outdoor survival

greenspun.com : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

How long could a life -long city dweller, a beginner survivalist, maintain himself indefinitely in the wilderness with bare essentials, knowledge and skill? For example, if I had to get out of town because of the impending "storm" and I could only take what I could carry,what are the necessary elements that I could not do without? This hypothetical situation implies no shelter,i.e no cabin in the woods or any other such accomodation. I do,however, have in my posession currently a small one person tent. It would prove to be burdensome to carry if I had to carry other provisions such as food. I would think food and water would be my first order of business followed by shelter and some way to start a fire. Any suggestions on how to start and maintain a fire that would not be detectable (smoke) would be helpful. I read or heard from another source a smokeless fire is possibe. I'm very interested in living off the land should it become necessary.

-- Joshua (John@tweedledee.com), January 31, 1999


You don't mention what climate you will be existing in. Sub-zero winters, maybe? If weather is mild a tent flysheet makes a lightweight shelter, or if you are well skilled you can build your own shelter (hard if you are on the move). I suggest you buy a good book oe two on survival. The British SAS pocket book from Collins books is excellent. But all is theory until you go out and DO it. You might last less than one night. So might I. Even with skills one can be unlucky... nice bear, shoo! :-)

-- David Harvey (vk2dmh@hotmail.com), January 31, 1999.

Don't need to worry much about bears, excepting Grizzlies. I've meet one mountain lion and several bears in CA and the only ones that bother you are the government type, you know, Yosemite welfare bears and such. A good primer book for basics on living in the woods is a Boy Scout Handbook.

-- Freeman (freeman@cali.com), January 31, 1999.

Plan your retreat now. Find a place to cache some supplies. If you don't have to use them, pick them up in a year. Forget bug out bags, hide your stuff in a safe spot now. Find remote forest service land or a large state park area. Did a hole and bury your supplies somewhere. Make sure you have a source of fresh water nearby. When you make a run for it out of the city, bring extra stuff in your car. You may want to buy a pickup truck with a topper on the back. This is a good shelter for a single person. Good luck.

-- Bill (y2khippo@yahoo.com), January 31, 1999.

and what are you going to live on??? Most of the rivers, lakes, streams are fished out and the woods are not teaming with deer, elk, bear, rabbits or even mice anymore. I live in an area where hunting is a way of life. When experience hunters go out traipsing the woods day after day and come home empyt handed (after of course having a large breakfast, taking lunch and coming home to warm hearth and table) How do you think you are going to make it? Personally, the y2k knowledgeable hunters that I know say they are staying out of the woods because all the idiots will be out there shooting anything that moves. Granted there are edible plants. But do you know which ones? And if there is a foot of snow on the ground, then what? No...if you TRULY believe in your heart of hearts that we are going to lose our world as we know it, you better bite the bullet now and get yourself situated in a small town where you can have a CHANCE of surviving. Surviving takes a lot of guts and smarts and most of all wits. You stand a better chance of trying to land a 747 at JFK with no previous flying experience. I am just an old lady putting in my two cents, but I have lived y2k. Its a been there done that thing for me.

-- Taz Richardson (Tassie@aol.com), January 31, 1999.

Taz, True about living in the woods, in the snow etc. But the idea is to get some knowledge re: all above. Even if y2k is a ba-dump in the road any thing a person learns and ponders between here and there is only going to improve ones perspective. Kinda like getting that old time independent spirit going in America again.

-- Freeman (freeman@cali.com), January 31, 1999.

Hi Joshua

I think your concept can be done with the right equipment. For food I would stock up on dehydrated foods - this food is light and you can carry a lot in your back pack to last quite a while. There are very light weight tents out there that can fit into your pocket. As for water here is my recommendation: a water filter that will filter rain, snow and creek water into drinking water. No baterries or big pump to carry. This filter is made for the outdoor survivalist and home owner.

The site is http://www.atkinsid.com/bottle.htm and if you put "Duane" anywhere on the form he will give Y2Kers a 5% discount. Good luck in your adventure and prep work.

-- Duane (Duane24062@aol.com), January 31, 1999.

Hi, Joshua!....Remember the 'THREES'......You can live 3 minutes without air, three hours (in frigid cold, with =no= shelter), three days without water, and three weeks without food....Your call...Plan accordingly....W

-- Willis (BANDIT1@ontheroad.com), January 31, 1999.

Stockpiling is great, I'm doing it too, but there's always the chance of someone taking it away from you... nice to have a bare-bones backup plan. Any of Tom Brown's field guides are very helpful, the one to start with is Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival. I've taken a couple of his courses and will continue to post some of the basics as I get time. Personally I'm going to put a lot of effort this year into learning edible plants, even a lot of hunters die in the woods with edible plants all around them. But that's a subject where a little knowledge is a very dangerous thing, it's pretty easy to poison yourself if you don't know as much as you think.

Smokeless fire I think I'll learn in a future course, I think the basic idea is dry hardwood--in a hole so people don't see the light. I'll post shelter instructions later, after a post I promised on making cordage. A bivy sack makes a nice little portable shelter, too, if you're on the run. I'll also post on basic wild foods that anyone can use.

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), January 31, 1999.

The secret is to be near an area that has an abundence of nature (wild game, fish, tree, wild berries, etc). My wife and I went for an early ride this morning and 50 HUGE elk strolled by the road in front of us with that "go ahead hit me, I weigh 1000 pounds" erogent look on there face. I don't think food will be a problem where we live - beautiful, serene, little populated Idaho.

if I lived in a major city like New York or Chicago, I would go immediately into the subway, Hell I hear they have a gazillion 5 LB SUPER rats. Only problem is they may be hungry too.

Seriously, I think I would try to rent a cabin in the mountains in a very unpopulated place (they rent small cabins in the mountains for about $200/week). Pack up the vehicle and b ring a water purifer (katyden if possible), extremely warm clothes, a good source of fuel, a .308 rifle for big game with plenty of ammo, and anything else you can pack into the vehicle. Rent the cabin a week before Y2K, thats if we still have a society by then, and pray like hell were ALL wrong about our scenerios.

Just my opinion, I wish you the best Joshua - Matt

-- Matt (Butenam1@aol.com), January 31, 1999.


I read a survival book recently. You want about 100' of rope; a couple of big safety pins; a plastic fold-up tarp (very light weight); a flint; some sort of fire starter (foam, cotton batten, etc.); buck knfe; bandages; a plastic baggie; some tape; needle & thread; some sort of handsaw; (sorry, I know I missing some stuff).

You make a shelter out of spruce boughs. Cut them down with your saw (don't use an axe, too many accidents) and make a lean-to (two sides and a slanted roof Put plenty of boughs on the floor and set up your fire a few feet from the entrance. Use the boughs for blankets if you have too).

Look around where you are and see what the animals are eating and you can eat the same. (Or you can kill and cook them) Use the safety pins to fish--filet them and lop them over a branch, held just above the fire.

If there is snow, bundle it up in a t-shirt (or whatever) and make a small hole it it. Tie it too a low tree branch, near the fire (not too close) and let it melt into the plastic baggie or other container. Keep it constantly full and you will have water.

If there is a stream nearby, then you have water. If you see bear tracks, don't set up your camp too close.

This is pretty much all I can remember right now, but I learned it all out of a book written by a guy who lives in Alaska and teaches survival for a living. I'm sorry I don't have he name. Got it through Amazon.com. Probably the best sort of these books is a boy scout manual.

Hope this helps a little..

-- Sub-Mit (lurking@ofcourse.com), January 31, 1999.

Josua, To add to what has been advised in the above answers, in reference to your question about smokeless fires: Assuming you don't have a fuel you brought with you that is smokeless, use dry, seasoned (old) wood and build your fire beneath a tree with leaves (or needles) that will diffuse what little smoke there is from the fire.

I agree that if you have a place picked out to "bug out" to, then go ahead and cache whatever; tent, food, water, extra ammo, etc. I would bug out only with a minimum of stuff, like a weapon, ammo, water, and a very limited amount of food (trail rations, candy bars, ??). You can't travel very fast very far with a bunch of 'stuff'. If you don't have a place in mind, that should be one of your first priorities. Don't necessarily think it has to be in the wilderness. If you aren't an avid camper/hiker/hunter, it is too late to become adept enough to survive for very long. It would be better to come up with a place that is located close to a small town in a rural area. Rack your brain and come up with a friend, a relative (especially some older folks who might welcome the added protection) who fit this criteria.

-- Gerald R. Cox (grcox@internetwork.net), January 31, 1999.

Go to your search engine and type in Frugal Squirrel. It's a survival BB and web page with other types of BBs that may suit you. There's people on there who know what they are talking about in all phases of survival, urban and wilderness. I learned a lot from that BB. Good Luck.

-- Sam (Sam@baba.com), January 31, 1999.

Joshua: With all due respect to the desire to get away from the possible chaos, if you're a city dweller, limited outdoor experience, and no real survival skills, you have no business considering disappearing into the wilderness to live. I assume this is true from your post, but if you have to ask what the proper order is to set up a survival camp (i.e. food, water, shelter, fire, etc) you do not know what you need to in order to survive. I have spent much time in the wilderness, have a fair knowledge of wild plant identification and the knowledge of how to prepare these, but i would not consider doing this without a lot more experience. FWIW, i do intend to learn as many of the things i need to know as i can this year, because it is something that cannot be taken away from you. If you're serious, then learn as much of what you need to know as yuo can, and practice. If the country is X times more difficult than the city, the wilderness is X times more unforgiving than the country. I don't know what part of the country you're in, but there are wilderness survival schools in most parts of the country now, and it might be worth it for you to check these out.

-- Damian Solorzano (oggy1@webtv.net), February 01, 1999.

"Look around where you are and see what the animals are eating and you can eat the same."

This is a very, very bad idea. A lot of plants poisonous to humans are eaten regularly by some animals. Poison Ivy is one that springs to mind.

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), February 01, 1999.

Another point on edibles--let's say you notice some animal eating Queen Anne's Lace. You don't know your plants but you figure you can eat it too, and in this case you're right. Until the day you come across some poison hemlock or water hemlock, which looks very similar...

Another suggestion you hear sometimes is "edibility testing"--taking just a little bit, then a little more...plants like hemlock are so poisonous that this strategy will probably kill you.

Two good field guides are the Peterson's guides and Newcomb's Wildflower Guide. Learn poisonous plants first, then utilitarian, then edibles. Find them spring and summer, go back and see how they change through the seasons. No real shortcuts, unfortunately, except there are a few basic plants that are common and easy. Above all don't eat anything that has poisonous lookalikes until you are experienced. This includes several commonly known edibles--wild carrots, wild onions, wild grapes.

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), February 01, 1999.

Hi everyone thank you very much for your responses. I appreciate all the knowledge contained in each one. As the looming storm approches, I look forward to educating myself so I can impliment the best possible response. I do not know exactly what will happen-no one does. However, as I have been reading about this potential disaster, I've found it prudent to "expect the best and prepare for the worst."

-- joshua (John@tweedledee.com), February 02, 1999.

I am no expert, but in a "10" scenario there will be lots of us bugging out and trying to scrounge out a living off the land, including myself.

I seriously doubt there are enough roots, grass seeds, acorns, game animals, cattails, fish, or non-polluted water sources to accomodate everybody for long periods of time. However, if you are forced to become a refugee--and need to survive off the stuff you're carrying on your back--the Tom Brown guides are good. Just pray that we won't ever be forced into this situation, because it just ain't a sustainable one for more than a few months. Think of all the morons who will fail to extinguish their fires properly and burn down the whole national forest.

Another aspect of survival is personal energy conservation. In a situation where food is scarce and you are in ration mode, it might be worthwhile to consider keeping as still as possible to avoid burning off too many calories. Only forage during the mildest part of the day. And if you have to put anything in a small bugout bag, take several month's supply of multivitamins. Take one every day to avoid scurvy and B-vitamin deficiencies which will make you extremely susceptible to illness from a weakened immune system and impaired judgement from brain damage.

-- harrison bergeron (coprolith@rocketship.com), February 03, 1999.

It seems like there are very few people who are truly equipped to survive in the wilderness by hunting and gathering. There are a number of people who could probably do a fair amount of hunting, but how many people know enough about plant identification to survive. Most indiginous tribes survived mostly by roots, tubers, acorns, berries, greens, etc. These look very different in the wild than in the supermarket, or even in the garden. How many know how to identify, let along prepare these plants to supplement the meat you catch? Many roots and tubers need to be collected in the first year before they get too woody. Unfortunately, in the first year, they usually look quite different than the flowering stage of the second year. Many wild foods require much different preparation than we are used to using. ( the classic example is the leaching and pounding process of the acorn). There are many seeds and pollens that can be collected, but you have to get these at the right time of year. If you eat a look alike, the chances are it won't be so toxic it will kill you outright (though, it could), but will give you diarrhea and vomiting, which will weaken you, which you cannot take in the wilderness. However, it seems that if you were serious that you might plan ahead and modify the true hunting/gathering scenario. Many indiginous people had small gardens, and also hunted and gathered. If you planned ahead, you could put a supply of a few staple seeds together. (bean, corn, squashes, some grains such as amaranth and millett, etc, a few tuber type plants, you get the message) The big problem with this is the need to plan ahead and have your place picked out ahead of time-such as an isolated valley somewhere in the wilderness where you are not likely to be bothered. Plan ahead for what you need. As a helpful excercise for those who might need this at some time, what would be some suggestions for things that you would consider indispensable in this type of situation( i think it can be assumed knife, axe, firestarting materials, rope)? Sorry for the length of this post, but i do find this subject fascinating.

-- Damian Solorzano (oggy1@webtv.net), February 03, 1999.

A wilderness bugout bag...I like the idea of carrying along seeds. A couple other items that spring to mind... A sharpening stone for the knife. Light but strong cordage for a bow drill and snares (you can make natural cordage but it's not as durable). A good backpacker's water filter. Peterson' Field Guide to Edible Plants in ziplock bag. Bow and arrow for hunting, 38 snubbie for emergencies. Bivy sack for quick, unobtrusive shelter, and the other usual backpacker stuff so you can cover some ground the first few days. Everything camo.

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), February 05, 1999.

close tag

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), February 05, 1999.

close other tag

-- Shimrod (shimrod@lycosmail.com), February 05, 1999.

"How long could a life -long city dweller, a beginner survivalist, maintain himself indefinitely in the wilderness with bare essentials, knowledge and skill?"

He can't. Not without years of preparation and practice. I first learned basic survival skills in 1959 from the man that established the SAC survival school at Stead AFB in Nevada. When I had to put many of those skills I learned to the test in 1993-4, I discovered how much I had forgotten, and how much the "wilderness" has changed in the last 40 years.

I made a lot of mistakes. I survived them because the wilderness isn't nearly as "wild" as it was back then. It's too accessible by vehicle or horse, and there are a _lot_ of vehicles and horsemen out there right now. They make their own rules.

Believe me, Joshua, you won't survive alone. Find a group to join, or make one. Your chances of surviving y2k will increase dramatically. Sorry for the dismal response, but it's how I see it.


-- Casual Observer (who@goes.there), February 06, 1999.


Sorry for the "watch animals and eat what they eat" remark. I read the book again and it said watch muscrats and beavers (raid their food storage if you have to). This guy said their food was safe.

Hope I'm right here...

-- Sub-Mit (lurking@ofcourse.com), February 06, 1999.


>I first learned basic survival skills in 1959 from the man that established the SAC survival school at Stead AFB in Nevada.<

I started my tour through that course on new years day 1964. This was followed later on by Arctic survival, Jungle survival (snake school), and by Water survival school. Even with all of this training I still wouldn't want to bet the ranch on long term survival in the boonies.


You probably won't make it in the weeds. If you have any other choices try them first.

Good Luck.


-- sweetolebob (buffgun@hotmail.com), February 06, 1999.

You would be far safer in the big city using your wits and cunning - hide in plain sight - be a secret squirrel. As folks die off you can explore your mausoleum. Check out some y2k sites for detailed information on folks planning to do just this.

-- Andy (2000EOD@prodigy.net), February 06, 1999.

These schools are both in Southern California, hope this is useful to someone.

Conniry's Native Skills and Wilderness School (San Diego)

School of Self-Reliance (Los Angeles) "The best survival tool is the brain" (and my brain is telling me get out of Southern California; be that as it may...)

This last one, their specialty is wild food foraging.

-- Debbie Spence (dbspence@usa.net), February 06, 1999.


"I started my tour through that course on new years day 1964."

Small world. I was about halfway through basic. Then 8 years in uniform. I never had to use much more than about 5% of what I learned until I was back in the "world," and thoroughly "civilianized." And older. Much older.


S.O.B. is right; very, very few can go it alone in the bush, and they live there now. It's a way of life for them, and they are just as home in the bush as you are in the city. Exhaust _all_ other possibilities before you try to survive in the bush.

Good luck.


-- Casual Observer (who@goes.there), February 08, 1999.

Go to your local public library and check out early uses of native plants, edible plants, Native American books for shelter ideas, etc. You would be pleasantly suprised by what is under your nose.

Hygiene is an imperative consideration.

My formative years were spent in a major metropolitan area, but have lived near wilderness for the latter half of my life. In the west we have a breed of people here living outdoors, whether it is a leftover from th 60's, military "training", or the state mental hospitals being decomissioned. They already have a heirarchy, a system [based partly on gov. handouts collected at post office boxes] & prey on people even while times are still good.

-- forager (read@euell-gibbons.org), February 08, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ