If you’re a hunter looking to spend a good amount of time in the wilderness, you’re going to want to know a few things to make the most out of all your resources.
A good hunter doesn’t just know how to use a gun or camouflage but also knows how to live off the environment they’re hunting in. Learning some tips on utilizing the land and your own materials can either make your life a lot easier or save it entirely.
Here are the seven survival tips every hunter should know:
1. Make a Fire
Knowing how to start a fire is one of the best skills to have, especially as a hunter. If you plan on eating your catch once you’ve made it, you’ll need a fire. Or, if you’re spending lots of time in the wilderness, you’ll need a source of light and warmth near your shelter.
To create a fire, you need to find a way to provoke a spark, use the sun, use friction, or use chemicals to your advantage. Keep in mind that making a fire from chemicals is the least common way of making a fire and isn’t recommended since they can be hard to control. First, make sure you’ve prepped the area and gathered light, dry materials that will light easily.
Fire Starting Essentials
If you’re going to make a fire from friction, then there is the classic hand-spin technique. By digging a hole into one piece of wood, you can apply a thin wooden rod on the top and rub your hands together in a downward motion until smoke appears.
An even easier method for friction is to split apart from one piece of branch or log, then take a pointed stick and rub it up and down along the wood until you see it char and smoke. In each scenario, you should feel the wood getting hotter as you get closer.
Sparks also work, obviously through lighting a match or lighter. You can also rub a 9-volt battery along with some steel wool which will cause an instant reaction. Or you could use flint and steel or find some quartz to smash together.
Focus the sunlight on the area you want to catch fire through a magnifying glass or even with a plastic water bottle and some patience. To make fires while it’s raining or wet, take branches directly off of trees and shave off the wet bark to expose the dry wood underneath.
2. Make a Keyhole Fire
The shape of your fire really matters if you want to avoid overcooking your food or even your game. That’s why the keyhole method is the best. Make a ring of stones along with the bulk of your fire, but then leave room to trail some of those stones aside into a separate square section, making the rough shape of a keyhole.
Instead of roasting your food directly over an open flame, which is perfect in some cases but not great in others, you can scrape coals and smaller burning items from the main flame into the smaller section of your keyhole pit.
Then, you can put a thin stone or grate over this part to slow-cook whatever you want. Doing this protects your meal, but the protective wall will also protect the rest of the forest from escaping flames.
3. Cook Food Properly
Each type of catch you make in the wild offers a different but very tasty, natural meal. But each type of animal needs to be cooked a little differently from the other to consume and preserve every piece of meat properly.
Large Game: You’re not going to be able to build a giant bonfire for a deer or elk that you just bagged. In fact, it would be dangerous and unwise to do so. Instead, simply cut steak-sized pieces of meat and cook them over a stone while persevering the rest of the catch.
Small Game: Smaller animals can be roasted directly or slow-cooked over a fire. These animals can be smoked, so they don’t have to be in direct contact with the flame, just enough to heat it. These animals tend to burn and char rather quickly, so keep your eye out.
Game Bird: Birds are easy enough. After plucking or skinning and gutting, simply puncture part of the breast with a rod or stick and roast over the fire to the consistency that you like. You can keep this rod/stick in hand so you can change the elevation over the fire and angle of the bird, and it should cook fairly quickly.
- Game Fish: Fish is best smoked and doesn’t need the contact of direct flame. Instead, lay the fish out on a plank or flat surface angled close to the open flame. This will make sure it has both top quality and flavor while eating.
4. Tie Effective Knots
Knot tying is a part of a lost art these days, but very handy if you’re spending a lot of time in the wilderness or perhaps trying to live as self-sufficient as possible. There are a plethora of knots to select from, each one proving to be appropriate for its own unique use.
One of the easiest knots to learn is the bowline knot. It both ties and loosens fairly easily, making it good for several scenarios.
5. Purify Water
If you’re thinking about drinking from a running stream, you’re taking a gamble. Even the purest rivers that may be safe to drink from can still contain harmful bacteria to the human body.
Luckily, we have easy filtration equipment to ensure that the water is safe while drinking. Some camping bottles have built-in filtering devices so you can draw straight from any river. If you’re stuck without too many options, the classic solution is to boil your water. Boiling it for a good amount of time will kill any bacteria and allow you to store it for later.
6. Fend Off Wildlife
Many people deal with bear attacks incorrectly. For grizzly bears or black bears, the best thing to do is stay calm and identify yourself as a human. Standing tall, waving your arms, and even talking out loud will distinguish you from easy prey. Note that if a bear stands on its own two legs, this is usually out of curiosity, not aggression.
Next, do your best to back away or to the side slowly and carefully, and keep your backpack on for protection. Do not give the bear any food or use it to send it away; it will only come back for more.
If the bear is definitely going to attack, for whatever reason, then you need to know what type of bear it is to respond appropriately:
Grizzly bears: Play dead and do not run away. Lay on the ground, flat on your stomach, and protect your head with your hands. The bear will come and search you and attempt to provoke you, but you must remain still and calm and allow the bear to focus its attention on your backpack.
If the bear doesn’t relent, then fight back with full force, focusing all of your efforts and blows on its nose and snout area since this is where it is most sensitive.
- Black bears: Do not play dead and do everything you can to evacuate the area safely. If the bear persists and escape is not an option, then fight back with full force focusing all of your efforts and blows on the bear’s nose and snout area since this is where it is most sensitive.
7. Treat Venomous Snake Bites
Hollywood will have led you to believe that the solution to a venomous snake bite is to orally suck out the venom, spit it out, and repeat until cured. This is entirely fake and would never work. As soon as the venom enters your blood, it is in your stream for good and already on its way to your heart.
The same goes for applying a tourniquet since this can disrupt blood flow after the venom is already causing blood to flow irregularly. And yet another mistake is to sever or cut parts of your body to divert the blood, but again, the venom is much faster, which will only cause further bleeding and damage.
Because of the speed of the venom, there is no way to cure a venomous snake bite immediately after being bitten, and attempting to do so is either futile or fatal. The only solution is to find medical attention by calling 911.
However, in the meantime, you can slow the venom process. Keep the bit area below the level of your heart to make the venom work harder to make its way up near your heart. Wash the bite area with soap and water to keep it clean.
Also, if you can, take note of the snake's appearance since this will help identify the type of antidote that will be needed later. However, do not attempt to catch the snake since this will only entice further incidents.