Do you possess a survival mindset?


December 20, 2007, 02:38 AM
Was just watching a few minutes of the news before crashing, clicking between the major stations, and the guy on CNN* was interviewing a family that got lost somewhere while they were hunting down a Christmas tree. They talked about taking off and following a road uphill, and building a tree branch shelter (they had a saw or hatchet or something...), and sleeping in a culvert while 2' of snow fell, and a few other things...

Thing is, I didn't hear anyone mention one magic word...


Were these guys so completely reliant upon "tech" that they didn't stop and think "hey, we can create something that is warm?" It's almost like "hey, we reached this conclusion, and then we didn't think any further."

Mods, bear with me...

Now, you and me, we might be a little different. I could wander outside in my bathrobe in the middle of frozen monsoon season (like last weekend...), and in an hour, I might be a little chilly, but I'd have a fire going, and I'd be warming up. It's like these folks didn't even try...

Several lessons can be gleaned...

Be informed. I actually _know_ how to make a fire with two sticks. And I've done it. (first tip - do it out of the wind...)

Be flexible - if you initial plan doesn't work, modify or scrap and develop a new one.

Don't give up. Here's where the mods can relax... In a lot of stress-shooting situations, if you quit, you're in trouble. If you get hit, if you think about it, and worry about it, you go into shock. If you can get past that, and concentrate solely on taking out or evading an assailant, you have a better chance. Remember that you're probably less than 15 minutes from a hospital, and if it isn't CNS or a major artery, you'll hurt, but by golly, you'll live.

Saw a vid a day or so ago of a lawyer who got shot repeatedly outside a courthouse. One of the reasons he lived was that he didn't give up after the first hit - he sought cover, and continued to duck and weave.

Don't give up.

Educate yourself. Not just about firearms. That's part of it, but not everything.

Be flexible. Because the only things that don't change are dead.

* And now 3 people will chime in that they hate CNN - that is NOT what the thread is about. Please ignore those folks...

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December 20, 2007, 02:45 AM
I always carry a folding, locking knife, and if I'm in the woods I always carry a fixed blade and between two or three different methods to make a fire (big mini-lighter, waterproof matches, and firesteel), as well as various other survival gear. I have stuff for constructing a shelter (although given just a knife I could construct one with whatever was lying around), getting food, signaling, etc.

I do know the theory behind making a fire with two sticks, but I've never done it. One of these days I'll have to try it.

I saw that vid with the lawyer, too. I'd have probably tried what he did, but I don't think that tree would have been large enough cover for me. :uhoh:

I'd like to carry a pistol (it might have helped that lawyer immensely; once he got cover he may have had time to draw and fire back, saving him at least a couple of wounds), but right now I don't have the money, and due to Oregon's CCW laws I'm in a bit of a limbo, as they don't like issuing permits to non residents (gotta prove "need" beyond "self defense"; its shall issue for residents).

December 20, 2007, 03:19 AM
What out of state permits does Oregon honor? Go that way if you can.

Whole time I was watching the folks it was like "Well, doh... That was stupid."

December 20, 2007, 03:23 AM
What out of state permits does Oregon honor? Go that way if you can.

None. Unfortunately.

I could get a Nevada permit (if I had enough money to buy the gun and pay for the classes and fees, anyway), but it'd be near useless because I only live in Nevada a few weeks out of the year, and Oregon doesn't reciprocate with any other state.

I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I'll have to wait another year or so until I graduate college and get a permanent residence. :( Fortunately, the town I'm living in has a fairly low crime rate, so I'm not too worried, but it'd still be nice to have.

December 20, 2007, 03:33 AM
In addition to my CCW, every day I carry 5 feet of paracord daisychained, a folder, a flint, and some faith.

It's best to think outside the box a little; it can go a long way.

Also, on starting a fire with two sticks: it can be done. But you have to know how, and you have to practice. Takes a long time to get it the first time. Like with everything else, practice before you need it.

Anyone who's interested in further discussion on such topics, please check out my sig line.

December 20, 2007, 03:40 AM
Easy way out... I, at any given time, have three cig lighters on me--a Zippo, an IMCO pipe lighter, and a Bic. Add in the MRE matches in my wallet, the Leatherman in my pocket, and the Surefire G2, and you've got...

... well, a slightly deluded individual. Might have to look into that "two sticks" thing... :uhoh:

December 20, 2007, 04:12 AM
Man, CNN is the worst. I totally hate it.;)

Quite frankly, I think they did alright for a bunch of city folks. I usually carry a lighter with me, just for kicks.

December 20, 2007, 04:23 AM
Well, they at least improvised some shelter... Just seems like some folks are blind to a lot of stuff tho... I just remember doing stuff like going out for dinner with folks, and saying stuff like "hey, maybe we don't really need to park 3 blocks from this downtown pub to save $2 on the garage..."

December 20, 2007, 06:05 AM
I never go out in the woods without a flashlight, pocket knife, and a way to make fire (usually a disposable lighter).

As for the survival mentality, I tend to move quickly from fear into anger but it's a controlled anger that I can use as a tool. So far in my life this has applied to ALL survival situations I've encountered from getting snowed in on top of a mountain all the way to having someone draw a knife on me.

December 20, 2007, 09:02 AM
Hmmm...I've not thought of it exactly in the terms of a "survival mentality", but I'd have to say I do.

I lived in Colorado for years and had many excursions throughout the year - including winter.

We always followed some simple rules:

Tell someone where your going / your route / and when you'll be back
Carry a pack - even a small day pack - with enough supplies to spend the night outside if necessary
Always carry a map and compass, or a GPS, or both

The only time we had an "iffy" moment was during a winter snowshoeing trip near Breckenridge. It was snowing quite heavily on the way in, so we knew our tracks would be covered on the way out...but by using a map and reading a compass we made it back just fine. Okay, so maybe it wasn't really that "iffy." :)

Interesting post and question.

Take care,

December 20, 2007, 09:58 AM
I'd eat any digusting thing just to stay alive.
I've already been training for years by eating my wife's cooking.

December 20, 2007, 12:05 PM
cannon---that's just funny as hell----lolololol

Even in an urban environment I never leave the house without these on my person:

SAK(Farmer)--a bit of cord in the lanyard
Largish Folder(BM 520)
Surefire LED
Cross pen set
Carmex stick
Galco 1.5in leather gunbelt

Close by in the car:

Leatherman x2
LED Maglight
blanket in the trunk
extra batteries---123 and d-cell
shortie AR-15 and 3 loaded 30 round mags

Other things may or may not be with me---but these items always are.

December 20, 2007, 12:15 PM
Its handy to keep a tire around. If you can set fire to a tire it will burn for a long time and eventually someone will see the smoke. :)

December 20, 2007, 12:39 PM
There's a free US Army Survival manual available for download (2.5Mb) from this site ( (look at the foot of the page) - plenty of good info & pics on shelter, fire, water, food, etc.

Mr White
December 20, 2007, 01:04 PM
Both of my sons are Boy Scouts. I just count on them to be prepared. :D

December 20, 2007, 01:11 PM
A simple, efficient way to make fire like right now can be carried in a pocket, and you'll scarcely know it's there.

A centerfire rifle cartridge and a Bic Jr wrapped in a paper towel.
I'd pick a big bottle a .300 or a 7 mag. You can apply a side load on the bullet to get it free of the case, and you have an small supply of hot-burning fuel...dry tinder...and a flame to light it with.

Gather what nature provides in order to build the fire...Dump the powder on top of the folded paper towel...cork the case off with the bullet...add sticks and twigs...Light. Instant hot fire.

The perfect addition to the thinkin' man's emergency road kit. Might not be a bad idea to pack three or four in a plastic sandwich bag.

single action
December 20, 2007, 01:29 PM
NEVER go into the wilderness without your assault wheelbarow!
Seriously, I never go into the woods for any reason. It scares me!
Just kidding.

December 20, 2007, 02:49 PM
checking the weather before you go out might not be a bad idea, either.

December 20, 2007, 02:56 PM
1911 Tuner,

That is a great piece of advice. One quick question: what do you mean by "side load?" Does that just mean applying pressure perpendicular to the bullet or something similar?


December 20, 2007, 03:04 PM
Hi bogie,

Maybe you could point to a good informative website that talks about techniques for survival in the wilderness.

I snowboard a lot. My most likely survival scene would be in the snow. I think I could do ok there with a flashlight, knife and lighter. At a bare minimum, I'd pick the lighter. I'm thinking creating a firing using boy scout techniques would be almost impossible in wet conditions.

Jake McCoy

Sage of Seattle
December 20, 2007, 03:06 PM
Do you possess a survival mindset?

Yup. I've got a mind like a steel trap.

Rusty and illegal in 37 states.

December 20, 2007, 03:39 PM
Don't forget cotton balls and a few globs of vaseline in a small baggie. A great fire starter.

December 20, 2007, 03:46 PM
OK, guys - true story. A family visiting Mesa Verde Park in SW CO drove off the main road and down into a ravine. The dad feared driving out because the descent was scary. They were less than .5 miles from the main road and while the road they went down (maintenance road) was rough for a passenger car, it was doable and more important, easy to walk.

The family followed the advice of the park rangers - they stayed put awaiting rescue. There they sat in and around the car until thirst and exposure caused them to die one by one. Finally, the last survivor, a daughter, figured she needed to take some action so she walked the 10 minutes up to the main road where she flagged down the first car. Four dead.

Told to me by a Park Ranger at Mesa Verde.

December 20, 2007, 03:58 PM
Don't forget cotton balls and a few globs of vaseline in a small baggie. A great fire starter.

Less messy is cotton balls with some paraffin wax dribbled on'em with a candle. ;)

True story: (Can't remember where it happened. Probably about 40+ years ago)

A hunter becomes disoriented in a large game reserve, and becomes lost.
Found dead from hypothermia 3 days later, there was evidence of several unsuccessful attempts to start a fire...down to his last match. He had
10 spare rounds of .30-06 in his backpack...untouched. He had also apparently smoked all of his pipe tobacco, having tapped out the ashes into a
neat pile on top of the tree stump that he was found leaning against inside the makeshift shelter he'd constructed with pine boughs.

He smoked a source of dry tinder, and never even considered the several ounces of volatile fuel contained inside the spare rifle rounds. Like the girl in the previous requires a modicum of clear, logical, and rational throught and action.

December 20, 2007, 04:59 PM
I always have a bug out bag in the car along with a skateboard. :) Not to mention I carry two pocket knives and a lighter (don't smoke) and a flashlight. I don't know if that is a "survival mindset" but I like to make sure I have the basics incase of emergency.

December 20, 2007, 05:58 PM
In most evergreen forests, there is a source of super-inflammable tinder even in the wettest, nastiest conditions. Find an old ROTTED stump. Poke around with your knife and find "ribs" of un-rotted hard wood. Usually you can see them standing proud of the rest of the stump. The reason they did not rot, is because they are saturated with pitch. Pry off a few pieces and light it-usually it will burn instantly with a smoking, burning gobbets of pitch dripping out.
I carry a small piece in my range bag- it is #1 for smoke blackening rifle sights.

December 20, 2007, 07:09 PM
I'm not McGyver, but I usually have a few essentials on me, including the very small "shake-light" that requires no batteries. I always have a bunch of survival stuff in my vehicle. When I go hunting or on trips I always carry a strobe-light beacon. It's kinda tough to freeze or starve to death with an IPod with a dead battery.

December 20, 2007, 07:28 PM
I don't know how cold it was wherever these people were, but remember that in the more extreme winter climates trying to make a fire is often a dangerous waste of time. You must focus on making a proper shelter first, assuming you are unable to get out. Making fire from frozen trees or digging through feet of snow to try to find dead stuff underneath can be ultimately futile. Besides, the ability of a fire to do much in deep cold is questionable. If your emergency shelter is properly insulated, all the fire will do is suck up your vital 02 and drive you outside with smoke. And any good branches and such you can find are better used constructing the all-important bed. If you've got a portable stove or can make one with some gasoline and a tin can, that's wunderbar. But trying to build some boy scout fire in the middle of a snow shelter? Meh. Fire is something you can do after you've had a few days or weeks to build your shelter into something bigger with a vent and such.

The best survival mindset is to dress right to BEGIN WITH. Wear your survival gear. This is why you will never, ever, ever see me in blue jeans. I know a bunch of teens who died on Mt Hood back in the late 80's-friends of friends--who perished wearing those nasty things. They retain water and do NOTHING to insulate you. I'll never be a fashion plate, but you won't see me freezing to death either. I also wear big coats with tons of pockets that have everything from lighters to extra ammo. But remember the first order of business is to ensure that you preserve the heat from your built-in fire. Building a secondary fire should be a backup plan only.

December 20, 2007, 07:31 PM
As a pipe smoker I always carry fire in several forms. +1 on the pitch laden pine or fir wood. Also, on the ground under fir or pine trees is a wealth of dried fallen needles and pine cones which make great fires. In heavy snow conditions, build a lean to shelter but NOT under a large evergreen tree. The fire you build in front of the lean to will cause the snow load in the tree to come crashing down on you extinguishing the fire, crushing the shelter and generally making you unhappy.

December 20, 2007, 07:39 PM
When I go hunting, there are certain items that are simply mandatory:

Leatherman tool
waterproof matches & laundry lint in a ziplock baggie (cornships also work great)
7-mile range two-way radio or cellular phone
1 liter of water
1 package of dried beef
Appx 20' of para cord
emergency pack (bandages, etc)
If winter, add hand warmer packs

This all fits so easily into a small backpack that it makes zero sense to risk an outing. What people sometimes fail to anticipate is that you could accidentally injure yourself, via whatever means, and thus be unable to walk great distances. If you're out of area for communications, your out of luck until they find you.

Most important, I have a pre-agreed upon contact or arrive-home hour. If I exceed it by 1 hour...send someone to look for me.


December 20, 2007, 07:43 PM
I never go anywhere without a Zippo. But that's mainly because I'm a pot head. :D Otherwise I keep a few things in my truck, since I'm never more than a few hundred yards away from it I see no need to keep survival items on my person. In the truck I keep a few self igniting thermite sticks, which will nearly light a pile of snow on fire. They can actually melt their way through an engine block...

December 20, 2007, 07:44 PM
as a kid i found the most interesting read to be the air force survival manual. it was the real big one with all five zones covered. everything from shelter to deadfall, snares, etc. my friends and i would go out and practice the techniques in the surrounding know, for fun!

using two sticks to start a fire is difficult. a quicker method is the fire drill. use a shoelace for the bow. of course my dad always taught me to have matches and a knife whenever going off the beaten path (a cell phone with good service doesn't hurt either).

December 20, 2007, 07:48 PM
Cosmoline, I thank you for that.

I'd like to know of any cases where somebody has successfully used a fire in below freezing weather where there's lots of snow and moisture. All the successful snow survival stories I've heard have not involved any fires.

December 20, 2007, 08:08 PM
I lived off grid up in Willow for a few years and was disabused of many notions. While a kerosene heater is great, it's not very practical to carry one for survival. Besides I discovered such devices will not make up for poor shelter in serious cold. In the deep snow, a traditional campfire will just melt itself to the ground, and all the heat from it tends to do is turn everything around it to mush, which is far wetter and more dangerous than cold dry snow.

Don't get me wrong, if you're out in the high desert on a 35 degree night a fire can be great. Esp. if you don't have much cold weather gear. But fire in general is too often the myopic focus for survival. I'd rather get bedding together. With enough wool blankets I can survive anything!

Mt Shooter
December 20, 2007, 08:18 PM
Always carry two ways to make fire, a wad of duct tape burns long and hot.

December 20, 2007, 08:32 PM
Hi Bogie,

Just a little helpful hint from someone that had an uncle that insisted she learn 'traditional' ways. If you add just a pinch of Niter (sodium nitrate) to the anvil and the charge the fire drill works a LOT easier and faster.

My husband makes fun of me that I keep a flint and steel as well as a small can of lighter fluid in my purse.


December 20, 2007, 10:17 PM
Hi bogie,

Maybe you could point to a good informative website that talks about techniques for survival in the wilderness.

I snowboard a lot. My most likely survival scene would be in the snow. I think I could do ok there with a flashlight, knife and lighter. At a bare minimum, I'd pick the lighter. I'm thinking creating a firing using boy scout techniques would be almost impossible in wet conditions.

Jake McCoy has a great survival forum. One of the best I've come across.

Don't get me wrong, if you're out in the high desert on a 35 degree night a fire can be great. Esp. if you don't have much cold weather gear. But fire in general is too often the myopic focus for survival. I'd rather get bedding together. With enough wool blankets I can survive anything!

Yeah, survival techniques vary greatly depending on your location. Shelter and warmth are the most important elements, unless your in Arizona and its mid-summer, in which case water and shade (which I guess is a type of shelter) becomes far more important. Best thing to do is to know the types of conditions you are likely to run into, and develop a survival kit/plan for that location.

The Annoyed Man
December 20, 2007, 11:15 PM
I wear black fatigues and carry 6 Glocks in .40 S&....

Oh, wait, that's another thread.... :D

Actually, I've been a bit desk bound for the past few years and don't get out into the woods anywhere near as much as I used to. When I do, I carry at a minimum, a folding knife, a small Surefire flashlight (EL2 Outdoorsman), and a magnesium fire starter in my pockets.

December 20, 2007, 11:42 PM
Got the tools and training, but I'm not so sure about gnawing my leg off it it gets caught in a trap. Some of you people are kinda scary ;)

December 21, 2007, 10:35 AM
I go rough camping quite regularly and love bushcraft, the basic skills for surviving in rural environments. I can start a fire using a firebow but because I know how hard it can be always make sure I'm over-prepared. I know enough bushcraft to have a good chance in most situations and that's a big motivator, a 'survival mindset' gained through practice.

However, I have arthritis and so never leave the house unprepared as I'm limited in the amount of physical effort I can put into survival. I always carry the basics for fire, water and light. If I'm anywhere near the countryide I have a full survival kit that fits in a small pouch or tin. If I'm camping I have 3 - pocket, beltkit and backpack - as well as a car kit. :D

I have the worlds most impressive collection of small tins, bags and pouches. ;)

December 21, 2007, 12:47 PM
Was the name of the family "Griswold"? :)~ probably should have headed out to wallyworld for their tree.

My thoughts on fire:
Don't buy lighters from the dollar store. My wife picks up these 5 packs every once in a while and 3 out of 5 of them will fall apart after a strike or two. I had to tell her to stop wasting money on them and just buy a bic.

Zippo is my first choice if I'm taking fire with me because it's windproof and if it ever did fail to light the wadding inside could also be used. I also have one of those huge zippo handwarmers which is like a huge lighter. Extra flint and fuel are nice too.

The little trioxane tablets sold for hiking and camping are great for not burning out. They burn like sterno but are a hard, dry, leak free fuel tablet. If you don't want to burn the whole thing it can also be scraped or grated like hard cheese.

I think many people, including me, become complacent and don't think "it" will happen to them. Time to get a survival kit together to throw in the car. I've got stuff all over the house that should be in it, but its all over the house, rather than with me where I might need it most while away from home.

December 21, 2007, 12:52 PM
I read once where a former olympic wrestler nearly froze to death on a snowmobiling trip. If he would have used some of the gas from his machine he could have lit his snowmobile on fire, they will burn a long time and real hot too.

I grew up in a different part of Alaska than Cosmoline, Alaska is a huge state. Where I lived a person could usually find a hollow log big enough to crawl in. A fire just aways outside of the mouth of the log will reflect heat back inside making a long night a lot more comfortable.

December 21, 2007, 01:34 PM
Yeah, if anyone found a hollow log big enough to crawl in around here it would be deemed worthy of a theme park ;-)

December 21, 2007, 01:44 PM
Yeah, if anyone found a hollow log big enough to crawl in around here it would be deemed worthy of a theme park ;-) Or if someone could crawl in a hollow log up where you live they could be a sideshow freak (maybe billed as the human worm).
Down around the Tongass Nat'l Forest there are some HUGE spruce, cedar and hemlock trees. I once stayed in one ol' stump big enough for three teen aged boys.

December 21, 2007, 01:56 PM
. . . but I'm not so sure about gnawing my leg off it it gets caught in a trap.

Remember Aron Ralston (

Reading his story changed my perspective on EDC knives. Now my EDC always includes at least one knife sharp enough and strong enough to do "serious, if unpleasant" business.

I've had people ask why I carry some knife or other. "Well, you never know when you're gonna have to cut off your own arm." That'll sure get you a "look" but it completely defuses the view that "if you're carrying a knife, you must be looking for trouble."

December 26, 2007, 09:49 PM
I have no reply to that.

See? It works. Good one.

December 26, 2007, 10:22 PM
I saw a documentary on that guy, if he didnt have a knife he'd be dead. Good reason to carry a sharp one.

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