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.

My first decision was to instigate the priorities of survival and given that first aid wasn’t an issue at this time my first priority was protection. This meant clothing, shelter and fire. I was sensing this situation could go nasty very quickly if I didn’t sort it out. My tent-fly would take too long to get up and with the rain and wind would be about pretty useless.

Scanning the area for possible shelter, I noticed a very large fallen tree which had an ancient massive stump. I decided if I crawled my way to the driest and most sheltered spot, it should take care of the rain and give a bit of respite from the wind. With some success I found a niche that was comfortable enough but I was getting cold. The weather continued worsening and I started thinking about a warm fire.

I didn’t want to leave my dry spot and get soaked while finding fuel for a fire. I had to use what was available within arm’s reach. As I peered out into the gloom the wind picked up and I heard a thud. A decent size piece of bark from my sheltering stump had blown off. It was the answer to my problem. In no time I had fashioned a small fire, and built a small wet wood reflector, and had myself a tidy little fire to last all night. So how do you built a wet wood reflector?…..more on that in the next blog!