How to Survive in the Wild

  1. Build a shelter.
    • If you are in a desert environment, try to build an underground shade shelter to avoid prolonged sun exposure (obviously only for hot climates) so you can travel more comfortably in cooler temperatures (avoid sweating).  Try to use resources around you like sage brush and other plants.  Stay covered, don't remove clothing to cool down as you will expose your skin to the sun.
    • Another type of shelter is a lean-to; for this you need something solid like a log or large rock. Lay long-ish branches against it thickly, and criss-cross smaller branches and shrubbery on top to provide sufficient insulation. The smaller your shelter is, the better it will insulate you. Shelters in low, dense shrubbery is often home to many insects. Make sure you are adequately covered along with your belongings.
    • You could also create a bog-bed shelter; if your environment is perpetually damp or mushy, use branches laid and criss-crossed on top of one another to create a solid and dry foundation for a lean-to or open bed pad. Raise above ground level as much as possible. Staying dry will help you with concerns of disease.
  2. Be decisive.

    For example, if you think the best survival course of action is to seek out help and civilization, don't wait 4 or 5 days before you come to this conclusion. Take action on the 1st or 2nd day if possible while you still have strength and endurance working for you. In most cases the best course of action is to stay in one place.  If you are on the move, it will be harder for rescuers to find you.  Try to stay in the most obvious place available for others to find you.  If you can find a stream or a roadway, then you will most likely find people on your way and it's a good bet that you can follow that to safety.

  3. Start a fire.

    Use dry wood and sticks to start your fire. Fire is started using three kinds of wood: tinder, kindling, and fuel. Tinder is any kind of flammable wood shaving; usually light and wispy. Kindling is used for coaxing the flame into larger form, and fuel is for fuel.

    • You can take two pieces of dry wood, sharpen one of them and use it to drill into the other piece. Place any highly flammable objects you can find next to the drill bit. The moment the flammable object catches a spark, use a rock to swiftly tip the shouldering object onto a nest of leaves/ twigs/dry bark. A better option is to think and be prepared before you go out into the wild.  Make sure you have adequate supplies. Include fire starter in these supplies.
  4. Carve a knife for hunting.

    Get an ordinary block of wood and hit with a blunt rock repeatedly until the wood sharpens. Sharpen like any other knife, but in this case, use the rock as your sharpener. You could also take a rock and break off some of the edges and then use another rock and some water like a wetstone and sharpen. In an ideal situation, Obsidian stone (black, translucent lava rock) would be used for its infamous sharpness.  You can do this to create tools for hunting and other tasks like cooking.  Hopefully, you don't need to do this because you have prepared by bringing a good knife.

  5. Set a trap if you can't go out to hunt.

    Arrange a few sticks in somewhat half a tee pee. Use 2 more sticks to hold up the "tee pee", similar to your shelter. Place an item of your choice you think an animal will come after. If you're lucky, the animal will be trapped.

    • Use pitfall traps for larger prey. Dig a hole in the ground about 2-3m deep and 1-2m across (depends on the prey size). Take 2 thin branches and place them criss-crossed across the hole. Cover it with leaves and put something the animals like to eat. You can also put a few wooden spikes sharpened by your knife at the bottom. Don't forget to build a ladder or you might not be able to climb out of the hole. Always remember to cut it up into smaller pieces before moving it out of the hole. The last thing you want to do is to injure yourself. Set as many traps as you can.
    • Go after fish first if you go hunting. When you spot one, don't make a sudden move. The vibrations will scare them off. Water bends light, and makes objects appear further back than they really are- so compensate for this and aim just in front of your target. Practice makes perfect.  You can also dig for worms and use them for bait.. or in the worst case, eat them yourself to stay alive. (make sure you cook them.
    • Streams are full of food if you cannot catch fish there are usually fresh water mussels.
    • If you fail at catching fish, try to find some plants to eat; dandelions(yellow flowers or big white flowers, eat the leaves), sour grass(has a yellow flower at the top and looks like grass, only in a cylinder shape, has no leaves, eat the cylinderish grass part), just NEVER eat white berries. It may be tempting to eat regular grass, but do not.  Weeds are your best best.  Look for other berries, and if you are in the desert, cactus is a great source of water. (don't get poked!)
  6. Create a smoke or fire signal.

    Repeat the fire step, this time using live branches. Fire stands out in the night time very well.

sources: Dave Crosby

8 thoughts on “How to Survive in the Wild”

  • Cindy Merrill
    Cindy Merrill May 30, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Also, if you're near a stream or river, look for a pine ceder/spruce tree, the needles can be simmered in water for a nourishing tea. Use a tin can to cook the tea in, or hollow out a "bowl" from a log, wet down the log so it doesn't born and place at edge of your campfire. Also, the brown end tips of spruce or pine trees are edible. If you luck out and find a wild apple tree full of green apples, roast apples first, or you risk a stomach ache.

  • J.S. Mitchell
    J.S. Mitchell May 30, 2010 at 10:47 pm

    When you go into the boon docks you must do as much as possible to facilitate your discovery if you become lost/incapacitated. A simple metal camp mirror is invaluable in signalling and takes virtually no space or weight. I even carry one in my 9-11 bag.

  • Nancy

    After I read the above article, I watched some of your on-line videos. They're very informative. I realize some of your customers are very familiar with the products you sell and know how to use them. But, for someone like me, whose never ever gone camping and wouldn't know where to begin to do some very basic things, your videos spell it all out. Now, one of the ones on starting a fire proved to be very informative AND very entertaining. But it did show very clearly what could happen if you're not careful. Thanks for showing it as it is.

  • Shanon Jalonen

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  • tyler tingushi
    tyler tingushi March 5, 2011 at 9:28 am

    On Man vs. Wild, Bear relies on his physical and mental stamina as well as his hard-skill training to stay alive in challenging, unrelenting wilderness areas. He also relies heavily on the limited amount of equipment and clothing he takes with him to survive these conditions. Viewers of Man vs. Wild watch firsthand as the survival gear Bear uses withstands field tests to the extreme.

  • tyler

    Bear is very entertaining but don't forget he travels with a full first aid team, camera crew and what ever other support he may need. A lot of what he does is strictly for show.
    He does indeed show a lot of gear and what it can do but the fact that he endorses it as well means he has to show it off and not that it is necessarily needed for the purposes he uses it for. My preference for those shows are "survivorman". its all about choice though.

  • RKM

    Sorry Tyler. not sure why your name was added to the above.

  • Northwoods Cheryl
    Northwoods Cheryl October 4, 2015 at 12:52 am

    I NEVER EVER leave home without a bug-out backpack in my vehicle. I ALWAYS have a sharp knife in my pocket. Even at my nursing job! My back pack is light weight, not some big pack with 80# of gear.. I have a number of those small "space blankets" that look like silver sheets, a few lighters plus flint and steel for fires. I have a small bundle of tinder material as well. Also extra socks, mittens and gloves, and head wear. The straps on the pack have add-ons of Paracord, MILITARY grade. Not the cheap stuff made in China. There are water purification tablets, vitamin tablets, a good first aid kit and a few collapseable cooking/eating dishes. An Altoids tin made into a fishing kit, a dynamo/solar powered flashlight/radio combo, and several "SOS Bars" (High calorie food bars they keep on lifeboats) My vehicle also has sturdier clothing than what I am usually wearing when gone on my job. Surgical scrubs won't cut it in the woods! Lastly, I have learned and practiced a LOT of wild craft so I know how to start fires, build shelters, etc. I live in the Wisconsin north woods so we are almost all trained to survive in harsh climates. I have a Concealed Carry permit, and I carry when able. I do have a decent firearm that I am proficient with, in my car as well. All this gear really doesn't weigh a lot. My whole pack is under 20 lbs.

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