Imagine. You’re stuck in the woods with nothing but a knife and the clothes on your back. No food. No shelter. Nada.
Would you be able to survive? How long do you think you would last? Would you know how to set up camp and make all of the tools and materials you would need to stay alive until help arrived or it was safe to leave (depending on the scenario)?
We hope we never find ourselves in such a desperate predicament. But time and time again we read stories about some poor person (or family) who by one reason or another found themselves struggling for survival. Will it be you next? Let’s hope not. But just in case, we’ve put together a pretty awesome list of things you can learn to make in the wilderness to greatly improve your chances of making it home alive.
These techniques don’t have to be saved for survival only. Anyone interested in self-reliance and homesteading would greatly benefit from mastering these skills and crafts. Watch. Learn. Practice.
Containers, Vessels & Utensils
How To Make Pine Needle Baskets
This young lady shows you how to make a useful basket out of pine needles and sinew. It’s a long video, but she shows you step-by-step how to get it done. When choosing pine needles for basket making, you’ll want to look for varieties with a length of at least 5-8 inches. Ponderosa Pine, Southern Pine, and Long Needle Pine are some of the most commonly used varieties. Some pines produce needles up to 12″ long. If you’re fortunate enough to have this kind in your area, definitely choose it over smaller lengths.
Baskets are extremely useful for gathering food and medicinal plants, collecting eggs, and storing various items.
Here’s another style of basket you can make if you don’t have long needle pines nearby. Along with wild grape vines, you can also use: blackberry and raspberry brambles, honeysuckle, wisteria, and ivy. Be sure you know how to identify common wild plants in your region so you can avoid grabbing any poisonous ones- such as poison ivy!
Make A Gourd Storage Vessel
Gourds have been used by Native Americans for storing nuts, seeds, grains, and various other items. These are better for storing small items than baskets, which have gaps the seeds could fall through.
A Dipping Gourd for Water
When crafted properly, a gourd can also make a pretty sweet water container or dipper. It’s important that you learn how to do it right so you don’t have a funny taste left in your drinking water.
How To Make A Backpack Out of Palm Leaves
This dude in Peru makes a backpack with nothing more than a knife and plant materials. You know that saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention”? It’s pretty cool watching people put that concept to work. Knowing how to weave a backpack from scratch is pretty awesome if you ask me.
How To Carve A Wooden Spoon
Lindenwood is recommended for carving wooden utensils, because it is a soft wood and is easy to work with. Fruit tree wood is also preferred by some, but in a pinch any wood will work.
How To Make A Bowl From Scratch
Here’s an easy way to make a wooden bowl for food, water collection, grinding seeds, pounding nuts, etc.
Hunting and Trapping
Please keep in mind that we are sharing the following information in the context of a survival situation. Some of the hunting methods here are illegal except in life or death situations, and some could be considered cruel to the animal and should be reserved as a last resort.
How To Make A T-Bar Snare For Small Game
Here’s a fairly simple and effective way to catch rabbits and other small game. The only tool you really need is a knife for construction.
The Ultimate Primitive Basket Fish Trap
I LOVE this basket trap idea. Catch multiple fish effortlessly while you spend your time building other useful survival items.
Native American Fish Trap
The audio on this video isn’t the best, but the technique is worth learning. I appreciate this more simplistic fish trap design because it doesn’t take much skill to construct, yet still frees you up to go do other things instead of sitting for hours on end hoping to catch a fish with a rod.
How To Make A Primitive Fishing Hook From A Stick
There may be times when a basket trap wouldn’t be appropriate. If you find yourself in need of a fishing hook, here’s a simple one you can make from nothing more than a plain ol’ stick.
Catching Deer in a Spring Snare
If you’re out for larger game without a hunting weapon, here’s a way to set a snare to catch deer and other animals in the wild.
Make A Tribal Bow and Arrow
There are many different designs for primitive bows and arrows. Here’s one I thought was pretty cool. Watch how its done, then find a few other YouTubers showing their favorite methods.
How To Make A Survival Spear
A spear has so many purposes. Hunting, fishing, self defense… it’s just an all around handy tool to have. The one shown here is much better than a simple one-point stick. Check it out.
Catch Flying Birds With A Clap Trap
This clever trap will help you snag game of the winged variety. Just ’cause they can fly doesn’t mean they’re out of reach for your next meal!
Snare Scratching and Pecking Fowl
To snag birds who spend their time on the ground pecking and scratching in the dirt, use this primitive snare trap.
How To Build A Turtle Trap With Sticks
Whether you’re hunting turtle for meat, or clearing a pond to put ducks out, knowing how to catch turtles without a store bought trap could come in really handy. Just watch your fingers with those snapping turtles!
Survival Tools and Techniques
Make A Bushcraft Mallet
Mallets are great for pounding poles into the ground to make shelters, fencing, traps, etc. You’ll need a hatchet or an ax to get the job done right.
How To Make A Bow Drill For Fire
We’ve all heard people talking about how to do this, but how many of us have actually started a fire using a bow drill? Not me. Not yet, anyways. But after watching this video I have confidence that I could do it myself… with a little practice.
Making A Bow Drill For Beginners (Step-by-step)
I wanted to include this video along with the one above because I love that the author uses plants other than trees for his materials. Where most bow drills that I’ve seen made are from wood, this guy uses Mullein and Jerusalem Artichoke stalks for his spindle. Good info to know. Not to mention this video goes into much more detail on how to build a bow drill.
How To Make Cordage From Stinging Nettle
The fibers from dried stinging nettle are soft like cotton and extremely strong when twisted together. Use cordage to start friction fires, set snares, fasten structures, etc. The inner bark of some tree species, Yucca, and other plants can also be used to make cordage.
Get Drinking Water From Moss
Use this forest sponge to quench your thirst when running water isn’t available. A filtration straw makes this a much more palatable practice, if you have that option.
Make Survival Snowshoes
If you live in a region that ever sees snow, this is a great tip to keep in the back of your mind. Very simple construction, and easy materials to find when you need makeshift snowshoes.
Shelter & Structures
Build A Quick Debris Hut For Survival
This is one of the simplest and most effective shelters you can build if you ever find yourself stranded in the woods without cover.
A Wikiup For Long Term Shelter
If it looks like you’re going to be sheltering in at one place for quite a while, this is an awesome setup to construct. Can I live here? Please?
Build A Survival Shelter Bed
Once you’ve got your structure built you’ll want a comfy place to lay your head at night. There are some great concepts to learn in this video, to help keep you warm and snug.
Build A Log Cabin Chicken Coop From Scratch
Here’s a pioneer style way to keep your poultry safe from predators and harsh weather, using materials you find laying around in the woods.
Different Styles of Pioneer Fencing For Livestock and Gardens
Fencing is important for so many applications. Build a protective barrier between you and wild animals. Enclose your garden to keep pests out. Fence in livestock to keep them safe and secure. This video shows several ancient techniques for building fences out of trees, vines, and cordage.
Can you think of something else to make from plants for survival?