The trees and plants are in full bloom and summer is fast approaching. It’s typically this time of year when we enjoy the great outdoors. We go boating, camping, and hiking — whether for the day or a week or longer.
Before you head outdoors, do your best not to end up being someone who needs rescuing. Do your best to learn some basic skills so you can confidently enjoy the wilderness and come home without a rescue party in tow.
Check out these outdoor skills every guy should know.
1. Building a Fire
Fire helps you keep warm, cook food and boil water. Learn how to make a fire — by rubbing two sticks together or using matches and lighter fluid. Make sure you aren’t the guy who ends up with a smoky mess and no fire.
Usually it’s a matter of having the right tinder to start the fire. Small sticks, bark, cardboard and newspaper are all easy to light. Then you build slowly with smaller sticks until you maintain a strong flame. Add slightly larger pieces of wood until you have the fire you want. Don’t build too quickly or you will smother your fire.
2. Finding Water
Know where your water sources are and how clean the water is. Some bodies of water are safe to drink from, but don’t take chances if you don’t have to. You should purify water or boil it before consuming it. Otherwise, you risk contracting debilitating bacterial infections and will have an unpleasant journey.
3. Finding Food
It’s a good idea to know what wild plants you can eat and which ones you can’t in the event you get lost or lose your food supply on an excursion in the wilderness. Dandelions, lambs quarter, and cattails are safe to eat even if they aren’t the tastiest. Learn how to identify plants you can eat and the ones that will poison you or cause skin irritations and rashes.
- Using a Compass
Our smartphones tell us everything, including what direction to go, whether we are driving or walking. But if you are going to be out in the wilderness you should use a compass to guide you on your journey. Better yet, learn how to navigate using the stars or the sun. Bring a compass just in case — and your smartphone.
5. Using a Chainsaw
Chainsaws give us a quick way to cut wood. If a tree falls and blocks a road or entry to your home, you can use a chainsaw to clear it away. With a chainsaw you can cut your own firewood. Some people even create wood sculptures using a chainsaw.
Every guy should know how to use a chainsaw and own one. They aren’t difficult to use, but they’re dangerous if used improperly. Start with a small one, read the manual and always wear the proper safety gear before using a chainsaw.
6. Building a Shelter
If you get lost in the woods, you may have to set up a shelter to protect you from the elements. Learn how to use fallen trees, caves and rock formations as a temporary shelter. You’d be surprised what material Mother Nature provides us.
Learn to look at branches, rocks and vines as building blocks for your unanticipated house building project. Otherwise, you may be facing a prolonged cold, wet and uncomfortable night under the stars.
Feeling comfortable with a gun will give you the ability to hunt for food. Deer, rabbits and fowl are edible and delicious if cooked properly. If you don’t like guns or don’t want to hunt, you can always net frogs or fish.
Hunting gives you the ability to survive off the land for much longer than you would by eating dandelions. It’s a personal choice but could end up the difference between life and death.
Catching fish is considered a sport by many, and it’s also a nutritious and tasty way to survive in the wilderness. Buy a fishing pole and purchase the correct bait for the fish you want to catch. Worms are usually available in the wild, and they make excellent bait for smaller fish. Learning to fish will make your trip more enjoyable and your meals more bountiful.
9. Tying Knots
Tying the right knot is the difference between making it up the mountain or falling and suffering an uncertain outcome. Learn to tie the knots which can help you climb mountains and trees or snare animals for food. If tying your shoes is the only knot you know, you’ll end up pleasantly surprised at what the right knot can accomplish.
10. Operating a Boat
You don’t have to be a sailor, but you should at least know how to row a boat. A boat is a much more safe and efficient way to get across a body of water than swimming. Learn basic boating skills so you can use a boat in an emergency or help a fishing partner when you head out with a buddy.
Enjoy Your Time Outdoors
Grizzly Adams didn’t learn all these skills in one day and you won’t either. Just make sure you have a basic awareness of the terrain you are exploring and what tools and skills you will need to bring with you. Learning how to fish isn’t going to help you scale a mountain. Mountain climbing gear won’t help you in the desert.
It’s important to stay adequately prepared for your adventure and capable of handling the challenges which may come with the weather or the territory. These ten skills will make you a better camper or hiker, and it will keep you safer in the wilderness. Enjoy your summer outdoors.
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Photos provided by the author