Reverie Nature Podcast

Wilderness Survival 101: Don't panic!

March 27, 2024 Season 2 Episode 1
Wilderness Survival 101: Don't panic!
Reverie Nature Podcast
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Reverie Nature Podcast
Wilderness Survival 101: Don't panic!
Mar 27, 2024 Season 2 Episode 1

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  • this episode is the first topic I discuss crucial strategies for staying calm and making informed decisions in challenging outdoor situations. From prioritizing survival needs to mastering essential skills like shelter-building, water procurement, and firecraft, I share invaluable insights to help you thrive in the wilderness. 
  • for entertainment purposes only, so if you need Wilderness Survival training, go and get it.
  • insights into wilderness survival. Drawing from his extensive background in primitive wilderness skills, outdoor guiding, and survival TV consultation, Chad delves into the essence of wilderness survival and the importance of maintaining a calm and rational mindset in challenging situations.
  • distinguishes between wilderness survival, bushcraft, and campcraft, shedding light on their respective roles and significance in outdoor exploration. He emphasizes the criticality of prioritizing survival tasks, including regulating body temperature, ensuring hydration, and constructing shelter.
  • engaging anecdotes and practical advice, Chad illustrates the consequences of panic-driven decisions and highlights the importance of preparedness and resourcefulness in the wilderness. He shares personal experiences and encounters to underscore the significance of staying focused and level-headed in survival scenarios.
  • Chad's expertise and passion for nature shine through as he guides listeners through the intricacies of wilderness survival, offering actionable tips and strategies for staying safe and thriving in the great outdoors.

Please consider leaving a rating and/or review wherever you listen to the podcast. Don't forget to share a good episode on social media too. The mid-roll ad on this podcast includes the song entitled House of Mirrors, by Chad Clifford (Pete Meyer on flute).

Support the Show.



Thank you for tuning in to the Reverie Nature Podcast! Your support keeps our adventures alive. Be certain to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world. Join us on this journey to embrace nature's song and preserve the beauty of our planet. Together, we can make a difference.

Chad Clifford

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at:
Buy me a coffee


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Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send us a Text Message.

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at
Buy me a coffee

  • this episode is the first topic I discuss crucial strategies for staying calm and making informed decisions in challenging outdoor situations. From prioritizing survival needs to mastering essential skills like shelter-building, water procurement, and firecraft, I share invaluable insights to help you thrive in the wilderness. 
  • for entertainment purposes only, so if you need Wilderness Survival training, go and get it.
  • insights into wilderness survival. Drawing from his extensive background in primitive wilderness skills, outdoor guiding, and survival TV consultation, Chad delves into the essence of wilderness survival and the importance of maintaining a calm and rational mindset in challenging situations.
  • distinguishes between wilderness survival, bushcraft, and campcraft, shedding light on their respective roles and significance in outdoor exploration. He emphasizes the criticality of prioritizing survival tasks, including regulating body temperature, ensuring hydration, and constructing shelter.
  • engaging anecdotes and practical advice, Chad illustrates the consequences of panic-driven decisions and highlights the importance of preparedness and resourcefulness in the wilderness. He shares personal experiences and encounters to underscore the significance of staying focused and level-headed in survival scenarios.
  • Chad's expertise and passion for nature shine through as he guides listeners through the intricacies of wilderness survival, offering actionable tips and strategies for staying safe and thriving in the great outdoors.

Please consider leaving a rating and/or review wherever you listen to the podcast. Don't forget to share a good episode on social media too. The mid-roll ad on this podcast includes the song entitled House of Mirrors, by Chad Clifford (Pete Meyer on flute).

Support the Show.



Thank you for tuning in to the Reverie Nature Podcast! Your support keeps our adventures alive. Be certain to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world. Join us on this journey to embrace nature's song and preserve the beauty of our planet. Together, we can make a difference.

Chad Clifford

Please support the podcast through a donation or subscription at:
Buy me a coffee


Wilderness Survival 101 Don’t Panic

Transcribed by TurboScribe.ai

Welcome to the Reverie Nature Podcast, your go-to resource for wilderness survival skills and embracing the wonders of the natural world. In this episode of Wilderness Survival 101: Don't Panic, wilderness expert Chad Clifford delves into crucial strategies for staying calm and making informed decisions in challenging outdoor situations. From prioritizing survival needs to mastering essential skills like shelter-building, water procurement, and firecraft, Chad shares invaluable insights to help you thrive in the wilderness. Tune in now to unlock the secrets of wilderness survival and embark on your next outdoor adventure with confidence! Subscribe for more expert tips and captivating episodes.


(0:00 - 0:41)

Welcome to the Reverie Nature Podcast. Get ready to explore a series of episodes on the nature experience, from engaging bushcraft, reading animal tracks and sign, exploring the world of nature soundscapes and much more. But before we dig in, a big thank you to our listeners.


Please take this moment to subscribe and offer your support to the podcast. I'm Chad Clifford, your hosting guide to Wilderness Survival 101. Now this is a podcast and for entertainment purposes only, so if you need Wilderness Survival training, go and get it.


(0:42 - 0:59)

That said, I've been teaching Wilderness Survival, Primitive Living Skills, Heritage Demonstrations for decades now. I teach new pilot survival skills and help them orient themselves to the woods and safety and whatnot. When you can drink water, when you can't, all those kinds of things.


(1:00 - 1:25)

It has been a hobby and a career and it's been a very rewarding experience learning these skills. It really immerses you into nature like no other outdoor recreation I've come across, forcing you to understand the ecology of the place, where you'll find certain types of wood, all that kind of stuff. It's just a wonderful skill to get into.


(1:25 - 1:42)

Now Wilderness Survival, however, that's another thing. Wilderness Survival, let's start with a quick definition. Wilderness Survival is the perceived threat or perceived realization of imminent danger to your body or limb.


(1:43 - 2:09)

Whether that perceived threat is real or not, it doesn't matter. It's the perceived threat of a threat to life or limb. Wilderness Survival is stressful.


You don't practice Wilderness Survival if we're using the phrase properly. Wilderness Survival is the practice of it would be called Wilderness Survivalism. These phrases matter when you start talking shop.


(2:10 - 2:59)

A lot of times people will interchange the phrase Wilderness Survival with bushcraft or whatnot. Bushcraft is something the military came up with in Australia to combine hunter-gatherer skills or primitive technology with the modern. So it's like the best of both worlds.


The best way to get out on the woods, a little bit of the old school knowledge mixed with the modern technology, that's bushcraft. As far as I understand it, bushcraft was made, that phrase was made popular in North America by Mors Kohanski and his book Northern Bushcraft. If you have not come across that book, you might want to get a copy.


It's fantastic. Mors Kohanski has passed on now. I did have a chance to camp with him when I was in Alberta.


(2:59 - 3:19)

An amazing fellow, humble fellow, and the boreal forest survival guru. For you folks who watch survival shows and whatnot, you'll see the guys hanging the knife around their neck. It's often a Mora knife, a Swedish steel blade, very affordable camp craft or bushcraft knives.


(3:20 - 3:48)

That's kind of his lineage. There's a lot of things that a lot of the modern survival experts have gathered from Mors. Anyway, getting on with our definitions.


So, wilderness survival, again, it's a perceived threat to life or limb. Bushcraft, the combination of primitive technology and modern, as far as getting on in the woods go. Camp craft is just a loose term, more or less like bushcraft, as far as I'm concerned.


(3:49 - 4:05)

And then there's something called nature lore. Now, nature lore is your plants, the study of plants, ecology and whatnot. And that's a big part of primitive technology and bushcraft, right? Understanding where you can find certain things you need for your survival or getting on.


(4:09 - 4:35)

So, with those phrases looked after, let's talk about a situation where all of a sudden you find yourself lost. And you might have been found two minutes ago. You knew where you were.


You went off into the woods for a... to urinate or whatever. And you turn around and you don't quite recognize where you came from. And a few more steps, you don't even know if you're going in the right direction.


(4:37 - 4:55)

What do you do? Well, there's some silly things you can do. And what some people do is they just trust their gut instinct and they go blindly off in one direction or another and get further lost. Some people decide to do that in a big hurry, like a blind or a panic run.


(4:57 - 5:45)

Mistakes get made very quickly. And we'll talk a little bit about those sorts of mistakes. Anyway, you need to control your actions.


Maybe I should talk about how bad things can get when you let your mind go and you don't control your impulses to fix your situation quickly. There's a few situations I've been in or I've been in with other people or I've heard of, you know, just demonstrating how silly things can get so quickly. At one time I was a student of this group.


We're up in the Sierra Nevada mountains. And there's different students from all over North America and a few from Europe. And a lot of them didn't have a lot of background in woods or woods person experience.


(5:45 - 5:59)

So they're kind of newbies as far as being out there. We weren't practicing wilderness survivalism or whatnot. But anyway, we were out there wandering in the woods and everyone was to do this solo thing where you're going and recording stuff.


(5:59 - 6:26)

And this one poor fella, he got turned around and he got lost. So the instructions were if you got lost, you blow your whistle and you wait there. You sit where you are.


You blow your whistle and help will come to you. At the end of the day, if you're not back to meet at the trailhead where the trucks are, the truck horn will blow at regular intervals. And there were therefore you can find your way to the sound source and get out.


(6:27 - 6:41)

Unfortunately, for this young fella, he was from Europe somewhere without much woods experience. He did exactly what he was told. He blew the whistle when he was lost and he waited till five or whatever time it was for the truck horn.


(6:41 - 6:56)

Did not hear it. He took matters into his own hands and that's where the mistake started happening. So he decided to walk out and he used his, I don't know how he made the decision to walk in the direction he went, but it wasn't the right direction.


(6:57 - 7:11)

And he started to get thirsty. Now, at this time of year there, it was about plus 15 in the daytime Celsius, that is. And at night quite cool, you know, approaching freezing at night.


(7:12 - 7:23)

So it was you could actually somewhat overheat during the day or certainly get thirsty. And that's what happened when he decided to start walking. He came across a stream and he was thirsty.


(7:25 - 7:48)

So what he did was he stayed by the water source, I believe it was for a little while. And then he got up to walk again and he left his backpack. He didn't forget his backpack.


It just wasn't important to him. And a little while later with the stream, he started drinking the stream water. And at this point, he wouldn't be able to find his backpack if he went to look for it anyway.


(7:48 - 8:02)

In his backpack was water and a coat. I think anyway, I'm not sure what all was in his backpack. So he starts drinking the stream water and in North America, certainly Canada, you assume all water is suspect.


(8:02 - 8:10)

You boil it, you treat it, you do what you need to do. But you don't, drinking it's not a good idea. There's too many parasites like Giardia and whatnot.


(8:11 - 8:24)

So he started drinking the water. Well, for the type of illness you can get from drinking the water in that area, maybe be your fever or whatnot, that's what I'd be worried about. But that doesn't hit you for a few days, even a week later.


(8:25 - 8:37)

So, you know, he was getting hydrated, drinking water that was probably contaminated. The next thing he did was decide to depart from the creek and that's fine. Whatever direction he was going to travel.


(8:37 - 8:55)

But he took his one remaining warm layer, his fleece coat off, and he put that, or his fleece shirt like thing, he put that in the water to soak up moisture. And that way he could carry this water with him. And now he's got a little bit of hydration on the go.


(8:55 - 9:08)

He's always got that soaking fleece, but he has no layer to handle the cold weather that's only a couple hours away. So making mistakes one after the other. Silly mistakes, right? He's getting himself further lost.


(9:08 - 9:21)

He's lost his insulating layers, what little he had. He left his backpack and it's only been three or four hours. So, you know, making a lot of silly mistakes based out of panic.


(9:21 - 9:30)

If he had to sat down and fought these things through, he wouldn't have left his backpack, obviously. It was the panic. Anyway, to make a long story short, he was just fine.


(9:30 - 9:55)

He got out, he found a roadway, and the vehicle looking for him through the evening found him on that roadway. I don't know how it ended up as far as whether he got jardia into the system and had the consequences of that, like diarrhea and upset stomach a week or two later. Anyway, another silly story was us winter camping one time, and it was cold.


(9:57 - 10:28)

And a friend, or a coworker, I guess, she was walking in this cold weather by herself, and her hands started to get cold, so threw off her warm mitts. Well, they weren't that warm because her hands were cold, but she threw them off and walked another 20 feet and then realized, wait a second, what am I doing? I just threw off my warm mitts because my hands were cold. And that was only 10 minutes before she was in a shelter and she only had little ways to go to the car or to the house or whatnot.


(10:30 - 10:58)

So making silly mistakes just because of your mind, as soon as you have this perceived threat to your life or limb, panic sets in. You really have to get on top of that and control that panic. There's been cases that I've been told from people who track lost, people of hunters who have left their backpack, left their rifle, walked right across roadways, right back into the woods, seemingly oblivious to the fact that they just walked across half busy roadways.


(10:59 - 11:17)

You can really take over and really ruin your experience and your chances of survival if you don't control your mindset. There was another case I helped track a couple of lost people. They pretty much got themselves out anyway.


(11:18 - 11:32)

By the time I found them, but one time there was this couple that were walking on trail, they took the wrong trail. And anyway, there was a T in the trail. So they walked, they turned and they went one way for just a minute or two and they realized, oh, this can't be right.


(11:33 - 11:49)

So one of them decided to go into the woods to urinate and the other said, okay, I'll meet you back at the T there. And he or she went back, turned down the T trail where they're supposed to go and just waited patiently for the other to return. The other person missed that trail.


(11:50 - 12:07)

And they're only probably 20 or 30 meters apart, but they couldn't see each other because of the brush. Walked right past and that was that and lost. So that person didn't know where they were going and missed the trail.


(12:07 - 12:29)

So now nothing seems right because they don't even recognize the trail already. And the partner had to eventually come back and get help. So we ended up following the tracks because it was kind of a dusty trail slash road four wheeler trail and found that we caught up to the person just as they got to back to another roadway.


(12:29 - 12:43)

Luckily that they decided to make a couple of right turns just out of luck, I think. But, you know, the panic that was already setting in, the mistake of them getting separated was easy. That happens easy enough, very easy to happen.


(12:46 - 13:25)

But, you know, what happened from there just marching through the woods and just continue, you know, the minute you think you're lost, why not stop? You know, if you were if you were controlling that natural fear that builds up when you're worried about being lost and all the things that can happen to you, you know, that that's where the mistakes happen. That's where you get yourself into further trouble. So what can you do to control this mindset? Well, if you get it into your head that there's an order that you can follow with survival situations, what would that order be? It changes with the context, obviously.


(13:26 - 13:43)

But here's a loose order that I teach folks. And it goes like this. When you are lost, you sit down, you contemplate ways of getting out of the situation, of course, before you make start making before you just boldly go off on your first impulse.


(13:45 - 13:57)

Yes, you need to plan things out. But let's suppose you are stuck and you decide that you need to make shelter and whatnot and get through the night. You're in a wilderness survival situation.


(13:57 - 14:11)

You are now worried about your life and limb. You are worried about getting too cold at night and suffering the consequences. So what can you concentrate on? You should focus probably primarily on your body temperature.


(14:13 - 14:27)

Hypothermia and that kind of thing can cause you problems very quickly. Having clothing that's wet in cool weather, within hours you can be shivering. You won't be able to use your dexterity to be gone.


(14:27 - 14:35)

Your fingers won't be able to pull up your coat zippers and whatnot. You can get into trouble very quickly. So body temperature, number one.


(14:35 - 14:54)

So when you are in that survival situation, body temperature, number two, hydration. You know, depending on the context, by day two without water, you can start to feel the effects, lightheadedness and all kinds of problems. By day three, it's getting very important to find that water source.


(14:54 - 15:13)

Day four, it's critical to get that water. You know, four days without water is a big problem and you need to have that looked after first. Shelter or your body temperature, water, what comes after that? Well, what about fire? You can get by without fire usually just fine.


(15:13 - 15:38)

But if you need to boil your water and you need a fire to do it, well now fire is one of those priorities, right? Or if fire happens to be part of your shelter system or way of keeping your body warm, now it's right up there with priority number one. So fire in my mind floats around a bit depending on your context. So body temperature, water, fire maybe, food.


(15:39 - 15:52)

For most people, food shouldn't even cross your mind. It should be, you know, you can probably go three or four weeks without any ill-effective food. Some people will need food, you know, every few hours.


(15:52 - 16:06)

If they have blood sugar issues or whatever their health concern is or they need their food, that's different. But or like for myself or most people, you're probably fine without food for a long time. That should be not even cross your mind is being a problem.


(16:06 - 16:32)

So shelter, water, fire and food. If when you're lost and you have to survive, just realize, focus on those four things. It changes with the context, of course, but in general, if your priorities are on that and you have two hours until dark, what's your night going to be like? Well, you got to look after your body temperature, find a spot, make a shelter, whatever you can do.


(16:32 - 16:43)

And we'll cover episodes after this on all these things, water, shelters and clothing systems and whatnot. But anyway, that's the order. That's something for your mind to focus on.


(16:44 - 17:00)

And I'll do a podcast on lost proofing later and what to do when you do get lost as far as finding your way out. But think of this, there's two hours until dark and you're lost. You're only an hour from your car because you've only walked an hour.


(17:01 - 17:44)

Do you spend that two hours trying to find your car, maybe just going off and further off in the wrong direction? Or do you spend that last two hours of light securing your needs for the next 10 hours or overnight? So logically, it makes sense to, for that last two hours or more, create a shelter, try and secure the water source and safe drinking water. And then you can get through the night much more comfortably. If you try and battle that urge, though, you know, to get home-itis, right? So if you just spent the hour and a half, three hours, whatever it is, you can get back to your car and then you don't have to worry.


(17:44 - 17:55)

You'll be comfortable in a few hours. It's a big gamble and it's a hard impulse to overcome. But if you have two hours of light left and you're lost, it's time to start.


(17:56 - 18:23)

You know, it's inconvenient. People are going to worry when you don't show up, but you need to look after your priorities, right? You're in a survival situation at this point. Even if you have a flashlight, will it last through the night? When you're walking at night, you might lean up and push against a tree that has dead limbs right overhead, but you'll fall on you, get hurt that way, get poked in the eye with branches, twist your ankle, really just get further lost.


(18:23 - 18:42)

You'll have even less idea of where you are after a night of wandering. So with those things in mind, another stress with wilderness survival is the darkness. Night, the fear of animals and wildlife and dark.


(18:43 - 19:05)

So that's where a fire actually comes in pretty handy, doesn't it? A fire will give you a sense of security. You can see, right? If you are in a group, it would be much easier to stay, keep the mood of the group happier if there's a fire. And for warmth, obviously, too, if you need it for warmth.


(19:06 - 19:21)

Another thing about the darkness at night is the noises in the night, the fear of animals. You really got to get on top of that. You should not let your mind wander and start worrying about every sound in the woods.


(19:22 - 19:30)

Yes, the critters come out at night in raccoons and things like that. A raccoon will sound like a moose. It'll sound so loud when it's walking nearby.


(19:32 - 19:41)

None of these animals are able to get you. You're not part of their food chain or their prey. Just don't worry about it.


(19:41 - 19:45)

If you hear an animal that's getting uncomfortably close, just tell it to go away. Yell at it. Clap your hands.


(19:47 - 20:07)

Probably most people's concerns are bears. The behavior of black bears, when they face a threat or they get startled, their impulse is to run. The fight or flight thing, they're off.


They're flighting. Up trees, running away. They have no interest in human interaction.


(20:08 - 20:13)

The only black bears that ever attack people are sick bears. There's something wrong with it. It's not natural.


(20:16 - 20:24)

So with that said, knowing that black bears shouldn't be a problem, they nod. It's very rare. You still don't want to sleep with your food beside your head.


(20:25 - 20:34)

You know, the raccoons and mice and everything else, you want to get into it. Keep it away from where you are. Hang it up a tree just so the animals won't get into it or come to you and wake you up.


(20:36 - 20:48)

If a black bear ever did attack, the knowledge or the instructions that I understand are to fight. It's a sick bear. It's predatory at this point.


(20:48 - 21:01)

Predatory. So you want to fight for your life. Fight it off.


Make lots of noise. And yeah, it might be thinking of food at that point, and it's a sick bear. Grizzly bears are completely different.


(21:02 - 21:22)

All bears, as far as I understand, as far as black and grizzly bears, they tend to avoid people. However, if you scare a grizzly bear or accidentally spook one, they have a fight response. So they might be more aggressive and try and get rid of the problem.


(21:22 - 21:46)

And if that problem is you, yeah, if you can't avoid the bear at that point, it decides to attack. Fighting of grizzly bears, you know, it's a bit of a mismatch there, isn't it? You need to just play dead, curl up, cover your vitals, and hope you get through it, because if you fight and get aggressive with a grizzly bear, you're going to lose. I can't imagine.


(21:47 - 22:01)

Now polar bears, that's another whole thing that's up north, and they have been known to be a little more predatory with humans. So that's a whole other story in polar bear country. But, you know, as far as the noises in the night, you don't need to worry about it.


(22:02 - 22:33)

Deer, moose walking at night, yes, they'll sound huge, and they are huge, and they'll be noisy, but don't add that onto your already stressful situation. So to recap, wilderness survival, remember, it's very easy to panic, and it's very easy to make mistakes, and in almost every case, it just makes things worse. So if you can have something to focus on, and if you're with the group, help others to focus and make a plan.


(22:35 - 23:03)

And, you know, if there's two hours of light left, and you guys are completely lost, try and reason with the group and say, I think we should stay here, use our two hours to spend the night. We don't want to be traveling in the dark, right? And what can we focus on? Well, how are we going to stay warm overnight? Or, you know, you've got to worry about your temperature. Water, are you going to be out there for more than a day? Are you going to be able to get out the next day? Maybe not.


(23:03 - 23:25)

If not, boy, you need to start worrying about your water. So body temperature, hydration, and fire and food as needed. Anyway, that completes this episode on Wilderness Survival 101, keeping your mind right and things to focus on so you don't start making silly mistakes and getting yourself into more trouble.


(23:26 - 23:53)

In the future, keep an eye out for a series of survival podcast episodes where I'll get into all these topics like shelter types and fire, water, food, all those sorts of things. I love digging into those sort of topics, as well as bushcraft series where we talk about different crafts and things you can make in the woods to explore that world. It's a wonderful hobby if you get into it with lots to learn.


(23:54 - 24:06)

And of course, this is all things nature. So we'll be talking about the environment. We'll be talking about wilderness gurus and heroes of the environmental movement, get into some soundscapes, and much more.


(24:06 - 24:18)

So hope to see you again. Thank you for joining us on the Reverie Nature Podcast. Remember to subscribe for more captivating episodes exploring the wonders of the natural world.


(24:18 - 24:40)

Until next time, you may use Santa for embracing nature's song and may the whispers of the wilderness linger in your heart. Thank you.


Transcribed by TurboScribe.ai

Introduction
Some definitions
Lost? Mistakes
Examples of rash decisions
Control your mindset with survival order of needs
Fear of the dark: wildlife and bears
Concluding thoughts