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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, thanks for your words of wisdom.  From your reply and others I've gotten, I'm beginning to change my mind about making a spear before doing anything else, if the material is available.  But being a stubborn cuss, I'm having trouble letting go of my "spear first" priority.  I'd make a hiking staff with the thickest end sharpened to a short point, and I'd hike with that end down, so there would be less risk of impaling myself if I fell.
 
In situations where no spear material is available or other priorities should prevail, I'd whip out my laminated printouts of all the great responses I've received to my post, and look for the advice that best fits my situation.  ; )
 
OK, OK...I've learned my lesson.  May the great Spearit be with you!

Tobias Gibson said:

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.

Tobias, thanks for your words of wisdom.  From your reply and others I've gotten, I'm beginning to change my mind about making a spear before doing anything else, if the material is available.  But being a stubborn cuss, I'm having trouble letting go of my "spear first" priority.  I'd make a hiking staff with the thickest end sharpened to a short point, and I'd hike with that end down, so there would be less risk of impaling myself if I fell.
 
In situations where no spear material is available or other priorities should prevail, I'd whip out my laminated printouts of all the great responses I've received to my post, and look for the advice that best fits my situation.  ; )
 
OK, OK...I've learned my lesson.  May the great Spearit be with you!

D ale, have you read "Bear Tails"?  The victims of grizzly attacks in that book could have benefitted a lot from  "Who, What, Why: What should you do if you encounter a bear?"  Thanks for the info!
 
D ale said:

John, thanks for your words of wisdom.  From your reply and others I've gotten, I'm beginning to change my mind about making a spear before doing anything else, if the material is available.  But being a stubborn cuss, I'm having trouble letting go of my "spear first" priority.  I'd make a hiking staff with the thickest end sharpened to a short point, and I'd hike with that end down, so there would be less risk of impaling myself if I fell.

However, more to the point, as you said, "...the environment dictates."  How true!  Even a hiking staff may not be the highest priority depending on your assessment of your situation. I would add that your physical and mental condition also dictate. 

I've learned my lesson.  Your assessment of your situation should dictate your priorities.

May the great Spearit be with you!

John McCain said:

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.

Terry, The numbers of deaths by wild animals in North America is statistically insignificant.

When charted against the numbers of hunters, hikers, campers, those who earn their livings in the “wilderness”, and people who just live there, the data points would be buried in the Y axis. There have been only ten confirmed deaths attributed to wolves in over one hundred years of record keeping and maybe a couple hundred by bears in the period of the early eighteen hundreds to present.

I was born and raised in northern Michigan and wandered the woods, rivers, lakes, and gravel pits from about age 8 until I left to join the Navy and never came close to encountering a bear, lynx, bobcat, wolverine, or badger. I have also hiked in the mountains and forests of southern Colorado and when at my house in Flagstaff, often hike on Mount Elden, which is known to have mountain lions present, again unmolested. When hiking on Mount Elden I carry a handgun, but then, when I shop at Sam's Club I do likewise.

I find other matters such as water, shelter, fire, and food to be far more important and pressing than making a spear which will in all likelyhood end up, at some point, being a tent pole or firewood rather than a weapon.

As for Alaska, which is a foreign planet: if I were dropped there my priorities might change, but I would still be inclined to tend to the ones with the highest value. Spear making is not at the top of that list, simply because, humans are very seldom hunted by wild animals.

I guess the bottom line is, you are more likely to be killed by a lightening strike, and far more likely to die of exposure than in a predator attack.

I just had another thought.  In 1935 the last wolf in Michigan's lower peninsula was killed, they have since made a comeback.

James,

I am glad they have made a come back.  They are a necessary part of the food chain but as with anything the population does need to be controlled

As far a statisical data goes on wild animal attacks is like my chances of getting mugged going to the grocery store, but Im still armed even though my chances are low, mind set is key, not panic or paranoia.  On a recent trek though a local state park near me my family and I found ourselves way off the known paths trying to traverse some pretty tough rock in a river bed and then a steep climb up to the "main trail" of the park, I did not, but should have taken the time to fashion a walking staff and saved my poor ankles and body the anguish of slips, trips and twists, I could have hurt myself pretty bad, and wound up having to figure that one out...although not concerend with animal attack so much the staff is key to preserving health and strength to do the other stuff, and become a weapon on the fly if needed, exposure and panic as previously mentioned are the real killers, the animals will come eat you after your dead...I would not have taken this position accept for my reflection on this recent event that I went through..my hind sight can be your fore sight.

James, thanks for your reply.  Maybe the numbers of deaths by wild animals in North America is "statistically insignificant", but when it comes to my life being at risk, anywhere in the world (not necessarily in North America), sorry, but your statistics are irrelevant, because I didn't say my survival situation was in North America.  However, according to one source I found:  "Each year, 4,000 to 6,000 venomous snakebites occur in the US. About 70% of these require antivenom therapy."  Also, here's a link that provides statistics on wild animal attacks in North American and around the world, including snakes:

  http://www.animaldanger.com/north-america.php

I would say these statistics are anything but insignificant, especially to the victims.

As for Alaska being a "foreign planet", if you'd lived and worked there for a few years, you'd have a healthy respect for bears (brown bears, black bears and polar bears) and moose, which are commonly encountered in the city of Anchorage (two of which I personally saw in my own backyard in the 80s.

According to one source I found:  "Each year in Alaska more people are injured by moose than by bears. In the past ten years two people have died from moose attacks in the Anchorage area. Each year there are at least 5-10 moose-related injuries in the Anchorage area alone, with many reports of charging moose in neighborhoods or on ski trails."  And these statistics are only for the reported encounters!

Today, we travel all over the world and visit places with numerous large predators.  We shouldn't apply our experiences in the U.S. to other parts of the world, e.g. Canada and Mexico.  We're responsible for protecting ourselves wherever we are, and a spear may not be relevant in many survival situations, but your assessment of your situation will determine that.

May your survival Spearit stay strong! 

 
 
James Cole said:

Terry, The numbers of deaths by wild animals in North America is statistically insignificant.

When charted against the numbers of hunters, hikers, campers, those who earn their livings in the “wilderness”, and people who just live there, the data points would be buried in the Y axis. There have been only ten confirmed deaths attributed to wolves in over one hundred years of record keeping and maybe a couple hundred by bears in the period of the early eighteen hundreds to present.

I was born and raised in northern Michigan and wandered the woods, rivers, lakes, and gravel pits from about age 8 until I left to join the Navy and never came close to encountering a bear, lynx, bobcat, wolverine, or badger. I have also hiked in the mountains and forests of southern Colorado and when at my house in Flagstaff, often hike on Mount Elden, which is known to have mountain lions present, again unmolested. When hiking on Mount Elden I carry a handgun, but then, when I shop at Sam's Club I do likewise.

I find other matters such as water, shelter, fire, and food to be far more important and pressing than making a spear which will in all likelyhood end up, at some point, being a tent pole or firewood rather than a weapon.

As for Alaska, which is a foreign planet: if I were dropped there my priorities might change, but I would still be inclined to tend to the ones with the highest value. Spear making is not at the top of that list, simply because, humans are very seldom hunted by wild animals.

I guess the bottom line is, you are more likely to be killed by a lightening strike, and far more likely to die of exposure than in a predator attack.

I just had another thought.  In 1935 the last wolf in Michigan's lower peninsula was killed, they have since made a comeback.

Just had a thought....Cold Steel makes a survival knife with a hollow handle that can be mounted on a pole.  It would be a great knife to carry with a hiking staff of the right diameter at one end.  Here's a link to there website page showing it:

http://www.coldsteel.com/Product/80PHB/SURVIVAL_EDGE_(BLACK).aspx

Let me know what you think...

Seriously folks!  Unless you're the mythical Davy Crockett who "kill't him a b'ar when he as only three"  do you really expect to survive an attack with a top predator and remain unscathed because you have a pointy stick!?!  Chances are if you poke her, especially a mama bear with her cubs she is going to take a swipe at you and once those claws hit you will either be looking at a quick death or a slow painful death because all of the tree moss and in the world ain't going to prevent the infection that follows!

Your odds of surviving a determined top predator attack with a pointy stick will be about .00001% higher than my odds with a blunt walking stick and my half serrated knife,   I'll sharpen a stick when I need to poke something I'm going to eat or dig around in the ground for truffles or tubers.

See:  http://www.wemjournal.org/article/S1080-6032%2812%2900086-5/pdf

and:  https://historylist.wordpress.com/2008/05/29/human-deaths-in-the-us...

Average Number of Deaths per Year in the U.S

Bee/Wasp- 53

Dogs- 31

Horse - 20

Spider- 6.5

Rattlesnake- 5.5

Bull - 3

Mountain lion-1

Shark-1

Alligator - 0.3

Bear- 0.5

Scorpion  - 0.5

Centipede- 0.5

Elephant -0.25

Wolf - 0.1

You're most likely to get attacked by an alligator on a golf course.  A wolf in the wild hasn't killed anyone in the US since 1888.  The wolf deaths that occur now are caused by stupid humans think they'd make a great pet!

I think I'd probably start working on this before I make a spear:

http://lumberjocks.com/mafe/blog/31205

My reasoning is, in the scenario I developed  I want to be found, which means I want to make noise.  Noise will attract those looking for me and detract/warn other animals who would most likely to want to avoid me know I'm around.   Of course, this also means that whoever left me in the wilderness with the half serrated knife, STOLE my survival whistle that I have with me all the times!

Whistle, Compass, magnifying glass and thermometer.

Stock photo above.  Older photo of the thermometer when i took a walk in the woods a while back.

   If that 1 an a million chance I "git bar ataked" I will be fighting back, trying to survive.  I just don't get the argument, were any of you boy scouts? whats the moto, "be prepared", not analize the stats to deturmine the value of one minor item over another, It might take all of 2 minutes to fashion a 6ft plus walking stick/ spear( tool and weapon), It takes much more time and energy to build shelter, get water, build fire, and you don't want to get injured doing those things because you took a mis step and fell, breaking a leg and wrist/ fore arm, good luck buiding anything now....the situation is a total package, the stick is part of it, its a minor effort, but one that can make a difference in survival or death, just like the fire, water, shelter and food.  priority order is dependant on circumstance not opinion, you "what if" this subject for weeks.  adapt and overcome! oohrah!

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