Three Day Survival Training, Bushcraft Shelter Build + Campfire Steak

Three Day Survival Training, Bushcraft Shelter Build + Campfire Steak

8 minute read

If you're like me or about  50% of the world's population you have the slight misfortune of leaving near or in urban areas. As much I would love to have a secret mountain redoubt, I have to embrace reality and train to survive in my own backyard.

Indeed there are various scenarios to consider as related to survival, from hurricanes to societal collapse and everything in between. Lately, we've seen so-called democratic and free countries, lock down their populations and literally put people in camps. Red flag laws and gun confiscation, racially motivated terrorist attacks on parades yes it actually sounds like a novel I read when I was a kid.

Considering the current state of affairs, one might need a location, off the beaten path to rest and refit, wait for pickup from friendlies and get the hell out of dodge to the final destination. 

In previous experience, I have found great success in using wildlife management areas for bushcraft and related training. These spaces see light human traffic during the year, peaking during hunting season, and have all the resources needed for survival.

Taking advantage of a long three-day weekend I decided to explore the north end of a local WMA to determine if there were any remote sites suited for building a shelter or caching. If so I was going to be joined by a training partner, to spend the remaining two days on-site building, exploring, and getting much-needed disconnect from the modern world.

Day 1

I hit the ground early, hiking in on an old single-track road to the forest. Within 10 minutes I was deep in a pine forest and moving south down a dried-out creekbed. Traveling further south, the ground turned swampy as the trees changed and the creekbed ran deep with dark and murky water.

Then about a few feet away from me, I spotted movement and sure enough, there's a big ole cottonmouth, in a pool of water next to a half-submerged root system. He's not happy to see and immediately starts to coil up, a natural move on his part as these snakes are quite aggressive.

After snapping some pics, I move along down the creek, remembering that I don't have a snake bite kit on hand. 

The once dry creek bed widens and the water deepens as the morning sun continues to rise. Soon I come upon an old bridge, long forgotten and fallen into the water.  Pausing for a break, I drop my pack and suck down a long drink of water from the trusty Camelback. I imagine what this area felt like and looked like a hundred years ago, in the early 19th century, when the turpentine and resin industry was in full-scale production. 

Feeling rested and hydrated, I continued to move south until I ran into houses and an old church, which was the trigger to turn back and head North to complete the 360-degree recon. 

Arriving back nearly at my starting point, I decided to drop the gear, unpack and set up for the night. The evening sun was about to set and based on my recon, the forest was quiet and devoid of human activity. 

After setting up the new hammock, the Hennessy Expedition Classic, and getting my gear laid out, I kicked back to relax and enjoy the absolute silence. Sure...I had seen a few ATV tracks on Google Earth but had seen nothing during the last five hours of hiking.

Then suddenly I heard it, the dreaded sound I knew deep down that was coming...ATVs! Grabbing my scope, I moved quickly and quietly to the edge of the forest, took cover, and started to try to pick them up. About 200 meters out I spot them, a four-wheeler and a dirt bike. At this point in time, I can't tell if they are hunters, civilians, forest service or who exactly. I'm very thankful I have my scope so I sit in stillness and observe for about 20 minutes...then they head up the road and are gone for good.

I head back to camp and consider the next move. Two options are available, I can stay and try to make this location work as a Remain Over Night or Cache site, or go south and link up with my training partner and continue work at an existing site. 

Taking into account the ATV activity, houses in the vicinity, and other factors I decide it's wise to spend the night and break camp early in the morning to head south. 

At the first rooster call, I rolled out of my hammock, grabbed the pack, and hit the trail for a short hike back to the truck and then an easy drive to the next target WMA.

Day 2

A few hours later, I arrive on-site, the parking lot is empty and the sky is blue and clear as we start to upload the gear. Within a minute I realize there is a problem, my trusty Rocky boots have literally fallen apart. At some point in the last 24hrs, the soles on each boot had peeled back and appeared ready to fall off. Maybe it was countless hours spent in swamps or the mud or maybe just years of hard use, either way, there wasn't enough duct tape to save them. 

It was then I realized the value of redundancy. I didn't have another pair of boots handy, but I did have my water shoes which I always wear around camp. Sure not the best choice, but since the ground is soft and sandy, they work just fine.

After changing shoes, we headed in, following winding forest service roads and game trails to our site. Nearly three hours later, we cross the last landmark and at the end of a game trail, we emerge onto our shelter site. It is the same as when we left it, always a relief, so we drop the packs, eager to get to work on the shelter.

Once camp was set up, we got to work, dropping two pine trees in fast succession, swinging the Gransfor Bruk forest ax with ease and precision.

After trimming both trees, removing the bark and limbs, we dug two holes, one on each end of the purposed shelter site floorplan.

Using large antique square nails, we secured a large piece of cedar to the top of each post and then dropped them, making a basic frame for the rear of the shelter. 

By this time the sun was setting, so we turned the focus to the fire and getting food on the grill. New York Strips and Spanish Rice were in order and by 10pm we had settled in for a restful night, with plans to build the roof the following day.

Day 3

The morning broke with a slight chill in the air and nothing but the sounds of birds to break the silence. After checking our water reserves, we grabbed our gear and headed to the creek to fill up and explore.

As we finished up the coffee and breakfast, we heard a noise in the palmettos, instantly I recognized it as footsteps, and sure enough within a few seconds, a hunter emerged from the underbrush. My heart sank as I realized our site was comprised.

We locked eyes and after a short moment I broke the silence with an awkward "good morning". He proceeded to rather tersely inform us we were in his hunting area and judging from his body language he was not happy about this. Needless to say, neither was I or my partner. 

The encounter ended as fast as it began, with both of us mumbling something about heading in our separate directions and the hunter disappearing back into the forest.

We sat in silence while we considered our next move. Typically when I have encountered one person, there's more to come and the noise associated with building the shelter would lead people straight to our site. 

After agreeing to return later to check on the site and set up a trail cam, we packed up the gear and headed out, not knowing when we would return and what we would find next time.

The hike out was uneventful apart from a massive downpour that soaked us and turned the double-track road into a muddy mess.

Summary


Three days in the field proved one important point - humans are everywhere. Unless you are lucky enough to have your own land or truly remote areas, be prepared to encounter humans and deal accordingly. In a post-collapse situation, one can imagine how the local forests would be overrun with people looking for food or shelter. 

This is why I consider a shelter site to be a stop-over, a location to remain overnight and continue onto the next waypoint, along a path that leads to a truly remote location.

Either way, we plan to return this weekend, continue work on the shelter, and hopefully avoid all human contact.

Stay tuned,

Blitz



Stealth Camping: Essential Checklist

Stealth Camping: Essential Checklist

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This is a FREE product that is downloaded after checkout. Includes a PDF file. This manual provides an easy-to-follow checklist for selecting a suitable stealth camping site.… read more

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