Surviving sometimes means there is no room for error. One wrong move and you can end up injured, sick or worse… dead. Unfortunately, the world of entertainment and the internet are full of more bad advice than good. Some myths are easy to spot while others have taken on a life of their own, with unsuspecting adventures not only believing them but relying on them. The moral is do not believe everything you read, especially when it comes to survival.
Scavenging for food
Sometimes surviving means finding your own food sources. Often this means gathering berries, although more experienced and properly equipped adventures will hunt wild game. But more and more so-called experts are shown scavenging for food – literally collecting dead animals and consuming the flesh as a source of nutrition. WRONG!
Wild game flesh can and does play host to a wide range of parasites, disease and other pathogens that the human body is not prepared to defend against. Even fresh game meat must be prepared properly to avoid severe intestinal problems – something which can itself be more dangerous than hunger. Animals which have died of unknown causes may have been killed by another animal, died of natural causes or been the victim of disease. The increased risk is not worth the possible reward.
Following Nature’s Compass
How many of you have been told “moss grows on the north side of objects” or “follow game trails to civilization”? How many of you have believed these theories? Hopefully none of you, but I know from experience that is wishful thinking.
Moss will grow on any surface that offers the proper conditions, regardless of direction it may face. Game trails may lead to a far, camp or even downtown shopping district. Of course, they could also lead deeper into the wild for to an occupied bear den. The point is you do not know and if you think about it why would dear, elk or other game want to go towards people?
Running Water is Safe… and Similar Water Lies
Almost every expert will advice boiling water before you consume it, but some will also add further advice about how you can survive is you do not have the time or ability to do so. Most are wrong, and most will hurt more than help.
There is no reason to think that running water is any cleaner, or safer, than a puddle of mud along the trail. It may look better, might even taste better but that doesn’t mean it is clean. For all you know it is flowing through a toxic waste site or filled with dead animal carcasses just upstream. What you can be reasonable sure of is that it contains many of the nasty microscopic parasites and bacteria as that puddle.
So, you should look for plants, such as cactus, as an alternative water source, right? WRONG. Although many plants contain moisture very few are filled with water. While some may be a viable source of moisture if water is not available others contain natural toxins as a means of defense. Pick the wrong one and you are facing debilitating illness miles from medical help.
For more on bushcraft myths than can be dangerous check out this YouTube video.