Spending quality time alone in the wild is one of the sure-fire ways of escaping the hassles and buzzes of life. Even if you have been prepping to the expedition for weeks and you are prepared for, anything and everything that may come up, an unexpected occurrence could catch you off-guard.
If that happens, do not panic. Hundreds if not thousands of people just like you get lost in the wild every year. Try as much as possible to stay calm to make informed and tactical decisions that will keep you alive. Today, I will give you some golden tips on how to survive in the wild with nothing. Having worked with the military forces, we were extensively trained on how to handle such situations.
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List of Things you Will Need
- Pocket knife
- Fires starters
- Water bottle
- Water purification tablets
- Small rescue/signal mirror
- Map and compass
Most of these items can be found in the survival kit at the bottom of your backpack. Usually, it is covered with a waterproof vessel that protects its contents from getting wet.
Before we start to look at the step-by-step instructions, it is important to point out that you should tell your family members or colleagues where you are going before your departure. By doing so, they will know where to start looking for you.
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Step 1: Take Inventory
Do not take anything that you have in your backpack or the survival kit for a guarantee. It could help you get out of the wild in one piece. You do not have to write them down, just memorize them, they will become your most prized possessions if things start to go south.
Remember Brian Robeson, the main character in the novel, The Hatchet; he made a deft bow using a stick and his shoelace! This bow helped him hunt for small animals in the woods.
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Step 2: Stay in One Location
Staying in one place will not only increase your chances of being rescued but also reduce the amount of energy you expend as well as the amount of water and food that you will need.
If you are with a friend, do not separate, strength in numbers will help you survive. Working as a team will help you set up a shelter faster and even look for food in the area quickly if by nightfall you will not have been rescued.
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Step 3: Signal your Location
Use the whistle to indicate your location. If you do not have one, you can make noises by banging rocks, singing, or shouting for help. If you are in a mountain meadow, make your location visible from the air by making three piles of dark branches or leaves in a triangle.
On the other hand, if you are in a sandy landscape, make a large triangle using sand. Alternatively, you can use the universal distress signal, that is, start three fires in a straight line, or form a triangle. Rescue teams are trained to interpret any of these signs as distress signals.
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Step 4: Familiarize Yourself with the Area
Even though we mentioned that you should not stay in one position, exploring the immediate surrounding will give you a clear perspective of the area. You may find something useful such as a water body that you can fetch water from to keep your body hydrated. Be careful not to stray too far away from the “point of zero” to avoid worsening the situation.
Step 5: Build a Shelter
Identify a spot around the vicinity preferably under a tree and make a shelter to shield you from the harsh outdoor weather conditions at night. Use your pocket knife to cut tree twigs and branches. The limbs and leaves will help create a comfortable bed that you can sleep on as you reminisce on what to do the following day.
Pine needles form excellent bedding, as they effectively blanket the ground in thick batches. Use the tree barks to join the branches together. More importantly, make the shelter when you still have enough daylight, as it will be almost impossible to do so when the darkness sets in. If you are in mountainous or rocky terrain, look for overhangs.
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Step 6: Get Some Water
Before it gets dark, try to find a water source. Our bodies are engineered to last for several days without food, but you will soon suffer from dehydration and constipation if you do not drink any water. Once you locate a water source, use the bottle to fetch it, but don’t drink it outright no matter how thirsty you are.
Collect a couple of dry tree branches and leaves and use them to start a fire using the fire starter. Boil the water before drinking it to kill all disease-causing pathogens. Go an extra mile and use the water purification tablets to purify the water even further before drinking it. Also, wild animals are afraid of fire, so don’t put off the fire when going to sleep to devour them from your shelter. The fire will also keep you warm and reduce your risk of hypothermia.
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Step 7: Find Food
Just because you do not have exceptional hunting skills or have never gone hunting before, does not mean that you should sleep on an empty belly. There are hundreds of edible wild berries, plants, and fruits that you can scout for to fuel your body.
Research about the edible plants and wild berries that are found in the area you intend to visit beforehand. While at it, look for information on how to set up simple traps and practice. With this information at hand, you will be able to find food in the wild to keep you going until you find your way out or until the rescue team arrives.
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Step 8: Get Breakfast
Breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day. Try to find wild berries or anything else edible that nature has to offer and eat it as breakfast to give your body the much-needed energy to keep going. If you are close to a water body, use your fishing line to catch some fish and roast them. Be careful not to startle the fish by not stepping in the water unnecessarily.
Step 9: Get on a High Ground
Apart from staying safe as you walk through the terrain, finding a high vantage point should be your second most important goal. Once you have breakfast, use the map and compass to find high ground. Don’t leave anything behind;
carry all your essentials as they will come in handy if night falls before you get out of the wild. It is tough for a rescue helicopter to locate you as you walk under the thickets, and so walking in open areas and finding a high ground will increase your chances of being rescued.
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Step 10: Get Oriented
Your current location is point zero. Mark, it to act as the central reference point. You can use a pile of rocks, an extra piece of clothing, or anything else that can be seen from a distance. Such markings will help the rescue team to track your movements.
Even though you have a compass, you might not be able to use it properly if you panic. Learn how to interpret directions, the sun sets in the west and rises in the east. If it is late in the afternoon and the sun is on your right-hand side, you are facing south.
Step 11: Make Use of the Rescue or Signal Mirror
Thousands of people have been rescued successfully from the wilderness after using a signal mirror. Once you get to a high point, use it to project a signal to the rescue teams around the area. The best rescue mirrors can project a signal as far as 20 miles. Rescue crews, as well as military and pilots, are trained to interpret reflective signals as a distress call.
It is also important to note that you can use any other reflective objective for this purpose, but a signal mirror is more efficient and reliable, as it has a hole on the upper retro-reflective surface that will enable you to point the light indicator on the target without breaking a sweat.
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These are the eleven essential steps that I have personally used to get out of the woods multiple times over the last three years. Stay focused and more importantly have a positive mindset as you try to find your way out of the wild. If you have any questions regarding any of the tips or additional ideas that you would want to be added to the article, feel free to share them with us in the comment section.