I figured I better write all this down before it left my head. A long time ago while deer hunting with some friends, we were all gathered around a table eating and basking in our enjoyment of hunting and the outdoors. I had this idea that I blurted out. I said “hey wouldn’t it be cool if we just came out here and camped for a while and see if we can make it, live off the land?” and that was it. I was expecting to be called crazy, but instead the idea was welcomed and we tossed the idea around for months.
Since we were not ready to do this adventure in the spring time, we decided to do it in early June before the summer really peaked. We landed on the dates of June 8,9 and 10, a full day Friday, Saturday and Sunday till the afternoon. This would be our 3-day survival camp. Our objectives are to obtain a nutrition source (animal, plant life, or insects), find water to drink, make a fire with magnesium, magnifying glass, or friction of wood, also to devise a shelter.
We were also very ambitious in our thoughts. We had planned on making a native American style teepee. Craft a bow and arrow from the wild. Make a clay pot and see if we could boil water in it. We found out that we had little time nor energy to complete all these tasks we had set out for ourselves.
Our journey began at Waffle House Friday 7:30 in the morning where we had a large breakfast. Later at about 8:40 AM we were at our destination 30 minutes from our home town deep in the woods of another county.
We packed on our gear and began to hike into the woods. We located a spot near a very shallow creek in a semi shady location. The day we started it was about 92F outside and humid. It a pretty hot sweltering Mississippi heat. I took three 20 oz. bottle of water thinking I could ration one bottle each day and the rest would come from a source that I would have to purify through tablets or boiling. After setting up our tents we decided to set up a fire so that we could boil water to drink and we had hoped to catch some fish to cook. Making a fire was not too much of a challenge. We wanted to see if we could do it with a magnesium and steel fire starter and also a magnifying glass. The knife that I had purchased from Amazon.com
had a magnifying lens in the enclosed handle. It may have worked, but after messing with it for 5 minutes or so, I quickly gave up. Then I broke out a real one that I had found in a junk drawer at home. It worked well, so well in fact that I had smoke and ember in as little as 3 seconds.The magnesium and spark method was nearly just as easy. I gather up some tender and made a little nest of it, then I scraped off some magnesium into a small pile in the tender then I struck the steel across the flint bar and it caught the magnesium up and I got an ember and blew softly and got a flame. Not too hard. While I am on the subject of fire I will tell you that on day 3 we decided to try the stick rubbing method using a bow and string. This was very hard and we never got it to work. We did get smoke, just no ember. This was something we later decided to practice at home and research more into it to see if types of wood mattered.
Here are some of the pictures of the adventure. They should be in order and I am sorry I didn’t take more pictures. Between keeping water available to drink, and gathering food, picture taking was pretty much always last on the list. Oh also I have in the last few photos, all the items I took with me.
After making the fire we were hot and thirsty and quickly found out that we were going to go through our water supply fast. I went to the creek to gather a bottle of water and it was surprisingly clear, but you can never trust water from untrusted sources, so I took some and put in a pot from my mess kit and onto the fire to boil. Then I later went and got more so that I could try my potable water tablets. I used these
These contained chlorine dioxide which kill crytospuridium and most tablets do not kill that. These made water ready to drink in 4 hours.
My bro in law had these
These were your typical iodine tablets but these had another tablet that would kill the iodine taste and make the water clear. These made water ready to drink in 35 minutes.
While I had mine mixing up, my bro in law had his mixing up and then we went to fish. When we got back from fishing I was so thirsty and I remembered that I needed to wait 2 more hours before I could drink my treated water!!! We tried my bro in laws and his tasted and looked great. It tasted like better than average sink water. I remembered I had some water that I filtered through a handkerchief and boiled earlier. I left it in the pot to cool, but I didn’t put it in the shade and it was sitting right in the sun in the aluminum pot. It was very very warm water but I was thirsty so I drank it. Later at 5pm when I could drink my water we all tasted it and it was like a very soft swimming pool water. This was probably because I used an entire tablet in the bottle of water, when really it only called for half a tablet. I liked his tablets the best and will be getting those soon because they have the shortest wait time. However I recommend you always boil your water when possible.
Our fishing turned out productive. We gather cane poles from the woods, and made ourselves some fishing poles. Gathering bait was the hard part. There were no worms that we could find so we rustled the grass for crickets and grasshoppers. What we learned here after becoming very tired, was that its best to do lots of bait gathering and then go fishing.
We would get a grasshopper, go fish, the fish might take the bait, then you are back looking for bait. This was not productive. Live and learn, its the best way. We later used a zip-lock bags to gather as many insects as we could and fished. We caught several Bream and took them back to camp and fileted them in the creek downstream from where we were getting water. We put the meat in foil and added salt and pepper. I think we had 7 maybe 9 small bream. We cooked them or baked them over the fire and it was delicious. We all had a small portion of meat. We had one fish that we cook entirely head and all. It was baked the same way and it was actually tastier.
After this, we were perked up and decided to go fish some more till dark and save the fish in the water and cook them for breakfast. We caught several, and we thought they would die before we got them to the creek by the camp, so we left them on a stringer in the pond some ways from the camp. The next morning they were gone, all eaten by turtles. Live and learn. Needed to have them in a hand built cage of some kind.
After a long hot day all we could think about was resting. None of us had a pillow or sleeping bag. Thank goodness we took a tent as we never made the time to make a shelter and that would have only made the day more tiresome if we had to fashion up a tee pee or something. I think I turned in at about 10:30 that night and it was chilly but not cold. Very uncomfortable cause the only thing separating me from the ground is the thin layer of tent. I had to take my socks off cause I got them wet earlier. I was using my bug out bag as a pillow and it was rough on my face. I still managed to doze off. It seemed like I woke up so many times that night. The bag for a pillow was not working out so I just lay there side faced on the floor of the tent. Now my face was sweating and sticking to it. Then I thought about the long sleeve I had packed in case it got cold. It crossed my mind when I pulled it out that I may be using it later that night to stay warm. For now I was using it to lay my head on and it was nice. I later woke up again and was getting colder, so I put my socks back on and I put the long sleeve on. Back to sleep I go, only to wake up later FREEZING!! I then remembered that I recently purchased a Emergency Bivvy Shelter from SOL (Survive Outdoors Longer)
This bag was amazing! Immediately I was warm, toasty in fact. They offer many more bags of different types and I plan on getting more of them. Check out their website and watch the video about the bag here.
If you look through my pictures of my gear you will see the bag, this was after it was used. I was easily able to get it back in the bag it came in. That right there is amazing as you know most things never go back in the bag or box they come in.
The brightness of the sky woke us up at 5:30am and we were all complaining about our cool night. The other guys had those cheap Wal-Mart emergency blankets and they are in no way meant to keep you warm while you sleep at night. Those blankets are garbage.
As I mentioned earlier, no fish for breakfast. One of my friends had an idea. He wanted to gather wheat from a nearby field and separate it out, and boil it then add blackberries to it and make a sort of granola bar. I didn’t get pictures of that but I did get pictures of a berry breakfast! we ate lots of berries.
While I am on the subject of eating vegetation, you can eat Cat Tails that grow near ponds. We saw videos on the internet of how to prepare and eat them. We tried it and we must have done something wrong as it tasted like tree bark.
We also boiled and ate some water lilly petals. Not so bad.
On the last day we did break into a can of spam I had in my pack. We all had 3 pieces each and it was delicious.
I also took with me some honey in a 3 oz squeeze bottle and some lemonade koolaid packets. This helped the water taste a little better.
What we learned from this experience is that experience is the best teacher. We learned that we need to pack different things like a larger container to hold water, a filet knife, a thermal bivvy bag, and learn how to make fire from sticks.
Was it fun? No not at all.
Did we survive? Yes we sure did.
Would I do it again? Yes I feel the next time I will be better prepared.
Why did we do it? Simple, you never know when you really may have to.
I would really like to thank Potable Aqua for making great safe drinking tablets, and SOL (survive outdoors longer) for their great products including the emergency bivvy bag.
Until next time, enjoy the great outdoors.