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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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I would make a wooden spear for protection right off, but that can be done while doing other tasks. A hard wood with a sharp blade point can do a lot of damage.Then set about making a crude bow and arrow, if flint is around great, otherwise I would use any type stone to make a spear point and some arrow heads. My biggest problem would be making the string, as I am not good at it.Tho if I go into the woods I generally have paracord.

Traps and snares are easy to catch animals, rock fish traps are very easy. 

But to answer your question, with the thought of being in deep wilderness,,,,

1 Find water

2 Make and set traps.

3 Make a shelter while waiting on traps.

4 When you have food, water and shelter set, then make primitive weapons and gear.

5 When you have enough food for several days to a week, decide which direction to head and start your journey.

Ron, thanks for your reply.  I would respectfully suggest an alternative, though, to the order you put your priorities in.  Perhaps the worst case scenario in this survival situation would be for you to be confronted by a large predator while you are looking for water or performing your other tasks.  I would much rather have the hunting knife AND a hefty spear with a well-sharpened point with which to protect myself than just the hunting knife alone.  (After you've built a fire, you can fire-harden the point of the spear.)  However, if you are in the desert, spear material may be hard to find, so one option you might consider would be to make yourself some primitive snake-proof gaiters using tree bark, split tree trunks or limbs, or cactus trunks for "staves" (using your hunting knife and a wood club for hammering the knife's spine to cut and split woody material and your boot laces to bind the staves around your lower legs.  (You may also find plastic, canvas or other material nearby that would be suitable.)  Then, put your sombrero on and put your water-finding skills to work!  (Ever tried using a "divining" tool to find water?)  I'm no survival expert, but I do realize that there are many variables in this survival scenario that can change the order of your priorities.  Thanks again for your reply.
 
Ron James said:

I would make a wooden spear for protection right off, but that can be done while doing other tasks. A hard wood with a sharp blade point can do a lot of damage.Then set about making a crude bow and arrow, if flint is around great, otherwise I would use any type stone to make a spear point and some arrow heads. My biggest problem would be making the string, as I am not good at it.Tho if I go into the woods I generally have paracord.

Traps and snares are easy to catch animals, rock fish traps are very easy. 

But to answer your question, with the thought of being in deep wilderness,,,,

1 Find water

2 Make and set traps.

3 Make a shelter while waiting on traps.

4 When you have food, water and shelter set, then make primitive weapons and gear.

5 When you have enough food for several days to a week, decide which direction to head and start your journey.

I would  think the situation you find yourself in would often dictate your first survival task.  I can envision a situation where your first task would be simply to move.  Maybe you are in a precarious position or some nearby danger necessitates moving to a safer location.  The weather could make your first priority getting a fire going or finding or making some sort of shelter.

Right on, Charles!  Our survival priorities are dictated by the hazards (and resources) around us, their severity, our abilities, our skills and other variables.  If we're in the water (without a boat or flotation device), staying afloat should be our first priority, and making a spear should be the furthest thing from our minds, although being surrounded by sharks might be a good reason for a quick look around for floating spear material.  lol  

Thanks for your helpful perspective and reply.

Are you kidding?  Alone in the wilderness with no coffee -- I'd use the knife to slit my wrists.

Seriously, there are not enough data to answer this. 

If I am not having to move, shelter would be first, water source second.  Making a spear or some type of weapon would be after I knew I was going to be able to survive in the environment

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. 

 

If it was a wooded location, I would opt for the spear first also, moving or not, due to the fact that a stout spear also doubles as a hiking staff, and not falling down while manuvering to accomplish other tasks is very important, as is the defence need.  you cant survive nearly as well with any broken limbs.  prepare a location to operate from, gather materials for fire and shelter, build both, seek viable food source, hunting, fishing, traping....is that more than five?   then you also need to know what or situation is for the decision to wait for rescue or to evac...general question, generaized answer, I bet you were just wondering about the spear idea. why does my knife have to be half serrated, the only one of those I own is my Spyderco police...and thats not much of a survival knife, but I could make it work!

Damn, that must've been one hack of a party the night before!  I sure hope my buddies come back soon.  This reminds me of the time we put our drunk friend on the Grey Hound bus with a one way ticket  to St. Louis!

There are many questions that need to be answered before I can determine what I need to do first. Maslow's Heirarchy of needs comes to mind.

Priority one: Air, Water, Food

Priority two:  Shelter, personal protection

Priority three, companionship.

All of this is dependent on if I can change the situation and how long this situation will last and how familiar I am with the wilderness I've been left in.

For instance, if there is a stream or river near by, it would make sense to follow it in order to find civilization, at least if the civilization is not going to be hostile toward me.  (Am I trying to make contact or avoid contact)

If I'm the victim of an accident, are people looking for me?  I so it would make sense to stay near the crash scene at least for the time being.  If I leave the crash scene then I need to leave information as to where I'm going and when I left. This will also require leaving a trail that is easy to follow.

Again just too many variables to give an adequate answer. 

The least of my concerns is being mauled by a bear or cougar.  I'm more concerned about bug bites and exposure.  I'm more likely to die from hypothermia or being debilitated by bee stings than being eaten by a bear.

Tobias, thanks for your informative reply!  I'm curious though:  Why would being mauled by a bear, a cougar, a wild boar, one lone wolf or an entire wolf pack (or even a moose) be the least of your concerns?  I agree that there are many questions that need to be answered in this hypothetical situation, but james a c smith, in his reply, has raised some very good reasons for making a spear before you do anything else even while these questions loom over you.  With all due respect to Maslow, I suggest that his priorities are subject to the same questions that my hypothetical survival situation is.  Unless I can protect myself from predators, I may be mauled or killed by a large predator before I take a few steps toward addressing Maslow's hierarchy.

Maybe you have more experience in such situations than I do, but having traversed the ice floes along the North Slope of Alaska in polar bear habitat, fished in the Alaskan bush with grizzly bears and moose around me, flown in whiteout conditions between Pt. Barrrow and Deadhorse Alaska, and hiked in the Arizona desert in the summer, I am acutely aware of how vulnerable I am to predator attack in the wild.  As the old saying goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure."

Please give me your thoughts on why protecting yourself from attack by predators is so low on your priorities.

Thanks again for your interest.

Terry said in part

<  but james a c smith, in his reply, has raised some very good reasons for making a spear before you do anything else even while these questions loom over you.  With all due respect to Maslow, I suggest that his priorities are subject to the same questions that my hypothetical survival situation is. >

First of all, I said, Air Water Food, first.  These are the things I need to obtain first.  Air has been taken care of unless this wilderness is on another planet.   Water and Food will need to be had.   What will I need to obtain Water and food?

Well if I'm plopped down next to fresh uncontaminated  brook, then water is not going to be a problem so I'm left with finding food.  If I'm not right next to to a brook, then I will need to find water which might mean I will need to search for it unless I know a sure fire rain dance (I do not).

Now I'm stuck.  How far am I willing to move.  What are my odds of being found here.  Am I trying to be found.  Let's say, people are searching for me and I want them to find me.  My surest way of obtaining water and food are being found.  This means I need to mark where I am and if I'm moving somewhere else, where I plan to go.

I have two options now.  I will need to head for either high ground or low ground, if there is such a thing. But before I can actually I need to find a visible landmark at a distance that I can navigate toward.  Otherwise I will just be walking around in circles, expending energy and wasting time.  This is often a reason why people die from exposure.

Once I establish a visible landmark to walk towards or away from I then need to determine if I should walk toward low ground (a more likely spot for water) or high ground a better place to be seen or to see potential rescuers. We'll assume I need water badly. I've noticed  I between a bald knoll that is about  ten miles away and a set of  craggy looking triple  some distance away in the other direction (if it could only be that easy).  I decide I will walk down hill towards potential water.  This means I will be heading towards the peak, at least for the moment.  My goal wlll be to keep the knoll behind me and the peaks in front of me in order to move in a more or less straight line.

At this point, I will need to decide what I need to travel.  It is at this point that I will take out my knife and cut a pole perhaps 5 to 6 feet in length to use a walking stick. (that assuming I'm in a forested area).  I would cut the stick from a sappling about 2.5 inches in diameter at its base and  with a decent taper to it, down to about on 1.5 inches in diameter.

Once this is done I would set out  heading down hill or at least in as straight a line as possible toward my intended objective.  I would stop my hike well before sunset in a place that offers protection regardless if Water was found or not as I will need to build or find shelter for the night.  If water is found, then the potential for food is found. As water attracts food as well as things that may think I'm food.

Chances are an area with a stream will also provide the needed material for shelter. I can also then start worrying about sharpening a stick but realistically the sharp stick is just going to piss off most big predators. So my survival instincts tell me to stay aware of my surrounding and be prepared to flee.

More important to me is finding away to stay warm and dry because cold and wet spell disaster.  What I wouldn't do for a Bic lighter, a fish hook and a spool of six pound test monofilament right about now.

Once I find a stream, I will follow it down stream, hopefully to a lake or larger tributary. I will then follow the larger tributary to a river and river to civilization.   If at any time during my movement I stumble on a road  or rail line.I will pick a direction and follow it.

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