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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Survival Container

Being able to transport water and food while on the move in a survival situation is an important step that needs to be addressed while you are in a survival scenario. If you can not carry water with you during your journey can lessen your chances of making it out of some types of climates and terrains, such as a dessert environment where water is scarce.

A good survival kit geared for the desert terrain, or any other terrain, should consist of some type of collapsible water carrying container.  Un-lubricated condoms are used in many small survival kits and can hold up to a quart of water or more.  Having some type of hard container, if you do not have a canteen, can be used to carry the condom full of water to prevent it from breaking.

Containers can be made from birch bark laced together with cordage made from plant fibers or glued together from survival pine pitch glue that can be easily made in the wilderness, providing you have access to the birch tree and coniferous trees that are needed for the resin.

In the video I used the dead stalk of the century plant, also known as the agave plant, to make an arrow quiver to carry arrows for my survival bow.  The stalk can be cut to different lengths to be used for what ever purpose you design them to do.

I used a survival knife and a yucca stalk sharped to a chisel point to gouge out the soft pith from inside the stalk.  You can also use hot coals from a camp fire to hollow out the center.  Just place the hot embers in the center and blow gently to get the coals hot.

Bowls can be made from cut logs using this fire method.  If you have access to a hand saw of some type or an ax or hatchet, you can make different sized containers to carry water and food or to cook in.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Wilderness Glue

What is Pine Pitch or Pine resin?

Pine pitch or resin is the sap that oozes from an injured part of coniferous trees or evergreen trees like the pine tree, pinon tree, white pine tree, spruce trees and a few others.

These trees use the sap to seal the wound to prevent disease. The resin contains compounds that prevent the growth of microorganisms. This same resin can be used on a open cut on a person to help prevent infection. To use as a first aid treatment use the sap that is fresh and sticky and has not dried for best results.

While out and about on your hunting and gathering mode, pry off a few chunks of the dried sap and keep it with you for when you need it. That's if you are in an area that has coniferous trees. But, if you have the opportunity, gather it when it is available to you. The sap can be heated to mix with the other components when it is time to use it.

The following glue recipe allows for many uses, such as securing arrow heads to the shaft; securing spear tips; mending holes in plastic tarps or fabrics; gluing fletching on arrows. There are many other uses for this survival glue just let your imagination work for you.

The recipe I used in the above video was:

5 parts pine resin
1 part finely ground wood charcoal
1 part finely ground plant material (i.e. rabbit poop)

The reason I used rabbit scat or poop is because the ingredients call for finely ground dried plant material. Since rabbits, deer, elk, moose are Herbivores, meaning they only eat plant materials, their scat is mostly plant material that has already been ground up for you. Just make sure you use the driest scat you can find. It will look grayish or tan when it is ready. Usually when you grind it up it will look green like oregano. So let the animals save you the time in having to grind up the plant stuff.

You can get the charcoal left over from a camp fire. It needs to be ground up as fine as possible to avoid having chunks in your glue.

To make the glue, you need to have a small fire going and something metal to melt the resin in. A flat rock can be substituted for the container, but may take longer to heat and keep the resin flowing.

First allow the resin to melt. The resin may catch on fire, so watch it carefully and blow it out when it does catch fire. Once the resin melts all the way, add the 1 part charcoal and 1 part plant material (rabbit or deer scat). Mix thoroughly.

The mixture will look like roof tar when it is mixed. The glue is now ready to be used. It will dry fast after you begin to use it. Use a small twig to apply the glue. If it the glue starts to harden, you can reheat it while it is on the twig and can be applied to where ever it is needed.

The left over glue can be reused after it has dried. If a metal container with a lid was used, you can store the glue for later reheating and use.

Here are some other ingredients that can be mixed with the resin. A little experimenting may be needed, but usually the ingredient ratio is 5 parts resin to 1 part of two other ingredients.

The follow items can be used:

animal dung (herbivore- plant eaters)
ground plant matter
wood ashes
iron filings
hair or fur
bees wax
animal fats or tallow

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Monday, November 15, 2010

Sotol (Desert Spoon)

Sotol Spoons Drying

An extremely useful plant to man, sotol has been used to make temporary structures, corrals, roofs, baskets, mats, ropes, tool, liquor ("sotol"), cattle feed during drought, and food for humans.

The base of a cooked sotol stem may be eaten rather like an artichoke leaf (by scraping across the front teeth). This remnant, called a "quid", resembles a spoon and can be used as one. Archaeological sites where "Desert Spoon" was eaten in this way are full of discarded quids thousands of years old.

Sotol and lechuguilla flower-stalks used as atlatl dart hind-shafts were found in Ceremonial Cave (Hueco Mountains, near El Paso, Texas). Sotol may also have been affiliated with fire because the sotol stem was used as a fire-plow.

The Desert Spoon typically grows on rocky slopes in the Chihuahuan desert grassland between 3,000 and 6,500 feet above sea level. Unlike the Agave, which flower only once in their lifetime, Sotols produce a flower stalk every few years.

Once the plant matures, it is harvested similar to Agave plants when making Mezcal or Tequila. The outer leaves are removed to reveal the center core, which is taken back to the distillery. The core can then be cooked and/or steamed, shredded, fermented, and distilled. The core can be baked and eaten as is or dried and pounded into flour to make bread or gruel.

The above figure shows the different size spoons that can be made from the base of the sotol leaf (quid). The spoons shown in the diagram are in the drying stage and will require more work. To make the spoon the length and shape are cut and most of the debris is removed. The spoons are allowed to dry for about three weeks. During that time shrinkage and color change occur.

The curled edges of the spoon are then reshaped the body is sanded and scraped and then polished for to be sold, traded or used.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Improvised Stone Axe/Hammer

To make an improvised stone ax or hammer, first find a stone that has a shape that will allow you to lash it securely to the handle. A stone with a slight hourglass shape works well. If you cannot find a suitably shaped stone, then fashion a groove or channel into the stone by "pecking or knapping," repeatedly rapping the club stone with a smaller hard stone.

Next, find a piece of wood that is the right length for you. A straight-grained hardwood is best. The length of the wood should feel comfortable in relation to the weight of the stone. Finally, lash the stone to the handle using on of the techniques shown in the above figure. The technique you use will depend on the type of handle you choose.

There are many good videos on YouTube that show you how to knapp stone into knives, arrow and spear tips and ax blades if you are willing to take the time to learn.
Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Barrel Cactus

Fishhook Barrel Cactus
Ferocactus wislizeni, the fishhook barrel cactus, also called Arizona barrel cactus, candy barrel cactus, and Southwestern barrel cactus, is a cylindrical barrel-shaped cactus.

In adulthood, fishhook barrel cacti generally leans southward, toward the sun, earning it the nickname "compass barrel cactus." One theory about why this happens is, the afternoon sun is so intense it slows the growth on the exposed side, causing the plant to grow unevenly.

Many people mistakenly believe that the common sight of a tipped over barrel cactus is due to the cactus falling over from water weight. Actually, barrel cacti fall over because they grow towards the sun, just like any other plant. Unlike other plants, however, the barrel cactus usually grows towards the south (to prevent sunburn), hence the name "compass cactus."

Ferocactus wislizeni (fishhook barrel cactus) is the species that contains palatable liquid; other species, particularly the ones with red flowers, contain oxalic acid, which causes nausea and inability to walk. Presumably the liquid could be boiled before drinking to destroy the oxalic acid. An ax or machete is needed to penetrate the tough exterior.

The flowers are pollinated by cactus bees. Mule deer, birds, and javalina eat the fruit. The birds especially like the seeds. The people of the Sonoran desert use the fruit for candy and jelly. The Seri eat the flowers and the O'odham use the fruit, which is sour, as emergency food. Tradition says that the barrel cactus is a source of water for people lost without water in the desert. There are records of the southwestern Native Americans using it for that purpose, but the water of some barrel cactus contains oxalic acid and is likely to cause diarrhea if ingested on an empty stomach.

California Barrel Cactus

Ferocactus cylindraceus is a species of barrel cactus which is known by several common names, including California barrel cactus and miner's compass. This cactus is usually cylindrical or spherical, with some older specimens forming columns two meters in height. It is covered in long, plentiful spines, which are straight and red when new and become curved and gray as they age. It bears bright yellow flowers with red or yellow centers on the side that faces the sun.

The fleshy, hollow fruits are yellow. This cactus is native to the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts. The fruit is edible. This plant is especially rich in emergency fluid, used as a substitute for water.

Ferocactus Viridescens
Ferocactus viridescens is NOT a good source of emergency water; the liquid causes upset stomach, diarrhea, aching muscles, and inability to walk. In fact, avoid the tall cactus with red flowers. It can cause temporary paralysis, and has also caused bloody nose, red eyes, and burning urine. The Comcaac said the juice of this cactus is not potable, and that eating the pulp causes headaches. Be careful of any plant located in Comcaac territory.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shelter Site Safety Tips

The area and the way you approach a potential shelter location is critical in your well being. As you can see in the video the shelter location and stability were acceptable, although the apparent danger of the occupants (rattle snake) were not.

This mine shaft would have been a suitable shelter, but it is being visited by too many dangerous animals.  I noticed coyote and cougar tracks around the entrance to the mine and faint cougar tracks within the mine.  Not something I want to run into during the night when I am trying to sleep.

The snake would have made a suitable protein meal in a survival situation. If I had been in survival mode and been traveling for a couple of days, I would have taken the chance of killing the snake and using the shelter for at least one night.

I would have made a good fire near the entrance to the mine, ensuring that the smoke positioning would not be a problem.  I would also have adequate protection at the entrance by placing a wall of thorny bushes to deter anything trying to get in. I would also have several long spears on hand in case I had to fight something off.

Usually a good fire will keep most larger prey away. It is important that you do not box yourself inside and make sure you have a quick way out if needed.

It is important to know that some mines may have undetectable gases coming from them that can kill you. Usually, these types of mines would be labeled or sealed in some way, but not always.  Mines can be found a hundred miles from civilization, so finding one may not mean you are close to being rescued. Pacing yourself and conserving energy is a must.

When selecting natural caves and overhangs, it is very important that you check the walls and roof for stability. Some stone will crack and slabs will fall loose when heated by a fire, especially when it is frozen. If this is happening you will see slabs of rock on the ground under the overhangs or inside the caves. A good indicator of where not to sleep.

Always check the cracks and holes in the caves or bushes for possible dangers of poisonous critters. Holes can be plugged with heavy stones if they appear deep or long and you can not see inside them.

Some caves will have bats as identified by the strong urine or ammonia smell coming from them. Gases produced by bat guano can kill you. Some caves may have large bee hives. The honey is not worth what the bees will do to you if you are not wearing protective clothing.  Some caves will have both bees and bats. I know this from first hand experience.

When sleeping under trees make sure the branches are sturdy. Remember that in a lighting storm, trees act as lighting rods.

Never put a shelter in a dry river bed. Need I say more on river beds? Never sleep near the banks of rivers or lakes.  Large animals, especially bear, like to drink from them. Moose, when they are in mating season, can get very agitated and will attack at a moments notice. If you are in crocodile country and sleeping near the banks, you may be whats on the menu. These large monsters can be found up to 100 yards or more from the water.

Common sense will usually assist you in locating a suitable shelter location. Knowledge of survival shelters and thinking safety at all times will better your chances of making it out alive.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!