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You wake up early in the morning alone in the wilderness with no survival gear and your only tool is a fixed blade knife with a half-serrated blade.  Which 5 survival tasks should be your highest priorities and in what order?  (Hint: Is your knife the only weapon you need to protect yourself from predators?  Maybe you should make a hunting spear before you do anything else.)

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Tobias, you've raised even more excellent points.  But I still think you'll need a good spear, even if you only use it to roast marshmallows.  ; ) 

Thanks for your input.

Terry- My 2 cents opinion- Depends on the environment- Drop me in the desert- water and shade will be more important than a possible sidewinder attack- Drop me in a snow-packed sub-zero environment and hypothermia will be the prime concern.Water source is melted snow and I can survive a few days without food-- Freezing to death is the prime concern.Drop me in the woods of Illinois and I know the wildlife dangers.-Water,shelter,food, and then animal dangers,even though we have some dangerous critters. Yes, we have poisonous snakes,coyotes,wolves,and an occasional puma. My experience has been, they would rather avoid contact than aggravate it, especially with a camp fire..Drop me in the Outback or the Frozen North with aggressive predators all around you-- My priority would probably change to a weapons first mode.

John, you forgot if you get dropped into the middle of vast swamp.  If that happens to me, please bury what every remains you might happen to find because I seriously doubt I'll survive.  Same pretty much goes for a big ol' featureless  sand desert or a sub-zero frozen glacier such as Antarctica.  My main goal will be fire, water and a way to stay warm and dry until help arrives.I might make a pointy stick, especially in a swamp but it won't be first priority. (Heck, I'll probably get around to a pointy stick in any environment but, as I said,  it isn't my top priority.

Tobias, thanks for your comments, all sarcasm aside.  LOL

  • In a vast swamp, huh?  A hard strike or poke on the nose with your spear might scare an alligator away, or it could seriously injure it, making it lose interest in you.
  • In a big featureless sand desert, you could use a spear to dig for water.  Ha!
  • In a sub-zero glacier, you could tie your Speedo shorts onto one end of your spear and frantically wave it over your head as a distress signal in hopes that a rescuer might see it.  Haha!
  • On the moon, I see no value whatsoever in having a spear, unless there's a silicon-based alien life form there, and it attacks you.  (Ooops!  On second thought, there's not much in the way of spear material on the moon, is there?) 

Thanks again for your imaginative, realistic reply.


Terry,

I agree, there be beasties out there allright!  But I live in an environment where there be beasties.  Whether it is snakes, bears or the assortments of crawling and flying bad for you stuff, a walking stick & if I can get away that is always my first plan.  I really did learn a lot from your experience.  I go nowhere without my walking stick!
Terry Waldele said:

Jan, thanks for replying to my post.

Maybe I'm paranoid from being in some of the hazardous wilderness settings I've found myself in (like being stuck at the bottom of a very steep, muddy, unclimbable river bank, trapped on both sides by rock outcroppings, with bear tracks between the river and me and the river running icy cold), but in my humble opinion, I would give the few minutes it would take to make a hefty spear my highest priority.  I wouldn't build a shelter or plunge into the bush or the desert in search of water where my next few steps could be my last if I don't have a spear to hold off predators.  (Just to be extra safe, I'd sharpen both ends of my spear so I could plant one end in the ground as the predator attacks.)  Of course, being in a big lake or the ocean without a boat or flotation device calls for a different set of priorities, beginning with staying afloat long enough to reach shore, possibly by making a flotation device out of my long-legged pants.

As an alternative, if you have a fire starter, matches or cigarette lighter, making a torch should be a consideration.

Another alternative might be just a small tree or a tree branch cut to about 6 or 8 ft. in length, or just a pile of large rocks to throw at a predator.  (Running from an attacking predator is usually futile, but spending a few minutes to find a large tree you can climb and possibly sleep in could be a life saver.)

Finally, "There be beasties out there!"  lol  Much as we'd like to move, look for water, build a shelter, build a big fire, make a rescue signal of some kind, or get to a higher ground with better visibility, all of these actions will expose us, making us more vulnerable to predator attack.  Here are my highest priorities for survival:  Before I expose myself to predators, I'd arm myself as fast and as well as I could.   So, I'd make a good spear, gather some throwing stones (if available) and, if the day's almost over, gather the makings of a good campfire and some torches. 

 


Great article!  I like how it describes the difference in the stance depending on the bears intentions!


D ale said:

John McCain said:

Terry- My 2 cents opinion- Depends on the environment- 

I have to agree with John.  There is just not enough information given in the scenario to say that any one specific action is the one that should be done first.  If I were to find myself in such a situation, unless there was a clear and present danger that needed to be addressed immediately, my first action is going to be to assess the situation to determine what my priorities are.  And different situations will define different priorities.  I would prioritize the needs into two classes, immediate and eventual.  Obviously the immediate priorities will be taken care of first.  After those needs are taken care of, then the things we will need eventually but are not pressing right now can be worked on.

As for predators, especially bears, in many situations they would not be a concern.  I don't know  the percentage but I am fairly certain that in most of this country (save maybe Alaska) there are no bears or wolves.  So in an area where there are none, they are not a concern.  I wouldn't mind having a good hiking staff but would hate to have to fight off a bear or wolves with a sharp stick.  Of course if that is all I had, I would do the best I could.  And I have been in places (Rocky Mountains, Smokey Mountains) where I don't think I would want that hiking staff to have a sharp point.  If I fell I could impale myself on it.

Here in North Alabama our biggest predators are many coyotes and an occasional bobcat.  I personally know of and have read of no instance where either one has attacked a human.  (I can imagine where under the right circumstances one might attack a child.)

Having said that about coyotes, I will relate an incident that happened to me.  One morning during deer season I walked to one of my stands.  When hunting in the morning I always try to get to my stand an hour before daylight.  So it is still full dark.  No brightening of the eastern sky, nothing.  The only light I had was my flashlight and I was playing it around close to me.  My main concern was close encounters of the skunk kind.  Twice I have gotten too close for comfort to them.  Anyway I got into my stand and my backside had no more than touched the seat when a coyote howled right outside the stand!  I nearly jumped out of my skin.  It was so loud that it was at most a few yards from the stand.  Was that coyote stalking me?  I don't know.  I know they stalk deer.  I have photo and video proof of that.  We have two types of coyotes here, normal brown ones and black ones.  The black ones are bigger than the brown ones.  They are obviously part dog.  And dogs do attack humans.

I would ask Ray Mears what to do , cos there is no way I am going in to such dangerous environments with out him !!

what if....you woke up in free fall, over a jungle, with a parachute strapped to your back, which convieniently opens at the last minute, only to discover, once you recover from a hard landing, that you are not on earth any more and your being hunted by wild alien creatures and big ugly dudes with plasma guns and active body armor.......sorry couldn't help myself, that was that movie Preditors by the way.   After my gun ran outa ammo, because I was shooting from the hip...I'd still make a spear, a BIG spear.....semper fi

In a swamp I'll mostly die unless I have a life straw or some way to make the water drinkable.  In a desert, I will be better off with a large sheet of plastic  so I can make a solar still, and some type of shade.  Where am I going to find suitable wood to make a spear and how much energy will I expend digging holes in loose sand or trying to dig through rocky arid ground? 

Again, the pointy stick is not going to be my priority.  A walking stick would be higher on my list.  Most people who are lost in the wilderness die from exposure not from animal attacks  People who go hiking in the woods are more likely to twist ankles, bet bit by bugs or stung by bees than get mauled by top predators or get bit by a poisonous snake.

If I'm making a spear it will be because suitable small game is the area and I might be able to hunt for it. I've been in the woods on many occasions in Illinois, Kentucky, and in Texas.  Other than a chance encounter with a rattlesnake which made me take a few steps back and run away like a school girl I've never been threatened by a critter.(In a survival situation I'd have beaten that snake silly with my walking stick and eaten it!)

We are all coming from different backgrounds and we are all reflecting on different handicaps we would face based on our age and health. If someone else wants to make a spear and has the ability to make it well and use it effectively then I can see why they would do that.  For me, I good walking stick is more important. 

Quite frankly. I'm pissed that whoever it was that dumped me in the wilderness, left me with a knife with a half serrated blade.  This would not have been a type of knife I would've chosen.

Someone said

< I have to agree with John.  There is just not enough information given in the scenario to say that any one specific action is the one that should be done first.  If I were to find myself in such a situation, unless there was a clear and present danger that needed to be addressed immediately, my first action is going to be to assess the situation to determine what my priorities are.  And different situations will define different priorities.  I would prioritize the needs into two classes, immediate and eventual.  Obviously the immediate priorities will be taken care of first.  After those needs are taken care of, then the things we will need eventually but are not pressing right now can be worked on. >

I will add.  "Ding! Ding! Ding!  Give that person a Gold Star!"    First gather your wits and don't panic.  Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing at all.   If you do decide to move, the reason you should move is to avoid danger, seek better shelter, discover where you are, or determine if your present location is safe. As the person quoted above said "assess the situation to determine what my priorities are"

My apologies for not knowing who wrote the above.

Jan, thanks for your reply.  I agree with you completely.  Was it Teddy Roosevelt who said, "Walk softly and carry a big stick."?  The man was a true survivor.  (Actually, he said "Speak softly and carry a big stick," when he was discussing foreign policy.  But heck, I like the popular version of his statement better!)
 

> Date: Wed, 1 Jul 2015 02:23:44 +0000
> From: mail@iknifecollector.com
> To: willowwald2@msn.com
> Subject: Jan Carter replied to your discussion "SURVIVAL PRIORITIES" on iKnife Collector
>
> Jan Carter replied to your discussion "SURVIVAL PRIORITIES" in The Modern Survivalist on iKnife Collector
>
> ------------
> Terry,



Jan Carter said:


Terry,

I agree, there be beasties out there allright!  But I live in an environment where there be beasties.  Whether it is snakes, bears or the assortments of crawling and flying bad for you stuff, a walking stick & if I can get away that is always my first plan.  I really did learn a lot from your experience.  I go nowhere without my walking stick!
Terry Waldele said:

Jan, thanks for replying to my post.

Maybe I'm paranoid from being in some of the hazardous wilderness settings I've found myself in (like being stuck at the bottom of a very steep, muddy, unclimbable river bank, trapped on both sides by rock outcroppings, with bear tracks between the river and me and the river running icy cold), but in my humble opinion, I would give the few minutes it would take to make a hefty spear my highest priority.  I wouldn't build a shelter or plunge into the bush or the desert in search of water where my next few steps could be my last if I don't have a spear to hold off predators.  (Just to be extra safe, I'd sharpen both ends of my spear so I could plant one end in the ground as the predator attacks.)  Of course, being in a big lake or the ocean without a boat or flotation device calls for a different set of priorities, beginning with staying afloat long enough to reach shore, possibly by making a flotation device out of my long-legged pants.

As an alternative, if you have a fire starter, matches or cigarette lighter, making a torch should be a consideration.

Another alternative might be just a small tree or a tree branch cut to about 6 or 8 ft. in length, or just a pile of large rocks to throw at a predator.  (Running from an attacking predator is usually futile, but spending a few minutes to find a large tree you can climb and possibly sleep in could be a life saver.)

Finally, "There be beasties out there!"  lol  Much as we'd like to move, look for water, build a shelter, build a big fire, make a rescue signal of some kind, or get to a higher ground with better visibility, all of these actions will expose us, making us more vulnerable to predator attack.  Here are my highest priorities for survival:  Before I expose myself to predators, I'd arm myself as fast and as well as I could.   So, I'd make a good spear, gather some throwing stones (if available) and, if the day's almost over, gather the makings of a good campfire and some torches. 

 

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