Security in the wild

Lions, and Tigers, and Bears, oh my. Books and movies color our world view. While this can be a good thing, it can, just as often, be bad. That line from a popular movie would have us believe those are the things with which we must be concerned when in the forest. While some animals can pose a minimal threat, all too often the greatest threats come from things you might not first think about.

Security should always be a priority
In the 40+ years I have been going on wilderness survival trips, I have found my greatest dangers have come from predators of the 2 legged variety. Not everyone in society has your best interest at heart. When away from society, the pressures that keep these individuals in check disappears. This can leave the unsuspecting survivalist in a perilous situation. Along with a good full tang, fixed blade knife, I recommend always carrying a firearm and ammunition when you venture into the wilderness. It will not only help you secure food, it could very well save your life if confronted by an unsavory character. I do not put forth this scenario to scare you, just the opposite. In the military I was taught situational awareness. Simply put that means paying attention to your surroundings, and having a plan in the event something goes wrong. I plan for the worst, and hope for the best. Doing so affords me a confidence that makes me confortable in most situations. I say most, because I could never be comfortable in a stadium full of people listening to a concert. That has far less to do with the threat of an attack, than with all the noise, and all the people; but I digress.

I teach that when looking for a place to make camp, it is important to emply the 4-W's of survival; Wood, Water, Wind, and Widow-makers. The first three are very important, and self explanatory, but the final one is also a major concern. When looking to set up a shelter, it is important that you ensure there are no dead trees or limbs in the area you plan to use. In high winds, this dead wood can be blown down on top of the unsuspecting survivalist. Quite often a cave can make for perfect shelter. It is important however, to make sure you do not use one in an area with loose rocks, or one prone to avalances or rock slides.

A water source is a must for an good long term campsite. We all know how important water is to our survival. Aside from the physiological need for water, the beauty and tranquility of camping near water is a huge psychological boost. As with most things in life, yin and yang, the idea of good and bad being two sides of the same coin, water can be your best friend, or your worst enemy. In a matter of minutes rain runoff from a storm miles away can turn that idyllic stream into a raging torrent. It is always wise to camp on high ground overlooking your water source. This is not necessarily a concern on a lake or pond.

In wild places, predatory animals can pose a threat. This threat most often arises when the animal is suprised, or it feels cornered. Just as you would fight to protect yourself, so too would any other animal. Very few animals view humans as a food source. However just about all of them will make a meal of anything we might leave lying aroud. When alone in the wild, it is a good idea to get into the habit of preparing your meals at a location away from your primary camp. This means the smells from cooking, and food scraps will attract animals to this place rather than your camp. When camping in a group, this becomes less of a concern. Regardless of being alone or in a group, it is still very important to keep your food stores securely locked away from animals. If you are camping, ealed containers are a great way to accomplish this. If however you find yourself in an unplanned survival situation, you can use cordage to hoist your food into a tree.