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The Backwoods Book Lee Valley Scout County

Steven Cull


Shelters

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Cooking & Fire

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Survival Kits

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Communicating

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Water Collection Solar Still A solar still is a fairly efficient way to collect moisture from the soil. As you can see in the two views below, a tarp is draped over a hole in the ground. This is sealed in place with rocks, logs, sand or whatever is available. Make sure it is well sealed. The sun on the tarp heats the air underneath, which causes moisture in the soil to evaporate. This moisture has no place to go and condenses on the tarp itself. Because of the pebble in the middle, there is a sufficient slope for the condensate to run down the inside, and drip into the collection vessel.

A view from the top. From this angle, you can see the pebble in the middle, centered over the collection vessel.

Notes • •

•

The collection vessel can be anything... cup, bowl, tin can, another section of tarp, even a large leaf. The drinking tube shown in the pictures is a nice addition, but not absolutely necessary. You can always lift the corner, reach in and remove the collection vessel every so often. It's more work, but if all you have is a tarp, then it may be necessary. If the ground itself is not yielding enough water, try tossing in vegetation. It doesn't even matter if the vegetation is edible or not, as you are effectively distilling the water. The water that is collected from a solar still is 100% pure, drinkable H2O, and does not require boiling.

The Backwoods Book

Lee Valley Scouts

Steven Cull

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Plant Transpiration Many lost hikers and campers think the best way to obtain water is to find a low spot in a dry creek and dig. That can be a fatal mistake. During hot weather you might actually lose more water (perspiration) than you are able to gather. Hunting for, gathering, filtering and boiling water may take more energy and time than you have in a survival situation. A proven technique is to use these clear bags and secure them around a deciduous tree or bush branch in sunlight. The normal transpiration process of the plant will cause water to condense in the bag and collect in the low parts. The sun does the work for you. You get water, you preserve your strength, you survive. With 2 or 3 bags, it is possible to get 1 to 2 quarts per day.

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If you're near the coastline, a beach well is an excellent way to get drinkable water. Dig a 35 foot hole in the depression behind the first sand dune. This is typically about 100 feet from the waterline. Put rocks in the bottom of the well to keep sand from getting too active and line the sides with wood if you can -- this will prevent the walls from caving in. In a few hours, you could have up to five gallons of filtered water. If it tastes too salty, you should move further back behind the second sand dune.

This well technique works near any body of water. Dig swamp and lake wells closer to the water than the beach version. The same method also works in the desert during the wet season -- just dig at the low point between dunes, near vegetation. Look for moist soil in dry river beds and chances are you can find groundwater underneath.

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Snares

Drag Noose Use a drag noose on an animal run (Figure 8-6). Place forked sticks on either side of the run and lay a sturdy crossmember across them. Tie the noose to the crossmember and hang it at a height above the animal's head. (Nooses designed to catch by the head should never be low enough for the prey to step into with a foot.) As the noose tightens around the animal's neck, the animal pulls the crossmember from the forked sticks and drags it along. The surrounding vegetation quickly catches the crossmember and the animal becomes entangled.

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Steven Cull

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Twitch-Up Snare A simple twitch-up snare uses two forked sticks, each with a long and short leg (Figure 8-7). Bend the twitch-up and mark the trail below it. Drive the long leg of one forked stick firmly into the ground at that point. Ensure the cut on the short leg of this stick is parallel to the ground. Tie the long leg of the remaining forked stick to a piece of cordage secured to the twitch-up. Cut the short leg so that it catches on the short leg of the other forked stick. Extend a noose over the trail. Set the trap by bending the twitch-up and engaging the short legs of the forked sticks. When an animal catches its head in the noose, it pulls the forked sticks apart, allowing the twitch-up to spring up and hang the prey. Note: Do not use green sticks for the trigger. The sap that oozes out could glue them together.

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Lee Valley Scouts

Steven Cull

28


Squirrel Pole A squirrel pole is a long pole placed against a tree in an area showing a lot of squirrel activity (Figure 8-8). Place several wire nooses along the top and sides of the pole so that a squirrel trying to go up or down the pole will have to pass through one or more of them. Position the nooses (5 to 6 centimeters in diameter) about 2.5 centimeters off the pole. Place the top and bottom wire nooses 45 centimeters from the top and bottom of the pole to prevent the squirrel from getting its feet on a solid surface. If this happens, the squirrel will chew through the wire. Squirrels are naturally curious. After an initial period of caution, they will try to go up or down the pole and will get caught in a noose. The struggling animal will soon fall from the pole and strangle. Other squirrels will soon follow and, in this way, you can catch several squirrels. You can emplace multiple poles to increase the catch.

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Lee Valley Scouts

Steven Cull

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Noosing Wand A noose stick or "noosing wand" is useful for capturing roosting birds or small mammals (Figure 8-10). It requires a patient operator. This wand is more a weapon than a trap. It consists of a pole (as long as you can effectively handle) with a slip noose of wire or stiff cordage at the small end. To catch an animal, you slip the noose over the neck of a roosting bird and pull it tight. You can also place it over a den hole and hide in a nearby blind. When the animal emerges from the den, you jerk the pole to tighten the noose and thus capture the animal. Carry a stout club to kill the prey.

Deadfall The figure 4 is a trigger used to drop a weight onto a prey and crush it (Figure 8-12). The type of weight used may vary, but it should be heavy enough to kill or incapacitate the prey immediately. Construct the figure 4 using three notched sticks. These notches hold the sticks together in a figure 4 pattern when under tension. Practice making this trigger beforehand; it requires close tolerances and precise angles in its construction.

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Steven Cull

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Pencil Snare .A

Pencil Snare consists of two sticks pushed vertically into the ground. A stub on each stick facing inward holds the trigger stick in place. A spring stick of some sort is above the whole snare - in this case, the white string leads up to it. The rounded aspect of the sticks helps to make this snare sensitive, allowing the trigger stick to roll out from under the stubs.

Here is a diagram of a peg snare trigger.

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Lee Valley Scouts

Steven Cull

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