survival bushcraft and primitive living skills

Improvised Trap Triggers

Survival is a daily calories game that becomes a daily battle to secure nutrition. There are a couple of way to do this with these being foraging for wild edibles the other trapping meat. Trapping is more efficient than hunting because the traps do the work for you whether it is fish traps or remote trigger fishing lines there are several ways to set up fishing lines to work for you. Many plants and trees are a good source of carbohydrates

The first thing you notice is that there is a lack of simple sugars that greatly affect your energy levels. Proteins and vitamins from plants become your new stable. There are a couple of things you will notice quickly. The first thing is preparing and cooking your food. There will be no counters or stoves or ovens to prepare or cook your food on. You should have a basic knowledge of butchering small game and fish. There are numerous videos on youtube and I am not going to go into it here (unless you guys want me to then I will gladly do one on it). The next problem you will probably notice is taste. You have experienced a world where everything in made to taste great and out here in the wilderness much like everything else it is left to what you have packed as far as seasoning and your imagination. A working knowledge of plants that you can use to season your food like garlic or onion, pepper weed.. Where would you find carbohydrates? Well that again goes back your knowledge of foraging and plant life where you’re at. This starts with what time of the year and season it is?

Roots contain many starches and therefore simple sugars. Don’t forget the trees because they are also a source of simple sugars like the inner bark of cottonwood or popular trees. There are really a lot of sources of carbohydrates. You should research foraging and how to combine different plants with meat to make great meals. We would use cooked green briar roots with fish or squirrel.

The reason using traps is better for you than hunting when you’re in a survival situation is once your traps are deployed you go back to camp and do other things while the traps work for you. Hunting means stalking and lots of walking and work while you may not even get any food to take back to camp.

So chances are you didn’t carry any traps with you on your outing? I recommend you take a conibear style trap and 110 is the best size its small and easily packed. The more you have the better your chances. You should carry a large roll of tarred bank line # 36. I have found that this work best for snares. A spring type snare is my go to for survival snare set up.  There are other set ups and you again are limited only by your imagination and knowledge of triggers and snare set up.

Dog bone style triggers are multipurpose and can be used in many trap trigger applications. 

These should be your go to for improvised survival trapping. These trigger set ups are simple and easy to deploy in many applications like fishing. I will post more videos on different trap triggers as well as different ways to deploy them.

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching the video.

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The long cold night

The time it took to check the remaining traps the clouds grew thick and gray and the wind picked up. The temperature was dropping quickly and the daylight was beginning to fade. The trail back to my camp was long and I still had about six more miles to go. The light would not last that long and the cold wind driving the intermittent snow fall had help me make the decision to shelter up. I began searching for a place to build a shelter and there it was at the end of the straight part of the trail a large tree that fallen last spring was the perfect place to start. The trunk was about five feet in diameter and went all the way to the ground, meaning there was no opening between the bottom of the tree trunk and the ground. It would be a great place to put a shelter. I marked out a place about eight feet long on the trunk and began to cut poles about two to three inches in diameter and seven feet in length to make the lean-to. Once the poles were cut and put into place I cut some to make a raised bed and make stops to lean large flat rocks for my fire reflector wall. The sheet of plastic I always carry in my pack (for just such an occasion) was placed over the front opening of the shelter. The back opening I closed off with poles cut to fit standing upright in the opening and then as I piled leaf litter on the top of the shelter poles i would do the same with the poles I had placed upright to close the back opening. The leaf litter was about three feet thick on top of the shelter with pine and cedar branches on top of the leaves to keep the wind from removing them in the night. Fire would have to be next. I had to start a small fire with what was available and once that was done I proceeded to gather what fire wood i could find close to where my shelter was located. With my shelter being a downed oak tree once i got my fire going I had plenty of wood.

The night had fallen and the storm had picked up and the main point of this shelter design is about to become my saving grace. This is the super shelter design and it will be about seventy degrees inside when it is in the twenties outside. The plastic sheet absorbs the heat from the fire and the reflector wall is going to make sure that the heat goes where it is supposed to. Without the plastic sheet a Mylar blanket attached to the top of your shelter will reflect heat back to you but it will not compete with the plastic sheet covering the doorway. This was the best I made some coffee on the fire and made sure that the wood would last the night and I went to bed. The next morning I got up and packed up, put out the fire and moved on.

The importance of practicing your skills can never be taken for granted because they might be the only thing that keeps you alive on a night like mine. It so easy to get caught in bad weather and the temperature can drop so fast then you’re in serious trouble.

Thanks for reading


I was about thirteen when I first spent a night alone in the woods. I will never forget the way I felt and the fear. It was December and the night-time temps were in the thirties and the day time temps maybe high forties. We had went to our usual spot back in the woods to trap and hunt. We lived off the land and pretty much off the grid. As a teenager it was not cool to live off the land. Grandpa pretty much trapped and hunted to fill the freezer and make extra money. Grandpa went to run traps over night and he left me to tend the camp. He said keep the twelve gauge loaded  and keep the fire burning and he would be back at first light. I was all about staying at camp by myself because grandpa trusted me. That meant something to me. He taught me many things but this would be one of the most important things that I would ever learn.

I would keep the fire going and the twelve gauge in the lean-to with me but neither one would protect me from the one thing that would stalk me all night. Every noise was something evil just beyond my sight. I would close my eyes and the monsters hiding in the dark just beyond the light were creeping ever closer to my forest shelter. The images were terrifying and had got almost complete control of me. Sleeping was out of the question so I set by the fire and eventually I would doze off only to be awakened by a creaking or cracking somewhere just outside my field of vision. A distant animal call was that of some unearthly creature that had just crawled from out of the underworld to suck my blood or eat my flesh. Images of vampires and werewolves ran unchecked through my brain. Fear can control you on a primal level, it can convince you that you are being hunted or that something is real even if it isn’t. That noise you just heard is unnatural and is here to eat your soul. OK I know it’s a little over the top but you get the picture. I remembered what my grandpa had told me. He said fear is merely a product of your mind the images and sounds fear transforms into something that grips you. It uses those things against you by stealing your concentration. Your ability to process even the most basic of information becomes clouded and slow. Finally fear leaves you frozen and incapacitated unable to utilize your skill sets to prioritize what you need to do to sustain yourself

Staying in control is important and training your self to know how to recognize when fear is creeping in and trying to take control of you. There are many publications you can research to help you control your fear. I manged to get control of myself and eventually went to sleep and When I woke up grandpa was sitting by the fire and had made coffee. The main thing that I learned that night is to maintain some type of control over yourself by working on something and staying busy. Keep moving forward with your survival priorities. Stay in control and working down your priorities list. more later sorry I haven’t posted much lately I have been working on videos That I will add hopefully by Tuesday of this next week!

The survival square. The next set of skills

Your ability to survive will depend heavily on four different things and your ability to manage them. Maintaining your core body temperature, finding water and processing it, finding food and collecting it, and being able to sleep.

Maintaining your core temp is vital to your being able to function and your survivability. The core temp is affected by almost every environmental change you would face. There are three major forces that the environment uses against you, Convection, conduction, radiation. These forces will steal your precious body heat or raise your body temp to unbearable levels.  Convection is when the wind blows over you and literally sucks the body heat right out of you.  Convection is heat transfer by mass motion of a fluid such as air or water when the heated fluid is caused to move away from the source of heat, carrying energy with it. Convection above a hot surface occurs because hot air rises. This definition is from wikipedia. The cold wind blowing over you can be worse than being wet. Without the proper outer ware your core temp will begin to fall rapidly once it reaches 96 degrees you are at clinical hypothermia. a condition that occurs when the temperature in the core of the body (as opposed to the limbs) drops to 96 degrees Fahrenheit or lower.

When hypothermia sets in, a person will begin shivering, and most people have movement problems, such as stumbling, slowing down and poor coordination. People affected by hypothermia will also appear dazed, disoriented or confused, and may have slurred speech or act as though they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

The effects of hypothermia are nasty and will easily kill you. You clothing will always be your first line of defense against hypothermia. Wool is best without any doubt. Always dress in layers, a base layer, then a thicker layer then an outer weather proof shell is best. Try not to expose flesh to cold for anything length of time.

The heat radiating off the concrete in the city is the worst and large rocks will also retain heat from the day. I have walked by a large rocky outcrop while hiking or hunting and you can feel the heat radiating off of them. This will continue long after the sun goes down so if you can find a place close to large rocks you can put your shelter close to the rocks and take advantage of that radiation effect.

conduction is the transfer of heat through a stationary objects because of a physical difference in temperature. For instance if you sit a hot-pot on a counter top, the pot is much warmer than the counter top so the counter top will steal as much heat from the pot as it can. The heat will transfer from the pot through conduction into the counter top and the same thing will happen if you lay in direct contact with the ground. The earth will drain your body heat quickly especially in the winter so raised, insulated beds are a must in cold weather. You can outline you bed in your shelter with logs and fill that space with dead leaves. Make it as thick as you can. The leaves are great insulation from the cold ground.

     Water is important without it dehydration will sit in and the physical effects of dehydration is nasty. Confusion and delirium set in making you ineffective as this happens you lose fine motor control and your ability to correct the situation. Without medical attention you will die.

    To find water start by looking for natural draw in the landscape like a wash or valley between two larger hills. Sudden appearance of  green vegetation when everything else is dry and brown. Listen as you look for the sounds of running water. sometimes you might have to dig a seep hole where that low spot is close to vegetation. The hole will begin to fill with water it can sometimes be slow but it will happen. Use a bandana to filter larger particles out of the water and allow it to clear by letting the dirt settle to the bottom. Then boil it, once it comes to a rolling boil your good. Remember big bubbles no troubles

   There are a lot of ways to collect water, a solar still works well. Always collect rain water (you don’t have to boil rain water).

   Food is next on the list and having a steady supply of calories is so important. Being out in the wilderness and surviving is a calories game. You must replace what you burn up working, walking. So I can go to any restaurant or gas station for that matter and get a two thousand calorie meal. Out here that’s not going to happen so easily. To get that many calories at one time your going to have to eat eleven squirrels, yep I said eleven. So it’s not likely going to happen. You need to balance fats with protein and carbohydrates.

  The best way to get protein is meat and the very best way to do that is traps. You can hunt but your burning calories while you walk and you may have to cover a lot of ground to find game. Traps are working when you’re not. Set as many as you can keep up with then watch the magic because once you do find a game trail or sign then deploy your traps along that trail. You will start to get food and calories. It works out well because you can shelter reasonably close to where your traps are deployed and when I say close i mean like seventy-five yards or so. Fish traps are a good source of food. There are a couple of ways to make fish traps. I will cover those and the remaining skill sets later this week.

Thanks for reading and if you ever have a question please shoot me a message check me out on facebook and my group Two crows wilderness survival



A few years back I was listening to the radio while I was driving home and this story about the survival of a young couple caught my attention. They were driving to the mountains in winter. This was no ordinary news story, you see they had slid off the road and become stranded. He was a Sargent in the marine corps and had extensive survival training and it was that training coupled with a survival kit he had in his car that saved their lives.  You should always carry emergency gear with you. Ask yourself what you would need to survive. What would it take for you and a loved one to survive for 72 hours? Put those things in a container or bag that is easy to carry and keep up with.

  • Something to start a fire with. You should have at least three ways to start a fire, Ferro rod, Lighter, Magnesium block. heck take two lighters. Two is one, one is none. I feel these are good places to start.
  • Knife, at least six inches preferably high carbon steel I think works best
  • Axe, pick a good one, I like the eastwing axes they are bomb proof, easy to sharpen and hold an edge. They also come with a leather head cover and that will save you from accidental cuts and damaging the edge. I like the cheaper bomb proof versions.
  •  A stainless steel water bottle at least 32 oz or two smaller ones. you can use these for boiling water and drinking.
  • A tarp for expedient shelter.
  • Cordage, paracord and #36 bankline are the best that I have used. A small piece of rope would be pretty handy.
  • Two gallon zip lock baggies for gathering water so you don’t contaminate your drinking vessel or you can use them to keep food you might gather while foraging.
  • 3 mil or thicker plastic sheet to catch rain water or enhance your shelter in cold environment. AKA super shelter.
  • your favorite survival food enough to last for at least seventy-two hours

 I think for the most part I have hit the high points. Gear does not have to be super expensive it just has to work when you need it to. I stick with tried and true bushcraft gear that has made the grade and is not that expensive. Like Condor knives, I love my Hudson bay knife and my bushcraft basic. I like husqvarna axes. They are made in Sweden according to the company website and I have found a local store that sells them. Now on to eastwing axes, I have the camp hatchet and it is outstanding. I have used the daylights out of mine and it works great and for forty dollars it is hard to beat.

   I am rambling on but the point is you should always carry an emergency bag with gear that you have packed. Always try to pack gear that you are familiar with not a ready made kits because, well its simple gear you have used will increase your chances of survival versus trying to figure out new gear. Searching through a strange bag looking for something that may be vital to your survival. I Have been there stranded in bad weather while searching through a strange bag looking for something to start a fire with.

   Although a ready-made kit is better than nothing at all just take the time to become familiar with the contents.

Thanks for reading, check out my Facebook group two crows wilderness survival.

Shelter, The second skill set.


  Maintaining your core body temp is key to your survival. Hypothermia is a killer and shelter is your main line of defense against the lethal effects of hypothermia. Shelter will keep you dry and keep you out of the wind. Being wet and cold, while not only being uncomfortable will steal you mental ability to keep going. The more comfortable you are the better your moral and the easier it is to keep going.

When I’m out in the woods there is one very important piece of gear that i always have no matter where I go or what time of year it is, my tarp shelter. When the weather begins to rapidly change you need to quickly get up shelter. Your shelter needs to be not only quickly and easily put up it should also be strong and dependable. When the rain or snow begins to set in and your life depends on your shelter being sturdy and easily put up a simple canvas tarp is king.

   I have used poly-tarps in the summer and spring and in the late fall but when winter hits hard and your out bush crafting or hunting you need speed and simplicity those are what count. If your caught in a surprise snow or worse a freezing rain you won’t have time to fight with complex designs because now yours has become more than a test of skill, you are betting your life that your choice for shelter will do what it says it will do for you.

  A first choice for me will always be a quick shelter then build a semi permanent shelter when you have the time or when its safe to do so. The canvas tarp is versatile because it can take many shapes to accommodate the surroundings your environment has provided. Pictured above is a poly tarp in a wedge shape staked to the ground and the top corner tied to a tree. That worked out very well in the cold.

   My favorite semi permanent shelter is a lean-to style shelter. A shelter like this takes time to gather materials and to build. Start with a ridge pole lashed between two trees about eight feet in length and about two and one half to three inches in diameter. Lash about chin high and cut two-inch poles about eight to ten feet in length to stack side by side starting at one side and working toward the other. You can cut poles to close off the front and sides leaving an opening for you to enter and exit. I have found that this is a good design to manage heat by using a reflector wall and a plastic sheet to cover the opening left for an entrance.

  There are several ways to build shelter and like many other things we all have are favorites for whatever reasons. Just discover the ones you like the most, learn how to modify them for different weather conditions. Practice building them. These are only a few shelters and I chose these because I use these as a system that works well for me. I teach this system just like I described here. I start with the tarp then build the shelters I mentioned because of the ease and speed of construction. They are extremely durable. I will continue my series on skill sets and post them as soon as I can. Thanks for reading

Fire, Continued

564286_520804024601687_1971890672_nWe were talking about using magnesium and steel wool to start a fire in wet conditions. You don’t need a battery to ignite steel wool, you can ignite it with sparks from a ferro rod. Put the steel wool in the middle of your “as dry as possible” tinder bundle and blow causing the tinder bundle to catch fire.

I really don’t trusting gear that has a possibility to fail you and matches can do just that. Carry a lighter so that in extremes you can build a fire hopefully quickly. 11150511_1101167476565336_2984019196975909209_n Primitive fire is challenging and must be done using the right materials. Above is a picture of my bow drill kit. The bow is made from hickory as is the bearing block and there is a reason that these are made from hardwood that i will get in a minute. The spindle is made from cedar as is the hearth board. These are made from softer wood because the softer wood easily adds a fine saw dust to the friction component as you spin the spindle against the hearth board. This is where the ember comes from that allows you to build a fire. Hard work will not make a fine dust easily and will probably not work quickly enough to get your much-needed ember.

This set is easily constructed in the wilderness with your knife and you can make natural cordage from the cedar bark or use a boot string if you’re in a hurry. Fire is on of your most important skill sets and without it you’re in for some long cold nights in wet clothes hungry and thirsty. So start out practicing with building a fire with a lighter first then move on to Ferro rod and then flint and steel using char cloth.

Tinder bundle 500_tinder_bundle2 

This is small fibrous material like cedar bark or coarse dry grass that has been roughed up and processed so that it looks something like the picture above. You can then add something like 100% cotton balls to further your chances in getting flame. Once processed you then take your thumb pushing an indention into the middle making it look like a bird’s nest.

You should have your kindling and larger wood fuel already and sit to the side. Your kindling should be no larger than half that of your pinky and preferably processed from some kind of fat wood or rich softwood because it burns hot and fast once ignited 11755723_1163310550351028_8259312391771923868_n pine fat wood I cut from a pine stump.

I always try to carry some type of tinder making material in my kit and a couple of pieces of fat wood. once you’ve processed your kindling then the next size should be the size of your whole pinky set up in a t-pee fashion then add fuel the size of your thumb. This should be set up and waiting for your lit tinder bundle. Once the flame is taller than the fuel then add the next size fuel.

The rule for fire is large fires warm small fires burn, meaning build a large fire because it will be easier to dry clothes, warm your body so on. A small fire means less heat so you will have to put things closer to it for it to be effective and one side of your sock will be scorched while the other side will still be wet. So big fires warm small fires burn.

The next skill set will be shelter thank you for reading

For or against

Days spent alone doing hard work in the cold in the sometimes wet while sitting traps, stalking game or just practicing different skills are sometimes viewed as anything but fun. Its more than that when you grew up doing those things meant you would have food and other important things that you and your family would need. Canning meat and what was raised in the garden and making summer clothes while getting ready for the winter. Cutting huge amounts of fire wood and then cleaning guns making bows,boiling traps all the while waiting for winter. Winter was and still is my summer. true we don’t have to live like that anymore, I choose to because well it’s what I know. I have tried to live different lives and I still keep coming back to this one. I have learned the value of the life I had growing up and the skill sets I hated as a child because we were different from everyone else.

I have tested those same skill sets time and time again and they work but for them to work for you have to be able to do two things well. 1.You must understand what it means to work with nature and never against her and you must understand that being in nature means being apart of nature. 2. Being in nature is and always will be a spiritual experience. You have to pay attention to what nature has offered and learn the value and uses of those things. Do you know what trees make the best bows? Do you know when to look for morels? Do you know what wood will absolutely work to make fire in a bow drill set? If you don’t you are working against nature and she usually exacts high prices from those who refuse to listen to her. The news often mentions at least once a week someone is lost or someone had to be rescued. Usually good examples of poorly conditioned and trained individuals the news person will quickly state.

This not always the case because your environment can rapidly change sometimes catching a well-trained and well conditioned person off guard and in trouble. A moment of inattention could result in a slip and fall and that could mean a mechanical injury that could strand you for days. Depending on the climate and topography you could easily die for your mistake. Not paying attention to sudden drops in barometric pressure and changing cloud cover could cost an unprepared hiker or hunter his life as well.

The trouble with people are having today is to many trust in plain old luck when they go into the woods to exist on a long-term basis. Luck will never replace skill and preparedness and luck will not replace familiar gear or start fires for you when snow flakes the size of half dollars are piling up and the wind chill is 17 degrees. Luck cannot fill traps for you or will it feed you. You need to understand working with nature is understanding game trails and game behavior. Well placed traps and hunting blinds are what will feed you. My grandpa once told me that if you get a kill, say a deer, and you don’t use all of it or share its sacrifice with friends and family next year you won’t kill anything but time. I have found this to be true and this then becomes a spiritual experience. You must work with nature and to understand that fully you have to be out there every chance you get. Nature will offer you things will be the next title. I will try to have it out this next week. Thank you for reading and sharing.

The Basics

I love to practice basic survival skills and I will start a basic series on basic survival skill sets. Then I will move into more advanced skill sets I really hope to illustrate with videos.

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