by David Reed
I’m not sure how much I will include on resistance and escape. Maybe I will save these subjects until someone else offers to contribute the material. I will definitely cover the following subjects:
Topics will include dealing with attitude, exposure, dehydration, rescue, food gathering.
Celestial Navigation – Stars/Sun
Camouflage – Rural and populated areas
Attitude is everything. Some of you may read this and think “yeah, o.k., now get on to the good stuff”. What you must realize is that without the proper mental attitude, the other topics will be of use for only a short period of time. Depression, loneliness, feelings of abandonment, despondency, and the feeling that nobody knows where you are or cares will conspire to kill you. If you have done your homework, practiced the techniques described, there is a very good chance you will survive if you have a positive mental attitude. Tell yourself that you WILL get out of this. You WILL persevere.
I have seen some survival books talk as though collecting water is easy, catching game with snares is simple, and survival is something that can be taught in books. When I was very young, I would leave for the country on Friday afternoons. I would take water proof matches, a liter of water, my bow and some arrows, ground sheet/blanket, and spend the weekend making snares, fishing with equipment I made, and hunting with my bow. I used primitive fire making methods and only used matches when I had to. I can tell you that there is nothing easy about any of this. There was much I didn’t know at the time, but I had read a lot of books. I probably knew more at 13 than most people ever do. I was preparing myself for a life in the wilderness as a ‘mountain man’. Needless to say, I had not yet discovered girls or beer. Cable TV was unheard of, and computers were magical talking ‘entities’ as seen on Star Trek and 2001. For me, society was full of unnecessary trappings that only made men soft and weak.
By sunday I was ready to return home. My parents would usually drive out to the area I was staying in and give me a ride. It was about a 18 mile trek. Fortunately my mom made sure I took along ’emergency rations’, just in case I had trouble finding game. Emergency rations were about the only things I ate all weekend. I shot a few birds and snakes with my bow. Caught a few fish too. But I learned something that many people do not realize. To survive you must battle three things in this order:
You can die in a few hours if you cannot retain body heat. You can die of exposure in 72 degree weather! You will develop hypothermia when your body loses heat faster than you can produce it. You need calories to generate body heat. People die of hypothermia in warm water. The water is cooler than they are, subsequently the water absorbs body heat until their body can produce no more. It is a slow death.
When you breath your breathe causes water loss. Perspiration causes water loss. Evaporation from your eyes causes water loss. If you cannot replace these losses you will die. Drink water with little microbes, parasites, etc. and you will develop diarrhea. This will increase your fluid loss and you will die even quicker.
Food is the last thing you will need. In moderate climates, you can survive without food for up to 30 days. You will die without water in one or two in the desert! Finding edible berries and plants are the last things you need to learn. Rescue and conserving fluids and body heat are the primary survival skills. If you can survive long enough to get real hungry you are doing a good job. In extreme cold food is more important because your body converts food to heat.
First examine what you have to work with. Seat cushions from a vehicle are insulation. Shiny glass, mirrors, or polished metal can be used to signal search aircraft. Glass with imperfections, bifocals, binoculars, etc. can be used to focus the suns rays enough to start a fire. Thread stripped from a from seat cushion and wound together can be used to lash things together, make fishing nets, sutures fro stitching wounds, etc. Remember your priorities. Rescue, Shelter, Water, and food. You will have to balance these priorities and make decisions. Generally, you should stay in the area where you became stranded if there is any chance of a search for you. If you try to walk out, the search party will not find you. You will burn calories while walking, calories that will be hard to replace. You will also perspire, can you afford the water loss? If the enemy is searching for you, you will have to move to a safe location.
Exposure and Body Heat – Arctic
Time is running against you here. You must work quickly and conserve energy. After you have taken inventory, build a fire:
Hopefully you will have matches or a lighter. You must conserve these valuable items. Before you build your fire, pick a place for your shelter. (see below). Now gather combustible materials. Cones from pine trees don’t burn. Bark doesn’t either. DON’T waste matches trying to ignite them. Gather material in this order:
Very small match stick thickness twigs. Have at least a good double handful. They must be dry. To find dry sticks in the rain, look under the overhang of an embankment, under-side of logs, dead dry roots pulled out of an embankment, the center of a stump or dead tree (dug out with a knife).
Small sticks a little bigger than the smallest. You will need more of these, at least a quart – half gallon. Some of these may be a little wet.
Bigger sticks – Twice the thickness of the ones before, even more of these.
Keep moving up in size until you are collecting branches/small logs. If the wood is available you will need as much as you can gather in an hour. Drift wood will work if it’s dry.
Now that you have your wood it’s time to build your fire. Take your time and do this right. DON’T throw the fire together haphazardly. This will only waste fuel and increase the risk of the fire not lighting. Every match you have is like gold. Do not waste them. If you do this right you will only need one.
Take a medium size branch and lay it down. Now build a tiny lean-to with the smallest sticks by leaning them up against the branch. Take more and and lay them perpendicular to first layer, and parallel to the big branch. Use lots of very small sticks and leave enough gaps between them for the flames to rise up through and ignite the upper layers. If it’s raining or windy cover yourself with something to protect your fire. Now add the bigger sticks to the top of the your neat little lean-to, using a teepee shape, and surrounding the little lean to on all sides. Leave a small gap up close to the big branch to get your match under the pile. If you have a small slip of paper or lint from pockets, put it under the lean-to and ignite it. As your fire grows, start adding more and more sticks to get the fire very hot. Now add the larger sticks, the heat will dry them if they are damp. (Not if they are green or soaked through.) Keep building your fire in stages. DON’T wait too long to add the next size larger sticks. The heat generated from the rapidly burning small ones is needed to dry and ignite the larger ones. As soon as you can, put some bigger stuff on by laying them across the big branch on the ground. Once your fire is going, DON’T let it go out. If you need more fuel gather more, and start building your shelter.
This is the fastest shelter I know of:
Is there a snow bank nearby? Can you build a small one? You are going to dig a cave in the snow. You want the opening to be away from the wind. The cave has to be very small. For a snow shelter to be effective it must be below freezing. If not, melting snow will saturate your clothing and you will freeze. Hollow out a place to lie in the snow. If you have something to line the floor with it will be much warmer. If you have nothing but plastic or something, try to find evergreen tree limbs to line it with. You want as much between you and the cold ground as you can. You will lose more heat by being in contact with the cold ground than you will from the air. The air in your cave will warm and retain heat. If you have a small heat source you can place a vent through the roof to allow gas to escape. You must ration your heat source. You will need it more at night when the temperature drops. Luxuries to add will be more insulation, seat cushions, etc. and a door.
A Ranger Pile is a shelter used by small parties who lack bulky camping equipment or who for tactical reasons, must not risk fire or shelter construction. First layer of men, four or five lays very close together on two ponchos snapped together. Next layer lay’s on top of the others, cross ways. Another layer on top of them. Remaining ponchos are snapped together and pulled over the top and tucked in around the sides. If a quantity of DRY pine needles, leaves, etc. can be quietly collected, this can be used for insulation stuffing. Just pile it on each layer before the next gets on. This is how small recon teams survive without carrying a lot of bullshit with them. It only gets bad when one of the guys has gas!
A vehicle will block the wind but the compartment is too big to retain body heat. You will freeze if you stay in a car or aircraft. Strip cushions, carpet, floor mats, insulation, etc. from the vehicle to line your shelter with. If you have tools and can remove the hood or trunk lid you can use these for a reflector to direct heat in one direction from a fire.
If you are fortunate enough to have the materials to construct a lean-to, build one similar to the way you built your fire. Keep the openings away from the wind, and towards your fire. Use a reflector to direct the heat into your lean-to.
Clothing What do you have to work with? Thin material should be put closest to your body, as should wool. If you have extra foam from seat cushions, stuff your shirts and pants with it. It will work as insulation. Extra clothing can be stripped in to pieces of about 5″ x 4′ and used as wrapping for extra socks. The russian army has always used wool strips for field socks. You want to have the material that best holds in heat closest to your skin. This same concept can be used when you have the luxury of a sleeping bag. Sleeping bags are designed to hold in heat much better than clothes. When you get into a bag, remove all of your clothes and lay on them. Naked, your body heat will be trapped between your skin and the bag. Otherwise your heat escapes through the thin material of your clothing, and stays between your clothes and the bag, until it dissipates.
If you have no clothes for the environment you find yourself in, you will have to use the shelter for clothing. Keep your shelter VERY small and use insulation. This is your only chance to survive.
If there is plenty of snow/ice you will have a good water supply if you have a fire and a container to melt it in. DO NOT EAT SNOW. It will lower your body temperature and bring on hypothermia. Always melt it and get it warm first.
Do not drink alcohol of any kind. It will thin your blood and increase your urine output. If it’s strong enough, you can use it as a disinfectant, or to help start your signal fires if an aircraft approaches.
Now that you have your fire and a shelter it is time to improve the odds of rescue. The international distress signal is three (3) of anything or the letters SOS. Don’t build three fires because it wastes fuel. Scrape out three large circles in the snow by dragging something around. If it snows these will fill in. If you have access to lots of branches or something that provides a good contrast to the white snow, lay them out to form 3 large X’s. What looks big to you on the ground looks very small from an aircraft at 10,000 feet. Your X’s should be 100 – 150 feet across and 75 feet apart. If you have the wood build three fires in the middle of each but don’t light them. Keep your main fire going so that you’ll be able to take a torch to the other fires in a hurry.
Smoke will be quite visible from the air also. Large piles of pine needles smoke well, as does rubber, plastic, or oil. Be careful about burning critical supplies however! I would not throw a poncho, sheet of plastic, or rubber boots on the fire in a vain attempt to signal a distant plane. You will have to use common sense. If the plane cannot land near you, and has to radio for help, you could be there a while longer anyway. With bad weather it might take a rescue party several days to get you. If the pilot is an idiot, or lacks a GPS or LORAN, he might report your location as being 20 miles away from where you actually are.
You may want to find a book named “White Dawn”. It chronicles the lives of three men who were lost in their small whaling boat in the arctic back in the 1800’s. It is an excellent work of fiction and provides many accurate details of how northern aboriginal peoples survive in their climate. If you are inland you will not have much opportunity to hunt for seals. In some areas of the north, the only thing you will find are lemmings, lichens, and maybe a fox or two. (if there are enough rats to feed them). Near the sea you will be able to hunt seal. That far north and you won’t find much snow, it is too arid and cold. On the Ice pack you will have to build your shelter with ice, and heat it with animal fat. If you wind up on the ice pack, with no supplies, there is little I can tell you here that will save your life. You will have to stay warm long enough to get rescued, which had better be pretty quick.
Exposure – Desert
Since there is nothing in the desert to hold in the heat, it dissipates quickly after the sun goes down. Deserts can drop to near freezing over night. During the day the temperature will soar and fry your brain, dry you out, and kill you. For this reason any movement should only be at night. For shelter you must get out of the sun. If you can, dig a hole to get in and cover it. Do not strip off your clothes. Have you ever wondered why arabic people wear those long, heavy, hot looking clothing on their heads and bodies? It is because moisture evaporation is your worst enemy in the desert. Clothing helps keep in this moisture and slows evaporation. It must be loose enough to allow heat loss. You will need to stay warm at night, refer to the arctic topic above.
Water is the most important thing to consider in the desert, it must be conserved. Long term drinking of urine can make you sick, but if it’s all you have you will have to drink it. Succulent plants like cactus also contain water, as do the bodies of snakes, lizards, and other animals. Suck every drop you can from them, but avoid the poison glands in snakes (they are right behind the head in the neck). The only two parts of animals in North America that cannot be eaten are the livers of the polar bear and bearded seal. They contain toxic amounts of Vitamin A.
If you have plastic or a poncho you can collect water at night in the desert. dig a hole (or use support sticks) as wide as the plastic. Make a hole in the plastic at the center. Stretch the plastic over the hole and weight down the edges with rocks. Press down the center of the sheet or tie it to a tock to pull it down. Place a container under the hole. When dew forms on the plastic it will roll down hill through the hole and it into your container. Use your poncho during the day as shade.
Do not drink alcohol, it will increase your urine output and aid in dehydration.
Exposure – Jungle
Here, heat and sunlight are your worst enemies. Insects and water contamination are also major problems. The heat and humidity of the jungle makes for rapid bacteria growth. Any untreated wound will fester within a few hours. In a day or two a cut can become bad enough to cause gangrene. You must protect yourself by turning down sleeves, blousing your pants to keep insects out, and wearing gloves and a hat.
Water must be boiled well to kill parasites. Safe water can be found in water vines. These are very thick vines that hang down from large trees. You know, the ones that Tarzan swings from? Cut one at a 45 degree angle, move up the vine and cut it off about three feet up or sever it to release the suction. Hold your mouth under the vine and the water will flow out. This water is safe to drink without boiling. Try not ot let it run along the exposed outside of the vine though, that area will have tiny creepy crawlies.
Jungle streams are usually as deep as they are wide. Diffenbachia (or ‘dumb cane’) can be crushed and added to water to stun fish.
Chinese Star Apples, Mangoes, bananas, coconuts, and other fruits are safe to eat if you wash them with sterile water first. The seeds of the Star apple are poisonous. Many species of tree frogs in the rain forests are highly toxic. They are recognized by there bright vivid colors. If you are very careful not to touch them, you can use their skin secretions for poisonous blow gun darts.
Blow guns are difficult to make, but I’ll tell you how for the hell of it. Take a limb and split it length-wise. Scrape the bore of the weapon into both halves. It must be perfect. Allow it to dry and polish the bore halves smooth. The two sides must fit perfectly. (This is harder than it sounds). Bind the two back together with bark or vine strips.
Darts are made from any wood that can be sharpened. To launch the dart a small tuft of fiber (like cotton) from the stem of a (????) tree branch is balled around the base of the dart.
During the rainy season, grubs can be found in the center of (????) trees. I can’t remember their names but I know what they look like.
Build a platform or hammock to get off of the ground when you sleep. Insects will eat you alive if you don’t. Mud can be used to keep mosquitos off.
The jungle is a garden of eden compared to the desert or the arctic. With a little common sense anyone should be able to survive.
I don’t know of any poisonous plants that don’t taste extremely bitter and nasty. If the leaf tastes mild it is probably OK to eat. When in doubt, try a little piece first and wait a couple of hours. If nothing bad happens try twice as much and wait again. Keep doing this until you’ve tried enough to have made you sick. If you are still OK then it’s probably safe to eat. There are exceptions to this rule, most notably among berries. Some berries don’t taste too bad but are poisonous.
You should educate yourself before going to a new area. Pictures in books never look like the actual plant. Generally, if it crawls, walks, or slithers on it’s belly it is safe to eat.
Written by Roger Perron and David R. Reed
This section is entitled “Arctic Survival,” but one may need cold weather skills at very high altitudes everywhere. Near the Equator in the Andes for example, the snow line is not reached until an altitude of about 5,000 meters (18,000 ft), but the nearer the poles the lower the snow line will be.
At the southern tip of South America there is permanent snow at only a few hundred meters (1,000ft). Arctic conditions penetrate deep into the northern territories of Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia & Russia. Antarctica is covered with a sheet of ice. In the arctic the Pole is capped by deep ice floating on the sea and all the land north of the timberline is frozen.
Note: When in the Arctic or Antarctic, there are only 2 seasons- long winter and short summer — the day varying from complete darkness in midwinter to 24 hours daylight at midsummer.
Arctic summer temperature can rise to 18C (65F) except on glaciers and frozen seas, but fall in winter to as low as -56C (-81F) & are NEVER above freezing point. In the northern forests summer temperatures can reach 37C (100F) but altitude pushes winter temperatures even lower than in the Arctic. In Eastern Siberia -69C (-94F) has been recorded at Verkhotansk.
Temperatures in the Antarctic are even lower than in the Arctic. Antarctic winds of 177km (110mph) have been recorded and in the autumn, winter winds reach hurricane force and can whip snow 30m (100ft) into the air giving the impression of a blizzard even when it is not snowing.
South of the Polar Cap, the ground remains permanently frozen & vegetation is stunted. Snow melts in summer but roots cannot penetrate the hard earth. High altitudes give the same conditions.
Northern Coniferous Forest
Between the arctic tundra and the main temperate lands is a forest zone up to 1300 km. deep. In Russia where it is known as Taiga, the forest penetrates up to 1650km and north of the Arctic Circle along some Siberian rivers. For only 3-5 months of the year is the ground thawed sufficiently for water to reach the roots of the trees & plants that especially flourish along the great rivers that flow to the Arctic Ocean. There is a wealth of game; elk, bear, lynx, sable, squirrel, as well as smaller creatures and many birds.
Accompanied by low temperatures, winds have a chilling effect much greater than the thermometer indicates. Very cold air brought too rapidly into the lungs will chill your whole body. Under extreme conditions it may even damage the lung tissue & cause Internal Hemorrhage. Exhale completely and slowly to build 50% more resistance to the cold. An attentive control on your respiration and especially of your timing contributes to your stress control in any moments of tension or stress. Most of us breathe only half way. A sigh is used by our body to exhale completely once we have neglected to do so under stress.
Once you have been thoroughly chilled (without any injury whatever) it takes “several hours” of warmth & rest to return your body to normal, regardless of superficial feelings of comfort. When recovering from an emergency cold situation, don’t venture out into an extreme cold too soon.
A 32km per hour (20mph) wind will bring the temperature of -14C (5F) down to -34C (-30F) and one at 64kmph (40mph) would make it -42C or (-34F) with even greater drops at lower temperatures. Speeds over 64kmph (40mph) don’t appear to make a great difference.
Whether you are in the tropics, the desert, or the Arctic, drink whenever you are thirsty. No matter the quantity of water you may have, small or big. Rationing will not help. The average man does not drink enough water. His thirst is often slaked before the water budget is balanced again. American doctors made this observation in the last few years at various bases in the Arctic and Antarctic. The soldiers stationed there had no thirst because of the cold climate and drank little; as a result their bodies suffered from progressive dehydration. This was discovered when the men often complained of constant fatigue. They were URGED to drink a certain amount of water every meal, and they soon felt much better.
- Points to remember regarding water, its consumption and dehydration:
- In warm weather, you may need upwards of a gallon or more a day to replace losses. Even in cold weather you need over a liter (2 pints) a day.
- Boil all water no matter where you find it, or treat it chemically.
- Stalking even short distances will result in dehydration. Drink your water.
- It Takes 50% more heat to melt snow than to melt ice.
- On icebergs there are always depressions filled with fresh water.
- Rationing water will not help you.
The last point is critical. The Apache traveled from one water hole to another without carrying water. To saturate your system drink as much as you can hold and urinate. Repeat the process several times and you will have as much water as your system can hold. When your mouth feels dry you can keep a small pebble in it to suck on. Breathe through your nose to keep moisture from escaping through your breath. Do not spit. Try not to work hard enough to perspire.
Written by Roger Perron and David R. Reed
Have your match container attached to YOU AND WATERTIGHT. (Sniper Note: To make waterproof matches use strike-anywhere kitchen matches. Light a candle and coat the match head completely with wax. Don’t glob it on too thick and make sure you get some on the wood too. Women’s nail polish will also work well. Also remember this, when working in the dark you must always know where everything is. You cannot afford to lose or misplace anything in a survival or combat situation. All equipment should be tied to you using “dummy cords”. So that even a dummy can’t lose it. On my first winter exercise in the army I lost one of my gloves. My squad leader gave me his and told me never to let it happen again. He suffered while I stayed warm. It was a lesson I never forgot — both for practical and leadership reasons.)
An axe is the most important tool in the bush, more so than the gun, bow and arrow, next in line is a good machete or those new all purpose shovels. The hunting knife comes next, but well sharpened and a good one. (Sniper Note: In my opinion you can’t beat a good K-Bar, USMC, or Air Force Survival knife. The blades on these knives have a high tensile strength, are less brittle than stainless steel, and sharpen quickly with less than ideal abrasive surfaces. A sharpening stone to go with the knife is very important, You can sharpen with other things but unless your blade is extremely dull, you’ll only make it worse.)
It needs to be prepared carefully. Choose a site that is sheltered, especially during high winds. Do not light a fire at the base of a tree or a stump. Clear away leaves, twigs, moss and dry grass from a circle at least 2m (6 feet) across & scrape everything away until you have a surface of bare earth. If the ground is wet or covered with snow, the fire MUST be built on a platform. Make this from a layer of green logs covered with a layer of earth or a layer of stones. If land is swampy or the snow deep a raised platform is needed, known as a temple fire.
This hearth consists of a raised platform, built of green timber. Four uprights support cross- pieces in their forks. Across them place a layer of green logs and cover this with several inches of earth. Light the fire on top of this. A pole across upper forks on diagonally opposite uprights can support cooking pots.
IN WINDY CONDITIONS:
If there are particularly strong winds, dig a trench and light your fire in it. Also good for windy conditions: encircle your fire with rocks to retain heat and conserve fuel. Use them to support cooking utensils. Their heat, as well as that from the fire will keep things warm and you can use the rocks themselves as bed warmer. Slate and shale have air pockets that when heated, turn into grenades.
LIGHTING FIRE FROM COAL:
To light a fire from coal, collect a bundle of dry tinder, softly tease a large piece and place the coal in the center, fold the rest of the tinder over the coal and with the tinder ball held very loosely between the widespread fingers. Now whirl the ball round and round at arms’ length or if there is a strong wind blowing, hold the ball in the air, allowing the wind to blow between the fingers. The ball will start to smoke as the tinder catches. When there is a dense flow of smoke, blow into the ball, loosening it in your hand. These few last puffs will convert the smoldering mass to flame thus fire from coal at last. Another trick is to attach a pierced can to a 4 foot rope, put the coal & tinder in it, & let it swirl till it smokes & flames.
Select fire area, out of the wind, protected from rain and snow. Secure fuel and build a fire before darkness. Gather adequate supply of fuel first, so that fire can be fed immediately as it grows. Tinder is highly combustible substance in which a spark can be blown into flame and innumerable materials of this sort can be found, and carried in special containers such as tinderboxes, etc.
Tinder impregnated with a solution of saltpeter and later dried MUST be carried in an airtight container. If carried otherwise the saltpeter will become damp with moisture from the air. (Sniper Note: A very good fire starter is a ball of dryer lint soaked with candle wax.)
Many bushmen start all fires, indoors and out, with them. Although in terms of initial effort they are often more bother than a handful of dry twigs, they are fairly dependable. One is easily made by shaving a straight-grained stick of dry split softwood with single knife strokes until one end is a mass of wooden curls. (Sniper Note: Make a “pine cone” looking thing with a knife and piece of wood, the smaller the slivers the easier they will be to light.) The usual procedure is to bunch no less than 3 such fuzz-sticks so that the flames will be able to eat into the shavings, toss on any stray whittling, light the mass and then go through the usual procedure of adding progressively larger firewood.
You will discover that some of the soft inner barks teased and spun into cord will smolder slowly when lighted. This is called: Slow Match. It’s worth while to discover which plants whose barks have this property. Lengths of cord made from such a bark can be used to maintain a “coal” for a length of time and so save your precious matches. A slow match is a length of rope or cord that hangs smoldering to give fire when wanted. It is used as a means of preserving fire and also as a mean of carrying it from place to place. It can be made by making a length of cord or thin rope from 1/4″ 1/2″ in diameter, from suitable barks or palm fibers. Most of the silky soft fiber barks are ideal. When one end is put in fire or against a glowing coal it will take hold of the spark, smoldering slowly. A slow match is a safe way when having no match or fire-lighting material to preserve the vital spark for further use after you have doused your fire and left camp for an hour or 2. For such a use, the slow match should be hung from a branch and exposed to air currents. Birch bark can be detached in the thinnest of layers and these shredded to make tinder. Bark of some cedars is also good. Piece of your shirt or pants, dry moss, lichens, dead evergreen needles, dry hay are among the can be pulverized for tinder, even bird nests. Dry fuzz from pussy willows is a well-known tinder, so is a dry wood that has dry rotted and can be rubbed to a powder. A handful of very dry pine needles often works; you can also use the fluff of the so-called cotton grass, that of the cattails and the downy heads of such flower as mature Goldenrod. Tinder is any kind of material that takes the minimum of heat to make it catch in fire. Good tinder needs only a spark to ignite it.
It is the wood used to raise the flames from the tinder so that larger and less combustible materials can be burned. The best kindling consists of small dry twigs and the softer woods are preferable because they flare up quickly. Those that contain resins burn readily and make fire lighting a snap. The drawbacks of softwoods are that they tend to produce sparks and burn very fast. Have lots of slower burning wood ready when you get the fire going, resinous softwoods like lighter knot burn very fast.
As a general rule, the heavier the wood the more heat it will give, this applies to both dead and green woods. Mixing green & dry wood makes a long lasting fire, which is especially useful at night.
Hickory, Beech or Oak for instance burns well, give off great heat and last for a long time as hot coals, they keep a fire going through the night.
Tend to burn too fast and give off sparks. The worst spark-makers are Cedar, Alder, Hemlock, Spruce, Pine, Chestnut and Willow. Remember that damp wood is sometimes advantageous — producing smoke to keep off flies, Midges, and Mosquitoes. Use your fire to dry damp wood. Always cut an ample supply of firewood, you never know when you will get a spell of rain or snow. 3 days is best provision. (Sniper Note: In cold weather it is not unusual to burn a cord of wood a day to stay warm. A cord is a heaping full size pickup truck load. If you are conservative you can stretch this considerably. I add this note because those who have little experience will usually gather to little firewood. You do not want to discover this at 10:00 at night when you have 8 hours to go until daylight. Gather a lot more than you think you will need. When first stranded, everyone in your party should devote an hour to gathering firewood. If it looks like there is plenty, then send some people to collect other useful items for the shelter. ) MAKE SURE that you do get one stack ready also you will need 4 mores for your signals — Should one pile refuse to light the extra one will do it.
These make excellent fuel; frontiersmen of the Wild West used buffalo chips for their fires. Dry the droppings thoroughly for a good smokeless fire. You can mix them with grass, moss & leaves.
Peat is often found on well-drained moors. It is soft and springy underfoot and may be exposed on the edges of rocky outcrops — looking black and fibrous. It is easily cut with a knife. Peat needs good ventilation when burning. Stacked with plenty of air the peat dries rapidly and is soon ready to burn.
Coal is sometimes found on the surface – there are large deposits in the Northern Tundra.
Shales are often rich in oil and burn readily. Some sands also contain oil – they burn with a thick oily smoke that makes a good signal fire and also gives off a good heat. (Sniper Note: Shales can also explode when heated!)
If you have had a mechanical failure and crashed or broken down with fuels intact you can burn petroleum, antifreeze, hydraulic fluid and other combustible liquids. Even insect repellent is inflammable. Anti-freeze is an excellent primer for igniting heavier engine oils. With a little Potassium Permanganate from your survival kit, you can set it alight in a few seconds. In very cold areas drain oil from an engine sump before it freeze. If you have no container drain it on to the ground to use later in its solid state. Tires, upholstery, rubber seals & much of any wreckage can be burned. Soak less combustible materials in oil before trying to make them burn. Mix petrol with sand and burn it in a container as a stove, or dig a hole and make a fire pit. Burn oil by mixing in petrol or antifreeze. (Sniper Note: Liquid fuels like gas or a mixture of gas and oil when soaked in a sand pot make a very hot, long burning fire. Ice fisherman use a coffee can with a roll of toilet paper soaked in kerosene (fuel oil) to do the same thing. JP-4 (Jet fuel) can be used too. High octane AvGas is pretty dangerous stuff, you must be very careful with it. ) Do not set a light directly to liquid fuels but make a wick and let that provide the flame. The same goes for insect repellent.
WATER & OIL FIRE:
About the easiest method is to place a steel or iron plate on a couple of stones a foot above ground level. Light a fire beneath this plate to make it really hot and while it is heating up arrange a pipe or narrow trough about 2 or 3 feet long. One end of this pipe is over the center of the plate and the other end is a foot or so higher than the plate. Into this top end of the pipe arrange by means of a funnel and trough water and sump oil or any oil to be fed down the pipe to the hot plate. The proportion of flow is 2 or 3 drops of water to one drop of oil. When the water and the oil fall onto the hot plate it burns with a hot white flame of very great heat. The rate of flow can be governed by cutting a channel in corks that plug the bottles holding the oil and water, or if tins are used, pierce holes in the bottom of the tins & use a plug to control the flow. This type of fire is excellent for an incinerator when great heat is required to burn out rubbish. It also makes an excellent campfire where strong flame and light are required.
These can also be used with a wick n a suitably ventilated tin to make a stove. Bones can add bulk when fat is being burned as a fire. Sometimes it is the only available fuel in Polar Regions.
Start flame with tinder or a candle, then place a network of bones cover it to support the fat or blubber. Use only a little fat at first. Unless it is surplus, burning fat means sacrificing food value, but seal blubber spoils rapidly and makes good fuel. Whenever you strike a match light a candle. Many things in turn can then be lit from it — saving matches. Place it in the wigwam of kindling to start a fire and remove it as soon as the flame spreads. Only the smallest amount is burned & even a small candle will last a long time. Paper matches are no good in bush for they easily get wet, or damp, from perspiration & outer wetness. Strong direct sunlight, focused through a lens, can produce sufficient heat to ignite your tinder. The sun shining through broken bottles on dry leaves or pastures causes accidental fires. Your survival kit magnifying glass or a telescope or camera lens will serve instead. Shield tinder from the wind. Focus sun’s rays to form the tiniest brightest spot of light. Keep it steady. Blow on it gently as it begins to glow.
FLINT AND STEEL:
Flint is a stone found in many parts of the world. If it is struck vigorously with a piece of steel hot sparks fly off which will ignite dry tinder.
Among the top best to start a fire even after being hidden 3 days in icy mud. A necessity to be included in your survival kit.
FLINT, 2001 BC-AD:
Flint and stone were the common methods before matches were invented and not great skill is needed for their use. Yet the synthetic flint used in a cigarette lighter is a considerable improvement on natural flint. A couple of pieces of synthetic flint pressed into a small piece of Perpex make an excellent emergency fire lighting unit. (Heat the Perpex and press the flints in while it’s hot. Hold under the water and the *Perpex will shrink on the flints and hold them securely).
FIRE BY AIR COMPRESSION:
In parts of South East Asia people make fire using this ingenious method of suddenly compressing air in a cylinder and thereby concentrating the heat in the air to a point when the heat is sufficient to ignite tinder. Their fire making sets, frequently a cylinder of bone or hollow bamboo with a bone or wooden piston. A small piece of tinder is inserted into a cavity in the lower end of the piston. The piston is placed in the cylinder and the flattened end opposite the piston head struck a smart blow with the palm of the hand, driving suddenly down the cylinder. Compression of air with concentration of the heat it carries produces a small glowing coal in the tinder placed in the recess of the piston head. Frequently the jar of the blow will shake the tinder loose, so a spark remover is used with the set to pull out the glowing tinder if it lodges in the cylinder. The dimensions are roughly as follows:
Cylinder: 4″ to 6″ long outside diameter 3/4″ to 1″, inside diameter about 1/2″.
Piston: 4″ to 6″ long of which the shaft is 3″ to 5″, piston length 3/4″ to 1″, diameter to nicely fit the cylinder.
Recess at the lower end of the piston – about 1/4″ wide by 1/4″ to 5/16″ deep. The piston shaft end is smooth and about 1″ to 1 1/2″ in diameter for striking with the palm of the hand.
HOW TO MAKE FIRE BY USING A SAW MOVEMENT:
You take 2 sticks of wood and you rub them vigorously against one another in a sawing movement. This method is often used in jungle. The stick that you use as the “saw” is a split bamboo or any soft wood type. The other wood stick must be very dry. The friction is done over a mass of good tinder.
Use a piece of cane about 60 cm long and a dry stick. Make a small slit in one of the cane’s end, and then lay it on a stone. Maintain this slit open using a small wedge (stone or wood). Place a mass of tinder under the cane and between the cane and the tinder mass pass a thong or lash which you will slide quickly against the cane in a sawing movement. Meanwhile retain the board or cane with your foot.
OBTAINING FIRE WITH A BOW AND DRILL:
This method will take 10 minutes, if experienced! Fires have been made throughout the world long ago from glowing embers obtained by the combined use of bow, drill and fire board. Although the technique is simple, considerable diligence and effort is required. You will need a bow, with a thong long enough to loop around the dry stick that is to serve as a drill, you will need a socket with which to hold the drill against a hollow in the fireboard. By moving back and forth and so rotating the drill in the fireboard, you cause so much friction that a spark starts glowing in tinder gathered to catch it. The spark you blow into flame with which the campfire is lighted.
The use of the socket is to hold the drill in place while the latter is being turned. The socket, which for this purpose is held in one hand, can be easily grasped knot of wood with a small dimple cut into it. It can be a smooth stone with a slight depression worn in one side, often found near water.
HAND DRILL METHOD
This variation of the fire bow is particularly useful with very dry tinder. Instead of using a bow to spin the spindle, just use your hands. Roll the spindle between the palms of the hands, running them down with each burst of spinning to press the spindle into the depression in the baseboard.
When the friction makes the spindle tip glow red, blow gently to ignite the tinder around it. Putting a pinch of sand in the spindle hole increases the friction and speeds the heating of the tinder. A cavity below the spindle dimple with a passage between the two will allow embers to fall into your tinder.
This method of ignition also works by friction. Cut a straight groove in a soft wood baseboard and then plow the tip of hardwood shaft up and down it. This first produces tinder & then eventually ignites it.
WHAT WOOD TO USE:
Among the North American woods favored for making fire by friction are: Poplar, Tamarack, Basswood, Yucca, Balsam Fir, Red Cedar, White Cedar, Cypress, Cotton-Wood, Elm, Linden, Willow. The drill and the fireboard are both often made of a single one of the above woods but not ALWAYS the case. When not sure of type of wood see below: PUNK. *
The drill should be a straight & well-seasoned stick from 1/4 to 3/4″ in diameter & some 12 to 15″ long. The top end MUST be as smoothly rounded as possible so as to incur a minimum of friction. The lower end for maximum of friction MUST be blunt. A longer drill, perhaps one nearly a yard in length is sometimes rotated between the palms rather than by a bow. (Hand drill method) The hands maintaining as much downward pressure as possible are rubbed back and forth over the drill so as to spin it as strongly and as swiftly as possible. When they slip too low, they MUST be shifted back to the top to the top with as little delay in rotation as possible. The method is however not as effective as bow and socket.
The size of the fireboard that may be split out of a dry branch can be a matter of convenience. The board can be about 1″ thick and about 3 to 4″ wide, and long enough to be held under the foot. Using a knife or a sharp stone, start a hole about 3/4″ from the edge of the board. Enlarge this hole, thus fitting it, & the end of the drill at the same time, by turning the drill with the bow as later described. Then cut a notch from the edge of the fireboard through to the side of this cup. This slot or undercut ” V” that is usually made wider and deeper at the bottom. It should be at least 1/8″ into the hole itself, will permit the hot black powder that is produced by the drilling to fall as quickly as possible into tinder massed at the bottom of the notch. (Generous bundle of tinder under “V” cut!).
The bow string from a shoe lace to a twisted length of rawhide etc. is tied at both ends so as to leave enough slack to allow its being twisted once around the drill. NOTE: To use a fire set, the drill is put under the thong, and twisted so that the drill finally is on the outer side of the thong & with that portion of the thong nearest the handle of the bow on the upper side of the drill. This is important. If the thong is on the wrong way on the drill, it will cross over itself & cut in a few strokes, also the full length of the stroke can’t be obtained.
USING BOW AND DRILL:
The campfire, first having been made ready to ignite. The tinder is bedded under the slot in the fireboard. If you are right handed, you kneel on your right knee and place the left foot as solidly as possible on the fireboard. Take the bow in the right hand, looping the string over the drill. The drill is set in the cavity prepared in the fireboard. Pressure from the socket, which is grasped in the left hand, holds the drill in position. You can grip the socket more steadily you will find if you will keep your left wrist against your left shin and hug the left leg with that arm.
The bow is held in the right hand with the little and third fingers outside the thong so that by squeezing these 2 fingers the tension of the thing can be increased. Press down on the drill, but not enough to slow it, when you start twirling the drill by sawing back and forth with the bow. Only a light pressure is put on the socket. Now start drawing the bow smoothly back and forth in sweeps as long as the string will conveniently permit. Maybe you have dropped a few grains of sand into the cup to increase friction. When the hole starts to smoke, work the bow even faster, never stopping the swift even action. Press down more firmly on the drill. When the drill is smoking freely & that you have the Punk grinding out easily so that the V cut is full of it, put extra pressure on the socket at the same time give 20 to 30 faster strokes with the bow.
Lift the fill cleanly and quickly from the foot piece. Fold some of the tinder over lightly and blow gently into the “V” cut. If you see a blue thread of smoke continuing to rise, you can be sure you have a coal, you will see it glowing red. Fold the tinder completely over the foot piece & continue blowing into the mass. The volume of smoke will increase and a few quick puffs will make it burst into flame.
LIGHTING THE FIRE & PUNK:
Hot black powder (punk) will begin to ground out into the tinder. Keep on drilling, for the heartier a spark you can start glowing there, the quicker you will be able to blow it into a flame. By examining the “punk” you can learn if the wood used is suitable for fire making. The punk which will produce a glowing coal MUST feel slightly gritty when gently rubbed between the fingers and then with more pressure it should rub gradually to a silky smoothness as soft as face powder. This testing of the “punk” IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT; if you do not know for certain that the woods you are using are suitable for fire lighting.
ADD ON NOTES:
There are other refinements that are worth knowing: The boring or burning of a hole for the thong at the tip and also through the handle of the bow. The end of the thong at the tip of the bow has a thumb knot tied on the topside. The hole through the handle takes the long end of the thong, which is then wound round the handle in a series of half hitches. This hole in the handle enables you to adjust the tension of the thong with greater accuracy. A socket of shell or smooth grained stone with a hole in it is less liable to burn than a socket of wood. Tinder MUST be carried in a waterproof bag. If you have any to cartridges to spare, empty the powder out of one or two to start your tinder. Battery sparks can be used to ignite tinder.
Other items can be used to focus the sun’s rays:
Hold the crystals from 2 watches or pocket compass of about the same size back to back.
Fill the space between with water.
Directing this makeshift enlarging lens so as to converge the rays of the sun in a point sharp enough to start tinder glowing.
(Sniper Note: If the watch is a Rolex or look alike, use the magnifier over the date to concentrate suns rays.)
DROP OF WATER:
Make a small hole in any paper sheet, spit in this hole or put a clear water drop that you present to the sun rays as a magnifying glass
FIRE LIGHTING WITH CHEMICALS:
A survivor’s pack is not likely to include a complete chemistry set but there are some very common chemicals that if they are available, can be used to produce combustion. The following mixtures can all be ignited by grinding them between rock or putting them under the friction point in any of the types of fire drill already described. Mix them carefully, avoiding contact with any metal objects. All are susceptible to dampness and MUST be kept dry.
POTASSIUM CHLORATE & SUGAR:
In a mixture of 3/1 by volume is a fierce burning incendiary that can also be ignited by dripping a few drops of Sulfuric Acid on to the mixture.
POTASSIUM PERMANGANATE & SUGAR:
Mixed 9/1 is less sensitive and temperature is a critical factor in how long it takes to ignite. The addition of Glycerin will also produce ignition. Sulfuric acid is found in car batteries (Sniper note: Boil car battery acid in a bottle until it gives off white fumes. This will concentrate the acid enough to be used in pyrotechnics.)
Is found in some throat tablets, their contents may be listed on the pack. Try crushing one & see if it works. (Sniper Note: If you have enough, the white tips of kitchen matches contain plenty, and can be used to make explosives — Handle with care!)
FIRE WITHOUT SMOKE & WITHOUT FLAME: (FLAMELESS FIRE)
Smoke is the result of incomplete combustion thus by feeding the fire with small dry twigs which catch fire almost instantly the size of them about 1/8″ thick there will be no tell tale blue smoke haze.
Made by filling and old tin or small hollow piece of branch with clay earth, packed tight at the bottom. The earth should come to about an inch from the top of the tin. Into this a twig is pushed a piece of old cotton rag or very finely teased bark fiber is wound round the twig to serve as a wick. Fat from your cooking is poured on top of the earth and when the wick is lit the lamp burns with a clear flame. The amount of light can be controlled by the size of the wick.
COMMON MISTAKES IN FIRE MAKING:
In building a campfire is to make pigsty construction with heavy logs on the outside and then pack the inside with light brushwood. Such a fire is rarely a success. The light inside wood burns out in a quick blaze of glory but the heavy outer logs lack sufficient heat to get them properly alight and also having only small points of contact with each other at the corners do not burn well nor do such fires give out a good radiation of heat.
By David Reed
You must first select an area for your kill zone. The area you select should make success likely. You will base your decision on the probability that the target will appear in this area during the period of time you are there. You must select a primary and at least one alternate hide. Roads, bridges, rivers, and fields all offer good visibility.
Cover is the protection the site affords from fire. It may or may not be wise to expend a lot of effort on overhead cover when none is available naturally. The more time spent in the area digging and cutting the more you will be exposed to enemy detection and fire. You must be very careful to avoid detection. 18″ of dirt will protect you from direct light weapons fire. However, when an enemy machine gunner is whittling away at that 18″, it won’t seem like much. The idea is to get the hell out of there before that happens.
Wooden frame housing or single layer cinder blocks or bricks will not stop direct rifle fire or close range pistol fire. A machine gun will tear them to pieces. If your hide is inside a building you may use sandbags as a barricade inside the house, or dig a position through the floor and into the ground. This will be next to impossible if the structure is on a concrete slab. If the building is raised, and the structure is strong enough, the building itself will provide overhead cover from RPG’s or thrown grenades. Mortar or artillery is a different matter. These will devastate the building, collapsing the structure on top of you. You must get out before heavy weapons are brought to bear. This goes for almost any position you choose. You should use anything available to provide cover, and choose the best cover available that fills other essential requirements.
If you do not have sandbags, or the time to fill them, use dirt, logs, timbers, bricks, or anything else you can find.
Concealment is what keeps you from being seen. It is not necessarily cover. A bush will hide you, but it will not stop a bullet. Use whatever is available. Do not cut bushes from the area of your hide. If all of the bushes have been cut down and piled up in one spot your hide will be too obvious. Gather materials distant from your hide if you need them. Gather carefully so that people traveling through the area will not see the cuttings, otherwise they will know that “someone” has been there gathering camouflage for a position.
Personal camouflage is essential at all times. You must achieve two things, break up your outline and blend in. You break up your outline by creating shadows where they should not be and highlighting places that should be in shadow. You can also do this by wearing materials that obscure the outline of your body, face, hands, etc.
From the time we are first born we know what a face is. It is the first thing newborns sees when their eyes open. By the time a person is 4 years old they can see facial patterns in clouds and their closet at night! It is the one feature that is most recognizable to anyone. When applying camouflage stick or civilian creams use the dark tones on raised facial features and the light tones on recessed (reverse shadows), but run areas together across your face on a diagonal. You don’t want a perfect reversal because it will still look like a face!
When using vegetation for camouflage, use very short branches. Long branches and grasses move in an exaggerated fashion when you make slight movements. Choose vegetation that blends in to the area you are hiding in.
Try to select a place for your hide that provides natural concealment, then augment it as necessary. It is impossible to shoot near or after darkness without your muzzle flash being seen. Any high powered rifle puts out a tremendous muzzle flash. Be careful to position yourself in a way that minimizes the angle at which the flash can be seen. This usually means keeping the muzzle well back of whatever you are shooting out of. Strategically located branches will help.
The sun can be used as camouflage during certain times of the day. When the sun is to your back and at an angle of 15 – 45 degrees to the targets’ eyes, anything on the horizon under the sun is difficult to see. If there is light colored earth, white paint, windows, strategically located cars (windshields), the glare can work in your favor depending on the location of the sun, even if it is in your eyes! Careful analysis of site placement and timing is necessary for this to work.
Whatever you do, do not select the most prominent terrain feature for your hide. These areas will always be scrutinized. If the enemy is fired upon, he will return fire to these features first. See the section below titled “Look of your hide” for more on this subject.
Selecting a hide in a built up area (towns, cities, etc.) requires some additional work. NEVER shoot from windows unless you have too. If you must, then position yourself against the back wall of the room. NEVER stick the barrel of the rifle out of the window. Close to the window you can be seen from a much wider angle than you can if you are well back into the room. What is better, in a wood frame house, is to cut a hole through the wall eight inches above floor level. Make the hole large enough to see the kill zone from a spot four feet or more back from the wall. If the building is somewhat dilapidated, make a few more holes in the wall to shoot from. This will provide the enemy more choices when he is trying to decide where the fire is coming from. It also helps to disguise the hole as “just another hole in that ‘ole building over there”.
If height is necessary, do not climb up on the roof unless necessary. In a house type structure, go into the attic area and build a platform or stand which will elevate you. Cut a hole in the roof and dislodge the shingles. From the front so it will look like a roof in a state of disrepair. Dislodge a few other shingles at different heights and NOT equally spaced to achieve an effect like that of the multiple wall holes described above. If you must use the roof, position yourself by a chimney or other protrusion so that you are not silhouetted against the sky or background.
The concept of a silhouette is important. Always consider what you will look like against the background. You should try to blend in.
Better yet, get below ground in a position under a raised floor structure. Make use of the supports or stairs as cover/concealment. If you are using a weapon with a back blast area (LAW, 90mm Recoilless, RPG, etc.) make sure that you are not in an enclosed area or the blast may incapacitate you!
Route of Ingress
This is the route you will take to get to your hide. In rural areas, this route should not take you through your own kill zone. In addition to the sign you will leave when passing through, someone else may also think that this is a good spot to shoot!. A few words on sign — don’t leave any! A good woodsman leaves nothing behind, including footprints. You must always be aware of where you step. Pick a route where the ground is firm and covered by grass, leaves, etc. I have used burlap to obscure my tracks. Tie the burlap around your foot gear. Remember different armies may have different tread designs. Burlap will keep your prints unrecognizable.
On really soft ground, it will be apparent that a lone “someone” has walked through this area. A good tracker can tell when you were there.
What has the weather been like recently?
When did the sun rise?
Was there a dew fall?
Look towards the sun when studying tracks, you will see the shadows better.
Footprints in soft ground will begin to deteriorate around the edges within 2 hours depending on the humidity, sunlight, and breeze.
When it’s very humid, the ground moist, and shaded, the edges of a track will not begin to crumble for at least eight hours.
If the ground is shaded until 11:00 a.m. (when the sun rises over the surrounding trees), then the sunlight will not begin to affect tracks until then.
If the wind is very calm and has been since the previous evening then little affect from wind will be evident.
Wind will blow debris into the track and increase the drying rate around the edges.
The depth of the tracks and length of the stride can indicate the weight of the load carried and the physical strength of the person who made them.
People carrying a load will take shorter steps than those without.
Tired people will ‘meander’, break more brush, drag their feet, etc.
The direction of travel is pretty obvious, and when tracks can’t be seen, the direction that brush or twigs have been broken in will indicate the direction of travel.
Every boy scout knows the “walking backwards” trick. It is impossible to walk backwards and put the heel of your foot down first. If tracks show toes hitting first, then look at the stride. Long stride, toes hitting hard, dirt thrown forwards and back means the person was running. Short stride — was the person tip-toeing or trying to walk backwards, backwards tracks will look unnatural, sort of a wobble or stagger to them.
By measuring a three foot section of trail, and counting the number of tracks within it, an estimate can be made of the size of the party who made the tracks. In a three foot piece of trail, a few people may make two tracks, those who step down at the very edge will probably step again near the other edge, people who step down near the middle will step again out side of the section. Count the tracks close to one edge, each of these is a person. Count the tracks near the middle, each of these is a person. Add them up and you will have a close approximation of the size of the patrol. Don’t be fooled by tracks made at different times on a often traveled trail.
Discipline can be judged by debris dropped by along the way. Cigarette butts, candy wrappers, etc., all tell a story.
Paper will yellow and fade at a certain rate depending on sunlight and rain.
The moisture evident in the scar left when a branch breaks can indicate how long ago that branch was broken.
A small green branch will be moist for 24 hours, as it dries it will become sticky from sap secretions (depending on the variety/species). After a while the sap will harden.
Women tend to walk more pigeon toed than men.
The feces of a person can be examined to determine diet. The feces of a person who lives on beans and rice will smell different from the feces of a person who eats hamburgers, pizzas, LURP’s, or c-rats. A pile of feces is a gold mine of information to a tracker. The wetness, settling, decay, maggot growth, etc. are all indicators of age.
When the trail goes over hard ground look carefully at small pebbles. When dislodged there will be a small depression in the ground (the hole they were in). The pebble will be dark on one side where it was in the hole. If the dark side is damp then you know that the pebble was dislodged recently. Consider rain, dew, sunlight, and wind.
Leaves should be dark underneath in the same way. Leaves that have lain on the ground for a few days will have discolored grass underneath, if not, then the leaf has fallen very recently. This applies to anything laying on the ground, robbed of sunlight, the grass underneath will die.
People who spend their lives in the outdoors are very attuned to these things and can tell a lot about the person who left the sign. Never assume your enemy is stupid. Always assume that he is smart, clever, cunning, rational, and clear of mind, body, and spirit.
You want to be able to approach your hide unseen, and in a manner that no one will cross your trail while you are there.
After you have spent a few weeks in the out of doors, where there are no usually smells of habitation, your nose will become more sensitive to foreign odors. Your enemy’s will too. People who live in remote, tribal conditions can smell much better than people who are bombarded by odors 24 hours a day. The detergent used to wash clothes, deodorant, chewing tobacco, a bar of soap, open containers of food, etc. all have odd smells to a person who does not use them. No they still can’t smell as well as most animals, but they can smell you as far as 20? yards. Not strong, but enough for them to know you are around. Leave these items home when you are on patrol. Your body secrets different odors depending on what you eat and drink. A defense attorney will tell his client not to drink the night before the client has to take the stand under cross examination. The opposing attorney can sense when they are on a subject that makes you nervous. (body language as well but this isn’t about trial prep). The best solution is to eat nothing but indigenous foods for at least 48 hours prior to your mission. You are better off eating only indigenous foods when out on patrol. This will help you conceal your odor, change your feces and urine also.
Route of Egress
This is your escape route. You must be able to get up and get out quickly without being detected. You must NEVER use the same route out that you used to go in. If your trail was picked up, someone could be following it or lying in ambush for your return. Always assume that you are being followed.
Never travel in a straight line or a predictable zig zag. Change your route often enough so that no one can review your course over a period of time and predict where you are going. If you have fired your rifle, you will not have time to circle and study your trail. If you have not, this is a good thing to do. When thinking this through, consider that you are alone. You MUST NOT GET CAUGHT, you do not have the firepower to fight the enemy. You must avoid contact at all costs. Remember discipline? No matter how tempted you may be, do NOT hazard confrontations without thinking about the consequences.
View or look of the site from the kill zone.
Consider this — you are walking through a relatively flat landscape with low to medium height bushes and a few small trees. To your right you notice a slight rise in the ground with two large trees. Suddenly blood and brains fly out of the head of the man in front of you as you hear the CRACCCKKKK of a bullet. You hit the ground, where are you looking? Where are you going to shoot first? More than likely, you and everyone with you will pour a large volume of fire at that rise and those two trees.
Envision a similar scenario in a town, with low houses and buildings except one six story job right up the street. Top it off with about thirty closed windows in the building and one open window on the fifth floor. The same thing happens — what will you do? NEVER use a “likely” spot. Lee Harvey Oswald made a pretty good choice when he picked that building.
NOTE — Many people have duplicated the conditions of the JFK assassination and proven that a good rifleman could make the same shots. Many conspiracy theorists point to some statement by an “expert” who claimed that nobody could fire an old Mannlicher-Carcano that fast. Whoever made that statement was just full of crap.
Two or three years ago at a shooting match in Ohio (?) the organizers recreated this scenario with a tower, moving target, and an old Mannlicher-Carcano with a cheap scope. Practically everyone who entered the match did just as well as Oswald and several did better. The top shooter was left-handed — just like Oswald! Others point to the fact that Oswald was only an average marksman while in the Marines. So what? The only record on my DD 214 regarding shooting skill was the “Marksman” score I shot in basic training. That was the first time I qualified. I did it with an abused basic training issue M16. There is no record of the many times I shot “expert” or of my “advanced marksmanship training” , as the Army refers to it — hehehe! A real sniper shoots his best under pressure or when he’s shooting with a purpose. The sight picture becomes a part of you, connected to your brain, and there is no way you are going to miss. END NOTE
Ideally you will have at least two people watching your rear while you are in your hide. These men must be capable woodsmen. They may take point and/or pull rear security while you are en-route to/from your hide. They will cover you while you concentrate on the mission.
Actions at the Objective (Other miscellaneous stuff)
People who have their “shit together” do not litter, masturbate, eat, sleep, or otherwise screw-off while at the objective. Litter tells a story and is indicative of the discipline/professionalism of the person in question. As the primary shooter, you have the responsibility of the mission in your hands. You must select people who complement your efforts and can perform with a high degree of professionalism.
You must not talk unless it is necessary and then only in a whisper. It is better to use signals for all communication. If you must eat in your hide make sure that you do not leave litter on the ground. Do not scatter your equipment about. Everything not in use must be packed and ready to run with at all times. A spotting scope, rifle, notepad, and pencil are the only things you need to have ready.
Careful notes should be kept referencing all sign that you cross and everything that you see or hear. When you set up your position you will make a preliminary scan of the area to make certain you have not been seen. You should then check your coordinates by using resection with your compass and map. Every terrain feature in or near the kill zone should be noted. Check the range to each and note it. After all ranges have been determined, go back and calculate any scope adjustments necessary for each range. Determine the right combination of minimum scope adjustment and hold for each range.
After I prepare my range card and I’m satisfied with my position I begin a methodical search of the area. I use a pattern because it gives me something to do and it keeps me from missing an area.
I begin from the left edge of the area at maximum range and slowly sweep to the right and then back, decreasing the range until I’m looking at the area close to my hide. DO NOT neglect the zone close to your hide. It is very easy to become complacent and assume that there is no one close to you. You naturally assume that if there was someone there you would see them. That is only true if the person approaching stumbles, makes a loud noise, or is talking to someone. I have been in many situations where people suddenly appeared very close to me.
Humans do not have super hearing. It is easy to walk closely to someone in the woods without them hearing you. This is especially true when a wind is blowing or it is raining. When selecting your hide, try to pick a place that will provide an early warning of someone’s approach. Dry leaves that crunch, thick vines, logs, or other obstacles that someone would have to cross. Usually people will go around obstacles it because it is easier.
If they suspect you are there you are in trouble. If your target is a valuable leader it is possible security forces will sweep the area before he travels through it. They will look in all the likely spots. If it is night then they can use infrared equipment that will detect your body heat. This equipment can be hand held or mounted on a vehicle or aircraft. You will need something to protect you from this and a good hole will do the trick. You must have a lid covered with dirt and camouflage to pull over you when the security forces pass by. A good shrub with intact root ball works well. When an aircraft is involved you must be very quick to do this before they can spot your movement. Remember this, air personnel will only spot you if there is a heat differential or if you move. During daylight the worst thing you can do is move. Freeze, don’t move, wait until the aircraft passes. A spider hole is excellent cover and concealment. It must be positioned on high ground to provide good visibility. This bush will die and must be replaced. Pick a variety (if there is one) which is naturally dry looking. You will have to experiment with the vegetation in the area to determine which plant looks live the longest. Preserving the root ball will help keep the plant fresh. Dig the hole deep enough so that you don’t have to bend to hide. Leave a step that will raise you up to shooting level. You must hide the dirt from the hole. Don’t leave it in a pile nearby. Isolated piles of dirt look suspicious, whether you cover them with leaves or not. A nearby stream will wash the dirt away, but be careful not to leave tracks or fresh dirt near the bank. Also, if you dig into the side of a small rise, you may be able to disguise the dirt as part of the rise. Then you won’t have to tromp around the area of your hide, leaving sign.
A Word of Warning
You’ve seen all sorts of clever tricks used in movies and on TV that provide some devious trap or ruse that leads someone to their death. Keep it simple. Don’t waste time with diabolic schemes. Use common sense instead.
One trick I’ve seen with several variations is this — To set a trap, the hunter leaves a small interesting object or clue that the hunted spots, he stops, picks up, looks around, then proceeds in the desired direction, right into a trap. What would happen in the movie if the “hunted” spotted the object, acted as if he didn’t see it, walked past out of sight, then stopped and looked for the hiding place the hunter was using, and surprised the hunter from behind? People who write movie scripts do not have a secret source advising them on these things. They dream it up and make it work on screen. ANY sign you leave WILL be used to track you down and kill you.
Another one is where the hunted hides under the water and breathes through a reed. This can work, but depending on the diameter of the reed, it better not be more than 6″ long. Otherwise the tube fills up with your exhaled breath and you try to breathe the same air over and over again. The worst time to discover this is when someone is standing 4 feet away and looking for you! Have you ever tried to breathe through a straw? You don’t have to be under the water to test it, or hiding in fear of your life.
Smart soldiers will follow tracks, but they might send out security elements to their right and left flanks just in case you double back to ambush them. If they suspect an ambush, as in the case where sign looks too obvious or planted, they will determine the most likely spots for your hide, then circle around to surprise you. They won’t come diddy bopping down the trail following tracks.
A note about dogs: Sprinkle cayenne powder around the area in a circle around your hide, this will keep away animals. If you must run, sprinkle some behind you every so often. Not just where you walk but on the bushes to the right and left of your path. Hounds don’t have to sniff the ground where you walked unless the trail is several hours old. They “wind” you. Nose up, they run towards your scent that is in the air and clinging to things you came close to. As they run, you want them to kick up and breathe the pepper. That will put them out of action long enough to put some distance between you and them. A good trail dog can follow a trail over 24 hours old!