For instance, once
you find a suitable shelter, it will be necessary to customize it to
meet your needs. Do not plan on lucking into an abandoned cabin
nestled comfortably into a forgotten wooded glen. There are however,
numerous naturally occurring shelters one can make use of; caves and
old mine shafts can serve the survivalist well. There are some
inherent dangers that must be weighed, but there are also some
undeniable benefits. They are usually a constant temperature year
round. They are also easily defended; you can build a fire to the
front of the opening to ward off wild animals. If caves, outcroppings,
or mine shafts are not available, one can also shelter under the stump
of a large uprooted tree. If there is not an "under" to the uprooted
tree, but rather a "by", you can easily lean branches against the open
side of the root ball, and cover these with leaves, ferns, and or
evergreen boughs to create a warm, cozy, and dry, little shelter.
You must remember
that it is not wise to sleep on the ground. Body heat is lost to the
soil at a very high rate. I learned very early on that this makes for
a extremely uncomfortable night. It is therefore necessary to get your
body up off the ground. This may be accomplished by doing something as
elaborate as building a sleeping platform, or it can simply mean
adding a thick layer of evergreen boughs, or forest floor debris. One
must be careful though to pick clean material for ones bedding. I
cannot begin to describe the suck factor of waking in the night to
find you made your bedding from material infested with insects.
carry a hammock and an 8' x 10' tarp in the tool box of my truck.
There is really no easier 3 season shelter than hanging a hammock
between a couple of trees, and suspending the tarp above it to shed
any rain that might happen to fall. Once you become proficient at it,
you can get it up in a matter of minutes.
You can also create a number
of shelters from readily available local materials. One of my favorite
shelters is a debris hut. Dead branches and saplings are employed to
make the framework. While smaller branches and sticks are used to make
the lattice work for roofs and walls. Finally leaves, ferns, grasses,
pine boughs, and even mud or snow are used to seal out the elements.
This type of shelter can be built in a couple of hours, and it will
keep you quite warm and cozy with limited gear. The thicker you make
the roof and walls, the better insulating properties the shelter will
have. If your stay will be longer than a night or two I would suggest
building a Wikiup or Wigwam. These shelters served our Native American
brothers well. Using local materials, and time honored practices, they
can be built in a relatively short amount of time, and they offer
shelter, warmth, and comfort. In our 5 day immersion wilderness skills
course, we will build such a shelter.