Saturday, October 17, 2009

About Backwoods Camping

Backwoods camping involves one or more people reaching a remote destination for a one-of-a-kind camping experience involving raw nature while utilizing the campers' physical and mental capabilities. Backwoods camping allows the camper to build a campsite geared toward human survival and interaction with nature and animals in their natural habitat. Campers reach their destination by choosing routes and locations typically missing from a traditional map. Many use a topographical map displaying the terrain and larger landmarks to get to their destination.

Backwoods camping refers to camping in the outdoors in locations that are not commercialized or mainstream. Remote locations that offer no electricity and often no running water are considered to be something that a backwoods camper will encounter on the expedition. Wearing the right gear for the trip such as waterproof clothing and boots, and sturdy hiking equipment for stability and terrain control will assist in trekking to the camp site. Additionally, carrying a Swiss army knife also is beneficial for hiking to the campsite through dense brush and winding terrain. For many locations, especially those within a state park area, a permit may be required from the state's department of natural resources.

Some of the features of backwoods camping can challenge campers' physical ability and survival skills. Many backwoods
camping locations include treks over rocky, uneven terrain and occasionally campers will encounter dangerous conditions such as inclement weather and wild animals. Campers who enjoy rustic camping set up camp with safety and survival in mind. One of the features of backwoods camping is camping near a body of water; this is beneficial for fishing, bathing and cleaning camp dishes. Fresh water lakes also can be a source of drinking water. Because of the lack of everyday amenities, building a campfire for heating and cooking is essential. Campers may need to hunt or trap small game for food if they brought only minimal supplies. Setting up camp with a tent, tarp or sleeping bag should be the first priority; finding a location that is blocked from wind and weather such alongside a bluff is ideal. Backwoods camping offers isolation for those who like to experience the backwoods with a lack of population---this allows for more observation of wildlife and the ability to experience areas in nature untouched by man.

Because most backwoods camping involves traveling on foot to a remote location, campers generally bring a minimal amount of supplies and gear. For the experienced backwoods camper, 5 to 10 days is a standard time frame because the camper can utilize nature for survival with food, water and fire. For those looking to find reprieve or for those just starting out, one night is a good way to get the feel for nature and explore backwoods camping.

Backwoods camping always is at a location that is distant from main roads, amenities such as water and electric, gas stations and even people. Some popular locations for backwoods camping are areas near Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, the Kodiak area in Alaska and the Lake Tahoe area in California. Wooded areas in the northwestern United States and western Canada offer much uncharted territory that are considered off-the-beaten-path, and include winding trails through woods, over mountainous cliffs, and through creek beds and dense brush. Many campers find their backwoods campsites by traveling off a main road or trail.

Backwoods camping allows the camper an opportunity to utilize natural resources and basic survival skills while enjoying nature at the same time. Isolation from society also allows the camper to regain mental strength and clarity, and to learn more about nature and the environment. The trek to the campsite and back will showcase the physical skills and stamina that the camper needs to achieve personal success with the camping experience.

Backwoods: Setting Up Camp In The Right Spot

Setting up camp in the right location is an important factor in making your backwoods camping safe and enjoyable. The factors that contribute to a good site vary according to the season.
Every campsite should have lots of water and a good source for kindling and firewood. If you are not bringing water to your campsite, then you will need to set up camp in a location close to a good source of water. In warm weather, water is available in rivers, streams and ponds.
In cold winter weather, snow is a good source of water, and melts easily on a campfire. During the summer, you need just a little fuel and a bit of kindling, while during winter, you will require fuel and kindling in abundance. Althrough extremely important, these are not the only factors to consider when choosing tour campsite.
In cold weather, protection from the wind is critical,especially from the northerly winds, however, protection from all wind is important. Keep in mind, the most effective protection from the wind can also block the sun. Choose a site on the north side of a small clearing, with trees to the north side of the camp so northerly winds are not felt. If the clearing to the south side of the site is the right size, the tree horizon will be low enough to allow sunlight into the campsite, however, the trees will block the southerly winds.
In warm or hot weather, choose a site that has protection from the sun, but allows a breeze to cool you as well as keep the mosquitoes away. A site among a few trees on a windy point along a lake or river is ideal. The campsite should be on well drained ground. Light, gravelly soil will absorb the water as fast as it falls. Avoid setting your tent up in a depression or on lower ground, regardless of how absorbent the soil appears to be. Be wary of setting up sites on riverbanks. Although these sites often offer the best combination of access to water, shade, and breeze for summer camping, they are vulnerable to flash floods during the night from rainstorms that occur upstream. Rivers originating in large lake-systems rise and fall gradually, while rivers rising directly in the mountain country with no lakes in the system are capable of flash flooding. Your best bet is to get good information about the river you are camping on if you are not familiar with the area.
Once you have selected your campsite, you must determine where you will dispose of the waste. No waste should ever be discarded into a lake, stream or river. If the ground is not frozen, all body waste and camp refuse should be buried immediately. Burying all waste immediately will keep flies and bugs from landing on the waste and then contaminating your food. The smell of the food waste will attract wildlife, so disposing of it immediately will cut down on the odor, and will keep uninvited guest from visiting the campsite. Your waste disposal site should be located well away from your main camp area by at least one hundred yards.
Be sure to pack a good camp shovel, camp saw or ax, multi-tool, rope, water carrier, mess kit and a good first aid kit on your next backwoods camping trip.

Backwoods: Caring For Your Camping Tent

Your camping tent is one of the most important pieces of camping gear that you own.Proper care of your camping equipment will ensure many years of future use of these valuable items.Caring for your tent is very easy, as listed below:

Cleaning Your Camping Tent

1. Cleaning the interior by shaking out the tent, and sweeping out the small particles with a whiskbroom.
2. Clean your tent by setting it up and wiping it down inside and out with a mild soap and lukewarm water.
3. Rinse the tent completely with cool,clean water. Wipe the interior completely with a clean wet rag to remove any soap residue.
4. Dry the tent completely including the stitching at the seams by placing the tent in the shade, and ventilating the interior of the tent.
5. Leave stubborn stains alone, as scrubbing can ruin the fabric. A light dusting of talcum powder or cornstarch will inhibit the transfer of stain to other part of the tent.
6. Wipe the tent poles down with a soft clean cloth.
7. Dip zippers quickly in water and dry them off. If you fail to clean your zippers, the zipper will eventually become inoperable.

Sealing Your Tent

1. Seal the seams of your tent according to the manufacture guide.
2. Seal your tent in a ventilated area.
3. Seal the tent while it is set up.
4. Apply sealant on the interior of each seam that are exposed to rain, runoff, or ground level moisture, including floor seams, fly seams, and reinforcements.
5. Apply several thin layers of sealant rather than one thick layer.

Ultraviolet Sunrays

1. Excessive exposure to sunlight can damage the fabric of your tent, which will cause tent fabric to become brittle and tear easily.
2. Avoid pitching your tent in direct sunlight for extended periods.
3. Use the rain fly even if it's not raining. The rain fly will protect your tent from ultraviolet sunrays, and is less expensive to replace if damaged.


1.Open vents to allow air to escape.
2. Roll the dry tent loosely and store in a dry, cool place.
3. Cover the tent with a cloth to prevent dust from collecting on the tent.
4. Do not roll tent poles in with the tent. If the tent poles are stored in an extended state, the life of the shock cords is prolonged.
5. Use the tent bag for transportation.

General Tips

1. Never put your tent away wet. If by chance you have to pack your tent wet, set it up outside to dry as soon as possible. Failure to do this will cause your tent to grow mold and mildew.
2. Never use strong detergents on your tent.
3. Never use a washing machine or dryer on your tent.
4. Use a rain fly to protect the exterior of the tent.
5. Use a foot print or ground cloth to protect the floor of the tent.
6. Ground cloth should be slightly smaller that the tent floor to avoid rain and moisture from collecting under the tent.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Backwoods: The Most Primitive Weapon

A basic throwing stick is, quite simply, a sturdy hunk of branch. The optimum size and shape will vary somewhat, depending upon personal preference, but a stick about two and half feet long and approximately half as thick as your wrist. Of course, some primitive peoples have turned the making of throwing sticks into an art form (consider the hunting boomerang or Australian Kylie, which is carved to an aerodynamic profile that actually allows it to fly farther than an unshaped stick of similar size and weight could be thrown). But for our purposes, we'll be discussing the handling of a weapon that requires nothing more, perhaps, than being broken to a comfortable length before it's put to use.

Such a basic club can be thrown either overhand (when, for instance, you're trying to knock a squirrel from the side of a tree) or sidearm (when you're in an open area, where brush won't interfere with the stick's flight). In using the first method, point your left foot at the target (if you're right-handed southpaws can simply reverse these directions). Then, holding the smaller end of the stick loosely in your right hand, bring the weapon back over your shoulder and hurl it, with good end-over-end spin, straight at the mark. At the moment of release, your shoulders should face the game squarely.

The sidearm throw is similar to the motion used in stroking a tennis ball with the racket. Point the left toe at the animal, bring the stick to a cocked position at your side, and throw it . . . squaring your shoulders and snapping the club—as if you were cracking a whip—to give it spin.

Always be sure to carry your throwing stick when away from camp for any reason. Not only is there a chance that a small bird or animal will suddenly appear within range, but there's also the possibility that you'll encounter other food sources (say, nuts or fruit) that can be knocked down with the club.

I don't have the space to go into any detail about stalking techniques here. In general, you should avoid any abrupt movements . . . walk slowly, feeling the ground (or, perhaps, a brittle twig?) beneath each foot before putting your weight upon it . . . and try to time your movements to coincide with the feeding patterns you observe in your quarry (most animals will alternate regular periods of feeding with pauses to survey their surroundings for danger). Remember, though, that this is a very rudimentary outline, and that—as always—the time to practice this particular survival skill is before you need it.

Backwoods: Traping Tips

You've probably already gathered that there's a good bit more to survival trapping than simply constructing a deadfall or snare in the middle of a convenient field. In order to obtain the best results with these do-it-yourself game getters, you'll have to understand a little about animal movement patterns . . . the dietary likes and dislikes of the animal you're after . . . and the different methods of making your structures appear "natural" so the animals' suspicions won't be aroused.

Your most important task will be to locate areas of high game activity, generally by "reading" the landscape. Usually (the backwoods always produces exceptions to human rules) the most productive areas to scout will be those around sources of water . . . and those in edge environments, where forest meets field, field meets meadow, and so forth.

In such a location, you may well be able to spot specific trails, runs, day beds, lays, and feeding areas. By doing so, you can place your trap in such a way that it'll have the best possible chance of being encountered by the animal you're after.

Trails are heavily used tunnels or paths. When following such a wildlife "freeway", you should be able to note animal scat, hair, and such that will indicate the type of creature most often using the path. Remember, though, that even if deer tracks-for instance-have all but eliminated any other signs from a trail, odds are that a number of smaller animals are using it, too. Wild creatures will follow the easiest route available unless they're either pursuing or being pursued.

Runs are the smaller arteries that connect established trails to feeding, bedding, and watering sites . . . and are subject to change as food and water supplies come and go. Since each run's use is typically limited to one species, its size will often provide some clue to the type of animal using it. (Traces of scat and fur, again, will help you make a positive identification.) By following runs-carefully, causing as little disturbance as possible to these potential trap locations-you may be able to find the areas of animal concentration to which they'll usually lead.

Day beds and lays are spots in which animals seek cover and/or sleep. Beds are generally used quite frequently (though one animal might well have several of them), and usually appear as well-worn depressions in the grass or ground. Lays, on the other hand, are less obvious-often showing up as areas of partially crushed weeds or brush-and are typically found near feeding sites. The pattern of beds and lays surrounding a known food source can help you predict routes of animal travel, and thus choose good locations for your traps this is especially true when setting snares, as your quarry will actually have to run into such a trap to be caught.

Feeding areas-which can be located by careful observance of the signs described already-will, for herbivorous animals, likely be locations rich in grasses, clover, and tender new growth . . . or, especially in winter months, young trees and brush with edible bark, twigs, and buds.

By examining the food plants in such an area, it's often possible to determine what sort of animals are feeding there. A diagonal bite that cuts off a plant stalk at about a 45° angle is typical of such rodents as rabbits and woodchucks. Straight, finely serrated bites will often indicate that members of the deer family have been dining . . . while obviously chewed-upon greenery is usually a sign that predators have been rounding out their diets-with a little plant foraging.

You will, of course, want to take special note of exactly what food seems to be preferred by the species you hope to catch. Furthermore, it's best to try to locate a favorite snack that, because it has been pretty much finished off, has been temporarily abandoned for a second-choice edible. If, for instance, you note that all of the red clover around a group of woodchuck dens has been eaten, and that the animals are now resorting to a diet of grasses, it may be worth your while to scout beyond the 'chucks' range and-if you can-bring back a batch of that rare clover to use as bait.

"Naturalizing" your traps, in order to lessen the chance that animals will steer clear of them, will improve your chances of making a catch. Leave bark on the trigger assemblies, and rub dirt on any cut surfaces to prevent them from attracting unwanted attention. When working on a trap, be sure that your hands are well rubbed with mint, leek, or some aromatic weed to disguise the human scent. In the winter, it's sometimes possible to accomplish the same result by smoking a finished trigger assembly over a fire, and then handling it with gloves that have also been well scented with wood smoke. Some trappers will smear their hands with scat, or with scent from the glands of an animal caught earlier. The notion may sound unpleasant to you now, but there's little room for niceties in a true backwoods survival situation!

Once your traps are naturalized and set, be sure to check them at least once a day . . . to prevent your quarry from being stolen by a predator or (in hot weather) decomposing, and to minimize the suffering of any creature that might have been caught but not killed. Carry your throwing stick when visiting the traps. A hard blow to the back of the head will, for most of the small animals that you'll be likely to catch, result in a quick and relatively painless death.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Lost in the Backwoods

In the world of today, with our maps and landscape criss-crossed with roads and trails, getting yourself lost in the backwoods is usually the result of not being aware. Aware of your surroundings, aware of your limitations, aware of possible things that can go awry. Anyone can become lost, but follow these steps and you can minimize the chance that the next search for a lost wilderness traveler is for you.

First, be sure to leave someone you trust an itinerary of where you plan to go and what you plan to do. Include as near as possible when you expect to be at certain locations. Then stick with the plan Remember - you can become ill, break a bone, or have an unexpected accident befall you anytime anywhere. Even in your own backyard where you have been a thousand times before.

Next, always take a survival kit with you and know how to use it. A good survival kit will buy you time while extricating yourself or waiting for others to rescue you. The kit should provide basic provision for food and water shelter, clothing, fire, basic medical attention, and means of signaling rescuers even if you are very weak. Your survival kit should be light enough so you will not mind carrying it wherever you go, but useful enough to cover your basic necessities in the backwoods environment you are in.

There are many survival kits on the market today. A good place to start is learning about the fifteen essentials for survival an article that discusses what you need in a complete survival kit.

Should you find it necessary to spend more time than you had anticipated away from civilization, a good survival kit can mean the difference between surviving the ordeal or making it out in a body bag on a stretcher.

Third, equip yourself properly for the undertaking you are planning. This especially includes proper clothing.

For example, don't hike in the mountains above tree line with only a t-shirt, shorts, and sneakers. It could be 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the valley where you start, but above tree line the weather can suddenly turn without notice to below freezing with high winds and precipitation at any time of the year. You may sprain an ankle and, not being able to expend as much energy traveling, cool down. You could take a wrong turn and be forced to spend more time exposed to the elements than you had planned and perhaps even have to spend a night outdoors.

Ere on the side of caution and take a little more food, clothing, and water than you anticipate needing.

Fourth up is continual awareness. Awareness of your surroundings is your best defense against becoming lost while traveling. Keeping up your level awareness, rather than continuing on absent minded, will help prevent you from getting lost in the first place. Should you become lost, the information you have stored up can help you find your way out or make the decision to stay put and wait for help.

As you travel, study your map and keep tabs on where you are and where you have been. Continually note landmarks that are easily viewable from different locations along your route and relate them to your map. Depending upon where you are, landmarks may include certain hills or mountains, the position of the sun, a large tree or rock, a stream, an area of differing vegetation. Try to match the contours on your map to the lay of the land you are traveling over and occasionally use your compass to ascertain your direction of travel. Keep a mental estimate of the time it took you to travel between identifiable points and the kind of terrain you traveled over.

And fifth, be aware of your condition. Whether or not you are lost, your current condition is perhaps the most important consideration while traveling in the wilderness. Being tired mentally or physically can lead to costly mistakes, perhaps even disaster. If you are cold, overheated, wet, hungry, sunburned, dehydrated, feeling in ill health, or just plain tired you are much more susceptible to making the wrong decisions or physically not being unable to make it back to civilization. Know your current state and do not be tempted to push on beyond your limitations. If the going gets tough often it is better to simply turn back than to push on into potential disaster.

In spite of all these precautions, should you find yourself lost you should stop immediately. Don't panic. Remember: you have your basic survival kit and you have honed your basic survival skill so you know you can live out here for many days if you have to. And you have told someone about the area where you plan to be so rescuers can find you if it comes to that. The odds are just about 100 percent you are going to get out of this and you chalk up another adventure.

So you think you are lost. Simply sit down, relax, and study your map. Think of the possible actions you can take. It may be a good time to build a fire and warm some food and drink.

or smoke from a fire. Of the best thing you can do is stay put and await rescue. You may be able to signal would be rescuers using your survival whistle, signal mirror.

If you decide to stay put, set up the shelter you brought with you or make a shelter using the natural materials at hand. Make any improvements that will aid in keeping you comfortable and safe, keeping in mind that the weather may take a turn for the worse while you are there.

If you decide to make your way out, mark your location on the ground. Make a pile of rocks, bend some branches, or otherwise mark the location in order to create an easily identifiable spot that you can return to. Remember, this location where you first realized you are lost is the base from which you will have to find your way out. Should your first attempts at getting out fail, your best bet may be to come back to this location before setting out on another try. Or to wait until you are rescued from the outside. The one thing you do not want to do is get lost even further into the backwoods.

Your knowledge of the lay of the land and your current condition will help determine what you should do when you discover you are lost. Should you attempt to retrace your steps? Maybe your most sure bet is to simply head downhill. In many mountainous or hilly sections of the world, habitations, roads, or traveled waterways are within a days travel downhill from any location. If this is the case, you can walk downhill until you reach a stream and then travel downstream to eventually reach civilization. If you find yourself on coast, perhaps you should walk along the perimeter to the nearest habitation.

If you do not have a compass you may be able to make a compass or find the north star. These navigational aids can help keep you on course and from traveling in circles.

If you choose to make your way out on your own, leave a note at the marker you set, indicating your plans and your direction of travel. Then as you travel mark the way at regular intervals with a pile of stones, a broken branch, or some other easily identifiable clue as to where you have been. This could help rescuers find you should your attempt at self extraction fail.

Being lost in the backwoods can happen to anybody. With the right preparation and the right survival psychology your stint at becoming a mite bit confused will turn out OK.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Backwoods - Defending Yourself Against Animal Attacks

If you enjoy jogging, hiking, camping, or other outdoor activities, you may be confronted by pet dogs or even wild animals. If you are afraid of such attacks in the backwoods, or even on jogging trails or other suburban areas, consider the following ways to defend yourself against such attacks.

First, do not do anything to attract such animals. Don't carry food with you; if you are camping, keep it in closed containers that cannot be broken into by animals such as bears. Still, there are stories in the news nearly every week about people or pets being attacked by pet dogs; the point is, you never know what could happen, even if you're just going on a walk around the block with your dog on a leash.

In all cases of animal attacks, your best course of action is to avoid confrontation altogether. Try not to be alone in the backwoods, especially at night. If you do see an animal, stay away. Do not approach it for any reason, including trying to take pictures or scaring it away from your belongings. Instead, turn and go the other way. If you see a dog while jogging or taking yours for a walk, never pet it or talk to it. Any wildlife you see should be left undisturbed.

If you come near larger wild animals such as bears, be careful if trying to use regular pepper spray against them. You need to be using specially formulated (and large canisters of) bear attack deterrent spray. Similarly, Stun guns, taser devices and similar methods will have a completely unpredictable effect on wild animals. Even if you are carrying a gun with you, do not try to shoot at the animal.

These methods will likely be ineffective, but may irritate the animal and make them even more aggressive. Though some hunters have used pepper spray to stop an attacking bear, this is not a reliable method. Your best course of action is to avoid contact with a bear in the first place, and leave the area if you do spot a bear.

Pepper spray is often a reliable means of self-defense against dogs and other relatively small animals, such as wolves or coyotes. Though there are some spray types made specifically for animals, regular pepper spray is non-lethal, even against small animals, unlike other weapons like stun guns or firearms.

Plus, you do not need to be very close to the animal in order for it to work, which is definitely a benefit when dealing with wild animals, especially those that could be carrying rabies or other diseases. Pepper spray can be an effective defense against aggressive dogs. If an animal is trying to attract you, one quick spray from the pepper spray canister will be enough to deter him.

Pepper spray can easily be carried with you, even if you are jogging or camping. Small canisters can be found in nearly any form, including types on key chains or other devices. These devices make a sensible investment for hunters, campers, hikers, joggers, or anyone else who finds themselves outdoors frequently. These simple products are well worth carrying with you to ensure your safety.