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What is Survival?- Part 2, by MuddyKid

We are discussing the meaning of survival. In particular, we were looking at providing long-terms resources when we are no longer able to purchase items and considering food specifically at this point in the article series. We have taken a look at gardening and are now talking about wild edibles. We just left off with wild carrots that are considered a weed in my area and seem to be everywhere.

Exploring New Species of Plants

Then I thought, “What other types of edible plants are around that I do not know about?” I slowly began picking a new species of plant regularly and would hike all over my immediate region to identify, study, and explore new species of plants. Once you successfully identify a plant and understand its uses, it is pretty amazing how they are all of a sudden everywhere. Driving down the road then became the wild equivalent to walking down the grocery store isle. And, I found the experience exciting and fun.

Do Not Eat For First Year of Study

I was beginning to see nature in a different way than I had before. An important note about exploring and eating wild edibles: I strongly suggest you do not eat anything for the first year of study. You want to observe the life cycle of the plant to know when to harvest, how to harvest, and if it is the correct plant. Hemlock looks a lot like carrot in the early season and you can die if you eat the wrong one. Also, certain wild plants are just fine in moderation but too much of a plant can make you sick. But, do not let this scare you. Eating too much chocolate will do the same thing.

Plants in Various Regions

Another thing, in this example, I have discussed plants that are in my region. These plants may not be in your region, but there will be books available that talk about the types of wild foods that are available in your area. If you’re in a region that has been deforested over the years, search near waterways and fence lines for edibles.

Fruit and nut trees are in abundance in my region, from pawpaw, mulberry, persimmons, hazel nut, walnut, to pecan, just to name a few. What is interesting is how trees and plants harvest their fruit at different times throughout the year, just like the typical garden.

Environment Dictates Our Diet

Simply because you have a tomato plant does not mean you have tomatoes. Nature works the same way. What this means is, in a survival situation, absent of the commodity supply line, our environment is going to dictate our diet.

As one example, in May and June, the mulberries come in, and I got fruit. With this, I also got deer, raccoons, possum, and skunk that frequent the area. I then know where a good place to hunt and trap is during these months.


With deer, I got meat, sinew for quality cordage and bow strings, fat for making soap, and hide for clothes. I can also smoke the venison and render the fat to make tallow to coat the jerky. When done correctly, the jerky will not spoil and gives you all the nutrients you need to live. (For those of you that are thinking that all the wild life will be gone, I will get to that here shortly.)

My first thought about surviving on deer meet was, how do I smoke the meat? Then I started making bow drill sets for fire out of as many different types of soft woods I could learn about and locate. This took me down another path for a little while.

I learned that a willow tree will make fire. It is also an indicator that water is near (in my region), and I have read that the inner bark has a similar effect to aspirin, though this is debatable.

Medicine From Plants

What!?! You can get medicine from plants? I then found yarrow. I was hiking and trying to find yarrow in the wild, but I was having a difficult time. One day while mowing my front yard, I saw what I thought was a single yarrow leaf getting choked out by the grass. I slammed on the brakes of the mower, shut’er down, and hopped off. Indeed, I found a single leaf of yarrow that I had been mowing over for years. Maybe I am a nerd, but discovering that single leaf of yarrow was exciting! I decided to mow around the yarrow so I could observe as it grew through its stages. Because I did so, I now have a fairly large patch of yarrow on the property, because I left it alone to grow.

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Yarrow, in a pinch, can be chewed up and placed over a cut to serve as an antiseptic. It is better in a tincture. And again, to my surprise and comfort of mind, yarrow is in almost every field I have walked in since I first identified it. Because I observed how yarrow grows through life and death of its natural cycle, I can locate it no matter the season.

Primitive Traps

Through all of these experiences together, I then started making primitive traps. Primitive traps I find to be a lot of fun. There are hundreds of variations of traps. Similar to knot tying, you only need to pick a handful to memorize. I am not going to go into detail of how to make traps in this post. Besides, half the fun of traps is learning how to make them and learning which ones have a higher success rate. A few I like are the figure four, the Paiute, spring poles, and Gordon Nagorski’s variant of the dead fall.

Bow Traps For Property Deterrent

You can also make bow traps, which are great for a property deterrent of trespassers, because they have a powerful psychological effect. Imagine walking through the woods to trip over something, followed by a “thawack”, and you see an arrow flying by. You may consider going another way because you have no idea what else is in the woods. I mention traps because the power certain traps have in a grid down situation can be very useful and they’re free to make.

Exercise Caution and Responsible Trap Setting

Please, exercise caution and responsible trap setting. Traps that require cordage can and will benefit from wire, if you are placing the traps an earshot away from you. However, 550 cord or other types of cord will work fine if the traps are close enough to camp so you can hear the animal struggling. The animal will chew through non-metal cord, so to maximize efficiency, place regular cord traps close to camp so you can run over and club your next meal.

Hunting As a Survival Technique

Yes, many articles and narratives suggest that relying on hunting as a survival strategy is bad news bears. I am putting forward the idea that such a suggestion is pure garbage. Solely relying on hunting as your only survival strategy is indeed not wise. However, if you were only relying on one way to make sure you have something to eat, regardless if it’s through hunting, food store, agriculture, livestock, et cetera in a survival situation, well, that’s just silly.

The “Golden Horde” Stripping Land of All Flora and Fauna is Too Simple

Hunting as a survival strategy has also been suggested to be useless as the “golden horde” will strip the lands of all flora and fauna. I question that this type of thought is too simple. Sure, at the most basic and simple level of discussion, the concept that all these urban dwellers branch out in to the country-side to strip all the natural resources away from the earth makes for really good sci-fi. But, when using a little bit of critical thinking, it ain’t happenin’! Again, think back to my discussion on potatoes vs. hopniss. Most people are going to walk around hopniss.

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Not All Hunting is the Same

How skilled a hunter is depends on how often they have hunted along with the ways in which they hunt. Not all hunting is the same. There is a difference between someone who has never hunted, someone who has hunted once or twice, a leisure hunter, the sport hunter, the professional hunter, and the subsistence hunter. Often, hunters prefer to hunt certain animals, and because they do this they overlook other types of animals to pursue. This means that deer hunters may have zero knowledge about bird hunting, while both deer and bird hunters may know nothing about trapping animals and which animals to trap. I will admit, I know nothing about hunting animals that are outside of my region.

Tomorrow, we will continue in greater detail with this discussion on hunting for survival, so don’t assume you’ve heard it all in this part of the article. There is much more to come.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been part two of a five part entry for Round 77 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Round 77 ends on July 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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