Sigma 3 Survival: Week 2

Sigma 3 Survival: Week 2

Advanced Survival Course Begins

Day 1 

 I was getting into a routine of waking up around 5:30 without having to rely so heavily on my alarm to do the job. I was enjoying having Matt, Josiah, and around 2-4 other guys showing up for eggs, coffee, and to talk over the upcoming day. After getting the morning dishes done, we all headed up to the main camp. I was enjoying the morning challenge of trying to get a coal from my oak fire board and spindle. As the old saying goes, “Where there is smoke, there is fire”, but in this case is was just an old wives’ tale…especially this morning. Next, we started building a new double lean-to shelter. It took the better part of the day to complete, even with the whole crew working on it. Around 3:00 pm, a strange, but familiar smell came over the camp. It was the arrival of the billy goat that we were about to butcher. In my life, I have butchered everything from squirrels to cows, so I didn’t want to deprive the others of the privilege of dispatching and cleaning the stinky little beast.

Goat hide, photo by Claude Overstreet
Smoking the goat meat, photo by Claude Overstreet

Day 2  

After friction fire practice in the morning, we started processing the rest of the goat and made racks for smoking the meat. While the meat was smoking, we cut down an oak tree, made wood benches, some cooking utensils, and a sweet wood mallet, which we named Thor’s Hammer.

Day 3 

 Rob added a fun twist to morning bow drill practice … PT. Fifty push-ups, fifty sit-ups, fifty air squats, twenty-five burpees, one hundred jumping jacks, and a ½ mile run was a good way to get the heart pumping.  After all that fun, we went right into learning the hand drill fire. I previously learned this at Rabbit Stick Primitive Skills gathering from Myron Cretney, but here we added finger straps with downward pressure to the spindle. This was new to me, and would definitely help when I teach kids in the future. After lunch, we made a bunch of different traps and discussed many others. 

Coal burning a spoon, photo by Matt Kessler
Bird Snare, photo by Matt Kessler


Day 4 & 5

Camping at Assumption Abbey

The first thing we did was go on a hike up to some caves. On our way back, we gathered some nettles and bamboo for making cordage and a fish trap. On the beach along the river, we all cowboy camped and worked on projects, the first one being basket making.

When asked if I had made baskets before by one of the other students, I replied, “I am a level three basket maker.”

 A little later, he was struggling with his basket, and asked, “How do I fix my screwed-up basket?”

  “ I don’t know, I am just a level three basket maker.”

“That’s why I am asking.”

 “You know there’s over one hundred levels of basket making”…

We both laughed and I helped him fix his basket.  After that, we started on the fish trap. When finished, it was real work of art.

We made many crafts, including fish hooks and spears, but the greatest accomplishment for me was making a friction fire with nettle cordage. This alone was worth the whole trip.

Finished fish trap photo by Claude Overstreet
Matt, Josiah, and myself working on the fish trap
Class down by the by Claude Overstreet