Time off from work is precious stuff. For many folks two weeks out of 52 is it, and you need to compress as much R&R into that time as possible. Developing your camping survival skills becomes somehow mandatory every time you organize a trip into the great outdoors.
The conscientious survival-oriented individual also recognizes that acquiring and maintaining the skills necessary for the security of his or her family is equally if not more important, and can really get into a bind trying to satisfy both of those needs.
You need to find resons to practice your camping survival skills
Anyone counting hunting or camping among their vacation pursuits—or who is planning on doing so—doesn’t have to make a choice as these recreational activities and the techniques and state of mind of surviving have much in common. Though outdoor recreation is a growth industry in this country at present, few people still decide to explore the wilderness just to improve their camping survival skills.
There is a generation of people being raised who can’t imagine life without central heating and sidewalks, a fatal mindset for those bent on being capable of living and functioning without constant input from industrialized society.
Reviving this tradition to include your entire family as well as others included in your survival plans, and expanding into trips during other times of the year, is a fine way to provide for one of life’s frequently forgotten necessities—recreation—without neglecting the responsibility of expanding self-sufficiency skills.
Simply getting out of a structured urban or suburban environment with its social and economic demands end safeguards is a big step for sonic. You may never realize how physically and emotionally dependent you are on a constant police and emergency medical presence, nearby grocery stores, or flush toilets until you leave them behind for a period of time.
Survival is a mental process more than anything else. Learning to do without the crutches and distractions of Western civilization is probably the primary advantage of a hunting camp.
Let’s stress right away that the idea is not to take a relaxing and rewarding leisure experience, the hunt, and turn it into a paramilitary or logistical exercise of some sort. Learning and honing camping survival skills comes easily and naturally to outdoorsmen and women, competence in the field and living harmoniously with the natural world being as satisfying and necessary as the stalk or the opportunity to eat real meat.
Competence in hunting and living in camp covers an enormous amount of territory in the survivalist’s inventory of knowledge. Add a few exercises such as giving some attention to the time it takes to get packed and on the road and you’ll have what amounts to an effortless drill. Practice makes perfect.
Before going further regarding what we’re going to do to improve our camping survival skills, let’s take a look at who we’re doing it with. I hunt and fish with all sorts of people over the course of a year’s time, but those that I spend time living under canvas with are either family or a select group of people who believe and think about the same way that I do.
An often ignored tenet of enlightened self-sufficiency is to maintain a low profile. Between the “I’ll have the guns and the gold” folks and the government there just isn’t much room for advertising either your intent or methods of preparedness. “Loose lips sink ships” is as relevant today as it was in 1940.
Camping survival skills
If you have been hunting and camping you have already developed a considerable inventory of camping survival skills, more than you may realize. The development of hunting skills is outside the scope of this article as there are endless fine books and magazines on the market dealing with this subject as well as the personal instruction of friends and family.
Skills gained as a matter of course, while camping during the hunt can be roughly divided into concrete and abstract categories. Among the concrete is included basic land navigation, dressing for inclement weather, food planning, purchasing, and preparation, water supply, sanitation management, and other things normally taken care of by industrialized society.
The abstract, or “soft” as opposed to “hard” camping survival skills, are such things as coping with living in close quarters with others, cooperation in daily camp life, tolerance of the myriad of irritating personal habits of others that you won’t see in a million years back in the city, and patience. This last is of great importance and has no finer teacher than hunting from a base camp.
With no long drive in the car at the end of the day ahead of you, one can work on a skill that is one of the most difficult to master and could very well save your life in a variety of situations—how to sit still for long periods of time while remaining alert.
Abrasive personality traits of individuals can be dealt with in a number of ways, from switching tent partners to talking it out to just learning to live with it. The important point is for them to come OUT in the open now before you find yourself in a life-threatening situation made more so by friction among family and friends.
Additional camping survival skills fit right in with hunting camp life. The requirements of food storage—portability, balanced nutrition, ease of preparation and energy efficiency, low bulk, ability to withstand temperature extremes, and (depending on your situation) low water demands, are the same as that of camp foods.
If your storage foods won’t hack it in camp, you can bet they aren’t the best choice to a survival plan and can take steps to rectify the problem. If they do work out well for you, you not only have the increased confidence that you have made the right choices, but also the advantage of getting used to eating the stuff and gaining experience in working with it.
This is also a good place to lest your capability for producing potable water. Now is the time to find out that a water purification device can’t keep up with the volume demands made of it, or if chemical means are inconvenient or inefficient.
Most campers and hunters keep a jug of aspirin and a few Band-Aids handy. The survivalist does better than this, of course, and though you likely won’t give your medical supplies the workout that your food program will get, you’ll get some idea of the ease of portability and efficiency of packing your kit.
And who knows? Though the dangerous part of the hunt is by far driving there, injuries do occur, and there’s no excuse for not being prepared.
“Eating roots and berries” is the first thought to enter the mind of the uninitiated when survival is mentioned. While foraging to supply one’s total food needs has been largely discounted and explained in this article, due to the extensive training necessary to make it work on an exclusive basis, large amount of space required per person, and lack of utility for the suburban or urban dweller, supplementing your camp diet with available plant and animal foods is in line with your philosophy of preparedness.
Putting the knowledge gained from an edible plant and mushrooms class to work during the hunt will add a new dimension to the pleasure gained from being outdoors as well as giving you some working experience in food that doesn’t have plastic wrapped around it.
In some cases, depending on where you are camping, a few animal traps can be set for small game and the fruits of that labor added to the camp larder. Taking an animal and preparing it for the camp meal is cooking from scratch at its very best.
The experience accumulated here will pay off both in culinary expertise gained and in adding new sources of protein to the diet. Many so-called “trash” animals are perfectly edible if treated properly by the chef.
One advantage of doing at least some of your hunt camping during the snow or rain seasons is that the tent that looked so good in the showroom may not do the job in a Washington monsoon or Minnesota blizzard. Better to find out now if your tent is proper for camping and hunting than later.
Size, durability, suitability for installing a heat source, ease of maintenance, and how long the waterproofing will last without attention are all factors that can be evaluated during the hunting season.
And color. Those orange tents are out because shelter that doesn’t blend with its surroundings isn’t really shelter, is it?
Specialization and a division of labor is the way that complicated tasks get done. This doesn’t mean that one individual will be the sole possessor of a branch of knowledge or responsibility, however. Not only can a specialization be lost through the loss of one person, but no using your camping survival skills as often as possible leads to their stagnation.
The aim of bringing skills to camp is to allow them to grow along with those using them. Tasks and responsibilities that are assigned to one or more persons, such as cooking or food-management. responsibility for medical supplies or other logistical chores should be rotated during or after every trip.
Diversity allows the individuals in the group to grow, and the group is stronger for it.
Camping survival skills, Hunting and Weaponry
Group deer hunting is practiced in some parts of the country. The planning, cooperation, and navigational skills necessary to carry out an effective deer drive would pay off in about any survival scenario imaginable.
You’ll get to know the members of your party pretty well. You’ll learn who can sit quietly and patiently for the required time, and who can find his or her way back to camp after dark. These are the kind of things to know ahead of time.
Weaponry and other supplies should go along, but unless you’re on some remote private property, I recommend keeping these types of items under wraps. Not only is drawing attention to yourselves and your sight violating your commitment to maintaining a low profile, but some landowners are very much angry these days, and they carry much the same types of firearms as you likely have on your gun rack.
A visit from local or federal police can be expected if you’re going to flaunt your arsenal, and some states have game laws regulating caliber, magazine capacity, and action type for hunting weapons.
If you anticipate any situation requiring a rapid exit from your home, or even if you don’t, packing up for deer camp is a golden opportunity to test your readiness without causing a lot of extra work. In other words, if it takes you a couple of days to pack up and go, then you have a problem.
No matter how secure you feel in your present home, there’s no substitute for being portable. If your clothing, firearms and ammunition, some tools, and other necessities aren’t readily accessible and easily moved then they are not as much use to you as they could be.
I feel you should be able to get together and into a vehicle the basics for an extended stay within three hours, working steadily. Keep a list packed with your supplies to work off of. You don’t want to spend any of your vacation time purchasing forgotten items during your hunting trip, and in case of a bug-out situation, you won’t have time to second guess your packing.
Keep your packing and inventory lists current after each trip by adding what you have missed and subtracting items which aren’t working out for you. Keep in mind, however, that some equipment not needed for vacation deer hunts would still be necessary for a long-term stay should an emergency arise.
Don’t delete the 500 rounds of .223 ammo from the sheet or it could get left behind when you need it most.
The ideal spot for your vacation deer hunt is wherever you plan on retreating to. Private land is ideal, but for many, the large expanses of national forest and Bureau of Land Management lands will have to do.
There is no substitute for having an intimate knowledge of the area you will be using. Becoming familiar with the land, forms, watercourses, vegetation, wildlife, human inhabitants, seasonal changes and frequency of road traffic and aircraft flyovers or your area will take years.
You’re best off taking your time selecting one spot and then sticking to it. Acquire a good selection of maps and apply them. Aerial photographs can trim a lot of time off of understanding the lay of the land. If available, use them. Good hunting country and an adequate retreat area are often one and the same.
Minimal human habitation, as few roads or logging trails as possible, and adequate water usually spell good habitat for wildlife and you alike.
Camping survival skills and R&R
However you go about organizing your survival exercise around your hunting camp, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. Remember that R&R is as necessary for your health and happiness as food and shelter, so don’t turn your vacation into a drawn-out fire drill.
When you find yourself living comfortably in the woods, and feel that with a few adjustments you could stay, then you are either there or awfully close. Don’t forget to go home at the end of the week.