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Survival Trapping and Fishing

Survival Trapping and Fishing – A Numbers Game

March 15, 2013 by sensible survival

As I have stated in a previous post, it is difficult to survive in the wild by only gathering wild plants.  Unless you can gather nuts or mature seeds it is hard to come up with enough protein to survive.  You will almost certainly have to turn to animal protein to meet your body’s needs.

Hunting, in most instances, is one of the least efficient ways to gather animal protein.  If you are hunting, that’s all you can do; and you will probably have only one chance to either succeed or fail.  Fishing with a pole in your hand presents the same problem.  You must remain totally occupied with this one task, and you will either catch fish or you won’t.

Traps and trotlines offer multiple chances for success at the same time, and they will work for you while you take care of other tasks or even while you sleep.  The thing about trapping and trotlining is that they are both a numbers game.  If you just set out one trap you might as well go hunting.  If you just set out one hook you might as well stand on the bank and fish.  The idea is to set out as many hooks and traps as possible so that you can maximize your chances of securing food.

Let’s talk about fishing first.  It takes considerable cordage to set out a trotline.  If you have fifty feet of para-cord you could cut off ten feet, remove the outer sheath, and have seven, ten foot long pieces of 50lb. test nylon to cut up into drop lines.  If you don’t have any fish hooks, you can make fifteen or twenty gorge hooks in a fairly short time.  If you don’t have any cordage, then I would abandon the idea of a traditional trotline.  It would take hours and hours to twist up enough cordage to make such a line.  If you have to make your own cordage, then I would recommend that you go with drop lines.  A drop line is just a short piece of cordage with a baited hook and weight.  Locate an area where low trees and /or bushes hang out over the water, and tie a drop lines to various branches.  This won’t get you out into deep water like a trot line stretched across the river, but it will get hooks into the water.  You will have to turn up grubs, earthworms, and other insects or larvae to bait your hooks the first time, but if you make a catch you can use fish entrails for subsequent baiting.

Traps can be time consuming to make, but just one trap does not have much chance of securing food.  I think that I would set out fishing lines first, then gather materials to make traps around the fire at night.  The figure 4 deadfall and the rolling snare are both pretty easy to make.  The real time consumption comes when you are selecting locations for your traps and preparing the sets.  I would try and set at least ten good traps, and twenty would be better.  The more you set, the better your chance of making a catch.  If you set baited traps you will have to forage for the initial bait, but once you catch the first animal you can use entrails for subsequent traps.

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Bug-Out Shelter Kit

Bug-Out Shelter Kit

September 13, 2017 bt sensible survival

When some people are camping they like to be in a tent; other people like to sleep in the open or under a tarp.  I am in the later group.  If the weather is nice, I like to sleep in a hammock or a sleeping bag and bivy sack under the stars.  If the weather is threatening rain or if it is cold; I like to sleep under a tarp.  There are several reasons that I prefer a tarp.  For one, tarps are very light to carry.  My tarp set-up including lines, stakes, etc. weighs 3 lbs. 10 oz.(that’s about 1.65 kilos for my non-American friends).  For another thing, a tarp is very versatile as far as different set-ups.  A tarp can be set up to take advantage of a fire for additional heat in the winter, and it can be suspended overhead to allow better air circulation in the summer.  A tarp also allows better exterior visibility than a tent.  And lastly, a tarp can be used in conjunction with a hammock, something that is not possible with your average tent.

I’m going to do a couple of posts on my favorite tarp set-ups; but before I do that, I thought it might be good to show you my bug-out tarp kit.  Some might say that I include too much in my kit.  Some of the items could be foraged or manufactured in the wild.  This is true.  You could, in fact, build your entire shelter from foraged materials, and I encourage you learn how to do just that.  But, everything about survival is a trade-off.  You have to constantly be thinking about how much space you have in your pack, the weight of items that you carry, the time necessary to locate and/or make items in the wild, and the calories burned carrying items as opposed to the calories burned making items.  I consider the small amount of added weight in my kit to be negligible compared to the time and calories used to do things like cutting tent stakes.  My whole tarp kit weighs three pounds and ten ounces and rolls up into a nice 24” by 6” bundle.

Using the items in this kit I can make my three favorite tarp set-ups without any additional materials. So anyhow, this is what’s in my kit.

Item number one is my tarp.  It is an inexpensive vinyl tarp that you can get at Harbor Freight or Wal-Mart.  The tarp is about eight by ten feet.  I used tarps like this for several years; but I recently modified it, as outlined in the previous two posts, by painting the inside with reflective aluminum paint, and I have added a center loop to the outside.

Some set-ups require a ridge line.  I carry a twenty-five foot piece of 550 para-cord to use as a ridge line.  It has permanent loop tied into one end.  The ends of all of my cords have been melted to prevent fraying.  Be sure that you use good, military grade para-cord, not the cheap stuff from the craft store.

A 40 inch long bungee cord is handy for quickly setting up plow-point shelters (more on that in the next post).

I carry eight guy lines that come in handy for some set-ups.  Each guy line is six feet long with a permanent loop in one end.

My kit includes eight tent stakes.  Two on them are about eleven inches long and made of steel. 

The other six are seven inches long and made of aluminum.  These are actually aluminum nails that are used to hang rain gutters.  You can buy them at the hardware store for about fifty cents each. 

I keep them bundled together with one of those thread covered rubber hair bands.

Some small loops of para-cord come in handy for certain set-ups.  I carry six pre-made loops bundled together with a hair band.

I carry four little sticks that are pre-cut to about two inches long.  These are used for tarp attachments and to secure easy release knots (more on this later).

All of the lines, stakes, and etc. are stored in a small stuff-sack.

The last item in my kit is a piece of camo netting that I can drape across the front of my shelter to help conceal it.

So, that’s my tarp kit.  In subsequent posts I will show you how to make several tarp set-ups using the items in this kit.

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Preparing and Using Sinew

Preparing and Using Sinew

To make many of the more advanced tools and weapons associated with wilderness survival you will need two animal products, sinew and rawhide. What sinew is, how to obtain it, and how to process it is the subject of this post.

What is Sinew?
Sinew can be obtained from the tendons of any mammal. Tendons are the tough stringy things that attach muscles to bones. When these tendons are processed into sinew they provide a wonderful material that can be used to make super strong cordage, good sewing thread, and they can be used as a binding twine to attach arrowheads, arrow fletchings, knife blades, spear points, drill points and etc. Sinew is as tough as nylon, and it is impregnated with its own natural glue that can be activated with a little moisture. Sinew shrinks a little when it dries so that is binds things together tightly. Sinew will last for hundreds of years if it is protected from moisture. In short, sinew is a super material that has no modern equivalent. The only down-side to sinew is that it must be kept dry. If you get it wet it will soften and stretch, and whatever you have bound together with it will come apart. If you think that any sinew that you have used may be exposed to moisture, you must coat it with pine sap or some other agent that will waterproof it.

How do You Obtain Sinew?
One of the most widely available sources of sinew is from the deer, although elk or buffalo will work just as well. The most useful sinews are located in the lower legs and along the upper back lying over the back straps. If you hunt deer you can remove both the leg and back sinews when you are butchering. If you have friends that hunt you can ask them to bring you the lower legs when they butcher. The lower legs have no usable meat on them and most people just cut them off and throw them away. Hunters will usually be glad to give you this part of their kill even if they do think you’re a little strange for wanting it. You can even go to most packing houses during deer season and they are often glad to get rid of any legs that they have. All of my friends know that I want deer legs and I usually get anywhere from twenty to fifty a year just for the asking. Pictured below: deer leg

How do You Process Sinew?
To remove the sinews, you need a sharp knife or a good sharp flake of flint. Slice down the back of the leg from knee joint to just above the dew claws and peel the skin back. Lying just below the skin is a white membrane. This membrane encases the tendon which lies in a shallow groove down the back of the leg bone.

Split open the membrane and you will see a milky white cord looking thing. This is the tendon.

You can usually slip your finger under the edge of the tendon and lift it up out of the bone a little. When you get the tendon up out of the groove, run your knife up and down to loosen the tendon even more.

I usually run my knife down toward the hoof, and when I can’t go any farther, I turn the blade up and slice through the tendon freeing that end. You can then grab the tendon with you hand and peel it out down toward the knee joint. When you pull up as much of the tendon as you can get, cut that end off with your knife.

There may be some membrane left sticking to the tendon (kind of a slimy case) and if you can remove this it will be helpful although it’s not vitally necessary.When you have a white floppy tendon in your hand, the hard part is done.

Just set the tendon out in the sun or on the kitchen drain board if your spouse is out of town. In less than twenty-four hours the soft wet tendon will be hard, dry, and kind of a translucent yellow color. It looks a lot like plastic.

Now take the dried tendon and use a smooth round rock or the round end of a ball peen hammer and start pounding. What ever you pound with, it needs to be rounded. Flat edges, like the flat of a hammer or axe, will cut the fibers in the sinew.

As you pound, the sinew will start to turn white, and it will begin to separate into fluffy white fibers. You can now take you fingers and pull apart the fibers is small bundles about the thickness of a pencil lead or smaller.

These little fiber bundles are what you’re looking for. You can use them to back a bow, make a bow string, sew leather together, tie on arrowheads etc.

To use the sinew to, for example, tie on an arrow head; all you have to do is pop a piece in your mouth and chew on it a little. Don’t be squeamish. It’s no different than chewing on a piece of deer jerky. The saliva in your mouth and the gentle chewing will soften the sinew in seconds. Don’t chew too long or you will wash all of the glue out of the sinew.

When the sinew is soft remove it from your mouth and wrap it around your arrowhead. You don’t have to tie it off because the sinew will stick to itself. Set it in the sun for twenty or thirty minutes and it will dry hard and tight. Coat the sinew with melted pine sap or carpenter’s glue and let it dry. Pictured below: sinew bow string, arrowhead, spearhead, and knife blade all attached with sinew; and sinew backing on an elm wood bow.

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Homemade Remedy For Dehydration

Homemade Remedy For Dehydration

Homemade Remedy For Dehydration
Becoming severely dehydrated can rapidly become life threatening.
The most common cause of dehydration is diarrhea, which can be a result of food poisoning, drinking contaminated water, or other sickness or contamination.
Those who have experienced any of these ailments know full well the severity at which your body can be ‘put down’ by an invisible agent.
Especially when in an environment of post-disaster or unsanitary living conditions, you are at risk of being inflicted with diarrhea which can rapidly lead to dehydration.
The key to recovery is to remain hydrated. A homemade re-hydration solution from the following recipe could become a lifesaver for someone who is ill and dehydrated.

Because plain water does not contain sugar, sodium, or potassium (which also is lost from diarrhea) it is important to drink plenty of fluids that contain these substances.
Examples of such drinks include ‘sports drinks’, prepared re-hydration solutions, chicken or beef broth, soft drinks, or bottled and flavored mineral water.
Antibiotics will sometimes resolve the symptoms of diarrhea – however, antibiotics won’t help with viral diarrhea, which is the most common type of infectious diarrhea.
Drugs that slow diarrhea are controversial. Some doctors don’t like their patients to take these medications because it slows the passage of the virus, bacteria, or parasite out of the body. If you wonder whether you should use any of the over-the-counter preparations available for diarrhea, ask your doctor.

A simple alternative to a store-bought re-hydration solution is the following recipe from the World Health Organization:

Homemade Remedy Solution For Dehydration From Diarrhea

Clean water (4.5 cups or 1L)
Salt (1/2 teaspoon or 2.5mL)
Sugar (6 teaspoons or 30mL)


Clean water (1 cup)
Salt (1/8 teaspoon)
Sugar (1.5 teaspoons)

Oral rehydration solutions should be consumed or discarded within 12 hours if held at room temperature.

Sources include the World Health Organization, WebMD

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Five Benefits of Paracord

Five Benefits of Paracord

June 23, 2014, by Ken Jorgustin

benefits of paracord
Paracord is a highly versatile multi-filament nylon cord with nearly unlimited uses, applications and benefits, and is a must have for any survival and emergency preparedness kit.
More details about this amazing cord…

Real paracord is made of seven strong nylon cords with each cord made of several smaller woven strands, all wrapped in a flexible outer braided nylon wrapper. The combined breaking strength of real paracord is 550 pounds. For this reason, some call it “550 cord”.
The cord was first introduced and applied in parachute construction during WWII and was quickly recognized for its use in other tasks. Today it is used by both military and civilians for countless general purpose tasks.
There are many copies in the civilian market today but true military grade cord will be designated MIL-C-5040 Type III and rated for 550 pounds.
Genuine MIL-SPEC MIL-C-5040 Type III Paracord has 7 inner yarns, each made up of 3 strands.
Commercial/Civilian 550 paracord imitations might not have 7 inner yarns or the inner yarns might not have 3 strands each.
“According to the actual Mil-C-5040 government document 550 type III Paracord should be made up of between 7 and 9 strands and each strand shall be 3-ply.”
Having said that, much of the paracord on the civilian market is still VERY good. Just be sure that there are 7 inner yarns (some have 5). It is apparently fairly difficult to find the real Mil-spec paracord with 7-inner yarns AND with each yarn consisting of 3-ply (3-strands) (most are 2-ply, which is still very good for most all purposes).
The cord comes in a variety of colors and lengths (when cut, the ends should be burned or singed to prevent fraying). The inner strands can be easily pulled out for many additional uses.


The 5 Benefits of Paracord

(In just a 1/8 inch diameter cord, an incredible breaking strength of 550 lbs.)
(It can be used over and over again while remaining flexible and durable)
Light Weight
(The Mil specification requires that 225 feet of cord weigh 1 pound or less)
Water and Mildew Resistant
(Outside elements are not a problem and it will dry very quickly)
Inner Strands
(The unique ability to remove the inner strands make this cord extremely versatile)

Uses for Paracord

The list is really endless and up to your imagination, but a few ideas include the following.

  • Braiding for even more combined strength
  • Tent and Pole support, building shelters
  • Clothes Line
  • Tow Line
  • Tarp Tie Down
  • Equipment Guy-lines
  • Pack Strap, Fasten, lash and secure gear to backpack
  • Shoe Lace, Boot Lace
  • Garden Lines
  • Shelter Making
  • Fire Bow
  • Lanyard
  • Survival kit
  • Knife Handle Wrap
  • Lifeline, since it will support the weight of a human
  • Inner strands: sewing, fishing, trapping-snares, dental floss, emergency stitches (boil first)
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How to Start a Fire After It’s Rained

How to Start a Fire After It’s Rained

June 24, 2013 By

It was pretty damp this past Saturday. It rained a few times off and on, and when we finally decided to practice starting a fire in such wet conditions, it was about 85% humidity out. Just in case anyone’s curious about the weather conditions at the time we tried this, the current temperature was 26°C/79°F with little to no wind, so pretty reasonable conditions other than the fact that it had rained multiple times. The fire pit we regularly use wasn’t flooded in any way, but it was certainly drenched wet
fire pit soaking wet
We were determined to start the fire with only the very cheap and simple tools that Thomas EDC’d in his pocket, along with a knife of course. Altogether, we used a waterproof capsule, some lint, firesteel, a bowie, and a pocket knife.

prepping for fire-making

First, of course, Thomas got the lint out of his waterproof capsule.

taking out lint for tinderWaterpoof Capsule – Amazon

Once we had the lint, Thomas grabbed one piece out of our large pile of semi-rotted logs, and placed it straight up. He then went to make some dry wood shavings with his knife.
using wet log to build fire
preparing log for fire after rain
In order to determine which branches were dry enough on the inside to use, he flexed a few. The ones that bent he put back since they were too wet. The ones that cracked or snapped, he used for tinder.
dry wood shavings from wet branch
dry wood shavings after rain

carving wood shavingsOntario SP10 Marine Raider Bowie – Amazon

In order to get bigger pieces of dry tinder, he found some thicker branches, and through batoning, managed to cut the tree branches into quarters and then again into even smaller pieces. Once he got to the inside of these branches, he used the dry insides to make large shavings for tinder.
making dry tinder from wet log
batoning log with bowie
bowie used for batoning wood
making a fire after rain
After making enough tinder, he piled it up, placing the lint in the center of the pile, and took out his firesteel to start generating sparks. In order to make sparks with firesteel, you’ll need to use the back of a knife in combination with it. If you’re not sure how, we’ll discuss this in a later post. Although Thomas could have used the bowie again, he decided to use his pocket knife instead, as it’s easier to use a smaller knife to generate sparks.
making a fire when wood is wet

generating sparks with fire starter steel and opinelLight My Fire Swedish Firesteel Mini – Amazon
Opinel No8 Carbon Pocket Knife – Amazon

Once the sparks caught, we realized that the ember had actually been blown into the center of the log and was glowing. Going with it, we began to blow on the center.
ember in core of wet log
After a few minutes of blowing off and on, and adding more tinder to the core, we managed to get a heck of a lot of smoke.
smoke from fire in wet wood
fire making after rain survival
And then finally, a beautiful flame.
made fire in wet wood
surviving with fire after rain
Although it takes a bit of effort, making a fire out of wood that’s been wet due to a recent rainfall is definitely possible. Just remember to be patient and make sure you use only the dry parts of wood for shavings, especially until the fire gets started.

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DIY Project: How to Build the Perfect Sling

DIY Project: How to Build the Perfect Sling


In a time of major crisis do not overlook the simple cord sling as a
weapon or a hunting tool. It would fit nicely in your bug out bag
because it is lightweight, easy to store and easy to use. Rocks or other
projectiles to be used as ammo can also be easily picked up wherever
you happen to be.

Even though the sling became less important as guns and other weapons
became more available, slings are still used in Palestine and many
other parts of the world for personal defense and hunting.

How Far Can a Sling Throw a Stone?

With a good arm and a good spin on the sling, the max range is about 100 yards.
Very few people can throw a rock that far and still have the energy to stun a man or an animal.

Types of Projectiles

Basically projectiles are stones, pieces of metal, or anything else
you choose to launch. As long as the projectile fits into the pouch, and
can be spun, it can be released. The heavier the object to be launched,
the shorter is the range.

Making a Modern Sling

SVP_parts for sling


  • 2 pieces of paracord or braided rope. You can also use braids of
    leather cord, but make sure you braid together enough leather strips to
    make two pieces of cording.
  • Small piece of leather or thick canvas for the pouch.  A 4“ x 2“
    piece should be more than enough for leather. Make the pouch 1/2“ bigger
    for canvas.
  • Optional Materials: metal rings or grommets designed to protect holes in canvas (not needed if you use leather).


  • Leather punch or knife
  • Scissors
  • Small ruler
  • Long stick matches or candle lighter
  • Optional Tools: needle and thread if you are going to use canvas for the pouch.

Find out about self-defense in a survival situation on Bulletproof Home.

Special Skills:

You must know how to tie taut line hitch knot and half knot.

Step 1: Measure leather with ruler and cut into 4“ x
2“ strip. If you are going to use canvas, make the square a little bit
bigger so that you can sew off the 2

Do this by folding a small bit of fabric under, iron it, and then
fold again so that the raw fabric is not exposed. Sew through all the
way around the square and through the layers.

Step 2: Punch or cut 4 holes along the top and
bottom of the 4 inch sides. There should be enough boundary around each
hole to prevent the leather or canvas from fraying or tearing.

Step 3: Cut 2 paracord, braided rope or leather braid lengths to about 7‘each.

sling 4

When testing and measuring the sling it must not hit the ground. If it does,you will have to shorten both cords.

Step 4: If you are using paracord, seal off the ends by burning with candle lighter, and then quickly dipping in cold water.

Do not touch the ends for some time, as they will retain heat for a bit and burn your fingers.

Note – paracord will stretch, so do not make these cords too long or you will have to shorten them later on.

Step 5: Thread one cord through each of the four holes in the bottom and top of the 4 inch edge of the leather or canvas.


Starting by coming up threw the first hole, then down threw the
second hole, up threw the third hole, and down threw the fourth hole.

Step 6: Pull each cord so the pouch is at the bottom of the loop and the paracord is equal at the top.

Step 7: Tie a half knot about a foot from the pouch to help stabilize the cords on each side of the sling.

Step 8: If you have too much paracord or leather
left over on each side, cut away the excess, and then re-seal the
paracord with candle lighter.

Step 9: Make a loop to fit your hand and wrist
through one cord. Make a taut line hitch knot and adjust so that the
cord is comfortable around your wrist.

Step 10: On the other cord, tie a half knot at the
point where you will grab that cord when spinning. When holding the
sling, there should not be any slack in either cord. The knot is there
to help you feel which cord needs to be released while operating the

How to Hold, Load, Spin, and Release a Projectile From the Sling  

Here is my favorite way to hold and use this type sling:

  • Put your hand through the loop cord with the cord falling between the thumb and the first finger on the palm side of your hand.
  • With thumb and the first finger, grasp the knot on the release cord.
    At this point the loop cord should be enclosed in the circle formed by
    the thumb and first finger.
  • Hold the sling with the pouch hanging freely, load and center the rock in the pouch.

There are two ways to spin the sling:

  • Underhand spin: After loading the sling, swing the sling forward as
    if you are pitching a softball. Swing from the shoulder not the wrist.
    Think of the sling as an extension of your arm. Release the knot cord so
    that the rock will the leave the pouch at about a 45 degree angle from
    the ground. When using the underhand spin it is possible to get a
    running start. This spin is good for power and distance, but lacks
    accuracy. Practice to get the release point.
  • Over the head spin: Start with an underhand and forward spin. As the
    sling is swirling on your power side bring it over your head by bending
    your elbow. The sling will be spinning parallel to the ground. Remember
    that the cords are an extension of your arm. As the sling spins forward
    release the knot cord as if you were throwing a hard baseball. Practice
    to get the release point.

Before using a sling or practicing with it, make sure that:

  • There aren’t any buildings in the impact area that might be damaged if hit by projectiles.
  • There aren’t any people or animals in the the impact area (other than those you are intending to hit).
  • Remember slings are deadly weapons. As simple as they look, slings can kill or inflict great bodily harm if misused.

The double cord sling is a good addition to your bug out equipment
because it is small and easy to carry, ammo is easy to get, and they are
effective for hunting and self defense.

Like any other weapon, practice is mandatory to keep up your skill.
When all of the modern weapons are broken or discarded the simple two
cord sling will still be here to defend your family or to use in
hunting, just as it has for other people for many thousands of years.