not I am not a medical professional and I would always seek advice from one before trying anything medical on this site please read our disclaimer.   A poultice, also called cataplasm, is a soft moist mass, often heated and medicated, that is spread on cloth …

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Why Bamboo Could Save Your Life

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 Why Bamboo Could Save Your Life! Bamboo is cheap, awesome and invasive …. yet it could save your life in an emergency situation. I would consider planting some before it’s to late! Bamboo is one of the greatest finds in a survival situation and has been used by people for thousands of years to do …

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Animal Snaring For Survival

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Animal Snaring For Survival The hunting, trapping, and snaring of animals is something that goes back to truly ancient times. If not for these practices, the human race wouldn’t exist! We would have died off millennia ago! From a survival point of view, having these skills can literally save your life and make the difference …

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Wilderness Survival: 5 Self Feeding Campfires

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Self feeding fire

If you’re an outdoors aficionado and you go camping often, today’s article will tick you in all the right places, as I will present you, dear readers, with 5 ways to start a self feeding campfire.

Making a campfire is arguably one of the most fun and interesting parts of camping, as it keeps you warm and safe on cool nights, not to mention that it gives you the opportunity to make the best barbecue you’ve ever had in your life.

You know, food cooked outdoors on wood-fires tastes best. However, there’s a downside to this kind of activity. I am talking about the boring job of keeping the fire alive and kicking.

We’ve all been in this situation – sitting and chilling by the fire, trying to relax and all that, when once again, we’re forced to get up and tend the fire. That’s pretty unpleasant when your belly is full of your latest barbecue, not to mention during the night when you’re sleeping like a baby, yet you awake frostbitten and what not.

However, there’s an answer to these problems with regard to camping, and I am talking about a self feeding fire. Think about our forefathers, they were the experts of this basic skill as for them, a self feeding fire lasting all nigh long meant they could take a nap after a harsh journey.

This may sound nothing short of miraculous to you, but I’ll present you with some videos and you’ll see that I am dead serious, as usual.

So, considering that you can’t really enjoy the warm glow from your campfire if you’re forced to constantly feed it with fresh logs, let’s see about some self feeding ideas which will keep your fire going forever and ever.

1. 15+ Hours Self Feeding Fire

The next idea is about a 15 hours-plus self feeding fire, which sounds pretty awesome providing that it really works; i.e. a fire that will burn for more than half a day all by itself, requiring zero maintenance. That almost beats central heating, don’t you think?

The self feeding fire was invented by the pioneers that had to travel for months. We still have a lot to learn about their skills, as they are depicted in Claude Davis’s book “The Lost Ways”, who unearths the long forgotten ways and lifestyles of the ancestors of ancient times.

Discover the ancient secrets that helped our forefathers survive in the wild!

This type of fire will work if you’re doing it right and proper. The idea is that you’ll have to work a little bit in order for it to function, but it will be worth it. The concept is pretty simple: you’ll have to build two ramps opposing each other and load them with big logs.

The logs will self-load as the ones in the middle get consumed by the fire, but check out the video tutorial about this method depicted in “The Lost Ways” book, and see the concept in action for yourself.

Video first seen on Know More.

As you have noticed, the ramps are constructed in a very easy-to-understand way; there’s nothing fancy involved here.

In order to get the fire started, you’ll have to remember to leave a gap in-between the two logs at the bottom by putting a couple of pieces of dead wood in there to keep them open. In this way, you’ll be able to start the fire, and that’s kind of important.

You’ll also have to cut pretty big (and flat-that’s crucial) logs and the trick is to start the fire from below and make sure the logs burn completely all the way down to succeed.

2. The Upside-down Fire

The second self feeding campfire idea is called the upside down fire. The general idea is that you put the biggest stuff at the bottom, like the big logs, in layers, in a crisscrossed pattern, and as you build the logs up, the woods will get smaller, ending up with the tender pile of the top.

This is a very efficient way of building a self feeding campfire and here’s a comprehensive video tutorial.

Video first seen on NorthSouthSurvival.

The idea works and it’s pretty easy to DIY, ending up with an almost maintenance-free fire which consumes itself from the top down. This method is also known as the fall-down fire.

3. Self Feeding Fire Cigarettes

The third idea is called self-feeding fire cigarettes, just another moniker for a self feeding, long-lasting campfire. The goal of this project is to build a small scale fire as opposed to the previous idea which involves big logs for creating a heavy duty campfire.

So, what we’ll be dealing with here is a minimal campfire, ideal for cooking and lighting your cigars and, you know, keeping the lights on, so to speak.

The concept is to make a hole in the ground and stick 4-5 fire cigarettes (wooden sticks basically) inside, light them up from the bottom and as they burn slowly, the burnt parts collapse under their own weight. This is elegant, very easy to put into practice, and it really works. You must remember to dig out the ventilation tunnels required for keeping the fire alive.

Video first seen on Redfuel Bushcraft

4. 18+ Hours Self Feeding Campfire

Next on our program is how to make a long-lasting, self-feeding campfire that will stay alive by itself for approximately 18 hours, give or take (depending on the size of the logs).

First things first: you’ll have to find 2 big logs. The thicker they are, the longer your fire is going to last.

The general idea is that you’ll put these 2 thick logs on top of each other and set a fire in between them using dead/dry debris or something similar. You’ll have to use 4 stakes, 2 on each side of the logs, for keeping the logs from rolling out; something like a safety precaution. It’s best to use green wood stakes, as these don’t burn so well.

It’s important how you set up the fire; i.e. it works especially well if you set up in the direction where the wind blows, as it will fan the fire for you.

Video first seen on coydog outdoors.

5. Finnish Rakovalkea Fire

Lastly, let me present you with a clever system to build a self feeding campfire which is very popular in Northern Europe, in Finland and Sweden respectively, where it’s known as rakovalkea and/or nying.

This self feeding system uses for two notched-out short logs for its base that keep the fire lifted up off the ground for better ventilation, or more oxygen if you like.

The rest of the job is pretty similar to the previous project; i.e. you’ll have two logs on top of each other with the fire being set in the middle. Both the log on the bottom and the one on the top have a flattened edge as they’ll be facing each other, and in between you’ll have to put the combustible materials required for starting the fire.

Two poles are used to keep the logs firmly in place (via nails). But take a look at this video tutorial and you’ll see what’s up.

Video first seen on Far North Bushcraft And Survival.

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This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work

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by Todd Walker

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I’m not sure when the bastardization began. But, make no mistake, it’s happened.

From a distance, there was an aura about the young man, he looked as though he had just stepped out of a 19th century lumber camp photo, like a man who knew the secrets of ax work and living off the land. The beard, plaid flannel (red and black of course), skinny britches rolled up a few turns to show off his vintage L.L. Bean boots with just a hint of wool sock protruding at the top. I imagined the aroma of wood smoke from his stack of flapjacks and coffee would hit me as I pushed DRG’s shopping cart past him on the frozen food aisle. Nope. Just another fashion-fabulous hipster.

A lot of my authentic southern readers may have never heard of this crossbred, the lumber-sexual. My Publix sighting confirms they’re here and not going anywhere no time soon. They seem to have migrated from their native habitat up north, the over-priced Minnesota coffee shops. Apparently, the lumberjack look was a new twist for hipsters. Remember the rhinestone cowboy craze from the 70’s? Same thing. They are born from cross-breeding a metrosexual and urban hipster (google these terms to get up to speed). The closest they’ve come to chopping a tree was the cutting of the Yule log at the office Christmas party. I guess the look and feel of simple lumber attire conjures up nostalgia, and, presumably, a boost in manliness.

I get it, chic clothing trends, like chiggers in a Georgia summer, never cease. A hipster sipping a passion tango herbal tea on a leather sofa at the corner coffee shop posing as a lumberjack seems non-congruent in my mind. I’ll give ’em one thing, they can buy an authentic lumber-look, even earth scented beard balm, but, to their chagrin, they can’t buy callouses. Those come by doing the stuff old lumberjacks did.

For the lumber sexual who stumbles upon this article, and feels the need to stop playing dress up, and would like to add authentic skills to match his attire, learn the art and lore of ax work. That wall-mounted ax over your headboard longs to feel its hickory handle whist through crisp air, hear metal separate wood fibers, and watch dinner plate size wood chips fling loose. This alone will assuredly add authenticity to your next filtered Instagram ax-selfie.  An added bonus… the calloused handshake over a craft beer reeks of masculinity… adding to your woods cred.

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

No worries. Fixin’ Wax helps.

This guide may also be useful for the non-lumber sexual…

Authentic Ax Work (Not AXE Grooming Products)

Outside of fire, little else can contribute more to living comfortably in the wilderness than knowing how to properly use a well-chosen axe.

~ Mors Kochanski, Bushcraft, 1988

The ax is the oldest, most under-appreciated, yet invaluable tool which serves not only as a wilderness lifeline, but a simple machine that connects your hands to the forgotten craft of ax work. You’ll need an authentic ax to get starter. Don’t waste your money on box store axes. Once in my life, only once, I traded a Benjamin and some change for a Swedish ax just because of their reputation of forging fine steel. I was not disappointed.

A more budget friendly way, my preferred path, is vintage American made axes. Forgotten and left to rust in the corner of grandpa’s shed, these old treasures are waiting to be born again and eat wood.

For more guidance on choosing an ax, check out our article here.

How to Swing an Ax

All ax swings are inherently dangerous. Some are safer than others. But that’s part of the lure of ax work. Learning to reduce the risk of maiming (or worse) is your first priority.

It may not seem obvious, but the very first step, before your first swing in the woods, is to clear every vine, twig, overhead limb, camera man, and pet away from the area of your ax arc. The smallest thing can snag the ax on both backswing and forward chop. Look up and down the tree you plan to chop for any dead limbs. These hangers earned the name widow-maker for a reason. Even a small limb plummeting from 30 feet can crack your skull or destroy a shoulder. I know of a dead pine with a trunk split cradling a wrist-size limb in the crotch, tempting me to sink my felling ax into its trunk, but I resist, hoping and waiting for a gust of wind to bring it down. My gut tells me three thuds of my ax and DRG may be a widow. Follow your gut. Wise axmen strike the tree with the poll of their ax to loosen any potential hangers. Be prepared to drop the ax and follow exit routes you’ve cleared beforehand.

Ideally, you want level ground to plant your feet for chopping. That’s not always possible. If you’re new to ax work, find level ground free of tripping and slipping hazards and sink those vintage Danner boots in firmly.

For right-handers like me, grip the end of the handle with your left hand and your right hand on top of the left. Reverse this arrangement for southpaw. As you were taught in little league baseball, do not cross your wrists, right on bottom and left on top for right-handers, on swings. Coach Melvin told me this would break my wrists.

There are two basic ax swings: lateral and vertical. Certain guidelines should be followed for each swing.

Lateral Chopping

Lateral swings (diagonal and horizontal) are used to fell a tree, cut saplings in one swoop, and finish chops to separate a log while bucking. Any strokes outside your frontal zone is considered lateral swings. What’s your frontal zone?

Adapted from The Ax Book

Adapted from The Ax Book

In The Ax Book, which I recommend you devour until the pages are dog-eared, Dudley Cook describes the frontal zone as two parallel lines running along side the outside edges of your feet when chopping. All lateral swings should be outside the parallel lines, always. A miss hit or deflection from a full, extended-arm swing only stops when it strikes a target. Inertia forces the ax head to a stopping point, and that point could be your body if you disregard the frontal zone guidelines.

There are too many additional considerations such as, proper notching (face and back cuts), lean and lay, hang-ups, kick-backs, which can’t be covered in this one article, which is already a long but value-adding read, for you to safely chop down your first tree. I plan to write more on the subject later. Until then, read The Ax Book and watch more videos in the additional resources listed below.

With that being said, we will concentrate on ax swings which require wielding sharp steel within the frontal zone (toward your feet).

Vertical Chopping

Since the chainsaw removed the ax from most wood cutting, splitting firewood is by far the most used vertical swing presently. But, wanting to add authenticity to your life, there are other vertical strokes you should master.

Vertical chops fall into three categories…

  1. Backed up
  2. Non-backed, and
  3. Bucking, or chopping below the level of your feet

Backed Up

Backed up strokes are performed on another piece of robust wood (chopping block) wide enough to stop the ax swing momentum once it cuts through the target. The shorter the ax handle, the more dangerous the ax. The popular “boys ax” measures from armpit to finger length and makes a great all-purpose tool. However, care should be taken to understand that missing your target on vertical strokes with a shorter handle will likely bury the ax in your lower extremities. Keep the ax parallel to the ground at impact by bending your knees and waist during the downward stroke. This shortens your body and will likely sink the axhead in the chopping block, not your leg.

When chopping wrist-size green wood for your firewood pile, I’ve found this methods effective. Hold one end of the stick (about as long as you are tall) with your left hand and lay the other on a chopping block (backed-up stroke) with a notch or saddle on the edge of the stump. Accurately strike the stick where it rests in the notch at a 45 degree angle. Continue feeding the stick through the saddle notch until the last stove-length piece is left in your left hand. The angled cut should never be perpendicular to the stick. If struck too close towards your body, missing the saddle notch, the cut end will fly back toward your face like a wooden missile.

Steven Edholm has a great video demonstrating this technique on his channel, Skill Cult. He captures the wooden missile moment.

Another method, which I’m building at base camp now, is the Chopping Platform described by Mr. Cook. I’ll post the project once it’s complete.

Non-Backed Chops

Of all the vertical swings, this one possesses the most potential for injury. This stoke is not for a novice. Even experienced woodsmen make this cut only when other options are unavailable.

There may be an overhead limb which needs cutting. The safest way would be to saw the limb. However, an ax can be used with these precautions. Strike the limb with a modified grip by sliding your right hand half way up the ax handle to gain more control of the ax should it slice trough the limb. Strike at a 45 degree angle using only enough force to cut a portion of the limb’s diameter. Remember Newton’s first Law of Motion? An object (your ax) will keep moving until acted up by another force to stop its motion. Don’t let that other force be your body.

Do this ax stuff enough and you’ll encounter the bent sapling. I felled a broken Sweet Gum tree for the upcoming Chopping Platform project. In the limbing (de-limbing) video below, I demonstrate how to relieve tension with a non-backed, properly place ax stroke. Cutting a spring-loaded sapling near the ground unleashes unbelievable tension stored in the tree. If cut through, the potential energy converts to kinetic energy, and will not only mess up a well-groomed beard, but kill with a throat punch or head shot.


Any wood large enough to stand on is fair game. The ax swing is safely backed up by the log being chopped as long the stroke stays below the level of your feet.

Again, clear all obstacles from the arc of your bucking swing. Hew two flat surfaces on either side of the cut line at the top of the horizontal log giving you a solid platform for your feet. If the log is on the ground and rocks while standing on top, step off and secure it by driving wooden wedges under each side for stabilization. Mark the width of your V notch with your ax on the side of the log to match its diameter.

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One side of a Sweet Gum log bucked

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The opposite, or back cut separates the log

I’ve used two methods to buck logs. First is to make a small V notch and widen it gradually to the desired width and halfway through the log. In my experience, I find the second method, described below, a more effective bucking technique.

Stand on top of the fallen tree and begin cutting a small (2-3 inch wide) V notch on the first mark with controlled strokes. This notch serves as the side cut for the larger notch. Now begin chopping the other mark at about a 45 degree angle. Use a pattern of overlapping cuts on the full length of the second mark (bottom to top). You should begin to loosen large wood chips from the entire notch at this point. Repeat this chopping pattern on each side of the notch to about halfway through the log.

Turn 180 degrees and face the other side of the log to repeat the same pattern. Ideally, you want the point of the two V notches to meet a hair off-center in the middle. When the log is close to separation, step to one side of the notch, the one securely supported, and separate the log with a few well placed strokes.

To cut closer to the bottom of the log, bend your back and waist and swing with fully extended arms. Chopping closer to the top of the log requires that you straighten your back but maintain extended arms on full swings. Do not choke up on the ax handle to make cuts at the top of the log. Pay attention to fatigue and rest as necessary.

For accurate downward strokes, swing the ax in line with your nose as you look at your target. Ax control and accuracy will develop with practice.

For the lumber sexual, authentic fashion is job one. Hijacking the ax, the lumber attire, and the beard on Instagram will develop neither the skills nor the callouses of lumberjacks. To be completely honest, I really couldn’t give a warm spittoon of tobacco juice that you look like an authentic lumberjack. You may have bought the look, complete with an expensive ax, but you can’t buy old skills. So grab an ax – chop, chop. And no, you can’t borrow mine…

The Authentic Lumber Sexual Guide to Ax Work ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A few of my working axes

You may loan your last dollar to a friend; but never loan him your axe, unless you are certain that he knows how to use it.

~ Horace Kephart, Camping and Woodcraft

Ax Work Resources:

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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How To: Survival Fishing

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How To: Survival Fishing You can make your own fishhooks, nets and traps and use several methods to obtain fish in a survival situation. Did you know you can make field-expedient fishhooks from pins, needles, wire, small nails, or any piece of metal. You can also use wood, bone, coconut shell, thorns, flint, seashell, or …

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How to Determine Directions to North, South, East, and West With Out A Compass

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How to Determine Directions to North, South, East, and West With Out A Compass Whether on a casual walk in the woods, hunting, or backpacking, it’s easy to get turned around. Now you’ll know which way is up, or at least which way is back towards home. This is vital knowledge any prepper should have …

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Lost Survival.

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Lost Survival.

In an ordinary lost situation if you did the right thing & notified several people in regards to WHERE you were going & WHEN you intended to return, then all you have to do is sit tight & wait for someone to find you. This is of course providing you STOP as soon as you realise that you are lost, & do not stray too far from your intended route.

IF you feel that you have strayed too far from your intended route, OR you failed to tell anyone where you were going, then there are practicle things you can do to stay safe & perhaps find your own way out.

1) If you are low on water, find some if you can without straying too far from your present position. Low ground is generally better than high ground, though a rock plateau can often hold water in holes & basins in the rock. In flat terrain look for greenery growing. Usually this is trees or bushes. This could prove to be a water hole or a water course.

2) Remember that providing you keep yourself safe & have water, TIME is not an issue. Staying alive is more important than losing your job! Concentrate on staying alive & getting out, relax if you can & don’t panic.

3) You may need to construct a simple shelter from the sun or bad weather. With this goes making a fire, but make sure the fire is SAFE & can not spread! Clear an area of 5 paces all around your camp site, but only make fire if it is safe to do so. In extreme hot & dry conditions you should not light a fire.

4) During the day listen for the sounds of people; vehicle engines, car doors shutting, dogs barking, house doors closing, the sound of chainsaws or axes cutting wood or the sound of a generator or water pump.  Look for smoke from camp fires or house chimneys. This will give you a direction to follow, but make sure you do NOT go round in circles. Line up three trees or land marks or a combination of these in the direction you need to go. When you get to the first marker, put your back against it & line up the remaining two markers with another third one. Continue on & repeat.

5) At night listen for the same sounds, but unless they are close-by, just mark the direction with rocks or sticks or mark trees & wait until daylight unless you have a torch or are fairly certain you are on safe ground. Travelling in the dark can be dangerous & you do NOT want to injure yourself. Look for vehicle headlights, radio tower lights, house lights, camp fires, lighthouse lights if you are near the coast. Watch for aircraft lights, there may be an airstrip not too far away.  

Low ground can be good for finding water, but high ground will give you the best chance of seeing something that will help you get out. High ground will also make you more visible if you keep a fire going. Adding green vegetation to a fire will create more smoke. Passing aircraft may also spot your fire. 

THREE is the S.O.S. signal, three whistle blasts, three gun shots, three fires (keep them safe), three COOEEs (a shout), three air horn blasts, three flashes from a torch at night, three flashes from a mirror during the day. You get the idea.

IF all else fails, going down hill SHOULD eventually lead you to a water course/source. EXAMPLE: you are on high ground, you go down. When you reach the lower ground, say a valley or gully, it too should go downward in one direction. Follow this downward & continue doing this until you find a water course. Mountain areas at their highest points produce what is called “Header Streams”. These are where the water source starts from & these eventually run into streams or creeks which eventually lead to lakes & rivers. Water is also a source of food, & communities are usually built close to a water source.

If you do not expend too much energy, you can survive roughly 3 weeks on water alone, no food. But you can only survive roughly 3 days without water.

Winter Survival: How to Build a Proper Snow Cave

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Winter Survival: How to Build a Proper Snow Cave As this winter is turning out to be a really cold, snowy winter, especially for the top states, this knowledge could save your family’s life if you find yourself stranded or lost, even if you are bugging out. It’s knowledge like this that can make the …

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Ways Camping Can Help You Survive

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Ways Camping Can Help You Survive Camping season is only a few months away and for some, it never ended! Most people consider it a hobby that is done during the warmer months of summer. They can enjoy a swim in a lake or a nice hike without having to worry too much about the …

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How To DIY A Paracord Survival Grenade

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DIY Paracord Grenade

If you’re an outdoor aficionado, you’re probably checking constantly for survival tips and tricks and, as you may already know, paracord is one of those special items you should have on your person when SHTF. In other words, always have it within reach.

When it comes to survival gear, there are 4 basic things you should be capable of doing with it: shelter-building, filtering water, gathering food, and starting a fire. In an ideal world, your survival kit must be able to resolve all these issues without problems.

If you’re able to achieve this goal, you’ll be able to survive for a few days until help arrives, or possibly even indefinitely, in case the cavalry is busy somewhere else. You know what I am talking about – if you can procure water, food, shelter, and make a fire in a survival situation, you’re pretty much guaranteed for winning the prepper academy award.

This brings us to today’s topic, how to DIY a paracord survival grenade. Truth be told, a well-made (as in smart) paracord survival grenade can be described as the mother of all survival gear.

That’s because a properly made paracord grenade will provide you with all the basics of survival, i.e. you’ll be able to hunt and fish, start a fire, build yourself a shelter and, why not, even boil water.

The devil is in the details. That’s an old saying which is truer than ever when it comes to paracord survival grenades.

The thing is, you can buy a pre-made one. In case you’re wondering why, well, paracord survival grenades have already achieved legendary status among the prepper community, which is growing exponentially year after year. Because of that, this pre-made item sells quite well indeed.

13 Essential survival items are included inside this Paracord Survival Kit. Grab this offer now!

In a nutshell (pun intended), a paracord survival grenade has a core which contains essential survival items, all wrapped with paracord, which in itself is another crucial survival piece of gear, ending up in a nicely-wrapped, portable, space-saving packet of survival goodies.

Now, talking about commercially available items, some of them are wrapped together using a cobra knot with the paracord. This style knot makes the grenade look great, but looks won’t help you survive if it’s not functional.

The problem with the cobra knot is that despite its cool appearance, when the rubber hits the road and you need to use it, it is pretty hard to deploy. It’s not as quick as you may need it to be at the critical moment when your life depends on it.

Now, the problem with using other types of knots is that you may end up with an ugly looking paracord grenade, but in my book, usability trumps beauty, so fair warning.

As per future reference, I would suggest DYI-ing your paracord grenade using the quick-deploy type of the cobra knot, which is the solomon bar.

This type of knot requires some practice and patience, but it’s fairly easy to do after you get the hang of it, and it’s lightning fast to deploy if so desired. Here is an example, take a piece of paracord and start practicing.

Video first seen on TyingItAllTogether

Moving along with our story, nowadays almost everyone has heard about paracord bracelets, which actually became more like fashion pieces rather than survival items for the urban prepper. A survival paracord grenade has more than just plain rope, but what’s inside is what matters the most. It’s here that you must pay extra attention.

A basic survival paracord grenade holds about twenty feet of paracord. Ideally, you should go for mil-spec paracord, but any type of high-quality paracord, rated to at least 500 pounds, will do the job if you’re stranded in the middle of nowhere, in the wilderness and all that jazz.

Obviously, you can create a bigger or a smaller one, depending on your needs and personal preference, but as a general rule of thumb, 20 feet, or roughly 6 meters, of paracord are marking the sweet spot, dimensions-wise. The idea is to strike the perfect balance (as in portability/convenience) with your survival grenade, else you can choose to carry some rope and a bunch of survival tools in a bag if you’d rather.

As I already told you, one of the key issues with DIY paracord grenades is to be able to take them apart easily. For example, consider that you’re out there in the cold (it’s winter after all) and your hands are frozen stiff. Struggling to untie the knots of your paracord grenade for deploying your survival gear in order to make a fire is not the best idea in a survival situation, right?

Video first seen on MOD

5 Essential Steps to DIY the Perfect Paracord Survival Grenade

So, if you want to build the perfect paracord grenade, you must follow a few simple steps, together with knowing perfectly well what survival tools to include inside.

1. Built it around a carabiner

A paracord survival grenade is built around a carabiner. That’s what makes it look like an actual grenade. Aesthetics aside, a carabiner is a staple item in any respectable survival kit.

2. Put some fishing and trapping gear inside

Next, considering that one must eat in order to live to fight another day, you must put some fishing and trapping gear inside your survival grenade. Items such as snare wire, small game trapping items and a small fishing kit would be perfect.

3. Add a small LED flashlight

A small LED flashlight would come handy when in need, i.e. starting a fire is not possible and you can’t find your way in the darkness. After all, the sun has a tendency to disappear for hours, especially during the winter, and if you’re afraid of the dark … I’m kidding of course, but an LED flashlight is an excellent item to have in your survival kit in any situation.

4. Include a small blade and a Ferro rod

Another item to consider is a small blade and a Ferro rod, as an additional fire-starter item. Ideally, one should carry a survival knife at all times, but having a backup is always smart, hence the small blade recommendation.

These are the bare minimum survival items to consider, but use your imagination and don’t be afraid to improvise (a small lighter or match sticks, striking sheet, etc).

5. Wrap the survival items in tin foil

Last but not least, once you have decided what to put inside the core of your survival paracord grenade, don’t forget to wrap ’em all up using a tin foil. Besides keeping your survival gear inside dry, the tin foil sheet can be used as a water container and you also can boil the water in it, thus destroying the bacteria.

Remember – all items must directly contribute to base survival in one way or another.

Video first seen on LittleMtnOutdoors

This particular paracord grenade hides essential survival tools inside:

  • 6 feet of fishing line
  • a razor blade
  • 2 small hooks
  • 2 split shot sinkers
  • a small strip of sandpaper
  • 6 strike-anywhere matches,
  • 2 band aids
  • 1 foot of jute twine for tinder and aluminum foil
  • the paracord itself.

Click the banner below to grab your Paracord Survival Kit! 



This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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How To Make A Water Vessel Out Of A Log With Fire

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How To Make A Water Vessel Out Of A Log With Fire Did you know that you could use a log to store water in if SHTF? It’s a real easy project to do, it just takes time, that’s why I am calling it a weekend project. Whoever wrote the original article first language probably …

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The post How To Make A Water Vessel Out Of A Log With Fire appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

My Top 5 Survival Knives

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My Top 5 Survival Knives Get a FREE Credit Card Knife here…. Click here now to grab yours FREE, while you still can! Everyone will have their own take on what the best survival knife should be like, so I thought of creating this ultimate resource of helping people out through detailed reviews and objective analysis …

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7+ Tips To Survive When Camping In Winter

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Survive When Camping In Winter

For the average Joe out there, myself included, winter camping usually means renting a cabin somewhere nice in the mountains and spending the holidays with friends, family, and a few bottles of booze while chatting, listening to CCR and enjoying the downtime. (Still I would survive out there without these, if I have to.)

However, there are hardcore outdoors aficionados who actually resent the idea of camping in a heated cabin by a romantic wood stove. That’s not camping – it’s glamping.

Moreover, there are adventurous folks who prefer to grab their backpack, rent a snowmobile, and go somewhere in the wilderness away from the mad world, the rush, and the insanity of civilization for a few days or weeks.

Regardless of what your pleasure is about camping during winter, there are a few tips and tricks you should know before going out in the cold.

Hypothermia is a very “cold” (pun intended) fact to consider if camping outside in extreme weather conditions. If you want to return home in one piece, with all your thumbs and toes in working condition, then keep reading, as I will share with you some important information about how to stay warm even in -45 F. Okay, maybe not toasty warm when it’s that cold, but you got the idea.

To begin with, you should be realistic and realize that winter camping is not for everyone. However, if you’re properly equipped and trained, you may very well have the time of your life even on Everest.

Let’s begin with the basics: pre-trip planning. Pre-planning prior to any type of endeavor is the key to success, especially if we’re talking about camping during winter.

If you remember that old Bob Dylan song, you don’t need a weatherman to tell you where the wind blows. In other words, regardless what the weather forecast says, you must always prepare for the worst winter conditions possible. Better safe than sorry, right?

1. Plan Your Trip

Even if it may sound like overkill, make sure you’ll be packing all the emergency supplies you’ll ever need in a winter survival situation, such as extra food and water supplies (or means to procure water by melting snow and ice), extra clothes, etc., especially if you’re going somewhere remote.

Also, if the weather conditions are likely to bad, as in dangerous bad, you should play it safe and postpone your trip, that is, if you don’t want to win the Darwin award, if you know what I mean. If not, Google it. It’s fun in a macabre sort of way.

Pack light, but don’t scrimp on essential gear, like a camping snow shovel, plenty of lighting, spare batteries, a first-aid kit, ski poles/walking poles and always go for a strong/sturdy waterproof tent.

20 Survival Uses For An Emergency Survival Blanket. Get yours today! 

2. Take a Friend With You

Another crucial rule when it comes to winter outdoors survival is a rule I’ve learned from a Jack London novel. Never travel alone. Period.

3. Research the Campsite

Research the area you’re going to visit, check the surroundings, see if there’s a forest nearby (read firewood), see if there are any villages or small towns around, learn how long it will take to get from point A to B, etc. We’re living in the age of Google Maps and satellite imagery, so you don’t have any excuse not to get proper intel before going in!

Choose the right campsite (the sun is your best friend during the winter, so check out where it rises), start your fire first thing, before anything else, plan ahead, and stay warm folks.

4. Inform Your Family & Friends

Also, remember to inform your friends and family about your whereabouts, i.e. where you’re going to be for the next couple of days/weeks or whatever, thus making sure you’ll be able to get help if SHTF. If you can give them a detailed map of your route, that’s even better.

5. Keep Warm

Now, let’s talk about keeping warm. Obviously, the main thing to consider when camping outside during the winter is the right clothing. That’s the detail that will make all the difference in the world.

Dress in Layers

Layers is the word. Wear layers of clothing, as layers are the outdoors explorer’s best friend, besides a good fire. Layers work by trapping air between them, thus insulating your body from the cold. A few layers of clothing are more efficient than a single one, regardless of how thick it is.

Also, stay away from cotton clothes, because cotton absorbs moisture (you’ll get sweaty at some point during your trip) and damp or wet clothes are your worst enemy when it’s cold outside.

Basically, you should use three layers of clothing: the base layer, something like a second skin which helps you trap the body heat (synthetic materials/merino wool are the best for the base layer), the mid layer, which works as the main insulator (you can go for fleece lined trousers/heavy fleece) and the outer layer, which must be waterproof.

Dress In Layers

Keep Your Feet Warm

Feet are the infantry’s secret weapon, as my old drill sergeant used to say, so when you go out camping during the winter, pay extra attention to your feet.

To avoid cold feet, keep your cotton socks at home and go for polyester socks or wool socks. Specialty stores stock special foot gear (read socks and boots) designed for hiking. Obviously, the boots are very important too, as they must be waterproof and grippy, especially if you’re going to hike through the snow or ice.

Never Neglect Your Head and Your Hands

A huge amount of body heat, almost half of it in fact, is lost through the head during the winter, so make sure you wear a hat that’s going to block the wind and keep your heat in. Finally, don’t forget a nice pair of gloves.

6. Know Your Gear

The sleeping bag is an essential piece of gear when it comes to winter camping, so know your gear well if you want to survive low night-time temperatures. The idea is that you’ll require a high-quality sleeping bag if you want to be comfortable during the night and wake up healthy.

Or, double up your existing one just in case by putting one inside the other. Remember to always put a foam roll mat (or 2) under your mattress.

The idea is that shelter is pretty important when camping during the winter, as you may experience snowstorms, strong winds, and the whole palaver. Don’t get cheap on your tent, nor on your sleeping bag. They can make the difference between waking up relatively warm and safe and having somebody find your popsicle body.

7. Know Your Body

Together with knowing your gear, knowing your body is very important. Some folks sleep cold, others sleep warm. There are variables, like your age, sex, fitness level, experience, the amount of body fat and lots of other factors, which differentiate between the comfort levels achieved by different people using the exact same gear.

If you’re not familiarized with winter camping, it’s better to be over-prepared than not prepared enough. I am talking about layers of clothing, sleeping bags, and just about anything else that counts toward survival.

Go to Sleep Already Warmed Up

Always remember to go to bed, (inside your sleeping bag that is) already warmed up. The idea is that warmth cometh from within, while the sleeping bag is playing just the insulation part, so if you’re freezing and sleepy, do a few press ups/sit ups or just jump around a little before getting inside your sleeping bag. You’ll thank me later.

Eat Late

Another trick for a good night’s sleep while winter camping is to eat late, ideally a hot meal just before going to sleep. The ideal meal would be fatty (as opposed to carbohydrates), as fat gets metabolized slowly by your body (it lasts longer) and, needless to say, you’ll require fuel to make heat, right? Cheese, olive oil, bacon, pork; you know what I am talking about.

Eat high-energy food at all times, preferably in the form of warm meals. If you can’t, go for nuts, chocolate, and energy bars. Cover your exposed skin in animal fat or vaseline, just like the Inuit have been doing forever, thus preventing frostbite and windburn.

Keep Your Sleeping Bag Dry

Keep your sleeping bag dry at all costs, add more layers outside eventually as you need them. This doesn’t have to be clothes; it can be as simple as putting a metallic survival blanket over your sleeping bag.

This Emergency Survival Blanket helps retain 90% of your body heat. Get yours now! 

Video first seen on Survival Frog

Avoid breathing into your sleeping bag while sleeping (it introduces moisture) and sleep with your boots in your bag. Put them at the bottom of your sleeping bag so they don’t freeze during the night.

Leave your water filter at home and concentrate on boiling the snow. Chemical filters work painfully slow in the cold while mechanical ones may crack/fail due to the cold.


Don’t forget to drink enough water, even if you don’t have your usual thirst reflex, which is common in extreme cold. However, dehydration is a serious danger in sub-zero conditions, especially if you’re sweating. Also, a lot of moisture gets lost while breathing in and exhaling the cold air, as the air is very dry during the winter.

Try to prevent your water supply from freezing, but that’s easier said than done.

If you have other ideas or suggestions, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below.

This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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Hiking Boots For A Survivalist

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Another great guest post from Tina Mancini from Delivering Customers. This time about Hiking Boots. Footwear, Are Hiking Boots The Best Choice Of A Survivalist? One of the main things you need to be able Read More …

The post Hiking Boots For A Survivalist appeared first on Use Your Instincts To Survive.

Build a Culture of Grit and Deliberate Practice to Master Self-Reliance Skills

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by Todd Walker

Build a Culture of Grit and Deliberate Practice to Master Self-Reliance Skills - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Every craft has pinnacle performers. What separates people who master a skill from the rest of us?

They appear to have innate self-reliance super-powers. But here’s the thing…

It’s not that they were born with copious amounts of talent. Their skill wasn’t genetically transmitted. The truth is that there is not a friction fire gene, or an ax-manship gene, or a gardening gene… no matter how effortless they make it look. Talent, in and of itself, is overrated!

Whatever skill you practice, these two traits will determine your level of mastery…

Grit and Deliberate Practice.


Besides being abrasive particles in your swim trunks, as a personality trait, grit is a “positive, non-cognitive trait based on an individual’s passion for a particular long-term goal or end state, coupled with a powerful motivation to achieve their respective objective.” ~ source.

Angela Duckworth condensed the meaning of grit as perseverance and passion for long-term goals. ~ source.

As an educator, I see all manner intellectual measures. I.Q. has little to do with overall success. Perseverance and passion trumps smarts and talent. Over the years I’ve seen students with lower I.Q. scores outperform students with higher intelligence levels. That’s not suppose to happen.

Grittier people’s secret to lasting success is lasting. In real-world performance, with talent and skill being equal, my money is on the person with the most grit. But there’s a catch to the personality trait of grit. Simply showing up for a long time is not enough to master a skill, as we shall discover later in this article – if you have the grit to read it through.

Grit Check

Duckworth developed a scale aimed at measuring levels of grit. Find out how gritty you are by answering the 10 questions here. How gritty are you?

Grit fuels the second trait needed for mastery…

Deliberate Practice

The secret of all top performers is not a result of, as we are lead to believe, innate talent. The little known secret is the result of intense, not particularly enjoyable, practice for a minimum of 10 years. Actually, it’s no secret at all. We all know what it takes but few are willing, or in most cases, unable to pay the price.

Your goal, like mine, may not be to reach exceptional performance levels. Let’s face it, skills are perishable and there are so many self-reliant skills that no one person could ever hope to master them all. Our community is the land of “jack of all trades, master of none.”  And this is not a slam. Any progress towards breaking dependence on others and our fragile system is the step by step action needed.

Becoming proficient in the skills which captivate your interest, which is the key to getting started, is very doable by working in the “purposeful practice” stage mentioned below.

Anders Ericsson, a Swedish psychologist, has spent his entire career studying how people learn. He studied world-class performers in several fields and found these stages common in all…

  1. Naive practice
  2. Purposeful practice
  3. Deliberate practice – the Gold Standard of all three

Naive Practice

Every new skill that sparks our interest begins at this stage. We decide to trade theory for action. We practice until we’ve mastered the easy stuff. Once we reach our acceptable level of proficiency, the easy stuff becomes automatic. It’s totally okay to be fair to middling or average. However, Ericsson’s research shows that we stop improving once we reach the stage of acceptable performance – even if we continue “practicing” the skill. In fact, more years of practice on easy stuff can actually cause a decline in the skill level you’re practicing.

8 Unorthodox Fire Resources Hidden in Your 10 Piece Kit | TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My instructor, Brian Manning, Snow Walker Outdoors, explaining details on my Alpine Compass

To improve performance, you must practice at the next level.

Purposeful Practice

We’ve already learned that years of repeatedly practicing the easy stuff causes our skill to deteriorate. Nothing you probably didn’t already know, right? In purposeful practice, specific, measurable goals take you step-by-step toward achieving longer-term goals. This takes focus.

Let’s take the bow and drill friction fire method as an example. You may have watched a video, read a blog post, or seen someone demonstrate this method which sparked an interest in learning. After several attempts, you find success. You make a few more hit-and-miss fires to amaze your friends. You’re still the FNG (effing new guy) but want to improve your newfound skill.

At this point of skill progression, you break down your desired outcome into baby steps to help you get there. You spend hours of  spinning sticks together hoping to improve performance. But something is missing… feedback from someone with more experience than you in the art of fire by friction.

Direct feedback is critically important in this stage – and especially so in deliberate practice. Self-correction only happens when previous outputs are fed-back to adjust our future practice. Simply practicing for years won’t improve skills. Some educators work for 20 plus years and only have one year of teaching experience. They choose to stay in their first year comfort zone for twenty plus years – never attempting to engage students in new ways.

Moving past our comfort zone involves failing. But that’s how you got to this stage of practice… failing forward. You could spend 10 years of silently practicing the same easy steps and still be fair to middling (or worse) at primitive fire, blacksmithing, or any other self-reliance skill.

My Top 4 Most Useful Basecamp Builds ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Camp comfort!

Try something you’ve never worked on before… like twirling up an ember in the rain. You’ll fail. But learn from the experience and keep Doing the Stuff until you get it right.

The journey from Naive to Purposeful practice will greatly increase your skill level. But even purposeful practice is not enough to master a skill.

Deliberate Practice

My research attributes the following quote to George W. Loomis as recorded in the “Michigan School Moderator” (1902) discussing the best way to teach students to spell properly…

Much of the time spent in hearing children recite—guess till they get it right—should be spent in a definite teaching process, until they can not get it wrong.

How long will it take until you can’t get a skill wrong? Studies suggest 10,000 hours or 10 years of intense, deliberate practice at a craft. It took 10 years of deliberate practice before Mozart produced a memorable work. This should be instructive for all the insta-experts popping up lately. I call it the “Shroomery Effect.” They pop up like mushrooms but don’t last long.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott Jones firing the bamboo atlatl at a class this summer

This stage is very similar to purposeful practice except it involves direct instruction, teaching, and/or coaching to offer feedback and focused techniques to improve performance. Think of elite athletes. They all put in a crazy amount of hours training. But it’s not just the hours they put in but how they spend those hours. Instead of chasing the latest novelty, top performers focus on subtle nuances of their craft. Bottom line… they spend years re-working their work.

Here are a few constraints to consider about deliberate practice:

  • Resources – Time and energy, access to training material, professional instruction, and money to pay for transportation to training facilities.
  • Motivation – Having the grit to pursue long-term improvement for years of intense, boring practice without immediate reward. This stage is not inherently fun.
  • Effort – Deliberate practice can be sustained for limited amounts of time daily. Recovery time from each session is necessary to avoid exhaustion and/or injury. This why it takes a minimum of 10 years/10,000 hours to develop expertise in a skill.

Do your due diligence when choosing instructors. Seek out those who have a minimum of ten years of deliberate practice and field experience in the skill you wish to learn.

Re-Doing the Stuff

Pressing the publish button always scares me. Will people find value in my articles? Could I have improved the piece? Did I re-write enough? I don’t pump out blog posts like I did five years ago. I write almost daily but only publish about once a week. A few years ago I realized that to become a better writer, I needed to spend more time re-writing. I’m only halfway into my “10 years of writing” but I hit publish anyway. Some crash. Some fly. Some end up in the draft graveyard.

Revision is needed on my earlier line, “the key to lasting success is lasting.” Lasting is the gritty part. It’s learning to love the boring times of re-doing the fundamentals. Progressing through the stages of practice takes years of grit and intense, deliberate practice. There’s not enough time for us to master all the skills of self-reliance. But I’m committed to die trying to master a few.

Feedback time. What skill are you deliberately practicing to master? If mastery is not your goal, in which skills are you becoming proficient?

Keep Re-Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods

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by Todd Walker


My regret is that I didn’t watch more quality YouTube videos on my journey of self-reliance. There’s a sea of regurgitated material out there, and, sadly, few quote their sources of knowledge. My latest project was inspired by watching Kelly Harlton build a bucksaw with Mors Kochanski on Randy Breeuwsma’s channel, Karamat Wilderenss Ways.

For larger cutting tasks at base camp, a bucksaw is a thing of beauty and a joy forever. The 21 inch takedown bucksaw I built from scrap dimensional lumber is portable but usually hangs on my shop wall. I needed a dedicated base camp saw stowed away in my shelter.

My first foray into bucksaw building in the woods was a wobbly failure several years ago. The crossbar/upright union was the weak point. Kelly’s design fixed all that. Thank you, Kelly!

Base Camp Bucksaw

Material and Tools

  • Knife
  • Ax
  • Rope
  • Wood
  • Saw Blade
  • Hardware – two bolts, screws, nails, or key chain rings

Step 1: Collect Wood

An abundance of dead cedar surrounds my base camp. A green sapling will work just as well. I used cedar. For the uprights, cut two wrist-size (or slightly smaller) sections measuring elbow-to-finger-tip (approximately 18 inches). The crossbar should be of similar diameter and slightly longer than your saw blade. You will cut this piece to exact length later.

Remove any bark from your chosen wood. The dead cedar I used had only small amounts left. I scraped it off with the spine of my knife and added the “waste” to my tinder pile in the shelter.

Step 2: Prepare the Uprights

Lay the two uprights side by side and compare any bow in the pieces. I purposely used two cedar uprights with slight bows. The concave sides should face each other or inward.

Once aligned, baton your knife down the center end of the upright until a split is created to accept your saw blade. Don’t split too deep or the upright will become two pieces. Repeat this step on the other upright making sure the splits are on the same plane as the previous one.

Carve a shallow V-notch perpendicular to each split at the base of each upright. The notch will allow the bolts or other hardware to seat securely against the wood when sawing.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I recommend carving the notch after you check to see how far the saw blade fits inside the split. My first notch is pictured too far above the bolt.

Now you’ll carve down the sides of both uprights to create a 90 degree corner which faces inward. Only whittle away enough wood to make a sharp corner so that the wood is not weakened. This corner should run from a few inches above the blade to over halfway up each upright. Take care to keep the corner edges in line with the blade splits.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Whittle away to form a 90 degree corner

Step 3: Attach Saw Blade

Insert the saw blade into each split on the uprights. Use your knife to open the split slightly to start the blade if need be. Once the saw blade is inserted into both uprights, attach hardware through the holes in your saw blade. Place one upright on the ground while holding the other upright and blade vertical. Step on the bottom upright and tug to tighten the hardware against both uprights.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Lay the saw on the ground and align the uprights perpendicular to the blade.

Step 4: Prepare the Crossbar

Place the crossbar across the uprights to form an H pattern in the middle of the uprights. With one end aligned at the midpoint of one upright, mark and cut the crossbar to length at the midpoint of the other upright.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Leave the crossbar longer than needed until final measurements.

Next, carve away each end of the crossbar to form a tapering wedge shape. Leave about 3/8th of an inch on the end of the wedge. If using green wood, a knife works fine. I used my ax on the seasoned cedar to expedite the trimming. Again, take your time and keep both crossbar end wedges on the same plane. They should appear identical or very close once carved.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One of the wedged ends of the crossbar.

At the ends of each wedge, carve a 90 degree notch. Again, on softer, green wood, a knife will carve the notch just fine. On seasoned cedar, I used my small saw on my Leatherman tool to remove the bulk of the notch and tweaked them with my knife for final fitting.

Test the fit by placing the crossbar between the uprights. The corner notches should mate without gaps at the union points. If not, trim until they do.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Spaces between these two pieces will cause instability.

Step 5: Make the Rope Windlass

Cut and smooth two paddle sticks about 8 inches long which will be used to tighten the windlass ropes. Set aside for now.

Wrap a length of cordage around the two uprights. Tie the ends of the cords with a secure knot to form a loop. Rope with little to no elasticity is ideal. I didn’t have “ideal” so I used 550 paracord. You’ll need two of these loops so repeat this process.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Place one end of a loop near the top of one upright and move the other end to down the opposite upright near the crossbar. Repeat this with the other loop of cord to form an X-shape of rope between the uprights. Make a note of where the loop ends will rest. Now carve shallow notches at those locations where the loops will rest once tightened.

Step 6: Assemble the Saw

Insert a paddle stick between one set of loop cords. Rotate the paddle until slight tension is created. Repeat this process in the other loop cord. Continue spinning the paddles alternately until the saw blade is tight as a hat band. Note: Kelly used smaller paddle sticks on his saw in the video which didn’t stop on the crossbar but on the opposite loop cords. I tried this method and found, due to the length of my saw blade maybe, I needed longer paddles to create more tension. My paddles held tension by resting on the crossbar.

How to Craft a Base Camp Bucksaw in the Woods ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fully assembled and ready to go.

The crossbar can be adjusted with a few taps to help square the H frame after tensioning the saw. You can also adjust the saw’s throat depth by bumping the crossbar up or down the corner notches on the uprights.

Put finishing chamfer cuts on all the upright ends and you’re ready for some serious sawdust. This 36 inch bucksaw may be overkill for my woodcutting needs in our mild Georgia winters. Still, I think it will come in handy for the log cabin project floating amongst my gray matter.

Below is Karamat Wilderness Ways video of Kelly Harlton’s H bucksaw…

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

10 Mistakes To Avoid When Packing Your Backpack

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We, real preppers, tend to be religious about our backpack. At one point or another each of us have fallen victim to every slip-up in the book until we learned our lesson.

Do you remember the mistakes you’ve made when preparing your backpack?

Let’s see what to avoid!

1. Choosing the Wrong Size of the Backpack

Usually, the bigger pack you have, the more tempting it is to fill it up even if you really don’t need those things. What’s next? In case you’re bugging out, you might find yourself leaving behind a part of your pack because it’s to hard to carry it.

That’s why you need to choose the right size of your backpack, and it depends on how much are you able to carry, and also on how long is the trip you are planning.

As a general rule of the thumb, here are some basic weights:

  • a 50-60 liter pack is appropriate for 1-2 day trip
  • a 60-80 liter pack is appropriate for 3-5 day trip
  • a 80-90 liter pack is  appropriate for 5-7 day trip

Don’t be mad if you don’t get it from the start, people usually use three or four backpacks till they find the proper size for them.

This versatile bag can be your next best backpack!

2. Too Much Weight

Contrary to conventional wisdom, ideal pack weight for survival scenarios is both relative and subjective: saying that everyone’s pack should be x% of their body weight across the board is somewhat naïve.

That’ why you need to take into account for each of the group member that you belong to:

  • the overall fitness level
  • lean body mass
  • body fat percentage
  • physical size
  • cardiovascular fitness
  • backpacking experience
  • level of mental toughness
  • determination of the individual.

Taking all of these factors into consideration, target pack weight may range anywhere from 15%-50% of target body weight for your build and height. That’s 15%-50% of what you should weigh.

If you’re overweight, calculating your pack weight based on your body weight will yield a pack that’s too heavy and you will suffer miserably under its weight on top of the extra weight that you are already carrying.


3. Wrong Choices about Items to Carry

There are different lists on what your bug out bag should contain. I will give you one too, but you’re the only one that can decide over how many items should you carry.

And remember: more skills means less to carry.


4. Not Having a Balanced Pack

You need to create a balanced pack so you could carry it properly.

Briefly, the core of your backpack is best for heavy objects. If you place them on top, they will make you fall forward, if you have them on the bottom, they will drag you down.

Do you wonder where this mistake comes from? Read the following one!

5. Not Packing Properly

If you have to unpack half of your items to get to the fire starter and prepare your meal on the go, then something is definitely wrong in the way you packed your things. Keep it simple and keep it light!


6. Not Having a Waterproof or at Least a Water Resistant Pack

When you go into the wilderness, things can go wrong and they probably will. For example, you can fall into a water or face a heavy rain for hours. After that, you will definitely need dry clothes and a warm shelter, and you won’t get them if your pack turns into a wet sponge.

Waterproof pack or a water resistant one? Well, let’s see the difference before choosing what’s best for you.

A water resistant pack will keep your items dry when raining because it won’t let the water in. A waterproof one will seal the content inside and will keep it dry even if you fall into a river. And it will be even 30% lighter, as the seams are welded instead of being sewn together.

This perfect waterproofed bag is light, tough and durable.

7. Putting Your Pack On in a Wrong Way

A fully loaded pack sitting on the ground is a load that can harm you if not lifted properly.

Use your legs to lift the load, not your back with straight legs. Get into a lunge position to prepare to hoist your pack, then lift pack and rest it on your bent knee.

Thread an arm through the shoulder strap, swing the pack around and thread your other arm through the other shoulder strap. Lean forward to plane the pack against your back and snug your straps in the same order as you did when fitting your pack.

8. Not Adjusting the Fit of Your Backpack

Start with all straps loos and set the hipbelt on your hipbones, then fully tighten. Pull forward the hipbelt stabilizer straps, and tighten shoulder harness so that it fits over your shoulders with no gaps.

Pull down on the upper load stabilizer straps, and make them snug but don’t tighten too much.  Back off a little pressure from the shoulder harness, if needed.

When taking off the backpack, remember to loose all straps in reverse order.

Does it feel better or what?

9. Not Being Physically Fit, but Still Backpaking

Exercises and practice cannot be overrated. How could you carry your backpack on foot if you are not able to walk more than one mile?

All of us get old, but aging is more than just getting a few lines around your eyes; it affects the way you move and the way you think. Being able to move well and think quickly may be two of your greatest tools in a survival situation. Looking young while you’re using those tools is just a bonus!

Exercise doesn’t necessarily have to take place at a gym; you can walk or jog around the neighborhood, do lawn work or housework, or play a sport. Hiking is a great way to get your exercise and to teach your kids survival skills at the same time.

7. Not Caring for Your Backpack Properly

If you don’t care of your pack, it will let you down, which means you need to wash it and store it so you could preserve it for later use.

Wash it by hand and avoid detergent, as it may harm the coating. Waterproof it and use a plastic coat to protect it when walking in the rain, but also to keep the items packed dry.

Keep your backpack in a cool, dry place, and avoid storing it against a concrete wall or floor, because the moisture and the chemicals in the concrete might damage the pack. And avoid storing chemicals in your backpack, for the very same reason.

Did we lose something? Do you have anything to add? Share your thoughts so other people could learn from it!

This bag has the very best closure seal on the market which allows for heavy duty use.

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Winter Survival: How To Start A Fire In The Snow

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With winter here and global warming a thing of the past (now it’s climate change or something), knowing how to start a fire in the snow may save your life someday. I don’t know about you, dear reader, but in my neck of the woods it’s been snowing for days.

If you’re asking yourself why you should learn how to start a fire in the snow, well, the simple answer is: you never know, so be prepared for any situation.

Winter time is arguably the hardest in terms of outdoor survival and if you can’t build a fire, you’re dead meat regardless of the gear you have at your disposal.

And if you’re out there, stranded in the snow in the middle of nowhere and waiting impatiently for help from above, knowing how to make a fire will make the difference between life and certain death.

As night falls, the temperature will plummet, making you feel like you’re in an icebox. If you can’t make a fire, you’ll find yourself in a life-threatening situation if there ever was one. In addition to keeping you from freezing to death, fire keeps wild animals away and it allows you to cook (or defrost) your food, and even make water by melting snow or ice.

Fire is your best friend when it comes to wilderness survival, as it takes care of all that’s important for a prepper: food, water, and shelter (warmth).

For most modern folk, especially youngsters who live their lives pecking at their smartphones, starting a fire in any type of outdoor scenario is a rare occurrence, let alone making fire in extreme weather conditions (snow, wind).

On the other hand, if you never leave your house or the city, you may think bad things will never come to you. That works for hobbits, yes indeed, but then again, there are plenty of scenarios when your bubble can burst in a matter of hours.

For example, what will you do as you get trapped in the snow during your vacation in the Rocky Mountains or wherever, with a blizzard coming out of nowhere, blocking the roads and/or your car somewhere in the middle of…well, you see where this is going, right?

How to Start a Fire in the Snow

Getting back to our “story”, starting a fire in the snow is the second hardest thing after trying to do it during a rainstorm.

Starting a fire in the snow will present you with two basic problems.

First things first – snow will definitely melt at some point and the water may quench your hard work, together with the flames.

Another thing to contemplate about fires, snow, and winter is that cold comes into play, i.e. you’ll have to raise the temperature of your combustible materials farther than in the summertime in order to ignite them. That means that making a fire during the winter is more difficult than in the summertime, as it starts slower than “normal”, provided you know what normal is.

Video first seen on The Outside Files

Choose the Right Spot

Everything in life is location, and the same principle applies to starting a fire in the snow, obviously. Selecting a proper site is the first thing to consider and is exceptionally important for your success (survival). The location should ideally be protected from wind, water, and snow.

Folks traveling outdoors during the winter prefer to make a fire under a tree most of the time, but be aware of trees carrying a lot of snow on their branches, as the snow may fall into your fire as it melts and put it out. And then you’ll be in a world of pain.

If you’re going to start your fire under a tree, make sure you knock the snow off the branches first. That eliminates the aforementioned risk and also, it will make sure you don’t have to clear your spot twice.

Start with a Clean Spot

This brings us to the next step: clearing the snow from your desired fire location. You can’t actually make a fire directly on snow, maybe on ice though, provided you can build a platform from rocks/logs.

You can clear the snow by brushing it away or you may walk on it in order to tamp it down. If you’re going for the tamping, you must realize that the snow will melt at some point, so make sure the water resulting from melted snow can drain away from your fire.

Also remember to clear the snow off the ground on a place near the fire for storing your extra wood, and, if possible, try to use rocks for raising your wood storage spot above the ground. If you don’t have enough rocks, you can use sticks laid cross-ways or make a platform using branches (the same can be used for the fireplace itself in case you can’t find rocks).

Both ways are good for keeping the wood from coming in contact with the ground, thus offering it the chance to get as dry as possible before using it.

When it comes to starting a fire in the snow, or in rainy weather for that matter, it would be ideal to use a large, flat stone as the fire-floor.

Video first seen on ExploringWithGeorge.

Prepare Your Tools

Raising the combustible materials just 1’’ or 2’’ above the ground will make all the difference in the world by offering the water the required drainage channels to run off through.

Another thing to consider and that is hugely important is the heat reflector because, after all, starting a fire in the snow is all about keeping you warm, and a good heat-reflector is aimed at accomplishing exactly that.

A cliff face makes for a good heat reflector, also a big tree or a large rock. You can always improvise one from a blanket, the silver survival types, using the silver side which will provide you with the best reflection.

Read more about these 52 ways to save your life while laughing!

Starting the Fire

Now, with the “preamble” taken care of, let’s talk a little bit about the actual fire-starting procedure. Lesson learned the hard way: along with a first aid kit, always carry something that can be used as a fire starter. A packet of waterproof matches and a couple of BIC butane lighters are a must-have item in any survival kit.

Ideally, you should also carry a dedicated fire-starter kit, which consists of a block of paraffin and sawdust mix, available just about anywhere. You can DIY a good fire starter using cotton balls soaked with Vaseline (petroleum jelly), carried inside a film canister.

The idea is to use a fire starter that doesn’t die out fast whilst providing a lot of heat at the same time.

If you don’t have a dedicated fire starter, you can always use small pieces of dry wood, which may be a problem, but these fellas are usually easy to spot near the trunk of trees. Avoid wood that was in contact with the snow, as it definitely has a high moisture content.

If you can’t find small dry pieces of wood, get your knife, find the driest dead  branch possible, and whittle down until you hit dry wood. If you don’t even have a knife, I don’t know what you’re doing outdoors, really. You’ll have to get creative.

Tips to Remember

  • Always collect enough fuel to keep the fire burning for a long time. You don’t want to stop in the middle of the “show” to get more wood, as the fire may die out while you’re hunting for combustibles and you’ll have to start again from the beginning.
  • Always remember to gather large pieces of wood if possible, along with tinder kindling and smaller pieces for the initial fire.
  • The big chunks of wood are excellent for keeping the fire burning overnight, thus keeping you warm and allowing you to go to sleep without worrying about your fire dying and all that.
  • To get the most out of your fire, you’ll have to make sure that the fire and your shelter (if any) are as close together as possible.
  • Try to build your fire right at the shelter’s entrance and to use rescue blankets on the roof and at the back of the shelter for keeping the heat inside, thus keeping you warmer.
  • Don’t set it close enough that it’s going to catch your tent or shelter on fire, though.
  • Always travel with several rescue blankets in your survival kit; they’re hugely important and you’ll always want one of them between you and the ground, right?

You can also heat rocks into the fire and use them for warming your bed before going to sleep, or wrap a heated rock using a sweater or something like that and use it as a heater (yes, sleeping with a rock, a true love story). If it gets cold enough, you’ll see what I mean.

One thing to remember: coals generate the most heat in a fire, so make sure you keep adding enough wood to your fire so it can burn and turn to charcoal.

If you have any ideas or comments, feel free to comment in the dedicated section below. Stay safe, stay warm.

If you want more tips, click the banner below and discover the survival secrets that helped our ancestors survive harsh winters!


This article has been written by Chris Black for Survivopedia. 

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The Top 7 Survival Sherpa Articles of 2016

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by Todd Walker

The Top 7 Survival Sherpa Articles of 2016 ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This question haunts my mind with each passing year…

Is it possible, at my age, to write my first book?

This week marks 5 years since starting this little blog. Writing for me has been a series of absurd events. C-minuses in all my college english classes, all of which I was super proud to earn, is a poor indicator for a future book-writer. Still, I write words and sentences but couldn’t diagram one if a gun were held to my head.

My English professors would be shocked, almost as much as I am, to find 550 articles penned here. There’s gotta be a book floating in this ocean of words somewhere! Mustering the grit to organize them will be my challenge.

Until then, I’ve listed our 7 best articles from 2016. I’m always interested in which articles add value on your journey of self-reliance (as well as the ones I should have canned).

Our Top 7 Articles of 2016

A) The Number One Knife Skill for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

Dial back to the golden age of camping and woodcraft and you’ll find that the knives of Nessmuk, Kephart, Seton, and Miller played an essential role in all their tramping and wilderness adventures. This simple machine (wedge) was a value-adding tool for, not only survival, but for camp comforts and wilderness living skills.

B) Off-Grid Winch: Incredible Power from Two Logs and a Rope

In an emergency vehicle kit, weight and space are not an issue – unless you scoot around in a Smart Car. For this winch, all you need are two logs and some rope.

C) How Cherokees Used Trees of Southern Appalachia for Food, Medicine, and Craft

In this article, we will explore 3 of my favorite trees in my woods and how the Cherokee and settlers used them for food, medicine, and craft resources.

D) How to Estimate Distance in the Woods with Right Triangles

What if you needed to ford a river, build a fence, or erect a foot bridge over a creek in the woods? I’ve never seen any of my woodsmen friends pull out a 100 foot measuring tape from their pack. But you can get an accurate estimation of width without a measuring device. We use this method with our 8th grade math students as a hands-on learning opportunity.

E) How to Build a Carving Bench from a Log (Rope Vise Plans Included)

One tool my semi-permanent base camp shelter was missing is a dedicated carving bench. Add this to my Paring Ladder, and a future pole lathe, and my non-electric shop in the woods will be fully functional.

F) A Beginner’s Guide to Avoiding Bloated Bushcraft

Bushcraft encompasses a deep and wide field of knowledge. For the beginner, information overload has the real possibility of stopping you before you can even start this new hobby. To avoid bloated bushcraft, build a firm foundation by developing these two core skills outlined in this article.

G) Backcountry Belt Kit: Essential Tools to Carry Around Your Waist

There are many scenarios where you may be separated from your backpack and gear. Tipping a canoe or tumbling down a ravine come to mind. These types of accidents can quickly relieve you of the gear which makes for a comfortable wilderness outing. Having essential gear in your pockets and attached to your belt could turn your luck around, and, not being overly dramatic here, could literally save your life.

The Top 7 Survival Sherpa Articles of 2016 ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The best snow globe ever!

Thanks for taking the time to read the stuff! Dirt Road Girl and I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and healthy and productive new year!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed!

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by Todd Walker

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

I recently took three of my students on a scout through a patch of woods surrounding our school to select a route to simulate the Trail of Tears they were studying. This was nothing close to the tragic event of the Cherokee people being rounded up and forcibly removed from tribal homelands. For our students, a short walk in the woods was better than sitting in a cramped desk reading about this dark time in our country’s history.

Students hit the trail with their belongings; books, book bags, and whatever they wore to school. Many were ill prepared for the mid-30 degree weather. Our first stop was a persimmon tree with fruit in different stages of ripeness. The bravest students shared in the bounty with me.

There is no way to carry enough provisions to sustain you on a grueling 800 mile journey. Foraging was essential. The inner layer of bark from a pine tree was also sampled. A few of the students chewed the uncooked phloem (inner bark) like chewing gum. When cooked over a fire, this layer of bark provides food filled with nutrients and vitamins. Adding a cup of pine needle tea from said tree will boost vitamin intake.

A quick demonstration of the essential tool of humanity, fire, came at the end of our simulation. Flint and pyrites were the precursor to modern flint and steel which the Cherokee obtained through trade. Further in the past, friction methods would have provided fire.

There were no convenience stores or outfitter shops along the way to Indian Territory. The logistics of moving groups of a thousand or more souls (new born to elders) through a rugged landscape in modern times would be a nightmare. We can only imagine the horrible conditions encountered in 1838. While some were fortunate to have a horse or wagon for conveyance, the majority carried their burdens on foot.

We can only imagine the hardships faced during their forced removal. Our brief exercise was instructive. Many questions came throughout the walk. Collecting resources for food, clothing, and shelter to sustain one family, much less groups of 1,000, would take extensive knowledge and experience which Native Americans had used for thousands of years.

Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed!

In Postcards from the Past, Scott Jones, my friend and prehistory mentor, offers the perfect quote describing me in this Eskimo saying, “… only a fool comes home empty handed!

Rock On

When Primitive Skills and Prepping Have Sex | www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Making expedient cobble stone tools using bipolar percussion at one of Scott Jones’ workshops.


In the view of a tenderfoot, the basketball-sized rock we spotted on our initial scout trip was nothing special. It was just a heavy rock. All three of the young men looked at me like I was crazy as I hoisted it to my shoulder and continued walking. Midway back I passed my burden to one of them. One doesn’t simply walk past a piece of chert that size. One either carries it home or remembers the location for later retrieval.

Below is a 34 second video I shot using the rock to start a fire…

Chert, a sedimentary rock, was a favorite stone for prehistory tool makers. Today its curvy conchoidal fracture and hardness allows modern flint-knappers to shape primitive projectile points and cutting tools. Chert can be found in earthy colors ranging from white to black with a waxy, smooth luster when fractured. Quartz and quartzite are rocks I carry home often.

Sticks and Bones

My favorite wood types are those who swallowed fire, as Mark Warren says. Fast-growing soft woods such as cedar, tulip poplar, basswood, sassafras, white pine, willow, and mimosa to name a few, are more porous. When rubbed together skillfully, they readily give up the fire they swallowed.

More info on some of my favorite trees can be found here.

My tree collection, much to Dirt Road Girl’s chagrin, takes up a sizable portion of our backyard. Lots of Eastern Red Cedar continues to be added for benches and furniture… which makes DRG smile.

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Black Walnut split and ready for carving.

Wooden utensils such as spoons, bowls, cutting boards, and kuksas are waiting inside my woodpile. Wood plays a vital role for camp comforts… and not just as firewood. The following wood projects made from trees and other woody plants may help channel your inner woodsman…

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A load of resources!

Bones are a useful resource I run across from time to time in my woods tramping. A five gallon bucket in my shop contains remains of different woodland critters. Antlers make wonderful tools and functional accents for my leather work. I’m certainly not opposed to pulling to the curb to collect road kill. Some of my most prized roadside finds include beaver, bobcat, and deer.

Wild Pantry  

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Chanterelles foraged this past spring at base camp.

As noted above, collecting wild food on hikes is a fun way to supplement your food cache. Just remember that every plant is edible… ONCE. This statement isn’t about foraging fear-mongering, of course there are poisonous plants in the wilderness. But with proper guidance from an experienced foragers, anyone can enjoy wildcrafting.

Check out this page on our blog for further reading.

Feral Pharmacy

I’m not a herbalist but have found this pursuit a healing hobby. For professional training in the southeastern U.S., I recommend Daryl Patton, The Southern Herbalist and Mark Warren of Medicine Bow.

Weeds, plants, clay, and trees were all used before modern medicine for the purpose of healing and preventive health maintenance. Documentation shows that the 19th century Cherokee people used about one-third of the 2,400 species of plants available to them in southern Appalachia for food and medicine.

Below are a few links to articles we’ve written which may help you broaden your view on useful plants for your medicine cabinet:

Trail of Tears Remembered

Wild Resources: Only a Fool Comes Home Empty Handed ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A short walk of remembrance.

Our short simulation was simply an attempt to open student’s eyes to life and death on the Trail of Tears. An estimated 15,000 to 16,000 Cherokee started this journey. Even with their extensive foraging knowledge, over 3,000 lives were lost to disease, exposure, and starvation along the way.

It is my hope that our simulation gave our students a small glimpse of this historic tragedy. May we all remember.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Bushcraft and Primitive Skills With Joshua Kirk

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Bushcraft and Primitive Skills Discussion With Joshua Kirk Richard McGrath “Finding Freedom” Audio in player below! Join Rich in player below as he talks about Bushcraft, primitive skills, and survival. Special guest is Joshua “Native” Kirk from the 4 Winds Survival School. From the young age of six Joshua was hunting game, setting traps, tanning … Continue reading Bushcraft and Primitive Skills With Joshua Kirk

The post Bushcraft and Primitive Skills With Joshua Kirk appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

SurvivalHax.com Self Inflating Mattress

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Over many years and after having many friends recommending them, I have thought about getting a self inflating mattress. Thankfully, the folks at SurvivalHax.com were gracious enough to let me review theirs. To begin with, Read More …

The post SurvivalHax.com Self Inflating Mattress appeared first on Use Your Instincts To Survive.

The Definitive List of Bushcraft Skills

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by Nicholas

Bushcraft’ is a word that gets thrown around very often in the survival community, but it’s also a word that far fewer people understand it. A truly skilled survivalist is someone who can use resources provided by nature exclusively to survive.

For example, instead of using matches or a lighter to start a fire, onewould use a more primitive method using natural materials such as the bow drill method for it to be considered bushcraft.

Ask yourself this: if you were stranded out in the wilderness tomorrow with nothing but the clothes on your back and could only use completely natural resources to survive, would you be able to?

If your honest answer is no, then you will probably find the information presented in this article useful. We are going to provide you with a definitive list of bushcraft skills that will allow you to survive in the wilderness using no man-made materials whatsoever.


Everyone knows how important fire is in any survival situation. But not everyone is capable of starting a fire without a flint striker, lighter, or matches. It’s imperative that you learn a way to start a fire without any of those kinds of fire starting devices.

The best method for starting a fire without any man-made materials is the bow drill method. This method requires you to collect a flat piece of wood (to serve as the fireboard) with a notch cut into it. You also need a bow complete with a vine for the cord, and a sharpened stick as the spindle.

Wrap the vine around the spindle and place the point of the spindle right above where the notch is in the fireboard. Proceed to run the bow back and forth very quickly and over an extended period, friction and heat build between the spindle and board. The small shavings of wood will then fall into the notch.

Have a tinder nest already made and different sized kindling on standby. Once you get an ember or smoke, you can transfer the ember into the tinder next to get your fire started. Proceed to add kindling, and you’ll have a fire going.

The bow drill method may sound simple enough on paper, but it’s going to be more physically taxing in real life. You never want a true survival situation to be the first time you practice the bow drill method of fire starting. For this reason, practice extensively now on weekends or whenever you have the time until you become a master at it. That way, it will seem virtually second nature to you in a life-or-death situation.


The skill of tying together two strips of vine or other man-made materials is one that you will not only use in a survival situation but throughout your life as well. For this reason alone, learning how to tie different knots is something you should learn even if you don’t want to master bushcraft skills.

Tying knots goes way beyond the method you use for tying your shoelaces. Different situations will require different knots. Building a shelter or fashioning a fishing pole, in particular, are likely going to be the times in a survival situation where knot tying will prove its worth to you.

The best knots to learn are the clove hitch, the blood knot, the bowline, the trucker’s hitch, and the timber hitch. As with the bow drill method, it’s best to practice tying each of these knots repeatedly until they become second nature to you.


You have to feed yourself in a survival situation, which is why learning about which plants are safe to each and which aren’t is critical. Ultimately, eating plants that are poisonous could kill you faster than not eating anything at all.

Buy a book on the different plants and berries in your area and study that book until you practically have it memorized. Numerous plants and berries look incredibly similar. Sometimes with look-alike plants, one could be poisonous to eat, and you don’t want to run the risk of misidentifying it.

Learn about the different physical qualities of the plants in your area so you can positively identify them, and determine which are edible, which are deadly, and which have strong medicinal properties.

If you can’t positively identify a plant in a survival situation, the safest thing to do is to avoid it. At the same time, skipping over a plant that would have been safe to eat could mean you don’t eat that day. Becoming an expert on the identification and uses of plants in your area will be well worth your time.


The ability to track game is another important bushcraft skill. Just as you will want to memorize the different plants in your area, you will also want to memorize the different animal prints in your area as well.

Anyone can tell the difference between the track of a hoofed animal or an animal with claws, for example, but far fewer people will be able to discriminate between an elk and a moose or a wolf and a coyote, for instance.

Learning animal tracks is not just important for hunting, but also for identifying any predators that could be tracking you. You don’t have to become an expert tracker by any means, but you should be able to tell the difference between the tracks of different animals in your area.


Besides foraging and setting up traps and snares, your other option for catching game is to hunt them. Since you likely won’t have a firearm with you, you’ll need to make your own weapons from whatever you can find in nature: as bows, arrows, spears, clubs, and so on.

Hunting game without firearms is more challenging than if you were to hunt them with firearms, but it is doable. Your tracking skills will be put to the test when hunting game, and you’ll also need to have the ability to move quickly and stealthily. Small game such as squirrels, rabbits, quail, or grouse are ideal targets.


Look, you may not have a rifle with you when you find yourself stranded in the wilderness, which means you’ll need to turn to alternative means to hunt game. Setting traps will be one of the best things you can do to catch small game. The beauty of setting traps is that you can tend to other duties related to your survival while you wait. Examples of traps you can set include the simple noose on a small game trail or a deadfall with bait.

Since fish will be one of your best sources of protein in a survival situation, you should also learn how to set fishing traps, such as the Weir trap or how to set up a wall on a shorter section of the stream to not allow the fish to go any further.


Yes, axes are not really primitive tools. But they are pretty basic tools that all master survivalists have and heavily rely on.

The best bushcraft axe will have a handle shorter than the distance from the end of your fingers to your elbow. This way the axe won’t be too long or difficult to swing, but it also won’t be too short that’s ineffective. Always swing the ax so that the blade is facing the opposite direction of you. Keep a sharpening stone with you so that the blade is always sharp.


The true survivalist always keeps a fresh supply of water with them at all times. But when that supply needs to be replenished, it’s foolish to simply drink any water you can find out of a stream or pond. Drinking contaminated or unfiltered water could prove to be more dangerous than not drinking any water at all.

The first thing to do when gathering water is to collect it from a place that seems relatively safe. Check a few hundred feet upstream to see if there’s any animal dung or carcasses in the water; if there is, keep searching for a new spot.

The best way to treat water, without any shadow of a doubt, is to boil it for at least thirty minutes. Heat is going to be what kills the most bacteria and germs. If you don’t have the ability to boil water, the next best thing to do is to construct your own water filter. Construct a funnel out of bark and alternating layers of rocks, sand, and leaves. Run the water through it many times. It won’t get all of the bacteria out (which is why boiling is always better), but it will get rid of any visible offensive substances.


Accidents will happen, and while a scratch may not seem like a big deal at first, it can quickly turn into something far worse if an infection sets in. In fact, an infection will be devastating without proper medical attention and severely impede your chances of getting out alive.

Learning how to treat all kinds of wounds, from scrapes to burns to cuts to fractures and so on is a vital bushcraft skill. Learn how to fashion splints for a limb fracture and how to suture up an open wound. Keep the wound as clean as possible and if it’s severe enough, give yourself some time to rest with a cool compress over your forehead and drink plenty of water.


The whole point of wilderness survival is to try and get back to civilization, right?  Navigational skills will prove to be crucial for this goal. In fact, all of the other skills you have learned may prove to be worthless if you aren’t able to navigate in the woods and find your way out.

The best ways to navigate are to read the stars, follow a running stream of water, or to use the sun to figure out your bearings. Remember that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, for instance.


While building a fire keeps you warm, your shelter protects you from the elements. If you don’t have a tent or a tarp with you, learning how to build a shelter with entirely natural resources will become even more vital to your survival.

While building a shelter is time-consuming, you don’t have to build a cabin or anything. A simple lean-to or A-frame will suffice in most situations. Simply place a pole or stretch a vine between two trees, and then lean more poles on one or both sides. Use leaves and pine needles for the bedding and to stuff into any cracks to block drafts.

You’ll want the open area of the lean-to facing in the opposite direction of the wind, and for the shelter to be on the side of a hill if possible. Building a shelter on top of the hill, exposes you to the wind, but in a valley or beneath a hill means you’ll be vulnerable to potential flash flooding.


Your ability to construct weapons and tools out of wood and other resources is tested in a wilderness survival situation. You need to learn how to build weapons such as spears, bows and arrows, and clubs to catch game and to defend yourself.

There are many different ways you can build weapons in a survival situation. You can fashion a spear by simply removing the branches and sharpening the end, or you could tie a jagged rock at the end. You could also split the end into three or four different prongs to use for catching fish. For a club, you could simply take a stick with a knot at the end, or you could use a vine to tie a rock to the end to deliver an even more devastating blow.


Are there more bushcraft skills that you could learn beyond the ones we covered?  Absolutely. In fact, there’s probably an infinite number of bushcraft survival skills that you could learn to help you survive in the wilderness.

But the ones that we covered in this article are by far the most important because they cover the basics of survival, meaning they are critical for emergency situations.

Now that you learned what these skills are, the next thing to do is to go out and practice them regularly. As we mentioned earlier, a true survival situation should never be the first time that you use any of these skills. You want to be already proficient and confident in your skills when the time comes to put your skills to the test in a life-threatening situation.

Teaching Your Children to Homestead

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Kids in hayfield

Kids learn fast – this might save their life

Homesteading originally referred to the federal government granting land to families who were willing to work it. In modern times, it does not happen that way anymore and homesteading is about families who have decided to live off the grid and grow their own food. Modern-day homesteading involves cooking, farming and fixing things around the house on your own.

Most homestead parents understand the importance of passing on these vital skills to their children.

Why Should Your Children Know How to Homestead?

Children of this current generation have become over-reliant on the system. They get their food ready-made, their clothes already sewn and their water already piped to their homes with no knowledge of how to get these things for themselves. If the system was to crash then they would be left helpless with no idea of how to survive on their own.

Homesteading instills in them an attitude of self-sufficiency. It gives them the information and experience that they would need to fend for themselves in any situation. With such an attitude, they are well-prepared to cope should the world change in an unexpected manner.

As a parent, it is your duty to ensure that your child has all of the skills required to make it in a world whose future is uncertain. Most parents opt to give them regular schooling, but that education is sorely lacking in survival skills.

What Skills Will They Need to Learn?

Sewing and knitting were skills traditionally left to women, but there is no room for gender bias in the 21st century. Your sons need to know how sew, knit and do their laundry and your daughters should know how to change a tire or learn which way to turn a screw to open it.

Fixing things around the house is another job that both boys and girls need to know how to do. The time may come when your daughter is the only one on the homestead and she can’t afford to wait around for someone else to come and fix the leaky faucet. All it takes is the right tools and the right mindset and she can get it fixed on her own.

Hunting is a tough job and not just as simple as chasing down rabbits. Children in the homestead must be taught how to track animals through the forest and bait them so that they can become efficient hunters. Along with hunting they also must know how to butcher the kill, clean and salt it if necessary so that it can be preserved.

Hunting is good if the animal stocks are low but animal husbandry is there to provide a more convenient source of animal produce. Teach your kids how to milk cows, water them and muck out their stables. These are simple jobs that even a young child can learn to perfect.

Naturally, they will love some chores more than others. Your outdoorsy children will prefer working on the farm, while some will be more comfortable with household chores. This is great opportunity to teach them how to work together. As long as you have taught them how to do each job individually, then you can let them share out the responsibilities among themselves.

How to Get Them Motivated

Children who are born on homesteads adjust easily to the rural way of life. If your family has just moved to the homestead from the suburbs or the city, then your kids will have a hard time adjusting to the new lifestyle.

If your children grew up in the city before they moved to live on a homestead then you can expect a fair amount of resistance to the hard, physical chores. They are used to how their lives were before and probably don’t understand the values of what you are trying to teach them.

Cash allowances will get them motivated at first. However, personal responsibility is one of the forgotten traits that you are trying to teach them so try not to make their learning how to homestead too reliant on rewards. You want them to know why they have to learn those skills so always take the time to talk to them and explain to them why it is important to learn how to homestead.

Hold them accountable for all of their responsibilities and stick to strict ‘no excuses’ policy. If a job needs to get done then it has to be done. That’s the reality of how hard life can be and the sooner they learn it the better adapted they will be to handle whatever crisis comes their way.

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Are we as free as we think?

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Are we as free as we think we are? Richard McGrath “Finding Freedom” Audio in player below! This week on Finding Freedom Special guest Chris Weatherman “AKA” Angry American, author, prepper, and survivalist. Chris was also on season 1 of History’s hit show Alone. Chris’s book series i one of my favorites, starting with Going … Continue reading Are we as free as we think?

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Twelve Wild Foods For The Christmas Season

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Twelve Wild Foods For The Christmas Season   As winter is approaching, the wild edibles get harder and harder to find. This article shows you 12 wild edibles still around when its Christmas season, it even shows us recipes to use them with too. Wild edibles should be utilized more, especially because the price of …

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Survival Times: A Winter Survival Skill Where Speed Counts

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by Todd Walker


In the context of wilderness survival, the speed at which you are able to build a fire could mean life or death. There are many real-life accounts available where cold and wet people die in the woods… well within the 72 hours most people are found by rescuers.

The purpose of these exercises is not to compete against one another. However, a little friendly competition among friends is always fun. The most important aspect of practicing emergency fire craft and shelter building is the role these skills could one day play in keeping you alive in the wilderness. Plus, they make camping way more comfortable.

Survival Times: A Winter Survival Skill Where Speed Counts ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Fire means camping in comfort… and there’s coffee involved!

Poor Decisions and Survival Experts

You don’t have to reach “survival expert” level to build a fire or make shelter. Here’s a little something for the self-proclaimed survival experts to think about. My buddy Tommy runs a popular Facebook group and put an interesting spin on this disturbing online trend… something I’d never thought of but makes total sense.

Here’s my paraphrased version…

Expert status takes thousands of hours and experience in a chosen field. Making poor decisions typically lands you in a survival situation. People claiming to be survival experts should also add to their resume, “Poor Decision-Making Expert.” I’ve never seen nor have I heard of anyone being in a real survival situation for 20, 30, or even 40 years and lived to tell about it.

To be an expert in survival, one would have had to be in hundreds of real survival situations. That basically makes one horrible at preparing beforehand. I can’t speak for you, but “Poor Decision-Making Expert” is the last thing I’d want in my bio… or tombstone.

I prepare by practicing in the field with varying conditions. Carrying a few pieces of emergency equipment and developing the skills needed to use said equipment gives you an edge if things go sideways in the woods.

The following speed drills have suggested times to shoot for based on our physiological response to cold. Cold stress has a way of slipping up on you and can overwhelm the body’s ability to thermoregulate. Consequences include impaired performance and even death.

2 Fire Speed Drills

Besides being well clothed for your environment, fire craft may be the most forgiving of all survival skills. Here are two speed drills to help develop proficiency in making life-sustaining fire.

For more info on my philosophy on Emergency Fire Kits, read this article. We can play around with “what if’s” to manipulate and test our skills. But at the end of the day, my trusty Bic is my go-to for fire. That’s only because I don’t have a road flare in my kit. Oh wait… I do, thanks to Alan Halcon’s suggestion. The point of these drills though is to practice different “what if” scenarios.

1.) Five Minute Water Boil

Disinfecting water for hydration can be achieved by boiling. For this drill, you are allowed to use a spark ignition source only. For context, you’re unprepared and only carried one lighter and no sure fire tinder… and the lighter was emptied when the tab was pressed down against that can of sardines stuffed in your backpack.

Survival Times: A Winter Survival Skill Where Speed Counts ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Flames surrounding all sides of the canteen.


  • One metal water bottle (32 ounce size)
  • Ferro rod and striker
  • Natural tinder material and sticks off the landscape for your kindling/fuel
  • Use a large tin can to hold the 32 ounces of water if you don’t have a metal canteen
  • Timer

Collect tinder, kindling, and fuel size material. This task will consume the most time for this drill. Try to collect these materials in 10 minutes or less. Look for standing dead trees with low hanging limbs. Become familiar with the trees in your locale which produce instant kindling. Resinous trees are a fire-making dream.

Breaking the small twigs, you should hear a distinctive snap signaling a good, dry candidate for fire. I’ve found living Cedar and Beech trees often times have small, dead limbs within arms reach. If you have Hemlocks in your area, you’ll not find a better source of dry, pencil-led size kindling.

Once you have all the necessary natural material collected, start the clock and make your fire lay, ignite your fire, and bring the water to a rolling boil… in under 5 minutes. Remember, time is of the essence.

“Fire don’t care about pretty. It eats ugly. In fact, fire loves chaos.”

For this drill, I’ve found that making a long tubular bundle of small twigs and breaking the bundle over my knee to create an A-frame structure works well. Credit for this technique goes to Christopher Wick’s demonstration at the Pathfinder School years ago. You may want to use gloves for this part.

Survival Times: A Winter Survival Skill Where Speed Counts ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Chris Wick preparing kindling

Common Water Boil Mistakes:

  • Natural tinder material not prepared properly for spark ignition.
  • Kindling too large (not enough surface area to volume ratio) for quick ignition.
  • Canteen tips over. Lay finger-size sticks flat on the ground to form a flat platform. The stick platform also reduces heat transfer from the cold ground to the metal container.
  • The fire lay doesn’t surround the canteen. You want flames to contact as much of the canteen as possible.
  • Blowing or fanning the fire from the top down. Get down low and blow from the bottom of the fire lay… without singeing your eyebrows off.

Now add a variation to this water boil drill. Use a lighter or matches and your favorite emergency fire tinder. Compare your times. How’d you do? Get creative and try doing this drill one-handed to simulate an injury. Try it in the rain, as well.

2.) One Billet Boil Up

One-stick-fires are not new to me. However, I discovered the interesting history behind this challenge on Chris Noble’s site, Master Woodsman. I wrote an article about this challenge with an excerpt below for details.

Camp Craft Challenge- The One Billet Boil Up - TheSurvivalSherpa.com


Here’s what you’ll need. Keep in mind that these are challenge guidelines not competition rules. You’re only competition is you for the sake of testing your skills.

  • One wood billet (species of your choice) around 6 inches in diameter and about one foot long – I used a standing dead red cedar billet for my challenge.
  • Sharp ax or hatchet
  • Sharp knife
  • Bush pot or tin can large enough to hold one quart of water (32 ounces)
  • Kitchen matches (strike anywhere type)
  • Timer

There are dangers involved when using a sharp ax. Even more so when using a short-handled ax/hatchet. A bleeding ax wound puts you a whole new survival situation. If you practice this speed drill, know that you are using sharp cutting tools which do not discriminate about what they cut… fingers, shins, and hands included. If you are new to ax and knife work, spend time learning to properly handle these cutting tools. You are responsible for keeping appendages if you practice this drill, not us.

Take your time and keep it safe. One piece of gear worth considering for beginners is a Kevlar or chain mail glove.

For those experienced in ax and knife work, the time frame for this speed drill is under 10 minutes once you have your wood billet ready. The idea is to create all the needed items, tinder, kindling, and fuel from one log. This drill will come in handy if you ever need to find dry material for fire in a rain-soaked forest.

My first attempt at this drill took over 12 minutes. My second attempt was in the eight minute range. Below is my video of this drill:

Check out this lumberjack competition where a lady smashes all the guys with a time of 3:06!

Don’t get hung up the stated times for the speed drills. The important thing about timing yourself is that you are able to evaluate your progress in this skill. Let us know if you give these a try.

Additional Resources

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required

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Backyard Bushcraft Skills: No Wilderness Required Although this article was written for the summer months, the skills in it are still very useful for the winter months to get the extra practice, skills and knowledge you will need for next spring and summer, or heaven forbid, a real survival situation. When considering how to become …

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Holiday Gift Guide

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I was asked to put together some of my favorite product recommendations for my first ever Holiday Gift Guide. Please enjoy and have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. In no particular order   Griffin Read More …

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Boiling Water With Stones 101

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Boiling Water With Stones 101 When I mention to someone that you can boil water with hot stones, they always ask me two questions… Why would you do that? How do you do it? Why would you ever boil water using stones?  Why don’t you use the fire to heat it.  Well, in a perfect …

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Colter Functional Bandana

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It was a pleasure to receive two new versatile pieces of everyday carry from Colter USA. Their bandana is 100% cotton and the two that I have are Know Your Knots and Stargazer. Regardless if you know Read More …

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How To Identify Animals by their Tracks (with Pictures!)

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How To Identify Animals by their Tracks (with Pictures!) Whether you’re a hiker, nature enthusiast, or just want to know who’s been eating your tomatoes, there’s a helpful animal tracking guide for you.  The Old Farmer’s Almanac has a collection of animal track photos to help you figure out who your furry neighbors are. Recognizing …

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Top 10 Ways to Use A Knife For Survival – Guest Post

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In an effort to get you more and varied information, we have guest posts. This time we bring you Brian Cox from StayHunting.com. — Top 10 Ways to Use a Knife for Survival Situations One Read More …

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The Alpha Survivalist: An Eighth Grader Doing the Stuff

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by Todd Walker

The Alpha Survivalist: An Eighth Grader Doing the Stuff ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

What makes my day as a school teacher is watching a student, previously lost like a ball in high weeds, finally have an “Ah Ha” moment. Their eyes light up and I give them a fist bump. These little specks of light brighten my world.

Speaking of bright spots, you have no idea how excited I am as an eighth grade teacher to discover an eighth grade student busy Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance!

The great aim of self-reliance is not knowledge, but doing.

And doing is what Corton is about. He documents his journey on The Alpha Survivalist with some pretty amazing projects. On the phone, Cort told me his love for the outdoors fueled his interested in survival and self-reliance. Living near Blairsville, GA, he’s had the opportunity to learn from Alan Kay, winner of History’s season 1 “Alone.” His mom says that they can’t keep the boy out of the woods.

Cort "skinning the cat"

Cort “skinning the cat”. Some of you country folk are familiar with this game. (Photo courtesy – The Alpha Survivalist)

Note: All photos are used with permission from The Alpha Survivalist. 

My conversation with Cort reminded me of my childhood. He and his brother spend time building forts, woods running, and climbing trees. One of his shelters is very impressive. Inside he hand-crafted a primitive stove, chimney included, using clay dug from their basement. A mini Mors Kochanski super shelter will keep his raised bed warm well below freezing.

Even ol' Nessmuk would be proud to "smooth it" in this shelter!

Even ol’ Nessmuk would be proud to “smooth it” in this shelter! The plastic sheeting (pictured right) is his super shelter.

Each clay brick was formed by hand and placed one level at a time and dried by the fire.

Each clay brick was formed by hand and placed one level at a time to be dried by the fire.

Displaying his resourcefulness, Cort crafted his own ax handle from a dogwood limb… then proceeded to make the ax sheath from, get this, duct tape and an old sock! Pure genius! Real-world experience teaches more than words on a page.

Add this to another use for good old duct tape!

Add this to another use for good old duct tape!

Cort’s parents are raising their boys right. In today’s “selfie” culture, I could tell from our brief phone conversation that this young man had been taught to respect others and not be the center of the universe. His home-education is paying dividends beyond book smarts.

In the near future, I hope to have a face to face with Cort and smell the wood smoke rising from his primitive stove. Be sure to check out his journey on his blog, The Alpha Survivalist. I guarantee you’ll be encouraged and learn a thing or two!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Learn And Master These Skills For SHTF

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Learn And Master These Skills For SHTF When it comes to survival, there are so many skills that will be important to have that no one person could know them all. There are, however, a particular set of skills that will increase your chances of actually making it through a disaster. These skills, while not …

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Tips and Tricks on Hand Drill Fire Starting

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by Todd Walker

Tips and Tricks on Hand Drill Fire Starting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Of all the primitive skills passed down from ancestral tribes, coaxing fire from two pieces of wood may be the most transforming. This one skill forever changed our existence in so many ways; diet, tools, security, defense, sleep, shelter, relationships, hygiene, ceremonies, etc., etc.

Fire is automatic today. Flip a switch and fire flows through insulated wiring to illuminate our home and power our refrigerator. Yet we don’t see this miracle in action as it hides inside walls. Our hands aren’t directly responsible for creating those sparks, and, as a result, we’ve become disconnected.

At the recent Foxfire Mountaineer Festival, lots of people gathered to see our Georgia Bushcraft group demonstrate primitive fire starting methods. With Alan Kay on the hand drill and myself on the bow drill, several onlookers were able to create their first fire by friction. Afterwards I was talking to Alan about the crowd’s interest in primitive fire making and he said…

“Nothing reconnects us to our roots like friction fire.”

I spent the better part of a month spinning wood between my hands before birthing my first ember. Along the way, blisters turned to calluses. To save you time and pain, I wanted to share my experience and a few tips which may help you twirl up your first ember.

Build a Hand Drill Set

Finding optimal material is key. In my experience in the humid south, even the best material can fail. Here are a few combinations local to Georgia which work for me.

Tips and Tricks on Hand Drill Fire Starting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

L to R: Mullein spindle, river cane spindle with yucca insert, trumpet vine (top), cedar (bottom)

Hearth Board

  • Trumpet Vine (Campsis radicans)
  • Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) – use the whitish sap wood
  • White Pine (Pinus strobus)
  • Mimosa (Albizia julibrissin)
  • Mullein (Verbascum) – tie two stalks together to form a hearth board
  • Tulip Poplar (Liriodendron tulipifera)

The best hearth boards are non-resinous, soft wood. My go-to hearth board is trumpet vine. I had never considered this vine for friction fire until Dusty, a fellow Georgian, used it on his channel, IHatchetJack. I have a honey hole of this vine growing along a fence row near my school. Once dead, you can break off large sections from the vine.

For a traditional hearth board, the plank should be about one half-inch thick. It will need a notch carved into the “burn in” hole. I make my notches in a pyramid shape which reaches about one-quarter into the burned in hole. The notch allows the pulverized char dust to collect while the twirled spindle creates enough heat from friction to reach combustion temperature. The notch also allows air to reach the char dust (fuel) so that when enough heat is applied – the fire triangle is complete and an ember is born.

Tips and Tricks on Hand Drill Fire Starting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Pyramid shaped notches

Non-traditional hearth boards can be effective as well. As mentioned on the bullet points above, two mullein stalks lashed together is an alternative when a flat board is not available. Instead of “burning in” a socket on a flat board, make a perpendicular cut on the two lashed sticks to keep your spindle in place while spinning. The trough between the sticks acts as a notch to collect the char dust.

My first hand drill ember was created on the friction end of my spindle… not in the notch of my hearth board. An ember is an ember, right? The idea of a no-notch hand drill ember was intriguing. I discovered that one can create a series of “burned in” holes where char dust is collected in the previous hole which serves as a traditionally notched board.

For first time hand drill experimentation, I would recommend a traditional set.


  • Mullein (Verbascum)
  • Yucca
  • Goldenrod (Solidago)
  • Cattail (Typha)
  • Inserts in a river cane spindle: Cedar, tulip poplar, mimosa, basswood (Tilia americanaor any short, soft wood have worked for me

Productive locations to find mullein and yucca stalk spindles has been railroad tracks, road sides, cemeteries, and waste places. I like using the same wood for hearth and spindle. Good luck finding a straight piece of cedar long enough for a spindle. The river cane spindle is very forgiving. You can carve a short insert from a crooked limb to be used as your spindle material.

Tips and Tricks on Hand Drill Fire Starting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A yucca insert in the river cane spindle on a trumpet vine hearth board.

As far as the one-piece spindle goes, cut a straight section about the length of your outstretched arm about 3/8 inches in diameter. A longer spindle allows for more space to spin and provides more leverage for older guys like myself. If you’ve mastered the “float technique” like IHatchetJack, a shorter spindle is sufficient. That technique is more advanced but very efficient.

Scrape the spindle smooth with the spine of your knife or an abrasive stone. Once smooth, you’re ready to start spinning.

Technique, Stance, and Muscle

Some sit, some kneel. I’ve done both and find kneeling gives me more leverage for downward pressure on spins. My kneeling position is very similar to the stance I use for bow and drill fire starting.

My kneeling stance is described for right-handers. Reverse the directions if you’re a lefty.

Place the hearth board flat on the ground. Kneel down with your right knee on the ground and place your left foot on the board. Your right thigh should be near perpendicular to the ground and in line with your left foot. When spinning commences, the stance allows you to bend at the waist and use your upper body (shoulders) to apply the needed downward pressure and rotation of the spindle.

Keep your elbows in towards your body and hands close to your shoulders to maximize leverage with each spin down the spindle. Use the full length of your palms while twirling the spindle. The beefy part of your palm (inline with your pinky fingers) is where most of the work should happen. Both palms should move equally. If one palm is doing all the work, the top of your spindle will wobble back and forth.

A little spit on your hands will increase the grip between your palms. Another option is to rub pine pitch along the spindle shaft.

Fuel your muscles by breathing. Yup, I was guilty of concentrating so hard on spinning and pressure that I forgot to breath on my first attempt with the hand drill. Practice and patience will help you develop muscle memory and stamina whether you spin a coal or not. If you feel hot spots on your palm in the beginning, stop and wait a day before continuing. Blisters will put a stop to your practice.

Hand Drill Training Wheels

I learned the hand drill technique without thumb loops. However, I think they are a good way to get the feel for the amount of downward pressure and rotation involved with spinning a coal. Plus they allow you to have your hands in the same spot on the spindle without having to go up and down in the traditional manner.

Another way to increase success is to share the workload. Have a partner kneel in front of you and take turns twirling the spindle. Even if they only raise the temperature 200 degrees, that’s less work you’ll have to do. It’s also a great team-building experience when a group starts their campfire with many hands.

Tips and Tricks on Hand Drill Fire Starting ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Tyrus, one of my eighth grade students, lived up to his t-shirt slogan and twirled his first ember.

Make a Fire

Have the necessary tinder material handy so you can swaddle your baby ember and blow it into flame. Read more about tinder material and prep here.

Resources which helped me on my quest for hand drill success…

We’d really like to hear from you if this helps you create your first hand drill fire. For those already twirling up coals, feel free to share your tips and experience.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.


Tips and Tricks for Your First Hand Drill Fire – TheSurvivalSherpa.com

How And Why To Eat Rat Meat

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How And Why To Eat Rat Meat Now, I know some of you will be reading this saying, easy, I can do this… but the majority of you are thinking … hell NO… but if SHTF and you have no money, rats will be everywhere in the city, because of death and lack of litter …

Continue reading »

The post How And Why To Eat Rat Meat appeared first on SHTF & Prepping Central.

Indebtedness: The #1 Soft Skill Missing in the Self-Reliance Community

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by Todd Walker

Indebtedness: The #1 Soft Skill Missing in the Self-Reliance Community ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The notion that one can begin anything at all from scratch, free from the past, or unindebted to others, could not conceivably be more wrong. ~ Karl Popper

Pride often raises its ugly head, and, in doing so, becomes an easy target. I’ve not met many folks immune to this affliction. Ironically, these rare individuals could easily toot their own horn but don’t… which is exactly why they are a dying bred in the outdoor self-reliance community.

One of these rare men, Steve Watts, departed this world way too soon. I’ll never forget his comment on the hands-free ax sling I made after reading the article he and David Wescott wrote for American Frontiersman. I had credited him and David with the idea. Without hesitation, Steve quickly corrected me and told me the idea wasn’t original to them and cited their source.

That, my friends, is the way it’s done!

Tim Smith of Jack Mountain Bushcraft wrote a blog in July of this year and quoted his friend’s wisdom, “noisy rivers never run deep.” Addressing the depth of knowledge and experience of promoted “experts”, Tim makes a compelling case for carefully choosing who we get our information from. A lot of info being taught today is loud and shallow… and regurgitated dangerously.

If we are reluctant to rationally criticize this troubling trend, then we are partly responsible for our community’s decline. This is not a rant. It’s more of a self-assessment and an “if the boot fits, wear it” thing. I’ll admit that I’ve worn that boot before and suffered blisters. My purpose here is to not belittle but to highlight our need for integrity, authenticity, and crediting sources.

Humility is the prerequisite for learning. It is more important to learn than to cling to egos.

My friend Chris Noble (who has challenged more than one of my past articles – thankfully), outlined the 3 stages of knowledge for us here

  1. Ignorance
  2. Arrogance
  3. Enlightenment

The danger of staying in the second stage (Arrogance) is we know the absolute best way of Doing the Stuff. We stop listening. We stop learning. At this stage, contempt towards others who are “Doing the Stuff” differently surfaces… viciously at times by gurus and their fans. If we buy into pet theories or petty arrogance, our skills and knowledge will continue to cycle from Arrogance back to Ignorance which puts wisdom (Enlightenment) out of reach.

It’s necessary to admit that our present skills are inadequate for all situations. That’s the easy part for those new to this stuff. The trouble comes when we develop a level of proficiency in a skill. Our human-ness tends to inflate our ego with only partial knowledge of the subject. In stage 2, we are unteachable.

Here’s an example of being teachable…

I just returned from our Georgia Bushcraft Fall campout. We had two full days of instruction in a wide variety of skills from falconry to debris shelter construction. One of our instructors, Stephan Fowler of Fowler Blades, a top-shelf blade-smith, can beat a piece of steel into submission like no other. He makes his living with fire. However, he had never created fire with primitive methods.

No one person has enough time and resources to develop expertise in every skill. Stephan walks over to our impromptu friction fire circle, craved his first bow and drill set from scratch, and proceeded to make his first primal fire by friction.

Indebtedness: The #1 Soft Skill Missing in the Self-Reliance Community ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Stephan Fowler in beast mode!

I, on the other hand, have never hammered a piece of steel into a functional blade. I’m at stage 1 – Ignorance. I know just enough to be dangerous in my experience. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being in stage 1 in any skill. Again, we can’t master every skill.

In my experience online, and, to a lesser degree, in real-life, there is an alarming number of folks content to stay in stage 2. Here’s a quick remedy. Spend face-time with folks learning and sharing skills. We can’t boast behind the internet curtain when our buddies are watching in real-time. Accountability is good for all involved.

Indebtedness: The #1 Soft Skill Missing in the Self-Reliance Community ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Mark and JT giving the fire saw a go

Indebtedness: The #1 Soft Skill Missing in the Self-Reliance Community ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A first for Dave… hand drill fire success!

Indebtedness: The #1 Soft Skill Missing in the Self-Reliance Community ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Jason sharing his wealth of modern and primitive trapping knowledge

I had the pleasure of finally meeting my online friend, James Gibson, at our recent Georgia Bushcraft campout. He drove down with Ex Umbra who taught several classes. Both of these men are the real deal. James wasn’t scheduled to teach but I learned a lot from him by just hanging out and talking. The hallmark of a great teacher is not that he/she has all the answers, but in how they make you interested in finding answers they may not have.

Indebtedness: The #1 Soft Skill Missing in the Self-Reliance Community ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The debris shelter class led by Ex Umbra sporting a kilt (far left)

The last class of the weekend was Stalking and Wilderness Movement taught by Ex Umbra. One gold nugget he shared dealt with “hard skills” verses “soft skills.” One may possess all the hard survival skills (shelter, fire, water, navigation, etc., etc.), but we overlook our soft skills – which he covered well in class.

In the context of un-indebtedness, our community needs to give serious attention to the soft skills (internal/behavioral) of integrity, authenticity, and crediting original sources of knowledge.

You may not be familiar with some of the top people in the field of survival, bushcraft, outdoor self-reliance. This is not because they don’t have expertise in their craft, they just never reached celebrity status on a TV show or the prerequisite social media status to be taken seriously. The thing is… they don’t seem to be too concerned with our modern standard of success. Enlightenment will do that for you.

I am forever indebted to master teachers and novice practitioners alike for exposing the infinity of my ignorance.

Below are a few of my trusted Georgia resources I am personally indebted to on my journey of self-reliance:

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.


Knives by L.T. Wright

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Knives by L.T. Wright  Josh “7 P’s of survival” This show in player below! 7 P’s of Survival Radio Show has the owner and founder of L.T. Wright Knives on the show. Topic? his company, products, knife making process and even the success of some of his employees in knife competitions utilizing his knives. I own three … Continue reading Knives by L.T. Wright

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How To Survive Eating Wild Winter Edibles

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Recently, we’ve been asked a question about what types of foods are good sources of carbohydrates in the winter.

The reader was specifically worried about his son, who is going on a military survival retreat in Maine and can’t afford to lose the 20 pounds that the program has warned him that he will likely lose. His question was about sources of carbohydrates.

My son will be sent to Maine in the winter for a 3 week military survival course. Others who have experienced this say that the participants will lose an average of 20 pounds during that time. He can ill afford to lose 20 pounds, so I was wondering if you knew a good source for carbs that can be found in abundance in the winter? I think he is fairly good at locating small game for protein. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated!
Best regards,


Though there are many great wild sources of carbohydrates to eat in Maine, I’ve had a problem finding exact nutritional values of wild plants. Go figure. Since the main goal is preventing weight loss, we’re looking for plants that can be found in a great enough quantity to thrive, versus simply survive.

Therefore, we need plants that are both high in calories and found in enough quantity to make a substantial meal. The first part was easy, the second part, not so much. So, I’ll share what I’ve found.


It turns out that these plants are considered a pest by many because they grow so prolifically in marshy areas and around ponds.

Fortunately for somebody foraging, cattails are a great source of carbohydrates and nutrients year-round. In the winter time, the best parts of the plant to eat are the rhizomes, or roots, and the corms, the little shoots that are the beginnings of next year’s plants.

You probably won’t be able to just rip the cattail out of the mud; you’re likely going to have to dig for it a bit. Just run your hand down the stalk of the cattail and into the mud. Feel for the roots, then follow them down a bit and PULL!

Don’t stop with just one plant; grab several at a time because they’re not that heavy and you can carry them or store them in camp. No need to get wet more than once if you don’t have to.

Now, you’re going to notice little shoots around the base of the plant, which are older corms and are the beginnings of next year’s plant.

You’ll also find little pod-like pieces on the rhizomes and around the bottom of the stalks. These are less mature corms and are also edible. You can eat both types of corms raw. Just peel off the outer fibrous part and eat the delicate interior.

The rhizomes are going to look sort of hairy. Wash them as well as you can, then peel them just like you would a potato. Your goal is to extract the starch from the rhizome and there are a couple of ways to do this.

You can break up the rhizome and then put it in a small bowl of water and squeeze the rhizome pieces in the water until the starch is remove. The water turns a milky white. Let the water settle for a couple of hours and the heavy, starchy flour will settle to the bottom. Pour off the water and spread the flour out to dry.

The second way is to use your knife to squeeze the starch out onto a rock. Just lay the rhizome flat and slide your knife down the rhizome, sort of like you’re squeezing toothpaste from a tube. The starchy paste will collect on the rock.

Either way, you can let the paste dry and smash it with a mortar and pestle into a flour, or you can toss it in the pan and toast it as-is, toss it into a soup along with the corms, or you can eat it raw.

Of course, you can always make a bread with it by mixing it with other ingredients, but in a survival situation, you’re probably not going to have access to yeast and all that good stuff.


Rose Hips

These pretty berry-like plants not only add a pop of color to the winter landscape, they’re also a good source of nutrition and can be found in enough quantity to be worth the effort. Rose hips are the fruits of the rose plant and are usually red or orange but can also be dark-colored. Just open them up, pop out the seed, and eat the flesh.

One cup of rosehips has 206 calories, 49g of carbs, and 31g of fiber. It also provides 110% of your RDV of vitamin A, 901% of your RDV of vitamin C, and more than 20% of your RDV of calcium and magnesium. Eat more rose hips!


They’re not just for Christmas anymore! Pine trees provide a couple of different sources of food. If you’ve ever eaten pesto, you’ve eaten pine nuts, which are found in pinecones. There is some work involved for the amount of food that you get, but there’s also a tremendous amount of calories and nutrition in them.

Just one cup of pine nuts has 909 calories, 92 grams of fat, 23% of your RDV of potassium and 84% of your RDA of magnesium. They’re also a good source of fiber, so that you have a slower digestion process. You’ll feel full longer.

All pine trees have edible nuts tucked into the pine cones, but only about 20 species produce seeds that are large enough to warrant the effort. Still, in a survival situation, something is better than nothing. Fortunately, there are often many different types of pine trees in the same area, so if you don’t get decent-sized nuts from one, try another.

Wild Berries and Fruits

Even if there’s snow, it’s still possible to dig through the snow to get to fruits, and if you’re lucky, you may even find some grapes or berries, especially cranberries in Maine, above the snow.

One of the advantages of having thumbs is that you can dig through the snow a bit if you find a bush to see if there are berries buried. Apples are another great resource that you can find under the snow.

Yes, they’ll be frozen, but they’re delicious, nutritious, and packed with carbs. They also drop late, so it’s probable that they were frozen before they rotted. Other fruits to keep an eye out for include peaches and pears.

Grass and Grains

Believe it or not, most (99%) of all grasses in the US are edible. They’re often tough for your body to digest, but they’re better than nothing. This includes wheat, oats, and wild meadow varieties. The best part to eat in the winter is the starchy base and the seed heads.

1% of the seeds are toxic and need to be cooked before being eaten, and if seeds are blackish or purple, avoid them because that’s a sign of poisonous fungus. Eat them if they’re green or brown.

I often consult a man very close to me when I have questions such as these, because he’s actually been there, done that as part of his army survivalist training. He made it all the way through the training and has described in great detail (and to my dismay) exactly what a bug feels like when you eat it. He says the trick is this – crunch (chew), crunch, crunch, crunch, swallow!

Aside from his advice about how to eat a bug with minimal “biting back”, he also says that the most crucial step to survival is knowing the plants, animals, and insects of your area. Know what’s edible and what’s not, and most importantly, know what will kill you if you eat it.

If you have a problem with being too thin, it’s important to realize that your body uses more than just carbohydrates for energy – it can also use protein and fat. The bottom line is that your weight isn’t dependent upon eating carbs. It’s a matter of calories in versus calories out. It doesn’t matter if those calories are in the form of carbs, fat, or protein.

There will likely be some energy dips while you’re transitioning from carbs to protein, so if you’re planning to use protein as your main source of energy during a retreat, you may want to do that before you leave. In real life, of course, you won’t have that luxury, but until then, do what you can to survive the survival training.


This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.

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My Top 4 Most Useful Basecamp Builds

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by Todd Walker

My Top 4 Most Useful Basecamp Builds ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

One of the hallmarks of the veteran woodsman is the way he contrives to make himself comfortable in camp.  ~ Warren H. Miller, 1915

Over years of wild camping I’ve learned just how little one needs to be happy in the woods. But a permanent campsite… oh the comforts to be contrived!

Walking through the beech trees and white oaks, I hop rocks across the creek. Then it happens. My soul smiles with every arrival at base camp. My home away from home is a laboratory for adventure and self-reliance skills. More importantly, it’s my place of comfort in the woods!

A few items I find essential for comfort are listed below…

Top Base Camp Comforts

1.) Shelter

Instead of pitching a tent or hanging a hammock, a semi-permanent shelter was needed. Constructed from natural materials (except for the repurposed billboard roof and bank line), it’s large enough to sleep in with room for storage. At both ends of my raised canvas cot, there’s ample room for laying in a good supply of firewood, tools, and gear.

My Top 5 Most Useful Items at Permanent Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The foot of my raised canvas cot

Speaking of firewood…

2.) Sawbuck

Using a plumber’s vise is effective for sawing wrist-size saplings in the field. My daddy taught me this technique when cutting pipe in his plumbing business. For right-handers, place the stick of wood in the bend of your left knee. Kneel on your right knee so the stock rests on your right thigh. This posture holds the wood in place firmly freeing both hands for sawing to the side of your body.

However, when processing larger rounds, a sturdy base camp sawbuck is indispensable.

How to Build a Sturdy Sawbuck with Logs and Rope - www.TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Sawing firewood on this camp sawbuck

Here’s an interesting factoid about why the ten-dollar bill became known as a “sawbuck” in slang terminology. The Roman numeral for 10 being “X”, this reminded old timers of the two X’s used at the ends of saw horses.

3.) Camp Kitchen

“A fellow who cannot throw a flapjack is sadly lacking in the skill one expects to find in a real woodcrafter.” ~ Daniel Carter Beard

A seasoned woods cook will have an open fire lit in short order. Flapjack batter turns golden brown as the smell of freshly brewed coffee and salt cured bacon mingle.

Campfire Cooking: Grill, Cook, and Bake on a Multi-level Fire Pit - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Time to eat!

The plywood camp house situated near the dam of our family lake is long gone. The memories and the aroma of Uncle Otha cooking over an open fire with heirloom cast iron is as vivid today as they were 45 years ago. Truer words can not be found than in one of Mr. Kephart’s quotes, “A good cook makes a contented crew.”

A permanent camp kitchen, like modern ovens and ranges at home, becomes the center piece of camp life. The cooking fire is that hub. I personally find a raised horizontal surface indispensable. My camp countertop, a split cedar log resting on two cedar rails lashed between trees, keeps cooking utensils and ingredients off the ground.

My Top 5 Most Useful Items at Permanent Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cooking rice, grilling steak, and baking muffins on one campfire

A few carved pot hooks hung from a horizontal sapling (waugan) allows heat regulation when cooking coffee or simmering stew over an open fire. A solid tripod is another option for hanging pots over a fire.

4.) Paring Ladder

This simple device adds a “third hand” when using a draw knife to shape wood or remove bark.

How to Build a Paring Ladder (Shaving Horse) in the Woods - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The paring ladder in action

While I use it for its intended purpose, it also makes a fine camp chair. Secure a wool blanket or cargo net to a rung and loop the blanket around another pole near the bottom for lounging.

My Top 5 Most Useful Items at Permanent Camp ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Camp comfort!

It also makes a great drying rack for wet gear and clothing. The ladder is lightweight and easy to move from one tree to the next.

The beauty of building these camp comforts is that few tools are required. A knife, ax/hatchet, saw, and cordage are about all you’ll need to contrive ways to make yourself comfortable in the woods.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has chanced. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

How to Whittle – Guest Post

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In an effort to continually bring you great information not just from myself, I am pleased to have Nathan Dobson from Best Wood Carving Tools bring us a guest post. Check him out on Twitter as well @MasterCarving — How To Whittle There are several styles of wood carving; the most popular is whittling. This … Continue reading

The post How to Whittle – Guest Post appeared first on Use Your Instincts To Survive.

Tool review: Huron 13-inch Half Hatchet

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Looking for a good, usable hatchet? Check out this Huron.

by Leon Pantenburg

BARCO industries supplied the product used in this review. I was not paid to write this, and  at the time of publication, there is no sponsorship relationship between the company and Survivalcommonsense.com.

 “A woodsman should carry a hatchet, and he should be as critical in selecting it as in buying a gun.  The notion that a heavy hunting knife can do the work of a hatchet is a delusion.  When it comes to cleaving carcasses, chopping kindling, blazing thick-barked trees, driving tent pegs or trap stakes, and keeping up a bivouac fire, the knife never was made that will compare with a good tomahawk.  The common hatchets of the hardware stores are unfit for a woodsman’s use.  They have broad blades with beveled edge, and they are generally made of poor, brittle stuff.  A camper’s hatchet should have the edge and temper of a good axe.  It must be light enough to carry in one’s knapsack, yet it should bite deep in timber.” – Horace Kephart, from Camping and Woodcraft, 1917

I moved to Mississippi in the early 1980s, to a house that was 90-percent heated with wood. I helped cut several cords of firewood every fall, and loved it. I learned to fell trees, use a chainsaw and split wood. We used axes and hatchets, and knowing how to sharpen them was part of the skill set. Like anything, having the right tools, properly maintained, made all the difference.

But I’m lukewarm on recommending that anyone get an axe or hatchet.

Annabelle, tomahawk and knife

My squirrel hunting gear includes a handmade pipe tomahawk.

The hatchet, or hand axe, has been around since somebody tied a rock to a stick and made a weapon. The hand axe was popular with the Vikings and other fighters in the Middle Ages, because it was a fearsome weapon, and cheaper to make than a sword. In North America, the natives carried tomahawks as weapons.

Today, I don’t carry a hatchet much, but I have several that are used as needed. I carry my pipe tomahawk the most, and that is generally when I’m hunting with a blackpowder rifle. It’s more for nostalgia than anything else.

My most recent acquisition is  a Huron 13-inch Half Hatchet. Forged in the USA by BARCO Industries, each hatchet gets profiled, sharpened and finished in Michigan. The handle on the Huron is flame-treated, then finished with Linseed Oil and the head is outfit with a handmade, holster-style sheath.

This 13″ American hickory handled half hatchet features a generous cutting edge and a solid smooth-faced hammer. Forged stateside by BARCO Industries, each hatchet gets profiled, sharpened and finished in Michigan. The handle on the Huron is flame-treated, then finished with pure Linseed Oil and the head is outfitted with a handmade, holster-style sheath.


  • Head Type: 1.25 lbs Half Hatchet pattern pattern
  • Head Material: 1060-1078 grade alloy steel
  • Shaping Process: Open faced die drop forged
  • Bit (Edge): Tempered to final hardness of Rc 50
  • Handle Material: American Hickory; Grade A
  • Hang: Wood wedge with juxtaposed steel wedge
  • Overall Weight: 2 lbs.
  • Sheath Material: 100% top grade leather, Antique Brass hardware

Here’s the good stuff:

Steel: A softer steel is the best choice in a hatchet head. A soft steel will bend, rather than chip, when it hits something hard. It is also easier to sharpen, and maintain a good edge. While the Huron could be honed to shaving sharpness, that edge wouldn’t last long when chopping wood. For chopping and splitting firewood, the Huron holds an edge nicely, and is easily re-sharpened.

Huron hatchet

Huron 13-inch Half Hatchet

The 1060 carbon steel in the head, with a RC of 50, is a good hardness for a hatchet. It is hard enough to hold and edge, but soft enough that the steel will fold over, rather than chip, if a knot or hard piece is hit.

Head style: Among my hatchet collection is a modern Estwing double-bitted, a Plumb carpenter’s axe, an Estwing Sportsman and a custom, handmade pipe tomahawk that matches my flintlock rifle. I also have a full-sized axe that sees use in camp.

My most-carried hatchet is the pipe tomahawk, but the most useful pattern is the half-hatchet pattern. The hammer side will be the most used part of the hatchet, because it will be used for driving tent stakes, pounding on things and a multitude of hammer tasks.

Handle:In making a new axe-helve, do not bother to make a crooked one like the store pattern.  Thousands of expert axe men use, from preference, straight handles in their axes,” – Horace Kephart.

I haven’t used a hatchet as much as I’ve used a 22-ounce framing hammer. Roughly of the same weight as the Huron, I’ve swung a hammer for hours at a time while roofing and putting on siding. (One reason I have large hands!) A straight handle works best for me, as far as being able to control the head. Like anything, get used to the weight and balance, and real accuracy soon developes.

It’s the same concept with a hatchet. A hatchet cuts with momentum and velocity, and you will develop efficiency through use.

Huron hatchet sheath

The Huron’s leather sheath protects the edge and the user.

Weight: At two pounds, the hatchet is not so heavy as to be overly burdensome. It is in the same ballpark as a heavy duty machete or parang. In jungle or swamp, the long knife may prove to be more useful. In hardwood, deciduous timber, the hatchet will prove to be more useful.

Edge: The grind on the blade appears to be convex. This is a good profile for a chopper, and the the extra steel behind the edge means it will be strong.

Not so hot on:

Leon mounts the soapbox: The Boy scouts have banned hatchets, and some troops and camps ban sheath knives. Ostentatiously, it is because the tools are presumed to be dangerous. Well, ANY cutting tool is dangerous in the hands of an untrained person.

The scouts make a big deal about teaching knife and axe safety, and every scout must carry a Totin’ Chip before carrying any piece of cutlery. If the scouts can’t teach cutting tool safety, to the point where certain categories of tools must be deemed unsafe, then what is wrong with the program? (Leon’s rant is over).

Do you need a Huron hatchet?

Well, I think to the untrained user a hatchet or axe is dangerous. Don’t buy one to add to your camping gear, and never practice with it.

A hatchet or axe requires velocity to chop and cut, and one can cause serious injury if it ricochets off the wood. A better choice, for the casual user, would be to get a good saw, and use that for wood processing.

If you know what you’re doing, a hatchet and/or axe can be a valuable survival tool. So if you decide to go that route, get a good one.

The Huron is a quality tool, and at about $149, it is priced competitively with other high quality hatchets. The Huron will prove to be an investment, and properly cared for, it can be handed down to your grandchildren.

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How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark

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by Todd Walker

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Containers made from tree bark existed long before plastic bags, cardboard boxes, and canvas haversacks came about. With every trek in the woods, I find useful resources. That glob of pine sap, stones, bones, or wood somehow ends up going home with me (much to the chagrin of Dirt Road Girl).

It’s a condition which I wish to never be cured.

Scott Jones sums up this affliction with this quote in his book, Postcards to the Past

“The Eskimo say that only a fool comes home empty handed!

~ Lewis Binford, in Looking at Currated Technologies – 1979

If you suffer from this same condition, you’ll need a something to transport your found treasures back home or to your camp. While any container will usually work, nothing compares to a handcrafted bark container for both functionality and aesthetics for us out of doors types.

Traditional Berry Buckets

The best time to harvest tree bark is when the sap is rising in late spring and early summer. I know, I meant to post this tutorial in June. You’ll have to wait a few months to skin a tulip tree ((Liriodendron tulipifera). So bookmark this one for when the sap starts to rise again. 

Material and Tools

  • Knife – about all you really need
  • Ax or saw if you plan to fell a tree
  • Awl or drill
  • Cordage
  • Tulip Poplar tree
  • Rim wood
How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Very few tools are needed for bark containers

Find the Right Tree

Tulip Poplar is a fast growing (soft) hardwood with many uses in the southeastern United States. Other candidates for bark containers include; basswood, cedar, white birch (which we don’t have in Georgia), and others.

You’ll know you’re barking up the tree at the wrong time once you’ve attempted to peel the bark off. If the sap isn’t rising, the bark won’t come off easily. I look for young tulip poplar trees growing under dense canopies. They tend to grow straight with fewer lower limbs and have thinner bark. A 6 to 7 inch diameter tree is ideal.

To fell or not to fell… that is the question. I’ve done both. For smaller containers like my knife sheath, I simply cut a patch of bark off the tree. You’d think completely girdling around would doom a tree to death. However, as a test this past spring, I removed a section of bark from the entire circumference of a small tulip tree (5 inches in diameter) and it still has its green leaves in early October. Sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua) is similarly resilient tree.

Score and Skin

Score the bark down to the sapwood with a knife or hatchet. I use a solid stick to strike the back of the blade after a free-hand score mark has been applied to the bark.

Once scored, press the tip of your knife into one corner and lift to separate the outer and inner bark from the sapwood. From that point, I use a wedged stick to run along the edge to loosen and lift the bark. With a gap created, you can use your fingers to further separate the bark from the tree. Warning: There are little spikes under the bark which will draw blood. Go slow and be careful bare handed. Gloves are recommended, but I enjoy the texture and feel of wet sap and bark.

If harvesting large quantities from felled trees, I use a wedged stick to separate bark instead of bare hands. When you’re near the point of full separation, you’ll know the bark is free when you hear a distinctive, satisfying snap sound.

Cut to Length

Place the bark flat on a level surface and cut to length. The length of bark should be a bit over double the intended height of your bucket. Trim all edges smooth to create a long rectangle.

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bark length should be double that of the intended height of your container

Score a Football

With the outer bark facing up, measure and mark the mid-point of each long side of the rectangle. Use your knife to score an arch which runs from side to side. Repeat this step to form a football shape on the outer bark. Be careful to not cut through the inner bark. This layer of bark acts as a hinge when folding the basket sides together. When scoring in my shop, I use a utility knife with a about 1/8 inch of blade.

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The size of the “football” determines the opening size at the top

Turn the bark over with the inner bark facing up. Place your hand on the middle of the bark and gently pull one long end to a vertical position. Now fold the other side. Your berry bucket is taking shape.

Bore Edge Holes

Use an awl or drill to bore a line of holes on both edges of the bucket. The spacing is up to you. I usually leave an inch and half to two inches between holes which are placed about 1/2  to 1 inch from the edge. The hole diameter should be large enough to accept your cordage/lacing.

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

My friend, James Gibson (Knob Creek Forge), traded this handmade awl to me

Lace Edges

Artificial sinew makes strong lacing. It can be purchased online or at craft stores. I’ve also used tarred bank line, leather, and a few other types of string. The artificial sinew can be threaded into a leather stitching needle to make quick work on this part of the project. I’ve seen some buckets laced with other inner barks like hickory (Carya).

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Stitching the river cane handle into the sides of DRG’s berry bucket

Note: As the bark dries, it will shrink and the lacing may need to be re-tightened.

Start lacing at the bottom edge near the football cut with the edges joined together. Tie off with a simple overhand knot and run the stitching up the edge. Make a pattern if you like. Secure the lace at the top of both seams.

Add a Rim

Cut a flexible stick long enough to form a rim around the top opening of your bucket. I like to use two thin strips of white oak about the size of a hardware store paint stirrer. Thinned enough, they flex just right and add a little contrast. The rim will prevent the bark from curling in as it dries.

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A white oak rim to finish off the bucket

Bore another series of holes along the rim edge. Place the rim wood pieces on the edges and lace them in as you did the sides. Leave enough lacing on both ends to make loops if you plan to add a carry handle made of rope. If you’re using two rim pieces like mine, you’ll need to bore holes in the ends to tie them together to hold the form you want.

I made a handle out of river cane for Dirt Road Girl’s berry bucket. It hangs in the living room with dried flowers as a conversation piece. Looks pretty too!

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This one will probably never transport berries… imagine that

Other Bark Containers

Once you’ve made one berry bucket, you’ll want more. With a bit of creativity and imagination, you can begin making many functional and aesthetically pleasing alternative containers from tree bark.

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

An arrow quiver made from tulip poplar bark

How to Make an Appalachian Berry Bucket from Tree Bark ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Neck sheath for one of my Mora knives

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has chanced. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Wilderness Survival: How To Catch Edible Frogs

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How To Catch Edible Frogd

Frogs are considered a delicacy or as a routine food in many parts of the world. Remember that fact when forced to survive in the wilderness and the idea of hunting frogs for eating gives you chills.

Even though many frogs are on the verge of extinction, there are others with so many members that they can serve as a food source in time of need. Read the following article to learn which frogs are safe for eating, and how to catch and turn them into a tasty meal.

Frogs to Avoid

As a rule, most of the frogs in the United States are safe to eat. That being said, as global weather patterns shift, it is entirely possible that poisonous frogs will move into areas where they don’t normally live.

Poison Frog

Here are some frog characteristics that may indicate they have poisonous skin or other body parts that make them unsuitable for eating:

  • Blue, red, yellow, orange, or other brightly colored frogs. As with many other animals in nature, one that is brightly colored tends to signal danger. They are not trying to hide or camouflage themselves because anything that may try to eat them will see the colors and leave them alone.
  • They tend to be active during day hours. Most frogs that are safe to eat will be out during dark hours when their predators are more likely to be asleep or would have a harder time seeing them.
  • They are observed eating prey that consume plants with high alkaline content.  For example, if there are poison ants in the area, and you see frogs consuming them, these particular frogs may be able to take the poison and store it in their skin. With the exception of one species of frog in South America, known poisonous frogs do not make their own poison. Instead, they consume plants with high alkaline content and then store the poison in their skin. It should be noted that the muscle meat from these frogs may still be safe to eat as long as you know how to get the skin and poison sacs off without contaminating the meat.
  • You should also be aware of the differences between frogs and toads, since toads can be poisonous without showing indicators that you would see in frogs. In order to tell the difference between frogs and toads, remember that frogs have smooth skin, while toads will have bumps on them. Frogs also have longer, narrower faces while toads have shorter, wider ones. If you watch a frog capturing its prey, you will notice that it has a sticky tongue that extends easily. By contrast, a toad will actually have to capture its prey in its mouth. Finally, if you watch their motions, frogs will only hop (they also have longer legs than toads) while toads can run and jump as well as hop.

Parts You Can Eat and Parts to Avoid

Typically, most people only eat the back legs of the frog because that is where you will find the most meat. If the frog is especially large, you might also try for the front legs. Even though frogs have a good bit of skin, it is best not to eat it for the following reasons:

  • If the frog is poisonous or going to cause you to get sick, the greatest concentration of poison will be in the skin.
  • Since frog skin is always moist, it is also a prime breeding ground for bacteria. You can easily come into contact with salmonella and several other diseases.  If you must eat frog skins and know that the species is safe, be sure to cook the skins at a high enough temperature.
  • Many people feel that frog skin is a bit strong tasting and a bit hard to swallow. Needless to say, if you are very hungry and very little food is available, you can find ways around these issues.

Insofar as the frog’s internal organs, remember that they consume all kinds of insects. You can be exposed to all kinds of poisons and diseases if you ingest the digestive and related organs. In addition, you will also find that frog organs aren’t very large. You are likely to be wasting more time and effort trying to consume the organs than it’s worth.

Testing to See if the Frog is Edible

Consider a situation where you are an experienced camper, have seen the world, and feel that you know just about all there is to know about living off the land. Perhaps you have eaten frog meat as a delicacy, and have even captured and eaten them on your outdoor adventures. To you, it may make perfect sense to consume frogs in the post crisis world, and it is likely that you will look to them as a valuable source  of nutrition. Now, let’s add one more point in your favor and even say that you know the local species of frogs quite well in many areas of the United States and feel confident that you know which ones are safe to eat and which ones aren’t.

Under these circumstances, you may feel that you don’t need to perform a modified Universal Edibility Test in order to determine if the meat is safe. You, and anyone that you are traveling with that trusts your judgment on these matters can become very sick or even wind up dead for the following reasons:

  • As with any other species on this Earth, offspring can be produced between species that may or may not produce offspring. In this case, as poisonous frogs move from one region to another, they may just produce poisonous offspring that aren’t as colorful or have traits that cause you to mistake them for safe frogs. If you do not run some kind of Universal Edibility Test, you will have no chance to find out the truth before consuming too much of the meat.
  • Nuclear attacks aside, there are many other sources of man made nuclear contamination in the environment. Aside from causing all kinds of mutations, the nuclear material may also have a large impact on insects and other food sources for the frogs you are planning to eat. Even if the frog is from a non-poisonous species, that does not mean it isn’t harboring increased levels of radiation that will pose a risk to your health.
  • Heavy metals, pesticide runoff, fertilizer runoff, and many other industrial poisons find their way into the water where frogs spend most of their lives. As a result, if you don’t pay careful attention to the area where the frogs are living, and the quality of the water, you may wind up consuming all kinds of hazardous materials that have nothing to do with the species of frog you are trying to consume.

When evaluating the safety of frogs (and many other kinds of game) it is best to do a modified form of the Universal Edibility Test that accounts for modern hazards. Bear in mind that there may still be other factors that you will need to consider and account for in adaptions to this basic method:

  • Start off by making sure that you know what region  you are in. Find out if there are nuclear facilities, industrial dumping grounds, old factories, or factory farms within 100 miles of the area where you plan to catch frogs. If any of these factors apply, then be extra careful when evaluating each animal that you are planning to consume.
  • Next, study look at the soil, water, grass, trees, insects, and animals in the area where the frogs are living. Does the water or soil have an unusual odor to it? Dig into the soil and see if there is an unnatural or chemical smell to it. Is the vegetation healthy, or does it show signs of plant tumors, unusual growth patterns, or sickly development? Are there a lot of dead birds, animals, or other insects around? Do you see signs of unusual growth, deformed limbs, erratic behavior, or anything else that might indicate chemical or nuclear poisoning?  If you see sick animals, insects, or plants in the area, you can rest assured the frogs are also contaminated.
  • Now study the frogs. Are they healthy and active during their normal hours of being awake? If so, then you may have a safe, viable source of frogs to hunt.
  • After capturing one frog that you believe safe to eat, study the bones, skin, flesh, and organs for signs of abnormal growth or poisoning. Make sure that you know enough about frog anatomy and diseases so that you can spot the kinds of illness that might indicate the animal and those in the surrounding area may have been exposed to heavy metals or other toxins that might be harmful to you and other survivors. If you see signs of these illnesses, do not capture any more frogs unless you intend to use them as bait.
  • Once you have determined the frog is safe from an environmental perspective, it does not hurt  to make sure you haven’t captured a frog that is a poisonous hybrid. For this, you can follow the more conventional points of the Universal Edibility Test. Carefully skin the frog and separate it into hind legs, front legs, organs, and skin.

If you only intend to eat the hind legs, then just use them fully cooked for the test. Just remember if you decide to try and eat frog organs or skins later on, you will need to the Universal Edibility Test all over again.

Where to Find Frogs

Almost all edible frogs will be found in or near a pond or other shallow bodies of fresh water.  If the body of water has a muddy bank, reeds, or logs dipping into the water, look in these spots first for frog hiding places.

If you are scouting an area at night, listen for the sound of something jumping into the water, as this is likely to be frogs. To draw frogs to your area, you can try making waves in the water to mimic insects or other prey that would be of interest to frogs.

3 Ways to Catch Frogs

With the exception of making a trap for frogs, the other two methods for capturing them usually have to be done at night when the animals are out and searching for prey of their own.

Method 1:  Catch Frogs By Hand

As surprising as it may sound, catching frogs by hand is actually the easiest of the three methods. Once you have spotted a frog, start moving towards it. As you approach the frog, move one hand in circles.

Keep moving your hand with a circular motion, and then simply grab the frog with the other hand when you are close enough. It is best for your catching hand to come from behind the frog since it won’t be able to see your hand that way. You can also aim a flashlight at the frog to stun it temporarily.

Just make sure that you act quickly to grab the frog or it will get away on you.  Once you have hold of the frog, be sure to hold it by the hips and let the rest of your hand support under its armpits. The frog will be unable to get out of your hands.

Method 2: Catch Frogs in a Net

After locating a frog of interest, you can use a flashlight or the circular hand motion to slow down the frog’s attempt to escape. Instead of putting your hands around the frog’s body, use the net to capture it instead.

As with catching frogs by hand, the net should come from behind the frog and swish under it. If the frog is on land, the hoop of the net should fully surround the frog. Try to get your hands onto the frog’s body as quickly as possible.

Do not forget that frogs are strong jumpers. If you have one captured in a net, it can jump around quite a bit and make its escape before you know what is happening.

When choosing a net for catching frogs, make sure that the holes in the net are small enough to prevent the frog from through it. It is also better to choose a net with a shorter handle because you will be less tempted to rely on the mesh of the net to hold the frog until you can a better hold of it.

Method 3: Make a Frog Trap  

Since you may need several frogs to make a good meal,  it is likely that you will want to use traps as well as hunt for them. There are many different ways to make frog traps.

One of the most common ways is to simply get them to fall into a pit or waiting tin that they cannot jump out of easily. In this case, you may set a bucket or something else into the mud bank of a pond, and then cover it over with twigs and leaves. When the frogs land on the twigs, they will fall through and be unable to get out of the pail.

You can also try making a frog trap similar to the way you would make a mosquito catcher. Simply take a plastic bottle, cut the top off, and then invert it into the bottle.  Set a cricket or some other suitable bait inside the bottle. Even though the frog will be able to squeeze into the bottle opening, it will not be able to get back out.

Video first seen on Amber Haines.

How to Prepare Frogs for Cooking

Unlike a fish out of water, a frog won’t simply suffocate and die in a matter of minutes. No matter whether you capture a frog by hand, in a net, or in a trap, you will have to kill the frog and then do a bit of work to make what little meat there is ready for eating.

Dispatching the Frog

As fragile as frogs may seem, they can actually be difficult to kill. The fastest and most humane method is to behead the frog. Some people prefer to pith the frog (basically stick something sharp through the brain case so that the brain is destroyed). Other people crush the frog’s skull by bashing it into something hard or using a hammer.

Skinning the Frog

Skinning a frog is actually much easier than it looks. Follow these steps:

  • Start off by taking a sharp pair of scissors and cut off the feet at the ankles.
  • Next, cut across the lower part of the frog’s belly. Continue cutting until you have made a line all the way around the frog. If you want, at this stage, you can also sever the spine and remove the legs. It is easiest to take them off in pairs so that you do not lose any of the valuable muscle meat. Set the legs aside so that you can check the internal organs for signs of disease.
  • Cut from the bottom of the abdomen up to the throat, and then across the shoulders. Open the flaps and observe the organs.  Do you see signs of tumors, abnormal swelling, or anything else that might indicate the frog had some kind of disease or exposure to hazardous chemicals?
  • If it seems that the frog was healthy, go back and look at the skin from the belly area on the part that is still attached to the legs. You should be able to see a clear color difference between the skin and the flesh beneath it. Take the sharp point of a knife, or even a scissor and gently pry between the flesh and the skin. It will loosen fairly easily. Keep prying until you find something like threads that hold the flesh and the skin together. They will pull apart easily, or snip them with the scissors.
  •  Once you have enough of the skin pulled away from the flesh, just go ahead and pull the skin straight down over the frog’s legs.  Even though frogs skin can be slimy and moist, you should be able to pull the skin with your bare hands. If you are having problems, go ahead and use a pair of pliers.
  • Before cooking the legs, you can cut between them. If there are any organs or other material besides bone and muscle, remove it before cooking.
  • Do not forget to wash the frog legs in clean water to remove bits of the organs or other unwanted residue that may have come from the skin or other parts of the frog.

Video first seen on Crawdaddy Kings

Basic Ways to Cook Frogs

You can cook frogs just as you would any other kind of meat. They can be fried in oil, boiled as for soup and stew, roasted, or baked. Do not forget that frogs also carry bacteria just like any other animal. Make sure that the flesh cooks thoroughly, especially in areas near the bone.

Does it Pay to Grow Edible Frogs?

If you have a homestead or are planning to raise smaller animals for meat, you may be very tempted to try raising frogs instead of fish. Here are some advantages and disadvantages to consider:

  • Even though frogs are fairly easy to care for, it can take several years for them to grow large enough to eat.
  • Since frogs are considered a delicacy in many parts of the world, you can purchase frogs that are specifically bred for human consumption. Depending on your needs, you may want to start off with about 6 or 7 pairs of frogs and then calculate how many you will need for routine nutritional needs.
  • If you have a homestead and outdoor ponds, you can keep edible frogs around to control the insect population. In fact, if you also have larger animals that tend to draw flies and other insects, a few frogs may be quite useful.
  • There are few, if any municipal codes that would prevent you from keeping frogs as pets. As such, you can more than likely keep several dozen of them indoors without may problems. Just remember that you will have to keep a fairly large number of if you expect to have a steady diet of frog legs.
  • When it comes to alternative meats, frogs taste like chicken.  Once they are skinned and cooked, they also don’t look all that different from conventional meat. As a result, adapting to frog meat may be easier and more palatable than trying to adjust to insects. You use them as a “gateway” alternative food if you already know that you will need to make the jump to indoor insect farming.

Right now, there are many species of frog that are plentiful to the point of being a nuisance in some areas. This, in turn, leads more than a few people to believe they will make a viable source of food in a crisis situation.

Even if you are an experienced hunter or camper, and have consumed frogs before, it is important to exercise caution. In these times, our society is not the only thing that is changing. There are subtle, and not so subtle changes happening to the climate and temperatures on this planet. Animals, including frogs, will adapt as quickly as they can. These adaptions may include mating with neighboring poisonous species that will make it harder to determine which frogs are safe to eat.

When consumed with care and awareness, frogs can make a valuable and nutritious meal that should not be overlooked. You may also want to consider the advantages and disadvantages of raising frogs so that you do not have to hunt them or be as concerned about consuming poisonous or diseased specimens by accident.

If I missed something in this post or you’ve tried this wild delicacy, leave a comment in the section bellow and share your experiences and tips with all the readers.

Our ancestors’ experiences serve as a great lesson for those planning to survive any hard times to come. Click on the banner bellow to discover more lost pioneer survival skills!


This article has been written by Carmela Tyrell for Survivopedia.



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45 Survival/SHTF Tips

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45 Survival/SHTF Tips If you look long enough you will find millions and millions of hacks, tips and advice to help you with every situation known to man. Well, this article is no exception. Survivehive shows us 45 survival & SHTF tips that we all can learn even if we are seasoned survivalists. I have recently started wearing …

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13 Uses For Pine Trees For Self-Reliance

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13 Uses For Pine Trees For Self-Reliance If you find yourself in a survival situation in the middle of a pine forest, you actually have a lot of resources available in your natural surroundings. In other terms, you are lucky and with this knowledge could survive pretty well compared to other situations you could find …

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Primitive vs. Modern: The Importance of Keeping Skills in Context

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by Todd Walker

Primitive vs. Modern: The Importance of Keeping Skills in Context ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

From time to time I get comments on my blog from folks wanting to see more survival stuff without modern equipment involved. These types of comments appear more frequently on my YouTube channel. Here’s a recent one from a my One-Stick-Fire in the Rain video using a ferrocerium rod as my ignition source…

“pleeaaaaase im just waiting to see if some “survival” channel teaches how to do it without these gadgets like fire rods and matches and stuff like that…. come on!”

Spark ignition in the rain is not hardcore enough for some folks. Comments like this don’t offend me in the least. It highlights the symptoms too often seen in of our modern online survival community: We thirst for knowledge but lack real, hands-on experience.

You can certainly gain knowledge if the information comes from reputable sources. However, no matter how reputable or experienced the presenter may be, you can only gain experience by actually Doing the Stuff in the field.

This is a natural progression of what flows from Hollywood minds. Joe Q. Public’s hunger for entertainment and the “next-level” survival show keeps TV production companies scrambling for ratings… all the way to the bank.

The stuff I do is quite boring I’ve been told. I’ll admit, I’m not the most exciting guy in the woods. I like to think I’m smart at times, though. Sensationalism is not my thing. Over-the-top TV stuns shouldn’t be yours either if you ever need to survive in the wilderness.

Skills in Context

Our level of field experience and skills should determine what we carry to the woods. I carry modern tools like a ferro rod, Bic lighter, matches, and other so-called “gadgets” when camping or tramping in the woods. Does this make me less of a woodsman? It may in the eyes of those insulated by technology who have never had to light and maintain a fire in a rain-soaked forest.

Could I start a sustainable friction fire in the rain with resources collected from the forest landscape?

Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never gone on a self-imposed survival trip without modern fire tools. I practice primitive fire craft while in the woods but always carry backups. In theory, I should be able to leave modern fire starters at home. One day soon I’ll have to trade this theory for action.

But for now, let’s address keeping skills in context.

“if it’s not in context, it’s just arts and crafts.”

~ Steven M. Watts (1947-2016)

Wilderness survival skills are often taught in a vacuum without background information on how these skills personally relate to the student, locale, and history. I’m fortunate to be a student of Scott Jones in the field of primitive technology and experimental archaeology. Scott wrote his latest book, Postcards to the Past, with the intent of developing “practical perspectives for observing, interpreting, and utilizing the natural world” by modern primitive practitioners like myself.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott Jones firing the bamboo atlatl at a class this summer

I may have hands-on knowledge of fire by friction, but do I have the wisdom to know “when” and “why” to use this skill? I have been humbled on more than one occasion attempting to spin up a coal with friction fire techniques on “dry” days in Georgia. Our humidity sticks to you like fly paper. Add a steady rain or a slight drizzle and I reach for my thumb drill (Bic lighter) or other modern devices to start my fire.

Should you add friction fire methods to your skill set? Is it even practical?

The more I sweat, the less I freeze. The meaning of this statement should not be taken literally. Sweating in cold weather is big no-no. What I mean by this is that the more I practice primitive, the more confidence I build in using a bow and drill or hand drill as a survival insurance policy.

On my journey of outdoor self-reliance, I have found that nothing beats preparedness. Even on day hikes with Dirt Road Girl, I carry my haversack packed with emergency shelter, water bottle, sheath knife, tarred mariner’s line, with room for other essentials… and the occasional rock that catches her eye. Instead of making shelter from forest floor debris, a time and labor intensive doing, my emergency space blanket or GI poncho can be strung up with little effort if need be.

Again, context is essential. Do you want to Learn to Return or Learn to Stay?, as Chris Noble wrote in one of his excellent articles at Master Woodsman a few years back. Skills to return or stay may overlap. The tools and mindset to acquire comfort in the woods are what distinguishes the two. However, the logical choice for most outdoorsy folk is the later.

One of my favorite quotes from Scott Jones in Postcards to the Past is…

“one of my goals is to get people to think about what the think they think.”

The first peoples to settle a land had to make do with what they had, not what they wished they had available. Skills to accomplish this task were passed down from generation to generation. For us moderns, through practice and experimentation, we too can incorporate these wilderness living skills to expand our options.

The main reason I practice primitive fire is the integration into the natural world I gain. My senses sharpen when woods trekking if I plan to make fire by friction. With a keen sense of urgency, I take note of overlooked trees and their dead limbs to determine if a tree swallowed fire, and, in return, will pass fire onto me. As Native American stories go, not every tree swallowed fire.

Another practical reason for friction fire practice is the attention to detail required. Preparing finely processed tinder material which will turn a small coal into fire is a practice which transfers nicely when using an open flame or 3,000 degree sparks from a modern ferro rod.

Friction fire demo at my school

Friction fire demo at my school

Mastering different fire by friction techniques is my goal. My middle school students love this stuff. But it’s not a method I try first when I’m cold and wet. Add the stress of a real survival situation with accompanied elevated heart rate and the fine motor skills needed to craft an effective bow drill set from the landscape is quickly lost. This bit of context is lost on most folks watching entertaining videos from the comfort of home.

But our pre-history ancestors did it. That’s the only choice they had. I’ll bet Grok would have used a Bic lighter or ferro rod if that technology was available.

As I’ve said before, fire covers a multitude of survival sins. Even if you’re improperly dressed for the environment, fire can help you sleep. As Mors Kochanski says, “The quality of a survival kit is determined by how much it can help you when you need to sleep. If you can sleep well at night, you have it made.”

Until you’ve done enough friction fires that you can’t get ’em wrong, and ironed out all the pesky nuances of twirling sticks together, and you’re ensured that physically injured will never happen, go prepared with modern fire tools. If not, be prepared to be vexed with a cold, wet, miserable, sleepless night in the woods… or worse.

This is not to say you should ditch primitive skills. Nothing could be further from the truth! You just need to keep them in context.

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In praise of the humble Hammock

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Suspended in trees, surrounded by nothing but nature. Pure bliss (hammock listed below)

Suspended in trees, surrounded by nothing but nature. Pure bliss (hammock listed below)

Yes, those things your grandma used to relax in in her garden with a nice book are the way forward when camping.

Hammocks can keep you warm and dry these days – off the big- infested floor and with waterproof covers.

Floor’s damp from rain? Not a problem. Suspended between two trees, you don’t have to worry about creepy crawlies getting into your sleeping bag or resting your head on an uncomfortable surface. Camping hammocks use taut, technical fabrics and are very stable so you’re unlikely to flip out of them. Not the best at setting things up? Not a problem, most of them are easy peasy, much less of a head scratcher than tents.

To keep the autumn chill off your back as you sleep, you can attach one of the fitted “underquilts” that most companies offer—an insulated sling that sits under the hammock. And of course, your sleeping bag and standard sleeping pad will provide extra structure and warmth.

To suspend your hammock, simply wrap “tree straps” around two appropriately spaced trunks. Because this flat webbing is wider than rope, it won’t damage the bark. And tempting though it may be, don’t hang your hammock more than a few feet off the ground. It will be easier to climb in and out if the hammock is lower, and in the unlikely event of a suspension failure, you won’t have as far to fall.

We have listed a few of our faves below for you to take a little peek at:

Eagles Nest Outfitters Single Nest Hammock
Price: $59.95
This one comes in 21 different colors, making it easy to coordinate with your personal style and mix match with the family. It is high strength and can hold up to 400lb, features 70D high tenacity breathable nylon taffeta and triple interlocking stitching. The hammock itself weighs just 1 pound and can be bunched up into a softball-size bundle. ENO attempts to reduce potential waste by using every bit of fabric available in production so it’s eco-friendly, yay!

You can find it/alternatives here if you’re in the UK and here if you’re in Canada.

Hennessy Ultralight Backpacker Classic
Price: $239.95
This light favourite was designed with utility in mind and was eve based on the design of World War II Army hammocks. If this one tickles your fancy, you can look forward to enjoying the following features: A mosquito net sewn right in; a sleeve to hold your sleeping pad in place; a Velcro-sealed doorway allows for easy entry; and an asymmetrical shape allows you to lie across the centerline for a flatter position.

You can find it/alternatives here if you’re in the UK and here if you’re in Canada.

Kammok Roo
Price: $99.00
Lightweight but massive (about 10 feet long by 5½ feet wide), this hammock is an all-enveloping cocoon of strong ripstop fabric. Although it’s intended to accommodate two people, keep it all to yourself. It’s wide enough to allow solo sleepers to lie fairly flat and slightly across the centerline. Its sturdy construction made it feel very stable, even if you’re moving around.

You can find it/alternatives here if you’re in the UK and here if you’re in Canada.

Tensile Trillium Hammock
Price: $250.00
This one is really unique and the perfect hammock for stacking for a multi-level outdoor living environment if you’re camping in a big group. Insulation layers will keep you toasty at night and it can hold a maximum of 800lbs. Set up time is only 8 minutes too!

You can find it here if you’re in the UK and here if you’re in Canada.

The post In praise of the humble Hammock appeared first on Living Off the Grid: Free Yourself.

12 Animals To Learn Climbing Skills From

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It’s amazing to see how coordinated animals are when they climb, like a ballet played out in nature. Still, climbing skills are not about music or art, but reaching a safe point to stand on. Sometimes, climbing it’s only about survival.

Many people overlook improving their climbing skills, and when it comes time to use a rope for climbing, they are unable to manage the situation.

Being able to climb is vital for many areas of interest. It is often done competitively, in jobs that rely on it, for recreational purposes, in emergency rescue, and in military operations. No matter whether you are trying to climb a mountain, a tree, stairs, or scale a building, there is much you can learn by watching how animals achieve similar goals.

If you take the time to watch and observe animals in the wild, each animal group has developed their own special way to climb and descend mountains, trees, and different objects with various textures. Some of these climbing and descending techniques are very simple and quite remarkable to watch and study.

The animals play out great acts of balance as they carry out death defying actions. These activities would kill or seriously injure us if we tried to duplicate them without adapting the techniques to the human form.

These 12 animals are the best for teaching you the climbing tips required in a survival situation. Do you know them?

1. Bears

When bears climb, they look very much like humans climbing. Bears are excellent climbers of both trees and cliffs. They have sharp rugged claws on their front and back feet they can easily grip the surface of trees and cliffs.

Black bears have short, strong claws, a smaller size, and less weight than grizzly bears. The grizzly bear has thicker and longer claws that are more of a hindrance, however they can still climb a tree or cliff faster than a human. Both of these bears wrap their long limbs around the trunk of trees to climb upward or downward. Because of their weight the bears will stay closer to the main trunk and not go out on the smaller weaker branches.

When bears climb up cliffs they use their claws for gripping the rough cliffs walls and to make hand holds to better climb.

Video first seen on Stephanie Latimer.

Climbing Tip: To mimic bears climbing methods, you can use tree climbing spikes commonly used to climb telephone poles.

2. Domestic Cats and Wild Cats

Cats have the ability to climb almost anything from trees to stucco walls. All cats, both big and small, rely on their sharp claws and their will to climb up or down man-made structures, mountains, or trees. Cats – whatever their breed and size are – are very strong climbers and use their strength and balance to overcome any problems during the climb.

Video first seen on Mark Mckelvie.

Climbing Tip: You can learn a lot about how to balance by watching cats climb. While they use their tail as a counterweight, you can use your posture.

3. Monkeys and Baboons

Monkeys and baboons, which are built a lot like humans, are excellent tree climbers and also have the ability to climb cliffs. Like cats, monkeys and baboons benefit from having long tails which they move around as a counter balance.

With their flexible toes they can grab outcroppings or branches as easily as humans can with their fingers. Some monkeys and baboons prefer to live on sheer cliff faces because this keeps them up and out of reach of natural predators like leopards and cheetahs.

Video first seen on Animals World.

Climbing Tip: Since these creatures are built a lot like humans and look similar to us when they climb, you can mimic some of their climbing methods.

4. Goats in Morocco’s Argan Forest

These domesticated goats have been trained to climb trees to graze. When the Argan fruit nuts on these trees are ready to be harvested, the goats eat the fruit, digest it, and passes the seed nuts. The nuts shells are now softer and easier to crack open by the farmers.

The goats’ hooves have two toes that can grip the nut tree as they climb up. Although this tree is about 25 feet tall, it bushes out with thick heavy branches that will hold the weight of several goats.

Video first seen on CBSN.

Climbing Tip: Watch the way the goats use two toes to climb and think about how you can do something similar with tabi boots.

5. Mountain Goats

The mountain goat has the ability to climb almost vertical mountain walls. They do this with a beautiful grace of movement. The sides of the goat’s toes consist of the same hard keratin found on the hoof of a horse or deer. Each of the toes has wrap around toenails that can be used to catch and hold to a crack or a tiny knob of rock.

Since there is also a traction pad that extends slightly past the nail, it can support the weight of the goat as it climbs upwards. This pad also has a rough textured surface that provides a great amount of friction on smooth rock or ice.

Video first seen on Arvor Pepper.

And wait, there is more to tell about climbing goats! Look at these Alpin goats climbing a dam wall in Italy:

Video first seen on AFP news agency.

Climbing Tip: Man can learn balance, being sure footed, path planning, and grace from the mountain goats. You can also look for climbing aides that resemble the nail and toe structure of these animals.

6. Sloths

Sloths are very slow moving animals, but still very effective climbers. They use long, hooked claws to reach upper branches, and then simply dangle from them. When a sloth climbs up a tree, they climb head up with their arms, legs, and claws wrapped around the tree.

When a sloth descends a tree, they back down the tree carefully with their arms, legs, and claws gripping the tree.

Video first seen on mermaid5651.

Climbing Tip: The sloth can teach man to take it easy when climbing. Do your climb slowly and methodically. Finally plan out your climb to be as safe as possible.

7. Raccoons

Racoons are excellent climbers no matter whether they are trying to navigate exterior walls of houses, fences, or trees.

With their long claws and very flexible fingers and toes, they can grip very rough surfaces or smooth ones with ease. They can be quick and methodical in their climbing techniques. Some people believe that a raccoon can think and that they can solve climbing problems quickly.

Video first seen on Newsflare.

Climbing Tip: A raccoon can teach you to study what you are about to climb and choose the best tools for safety. You can use some of their finger and toe techniques as long as you also understand how the lack of claws may make it more difficult for you to use the same methods.

8. Snakes

The fact that snakes can climb trees is common knowledge. Snakes can also climb vertical walls if need be. These reptiles use a form of locomotion in which some parts of their body stop and grip while other parts extend forward to climb. Snakes have unbelievable flexibility with hundreds of vertebrae and very precise muscle control. They can also extend scales on the underside of their body for increased grip.

Video first seen on Steve Crumbaker.

Climbing Tip: From snakes, you can learn about the use of suction and gripping when climbing.

9. Squirrels

Not only can squirrels climb trees, but they also have the ability to climb a vertical concrete wall. This is due to their sharp, hook like claws. They also have highly mobile ankles that allows them to rotate their back feet around backwards, which allows them to hang from and climb a variety of surfaces.

Video first seen on jazevox.

Climbing Tip: Squirrels teach man to be flexible and not stiff when climbing. Balance is also very important to stay on the mountain or when climbing a tree.

10. Coconut Crab

The coconut crab is one of the few crabs that can climb trees. These crabs are found on islands in the Indian Ocean. They can grow to about three feet across and weighs about ten pounds and they feed mainly on fruits and vegetables.

As their name implies, they also have a great love for coconuts. The coconut crabs will actually climb trees using their long, spiny legs, which they wrap around the tree trunk. When they are high enough, they use their large heavy claws to cut and snatch down coconuts. Sometimes the crabs drop the coconuts to the ground, or they will carry them down the tree to the ground.

Video first seen on clynt25.

Climbing Tip: As you watch these crabs, you can learn more about how to wrap your arms and legs around a small tree trunk, how to get a better grip on the tree you wish to climb and how to collect coconuts.

11. Spiders

The spider’s legs are studded with microscopic hairs which allow them to stick, and to walk on walls and ceilings by electrostatic attraction. Spiders also have tiny tarsal claws that can grip the minute textures of surfaces, even though these surfaces appear smooth to the naked eye.

Video first seen on Animalist.

Climbing Tip: You can look for suction cups and similar devices that might mimic the hairs and hooks used by spiders.

12. Geckos

Geckos have the ability to walk up the smoothest surfaces. They use micro-hairs on their feet called setae to adhere via van der Waals forces (basically this causes molecules to adhere to each other).

Video first seen on John Tandler.

Climbing Tip: When choosing shoes for climbing, look for ones that have treads that will do something similar to the setae on gecko feet.

Man has a lot of things to learn from animals on how to climb mountains or trees. Animals make it look so simple, but remember it took many generations for their bodies to adapt, and for them to acquire the special skills to use those adaptions.

You can still use some of their methods when developing your own climbing skills, or choosing gear that will make climbing easier and safer.

If you have any experience in using climbing techniques, please share them with our community in the comment section below.


This article has been written by Fred Tyrell for Survivopedia.

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Minimalist Prepping!

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Minimalist Prepping! Tom Martin “Galt$trike” This show in player below! On the following episode of Galt Strike I have Bob Hawkins again to discuss minimalist prepping. Do we really need so much stuff? How about prepping with much less? I always get asked what is the best thing to invest in prepping. My answer is always skills. … Continue reading Minimalist Prepping!

The post Minimalist Prepping! appeared first on Prepper Broadcasting |Network.

DIY: The Long-Lasting, Easy-To-Make Survival Glue Your Ancestors Used

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DIY: The Long-Lasting, Easy-To-Make Survival Glue Your Ancestors Used

The finished product Image source: Cody Assmann

Bushcraft and survival skills are often the process of reverse engineering. Take fire, for example. If you want to learn how to make a friction fire, you would begin by learning how to make a bow drill set, what materials you would need, and how to actually make the coal. Eventually, you would probably figure out how to make a coal and create your first friction fire.

For a short period of time, you would be happy with this accomplishment and continue practicing the skill. Over time, though, you may become curious about other aspects of the drill set. You might begin to wonder: “How did people create the string in the bow drill?” or “What tools did they use if they didn’t have steel to shape the wood?” I can tell you from experience that as you dig deeper and deeper, you’ll truly begin to understand how little you know.

DIY: The Long-Lasting, Easy-To-Make Survival Glue Your Ancestors Used

Materials needed. Image source: Cody Assmann

Another appealing aspect of bushcraft is the real world application of the knowledge you gain. Unlike some aspects of our formal education, everything you learn in bushcraft can be directly implemented in your life. The fact is, they were all skills people used regularly. When I started making my own primitive arrows, I learned an awful lot about the lives and skills of people who depended on their arrows to stay alive. I also learned how to create a product I could take into the field and actually help me on a hunt. The skills of the past definitely are relevant today.

Learn The Tricks Of The Word’s Top Survivalists!

During my experience in making arrows, I eventually began to reverse engineer the process. Over time, I would learn to wrap my arrows with sinew, straighten the shafts using fire, and process turkey feathers for my fletchings. One aspect of the project that really drew my curiosity was how primitive archers created the glue they needed to attach points and fletchings.

I eventually learned that ancient people sometimes used an adhesive called “pine pitch glue” that was made from all-natural materials. I learned quickly that this all-natural glue is not only an excellent way to attach feathers to my arrow shafts, but is an outstanding adhesive in general. For anyone interested in primitive skills, making their own archery gear, or developing skills for a survival situation, learning how to make pine pitch glue is about as simple as it gets.

The first thing you will need to do in order to make this primitive glue is to gather your materials. To begin, you’ll need to find a source of the material that lends its name to the glue: pine pitch. Pine pitch is a golden resin you’ll find seeping from scars, broken branches, or any piercing of pine trees. When the sap first finds its way out of the tree, it is soft and sticky and cannot be gathered. Once it has had sufficient time to dry, however, pine pitch hardens and becomes easy to gather and store until you are ready to start your project. The amount of glue you’ll need depends on the amount of glue you want to make. Around half a cup to a full cup would be a good amount for your first project.

DIY: The Long-Lasting, Easy-To-Make Survival Glue Your Ancestors Used

Pulverized charcoal. Image source: Cody Assmann

With your pine pitch in the bag, you’ll need to find some charcoal or some other filler material to bind the resin. Other examples of binding materials are wood or bone shavings, or dried dung of herbivores. Whatever material you obtain, it will need to be ground into a fine powder. It is best to use a round stone and simply grind your material until it is as fine as possible. The amount of binding material needed isn’t an exact science and will take some experimentation. I would suggest to begin with around half as much binding material as you have pine pitch. Finally, you’ll need a small stick that will carry the glue for you, a fire, and a tin can of some kind. Obviously, ancient people didn’t have tin cans, so if you’d like to stay primitive you can substitute a thin flat rock.

This Cool-To-The-Touch Lantern Provides 100,000 Hours Of Emergency Backup Lighting

As previously mentioned, the actual process for making pine pitch glue is incredibly straightforward. Once your materials are gathered and you have a fire rolling, let the fire burn down to a good bed of coals. Next, fill up the tin cup with the resin you gathered and place the tin in the bed of coals. You’ll be surprised how quickly the hard resin turns into a thick sludge of melted sap. Stir the mixture in order to make sure all of the resin is melted down evenly. If you find any additional substances such as bark or dirt in the sap, you can remove it from the mixture. These would cause an inferior product if left in the glue. Next, take your pulverized binding material — charcoal in this case — and add it to the melted resin. Stir the mixture well. At this point you now have made pine pitch glue, which if allowed to cool will become very hard.

DIY: The Long-Lasting, Easy-To-Make Survival Glue Your Ancestors Used

Melted resin. Image source: Cody Assmann

Before you allow the glue to cool, however, you need to get it out of the tin. The final step is to take the small stick you found and begin to scoop the pitch out of the tin. As the glue begins to cool it will harden and you can shape it on the stick. The shape of the pitch doesn’t matter, but many folks make it resemble a cattail. Continue to scoop more and more of the liquid glue out of the tin onto the now cool stockpile you have. Once you have removed as much glue from your tin as possible, all you have to do is wait for your project to cool. It can easily be stored and transported until needed. When you find yourself in a situation where you need to use some of the glue, simply heat it over a flame and apply it to the surface you would like to bind.

Pine pitch glue is an excellent natural adhesive. It was used extensively by ancient people to bind fletchings and secure stone, and bone points to arrow or spear shafts. It can also be used to repair holes in tents, packs, or even shoes. Really, anything you would hot-glue together can be bonded using pine pitch. Pine pitch glue may not stand out as one of the top necessary resources or skills of a survival situation. However, when you begin to think about all of the possible uses of the glue, and the utter simplicity of the process, it is easy to see how learning the process is well worth your time. Even if you never need to use this exceptional glue, learning how to make it will help you better understand the lives of those folks who came before us, and the skills they mastered to live seamlessly with the natural world.

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

School of the Woods: Turning My Classroom Inside Out

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by Todd Walker

“In the school of the woods there is no graduation day.”

~Horace Kephart, The Book of Camping and Woodcraft, 1910


I deal with an inner struggle with every math lesson forced upon students.

They groan and ask, “When will we ever use algebra in real life?”

If I’m honest, my response is, “Never, unless you plan on teaching math one day.”

But that’s not entirely true. There’s that high-stakes test looming at the end of the year to determine who can regurgitate all the rote-learning jammed into a brain surging with teenage hormones. Forcing them to learn stuff they’re not interested in is as painful as pulling your own tooth with a rusty hobnail.

I can’t make them learn, but I can let them learn. In my experience, children who are allowed to follow their interests will learn across all academic disciplines enthusiastically.

We all learn the stuff we are interested in learning. I scraped by in all my college English classes with a solid C minus average. I hated writing and reading because it was forced upon me. Today is different. I taught myself to write (some may argue that point) because I have a real-world goal of sharing my journey to self-reliance and preparedness. Research and writing, unlike my college days, are now enjoyable as I purse my interests.

Here’s the thing…

Children (and adults) learn not by passively absorbing information but because something becomes interesting to them – or they watch and listen to others doing interesting stuff. Every school year my students discover my blog and YouTube channel. They get excited and want to start Doing the Stuff that I write about or demonstrate on video.

Children need space to learn naturally. Intuitively, they want to discover and develop intellectual skills – not become grand test-takers. Our rigid system of schooling promotes the latter. But awakenings happen. Moments like last Friday.

Friction Fire Friday

Capitalizing on my student’s interest in a few topics of self-reliance, and my love for the magic of friction fire, we left the classroom for a bow and drill fire demonstration. All sorts of science and math are involved in self-reliance. Heck, I’ve even witnessed students who are self-proclaimed book-haters open books on their own accord to learn about self-reliant skills. The possibilities are frightening.

School of the Woods: Turning My Classroom Inside Out ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Loading the spindle

Opening my box of tinder material and other primitive fire making tools, the Science lesson began…

“How hot does your stove top need to get to boil water?” I asked. The boiling point of water is 212º F so it must be hotter than that, right? Agreement was reached. Your electric range top is powered by fire traveling through copper wires without burning your home to the ground. Fire has always been the center piece of homes since primitive times… and it was never as easy as we have it today.

By rubbing two sticks together, we will conduct enough heat to the charred dust for spontaneous combustion.

“How hot do you think we need get the wood dust?”

Answers ranged from 200 to 250, and biscuit-baking temperature. Your oven at home doesn’t even reach the temperature needed. Through friction, we can create enough heat to raise the wood temperature to between 700-800 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s hot!

I pointed out that the cedar spindle we used is similar to a wooden pencil and works in the same way. The eraser end creates more friction than the writing end. When rubbing out an error in an algebra equation, the eraser leaves tiny particles of dust which is flicked away by the writer’s pinky finger.

However, the dust from our fire spindle is precious char and must be collected. Ideally, you want the wood dust to be as fine as baby powder as it collects in the missing slice of pie cut from the hearth board. Finer dust has an increased surface area to volume ratio. More surface area equates to a lower temperature needed for combustion.

After dust collects in the missing pie slice, faster revolutions of the spindle and increased downward pressure will increase the heat to reach the critical temperature needed to cause the charred dust to spontaneously combust.

And the magic happens!

For those interested in learning the bow and drill fire method, reading this won’t achieve the desired results. This is simply book-learning. Don’t expect great results from articles and books and videos. It’s called Doing the Stuff for a reason.

Some suggested do’s and don’ts can be found in our step-by-step guide on bow and drill method. Hopefully, this will offer some things to avoid on your journey to friction fire success.

Back to the lesson…

Surface Area and Fire

Before spinning the spindle, I asked, “What are three things every fire needs to burn?” Three separate students who paid attention in Science class quickly gave the correct answers; heat, air, and fuel. Our heat source is friction. Air, often taken for granted, must be present. Fuel will be our char dust in the beginning.

Not wanting to disappoint the students with smoke only, I choose a proven bow drill set made of Eastern Red Cedar sap wood. Setting up the drill in my bow, I asked which end of the pencil-like spindle should contact the hearth board to create the most friction. “The eraser end,” they answered in unison. Right. The sharp, pointed end has less surface area which equals less friction. My kids are smart scientists!

The grinding begins, followed by smoke… and oohs and aahs… and cell phones clicking pics and videos to document this primitive magic.

School of the Woods: Turning My Classroom Inside Out ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com


Midway through the process my bow string snaps. The bank line on my favorite bow had twirled one too many spindles. I thought of asking the students to donate a shoe lace. Knowing the affection and social status placed on shoes of middle schoolers, I declined. We had just enough cord to wrap around the bow handle and proceed with drilling.

A few determined moments of spinning brought the charred dust to ignition temperature. Smoke floated skyward signaling the birth of a baby fire egg.

Allowing time for the fire egg to mature and grow inside the dust pile, we formed a “bird’s nest” from a handful of roadside pine needles which had been crushed and mangled by vehicle tires to create lots of surface area in the tinder. This stuff is a free, ready-to-use fire resource my primitive technology mentor, Scott Jones, turned me onto.

Birthing the Fire Egg 

A smoldering pile of dust was cool and all but flames licking through my fingers was what the students came to see. We transferred the fragile egg from its welcome mat to the prepared nest of tinder, gently swaddled it, and breathed life into the egg until it hatched into hot flames.

A full-fledged campfire wasn’t permitted. To build a sustainable fire, read our tutorials on Bombproof Fire Craft.

Doing the Stuff in Context

The bow and drill is the easiest of friction fire methods to learn since it maximizes your muscle power through leverage and mechanical advantage. On the second demonstration that day, we had enough time for one student to give it a whirl.

One male students knew all about this wilderness survival stuff from watching, in his words, “all the survival shows.” He knew the facts. He even told the class that we could carry the fire by placing it in dried elephant dung. Sadly, we were fresh out of elephant poop that day. His statement, true where elephants roam, highlights the importance of practicing wilderness skills in your wilderness (urban or rural) by actually Doing the Stuff.

As Steve Watts once said…

“… if it’s not in context, it’s just arts and crafts.”

Naturally, I asked our “survival expert” to try the bow and drill technique. He declined. Why? He knew all the facts but maybe he was afraid of failing in front of his friends. Whatever his reason, none of us can learn a new skill without learning to fail forward.

One of our female basketball players volunteered to try. She was very coachable and demonstrated good technique. For these two reasons, this young lady will probably be the first of my students to birth an ember by rubbing sticks together. We even had our resource officer watch and want to give primitive fire a spin.

Turning Class Inside Out

Not ever child may show interest in making fire from scratch. But I’ll bet they’ll stand in amazement watching the smoke and flames created by rubbing sticks together. This may be the hook needed to get them out of doors and into nature.

Every child needs to curiously explore his or her interest in our natural world. There’s more to this stuff than just building self-reliance skills. Their overall health and wholeness as a human being is the top benefit. Now, get outside and go wild!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has chanced. I do not permit the reposting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Friction Fire Hack: Get Consistent Coals Using a Hand Drill

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by Todd Walker

Primal fire has been coaxed from dead wood by twirling a straight stick between two human palms for millennia. I’m still amazed every time I look down at a pile of charred wood dust smoldering on its on accord and sending wisps of smoke skyward.

Friction Fire Hack: Get Consistent Coals Using a Hand Drill ~ © TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Starting a fire with modern devices, which accompany me on outings, can not compare to our ancient ancestor’s fire. As my preparedness journey moves forward, I find myself practicing primitive more and more. What if those modern devices fail, or run out of fuel, or get lost? Could I create that all-important fire from what the forest provides?

Primitive fire craft includes many methods. The bow and drill may be the most popular for modern primitive practitioners and bushcrafters due to its mechanical advantage found in the bow. However, the hand drill is more simple in design with fewer parts required. Two summers ago I began my journey to master hand-spun fire methods. Blisters turned to calluses as I birthed a primal coal from twirling a stick between my palms.

Here’s a video of my early experimentation with hand-spun fire…

If you’ve tried and failed to bring fire to life with a hand-spun spindle grinding on a piece of wood, here’s a hack which may give you the needed boost to light your first hand drill fire.

Hand Drill Thumb Loops

I have spent many hours spinning sticks on wood without thumb loops to produce embers. Failure in my beginner hand drill experiences was mainly due to running out of strength and stamina at that crucial time where downward pressure and rapid twirling was required to raise the temperature of charred dust to the point of ignition. My arms and shoulders would fatigue killing my technique and any chance of a glowing ember.

Over the years I’ve read of this simple technique which offers twirlers a mechanical advantage with hand drills. A helpful article by Dino Labiste on Primitive Ways made sense to me. I gave it a spin.

Material and Tools

  • Cordage – about two feet of sturdy cordage
  • Spindle – my river cane spindle capable of using wooden plugs or any spindle material you have available
  • Hearth Board – a suitable wood for friction fire 1 to 2 inches wide, 1/2 inches deep, and long enough to place your foot on it with enough board left for drilling
  • Knife – whittling plugs, divots, and hearths
  • Welcome Mat – a leaf, piece of leather, or anything which will collect the charred dust and glowing ember

Step 1: Notch Your Spindle

Cut a 1/8 inch nock in the top of the spindle deep enough for your cordage to mate securely. On my cane spindle, I have a smaller piece of cane which serves to cap the hollow storage chamber at the top of my spindle. I notched the cap as I would a cane arrow or atlatl dart.

Step 2: Cut Cordage to Length

You need a length of cord which will drape through the nock and hang down the spindle. Allow enough excess for tying a loop on each end of the hanging cordage. I tied one loop first, ran the cord over the nock, and estimated the amount needed for the second loop before cutting.

Adjust the length until your thumbs (inserted in the loops) and hands are in the middle of the spindle when assembled.

Step 3: Tie Two Loops

I had planned on using one of the four knots I use most often for camping and woodcraft – the bowline. However, Allen, the son of the landowner who allows me to use their property, showed up at my shelter and taught me a new knot he uses while fly fishing – the perfection loop. Either knot will work, but I enjoy learning new knots.

Friction Fire Hack: Get Consistent Coals Using a Hand Drill ~ © TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The height of your hands should be near the middle of the spindle for balance

Trim the loose ends of the loops near the knots. I found that leftover cordage can get in the way while spinning the spindle.

Step 4: Give ’em a Spin

Place your thumbs through the loops and grip the spindle between your palms. Place the bottom of the spindle in a divot hole in the hearth board. Begin slowly twirling the spindle between your hands to get the feel of how the thumb loops aid in spinning. As you spin you should notice the divot should begin to smoke and create a bit of charred dust around the rim of the divot. Stop and prepare the divot with a V-shaped notch which slices into the pie-shaped divot hole.

Step 5: Go for the Coal

The loops will generate a lot of downward pressure on the hearth board. Don’t overdo it in this beginning stage or you may drill through your hearth board without producing a coal. Spin with medium pressure until the hearth board notch is filled with charred dust. I’ve found that using thumb loops reduces the time needed to generate enough char to fill the board notch.

Friction Fire Hack: Get Consistent Coals Using a Hand Drill ~ © TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A cedar plug insert used on a mimosa hearth board for this coal

Now is the time to apply more downward pressure and rapid spinning. This increases the friction between the spindle and board which raises the temperature of the char dust to ignition temperature. If you think you’re to that point with smoke flying, stop spinning but keep the spindle mated to the board socket. Watch to see if the char is producing smoke on its own. If so, gently remove the spindle and tap the hearth board to loosen the char from the notch. Carefully lift the board and fan the char with your hand. If there’s an ember in there, it will continue to grow and glow.

If you don’t see the char pile smoking, all is not lost. I’ve twirled embers on my second attempt with the same char dust many times.

Congratulations! You’ve produced a primal ember by rubbing two sticks together. Now transfer the fire-egg to a tinder nest and blow it to flame.

Step 6: Trouble Shooting

  • Too much downward pressure in the beginning produces gritty dust. Take a pinch of the dust between your thumb and forefinger to determine how fine the dust feels.
  • Less pressure produces fine dust like baby powder which creates more surface area and increases your chance of ignition.
  • Wood selection has much to do with success or failure with any friction fire method. Some woods are more prone to produce coarse dust. Others char into a fine powder. Experimentation with different wood combinations will prove this point.

This is not an exhaustive essay on how to spin a coal with the hand drill. It is, however, a simple hack which will increase your chances of creating coals consistently.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has chanced. I do not permit the reposting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.


Stay Away from These Poisonous Plants

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by Ryan

Wild edibles are an excellent food source in a survival situation.  In most climates you can find wild edibles year round.  However, eating the wrong plant can make you very sick and can possibly kill you.  Many plants can cause severe diarrhea and vomiting which can lead to dehydration and starvation.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature is bad about placing poisonous look-alike plants right next to the edible ones.

There are a few things you can do to help ensure your safety when eating wild edibles.  The most important rule is to simply avoid any plant you cannot identify.  There are plenty of wild edibles that are easy to identify such as clover and dandelions.  There is no need to take any chances.

Another rule to follow is to cook your wild edibles whenever possible.  Boiling toxic plants will extract some of the toxins into the water.  If you boil and drain plants three times before eating, it will give you a much better chance of staying healthy.

One other strategy is to know what plants to avoid.  As a general rule for berries, black and blue colored berries are the safest bet. White and red berries are poisonous over 50% of the time, but black and blue berries are safe 90% of the time.  With the exception being morels, I avoid all mushrooms.  They are just too hard to identify if you are not an expert.

Keep in mind that the words “poisonous” and “toxic” are relative terms.  People eat plants that can be considered toxic all the time.  Many plants only have a certain part that are poisonous or have to be eaten a certain way.  Some of the plants mentioned in this article are eaten by specific cultures on a daily basis.  However, these plants pose enough risk that they need to be avoided unless you read up on how to prepare them.

There are several other plants that could fool you if you are not careful.   These plants look like food but are far from it.  Please pay special attention to these plants:

carolina horsenettle fruit

Horse Nettle – This plant looks much like a tomato but is highly toxic.  The plump fruit may be tempting, but eat it and you will end up with severe stomach pain along with a slowing of respiration and heartbeat.  Remember that there are no edible tomato-like plants in the wild.


Pokeberries – These juicy blue berries are the exception to the rule.  They look delicious.  In fact, I have come very close to eating them myself but decided to look them up first.  A handful can kill a child and twice that would kill an adult.

poison ivy

Poison Ivy – Most people know that this plant will cause an itchy rash.  It secretes a poisonous oil called Urushiol that can affect the skin even after it has been transferred from the plant.  Get some on your clothes and you can still break out a week later when you are doing the laundry.  In addition, burning wood with poison ivy growing on it can actually get the urushiol in your lungs.  Just remember ‘leaves of three, let it be’. If you get some on your skin, you have about 20 minutes to scrub the area with soap and water before it is too late.

wild cherries

Wild Cherries – Like many fruits, both the leaves and the pits contain cyanide.  There are small amounts in the fruit, but you would have to eat a lot of them to get sick.  I have eaten these several times on survival challenges and have been fine, but do not accidentally swallow the pit.

virginia creeper

Virginia Creeper – This fine slightly resembles poison ivy, but a rash is not the worst this plant can deliver.  It has small purple berries that are strong enough to kill an adult.  The leaves can also give you a rash, so steer clear.

solanum nigrum

Nightshade – This blue colored berry looks very similar to blueberries.  This is part of the reason it is so dangerous.  The berries are highly toxic.  If you see blueberries but that are not growing on a woody plant, leave them alone.


Buckeye – This nut resembles a hickory nut, but can be deadly.  The green outer husk makes it look like food, but after removed the shiny nut inside looks very different from a hickory nut.  If you are going after hickory nuts, look for meat more similar to a walnut or pecan.

asian dogwood

Dogwood Berries – The dogwood is very common in the US and can be found in shady areas where the leaves are protected from direct sunlight.  In the spring they bloom white or pink and they produce red berries in the fall.

holly berries

Holly Berries – You probably can identify holly from Christmas decorations, but the red berries need to be avoided.  The spiny leaves of the holly are easy to identify and the berries are firm and brightly colored.


Wisteria Seed Pods – Cultivated beans are a great food source, but many wild legumes are toxic.  The see pod of the Wisteria looks like green beans, but do not eat them.  They likely would not kill you, but you would be sick enough to regret the decision.


Rhododendron – This plant is common in landscaping and the leaves look much like bay leaves.  However, you do not want to use these in your cooking.  They smell foul and will contaminate any food with which they are cooked.


Agave – At first glance you would think this cactus-like plant is edible.  However, it emits a sap that causes skin irritation and consuming it can lead to liver and kidney failure.  The only cactus that is consistently edible is prickly pear cactus, and only in small amounts.


Bitter Almonds – Avoid eating almonds in the wild.  Many varieties have a substance that the human body converts to cyanide.  Eat enough of these and it will lead to illness and possibly death.

apple seeds

Fruit Seeds/pits – Most fruit you find in the wild has some amount of cyanide in the seeds or pits.  You would need to eat large amounts to cause any problems, but make sure you discard any seeds or pits.

American Bittersweet

photo: pverdonk on Flickr.com

American Bittersweet – This viney plant has orange berries that look edible, but they should be avoided.  Eating them will lead to cramps, diarrhea, and vomiting.

robinia pseudoacacia

Black Locust Seed Pods – These pods look like snap peas and have black seeds inside.  Eating the leaves, bark, or seed pods can lead to blood cell, liver, and kidney damage.

castor beans

Castor Beans – These beans are used to make castor oil, but contain a lethal poison.  These beans have been used in several assassination attempts.  One or two will kill a child and six will kill an adult.  They will cause vomiting, seizures, and eventually death.

melia azedarach

Chinaberries – These yellow berries grow in bundles.  The chinaberry tree spreads aggressively and is considered a nuisance plant in most of the country, mainly because of the danger of it’s berries.

death camas

photo: Tom Hilton on Flickr.com

Death Camas – Native Americans and settlers initially thought that the bulbs of this plant were edible.  They learned their lesson the hard way.  Every part of this plant is highly toxic.

dolls eyes

photo by Distant Hill Gardens on Flickr.com

Doll’s Eye Berries – These berries are white with a black dot on the end.  In addition to being super creepy, they can be fatal.  The berries contain a toxin that shuts down the heart muscle leading to cardiac arrest.

elder berries

Elderberry plant – While the berries of this plant are edible and commonly used in pies or jams, the rest of the plant is bad news.  Eating the leaves will make you mighty sick and eating the root could kill you.

juniper berries

Juniper berries – Also known as a cedar tree, junipers are evergreens that produce a blue or purple berry.  There is much controversy surrounding these berries as some cultures do eat them.  However, large amounts can lead to diarrhea and vomiting.


photo by Lindley Ashline on Flickr.com

May Apples – these plants may sound like food, but do not be fooled.  Eating any part of the plant will cause severe stomach pain and vomiting.


photo by Fritz Flohr Reynolds on Flickr.com

Moonseeds – The fruit and leaves of this plant look very much like a grape vine, so be careful.  This plant only has one seed in the fruit whereas grapes have several seeds.

Morning Glory Seeds – These seed will make you sick, but they also cause hallucinations.  If you eat enough, it has a similar effect to LSD.  However, they can be accompanied by cramps, nausea, and hypotension.

pointed chervil Hemlock

Hemlock – This plant greatly resembles wild carrots or parsley.  It has a distinctive sour smell that helps with identification.  Hemlock shuts down the electrical impulses from the brain causing respiratory failure. There are even reports of people dying from eating birds that had previously eaten hemlock. When found near water, this plant produces a white flower that resembles queen ann’s lace.  Even if you survive hemlock poisoning, you will likely have amnesia and tremors for the rest of your life.  It is considered the most poisonous plant in North America.

Wild Potatoes – Mature potatoes are a great food source, but the leaves and stems are dangerous.  The root also contains poison when it is immature, so make sure it has fully developed.  The tops of the plants should start to die off before digging them up.

rosary peas

Rosary Peas – These red berries are often used in making rosaries.  However, they are dangerous even to handle.  There are reports of people pricking their finger will working with the peas and ending up dead.  Only one berry is enough to kill a full grown man.

Here’s How to Test Them…

Any time that you are trying out a wild edible for the first time, you need to ease into it.  Only try one variety at a time so you can determine which plant was the issue if you get sick.  Start by breaking it up and rubbing the juices on the underside of your wrist.  Wait 20 minutes to check for a reaction.  Next, touch a bit to the inside of your lips.  Wait 20 minutes to check again.  Next, chew some up and shove it between your gums and lip.  Wait 20 minutes.  Next, swallow a small amount and wait for any reaction.  At this point you should be safe to eat more, but never eat too much of any one plant.  Even if it is not poisonous, plants can be hard on your stomach if you are not used to eating them.

Final Words

When looking at food choices in a survival situation, your focus needs to be on risk versus reward.  How can you get the most calories possible while expending the fewest calories possible?  However, the risk of getting sick must be factored into that decision.  If you are confident in your identification skills, collecting wild edibles can be the easiest way to a meal by far.  However, if you have any doubt it is probably a bad idea.

If you think you have eaten a poisonous plant, force yourself to vomit immediately.  You can also eat charcoal to help absorb some of the toxins.  Of course, if poison control is an option then make the call or head to the ER.  It’s hard to say how much time you have before you are incapacitated, so do not wait.  If you start to notice symptoms, take action immediately.  I hope that some of this information will be helpful if you ever find yourself in that situation.


Neither the author nor http://modernsurvivalonline.com/ shall be held liable for any misuse of the information presented in this article. use it at your own risk.

Backcountry Belt Kit: Essential Tools to Carry Around Your Waist

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by Todd Walker

Backcountry Belt Kit: Essential Tools to Wear Around Your Waist ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com


There are many scenarios where you may be separated from your backpack and gear. Tipping a canoe or tumbling down a ravine come to mind. These types of accidents can quickly relieve you of the gear which makes for a comfortable wilderness outing. Having essential gear in your pockets and attached to your belt could turn your luck around, and, not being too dramatic here, could literally save your life.

I leave my main pack at base camp on short scouts on backcountry outings. Depending on the purpose of my trek, I usually grab my canteen set and head out. Of course, the ring belt I made is secured around my waist… always! No matter what happens to my other gear, essential stuff is attached to my ring belt. That’s right, I wear two belts: 1.) A traditional belt to prevent me from looking like a hip-hopper “who be sagging” in the woods; 2.) My ring belt to keep self-reliance tools secure and accessible.

Here is what’s on my belt…

Belt Kit Items

First, let’s look at the ring belt itself. I bought a strip of leather and crafted the belt using a D-ring, Chicago screws, and waxed thread. It’s a simple design I first learned from Justin Wolfe at Wolfe Customs. To make your own, use a leather belt blank which measures about 20 inches longer than your normal belt. Attach a ring or D-ring and your set.

My D-Ring belt after completion.

My D-Ring belt after completion.

To tie a ring belt, thread the end through the ring around your waist. Run the end under the belt from the bottom creating a loop. Pass the end back through the loop and cinch tight. If you don’t have a ring belt, traditional belts will work. However, one advantage of ring belts is their ability to be worn over heavy winter clothing for easy access to frequently used tools in the field.

One alternative use for the leather ring belt is a strop for cutting tools. Loop the belt around a tree and pull tight. Strop your knife by moving the blade up and down the leather with the cutting edge facing the opposite direction of the stropping motion.


Arguably one of the most important tools for outdoor self-reliance, a sharp knife is essential. Whatever knife rides on your belt, testing its abilities and limits is paramount. Before depending on a particular knife, put it through blue-collar woodcraft work for several months. By the end of your test period, you’ll know whether or not it fits your needs.

The Genesis on the left is Dirt Road Girl's knife... which I've been testing for over a year now.

The Genesis on the left is Dirt Road Girl’s knife… which I’ve been testing for over a year now.

If you’re just new to bushcraft/woodcraft, I’d recommend reading my article on Bloated Bushcraft to give you some perspective on knives and skills.

My main belt knife is a L.T. Wright Genesis I purchased for my lovely Dirt Road Girl at the 2015 Blade Show. Ya see, I’m just running it through its paces to see if it’ll be dependable for her.😉 This article isn’t a Best-Knife discussion. There’s no such thing. However, I have found her Genesis to be very robust and resilient over the last year in the field.

Fire Kit

At our last Georgia Bushcraft Campout, I was fortunate enough to win a really well crafted possibles pouch made by Reliance Leatherworks in a fire challenge. This pouch replaced an old military pouch I carried for five years which had previously housed my fire kit.

Backcountry Belt Kit: Essential Tools to Wear Around Your Waist ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Possibles Pouch Fire Kit: 1) Possibles pouch, 2) Pouch for flint and steel, lighter, fat lighter’d, tonteldoos, and char tin, 3) Tonteldoos, 4) Char tin, 5) Flint and steel, 6) Bic lighter, 7) Magnifying lens in leather pouch atop birch bark container from Siberia, 8) Fat lighter’d, 9) tinder

The contents of my fire kit pouch consist of multiply methods to burn sticks.

You may have noticed that my ferrocerium rod is not in the pouch content list. The reason is that I carry a rather large ferro rod in a leather sheath alongside my folding saw. More on those items later.

The idea behind a good fire kit is to carry multiple methods of starting a fire in various weather conditions. Having different ignition sources gives you options. You can read about the advantages and disadvantages of each source in our Bombproof Fire Craft Series.

Ferrocerium Rod and Folding Saw

Being resourceful, I shop antique stores, thrift shops, and yard sales. I found a one-dollar leather sheath which was used to hold screw drivers and re-purposed it to hold my Bacho folding saw and large ferro rod. A carabiner connects the sheath to my belt. A pair of leather work gloves also hang from the carabiner.

For a handle on my ferro rod, two feet of one inch Gorilla Tape is wrapped around the end of the rod with a loop of paracord taped into the wrap. Here’s my reasoning for this handle:

  • Extra Gorilla Tape is never a bad thing
  • Epoxied handles tend to come loose with heavy use over time – not so with this tape
  • The loop allows me to clip the rod to the carabiner on the ring belt and insert into the folding saw sheath
Backcountry Belt Kit: Essential Tools to Wear Around Your Waist ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The paracord loop is secured to my belt through the carabiner on my saw sheath


I carry a sidearm in the woods and everywhere legally allowed. You just never know what you’ll walk up on in the woods. Four-legged predators don’t concern me much in Georgia. Walking to my base camp recently I saw gang graffiti painted on rocks in the pristine creek. Just up the creek my semi-permanent shelter was tagged in red spray paint as well. This happened on 70 acres of private land.

Tagging on my shelter

Gang tags on my shelter

Not all who wander the woods are there to enjoy nature. Paying attention to human nature, I choose to pack heat in the back country.

Pocket Stuff

Pants pockets serve as a redundant reservoir. I carry a Swiss Army Knife, chap stick, and a mini Bic lighter in one front pocket. My truck keys are in the opposite pocket with a spare ferro rod attached. My wallet is in my back pocket. Yes, my wallet contains survival items like duct tape. My cell phone rides in the opposite pocket. Even without cell service in the hinter boonies, the camera feature is invaluable to me in documenting my adventures.

Canteen Kit

I can attach my 32 ounce canteen kit to my ring belt if necessary. However, I prefer wearing it over my shoulder with a paracord shoulder strap for emergency cordage. The front pouch of the carrying case has redundant fire starters, an EmberLit stove, and an eating utensil.

My backcountry belt kit, coupled with the last two items mentioned above, gives me essential tools to enjoy my time in the woods. What do you wear on your backcountry belt?

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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Ancient Skills: How To Turn A Simple Yucca Plant Into Heavy-Duty Survival Cord

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Image source: Cody Assmann

Image source: Cody Assmann


“Primitive means first, not worst” — these words ring as true today as ever. Those new to bushcraft may feel a little intimidated as they begin to learn traditional skills. As with many things, the more you learn, the more you learn that you don’t know.

Bushcraft skills require characteristics like attention to detail, concentration and patience, but with effort and diligence anyone can learn basic skills quickly. Mastering skills that allowed our ancestors not only to survive, but to prosper in their local environments, gives us a sense of connection with the past, but also allows us to gain a skill we eventually might need.

Image source: Cody Assmann

Image source: Cody Assmann

One easy way to get out and enjoy the afternoon in many states is to build cordage using the abundant yucca plant. Yucca plants are plentiful in the prairie region of the Great Plains and desert region of the Great Basin. This plant served the First Nations people of this continent in many different ways, including as food, soap and cordage. Creating cordage using this prickly prairie native can be done quickly and easily.

There are several varieties of yucca, but in my region the soapweed yucca dominates the landscape. You will only need a few tools to get started. First remember to get a good knife and possibly a full water bottle before you leave the house. The knife will help you harvest the cordage and the water bottle will help you wet the cordage if you are not working next to a water source. These are the only tools you will not be able to create out of natural material.

What You’ll Need

Image source: Cody Assmann

Image source: Cody Assmann

The next step is to find a location where yucca is plentiful; it helps if this location is close to an area with a bit of timber, as timber will be needed for tools. Once you have located the soapweed, remove several leaves using your knife. These will be used to create the cordage. Select healthy green leaves. Longer and thicker leaves will provide more material with the same effort. How many you need depends on the length and thickness of your desired cordage. Two good leaves should be able to produce about six inches of cordage of a fairly small diameter. As a beginner, I started small and worked my way into larger and larger projects.

Discover The Secrets Of The Word’s Top Survivalists!

Once you have harvested your yucca material, you now need to begin finding or producing tools for your project. In addition to the yucca, you will need a wooden baton (hammer) and a wooden hammering surface. The baton should be of decent weight and fit comfortably in your hand. A heavier baton will make the processing easier, but the work can be done even with a lighter wood. As for the hammering surface, any smooth wooden surface should work. At this point you only need one more tool: your scraper. Scrapers can be either a piece of stone with an edge, like flint, or a split tree limb with an edge. A word of advice here: Stones with rough edges can tear plant fibers while processing the cordage, while wood will work slower but will be easier on your plant fibers. Torn plant fibers could result in an inferior product with a lower tensile strength. Once you have gathered your yucca, baton, scraper and have found a hammering surface, you are ready to begin making cordage.

Getting Started

To begin, lay one yucca leaf on the hammering surface. Take your wooden baton and begin to hammer the leaf. Use good force; you are trying to break the outer layer of the plant and get at the fibers within. Shortly, you should begin to see the plant membrane beginning to break apart. It will fray and turn a lighter shade of green. As you break up the exterior of the plant, be sure to work the edges as well as the middle portion. Continue hammering and working the length of the yucca leaf. At any point if you want to check your progress, you can stop and scrape off the plant material. Using your scraper and adequate pressure run the edge of your scraper lengthwise with the fibers of the plant to remove plant matter. You must always work with the plant fibers, as working across them will damage your fiber and reduce their strength. The plant membrane should come off easily as you scrape the length of the leaf. Make sure you remove all of the exterior plant material.

Repeat the process of hammering the plant and removing the outer plant material until one side of the leaf has been completely cleared. Next, flip the leaf over and repeat the process on the backside. This side should not take as long, since much of the membrane may be broken from your previous hammering efforts. Again, be sure to remove as much of the membrane as possible and always scrape with the grain of the fibers. Once complete, set the processed leaf to the side and begin with your next yucca leaf. Process as many leaves as necessary for your project.

Image source: Cody Assmann

Notice the “Figure 9” that has been created. Twist the “back” strands away from you. Pinch them to avoid losing the twist and pull the “front” strands toward you. Twist away, then pull toward. Image source: Cody Assmann

After you have finished processing your yucca leaves, you are ready to begin making cordage. Select a processed leaf and separate groups of the fibers. For light projects I generally get about three bunches of fibers per leaf of equal size. This should get the most out of your processed plant material and also provide adequate strength for small projects. Once you have separated the fibers, you are now ready to begin braiding your cordage. It is at this point you might want to get the fibers slightly wet using your water bottle, as the fibers are easier to work while wet and they tend to dry very quickly. All of the following steps will be described for right-handed people; for left-handed people simply reverse the hands.

Image source: Cody Assmann

Image source: Cody Assmann

To begin, select two bunches of fibers and match the middles of each. Pinch the middle with fingers on your left hand. Holding the fibers, make a 9 with the fibers, laying one on the “front” of the other. You should still be pinching the yucca with your left hand. Next, reach over the “front” strand with your right hand and grasp the “back” strand between your thumb and pointer finger. Twist the “back” fibers away from you. Twist them as tightly as you can to create a solid product. With the strands still twisted away from you, now reach over the twisted strands and grab the “front” strand with your middle finger, pressing the fibers against your pointer finger that is still twisting the “back” strand. This will take just a little practice, but after the first 5 minutes you will get the hang of it. Once you have captured the “front” fibers with your middle finger, pull them over the twisted “back” fibers toward you. The mantra is “twist away and pull toward.” Move your left hand slightly up the cord to pinch your first twist in your cordage. Repeat the process as described above, this time twisting what was the “front” away and pulling what was the “back” toward you. Twist away and pull toward you.

Ultra-Compact Water Filter Fits In Your POCKET!

Image source: Cody Assmann

Pounded and scraped Yucca ready to braid. Image source: Cody Assmann

At this point you are well on your way to making all-natural cordage like the ancients. As you work, you will begin to run out of material. The final step to learn is how to splice in new pieces of fiber into your cordage. How thick you want your cordage to be will determined when to add new material. By adding new material earlier, you can build up your cordage early to create a very strong product. If you are only making light cordage, you can wait longer before making your splice. This will allow you to get the most out of the yucca you processed. Making a splice is rather easy. Build your cordage as mentioned in the earlier steps until you get to a point where you want to add more material. While still pinching your last twist with your left hand, grab a new bundle of yucca fibers and fold in half to find the middle. Place the middle directly in the center of where your next twist will be. Next, simply include the new fibers into your twist away and also in your pull toward you. There you have it. You have created a splice and increased the length and strength of your cordage. You can continue to add length or strength to your product, depending on your needs. Once you have gotten toward the end of your project, work past the desired length by several inches and make a simple overhand knot to tie off the end of your cordage. The end you began on should be a loop, and the end you finished on should be a knot.

People of all ability levels can master this skill rather easily. It is a great way to introduce someone into primitive living skills. Not only is this skill easy to pick up, but it offers a wide range of uses when in the wild and even for projects around the house. Whether you have needed a nudge to start down the primitive skills path, or you have been living in the bush for many years, get outside and practice this ancient skill. Although it may be ancient, it still has relevance, usefulness and gratification in the modern world.

What advice would you add? Share your tips in the section below: 

Learn How To ‘Live Off The Land’ With Just Your Gun. Read More Here.

How To Make a Improvised Charcoal Filter

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How To Make a Improvised Charcoal Filter If the SHTF, you get stranded in the wild or there is some kind of an emergency, clean water can be hard to find. In order to avoid being sick, you will want to be able to strain out any of the nasty stuff that can make you …

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Getting Ready to Go Off Grid

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Getting Ready to Go Off Grid Many people dream of being off the grid. Not having to hook up to a company’s systems, providing your own water and power, is something few ever accomplish. With the ever increasing laws being passed against letting people live this way, getting ready to go off grid takes more …

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Primitive Preps: Craft a 3-in-1 Tool from One Hand Drill Spindle

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by Todd Walker

Primitive Preps- Craft a 3-in-1 Tool from One Hand Drill Spindle - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Having items in your pack which serve more than one function reduces weight and increases resourcefulness. I’ve written about this multifunctional-mindset with modern equipment here. The concept is far from modern. Otzi the Ice Man carried multifunctional primitive tools over 5,300 years ago.

Here’s our experimental archeology project…

Multifunctional Spindles

How many redundant uses can we find for a hand drill spindle other than its primary use… friction fire embers?

If you have access to river cane, one spindle becomes multifunctional:

  • Friction Fire
  • Primitive Drill
  • Container

Friction Fire

Finding dry, straight wood long enough for a spindle in the field is challenging. Sticks in the 4 to 6 inch range is more likely. They don’t even have to be straight to be used as a friction fire fore shaft in a cane spindle. A quick whittling job will make them fit.

Primitive Preps- Craft a 3-in-1 Tool from One Hand Drill Spindle - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Burning in the hearth board with the wooden fore shaft stub.

To make the multifunctional spindle, straighten a section of river cane to your desired length in the 1/2 to 5/8 inch diameter range. Make two splits on one end perpendicular to one another just above the end node. Wrap the split with sinew with about a half-inch of split cane extending past the wrap. These four split sections will grip the fore shaft stubs as collets would on a brace and bit.

In my experience, simply carving or abrading the fore shaft in a cone shape is enough to create a tight friction fit in the spindle. However, carving an elongated pyramid shape (similar to brace and bit augers) on the fore shaft would add extra bite inside the collet grooves.

Primitive Preps- Craft a 3-in-1 Tool from One Hand Drill Spindle - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Similar gripping mechanics as the brace and bit

Primitive Drill

I discovered a gold mine of quartz crystals in a store in downtown Athens, GA. With this project in mind, I bought several in different sizes. A few are now stowed in my haversack for primitive skills tasks.

Primitive Preps- Craft a 3-in-1 Tool from One Hand Drill Spindle - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Quartz crystal secured in the spindle

If you can’t locate crystals for purchase, a bit of bipolar percussion can create serviceable drill tip. Use a hammer stone and strike the top of a smaller pebble until it shatters. With any luck you’ll have a sharp drill tip and no bludgeoned knuckles. If not, keep smashing rock and you’ll likely get both.

Primitive Preps- Craft a 3-in-1 Tool from One Hand Drill Spindle - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Bipolar percussion in action at Workshops at the Woods

Insert your drill tip in the spindle and spin it on your hearth board to drill a perfectly round pivot hole. One or two passes with your hands on the spindle should work depending on the hardness of your hearth material. The trumpet vine I used in the video below is soft which makes it an excellent hearth board.

For more robust wood, or even other rock or shells, craft a spindle which can be used in a bow drill set. The end of the river cane spindle which meets the bearing block would need a carved hardwood plug to mate with the bearing block socket. More downward pressure and speed can be applied with a bow drill set than hand drill. Plus, you’ll save the skin on your hands.


Leave enough hollow shaft on the end of the cane opposite the drilling end. While this chamber isn’t very large, repair needles, charred material, or other small items can be stored inside. Whittle a cap to plug the open end. Another cap option is a larger diameter piece of cane with the node joint in place which slides over the open end.

Primitive Preps- Craft a 3-in-1 Tool from One Hand Drill Spindle - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A river cane vile pictured at top. Plugging the end of the spindle (bottom of photo) creates a container for small items.

I’ve given three uses for one spindle. What are some others you can share?

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

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How to Make a Fishing Spear The Primitive Way

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How to Make a Fishing Spear The Primitive Way This fishing spear is not only a proven way to spear fish, it could help you out as a pretty mean weapon in a pinch! This primitive spear is fantastic to use when catching fish. The 4 spears in one help secure the fish and aids …

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How To Make Pineapple Weed Tea

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How To Make Pineapple Weed Tea If you are like me you may not have even heard of pineapple weed. It is mostly found in the western parts of the US but it still grows in the east. Pineapple weed likes to grow in poor soil, that’s why it favors the western US. I have …

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Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle

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by Todd Walker

Primitive Fire Balls - How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle - TheSurvivalSherpa.com



One of my favorite DiY fire starters is waxed jute twine. I’ve been using these for years in damp/wet conditions. They ignite with ease with ferrocerium rods and lighters/matches. Flint and steel sparks are too weak to ignite waxed jute alone. Charred material is needed. I wondered if anyone had made one before.

I searched for ideas online for making a waterproof tinder bundle which could coax fire using modern and primitive ignition sources (friction fire embers and/or flint and steel). Joshua Stuck made this fire starter and shared it on Primitive Ways.

Time for me to trade theory for action!

In his article, Joshua used birch bark strips to wrap his jute twine bundle and fire starter before waxing.The only native birch in my Georgia woods is the river birch which doesn’t work well as a wrap or basketry. This reinforces the importance of spending time in one’s local woodland to find and test your natural resources.

One of my favorite natural tinder sources is the inner bark of dead-standing tulip poplar trees or dropped limbs. Needing a pliable bark wrap for this project, I carefully separated the outer and inner bark from a young tulip poplar to produce strips wide enough for the task. I also have a collection of dry cottonwood inner bark which I used.

Another natural option I considered for wrapping material was a dead hornet’s nest. The papery layers come off in large sheets. Cedar bark was another idea.

I’ll be using all-natural material personally gathered from my local landscape… except the char cloth and bee’s wax. The wax was purchased, and the cotton denim was lying on my shop floor.

Primitive Fire Balls

Material and Tools

  • Dry Tinder Material: I used finely processed inner bark of tulip poplar in one ball, and crushed roadway pine straw in the other.
  • Charred Material: Char cloth, charred rope, or charred punk wood can be used. My experiment found the best results using char cloth. Here’s my tutorial for making char cloth.
  • Exterior Wrap: Inner bark, hornets nest, anything dry and pliable.
  • Bee’s Wax: In keeping with the natural material theme, bee’s wax was used. Old candles stubs or paraffin wax will work.
  • Double Boiler: Melt wax safely in a double boiler to prevent accidental fires.
Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Above the bee’s wax is a few layers off a hornet nest which might work as an exterior wrap.

Step 1: Create a Tinder Bundle

Process enough inner bark into fine fibers to make a compressed ball about the size of a golf ball. Mine were slightly larger. Be sure to place the finest fibers at the center of your tinder bundle.

Another addition could be fat lighter’d scrapings sprinkled into the nest. I didn’t do this but will test it on my next batch.

Step 2: Insert Char Cloth

Spread the compressed tinder bundle and place a piece of char cloth in the center of the nest. Now ball up the nest with the char cloth in the center.

Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Char cloth in the center of the tinder bundle.

Step 3: Apply Wrapping

Begin wrapping the compressed ball with your chosen material. I found the tulip poplar strips created a tighter, neater wrap than the cottonwood inner bark. Work to cover the entire ball to form a shell.

Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

For size comparison, a wasp (pictured left) flew into the hot bee’s wax during melting. Ironic, huh?

Step 4: Wax the Balls

With your bee’s wax melted, carefully dip the ball into the wax. The wax is hot so be careful. You’ll get wax on your fingers no matter how carefully you dip. I used tongs after the first coating of wax. The wax will help hold loose bark in place.

Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Double boiler method

After the first coat, I simply laid the ball in the wax and rolled it around to coat the entire bundle. Allow the wax to cool a bit between each coat. I applied 4 or 5 coats of wax to each ball. While the wax is still pliable, press and form heavy drips into nooks and crannies.

Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Using the Primitive Fire Balls

I tested the shell’s ability to keep moisture out by placing the ball in one of our bird baths for a few minutes. This is certainly more water than they would see inside my haversack under normal rainy conditions – save capsizing a canoe.

Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Floating for about 3 minutes in a bird bath.

To light the tinder bundle, cut it down the middle and open the ball to revel the char cloth. Fluff the tinder out of its compressed state to create surface area. Use a flint and steel to spark the char cloth. Gently blow the glowing char cloth to ignite the tinder bundle. Turn the bundle over to allow the flames to bring the waxed exterior to combustion temperature.

Primitive Fire Balls: How to Make a Waterproof Natural Tinder Bundle ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

This is the pine straw tinder after 5 minutes.


Both Fire Balls, tulip poplar tinder and pine straw tinder, burned steady for well over 5 minutes. A slight stir of the burning bundle will rekindle and extend the burn time – especially so in the crushed pine straw ball. The pine straw ball also ignited more quickly than the tulip poplar ball.

One thought occurred to me that melted pine/conifer sap could be used to seal the Primitive Fire Balls. We have an abundance of pines in my area making sap easier to harvest than honey comb.

As a modern primitive practitioner, I enjoy the miracle of friction fires. I have a backup plan in my thumb-drill (Bic lighter). The practicality of having a waterproof tinder bundle and fire starter made from all-natural materials gives me options when starting fires in wet conditions. Practice primitive stuff and push your limits.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

How to Straigthen, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts

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by Todd Walker

Atlatl Series (Part I) – Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower

Having built an atlatl in Part I, you now need to make a straight stick to launch. In this tutorial, we will make river cane atlatl darts from scratch. Even if you haven’t made an atlatl, primitive archery enthusiasts can use the same technique in arrow making by adjusting the nock end for a bow string.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Atlatl Darts

I was called out by a gentleman about using the term “spear-thrower” in the title of my first post on making atlatls. If you’ve read my article, you quickly find that the projectile thrown from an atlatl is a flexible dart. Spear conjures images of a caveman tossing a heavy, rigid sapling at prey or predator. Atlatls propel a light, flexible spear (dart). I often wonder about the paleo-genius who first discovered and leveraged this technology without the benefit of modern physics. He probably opened a cave classroom illustrating his invention on stone walls.

A month after my atlatl class with Scott Jones (Workshops at the Woods), he offered the companion class on making atlatl darts and arrows with his friend and fellow Georgian, Ben Kirkland. Both of these gentlemen are experts in primitive technology and excel in effectively sharing tribal knowledge.

River cane is said to be our modern day equivalent of plastic to indigenous tribes in the southeastern United States. Scott made several river cane practice darts for our class to throw. We added duct tape fletching which I’ve used before to make expedient arrow fletchings. Before adding feather fletchings, duct tape can be applied to test the dart’s flight. Satisfied with the performance of a dart, you can easily remove the tape and fletch the shaft with real feathers.

Heat and Bend…

No matter what material you choose for your shaft, straightening darts or arrows require heat – not by hanging them from barn rafters as Scott has been told by the uninitiated. His mantra on the laborious process is… “Get off your ass, go out and start a fire, and straighten your d*mned arrows.” On that 90 plus degree day in July, we built the fire and sweated to un-bend cane in pursuit of a straight dart.

Here’s what you’ll need to straighten shafts:

  • River cane
  • Leather gloves
  • Leather knee pad
  • Knife and/or fine-tooth saw
  • Fire

A roaring fire is not required to heat and bend shafts. In fact, I retreat to my shop in the Georgia heat and use my DIY Plumber’s Stove and/or a soldering torch. Call it cheating if you like, but I’ll take a cool shop with a small fire when straightening lots of shafts in the summer.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Keep the cane moving through the flames

As for cane size, the large end (growth nearest the ground) should be approximately 1/2 inch in diameter. The small end will likely be about 1/4 to 3/8 inch (pencil-size) at about six to seven feet. The large end will be the forward end of your dart with the smaller end serving as the nock. Before cutting to length (6-7 feet), leave extra cane on both ends for gripping in the heat and bend process described below.

Take a seasoned length of river cane and remove the branches and leaf sheaths. I break off the branches with my hand in a swift, downward motion and carefully trim the stubs even with a sharp knife. Use of a thumb lever with your knife to gain needed control to prevent accidentally cutting into the shaft.

Now begins the repetitive process of heating and bending. Sight down the shaft to locate bends. Move the bent section of cane through the fire in a constant motion. How long? Until the area is evenly heated. Experience will be your best guide. Leather gloves are recommended.

Once heated, place a folded leather pad or insulation layer over your knee, apply gentle pressure to the bend in the same fashion you’d use to break a stick over your knee – only with less pressure. I found a slight rolling motion against the knee yields good results. Allow the heated shaft to set for a few seconds on the knee before checking for straightness. Sight for more bent areas and repeat… and repeat… and repeat… and… repeat. You’ll eventually create a straight dart if you stick with the process.

Cut Cane to Length

There are no set design formulas for atlatl dart lengths. The acceptable guideline from experienced dart-throwers is about three times the length of your atlatl.

Once you have a straight shaft, beaver-chew with a knife through the cane to prevent splitting. Beaver-chewing is to make a series of shallow cuts around the circumference at the cutoff point. Make a few passes until the cane easily snaps off. A fine tooth saw works as well.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Shirtless Scott Jones going the abo route and cutting cane by abrading with a stone. It was hot that day!

Leave enough hollow portion on the small end of the cane for a nock to mate with the spur end of your atlatl – 3/8 of an inch ought to do it. You can always take more stock off but can’t put more back on. Chamfer the inside of the nock with the tip of your knife to form a female funnel of sorts. Test the fit on your spur and tweak as needed to insure a solid fit. If you’re using a “quickie” bamboo atlatl described in Part I of this series, detailed attention to the nock is not as important.

Hafting Darts

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott preparing to haft a stone point.

On the business end of the dart (large end), leave enough cane (4-6 inches) past the last node joint to haft a point or insert a fore shaft. Another interesting technique Scott demonstrated for hafting was to use a short, larger diameter section of cane or bamboo with a stone point attached. This short female fore shaft is slipped over the outside of the shaft instead of being inserted into the hollow end of the dart as I had only ever witnessed.

Material and Tools

  • Points: Stone, bone, antler, hardwood, gar scale are good material
  • Glue: Pine pitch glue, hide glue, hot melt arrow point glue (commercially available), or a regular glue stick
  • Lashing: Animal sinew, artificial sinew, waxed thread, even dental floss will do
  • Knife
  • Fire
  • Duct tape

To add forward weight to practice darts, several methods can be used without a permanent hafting job. This is where duct tape becomes your friend… again! Scott described the use of duct tape by primitive practitioners as “modern man’s rawhide.” Fill the hollow forward end with sand or BB’s and tape it closed. An old nail can also be inserted in the hollow and taped.

For permanent points hafted directly to the dart end, bore a 1/8 inch hole about half an inch from the end of the dart. Bore a second hole directly opposite and on the same plane as the first hole. With the tip of your knife inserted in one hole, cut toward the end of the cane. Cut until you’ve removed a straight section of the cane. Repeat on the opposite hole. Widen the section as needed to accept your chosen point. Dry fit the point and adjust the width. A gar scale may seat fine without widening the slot.

Once satisfied with the dry fit, heat your glue and apply a glob into the slot on the shaft. While the glue is hot and pliable, insert the point in the slot. Reheat over the fire if necessary to line up the point with the shaft.

Make a few wraps of sinew around the slot/point connection for a secure hold. Before applying the sinew, wet it thoroughly in your mouth with saliva. This moisture activates the natural glue in the fibers. No need to tie-off natural sinew. It will stick when applied and shrink as it dries. Hide glue can be applied to the wrap afterwards to add hold and prevent moisture from effecting the sinew. Other cordage material must be tied.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A dogwood fore shaft inserted in one of my atlatl darts

Adding a male fore shaft to the end of your dart requires less precision. Make two splits on the forward end of your dart in a cross hair configuration (perpendicular to one another). The splits should be about 1.5 to 2 inches in length. When wrapped with sinew, these splits will act as a grip on the fore shaft like a drill chuck on a drill bit. Scott noted that fore shafts are likely to split the end of your dart anyway. This method creates a controlled spit and added purchase.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A collection fore shafts at Scott’s class

Fore shafts can be carved from wood, bone, antler, or anything you can imagine. They need to be tapered to fit the end of your dart but not so much that the tip of the fore shaft contacts the end node of the shaft.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The long barbed point left of the stone points is a stingray barb which was used by aboriginal people in coastal areas.

Fletching Darts

Duct tape makes a field expedient and serviceable fletching. Tape two pieces to the nock end of your dart so that they stick to each other around the shaft. Trim the edges to shape and you have a fletched dart. If the dart performs well, leave the tape or remove it and use real feathers for the fletching.

Not all feathers are legal. Using eagle, hawk, owl – (raptors), or birds covered under the Federal Migratory Bird Act could land you in legal trouble with big fines. Here’s a link to get you started researching legal feathers.

In this tutorial, I’m using legally harvested wild turkey tail feathers. The method used is called Eastern Two Feather fletching.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Ben Kirkland demonstrating the Eastern Two Feather fletching technique. Notice the two goose feathers attached at the nock end of his arrow.

Material and Tools

  • Feathers
  • Scissors or knife
  • Glue
  • Sinew

Use two feathers curved in the same direction. Make two cuts about an inch from the tip of the feather perpendicular to the feather shaft (rachis). If using scissors (which are recommended), cut in the direction from feather tip to the base of the feather. Cut in the opposite direction if using a sharp knife of flint flake.

How to Straighten, Haft, and Fletch River Cane Atlatl Darts - TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Cuts made for the Eastern Two Feather fletching.

Trim down both sides of the shaft to the previous cuts leaving only an inch or so of bare shaft. Now trim down both sides of the shaft leaving 3/4 inch of vane on both sides. Grip the inside curved vane (concave part) and strip towards the base so that about 2 inches of vane is left on the tip-end of shaft.

Measure the desired fletch length by placing the feather in your outstretched hand. Your length from the tip of your index finger to the inside of your thumb is a good length – about 5 inches give or take. Remove the portion of the long vane at that point by pulling toward the base.

With a sharp knife on the shaft at the point where the end of the short vane connects, make an angled cut to the center of the shaft. Carefully flatten your knife and cut down the center of the shaft through the hollow end of the feather. Cut the half-shaft off about one inch past the large vane.

One method of attaching the fletching is to bend the tip end of the feather shaft toward the outside of the feather. Unfold the stem and place it on the dart with the outside of the feather facing up and past the nock end of the dart. Heat the dart shaft area where the fletching will be attached. Apply a small amount of pitch glue on the shaft to hold the feather in place. Repeat this step for the second feather. The position of the fletching doesn’t need to line up on darts like they would on an arrow shaft’s nock. Just attach them directly opposite of each other near the nock end of the dart.

With the vanes temporarily attached, apply sinew wraps to hold permanently. Fold the feathers back over on top of the dart. Twist the fletchings 45 degrees around the dart shaft. This causes the feathers to spiral around the dart shaft. Pull the vane shafts tight and repeat the previous step to attach this end of the feathers.

Safety Note: When applying feathers to archery arrows, make sure the forward ends of the fletching are flattened and completely covered with sinew. Any exposed feather shaft will rip through your arrow rest (skin) on release causing much pain.

Making your own darts and arrows is a time-consuming journey. However, learning to reproduce a deadly primitive weapon from scratch is quite satisfying!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Survival Gear Review: Fällkniven A1 Pro

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Best Survival Knife

Being a restless survivalist, I find the endless pursuit of the best single knife to be both a noble Fallkniven_A1-Pro_survival knife_river-work_teotwawkione and and endless one.  Or so I thought.  The Fällkniven A1 Pro may have brought an end to my quest for the perfect survival knife, and become the life-long quest of other like minds.  Could the Fallkniven A1 Pro be the best survival knife?  The knife to end all survival knives?  Let’s consider it.

By Doc Montana, of Survival Cache and SHTFBlog 

Is the Fällkniven A1 Pro the Ultimate Survival Knife?

The Fällkniven knife company has decades of experience at the unique and effective intersection Top Survival Knifebetween necessary traditions and technological innovation. Some knife brands lean so far to the innovative side that they never quite fully bake an idea while others swing the pendulum too far the other way and hold a knife design to archaic steel and features that work well, but are far from what’s possible.  Not that I’m encouraging the use of performance enhancing chemicals, but I am thrilled that Fällkniven has put its indomitable and proven A1 knife on steroids. And the results are astonishing.

Department of Redundancy Department

What makes the A1 Pro survival knife so amazing is that Fällkniven took an already amazing knifeTop Survival Knife and made it even more amazing.  And as one who considers himself an aficionado of survival knives, I don’t say this lightly.  The Fällkniven A1 Pro is related to the A1, but kind of alike a tough kid that has a Navy SEAL for a big brother.  The A1 Pro  is a complete and total upgrade of already high performance option.

Taking a step back, let’s look at how the Fällkniven A1 Pro came to be, and why the A1 Pro will not have be a serious contender for the World’s Best Survival Knife for a long time.  Fällkniven began building on the Swedish blade traditions back in the early 1980’s.  It’s F1 knife was chosen as the singular survival blade for the Swedish Air Force.  And the F1 also gained respect and notoriety as an excellent solution when a smallish survival knife is needed.  What makes the F1, and later the A1 and now the A1 Pro such definitive blades is their steel technology.  And a few other things.

Now this is a Knife

Jumping ahead, the Fällkniven A1 quickly became a survival success story by providing the Best Bushcraft Knifeessentials and much more.  By laminating two supersteels, into a configuration that makes it not only outperform most other high end blades, but its combination of blended steels in a single blade puts the Fällknivens out of reach of other knives in overall strength, raw performance and technical prowess.

Also Read: Fällkniven F1 Survival Knife Review

But what happens when a purveyor of extremely high end blades takes a step back and assesses the performance of its own best edges, then turns up the volume on one of its best sellers and highest achievers.  Well, I guess you get the A1 Pro. So it’s official. Fällkniven goes to 11!

The Fällkniven A1, the original one, was a test bed for all things survival.  It pushed the limits of laminated steel giving the serious knife user a glimpse of what’s possible when performance outweighs tradition. From that point on, the world got a taste of things to come.  Now imagine Fällkniven taking everything good about the A1 and pumping it full of steroids.  The passing similarities between the A1 and the A1 Pro are only apparent from a distance.

While the grip size is the same, the material is different and the sometimes-debated finger guard Fallkniven_A1-Pro_survival knife_diamond-stone-DC4shape is reversed. And best of all, the already thick blade is even thicker and made of a ultra-high end cobalt-laminated steel.  The sheath is beefier and stronger.  The edge is a more refined convex shape. And the knife comes in a presentation box that doubles as a waterproof container complete with Fällkniven’s professional quality diamond sharpening stone, the DC4.

Brass Tacks

The A1 Pro contains a core of cobalt steel rather than the VG10 of its father.  Cobalt steel (CoS) Top Survival Knifecontains about 2.5% Co, along with a slightly higher chromium content. This magic mix of alchemy provides a better edge that stays sharp longer while hovering around 60 on the Rockwell (HRC) Scale.

Related: ESEE 6 Knife Review

Cobalt steel is not a recent phenomenon for Fällkniven. It was experimented with in prior Fällkniven knives including the KK and the PC.  As the results came in, it was clear that cobalt steel was the next go-to steel when the best was desired.  Add to that an “Improved Convex Edge” and you are on the literal and figurative bleeding edge of cutlery technology.  Cobalt steel blades truly are playing with sharpness at the molecular level of steel, not just the crystalian level.  In other words, sharp is a cousin, and cobalt steel is your filthy rich uncle.

Thick as a Brick

Seven is the new norm.  At seven millimeters thick the blade has added strength beyond the already ridiculous strength of the regular A1.  And that strength has extended into the grip with a thicker and wider tang that, like the A1, extends the all the way through and out the other end.

Consider the Bar Raised

Fällkniven admits that to claim something “professional” requires a corresponding and honest Best Survival Kniferaising of the bar. And Fällkniven delivered to an astronomically high level.  At the time of this writing, the Fällkniven website shows the A1 Pro as “sold out.”  Think about that for a moment.   In a world hip-deep in survival knives priced from the same as a couple gallons of gas to more than a car.  Then Fällkniven comes along and makes survival knife along with its dozen other survival knives already on their resume.  And this newcomer sells out before most folks even hear about it.

What’s in the Box?

The Fällkniven A1 Pro arrives inside a black watertight plastic box complete with foam liner and Top Bushcraft Knifeembossed lid.  Inside the box is the Fällkniven A1 Pro knife, it’s sheath, and Fällkniven’s DC4 diamond sharpening stone.  The box is a nice touch and Fällkniven encourages its use for storing other things like electronics. It’s not quite a Pelican but certainly more than a Plano.

The stone is an excellent choice. In addition to high end survival knives, Fällkniven also makes top notch kitchen cutlery and the tools to keep them razor sharp. The DC4, or Diamond/Ceramic 4-inch stone has a gold diamond surface of 25 micron grit on one side and a synthetic sapphire ceramic stone on the other. In addition to being able to sharpen the hard laminate supersteels, no lubrication is needed for smooth sailing.

Also Read: Smith’s Pocket Pal Knife Sharpener Review

The zytel sheath is an upgrade over the standard A1 model.  The Pro sheath is beefier with more Survival Knife Reviewpronounced strengthening fins. It also is more adaptable to MOLLE and other attachment systems with its inch-wide wings that will accept horizontal straps.  The Pro sheath uses the same riveted strap for a belt loop and friction retention.  In lieu of the thumb ramp present on the classic A1 sheath, the strap’s ear has the job now.

And the Knife

Even a cursory glance at the A1 Pro says this knife is all business.  From the grip to the guard to Best Survival Bladethe blade to the frighteningly thick spine, this knife demands respect.  At 11.2 inches overall length, the A1 Pro is not for the faint of heart or for those with low muscle tone.  The 6.3 inch blade, while not the longest tool in your bug out bag, is actually plenty for any confrontation with a human or larger critter outside those of the Grizzly variety.

Unlike the regular A1 knife that used a Kraton plastic for a grip material, the A1 Pro takes a cue from the Fällkniven F1 and runs Thermorun plastic on the handle of the A1 Pro. To quote myself in my review of the F1, Thermorun, “As an olefin thermoplastic material it is extremely durable, and has great properties for a survival knife grip. Thermorun is an electrical insulator, resistant to weathering, impervious to most chemicals that a knife would encounter, and pretty much ignores temperature changes. It feels great in the hand with just enough rubbery texture to keep the blade from sliding around, but still firm enough to avoid that tacky feeling of softer plastic grips.”

Also Read: Parry Blade Knife Review

Like the regular A1, the tang of the A1 Pro extends throughout the grip and out the top.  However, Fällkniven did upgrade the tang by making it larger, thicker and tapered.  But the real change is in the finger guard.  On the regular A1 the guard was covered in the same Kraton plastic as the grip, and leans just slightly back towards the hand.  The finger crossguard on the A1 Pro is polished, stainless steel, thicker welded to the frame, and opens out towards the blade.  Why this is important is due to some index finger strain when using the regular A1 for repetitive long-duration woodworking tasks.

Sorry About That

Fällkniven is apologetic about the price of the A1 Pro.  They defend the higher cost of the A1 Pro A1 Pro Knife Review(presumably compared to the regular A1) because of the more expensive steel, more expensive grip and guard, and more expensive containment and sharpening solutions included with the A1 Pro.  But frankly, if one compares the A1 Pro to anything custom, the A1 Pro seems mainstream in its pricing.  Either way, at the time of this writing, Fällkniven lists the A1 Pro as “sold out” so discussion about price are somewhat recreational.  Personally, I find the price of the A1 Pro completely reasonable, but like any pro-level piece of equipment, it only seems expensive if you don’t have the skills to extract the benefits from it.

Riding Into The Sunset

Like many preparing for SHTF events and the likely WROL that will follow, I’m always looking Best SHTF Knifefor the next big thing in bladeware.  Until now I was restless, always looking over my shoulder to see what else was out there.  But with the A1 Pro in hand, a calm settled over my quest for the ultimate survival knife.  Fällkniven’s Pro version of one of the world’s best survival knives, their own A1, as moved the bar so high that most general arguments are moot. With the Fällkniven A1 Pro on the scene, the quest for perfection is now simply a question of preference.

All Photos By Doc Montana

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Poisonous Mushrooms 101

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Poisonous Mushrooms 101 Beware of Poisonous Mushrooms… One wrong mouthful and you could die! That’s how deadly they can be. I am no expert at mushrooms and I do not pretend to be… I went hunting for some good info on this subject and I came across his article from wildernessawareness.org. It is a great article …

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How To Make A Survival Bow

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How To Make A Survival Bow Knowing how to make a survival bow is a great skill set to have. Making one is so easy even your kids should learn this. Having a bow and arrow in an emergency will increase your chances of survival significantly. In fact it could mean the difference between no …

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Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower

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by Todd Walker

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Somewhere down your family tree a spear-thrower used a simple, two-piece weapon to bring home the bacon… or wooly mammoth… or mastodon. Ancient atlatls have been discovered on every continent except Antarctica.

What’s an atlatl?

A simple dart-throwing stick with a handle on one end and spur (male end) or socket (female end) on the other end. The dart, a flexible spear, mates with the spur/socket when thrown. Typically about two feet long, an atlatl employs leverage to extend the arm’s length to propel a dart further and with more velocity than when thrown using only the arm.

Spanish conquistadors discovered quickly that their state-of-the-art armor was no match for the primitive Aztec spear-throwers. Imagine becoming a kabob inside your standard issue fighting armor. The barbed stone point prevented Cortez’s men from pulling the shaft from their bodies in the opposite direction. It must be driven clean through the flesh to be removed. That’s impossible when the dart doesn’t pierce the backside of the metal suit. A slow death ensued when pinned inside one’s armor.

The primitive atlatl and dart system predates bow and arrow by thousands of years. The physics and math involved in this simple weapon is more complex than one might think. No. we’re not discussing calculus today. But we will delve into the past long enough to whet your appetite, and, hopefully spur you on to make your own dart-throwing weapon.

Down-n-Dirty Atlatl

As I wrote this piece, I quickly realized it would be too long for one to sit through. In the spirit of keeping you interested in this primal weaponry, I plan to make this a multi-part series on atlatls, darts, fletching, and throwing.

My friend and expert primitive skills instructor, Scott Jones, taught a “Quickie” Atlatl class at a recent Workshops at the Woods. Having never thrown an atlatl, much less made one, I signed up.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.
Albert Einstein

At first glance, the simplicity of this primitive technology deceives the beginning practitioner. There are details and tweaks which only experts like Scott have learned over years of experimentation. His idea of making a quickie atlatl from bamboo holds potential for self-reliant living. With a few basic knife skills, even atlatl newbies like me can carve out a very functional weapon.

Material and Tools

  • Bamboo ~ about thumb-size in diameter and about 2 feet long. River cane will work but is not as bountiful as bamboo in this diameter.
  • Knife
  • Fine-toothed saw (hacksaw blade works well)
  • Awl
  • Leather ~ used in making finger loops
  • Fire

Selecting Bamboo

Find a suitable piece of cane and cut it close to the ground. The way in which the nodes grow close together at the base of bamboo will make a heavier handle and add purchase when throwing. Scott provided shafts from his stand of golden bamboo on his property. I think you’ll find land owners happy to have you harvest as much bamboo as you’d like as it tends to take over. I’ve never been turned down.

Typically, atlatl length is about one-third the length of darts. Cut your bamboo so that a node is left at the smaller end of the atlatl. Mine measured 26 inches – armpit to the base of my middle finger. The end node will serve as the female “spur” which will mate with your dart.

Cut in a “Spur”

This style of atlatl has a cup (female joint) not an actual spur (male joint). Use your knife to cut a long notch in the last joint of the bamboo. Begin by making a stop-cut about 1/4 inch from the end node (spur end) to a depth of 1/3rd to half way through the shaft. The notch should taper from zero to about 1/3rd the depth of the chamber toward the end node. This notch should be about 6 to 8 inches long and wide enough to accept your chosen dart shaft. The photos below show the cut.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

A hacksaw blade is handy for making the stop-cut

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Making the tapered cut to the end nock.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Scott cleaning up rough edges

Clean up any rough edges with your knife leaving a small semicircle 1/4 inch in front of the end node where the dart seats. Test the seating by placing a dart (river cane in this case) in the female end. Hold the dart in one hand, the atlatl in the other, and check if the dart fits and moves without resistance. The dart should swing freely out of the atlatl notch until they are almost at 90 degrees from each other.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

The half-circle shown at the end node where the dart seats

Fire It

Before adding finger loops, pass your bamboo atlatl over and through a fire. Use leather gloves to keep the shaft moving through the flames over the entire surface. You’ll notice the waxes in the wood will begin to add a sheen to the atlatl. This process will help preserve the wood.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Firing the bamboo

Finger Loops

I found the bamboo atlatl (without finger loops) comfortable to throw by gripping the handle like a tennis racket. Scott had several different atlatl styles to practice with at class – some with loops, a few without. Finger loops add a secure hold on the shaft while throwing.

To add finger loops, bore a small hole through the handle end of the atlatl with an awl. The hole placement is determined by the base of your palm to the intersection of your index and middle fingers. Thread a piece of leather or buckskin through the hole and tie the ends to form a large loop. Test the fit by placing your fingers through the large loop with the shaft between your two fingers.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Leather looped through the holes and tied

Throwing with finger loops requires that you slip your index and middle fingers through the loops with the end of your grip at the base of your palm. Your loop fingers are split by the atlatl shaft with your thumb and remaining fingers securing the handle to your palm.

Ancient Atlatls: How to Make a Down-N-Dirty Spear-Thrower ~ TheSurvivalSherpa.com

Adjust the loops by tightening or loosening the leather loop

Down-N-Dirty Atlatl Benefits

One advantage Scott pointed out about his “quickie” atlatl is the fact that you can throw inferior darts without nocks required with typical spur-mounted atlatls. Any straight stick or cane will make an effective hunting projectile. This down-n-dirty design can be made in the field with a lot less effort and skill than traditional atlatls.

I would recommend using this method for those interested in making a spear-thrower for the first time. The entire process can be complete in an hours time. Finding and straightening darts, well, that’s gonna take some time. But having this survival skill-set in your arsenal is well worth the investment.

If you’re interested in learning primitive technology, Scott offers a wide variety of classes at his Workshops at the Woods. For those not local to our area, he has written two essential books I reference often:

Next in the series we’ll cover atlatl darts ~ the primitive projectile which brought down wooly mammoths and turned armor-plated conquistadors into Spanish shish kabob.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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How to Skin Deer, Elk, Antelope, Goat, or Sheep

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How to Skin Deer, Elk, Antelope, Goat, or Sheep I want to start off by saying I have never tried to skin anything. I know I need to learn so that’s why I went hunting for some good information on how to skin animals that I may most likely come across in a SHTF situation. They …

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5 Non-GMO Edible Plants In Your Back Yard

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5 Non-GMO Edible Plants In Your Back Yard Where is a good place to look for chemical-free and GMO-free fresh veggies this time of year? Your back yard is where! One of my favorte pages on FB is Willow Haven Outdoor and they posted a great article on 5 non gmo plants to eat in your …

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Survival Gear Review: Cold Steel Pocket Bushman Knife

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Survival Knife

It seems that everyone’s favorite piece of gear to carry and discuss are knives. With the variety of survival knifestyles, shapes, sizes and the jobs they can perform, it is easy to see why they are a favorite piece of gear. When it comes to folding knives, I am very particular and will not carry an old pocket knife. I have seen a lot of guys carry those five to ten dollar knives that are piled in a box on a gas station or sporting goods counter top.  Those guys always love to show off that new, shiny, cool looking knife.

By Tinderwolf, a contributing author of Survival Cache & SHTFBlog

Of course within a week or two, the blade locking mechanism has broken, the edge of the blade is Survival Knifeas dull as a butter knife and some of the screws or rivets are falling out. Those guys might as well have thrown their money into the garbage can because that is where their cool new knife ended up anyway.  For most of my life I carried a Schrade Old Timer, Swiss Army knife, or a Gerber Paraframe.

All three of these knives held up well, never broke, kept an edge and paid for themselves time and time again.  The only down fall of folders, is that they generally don’t stand up to the activities I would use a fixed blade for.  I know that I should not expect that kind of strength and durability from a folding knife as it is a completely different from a fixed blade.  However, I always wanted that out of a folding knife, and I think I have finally found a folding knife that will perform as closely to a fixed-blade knife as possible.

Also Read: Fallkniven Jarl Knife Review

Over the years I have owned a few fixed, full-tang knives from Cold Steel and have always been Survival Folding Knifevery happy with their products and their prices. So, a few years ago I decided to purchase a folder from them and I decided on buying the Pocket Bushman. It is probably one of the plainest looking knives you can buy, but boy is this knife a BEAST! The blade measure in at 4 ½” inches long with an overall length of 10 ¼”! All the reviews said that this knife was big and it did look big in the photos, but I really didn’t appreciate how big It was until I was holding it in my hands.

It felt more like a fixed blade knife than a folding pocket knife. Unlike other pocket knives, the Cold Steel Pocket Bushman does not whiz open with a flick of your thumb. It is rather slow and you need both hands to properly open it and shut it. When closing the knife you have to be extremely careful.  The knife has a rocker lock which is tough as nails but it is a bit different to close than other folders.  In order to close the knife safely and properly you need to place one hand on the spine of the blade and the other hand needs to pull the paracord lanyard at the bottom of the handle.  The first time I tried this it was a bit awkward and I almost cut myself. After opening and shutting it a few times the motions became very natural.

The handle has a very large and deep groove for your index finger.  This helps in keeping your hand from slipping forward to the blade when working with the knife.  The handle is probably the only downfall I can find with this knife.  While I like the smooth steel finish, it makes it a bit tough to use the knife if your hands are wet.  It would have been nice to see some kind of textured finished on the handle.  However, there have only been a few times that I have tried to use this knife in wet conditions and most of the time when I am using this knife I am wearing gloves, which I highly recommend.

While this is a folder and it fits well in my pocket, I love that it can handle the big jobs as well.  I have used it for making tinder, cutting cardboard, tape, ropes, tie downs, zip ties, carpet, to baton wood, gutted fish, and even split small logs.  I still remember the first time I showed it off at work. The guys thought I had wasted my money on some big knife just to be a show off.  While they were chuckling I bent down and picked up a broken piece of wood from a pallet.  I then commenced beating the back of the blade into a very tall, thick stack of cardboard. Once I got halfway down the stack I turned to a pallet that was leaning against a nearby shelf.

Also Read: Benchmade Bushcrafter Knife Review

The Pocket Bushman easily took chunks out of the pallet and after a few minutes it came out the Bushcraft Survival Knifeother side of the board.  I turned around to the guys, showed them there was no damage to the knife and no wiggle in the blade, folded it up, placed it in my pocket and walked away.  A few years have passed and I have used this knife so much, yet there is still no movement between the blade and handle, and it still sharpens very easily.  I have added paracord to the loop hole in the lock release slide at the bottom of the handle.  This is by far, hands down, the best folder I have ever purchased and would recommend it to anyone looking for a new tool.  I believe, when I bought this knife it was forty dollars.  I checked out the knife out on Amazon the other day and it was listed for fifty nine dollars.  I have been thinking about getting another one and I would not think twice about paying that price for this knife. If anyone else has used this knife I would love to hear about your experience with it.

Photos By:
Dan P
Matt Coz

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7 Methods of Primitive Fire Starting

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7 Methods of Primitive Fire Starting All of these primitive fire starting methods are thousands of years old. Learn how to make fire the old school way today! Making fire the primitive way is defiantly a skill you NEED for a SHTF situation, there are so many things that could happen where you lose all your gear …

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Six Primitive Traps For Catching Food In The Woods

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Six Primitive Traps For Catching Food In The Woods If you do find yourself in the wilderness and need food, there are a lot of ways to fill the plate for dinner. Now, I will be the first to say that using primitive methods like this are not the easiest thing in the world. People …

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