The holidays are over and I hope everyone will have a great New Year.
The next Primitive Skills 101 will be April 4, 2020 www.stevepullinger.com/primitive-survival-skills-101.html
The 5 P's. I was at a funeral recently and the deceased used that mantra to live by. The 5 P's were Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance. For survival purposes I'm subbing Planning with Practice. Practice is so important in any survival skill. If you were caught in an outdoor emergency could you start a fire in wet conditions ? Would you know what it took ( work/materials ) to build a shelter ?? An emergency is no time to learn a new skill !! Whether its survival, sports or the military, muscle memory/extensive practice is what will make you proficient. So when the next rain comes, go out with matches/bow drill or whatever method you like and try starting a fire. When I take a hike I am constantly looking for shelter, seeing what edibles are available, and where I could find water. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy my hikes just like everyone else, but I try to keep my survival awareness going at all times. Having said that, my wife and I hike a section of the AT every New Year's day. This year I found several good natural shelters, plenty of materials for friction fire, a few edible plants, and a few edible trees. I probably would not have gone to bed on a full stomach, but there was enough food to keep me going; mid winter is a hard time to forage.
Every new blog I want to discuss some of my favorite trees and plants. This month's blog will cover the Basswood tree and Cattails. The Basswood tree has so many uses. For me, it is by far my favorite wood for friction fire. The inner bark is a good winter survival food, the leaves and flowers are edible in the spring and summer. Honey bees love the trees flowers and make good amounts of honey from it. Its bark makes usable cordage and its wood was used for the first prosthetics. In Virginia you will find the Basswood from the western Piedmont to the West Va. line. Here's a link for more Basswood info. willowhavenoutdoor.com/featured-wilderness-survival-blog-entries/survival-trees-basswood-amazing-survival-resources-from-the-basswood-tree/
The Cattail plant is the 'Golden Corral' of plants, it has edible parts all year long, which makes it such a valuable survival food source. The cattail was not only survival food for Native Americans, it was a staple. Syracuse U. did a study and found that cattails have 9X more food per acre than potatoes. There are many uses for its stalks, leaves and seed heads. It purifies water and is cover for wildlife. The cattail is very widespread across Virginia. Enclosed is a good link to cattails. www.askaprepper.com/delicious-recipes-using-cattails-supermarket-swamp/
Learn to ID the trees and plants and then find out what each is good for. I will cover the basic trees and plants in my 101 workshops.
Thanks for reading and keep up the practice !!
This article is a rerun from several years back but after seeing this past weeks snowstorm and cold, I feel that it is worth reading again. Also, the next 101 workshop will be Dec. 7, 2019.
Everyone talks about BOB bags, EDC kits,etc. I want to discuss a 'car' bag that will cover the needs of the soccer mom, average Joe who is on the road. Winter is coming on and that ups the ante even more in having one of these in your vehicle. Look at the natural disasters of the past 6 months that have hit our country, think back to the winter of 2009 when central Virginia residents were stranded on the road for days without help/supplies. You never know when or where you may be stranded away from home. How do you get back ? How do you survive for days ? That's where I think a car bag will come in handy.
To start with, lets look at the 4 requirements needed to stay alive. 1) shelter/warmth 2) potable water 3) fire 4) food. Fortunately a 'car' bag doesn't have to be as compact/light/efficient as a BOB bag. We can afford to carry more supplies/tools than you could easily carry on your back. However, a backpack to consolidate supplies to head out on foot is highly recommended.
When reading this blog just remember that this is only my opinion of what to carry, there are many options/ideas when it comes to making these bags. 1) to cover shelter/warmth, I would carry a good sized tarp ( with plenty of cordage ) and a quality sleeping bag. Between your vehicle, a tarp and the sleeping bag you should be able to stay warm and dry. 2) for water I would have several bottles of water, ( maybe some coffee ), a metal container that you could boil water over a fire and carry a Sawyer mini-straw. The Sawyer mini-straw is very light weight water filter that is easy to carry in a small fanny pack. 3) for fire, I carry 2 lighters, 2 packs of matches in double zip locked bags, a 9V battery with some 0000 steel wool and several types of tinder/paper. 4) to supply your caloric needs I take cereal, protein bars, GORP, jerky. These are good food choices that do not need refrigeration or cooking. Everyone has favorites of course but be sure it will stay good in the car without care. Remember the average person needs 2,000 calories daily to maintain weight.
Adding to the 4 basics above: I would pack extra clothes if you get wet, a poncho or rain gear, hiking shoes and a good outdoor hat, bandana and gloves. Some type of protection, small pistol/pepper spray or whatever you feel comfortable carrying. Take extra meds, glasses, Aleve, vitamins, bug spray and sun block to cover your health needs. A sturdy camp knife/hatchet for firewood or cutting a small tree out of the road. A quality multi tool, there are tons of good, used Leatherman tools on Ebay. A small first aid kit. Several flash lights and extra batteries. A hiking staff if you have to walk it out. Phone chargers/cords.
This looks like a lot of stuff but it will easily fit into the old suitcase you no longer use or a duffel bag/back pack. Be sure to always, winter or summer, keep your gas tank at least half full.
Lastly, if you loose all this stuff, you can take my Primitive Survival Skills 101 workshop on Dec. 7, 2019 and still be good to go. Thanks for reading and I would love to hear feedback from you about your bags.
As always, check our Facebook page for weekly articles and survival tips.
1.) Why take my survival skills 101 ( or anyone else’s for that matter ) ?
For the uninitiated, this workshop may spark a lifelong interest in survival skills / living with the land. You may want to further your skill sets by taking more advanced workshops from me or other instructors. If it doesn’t spark an interest, that's ok too. The least it will do is give you the skillset to survive a temporary emergency if that were to happen in your life.
For the experienced outdoors person, I am sure you will pick up a fact/skill or two that you didn’t know and that skill could be the one you need in a bad situation. I have yet to go to a workshop, no matter what level, that I didn’t pick up some useful information. Also, my workshops are open and interactive which provide an atmosphere where we all gain information from each other.
My guarantee, if you don’t feel that you gained $75 worth of skills and information from this workshop I will refund your money in cash at the end of the day.
The next Primitive Survival skills 101 will be December 7, 2019 in Fluvanna county, Va. 22963.
2.) I have been visiting family in upstate NY this week. I took a hike today in the Minna Anthony nature area which borders the St. Lawrence river. It is an amazing place to walk/scout and so different than my home base of central Virginia. Although different, there are quite a lot of utilitarian/edible plants in NY that are in Virginia. I would say that the friction fire materials here are fewer than in Va. but there are certainly enough to cover our needs. Any time you are in a new territory, take a hike and see how you would fare in starting friction fires and finding food. It is a great mental discipline and it will keep your skills sharper.
3.) I am drying out some sumac for my next fireboard. Finding new fireboard materials is one of the most fun things for me. I recently got a coal with a yucca spindle and Red Spruce fireboard. Red Spruce is very similar to Hemlock and they are both found in the Allegheny Highlands. Red Spruce mostly grows above 4,000 feet of elevation where most of the other good trees don't. Learn to ID this one and give a try. I think the Red Spruce makes 18 native ( Va.) trees that will work for friction fire.
4.) I found a really nice Chicken in the Woods mushroom last week. This is one of my favorites as it has good taste/texture and it has no poisonous lookalike. Mushroom season is peaking now so get your ID books out and start hunting. There are 6 pretty safe bets in Va., learn those first before you move on to the hard to ID ones. Chicken in the Woods, Hen in the Woods, Black Trumpets, Lion's Mane, Morels and Puffballs.
5.), Thank you for reading and please like us on Facebook !! My Facebook page has regular posts on friction fire, edible plants and general survival info.
March 20, 2019 will be the cutoff for my March 30 workshop. If I don't have at least 4 paid commitments I will cancel and return any money already paid. This will be the last scheduled workshop until fall 2019.
Spring foraging is really right around the corner. There will be so much edible plant life available from now until fall. I will enclose some links to a couple of really good articles and I really encourage all of you to take any edible/medicinal plant class/walk that you can find. Veggies really will make up most of our diet in a survival situation, not meat !! Learn and practice this skill.
When you look at the news and see all the distress around the world, all the local rural hospitals closing, it is imperative that you take care of yourself physically. Eat well, exercise and keep your weight somewhere close to what it should be. If you are ever thrown into a bad situation you will need everything on your side to make it. Not trying to scare anyone here but its just reality. If you think health food is expensive, go to CVS and price meds.
I am constantly posting good articles on my Facebook page, hope they are of interest to you. I understand if you aren't on Facebook but it is a good medium to share info.
Thanks for reading, spring is here, so lets go play...Steve
It is cold and snowy outside now. I've been going for walks in the woods and looking for the meager wild edibles this time of year. The slim pickings are pine trees, cattails and tree bark.
Pine tree needles, crushed and steeped in hot water, will give us a somewhat refreshing tea that has up to 5X the vitamin C of citrus. It is not hot chocolate but it is certainly a lot better than nothing. The inner bark of pines are edible, just slice thin vertical strips of inner bark and chew. Some people swallow the fiber, others just swallow the juice/nutrients and spit out the roughage. Don't cut all the way around the limbs or trunk of the tree to get the bark as this will kill it. Fried pine inner bark is much tastier but it certainly requires more work to process.
Cattails are the true 4 season food source. Syracuse University conducted a study and found that Cattails had 9X more food value per acre than potatoes. This time of year you pull up the roots, slice and put them in a container of water. Pound the roots to release the starch, strain out the fibers and then let sit overnight. Next morning pour off the water and you have this amazing starch to cook with. If in a hardcore emergency, you can just pull up the roots/rinse/slice and pull them through your teeth and eat the starch raw.
Lastly, the other tree inner barks that are edible. Pine, Basswood, Slipper Elm and the Birches. All are done the same, vertical thin strips of inner bark are what you are looking for. Chew thoroughly to release all the nutrients.
Next Primitive Survival skills workshop is March 30, 2019. Go to workshops for details. Now is a great time to go out and practice fire making. With lighter or bow drill, it is much harder with snow on the ground and everything wet. Another item to carry in your compact EDC bag is a few of the birthday candles that won't blow out. They are great for those windy/damp days. Also, don't forget that corn chips or potato chips make great fire starters. All that grease that clogs our insides really burns well !!
Winter reading material. One Man's Wilderness by Sam Keith and Build The Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills by Creek Stewart. The last one has many great tips !!
For you Facebook users go to my Facebook page for weekly survival tips and info....Thanks for reading.
First, I want to thank everyone who participated in the last 101 workshop. The weather was perfect and you guys were really a great group to be with. The next 101 will be scheduled for early spring 2019 but if anyone wants a special workshop over the winter let me know.
A previous student and I were discussing having a primitive skills rendezvous. This would be a gathering of like minded primitive skills enthusiasts who would spend the day practicing/sharing their skills. No charge, just a small donation to cover the cost of venue rent. If there is sufficient interest I will keep working on it. Let me know.
We talk of mental discipline as one of the most important skills to have in any emergency. I just watched 'The Martian' for the third time. The character played by Matt Damon exemplifies all the mental skills that we should strive for in our lives. He never gives up, he's always trying to figure out what the next problem is to solve and he keeps a positive attitude. Good movie !!
For you fire makers out there, now is a great opportunity to go outside with your bow and handhold and make friction fire. It feels like it has rained everyday for the past 6 months. It is wet, go out and make your tinder bundle, find dry kindling, and find/make your fire board/spindle. Put your skills to use, practice, practice......Something to add to your fire making kit, get the birthday candles that don't blow out. They would be really good on those wet/windy camping trips where the fire is so hard to get going. I also carry a wad of 0000 steel wool to help that ember/ferro rod spark ignite. It sure looks like magic the way that stuff burns.
Winter reading. I found this book by accident and it is really good. ' The Ultimate Bushcraft Survival Manual' by Tim MacWelch. It covers primitive skills but also throws in the bush craft alternatives.
Deer season is here, save those hides for winter skills projects. Good rawhide comes in handy in so many ways.
Again, keep studying and reading and practicing. Look at all instructors/classes, all the different books. Everyone has some bit of knowledge or experience that no one else has. My goal is to use the blog and my Facebook page www.facebook.com/primitivesurvivalskills/?ref=bookmarks as tools to share info and events. Please like on us Facebook and if you tire of these emails just let me know. Steve
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