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Here is a quick camelbak survival hack that I think you will like, and it’s something that I’ve used to cross many waterways of all different types. I first figured this tactic out when swimming across rivers while fishing. I’d see a good fishing spot and want to get across to get to the best spots but also wanted to be safe. So I came up with this method to help me, since it’s an item I always seem to carry on me.

The Camelbak is a water bladder I’ve been using ever since being issued my first one back in the army in the early 2000’s. When I first entered the army they were still using plastic canteens, but when we deployed right after 9/11, they improved gear for combat greatly. We were taught to hydrate as much as we could in the military to prevent ourselves from becoming a heat casualty. Which is a real threat with the kind of intense outdoor activities the army does on a daily basis. You had to drink water, or you wouldn’t make it through the day.

Canteens just weren’t practical all the time and couldn’t carry nearly as much water. Not to mention they were much noisier when running than a camelbak. You could carry much more water in a stealthier and more convenient manner. So it was no brainer that we would use these over the old plastic army issue canteens.

STEPS TO TURNING BLADDER INTO PFD:

  1. Empty water from bladder. Close cap tightly
  2. Blow as much air in the bladder as you can via the drinking tube.
  3. Throw it in the water and check how well it holds your buoyancy.
  4. Look for bubbles coming from cap and make sure it’s tight.
  5. Get to swimming!

survival hack

This Camelbak survival hack has got me across some pretty big bodies of water and is extremely efficient floatation device. The larger the bladder, the more capacity it has for keeping you or equipment afloat. The average bladder is 2.5-3.0 liters in capacity and that is plenty to keep a large man afloat. The larger dromedary bags that some people carry are even better, though they don’t strap on you back like a camelbak.

The backpack style versions will allow you to attach them to your back, stomach, or even wear them like a diaper for upright floating. There are many options for wearing these depending on the type of swim stroke you are doing.primitive skillsThis survival hack has got me across numerous bodies of water, including the pictured lake above. Its a legit technique to use and works almost as well as a life vest. Some other improvised techniques include tying your pant legs off into knots, filling the legs with air and using that as a floatation device. Though I don’t think it is a great method, it might be all you have. If you’re down to having to use that tactic, its probably because you ended up in the water abruptly. Basically anything that can contain air and not leak will work.

Why would you need this Survival Hack?

  • Crossing large bodies of water with safety. A float will allow even the best swimmers the safety to take a break and catch their breath.
  • Crossing quicker moving rivers to get to other side.
  • Setting limb lines in deeper water or checking fish traps.
  • Retrieving a jug line.
  • When exiting an area, you may not have a choice to go around a waterway. Sometimes you have to cross it and get wet. That is why it’s always best to put your gear in compressible dry bags.
  • Let your kids use it as floaty in case they don’t have a PFD.

List of Best Hydration Bladders & Dry Bags

 

survival hack

Author: Rob Allen (Founder, SIGMA 3 Survival)

 

 

Today you’re going to be introduced to a twined fish trap method I’ve used to survive for years in the wilderness. Hello, I’m Joshua Hamlin, lead primitive skills instructor at SIGMA 3. During my two years living in the wilderness completely primitive and isolated from the world, I used this method extensively for a big majority of my meat.

Primitive skills is such a beautiful thing because of the freedom it gives you to travel at your own will with no money. In todays society we are forced into working jobs we hate, just to pay bills we don’t want. So that we can fit in with society. And this basket fish trap is what kept me from going hungry for years. And it cost me nothing to make and only a few hours to construct. Make sure to watch the video below and read the blog for the real details of how to use the trap in the field.

Tools Used:

-Good Bushcraft Blade (check out this link for suggestions)

-Silky Saw (silky ultra accel or pocket boy are most recommended bushcraft saws)

Note: This can be done with flint-knapped stone blades, but so much faster and efficient with modern cutting tools.

TO GET HANDS ON TRAINING OF THIS TECHNIQUE, CHECK OUT OUR ADVANCED SURVIVAL STANDARD COURSE.

9 Step Process to Building a Twined Fish Trap

Step 1 (Collect Materials)- Collect river cane (approx. 60 sticks) and very flexible vines. In this case we used kudzu vine, which is an invasive species in our area. You can use a variety of materials for this trap. Anything straight will work for the trap ribs, and anything flexible will work for twining. The vine or roots need be very flexible and not prone to breaking when twisting or bending on itself.

Step 2 (Find soft soil, begin template)- Find a soft soil to jam the sticks into circular sized opening desired. Put the river cane into the ground at the spacing desired. The tighter the spacing, the smaller the fish you can catch.

Step 3 (Tie top together)- Tie the top of fish trap together by wrapping vines around it or by using cordage.

Step 4 (Begin the twining process)- Make a bight or bend in the vine at the desired height just down from the top of the trap. This will vary depending on the size of the trap you plan to construct. Twist over and under making one twist in between each piece of river cane. You want to make the twist tight so that it pulls the river cane spokes together so they are a uniform distance apart all the way around. Skipping this important detail will leave larger gaps for fish to escape, further down the trap where spacing is more difficult to control. (Note: Remember that tree roots will typically work also, as they tend to have greater flexibility. Spruce, cedar, fir, and other conifer trees are usually a great source for flexible roots.)

Step 5 (Twine it down every 6″)- Do the twining method of twisting the vines about every 6-12” down the trap. This will depend on how far the spacing is between the spokes. The tighter you need the gaps to be, the more often you need to twine. For smaller fish plan on doing it every 6 inches.

Step 6 (Finish the bottom of cone, extra twines)- Once you get to the bottom, do several layers of twining to lock the opening of the trap together so that is super secure. Once all the twining is done, you can pull the trap from the soft soil and cut the end spokes to a uniform length.

Step 7 (Make form for funnel cone)- Now its time to make the cone entrance or funnel portion of the trap. This is done in similar manner to the rest of the trap. Figure out the exact size of the opening where the fish will swim through, then jam sticks into the ground matching that opening size. Make sure those spokes are sharpened to a good point. Those points will be one of the reasons the fish can’t escape back out the funnel.

Step 8 (Basket wrap the cone)- Instead of using the twining method for the funnel, like we did the rest of the trap. This time we will use more of a basket making style of weaving. For this you will need a good amount of flexible vines or roots. Jam an odd amount of spokes into the ground, the number of spokes will be determined by how wide you want the opening. But it must always be an odd amount of spokes so that each rotation of wraps around the spokes is different with each pass. Then begin weaving vines over and under all the way around. When you reach the end of a vine, just poke it into the lower wraps to end it. Keep working your way up the funnel with vines until you reach the desired diameter to fit the cone opening for the trap. When you get to the top, cut some longer pieces of vine and jam them into the weave to hold the vines down and keep them from popping out.

Step 9 (Put funnel into trap opening)- Once done, pull it from the ground and test it in the opening of the trap to make sure it fits. You’ll use a sharpened stick to hold the funnel in so that it can quickly be removed later and you can pull the funnel and remove the fish easily.

Things to know about twined fish traps:

  • There is more light inside the fish trap, which is better for game fish and other desirable eating fish. Closed off basket style fish traps are dark and foreboding for many fish. But each method has a desired use. Determine which is best for you. Sport fish can see other game fish inside it from the outside and will be attracted to it. The disadvantage to the twined fish trap method is that it won’t hold crawdads like the basket method will.
  • If straight materials are available, this trap is quicker to build and much lighter in weight than basket method.
  • Very good when cane, bamboo, or other more tropical materials are available.
  • If you are in a colder climate, willow and roots will probably be your only option to reproduce this trap.

Setting the Fish Trap

Now it’s time to set it in the water. There are numerous ways to use this fish trap to catch fish. You can block off a stream and place it in the middle and physically drive fish towards your trap. Or you can place it in a high fish population area and leave it baited. Either method is effective but most streams and rivers will require the baited method. As blocking off a stream or forcing fish towards your trap is not always feasible. Wherever you place it, make sure it is feasible to check regularly and make sure it won’t be washed away in high water or after rains. Stick it in areas the fish also use as sanctuary from the current or larger predator fish.

When to check it?

Like most all fish2 traps, early in the morning and right before sunset is typically best. You might even check it at night before the sun comes up because sunlight can make it easier for the fish to navigate out of the trap.

What baits should I use?

Fish guts, heads, tails, etc are a great choice. They will attract crawdads and small fish, and those will attract the more edible game fish. If  you don’t have any fish parts to use then maybe you can catch some crayfish, minnows, frogs, or other small game. Smash them up and place them inside for the fish to feast on. You want to essentially make your trap a chum source. A perpetual place of feeding for smaller fish, that will attract the larger fish to come check it out. Numerous things will work, just be inventive and see what your area has to offer.

How long before it starts working?

Sometimes its immediate and other times it make take days or weeks for fish to pay attention to it. New traps have a smell to them and fish are sometimes weary of them. SO be mindful that if it isn’t working immediately, give it time. You may also need to adjust your bait choices or placement of the trap several times before it begins working. But these types of traps have been used by primitive cultures all over the world for millennia. The concept works in most areas and will most likely work for you with some adjustment.

Is one fish trap enough?

Absolutely not! The most important thing to remember about primitive trapping of any type, is that it’s a numbers game. The more traps you build, the higher your odds of being successful in catching a sustainable amount of food to get you through. If you plan on doing long term wilderness living, then you will need lots and lots of fish to sustain you through the dry times.

Fishing won’t always be good and just like hunting it can be seasonal. So you need to catch as many as you can and then put those excess fish up for later. Using methods such as cold smoking or normal smoking methods. You can also sun dry fish if you live in a hot dry environment, but smoking is always preferable. Because the smoking process coats the meat with oils that will protect it from future moisture, as well as ward off bacteria wanting to grow on the meat.

Conclusion:

There is no one fish trap that will work for everything, but this is probably the most effective long term wilderness living technique I could show you. I used it myself for years all over the country to survive and you can too. It takes a lot of practice to get these techniques down and while this demonstration is good enough to show you the way. Its not nearly as efficient as coming and learning from me in a class. Blogs and videos will never be as good as learning from a teacher in the field.

If you have an interest in training with us, then please check out our schedule and see if one of the dates works for you. Please contact us at 4175228172 if you have any questions about this technique or anything else we teach. Thanks for your continued support of SIGMA 3 and the best way you can say thanks for this free info is by sharing this blog on social media with your friends.

For other articles on survival trapping visit: To Kill or Not to Kill?

bushcraft instructorWritten by Joshua Hamlin

Lead Primitive Skills Instructor, SIGMA 3 Survival School

survival instructor

Someone recently asked me what my top 10 survival essentials were and it caused me to think. You see, I talk a lot about the top 5 survival essentials. Here at Sigma 3 we teach our classes based on the top 5 essentials. Everything after that is not so essential for life. However there are some things to add to the list, not because they are essential to life, but because they are essential to quality of life. So I wracked my brain to come up with 10 for this list. People like lists with nice round numbers. Well I couldn’t come up with ten, but here a broad overview of my top 7 essentials to help you survive and thrive.

1.   Shelter

I talk about shelter building a lot. That’s because it is a survival essential. In some cases it is the most important survival essential. Like in the north in winter, for instance. Your soft human body can only regulate its heat few hours in the subzero conditions of a northern winter so you need a shelter immediately. The same is true in the scorching desert. You only have a couple hours until the sun zaps all the moisture from your body.  A shelter lets you control the atmosphere around you. It traps warm air in frigid conditions or blocks the harsh sun in arid ones. It also keeps our rain and pests. It’s important and that is why its number 1 on this list.

  1. Water

We need water. It lubricates all of our moving parts and it transports vital minerals and nutrients around our bodies. Without it we die in 3 to 5 days. All other living things need water too. Some of them live in water and some of them can really harm us. They are usually too small to see but they could be in there. So, we have to get them out. Also, water is a solvent, meaning things can dissolve into it. Some of these things, like lead or mercury, are very harmful to us. We have to get them out too. A good way to do that is with a water filter. Whether we make our own or we buy one a water filter is essential. I carry a Sawyer and it works great. You can pick one up here at our store pretty cheap.

  1. Fire

In this modern age we have heated homes with stove tops and ovens but in the wilderness our heat source is almost always fire. Fire does more than just warm us up. It also cooks our food and kills pathogens in our water. It can even be used as a tool but more on tools later. Any outdoorsman that is worth their salt can create fire in any weather, anywhere, at any time. Any instructor, who tells you different, be wary of. There are a million and one instructors in this business and 999,999 of them aint worth a shit.

There are also tons of different fire starting methods, but, in my opinion, the bowdrill is the most universal. It works in the desert as well as in the tropics. It’s pretty simple to use but it does take practice to master it. So make a kit and practice it until you are a master. Then you will be in the top 1% and more importantly you will be able to stay alive while others die.

  1. Food

If you have watched any of the survival TV shows out there nowadays you know that a human can live a long time without food. But is that really living? I prefer to say that a human dies very slowly when not eating food. If you are burning more calories than you are taking into your body then you are either dying or dieting. Food is our fuel and if we don’t have it our body eats itself for fuel. So food is an essential.

We are constantly surrounded by food when we in the wilderness. The problem is can we recognize it and/or catch it. When it comes to plants it’s about knowing what you can and can’t eat. Plants can give us important vitamins and minerals so they are worth knowing. Some plants even contain high amounts of protein but it is rare. So learn them.

As a general rule we get our protein and fat from animals. That means we have to catch them, somehow, so we can eat them. For this we use traps. We can use traps to catch bugs, fish, birds, even bears. Once you know some of the basic mechanics for trap triggers you can create traps that fit your specific needs for your specific situation. So knowing how to set traps is an essential skill.

  1. Tools

We humans are a pretty weak species. We have dull teeth and nails. We are not very strong or fast. We are not covered with protective scales or shells or hair yet our species has managed to dominate the entire natural world. That’s because our large frontal lobes give us the ability to reason and problem solve. We don’t have sharp teeth but we can sharpen sticks bones and rocks. We can then attach them to a shaft that gives us reach. We can even reason how to propel these sharp points by adding bending sticks and cordage. The bow and arrow is just one example out of millions of tools we can use. A sharpened stone flake is a tool by itself and it can be used to make other tools for whatever specific need arises. Personally I think the most important tool we can own is a knife. Yes we can make them ourselves but for quality sake it’s a good idea to invest in a good one.  You can find my top picks here. A good knife can be used to make a million other tools.

 

  1. Medical

Knowing how to heal from damage is a skill that everyone should know. It’s a skill often overlooked because it isn’t generally needed, but when it is needed it is REALLY needed. If you have ever been trapped in the wild with a severe injury you know exactly what I mean.

Knowing what plants can heal specific ailments can make your life better or even save it. Knocking out a cold before it gets bad or getting rid of a bad headache is important but stopping an asthma attack before it kills you is even more important. Learn your medicinal plants.

But don’t rely solely on native plants. Carry a good first aid kit. You will have a hard time finding anything sterile in the wild. Sterile wraps and gauze pads are super useful and they may save your life. You can get a professional first aid kit here.

first aid

  1. Navigation

Navigation is a skill most people don’t think about. Basically navigation is just being able to get from one place to another without getting lost. You can use a map and a compass or landmarks and blazes. Native Americans used rivers and creeks and road maps. Imagine you are traveling along setting some traps. The sun is going down so you head back to your camp and gear. When you start walking back, nothing looks familiar. You are lost. This happens way too often and way too often its ends in death. Don’t let this be you. Learn to find way around.

Navigation

So that’s my list of top 7 survival essentials. If you master these subjects you will be a wilderness ninja. All it takes is guidance and practice. If you want some guidance I would love to train with you. Check out our classes and join us as we master the wilderness.

 

 

 

With all the growing interest in the survival industry there are dozens of different fire starters on the market. Everything from fancy ferro rods, fire pistons, blast matches, and even electronic igniters.   However; without a proper understanding of how to select and prepare natural tinders these fancy gadgets become nothing more than expensive sparklers.

Don’t get me wrong, survival gear is vital, and could very well save your life.  The problem is we develop a false sense of security when we purchase these items without putting in the adequate dirt time to hone the skills necessary to operate them.  For example anyone can take a ferro rod and light a cotton ball on fire, but what if they were told to go out into the forest and try to use a ferro rod in the rain with only natural materials?

Knowing what natural tinder to use, and having the ability to go out collect and harvest it is vital to being able to survive in harsh conditions.  Below is a list of my favorite natural materials to use for fire starting.

Cedar Bark

Cedar bark is amazing due to it’s ability to be lit when damp.  It is extremely fibrous, and because of it’s resinous nature it produces a hot flame aiding in lighting damp kindling.  Simply scrape the outer bark from the tree, and create a softball size birds nest tinder bundle.  Cedar/Juniper trees grow in abundance across the nation, and can be found in several different climates and elevations.  It truly is the go to for fire starting.

Fatwood

Fatwood is bushcraft gold when it comes to fire starting, and is the king of wet fire.  It burns super hot and last a long time.  Fatwood is a resinous enriched dense pine wood that can be found in the roots and base of limbs.  It can be a challenge to harvest, but once you do you wont regret it.  I prefer to gather fatwood from the base of limbs of dead standing pine trees.  Once this material is processed down to a 4-6″ pile of fine scrappings it will light very easily with a spark.  Another option is to make a feather stick from a section of the fatwood.

Birch Bark

Birch bark is an amazing fire starter.  It is rich in resins and comes off the tree like sheets of paper.  I have used paper (white) birch and river birch.  Both work extremely well.  I find the river birch tree most often in areas that collect water – river beds, valley bottoms, marshes, and other moist areas. Peel off the bark in sheets, and scrape it to reveal tiny fibers that will light with ease.

Cattail Fluff

Cattail would be considered a flash tinder.  It takes a spark easier than any of the previously mentioned tinders, but it burns extremely fast.  Cattail is best mixed with cedar bark, pine needles or grass.  You will find this amazing plant in still standing water such as swamps, ponds, or lakes. Process out the cattail heads by crushing or wringing it which will expose all the tiny fibers.  Hit is with a spark and watch it go up in flame.

Tinder Fungus

Polypore mushrooms make excellent tinder fungus.  Look for dried mushrooms that look like shells, fans, horse hooves, or shelves.  On the underside of the mushroom it should not have any gills.  It should look like tiny pores, similar to pores in the skin.  I have found these mushrooms on dead and alive trees, but they are usually found on trees with a dense overhead canopy.  The tinder fungus is not the best for lighting, however; it is one of the best materials for transferring a coal or extending a fire.

Additional Natural Tinders

Pine Needles, leaves, and grasses are also descent options for tinder.   The pine needles and leaves can be a challenge because they do not make a good bundle, but they are better used to extend a fire once you have flame. Grasses often times contain moisture, and can be challenging to light, but they work good when mixed with other fibers.  Old Man’s Beard (Usnea) is another type of tinder that people sometimes use.  For me it has extraordinary medicinal uses.  I would rather save this amazing lichen, and find something else.

To learn more about natural tinders and different fire starting methods register for one of our UPCOMING SURVIVAL STANDARD COURSES.

I hope you found this Natural Tinder blog to be educational and informative.  Be sure to watch the companion video below, and show your support by liking, sharing, and subscribing.   Thanks Justin “Sage” Williams

Maximize Rescue – Signaling / Navigation

Rescue is the goal of every survival situation. Once you meet your primary needs, focus on rescue.
You’re only a survivor when you have been rescued. This means that you must be able to either get yourself out of the predicament you are in (self-rescue) or be rescued from that situation by others (assisted rescue).

Preparation is key-informing people of your intentions and timeframes will at least have someone wondering why you are not back yet. Be sure to leave an ISOPREP Report behind with someone you trust.  (See Principle #1)

THE BIG ? Do I stay, or do I go? This is a major decision. Do you remain where you are or move to a location that offers a better chance of survival, rescue, or both. In general it is always best to stay where you are. It’s all too easy to make a rash decision and attempt to walk out of a situation only to put yourself in even greater danger.

Signaling While waiting for rescue maximize your odds by signaling. The key to signaling is contrast and movement.
Universal Distress Signal: SOS
Universal Distress Number: 3

Primary Signalling Methods:

  • Sound: Create 3 loud blows with a whistle, or by banging metal objects together.
  • Reflection: Reflect rays of the sun off of a mirror or shiny surface such as foil, a CD, or the bottom of a can to attract attention.
  • Light: Using a flashlight or other light source turn on and off 3 times, and then wait 10-15 seconds to repeat.
  • Fire: Create a large signal fire by adding green vegetation to your fire. For best results, create 3 fire platforms that can be easily and quickly lit.
  • Flagging: Using a t-shirt, bandanna, or other material create a flag to wave at potential rescuers.

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    Ground-to-air:
    To make ground-to-air marker, use anything that contrasts with the ground. Make sure it is big and visible. Common markers: SOS or HELP  Emergency Ground to Air Code:

      • V: Needs Assistance
      • X: Needs Emergency Assistance
      • ->: Direction of Travel

    Navigation

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    With proper planning you should have taken a compass and a map with you on your adventure, and you should have the ability to properly read a map and use a compass. Often time’s people find themselves lost, and unable to determine direction, because they failed to be prepared.

    Determine General Direction (Northern Hemisphere) If you can see the sun, you can use an analog watch as a protractor to determine an approximate direction. Ensure it is set to the correct local time. If you don’t have a watch but time, simply draw a watch.
    Point the hour hand towards the sun, and bisect the angle between the hour hand and 12 o’clock. That is your North South Line.

Dead Reckoning When navigating across land, you’re less likely to get lost if you take direct bearing from one feature to another. This will prevent you from going in circles.
When obstacles are in your way simply box around them, or use your pace beads to pace out around the object.

Using these simple rescue techniques could greatly increase your odds of rescue and survival.  Be sure to watch the corresponding video below for further instructor, and as always be sure to share and subscribe.

There is nothing more refreshing than having a clean glass of drinking water.

“We tend to take water for granted until we don’t have any – at which point it becomes the most important thing in the world.”

 


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What is Dehydration? 
There are several stages of dehydration, but the primary thing you need to understand is that when the body begins to lose water it will begin to function irregularly and in severe cases vital organs begin to shut down.  The effects of water loss could include: thirst, dark colored urine, dry mouth/lips/eyes, dizziness/light-headedness, headache, lethargy, and in severe cases irregular pulse, trouble breathing, unconsciousness, and even death.  Lack of water can prevents the body from being able to regulate your core body temperature, and could result in heat exhaust or heat stroke.

Rationing/Conserving Water and Delaying Dehydration – There is a lot of debate on rationing your water, or conserving it, and I am no expert, but I am convinced your body will utilize the water as needed.  Rationing your water can be beneficial if it gives you a psychological advantage by continually moistening your lips, mouth, and throat.  Just be careful not to be so conservative that you are found dead from dehydration with a canteen of water.


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Water Sources 
– Choosing a choice water source can be difficult, but it is important to find the cleanest, clearest, flowing water you can find.  Water Sources could consist of  springs, streams, rivers, wells, lakes, ponds, seepage, rain cavities, vegetation, vines, and trees.

 

5 Primary Water Hazards

  1. Bacteria/Pathogens: Cholera, Echoli, Salmonella
  2. Protozoa/Amoebas: Crypto, Giardia
  3. Virus: Hepatitis A & E
  4. Parasite: Hook Worms, Tapeworms
  5. Chemicals/Metals/Additives – Fluoride, oils/fuels, phosphate, lead, mercury, arsenic

 

5 Primary Water Treatment Methods

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    Boil – Over a Fire, Rock Boil

  2. Filter – Commercial Filters, Tripod Filter, Bottle Filter
  3. Chemical – Tablets, Iodine, Bleach, Natural Teas Volatile Oils (Mint)(Pine Needles
  4. Solar/UV – Pasteurization, Transpiration, Solar Still
  5. Distill

Last Resort

If you have absolutely no means of treating or boiling water, you should try to:

  • Find the clearest flowing water and collect it from the surface.
  • Fill canteen with mouth facing away from current.
  • Avoid water sources with animal tracks, scat, or carcass.
  • Filter Debris out with a bandanna, or sock as a last resort.
  • Remember, it’s better to drink foul water than not to drink at all, and die.

Show your support, like, share, subscribe, and be sure to check out the corresponding YouTube Video: 6 Principles of Survival – Minimize Dehydration.    Thanks – Justin “Sage” Williams

 

 

“The psychological effects of being able to start a fire should not be underestimated; neither should the effects of not being able to start one.”

In any survival situation maintaining your core body temperature is critical.  It could be the difference between life and death. Beyond Shelter (See part 1 CBT Shelter Blog post) fire is crucial.  It has the ability to form a micro climate to protect you from the elements, treat water, cook food, sterilize for first aid, and provide comfort and security.  It cannot be underestimated.

I could write several blog post on the fundamentals of fire alone, but I will stick to just a few key principles.

Four Stages of Fire: By most standards there are 4 stages of a fire. These stages are incipient, growth, fully developed, and decay.

  • Incipient/Ignition – This first stage begins with the Fire Triangle

The Fire Triangle: Too often we think of fire as an object, and fail to understand the reaction that takes place.  Fire is an event.  When the elements of Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat are combined they create combustion which results in FIRE!

  • Growth –  This is where the combustibles and oxygen are used as fuel for the fire. Usually consist of isolated flames.   There are numerous factors affecting the growth stage.       Factors that affect fire development
    1. Fuel type
    2. Availability of air supply
    3. Availability and proximity of additional fuel
    4. Ventilation and changes in ventilation
    5. Ambient conditions (e.g. wind, temperature, humidity, etc.)
  • Fully Developed – When all combustible materials have been ignited, a fire is considered fully developed.  This is the hottest phase of a fire and the point where it produces the most heat.
  • Decay – Usually the longest stage of a fire, the decay stage is characterized a significant decrease in one or more of the elements found in the triangle of fire, putting an end to the fire.

Now that you have a simple overview of the stages of fire, let us look at several different methods for starting a fire.

5 Primary Fire Methods/Ignitions

Friction – Ferro Rod / Bow Drill / Hand Drill / Fire Saw / Fire Plow

Solar – Magnifying Lens (position, angle, and sturdiness is key) (char-cloth, fungus, ball)

Percussion – Flint and Steel

Electrical – Battery & Steel Wool

Chemical – Potassium Permanganate & Glycerin

Be sure to lay down a proper fire platform (ground barrier), and a well prepped tinder bundle before starting a fire.  We have several videos on many of these fire methods.  Having an adequate amount kindling will also greatly impact the effectiveness of your fire.

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Extinguish 

Always properly extinguish your fires.  Fire Control Theory – fire is controlled and extinguished by limiting or interrupting one or more of the essential elements in the fire triangle.  Before you leave make ash soup.  If you cant place your hands in the coals/ash without burning yourself then you have not properly extinguished your fire.

 

Be sure to check out the corresponding YouTube Video, and be sure to show your support – Like, Share, Subscribe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of people look at Armadillo as some kind of taboo food for consumption unless it’s under extreme survival circumstances. Well I’m here to tell you that not only is it safe but it also tastes great. If you like pork then you’ll like Armadillo as well! They are basically just armored pigs that live in the ground and they are super easy to catch. For fun a lot of people try to sneak up on them and pick them up, which is very easy to do. These animals have such poor eye sight that you can usually sneak up on them with relative ease if the wind is in your favor. I’ve literally snuck up and pet them without them even knowing I was there. While they do have terrible eye sight remember that their great noses is what will give you away the quickest.

What is the best way to catch them?
Since they are typically nocturnal animals, you will most likely see them roaming around in the woods at night time. In fact, most small game animals are nocturnal and that is simply the best time to catch them. Don’t forget that hunting at night for most things is illegal and these techniques should only be used for survival purposes.

Just like you would go gigging frogs or spotlighting a deer, you can use a flashlight to distract your game while you walk up to them and dispatch them with a big stick or other weapon. Simply shine the light in the eyes of Armadilllo then walk over and pick him up to dispatch them. Sound is of the utmost importance when stalking them so you must not make a sound when approaching them. The light will blind them from seeing you but it won’t stop them from hearing you so walk softly. You can also stalk up to them in the daytime as well but your chances of success are much lower.

These animals are hard to trap without a live game box trap of some type because they just aren’t as likely to walk into a trap. You can also quickly construct a quickie bow to shoot them with if you can’t get close enough. It is much easier to catch them or hunt them actively during the best times though. The best time to get them are always during night or during low light. When looking for places to hunt them you need to look for places that have an abundance of food for them. They primarily root up bugs and eat underground tubers so you will want to look in areas that have an abundance of good soil. They will roam almost anywhere but your highest likelihood of catching them is near their feeding areas. They also tend to shelter underground by digging elaborate tunnels where they hole up as a group. These holes they dig can also be snared or trapped to catch them coming and going.

How to Clean & Butcher Armadillo
The Armadillo is just like every other animal except that it has a shell around it that makes it very convenient for cooking. The animal should first be gutted and all the entrails removed and set aside for other survival uses. Once the animal is gutted and well cleaned then we are going to stoke the fire up and use the flames to singe all the hair off it’s body. Once the flames have burnt the hair off then you need to scrape off some coals to one side to create a cooking fire. Then set the armadillo in the coals with the shell facing down into the coals. This shell will help us cook it without losing any of it’s fat to fire. It is really essential is survival that you don’t allow fat to drip into your fire being wasted. So by keeping the shell on this will preserve all the calories in the meat. You need to slowly turn the animal so that it cooks evenly all over the shell and make sure that the stomach area meat is well cooked. This is not an animal you can afford to eat medium rare because just like pigs they have parasites and diseases we must be mindful of. Make sure you cook it well done and that all the meat is cooked evenly over the whole carcass. If one section of the meat is not done then don’t eat it and re-cook that area for safety. You can also slice the excess fat off the animal and render the fat for later use. This will provide you with lard that can be saved for other cooking projects later. This fat can also be used to burn as a bush candle if light is needed at your camp.

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Dangers of Eating Armadillo
A lot of people absolutely won’t eat an Armadillo because they have heard that you can get Leprecy from handling them. While some of the animals do carry the disease it is a very small percentage of the population and most people aren’t susceptible to the bacteria. The bacteria is easily killed by cooking it well done and as long as you don’t have any open cuts on your hand then you should be fine. You must remember that you should not clean animals with open cuts and if you do then you need to wear gloves. Don’t forget to clean up and sanitize your hands the best you can after you’re done cleaning the animal. Armadillo is no different than eating pork because swine can carry all kinds of nasty diseases/parasites as well so don’t be overly worried about this meat source. If you love eating bacon then you shouldn’t sherk away from some slab of Armored Pork! It is always best to eat the cleanest eating animal you can get but the best meat to eat is usually the hardest to get. So this is a good first start for meat procurement when in survival mode. You always start with small less desirable game and work your way up to better tasting animals in your survival priorities.

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What is leprosy? A bacterial disease, also known as Hansen’s disease, which causes lesions, growths and dryness on human skin. Your chances of getting leprosy are really, really low. Ninety-five percent of the population isn’t even susceptible to the disease, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. A 2008 study put to rest the belief that you can get leprosy from eating armadillo. Of some 2500 armadillos caught and tested in Florida, none had leprosy. And for many years researchers were hard pressed to find someone in the United States with leprosy who had actually been in physical contact with armadillos in the United States.

Nutrition Facts Breakdown
All in all, Armadillo meat is extremely high in fat and looks very much like a pig meat when you slaughter it. In fact, it is one of the highest calorie small game animals that you can catch. A pound of meat will bring between 700-1200 total calories depending on the fat content and time of year the animal is harvested. So if you catch a 10-15 lb Armadillo then you can be assured to get a minimum of 5,000 calories from it.

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Range & Species of Armadillos
The range of these animals is wide spread all over the south of United States, ranging all the way down to South America. Considering how spread out they are over North America to South America, this is a very good pick for survival hunting. There are numerous species of Armadillo ranging in all sizes from super small to extremely large. The giant species can grow in excess of 60 inches long and over a 100lbs in weight. What a meal that would be! While the smaller species can be a little as 6 inches and only a few pounds.

Common South American Dish

Conclusion:

While Armadillo doesn’t seem to be the most appetizing of survival foods, it is in fact very tasty and extremely high in calories. Combine that with the fact that they are very stupid and easy to catch makes them the perfect food choice for the primitive survivalist. On top of that they aren’t regulated by most state laws and have no seasons or regulations for taking them. What is there to lose with some proper precautions? We totally recommend that you get out there and try this food and see if it is a potential calorie source for your survival needs!

 

 

If you have any questions about this subject please post them in our Facebook Group “The SIGMA 3 Survival University”.

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By Robert Allen

President

SIGMA 3 Survival School

 

 

 

 

How to Dress for Cold Weather Survival in Winter Conditions

Winter dress is one of the most important factors when taking trips into the woods in cold conditions. If you don’t dress right you won’t enjoy your trip nearly as much, so in this article we are going to break down what do wear and how to layer it. The purpose of clothing is to keep your core temperature regulated and maintained and there are a few tips and tricks for doing that. Shelter is always the most important priority in survival and clothing is your first layer of shelter. Your core temperature only has to drop a few degrees before you can be in serious trouble and your body will start shutting down. You will lose dexterity and clarity of thought and it will be that much harder to complete even the most basic tasks. Hypothermia is a fast killer and has taken many lives and can happen to the best of us. There is a multitude of different ways that you can dress in order to combat the killer cold.

The rule of 3’s states:
3 mins without air
3 hours of exposure
3 days without water
3 weeks without food

Everyone is different and you may last longer than or not as long as the given rules of threes. The rule we are going to focus on is the rule of 3 hours of exposure in low temperatures and how to combat it. First rule of cold weather survival is to never let yourself get wet or you DIE! Now let’s go over how you can prevent from getting wet and stop damp clothing from potentially killing you.

The key to dress for cold weather is all about temperature regulation and what you wear can vary greatly for different conditions. This recommendation is for -10F to 32F, and if you find yourself in colder conditions then that will change your strategy slightly. The best way I have found to regulate temperature and control sweating is by simply layering materials properly according to the temperature conditions. It is important to stay at a comfortable cold, you never want to get hot enough to lead to sweating! By staying at a comfortable cold you will not sweat and if you do its minimal. So how do you do this? You must dress in layers and peel those layers off as your temp increases and by layering you give yourself modularity to tailor your warmth up or down based on your activity. It is all about staying dry in these cold environments, so staying dry means staying alive. By dressing in layers when you feel hot you take off an outer layer or even two, to allow your body to cool off. Then when you feel cold again you throw a layer back on or the two and you will warm up quickly. By constantly removing and adding layers when needed you combat getting wet. Always remember you get your clothes wet your first shelter is gone.

 

There are numerous materials that you can use for insulation but I’m going to cover what my favorite layering systems are and what works best for me in the coldest conditions. First we will talk about cotton, and why cotton kills. The problem with cotton is that it absorbs water and holds it, thus the insulation value drops to almost nothing when wet. As well to dry it, it takes a long time and that can be bad if you need your clothes dry in a hurry.

Second we will talk about polyester or synthetic products, which is also warm and can be added as a wicking layer. This means it absorbs the sweat and draws it away from your body and dries quickly. It can become soaked just like any other material, but the benefit to polyester based products is that they dry very quickly. Remember you can always speed up that drying process by placing it next to the fire.

Third you have wool, wool is a great choice for warmth but also holds moisture and is very slow to dry. The great thing about wools is that even when it is wet it can maintain up to 80% of its insulation value, thus still giving you warm and protection from the cold. Remember that if the wool freezes though it won’t really matter, so it is optimal to keep your insulation as dry as possible because if it freezes later that could put you in big trouble. That is why a water resistant layer such as goretex over the outside of your clothing is so important.

Lastly, lets talk about down insulation for a few seconds! Down is by far and away the most lightweight, warmest, and most packable product you can buy. It is also the most expensive and worst material for getting wet. For extremely cold conditions we recommend a mix of down and synthetic products. Never depend completely on down for all your insulation needs unless your alpine mountaineering and temps are extremely low and all water freezes quickly. Even then you need layers underneath down like under armour or wool merino long johns. I prefer a mixture of these products to make sure I have the most optimal system possible.

Outline of Optimal Layering Products for Cold Weather Survival:
Layer 1- Polyester or synthetic base layer. We recommend military poly pros for a budget item or Under Armor Cold Weather gear for something more expensive.
Layer 2- Wool sweater or material that will absorb moisture from your first layer. For budget items we recommend military wool surplus sweaters or for a really nice shirt the Columbia Gallatin line is fantastic!
Layer 3- Light Jacket of either wool or down. Your choice of materials will depend on how much moving your plan to do and how much you can pack. Remember wool is heavy and not very packable. Synthetic products and down are lightweight and packable, but typically not as bomb-proof.
• Layer 4- Lightweight goretex outer jacket and pants. This layer will block the wind and keep you from getting wet from dropping snow, walking, and when you sit down on wet material. Remember that goretex isn’t 100% waterproof, but it is great for snowy conditions.
• Socks- Layer of thin wool or polyester socks, and then a medium weight wool sock over them. The thick layer will draw the moisture from the think layer and keep your skin warm. Dry them out EVERY night though!
• Gloves- We recommend a wool glove liner with a goretex over glove. You want to have more than one glove. And dry out your wool glove every night and the goretex is too keep your hands dry when working with wet or snowy objects. It’s best to carry two sets of liners so that when the first ones get damp, you can dry them and wear your other pair. Leather mittens are also a very warm option but will protect less against wetness than goretex will. We prefer mittens and leather for extremely cold conditions and goretex for slightly warmer conditions.
• Headwear- Fleece or wool beanie is typically best and a balaclava or face protection as well. Just make sure there is a nose vent on the face protection you use, you don’t want your breathe moisture to compromise your face insulation. And your goretex jacket should have a hood as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Items Listed: Columbia Gallatin Range Wool Jacket and Pants, Mont Bell Down Jacket, Tru-Spec Goretex ECWCS Gen 2 Jacket, Tru Spec Goretex Pants, fleece military beanie, Outdoor Research Goretex Multicam gloves, Under Armour Level 4 Cold Weather Gear

I like dress for cold weather in four layers rather than three. The reason being is that if you can stay somewhat warm with only the three layers while moving and the fourth layer keeps you warm during the down time, is the best method for me. Having three layers, say a poly shirt, sweater, and jacket, the problem is when you heat up and take off your jacket the clothing you have on is minimal and you cool very fast, so you are constantly removing and replacing your jacket, but it’s easy to leave it on too long because it’s so cold when you take it off. It is difficult to stay at a comfortable cold with only 3 layers. Wearing 4 layers to dress for cold weather is much easier to regulate in my opinion. If you get hot you take off your outer jacket and still have two sweaters and a poly shirt on so you can be at a comfortable cold and you’re more attuned to putting on and off the way you should, because it’s not a shock when you do.

 

As for the head a nice wool hat works great, something that fits your head and provides ear protection. A hat is the first way to regulate your temperature, take that off first when heating up then go from there. Boots and socks are another area and important. You want a thin pair of poly socks for first layer with wool socks over top of them for warmth and to absorb the sweat. As for boots I prefer water proof and insulating at the same time. Mukluks like the Camuk Extreme are great for super cold conditions and Muck Boots are fantastic for when waterproof is absolutely essential in slightly warmer temperatures.

 

When it comes to your hands, it is easier to work with gloves although mittens provide more warmth. Remember wool retains warmth even when wet, so choose wisely. Some people wear a small thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavy mittens.

 

So in closing, I hope this helps you to dress for cold weather and lets you see what you have to consider and how to combat the cold to keep your core temperature regulated. You can pick and choose; it’s your choice but remember the pros and cons of each material and stay at a comfortable cold!

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Elm Bark Quiver

Willow Basket Quiver

You’ve made yourself a workable bow. You fashioned some fine primitive arrows. You camouflaged yourself and you’re ready to go hunt some meat. You carefully stalk up on a deer. You knock an arrow and prepare to aim, but wait. You have a handful of arrows. What are you going to do with them? You can’t hold them while you shoot and if you drop them you will spook the game. You just discovered an age old problem experienced by ancient and modern hunters alike. Something to carry arrows in is essential to good hunting. A primitive arrow quiver is a must have if you going to be primitive bow hunting.

To solve this problem you are going to need primitive bow quiver. There are many different varieties of primitive bow quivers, the world over, but the quiver we are going to make today is a basket quiver. I prefer to use willow for this type of quiver, at least for the spokes, but you can use nearly any type of flexible twigs or vines. The reason I prefer willow is because you can bend it sharply without it breaking and it looks nice. Now you can make primitive arrow quivers out of a lot of primitive materials such as elm bark, birch bark, leather, vines, flexible twigs, or even roots. Almost anything flexible will work. Check out the Elm Quiver to the right!

The steps to making a primitive bow quiver are pretty simple. First you have to gather and process material. Now you choose your five thickest willows for your spokes. You make a cross alternating your willows from the thick to thin. Three spokes, north to south and two spokes east to west. You wrap the cross with your thinnest willows, over the north and south and under the east and west spokes several times, to hold it in shape. You remove one of the spokes to make an odd number of spokes. Then you wrap the spokes, over and under alternately, until you have a round base. Then you fold your spokes up and keep weaving until the basket is the height you want. You tuck your spokes in and make a rim. And finally you attach a carrying strap. Of course this is an overly simplified explanation but you can find the details in our attached video.

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Now when you take aim at your game and reach for your arrow it will be waiting patiently next to all of its brothers in its handy carrying case that you made with your own hands. And you will look amazing wearing it. Please share your successes and failures with us and feel free to ask us any questions.

Watch the video for exact details on how to build this nifty little bow quiver!

Good Luck and Good Hunting from us here at Sigma 3 Survival School
Joshua G. Hamlin

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