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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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"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.>>

I'm curious as to where most of the snake bites occur and why.  How many are in zoos or from illegal possession of a poisonous snake?  How many occur from human encroachment (golf courses, new housing development)?   How many occur because people are trying to catch or kill the snake instead of just avoiding them.   Most snakes in North America by nature are shy and avoid human contact.  

Here's an interesting poisonous snake factoid. The Copperhead is considered the  most likely snake in North America to bite a human without provocation although each year more people are bitten by rattlesnakes - go figure! 

In any case, this is another reason I like to have a walking stick.  While there are four known poisonous snakes in Illinois, the only one normally found in the Chicago area is the very elusive Massasauga Rattlesnake.   They grow to be about two feet long and can deliver a potentially deadly bite.  Most people who are bitten by them get bit because they try to catch or kill them.

The species was once fairly common in wetlands and forest but have become endangered due to human development and rattlesnake round-ups. The Lincoln Park Zoo began a captive breeding program a few years back in a effort to re-establish a healthy population so that it could be re-released into local wetlands and forest preserves.  Their threat level towards humans has always been  virtually non-existent.  Their value at pest control, however, is extremely important. 

Tobias, thanks for this valuable information!  Walking sticks RULE., and spears are the THE survival tool!

Terry,

I hope you dont mind but I wanted to share the article that made me start using a walking stick!

http://iknifecollector.com/group/themodernsurvivalist/forum/topics/...

Sorry folks, but I couldn't resist sharing this with you.  If you've been watching the TV show "Alone", you might be interested in knowing each contestant's choice of survival gear.  Each contestant was allowed to take 10 survival "tools" of his choice with him.  Each contestant's list is posted on the History channel's website www.history.com with a bio for each contestant.  If you compare their lists, you'll find about 7 or 8 "tools" that all of them chose for their survival kit.  Very interesting what they chose.   When I watched the show, even though bears and cougars are thick in the area (Vancouver Island wilderness), none of the contestants thought of making a spear.  One guy had two bears breathing on his shelter walls during the night while he sweated it inside.  If I'm not mistaken, none of the contestants thought to make loud noises to scare off the predators. Several guys "talked" to the predators (unseen of course) in a normal voice as if that would be some kind of protection (or maybe it was just nervous chatter).  Take a look at their website.  I think you might enjoy comparing the contestants' choice of survival tools.

It depends more on where and when you are then anything else.

Winter - fire, shelter, water...Summer - water, shelter, cooking fire.

The law of threes--minutes of air, days of water and weeks of food.

Forget about a spear, whether fire hardened point of a knife attached to a pole as firstly, you have zero, nada, bupkiss training in it; secondly, you will seldom, if ever, hurt the attacking animal sufficient to wound seriously let alone kill it (mainly because your point isn't long enough, sharp enough or pole stout enough) and it will either attack you far more seriously--since it's really mad at you or never bother you in the first place.

You've been to all these locales yet how many times where you threatened by dangerous beasts?

I hunt and fish--own a fly in camp in the high arctic--six months a year in polar bear country and I carry a .416 Rigby for protection of myself and guests.  A piddly ass spear will not cut it.  We go south for black bears and moose and again a spear is a useful as teats on a boar.  You will not get close enough to any sizeable animal to be in effective range of said spear and it will be nothing but a self imposed crutch-a pacifier so to speak. Small game can be far easier gotten with something like a rabbit stick.

Shlomo, I'm thinking you're not a fan of a spear in survival situations.  LOL!  What do you think of stout walking staff?  In your opinion would it have any usefulness in the wilderness?

Shlomo ben Maved said:

It depends more on where and when you are then anything else.

Winter - fire, shelter, water...Summer - water, shelter, cooking fire.

The law of threes--minutes of air, days of water and weeks of food.

Forget about a spear, whether fire hardened point of a knife attached to a pole as firstly, you have zero, nada, bupkiss training in it; secondly, you will seldom, if ever, hurt the attacking animal sufficient to wound seriously let alone kill it (mainly because your point isn't long enough, sharp enough or pole stout enough) and it will either attack you far more seriously--since it's really mad at you or never bother you in the first place.

You've been to all these locales yet how many times where you threatened by dangerous beasts?

I hunt and fish--own a fly in camp in the high arctic--six months a year in polar bear country and I carry a .416 Rigby for protection of myself and guests.  A piddly ass spear will not cut it.  We go south for black bears and moose and again a spear is a useful as teats on a boar.  You will not get close enough to any sizeable animal to be in effective range of said spear and it will be nothing but a self imposed crutch-a pacifier so to speak. Small game can be far easier gotten with something like a rabbit stick.

Not makeshift ones and especially any in the hands of novices who think it's all easy like a Hollywood movie.  Sure, there are some who use it for boar hunts, a la medieval knight fantasy, but those are true spears but are useless against attacking animals--like you'd be able to deploy it in the first place.  Remember that bears and especially big cats are ambush hunters.

The biggest problem with any impact weapon is that you have to get close to your opponent and they have longer, sharper teeth and claws then your piddly ass stick (with or without a blade attached) and they know how to use them far better.

I hike with a walking stick, a shepherd's staff actually, and it's used for balance, a water depth tester, a tent pole for a makeshift sun screen but certainly not for a de/offensive weapon.  I have bells, a tin cup and spoon on the staff to make noise when walking since most encounters with bears are by accident--neither of you know the other is there.  I can't tell you how many times I/we've walked around a berry bush that I/we're picking and encountered a black bear.  Just backed out and went somewhere else.
 
Tobias Gibson said:

Shlomo, I'm thinking you're not a fan of a spear in survival situations.  LOL!  What do you think of stout walking staff?  In your opinion would it have any usefulness in the wilderness?
 

I can’t believe Shlomo’s ben Maved’s response to my “Survival Priorities” scenario and my suggestion in it that making a spear might be the number one priority in the circumstances I described for this hypothetical scenario.

With all due respect, I think Mr. ben Maved is in denial or some kind of never-never land with respect to the possibility of my scenario ever occurring.  My scenario could be the result of a catastrophic accident such as a private boating accident, a catastrophic flying accident, a catastrophic sailing accident, a tour cruise accident in which the ship sinks, or other similar catastrophic accidents.  A survivor of any of these accidents could find himself/herself alone in very hostile survival conditions with a pocket knife as his/her only survival tool.

When I was working in Alaska, some co-workers of mine found themselves in a very similar situation when they were on a hunting trip in Alaska between Anchorage and the Arctic Circle in an inflatable boat carrying them downstream in a large river.  The boat they were in was upset by a large underwater snag that forced them and their boat underwater, flipped the boat over and sent all their gear to the bottom of the river.  They very narrowly missed being drowned and, happily, were rescued the same day.

Contrary to Mr. ben Maved’s cavalier comments, which were almost all ridiculously overly optimistic, this kind of sh*t DOES happen, regardless of Mr. ben Maved’s protestations to the contrary, and his comments neatly sidestep the issue of priorities in the scenario I offered for discussion as though the scenario could never happen.

I really don’t care what Mr. ben Maved routinely takes with him on his journeys into the wilderness.   His .416 Rigby is a great rifle, but if he loses it and the rest of his gear in a catastrophic accident, how will he survive?  What will be his priorities without all that gear?  Sure, priorities will change with the circumstances, but being prepared to defend your life while attending to the other priorities seems pretty basic to me.  If that “piddly ass spear”, as he puts it, is made properly (think fish spear or trident), it could blind a predator, make it change its mind about pressing an attack or even turn away its attack.

If the raw material for a shelter is available, the same material would probably make a good walking staff/spear.  Why be so obstinate about the value of a spear?  Just take a few minutes to make the damn thing, even if it only gives you a little more confidence and makes trekking easier. 

Once again, Mr. ben Maved has missed the whole point of my "Survival Priorities" scenario.  How is it that he has bells, whistles and other noise makers with him in the scenario I described?  He just will not accept the scenario for what it is - - survival with nothing but a knife.  I don't care how much he disputes the value of a spear.  If you accept the premise that you could be stranded with nothing but the knife in your pocket or in its sheath on your belt, a spear is still better than nothing.  Not every encounter with a predator is by ambush, and an 8 to 10 ft. long spear would give you a distance advantage that a knife wouldn't give you.  Think like a cave man.  They actually killed wooly mammoths with spears.  How can anyone dispute that evidence that a spear can be an effective weapon?  Well, I take that back.....  Mr. ben Maved will probably dispute it vehemently.  He just doesn't understand that he could find himself alone in nowhere land without all his gear and that he could encounter a predator before or while he's following his own survival priorities (and notice I said "encounter" and not "be attacked by" here because he won't necessarily be ambushed).  It seems he has a bad case of "it couldn't happen to me because I'm always prepared and properly equipped."   He should be so lucky!

Well I see many folks are going to still want that spear.  Perhaps it is psychological and perhaps it is because they are more adept at employing such a tool for self defense.   I'm siding with Shlomo. Over time, I've found that big knives may look cool but tend to be more weight than worth.  I've also found a walking staff cut to between five and six feet long ideal for all sorts of tasks when in the wilderness and the ability to make a lot of noise key to being found and avoiding animals.

I believe the  original post gave little or know information except you woke up in the morning and found yourself stranded in the wilderness and hinted that we should make spear.  I respectfully disagree that making a spear should be a top priority.  If I found myself in a area filled with an abundance of bull frogs and had a hankering from frog legs, then  I might get around to sharpening a stick.  I am not skilled at hunting with a spear and seriously doubt that having a spear is going improve my chances of survival, especially in the short term situations. 

I still believe the psychology would work for me.  The pointed walking stick would allow me to thump the ground, keep my balance and I think I would like "thinking" it would serve me well if I needed it.  Whether it would or not.....I hope I never find out

I just reread Terry's original post.  In it he calls it a hunting spear, not a survival spear.  However I can see where it could also contribute to survival other than helping provide food.  It could be used to ward off or kill smaller animals that might attack you.  Snakes are one that come to mind.  You might fend off or even kill a coyote with it if they don't attack in a pack.  And used as a walking stick it would be good where ever you are stranded.

But with that said, if I am ever actually attacked by a grizzly, or any bear for that matter, I pray to God that I have something much more formidable than a sharp stick to defend myself.  Because if I don't, I think I am most likely going to be dead.  From what I have read, if you are attacked, you would probably be better off just playing dead rather than trying to fight it with your spear.

Now I suppose cavemen did kill mammoths with spears.  However I doubt seriously it was with sharpened sticks.  Since it was all they had to work with I expect they became pretty good at flintknapping.  I think they probably had some pretty robust spears with some sharp blades.  And I doubt one caveman went out and killed a mammoth.  It was probably a group of them that cornered and surrounded a mammoth and attacked from all sides.  I doubt that a mammoth was seldom if ever killed by a single spear thrust.  It was probably like I recently read about in Africa.  A rite of passage into manhood is to kill a lion with a spear.  But again one man doesn't go out and kill a lion.  Five men surround the lion and attack from all sides.  Even so sometimes the lion kills one of the men.

Jan, you mentioned the psychology of it.  Mindset is a very important aspect of survival.  Someone who believes he can survive and is determined that he is going to survive no matter what, already has a leg up on someone who doesn't have the proper mindset.  If making a spear contributes to that survival mindset, by all means make one.  Plus it will have other uses.

Now is making that spear the first priority?  I say it depends on the totality of your situation.  If there is a grizzly near you but not attacking yet, your first priority might be to try to slowly back away to put distance between you and the bear.  If you became stranded in some kind of accident and are injured and bleeding profusely, your first priority should be to try to stop the bleeding.  In any event if it were me I would assess my situation and from that assessment determine what to do and in what order.


Jan Carter said:

I still believe the psychology would work for me.  The pointed walking stick would allow me to thump the ground, keep my balance and I think I would like "thinking" it would serve me well if I needed it.  Whether it would or not.....I hope I never find out

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