The forest landscape is a unique microcosm with intriguing wildlife, diverse plant life and awe-inspiring abidance. It’s this untamed beauty that draws throngs of tourist, adventurers and nature lovers year after year to the forests of the world.
But dwelling within the forest landscape are a number of very real dangers to the individual trying to survive. From poisonous plants and insects to predators and disease there are many things to aware of when it comes to surviving in a forest survival scenario. But for the knowledgeable and well prepared individual survival in the forest landscape is a definite possibility.
In this guide we’ll explore finding food, water and shelter as well as what tools and provisions you need to bring along with you when trekking through the forest.
When we talk about the various dangers that the forest conceals in its depths we can hardly even begin this discussion without discussing the most pressing of these dangers and that is the threat posed by the forest’s wildlife; specifically we are referring to bears.
These predators dominate the forest landscape and pose a very real threat to the wood be survivor. Grizzly bears and black bears are common species you will encounter in the forest landscape. The best ways of dealing with the threat of predators such as bears are deterrents and avoidance.
An air horn is actually a very effective deterrent, but being aware of their presence before they threaten you directly is the best way to survive an encounter with a predator. Avoid game trails and watch for signs such as bear droppings and tracks to avoid a run in with these predators.
In addition to bears there are also a number of other creatures you want to be aware of. The forest is home to a number of poisonous insects, spiders, and snakes. There are also fire ants to consider; which many people have a violent allergic reaction to.
In addition to dangerous creatures there are some poisonous plants that you much keep an eye out for including poison oak, poison ivy and poison sumac. Exactly which species you will come across vary from region to region so you should include a quick overview of plant life before you travel. There are, however, a few characteristics you can look for when trying to identify poisonous plants. Look for white or yellow berries, shiny or clear leaves, umbrella shaped flowers, milky sap, almond odor and a soapy or bitter taste. We don’t suggest that you go tasting plants to identify whether or not they are poisonous, but if you encounter that taste be aware that it’s likely poisonous.
The rule of thumb with dealing with wild edibles in the forest climate is not to eat what you don’t recognize. There are more toxic plants than wild edibles in the forest so it’s best to stay on the safe side.
When establishing shelter in forested area you will find yourself limited in terms of options save a cave, crevice or other natural formations when looking for shelter.
However, when viable natural formations are scarce it’s possible to construct your own shelter from forest materials. A simple lean-to is the most common form of shelter that survivors choose in the forest landscape. These are easily constructed from fallen branches and shrubbery that is scattered throughout the forest landscape. When choosing where to set up your makeshift shelter be wary of your surroundings. You want a pretty open area with decent visibility that’s a good distance from game trails or large bodies of water. These are the safest areas to set up camp. If possible you want to be flanked by steep rock face on one side. This cuts down on the directions that predators or unwanted guests can approach from.
In the forested areas you are likely to run across several types of water sources including creeks, streams, lakes or other bodies of water. The amount and type often depends on the season and region so while it’s likely nothing is a guarantee. Factors like rainfall, climate change and time of year will have an impact on the availability of water sources in the forest.
Once you’ve located your water source be sure to filter and/or purify you water before you drink it. The level of purification needed will depend on the source from which you are drawing. When picking your source you want a swift moving flow and to take your water from upstream. In this case it’s often ok to just filter the source.
If you are drawing from a slower moving stream or other source you want to purify your water. Common purification methods are boiling and chemical purification with iodine or chlorine dioxide. If you have a little money to spend you may also want to consider a purification device such as the Life Straw. If you choose to use the chemical purification method, be aware that this is a temporary solution to your purification needs. You don’t want to drink chemically purified water for an extended period of time as this can be hazardous.
Whatever you choose to use purifying is essential to avoiding waterborne illness such as dysentery.
If you find that you can’t find a body of water there is also rain collection, or using transpiration. Transpiration is the process by which plants draw water up through their roots and excrete this moisture to their leaves where it evaporates. By sealing the leafy portion of a plant in a plastic bag you can cause this evaporated water to condense and collect this condensation. This process is a slow one so have patience and be wary not to enclose a poisonous plant in your transpiration bag.
When it comes to obtaining food from the forest it’s mostly about knowing what you’re looking at.
The wild edibles you are likely to encounter vary greatly depending on the region in which you are forced to survive so it helps to overview the wild edible list or bring a guide to wild edibles of your region when you set out to explore the forest. Some examples of wild edibles you’ll find in forest climates are pine nuts, blackberries, crabapples and juneberries.
The bounties of the forest are vast, but never eat a fruit or wild edible you don’t recognize. If you are unsure of what plants and fruits are edible it’s better to play it safe. Avoid berries as they are easy to confuse if you don’t know what you are looking at.
Nuts, however, are usually as safe bet. To supplement your survival diet you may also want to consider trapping small animals such as rodents and rabbits. A simple deadfall or snare is your best choices for trapping wild game in the forest. You may also have the opportunity to fish if you come across a stream, creek or lake. When catching wild game always clean and cook your food thoroughly to avoid illness.
When it comes to survival in the forest climate there are a few essentials that you want to include in your survival pack. What tools will be most useful can vary from region to region so you always want to take a look at your region when building your survival pack. Here we have a few essentials that need to be in your pack regardless of region
- Sturdy Knife – You want a fixed blade or a folding knife with a sturdy locking mechanism to avoid having the knife fold up on you.
- Hatchet – You will need this to build your shelter
- Flint – You’ll use this in tandem with your knife as your primary fire starter.
- Waterproof matches/lighter – This will serve as your secondary fire starter in the event that you have issue with or lose your primary
- Air Horn – This acts as a great deterrent to predators and pests
- Compass/map – You need some form of navigation when trekking through the forest. You want something that can stand up to the rigors of forest survival so if you choose a gadget as opposed to the old fashion method make sure it’s durable.
- Poncho – This is useful as wet weather gear, emergency blanket or in the construction of shelter depending on how you want to use it.
- Duct Tape – This has many uses including the construction of shelters and improvising tools.
- Water Source – You can use canteens, camel backs, bottles, water bladders or any other durable form of water containment. You want to be sure it seals and can stand up to the rigors of forest survival. You never want to go with a flimsy water source as water collection will be essential to your survival
- Food Rations – You want non-perishables
- Repellent – You will certainly need plenty of insect repellent when moving through the forest
Forest survival is a unique scenario to have to endure, but it’s highly possible when you prepare. A little knowledge can go a long way so adhering to these tips and reading up on the region you intend to explore are necessary to ensure you make it through alive. Remember the key to survival is preparation.