Survive in the 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:

Codger

Well said, Codger. Exactly what I would have said if I could have said it that well. :D

Also Huemoz - 100%. (can't do a thumbs-up on 'edit'.)
Doc
 
I would like to clear up something, I have used the "Only 500 people in north America can make friction fire" because it is a pervasive statistic.
Actually it's not even a statistic, it's an estimate.

Shorty story: My son's swim & dive team came to our house for pizza and sodas. One of the fathers came to pick up their daughter, and he was dressed in his Scoutmaster uniform. Nice guy. So, I just had to ask him about friction fire.
Asked if he had ever made fire-by-friction, to which he replied "no".

I asked if he had seen it done, in person.
"No" again, he had not. Mind you this is a guy who had made Eagle Scout as a young man , and is now a Scout Master.

So we discussed firemaking, I told him that it was requirement that we try fire-by-friction when we were in scouts. We had to demonstrate the understanding, we had to build the device (bow&drill), and we had to show we could make it work.

He told me about what they teach now, and of course the "flint" rod is the Big Ticket item. Their big "trick" is dryer lint and the cottonballs doused with PJ.
I nodded and smiled.

If the Boyscouts aren't teaching fire-by-friction, then, the only people learning it are those who seek it out, take a "primitive skills" course, or like those here, who, watch, listen and learn on their own.

I didn't know what I believed about the "only" 500 people who could readily make fire by friction, it seemed like a low number to me.
But now, after talking with this ScoutMaster, i can see how that estimate may have been derived?

A Scout Master who has never tried, nor seen Friction Fire even attempted? Wow. I was surprised, to say the least.

So, nowadays, it appears everyone depends on "Stuff" from the modern world. And it is making me think that the low estimates of people who can reliably make fire-by-friction probably have some basis for being so low.
 
unfortunatly I cannot make fire from a bow and drill, yet. I hope to change this in the near future. There are many thing I would like to learn, like flint knapping and other "primitive" skills. But I know what you mean skunk, its amazing the people you find you cant do things you take for grantit. Like a fella I used to go hunting with, only knew how to use a GPS, didnt know a thing about plotting a course on a map with a compas, or even simply using and walking with a compas. Something likes this I think is unacceptable. When we start loosing the knowledge to simple things like using a compas,.. were just digging our self deeper.
 
This I can believe, Skunkwerx. There are no "primitive skills tests" for a person to become a Scoutmaster. Nor is the ability to even make a camp fire with a bic or a match common knowledge among the majority of people nowdays. Heck, I am even reading about scouts being forbidden to carry fixed blade "outing" knives, and in some cases folders. How whack is that? I am curious as to how many scouting merit badges are there now, and how many have been dropped as non-essential or non-pc since the middle of last century. Have they turned from the original focus of scouting? That used to be not only service and citizenship, but self-reliance in the great outdoors.

Codger

PS- My repeating the "500" was not meant to insult you. It was more meant to point out the misconception that wilderness skills are near vanished and near impossible to acquire. Sorry if you were offended friend. It is never my intention to offend anyone here.

Edit: Ohhh! Interesting!!
http://www.usscouts.org/mb/framesindex.html
Make up a personal survival kit and be able to explain how each item in it is useful
Show that you can start fires using three methods other than matches
Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.
 
This I can believe, Skunkwerx. There are no "primitive skills tests" for a person to become a Scoutmaster. Nor is the ability to even make a camp fire with a bic or a match common knowledge among the majority of people nowdays. Heck, I am even reading about scouts being forbidden to carry fixed blade "outing" knives, and in some cases folders. How whack is that? I am curious as to how many scouting merit badges are there now, and how many have been dropped as non-essential or non-pc since the middle of last century. Have they turned from the original focus of scouting? That used to be not only service and citizenship, but self-reliance in the great outdoors.

Codger

PS- My repeating the "500" was not meant to insult you. It was more meant to point out the misconception that wilderness skills are near vanished and near impossible to acquire. Sorry if you were offended friend. It is never my intention to offend anyone here.

Edit: Ohhh! Interesting!!
http://www.usscouts.org/mb/framesindex.html
Make up a personal survival kit and be able to explain how each item in it is useful
Show that you can start fires using three methods other than matches
Explain why it usually is not wise to eat edible wild plants or wildlife in a wilderness survival situation.

No insult taken Codge, I was just expanding on the "Only 500 people" stat, because I always wondered how they came up with it. Then after quzzing the ScoutMaster, I was thinking, geeez, maybe it's less than 500?? :rolleyes:

The ScoutMaster was sporting his Eagle Badge, so, I knew he had also been a scout, not just stepped in to be leader.

Nice scouting link.
It really does appear they are watering it down. I had heard about not being allowed to have fixed blades, but, not having the folder?? That folding knife was/is the cornerstone of scouting! Dang. I still have mine!

I guess they can use lighter, magnifying glass, flint&tinder and that's it!!
Well, maybe our ScoutMaster knew better and had us working on the primitive methods? Plus, back then Bic Lighters hadn't been invented :)

I dsitnctly remember also having to construct a proper and Safe fire.
The standard BSA method for campfire was the teepee but we learned the criss-cross and the stacked method too.

Oh, it's coming back to me. Only those that had earned the badge were allowed to carry fire making equipment and only those scouts were allowed to construct a fire.
We also did the "Smokey the Bear" thing and had to show how to "put out a campfrie" completely, using water as well as shovel and dirt.
 
The simple fact that we are all at least aware of, discussing, and usually preparing ourselves and materials in case of a negative situation is positive. Being cognizant of and having the foresight to see a situation possibly turning to crap is half the battle. It is unlikely that any of us will find ourselves with our family in the mountains, trying to walk out for help with tennis shoes and a windbreaker on. I mean no disrespect to that Asian fellow in Oregon, but come on. Risk asessment on a wilderness trip is usually instantly apparent. I never go into the bush without water, a knife or tomahawk, a lighter, whistle and extra clothes. The basics, atleast. I do not feel that I have any special outdoor skills, other than common sense and some experience. Amazingly enough, that little marble sized mass rolling around in my skull, along with a few basics, allows me to get out of rough spots.
 
I think all of us have some skills we could learn or at least hone, some were mentioned already. Many of the primitive skills may never be used, but there is a good chance they will help you better appreciate those that have done it before us a regular way of life, they didnt know anything else.

Things like knot tying, bow making, flint knapping, snare making, hide tanning,
tracking, wild edibles, friction fire, archery, and many others. With these skills you could last indefinately in the forest.
 
Lots of good stuff.

The Wilderness Survival Merit Badge requires making a fire by three methods other than matches/lighter. If the candidate can't do it with a magnifying glass, he has to do it via one of: bow and drill; flint and steel; fire plow; fire piston. (That assumes he will do it with a battery and with a fire steel.) Hundreds of Scouts get the badge every year. Those in sunny climes probably use the magnifying glass. 500 seems low.

And Skunk, bro, as calmly as I can put it, you do not sound like someone who played American football. I could be wrong. Been wrong before. In my experience, it is not for the faint of heart OR those who don't have the will to work their butts off. Three of my teammates were Rangers. Nine were Marines - two recon. Two were SF. The sorryest scrub ran two miles a day in 100 degree+ heat. They all had reason to know that pain can be endured. I doubt that much has changed (except better equipment and better understanding of hydration). 'Course, given heart attack as one of the Big Three, you may have a point. :D
 
Since it has been 40 years since I had to do this I would imagine that I would last about a day and a half. I readily admit to ignorance, that's why I am here.
 
Well........... if you consider the Indian peoples that still practice the traditional values and skills, the 500 number will go way up.
 
Like a fella I used to go hunting with, only knew how to use a GPS, didnt know a thing about plotting a course on a map with a compass, or even simply using and walking with a compass. Something likes this I think is unacceptable. When we start losing the knowledge to simple things like using a compass,.. were just digging our self deeper.

I had an interesting thing happen awhile back. I was doing a hike for a group of kids who were part of an outdoors club. A couple of the adult leaders came along. At one point, one of the adult leaders told me that he was a hunter and so his wife had bought him a GPS. He said he wasn't sure how to use it and could I help him. I told him no because I don't have one and know nothing about them. Sometime later on in the day, I was showing the kids how to determine direction with 'shadowless' stick method which determines an 'easterly' direction. The leader with the GPS says, " OK, so that shows you where east is, but how do you find north?"

Doc
 
oh dear lord, Doc, I dont know what I would have done.

I think in that situation, you would have been permited to slap that man, then call him an idiot to his face, then, and only then could you show him how to find north :D
 
I have personally been involved in teaching a hundred or so kids bow drill firemaking. As well as attending classes and primitive skills gatherings with hundreds of others who practice it.

I think your estimate is clearly based on your sole perspective (obviously :p ), but that if you included the many people involved in primitive skills alone, your estimate is way low.

In any case, it involves more cognitive ability than flicking a bic, so why do we call it primitive?

These skills necessitate (thankfully!) a different relationship with the wild world.

For me it is more than about saving my arse, it is about being and experiencing differently.
 
I would like to clear up something, I have used the "Only 500 people in north America can make friction fire" because it is a pervasive statistic.
Actually it's not even a statistic, it's an estimate.

Shorty story: My son's swim & dive team came to our house for pizza and sodas. One of the fathers came to pick up their daughter, and he was dressed in his Scoutmaster uniform. Nice guy. So, I just had to ask him about friction fire.
Asked if he had ever made fire-by-friction, to which he replied "no".

I asked if he had seen it done, in person.
"No" again, he had not. Mind you this is a guy who had made Eagle Scout as a young man , and is now a Scout Master.

Wow! I feel like such an elite now. ONE of FIVE HUNDRED baby!
As far as the scoutmaster goes I am amazed. I was in scouting in the eighties and I fondly remember by scoutmaster as a real woodsman. Always left me with the impression that he only lived in a house to humor the rest of the world. I also remember all of the work projects he had us doing around there area. Right now I can't remember the last time I've seen a group of scouts on any sort of work project around town.
 
In any case, it involves more cognitive ability than flicking a bic, so why do we call it primitive?

As they are fond of saying in the Bulletin of Primitive Technology, "Primitive means first, not worst."

Doc
 
Wow! I feel like such an elite now. ONE of FIVE HUNDRED baby!
As far as the scoutmaster goes I am amazed. I was in scouting in the eighties and I fondly remember by scoutmaster as a real woodsman. Always left me with the impression that he only lived in a house to humor the rest of the world. I also remember all of the work projects he had us doing around there area. Right now I can't remember the last time I've seen a group of scouts on any sort of work project around town.
I know this is OT, but Scouting in this area includes massive fall leaf-raking projects for the older folks and lots of unit "Good Turns." (Our Troop does four large service projects a year.) However, understand that Scouting is now a "controvsial" program due to the religious and gay issues. It has been driven out of most schools by legal actions and many urban media refuse to acknowledge its existence. Funny, since it was also "controversial" in the minds of some when I was a kid 'cause it was "too left" and now it's "too conservative" for some.

Maybe we better stick to survival. :eek:
 
Since it has been 40 years since I had to do this I would imagine that I would last about a day and a half. I readily admit to ignorance, that's why I am here.

Ya buddy, I guess I am not such a hot shot either. I figure about a week or so for me. Then, I have to pull out my survival condom because I would probably be f...ed.:D I will learn from the guys here that know more than me, and there are several. I do not know what a BOB is either. Maybe a BOB is the dude you have to eat after a plane crash. Mmmmmm Fava beans and a fine Chianti.:p
 
Speaking of fire, you guys have motivated me to try my skills once again here in rainy Oregon. Man, it has been raining big dogs for days. I am going to go find an old dead tree, a small one, and drop that tree with my 1/4 inch thick Anaconda weed wacker, cut it open to see if the dry wood is there like it is supposed to be. Then I am going to flame that wood somehow and enjoy the victory. I will use cotton balls or steel wool or find some dry wood to fluff up and make like tinder. Maybe I'll pull out some dried moss I have stored, or maybe a little candle wax. I could use my stick of pitch wood if I hadn't used it already. Gotta find some more. I will probably use a sparking tool. I have one that has a built in flint but will also spark good when you scrape it with a knife.

I'll have to lay out the fire wood so it won't get soaked on the ground or from the sky. And I'll have to have a dry place to store all that wood so carefully wrested from the earth.

After all this work, and after I soak myself in the smell of Oregon, I will do a victory dance, face to the North, if I can find it, and go on home a happy man.

Golly, what have I got myself into here? :eek:
 
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