I, like many other people, like to wander the wilderness and go to places where other people aren’t.
We aren’t antisocial but it’s just that some people just can’t see the beauty, listen to the silence or understand the mystery of the wilderness.
Our love of the wilderness does not mean that we live a ‘safe‘ life by any means. Any time that we go out to practice our skills there are things that could go wrong.
There are many stories of people that entered the wilderness and never made it home alive like that of Christopher McCandless. There are also the stories of those that were lucky to escape like that of Aron Ralston.
The idea of this post is to share some tips and advice that we think you should know before heading out into the wilderness.
Study the Animal Tracks
By taking the time to get to know the tracks of the local wildlife, you can get a better understanding of your environment. We’re lucky here in the UK as we have very little that can actually kill us but this isn’t always the same, depending on where you travel.
It helps if you know whether the tracks you’re trailing are from a deer or a bear. There are free guides available online for identifying animal tracks but we recommend investing in a small pocket guide to keep with your kit.
Study the Plants
If your survival plan involves spending any extended amount of time in the woods then you are going to need to know what plants are safe to consume. Take the time to study what uses the different plants, fungi and trees have.
You don’t want to start having handfuls of mushrooms when you’re hungry unless you’re completely sure that it isn’t going to kill you. Learning the different plants and their uses is actually a lot easier than it sounds.
Study the Sky
We can tell a lot about the environment by simply looking up. Most incidents that occur in the wilderness is because the hiker simply got lost while hiking. Hike the exact same route in both the daylight and the dark, you will soon see how different the area can look.
You need to learn how to navigate at night using nothing more than the moon and stars. Better yet, just take the time to learn how to use a real map and compass.
Know Where You Are
If you don’t want to be constantly stopping and taking notes then you need to be good at taking mental pictures. When you travel from one place to another, mentally take notes of the route.
Study Fire Lighting
It is one thing using a ferro rod in the backyard but it’s on a whole new level trying to use it to get a fire lit in the middle of the woods. It becomes even harder in the rain or snow so the time to study is now!
If you want to survive any extended period of time in the woods then you’re going to need warmth which makes fire essential. You can obviously plan ahead and pack a few storm proof lighters in your kit but where’s the fun in that?
Always try to think ahead. If it isn’t raining while you’re walking, collect materials for the fire later in case it’s raining then.
You need to have the means of feeding yourself using as few tools as possible. Fishing is usually the easiest method that we have in the wilderness.
We can’t live solely off of leaves and berries, we need something more substantial than that. I choose to carry a small lightweight fishing kit in my gear just in case the worst ever happens.
Even if it’s not raining, it’s always nice to have some form of shelter that can protect you from the elements. It doesn’t take much to make a shelter from a tarp when it’s raining or put a hammock up between two trees. If you’re going to be heading out during the colder months then you should also look at how to build a simple snow shelter.