It is most certainly one of the most often asked questions that we get in any class we teach. ”How to do I get started studying edible plants?”. Well here is your answer. In this post I tell you some of the basics of getting started as well as give you a review of three fantastic resources on the topic at hand. These are not dry, boring reviews. But some matter-of-fact details from someone who has taken these resources to the field more times than I can count.
I am always studying this subject on my own and with as many teachers that I can get access too. One time I was attending a gathering of students under a well-recognized TV personality. I was eager to take an edibles plant class from this person as again, I assumed it would be a good one. What I was saddened to see was that some one else had put some sticks out identifying various species and this personality then utilized them to tell us what they were.
I tell you this because many of us WANT to be able to identify plants for nutrition and well-being, but very few want to put the time in to actually do it. We hope this blog piece is the encouragement you need to start your own study of the resources we have around us each day!
People come to us from all over the Eastern United States to train in the classes we teach at Nature Reliance School. Our survival classes are by far the most popular. It seems that most of us want to understand shelter building, fire building, etc. in a wilderness survival situation. That is all well and good and there is no doubt that those are useful skills. However, they are reactionary skills. Thinks about that for just a moment. They are skills that we must have to react to a situation that we find ourself in.
One of the things that we try to instill in our students is the need to develop PROACTIVE skills as much as the reactionary sills. Proactive skills are those that keep you out of the mess in the first place. Simply being lost is one of those thing that can be avoided. We put a lot of time into teaching folks in a dedicated class the lost science and art of land navigation. This is nothing more than using a map and compass properly. We also teach a small block of this class in our survival classes because it is simply too important a skill, not to have.
Here are four main reasons you must get this skill set.
- Being dependent upon anything that requires batteries (GPS for example) is a recipe for disaster. Cold weather, water, uninformed operator, dead batteries are all reasons that a GPS can easily fail you.
- Map and compass skills are the key to help you not get lost in the first place. However if you do find yourself lost then these skills will help you find your way out.
- It is not hard at all to do. If you have never done them, or do not regularly utilize your skills, it would be in your best interest to take a class with someone. Obviously we teach this class at NRS, but you may find yourself too far from us to come. Find an instructor where you are located. Get these skills.
- You will be able to see more. I know what leave no trace principles are all about, and I also understand certain land management regulations say about not leaving the trail…but daggone it, sometimes I just gotta go off the trail. I am sure some of you are the same way. By having good land nav skills you can navigate your way in, and out.
Tracy Trimble, Instructor with Nature Reliance School, and I have put a few resources together that will help you see some of the gear you can get as well as some of the usefulness of these skills.
In this blog piece Tracy, details what he carries in his Land Navigation kit. If you are wondering read about Tracy’s background on our website. Tracy has used and honed these skills both in the military and many years of personal use.
In this video watch me take Tracy out blindfolded and get him “lost”. He then goes goes through the steps on camera on how to find his way out.
In this video you will see a somewhat humorous overview of Tracy and I playing with Land Nav Skills, ask yourself, “Does Tracy look like anyone you know?”
So I hope something in this post inspires you to get some skills so you can be proactive in not getting lost.
Come on, join in, let’s learn together!
I know there are many of you that love to watch the Discovery Channel’s hit show Dual Survival, so I thought I would post this announcement by Cody Lundin. Yesterday Cody posted this message on his facebook fan page.
Dual Survival Update
Unfortunately, I have been fired by Discovery Channel for differences over safety and health concerns on the show and will no longer be a part of Dual Survival.
Although I’ll miss elements of the show, what I’ll miss the most are my fans and the opportunity to teach – on a global level – life saving skills, indigenous culture, and values of integrity and respect toward our natural world.
I have received numerous letters from viewers. Many are from kids, or their parents or grandparents, describing in detail how the show has changed their lives. It has brought families together, inspired kids to go outdoors, and motivated moms and dads around the world to take that family camping trip, many for the first time. If I can use a TV show to encourage people to turn off TV and turn on nature, I have done my job.
Thank you all very much for your support over the years. Be safe and prepared, and maybe I’ll train with you in the woods some day!
I just posted a blog piece over on my Nature Reliance School blog. We spend a lot of time talking about firestarting because it is so vital to our needs in a survival do-or-die situation. With a little knowledge and know how you too can become a fire making dragon. Just joking. However, spending ample amount of time practicing and honing your firebuilding skills is vital to your survival in cold climates.
In this blog piece we take a look at four ways to simply get a fire started. Make sure you check out the Dan’s Depot Youtube Channel for info on most all these methods.
I wrote a guest blog piece some time ago that got picked up by several different survival and prepping websites over a year ago. I was reminded of it again this morning when I read the news of the mess that is currently going on in Atlanta right now. It is downright sad that kids are spending the night in school buses and average folks are spending the night in grocery stores.
It obviously brings up two points of consideration which are:
1. Most cities in the South are totally unprepared for such weather due to its infrequency. The question that begs to be asked is, “What would happen in those locations if something more disastrous occurred?
2. Why do people continue to ignore weather patterns as if life is not all about survival. Help take care of yourself and those you care about by following these simple considerations for a car kit.
Also join us over at the Dan’s Depot Facebook page and our Nature Reliance School Facebook page where in the last few days there have been conversations, questions and answers going on surrounding the idea of being prepared for winter weather.
This is another gear review of the items I utilized at a recent class we taught. This class was Survival Basics in Versailles KY. After the video you wills the actual gear list and links to the products that Dan’s Depot sells. Remember by taking a hands on class, you learn get immediate feedback on what works and what doesn’t work. I give some suggestions on each in these reviews.
- Dan’s Depot Tarp
- Big Agnes Sleeping Pad
- Military Bivy
- Sleeping Bag
- Poncho Liner
- Teton Backpacker’s Pillow
- Eberlestock Rain Cover
- Eberlestock Warhammer
- Eberlestock Little Brother (comes with Skycrane, or order seperately from Dan’s Depot)
- Eberlestock Dry Bag
- Pee bottle
- Beaver Bill Axes
- Gerber Axe (new one which holds saw blade very well)
- MSR Stove
- Mountain House Meals
- Rothco Jacket
Thanks for watching and please let us know if you have any questions on any of these gear pieces.
We had a question some time ago that I answered on video about using apps for phones and tablets in survival training. I got a ton of private messaging about that post. In that video I said there wasn’t an app out there that was useful. I still stand by that statement. If there is ANYTHING that you utilize in your survival kit that requires batteries, you need to rethink it. You will have to take great pains to carry plenty of extra battery backup or simply choose to gain the knowledge so you succeed without it.
That is exactly where these apps might come into usefulness. Survival training is a different situation all together, than actually surviving. Lets take a look at my top three for training.
1. Theodolite – I love this app for training. It is basically a view finder that integrates GPS positioning, compass, inclinometer (measures angle of slope), rangefinder, map, and camera all into one useful app. I personally use this for two distinct reasons.
- The first is that I use it to keep track of tracks (pun intended). I can very easily document tracks and their location, and then easily put them on a map to see patterns of travel. By studying patterns and directions such as this, hunters could more easily develop strategies for hunting and or trapping. For survival training you know that all animals must have water. So developing a keen sense of where and how to find water by following tracks is an incredible source of knowledge.
- I have also used this to locate and geotag edible, medicinal or otherwise interesting species of plants. This will help me find them at a later date. Prior to this app I did this for years with small pieces of surveyor’s flagging. This app makes it more useful without the need of flagging which oftentimes comes off or otherwise destroyed. By using this app I can easily return to a species I am interested in throughout the seasons so I can study how it looks in different seasons, weather, etc
2. Wild Edibles with Steve Brill - I use this app more than any other. The main reason I started using this app is because the book I had by Steve got wore out. I bought another one and it too got wore out. I take it to the field often. This app has helped me to easily get all the information I need to study edible and medicinal plants. In my estimation this is the only app out there that can assist you in studying edible and medicinal plants easily. Steve has done a great job of giving technical information and adding humor and recipes in as well.
The beauty of an app such as this, is you really get to take a lifetime of research and study done by someone such as Steve and stuff it in your pocket. It is like stuffing Steve Brill in your backpack and having him talk incessantly about edible plants. Just joking on that one, however there is an incredible amount of work that has gone on to get this app together. You will love this app if you have interest in edible medicinal plants.
3. iTrack Wildlife – This one is relatively new to me but I am finding it incredibly useful. This app is PACKED full of research and wonderful photographs. You can find a track and it will help you decipher what animal made it, show you other sign such as scat, skulls, and even give you a link to Wiki articles on the animal. It also includes articles on how to get started tracking, etc.
With all that said there is no better teacher than dirt time either will a skilled teacher or solo. However these apps make it much easier for us to carry in our hand useful tools to further study what we are seeing while we are out and about.
Thanks for reading, I hope to see you on, or off the trails sometime soon.
You will hear us often speaking about the importance of training with your gear. We mean ALL of your gear. If you add something to your setup, you need to take it outside and use it first. You need to know the ends and outs of how it works, how best to carry it. If it is an item that you are afraid to use because it might wear out, or break, then please do yourself a service right now and give it away to someone else. You must train with your gear before you need it. If you have some piece of gear that requires you to also pack directions on how to use it, then please fix that now. You should never require directions to use your kit items. The biggest one that falls into this class is a compass. If you think you are going to figure it out when you need it, you are making the same stupid mistake that thousands of others make. You are smarter than that, get some training or train with it now on your own before you need it.
Here is an example of me making a rookie mistake along these lines. I bought a new piece of equipment for personal use. I then put it on my pack at the house and went out to do some work. Here is what I found.
I REALLY hope to see you on, or off, the trail….training with your gear!!
The biggest thing I get criticized for by the haters on the Dan’s Depot youtube channel is that I am overweight. While I agree with the assessment, I have never understood why people would rather criticize others in situations like that rather than attempt to assist.
With that said I put this short video together as a motivator for both myself and you to get in better shape. My sole purpose is to help you get started by advising you of one simple truth. That truth is that you do not necessarily need a gym membership and a personal trainer to get in shape. I am losing weight and getting in much better shape by doing very different things. One is that I am stepping up my regular workouts in the martial arts facility in which I train. It is easy to get lazy if you allow yourself to do so when you are the teacher. That is totally due to my laziness. The other is that I have found a place to walk…alot. I walk with a ruck on, I walk with it off, I listen to music sometimes, pther times I don’t, sometimes I do jumping jacks or burpees in the middle.
I suppose what I am saying is that you need to get in shape in the best way that you can. If that means hiring a personal training, or gym membership then do so. If that means walking a flight of steps several times a day, or do squats in your bedroom or hotel room, then do so. Just do something, get active. If the ship hits the sand…..you are going to need it.
Until next time I hope to see you getting in shape on, or off, the trail!
Dan’s Depot and Nature Reliance School are passionate about getting people educated and geared up for disaster preparedness. Some call it prepping, others survival. Whatever you want to call it, we just want people to understand that there are realistic threats to you and your family’s safety.
Through my work at Nature Reliance School we do our utmost best to help educate people from all walks of life, particularly focusing on family preparedness. It is our belief that the “lone-wolf” mentality is romantic notion in which some survivalist goes off to trap, hunt, and fish while he leaves behind a family that is starving or having their needs met by someone else.
In that regard I am regularly asked to come speak to school groups about the topics of preparedness and survival. I am blessed in that I often get to mentor many kids on the topics of character education, communication skills and many other topics along the way.
Dan’s Depot has always been very supportive in assisting me in this work. As you can see in the picture attached to this blog piece.
In that picture you have 6 of approximately 40 students in a group that I taught a shelter building class to here in Central Kentucky. These young men are part of a larger group that come together each week to discuss how to be leaders and communicators in their community as they grow older. We used the wool blanket, tarp, poncho, and Eberlestock pack from Dan’s Depot to show these young men, how to keep their core body temp appropriate. This was an extremely fundamental look and it included appropriate clothes, and methods to stay both warm and dry in bad conditions.
Some of these young men are outdoorsman and hunters already, some of them spend most of their days inside playing videos games. It is an absolute pleasure working with them all. We will be going back several times to teach sections on fire building, water purification, and obtaining food in the wild. They have a big field trip at the end of each year where these guys go out and utilize the skills they have developed in a wilderness setting.
Big thanks to Dan’s Depot for supporting these types of activities for youth!
Until next time Ihope to see you on, or off, the trail!