HomePublicationsThe Tracker MagazineVol 2, No. 1, Winter 1983

The Tracker Magazine - Vol 2 No. 1, Winter 1983

Winter Survival
Tom Brown Jr.

For some reason, when the dead of winter comes many people stay indoors, except for a few ice or snow sports.   Winter camping, with all the heavy equipment, is practiced only by a few, and winter survival camping is almost non-existent.   Except, of course, for that fool, Tom Brown, who loves to take his people out on full survival training in January. Winter is no time to get cold feet (chuckle, chuckle!), for survival or primitive camping, but rather a time to improve on your skills and bring them to a new height.   In winter survival, everything is critical.   Winter survival conditions tax your skills much more than other seasons.   Anyone can go on survival outings in the spring, summer, and fall, for rarely does the temperature drop below 20 degrees F. and the bounties of nature can be easily collected. The winter months, however, are reserved for those people who have practiced their skills and have mastered them to an art form.

I strongly suggest that the student use the winter as a teacher, a purification, a time to wash away and purge the inner self.   Winter is one of the best teachers we have because you can't fake survival, even with the luxuries of a blanket and knife.

A good way to teach yourself winter survival and to master your skills is to take a safe winter survival campout.  You and a few others (never go alone) should pack as if you were going on a winter backpacking trip, bringing warm clothing, sleeping bags, and all the other things people think they need to feel comfortable.   Then when you get to your camp location, set the 500 lb. pack down and leave it there, hopefully for the entire time of the outing.   What you should then do is build a shelter and a fire, gathering along the way anything you can dig out of the ground, or snow, to eat.  The object is to live in a full survival situation, with just the clothes on your back, knowing that if conditions got really bad you could fall back on the safety of your pack.

This way you can hone your skills, practice the survival techniques, and master a good mental attitude, knowing the whole time that you can always fall back on that damned backpack.   After a few weekends of practicing in this way you will be well equipped to master any winter survival situation, and your skills will be polished by the winter winds.   Come the milder times of the year you will find that your survival situations will never be difficult again, in fact they will seem almost too easy, all too tame.

Winter is a tremendous teacher, bringing with it the full purifying power of the north, and building on our skills and inner strength like no other season can.   The object is to become one with winter so you will never fear its icy grip again.   Let's face it, there are a lot of beautiful things to be seen out there, with no summer crowds to mess up the scenery, or your solitude.

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