Studying Your Environment Pays Big When SHTF

Surviving any situation requires not only physical strength but also a resilient mental approach. While physical well-being is undeniably crucial, true survivors are those who maintain mental fortitude in the face of pressure.

Understanding the environment becomes a key strategy in handling mental pressures. Whether navigating an urban landscape, a desert, or a swamp, knowledge empowers you to utilize resources effectively. It’s not just about having top-notch equipment; survival demands the ability to recognize and leverage the assets available through strategic thinking.

In my yearly explorations of unfamiliar territories, I dedicate three weeks to studying the environment. Delving into both man-made and natural resources, I aim to gather insights that could prove invaluable in adverse situations.

Engaging with native elders provides a unique perspective on survival traditions passed down through generations. Observing birds and animals becomes a classroom in itself, offering profound lessons for those willing to invest time in observation. Identifying optimal shelter locations and learning about edible, toxic, and medicinal plants all contribute to a comprehensive survival toolkit.

In essence, survival isn’t just about enduring; it’s about thriving through a combination of physical preparedness and a well-nurtured mental approach, grounded in knowledge and adaptability.

Is it possible to amass all the necessary information in just three weeks?

is it possible to amass all the necessary information in just three weeks

Certainly not, but within that timeframe, I can accumulate sufficient knowledge to ensure survival. The journey of learning is perpetual, a continuous exploration. As a Pequot elder wisely conveyed, “Nobody knows everything, but everybody knows something.” This profound insight underscores the importance of constant learning and inquiry.

To cease learning and questioning is akin to embracing a state of stagnation; it is a form of surrendering to a figurative death. Embracing the philosophy that learning is an ongoing process becomes not only a key to survival but a testament to the vitality of the human spirit.

In the midst of a survival scenario, the question becomes: What course of action will you pursue?

It all begins with a composed assessment of the situation, emphasizing the importance of avoiding panic. The crucial decision lies in determining whether to stay put or make a strategic departure. Identifying potential threats is paramount, and addressing them involves a safe and swift removal without unnecessary confrontation. The mantra here is clear: Utilize your intellect; let reason guide your actions.

Resource management takes center stage next, applicable in both urban and natural landscapes. Understanding your current inventory and discerning your needs is key. If equipped with a survival pack, it provides a lifeline for a few days. Yet, the environment itself holds valuable cues on where to discover additional resources; seizing every opportunity is paramount.

Establishing a secure and defendable shelter becomes a priority to weather the situation. The danger isn’t always overt; dehydration and exposure can be more lethal than visible threats. A well-constructed shelter serves as a defense against the elements, offering crucial protection in the battle for survival. The overarching strategy is a meticulous blend of strategic assessment, resource utilization, and shelter establishment, all underscored by a steadfast commitment to rational decision-making in the face of adversity.

Start learning

bor banner remedies

Embarking beyond the boundaries of your comfort zone initiates a profound learning experience. Personally, I find solace and familiarity in natural environments, having grown up in a rural area, engaged in hunting, fishing, and cultivating my own sustenance. However, the moment I step into the urban hustle, a heightened state of vigilance takes over.

Airports, often situated in cities, become arenas demanding careful scrutiny. In this weapon-restricted setting, relying on mental acuity becomes imperative. My approach involves arriving early, allowing me to survey the terrain, identifying exits, and pinpointing potential trouble spots. Maintaining a strategic position with my back against a wall and eyes in constant motion, I strive to anticipate threats before they materialize, ensuring personal and others’ safety.

Accompanied by my wife, whose comfort seems boundless regardless of location, my survival instincts heighten. The responsibility to safeguard her surpasses even my self-preservation, intensifying my awareness and readiness.

Upon reaching my destination and escaping the urban hustle, a subtle shift occurs. Though my senses remain attuned, the intensity lessens. Each new locale, while still harboring potential dangers, becomes a canvas for learning. This shift allows me to fully embrace a mode of learning, where openness to the lessons presented becomes the focal point, an essential evolution in the journey beyond one’s comfort zone.

Observe and take notes

observe and take notes

Obtaining the essentials for survival—food, water, and shelter—is a universal need, regardless of our location. The key lies in keen observation, keeping our eyes and ears attuned to the environment.


Water, a critical resource, exists even in seemingly arid landscapes like Arizona’s Sonora Desert. In places like the Florida Keys, surrounded by saltwater, freshwater sources can still be found. The initial step upon entering any area is locating a water source, a task facilitated by studying the vegetation. Different plants have varying water needs, with some, like mangrove trees, thriving in brackish water—indicating the proximity of freshwater.

Mosses may not be reliable indicators, as they can extract moisture from the air. In regions like the American Southwest, where water may be concealed underground or present as a small seep amid boulders, a dual approach involving both plant and animal observation is employed.

Animals, being dependent on freshwater, often lead the way. Following game trails, while insightful, demands caution due to the potential presence of predators near water sources. Continued scrutiny of plant life reveals further clues. In the Arizona desert, where many plants endure with minimal water, the presence of cottonwood or willow trees becomes a beacon, signifying a reliable freshwater source.

In essence, survival hinges on the ability to watch, learn, and interpret the subtle signs nature provides, transforming the environment into a classroom for resource identification.


With a water source secured, the focus shifts to shelter, a decision that can be a matter of life or death. The common pitfall of building too close to the water, a mistake often made by novices, should be avoided at all costs. In a survival situation, you’re not merely camping; you’re in a competition for resources that sustain life—others, both two- and four-legged, will be drawn to the water source you’ve discovered.

Drawing inspiration from the practices of my native ancestors, I opt for shelter on the highest ground available. This choice offers several advantages. Firstly, higher ground is drier, shielding against potential flooding during sudden rainstorms. This alone is a crucial safeguard. Additionally, the elevated position tends to diminish the nuisance of biting insects, and there’s a surplus of fuel for maintaining a fire.

Beyond mere comfort, the strategic advantage of high ground becomes apparent. It provides a vantage point for surveying the surroundings, facilitating the detection of both food sources and potential dangers. Moreover, elevated ground is inherently easier to defend against the uncertainties that lurk in the wild. However, caution is paramount to avoid inadvertently signaling your presence, a risk more pronounced at higher elevations.

Constructing a shelter involves utilizing available materials, aiming for both protection from the elements and a seamless blend with the environment. The key is to be resourceful, considering potential threats while ensuring adaptability to the surroundings. The options for shelter are diverse, and the knowledge of building various types of debris or expedient shelters is a prerequisite before venturing into unfamiliar territories.

In essence, crafting a shelter is not just a practical necessity; it’s a strategic move in the survival game, demanding forethought, adaptability, and a keen understanding of the environment.



Ensuring a sustainable food supply is vital for situations extending beyond a few days, even if carrying some provisions (refer to the sidebar on page 74). While the duration of your predicament may be uncertain, it’s prudent to explore food options early on.

My father’s adage, “If it walks, crawls, flies, or swims, you can eat it,” though not entirely accurate, underscores the abundance of potential food sources in the natural world. Edible roots of cattails and the young shoots of ferns, known as “fiddleheads,” are just a couple of examples. Berries, while a potential food source, require caution, as some are poisonous. In a true survival scenario, setting snares becomes a viable method for capturing birds and small animals.

Expanding on the idea of diverse food sources, your discovered water source likely harbors various edible options. Fish, frogs, and even snakes (with careful consideration due to potential dangers) present themselves as potential meals. Utilizing this knowledge can turn the environment into a veritable grocery store, providing sustenance beyond what’s carried in your initial provisions.

It’s crucial to educate yourself on local flora and fauna, distinguishing between safe and hazardous options. Consider investing time in learning about edible plants, recognizing animal tracks, and acquiring basic trapping skills. Additionally, understanding the seasonal availability of certain foods can be valuable for long-term survival strategies. In essence, while carrying some food is a practical measure, the ability to secure food from the surrounding environment becomes an indispensable skill in a prolonged survival scenario.

Man-made resources

man made resources you can use when shtf

Drawing on the legacy of human presence in the environment spanning thousands of years can be a crucial survival strategy. Explore and capitalize on what past human occupation has left behind, whether in the form of shelters or supplies. Opportunities abound, waiting to be discovered.

An old, abandoned structure may hold hidden treasures, hinting at reasons for its establishment. It could mark an area rich in hunting or fishing opportunities, indicating a historical reliance on the abundant resources of the locale. Moreover, it might signify the presence of a dependable water source. Considering that the builders of these structures, much like us today, had fundamental needs for survival, it’s likely that both sustenance and water were accessible when these structures were erected.

Being adept at recognizing these environmental cues becomes paramount for survival. The ability to identify remnants of past human activity can not only provide shelter or supplies but also unveil insights into the ecosystem’s offerings.

By interpreting these features, you gain a valuable tool in navigating your surroundings, potentially saving your life. Additionally, understanding the historical context of an area can offer clues about seasonal patterns, migration routes, and other factors that contribute to sustainable survival strategies.


Survival, at its core, is the art of staying alive. Yet, in our modern world, it’s all too easy to become complacent and underestimate the significance of preparing for the challenges that various survival situations can present.

Contrary to the notion that owning the latest gadgets is the ultimate solution, the most crucial tool at our disposal is the human brain, coupled with the ability to utilize it effectively. Throughout history, people have thrived by developing an innate understanding of their environment, learning to adapt and collaborate with the world around them.

In today’s context, we can follow the same principles, provided we are keen observers and attentive learners, attuned to the lessons unfolding in our surroundings.


Recommended resources:

Securing the best wood for fire and shelter

The #1 food of Americans during the Great Depression

How to create a proper winter shelter

How To Build The Invisible Root Cellar

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