Gathering Wood for Your Fire
Let’s start gathering wood. My rule of thumb is when you think you have enough wood, gather 5 times as much. I would rather wake up with wood left in the morning than be cold during the night because I ran out of wood.
You need to start three separate piles. One for tender and very small twigs and sticks, one for small limbs 2-3 inches in diameter, and one for larger logs in the 4-5 inch diameter. For the bigger ones, don’t worry if they are long. If you can’t break the wood, just put it on the fire and leave the excess hanging out and feed it into the fire as it burns down. Gather as much downed dry limbs as possible. Green wood tend to not burn, but after a fire has been going several hours and has really hot coals it will burn, just not as well.
Now that you have gathered your wood, take out your survival knife and start stabbing the ground and dig a hole 2-3 feet in diameter. Dig this hole about 4-5 inches deep. Once again this will take some energy so work at a pace, but a steady one. This hole will be your pit for the fire and will ensure that you will have a really hot fire. Speaking of Survival Knives I must recommend the Ultimate Survival Knife for those of you who are not familiar with it. Click on Image to see it with a Limited time Discount Code included.
At this point place some dry leaves or dry pine needles in the center of the pit and light them ( this is where your Bow Drill comes into use). You could even use a small amount of toilet paper if you have some. As the leaves burn start placing small twigs on the fire, be steady and gradual as you add them. Soon you should have a small fire going. Start placing bigger sticks about ½ inch in diameter and work your way up.
As your fire starts getting bigger, start stacking the 2-3 inch limbs in a lean-to or pyramid fashion. Your 2-3 inch limbs should be broken into 18 inch sections. This will let the fire breathe, getting oxygen to your coals below. Add small sticks to the bottom to keep the base of the fire hot. Keep add bigger and bigger limbs until you burn a big log in the fire. Don’t just throw the logs on flat; this can kill your fire. It’s is important to stack the logs in a leaning fashion in order to get the best results. Your stack of wood should look like this…
Now that your fire is hot and toasty let’s warm some food if your brought your rod and a few cans of stew. Find two sticks about 1/2-3/4 inch in diameter and about 4-5 feet long. They need to have a fork at one end, similar to a “Y” shape. Stick these in the ground on each side of your fire deep enough so they can withstand the weight of a Foldger’s can or a small cooking pot. Place your rod in the “Y’s” and hang and cook. It’s that easy. It should look like this…
If you have food and water for the night you are good now to get some shut eye, but I would advise you add wood during the night so your fire stays going and hot. If you don’t have food or water, don’t worry…we can deal with that in the morning.
Finding Shelter in the Wilderness
It is possible that you and your family could wind up having to spend time in the great outdoors should a catastrophic disaster out you out of house and home. In this situation, you need to know ahead of time how to 1) find shelter and 2) make a bed of the resources available.
Learning these skills can improve the odds of you surviving the potentially harsh environment you’ll be in for an unknown amount of time.
This brings up the point that you need to be prepared with a GPS device and/or at least a detailed map…… so add those to your survival list now.
Why do you need to create a bed in the wilderness?
You will already be under stress from being out of the normal environment of your home so you don’t want to add back aches and a stiff neck to your problems…… and you need to get proper rest.
Throughout the North American continent there are trees that provide thick large leaves like the Common Balsam trees (also called “mountain goose”) that are ubiquitous throughout. However, any large leaf should suffice in this situation. Preferably one with springy boughs to help structure your bed. Here are a couple examples.
Making Your Bed
Your bed will be constructed on the ground and will be comfortable and springy because of the supple twigs as well as the large leaves. The twigs should be of 2 sizes 1) about 18 inches long and 2) shorter twigs about 8-10 inches.
The longer ones will be placed on the ground first and serve as a foundation or “frame”… then the shorter ones on top of those to act as cushioning material.
The sap of the twigs may be sticky so if you have some sort of blanket with you place it on top of those to keep from getting sap on your clothes. The upper layer will be filled with the leaves for additional cushioning.
You can then use spare clothing like a shirt to act as a pillow. If you do get sap on your skin it can be washed off with soap after softening it up with something comparable to vegetable oil.
One of the better options for shelter are half-caves. These are depressions that can be found at the bottom of cliffs and valleys and have been used for hundreds of years by frontiersmen survivalists as well as native Americans.
However, If you happen to find a half-cave nearby, survey it with caution. There may be small animals, rodents, snakes and even a bear! If you spot scorpions it might be better for you to look elsewhere.
Clean it out- If the half-cave doesn’t have any natural occupants, clean it by removing twigs, stones and excess soil to flatten the ground. Housekeeping is important, too! Cleaning a half-cave will also ensure that you can maximize the space inside.
In order to keep rain out you can make a lean-to door to protect yourself from rain and sun, and point all leaves, branches and twigs downward so that rain will slide to the ground and not inside the cavity, where you’re sleeping.
John David Keys- Founder of Survival Companion.com