How to Build Emergency Wilderness Survival Shelters


Construct a Survival Shelter




© copyright 2004 2012, by Gary Benton

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The weather had changed quickly. The once clear sky was now filled with dark moving clouds and large flakes of snow had started falling over an hour ago. When I had started my hunt earlier that day the weather had been perfect. I shuddered as I realized I would not have time to find the truck before darkness fell. It looked like I would have to spend the night in the bush. Nonetheless, spending the night was much safer than meandering around in the dark woods with snow falling. As tired as I was, I knew what had to be done.


My first step was to get organized before it became dark. While it is possible to establish an emergency campsite in the dark, it is much more difficult. Plus, with bad weather approaching it was important that I find all the dry firewood I could, and quickly.


Looking around, I was able to find a spot in a group of oak trees that was pretty much out of the wind. I made sure there was no dead tree limbs overhead that could fall on me during the night.


I quickly gathered up kindling for the fire, as well as a full nights worth of firewood. I knew the night would be cold, so I added a little more to the pile than I would usually have. I scraped the snow off the ground, dug a small fire pit, and started a fire. I filled my metal canteen cup with water and put it to boil near the fire as I started on other chores.


Snow was falling faster now as I opened my backpack and took out a poncho and a roll of nylon cord, approximately twenty feet. I tired the cord between two tree trunks and then draped the front of the poncho over the cord. Using the grommets on the poncho, I secured the poncho to the line. I then used sharpened stakes to pin the other end of the poncho to the ground. I now had a shelter from the snow and what little wind that was blowing.


While survival was not longer an issue, I wanted a little comfort to go along with my evening in Mother Nature’s hotel. In just a few minutes I have removed some green cedar boughs from nearby trees and had placed them inside my shelter. To keep the boughs from irritating my skin, and making sleep more difficult, I covered them with my space blanket. The boughs would form a rough mattress for my nights sleep and insulate me from the cold ground.


Since I always carry a survival kit, containing foods and emergency supplies, I was prepared for the evening. I soon had a cup of coffee and a banquet of dehydrated stew (dehydrated meals are light and inexpensive to carry). I finished my meal with a piece of hard candy, which I knew was not only a treat, but also a way to increase my body heat. I felt much better with the fire burning, a hot meal inside of me, and a shelter behind me. I was content.


As soon as the meal was done, I picked up my cell phone and called my wife. I informed her that I would not be home that night, explained why, and told her exactly where I was, or as near as I figured I was. I further informed her I was safe, had a shelter, and would call her in the morning as soon as I reached the truck. I did this to avoid a search and rescue mission being call to look for me and to give her peace of mind.


The next morning dawned clear and bright, with snow covering the landscape. In less than an hour I had reached the truck, called my wife, and on my way. Not a bad situation at all, if you are prepared.




Emergency Survival Shelters



Gary Benton has over 45 years of outdoor experience in camping, hiking, fishing, and other activities. He's no armchair survival man, he's walked the walk from the arctic to the desert and all the area in between. Gary has an associates degree in Search and Rescue, Survival Operations, a B.S. in Industrial Occupational safety, and all but his thesis completed for a M.S. in Counseling Psychology.
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