Book Signing & Survival Presentation: Saturday, November 15th at 2 PM

Come out for a Free Survival Presentation & Book Signing in your’re in the area!

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Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: BLOG SKILL SERIES: Live Capture Box trap

Many of you have asked for more details about the Live Capture Box trap that Bill, Dave, Andrew and I used to catch the Quail.  To my knowledge, this is a trap style that originates in Asia but versions of it exist all over the world.  It’s very unique in that it can be constructed from all natural materials.  Below I detail the trap design as well as the trigger I normally pair with it.

texas-trap

It all starts with 2 pieces of cordage and 2 sticks…

A length of cordage is tied between the ends of two sticks.  When tied, the length of rope should be a little longer (6 or so inches) than the sticks.  The shape at this point should be somewhat rectangular because the cordage sides are longer than the stick sides.  The length of your sticks will determine the size of your trap, in this case about 18″ x 18″.

box-trap-pretwist

Now, twist each stick so that cordage forms an X in the middle.  At this point, your trap should look fairly square.

box-trap-x

The coolest thing about this trap is that it’s held together with tension.  You start by sliding sticks one at a time in a log-cabin pattern UNDERNEATH of the string.  The string will be loose in the beginning but will start to tighten as you build up the walls underneath with sticks.  It is this tension that ultimately will hold all of the sticks in place.

box-trap-starting

Below is a trap almost finished using a natural reverse wrapped yucca leaf cordage – just like we did in the episode of FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS.

box-trap-almost

Here the trap is finished with the trigger set.  Now, let’s discuss the trigger system that I use with this trap.  It’s awesome AND simple!

box-trap-finished

 

 

THE TRIGGER

illustrating-trigger

This trigger system is very simple and is in essence a double trip line.  There is a pretty cool trick to making the trigger stick.  I use a pencil below to illustrate:

First, cut a slice in the middle of the trigger stick that is about 1/2 of the way through.  The saw from a multitool works perfect for this.

trigger-cut-one-side

Now, turn over the stick, move 1/2 inch down and make another cut 1/2 way through on the opposite side.

trigger-cut-both-sides

Then, with your thumbs at each cut, firmly snap the stick in half.

trigger-snapped

Nine times out of ten the stick will snap as shown above with 2 perfectly mated notches.  This completes your trigger stick.  The only remaining step is to tie two thin trip lines to one half of the trigger stick.  I typically tie them around the top of the bottom half.

trigger-tied

The other ends of the trip lines should be tied to the back 2 corners of the box trap – in this case, an egg crate.

trap-egg-crate

Now, assemble the trigger stick and prop up the front of the box.  You can see that the two trip lines are impossible for a small game animal to avoid when trying to get the bait that is located toward the back of the trap between the trip lines.

egg-crate-set

In the episode when we caught the quail, we used rose hips as bait and thin yucca fibers as trip lines.  The trip lines don’t have to be very strong because the trigger stick is very sensitive.

box-setting

 

CONCLUSION

The basic principle of this trap design can be applied in all types of environments, both urban and wilderness.  Use your creativity when it comes to cages – even a cardboard box will work!  Innovation is one of your most important survival skills!

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Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: BLOG SKILL SERIES: Fatwood Pine Torch

In many of the episodes of FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS, I instructed the guys how to ‘carry fire’ from base camp to their individual solo base camps.  Oftentimes, this was quite a trek through the woods and the fire carry needed to last up to a couple hours.  In the pioneer settlement themed episode with Dave, Andrew and Bill, we made fire on Day 1 using a YUCCA HAND DRILL.  When it came time to send them each out on their own, it was raining.  Making fire with a HAND DRILL would have been impossible under those conditions.  So, I decided to send them each with a couple of PINE FATWOOD TORCHES.  I didn’t get a chance on the show to really explain where I got these and how to find them so I thought I highlight that skill in this blog series.

FGITW107_77

THE TORCH

The ability to source a torch that will burn upwards of an hour is a very important survival skill.  Not only can you use a torch to carry fire from one location to another but it has all kinds of survival uses.  It can allow you explore dark caves, hunt at night (frog gigging especially), travel at night, signal for rescue, and keep predators at bay.  It is an incredibly useful survival tool.

FATWOOD

‘Fatwood’ is a term for wood (typically in the pine family) that has become saturated with sap, also called resin.  Fatwood is sold in stores and online as fire tinder and is an amazing fire starting material.  Pine sap is extremely flammable and wood that becomes saturated with it will burn for a very long time.  Fatwood makes an excellent torch!  Fatwood can be shaved into thin shavings and ignited with just the spark from a ferro rod.  Pine sap (dry or oozy) can be added to fire starting tinder as a flame extender and is a great substitute for PETROLEUM jelly when making PET balls (cotton balls soaked in petroleum jelly).  Below is a photo of pine resin oozing from insect drill holes in the side of this pine tree.

pine-sap

FINDING FATWOOD

If you can find pine trees then you can find FATWOOD.  I find that many people are confused about how to actually find fatwood.  If you are, I hope to clear that up.  The easiest way to find FATWOOD is at the base of dead, low hanging branches on pine trees.

lower-branches

Pine resin (sap)  tends to collect at these joints and will saturate the bottom few inches of the branch where it connects to the tree.  It will remain there long after the tree has died.  In fact, for this post, I am using the dead pine tree shown below which has been dead for over 10 years.  Notice the dead branches along the trunk.  This is where I will be looking for FATWOOD.  Even though much of the tree and the branches are dead and rotting, there is still fatwood at the base of many of these branches.

 

old-pine

Here’s a closer look at a couple of the branches.

old-pine-branches

As I begin to hack into the base of one of the branches with my ax, you’ll notice that the wood inside has a rich amber color.  It’s also very dense.  This is fatwood and it is completely saturated with 10+ year old pine resin.

shaved-branch

In the photo below you can clearly see the difference between the resin rich fatwood in the branch (left) as compared to wood that came from the trunk.

fatwoodvsrotwood

As soon as you cut into fatwood you can SMELL the rich pine scent and it is sticky to the touch almost immediately.

fatwood-close

 

MAKING THE TORCH

You can even see the pine resin glistening in the sun on the branch I collected below.  Once you’ve chopped a resin rich lower hanging branch from a pine tree, you have to prepare it for lighting.

oozing-sap

It’s important to split the resin rich end to expose more fatwood surface area and allow oxygen to freely flow between the split.  This helps the torch to light and burn longer and more efficiently.

splitting-end

Once you split the end a few ways, press in some green spreader sticks to keep the splits forced open.

spreddersticks

spreaddersticks-close

CONCLUSION

Depending on the size, a fatwood torch will burn for quite some time.  I’ve found there is a ratio to estimate how long one burns.  If the stick is 2″ in diameter, it will burn about  1 hour.  If it’s 1″ in diameter it will burn about 30 mins.  3″ = 1.5 hours.  Basically, divide the diameter in half and that’s how many HOURS it will burn.

FATWOOD is an amazing survival resource and is an unrivaled material in the natural world.  I hope this tutorial helps you be able to identify, harvest and use a fatwood torch!

Have you ever used FATWOOD to start a fire?  If so, tell us about your experience in the comments below!

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Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: BLOG SKILL SERIES: Paracord Survival Net

survival-fish-net-close

One of my favorite skills of the entire 1st Season of FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS was when Zach, Opie, Joe and I made a paracord survival net and used it in conjunction with a hand built rock weir to catch fish in a Tennessee river valley.

Methods of catching fish similar to this have been around for centuries so I take no credit for the concept.  In fact, remnants of stone fishing weirs still exist all over the world today.  A “WEIR” is simply a word that mean an obstruction in the water to help guide the fish where you want them.

Below is a well preserved ancient stone weir in China (more info here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Double-Heart_of_Stacked_Stones)  Pretty awesome, right?

ancient-w

photo credit: http://thescuttlefish.com/category/art/page/6/

Below is a less extravagant Native American stone weir in Wabash County, IN.  Stone weirs were literally used across the globe to funnel fish moving down stream into basket or nets, much like we did in the episode of FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS.

s-w-i

photo credit: http://americanindianshistory.blogspot.com/2013/05/native-american-fish-weirs.html

The Choke Point

Opie, Zach, Joe and I were able to find a perfect choke point in the river upstream from where we were camped to give this ancient time-tested method of catching fish an honest shot.  The river formed a natural choke point that allowed us to build a double layer stone weir with only a few hours of hard labor.  Stones were plentiful and readily available so it seemed like the perfect plan.

The Net

The plan was to funnel fish through the weir into a net – EXCEPT WE DIDN’T HAVE A NET.  The most time consuming part of this process was hand weaving our own net from scratch.  We did this using paracord.  Paracord is awesome stuff.  It has 7 inner stands that are perfect for net weaving.  These inner strands can be effortlessly pulled from the outer sheath – called GUTTING paracord.

paracord-7-strand

gutted-paracord

Once we ‘gutted’ some paracord, it was now time to start weaving the net.  It’s not difficult, but it is time-consuming!  We decided to make a circular shaped net that we could fit into the funnel portion of our weir.  I made the frame by wrapping a stout and flexible vine around itself in a circular shape.  I’ve made nets that are circular in shape and also ones that are long and flat.  The long and flat ones are gill-net style nets that are meant to be stretched across a stream or river.  These are much larger and more time consuming.

The knots I use are very simple.  The first knot, called a Lark’s Head, fastens the paracord strands to the frame.  You can see this knot in the photo below.

survival-dip-net-0

In the case of a circular dip net, these paracord strands are tied all the way around the frame about 1″ apart.  Below is a photo showing 3 strands fastened using a Lark’s Head knot.

survival-net-step-1

The next step is to tie (using a simple granny overhand knot) the inner strand of one hanging pair to the inner strand of the neighboring hanging pair and do this all the way around the frame.

survival-net-step-2

Once an entire circle has been made all the way around the frame you can move to the next row of knots, then the 3rd, etc…

survival-net-step-3

Below are some photos from one of my courses at Willow Haven Outdoor of students making both circular dip nets and flat gill nets.  These photos really help to illustrate the stages of net making.

Below, Lisa is working on her second row of overhand knots.

dip-net-survival-2

Below, Justin starts the 3rd row of a very ambitious gill net project!

flat-1

Kevin just finished his first row on his gill net.

IMG_2196 paracord-survival-fish-net

Lisa, just finishing the 1st step of tying all the strands on with Lark’s Head knots.

paracord-survival-net

Lisa, working her way around with overhand knots.

survival-dip-net-1

Lisa in the photos above made an awesome handled dip net that she left behind at Willow Haven.  (Lisa – I’m still hanging onto it your you !!!!)  Below are a couple photos of her finished dip net.

dip-net-survival-paracord

creek-edge-net

Here’s a shot of me working on our net during FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS.  Patience is NOT my best virtue and this skill is certainly an exercise in PATIENCE and DETAIL work.  Notice how we have suspended the net frame with paracord so that we can work all the way around while it is hanging.

creek-net

Below is a photo of Zach, Opie, Joe and I stacking our double layer stone weir.  Notice how each weir funnels the fish exactly where we want them to go in a DOWNSTREAM direction.

making-survival-weir

Below is a photo of the finished system for you to study.  The first weir is basically an insurance policy.  Only the 2nd weir has a net at the choke point.

double-weir

CONCLUSION

Hopefully these extra detailed photos and descriptions make this skill easier to understand and practice at home.  Like I said earlier, it’s not difficult but it is time consuming.  Expect to spend several hours weaving a dip net like we did on the show.  If you’re like me, you’ll be tempted to rush.  Resist the urge, as the quality of the net will suffer if you do.

 

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Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: Blog Skill Series – COMING SOON.

blog-series-main-header

Well, Season 1 of FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS has officially ended.  The last episode aired last night.  However, the survival instruction from these episodes is just beginning.  When 6 days of filming gets edited down to 42 minutes, some of the details are bound to get lost.  Oftentimes, these details involve specific survival skills.

Consequently, I’ll be writing a series of blog posts over the coming months called FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: BLOG SKILL SERIES where I describe in great detail many of the survival skills I taught these guys over the course of the 8 episodes.  From creative fire starts and tinder selection to traps, snares and shelter materials, there are so many skills from Season 1 that I can’t wait to teach you.

IT ALL STARTS NEXT WEEK!

Subscribe to the blog to be alerted of all new tutorials and news!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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APOCABOX: Spend less time finding your gear and more time using it.

I’m excited to OFFICIALLY launch the APOCABOX!  Even though I haven’t publicly announced it yet, the response has already been a bit overwhelming so a BIG THANK YOU to everyone who is already on the list for the August 15th Inaugural Shipment!  I can’t wait to see what you think!

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Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself…

For those of you who haven’t heard of the APOCABOX, you should definitely watch my launch video linked below.  (Yes, that’s me in the screen capture!  Even more of a reason to watch this video!)

Video URL:  http://youtu.be/9eTRAd5qgmE

The DEADLINE for the next APOCABOX drop is August 1st.

Find out more at http://www.myapocabox.com.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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8 Solar Fire Starting Tips You Must Know – AND – a FREE gift from Creek

Using the sun to start a fire is probably my favorite method of fire starting.  It amazes me every time.  The sun is an incredible survival fire starting resource but getting the job done can be frustrating.  I’ve decided to compile 8 TIPS that you MUST KNOW when using the sun to start a fire.  Any one of these can make the difference between getting the job done or suffering the consequences of failure.  For a limited time, I’m also giving away FREE one of my favorite solar fire starting tools – no strings attached, no shipping fees, FREE.  But, I have a limited number so I have to put a time limit on it – only 24 hours.  Details at the end of this post!

SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #1: FULL SUN

full-sun

I know this sounds obvious, but you must have FULL SUN when attempting solar fire starts.  It can’t be behind a mountain, building, clouds or even a thin layer of fog.  A powerful (or huge) solar lens may work with partial sun but rarely (if ever) will you have this kind of lens in an improvised survival scenario.  In my experience, the sun has to be completely visible with no obstructions.  It does not, however, matter where it is in the sky.  It works best when it’s at 12 noon in the middle of the summer and the sun it right overhead at it hottest point but isn’t necessary.  I’ve started solar fires when the sun low in the horizon in December with snow on the ground.  The sun DOES need to be completely and entirely visible.

SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #2: BONE DRY

Another obvious tip, right?  If I hadn’t seen so many people try to use wet or damp tinder in my courses then I wouldn’t list this tip.  The tinder you select MUST BE BONE DRY – especially when working in less than perfect conditions with less than perfect tools.

SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #3: ANGLE OF ATTACK

You must hold your lens (either magnifying or parabolic doesn’t matter) at a perpendicular angle to the sun’s rays.  The 2 lines in the letter ‘T” are perpendicular to each other.  Any angle less or greater than 90 degrees will reduce the amount of heat that you can generate.  The diagram below illustrates this a little better.

lens

When you use a less than perfect magnifying or parabolic lens, the angle of attack is critical.  It’s so important to hold your lens so that it is directly perpendicular to the sun’s rays at the exact point where you are located.  The sweet spot is 90 degrees  and any angle less or greater than 90 degrees will reduce the efficiency of your lens and thus your ability to smolder tinder.

SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #4: THE COLOR BLACK IS YOUR FRIEND

Light and heat are different types of energy but very much related when it comes to starting a fire using a solar enhancing lens.  With a solar lens we are trying to convert light energy into heat energy.  Understanding the physics behind why and how this works can absolutely save your life one day.  The color of the fire tinder you are using in conjunction with your solar lens can affect how fast or IF you’re successful getting an ember.  White or light colored tinder will REFLECT all or most wavelengths of light so the light is NOT converted to heat and the temperature of your tinder may not get hot enough to burn and smolder.  However, black or dark colored tinder will ABSORB all or most wavelengths of light, converting them to heat and increasing the temperature of your tinder.

Creek, does this mean I can’t use white or light colored tinder to start a solar fire?

No, it doesn’t.  In fact, we use light colored crushed up punky wood to start solar fires all the time in my courses here at Willow Haven Outdoor.  However, in a survival scenario, every detail matters and you may be working in less than perfect conditions with a less than perfect lens on a less than perfect timeline.  Anything you can do to gain a competitive edge and increase your fire starting chances is a good thing.  Choosing and using dark colored tinder is just one strategy that can help.

A few darkening hacks!  Below are some things I’ve done in the field to darken light colored tinders so that they absorb more light and thus get hotter faster.

  • Rub on dry dark dirt.  I’ve rubbed on dark dirt to make light colored punky wood darker before.  Don’t use MUD because your tinder must be dry.  In the photo below I’ve rubbed dirt on a napkin to create a dark spot for smoldering.

dirt-napkin

  • Rub on charcoal from an old fire.  Maybe your old fire has gone out or you’re able to find a charred log.  The charcoal from something already burnt can be used to darken existing dry tinder.  It can also be used as tinder!  Charcoal is a great solar fire starting material for getting an ember.
  • Use a pencil, ink pen or marker.  I’ve actually colored tinder in the field with a Sharpie marker before and it worked awesome!  The graphite led from a pencil works as well.  So does black colored ink.  GET CREATIVE!  In the photo below I’ve colored punky wood with a Sharpie marker for a quick and easy solar ember.

sharpie-punky

 SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #5: FOCUS! FOCUS! FOCUS!

When using a solar lens, it’s all about the focal point!  This one is a deal-breaker.  The best way to get the focal point is to start with your lens very close to the tinder (at a 90 degree angle to the sun rays like described above) and slowly draw it back.  You will see the beam of light through your lens (or parabolic mirror) start to get smaller.  Keep pulling the lens away until the beam gets to it’s tightest possible point.  This is the point just before the beam of light starts getting BIGGER again.  This is the FOCAL POINT and it is at this point where you will start to create a fire.  Below is a 3 part photo series using a wallet sized Fresnel lens.

focus-1

focus-2

focus-3

SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #6: GO FOR EMBER, NOT FLAME

fat-guys-creek

(Like my subtle photo plug for my new show on THE WEATHER CHANNEL called FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS premiering on Sunday August 10th?  Read more about it here: http://www.weather.com/tv/tvshows/fat-guys-in-the-woods/fat-guys-woods-weather-channel-20140708)

I’ve found it much more difficult (often impossible) to go directly to flame using many different types of solar fire starting tools.  Unless you have an extremely powerful lens, you’re just wasting your time trying to go directly to flame.  The best strategy it to create a burning ember using your lens – THEN – place that smoldering ember into a prepared tinder bundle and blow into flame.  However, this is easier said than done.  In order to do this you must know what tinders you can use that will produce a smoldering ember using a solar lens – THIS IS THE REAL TRICK WITH SOLAR FIRE STARTING!

SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #7: KNOW YOUR SMOLDERING TINDER OPTIONS

If you only take away ONE TIP from this entire article, remember this one.  Smoldering tinder options are few and far between and must be chosen carefully.  Not all tinder will create a self-sustaining smoldering ember that can be dumped into a tinder bundle.  In fact, there are very few that will.  Below are my favorites.  REMEMBER THESE!

  • TINDER FUNGUS (CHAGA):  This is a fungus that grows exclusively on the BIRCH TREE.  It actually looks like black charcoal on the outside.  The inside is orange and very porous.  This stuff is the SHIZNIT when dealing with solar survival fire starts.  It smolders like no body’s business and has a very low ignition point.

tinder-fungus

charcloth

  • PUNKY WOOD:  Punky wood is one of my personal favorites because you can find it in almost any environment on the planet.  It’s basically dry rotting wood.  You’ve probably stepped on this stuff a hundred times in your yard or on a hike.  Fallen trees dead branches all go through a stage of decay know as punky wood.  It’s easy to crush, powder and pulverize (see next TIP).  This stuff smolders very well and will produce a self sustaining ember.  You can grow a punky wood ember to be the size of a basket ball if you wanted by just adding more crushed punky wood.

punky-wood

  • POOP:  Yes, that’s right – POOP!  Not yours, though.  My favorites are rabbit, deer, goat and moose.  These particular animals produce some amazing solar fire starting poop.  They are like little processed balls of solar gold.  They are dark in color, made of tiny particles of dry grass and leaves and smolder incredibly well.  They must be DRY!  Fresh poo just will not work.

poop-tinder

  • MILKWEED OVUM:  Now this is a jewel of knowledge that FEW people know.  Consider yourself one of the solar elite!  Milkweed ovum is the thin papery sheath that the fully milkweed seeds are attached to INSIDE of the milkweed pod.  This stuff is like nature’s tissue paper.  It has a very low ignition point and SMOLDERS!  Very few things in nature smolder and this is one of them!

milkweed-ovum

  • TEA & COFFEE:  Yes, you can generate a smoldering solar ember on tea and coffee.  Finely ground coffee can make a suitable solar ember and so can the pulverized tea leaves inside of tea bags.  You never know when this urban survival tip can come in handy.

coffee

SOLAR FIRE STARTING TIP #8: POUND, POWDER & PULVERIZE

Many tinders work much better for creating a solar smoldering ember when they are pounded, powdered and pulverized.  These include but are not limited to punky wood and poops (ha!).  I’m not sure of the physics behind why but I’ve had better success of getting a self sustaining smoldering ember on some tinders when they are powdered into a little pile.  This is just a tip to keep in mind if all else fails.

CREEK’S FREE GIFT

I’ve been asking a lot from you guys lately – to review my books, watch my new show, share things with your friends -so I wanted to give something back.  It’s not much but it’s a solar fire starting Fresnel Lens (shown in the photos above) that I keep in my wallet.  It takes up hardly any space and is the size of a business card.  I’ve started hundreds of fires with this thing over the years and it works really well.  It’s also one of the few fire starting tools that the TSA won’t hassle you for when you board an airplane.  It’s also a great lens to get started with when learning about solar fire starts.

I’M SORRY – THE FREE GIFT TIME DEADLINE HAS ENDED – THIS OFFER NO LONGER AVAILABLE.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

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Psssst… I’ve got a BIG announcement!

Hello friends. Today is a pretty cool day for me.

I get to tell you something that I’ve been wanting to share for a long time.  It’s in part because of your support that it all came about in the first place.

I’m excited to announce a project I’ve been working on for literally the past two years of my life.  The word ‘project’ doesn’t really do it justice.  I’ve been chomping at the bit to tell you guys about it but have had to keep it under wraps… until now.

It all starts with WHY I GOT INTO THIS CRAZY BUSINESS IN THE FIRST PLACE.

As most of you know, I have a passion for the outdoors and self reliant skills.  I also have a passion for teaching.  I believe with all of my heart that the survival skills I teach and share matter.  I believe that they can and will save someone’s life one day.  I think that’s pretty cool.

I’ve seen first hand that the wilderness can change people.  There are many parallels between survival skills and life skills.  Things like NEVER GIVING UP, INNOVATION, MENTAL TOUGHNESS, TEAMWORK and HARD WORK are just as important in everyday life as they are in a life or death survival scenario.

WE’VE ALL BEEN AT A PLACE IN OUR LIFE WHEN WE NEED A KICK IN THE PANTS.

I know I have.  Everyone’s been there.  It’s easy to become comfortable in our modern world of convenience.  ‘Comfortable’ is a dangerous place to be.  You can get stuck in a job you don’t like, spend years in a relationship that doesn’t make you happy, develop a lifestyle that’s not rewarding or have a body that’s seen better days.  I think everyone can understand that feeling of needing a mid-life wake up call.

ONE DAY, I GOT A RANDOM CALL

One day I got a phone call from a guy named Evan Goldstein.  Evan’s a young talented television producer in the big city of Los Angeles.  He and I hit it off right away and have since become close friends.  He had this crazy idea to invite guys who’ve become a victim of ‘comfortable’ into the wilderness for a 6 day survival wake up call.  But, he needed someone crazy enough (and skilled enough) to lead them, teach them, challenge them…and keep them ALIVE!

I’M ALWAYS UP FOR A GOOD CHALLENGE

I get contacted a lot about survival television shows – I’d say an average of twice a week.  Evan’s call was different.  His concept and vision embodied everything I love about what I do – survival skills, Mother Nature, challenge, inspiration, teaching and people.

RIVR MEDIA, an amazing production company out of Knoxville, TN, embraced the show concept and before I knew it we were filming a sizzle reel (basically a short version of the concept) to show to television networks.  Who would share this same vision?

OFF THE COUCH, INTO THE WEATHER

We found an amazing partnership with The Weather Channel.  It’s a perfect fit.  After all, the greatest survival adversary of all time is the weather.  Battling the weather is a constant and unrelenting challenge in virtually every survival scenario in every environment.

ON THE FAST TRACK

Before I could even say good-bye to Willow Haven, I was leading 3 guys (all needing a kick in the pants) deep into the Tennessee mountains to prove that if they could survive 6 days in the wilderness with me then they could do anything when they got back home.

SURVIVAL SKILLS TEACHING LIFE SKILLS

Week after week (8 times actually), I led 3 different guys into the craziest days and survival scenarios of my life.  We built awesome shelters, made fire in ways you can’t even imagine, dined on unmentionable wild edibles (you have to see it to believe it) and learned a ton about ourselves and surviving one of the most brutal winters ever seen in the United States.  We laughed, cried, failed, succeeded and yes….spooned.  Trust me, you’d be spooning in a brush wiki up during the Polar Vortex with three total strangers too.

UNLIKE ANY OTHER

I’ve long been a fan of survival television.  From Survivor Man to Dual Survival, I’ve enjoyed watching them all.  I can tell you with certainly that this show is unique and unlike any before it.  One thing I love about this show is that I (the Survival Expert) am not the one doing everything.  I help and teach and encourage but at the end of the day, the 3 guys must get it done themselves.  Anyone can do amazing things in the wilderness and this show proves it.

SO WHAT’S THE NAME OF THE SHOW?

You’re gonna love this – FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS!  Even though pretty much all of the guys are out of shape when we hit the woods, this is not a weight loss show – this is a wake up call!  At the bottom of this email is a link to a 20 second promotional video.  It premiers August 10th only on The Weather Channel.  Trust me – you do not want to miss this one.

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THANK YOU!

I am an incredibly blessed and lucky guy and would like to thank:

  • YOU – for your continued support on my blog, my classes, my books and my survival related projects.  I promise, there is always more to come.
  • Evan Goldstein for his visionary show idea.
  • RIVR Media for being the most amazing production company in the world to work with on this show.
  • The Weather Channel for believing in this idea and taking a risk on me.
  • THE FAT GUYS ;)  24 of the coolest and most inspiring dudes I’ve ever met who trusted their lives with me for 6 of the craziest days of their life.

THE WILDERNESS CAN CHANGE PEOPLE!

You have to watch this promo video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xednvqI2z_o

PLEASE, SHARE RIGHT NOW WITH EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!!!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

12 Survival Hacks Using Just Leaves

Nature provides an abundance of tools and resources if you just know where to look.  Today, I’m discussing just one of them – LEAVES.  You’re not going to believe all of the survival functions you can do with just LEAVES and a little bit of know-how.  No matter the season, leaves can provide you with some kind of a solution.  Nature is freaking amazing!

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 1: ROPE

Yes, you can make usable cordage from leaves!  The leaves you’ll want for this particular task are fibrous ones such as those from Yucca or Cattail.  I’ve found that dead yucca and cattail leaves work best but they’ll work when green in a pinch.  Below is a photo of a Yucca plant and then also a coil of yucca leaf rope that I made.

yucca

yucca-rope

The technique used to fashion usable cordage from fibrous natural materials is called the Reverse Wrap.  It’s an awesome survival skill – so cool that I filmed a short video to show you exactly how to do it.  Watch the video below:

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 2: NATURE’S TIN FOIL

burdock-tin-foil

Have you ever wrapped food in tin foil and cooked it in the coals of a fire.  When we were kids, Mom would wrap up some ground beef, onions, potatoes and carrots in tin foil and cook them in the coals of a fire.  She called them Hobo Dinners.  I’ve never found a tin-foil tree in the woods but I’ve found a leaf that works just as good – BURDOCK.  Food wrapped in three layers of burdock leaves cooks just as good as any tin foil I’ve ever used.  Look how huge the leaves of burdock can get.

burdock-plant

I’ve cooked fish, quail and rabbit in burdock leaves and it never fails to produce a delicious juicy meal.  Check out this quail and potatoes we cooked in burdock leaves during a SurviVacation II last summer.  We tied it up with Basswood Bark.  Mmmmmm, my mouth’s watering just thinking about it.  That same day I also used a burdock leaf as an improvised container to hold some freshly picked raspberries.cooked-quail

eggs-potatoes

burdock-picking-bucket

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 3: INSOLES

mullein-on-boots

That’s right – SHOE INSOLES!  Need some extra cushion to help prevent blisters?  How about some extra cushion that is also antibacterial?  Look for a mullein plant.  It’s very distinct, you can’t miss it.  The leaves are thick, durable and fuzzy.

mullein

Not only do they make excellent improvised shoe insoles that will reduce foot odor but they also are your go-to natural source for toilet paper.  They are also an excellent substitute for paper towel and are very absorptive.  I use them as napkins all the time.

mullein-leaf-insoles

 

 LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 4: INSULATION

leaf-insulation

Whether from the cold ground or the air around you, leaves are nature’s perfect insulative material for creating dead air space below and around you.  One of the most effective cold weather shelters is a Debris Hut and it’s made almost entirely of leaves.  The leaves capture dead air space which acts as a barrier to the cold.  They help keep warm air (body heat) in and cold air out.  As the cool temps come, Mother Nature drops all the insulation you could ever need to the forest floor.  She’s nice that way.

corn-husks

Until his mid-twenties, my Dad slept on what’s called a Shuck Bed.  This is literally a mattress stuffed with dried corn husks.  He recalls it being a little lumpy, but functional.  It hasn’t been that long ago that people used natural vegetation insulation for sleeping purposes.

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 5: SHINGLES

skunk-cabbage-shingles

 

grass-roof

Yes, leaves are not only insulation but shingles as well.  Large leaves from plants like burdock and skunk cabbage can be used to shingle a lean-to in a matter of minutes.  Leafy branches can be used the same way.  Remember to start from the bottom and work your way up, just like you would shingle a house.  This overlapping pattern prevents rain from seeping through.  Below I used a full burdock plant to protect jerky on a drying rack from a light drizzle.

burdock-shingles

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 6: HARVESTING WATER

burdock-water-collection

With a little creativity, you can use leaves to direct and harvest water.  Rain water is the easiest form of fresh drinking water in the wild if you can get enough of it.  Arranging leaves to harvest rain can gather exponentially more if you do it right.  Look at them as nature’s little mini-tarps.

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 7: KITCHEN WARE

From plates to bowls, leaves can be repurposed in all types of different functional ways.  I use basswood leaves for plates and napkins all the time.  They’re edible, durable and environmentally safe!  Below is a shot of a basswood leaf for reference:

basswood

 

I cooked some biscuits in orange peels the other day and used basswood leaves as a plate on the ground.

basswood-leaf-plate

The burdock leaf below is lining a hole in the ground and makes an excellent quickie bowl.  I’ve even eaten cereal out of this exact set up before.

burdock-vessel

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 8: MEDICATED BANDAGES

plantain

You’ve probably got plantain growing in your back yard right now.  Did you know it has built in antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties and is the perfect remedy for minor cuts, bee stings, stinging nettle and scrapes?  Just chew up a leaf, place it on the wound and use another plantain leave to hold it in place.  Plantain has earned the nickname “BANDAID PLANT”  for a reason.  The fibers in the leaves make durable bandages.

plantain-medicine

plantain-bandage

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 9: DISTILLED WATER

Leaves transpire water all day long – called transpiration.  It is possible to magnify and capture that water transpiration using clear plastic.  Nonpoisonous vegetation placed in a ground pit solar still or live leaves tied off in a clear plastic bag can put out a surprising amount of water in full sun.  It’s not the fastest and most efficient way of getting water but it’s an option nonetheless.

solar-still

transpiration-bag

transpiration

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 10: FIRE TINDER

Dry leaves make excellent fire tinder and have constituted many a tinder bundle for me over the years.  Some dried leaves, such as from the sage plant(shown below), smolder very well and can be used to carry an ember across long distances.

s-tinder

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 11: MATS, WALLS, BASKETS, DOORS and ROOFING

cattail

Leaves from a variety of plants can be woven into about anything you can image, from baskets to shelter walls.  Cattail leaves were used extensively by Native American Indians as a universal weaving material.  This blog (http://sustainablelivingproject.blogspot.com/2012/09/woven-cattail-mats.html) has a great cattail weaving tutorial and used a woven cattail mat to dry summer fruits and berries.  What an awesome idea!

cattail-mat

Cattail leaves were also used to weave hats, shoes, clothing, chair seats, fishing nets, duck decoys and children’s toys.  It is an amazingly durable weaving material.

 

LEAF SURVIVAL HACK # 12: FOOD

I can’t even list all of the wild plant leaves that are edible.  I’ve eaten leaves raw, baked, roasted, dried and often use them as wraps instead of tortillas.  One of the my favorite wild meals is shredded bluegill mixed with yellow wood sorrel and wrapped in basswood leaves.  I also love young basswood leaves, dandelion greens and wood sorrel mixed in a salad with a little olive oil and vinegar.  Below is dandelion and yellow wood sorrel – both of which you probably have in your back yard.

dandelion

 

wood-sorrel

I also regularly enjoy a variety of bush teas, including pine needle tea, staghorn sumac tea and stinging nettle tea.  There’s tea around every corner in the wilderness!

pine-needle-tea

What other survival uses for LEAVES can YOU think of????

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-logo

How To Disappear In The Wilderness: A Natural Camouflage Tutorial

I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time now but have been putting it off because it involves a certain level of commitment.  Finally, I decided to take a hit for TEAM WILLOW HAVEN (that’s you) and show you how effective natural ‘full body’ camouflage can be when done right.

creek-stewart-nat-camo

You never know when you might need natural camouflage.  Whether to escape and evade or to hunt and stalk, blending into the wilderness around you might be a necessary part of your survival scenario one day and it’s important that you understand the basics.  Luckily, the process is fool-proof – and – surprisingly fast.

THE BASE LAYER

It all starts with muddin’ up!  It goes without saying that this method of natural camo lends itself to warm weather scenarios.  This process also works much better on BARE SKIN.  I started the whole process by striping down to my skivvys and then scooped some goopy clay-mud mix from the edge of the pond.  There’s really no delicate way to do this – just smear it on!  I had to go Garden of Eden style in these shots with a Burdock leaf for the sake of decency.

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Get it on nice and thick.  A thick, wet base layer is critical.  Once you’re all mudded up, the next step is pretty easy.

 

DUFF AND FOREST DEBRIS

Forest duff, debris and leaf litter cover the floor in every type of forest environment.  What better material to use than the stuff that exists naturally in the area that you’re in.  Just grab handfuls of forest debris and slap it all over your wet gooey base layer.  It will stick and as the mud dries, it will become cemented into place.  You can even roll on the ground.  You’ll be surprised what your fly-paper like body will pick up.

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creek-stewart-torso

 

creek-stewart-camo-smile

I know what you’re thinking – IT LOOKS ITCHY.  It’s NOT.  The mud layer protects your body from all of the little leaf and twig pricks that you imagine might be happening all over my body.  I am also impressed at how well this keep the mosquitoes at bay.  It’s certainly not 100 % effective but it does help.

NOW, DISAPPEAR

It’s amazing how quickly you can disappear using this simple 2 step natural camo method.  A few years back while giving natural camo a stab while hunting I actually had a squirrel run down the tree I was leaning against and eat a nut while sitting on my leg.  I kid you not.  I could tell he knew something wasn’t quite right but he had no idea he was sitting on a human!  It was an amazing experience and that squirrel was delicious (just kidding, I didn’t kill him).  And, yes, at that distance I could tell it was a ‘him’.

creek-stewart-natural-camo-face

 

creek-stewart-nat-camo-hollo9w-tree

 

creek-stewart-natural-camo-side-tree-2

 

creek-stewart-natural-camo-laying

CONCLUSION

Next time you find yourself being chased by a PREDATOR from another planet, don’t forget what you learned here – GET NAKED, MUD UP & ROLL ON THE GROUND.  In less than 5 minutes you’ll be an unrecognizable fixture in the forest around you.

By the way, my skin feels amazing.  I think I’ll start charging for ‘Natural Camo Full Body Treatments’.

That’s it for now – more great survival tips to come.  Have an awesome week.  MAKE YOUR OWN LUCK!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist