The following installment is not the last because it is of least importance. Actually, it is the most important part of the series. The reason it has been left for last is so that it will be the freshest in your mind after all the other field craft skills and material we have previously discussed.
Whether you live or die as a result of a wilderness survival situation is completely dependent upon your mindset. Are you willing to do anything and everything necessary to stay alive until you are rescued or you can find your way to safety?
Anyone with cash in their pocket can walk into a store and purchase gear. What you cannot buy is the WILL to survive. No amount of credit on your card can provide you with the mental fortitude that is required to be a survivor.
Yes, there are certainly occasions where the elements are simply overwhelming and nothing can be done. However, if we examine true life survival incidents, the key factor in whether the person or persons in question lived to tell the tale or did not was their mindset or lack thereof.
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Being lost, having no real sense of which way you should travel, provides a tremendous amount of stress psychologically. Rare indeed is the person who is simply content to wander in any given direction hoping that all will work out. Even people with injuries can take some solace if they know which way they should travel and where help can be found.
I am going to give you step number one when it comes to mindset and keeping your head or wits about you. The moment that you realize that you have become lost, separated from the main party, stuck somewhere, I want you to sit down. Yes, grab some earth.
Close your eyes, take in two or three deep cleansing breaths. This will give you the oxygen your brain needs to function properly and will help calm you down.
Now, take inventory of your situation. Have a watch? Check the time and take note of it. Do you have a mobile phone? Check your signal strength and battery. If you have not already done so, put your phone into the “battery saver” mode and dim the screen setting.
Are you alone or with someone else? Have them do the exact same thing that I just had you do. Breathing, time check, phone, etc. Perform a quick check on yourself and others for injuries.
Next, now it’s time for an inventory check. I want you to quite literally inventory every item you have on your person. If you are backpacking and have camping supplies, you are golden. This may just be a detour from your original plan.
You might be thinking, “I know what is in my pockets, I don’t need to dump it all out.” Bullshit. People in states of stress and panic will absolutely space out and forget that they have something tremendously useful on their person.
One of the pilots who was shot down during the Blackhawk Down situation in Somalia ran out of ammunition in the long gun he was holding and stopped fighting. It was not until his captors were stripping all of the gear from his body that he realized he still had a loaded pistol in a holster, but it was too late.
Formulate a Plan
After you have taken inventory of your situation and your gear, then you can begin to formulate a plan based upon what you have available. This is when we go back to the previous topics of fire building, signaling, drinking water, exposure, land navigation, etc.
Of course, your survival mindset begins long before you put a single foot onto the trail. It is your mindset that makes you take a “survival kit” with you even though you “will probably never need it”. Your survival mindset makes you pull out a map and familiarize yourself with the area where you will be operating. Survival mindset makes you spend the extra money for quality boots, socks, cold weather gear, etc.
Your survival mindset might even cause you to expend the time and money to take training and learn how to use all of the gear you bought from Amazon, rather than to simply throw it in a pack and march of into the wilderness.
Lastly, in the event that your survival situation includes more than just yourself, it is your mindset that will enable you to be a leader and provide encouragement and aid to other people. Your survival mindset will help you to set a positive and strong example for others to follow and that might just be the key to their survival.
Thank you for taking the time to read all of the installments. Be prepared, be safe, be a survivor.
Recommended Wilderness Survival Items:
- Motivation Card and Instructions
- Wilderness Survival PLS Kit
Professor Paul Markel
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