I understand many of us are keen on surviving in the wild. We all want to explore the wilderness, climb the trees, skin one or two lions, and perhaps stay away from people for a month—typical Buddha style. But the wild isn’t always what you see in TV commercials or series.
The wild is another entire universe on its own, and, sorry to say, not really safer than our cities—say New York or Chicago. Any city anyway, but you get my point.
Fortunately (or unfortunately), the availability of so many modern machines and tools tends to make us less conscious and prepared. We often forget that the wilderness isn’t exactly a developed world you can easily find on Google Maps. Hehe. For all of its excitement, adventure, and beauty, the wild is pregnant with dangers. I’m not trying to scare you, but you should know exactly what you’re getting into.
However, you are human— a higher animal. That’s some rare feather to your cap. You can outsmart every animal: lions and tigers have nothing on you—as long as you don’t end in their den, of course. I’m just kidding, though; there’s hardly a wilderness with these animals in this age. All thanks to poachers and zoos.
Still, that doesn’t erase that you must adequately prepare for the wild. It’s not a mission for kids, but isn’t that its attractiveness? We want to be wild, manly, and brave. Okay, here we go.
Top Skills For Surviving In The Wild
To survive in the wild, there are basic skills you must have—else you’d be the first to retreat, find your way home (or order a chopper if you have the cash). No one wants that. You want to be the commando; well, all it takes is acquiring a few simple skills…
Building A Shelter
Let’s assume you’re spending an unplanned night in the wild, are you going for a four or 5-star hotel? If you’re with friends, some may know how to do so, but what if none can? Well, passing the night on wet, decomposed leaves and trees may not be such a bad idea.
Yuck… it is!
That’s why you’ll be the hero of the wild, classic Rambo. Your shelter can be the most important thing in the wild; it’s home away from home. It will protect you from harsh weather conditions, such as the wind, snow, rain, and even sun. You can make a fire in it too, so there you go—all your problems solved.
In critical conditions, like a blizzard, expert campers’ rule that you have just 3 hours to survive without shelter.
What are you checking for then?
Well, a very relevant rule is to ensure that the site you’re building on has enough of the materials you’re using for the shelter. If you’re raising shelter with sticks, I don’t think you should build where all you have is stones. You must again consider the possibility of nature happening. Avoid low flatlands (to be safe from flooding) and areas below rocks (to watch against rockslides).
Your shelter should be big enough for you to lie comfortably, but it shouldn’t be too big. Smaller tents are easier to keep warm and take less time and energy to build. A common type of shelter you can find in the wild is a natural shelter, such as a cave or overhead cliff. They are readymade and offer comfort, but maybe dangerous as wild animals typically inhabit them. You may have to be very careful. Other shelters include tree wells, snow caves, and lean-tos.
We’ll look at how to build the shelters in subsequent blogs.
Finding Food and Water
I can’t emphasize the importance of this skill. Even in the comfort of your homes, eating and drinking are top priorities—much more in the wild. However, the human body can survive for three weeks without food when out of options. Good news, but here comes the other: the most you can stay without water is three days. That may appear enough to you, but you wouldn’t know until you’re roaming the Himalayas without water. Sometimes, you may be adequately prepared, but one can never predict the wild.
Surviving in the wild requires just 2 – 3 cups of water daily. Certain water sources are easy to find during summer, and so satisfying the ideal recommendation is unlikely to be a problem. Streams and rivers are excellent sources and are typically safe to drink when found in quiet areas. However, ponds or lakes can be quite dangerous. They are stagnant water bodies and hence usually contain harmful substances that can leave you unbelievably sick. When faced with these options, you have to boil the water before drinking.
In the absence of any water source, however, get out your wand and become creative. Dig holes in muddy or damp areas; there’s a high chance you’ll find water. Water from this source has to be purified, of course, but it’ll make do. However, don’t go about digging every muddy surface you find. Your energy is precious. Alternatively, you can collect rainwater from plants after rainfall. During winter, you’re likely to find small but helpful streams under ice.
When it comes to finding food, you’re usually looking at plants and wildlife. Traps and snares are great for hunting animals. Observe your environment to make out regularly trafficked routes. They will not only make an excellent place to set traps but will also lead you to where the animals find water. You can make do with foraging as well.
However, foraging can be more dangerous than hunting because wild plants are often poisonous. As such, be sure of a green or nut you’re picking.
Starting A Fire
Whether you need to stay warm, purify water, or cook foraged plants and captured animals, fire is necessary. If you can’t start one, you may not last three days in the wilderness. An essential material in starting a fire is a waterproof matchbox. You can buy waterproof matches from stores and can make yours as well. To do so, coat the head of your matchsticks with nail polish. You can also use melted wax from candles.
To start a fire, gather tinder, which is usually dried barks and leaves, and light. In the absence of matchsticks, a strategy that never fails is to strike steel against flint and direct the sparks to your timber. This works even in wet conditions. Sometimes, you may have to carry prepared tinder as continuous raining will make it difficult to find dry leaves or barks.
Bottom Line on Surviving in the Wild
As earlier emphasized, surviving in the wild isn’t what you leave to luck. If you don’t have the above skills, you may do well to avoid the wilderness. And here’s a tip—when you come across wild animals, remain calm and composed, think up an escape route, and slowly back away. Wild animals rarely attack when unprovoked. Best of luck!