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Monday, November 30, 2015

Basic Military Map Reading- GRID, Distance, Elevations

Here is a very old video produced by the US Army on Basic Map Reading. It covers how to read GRID, DISTANCE and ELEVATION on a military style map. 

If you have access to military style maps, this video will assist the novice to the learn the areas listed above, or provide a refresher to those who have used this map system.

Either way, learning to navigate terrain is important in a survival situation.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Survival Food Procurement

Here is another excellent video produced by the US Army for procuring food sources in a survival situation. Although, the training is geared toward the US Army, the same techniques can be used by anyone caught in a survival scenario.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Saturday, November 21, 2015

Field Craft Survival- The US Army Way

Above is an excellent video created by the US Army on wilderness survival field craft. The video show great examples of shelter, traps, fire starting, water procurement and much more.

The techniques, even though designed for the soldier in the battle field, can be adapted for everyone who may find themselves in a survival situation or are being chased by some sort of enemy.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Tapping Into The Pine Cone

We all probably have an ancestor who ate a pine tree or part of it now and then. I know I did. And people may eat pine again. It’s a family with over 200 species and has served man well, famine food to ship masts. So much has been written about this family let me see if I can say a few things others haven’t.

Where ever there have been pines and people the people have depended on the pines. Besides food, they had and still have medical uses. Pines have been used for the making of stimulants, laxatives, diuretics and vermifuges, among many including Shikimic acid, the main crude ingredient in Tamiflu.

"male" pine cones and pollen
There are actually two groups of pines, softwood pines and hardwood pines. The soft pines have needles that are found in groups of five on twigs. Their wood is actually low in density. Hard pines have needles in groups of two or three per twig. Their wood is moderate in density. This may seem like a technical distraction but often telling pines apart is very difficult and how the needles arrange themselves is important… unless you are making pine needle tea, then just put a few needles or the tip of a young branch in hot water and you’ll have a nice serving of Vitamin C. Pine needle tea saved many a sailor in olden days from scurvy. (Despite what some websites say, in tea form the pine needles are no threat to pregnant women. In fact let me explain that.)

The basis for this rumor is a veterinary study decades ago. If you are a cow and you eat many pounds of Ponderosa Pine needles you have a 5 to 8 percent chance out of 100 of having an abortion or still-birth. If you boil a huge amount of pine needles in water for hours down to a small amount of gross liquid and you drink it, then maybe it would cause an abortion. A few of needles soaked in hot water is no threat to anyone except for possible allergies. Here’s what famous forager Euell Gibbons had to say: “When I was a boy we used to eat ponderosa pine for pleasure . . . called it “slivers”. In the spring the bark is really gorged with starches and sugars and tastes quite sweet. It’s also high in vitamins.”

The cambium of the pine (between the bark and the wood) can be boiled or roasted as a famine food, and makes a reasonable flour. Fried in olive or coconut oil it’s actually tasty. The cambium near the base of the tree is better than the cambium near the top of the tree. That bit of advice always struck me as odd as if I would climb a pine to get a strip of bark off the top when the bottom is so close and handy. And of course nearly everyone has had a pine nut or two. Animals like the pine nuts as well, including squirrels, turkey, quail, and brown-headed nuthatches.

The collecting of pine nuts for human use is a debatable issue. Some 20 species of pine have nuts big enough to harvest for human food. If foraging is a hobby, then go ahead and collect a few (put the brown, unopened female cones near a fire to make them open and release the seeds.) If in a survival situation, however, one could expend more energy collecting pine nuts than energy gotten from the pine nuts so it is a significant decision to make when out of food. Female pine cones can weigh up to 10 pounds and be two feet long. The pinyon pine, where we get the familiar pine nut in the US, is the only pine with one needle per twig.

Most pine seeds are too small to eat.

But, there is more to the pine than nuts, cambium, and needles. Like the cambium, the young male pine cones can be boiled and eaten. What is a male pine cone? Well, they are small, soft and papery whereas the female cones are woody and tough. Male cones really shouldn’t be called cones. Technically they aremicrosporangiate strobili. Say that at a cocktail party and see how many conversations you start. (Hint: micro-spore-WREN-gee-ate stro-BYE-lee) The best I can do is that a male pine “cone” looks like a small cluster of toasted coconut bits shaped like orzo. See picture, upper right. If you have a better description let me know.

Here is another little known fact: During certain times of the year vehicles and the ground is covered with a light yellow dusting. Starting in winter here and going into spring the pines have sex on their minds and the fellows are releasing pollen. For some pine pollen means misery from sniffling and sneezing. But pine pollen is more than just the mere powder of pine lust.

Pine pollen is a large particle, and since it depends on the wind, it can’t travel too far. It also has a waxy coating on it’s surface which makes it a minor allergy trigger, though a few folks are allergic to it. When the pine is pollinating other trees that are more significant allergens are secretly pollinating such as birch, cedar, oak and sycamore. Often folks who think they have a pine allergy are actually allergic to one or more of those other trees.

Which brings me back to pine pollen. It has over 200 identified elements from vitamins to proto male hormones… yeah, it’s a guy food. It’s been called the natural testosterone, androstenedione, but that is a marketing exaggeration. It has about 27 nano grams per 0.1 grams of dry weight, not suitable for the bulking up weightlifters want, but available none the less. Putting the pollen under the tongue keeps it from being destroyed by the digestive system.

Androstenedione is an adrenal hormone produced in humans. Reduce androstenedione by one molecule and you have testosterone, which both men and women have in different amounts. Androstenedione can raise testosterone levels. The effect lasts about a day. And this is how the Native Americans used it, for extra energy when they needed it. So when on the run, grab a little pine pollen. Pine pollen also seems to have a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system as well. How do you collect it? Put a sack over the microsporangiate strobili and shake.

And what about shikimic acid and the flu? Processed shikimic acid prevents the flu from reproducing, thus reducing symptoms and the duration of the flu. The drug Tamiflu is made from the seed pods of the Chinese star anise tree which is 7% shikemic acid. Researchers have found that White Pine needles have enough shikimic acid, 3%, to make its extraction commercially viable. Spruce also have the acid and it is presumed other pines do in varying amounts.

The English name pine comes from the Greek Pitus thru Latin Pinus (PIE-nus and PEE-nus) by way of French “pin.” Contemporary Greeks say ;’ PEF-ko.” That takes us now to how the Greeks use pine, and that is to flavor a white wine called retsina.

Greeks have been making retsina for a few thousand years. It was an acquired tasted by accident. They stored their white wine in clay containers lined with pine pitch (to keep them from weeping.) The wine took on the subtle flavor of the pitch. Now days, retsina comes in a wide range of flavors, from delicate to intense. There’s one other advantage to retsina: Take it to a party and no one will steal your wine. To make your own retsina the short way, put a pea-size piece of pine pitch in a bottle of cheap chablis and let set in the refrigerator for a long time.

Young pine roots are edible as are stripped pieces of their bark. The bark can be seeped in water for its sugar and the water drank. Also, many pine trees have burls on a limb and those can be broken off and used as a throwing stick or mallets.

NOTE: The “Australian Pine” is NOT a pine. It can not be used like true pines.

IDENTIFICATION: Pines are evergreen and resinous trees growing to 100 feet tall, the adult tree has long needles in clusters of three to five up to 18 inches long.

TIME OF YEAR: Needles and inner bark available year round, young male cones and pollen in spring.

ENVIRONMENT: Pines grow well in acid soils, some on calcareous soils; most require good drainage, preferring sandy soils to accommodate a large tap root up to 12 feet.

METHOD OF PREPARATION: Needles raw as a nibble or in hot water for tea, or chopped and used like rosemary. Inner bark near base is edible, preferably cooked, can be made into a flour, very high in vitamins A and C, young male cones boiled, pollen eaten as is. The core of young roots are edible raw when peeled of the outer bark. The young root bark can be seeped for its sugar content.

"Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Rose Hip For Survival Needs

Rose hips are used for herbal teas, jam, jelly, syrup, rose hip soup, beverages, pies, bread, wine, and marmalade. They can also be eaten raw, like a berry, if care is used to avoid the hairs inside the fruit.

A few rose species are sometimes grown for the ornamental value of their hips, such as Rosa moyesii, which has prominent large red bottle-shaped fruits.

Rose hips are commonly used as a herbal tea, often blended with hibiscus, and also as an oil. They can also be used to make jam, jelly, marmalade, and rose hip wine. Rose hip soup, "nyponsoppa", is especially popular in Sweden. Rhodomel, a type of mead, is made with rose hips.

Rose hips can be used to make palinka, a traditional Hungarian alcoholic beverage, popular in Hungary, Romania, and other countries sharing Austro-Hungarian history. Rose hips are also the central ingredient of cockta, the fruity-tasting national soft drink of Slovenia.

The fine hairs found inside rose hips are used as itching powder. Dried rose hips are also sold for primitive crafts and home fragrance purposes.

Nutrients and phyto-chemicals

Rose hips are particularly high in vitamin C content, one of the richest plant sources available. However, RP-HPLC assays of fresh rose hips and several commercially available products revealed a wide range of L-ascorbic acid content, ranging from 0.03 to 1.3%. 

Rose hips of some species, especially Rosa canina (dog rose) and R. majalis, have been used as a source of vitamin C. During World War II, the people of Britain were encouraged through letters to The Times newspaper, articles in the British Medical Journal, and pamphlets produced by Claire Loewenfeld, a dietitian working for Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children, to gather wild-grown rose hips to make a vitamin C syrup for children. 

This advice arose because German submarines were sinking commercial ships, making it difficult to import citrus fruits.

Rose hips contain the carotenoids beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin and lycopene, which are under basic research for a variety of potential biological roles, such as inhibiting oxidation of low density lipoprotein.

A meta-analysis of human studies examining the potential for rose hip extracts to reduce arthritis pain concluded there was a small effect requiring further analysis of safety and efficacy in clinical trials. It is not considered an appropriate treatment for knee osteoarthritis.

The plant is high in certain antioxidants. The fruit is noted for its high vitamin C level and is used to make syrup, tea and marmalade. It has been grown or encouraged in the wild for the production of vitamin C, from its fruit (often as rose-hip syrup), especially during conditions of scarcity or during wartime. The species has also been introduced to other temperate latitudes. 

During World War II in the United States Rosa canina was planted in victory gardens, and can still be found growing throughout the United States, including roadsides, and in wet, sandy areas up and down coastlines. 

In Bulgaria, where it grows in abundance, the hips are used to make a sweet wine, as well as tea. In the traditional Austrian medicine Rosa canina fruits have been used internally as tea for treatment of viral infections and disorders of the kidneys and urinary tract. 

The hips are used as a flavoring in Cockta, a soft drink made in Slovenia.
[Source: Wikipedia]

Rose hips are also used for stomach disorders including stomach spasms, stomach acid deficiency, preventing stomach irritation and ulcers, and as a "stomach tonic" for intestinal diseases. 

They are also used for diarrhea, constipation, gallstones, gallbladder ailments, lower urinary tract and kidney disorders, fluid retention (dropsy or edema), gout, back and leg pain (sciatica), diabetes, high cholesterol, weight loss, high blood pressure, chest ailments, fever, increasing immune function during exhaustion, increasing blood flow in the limbs, increasing urine flow and quenching thirst.

Rose Hip Tea:

Makes 4 cups

Rose hips produce a mild, tangy, fruity tea. Use them solo or combined with a hint of fresh spearmint or peppermint leaves. Chilled and sweetened with stevia, the tea is a vitamin-rich, sugar-free alternative to fruit juices or Kool-Aid that is appealing to kids and adults alike.

1) Combine 4 rounded teaspoons cut-and-sifted rose hips (ground in a spice mill or not) or 4 tablespoons whole dried rose hips with 4 cups of water in a nonreactive saucepan. Cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for 5 minutes.

2) Alternatively, place fresh or crushed dried rose hips in a warmed teapot, pour boiling water over them, and steep, covered, for 10 minutes.

3) Strain the tea and sweeten if desired with a scant 1/8 teaspoon stevia extract powder or 2 to 4 drops glycerin-based stevia liquid extract per cup. Serve immediately or cool and refrigerate, covered, for as long as 3 days.


• Steep (or simmer if following first recipe) 4 to 6 fresh spearmint or peppermint leaves (2 to 3 teaspoons dried) with the hips.
• To make a punch, chill sweetened tea, add the juice of a fresh lime per quart of punch if desired, and serve over ice.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Ground To Air Survival Signals

SOS - Day Time Ground to Air Signals It is pretty amazing that in all the lost hikers in the wilderness situations we have seen in the last six or seven years, none of them were located by, or used a ground to air signals.

Sometimes called a Ground Activation Signal (GAS) or Recovery Activation Signal (RAS) by military search and recovery doctrine and protocols, this is nothing more than a giant signal, almost always a letter, on the ground visible to searching aircraft. And by giant, I mean not a six foot long letter but a 30 foot long letter - the bigger, the better.

Military personnel who are lost or evading the enemy, often carry highly visible panels, called VS-17 panels. These are Orange or Yellow on one side and Carteuse (pinkish) on the other side that can be used to signal aircraft or as a recognition signal to let aircraft know it's safe to land. Many military members choose to carry a yellow or orange colored 3 foot x 3 foot cloth, such as a parachute for a flare, rather than the bulkier VS-17 panel.

VS-17 Panel

But no matter what day time signaling aids some soldiers carry, they are go on missions knowing what code letter to use as the GAS or RAS if they find themselves in a survival or evading the enemy situation.

This code letters are usually published to all military units and changed once a week, but if you are a missing soldier when the new code letter GAS/RAS comes out, your previous code letter is valid since personnel and units looking for you will know you are on the old letter.

Lost and surviving civilians can take a page out of this military search and recovery book by using a large, code letter to attract the attention of searching aircraft or even aircraft just passing by. Remember this has to be LARGE and visible from the air. It can't be an "I" or an "O". Rather, a "W", "K", "A" or an "H" would be more distinguishable from the air.

Your imagination (and physical ability) are your tools. Natural objects are your materials. The GAS/RAS code letter needs to be as different as distinct from the adjacent land as possible in color as searching aircraft may be looking for you at first or last light where shadows may be your enemy, or during the middle of the day when the Sun bleaches things out.

Rocks, sticks, logs, and cleared dirt are all good possible materials for a code letter. And if you vacate the area, leave the code letter up with an arrow showing your planned direction of travel.

Stay Prepared! Stay Alive!