"If PETA asks, this fur is fake." - Udyr
Alrighty! So, we've done a bit of investigation into Udyr, which I hope may have kindled your interest in the ancient arts of kung fu! Today, we shall look at another aspect of Udyr: wilderness survival! Udyr is a wild man, and a living aspect of nature, but he's not exactly the hippie, treehugger type. We're going to talk about surviving in the great outdoors using limited tools and resources. Regarding tools and resources, I can't stress how valuable it can be to have a good solid knife, and some waterproof matches on your person at all times. I actually have a knife that's got a small magnesium firestarter built into the handle, which you can purchase here! I use the knife on a near daily basis, and I have started several fires with the magnesium rod in the handle, so I can attest to its capabilities! If you, by some chance, do not have a knife on you, you can also substitute a thin, sharp rock, although this is going to make things a bit harder for you.
So, the first thing you need to worry about in the wild is shelter from the elements. You can die of starvation in a couple weeks, lack of water in a couple days, and exposure in a couple minutes. Having a warm or cool place to rest your head is vital, and we're going to look at a couple basic shelters for different environments.
First off, you want to be out of the weather. In a non-snow environment, you want to pick some flat-ish ground, that is relatively elevated and, if possible, sheltered from the wind on 2-3 sides. Flat, because you want it easy to build and rest on. Elevated, because you don't want to have water draining in during a rainstorm, and sheltered, because even on a warm day wind can still take away vital heat from your body. Regardless of what climate you're in, you're going to want a roof. It keeps out precipitation, traps heat and, in hot climates, blocks the sun. One of the quickest, easiest shelters to build is a lean-to. This site has an excellent tutorial with pictures that surpasses anything I could fit into a paragraph or two here. Try to keep the open end of the lean-to facing away from wherever the majority of the winds are coming, and realize this is a smaller, temporary shelter for immediate survival in a crisis situation.
If you're looking for a more permanent shelter, a traditional wigwam, or some other domed variant, is usually a good bet and can be constructed through a good bit of hard work. This site has a great step-by-step instruction on building a wigwam. Remember, if you're not a hardcore traditionalist, you can save a lot of time by using nylon cordage and a tarp to help speed things up and make them a bit more durable. I, personally, am a bit of a hardcore traditionalist so I would probably stick pretty closely to the instructions in the link above.
Of course, we need to worry about warming ourselves and cooking our food, and what better method than fire? The key to a good fire is good tinder and kindling, whether you're starting it with matches, magnesium, or flint. The drier and finer the tinder, the better. Cattail fuzz, very dry, fuzzy frayed grasses, dried inner bark from birch trees, and, in a pinch, dry clothing all make good tinder. Dry pine and conifer twigs make excellent kindling, and pine needles make good fodder after the tinder has caught. For more on first construction, check out this link. For information on starting a fire with flint and steel(which can be very difficult), check out this link. If you have a magnesium firestarter, it can be used in the same way as flint and steel, although it it generally a bit easier.
Okay, we've got shelter, we've got fire, now we need water and food. Water is un-drinkable straight from the streams and rivers in most places, but after boiled, it is USUALLY safe. Try to get water from a swift-moving source, such as a lively stream or river, and remember you can filter out sediment by running the water through a sock. It'll taste like crap, but it'll keep you alive.
For food, we have two options, foraging, and hunting. Foraging is usually easier, but it requires a solid grasp of local edible plants and fruits. You can find this out by looking up foraging books at local libraries. There's also an excellent site called First Ways that's all about foraging for food in an urban setting. Make sure you know what it is you're collecting before you eat it. Being hungry sucks, but being poisoned sucks more.
Meat, on the other hand, is a harder-to-obtain but much more calorie-rich food source in nature. For active hunting, one of the easiest things to make is a throwing stick, AKA, caveman boomerang. Find a curved stick around the length of your forearm, and carve it down a bit so it's nice and smooth, with points on both ends(you can do this with your knife or a good rock). Now you need to go hunting for small game. Squirrels, rabbits, gophers, groundhogs, and birds are all excellent target for your stick. The trick is getting in throwing range. Remember, hitting them with the points is nice, but just winging it and bludgeoning works perfectly fine too. Don't get frustrated if you fail a lot at first; being angry clouds your judgement, which is NOT what you need in a survival situation. Another simple hunting weapon is the caveman throwing star, which is two sharpened sticks with notches in the middle carved to fit together like an "X," and lashed together in the middle. You use this in the same manner as the throwing stick, and the extra bit of effort in construction gives you four points instead of two!
Arguably the best way to get food, however, is trapping. Traps work for you while you're working on other stuff, saving you time and effort that can be better spent elsewhere. A figure four trap is an excellent trap for getting small land game. Bait it with some berries or nuts, and set up as many as you can in different areas to increase your chances. A native american cage trap is a great way to catch fish from a pond or lake, you can bait this with the leftovers of anything else you've caught, or just leave it there and hope a fish decides to swim in(sheltering it from the sun with a branch or two is a great way to encourage fish to swim in if you don't have bait).
Whatever the method, if you get some meat, make sure you cook it all the way to kill off any parasites it might be harboring.
Whew, that was fun, and made me want to go camping! Tomorrow, we'll take a look at the mind of udyr, and the idea of isolation and hermitage!
Until then, continue to be awesome.
Dan "DaRatmastah" Wallace
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