Knowledge of Survival, by Heather F.

Everyone writes about what you need to survive the end; but no one writes about what you need to know before the end happens. Protection, Water purification, hunting, trapping, cleaning an animal, sewing, soap making, and herbal knowledge are just a few examples of what I consider to be incredibly important to know. Now, I know what you all are thinking, males got this down for the most part, right? Well what about your women. What happens to them if god forbid they get separated? Can they take care of themselves. A lot of women couldn’t.

Protection is pretty straightforward, you think you have it covered with a gun right? What happens when you run out of cartridges? Do you know how to make gun powder? Do you know how to reload fired brass? If not then you might consider learning a primitive skill, bow and arrow making. It’s amazing just how many things you can use to make bows, and even more impressive is the amount of things you can make an arrow out of.  A simple bow and knowing how to make it and what to make it out of may be primitive but it could save your life, or at the very least keep you fed.  If your on the go you may want to consider the bundle bow; it’s a bow made out of normally three somewhat straight sticks, can’t find a stick, then thin PVC pipe or old fiberglass fishing rods will work too. Just keep in mind that it what ever you use needs to have some give to it and needs to be strong. [JWR Adds: Using old fishing rod sections might prove dangerous, if they fail, under strain. You do not want your forearm impaled with shredded fiberglass.] One of the sticks need to be about half the size of the larger one, the second needs to be a little bit longer at about three quarters of the length of the large one. Bind them together in several places with some string. Now you should have something that is quite strong that tapers to one stick at the ends.  Wrap some extra string on the ends of the bundle for the nocks. Now you have a bow, but how do you string it. That’s an easy answer; you want a string that is quite strong but not to stretchy remember you want it to bend the bow so you can have power behind the arrow. Once you have decided on the cordage, you want to tie it to the bow your looking for a gap between the bow and the string that is roughly the distance between your thumb and the bottom of your fist when your giving a thumbs up sign. There now you have a bow, Now for the ammunition. Arrows can be made from river cane or straight sticks, they can even be made out of PVC pipe, so long as it is good and stiff and has a small diameter, it can be made into an arrow. But seriously keep in mind that you cannot make a very good arrow out of a toothpick. Once you’ve picked your arrows you can either attach things to make a blade or if your like me, just sharpen the ends. You can also add feathers to the back end but I have also shot arrows without the fletching. Spears are another primitive weapon to consider. They can be made from simple house hold objects, such as broom handles. They may not be as effective as a good bow but hey they will work in a pinch.

Water purification is something that everyone should know about. You can make even the worse looking and smelling water drinkable if you can follow a few simple steps. Now some of you are wondering why not just drink from the running stream. Well, I don’t know about you but I figure that animals use that water which means that the ground around it or even the water itself is their bathroom. I don’t feel like drinking potty water; it’s not so appealing now is it? So, to purify your water you will want to bring it to nearly a boil for at least a minute. I suggest a minute but to be honest by the time it reaches the boiling point, most things have already been killed; and by the time it cools from the boil all things have been killed. If you have the time and you have enough sand you can also make a sand filter. If you have a container you will want to put a few holes in the bottom. Now you have to find a way to keep the sand from getting out so you could use a few inches of pebbles, grass mesh is also possible so long as you are sure it isn’t a poisonous grass, or if you have it some type of cotton material will work great. Next you will want a layer of gravel this is mostly just to strengthen your bottom filter layer. Next, fill the container with sand. Now go collect some of that water, pour it into your filter and catch at the bottom, if it isn’t clear run it again. Just to be on the safe side though even after filtering the water I would boil it just so I can be sure that everything that is possible was removed.

Hunting, Trapping, and cleaning an animal is something else everyone should know how to do. I’m sure everyone here has been hunting but has your spouse? Can she take the life of an animal? Animals are difficult to hunt even for the experienced hunter, sometimes, so you can  imagine just how difficult it would be for someone who has never hunted a day in their life. Hunting is straight forward, point and shoot and hope you made your mark. But trapping is a bit different. You need to make sure that you are on an animal’s path, it’s pointless to put a trap up if you haven’t seen animal tracks. There are lots of traps to chose from, some use large rocks or logs, some use holes. Most of the time these traps take too much time and well by the time your done with one you don’t want to make another; and if your using traps the more you use the better the chance you will get an animal for your dinner. A dozen is normally the smallest amount you want to put out, anything less and the chances of you getting an animal are close to nothing. The Snare trap is easy and reliable so long as you do it right. With the right snare trap you can get anything from a rat to a pig. You can make a snare from wire, string, cord or vines.  Vines aren’t the best material to use but if you have nothing else then trust in mother nature to provide. Wire is the best material but string works just as well. There are two common designs of snare traps; one will keep your prey at ground level and may or may not strangle them. The second  will flip the animal into the air and hold it off the ground, the likely hood of this trap strangling the prey is almost always a guarantee. To make either you need to make a loop in the material; this loops needs to be able to tighten and hold the animal, the loop should be free moving; the free movement allows the loop to tighten when the animal struggles or as it walks forward into the trap. In the second design the movement of the material will trigger the trap and fling the animal up into the air, here the animals own body weight works against it, as it is this weight that will cause the material to tighten. Always remember to set the loop in the diameter of the animal you are hoping to catch; want a pig, make the loop bigger, want a rabbit, smaller. Make sure that the end of the snare trap (opposite the loop) is secure in a bush, or staked. You may want to make a funnel of debris to force the animal into the snare.  In the first design as the animal goes through the snare tightens any fighting makes it tighter. In the second design once the animal is in the snare it will pull the material far enough that the trap will trigger and the animal will be flipped into the air and strangled. In this design you will want a flexible limb or bush, the snare itself, a trigger and a something to hold the trigger. This snare isn’t good in cold weather because you run the risk of the flexible parts freezing. For the trigger you are going to want something with a lip, the same for the part that is holding the trigger. Wrap the material for the snare around the trigger (at the top) a few times and make sure it isn’t coming off. Tie the other end of the snare to the flexible part of the trap. Set the trigger into the lip of the trigger holder and you have your trigger snare trap. Then it becomes a waiting game. It is recommended that you check the traps before going to sleep and as soon as you wake. It has been proven that an animal will chew through it’s own leg to get out of a trap if trapped by it’s leg. The point of the snares is to proved food not to torture the animal. Well you have your animal, so now what. It’s time to get it ready for cooking. You will want to make a small hole in the skin but be careful you do not want to punch a hole in the guts of the animal as that would taint the meat. Once you have the hole you will want to split the skin as if unzipping a coat; once that is done you can remove the skin like a sock, just be careful not to pull to hard. Now that is done you can make another small hole in the abdomen and pull the guts out. It is recommended to wash the animal in some form of water just to be sure that nothing undesirable is inside. Now it’s time to cook it.

Sewing and soap making are something every person in the free world should know how to do. This way you can make your own clothes and you can always make sure your clean. Sewing is simple you just put to pieces of cloth together and hold them together with a piece of string. Most people have enough knowledge to do rough sewing. It will get better over time. As far as soap making, well all that fat off the animals can be boiled down to form tallow which is really the base of the soap. Ash can be boiled in water and that will make the lye water. To know you have the perfect solution of lye water, take an egg if it sinks you need to boil the ash longer, if the whole egg floats you will want to add more water as your lye is too strong when the egg floats with roughly the size of a quarter above the water, then your lye water is perfect and ready for use. You will want at least a pound of fat to every six ounces of lye water. Add the water to the fat and stir. Once you can see the lines of your stirring, often referred to as trace, you can pour your soap into well in this case what ever you have that will allow the lye to set. Let it sit for at least a week before you even consider using it. Typically, soap needs to cure for a month but there is no guarantee that you will have that long to wait. But please wait for at least a week. In pinch you can rub water and ash together to get a form soap.

Herbal knowledge covers everything from what grows wild that is good to eat, to medicines that can be made from what great mother nature has to offer. An example of this is, did you know you could take pine needles and boil them in water and you will have a drink full of vitamin C. Herbal knowledge is not something you can learn from trail and error. You must take the time to learn this ahead of time. If you don’t something you think is just fine could turn out to be deadly. I personally recommend The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl, while he does bring in religion to it, the illustrations and the information contained with in it are priceless.  As far as wild edibles you might like the book The Illustrated Guide to Edible Wild Plants it’s published by the Department of the Army. This book covers everything from what is safe to eat to what can be used as medicine. This book also has color photographs throughout.

By now your most likely saying well, I’ve stocked food, I’ve got plenty of ammo for my guns, I know how to clean an animal, soap can be stocked, and I’ve got a medical bag, I’m covered. Well, what happens when your stockpiles run out? What happens if your partner gets separated, or if one of your kids gets lost? Do they have the knowledge the would need to survive? Are you sure? Because every good survivalist knows and lives by this one rule: nothing lasts forever.