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The Modern Woodsman: an individual who is able to undertake long term, long distance trips, deep into the wilderness, only with supplies one could carry and what could be gathered from the surrounding environment. Wilderness Survival Situation: a situation occurring in the wilderness, where there is immanent danger to onea€™s life. From this discussions I am excluding exotic survival scenarios such as being kidnapped and stranded in remote wilderness or a deserted island where you have to build your new life with an assortment of randomly selected tools.
From the above three categories, the most realistic one, or at least the one of which I have seen the most accounts, is the third one. So, assuming we are talking about realistic survival situations, what do we do and how do we prepare for them? My advise, for what ita€™s worth, is to start by accepting that once you find yourself in a survival situation, something has already gone wrong.
That is not to say that you should be careless, or that you shouldna€™t try to avoid putting yourself in a bad spot.
The first is to accept the reality of a survival situation, and come to terms with the fact that something has gone wrong. The second aspect is easier to see, in that we should plan for realistic survival situations.
Ultimately, in my opinion, preparation and training with respect to skills which would be utilized in a survival situation, is most useful if practiced under stressful conditions.
As we continue onto a discussion of gear, I strongly believe that any gear selection should follow from the above theory and skill sets.
Looking at the three likely survival situation that may be encountered by the modern woodsman, gear selection will be more important for some than for others. The first example, of a physical injury is the hardest to prepare for from a gear standpoint. The third example is the one of the lost day hiker, which would leave you with the items on your body and in your day pack. In terms of medications, it contains a small box with pills (Imodium, Excedrin, Benadryl, Zantac, etc).
Now, leta€™s look at the second example of a realistic survival situation for the modern woodsman, where you have lost your pack.
In my right pocket I carry the Mora #2 knife you see above (actually these days a Mora #2 custom clone).
In the other pocket I carry a small pouch in which I keep a Fenix E01 flashlight, a mini BIC lighter, and three Altoids Smalls tins. In addition to the items I have in my pockets, I have a Nalgene water bottle with a metal cup (Stoic 750ml Ti Kettle), food, extra clothing (puffy jacket for when I am resting and rain gear) and on the advise of a few people, I carry an emergency thermal blanket. Another tool that is often seen in survival preparations is the bucksaw blade, which is put inside a belt, or carried in the day pack. Lastly, the modern woodsman has at his disposal devices like cell phones and emergency locators, which can be a life saver in survival situations. So, how can we summarize the issue of wilderness survival in the context of The Modern Woodsman?
I know, I know, that is all well and good, but what if you were then stranded in the untouched wilderness for a decade or more? Create your own private custom survival experience with one of our expert guides – multi-day and overnight trips available for individuals and private groups. Research edible plants by reading books or taking a course about edible plants in the wild. Attempting new edible plants will allow you to rapidly discover what you are willing to consume, and what you should keep away from. Research edible plants by checking out books or taking a course about edible plants in the wild.
The outdoors is filled with many edible plants, there are also numerous varieties of harmful plants in the wild. The outdoors is filled with various edible plants, there are likewise several ranges of unsafe plants in the wild.
It has gotten me thinking, so I wanted to share a few thoughts with you on the subject and how it relates to the concept of The Modern Woodsman. The equipment and skills used are guided by their actual practicality and are not restricted by any historical period limitations or aesthetic factors. Circumstances and onea€™s own actions have conspired to create conditions under which unless one can alter his position, he is likely going to die.
As always, the above are just my definitions, and are provided just for purposes of clarity. It is most often hunters out for the day, or day hikers who get stuck out for the night that have to deal with a survival situation, usually because the weather has turned for the worse. Many of the things we hear about survival such as STOP (Stop, Think, Observe, Plan) are great in theory, but more often than not ignore what is actually happening on the ground under such conditions.
We often get carried away when planning and practicing for wilderness survival situations and get wrapped up in romantic notions and elaborate scenarios along the lines of a€?What would I do if I was dropped of in the wilderness for five years and I could only have five tools?a€?. There is much literature on the subject, both in books and online, showing amazing feats of construction. Knowing how to build the perfect survival shelter is not as important as knowing how to build a functional shelter in 20 minutes.
By that I mean, it should be gear targeted for realistic survival in a realistic survival situation. Realistically, there is very little one can do to himself when confronted with a serious injury. Looking at the first aid kit from a modern woodsman perspective, we can eliminate certain aspects of medical treatment from consideration.
One of the tins holds my repair kit with a few fishing hooks thrown in on the bottom (duct tape, artificial sinew, dental floss, etc).


In this situation, the modern woodsman would have the items on his body from the above example, whatever they may happen to be, as well as whatever gear is carried in the daypack. I have not discussed them at length here because they serve to remove you from the survival situation, and are slightly outside the skills and gear needed while surviving.
Well, it is simply to focus on the reality of your wilderness experience rather than a theoretical fantasy, and then use the most practical tools and skills at your disposal to achieve your goal. There are so many edible plants worldwide that it would be almost impossible to memorize them all.
Be careful since some plants are edible and safe for numerous people, but can bring about allergic responses for others. If you are flying solo in this undertaking, practice your survival skill on a day hike, near home. Enjoy an event hike with an experienced guide to examine first-hand the plants in their natural environment.
Be careful since some plants are safe and edible for lots of individuals, but can bring about allergic reactions for others. Way the risks and the advantages of plants to your survival before taking in any brand-new plant. The trips undertaken occur in the present, within the context of our current society, laws, and regulations.
That is to be distinguished from nuisance situations where one has all of his backpacking gear and is in good physical condition, i.e.
It is unlikely that you will be able to treat such an injury yourself, and either have to wait for rescue, or literally drag yourself out of the forest.
You get lost, or bad weather moves in, diminishing the visibility, and you find yourself stuck out in the woods for the night. Not only do conditions often not allow for such actions, but very often, our own mind reacts in ways which make such rules impractical. They are fun to think about, but much of what would be good preparation for such a journey, has little use in a survival situation in which the modern woodsman is likely to find himself. With enough practice, anyone can learn to build a cozy waterproof leanto with a raised platform for a bed, and a long fire with a heat reflector in front of it.
Knowing how to start a fire with two sticks and a rock is less important in a realistic survival situation than knowing how to quickly build a fire with a lighter. Also, if we subscribe to the theory of The Modern Woodsman, the equipment used should also be guided by its actual practicality and should not be restricted by any historical period limitations or aesthetic factors.
A broken leg can be stabilized, but it is highly unlikely that you will be able to reset the bone, and repair the damage enough to allow you to walk out, regardless of the amount of equipment you have.
Obviously, in such a situation your gear will be severely restricted to items you can carry on your body.
We dona€™t have to worry about extreme hypothetical examples of a€?What if I had to live in the wilderness for five years and needed to treat a bad case of tuberculosis, or extract a bullet from my torso?a€?.
For heavier bleeding it contains gauze and a Quik Clot sponge, which uses chemical clotting agents to stop heavy bleeding. This stems from the a€?What if I had to live in the woods with just three tools?a€? imaginary scenarios. The problem with its realistic use is not one of weight or size, but rather goes back to the realistic application of wilderness skills. That being said, they may very well save your life when your skills and gear prove no match for the conditions you have encountered.
Much like when it comes to discussion of regular gear for The Modern Woodsman, the focus is on gear that is designed to function in the realistic wilderness outing one is undertaking, rather than in some fantasy where you are transported back to the 1800s and have to make a living only with the gear you have on you; when it comes to survival, the skills and gear for The Modern Woodsman have to focus on reality rather than fantasy survival.
I enjoy a good hypothetical discussion as much as the next person, but The Modern Woodsman is first and foremost connected to the reality of the wilderness. Learn everything from basic survival (shelter construction, fire-by-friction, water collection), to refined and advanced skills such as traps and snares, bow making, stone tools, hide tanning, animal tracking, and more. Way the threats and the benefits of plants to your survival before consuming any new plant. Do not presume that just because the flower is safe, this does not directly indicate that the roots and leaves are edible.
If you are susceptible to a reaction from the plant before ingesting it into your system, do your finest to figure out.
To be on the safe side, you will want to be near assistance in the event of a negative reactionto a plant.
Unfortunately, during day two of the trip, you attempt a river crossing, get swept by the current, and watch your pack float away.
When planning for a survival situation, be realistic about what would be happening both in the environment and your own mind.
Ray Mears had a beautiful demonstration of exactly this in one of his Extreme Survival series.
Similarly, when we know we are practicing for a survival situation, we keep collecting birch bark along the way as we see it. I forget who said it, but it goes along the lines of a€?Knowing how to start a fire by friction is cool, knowing how to make a fire with a match is essentiala€?.
That is not to say that one should not fight to survive, but from a gear standpoint, we get diminishing returns as the degree of trauma escalades. It packs up small, and a similar set up comprises the first aid kit which I keep in my backpack.
However, if I was forced to survival after losing my pack, that is what I would have with me. The reason most often given in support of ferro rods is that they can start thousands of fires. Being able to build elaborate shelters with an axe is cool, and so is being able to start a fire by mixing chemicals no one has used for decades, using rocks to ignite charred pieces of your underwear, and having devices which in theory can start thousands of fires.


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Or, you are climbing up a mountain, you stop to rest, the ice gives out under you and you start sliding along with your pack.
However, we have to prepare in a practical and realistic manner, and we must practice with gear we are likely to have, not gear we think it would be cool to have in imaginary survival world. It is easy to say in hindsight that once you were lost, you should have stopped and re-evaluated your options. And indeed, if I found myself stranded in the untouched wilderness for a month, that may be exactly what one should build, and it would serve them well. I believe one should ideally strive to be prepared for injuries that a person in that condition is likely to be able to treat. That would leave us with the three likely areas of treatment, common conditions while in the woods (allergies, diarrhea, muscle pain, heartburn, etc), small cuts and bruises (cuts and blisters), and more serious bleeding injuries (deeper cuts). If you have an hour of daylight left to set up camp, are you going to spend half, or all of it constructing the saw, or are you going to spend the time actually gathering firewood?
That again goes back to the a€?What if I had to live in the woods for five years?a€? fantasy survival scenarios. What is essential however is being able to throw together a usable shelter in under half an hour, and to build a fire using the lighter in your pocket in under a minute.
However, with respect to many of the factors we are likely to encounter, there are things we can do to prepare.
However, such a project is of little value in a realistic survival situation as defined above. Below you can see an example of a possible first aid kit which would address those likely injuries.
On one hand, the more gear you can have strapped onto your belt and in your pockets, the better off you will be in a survival situation. Obviously, if I had sustained an injury while losing my pack, I would be in trouble because I have only minimal first aid items, i.e.
I am not willing to carry more gear on every day trip just for the unlikely event of a survival situation.
We can certainly come up with some type of scenario where that could happen, but realistically, you are unlikely to have an axe in a survival situation.
For the survival situation the modern woodsman is likely to encounter, that is hardly a selling point. You are now left having to complete your trip, or backtrack for a day or more with just the gear you have on your body. Even if you realized there was a chance you were lost, would the likelihood of you being on the right path and getting out in time provide you a better chance of survival than trying to spend the night in the location where you find yourself? The construction of such a leanto, and the gathering of enough firewood to keep a long fire burning through the night, takes up the better part of a day, of course working with your trusty axe. On the other hand, the more gear you have on your body, the more uncomfortable you will be, and the more likely it will be that the gear will eventually get tossed back into your pack. There is a wide range of gear choices reasonable people can make here, and mine is certainly not for everyone. Of course, a ferro rod will work after it has been wet, but it works only in that it makes sparks. Plan for the reality that you will not make the best choices, that things will go wrong, and that few things will fall into order.
The first is that when you are actually lost, whether because you were on a backpacking trip and lost your pack, or were on a day hike or hunt and got lost, realistically, you will not have nearly enough time for such a project. Theory is fine, and theory will tell you that the more items you have the better, but the reality is that the more gear you have, the less likely it is that you will carry it as you are supposed to. A box of waterproof matches will get you further in the survival game if you just dragged yourself out of a frozen river.
Most likely, you will have an hour or so before the sun goes down in which to construct your shelter and gather sufficient firewood to keep you alive through the night.
And, if you are backpacking, do you store the gathered tinder in your pockets or the backpack that you just theoretically lost? I say that we should a€?ideallya€? prepare for such occurrences because the reality does not always allow for it or make it practical. There are much better options for the modern woodsman to carry on a day trip for the same weight, if one chose to do so. If the injury is combined with a loss of your pack, or occurs on a short day trip, you may not have all of the items you ordinarily would if you had your full pack.
I had a canteen with a canteen cup, a good size pouch with all sorts of gear, a knife, etc. There is nothing wrong with carrying one, but if that is your primary survival fire lighting tool, make sure you are able to start a fire (not just make sparks) under the conditions you are likely to encounter in a survival situation. It was very annoying, and gradually, more and more of those items started to get carried in my backpack, or I would remove the belt along with the backpack, which largely defeated the purpose. Can you do it right after you drag yourself out of that river that just swept away your pack? Can you do it when the place where you are forced to spend the night is less than ideal when it comes to resources?
And just like with the prior example, do you have the tools on your body which will allow you to do that under such difficult conditions.



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