Having enough survival skills to obtain food in the wild is very important to any prepper – While you can survive for weeks without food, it is not recommended you try.
You can always obtain food if you have the skills needed to set snares, traps and by knowing how to easily fish and hunt in the wild. Having this ability will ensure that you can obtain food for energy so you can complete your survival tasks and for psychological reasons as well. A spring snare is ideal because once the animal is snared it is secured out of the reach of any predators prowling the trails.
To construct a spring snare you will need cordage, survival knife or small axe, a slender sapling that can be bent, a peg to secure the sapling and a stake that is driven into the ground. The small peg needs a notch or extended elbow so it can be secured to the stake driven into the ground.
Make a loop with some cordage and make sure you use a slipknot so when an animal’s head tries to force its way through the loop it tightens.
Push some slender sticks into the ground and drape the loop over them so the loops’ shape is maintained. You want to weigh your efforts against the results when hunting for food, there is no point in expending 1,000 calories only to net 300 calories.
You have to size your snares for the type animal you expect to trap otherwise the loop will be either too big or small.
Keep in mind you are competing with other predators that have been honing their survival skills for years. Place the snares along trails leading to and from water and along small game runs that lead to and from the animals den. Animals will use more than one trail so always look for the so-called backdoor trail or bolt hole if you discover a den and want to set snares close by. A trap such as the one depicted can be used for smaller animals and they typically need to be baited because they are difficult to set up along game trails because larger animals along the trail will trip them. There is no point in baiting a trap with acorns when you are in a forest of oak trees because there is no reason for the animal to be attracted to the trap.
There are numerous components to a deadfall trap making them more complicated to set up than a snare. Fishing is one of the quickest ways to obtain food in the wild and it can be done with limited skills and materials. Line can be shoelaces, string, clothing torn into strips and braided or you can make cordage by stripping cattail stalks, for example, and twisting the fibres into line. Having survival skills means you adapt to your surroundings and know how to use what you find there for your survival.
However, a fishing spear take a lot of practice to perfect as well as most of the time you may need to wade out into the water which can be both dangerous and mean having to dry your clothes.
Traditional fishing methods can be time consuming and require effort that will burn up valuable calories. The YoYo reel is ideal for preppers as several reels can easily be set up and left in a matter of minutes leaving you free to carry on with other survival tasks and come back later to find a nice catch of fish.!
Once setup, the reel is left to work on its own – the mechanism is sensitive to a fish nibbling on the bait and does all the catching for you including the reeling into shore. So when you find yourself lost or stranded or even out for an adventure, you have the means and the knowledge to obtain food. The various UK bushcraft forums are becoming populated with threads about the new Ray Mears autobiography, and particularly references to his involvement with the Raoul Moat manhunt. This is NOT a definitive list of the 10 best bushcraft books, and these are not in any particular order, just the order they appear on my bookshelf!
This is THE book I tell people they should look out for when beginning to look into wilderness and woodland skills. His story  is part of the fabric of Canadian history, and his work as a surveyor for the Hudson’s Bay Company was hugely important in the development of the nation. It is also a reminder that journeys in the wilderness are not just about route-planning, gear and fitness – you need to expect to deal with everything else you carry with you too.
Although this is a North American book, a lot of the skills and techniques listed within are transferable to the U.K.
British bushcrafters tend to focus on woodland and forest skills, partly because of the influence of North American and Scandinavian wilderness literature. It was first published in 1963 but is still current, with regular revisions to take into account changes in equipment and access to the UK mountains. Like all of these skills, reading is no match for properly delivered outdoor first aid instruction.
Another North American book, this is written by one of the founders of the Boy Scouts of America. This book is responsible for getting many people interested in survival and other outdoor skills, myself included.
Related Posts and ArticlesTen Foraging Books you need on your shelfTen Coastal Foraging Books you need in your life! I came across the Mini Loom for the first time I think at the Wilderness Gathering a number of years ago. The horizontal bar needs to be tied off in the same way to the string and can then be lifted up and down as you insert material. The Mighty Loom can be made in exactly the same way as the Mini Loom by driving stakes into the ground. I started each frame by lashing together the two uprights to the two horizontal poles to form a rectangle.
I tied off seven more vertical uprights to each frame using the square lashing, alternating them on either side of the frame to give it more stability when it was set up with the guy lines out.


I wove another horizontal pole through the frame to give it extra strength and also to act as an adjustable tie-off point for the string.
The bigger frame did not have this central horizontal pole as it would get in the way of the string moving up and down to create the weave (as per the Mini Loom). The Tarp Taut Hitch was used again on each bend of the string to attach it to the middle horizontal pole on the smaller frame. For each piece of doubled up string you have attached to the smaller frame you will have two individual strands to attach to the bigger frame. I sourced a mixture of different plants from the local area, mostly from abandoned allotments next to the church.
Keep repeating the process of lifting and dropping the handle and adding new material to build up the mat. When you have finished, undo each slip knot and retie the string so that it holds all the material together. Mat making is not something I do at every bushcraft event I run but if I have limited opportunity to run Atlatl or archery stances, having a loom on standby will keep kids occupied for a long time. They can be as easy or as complex to set up as you wish but the common thing about all of them is the great craft they can produce.
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Tie a length of cordage to the sapling and the other end to the small peg and holding the sapling secure the peg to the driven stake so it holds the bent tree in place. Once an animal walks into the snare it will pull the peg lose that is holding the tension on the sapling causing it to spring up with the animal snared. A simple snare may not hold the animal long, so check often and to prevent predators from running off with your catch as well. Essentially, all you need is line, hooks and bait, or you can catch them by hand or by using a spear. Therefore, as a prepper, it’s important to always carry some equipment to ensure you can have food.
The primitive skills movement in the USA is much further advanced than here, and the crossover into modern bushcraft and wilderness skills is rather important. It is now published by the Mountain Training Board, the same people who manage the Mountain Leader (ML) award scheme, and is part of the required reading for the ML awards. Kath is a member of Llanberis Mountain Rescue team, the SAR team responsible for Snowdon and arguably the busiest in the U.K. Daniel was born in 1850 and saw first-hand the temporary shelters used by all types of wilderness dwellers and visitors in the USA. I like the thought of being able to go out into the woods and build my own shelter in a Robinson Crusoe sort of way, and in my blokey sort of way make my own fixtures and fittings.
My sister was a weaver for many years on the Harris Tweed looms and though I never wove I did as a young lad have a job spinning the bobbins for the tweeds. I tested this out with my Sea Cadets on a Duke of Edinburgh bushcraft course where they made some very good mats.
I use the Tarp Taut Hitch on all the tie-off points so when the mat is finished it is easy to disconnect from the frame.
This up-and-down movement ensures that the material gets trapped in the crossed-over string. I could not do that for this one as I was going to be teaching bushcraft in the grounds of a church. Here you can see the smaller frame set up with the guy lines out (I used some old tent guy lines). One strand should be attached to the middle of one of the vertical poles on the large frame and the other strand needs to be attached to the horizontal moving bar behind the larger frame. You have to take your time, do not let the strands become entangled and be prepared to do lots of adjustments. I prefer at the beginning and the end of the mat to insert fairly rigid material like the stems of Reedmace (Typha latifolia) but try different materials to see what works for you. You can use a pair of sharp scissors (fairly big ones) or a very sharp knife to trim this down, but leave a good handwidth from your trimmed end and the first string so the material does not fall out. I attached some more string to this mat to hang it up and also decorated it with some small yellow flowers to form the name St James.
That said, there is a world of bushcraft and wilderness skills knowledge out there in books, online and in other formats that I often recommend to people. Bushcraft instructors have always relied on skills learnt from First Nations people, from firelighting to hunting, shelters to crafts.
I have several copies scattered around the house and office as a reference for lesser-known wild foods, and it is featured in a previous blog on foraging guidebooks. Mountain Rescue statistics show that being unaware or ill-prepared for the elements, unable to use a compass or map properly or being ill-equipped.
It is also used as a navigation training manual by several UK Mountain Rescue and Search and Rescue teams for new recruits.
This book builds on the many other first aid manuals out there, but focuses specifically on outdoor environments.
It can be read in two ways – a manual for campers and scouts for the early part of the mid-20th century, or an account of late-19th Century woodsman and pioneer skills. One of the key skills is having the knowledge to make your own mats to sit on, wrap around you, thatch with or just use as decoration. You will need to experiment to see what works for you but that is half the fun of it anyway. Then one strand is tied to one of the upright stakes on the left and the other strand to a horizontal rod that is used to move the string up and down.


After you insert some material and lift or drop the bar, remember to keep the mat tight by pulling the material towards the horizontal bar (on the right in this picture). I needed to make something I could transport easily and set up easily with the minimum of fuss. I planned to make one frame 75cms high and the other 92cms high (this height was based on the lengths of wood available) and both would be 145cms wide. Nobody will appreciate quite what you will have gone through to set this up but they will appreciate the ease of being able to make a mat with the system. Some of these I have discovered for myself through my own research, some have been recommended to me by others but I feel that all will be of relevance to anybody with an interest in learning more about outdoor skills, survival techniques or just how humans do and should interact with the natural environment. This book, complete with detailed line drawings and references, covers almost every skill that our clients want to learn or try for themselves.
This book is not a survival manual, but more of a compendium of demonstrable Native American and primitive skills. Although not comprehensive, it provides reliable information on over 200 British edible wild plants, along with recipes and background information. In order to prevent becoming one of those statistics I strongly urge anybody who heads into the outdoors on foot to read and digest a copy of this book. It includes sections I haven’t seen in other similar manuals, such as dealing with gunshot wounds or multiple casualty triage.
Either way it is a useful and interesting series of projects, articles and tales relevant to U.K. If you want to take your bushcraft shelter knowledge beyond tarps and leaf-mould kennels and lean-tos then this is a book you should have on your shelf.
There are many other ways of creating looms, for example using  live trees as props, or recycled materials. I decided to make two seperate frames that could be set up using guy lines and when dismantled would leave no visible trace of having been there. I cut the rods to size (nine verticals and two horizontals for each frame) and made sure they were smoothed out so nobody would get a splinter. It is written in away that educates without patronising and was one of my favourites as a teenager. Like the previous book, Walking Home has an undercurrent of bittersweet human emotion from the author’s personal life. The projects listed include pottery, hunting tools, basket weaving and fire pistons, as well as a short section on tracking and paleolithic mindsets.
The pedigree of Kath’s Mountain Rescue and REC first aid instruction experience is displayed throughout, and the layout of the book is clear and easy to follow.
It focuses on survival skills, as practised by the military but with relevance to civilians. Unlike most of the other books and manuals in this list, the main thrust of this guide is on finding the most immediate practical solution to any given problem. Many firelighting techniques are listed for example, but the emphasis is on using what is to hand rather than learning how to use a bowdrill set.
The line between survival and bushcraft skills is indistinct at times, and regardless of your philosophy for spending time outdoors there will be something of use to you in this book. Much too much hassle, your modular approach is the way forward.I’ve carried a UK military wound dressing since it was the only compulsory item to carry on the Outward Bound course I was on in 1980. I’ve added a small roll of duct tape, some zip-ties and a Thermarest repair kit to mine for running-repairs. Only comment is that even with a fire steel fire making can be really difficult so, as always with any skill that you may actually be relying upon to save your bacon….
I have two fire steels, one that I use and practise with and one in the kit to be there in perfect condition should I ever need it.
Knowing that you can use everything (legal) effectively will add to your confidence and positive attitude which could be the difference between success and failure.Reply Paul KirtleyHi BernieAbsolutely. I remember you showing me a little ‘green box’ with a sealable lid in which you carried some sharpening stones ?? I try to spend as much time in the woods as humanly possible and you just never know what can happen.Reply PierreI have been struggling for a few days on the matter of matches.
I understand the need for a backup to the firesteel for convenience lighting some kindling.
But if you already have a firesteel and a lighter, why bother with matches?Then it finally occured to me.
Even if you keep it warm close to your body, once you get it out to use it you might only have a few seconds of pressure. That’s where, in my rationale, matches have a role to play.Do you see other distinctive advantages of matches? I never tested greased cotton wool in very cold and wet environment.Reply Paul KirtleyHi PierreGood questions! I travel a lot for work and I am interested to know what you would leave or replace had you wanted to carry a kit on an aircraft, obviously a knife is out etc regards DanoReply Paul KirtleyHi Dano Thanks for the comment and positive feedback on my blog. People underestimate the difference made to survival rates by taking full notice of this information.
The terrain and mode of travel or situation where such a kit might be of use is a pretty rare event.Any how nice work on the blog.



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