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USMC Veteran 84 - 01
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oakr had asked me to post my experiences at mountain survival school in 96. I agreed to post. You will have to forgive me if this is not that interesting. I am not very good at writing and this was 12 years ago and I am going from memory and what few notes I made back then.

SURVIVAL IS NOT BY CHANCE. SURVIVAL IS A DISCIPLINE. A DISCIPLINE OF ATTITUDE, KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ACTIONS.

I was selected for Mountain Survival school in 96. This is a 7 day course. The first thing to do was to come up with the items they would let me carry with me. The items I was allowed to carry are listed below.

Magnesium firestarter
Container to boil water/ I used an old coffee can
Canteen or Camelbak
Various size fishhooks/sinkers/small spoons and fishing line in qt Ziploc
Snare wire. I used 30# solid steel
200’ 550’ cord also know as Para cord.
Small stainless steel mirror for signaling
Sewing kit
Poncho w/liner
Space blanket and trashbags.

All of the loose items were placed in a gallon Ziploc that I carried in my cargo pocket. After 2 days of class I was trucked up to 8500 ft and dropped off and given a meeting place that I had to rendevous with an instructor every 2 days. I would have to present primitive tools or weapons. My choice. The first thing on my agenda was to locate a water source. I found a stream that was maybe 16 inches wide coming down the mountain. Now that I have located a water source I needed to locate shelter. I found a large pine that had fallen at an angle. I first made sure that I was solidly lodged. It would be bad to get crushed on my first day out. I then tracked down and stripped bark from fallen timber. I then added poles at an angle on the shelter and added the tree bark to shed any moisture that might fall. I then piled what leaves and dirt that I could get to make a solid little shelter.I then stripped pine boughs for bedding. Laid out the poncho then the ponco liner and I had a pretty good mattress. The space blanket I hung over the opening and managed to retain a lot of heat. Next was a safe location for a fire. I dug a pit about 6 ft from the opening of the shelter. I then found some flat rocks to put behind the fire to reflect the heat back to the shelter. One word of advice any rocks that you use in or around your fire make sure they do not come from near a water source. About 2 hours of the fire burning One of them exploded. By the time I had shelter, Fire and water on the 1st day it was too dark to go scouting for food. Day 2 I was up with the sun scouting locations for snares and edible plants. I sat 2 pole snares for squirrels of which I actually caught one on the 7th day. A squirrel pole is simply a decent sized pole with snares tied to it at if you were looking straight down the pole you would have snares at 12,3,6 and 9 o’clock if that makes sense to anyone leaned at an angle against another tree in a location that squirrels have been seen. I also sat some choke snares on a coyote trail I had found going down to the water. While out scouting I found a patch of Mountain sorrel of which the leaves and stems can be eaten raw or cooked. These are high in Vitamin C. I chose to boil it as you would boil greens or spinach and added some wild onions I had found. Added a cup of pine needle tea and that was my meal for the 2nd day. I started making weapons and tools by the fire that night. The weapons I decided on were your basic fire hardened spear and since I had the 550 cord I plaited 3 strand of the 550 cord into 3 ropes 28 to 30 inches long and made a bolo since I had used them when I was younger with great success on my Grandmothers chickens. Day 3 I decided to travel a little farther out from my Bivouac site. I dropped down off the rise to a meadow stream which I came to find out held some small brook trout that were few and far between. I managed to catch 3 with grasshoppers caught on the bank of the stream. Now I had breakfast. Back up to the treeline and build a small fire. That was the best fish I have ever had. Even to this day I still haven’t tasted any better. I noticed leaving the stream that there were grasshoppers galore in the grass. Used a gallon Ziploc and filled it about half full of grasshoppers. I had heard of chocolate covered grasshoppers but hadn’t tried them. First time for everything. Returned to my shelter placed my bag of grasshoppers in a safe place and boiled my drinking water for the night. The water must be boiled in these areas regardless of how fast they are moving as Giardia is prevalent in these waters. This is a bad bug that will cause bad cases of diaherra, cramps and dehydration due to the diaherra. After the water was boiled I placed my coffee can over the coals. As the can started getting hot I started adding grasshoppers which basically popped like popcorn leaving a crunchy sort of sugary treat. Sort of like those candied peanuts that you buy in the store. Cleaned up camp and thus ends day 3. Morning of day 4 I hear rattling below the bluff I am sheltering on. I slide over a look below and see a coyote digging through the rocks for Ground squirrels. I then get to thinking coyote make enough meat to last me for the remaing 3 days. I take football size rocks and start dropping them on the coyote below. But the gods of meat were not with me that day. I heaved 3 rocks and missed him everytime. It didn’t figure out what was happening until after the third rock. He then looked up and saw me and I could have sworn the damn thing grinned at me :D:. He then turned around and casually left the area. The one thing that coyote taught me was where to look for the ground squirrels. I sat for a while pondering how to do a better job than the coyote. I came up with an idea from my fishing days. Why not make a gaff? I found a branch about 6 ft long and strapped a fish hook to it. I sat still with the end of my makeshift gaff just behind their hole. As soon as he popped up I gaffed him behind the head. I sat there long enough to gaff 4 more. Tonight was going to be a feast. I cleaned them and hung the innards in a tree outside of camp to use as bait in the snares later. I then made a stew of ground squirrel,mountain sorrel and wild onions. I slept real good that night. Day 5 – 7 was pretty much reruns of days 1-4. More scouting and as I said I finally caught a big fat squirrel in my pole snare on the last day. Total weight loss 9lbs.

An Acronym to live by: SURVIVAL
S - Size up the location (equipment, injuries, surroundings etc.)
U – Undue haste makes waste. ( plan your every move)
R – Remember where you are. (Distant visible waypoints,compass headings and pace count.
V – Vanquish fear! ( you must control your fear and not let it control you)
I – Improvise and Improve. ( Use the available materials for food, weapons and shelter)
V – Value living (your life is the most important thing! Refuse to give in!)
A – Act like the natives. ( Observe the animals. They will often lead you to water)
L – Live by your wits but LEARN BASIC SKILLS!


The minimum items I go into the woods now with are basically my bob.

Rossi .22/410
200 rds .22/ 50 rds .410
Katadyn water filter
Extra socks
Compass
Magnesium firestarter
Knife
Riflemans tomahawk strapped to side of pack
(2) 1qt military canteens. 1 on each side of pack
Sharpening stone
Small Maglite 2sets of batteries.
200ft 550 cord
50ft snare wire 30# solid steel
(2) Military ponchos
Fishing Kit
Sewing needles
Superglue
10’X12’ 1mil plastic sheet
4 ft Aluminum foil for heat reflector from fire.
3”X 3” stainless mirror
First aid Kit
Ibuprofen/Antibiotic salve
Clear trash bags
Homemade trail mix
Salt/ Pepper (makes meat or fish taste better)
Metal coffee can to boil water in or make soups
Packets soup mix
Bottle of good multivitamins.


Thanks for reading,

Chris
 

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WoodUSMC, That is a really good account.

Good tip, on the rock reflector.

We used to make a sort of rack and use logs, for the reflector.

Sounds like a real nice location, also.

Many thanks...
 

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USMC Veteran 84 - 01
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2,163 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
WoodUSMC, That is a really good account.

Good tip, on the rock reflector.

We used to make a sort of rack and use logs, for the reflector.

Sounds like a real nice location, also.

Many thanks...
Thank you for your comments! I am taking my daughter out this weekend to teach her about snares. I will set up some of the snares I described in my post and post the pictures to give everyone an idea of how they are made and what they look like.

Chris
 

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WoodUSMC, thank you for taking the time to share your experiences. Great memory for you and great story for us.

During your 7 days were there any symptoms? (exposure, blisters, boredom, loneliness, etc)
 

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USMC Veteran 84 - 01
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2,163 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
oakr thank you for comments! I am glad you enjoyed it! I wished my memory was better because I know I am missing some things. As far as exposure it was about 70 during the day and low 40s at night. As far as blisters there were none that I could remember. A good pair of broken in boots will help prevent that as well as regular changes of socks. As far as boredom I didn't have the chance to get bored. In any situation where you are dependant on no one but yourself you have to keep your mind active and the scenery certainly helped with that. Loneliness is a given. I missed my wife but that is about as lonely as I got. The situation I put myself in was entirely different than a SHTF scenario where I may have someone hunting me or I am worried about getting to my BOL with my Family, Health and possesions intact. The best way I have found to prepare for SHTF situations is mentally. Your situation in SHTF situations may be different than mine or anyone elses due to location and economic situation in the area. I live in the country the closest town is 6 miles away. A lot of folks live in big cities and will have to deal with the multitudes trying to either flee the city or they are intent on taking what you have. Do you see how your location can be a factor? I have my Father and Mother in law that live about 7 miles from me and we have motorola radios with a 10 mile range at each of our houses.It will take me 1 hour to fully load out and move. If vechicles are disabled I can use my game carts behind the 4 wheelers. I can leave my home and travel there and never hit a main road. Live by the 6 P'S. Prior Planning Prevents **** Poor Performance! Hope this has been helpful!

Semper Fi!
Chris
 

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Great information Chris and humorous too. Wiley Coyote..lol

That Acronym for Survival is a nice touch too.

SURVIVAL
S - Size up the location (equipment, injuries, surroundings etc.)
U – Undue haste makes waste. ( plan your every move)
R – Remember where you are. (Distant visible waypoints,compass headings and pace count.
V – Vanquish fear! ( you must control your fear and not let it control you)
I – Improvise and Improve. ( Use the available materials for food, weapons and shelter)
V – Value living (your life is the most important thing! Refuse to give in!)
A – Act like the natives. ( Observe the animals. They will often lead you to water)
L – Live by your wits but LEARN BASIC SKILLS!
 

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bad grammar deal with it
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452 Posts
Great information Chris and humorous too. Wiley Coyote..lol

That Acronym for Survival is a nice touch too.

SURVIVAL
S - Size up the location (equipment, injuries, surroundings etc.)
U – Undue haste makes waste. ( plan your every move)
R – Remember where you are. (Distant visible waypoints,compass headings and pace count.
V – Vanquish fear! ( you must control your fear and not let it control you)
I – Improvise and Improve. ( Use the available materials for food, weapons and shelter)
V – Value living (your life is the most important thing! Refuse to give in!)
A – Act like the natives. ( Observe the animals. They will often lead you to water)
L – Live by your wits but LEARN BASIC SKILLS!
as stolen from the army survival fm
 

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USMC Veteran 84 - 01
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Discussion Starter #8
Easy There! This is a well known acronym across all services survival courses. It is not copyrighted by one branch that I know of.

Semper Fi !!!
 

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USMC Veteran 84 - 01
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2,163 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
How did you gut and clean the fish and squirrels? I saw you made a spear...did you also make a edged tool?
I carried an Aitor survival knife which is about 4 1/2" long w/a 2" blade. I made a axehead which I accidently spalled out of a chunk of a flint type rock that that I was attempting to flake points off of. Hit it a little too hard and ended up with a chunk left in the shape of an axe head and went from there.

Thanks,
Chris
 

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I carried an Aitor survival knife which is about 4 1/2" long w/a 2" blade.
Aha--that is a pretty significant addition to the stuff you're allowed to carry.

At any rate...well done and thank you very much for sharing your experience. It sounds like you came through with flying colors.
 

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Diamond Dog
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Excellent post, and WoodUSMC, I have a question for you even though it's a bit off topic.

I remember watching on TV There was a show documenting the USMC Mountain Survival School, Were you in there when they were filming?
 

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Beware of the dog!
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Great info. Gave me some good ideas, including the gaffing, snagging, or "catching" squirrel info. That will work for many small, tasty animals.
 
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