Monthly Archives: April 2015

Hunger Phases

Teaching students how to procure and prepare meals in survival situations will be a focus going forward while keeping with the current idea that we still go out ready for any adversity.

Teaching students how to procure and prepare meals in survival situations will be a focus going forward while keeping with the current idea that we still go out ready for any adversity.

One of the core principles we have taught is to be ready for 72-hour stay in a survival situation. Pack what you need to live on, keep it light-weight, be ready for the conditions at hand. This last fall and winter I decided to stop and reflect on these principles and just how they held up to the hundreds of case studies I poured through, interviews with survivors, and any other research I could get my paws on.

While the “Court of AIQ” is still in session, I felt a need to look deeper into some practical aspects of survival and rescue. From the multitude of resources, going out to the field to re-test standards and principles, and discussing search and rescue with guys and gals who are out there when a hiker is reported to be lost, I came to several conclusions that might change some of our views.

First, is the time to rescue we teach our students to expect when in a survival situation. In the past we have worked with a Rule of 72 and going with gear to self-support for 3-days. In reality, from the time of report of missing person or group to time of discovery varies depending on the activity.

  • From reports and interviews with both the FAA and Civil Air Patrol and additional research, the following time frames are a guideline for rescue once a report has been filed:
  • General Aviation Aircraft or Off-Road vehicle:Up to 3 days
  • Average Hunters, Hikers, or Campers: Up to 7 days
  • Back Country Campers, Horse Packing, ATV Supported Hunting, Mountaineering, and Expeditions: Up to 30 days
  • If you find yourself beyond the 30 days, feel free to stop by the post office and pick up change of address cards because you are no longer lost, you are a local resident.

This will most likely impact our philosophy of the 72 hour bag and create the need for us to adjust the curriculum for surviving up to a week since we often deal with hunters going into the back country by horse or ATV. We will still teach that food needs to be in the bag, simply because rations can be extended by supplementing them with game or other edibles during the survivor’s ordeal.

Second, is going to be on our focus of packing food and food procurement. We have stayed away from teaching food procurement, preparation, and cooking in most of our workshops, the exception is our kids camp where we teach field dressing of trout. We will add into our seminars how to catch both fish and game as well as prepare, cook, and consume survival game.

We need to be up front with the effects of long-term hunger. Travel in Southwest Asia and Africa when I was younger I saw the effect of starvation first-hand. This increased my interest in the behaviors and breakdown of society when food is scarce. Based on research of how hunger effects the brain and influences behavior, here are four phases of hunger a healthy person may endure. This does not take into account lack of clean water, socio-political impacts, external cultural stressors, environmental stressors, or extreme weather conditions.

Hungry and Bad: Due to low blood sugar- anger, foul moods, general “bad-assery” erupts to the surface, creates tension in a group, or short temper tantrums.

Hungry and Sad: By this point the body begins to feed off of its reserves. The survivor (s) will to give up, cries to God to remove the situation, depression, and withdrawal can kick in. Hallucinations about food or rescue can be present.

Starving and Crazy: We often overstate our hunger as “starving”, but in this phase, the body is beyond feeding from reserves, it is now beginning to dysfunction. Lack of food decreases the size of organs that work in digestion, diarrhea becomes common in the survivor, and they become desperate. This is the crazy phase where cannibalism seems to be a likely alternative.

Starving and Subdued: Strong hallucinations are common in this phase as is a schizophrenic state. The body is in its final stages of shutting down, and there is a complete withdrawal of the survivor. The mind is closing its doors for business.

While all of these phases could be placed on a one to five-week time frame, I have not found any documentation that draws definitive lines in the sand. Also the age, health, mental strength, previous dietary needs, etc all have strong influences on any amount of time someone will progress through the phases of hunger. For some it might be three weeks, while others it could be up to ten. There are just too many variables.

Water and the Long Term Survivor

The last is water procurement and treatment. Here I want to simply acknowledge that we are still researching this. I am still studying long-term survival situations where water is scarce and the survivor needs to safely secure and procure drinkable water. The team is meeting with water safety officials from FEMA this next year so we can have a better understanding and see how our courses will grow.

This is a journey and we continue to learn….that’s what makes the discipline so exciting.

Hundred and Twenty Minutes

120 Minutes. I believe that this is a critical period of time that if you can keep your brain occupied doing something useful you will fare better in a survival situation. It provides enough time to do something meaningful to improve your situation without becoming all-consuming. It is a period of time to make something that can be improved upon later. Its 1/4 of an 8-hour day, a time block many of us are accustomed to.

A few weeks ago I started a new challenge. I based on the two hours I have to spend while Abby is at various band practices. I’m lucky that I only have the one kiddo and not a van full that I have to run from event to event. I don’t like vans…

I have about 2 hours that I can do just about anything I want while I wait. I have used that time to read from my book list in my quest of 15-20 books a month, write my own blogs, booklets, flyers, etc, and mindlessly surf the social media sites. I decided to be a bit more productive and learn a new skill set. I decided to work on mini projects that could be done in short order. Here are the guidelines that have developed out of it:

  1. Produce something useful for my outdoor life in under 120 minutes.
  2. All items must be in or placed INTO my pack prior to working on the product (dye is excluded since I already have had one bottle break on me).
  3. Must be items I normally carry, however exceptions can be made for final look and feel (stamped letters, etc. though I do carry a few stamps but no hammer—use wood to strike/baton)
  4. Items that do occupy my pack include:
    • Speedy stich sewing all
    • Leather awl
    • Needles including Sail, Leather, Sewing
    • 6×6 Denim and 6×6 BDU/ACU
    • 10×10 Leather (works as a back-cushion for my Frost River pack)
    • Thread: Artificial Sinew, Processed Sinew, Bank Line, Cotton, Nylon
    • Bees Wax
    • Brads (6-8 #12s), small cutters, and punch
    • Leather Punch
    • A tool for marking where the thread goes
    • a few random stamps like feet and letters for my name

So far I have created a few cool items. They don’t look great since first, I am really new at this (less than 6 produced pieces) and I am working agianst the clock for funtionality and not form.

Learning the basics of doing work like this provides a few advantages.

  • A useful skill in the bush
  • A psychological advantage if lost of stranded, keeps my mind occupied
  • I have stuff I made not bought.

Sample of my 120 work:

Needle Wallet

I made a Hussif or Housewife Bag before starting this endeavor. a small sewing bag to hold all my stuff in my pack. Still I needed a way to hold all my sewing, leather, and sail needles along with a speedy sticher awl.11136693_817603161650014_8324861191790379673_n 11133660_817603148316682_3679259955707017738_n 11156343_817603128316684_3693856304621708304_n













Mag Glass Frame

I needed a way to protect my mag glass, my latest fetish for fire starting on days we have sun. I had seen several of these, and though it’s not pretty, it keeps my mag glass well protected. I also made a much uglier sheath for it. IMG_6909






Knife Sheaths

These have been fun to make and making the 120 was not possible until I decided to not use glue and keep it strictly brads and thread to keep the sheath together. Since then I have progress to not using brads on projects. BTW- I do throw in extra leather for sheath projects.

11051824_813188598758137_1437814250976477492_n 10425395_813166015427062_457774323447097901_n 1508008_813165958760401_2953923171429677888_n













Hawk Mask

My Tomahawk rides on my ruck sack and I really didn’t like the cheap mask it came with. I made this a few weeks ago while I waited for Abby in the parking lot for band practice. The one item I did not have with me at the time was a snap to close the case. Going down to the local arts and crafts shop to buy one is included in the 120 minutes.1907517_815650485178615_1634124879216657093_n


Practice Practice Practice

Blowing smoke….so much I could say on the subject….but won't...

Blowing smoke….so much I could say on the subject….but won’t…

I recently attended a survival workshop when I traveled to California. It was put on by a grass-roots organization much like our own. When I go to workshops like this I stay pretty incognito about the whole Adventure IQ thing. This is mostly to respect the workshop and instructor I happen to be a guest of. If there is good chemistry between the instructor and myself, I usually let them know what I do and how much I appreciated the course. I have found the respectful gesture opens up so many more opportunities for me.

It’s all about getting exposure to new techniques and solidifying old ones. I am amazed –well maybe not anymore, the guys who come in as “know-it-all” instructors. They brag about their own skills. The refuse to participate in an activity because they have done it before so they don’t need to do it again. They re-teach a lesson, point out mistakes of the instructor, and always seem to need to “add-on” to what the instructor said. I have even seen them walk across the room or dirt pit to provide unsolicited advice or assistance to another student.

Here are few simple observations to the participants that go to survival workshops. I did not create these, in fact they are an adaptation of a list I was shown when I first began teaching 30 years ago by my boss.

Every event has four participants.

The Prisoner who feels he as to be there. “My boss made me come”, “I ducked out of these now it’s time I show up” or “I have to be here”, are all hallmarks of the person trapped and really doesn’t want to be there.

The Intellectual loves to point out the instructors flaws, re-teach a lesson, help when not asked, ask questions to stump the instructor, and brag about their own experience. I have been challenged on my philosophies of not drinking urine to using zip-lock bags to make fire instead of taking the right tools to my selection of knots to use on a lashing. The intellectual or “know it all is a pain in the @$$ to deal with. The usually get scratched from future rosters. I like learning new things from my students, but I don’t tolerate BS from my instructors and certainly not from a participant in my workshops.

The Vacationer is just there to occupy space and consume oxygen. They take up a roster spot that someone who really wanted to be there would enjoy. It’s hard to get them to perform, but at times they are easier to motivate.

The Explorer is the crown jewel of workshop participants. They come in at all experience levels and take away something. They may know every technique the instructor knows, but instead of teaching or showing up the instructor, they work to perfect their techniques. I have built thousands of fires, yet when in the course in California, I picked up on a new way to compress my tinder bundle and concentrate heat and oxygen to produce flame faster. If I had simply said, “That’s okay, I’ve done this before”, I would robbed myself of new knowledge. Always go as an Explorer.

Re-read books, watch videos from obscure instructors, experiment, take classes, etc. Just get out there and re-learn. Make a hundred fires to only make a hundred more. Make a para bracelet even though you have 50 of them. Test your self on a new style of hobo stove, anorak, or other self-made gear. You can never practice this stuff enough. Last, when a guest of an instructor, go out of your way to not be an @$$ by making a comment on every lesson, stepping in to teach his/her students, refusing to participate, and pointing out their faults. There are few experts in this field and honestly, as humans we’ve been doing this survival stuff for a few melenia….

New “No-Show” Policy for Adventure IQ Classes

This week we had an awesome time teaching Fire Craft. Participants walked away with new skills, higher confidence, and honed skills. All made rescue fires in under 4 minutes, learned how to use a fire for cooking and purifying water, started sever kinds of fire tinder, and whipped their tools into shape. All earned their Fire Craft Skill Award badge we were happy to provide.

One point did attempt to overshadow the experience for us.

“No-Shows”. People who simply didn’t bother to let us know they weren’t coming or emailed us an hour prior to start time. Five people kept five other people out of the class. We pack our classes pretty quick. One thought is that its easy to cancel a free class. They have nothing invested and have nothing to lose in it. This is troubling when we not only sacrifice time for other things we could do, but also food cost, material cost, time to set up and prep the area, time we spend harvesting materials, etc. It is disappointing when we set up for several to show up, and half the class simply blows it off.

This has caused me to really weigh the value of what we provide, take a hard look at our structure, and make some tough decisions. It is still my position that our get-togethers,  cook-offs, Christmas Chili Feed, and other social events are still free .

Based on feedback from several participants, we have an opportunity to make the classes more convenient and provide an incentive to follow through on a registration. To keep our classes at low cost to the participants, we had them pick up their own materials. MoraKniv, Light MY Fire fire steel, water purification tabs, etc. In some cases participants get wrapped in the frenzy of finding the best deal, running all over town to get the right item, or bringing the wrong item to class. We think we can bridge the gear gap and make it workable for all parties.

Going forward, we are going to add an activity fee. This will cover all equipment and supplies needed for the workshop. For our Anorak Class we will buy wool blankets, thread, needles, etc and include it in the fee. Fire Craft will be a Mora, Light My Fire, and wood, etc. You walk away from the class with cool new gear and we ensure participants have a little investment in the class. If you are a no-show or cancel then the equipment is donated to our kids camp. The course fees will be the exact amount of material cost and not a penny more. Come to the class and the gear is yours.

We have tried to keep fees low for participants and no fees for our Trail Crew and supporters, however Melissa and I can’t keep subsidizing people with materials and certainly when they don’t show. We feel this is the fairest route.