Sunday, February 05, 2017

Miscellany: Notes from Byron Kerns Survival School - the Bare Bones class

If you ever get the chance, I recommend taking a class with Byron Kerns, a wilderness survival instructor who teaches in Florida and Georgia. My friends and I completed his popular "Bare Bones" course and found ourselves changed at the end; when you know what you need, it's easier to let go of what you don't need.

To give you an idea of what you're getting into, here are my notes from the class, minimally edited. This is not comprehensive by any means - we learned a heckuva lot more than what is outlined below:

Shelter Site Selection

Sunrise and Sunset - know when they happen.

Ground - ants. Above - limbs. Level - water drainage?

Transpiration Bag

Use clear bag, rock to weigh down, most plant surface area. Pine trees work the best. As much sun on the bag as possible. Close tightly!

Priorities of Survival

Positive Mental Attitude = #1 priority

Two extremes - apathy/give up (not enough stress) vs. panic (too much)

STOP - Sit down, Think, Observe, Plan.

Fears - death, darkness, loneliness, animals, ridicule

Stressors - hot, cold, hunger, boredom, thirst, lack of sleep, weather, health, terrain, bugs

Purposes of a fire - morale, drying clothes, boil water, cook, light, signal, heat, protection, meat preservation

Wilderness First Aid = # 2 priority

Take control of victim
Look at injury - two circles is bad (pit viper), straight or halfmoon is good
Circular snake retina is good (except for coral), elliptical is bad
Is there pain/swelling?
Snakebite kit can be used as placebo

Wound - direct pressure (5-10 min), elevate

Other priorities - personal protection, shelter, fire, signals, water, food

Rule of 3s - 3 minutes air, 3 days water, 3 weeks food.


Fire starting - Fatwood/tinder, pile it, strike it with spark

Fire triangle - fuel, oxygen, spark/heat

Fire Method - platform and brace (allows control of airflow)

Smoke means either => lift wood for air, or you have wet wood.

"Gears" of a fire: first gear = tinder (ignite with spark), then kindling, then fuel

Iodine pills should be grey - they don't last long (a few months after opening)


Fishing - fishing line, tide pool, netting, hit 'em with a club

Signalling - three fires/stones/whatever = distress. White vs. black smoke. Intermittent signals. For attracting a plane - higher fire is better.

Trapping is very difficult. But fairly easy to make traps and snares. Takes days, even if you are good. Need to know animal behavior.

Weather prep. Tent condensation. Leave ego at the door. Wouldn't have gone if I knew the forecast. Can use tarp to shield tent. Buy good gear.

Longterm starvation

Positive mental attitude and overcoming fear.

Hypothermia (more clothes, close in)/hyperthermia (lay down, clothes off, sip water, elevate legs). Medkit contents: Tums, Melatonin, Antidiarrheal, Visine, Sunscreen. Allergic reaction - local v general. Fire burn = need water.

Alaskan Pack Strap Demo


MyTopo - agonic line. isogonic line. Lensatic compass is tough, though almost any working compass can do in a pinch.

Wednesday, February 01, 2017

In Memoriam

"A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what a ship is for."

- Laurel Clark, STS-107 Mission Specialist