For just about any survival situation, there’s a wealth of knowledge out there, and a lot of it’s bad. Often things aren’t helped by the burgeoning number of survival reality shows, which are designed to entertain rather than to educate.
“I’ve worked on these reality shows,” says Tony Nester, an expert on desert survival and head of Ancient Pathways, an outdoor survival and bushcraft school based in Flagstaff, Arizona. “They’re heavily scripted and there’s always a support crew within twenty feet, twenty-four seven.”
As a teacher, Nester constantly finds himself correcting his student’s misconceptions about what do in survival situations.
1. MYTH: Finding food is your top priority
2. REALITY: Something else will get you first
3. MYTH: Your field guide makes you an expert on wild plants and mushrooms
4. REALITY: False confidence can kill you
5. MYTH: Shelter means having a roof over your head
6. REALITY: It’s the ground, stupid
“It’s better to have a bed and no roof than a roof and no bed,” says Tim Smith, the founder of Jack Mountain Bushcraft School in the Maine North Woods.
7. MYTH: You can spark a fire by friction if you’re persistent enough
8. REALITY: Building a fire takes skill and the right materials
9. MYTH: Lighting a fire using only friction is hard
10. REALITY: Practice and the right tools can make anyone a friction fire whiz
11. MYTH: You can suck the poison out of a snakebite
12. REALITY: If a snake bites you, get to a hospital