Posts Tagged ‘survival’

I need to learn how to fish.  Because if you teach a man to fish he can fish in the canals. I know fishing in the canals sounds disgusting, but fish make for good and cheap fertilizer, especially for corn.

Here and here is the info I have found about fishing in the canals.

Short version, you can fish pretty much all the canals except the CAP.

Cut and pasted…..

Can I fish in the canals?

Yes, unless posted “no trespassing.” Anglers must have a valid fishing license in possession for state waters (not an urban fishing license) as per ARS 17-331. Learn more about fishing regulations in Arizona by visiting the Arizona Game and Fish Department’s Web site at azgfd.gov/fish.

Below:  Not a Phoenix Canal.

Canal Milan Italy

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Below are some random notes I took at the survival school the other weekend.  It is not all of the notes, the ones that should be their own subject/post I have not included.  Think of it as random bits of wisdom.

–The animals were skittish for it was a full moon.  The bunny rabbits were not on the move.  There was also a strong cold wind blowing away the tracks of the few brave ones.

–When researching how to survive in the wild it is best to read materials written before 1970.

–Mice leave rice-sized poop.  Rats leave bigger poop.  Fear the smaller poop.

–A cotton-ball soaked in vaseline makes for a hell of a good starter fireball.

–When tracking, keep an eye for things out-of-place.  Remember the print may not be inconsistent.  The “fun part” of tracking is figuring out the story.  Watch for patterns.

–85% of human are right-handed.  The tend to drift right when not paying attention.  This is not a metaphor for the tea party but maybe it should be.  The average american walks 2 miles per hour.  One might be surprised how much they meander right in just one hour of aimless walking.

–When tracking someone who wants to survive, do not discount what would be the easiest path.

–If you stumble across someone’s marijuana field you might get sucker-punched.

–What defines survival?  If one sees famine and death outside of one’s window does that mean survival?   What crazy fool would roll down the window when death is outside?  If one does not look outside of the blinds how can you be sure it is not too late?

–Native Americans in the SouthWest generally used traps and not snares.  There is probably a reason why.  Deadfalls work best here.  One can only generally use snares in the forest where there are plenty of branches and shade.   If desperate, birds over any other animal, is your best chance to catch an AZ animal by snare.

–A Rolling snare jerks the animal off the ground.  Setting one ain’t easy when one is using cacti as one’s trigger.

–The fewer triggers the better.

–Avoid fleas.  Especially when dissecting an animal for dinner.  Fleas suck.

–When learning, focus on a digestible area.  Tony recommends 20 acres.  How big is 20 acres?  I think my yard is .25 acres.  Figure out 20 acres and know that 20 acres well. Use that as lesson one.  Otherwise learning every plant or every technique for all the variations one finds in a desert as big as the Sonoran is simply too overwhelming.  Know the plants in your 20 acres.  Know what plants grow.   Know where the afternoon shade is.  Know the morning shade.  Know the rhythms.  Know what the animals eat in your area.  Know what the smell of rain is like.  Think locally, act micro-locally.

–Best Glide is the best brand for a compact fishing survival kit.

— For catching fish a cast net is the “way to go.”  It is currently illegal to fish with a cast net.  Cast netting would give a “bathtub full of fish in 15 minutes.”  Sidenote:  It is also illegal to hunt with a salt lick.  Both of these methods are illegal for a reason.  Once we no longer care about the rules, hunt in whatever manner was previously illegal.  They were originally made illegal because it made things just too easy.

–A Dip net is an easy way to gather minnows.   Minnows will probably easier to gather than one big fish.  Multiple strips of protein might be better than the fish that got away.

–Don’t count your fish before they are in the skillet.

–“Primitive fishing is like primitive hunting.  It is a numbers game.” 20 baited traps = 1 edible animal, if you are lucky.

–Before the bow and arrow was the atlatl.  It was the weapon of choice for big game.  Get all Aztec up on it.  It is a difficult weapon to get accurate with but great for sheer ease and power.

–When shooting bows and arrows switch arms from time to time to avoid arthritis.

–Arrows over 33 inches do not need feathers.

–Michelle’s craft store is a great place to get marbles for sling shots and craft wire (which is already made camouflage) for cheap.  Buy galvanized wire, at least 20 gauge.  A 550 cord is best for snares for Coyotes.

— When using a knife think safety first-ish.  Think through if you were to slip while carving, where would the knife go?

— Rabbitt’s eat their own poop.  The first pass is brown, the second is white.  If you see rabbit poop where there are brown and white droplets beside each other than the rabbit goes one way at sunrise and another at sunset.  Try to ignore that you are hunting an animal that eats its own poop.

–Hunting rabbits is not easy.

–Cats have  asymmetrcal toes.

–As a general rule, if the hind foot falls in front of the front foot then that means speed.

–Don’t put anything camouflage in your survival kit, because you might lose it.

–Surviving is not living.  When people say “The Navajo survived in the Southwest for centuries”, they did not “survive” they lived.

–Spam is the culinary equivalent of the cockroach.

–In Hunter/gatherer society’s people did not live alone.  The lived in groups of 15 to 30 people.  To survive one needs more than oneself.

–Diesel is a better shelf life than gasoline.

–To use bleach to preserve water, pick ordinary bleach not one that is “scented” or has “lemon.”  6 drops of bleach per quart.  There are 4 quarts per gallon. 

–The SODIS method for purifying water is the easiest.  It is used around the world in developing nations.  It involves putting water in a clear plastic bottle and setting that in the sun for 6 hours.  –Anybody who has ever been in a natural catastrophe and had to struggle to survive has said “Man, we did not have enough water.”

Thermal Cooker’s are a good way to cook with minimal energy. They are big in Japan.

Flash cooking is where you put your meat on a stick, put a trash can or other large metal can around it and put coals of the outside of the can.  So far I have only found one internet site that describes it.

–If you put insects in a stew you won’t even know they are there.

–A good reachable goal when learning this stuff is to learn 12 edible plants in your area.  Trying to learn every plant can be overwhelming.

–When learning edible plants, also take time to learn poisonous plants as they kill.  You want to know what to avoid.   Hemlock kills!  I think I also might have it in my yard. http://cal.vet.upenn.edu/projects/poison/plants/pppoiso.htm

–Pine Nuts are ripe in Sept.

Permaculture would be a good thing to research. –Mustard plant is easy to find in Phoenix in spring.

–Pine sap has antibacterial features.  Olive oil will help make it less sticky.

–A good book to read is “Gathering the Desert” 

–Rendezvous are events were people who are into this stuff present their skills and teach others.  A complete list of events can be found at hollowtop.com.

–Whichever foot print is bigger means means more weight.

–Do not, I repeat, DO NOT use bear spray on a cougar.

–Japanese wet stones are awesome because they only need water and not oil to sharpen a knife.

–The bubonic plague kills prairie dogs.  Do not eat a mangy-looking mammal that lives in a dark hole surrounded by other mammals.  Disease and plague can run rampant.  On a side note, if an animal does not look healthy do not eat that animal, no matter how hungry one is.  This rule also applies to zombies.

–The bigger the wood the bigger the fire bubble.

–To survive and prosper in the wilderness you will need a knife, a saw, an axe and a good pot to cook in.

–Anything left over goes in the stew, this is why one needs a good pot.

–Belive in yourself.

Reader’s Beware:  Some of you vegetarians and snuggly animal lovers will not like the following post.  It involves dead bunnies.

We made sticks.  Heavier on one end and lighter on the other end.  You carried two.  The idea was to throw it at a rabbit, preferrably a cotton tail and not a jack rabbit, hit the rabbit with the stick and hopefully kill, but if not at least stun it.  If only stunned, then the second stick came into effect.  The idea was then to bludgeon the rabbit with the remaining stick.

This is not as easy as it sounds.

First, it is very difficult to be accurate with a stick you just carved out of juniper.  In fact, “First” should be the mere fact you have to carve a stick out of juniper.  This is a huge pain in the ass when one is hungry for meat.

Second, Bunnies are a fickle bunch.  Not only are the very easily distracted, their first instinct is to scatter.  So after the long slog of walking  in circles to finally find spot a rabbit and (if the chance of meat does not overwhelm you) plus being patient enough to get within 20 feet, the cute little hunk of protein scatters.  Out of desperation you throw the stick, but flat-lining adrenalin on an empty stomach makes you throw the stick horizontally and the rabbit jacked-up-on-pure-rabbit-speed scatters.  Tiny little fluffy clouds of dust in the dusk wind.

Below: Practing with the stick.

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It has been said that men have run down a rabbit.  No way in God’s Green Earth I could.  Those things move fast and wild.  They go through bushes of desert plants while you have to run around them.   I was lucky enough to find two that I even had the chance to try to run down while wildly waving inefficient sticks in the air.

At one point, I had a clean perfect shot at one, a tiny little bunny cottontail.  “This is my chance to redeem myself in front of these men,”  I quietly told my self,” If I can bring back meat after all my failings with the dead traps, the ability to track, the spoon carving, the mis-diagnosed poop identification, then I will be a hero.”  I breathed in, I breathed out.  I threw the stick with all my attention, and it missed by a wide 7 feet.  The rabbit sprang.  With my second stick I gave good hunt.  But the rabbit’s fast ability to change directions dramatically got the better of me and left me panting over a stick. I retuned sans rabbitt. Alas,we did not have meat that night for our stew.

Below: The Hunt.

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This last weekend I took the Complete Survivor Class from Ancient Pathways.  I picked up a whole series of skills to practice. Notice I said “practice” because, good lord, just cause I did these things once doesn’t mean I am actually competent at any of them.   We set traps, snares, tracked, snacked on plants, made jerky and stared at a whole lot of poop.

The class had many manly men and two lovely ladies.  I think it is fair to say that I was generally the least competent at just about everything.  Except for smoking bowls, this I was good at, and by smoking bowls, I mean making a bowl out of fire.

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One of the first things we learned that weekend was to whittle out a spoon. Which was handy as I had forgotten to bring a spoon, and only had a fork and knife. My spoon was incompetent. I routinely watched, for the rest of the weekend, as people whittled out far superior spoons and then pitch them in the fire.

I was a bit nervous at the start of the weekend.  First, I wasn’t sure if I was in the sort of shape to survive such a thing.  Second it snowed the night before in Flagstaff.  I was not expecting snow in mid-May in Arizona.

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This had me concerned.  In assessing my clothes the first cold morning of the class I realized if the cold held I would not be able to stay warm without looking perfectly ridiculous.  First rule of survival is PMA (Postive Mental Attitude) which is hard to do when one doesn’t look good while doing it.  O.K., maybe the first rule is only the PMA part and I just added the looking good part.

The warmest thing I had was a thick wool poncho that I had bought years before in Mexico.  I was planning on using it for a blanket.  I have only worn it on stage for comedic relief,  and I am sure the ex-military men would have met it with scoff.    Luckily for me, things warmed up.

The first thing after setting up our tests was a walking tour of the property.   Tony Nester, our instructor, pointed out the various rat and mice nests around.  Of course, I had set my tent up right beside a big pack-rat’s nest.   Once he pointed it out, it was bluntly obvious.  I never moved my tent.  I figured if I had gophers in Phoenix, I could share space with a pack-rat.

Below:  My tent and pack-rat nest.

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The weekend was simply packed with new knowledge and things worth mulling over.   Here are all the shots from the weekend. As I reflect on lessons learned and go over my half-filled notebook, I will be making a series of posts about this weekend.

As part of my research on how I should spend my vacation time, I have been checking out what survival schools I could sign up for.

The one I ended up settling on is the Ancient Pathways’ Complete Survivor class near Flagstaff, AZ. The class covers edible plants, deadfalls, snares, and game preparation. What I am most excited about is making jerky, I love jerky! Who doesn’t? (I mean, besides vegetarians. Sidenote: How do you find a vegetarian at a cocktail party? Don’t worry they will find you. ) At first the cost for 4 days of instruction seemed a bit steep but looking at other survival courses it is not so much. I have to get a hunting license for the class.

There are other options out there.  Here is what I have found so far:

Cody Lundin in Prescott, AZ is famous from being on the cover of Backpacker magazine, Discovery Channel, and Dateline NBC which has also added to the tab for his courses.   If money was no object I would take his Self-Reliance Symposium class, 7 days at $1790 which covers all sorts of stuff, and prepares one for living off the grid.

Another good option available for folks in AZ is the Reavis Mountain School, run by Peter Bigfoot.  The prices are more reasonable.  I took his wild medicinal, edible and useful plants class a couple of years back and enjoyed it.  Over many years Peter has experimented with about every type of plant one could find in the Superstition Mountains.  Years of trial and error (and he has plenty of error stories) made it so he knows what each plant’s nutritional and medicinal uses are.     My favorite quote from the weekend was someone asked “Peter, what plant confused you the longest?”  His answer, “MJ.”

He also has classes on “off the grid” living and other survival skills.  Bring your own coffee, he doesn’t believe in it.

Another local is the AZbushman.  I have not taken any of his classes, but I really like his videos on youtube.

The person probably best known in the United States for wilderness survival skills is Tom Brown.   For example he was the technical advisor for the film The Hunted starring Tommy Lee Jones.   His Tracker School has the longest list of classes, but his website could use a little work.   It was tough to figure out which classes were actually happening.  Plus the classes are in New Jersey, which I also find a little funny.  I figure I should take classes in AZ, because that is where I will be when the SHTF.  Wikipedia has a good links of articles he wrote for Mother Earth News.

I ended up going with the Ancient pathways because their site does not emphasize one man.    Wilderness survival should be about how anyone can do it, and by empasizing one person detracts from this in some subtile way.  Plus I am a little jealous of how manly all their names are.  My parents told me that they were going to call me “Adam” and my grandmother responded, “What?!? Adam!  As in Adam and Eve?  What else you got?”  In the moment of panic they said “Kevin”.  I think I would have been taller if they had stuck with Adam.

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Above: Kindling I tried to use at my first attempt and building fire with two pieces of wood.