Nothing would make you feel more like a Daniel Boone-esk survivalist than crafting your own knife, building a wilderness survival shelter and laying down the law on some wild pups or rival survivalist. That's why we're going to make your wish come true in this post! Get ready to expand your ability to drop into most settings, and walk out with a new knife in hand and nature by the balls, metaphorically or literally, it's up to you.
For the knife and other weapons, we're going to go over common ways to make a knife or cutting utensil with the materials most commonly found in survival situations. Also we will go over a few advanced weapons, should you find yourself in a situation where you might not be expecting rescue for an extended period of time, you're going to need something a bit more sturdy than a sharp rock.
Of course this will be geared towards survival beginners who were caught unawares and experts who might have been separated from this resource. So don't whus out on account of "I don't know how" or "I would never loose my knife, and I bet I can make a better one", I bet you can too, but how about we keep an open mind just in case.
And for the shelter we're going to go over the most common shelters that can be constructed almost anywhere with limited resources. You may not have an in-home-kitchen in this shelter, but it's going to keep the bad things out and the good things in! We want you to know wit confidence that you'll be able to put some kind of roof over your head no matter where you are by the end of this post.
As for dealing with the hostiles, we will discuss the most common intruders to your survival in most areas. Seeing as how they were in the wild before you were, it's reasonable to accept that they might want to investigate you when you show up. But fear not! In a few short minutes (or hours depending on your reading speed) you will know how to distinguish friend from foe, as well as be prepared to defend yourself properly if the time comes.
Enough talk about whats about to happen, LET'S GET IT ON!!
Your First Handmade Knife/Spear
Your knife will need to have three major functions to increase it's utility and ensure it will be worth expending the energy on. It will need to be able to puncture, slash/chop and cut, if it can't perform all three then you get to do it again. This will be an invaluable skill because as a survival rookie you might not have expected to be in this situation so you don't have a knife with you, or during the getting stranded part of your day you might have become separated from this resource.
Either way fear not 'cause we're about to light you up with knowledge! In this example we will assume you're going to use a stone to craft your knife. Also, if the situation calls for it then you can improvise with wood, bones or a scrap metal (if you should be so lucky).
Obviously a knife isn't much use unless it has a blade that is somewhat capable of the simple cutting and hacking chores. For our blade we will be using a stone with decent edge already on it so that most of the work is done for you already, because saving energy is the name of the game in most survival situations. So you have your stone in hand, and now you will need to find a tool to chip away at it with.
The chipping tool can be a light blunt edged tool you will use to chip away small pieces of stone. Next you'll need a flaking tool to make the sharp edges. For the flaking tool you will need a sturdier material, preferably a antler or piece of metal (again if you are so lucky as to have it). The flaking tool will be used to break off thin pieces of rock to whittle an edge for your knife.
To start the process you will need to start with the desired shape using your chipping tool. We recommend a simple triangle blade for maximum utility, but we can dive into other types of blades in another post. You're going to want to make the blade of the knife fairly thin, which is why you want to start with a sturdy rock.
Then you will use the flaking tool by pressing and grinding on either side of the edges of the already formed blade to create a razor sharp edge. Don't kid yourself here and think this won't make a sharp enough blade to do anything with, this home made knife will be able to inflict some serious damage and give you a lot of use. Rinse and repeat this process until you have a razor edge along one side of the knife.
Use your chipping tool to make notches in the lower few inches of the knife, which will be used to hold some sort of covering to give yourself a firm grip on your new tool. The recommended covering for the handle is obviously a rope or some sort of dense fiber material (if you're living the high life you will have leather you can use). Make sure the strands aren't too wide because the ridges in the handle are what is going to give you a grip on it.
And there you have it, your first home made knife! If I were you I would practice this at home before waiting to be thrust into a survival situation to find out if you remember everything.... Just sayin'
You will use the same foundation for the knife to make the head of your spear, except this time you're going to sharpen both edges of the head. Also the intention of the spears use will determine the size of the head for the spear. I doubt that you will ever be in a place where you will need a spear capable of taking down a small mammoth, so keep the head of your spear around the same size as the palm of your hand. In this situation it's not the size that matters **wink wink**, but the placement and quality of the head of the spear.
To make the handle for the spear you will want to find a green limb that is around shoulder height. If you are lucky enough to find a small tree with a decent width to it then take it down! Just use your knife to cut away at the bottom until it comes free. Now shave off any rough edges that are on the limb and make it as straight as possible.
Next you're going to fasten the head to the top of the handle. To do this you will stand the handle up and place your knife perpendicular to the handle, and with a rock or some branch (don't risk damaging the knife if it's not metal) you're going to drive the blade down to split the handle. Do this to split the handle at the top 4 ways.
When you're finished it should look somewhat like a trident-ish.... Anyway, drive the head of the spear down into the prongs at the top. Then you're going to take some sort of lashing material to tie the head to the handle and make sure it isn't going anywhere.
And there you have it, a knife and a spear! You're now officially ready to go get you something to eat. Just try not to throw your spear unless you're sure that you'll be able to get it back 🙂
Now let's get into what literally puts a roof over your head, SHELTER!
Your First Wilderness Survival Shelter
You now have a sturdy knife to do battle with as well as use to make your perfect impromptu shelter that's fit for most survival scenarios. What we're going to focus on first is a simple lean-to shelter that can go up in a few minutes, if you pay close enough attention ;).
The lean-to shelter works exactly as it sounds, you lean your shelter frame against a sturdy foundation like a big tree or cliff face. If none of these are available then you will need to make do with whatever is most convenient and logical, emphasis on the logical. Because you don't want to be found with your hut leaning against a post you have to re stabilize every few hours, when there was a perfectly sturdy tree a dozen or so yards away.
Options for Putting The LEAN in a Lean-To Shelter
The name says it all doesn't it? We need something to lean our frame (I'll explain this in a sec.) against to keep the roof of the shelter up. If you're a Bear Grills fan you probably have your paracord bracelet firmly attached to your wrist, and in that case I say congratulations!
Now you can actually use it, instead of walking around the mall with your paracord bracelet like you're going to need to string together a fishing net or make a home made hammock in the store (which you might depending on how long it takes your significant other to pick out clothes...but I digress). You can use this cord to make a sturdy line to lean your shelter against between two trees. I would suggest however making sure to double up the line a few times to ensure your frame doesn't just pull the cord down or even worse break it.
Option numero two is in case you aren't the Bear Grills paracord bracelet wearing enthusiast, or your just a person who didn't think this would be a time for such an accessory....it's always time for that accessory. But anyway, if you don't have a cord to string up the frame with you can look for a tree that has a branch or a notch sticking out far enough to support a pole. For the pole you will need to find a sapling or a fallen branch that's roughly one and a half of you tall (only the most exact measurements here).
Only because you don't want to shimmy inside only to find you can only shimmy half of yourself in. Finally if you should be lucky enough, you can find two trees semi next to each other with notches or branches sticking out to set a pole across, this would be the ideal lean to for sturdiness. You would create the frame and fasten it to a longer pole at the ends that would rest in the notches of the trees.
And should there be no notches in the trees you can use your knife to carve out a strip of the tree to set the frame in. This would take considerably more work, but could be worth it.
Now to Make the Picture Perfect Frame...(see what I did there)
Without a frame to cover yourself you would basically be sleeping under a pole every night, and unless you're literally as thin as a rail, that won't do you much good. So what we need to do is make a frame that can be covered with various debris to insulate the outside and keep you as warm as possible.
The frame will be made out of branches that are dead but not rotting, you don't want to have your roof crashing in on you when it's raining. So start by collecting branches that are about three quarters of your height. Then take the branches and lay them vertically on the ground, make them one of you and a half (exact measurements please lol) tall, and then you will lay the other branches horizontally across these vertical branches. looking down on it it should look like one big box with smaller boxes inside of it. Once that is done you will either use your Bear Grills paracord or some sort of other lashing material to hold these together for a sturdy frame.
Now that that's done let's move to the area where you've set up your lean-to branch or cord and lay the bare frame on it. Now again unless you're as thin as a rail then you will need some sort of covering. So first find branches, preferably SLIGHTLY rounded ones which will promote better insulation.
Lay the branches over the frame until it's mostly covered. Next you will find any leafy debris (or a layer of mud if you're lucky) and slather that all over the branches until you can't see through. Now one more layer, starting from the bottom and working up, you will cover with a thick layer of leaves or leafy branches. This will trap the heat and provide a final layer of solid protection.
And there you have it! you have made your first shelter in the wild, and are now going to have a place to lay your head down at night and not have to worry about an attack from above, unless your shelter collapses...
So now let's consider that since we have a fantastic new shelter, a brand new knife, and hopefully a roaring fire you built by following our 15 ways to start a fire FREE pdf (no excuses to freeze now). You might want something to cook over that fire, or possibly want to prevent what's attracted to that fire from making a meal out of you....
Let's Get Acquainted With the Locals (Hostiles)
Let's face it, nature is always trying to kill us, so it's no surprise that once you get all this cool stuff set up that you will probably be joined, if you haven't already been joined, by some of natures assassins. These little devils can be as small as bacteria or as big as a bear. Either way you need to know how to defend yourself against such a threat.
What You Can't See CAN Hurt You
I would venture to guess that the most common reason that most people thrust into a survival situation perish is due to lack of knowledge of what could potentially kill you that doesn't have teeth or limbs for that matter. Most deaths in the survival arena are due in the main to small mistakes that have mortal consequences, in this situation we're talking about bacteria or viral germs.
Bacteria, first and foremost is the leading silent killer among the non walking threats. It exist in almost everything we need to survive, hence why nature is constantly trying to kill us. This is why the importance of boiling your water is PARAMOUNT to survival! If you don't have a way to purify water then you might as well go without.
Because every time you take a swig of water that hasn't been purified you're risking ingesting animal urine, feces and a host of other nasty subjects lurking in the water. So no matter how clear the water may be ALWAYS purify before drinking. The same obviously goes for meat, since your parents probably scared you to death growing up with the ever present threat of salmonella, I'm not going to belabor this point because you know what to do.
Let's Move Up the Food Chain Shall We
Let's discuss the threat of our distant but somewhat lovable relatives of wild dogs and cats, among other things. I'm not sure about you but the thought of man's best friend turning on you is not a pretty picture to paint in your head before you lay down for bed at night so let's flesh out a plan to prevent that tragic scenario from playing out.
First you'll need a barrier of alarm system of some kind if you're in an area where predators are over you in the pecking order. The best alarm system is a cord that goes around the parameter of your bedding. This cord will need to have some sort of noise making material to alert you when danger is near, if it doesn't wake you up or get your attention then it will just be nice for the rescuers to step over when they find your remains...
As for going toe to toe with the beasts of the wild, you're barking up the wrong tree (pun intended). You need not research about how to handle that situation because fight or flight will determine what happens at that point. No blog post is going to accurately tell you what will happen when a pack of wolves or a bear decides that you're what's for dinner, all you can do is clutch that knife a little tighter and ask yourself W.W.B.D "What would Bear do?"
Your Greatest Foe is in the Mirror
What to do if one of your own decides it's time to see who lives and who dies.... This would be the perfect way to end this blog on a cliff hanger for the next post. So that's what I'll do 🙂