DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS
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  1. #1
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    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    HOLA amigos,

    Survival in the desert - please post your tips and techniques. Too many people have died in our deserts, and a part of the reason is due to not knowing the basics of how to survive in such an environment. The most important factor of course is WATER, there is another thread here on T-net with some good info, at
    http://forum.treasurenet.com/index.p...,274143.0.html

    The US Army Survival manual has much good info, it is online at
    http://www.equipped.com/fm21-76.htm

    pay particular attention to chapter 6 on water procurement,
    http://www.equipped.com/21-76/ch6.pdf

    ...and chapter 13 on desert survival,
    http://www.equipped.com/21-76/ch13.pdf

    There are several good books on desert survival too, and any suggestions for our readers are welcome.
    Thank you in advance,
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  2. #2
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    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    Muchas gracias amigo Spooky, thought perhaps this is something we could do to prevent more tragedies from happening. A lot of our members don't seem to realize that what we post here is read by many more people than just the T-net crowd, and some of them are here for the information and tips. I don't want to discourage folks from exploring our beautiful desert country, just want them to have a little more knowledge of how to stay alive.

    For our readers, mesquite beans are edible as are prickly pears. These two desert plants are widely found,

    photo of mesquite tree


    close up


    mesquite beans


    ...the beans can be cooked and eaten green or if dry, cook with water like you would pinto beans or other dry beans. They are not bad either.

    Prickly pears are very distinctive,


    those purple fruits are edible (raw) but you MUST peel them to remove the tiny spines or they will stick in your mouth and elsewhere; they are juicy and sweet; the pads are also edible - again you simply peel them (carefully removing the spines) and cook them up, the younger pads are more tender of course.

    Oroblanco

    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  3. #3
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    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    HOLA amigos,

    The Agave plant,



    ...is a very useful desert plant. You can break the sharp "needle" end, bite it with your teeth and pull straight out for a strong ready-made "needle and thread" for making emergency repairs. The heart of the plant can be baked and eaten. By cutting out the main part of the plant to leave a "bowl", like this


    ....the plant will "weep" juice into the bowl, which you can drink as potable water. (It is used for making tequila BTW )


    The Jojoba plant,



    produces edible seeds, however do NOT eat too many or it can be toxic.
    Unripe,

    Ripe,


    ...and seeds removed, ready to eat,


    There are many other foods available in the desert.
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  4. #4
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    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
    Tesoro Lobo Supertraq, (95%) Garrett Scorpion (5%)
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    HOLA amigos,

    Some of the older books and articles on desert survival will tell you to drain the water out of your vehicle radiator and drink it - DON'T DO IT - if it has antifreeze it will kill you, and even if you know for a fact there is only water in your radiator, it likely has contaminants like lead etc so it is better not to chance it.

    A good thing to look for are windmills and stock water tanks - they are built for livestock but often have good water. Also, flocks of birds will often circle around water holes in the early morning and late afternoon right around sunset.

    Having GOOD MAPS and knowing where you are on them is an excellent habit to get into - while it is possible to get lost with a map in your hands, it is less likely plus the maps will show many water sources (springs etc). In recent years the USGS has been erasing some remote water sources, to "protect the resource" (fill in the blank) so if possible get the older USGS topographic maps, in either the 7.5 minute or 15 minute quadrangles. GPS satellite handheld devices are great, BUT if your batteries go dead or it gets dropped and broken, its usefulness just ended.

    Always carry a compass - and take note of the direction you travel when you head "in" to the desert, plus the general direction of highways of the area; such a simple step can help you find your way out even if you DO get lost.

    More edibles;
    Ironwood trees,


    produce beans which can be eaten just like Mesquite,


    ...most Desert Ironwood trees have purple flowers in the spring, like this


    ...however the beans (which have a distinctly 'peanut' flavor when green) should not be eaten in too large a quantity as they have a mild toxin in them.

    The Palo Verde tree (more like a shrub usually) - which has smooth, green bark,


    ...also produces edible beans;



    More to follow;




    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  5. #5
    um
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    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    HOLA amigos,

    In the desert uplands and mountains, you will find Pinon pines and Junipers; the Pinon pines produce edible nuts which are very tasty;

    Pinon pine tree



    Pinon pine cone,


    Pinon nuts showing in this cone, ready to take out and eat


    - and they are really good, plus high in calories which are necessary for survival.

    Junipers produce edible berries,


    which are also pretty good and often used to flavor foods while cooking; you can also make a good tea by steeping a spoonful of the berries in a cup of boiling water.

    That is it for this evening, thank you in advance for posting your desert survival tips and as always - good luck and good hunting, I hope you find the treasures that you seek.
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  6. #6
    us
    Oct 2007
    Summit County, CO
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    Cool info, oroblanco. I'm familiar with the plants except for the jojoba. I haven't been around agave, but yucca is similar. A good bird to watch for finding water is the mourning dove, as they will go to a water source near sundown. The best survival tip for harsh environments I can pass on is try not to get yourself in that situation in the first place.
    Just like Texas in 1880.

  7. #7
    um
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    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    Quote Originally Posted by RGINN
    Cool info, oroblanco. I'm familiar with the plants except for the jojoba. I haven't been around agave, but yucca is similar. A good bird to watch for finding water is the mourning dove, as they will go to a water source near sundown. The best survival tip for harsh environments I can pass on is try not to get yourself in that situation in the first place.
    Excellent advice amigo and thanks for the tip. Most of the people who end up in such situations did so quite by accident, not on purpose; a person enjoying riding their dirt-bike across the desert has a breakdown far from any road; or driving a jeep or 4WD and it gets stuck or overheats etc it is very easy to find yourself in a survival situation you never planned on and had NO intention of getting into. Another common incident is someone out for an easy hike discovers that he or she no longer recognizes where he is, and is LOST. A person out for a day-hike is not packing the equipment, water or food you would have for a camping trip.

    The deserts of America are all similar in that they are short of water, but they are all different in the types of plants and animals that live in them and in the extremes of climate. There are more types of foods available in the Sonoran desert than in the Red desert of Wyoming for instance. Most people unfamiliar with deserts are shocked at how COLD it can get at night. Building a fire can help ward off hypothermia and is good for morale, plus in daytime the smoke can help searchers locate you if you are missing; at night the light from the fire also helps searchers. I will post some suggestions on how to build a fire without matches but everyone venturing into the desert, even in your car, ought to carry matches and/or a lighter.
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  8. #8
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    Nemo me impune lacesset

    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
    Tesoro Lobo Supertraq, (95%) Garrett Scorpion (5%)
    7,793
    9482 times

    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    HOLA amigos,

    We have touched on the number one priority for desert survival - finding water - now for the next on the list, surviving the temperature extremes.

    The heat in the desert summer can be a real killer. Stay out of the sun during the heat of the day - even if you have to make some kind of temporary shade out of a jacket. Rest during the heat, do what work you must do early in the mornings and late in the afternoons when the temperatures and sun are more moderate. The cold at night can be extreme - the clear night skies of desert country means that most all of the heat absorbed by the ground during the day is radiated right back out into space at night. One method of surviving a cold desert night is to dig out a shallow hole in the ground large enough to lay down in, but not much larger; in Iraq these are called "hasties" for you can scoop out such a shelter in a short time with few tools, and the heat of the earth will help to keep you warmer than if you laid on top of the ground. As this also risks sharing your "bed" with such critters as scorpions, it is not the best idea at least in summertime when scorpions are out and about. A better idea is to build a fire.

    If you have matches or a lighter you have an easy way to get your fire started, but all too often it happens that the person in a desert survival situation has NO matches, no lighter or magnifying glass. Starting a fire without matches is almost an art but everyone ought to know how to do it. It is not rocket science after all, but does take patience and careful preparation of your fire materials. There are several different ways to start a fire without matches. We just mentioned the magnifying glass - perhaps your eyeglasses will do for this and is worth a try - but be sure to get your fire started before sunset! I recommend you try building a fire without matches at home and practice at it until you know you can do it.

    The magnifying glass idea is to focus the rays of the Sun onto a piece of paper or dry tinder (could be grass, twigs, bark etc) and keep it focused until it starts to smoke, then blow on it gently until fire starts. A variation on this idea is to use the bottom of a soda or beer can, and a piece of chocolate or toothpaste to polish it. You rub the chocolate into the rounded bottom of the can until you get it shining like a mirror; what you have then is a makeshift parabolic mirror! By holding a scrap of paper or other easily flammable material in front of the mirror, so that the rays of the Sun are concentrated and focused onto a small spot, keeping it on the same spot until it smokes and then blowing on it gently etc as for starting a fire with a magnifying glass. It is slightly amazing but it works, I tried it myself recently. It takes quite some time to get the bottom of the can shining like a mirror, and you MUST not eat that chocolate after you have used it (it has absorbed bits of aluminum and other matter which can be toxic) but with patience it will work.

    Here is an online article showing what we are talking about:
    http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/surv...rt2/index.html

    Most everyone is familiar with the old "fire bow" or "fire drill" method taught to Boy Scouts; this too is not easy to master, and you need to practice it at home in order to be successful with it. You need two pieces of wood, a round stick for a drill and something to make a bow out of. The two pieces of wood ought to have a little hollow carved or chipped into them, so that the drill will tend to stay in place while the drill is being rotated. The bottom piece is where you will watch for smoke, then little coals of burning wood to appear, so have your tinder ready to drop the glowing little coals into close at hand.

    Here is an online article which explains the bow-drill fire making method;
    http://www.natureskills.com/bow_drill_fire_making.html
    also with photos,
    http://www.natureskills.com/bow_drill_fire.html

    You can do this without a bow, simply by twirling your drill stick between the palms of your hands while pressing down, but this is a time consuming and hand-shredding way to do it. I don't recommend it unless you can't find anything to use for a bow.

    A simpler friction-method of making a fire is called the "fire-plow" and is well known from the Tom Hanks movie "Castaway". This involves simply taking a stick and pushing it back and forth in a groove in another stick while pressing down hard on it; it takes time and much effort to get it to work but it WILL work.

    Here is an online article with photos of the fire-plow method
    http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/surv...fireplow1.html

    Failing these methods, you can build a fire by flint and steel, or even just striking two stones together to produce sparks that you catch on your tinder. The flint and steel requires a piece of flint or other hard stone and a carbon steel, not stainless as it does not spark well. Just keep striking the flint against your steel in a glancing way, so as to cause the sparks to fly off, and do this while holding both directly over your tinder. To do it with only stones, you have to find stones that will spark. One of the best types is known as "pyrites" or "fools gold" and the name is due to the fact that you can get fire out of that type of stone. They look a bit like gold or copper like this,



    ...now if you find rock like this, try striking it against other hard rocks until you find one that makes good sparks. You don't have to have pyrites, any two stones that will make sparks will do.

    Here is an online article on making fire with two stones;
    http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/surv...bww/index.html

    There are several other ways to make fires without matches, from using ICE (believe it or not, it can be done - you chip and melt a hunk of ice until you have it shaped like a magnifying lens, then use it like a magnifier) to making sparks from a car battery (just connect two pieces of wire to the battery terminals, and touch them together just enough to make sparks) to chemicals, such as potassium permanganate (a liquid used like mercurochrome for small cuts) and common glycerin. <Article link below> Don't give up and just suffer with the cold just use your head and be patient, keep your firewood out of the wind and rain until it gets burning good and it doesn't hurt to practice several different fire making methods at home in your free time just to build your survival skills.

    Article on building fires with potassium permanganate and glycerin
    http://www.ehow.com/how_5638385_make...manganate.html

    Building a fire with a battery and a staple;
    http://www.wonderhowto.com/how-to/vi...staple-222300/

    It is even possible to make fire from WATER, as in this online article
    http://www.wildwoodsurvival.com/surv...ter/index.html

    More to come, we need to address the matter of shelter.
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  9. #9
    us
    May 2007
    Western Colorado
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    376 times

    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    Having taught basic survival while in the service ,
    I must point out that one of the things that causes loss of life is not recognising a problem to start with.

    Know the symptoms of the basic problems before you start out.
    Most important to recognise is dehydration.
    If you stop sweating ... you are dehydrated. Period.
    get water.

    Just to start you don't have to be stranded to encounter this problem
    It happens without notice. you can be sitting in the shade next to your truck!
    Dehydrating yourself one too many times can damage the kidneys to the point that you may spend time on a dialysis machine every week for the duration ...
    You can inadvertently do harm to yourself and others by not paying attention to simple things.
    The desert isn't a place To not be prepared.
    "Everybody dies"
    "But not everybody lives."

  10. #10
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    Jan 2005
    DAKOTA TERRITORY
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    9482 times

    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    EXCELLENT advice and important point amigo! Don't go just by "feeling thirsty" either, for tests have shown that a person will only drink about three-fourths the amount of water you actually NEED. One key indicator is urinating - if you are not urinating regularly, you are NOT drinking enough - even if you don't feel thirsty! A surprising percentage of the people whom have died of dehydration in deserts actually still had water with them, they just didn't "feel" thirsty or they were trying to ration it, which is not going to help you survive at all - as that saying goes, ration sweat not water.

    Thank you for the tip amigo!
    Oroblanco
    SUPPORT THE BEEF INDUSTRY - EAT BEEF
    "We must find a way, or we will make one."--Hannibal Barca

  11. #11
    us
    May 2007
    Western Colorado
    5,868
    376 times

    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    Hey mi Amigo,
    Another thing to watch is for urine color.
    The darker it is the more dehydrated you are.
    It can happen on an exciting day playing volley ball in the park.

    We had a guy at the local police academy go into renal failure and ended up in the ER because he was so dehydrated.
    Just took an hour. This last May. not even summer time.
    He is still suffering the side afects,
    Pay attention to your body's signals.
    "Everybody dies"
    "But not everybody lives."

  12. #12
    us
    Oct 2007
    Summit County, CO
    White's DFX, White's Classic 1 Coinmaster, Nokta Pointer
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    I have one of those magnesium fire starters that works real well. When you strike a spark to those magnesium shavings they'll burn even in the rain. I did the twirling the stick thing before to see if it could be done and it can. I will recommend the longer the drill stick the better.
    Just like Texas in 1880.

  13. #13
    us
    Just an old man enjoying life...

    Jun 2006
    Banning, California
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    bump

  14. #14
    us
    Dec 2008
    ARIZONA
    lucky horseshoe
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    A few of my favorites

    http://www.grandpappy.info/indexhar.htm

    (lots of info on different types of survival)


    http://www.survivalblog.com/ (all types of info)



    Cachefinder-
    Never trust a man that says "Trust Me"

  15. #15
    us
    Jan 2010
    High Country Arizona
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    Re: DESERT SURVIVAL TIPS

    I am quite a loner, and make a lot of trips to the desert and the Mountains. Everone should learn some survival before going to the out of doors, Not many people do. It has been stated that you never know when something might happen, break down etc. so I won't dwell on that.

    Having done some search and rescue in Colorado I have some tips.

    Always carry more water than you need. I have a case of el-cheapo bottled water in the truck at all times. even if i just scout 500 yards i throw one in my pocket.

    Always tell some one "responsible" where you are going. and when you will be back. I leave a map of where i plan to be with my contact.
    with the map i have a description of my vehicle and license plate Number.

    If you have a break down, stay with the car! You should have already, blankets, tarp, food and such packed. They are easy to see from the Air.

    Always carry a roll or half a roll of orange flaggin tape,you can get this at Ace. One thing that happens when you are flying around looking for some one is, it hard to look at so much county in detail#1. a#2 especially in the pines is that every thing looks vertical. A Little bit of flagging can go a long way in providing a good target for the searchers. Try to get this laid out on the ground or tied to bushes like ten feet apart horizontally. you can see that orange tape a long ways away.

    Carry some super glue. It is sterile and you can use it for cuts, and also for starting a fire with, especially if you can get a spark on or near it. Example i started a fire with supper glue on a shoe string and a piece of bailing wire between the battery posts of my quad.

    Every time you go out doors plan on being gone longer than you are actually are going to be. More people have died trying to get out or home cause they have to be at work the next day, and start walking, and then panic. The old adage You can run for five miles, then walk for five miles then crawl for five miles then lay down and die has come about for a reason. What ever happens some one will come for you in this day and age. Those guys that train for this stuff are just dying to come to get you. ( pardon the pun)
    This should be in you kit when you go outdoors.
    [Attach #1]
    One other thing i have used,,, These new in tank fuel pumps have a mind of thier own. If yours your crapps out ( you can usually hear them if you put your ear to the filler tube when the key is own) bang the heck out of the gas tank and they will usuall come back on one more time. if it does don't turn the car off untill you get back to civilization.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Life is a Puzzle, the more pieces you can stick together the better! Glue and big hammers help.

 

 
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