Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review: The Survival Handbook

I finally finished reading The Survival Handbook by Colin Towell. Overall it was a pretty good read.

One thing there is no shortage of in this book is information. It's crammed full of helpful skills from somewhat luxurious wilderness living with all the latest technology and equipment  to showing you more primitive skills. There is a wide variety of survival skills covered in detail throughout the entire book.

Over the last couple of years I have used this book as a reference to accomplish many tasks in the outdoors with great success. I have learned so much from using the techniques illustrated in the handbook. The details concerning each particular skill given are pretty amazing considering all the information  covered and the illustrations are excellent.

There are a few small complaints however. I found that there were just too many boxes, bubbles, and sidebars on almost every page. If you were just using it as a reference this wouldn't be problem, but if you are reading through the entire book it can be a distraction and makes it a pain to read. It's not a book you would probably pick up to read for just a few minutes. I eventually had to make it a discipline to sit down and read a couple pages a day.

Overall this would make a fantastic addition to your library. It is an excellent reference and one I would highly recommend.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


This is a picture I took yesterday while on a hike of some of the many deer tracks I saw. I don't know for sure but I think they are whitetail.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Can't say exactly why this came to mind today, but here it is. Have a very happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Survivorman Returns!

It's true, Survivorman is coming back! Les Stroud announced last night via Facebook and Twitter that he will be returning with his hit tv show Survivorman. This time Les will be filming for ten days instead of seven.

On Facebook Les said, "I have been in talks with the networks for some time to make this a reality and it all happened on Friday...in fact in three weeks I head out for the first one

I dont want to sound pretentious but my only reason is YOU....you have all been so kind and all requested I do some more that I thought - "yep....i should head out and show once again how it's really done!" still no camera crew - still real survival."

I am extremely excited to see this new season.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Lessons From a Day of Survival

Several weeks ago, while I was on vacation, I had the chance to go out for a day with a few essential pieces of kit and put to the test some of the bushcraft and wilderness survival skills I've learned. The exercise consisted of simulating a mock survival situation and then addressing the Priorities of Survival, which are protection, location (systems of rescue), water and food. I encountered quite a few surprises throughout the day.

Shelter was easy to find as there were many large boulders in the area that provided an excellent source of natural protection from the elements. Because the weather was clear, I decided to put off lighting a fire until after I'd scouted around on the lookout for food. Water wasn't really a concern because I was on a fresh water lake with many nearby streams flowing into it.
Food was surprisingly easy to procure. There were frogs in the area that were abundant and easy to catch. (No I didn't eat them raw. I roasted them over the fire and then boiled to make sure that all bacteria was dead. Eating them raw is really an unnecessary risk and just plain weird!) This was very much a surprise to me. With my limited knowledge of wild edibles I had expected to go hungry, but instead I found the task of finding food much easier than more familiar tasks.

Lighting a fire turned out to be the most difficult and frustrating time of  the day. Even though there was an abundance of great materials and the weather was absolutely perfect, it had rained the entire day before, which resulted in everything being soaked. I tried using waterproof matches, which were damp from a hike the previous day, but the dampness made the heads crumble, rendering them useless. Thankfully I had brought along my firesteel, which ended up being my ticket to success. Finding dry tinder was another time consuming problem I ran into. I gave cattails and cedar bark a try, but had no success because of the dampness. I eventually found some relatively dry lichen up in some nearby tree, which took a spark along with birch bark. All this took well over an hour but was well worth the effort.

Although I didn't continue the exercise for more than just that day, I came away having learned a few interesting things pertaining to bushcraft and wilderness survival. I learned that the key to overcoming challenges in the wild is persevering until you reach success and never give up. Something else that stood out to me throughout the day was just how essential it is to perfect your skills in firecraft. Fire plays into all the priorities of survival. It is a critical part of protection because it keeps you warm. With location it helps you to signal for rescue. It also purifys water and cooks your food. Knowing how to turn an ember into a flame is a foundational part of wilderness skills. Always include multiple methods of lighting a fire in your kit.

That wraps up the stand out experiences of the day. It was a very enjoyable time and I would love to know what your experiences have been in similar times of testing your skills.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Man VS Prairies

Tomorrow I'm leaving for vacation, so I thought I'd have some fun and share this with you. It has given me some good laughs. Enjoy!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Making a Pop Can Stove

Sometimes it is necessary to contain your fire. This can easily be attained by improvising a simple stove out of a pop can. You can use any type of can, but pop cans are the most common to find because of littering.
You will want to find a can with as few dents
as possible. It is possible to pop most dents out.
Start by cutting the top out of the can. You may have
to use some force to break through. Be careful not to push
too hard and accidentally stab yourself in the hand.
While not absolutely neccesary, cutting a small door
in the side of the can helps with lighting the fire,
air flow, and balance of the stove.
Using your knife (an awl or screwdriver would
work too) poke many holes in the bottem and sides
of the can. This is critical for a good air flow.
Once you're down to this stage, the stove is basically
ready for use. Now you have to use the basic skills for
making a fire.
Lighters are the ideal way to light this stove, but it
can be accomplished with matches or a firesteel.
The great thing about this stove is that it
creates a great amount of heat while not using
much fuel.