Thursday, October 24, 2013

Coyote Attack

Some people have a misguided idea that animals such as coyotes are not a danger to humans.

Probably comes from watching too many movies in which wildlife and humans pretend to be friends with each other.

Well, Colorado resident Andrew Dickehage, has a different story to tell. One morning as he was walking to work, three coyotes attacked him.

Dickehage said he was walking along and heard a twig snap. He turned on his flashlight to see what made the noise, and that’s when the largest of the three coyotes attacked.

They lunged at Dickehage, biting and scratching him. The larger coyote launched at him a second time after the initial attack. Dickehage fought off the attack with his flashlight, but then the two smaller coyotes started to attack him.

Here’s the way he described it, "They were continuously jumping on me one after the other after the other. It was nonstop. It was so dark all I could see was the glimmer of their eyes."

Dickehage said he felt like the attack would never end, but admitted that the whole ordeal probably only lasted about a minute and a half before the animals gave up their attack.

After it was over, he was treated for his injuries at a hospital, where he received nine shots, including rabies and tetanus.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife spokeswoman Jennifer Churchill said this is not common behavior, because the coyotes were not defending their young or defending a food source.

She went on to advise that people walking through areas where coyotes might be present need to be alert and aware of their surroundings, and might consider preparing themselves by carrying an air horn, a walking stick, deterrent (pepper) spray or even a pocket full of rocks to throw at coyotes and scare them away if they approach.

If a coyote approaches you, here’s what you need to do:
  • Do not run or turn your back — that will only trigger an attack.
  • Make yourself look as big and sound as loud as possible.
  • Wave your arms, yell, and throw rocks or sticks at the animals.
  • Face the coyote and back away slowly, to show that you are not intending to be a threat.
  • If the animal presses the attack, stay on your feet and fight back as hard as you can.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Be Prepared

72-year-old Gene Penaflor had no idea, when he and a buddy set off from their hunting camp with full intention to meet up again for lunch, that it would be 18 days before he would see civilization again.

But that’s what happened. Sometime during his hunt, Penaflor slipped and fell on the steep terrain. He hit his head and lost consciousness, and by the time he woke up it was after dark. And he had no idea where he was.

Lucky for him, he did the smart thing — he made a survival camp and stayed where he was for the night. Unlike some who find themselves in a similar situation, Gene Penaflor didn’t give in to the temptation to wander around in the dark, trying to find their way out of a difficult situation. Nope, Penaflor did it right, and that was a good thing because hiking at night can lead to further injuries.

But even so, due to the seriousness of his injuries and the fact that Penaflor had no clue about where he was, there was no way for him to hike out of the forested mountains in a self-rescue attempt. He was stuck there in his makeshift survival camp until he was rescued. And that took 18 days.

An intensive search and rescue operation was initiated, but after 4 days it was eventually called off when Penaflor was not found. At least once during that search, Penaflor spotted a rescue helicopter, but he had no way to signal them.

On the 18th day of his ordeal, another group of hunters stumbled upon Penaflor and carried him out of the forest. He had kept himself alive by eating lizards and snakes, berries and algae. At night he covered himself with leaves to stay warm.

There’s a lesson in all this for us.
  • Always be prepared to stay longer in the wilderness than you planned. A simple injury, the sudden onset of bad weather, or getting lost can easily cause you to have to stay overnight, or over several days and nights.
  • Carry emergency shelter with you at all times. Even something as simple as a pocket poncho can keep the rain and wind from sapping your body of its warmth.
  • Carry emergency signaling devices — a mirror, a whistle, a radio, a cell phone, a personal locator beacon. The fastest and best way out of a survival situation is by making contact with someone who can rescue you. 
  • Carry at least 2 methods of starting a fire. Practice fire starting as often as you can, so you are confident in your ability to create a life-saving fire that can also serve as a signal.
  • Carry a small water filter — something like the Aqua Mira filter straw (, and carry a supply of high-energy trail foods that can keep you going for a while if a short-term emergency happens.

By carefully selecting the emergency gear, all of these things can fit in your pockets, so you don’t need to carry a backpack every time you leave camp or go on what you intend to be just a short hike.

The important thing is to be prepared to stay for much longer than you think you’ll be out there.

Just ask Gene Penaflor — he’ll tell you how smart it is to be prepared.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Water Purification

Water is absolutely essential to survival, in order to avoid dehydration, but if the water is contaminated if can make you so sick that dehydration happens even faster.

You can make water suitable for drinking by using thermal, chemical or filtration techniques. Depending on the water quality, sometimes it takes a combination of the three to really do the job right.


Bring the water to a rolling boil and keep it there for 1 minute at sea level and 1 additional minute for every 1000 feet of elevation above sea level. If you don’t know your elevation, boil for 10 minutes. This method will kill parasites, bacteria and viruses, but won’t eliminate chemical or heavy metal toxicity.


The whole idea behind chemical treatment of drinking water is to poison all the critters that are swimming in your drink. Iodine and chlorine are the old standbys. Make no mistake about it, chemical water treatments are toxic, at least to the organisms being treated. The key to safe use of these products for human consumption is to carefully follow manufacturer recommendations. Additional caution must be exercised because some people have chemical sensitivities or are allergic to some of these substances (particularly iodine).

The effectiveness of a chemical purifier depends on 5 factors — product freshness, water temperature, water clarity, exposure time, and dosage. Check the expiration date on the product package to make sure the chemicals are fresh. For more effective purification, raise the water temperature to 60 degrees F or above. Pre-filter or let the water stand overnight to allow sediments to settle, and then treat only the clear water. Allow the recommended treatment time, and use the full dose of chemical.

For using liquid chlorine to disinfect drinking water, add 1⁄8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it.

The recommended dosage for liquid iodine is 5 drops of 2% tincture of iodine in a quart of clear water. If the water is cloudy or especially cold, increase the dosage to 10 drops. Shake the container to disperse the iodine and then let it stand for half an hour before drinking.


Among the good filters are two types worthy of consideration — a membrane filter and a depth-type filter. A membrane filter utilizes a porous membrane that permits water to pass through, but stops particulates larger than the size of the pores. These filters clog quickly but are easy to clean.

A depth-type filter utilizes an element such as a ceramic block that is porous enough to allow water to be forced through, yet dense enough to capture the bad stuff. Care needs to be exercised with this type of filter element, to prevent accidental breakage. Clean the element by scrubbing or back-flushing when clogged.

If a carbon element is included, the system will be able to remove some chemicals and heavy metals, as well as improve the flavor and smell of the water.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How To Choose A Survival Knife

One of the most important survival tools you can have is a good knife. With it, you can make shelter, fire, tools for food gathering, and water collection. But the knife must be up to the task.

What makes a knife suitable for the rigors of a survival lifestyle? Let’s start with blade material.

Blade Material

The blade of a good survival knife should be made of tough, edge-holding, corrosion-resistant metal. Knife metallurgy is a constantly evolving science, but in general, a stainless steel blade in any one of the 440 A, 440 B or 440 C categories will be a good choice.

Blade Geometry

When it comes to blade geometry, the knife should have a full-length tang that runs all the way to a functional pommel at the butt of the handle that can serve as a hammer. Some part of the blade should have aggressive serration for sawing through small limbs. The back of the blade should have a stout spine that can be hammered on to assist in chores like splitting firewood into kindling or hacking your way through a tree limb. The blade should have a sharp point and good slicing ability. Strive for some balance between the amount of the blade that is serrated and the portion that has a plain edge, because you’ll need both.


Under survival conditions, you’ll sometimes be wet and muddy. Your knife needs a grip that is not slippery when wet. Knife manufacturers use every trick in the book to accomplish this, from shaping the grip with contours to fit among your fingers, to using aggressive crosschecking, or employing “grippy” materials. Find a knife that feels comfortable in your hand, and do a wet test, if possible. The grip should be durable enough to take a pounding without falling apart in your hands. A pretty grip that shatters the first time you use the knife as an axe isn’t worth much.


Your knife should be big enough and heavy enough to serve as an axe, pry bar, or a digging tool. Ideally, you’ll use your blade to make a good digging stick out of wood, so you don’t abuse your knife by sticking the blade in the ground. But you never know what’s going to come up in a survival situation, and the knife shouldn’t be a wimp about it.

If you pay attention to those four characteristics — blade material, blade geometry, grip, and overall size, you should be able to find a good survival knife that will suit your needs.