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Wilderness Survival Primer


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This is a handout I use when I offer quick hour-long mini-presentations on what we offer at the WLC.

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Wilderness Survival Primer

  1. 1. Wilderness Survival Primer Kevin Estela Survival Instructor Wilderness Learning Center 435 Sandy Knoll Road Chateaugay, NY 12920 (518) 497-3179
  2. 2. 45 Minute Agenda/Contents <ul><li>Introduction/Mindset/Preparedness </li></ul><ul><li>Building your kit (PSK’s, 10 Essentials, Etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Staying Found (Compass, Map, Map and Compass) </li></ul><ul><li>Fire (Primitive, Traditional and Modern) </li></ul><ul><li>Shelter (Natural and Pre-Fabricated) </li></ul><ul><li>Signaling (Auditory and Visual) </li></ul><ul><li>Water (Collection and Purification) </li></ul><ul><li>Intro to Trapping/Snaring/Fishing </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions </li></ul><ul><li>Presenter/Author’s Biography </li></ul><ul><li>Recommended Gear List </li></ul><ul><li>Miscellaneous Notes </li></ul>
  3. 3. Introduction/Mindset/Preparedness <ul><li>The Wilderness Learning Center is a full-time school. 537 acres of land and 7 day courses are taught. This is a quick sampling of what is covered. </li></ul><ul><li>The Basic Survival Course is skills based. The Advanced Course develops skills further and introduces new skills with a practical field exercise. The Plant Intensive Course is specialized in recognition and use of edible and medicinal plants. </li></ul><ul><li>“ All-ways Prepared/Prepared Always” is the school motto. It is the mindset of a survivor too. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Building your Kit <ul><li>Be realistic with your needs. Fire, Shelter, Signaling, Water. </li></ul><ul><li>72 Hour Kits are based on 90% of all emergencies. What about the other 10%? </li></ul><ul><li>Pocket Survival Kits (PSK’s), Ten Essentials (fanny pack sized), additional kit items (backpack) improve odds. </li></ul><ul><li>Your Top 3 Items? What are they if limited to only 3? Consider your realistic needs. </li></ul>Photo credit: Kevin Estela
  5. 5. Staying Found <ul><li>Compasses, what can it do? </li></ul><ul><li>Map, what can it do? </li></ul><ul><li>Map and compass? What can both do when used together? </li></ul><ul><li>How do you measure distance walked? </li></ul><ul><li>How can you find your way without map or compass using the sun and stars? </li></ul><ul><li>What can you leave with a friend that greatly improves your chance of rescue? </li></ul>Photo credit: Kevin Estela
  6. 6. Fire <ul><li>One of the most important skills to know. </li></ul><ul><li>Bow drill and fire by friction. </li></ul><ul><li>Traditional means (flint, steel and tinder) </li></ul><ul><li>Modern popular (matches, lighters, ferrocium rods) </li></ul><ul><li>Modern unorthodox (battery and steel wool, magnifying lens, potassium permanganate and glycerin) </li></ul><ul><li>Home made tinder (cotton and vaseline balls) </li></ul>Photo credit: Jerry Young
  7. 7. Shelter <ul><li>General rule, energy out (expended) should be less than energy in (consumed). </li></ul><ul><li>Think efficient and small. Don’t build a mansion. Smaller is easier to heat. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t overbuild a shelter. 12” diameter logs are not needed for support. </li></ul><ul><li>An easy shelter to build is the A-Frame. </li></ul><ul><li>Carrying garbage bags, space blankets, bivy sacks, tarps, tents and hammocks makes life easy. </li></ul><ul><li>A human can live up to 3 hours exposed to the elements. </li></ul>Photo credit: Marty Simon
  8. 8. Signaling <ul><li>Signals in groups of 3 are internationally recognized as distress. </li></ul><ul><li>3 fires, 3 smoke signals, 3 whistle blasts, 3 flashes of light, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>A whistle can be heard farther than a voice. Whistles vary in range. </li></ul><ul><li>Mirrors and potato chip bags. </li></ul><ul><li>Orange vs. blue. Which stands out more? How about in Autumn? </li></ul>S.O.S. (Save Our Souls/Ship) dot dot dot dash dash dash dot dot dot . . . - - - . . . AMK Rescue Flash Mirror Photo credit:
  9. 9. Water <ul><li>Collection methods (sponge, bandana, Reynold’s oven bags vs. condoms, metal vs. plastic containers) </li></ul><ul><li>Solar stills vs. transpiration bags </li></ul><ul><li>Purifications by boiling, chemical or mechanical means. </li></ul><ul><li>How long do you need to boil it? </li></ul><ul><li>What can kill you in untreated water? </li></ul><ul><li>A human can live up to 3 days without water. </li></ul>Photo credit: Kevin Estela
  10. 10. Intro to Trapping/Snaring/Fishing <ul><li>If you don’t have food, learn to identify edible plants or how to catch animals. </li></ul><ul><li>Traps and snares work while you stay calm. Work while you don’t have to. </li></ul><ul><li>Fishing is practical since water covers most of the Earth’s surface. Hooks take up almost no space. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember, calories consumed vs. calories burnt. </li></ul><ul><li>A human can live up to 3 weeks without food. </li></ul>Photo credit: Kevin Estela
  11. 11. Conclusions <ul><li>All-ways prepared/prepared always! No matter the season, learn to overcome the odds! </li></ul><ul><li>Survival is a practice. </li></ul><ul><li>The more you carry in your head, the less you carry on your back. </li></ul><ul><li>Life insurance is not life insurance, it only pays out when you die. Survival skills is the real life insurance. It will keep you kicking. </li></ul>Photo credit: Joe Flowers
  12. 12. Presenter/Author’s Biography <ul><li>  “ Kevin Estela has been interested in outdoor survival since he was a child. Entertained by stories from his father’s jungle survival in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation of WWII,  Kevin grew up with a desire to learn more about the outdoors. At a young age and throughout adolescence, his father taught him many practical survival skills. He grew up hiking, skiing, fishing and woods bumming with friends and family. He spent over 10 years working as a seasonal kayaking and canoeing guide on the Farmington River in Connecticut and 5 years working at a busy outdoors retail sporting goods store. Kevin’s formal outdoors education includes off-road driving, winter mountaineering, hunting and firearms safety, wilderness first-aid, primitive survival skills, traditional bushcraft skills and of course wilderness survival through the Wilderness Learning Center. Kevin is a certified PADI scuba diver, avid power boater and saltwater fisherman. Kevin’s passion for education translated into teaching High School History full-time in Bristol, CT. Kevin spends as much free time as possible getting out on the water or in the woods in anyway. Whenever possible, Kevin loves to share knowledge and know how with anyone willing to listen, practice and learn. Kevin worked for one full year with us and has now earned the title of Instructor.  He is also a moderator on where he contributes equipment reviews regularly. Although he isn’t officially a resident of  New York, Kevin considers the Wilderness Learning Center  his second home and Marty, Aggie, Bobby and George a second family away from his own. </li></ul><ul><li> Kevin is a great asset to the school. His teaching style, personality, and knowledge will be appreciated by all.” Accessed from </li></ul>To contact Kevin Estela E-mail: Phone: (860) 214-3629
  13. 13. Recommended Gear List <ul><li>Estela’s Basic 3: knife, firesteel, metal cup/pot. </li></ul><ul><li>Estela’s Everyday Carry (EDC): Knife, Bic lighter, bandana, PSK, chap stick, pen, wallet, cell phone </li></ul><ul><li>Estela’s 10 Essential Components: 1. Cutting Tools 2. Fire Starters 3. Water Container and Water Collection and Purification Devices 4. Shelter Components 5. Signaling Devices 6. Navigation Tools 7. First-Aid Kit 8. Cordage 9. Food and Food Procurement Gear 10. Flashlight </li></ul>
  14. 14. Miscellaneous Notes No unauthorized reproduction without expressed consent of The Wilderness Learning Center