Found on the Internet: How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife

If you’ve ever browsed knives, you’ll know there are more features to consider than you would expect.  Which ones are serious considerations? Which ones are superfluous?  Which ones are marketing ploys, just trying to snag the uninformed?

On The Art of Manliness blog, Creek Stewart outlines the six most important criteria for selecting a survival knife:

  • Size
  • Fixed Blade
  • Full Tang
  • Sharp Pointed Tip
  • Single-Edged Blade with Flat Ground Spine
  • Solid Pommel

A survival knife is not a magic wand nor does it have inherent magical saving powers. The true value is in the skill of the one who wields it. Skill only comes from practice and repetition. You don’t buy a survival knife to decorate your man cave–it is a tool that’s meant to be used. Since the beginning of mankind, the cutting blade helped to shape how our ancestors hunted, fought, built, and survived. From cavemen with sharp rocks to a soldier in modern warfare, there will never be a relationship quite like that between a man and his blade. Choose yours wisely.

How to Choose the Perfect Survival Knife via [The Art of Manliness]

Found on the Internet: Misconceptions and Applications of the Mini Survival Kit

I’ll admit it, I’ve fallen into this trap: assuming that a mini survival kit was more than it actually was, or a reasonable replacement for an emergency/disaster kit.  The best thing you can do in regards to a survival kit is to understand what’s in it and what its limits are from a disaster situation:

The mini survival kit is often misunderstood. I’ve seen some information put forth that might lead people to believe that a mini kit is useless. Yet people like Ron Hood, Doug Ritter and myself, among many others, have recommended them for years — and for good reason.

Misconceptions and Applications of the Mini Survival Kit via [It’s Tactical]

Survival Hall of Fame: Hiroo Onoda

Hiroo Onoda Relieved of Duty
Hiroo Onoda being relieved of duty.

Some individuals have shown themselves to be exemplary students of survival, surviving adverse circumstances to such an extreme that they will be remembered for a long time.  One of these individuals is Hiroo Onoda.

Hiroo Onoda was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Japanese Imperial Army stationed on Lubang Island in the Philippines at the end of World War 2.  His mission was to hamper enemy efforts to maintain a presence on the island and to not surrender under any circumstances.  Shortly after arriving on the island, the Allied forces attacked, leaving Onoda and 3 others as the only survivors on the island.  These four holdouts hid in the jungle stealing food when they could, scavenging when they couldn’t, and being a general nuisance (as instructed) to those they perceived to be Allied forces or sympathizers.

When the war ended, they still had no way of communicating with their chain of command and continued raiding and sabotaging the local infrastructure to aid the war effort.  Leaflets were left for them by locals and dropped from airplanes to try to get them to surrender, but they decided that it was propaganda and not to be trusted.  One by one, Onoda’s comrades were picked off and by 1972, Hiroo was the only one left.  Think about that for a second.  29 years after being sent to the island (28 years after the Japanese surrendered), this guy is still hiding out in the jungle, not only surviving, but conducting raids and sabotage on the locals in the name of Japan.  Police and the Philippine Army had been looking for them the whole time and never found them.

It took a college dropout in 1974 to finally find Onoda.  Norio Suzuki had decided to travel the world looking for “Lieutenant Onoda, a panda, and the Abominable Snowman, in that order.”  It was less Suzuki finding Onoda and more Onoda finding Suzuki, but they talked a great deal.  Suzuki told Onoda that the war had been over for many years, but Onoda didn’t believe him.  Suzuki offered him a cigarette, a Japanese novel, and some pornography, of which Onoda only took the cigarette.  Onoda confided that he had been given his orders by his superior, Major Taniguchi, and that he would only believe the war was really over if Major Taniguchi were the one to tell him.  Suzuki returned to Japan telling Onoda he would return in two weeks.  Suzuki and Taniguchi returned as promised to find Lieutenant Onoda in his full uniform, carrying a fully functional standard issue rifle with 500 rounds of ammunition, a several hand grenades, and his officers sword.

Taniguchi presented orders to Onoda stating:

  1. In accordance with the Imperial command, the Fourteenth Area Army has ceased all combat activity.
  2. In accordance with military Headquarters Command No. A-2003, the Special Squadron of Staff’s Headquarters is relieved of all military duties.
  3. Units and individuals under the command of Special Squadron are to cease military activities and operations immediately and place themselves under the command of the nearest superior officer. When no officer can be found, they are to communicate with the American or Philippine forces and follow their directives.
This left Onoda relieved of duty (meaning he never actually surrendered).  The Filipino government pardoned Onoda of all his crimes during his time on Lubang Island.  Onoda went back to Japan, wrote an autobiography, and eventually moved to Brazil because he was weary of the “withering virtues” of Japan.  He eventually went back to Lubang Island where he donated $10,000 to the local school.
Hiroo Onoda is the bad ass of bad asses.  Taking on the population of an entire island, burning food supplies, blowing up transport ships, and evading capture for roughly 30 years.  We should all be so well equipped in the same situation.

Found on the Internet: How to Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun

I love love LOVE zombie apocalypse stuff.  Especially when it’s a well thought out experiment in design.  This guest post on The Art of Manliness falls squarely in that category.  Creek Stewart, a survival and preparedness instructor, walks us through the steps of how to modify a shotgun from a single purpose tool into an essential, multi-purpose survival tool:

I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to turn my passion into my profession–this being the study of Survival and Preparedness.  I’ve always enjoyed building survival kits of all shapes and sizes.  I enjoy the challenge of fitting lifesaving survival necessities into small compact containers.  I’ve built survival kits using film canisters, candy tins, key-rings, boxes, bottles, tubes, bags and everything in-between.  For this project, I decided to build a survival kit using a shotgun platform–creating the Ultimate Survival Shotgun.  My challenge was that everything had to be included in or on the gun itself–no extra pack items or containers.  Below is what I did as well as the survival logic behind each decision.

[Arming Yourself for the Zombie Apocalypse: How to Build the Ultimate Survival Shotgun] via [The Art of Manliness]

How to Stay Warm in the Cold

25% of the year (more or less) is going to be uncomfortably cold.  Most of us don’t realize just how cold it gets because we have car heaters and furnaces and so on.  If you live close enough to the equator that you don’t know what I’m talking about then you’re one of the lucky few that doesn’t need to read this article.  Congratulations!  You’re all set to survive “winter!”  For the rest of you there are a few things you can do to make winter survivable.

Know Your Limits.

I remember several occasions where I thought I was prepared for the cold weather only to find out how wrong I was.  That’s the first thing you need to do to survive the cold – Be Prepared and know you’re limits.  If it’s too cold out for you to go tromping around, don’t risk it.

If You Don’t Have To, Don’t Go Outside.

You’ve likely got some kind of shelter built (temporary or permanent) that protects you from the elements.  If you’re warm inside your shelter, don’t go out unless you need to.

Go South, Young Man!

Follow in the footsteps of your grandparents.  When winter starts  creeping in, start heading towards Florida.  The further South you get, the less inclement the weather will be.  If you get far enough, you won’t have to worry about staying warm.

Stay Dry

In my opinion, if you’re out in the elements, there is nothing more important than staying dry.  If you are soaking wet (from falling into a pond for instance), it is better to strip out of your wet clothes and rub off the excess moisture from your skin with snow than it is to stay in the wet, rapidly cooling clothes.  Your socks will get wet quickly and often, it is important to make sure your feet stay dry so change your socks when you can.

Layers

You should wear several layers of clothing.  Be constantly aware of your body temperature and adjust your clothing accordingly.  If you start getting a little warm, take off a layer.  If you start to get a little cool, put a layer on.  If you get to warm, you’ll start to sweat, the sweat will eventually cool off, making you cold and miserable (and possibly dead).

Avoid Cotton

Cotton is a great material in the summer time because it soaks up your sweat and allows it to evaporate rapidly, leading to a cooling effect of the skin.  This is the exact opposite of what we want in cold weather.  It is better to wear undergarments made of synthetic materials like polyester because these materials having a wicking effect that draws your sweat away from your skin, thus avoiding the cooling effect of cotton.

Keep your Hands and Feet Warm.

It is important to keep your extremities warm.  When cold, your body draws most of your blood into your core to keep your vital organs protected.  If your hands and feet get too cold, you’ll get frostbite and potentially lose fingers or toes.  Wear warm boots and socks, and wear warm mittens.  Gloves are okay, but mittens are better because your fingers stay warmer when they are all together.  There are mittens you can buy that the top half on the mitten flips off so you can use your fingers for particularly dexterous tasks.

[AMAZONPRODUCT=B000WVTFZ8]

Keep your Head Warm.

Similar to the previous point, it is equally important to keep your head warm.  Your head accounts for 1/3 of your heat loss from less than 10% of the surface area of your body.  This means that if your head is warm, your whole body will feel warm (or at least warmer).  If your head is cold, it will precipitate limited blood flow to the extremities and heighten the risk of hypothermia/frost bite.

Keep Moving

When you exert yourself, you expend energy.  Particularly, energy in the form of heat.  Simply moving around will be enough for you to start to warm up.

Stay Hydrated

Being in the cold can sap your body of moisture just as quickly as being in the hot sun can, but it doesn’t feel like it.  Staying hydrated will stave off any ill effects of the cold.

Pee and Pee Often

You’re body spends a great deal of energy keeping your core temperature at around 98.6 degrees and that includes your bladder.  If your bladder is full, that’s even more energy being wasted on something that you’re going to get rid of anyway.

Breathe Through Your Nose

You have four pairs of sinus cavities that connect your nose to your trachea.  This isn’t a coincidence.  These cavities filter, humidify and warm the air as it enters your body.  If you breathe in cold air, by the time it gets to your lungs, it’s warm.  If you breathe through your mouth, you get a lungful of cold air which robs your core of warmth, expending more energy to keep you warm.

How to Make Animal Traps

At this point, it should be obvious that it is a universal truth that food will be incredibly scarce (unless you’re incredibly lucky or well prepared).  You have to accept that you will inevitably have to gather or hunt any food you eat.  The easiest way to hunt animals is to set traps for them because you simply build the trap and then occasionally check it for prey.

Traps and snares are designed to crush, choke, hang, or otherwise entangle the prey, commonly incorporating several of these principles together to better ensnare prey.  In general, the simpler the trap the better.  The more complex a trap is, the more points of failure you have to contend with and the less it fails, the more often you eat.  So leave the Rube Goldberg machines in your pack.

There is no “catch all” trap that works for all species, you need to establish what type of prey is in the area and focus on one.  There may not even be prey in your area.  Look for the following in the area you’re in:

  • Runs and trails
  • Tracks
  • Droppings
  • Chewed or rubbed vegetation
  • Nesting or roosting sites
  • Feeding and watering areas

These clues will let you know if there is prey in the area, and what species are around.  You will want to place your traps where you know animals will pass through.

Camouflage

The most important part of any snare or trap is to make it blend in with its surroundings.  This will keep from alert your prey that something may be wrong.  If you are evading pursuit or capture (from cannibals or zombies or a roving motorcycle gang of runaway midget circus clowns), camouflage can hide your presence in the area.

It is best to construct your traps away from the spot you want to place them.  If you construct them in place, you will likely break nearby vegetation, make tracks in the dirt, and leave your scent all over everything nearby.  All of this will cause the prey to be alert at the very least, and to completely avoid the area at worst.  If you have to dig a hole for your trap, make sure to remove all fresh, loose dirt as this will further alert your prey of your presence.

Green wood and other live vegetation will ooze sap which produces a smell that will raise the hackles of any potential prey, warning them away from your trap.  On top of that, that same sap  will eventually dry and can potentially gum up the workings of your trap, allowing prey to pass through it unharmed.

Scent is a big factor in trap making.  If anything smells wrong, your prey will become wary of the situation and potentially avoid your trap and let’s face it: you smell wrong.  It is imperative that you mask your scent near the trap.  You can try to remove it, but it’s a difficult process and, to be honest, not worthwhile.  There are a number of ways you can mask your scent.  You can use animal urine to mask your scent, but this is tricky because you need to use urine from an animal that isn’t a predator of the animal you are trying to trap, nor can it be from an animal not indigenous to the area.  Unfamiliar smells will cause animals to be cautious.

Fires are a common occurance in nature and the animal kingdom treats them with  a bit of non-chalance.  Animals will only become anxious about fire if there is actual flame present, so using smoke in the trap area is a good way to mask your scent.  You could go so far as to char your trap in order to lock in that smoke smell, just make sure your trap will still work after you set it.

Mud is also a good way to mask your scent.  Swamp mud is the best because the scent of rotting vegetation lingers on the mud and let me tell you, that is a STRONG smell.  Just cake your trap in mud.  Again, make sure your trap will still work afterward placing the mud.

Channeling

A trap by itself can be effective, but not a gaurantee.  If you place a trap on a trail, an animal could decide to simply walk around the trap, leaving your stomach empty.  What you want to do is set up some sort of way to guide your prey into your trap; make it more difficult to avoid the trap.  This technique is called channeling.  This can be as simple as putting your trap on the far end of a shrub that’s in middle of the trail, or as complex as constructing a funnel-shaped barrier between two trees.  Most animals will opt to push forward on their chosen path than try to backtrack, so they’ll walk right into your trap unless they’re certain that it’s bad for them.

Baiting

Baiting a trap is kind of like camouflaging your trap, but instead of hiding bad smells, you’re introducing enticing smells.  You are trying to lure the prey into the trap with the appeal of food.  This will greatly improve your chances of success if you can spare the resources.  If you are trying to trap fish, you need to bait the trap or you will more than likely not catch anything.  Try to bait the trap with something from the animals normal diet, don’t use something not indigenous to the area.  Also don’t use anything in abundance (baiting with corn in a cornfield won’t get you anywhere).  A lot of animals are big fans of salt, so you can bait your trap with some salt.  Have you ever given peanut butter to a dog before?  They go crazy for it!  For some reason, animals love peanut butter so it makes a great bait.  Make sure to leave bits of your bait outside the trap so that the animal will get a better smell and possibly a taste of the bait.  If its something good, they’ll be more likely to fall into your trap.

Simple Snare

As the name implies, a simple snare is the most simple of snares.  It is simply a noose  placed over a high traffic path for the animal.  Once the animal puts its head in the noose, the noose will tighten as it continues to move.  The more the animal struggles, the tighter the noose will get.  This trap will typically only restrain the animal, not kill it so you need to check these traps more often to minimize the suffering of your prey.  If your noose is made of rope, it is possible for the noose to loosen so it is recommended to use wire instead, as wire will retain its constricted size.

Twitch-Up Snare

A twitch-up snare is a step up in complexity (as well as effectiveness) fromk the simple snare.  Essentially, the prey gets its head caught in the noose (as with the simple snare) but then the animal is snapped off the ground, more than likely snapping its neck, killing it quickly.  The easiest way to get this motion to occur is to bend over a sapling and attach it to some sort of trigger mechanism.  I personally like to use a notched triggerbar set up.  This consists of a stake in the ground with a notch in it and a piece of wood (the triggerbar) that fits snugly into that notch.  Tie the trigger bar to the bent sapling and then tie the triggerbar to your noose.  When the animal is caught by the noose, it will pull the triggerbar away from the stake, which will cause the sapling to snap upright, which tightens the noose around the animals neck, pulling it into the air and snapping its neck.

Squirrel Pole

The squirrel pole is probably the most effective way to catch squirrels.  It relies on the naturally agility and curiosity of squirrels.  Place a series of nooses on a long pole leaned against a tree, so that any squirrels that climb the pole will have to walk through the nooses.  Place them close enough together that a squirrel cannot fit between.  If the squirrel is able to stand comfortably on the pole, they will chew on/through your noose, just for the sake of chewing it.  Squirrels will cautious of your trap initially, but eventually will have to investigate.  They’ll climb the pole, get caught in the noose, and then fall off the pole, snapping their neck or strangling themselves.  This trap is nice because you can catch multiple squirrels with one setup.

These are just a basic few types of traps that you can build.  There are a great number of different traps for any number of different types of animals to trap.

Further Reading