*What I Take Into the Bush*
Many people like to go out and practice survival on the weekends. It is a fun hobby and gives you the confidence that you can do it.
Due to a myriad of factors, writing a general article is hard. Some of the main factors are as follows. Where do you live? What is the terrain? What time of year is it?
One must learn to respect nature, attempting to conform to it, not vice versa. Nature must not be forced into our mandates. In this world of instant gratification, it is difficult for people to make such a mental adjustment. They are used to water on demand, climate controlled homes, automobiles, offices, a wide variety of food and generally easy lives. Remove all these luxuries, walk into the wilds, and it is a shock to the system. You will discover muscles that you didn't know existed. You will feel "nature" within you. It is unexplainable; in the beginning you will not even realize that you have once again become a part of nature.
Most Americans believe in a number of principles that don't correlate with nature. Consider an individual working on a lawn mower that fails to start. They may spray half a can of starting fluid into the mower, under the principal that if small amounts of spray are good, excessive amounts must be better. However, the end result may be a burned out piston. Another principle in which most Americans are convinced is the fact that everything has to be achieved "right now" and very quickly.
Nature does not work this way. Such demands from nature will leave one highly disappointed. Nature cares not whether you live or die, and remains steadfast on a daily basis. The character in the movie "Into the Wilds" is one example of this learning process. When nature turns against you it can be cold, lonely and unforgiving.
I am reminded of a friend who began trapping. He purchased traps and therefore considered himself a trapper. The coyotes quickly taught him otherwise. His first trapping season found him with not one coyote. He was about to give up when he stumbled upon my web site and purchased my "Predator Trapping" video. He quickly learned a dozen mistakes he had been making. The following year, armed with this new knowledge, he trapped 22 coyotes. By viewing the video, he increased his trapping abilities and "take" by a huge percent!
Wilderness survival is the same way. Merely purchasing survival equipment does not make one a wilderness survival expert. One needs to go out into the "bush" to gain experience and knowledge in survival techniques. This proof and experience should be done for oneself, not for my benefit. The person gazing back at you in the mirror is the only person you need to prove anything to.
Following are the basics of spring, summer and early fall general outfitting and equipment.
Fire Making: You should have two methods to start a fire. Two examples would be a flint and a Bic lighter.
Water: A way to purify and carry water is a necessity. It can be 2-3 drops of household bleach in a canteen, a water filter, or the water can be boiled. Due to the nature of our litigative society I pause to put in a disclaimer. Do NOT do anything I recommend. Doing so is done at your own risk. If you become sick, injured or succumb to death that is the risk you take and not my responsibility. I hate to have to say that but I have no choice as I could be sued by anyone. That is why you see some folks that recommend boiling water for 20 minutes. I boil mine for 5 minutes and it works for me. It may not work for you but that is your own risk. Ok enough of that.
Shelter: You can carry a tent, a tarp, a piece of plastic, or a piece of anything to block the weather. Again this depends on where you are and the time of year it is.
Spring and summer: I believe in the old ways of leaving the animals alone this time of year, allowing them to raise their young. This is the time of year you should fish, frog, catch turtles and gather wild plants. Necessary equipment to carry would be a frog spear, emergency fishing kit, and possibly a snare for snaring fish.
Cooking pot: You will need a pot to cook with. A mess kit works great. If you depend on finding something in the woods you will be disappointed. However you can also use a soup can, a coffee can or even a beer can. Any of these items are better then nothing.
Bugs, blood suckers and pain in the rears: Depending on your location and what time of year it is, there will be the possibility of bugs. If you go up to Canada in June you better have 6 pack of deep woods off handy because the swarms of Black flies will eat you alive. However this is one of the best times to fish. My old saying of "when the bugs bites the best so do the fish" should be utilized here. Black flies and chiggers are the worst insects, followed by mosquitoes, ticks, deer flies and horse flies. Forget the nonsense about taking B-12, avoiding dairy, using Avon skin so soft and the numerous "mosquitoes away battery operated junk". I believe it was Alaska University that did a study involving "mosquito away" method and found these actually drew the bugs to you. The only thing that worked was Deet or full bug suits. A handy item to have is the head net. They are light weight and well worth the $4.95 especially at night when you are trying to sleep. If you are going out in bug season a tent is worth its weight in gold for keeping the bugs at bay.
A knife: By far my favorite knife to carry is the Frost Hunter in Stainless steel. Let me say this again. If I had only one knife to carry on a desert island, without a doubt it would be a Frost Hunter stainless steel. Multi-tool: A Leatherman or whatever multi-tool is your favorite. 550 cord
Lets break nature in cycles according to Michigan's seasons.
Spring/April--Smelt runs, steelhead run.
May 1 to 15--Sucker and pike, walleye run.
May 15 to June 1--Bass, crappie, bluegill bedding time.
June--Best fishing all month after spawning. Fish are hungry, aggressive and fun to catch about the whole month. Wild strawberry season for about 2 weeks.
July--Warmer weather causes the fish to slow down. Best fishing is in the cool of the morning and just before dark. Blueberries come into season.
August--Heat of summer, fishing really slow. Time to go night fishing. Raspberries and black berries come into season. (If you come across a patch of berries that are diminished and have had to much sunlight, check the bushes closer to the wood line. Those plants that have more shade and less sun take longer to ripen. Its still possible to find some good eating.)
September--The beginning of hunting season. Switch your gear to hunting equipment. Take a .22 rifle and see if you can survive off of your hunting skills.
October-Fall-- hanging colors, cooler nights, less bugs. A great time to be bow hunting, camping and testing your skills. You can trap red squirrels and in the upper 15 October time period you can trap raccoons. 25 October start trapping beaver and muskrats season.
November--Cold weather. Deer season on the November 15.
December--Colder weather and snow. Lots of snow deems very hard survival times. Wild plants are buried. Some animals are in hibernation. You better have your act together.
January-February--Sub zero weather. You will need 4-5000 calories a day to say warm. This is no time for the amateur. Mother Nature doesn't care if you freeze.
March/Spring--Beaver trapping season. Warmer days. Freezing nights. Magical time of year as nature wakes up from its winter sleep.
When starting survival in the fall and winter you will notice that you eat much more when you are outside. This is normal due to the fact that you are using more energy to work and stay warm.
How many have seen Penn and Teller Show Time bull sh**? They did a really good show on survival and the primitive school. At then end they did not pull the normal liberal media bias stating "these people are kooks with guns". Although this is the slander normally seen on TV news, they chose to take a logical approach. "If you want to survive in the woods use some common sense. Buy a tent, some matches and a gun." This was refreshing. I of course would add some 110 Conibear as well as some real snares.
There was an old Bayer Aspirin commercial that stated "If I had only one medicine to take to a deserted island it would be a bottle of Bayer aspirin". There is lots of truth in that statement. My most common problem in the woods is headaches. Chapstick is also necessary because your lips are not toughened up and are exposed all day to the elements. You will also need some Neosporin and a couple of Band-Aids. Of course you can carry more, I am just talking about the basics.
There is a reason that you will never see me in the woods in short pants. During my younger years testing my survival skills, I quickly learned that Mother Nature doesn't care that thorns tore my legs, blood suckers attacked and I froze at night. It is common sense to wear long pants. In the winter wool pants should be worn. Head coverings should be a base ball hat in the summer and a wool hat in the fall and winter. Again, Mother Nature is the best teacher. The ball hat keeps the sun out of my eyes and flies out of my hair plus helps to keep me warm at night. It can also be used as a potholder.
I carried a large knife for a time. I soon discovered it was too big for things like cleaning fish and game. My preferred carry item is the steel handled ax. It is virtually unbreakable. I have used and abused that ax for many things. I've driven over it with my truck. I've used it as a staff to pull myself up steep hills. I have cut firewood and pounded stakes. It is one heck of a weapon against 2 or 4 leg predators. I cannot imagine going into the woods without it.
If you really want to learn survival hunting skills take a single shot .22 and 12 shells for a weekend. You will learn to take your time and make every shot count. The best shells, as I have stated many times, are .22 Remington yellow Jackets. They are the best game getting ammo on the market. I don't care if they cost 2 times more then regular ammo; when I shoot a rabbit I want it dead. I don't want it running off to die in a hole. That is a waste.
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