Survive in the woods?

Dec 10, 2006
If you were being really honest, how long do you think you would survive in deep woods with a BOB? A couple of days? A week?

Have you ever trapped animals or had to fish to live? How about spending a night in deep woods in snow country in February? What clothing are you going to have with you?

My point is camping and day hikes are no substitute for practical experience. If you want to survive in the woods you must go live in the woods for a few days and see just how difficult it is. After you have eaten your powerbars it gets pretty dicey. There are a number of folks who have had the benefit of growing up in deep country where they trapped and fished got skills most of us have to get elsewhere. For those fortunate fellows its a bit easier. Fomer military special forces operators and elite unit members get this training, but computer forums just won't do it alone.

My intention is not to dissuade anyone from preparing, but real prep means being out there and finding out what works, what doesn't and what the real deal is.

No amount of gear is going to keep you alive unless you have the know how to employ it properly. If you want to survive critical situations you need to default to training and experience. Get some. Oh yeah one other thing..make sure when you go out there you are with someone who knows what they are doing.
I spose that I could live out of my ruck for at least 15 days. It takes that long to starve.:D

I used to subsistance hunt. I'd spend a few days, to a week and sometimes longer, just trekking around the mountains, looking for game, nuts, berries, fish, etc. Not all natural foods are available at the same time of year, so I always lost weight, but I usually ate.

If the individual doesn't have something to fall back on, is in questionable physical conditioning, or doesn't have the needed skills to fend for themselves in the environment they find themselves in, they could be in real trouble.
I wouldnt even need a full bob to live in the woods, from growning up I spent alot, and I mean alot of time in the woods. I know i'd be fine with a small pack, after all, you really only survive for the first 24 hours. In this time you find food and water supplies (hopefully) and the rest is just camping.
Three guys went 600 miles three weeks unsupported in Alaska this summer. One dropped out due to a leg injury. The point being this that what can be done with intense preparation and physical conditioning. If you aren't trying to cover that kind of distance, the caloric need goes way down. You can go quite a while without food, but water is needed.

I'm pretty good on fishing and improvising. I would like to learn a lot more about snares and edible wild plants. Most of what I've read about wild edibles doesn't sound very appealing. Roots in North America generally need a lot of boiling and water changes. Depends on the season too. I doubt I could run down a bunny with a club like Bear Grylls on Man vs. Wild, but I reckon my aim would improve if my tummy was empty :) Ruffled grouse are pretty dumb. I wonder how close slugs are to escargo? :eek: If I had a .22 rifle or a shotgun, no problemo. Make fire, eat meat.... gooooood :rolleyes: Otherwise, a week or ten days with water.
oh man, you have to give yor self longer than that, I'd say ten at the very bare minimum, with no food. But many thing become edible, and trying new things would be my focus after I found water.
Well, back to my original point. If you can go into deep forest, or the mountains and live ten days with a small kit of gear, you are beyond the capability of 99% of Americans. We are a soft, inexperienced country full of Tactcial Tommy's and Wanna Be Rambos. Survival takes a hard body, hard skills and a survival mentality. Get fired up. get some training.Get it done before you need it!
many things come as common sense too, like many when lost, who dont have sufficent traning, will know to get a fire goin and make a shelter. Now, wheather or not its the warmist possible, or the perfect size for you, is a diffrent story. Also 9 times outa' 10 is best to just stay put, And not loosing your head after finding out your lost, I have been turned around before, but before I freaked out and totally lost my bearings, I figured out what I did wrong. Many people just feak out and start having wild fantisies about whats goin to happen to them now that their lost in the woods. If you can conjur up the courage to fight thouse thing, your chances of getting out are alot higher.
Good thread. I would be fine in the woods for an extended period of time, I've spent plenty of time there. However, a good point was raised about getting training. There are many sources in very rural areas. You might be surprised how well that heavyset fortysomething guy at you saw at the hardware store can handle the woods.
which Is pretty much exactly where I learnd my knowledge. Plus from various neibours, it was a tight knit community where I lived and we all help each other out( plus they were family :) ) And it only takes a phone call and 50 bucks to have a hunters education after have your firearms license. which was just plain fun to take, I sugest that to anyone who can, and wants to afford it.
To answer the original question, "How long do you think you could survive in the deep woods with a BOB?"

Well I don't know, there are so many variables that could occur, but I would survive as long as I could. So would anybody else, trained or untrained. That doesn't really answer the question in terms of "how many days" but even a trained person and well equipped person could get whacked by an accident in the first day out.

If I thought I was going to be stuck for a long haul, I would find a source of water near a clearing and stay put. Build a fire and shelter. Then assess my food resources in my pack and ration them; then assess whatever natural foods might be around me, vegetable and animal including grubs and worms.

Then I would sit tight and wait for rescue, assuming I had left a trip plan with somebody and an expected date of return. Being in such a situation would presume that I had suffered a catastrophic injury, illness, or buried by a major snow storm. I would have a compass and map with me, unless I lost them. If I hadn't left a trip plan, then I would try to assess my location and plan on walking or crawling out. Or maybe I would still decide to stay put.

Certainly, being in good physical condition ahead of time would be important. Real wilderness training would be important. My brain also would scan my memory banks for everything I had read on WSS and other books. That too counts as preparation.
"It's not the will to win that matters—everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters."

— Paul "Bear" Bryant
It's not a football game.
The first thing you learn is that attitude is everything, if you believe you will survive, that is the first step in the right direction. So, actually, "The will to win" in a suvival situation is a MUST, it's non-negotiable.

I will tend to disagree with the thesis statement, in that, camping, backpacking and day hiking is NOT good prep for the real thing. In fact it is very good prep as it best simulates the things you will encounter.
It provides reinforcement for a lot of skills with a safety net for error.

Camping, backpacking, and day hiking, DOES allow people to check out their gear, and see what works and what doesn't work.

The Real Deal is what a vast majority of us are preparing to NEVER deal with.
This reminds me of the thread "Don't you secretly wish you were put in situation to see how you'd fare?"
Hell No!

It is great thing to be in great shape, however, small children have survived, old people, fat people, so being able to go through BUDS training is not a pre-requisite for surviving. Sure, Being in good shape cannot hurt, but no one is precluded from surviving based on physicality unless they are quite impaired, like a Diabetic without their meds, etc.
Sure, there are plenty of couch potatoes, but there are also millions of Americans who run & jog everyday, go to the gym, hunters , fishermen , outdoorsmen, hikers, campers, etc. so it may be a case of the glass half empty, or half full.

Human beings "survived" and lived that kind of nomadic/foraging lifestyle for a long long time.

Just by virtrue of folks being here, learning, and being cognizant of their needs, supplies and skills, I give all of them a very good chance of being able to survive for a prolonged time, if need be.

Most survival stories involve the person(s) employing one or two basic skills which keeps them alive and gets them rescued. The ones that don't make usually do Not a employ a "single" concept, and that is what kills them.
A lot of the survivors of these situations don't have BOB or kit. They are NOT dressed for the weather, they haven't told anyone where they were going, and made many many mistakes, but yet, they still pull through.

Doesn't mean we should throw fate to the wind, but it does tell us with reasonable prep, and care for our well being, we should be able to handle a vast majority of situations.

Now, if the discussion is the "average guy on the street" , then that is another discussion.

To insinuate "if you are not in shape you won't survive" is a bit of a stretch. Injured people survive all the time, broken ankles, broken legs, broken arms and they make it.

I tend to be more optimistic of everyone's chances, provided they have made "reasonable" preparations, have basic equipment, and have reasonable knowledge about hypothermia and dehydration.
If you were being really honest, how long do you think you would survive in deep woods...

Well, it is a good question I suppose. And asked rhetoricaly, I think, since it is rather open ended. Many of the responses bring up valid points. However, as with the statement that only five hundred people in North America can start a fire with a fire bow, the statistic quoted of beyond the capability of 99% of Americans is plain wrong, in my opinion. Did you know that 98.6875% of statistics are made up on the spot? Perhaps that might be true among your own circle of friends and coworkers, but it is not generally true across the nation.

You know, I see many, many posts on equipment here. Bobs, Psks, Fsks, and the latest gizmos. "Stuff" is great, but in most cases the things are in reality just toys for playing survival. Those who have read my posts know my mantra. Anything you own can be lost, stolen, broken, or used up. If survival is dependent upon stuff, in the real world you might well be screwed.

Likewise, the idea that someone is going to rescue you can leave you screwed. That flies in the face of the concept of personal responsibility, another favorite of mine. Don't get me wrong, it is nice when you can dial your cell phone, or set off your emergency locator beacon. I liked the idea of calling in artey "HE and willy pete - fire for effect" or Puff, or medevac. great when you've gotten yourself in a bad jam. but the survival mindset is more along the lines of "I got myself into this, now I have to get myself out".

Now directly to the literal question "how long do you think you would survive in deep woods". Indefinately I suppose. Maybe beyond the average for most people, maybe not. Having a "bob" would be nice. Heck, having more than clothes and shoes would be a plus. But I can make whatever I want or need. As to food, as others have said, I would have two weeks or more to identify and establish my food resources. If it walks, swims, flys or crawls, I can devise some means to reduce it to my posession and make it food. Like a rat in a nest, I'd constantly improve my shelter. And make my own servicable "stuff", improving my ability to hunt, trap, fish, cook, etc., as well as my comfort.

Training? Yes. Above and beyond stuff. Books? Great. If you read a lot and understand what you are reading, that is a great way to gain knowledge others have gained through experience and/or training. Practice? Definately. Put theory into action. Learn all the means of making fire from nothing. Then if you wind up in a needful situation with your six way fire kit, well and good. If not, you know what to do and how to do it. The same applies to the other foundation stones of survival, water and shelter, and food. I have opinions differing from all of the major survival gurus, but none of them stray far from these basic priorities of survival.

Buy or make it..."it" can be gone in a heartbeat. Learn it, and it is with you for life, and especially when you need it. Good posts one and all.:thumbup:

What it really boils down to here is survival, you don't have to be Mr. O or a cage fighter to survive in the wilds. To the contrary you need to know about your surroundings, chose a place away from strong winds, close to good water (within an hour), build a fire, maintain the fuel source, secure the area, gather food. Our way of life is not glamourous, to the contrary its primitive. Whatever skills we bring to the table, rock climbing, cross country skiing, shooting, etc. all become far more secondary concerns.

The picture being painted here is that we are either "fat lazy americans" or "RAMBO" types might be right. I know alot of people that feel that you need a Les Baer Tactical M4, BUSSE Infi battle ho ha, Strider folding cha cha, Gransfor doo dah, Toshiba Battle Laptop, Super Chumscrubber 3000 g unit micro filter and lord knows what else in their tactically colored and multizippered Blackhawk bag. They are mislead and consumerist driven sheep pretending to be the wolves.

In the armed forces you learn certain things about what you really need in a survival scenario, they generally begin and end with keeping your wits and making the least amount of mistakes.

I have tested myself for three weeks in and around the Sierra Nevadas where I used to live. I carried my bow on it were 6 arrows, my knife a BK9 that has giving me a lot of love during its life, a mag firestarter, and the clothes and shoes with me. I did use a hydration equippped bag that I bought second hand. I lived. Lost 17 lbs, cut my hand under my thumb down to the bone trying to cut a pine branch on the second day, but ultimately none the worse for wear.
If you were being really honest, how long do you think you would survive in deep woods with a BOB? A couple of days? A week?


Who knows, how long can you survive driving on the freeway? How long can you survive swimming in the ocean, or in a boat, or motorcycling, or anything else you do in the world.

Woodscraft skills and preparing for emergencies is a hobby of mine, and I do believe it gives me an advantage over the average joe. But if I step in a hole and twist my knee I am food for the worms same as some inner city yahoo with no skills at all.

EDIT: I just reread your edited post, you presume way too much, you don't know me or most/any of the people on this board. Your telling me to get experience? Who the hell are you? Did Bear finally decide to come over and school us poor ignorant wretches? I am going to have to get to know you a LOT better before I start valueing your freely given pearls of wisdom.
BOB is a popular anacronym for "bug-out-bag", a pack of whatever the individual feels are needful survival items, ready to grab and go in an emergency that requires you to leave quickly, i.e. "bug-out"..
For me, nothing increases my confidence more than knowing that I have "done this before," and so am sure of at least some of my abilities. It seems to me a crisis situation is the worst time to discover a lack of knowledge and ability.

At this point I am trained to stop, to recognize the problem, to think, to evaluate my supplies on hand, to not panic, to create shelter and fire, to not freak out about food but instead focus on finding water, to keep my clothing clean and dry if possible, to conserve energy (this is way important), to stay where I am unless I know exactly where I am going and how to ge there, to avoid traveling along brush covered waterways unless I know where they are going (otherwise, this Hollywood method of travel just hides you from rescuers), to find a high point if I want to be seen and rescued, to never set any equipment on the ground unless it is in plain site (especially to never put the knife on the ground; too easy to loose if it is a small folder, especially if you are in a hurry to get a fire started or there is snow).

Man o man, there sure are a lot of small bits of information that can be put together to make up the whole picture of what a person can do to stay alive!

For me the best survival tool is my brain. In this scenario I am stopping to think, evaluating, planning and making good decisions even in reallly tough conditions. I think that in addition to good physical condition, actual survival training/practice, and a useful BOB, the mind must be trained to be calm and thoughtful. Even so, I am not sure how long I would survive. I know I have never been even remotely hungry except once during a week long survival school in Mt. Adams wilderness in the Gifford Pinchot. How would I react if I realized I had no food? I do not know.

I think I would make the smallest shelter possible to conserve energy during construction and to retain body heat efficiently, stay protected from the wind but stay high up if possible, keep a heat fire and a signal fire going if possible, move only as needed, find water, and try to be as simple and self-controlled as possible.

Not to be preachy, but some may consider prayer to be an essential survival tool as well.

Thank you for giving me a reality check on my assumed skills and abilities. I am going out to the friendly woods for a little checkup!

John Rykken
...Not to be preachy, but some may consider prayer to be an essential survival tool as well...

John Rykken

John, a very good point. It is one thing to be self confident and self reliant, but belief in a higher authority goes a long way toward instilling the inner peace to accept what is, and to give hope to what will be.

Hecheto wello, wello.