What will happen if you are hiking in the woods and become lost? How about if your car breaks down on a remote road? What if there is a natural disaster and you are without shelter or food for some time?
Not only is being prepared for the worst case scenario wise in an ever uncertain world, it is an increasingly popular theme in TV shows, movies and books alike. With shows like “Man vs. Wild” on the Discovery Channel, and the immense appeal of “The Hunger Games” book trilogy and film, survivalism has become mainstream.
No longer just a keyword for doomsday preppers or a merit badge for Boy Scouts, wilderness survival is a sought-after skill by many.
Creek Stewart is the founder of Willow Haven Outdoor in Anderson, Ind. and has been teaching survival training courses for the past 12 years. Studying and practicing survival from a young age, his experience comes from thousands of hours in the field practicing the skills he teaches.
He is the author of “Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit,” an Amazon.com best-selling title, and “The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide,” which was released this spring.
Promoting his newest book, Stewart has been stopping at libraries and other venues around the Midwest. Locally, he gave hands-on demonstrations at the Warsaw Community Public Library in June and the Milford Public Library yesterday to groups of teenagers, who like Katniss Everdeen in “The Hunger Games,” wanted to learn a few survival skills.
“What I’m going to teach you is how to meet your basic human survival needs through nature,” said Stewart during his latest presentation in Milford. “A lot of people freak out, get feared and panicked, but you need to STOP: stop, think, observe and plan.
“You can survive three hours without shelter in the cold, three days without water and three weeks without food,” said Stewart. “So you’re first priority is shelter.”
Stewart went on to show the teens how to build a temporary shelter, called a debris hut, out of sticks and grasses, to protect themselves from rain, cold, wind and sun.
“Hypothermia can set in at only 50 degrees,” said Stewart. “Shelter is your first priority, then water. Drinking bad water can kill you faster than dehydration.”
Three methods of water collection Stewart showed the students were dew collection, tapping trees and collecting transpiration from plant life.
Other survival skills taught during the two hour presentation included identifying wild edible plants like dandelion and maple tree pods; building Gale’s famous twitch-up snares to catch rabbits and squirrels for food; signaling for help with a mirror; leaving trail markers for rescuers; tying a bowline knot; and collecting materials to create a forage bag like Katniss.
As for one of the most important tips shared by Stewart to the teens? “Always tell three people where you are going and when to expect you back. Then they’ll have a place to start.”
For more information about Stewart’s wilderness survival courses or his book, go to his website.