Cold weather is here

Winter is here again in New Zealand, and it is a good time to remember some critical survival skills that you need in cold weather. All those lovely summer images of foraging for food, swimming in rivers and sleeping under the stars are far less relevant in a cold and wet wintry wilderness. Cold weather can catch the unawares and quickly lead to hypothermia. The wind is one of the most dangerous elements in cold weather. Getting out of the wind, and cold, is a real priority.

Your clothes are an important part of your protection. Read more about clothing in cold weather survival here.

Obviously a fire will greatly assist in keeping you warm, but don’t be deceived building a good fire in the winter is more challenging than it appears. Here are some good tips on building fires: basics and tinder and kindling.

Don’t forget to eat and drink, keeping the energy up and spirit resilient!

Survival resilience

Being psychologically resilient is a very important, but often overlooked, aspect of survival. At its very basic core having resilience refers to the ability to effectively cope with stress and challenging situations. It is often defined as having the ability to bounce back. In our view this means bounce back to your day to day life, but not necessarily the same one as you had before. Experiencing, and surviving, an adverse or extremely challenging situation changes you. This in itself can be a great resilience builder.

One of the most important requirements for survival is the ability to accept the reality of the situation and react appropriately. In a survival situation you need to be able to call on your coping strategies and, perhaps most importantly, you need to have the skills of adaptive coping.

Surviving the cold

Winter has well and truly arrived. Although most days are sunny, the nights sure are cold. If you are going into the outdoors, don’t be deceived by a lovely sunny day. As soon as that warm sun goes down the temperatures drop significantly. Never go out into the bush unless you are well prepared for surviving the cold. And that includes being prepared for the possibility to unexpectedly spending the night. Thermal and layers are the secret to ensuring a comfortable survival in a cold bush overnight! Remember to start preparing for the evening about an hour before the sun sets. If you leave it too late you will probably find yourself stumbling around with a torch trying to gather wood to get that fire going, just to have a little bit of  heat. Most temperatures in the bush at this time of year are close to freezing. Especially high up and in exposed places (where you have amazing views) it can get cold quickly.

Waypost Survival now in the Hawke’s Bay

Exciting news! Waypost Survival has moved to the sunny Hawke’s Bay. This is the reason we have been so quiet lately, busy moving, setting up a new homestead and scoping out new wilderness spots. The Hawke’s Bay provides amazing opportunities for all sorts of hunting and wilderness activities. We have added ‘prepping’ to our homesteading section. Prepping is no longer the domain of the paranoid and doomsday believers. It has become a thing for anybody who wants to be independent during a calamity. Being prepared means you are capable of protecting, and providing for, your family in any adverse event.

We consider learning wilderness survival skills, gaining wild food knowledge and some basic homesteading techniques all important aspects of prepping. Certainly if you consider yourself an outdoor enthusiast, you need to prepare yourself for the great outdoors by having basic wilderness survival knowledge. Being prepared is a necessity for anyone going out into the bush. But even with the best levels of preparedness you may find yourself without your gear and relying completely on your wits. Knowing what to do can make the difference between life and death. Our survival training will teach you things that will not only help you in extreme survival situations, but can be useful in everyday life too.

Feel free to leave us a comment and let us know what you would like to learn more about.

Saving free range chickens

We just picked up eight hens from the chicken rescue. We were excited as these were ‘rescued’ from a free range chicken farm, so we figured they would be in pretty good condition. The thought of letting them live out their lives with the rest of our well looked after flock was nice. What a shock we got when we saw these hens! Okay perhaps not as bad a rescued battery farm hens, but considering these are from a free-range chicken farm we are appalled.

Tinder and kindling for a fire

Following on from my last fire blog, you should now have the basics right: the right amount of fuel ready and a good area cleared. Getting these basics right will get you a long way to having a successful fire. But there are a few more tricks that will help ensure you have a fire for survival and possibly cooking.

Using wood and shrub that is dead and preferably has had air circulating through it is better than wet, waterlogged or living branches. I don’t have a particular type of wood I favour, as it depends on where you are and what is available to you. But generally there is always something that is dry enough, even if it is something as simple as shredded bark.

Fire lighting basics

The secret to surviving in comfort is to be prepared.  While it is important to know how to make a fire from scratch and in all conditions, being prepared is the smartest thing you can do. In my case being prepared is always having some fire starters in my survival belt. Sure I know how to make a fire with almost nothing, but let me tell you that day in Te Urewera National Park with very little but tree bark to start my fire, the fire starters were great!

Real survival skills are not about being Rambo, they are about being smart, practical and well prepared. It is vital that you take a moment to gather your thoughts and use your resources that you have available to you for the greatest good. Because once they are gone or have been used frivolously you can wind up in big trouble. Always remember if what you are using doesn’t work, stop and think about why it’s not working and then adjust what you are doing.

Fire lighting

Fire is an essential part of being able to comfortably survive in most terrains. In some situations it can be the difference between life and death. While this sounds dramatic, the value of fire should not be underestimated. Over the next few weeks we will offer many tips on fires, how to build, light and use them.

But before that, let me share an experience I had during a hunting trip in Te Urewera National Park late last year. I like going to this magnificent part of the country for a hunt on a regular basis. I drove through Rotorua, it was a balmy 23 degrees. Arriving at my favourite spot near Lake Waikaremoana just after lunch, I set off into the bush. The weather was fine but a South Westerly wind was picking up and sinister clouds were gathering on the horizon. After three hours walking, the temperature had dropped considerably and it was spitting. Soon it was raining and within a short space of time it became a torrential down pour with a fierce South Westerly chucked in for good measure. I had to make some quick decisions.

Starting the journey with wild foods

Finding food and eating it can be a great pleasure in life, as well beneficial for your health and wealth. There are over 300 edible wild plants in New Zealand, with close to 200 of those being native. Then there are many plants which can be foraged in the wild, although they may be ‘escapees’ from cultivated gardens. It is not the lack of wild food that is the challenge for most of us. Not knowing what is edible and how to use or prepare the edible plants that is the challenge for many people.

Identifying and preparing locally, naturally grown wild food is a learning process that requires time and dedication. But it is a journey that is good for the body, good for the soul and good for the planet. It is a about the journey, not the destination. Follow the seasons, eat locally and reconnect with your innate ability to know what is good for you. If it seems overwhelming just remember that Lao Tzu said, “The Journey of a thousand miles begins with one step”.