One knot every survivalist should know – The Trucker Hitch

TRUCKER HITCH:  Step-by-Step Tutorial + Video!

The Trucker Hitch is an impressive knot that is comprised of two very basic knots.  The name comes from its use in the transportation industry when tying and securing heavy loads.  It can be used to tie down a load using rope with crushing force.  It is the ratcheting strap of the knot world.  I use the Trucker Hitch to secure my kayak to the roof rack on my truck.  In survival, I primarily use it when setting a rope shelter ridgeline or when sleeping in a hammock.  However, it is extremely useful, whenever the need may arise, to stretch a rope very tightly between or across two anchor points.  While the Taut Line Hitch is also a tensioning knot, the Trucker Hitch allows the user to tighten a rope with considerably more force (if that is necessary or desired).

To tie it, start with forming an overhand loop on the standing part of the rope.

 

Then, pull a bight from the working end up through the loop.  This creates a slippery overhand loop.

 

Next, run the working end around an anchor point, such as a tree.  Note that pulling the working end too hard during this step will result in undoing the slippery overhand loop, so care must be taken here.  This is why it’s called “slippery”.  The working end should then be run through the slippery loop, pulled tight, and then secured with two Half Hitches.

Pinching the line on each side of the slippery overhand loop will allow for easier tying of the Half Hitches.

In a frictionless world, the design of the Trucker hitch allows for a 3 to 1 advantage when pulling a line tight.  As can be seen in the labeled diagram, every unit of force pulled on the working end results in three times that unit on the standing line.  The physics of this mechanical advantage is what allows the user to pull the standing line so tight between two objects.  Due to friction through the loop and around the anchor point, the mechanical advantage isn’t a true 3 to 1, but it’s still enough to tighten with impressive force that will rival even modern ratcheting straps.

I’ve also filmed a video about how to tie the Trucker Hitch.  You can watch it here:  http://www.creekstewart.com/trucker-hitch/

If you liked this tutorial and would like to earn 18 more of my favorite survival knots, consider my POCKET FIELD GUIDE: Survival Knots – VOL I.  It can be purchased anywhere books are sold for $6.99.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

CR///EK

 

Creek’s “Anyone, Anywhere, Anycondition, Anytime” Fire Kit now available at CreekStewart.com

 

 

 

SURVIVAL TREES: BASSWOOD – Amazing survival resources from the Basswood Tree

As spring quickly approaches, I’d thought I share with you why the BASSWOOD tree is one of my favorite Survival Trees!

Introduction

Trees can provide a survivor with elements from all four core survival priorities:  Shelter, Water, Fire and Food.  Trees can be used for warmth, hydration, food, tools, and self-defense.  It’s crazy to think that one can use a tree to start a fire, take shelter under it, and then find themselves able to eat and drink from it.  Trees provide an immeasurable number of materials essential to survival, and studying the different species, as well as what they offer, is a worthwhile endeavor that will pay major survival dividends time and time again.

This article is an except from my much more extensive POCKET FIELD GUIDE titled SURVIVAL TREES that will ship (autographed) in the APRIL FORAGER EDITION APOCABOX.  Each tree is accompanied with illustrated drawings of its leaves and (on occasion) other identifying features, such as fruits, nuts, barks, or buds.  The guide (nor this article) is not designed or intended to be a tree identification guide. Rather, it should act as a supplement to other guides on the subject, offering survival specific information and insight that typically is not covered (or even mentioned) in the average identification guide.  

The use of each tree type is broken down into some or all (if applicable) of the following five survival categories: Shelter, Water, Fire, Food, and Tools & Miscellaneous.  The information contained in these categories has taken me nearly two decades to compile, learn, and test.  Yet, I am sure there are still uses and resources for each tree that I do not know.  It is my hope that this article deepens your knowledge and appreciation for the amazing BASSWOOD tree.

Basswood (American Linden) : Tilia americana

The American Linden, or Basswood, is one of my favorite survival trees.  Not only is it entirely edible, but the Basswood also provides a surprising number of other survival resources.  In Britain, this species is often referred to as the Lime Tree, though it is not the source of the lime fruit.

Shelter

The Basswood tree is not a particularly good tree for shelter.  However, mature Basswoods are notorious for sending up a slew of smaller sucker Basswood trees from their base.  This is one way I am able to identify Basswoods in the winter when their leaves are gone.  These sucker trees are usually very straight, tall, and easy to harvest.  Although not very strong, like oak or maple, they still make great shelter poles if fallen branches aren’t available.  Basswood is a very soft wood and a favorite among wood carvers. Even 2-3” diameter saplings can be cut easily with just a knife.  Consider this option before spending significant calories on a tree of a different variety.

Water 

Basswood trees can be tapped just as a Maple can be tapped.  Although not nearly as high in sugar content and not worth boiling down for a sweet syrup, Basswood sap is incredibly refreshing and is one of the fastest sap trees I’ve ever tapped.  Young sucker trees, as well as 1st season growth on branches (1/2” in diameter or smaller), can provide a survivor with a very functional spile.  The centers of these two are very pithy and can quickly be reamed out with a wire or a thin branch with a sharpened point. I’ve used many a Basswood spile while gathering drinking sap from Basswoods, Maples, and Birches.  Friends of mine who make tobacco pipes will often use a young basswood sucker for the tube because of its hollow nature.

The Basswood is also a sign that you are probably near water, as they prefer moist, water-rich environments.  If you’ve found a Basswood tree, keep looking because there is likely a water source close by.  

Fire

Basswood is not a great wood for extended warmth and heat, but it is without question my favorite wood to use for friction fire kits such as Bow Drill and even Hand Drill.  Basswood, especially sucker trees and 1st year growth branch wood, is the perfect consistency for friction fire lighting.  The light-weight, porous wood generates a nice hot ember very quickly.  Sucker trees at the base of mature trees are my favorite for this, but fallen limbs and branches will work just fine as well.  Regardless, it is one of the softest woods available.  When available, I use Basswood to make both the hearth-board and spindle for my Bow Drill fire kits (see POCKET FIELD GUIDE:  Master the Bow Drill).

Food

Young Basswood leaves are my favorite wild edible green.  I eat a basswood leaf salad at least two times a week from March-May.  When their flowers are in bloom, I will add them to the salad, as they are edible too.  The leaves are very mucilaginous and may pose a texture issue for some.  While edible all throughout the summer, Basswood leaves are best when young and smaller than a silver dollar.  I also like to steep 10 or so flowers in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes to make a fragrant tea that I very much enjoy.

The seeds of the Basswood are edible as well, though, they are time consuming to collect.  They dangle from underneath the leaves in small clusters and are attached to a tongue-shaped bract.  The hard, outer shell must be cracked away to access the edible seed. I simply do this inside my mouth and spit out the hull, although I’ve been known to chew it up on occasion.  When green, before the hull turns hard and brown, these can be ground into a paste or added to soups and stews.  Basswood seeds, leaves, and flowers can all be added to soups and stews.

The inner bark of Basswood (the whitish layers between the rough outer bark and the solid wood) is edible as well and has a very refreshing texture and flavor.  It reminds me of cucumber.  It can be scraped away in handfuls and eaten raw or boiled to break it up and soften it for chewing and digesting.

Basswood leaves can get quite large and make perfect natural tin foil for baking meals in earthen pits or in the coals of a fire.  Wrap food in at least 5-6 layers of green leaves and tie with the peeled bark from young basswood suckers or branches.

An old-timer once told me that he heard of families in the Great Depression who added basswood sawdust to bread-mix as a filler to make rations last longer.  The wood is not poisonous, so it’s something to at least file away in your brain.

Tools & Miscellaneous

As mentioned previously, the hollow tubes from basswood suckers and young branches have many uses.  Some of these include: 

  •        Spiles for tapping trees
  •         Drinking straws
  •         Blowing tubes for making coal-burned containers
  •         Smoking pipes (not necessary for survival but interesting nonetheless)
  •         Trap systems that require a hollow tube (yes, there are some)
  •         Bobbers/floats for fishing

Basswood is a very soft, nonpoisonous wood and makes an excellent medium for a variety of cooking utensils including spoons, ladles, forks, chopsticks, stirring sticks, and spatulas.  Most of these can be carved with just a knife in very little time and with little effort.  Using basswood for such tools also reduces wear and tear on your knife blade.  Due to their fast and straight growth, basswood sucker saplings also make excellent quick and dirty arrows for bow and arrow or atlatl.  They are lightweight, have few branches, and very easy to fire or heat straighten.

By far the most incredible resource the Basswood tree provides is cordage.  That name “BASS”wood is actually derived from the word BAST, which means plant fiber.  The inner bark of the Basswood tree is one of the most easily accessible fibers I’ve ever gathered from the wild.  It is best gathered when the sap is running heavy during the spring months.  With saplings that are 3” in diameter or smaller, the tree can be scored from left to right.  A knife can be used to pick at the score line and once a piece large enough to grab is available, entire strips that are many feet in length can be pulled from the sapling.  If care is taken, saplings can be cut down and the entire sheath of outer and inner bark can be removed in one piece by carefully peeling from the bottom.  Pounding the bark with a wooden mallet (metal will damage the inner bark fibers) will help it to loosen and will be necessary to process trees much larger than 3” in diameter.  I’ve seen sheets of bark pulled from basswood trees (with many hours of careful peeling and pounding) as large as 2 feet wide by 15 feet tall.

The inner bark fibers, just beneath the rough outer bark, can be processed into cordage that can be used to make nets, clothing, baskets, traps, or any other accoutrement necessary for survival.  On the younger saplings with a thin layer of outer bark, the freshly peeled strips of bark can be used right away as crude cordage for shelter building or rough bindings.  In my courses, I’ve seen two adult men pull on opposite sides of a 2” strip of basswood bark and not be able to break it.

For a finer, more pliable cordage, the bark must be soaked (called retting) in water for at least a couple weeks.  The rotting process loosens the inner bark fibers from the outer bark.  It can then be easily pulled away in long ribbons that can be used as is or stripped down into thinner cordage.  The soaking can be done in a container or at the bank of a pond and river.  This process of retting works for many varieties of trees including, Walnut, Willow, Tulip Poplar and Cottonwood to name a few.

Because Basswood bark can be removed in large chunks from the tree (typically during spring months only), it is an excellent candidate for crafting bark containers.  Below is a basic pattern for making a seamless bark container.  The dashed lines represent fold lines.  

 

Conclusion

If you’re like me and like to learn how to glean food and resources from trees and plants, consider subscribing to the APRIL APOCABOX called the FORAGER EDITION.  It is all about foraging and includes an exclusive signed copy of my POCKET FIELD GUIDE titled SURVIVAL TREES where I detailed the survival uses for many more incredible trees on the forest.  To subscribe to the FORAGER APOCABOX, CLICK HERE:  http://www.myapocabox.com

For more of my Pocket Field Guides, please visit my Amazon.com page at: https://www.amazon.com/Creek-Stewart/e/B0076LIRK6/

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

CR///EK

You’re not going to believe what I do with this 2-liter bottle.

Just in case you missed the most recent episode of FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS, I had to write this blog post and show you a cool survival skill that I think you’ll really enjoy.  And, it’s a great way to source some awesome cordage in a pinch.  I call it the 2-Liter Bottle Cordage Jig.

2-liter-jig

Years ago I saw a video about how a small factory was recycling 2-liter bottles to make woven baskets.  They had a fancy electric powered piece of equipment that would allow an operator to feed in trash 2-liter bottles and it would strip them into long pieces of plastic that would then be coiled on a spool and used to weave baskets.

2-liter-trash

Trash 2-liter bottles (or similar) can be found all over the world, especially in coastal areas.  During our week filming FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS in the Florida Swamps I decided to create a primitive version of making cordage from 2-liter bottles using just my knife, my folding saw and a sapling stump.

2-liter-jig-knife

 

Below is a link to the YouTube video filmed for the show that I think you will find very educational.  It’s rare to find a survival skill that you’ve never seen before and I’m proud to bring one to you in this post!

!!!VIDEO LINK HERE!!!

Like I always say, survival is about using what you have to get what you need and this skill is a prime example of that philosophy.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

Improvised Tarp Boat

Summer is the time to practice summer survival skills.  Here’s a great one I think you’ll enjoy.  This one comes right from the pages of my latest book, Build the Perfect Bug Out Survival Skills.  This is a step-by-step photo series about how to build an improvised boat from a tarp!

Step 1: Lay your tarp flat on the ground.  This is a 9’x12′ tarp.

2-30

Step 2:  Pile pine boughs or leafy branches in a circle about 12″ tall.  This will be the diameter of your boat.  Leave at least 1′-2′ of tarp around the perimeter.

2-31

Step 3: Lay a gridwork of sturdy sticks (1″-2″ in diameter) on top of the circle.

2-32

Step 4: Pile another 12″ of green boughs on top, again in a circular pattern.

2-33

Step 5: Wrap the tarp around the circle and tie it to the gridwork of sticks.

2-34

Step 6:  Cross your fingers.

2-35

 

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

Follow me on INSTAGRAM @creekstewart.

Follow me on TWITTER @survivalcreek.

 

FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: BLOG SKILL SERIES: Make an Improvised Bow Saw

In the first episode of Fat Guys in the Woods, we made an improvised Bow Saw using a bent sapling.  We then used this saw to help build shelters and process wood throughout the week.  This post provides a little more detail about this project.

First, about Bow Saws…

I love a good Bow Saw.  I actually prefer a Bow Saw over an ax.  A good Bow Saw can process an insane amount of wood in a short amount of time.  It’s safer to use than an ax, require less practice and takes far less energy.  It’s also much lighter.  My Bow Saw of choice is the Bahco 36″ model.  Here’s a photo below:

bahco-bow-saw

I’ll be the first to admit that they are bulky, especially the larger ones.  Luckily, the ‘BOW’ part of the Bow Saw can be improvised in the field using a flexible sapling if you just want to carry in the blade portion.  Below is how to do it.

Choosing the BOW.

I typically use either small saplings or branches that are about 3/4″ – 1″ in diameter.  I cut them about 6″ longer than my Bow Saw blade.  That’s typically pinky tip to thumb tip of my open hand with fingers spread.  They must be flexible.  They must also be GREEN wood.  No dead stuff.  I’ll often flex them around a large tree to break them in.  This really helps.

Next, split the end of each sapling in half about 3″ down.  The splits on each end must be aligned with each other.  They can’t be going in opposite directions.  This is necessary in order for the saw blade to be straight.

Key Rings/Wooden Peg Blade Attachment Options

Threading key rings onto each end of the Bow Saw blade in advance of your trip makes attaching an improvised sapling handle pretty easy.  All bow saw blades that I know of have holes in each end.  These holes are perfect attachment points for key rings.  Key rings can be purchased in the key making dept. of virtually any hardware store.

Start by inserting the end of the bow saw blade into one of the splits on the end of your sapling.  Fold the key ring over and around the sapling like shown below.  If your sapling is larger in diameter than the key ring then simple taper down the end with your knife so that it will fit.

key-ring-up-close

If you don’t have key rings, an appropriately sized wooden peg will also work.

peg-in-saw

Next, carefully bend the sapling and attach the blade in the same way to the other end.  Flexing the sapling around a tree really helps to ready the sapling for this step in the build.

bow-saw-profile

I’ll often tie some paracord around the blade and key ring for peace of mind but it isn’t necessary.  The entire build typically only takes 5-10 minutes and is a really fun bushcraft project.

bow-saw-in-log

CONCLUSION

Although not as robust as the metal store-bought versions, these improvised bow saws may surprise you.  I’ve been using one around Willow Haven for a couple years and it still works like a charm.  Besides, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of improvising and making tools in the field.

creek-stewart-bug-out-book

 

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

FAT GUYS IN THE WOODS: BLOG SKILL SERIES: Jam Knot

Remember these cool shelters that Joe, Opie, Zach and I built in the river valley?

shelter-circle

One very important part of building this shelter is the bed frame similar to what I’ve shown below. 3-4″ diameter logs are stacked log cabin style to build a frame that can contain bedding materials (leaves/boughs/branches/grass,etc) and help brace the arch-style roof.  The logs are lashed together using the JAM KNOT.  I love this knot and it’s one of the most useful outdoor knots I know and I’d like to use this opportunity to teach it to you.

bed-frame

I’ve never been a big fan of teaching knots with the written word or photos so I’ve filmed a short video where I describe how to tie it step-by-step.  Below is the embedded video and here is the link:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQxPvWTT3PM

It’s such a simple knot to use and works perfect for bed frames to contain loose natural insulation.

creek-stewart-bug-out-book

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

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.

 

creek-stewart-bug-out-book

 

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.

creek-stewart-mud-torso

creek-stewart-mud-fce

creek-stewart-mud-full-body

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.

creek-stewart-face

 

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’.

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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

Baseball Bat Weapon Modifications: 6 Zombie Destroying Baseball Bats

NOTE:  These weapons are flat out dangerous and designed for entertainment purposes only.  Recreate at your own risk.

I’ve just finished a several week writing project that required way too much cerebral effort.  Quite frankly, my brain hurts.  After being trapped in front of a computer that long I normally feel like just going outside and blowing something up or burning through 1000 rounds of ammo as fast as humanly possible into my burning barrel.  Not this time though.  This time I fought the urge to be destructive and instead decided to do something constructive with my time, skills and energy.  Something that would make the world a better place.  Something, I decided, that would make my Mom and Dad proud.

So…I modified 6 baseball bats into Zombie killing death weapons.

If you’re the type of person that takes survival articles a little too seriously then you may want to skip this one because I’ll be the first to admit that it is absolutely ridiculous.  Sadly, though, I think I had more fun writing (and making) this post than about any other I’ve ever done – yes even more than the Ultimate Survival Shot Gun and The Swiss Army Survival Tampon.  Not sure what that says about me but it’s the truth.

So you wanna turn your Louisville Slugger into a weapon against the walking dead?  Below are 6 ideas to get you started.

Bat-chete

batchete-studio

I really wanted to make a version of the rusty spiked bat that everyone thinks of when they allow themselves to wonder about such things.  However, I wanted it to be different than anything I’d ever seen before.  What better way to make it different than to mount a machete to the end?  So that’s what I did.  A 12″ machete blade is bolted right into the end of the bat.  But that’s not it.  Just in case the machete blade doesn’t do the trick, eight massive steel spikes shroud the base for some extra collateral damage.  I topped it off with a cobra weave wrist lanyard because I don’t want an aggressive zombie running off with my bat just in case it gets stuck.  Batter up!

batchete-creek-stewart

batchete-2x4

batchete-peering

 

‘Tina

tina-studio

I call this one Tina for short.  Concertina wire, or popularly called razor wire, is some nasty stuff.  It’s like barbed wire except instead of barbs it’s lined with razors.  Typically reserved for warfare and to line the perimeter of maximum security prisons, I figured a nice nest of this stuff fence stapled around a baseball bat would be a pretty formidable zombie face smasher.  Geez, I cut my hands up wearing leather welding gloves just wrapping this ‘death wire’ around the bat.  I understand first hand why this stuff has such a bad reputation.  I remember watching prison break movies thinking, “I bet I could crawl over that razor wire.”  Well let me tell you, there ain’t no freakin’ way you’re crawling over this stuff.  Concertina wire was birthed in warfare and it gives off that eerie feeling when you look at and handle it.  If plants grow in hell I imagine they look like this stuff.  “Hey, zombie, I want you to meet someone.  Her name’s ‘Tina.”

tina-window

tina-creek-stewart-wilderness

The Flail

flail-studio

Oooouch!  With it’s roots in the Middle Ages, the Flail is absolutely barbaric.  I cut the last 6″ off a normal bat, connected it to a steel chain and then studded it with archery field target points.  This thing hurts just holding it in your hand.  These target points actually screw into studs that I mounted into the wood.  You could theoretically replace all of these field points with razor broad-heads if you wanted a spiked razor bat but the idea is to be able to replace damaged spikes ‘on-the-fly’ with a pocket full of extra points.  The spiral wrap paracord handle gives plenty of grip when the G’s from spinning try to rip it out of your hand.  The amount of momentum generated with just a couple rotations of the 5 pound spiked head is terrifying.  I think this weapon could actually elicit FEAR in ZOMBIES.  That’s how scary this thing is once it gets-a-spinnin’.  Home Run every time – guaranteed!

flail-spikes

flail-waist

flail-handle

Shard

glass-bat-studio

Look what you can do with a few busted bottles, some Liquid Nails adhesive, a L-ville Slugger and some demented creativity!  I should call this bat THE SHREDDER because that is what it would do to a zombie’s head, neck, face and chest with just one whack.  It’s a beautiful bat actually.  When the sun flickers through the colored glass it almost looks artistic and maybe a little magical.  I think the real magic of this bat, though, is it’s ability to make a zombie’s head completely disappear!

glass-bat-creek-stewart

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The Scorpion

scorpion-studio

This 4 sectioned bat gets ’em going and coming.  The middle two sections are studded with razor sharp steel spikes.  These are for gripping and ripping.  I’ve mounted a custom piece of weaponry to the end of the ‘scorpion’s tail’.  I took the pick from an ice ax and mounted it to a custom made steel spike.  This then gets bolted through the bat – a deep penetrating spike on one side and a jagged ice ax head on the other – no venom necessary!  This piece is best used as a whip – similar to how a scorpion whips it’s tail into prey.  The SPIKE and YANK motion is sure to do the trick on any approaching zombie.

scorpion-spikes

scorpion-creek-stewart

scorpion-stinger

Silent Night Sucka’

silent-night-studio

I thought this triple deckered beauty resembled a Christmas tree when I first held it up so I’ve lovingly dubbed it Silent Night.  I thought that was an appropriate name seeing that’s exactly what will happen if you clock a zombie with it.  Silent Night Sucker.  Nothing like a good game of zombie tee-ball.  A spiral wrap paracord handle gives plenty of grip because I imagine this thing would get covered in zombie muck pretty quick.  The three circular saw blades are razor sharp and I can’t even imagine the damage they could inflict if swung with proper form.  Heck, forget form, it wouldn’t matter – just swing it any old way you want.  “Swing away, Merrill.  Merrill, swing away.”

silent-night-duct-tape

silent-night-silhouette

silent-night-handle-wrap

Conclusion

See, I told you I wanted to do something constructive and I’m positive the world is a better place now having seen these zombie death bats.  Whether or not my parents are proud is still to be determined…

What would your zombie death bat look like?  Have a great week!

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

creek-stewart-survivalist

PS-  Several of these bats required some woodworking cuts, drilling and notches beyond my pay grade and skill level. I’d like to give a special THANK YOU to my Uncle Jerry who helped make the vision for some of these Zombie Death Bats a reality.

 

Creek's new survival fiction novel, RUGOSA, now available on Amazon.com!