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Modern Wilderness Survival Guide

by (22913)
Updated November 23, 2014 at 3:04 AM
Created September 23, 2010 at 4:04 PM

What are your favorite resources for learning how to live off the land in the wilderness, trapping, hunting, safe foraging, shelter... Modern caveman camping

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2153 · January 22, 2011 at 6:09 PM

man vs wild is pure entertainment and SHOULD NOT be used as a guide for how to survive in the wild. If he didn't have a camera crew with him he would have been dead already. No one trying to survive in the wild would do what Grylls does (climbing waterfalls, crossing cold rivers in cold weather etc) In fact, I would say do the opposite of what he does. If you want to watch someone who knows what they're doing, watch Les Stroud of Survivorman

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4089 · October 22, 2010 at 5:29 PM

@Dave: oh my god, Euell Gibbons. Major blast from the past for me; read Stalking the Blue-Eyed Clam and Stalking the Wild Asparagus as a kid. Great books.

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4089 · October 22, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Agreed; Survivorman > Man vs. Wild. Les Stroud doesn't have a camera crew following him around; he lugs all his own gear. And Grylls seems to take some pretty crazy risks sometime.

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4089 · October 22, 2010 at 5:25 PM

I've read some of them, and frankly I am very skeptical of his Grandfather story. Also, that Tracker knife design of his strikes me as pretty impractical. He's put out some OK stuff, but I think that there's a certain "Legend in his own mind" factor to be dealt with when dealing with Brown.

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1634 · September 29, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Survivorman is better :P

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20411 · September 29, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Does no-one remember Euell Gibbons? He shilled for GrapeNuts on TV in the 70's and would start "Did you know that cattails are edible?" He wrote books on edible wild plants and was a proponent of natural diets.

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22913 · September 24, 2010 at 10:34 AM

You can eat cattails?

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10 Answers

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70 · September 29, 2010 at 12:14 AM

I would recommend the Tom Brown books. These have stories along with a guide to living with the earth, medicinal and edible plants, the science of tracking and much more. Tom grew up around a displaced apache indian who had taught him everything he knew. Definitely worth reading. Besides that i would recommend buying some books on wild edibles and medicinals of your area and get classifying! It makes it easier when you find a plant you know take a picture of it and label it. Then eventually you have a folderfull of identified plants of your area. It took me a good 2 months to learn most of the edible plants around me, but it was fun and didnt feel like i was memorizing things. Once you do see all that is around you that can be used a new understanding opens up its like learning what parkour is for the first time and not being able to stop yourself from imagining what you could do on obstacles that pass you by.

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4089 · October 22, 2010 at 5:25 PM

I've read some of them, and frankly I am very skeptical of his Grandfather story. Also, that Tracker knife design of his strikes me as pretty impractical. He's put out some OK stuff, but I think that there's a certain "Legend in his own mind" factor to be dealt with when dealing with Brown.

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4089 · October 22, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Les Stroud's Survivorman TV series and book, titled Survive!, are great http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Les+Stroud&x=0&y=0

Brad Angier's How To Stay Alive In The Woods is a classic: http://www.amazon.com/How-Stay-Alive-Woods-Self-Preservation/dp/1579122213/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287768638&sr=8-1

Peter Goodchild's Survival Skills of the North American Indians is more ethnographic than practical, but still interesting: http://www.amazon.com/Survival-Skills-North-American-Indians/dp/1556523459/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1287768834&sr=1-3

I'm currently working on John and Geri McPherson's Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living, which has got some excellent reconstructed paleo-skill stuff in there: http://www.amazon.com/Ultimate-Guide-Wilderness-Living-Surviving/dp/1569756503/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1287768938&sr=1-1

I've been interested in this stuff since I was a kid. It's fascinating stuff, and loads of fun, especially when you start going minimalist and sleeping under tarps or leantos, cooking over a fire, and realizing that you don't need a 9-person tent from Walmart with built-in lighting and solar laptop charger and a four-burner propane campstove to have a good time in the woods.

It's also pretty depressing, as once you get out into the woods and start poking around, you begin to realize the full depths of your own ignorance. Wilderness survival skills were once as second-nature to all humans as the knowledge how how to operate a computer is to you and I. Yet plunk the average person down in the hinterboonies and they're in a potentially life-threatening position; they have no idea of how to fend for themselves without a phone or mall.

Dammit, now I'm getting the urge to go camping again.

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288 · October 22, 2010 at 4:44 PM

Take the time to find a local herbalist. We are out there, everywhere, and we can show you what and how to eat it. I harvest greens year round, roots and nuts in fall, more fruit than I can handle in summer. We are a strictly budgeted family, sometimes there isn't quite enough $ to go around, but I never have to worry ab/food.

In lieu of that, get Steve Brill's book Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants in Wild

The Forager's Harvest is also a good one.

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12174 · September 28, 2010 at 11:47 PM

"My Side of the Mountain"? Was one of my favorites. :)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Side_of_the_Mountain

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4896 · September 24, 2010 at 2:47 AM

I had a good training during my early years in scouts ;-) And our scouts meant business! We had to learn how to find our way in forest (also in the night), how to build a tent, shelter, dig latrines or find eatable plants...

but that was quite a long time ago, I would prefer not to be dropped suddenly somewhere in the middle of a jungle ;-)

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0 · July 07, 2014 at 1:34 PM

I advise everyone to be very skeptical about the 'survival TV' franchises for edible plant information. I would be very surprised to find "Surivorman", Les Stroud having an edible plant reference because not only does he fail to find the edibles that surround him in his episodes, but he is literally the only person I have ever heard of who made himself sick (on camera) from eating a cattail.

Bear Gryls is a little better (he at least learns a few things before going on camera) but clearly not a knowledgeable person in edible plants.

Tom Brown's edible plant book, while intuitively interesting, does not help you identify plants in any dependable way.

To introduce yourself to the edible wild plant endeavor, I counsel trying the book by John Kallas, Edible Wild Plants: From Dirt to Plate, and the two books by Samuel Thayer--Forager's Harvest and Nature's Garden. The Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants, by Lee Peterson (Peterson Field Guide Series) is good for the beginner. In many cases, one is best off by carrying an edible plant reference and a good plant ID book together.

My general comment to folks starting out in this field; DON'T start out eating plants from the carrot family [Apiaceae]. These are the most difficult plants to identify for beginners, and the penalty for a screw-up can be a fast departure from this world.

Thanks for reading.

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0 · October 22, 2010 at 6:36 PM

Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski is a classic.

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20787 · September 24, 2010 at 3:38 AM

TV, mostly because there are currently tons of shows about it, Survivorman, Man Vs Wild, Man Woman Wild, Dual Survivor, etc. The main reason I like these resources is that I don't have to pay any money for them! I have also taken some local nature walks that show local edible foods like manzanita berries, miners lettuce, cattails, juniper berries, etc. I found out some others from books and hearsay like purslane and mallow. Mallow and purslane are actually quite common and do not taste bad (but still much better with a good ranch dressing..)

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22913 · September 24, 2010 at 10:34 AM

You can eat cattails?

A968087cc1dd66d480749c02e4619ef4
20411 · September 29, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Does no-one remember Euell Gibbons? He shilled for GrapeNuts on TV in the 70's and would start "Did you know that cattails are edible?" He wrote books on edible wild plants and was a proponent of natural diets.

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d
4089 · October 22, 2010 at 5:29 PM

@Dave: oh my god, Euell Gibbons. Major blast from the past for me; read Stalking the Blue-Eyed Clam and Stalking the Wild Asparagus as a kid. Great books.

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2004 · September 23, 2010 at 7:12 PM

I have read the following books:

"How to Shit in the Woods, Second Edition: An Environmentally Sound Approach to a Lost Art" by Kathleen Meyer

"Delikatessen aus Unkräutern - Das Wildpflanzen-Kochbuch" by Graupe/Koller (a cookbook with recepies for differet kinds of weeds).

or books about fishing or the smoking of fish and meat...

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3756 · September 23, 2010 at 4:04 PM

Man vs. Wild :-)

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1634 · September 29, 2010 at 8:21 PM

Survivorman is better :P

Ce0b5fd94b1034e96cf710b6f138c29d
4089 · October 22, 2010 at 5:27 PM

Agreed; Survivorman > Man vs. Wild. Les Stroud doesn't have a camera crew following him around; he lugs all his own gear. And Grylls seems to take some pretty crazy risks sometime.

70c80ef4af756841d1d0913c619cccba
2153 · January 22, 2011 at 6:09 PM

man vs wild is pure entertainment and SHOULD NOT be used as a guide for how to survive in the wild. If he didn't have a camera crew with him he would have been dead already. No one trying to survive in the wild would do what Grylls does (climbing waterfalls, crossing cold rivers in cold weather etc) In fact, I would say do the opposite of what he does. If you want to watch someone who knows what they're doing, watch Les Stroud of Survivorman

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