Thursday, November 27, 2014

The Most Important Primitive Skill

              Lots of folks have ask me "Dave, what do you think the most important primitive skill to be proficient at would be?" The patented answer to this from most Instructors would probably be Fire, or possibly Tool making. But I think about things in a more logical fashion and realize that some kit can easily be secured to my person and not get lost easily. A Knife strapped to my belt and a Lighter and or Ferrocerium rod in my pocket is pretty safe from loss. However the one thing most difficult to secure from loss would be a shelter! Not just a Trash sack or small painters drop cloth but a real secure shelter that will afford a good micro-climate when combined with clothing and fire or be a stand alone space to trap body warmth if fire is not an option-
              So it would be for these reasons that my answer to this question would be SHELTER building from Natural Materials is the most important skill to learn! We should understand a variety of shelter configurations that will be helpful in any environment we may be in depending on our region and hobbies. A good example comes from my 5x5 Survival Mentality in that understanding the 5 Survival Priorities of Self Aid, Shelter, Fire, Water, and Food, we combine this with 5 examples of different skills from each priority to make a well rounded system for personal self-reliance.
             For Shelter building I would practice 5 very practical shelters that will work in multiple season and environments. My preferred configurations would be the Debris Shelter, The Lean, the Raised Bed and Fire Backing, the Wikki-up, and the Half Face. Example of these shelters are shown below. Remember that only on Television is a large scale shelter built by one man, in single hour.. This can be a daunting task requiring a large investment of Time and Calorie expenditure. Sometimes simple is better!

Debris Huts should be tight, the ridge pole should only allow a few inches above head in the resting position, this photo is from a training session with the WV SP DEA

Adding more sticks to the outside of the debris will help keep things in place and in wind

This photo shows the outside of a single man structure. Debris should be in several layers and at least 3 feet thick for Winter use.

A simple Lean can incorporate a raised bed or one can sleep on a mat of natural debris.

Simple Tripods can be incorporated to build the raised bed structure.

Raised beds are better with cross members vertical to the frame.

Debris under the raised bed will help battle convection issues

Adding a Frame closed in on 3 sides for a Lean will help hold in heat and block wind for colder weather
Here is a Lean with a Fire Backing to help absorb heat, the long trench fire should be the length of the shelter, and the backing should be the height of the Half Face for good convection.
Long Fires with large Backing should have a cross wind to feed the fire, this will help keep smoke out of the shelter at night as well.

A Half Face can be set up 3/4 closed with wrapped sides will add sleep area for multiple hunters.

A Small Fire backing in front of the closed half face will also help direct heat to the opening of the shelter
A Wikki-up will start with a large tripod, and sticks are progressively added to enclose the shelter.
A Large Wikki will have plenty of room for a small fire inside if you leave enough opening at the top for draft. This one has a large bedding area at the back with almost a foot of ground insulation.

Nessmuk  would call this SMOOTH'EN IT!


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  4. Your shelter looks really great and it seems to me if you like it ypu can do the same useful tips just for you I guess it cool to play there with children.