Category Archives: Adventure Aggregate

Davy Crockett Challenge

At the end of this week I head to Utah and Arizona to do some solo survival work. I will be pushing my self in no-gear and low-gear scenarios. These scenarios include going out with nothing at all to surviving on a store bought pocket survival kit, and then wrapping up with a low gear scenario Ilke the Crocket and Boone challenges here. I have done both Crocket and Boone scenarios before numerous times since I first created them in 1990, but this is the first time I have done them in the dead of winter in a desert environment. I guess since I am doing this in the desert, I probably need to remame them. Open to suggestions on the Adventure IQ facebook page.

The Davy Crockett challenge is designed to provide an overnight experience in the woods using only minimal items. This is an easy introduction to a semi-supported scenario designed to help train on how to deal with the psychology of staying overnight with minimal supplies if you have never done so. This is a solid step in building confidence.

In this scenario the participant will establish a new Comfort Zone area and live for a day to day and a half.

Time: This exercise is designed for a period of 24-36 hours. Equipment is limited to:

Cover: 2 wool blankets or one bedroll, waterproof tarp or space blanket.

Cutting: Knife.

Combustion: Any method other than matches or lighter. Wet fire methodology recommended. Flint/Churt and Steel and Bow Drill to practice with.

Container: Metal water bottle.

Care Kit: Include small first-aid kit, water purification

Cordage: No more than 50’

All items in a small container like a satchel or rolled into bed roll.

If water is not safe to access or readily available at usual site then an extra one to two gallons are permitted to be cached- but must treat it as if it were dirty and use purification methods. I will only be taking what is in the bottle.

Safety Items/ Bail-out Bag – this is designed so the participant (me in this case) does’t die and if its someone else- they don’t sue me over not having the common sense to take a bail out bag.

Camera to take photos



If you do this—you are responsible for your own safety in this

activity. Your well-being comes first.

This will be scenario #3 that I run, The first two will be a no-gear and the second will be a knife only and no other gear. I figure having two wool blankets with a few items will be a welcome change. I will eat between each phase, but notice that food is not included in this phase. I will (hopefully) procure off the land.

Survival Training for Building Resiliance


We often focus on the Rule of 3’s as more of a guideline on how long you can endure withoutwater, food, contact, etc. However the often overlooked first rule is that without faith and hope you do not have a chance to survive.

Your job in a survival situation is to stay alive. As you can see, you are going to experience an assortment of thoughts and emotions. These can work for you, or they can work to your downfall. Fear, anxiety, anger, frustration, guilt, depression, and loneliness are all possible reactions to the many stresses common to survival. These reactions, when controlled in a healthy way, help to increase a survivor’s likelihood of surviving. They prompt the survivor to pay more attention in training, to fight back fear when scared, to take actions that ensure sustenance and security, to keep faith with his fellow survivors, and to strive against large odds.

When you cannot control these reactions in a healthy way, they bring you to a standstill. Instead of rallying your internal resources, you begin to focus on your internal fears. You mess with your own mind. The survivor who loses faith and hope immediately experiences psychological defeat long before you physically succumb. Survival is natural to everyone but getting unexpectedly thrust into the life and death struggle of survival is not. Don’t be afraid of your “natural reactions to this unnatural situation.” Prepare yourself to rule over these reactions so they serve your ultimate interest–staying alive.

Survival looks like an adventure on the television and for some it seems like a natural part of life. In reality it involves preparation to ensure that your reactions in a survival setting are productive, not destructive. Below are a few highlights to help prepare yourself psychologically for survival.

Know Thyself

Be honest, most of us think that because we are outdoors allot, went to a few Boy Scout camps, or are avid hikers/hunters, we “live in the woods”. While this is true for some, its not true for most.

We emphasize getting out and training in all conditions, not only to prep you for an unforseen survival event, but as a confidence builder for any situation. Cancer, job loss, death of a loved one all require resiliance.

Using our methodology of “Zone Survival” you are able to have a starting point as well as a point to retreat to when training outdoors. Through the training you do in your Comfort Zone, discover who you are on the inside. Strengthen your stronger qualities and develop the areas that you know are necessary to survive. To know more about Zone Survival, sign up for one of our classes at


Anticipate Fears

You will get scared. Some people have never spent the night in the woods, gone a few days without food, or traveled cross-country using only a map and compass.You will be afraid the first time you are alone in an unknown situation whether it is training or for real. Don’t pretend that you will have no fears. Begin thinking about what would frighten you the most if forced to survive alone. Train in those areas of concern to you. If you are worried that you wouldn’t be able to start a fire in rain, go out to Ft Backyard and turn on the sprinkler and figure out how you will get a fire going while water falls on you. Worried about dressing out game, get with someone who can teach you how to prepare wild game for eating. The goal is not to eliminate the fear, but to build confidence in your ability to function despite your fears.

Be Realistic

Survival situations suck at best. Don’t be afraid to make an honest appraisal of situations. See circumstances as they are, not as you want them to be. Keep your hopes and expectations within the estimate of the situation. When I was without water in the Chiuauan Desert and days from water, I sized up the situation, realized I could die, and devised a plan to get back, even if it was to only get back closer to rescue. When you go into a survival setting with unrealistic expectations, you may be laying the groundwork for bitter disappointment. Follow the adage, “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.” It is much easier to adjust to pleasant surprises about one’s unexpected good fortunes than to be upset by one’s unexpected harsh circumstances.

Adopt a Positive Attitude

During my own situation, I made up my mind that I was going to live. You can survive three days without water, but only three seconds without faith and hope. Adopt a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA). Rescue should be a sweet interruption to your survival. In other words, get so good at it that when rescue occurs it is a welcome surprise. Learn to see the potential good in everything. Looking for the good not only boosts morale, it also is excellent for exercising your imagination and creativity.

Remind Yourself What Is at Stake

Its when we realize that we are going to possibly die that we need to remind that if we don’t make it back we are going to be missed. Remember, failure to prepare yourself psychologically to cope with survival leads to reactions such as depression, carelessness, inattention, loss of confidence, poor decision-making, and giving up before the body gives in. At stake is your life and the lives of others who are depending on you to do your share.


I spend hours perfecting small parts of my craft. Building bow drill fires, hunting game with a slingshot, making natural shelters, and attending classes like wild edibles are just a sample of how I keep my brain and my “can-do” spirit in shape.

Through survival training and life experiences, begin today to prepare yourself to cope with the rigors of survival. Demonstrating your skills in training will give you the confidence to call upon them should the need arise. Remember, the more realistic the training, the less overwhelming an actual survival setting will be. Training in realistic conditions when its wet, cold, you’re hungry, your injured, or a combination of any of these will prepare you when everything goes south.


Learn Stress Management Techniques

In every real situation we have to quickly understand what we can control and what we can influence, all the other stuff we have to let it go. If you don’t learn to take it down a notch you’re likely to get into more trouble. People under stress have a potential to panic if they are not well-trained and not prepared psychologically to face whatever the circumstances may be. Many lost people run when they realize they don’t know where they are. Its an survival response inorder to get large muscles moving and create a rythmic state that calms.

While we often cannot control the survival circumstances in which we find ourselves, it is within our ability to control our response to those circumstances. Learning stress management techniques can enhance significantly your capability to remain calm and focused as you work to keep yourself and others alive. A few good techniques to develop include relaxation skills, time management skills, assertiveness skills, and cognitive restructuring skills (the ability to control how you view a situation).

Remember, “the will to survive” can also be considered to be “the refusal to give up.”

Introduction to Survival Psychology

IMG_7880It’s late October and you and your buddy are amazed by the unseasonably good weather. To enjoy the day, you decide to go on a mountain bike ride. You pack light since you won’t be gone long so you throw in a few bottles of water to go on the frame, some trail mix and your cell phone.

You ride hard, pushing each other. The scenery and weather are so great that you lose track of time and before you know it, the sun starts to set.  Moments later, disaster strikes. Dodging your buddy on a turn, you both tumble down a steep hill and break your leg. Your bike partner is shaken and bruised and both bikes sit below you in a tangled mess. Even at your weight, there’s no way your buddy can haul you out. You are several miles from your car.

You’re almost out of water, the snacks got left in the car, and your cell phone isn’t getting a signal.

Introduction to Survival Psychology

So often we have focus on how survival skills increase your odds of staying alive. With that, you need to understand it takes much more than the knowledge and skills of building shelters, finding food, and creating fires to live successfully through a survival situation.

There are numerous cases where people with little or no survival training have managed to survive life-threatening circumstances while others with survival training have used their skills and died. In a majority of thecases where someone comes home verticle and not horizontal, it can be attributed to positive mental attitude. Combining skills with a solid understanding of how you will react to a situation improves your capability to survive. In addition, placing yourself in scenarios, where you have to endure hardship, will strengthen your resilience. The key ingredient in any survival situation is the mental attitude of those involved. Having survival skills is important; having the will to survive is essential.

Stress and Survival

Technically there is good stress (eustress) and bad stress (distress). Stress can be described as our reaction to pressure. It is the name given to the experience we have as we physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually respond to life’s tensions.

The Need for Stress in Survival

We need stress because it has many positive benefits. Stress provides us with challenges and the drive to move beyond our current situation. It gives us chances to leverage our strengths. Stress can confirm our ability to handle intense pressure without breaking and tests our adaptability and flexibility to situations. All of this is known as eustress.

Too much stress can take its toll and create dangerous situations for the survivor. Too much stress leads to distress. Distress causes an uncomfortable tension that we try to escape and, preferably, avoid.

Below are common signs of distress often found in survivors when faced with too much stress:

  • Difficulty making decisions
  • Angry outbursts
  • Forgetfulness
  • Low energy level
  • Constant worrying
  • Propensity for mistakes
  • Thoughts about death or suicide
  • Trouble getting along with others
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Hiding from responsibilities


If not controlled, stress can be destructive. Not only does it discourage the survivor, but can be a catalyst of bad decisions. Feeling the need to rush, take unnecessary chances, or taking short cuts can all lead to disaster. When faced with a life or death situation, the human brain uses the Cerebellum to harness the capability to be rational. When immediate danger arrises, the ability to be rational is bypassed and hijacked by the Amygdala, the part of the brain that offers few options. With the Amygdala flee, freeze, or fight are the only real options. Any of these three can be the wrong decision. A survivor under new and uncertain stress can panic and forget all training. Key to your survival is your ability to manage the inevitable stresses you will encounter. The survivor works with stress instead of the other way around. A possible way to prevent Amygdala hijack is by practicing immediate action drills. This is discussed further in the lectures on video.

Survival Stressors

Any event can lead to stress. Chaos tells us that multiple events create a survival situation. These events are not stress, but they produce it and are called “stressors.”

Stressors are the obvious cause while stress is the response. Once the body recognizes the presence of a stressor, it then begins to act to protect itself.

In response to a stressor, the body prepares either to “fight, freeze, or flee.” This preparation involves an internal SOS sent throughout the body. As the body responds to this SOS, several actions take place. The body releases stored fuels (sugar and fats) to provide quick energy; breathing rate increases to supply more oxygen to the blood; muscle tension increases to prepare for action; blood clotting mechanisms are activated to reduce bleeding from cuts; senses become more acute (hearing becomes more sensitive, eyes become big, smell becomes sharper) so that you are more aware of your surrounding; and heart rate and blood pressure rise to provide more blood to the muscles. This protective posture lets a person cope with potential dangers; however, a person cannot maintain such a level of alertness indefinitely.

The cumulative effect of minor stressors can be a major distress if they all happen too close together. A survivor’s body will already or soon will be subject to physical exhaustion or possibly injury. After awhile resistance to stress wears down and the sources of stress continue (or increase), eventually a state of exhaustion arrives. At this point, the ability to resist stress or use it in a positive way gives out and signs of distress appear. Anticipating stressors and developing strategies to cope with them are two ingredients in the effective management of stress. It is therefore essential that the survivor in a survival setting be aware of the types of stressors that will be encountered.


Injury, Illness, or Death

Injury, illness, and death are real possibilities a survivor has to face. Perhaps nothing is more stressful than being alone in an unfamiliar environment where you could die from an accident or have witnessed the death of someone else.

Illness and injury can also add to stress by limiting your ability to maneuver, get food and drink, find shelter, and defend yourself. Even if illness and injury don’t lead to death, they add to stress through the pain and discomfort they generate. It is only by controlling the stress associated with the vulnerability to injury, illness, and death that a survivor can have the courage to take the risks associated with survival tasks.

Uncertainly and Lack of Control

We are control freaks. We manage our time, set expectations for others, and chase after goals. We check sports scores through smart devices and and expect updates on major news stories. Some people have trouble operating in settings where everything is not clear-cut. The only guarantee in a survival situation is that nothing is guaranteed. It can be extremely stressful operating on limited information in a setting where you have limited control of your surroundings. This uncertainty and lack of control also adds to the stress of being ill, injured, or killed.


You are at the bottom of the food chain. Even as a seasoned outdoorsman your modern body was not built to withstand the environment for long term. Get over it, deal with it, and do something about it. Even under the most ideal circumstances, nature is quite formidable. In survival, you will have to contend with the stressors of weather, terrain, and the variety of creatures inhabiting an area. Heat, cold, rain, winds, mountains, swamps, deserts, insects, dangerous reptiles, and other animals are just a few of the challenges awaiting the survivor working to stay alive. Depending on how a survivor handles the stress of the environment, the immediate surroundings in the Comfort and Explorer Zones can be either a source of food and protection or can be a cause of extreme discomfort leading to injury, illness, or death.

Hunger and Thirst

The general rule is 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food. Without food and water a person will weaken and eventually die. Thus, getting and preserving food and water takes on increasing importance as the length of time in a survival setting increases. For a survivor used to having his provisions in the pack, foraging can be a big source of stress.


Forcing yourself to continue surviving is not easy as you grow more tired. It is possible to become so fatigued that the act of just staying awake is stressful in itself. Rest is important, but in cold weather when the body is not able to keep its self warm, going to sleep can be a death sentence. Getting food, warmth and hydrated will allow you to take breaks and sleep, but only after you have everything else squared away.


There are some advantages to facing adversity with others. As outdoor enthusiasts we learn individual skills, but we often work as part of a community. Being in contact with others also provides a greater sense of security and a feeling someone is available to help if problems occur. A significant stressor in survival situations is that often a person or team has to rely solely on its own resources.

The survival stressors mentioned in this section are by no means the only ones you may face. Remember, what is stressful to one person may not be stressful to another. Your experiences, training, personal outlook on life, physical and mental conditioning, and level of self-confidence contribute to what you will find stressful in a survival environment. The object is not to avoid stress, but rather to manage the stressors of survival and make them work for you.


You have to make up your mind today that when you get into a survival situation you are going to make it back. Practice your skills in controlled environments, but you need to get out there and work when the odds are against you. Setting up a shelter in the wind, lighting fires in the rain, or fasting for a few days just so you know you can endure hunger will better prepare you when you face an actual situation.


Night Out Minimum

075Was talking with a class yesterday and was asked– “What do I really need to go out and spend a night or two in the woods and not carry a bunch of stuff. I want to go bare minimum and learn to deal with harsh conditions.”
I always advise safety first- especially with those new to learning survival and bushcraft. This is why starting out on day trips and setting up a sit-spot or in our working language a comfort zone and spending four to eight hours learning different aspects of gear and gaining experience is best for beginners. Becoming proficient with fire, water procurement, learning what equipment and clothing  you need and how to best use it, and building your mental toughness to endure various conditions will help the new guy (or gal) in the woods.
The basics are pretty simple and I will cover a bargain basement bushcraft set up later but for now what we teach in our survival training is:
  •  Something to cover and create a micro-climate like a tarp and sleeping bag or wool blankets
  • Something to carry water in and to boil water for purification
  • Something to cut wood, cordage, etc like a full tanged knife
  • Something to get a fire going
  • Something to tie up your tarp with

These items are the minimum to provide Food, Fire, Water, and Shelter. Everything else is for comfort and consumption.

Getting Rescued is Putting Others at Risk

IMG_0953A group of hill walkers put not only their lives in danger, but also those of rescuers who had to risk the cold and wet elements in central Scotland. The pair of lost hikers were part of a group of four adults and one child that set off for the summit of Ben Lomond which sits at 3,195 feet. Here are three areas–the reasons people die in the wilderness–that they ignored.

Underestimate or Miscalculate the Risk

Just a day hike. They felt the climb was easy enough they took a child along. By the sound of the words “hill” and “climbing” this sounds like a simple walk in the park. Ben Lomond is a 3000′ climb with multiple trails and at times weather locks in the summit. When it gets dark the simple path without lights can become a major obstacle when walking around and you can easily loose your route.

The majority of survival situations start-off routine and innocent. Nothing spells disaster quicker than an outing  with a buddy, a quick hike on your favorite trail, or the yearly planned hunting trip you have taken since you were a kid.  Chaos is an incredible factor and it only takes a few subtle events that have a domino effect for things go terribly wrong and you are suddenly facing  a life and death scenario.

You have to plan for the unexpected no matter how remote the chance. Play the “what-if game and prepare for those contingencies before you set off on your trip.  Once you’re on the trail and exposed to potential dangers it’s too late.

Gap in Knowledge- No Gaps in Ego

“Hill walking” sounds benign. Perhaps if the activity were called “you are goiong to walk in a wild area that has an incredibly steep climb and you are going to encounter terrible weather and the possibility of death” they might have been better prepared. The team here were found wet and cold. They simply went unprepared. The “hill” was ready to suck them up and spit them out in a body bag because they did not take the risk into consideration. During the search, both ground and air crews had to be called in to face windy, wet conditions that included mountain obscuration, a visibility risk to helicopter pilots.

The sad truth today is most people who wind up in a crate  and a long black car or in best case, a medivac is because in a wilderness survival situation, have very poor at best knowledge on how to survival and are usually totally unprepared. Equally as bad is the number of people who feel they “got all the skills”, so they think they don’t need training or get updated on the latest thoughts on survival.

Here are the 5 key things to know and practice in Fort Backyard before your next trip:

  • Create fire in all conditions (wet, windy, rainy)
  • Create shelter with minimal supplies- including water proofing
  • Find and purify water
  • Know how to signal (smoke, sound, sight)
  • Apply first aid or self aid.

For each of these you should master one method using modern techniques and master one using primitive techniques.

All Dressed Up and the Wrong Place To Go

The hikers had wrong shoes, wrong clothes, and wrong equipment to deal with adversity. Having the right clothing allows you to create a micro-climate to shield yourself from the elements. The ability to regulate your core body temperature to 98.6 is the signal most important factor in survival.

In 2009 Abby and I section hiked the Continental Divide. We encountered snow, rain, wind, and of course some simply wonderful days of sunshine, well actually all the above weather was the cycle of each day. We would routinely run across people in shorts and flip-flops on a trail as much as 3 miles from the nearest trail head.

Having the right gear, knowing what the weather and terrain might hold, and looking at what could possibly go wrong will keep you safer and not put rescue teams in peril.

An excellent article about this situation can be found here

Vehicle Based Survival

111There wasn’t the violent surge of the vehicle as one might expect. There was a subtle thump of the rear tire that signaled something was wrong. A quick inspection proved a flat tire, further inspection the spare tire was also flat.

With the light rain turning to snow they jumped into action. In an already cramped Jeep cab they couldn’t huddle together, and the steel of the rig would only rob them of precious heat. While one quickly collected firewood, the other two set about making a shelter from a tarp found in the back of the Jeep. Soon the three were bundled close, as a roaring fire projected heat under the small tarp. The next morning a passing truck stopped to help. They survived a night where temperatures plummeted into to single digits and light snow filled the forest.

Nearly 80% of the recreationist that find themselves in a survival situation did so because they did not take simple precautions. They did not tell someone where they were going. They failed to check the weather. They completely disregarded the need to carry survival gear. Are you prepared or know what gear you should keep in your vehicle for a survival situation like this? Let’s break this down into six categories; Fire, Water, Shelter, Food, Signal, and First Aid to make sure you are prepared the next time you venture out.


The ability to get a fire going in any condition is a vital skill that provides not only warmth when temperatures drop, but has the additional benefits of providing motivation and a resource for heating food, purifying water, and serves as a source of light. Learn how to prepare a fire pit, complete with reflective wall, in all conditions including rain and snow. Master at least two methods for creating fire, the first with a striking tool such as a metal match and the other a primitive technique (i.e. bow drill) so you are ready in any situation.

Always carry emergency fire starter in your vehicle. Great options include egg cartons (paper) with saw dust and candle wax, fire pucks, windproof matches, striker, and windproof lighter. Additionally, keeping a small phonebook, stuffed somewhere dry, is a great source of tinder as one can easily tear out a few pages. Keep a small hatchet in your vehicle for splitting wood into smaller pieces or to get to dry layers when the wood is wet.  It is critical to have your materials ready when you need to get a fire going.  Gathering enough dry tinder and wood, ahead of getting your fire started, is a great way to ensure your success and get you on your way to improving your situation.


Most people walk around everyday dehydrated. When in a survival situation we do not have the luxury of rehydrating at a drinking fountain or simply stopping in at a convenience store to buy a cool bottle of water.   Water is one of the key factors that leads stranded back-country enthusiast not making it through survival situations. Finding, filtering, and consuming water is a must when you find yourself stranded. Too many people have succumbed to dehydration when a simple day trip turns into a multi-day struggle to survive. Instead of resorting to techniques sensationalized on popular survival shows, it’s better to go prepared. Filtering your own urine through rattle-snake skin is not the answer to resolving dehydration.

Basic rule, carry enough EMERGENCY water (minimum 1 gallon per day) in your rig for 2 days multiplied by the number of seat belts. For most rigs, with two seat belts in the front and three in the back, this should be around 10 gallons in reserve. If you wind up alone, you have more H2O, if the family is along you have enough to get you through the first 24 hours at least. A pot for boiling water and gravity filter are great additions.  Boiling is great if you have large quantities of water that needs to be purified and you have large quantities of fuel accessible for you fire.


Some rigs are large enough that you can crawl up in and you may be able to snuggle in your vehicle and keep yourself warm by using the heater. Be careful though, and ensure you have enough fuel, no exhaust leaks, and your vehicle’s body is sound enough that exhaust doesn’t enter the interior. However some rigs aren’t comfortable to sleep in and the surrounding metal body can quickly sap away body heat. In summer months, the heat in the vehicle can amplify to unbearable temperatures. In most cases it’s good to get out and build shelter and control the climate around you the best that you can.

In winter months keep a tent or, at minimum, a space-blanket tarp with you. If you have to set up new residence, staying dry and controlling the immediate environment is important. In summer months add a mosquito net to keep you comfortable. Don’t overlook the advantages sleeping bags and foam pad for the ground. In areas with lots of things that wiggle on the ground, consider a hammock. Remember to keep nylon cordage wrapped around tarps for set-up.


You need calories so take them with you. Think of all the hunters who come home each season with little in the freezer. Berries have short seasons, the wrong mushrooms can be unforgiving, and most weekend recreationist can’t tell the difference in what is safe to eat. The best plan is to keep a few things on stock as you venture out.

Most vehicle-based recreationist keep an ice-chest filled with a few sandwiches and snacks. A few years ago a family stranded lived for two days on what was in their picnic basket until they were rescued. The rule here is keep enough food for three-days multiplied by the number of seatbelts or passengers your vehicle holds. Canned spam, dried fruit, cereal bars, jerky, and bags of oatmeal compact nicely in a small satchel in your rig.


At some point you may need to call for back-up and in fact shucking your pride could save your life. Whether it’s a buddy, the Sheriff’s department, or an entire army of strangers, calling for help might be what gets you back alive. Keep in mind that even though we are a connected world through our smart-phones, when you’re 75 miles from the nearest pavement your device is almost certainly useless.

Your vehicle should be your mobile communications center. CB radios are good for rig to rig communication, if you know others are on your frequency. Better, is the 2-meter amateur radio. You will need a license to be legal, but getting your ham ticket grants you access to repeater systems that increase the network of help when needed. Keep road flares handy if a rescue has been instituted your review mirror can be popped off to get the attention of air or ground searchers. The tire that was ripped to shreds earlier in the day can be burned to send a dark and oily smoke that gets much needed attention. Also a PRB is great item when you need to call out for help.

First Aid

The method of injury usually dictates the size of first aid kit you want onboard. Since you are working with machines in the 4-digit weight category, you are going to want to cover many of the bases. Common opinion is to carry only what you know how to use, however if you are hanging with a group of guys that have advanced care training, they can always dig into your kit. Also, if you are hours away from a hospital, you are going to want something comprehensive. Don’t forget about training. Consider going beyond the basic first aid course and signing-up for a Wilderness First Aid course through institutions like N.O.L.S.

As a basic kit, look at what EMTs carry in their kits. You are going to want to cover the full spectrum. Think trauma when building your kit. Winch lines break, rigs roll over, guys get scalded by broken radiator lines. You will also want to keep a small kit for simple cuts/abrasions accessible with all the small stuff so you don’t have to dig into your bag. Side-note, if you are not trained to perform something, the main rule is “do no further harm”.


In surviving a catastrophe there are really three groups to look at using the 10-80-10 rule. The first 10-percent of people simply don’t survive an accident. The last 10-percent seem to just make it through no matter what. The middle 80-percent are most people who, if prepared to survive and if not, become a detriment to others. Go and explore the world, but be prepared if you wind up in a real world experience. Train now, pick your gear, and learn how to use it. Keep simple rules in mind like letting others know where you are going and when you will be back.


What You Really Need For a Night Out

Watching a group heading out for an overnighter- I got to thinking about how much gear we often take and wondering if the gear not only shields us from the elements- but also the experience.

Every so often I drop as much gear as I can and work from just the basics. First and foremost my fire kit and knife, followed by my tarp to cover myself, a military poncho liner, my canteen and cup, and 100′ of paracord tucked in a pocket. I might also throw in a rain jacket or wool anorak to protect myself from the elements

Learning how to make your own gear and use what’s already out there not only increases your bush skills , but physically, mentally, and emotionally increases your chances at surviving real situations. What I find is that I’m much more aware of my surroundings and even though I might not sleep well, I am more tuned into all the environment provides. I can also move faster and quieter off trail- where I really gain the advantage of seeing more animals and birds.

Weather, animals, tracks, even slight changes in the sound of the woods or desert, I am better tuned into nature and all its happenings when not encumbered with how to set up a tent of fix a water filter. When I shake of all the trappings of modern camping I can tune into my surroundings and focus on what God has to offer out there.

One of my focus areas this year is to log the ways I thrive with minimal gear when out and about.



My Little Tea Pot (Short and Stout)

12108017_912717752138554_4328640866283608870_nBorn into a family with southern ties and then growing up in the desert, its not any news that iced tea would often be a drink of choice. Now that I have been told by the doc that I have to drop all sodas or die, well tea has been a great substitute.

However, hot tea has really been difficult for me to adjust to. It wasn’t until I was working in Scotland and spending evenings with one of my closest friends did I grow an affinity for the stuff. The damp nights along the coast were quickly forgotten as we sat in his living room drinking tea.

Fast forward several years and I found myself creating various herbal teas with plants in the back country. Simple things for enjoyment like pine needles diced and brewed as well as a few more concoctions to draw out congestion or treat tummy aches while camping and backpacking in some of the most remote areas of Idaho, Nevada, and Oregon. All this was done on an as-needed basis in a canteen cup one serving at a time.

This last two-years however, all that started to change. As I began spending more time just sitting in a single spot for reflection, doing simple outdoor projects, or nature observation I began to really want a tea pot. It kind of consumed me. Thinking it was just a passing fad for me, I put it off all last winter. As I started working on more projects and then doing my Kamana studies I decided to pull the trigger and buy one.

I opted for the GSI Glacial Stainless Steel Kettle. For under $25 I had a decent kettle that didn’t have any rubberized handles, would’t rust, and could sit over a fire all day so I could produce several pots of hot water for any occasion. I use it to not only brew tea, but to heat water for cleaning, washing, cooking, and disinfecting. I have also used it to heat water for applying to leather when making a sheath in the field and I want to form it.

The stove might be a bit bulkier than most like, but I throw my tea bags and other drinkable items into it for storage. My next 120 project will to make a small canvas or cloth bag for it. It is definitly one of my highlights when I get back to my tarp site after tracking or collecting wild edibles.

Other than when I’m out bush crafting, I know as we enter the ski season and Abby is out on the slopes, I will be back at my Jeep with the stove cranked on high making a brew and waiting for her return.

Below are a couple of recipes I use for tea along with several pre-made teas I pack along in my kit. I did not include wild medicinals. Please seek out a professional mentor to teach you these areas. We use Weed Woman Herbals in Meridian, Idah as one of our sources of training and education in this area.

AIQ Emergency Mix (Hypothermia Treatment)

(32 ounces of H2O)

  • Two packs instant oatmeal
  • Four tablespoons sugar
  • One cup orange powder mix or
  • Four packets of hot chocolate mix

Pumkin Chai

  • Regular packet of Tazo Chai tea
  • Crushed Pumkin spice

Orange Spice

  • Two tablespoons instant orange mix
  • one teaspoon honey or packet of honey from a diner

Pine Needle Tea

  • One tablespoon fresh light green pine needle tips

Mint tea

  • Five to six mint leave (make sure you properly ID
  • One teaspoon (or to tast sugar)

Adding a tea pot has made my time in the woods and on the road much more enjoyable and forces me to slow down and simply observe.



Taking the Kamana Path

2015-04-05 14.33.00With finishing up Pathfinder and awaiting results from the course- I decided to continue on a learning path that would teach me more awareness of my surroundings, a deeper knowledge of edible and medicinal plants, animal tracking, and animal behaviors. I selected Kamana after both phone and email conversations with instructors as well as current and past students.

Anxiously awaiting the arrival of my materials, I opted in for the free email classes they offer. You can find the eCourse on the right hand side of the page.

Based on the conversation with instructors and students combined with feedback they provided to me of my experience I am bypassing (at least for now) Kamana 1. I don’t recommend this for everyone, but since I have had nature awareness training and taken tracking training through students of people like Tom Brown Jr. that I would be okay. In addition, I have had mentors over the past 30 years teach me about native and aboriginal approaches to outdoor studies. Over the next few months I am going to capture my learnings following the eCourse and Kamana 2 path her in the blog along with the usual updates, rants, trip reports, etc. Mainly what you will see are my journal entries. I wish I had done more of this in my other training classes.

I encourage you to join me if not in the Kamana training- at least the free eCourse. Would be fun to do this with somebody else!

Here’s to new learning!

Feedback Format When Teaching Kids Bush Craft and Survival

IMG_0199The 2015 Kids Camp is in the books. What a great year we had. 44 kids and their parents came out for a full day of survival and bush craft training- all for free. It is the highpoint of what has been both a difficult and productive year for us. Driving away from the site I was thankful for another successful year that could not have been done without supporters such as Cabela’s, Sportsmans’ Warehouse, Scooters Youth Hunting Camp, Abundant Life Baptist Church, Boise Army-Navy Store, At Home Medical Partners, and Power Engineers. It took committed parents to spend the day with their kiddos watching them learn how to survive in the woods if they get lost.

Several parents praised us on our “expertise” in survival and I found myself correcting this by stating we are learners who have worked towards mastering parts of the discipline. This is a label I quickly shun. I know of maybe a handful of people I would place that label on, and I’m not one of them. Something I think we do better than anybody though is teaching the skills we have mastered in a way that almost anybody can comprehend and begin to apply. If we are experts, its in teaching, and not just kids, anybody.

I want to focus this article specifically on providing feedback in the learning aspect and since we just had a weekend of kids learning and hopefuly parents coaching and providing guidance, I am going to go through the method we use. This is not the complete teaching model, its actually the second step of the coaching process after the learner (your kiddo) has made several attempts and is either successful or needs some additional work. If you use this method, don’t expect to be an expert with it (it took me 30 years of coaching and teaching).

Here is the model and I will provide a few examples at the end. It is a 7-step model and works when your kiddo is successful or not.








So lets take a look at how this breaks out…IMG_7018


What is it you want to coach them on. Give them some idea of why you are providing the feedback. “Hey let’s talk about the way you set up your shelter”. “Can I help you with some tips on starting the cotton ball on fire”


What you specifically notice.

“I noticed the guy-lines on the shelter seem to be a little loose.” You’re turning your wrist up when you are moving the striker down the ferro rod.”


Your kiddo needs to understand specifically what the impact is of doing something incorrect.

“When the guy-lines are loose, it will cause the shelter to flap and won’t keep you covered. It will also cause the ground stakes to beak away from the dirt.” When you turn your wrist up on the ferro rod, you don’t get as many sparks.”


Here you have to let them talk, vent, come up with ideas, etc. Let them speak. You just might find out what the barriers are for them.


With adults I will try to get suggestions from them. With kids and teens I will make the suggestions for them

“Let me show you how to tie a timber-hitch, that way you can tighten the rope on your shelter if it comes loose again.” “Keep your wrist pointed down and grind the ferro rod all the way to the tinder.”


This is where you gain street-cred, well in this case bush-cred. If they get it right, then praise them with what they did well. If the device is broken, in the wrong position, doesn’t fit the kiddo, etc you need to support them with repairs, replacement, practice, etc.

“Your right, the line keeps stretching out of shape, lets get some better para-cord. “ “Hey, there you go, you’re getting really good sparks now!”


In the simplest form it is getting done what needs to be done to be successful and making sure they can repeat the process when they really need to in an emergency.

“Hey those lines work really well. Let me see you tie that timber hitch again.” “Great job on getting that cottonball lit, let’s do it again to make sure we got it.

Hopefully this gives you a glimpse into the world of helping your kiddo master outdoor skills. A good friend reminded me late last week when we saw several parents trying to opt out of spending the day with their kids at our camp, “The want your presence not your presents.”

I will follow up with a podcast on this subject later this week and post a link on here and our FB page.