Survival Uses of the Amazing Pawpaw Tree

p1If you live in the Eastern United States, you may have a wonderful survival recourse growing near you. We’re referring to the amazing Pawpaw tree. The Pawpaw grows in wet woodlands all over the eastern part of this country. If you have ever eaten a Pawpaw then you know the pleasure of, in our opinion, the best tasting fruit in the country. It’s definitely the largest fruit native to North America and was harvested by natives here long before Columbus “discovered” this inhabited land. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Lewis and Clark were all admirers of the delicate banana mango like fruit. As delicious as the fruit is, it has benefits other than just flavor. Pawpaw fruits have more vitamins, minerals, amino acids and calories than apples, peaches and grapes. They are also higher in proteins and healthy fat. Only the banana has more healthy carbohydrates than the pawpaw.  The fruit is ripe most often in mid to late September.  As great as the food value is for pawpaw fruit, eating is not all the tree is good for.

p2The bark of the pawpaw tree is very fibrous. It was used by Native Americans and early settlers for making rope and cordage and is still very useful for that purpose. The bark strips easily and separates into long strong fibers. The fibers extend the whole length without interruption so fiber lengths of 20 ft or more are very possible. The fibers can be used as they are or twisted into two ply cordage for extra strength. The bark fibers also make a great birds nest for the bow drill fire.

Not only is the bark great as a tool, new evidence is showing it may be a great medicine a well. Pawpaw is related to the South American tree called the Soursop which many nutritionist’s and herbal medicine practitioners claim kills cancer cells. Both these trees contain natural neurotoxic insecticides known as acetogenins. Acetogenins have been proven to reduce tumor size in both humans and many other test animals but is not approved by the FDA.

The bright yellow wood of pawpaw is another useful part of this great tree. The wood is light and porous. It resembles balsa wood or yucca in its workability. Its very easy to carve and makes beautiful finished products due to its bright color. We use it to make flutes. The grain is straight and it is fast growing.

Because it’s so light it makes a great choice for bow drill kits. Coals are formed very easily with it without much pressure being needed. In fact, if you do use much pressure the dust formed may end up fibrous and slow in its uptake of oxygen, so take it easy. Less is more in this case.

pawpawPawpaw’s reproduce mainly by communal cloning. They can reproduce by seed but the seeds must never dry out. Because of this it’s tough to get commercial pawpaw trees but it is becoming more prevalent these days. I saw some pawpaw saplings for sale just the other day at Baker Creek Seed Company for less than 20$ per tree. Once one tree is growing the roots will spread out and more clones of the original tree will pop up until there is a whole community of pawpaw growing. So generally if you find one pawpaw you find a bunch. So go on out and find some and get familiar with this wonderful local resource and as always, from us here at Sigma 3, Thrive on.

Sign up for one of our Spring Plant Courses to learn more about the Pawpaw.

Also, checkout this short video from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources on the Pawpaw tree: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIjFebMEjoE

 

Build Your Own DIY Survival Fishing Kit

How to Build Your Own DIY Survival Fishing Kit

When living off the land, something we have to seriously think about is where are we going to get our food if we are to be in the wilderness for an extended period of time (more than 72 hours). One possible answer is fish and should be your top food priority if you have sufficient resources in your area. Survival fishing is the answer in many areas for all your food needs, and our instructor Josh Hamlin survived on fish almost exclusively for over 2 years while surviving in the wilderness. Fish can be quite abundant in many streams, rivers and lakes out in the backcountry depending on your location. It is important to have the right skills and equipment with you to be able to take advantage of this valuable resource and the better your equipment is the higher your chances of success. You can always go with less and bushcraft what you need but a kit like this will make things way to easy. You’ll have more fish than you know what to do with if you employ the equipment with the proper tactics. In this article I’m going to be showing you how to put together you own survival fishing kit for INCH bags and long term self-reliance. I’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get started.

Container
IMG_4244First of all, let’s begin with the container. When selecting a container, I always like to ensure that it meets the following criteria:

  • Fully Waterproof
  • Sturdy
  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • Small enough to fit into a cargo pants pocket

I would use a large, empty Altoids tin or the waterproof Adventurer Survival Kit box by Best Glide ASE to contain all you fishing bits and pieces. An alternative to a simple metal container would be a waterproof, plastic container with dividers inside for separating all your bits and pieces like this one here. And if I were you, I would wrap a couple of rubber bands or maybe a reasonable amount of paracord around the container for extra security.

Plastic Bags
Just because of who I am, I like to organise things into small zip lock style plastic bags. This makes sense as you don’t want your fishing gear all mixed up and you also want it to be easy to gain access to.

Fishing Line
Yes this fishing kit isn’t designed to be a minimalistic pocket sized kit but I like the idea of carrying a spool of a reasonable amount of commercial fishing line (60 – 100 m) just in case you’re unable to grab your hand reels or pack rods (which I’ll talk about later) for whatever reason or you might just lose one of your reels etc. Commercial fishing line is much stronger than standard fishing line and is great for survival purposes. In a sense, this kit has the ability to be self-contained in a pinch.

Assorted fishing hooks (24)
Always remember that small fish hooks can catch both small and large fish. The more hooks the better as they can get lost or swallowed by fish.

Swivels (12)
These are an essential component of your fishing rig and I suggest that you carry at least a dozen of these. They prevent line twist with spinning reels and will give you the ability to mix and match line sizes. Leaders are also a good option to add for larger fish with teeth and you will need both leaders/swivels for large teethed fish. circle hook

Circle hooks (12)
Due to the clever design of these hooks, they are proven to catch more fish and are rarely swallowed. It is becoming increasingly popular with anglers today. I’ve caught fish all over the world with these and they can even be used in the ocean with great effectiveness.

Artificial Baits (6)
Essentially, lures are artificial bait and come in very handy as they are good at enticing fish into thinking that they will make a tasty snack. Usually lures come in the shape of a small fish and… remember that large fish like eating small fish. So… keep a good quantity of these on hand.

Plastic Floats/Bobbers (3)
These little floating devices are great to have on hand. You CAN do without them (I have) but it just makes your job of finding your line visually, a lot easier. I suggest that you carry at least three of these because they can get lost pretty easily (especially in cases when you’re forced to cut the line).
If you’re the sort of person that like to improvise, wine corks, earplugs and foam all make good improvised bobbers too, by the way.

Split-shot Sinkers (12)

Carry at least a dozen lead split – shot sinkers in a small zip lock bag. These can get lost quite easily too.

Emmrod1Small hand fishing reels (4)

From experience I know that these are actually quite effective in catching a wide range of small to medium sized fish. Its a good idea to pack at least four of these inside your main fishing kit pouch and ensure that they have a significant amount of line on them. It does take a lot of skill using fishing reels, but with a little patience and practice you can master the skill of using it. There is a good fishing reel made by Yo-Yo which is basically automatic and saves you from manually reeling in the line (SIGMA 3 recommends that you get this particular brand).

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON EMMRODS!

 

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Pack rods (1)
These are foldable rods that are robust and aren’t susceptible to breakage as easily (like most telescopic rods). I recommend that you get the Emmrod Pack Rod from SIGMA 3. Its virtually indestructible, half the price and packs down a lot smaller than comparable pack rods. SIGMA 3 has caught all sizes of fish with these rods, they are absolutely amazing. Rob Allen, the founder, actually caught a 150 lb tarpon on one of these setups. Enough can’t be said about how packable, lightweight, and durable these little fishing setups are. You will take some loss in casting distance with a shorter rod, but for survival fishing it is excellent.

Gill Net (1)
Something else I’d add to this kit is a small gill (similar to seine) net (like the Adventurer Survival Gill Net made by Best Glide ASE). These are very effective and can be useful for catching a variety of crabs, shrimps and small fish in greater quantities than several lines would. Basically you stretch this across a river, stream or other waterway and any fish that get caught inside will be trapped by their gills. Obviously crabs and other similar sized seafood will be trapped merely by their size and their inability to get through the netting. This gill net is light, doesn’t take up much space and can be folded up and placed in a small ziplock plastic pouch for easy, compact storage.

Yo Yo Fishing Traps

yo yo trapThese are super handy and you can set them up in no time. This is a must have for every kit and will insure you’re catching fish while working on other things. They are essentially automatic fishing reels that set the hook, wear the fish out, and will have him waiting for you right below where you hung it. These are not the best for large fish but work great for fish 5 lbs and under. SIGMA 3 instructors have literally provided all their meat needs with just this simple little tool and have caught more fish than they can eat. We always carry these in our kits for survival fishing and consider it a must have for any place with fish. It’s recommended that you carry at least 4 per person in your group. We have several videos on our youtube channel explaining how to use them.

Click HERE for more info on Yo Yo Traps

Basic Knots Card
Knots can be hard to remember especially if you don’t go fishing regularly. I suggest that you get a waterproof knots card like the one here to keep inside your kit. It all comes down to personal preference, but if there’s one knot that you should remember, I personally recommend the clinch knot.

Natural Bait
I think artificial bait is a waste of valuable storage space in your survival fishing kit. I would recommend that you learn where to find natural bait and learn what fish like what. Finding and knowing the appropriate bait for a wide variety of fish is an invaluable skill to have.
Look around and under rocks for small critters such as grasshoppers and worms etc. Remember that big fish feed on small fish, so you’ll want to consider this as your bait when fishing for larger fish. If you have a specific bug out location (BOL) planned, I highly recommend that you thoroughly scout out the area and determine what fish live there. Knowing the type of fish that you’ll be catching will help you decide the right bait for them and also the places where they are most abundant. I think it’s a good idea to pack a large freezer bag inside your fishing kit to store bait in whilst collecting.

A good multitool
A multitool such as a Leatherman Wave (heavier option) or a Leatherman Sidekick (lightweight option) can come in handy for removing hooks, cutting line, processing fish and a multitude of other tasks.

Last but not least… a survival knife
This survival knife can be used for gutting, preparing fish and many other uses to do with fishing. I won’t go into depth about selecting the right survival knife for your needs but you can check out our custom SIGMA 3 Survival knife, as it is our most recommended choice in bushcraft blades.

The SIGMORA! FULL TANG SCANDI GRIND Click Here

Ok, so there you have it! A compact, yet comprehensive survival fishing kit that allows you to be self-reliant when bugging out for any extended period of time. You can tailor the size of your fishing kit to where you are going and how long you’ll be gone. This is very modular and can be scaled up or down based on your survival fishing needs. I hope you enjoyed this article and found the information useful.

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Testing Emmrod Survival Fishing Rods in Jungles of Nicaragua!

 

Cooking Armadillo for Survival Food

A lot of people look at Armadillo as some kind of taboo food for consumption unless it’s under extreme survival circumstances. Well I’m here to tell you that not only is it safe but it also tastes great. If you like pork then you’ll like Armadillo as well! They are basically just armored pigs that live in the ground and they are super easy to catch. For fun a lot of people try to sneak up on them and pick them up, which is very easy to do. These animals have such poor eye sight that you can usually sneak up on them with relative ease if the wind is in your favor. I’ve literally snuck up and pet them without them even knowing I was there. While they do have terrible eye sight remember that their great noses is what will give you away the quickest.

What is the best way to catch them?
Since they are typically nocturnal animals, you will most likely see them roaming around in the woods at night time. In fact, most small game animals are nocturnal and that is simply the best time to catch them. Don’t forget that hunting at night for most things is illegal and these techniques should only be used for survival purposes.

Just like you would go gigging frogs or spotlighting a deer, you can use a flashlight to distract your game while you walk up to them and dispatch them with a big stick or other weapon. Simply shine the light in the eyes of Armadilllo then walk over and pick him up to dispatch them. Sound is of the utmost importance when stalking them so you must not make a sound when approaching them. The light will blind them from seeing you but it won’t stop them from hearing you so walk softly. You can also stalk up to them in the daytime as well but your chances of success are much lower.

These animals are hard to trap without a live game box trap of some type because they just aren’t as likely to walk into a trap. You can also quickly construct a quickie bow to shoot them with if you can’t get close enough. It is much easier to catch them or hunt them actively during the best times though. The best time to get them are always during night or during low light. When looking for places to hunt them you need to look for places that have an abundance of food for them. They primarily root up bugs and eat underground tubers so you will want to look in areas that have an abundance of good soil. They will roam almost anywhere but your highest likelihood of catching them is near their feeding areas. They also tend to shelter underground by digging elaborate tunnels where they hole up as a group. These holes they dig can also be snared or trapped to catch them coming and going.

IMG_0470IMG_0473

How to Clean & Butcher Armadillo
The Armadillo is just like every other animal except that it has a shell around it that makes it very convenient for cooking. The animal should first be gutted and all the entrails removed and set aside for other survival uses. Once the animal is gutted and well cleaned then we are going to stoke the fire up and use the flames to singe all the hair off it’s body. Once the flames have burnt the hair off then you need to scrape off some coals to one side to create a cooking fire. Then set the armadillo in the coals with the shell facing down into the coals. This shell will help us cook it without losing any of it’s fat to fire. It is really essential is survival that you don’t allow fat to drip into your fire being wasted. So by keeping the shell on this will preserve all the calories in the meat. You need to slowly turn the animal so that it cooks evenly all over the shell and make sure that the stomach area meat is well cooked. This is not an animal you can afford to eat medium rare because just like pigs they have parasites and diseases we must be mindful of. Make sure you cook it well done and that all the meat is cooked evenly over the whole carcass. If one section of the meat is not done then don’t eat it and re-cook that area for safety. You can also slice the excess fat off the animal and render the fat for later use. This will provide you with lard that can be saved for other cooking projects later. This fat can also be used to burn as a bush candle if light is needed at your camp.

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Dangers of Eating Armadillo
A lot of people absolutely won’t eat an Armadillo because they have heard that you can get Leprecy from handling them. While some of the animals do carry the disease it is a very small percentage of the population and most people aren’t susceptible to the bacteria. The bacteria is easily killed by cooking it well done and as long as you don’t have any open cuts on your hand then you should be fine. You must remember that you should not clean animals with open cuts and if you do then you need to wear gloves. Don’t forget to clean up and sanitize your hands the best you can after you’re done cleaning the animal. Armadillo is no different than eating pork because swine can carry all kinds of nasty diseases/parasites as well so don’t be overly worried about this meat source. If you love eating bacon then you shouldn’t sherk away from some slab of Armored Pork! It is always best to eat the cleanest eating animal you can get but the best meat to eat is usually the hardest to get. So this is a good first start for meat procurement when in survival mode. You always start with small less desirable game and work your way up to better tasting animals in your survival priorities.

Common_Long-nosed_Armadillo_area

What is leprosy? A bacterial disease, also known as Hansen’s disease, which causes lesions, growths and dryness on human skin. Your chances of getting leprosy are really, really low. Ninety-five percent of the population isn’t even susceptible to the disease, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. A 2008 study put to rest the belief that you can get leprosy from eating armadillo. Of some 2500 armadillos caught and tested in Florida, none had leprosy. And for many years researchers were hard pressed to find someone in the United States with leprosy who had actually been in physical contact with armadillos in the United States.

Nutrition Facts Breakdown
All in all, Armadillo meat is extremely high in fat and looks very much like a pig meat when you slaughter it. In fact, it is one of the highest calorie small game animals that you can catch. A pound of meat will bring between 700-1200 total calories depending on the fat content and time of year the animal is harvested. So if you catch a 10-15 lb Armadillo then you can be assured to get a minimum of 5,000 calories from it.

Armadillo Nutrition Facts

Range & Species of Armadillos
The range of these animals is wide spread all over the south of United States, ranging all the way down to South America. Considering how spread out they are over North America to South America, this is a very good pick for survival hunting. There are numerous species of Armadillo ranging in all sizes from super small to extremely large. The giant species can grow in excess of 60 inches long and over a 100lbs in weight. What a meal that would be! While the smaller species can be a little as 6 inches and only a few pounds.

Common South American Dish

Conclusion:

While Armadillo doesn’t seem to be the most appetizing of survival foods, it is in fact very tasty and extremely high in calories. Combine that with the fact that they are very stupid and easy to catch makes them the perfect food choice for the primitive survivalist. On top of that they aren’t regulated by most state laws and have no seasons or regulations for taking them. What is there to lose with some proper precautions? We totally recommend that you get out there and try this food and see if it is a potential calorie source for your survival needs!

 

 

If you have any questions about this subject please post them in our Facebook Group “The SIGMA 3 Survival University”.

Robleantoo pic

By Robert Allen

President

SIGMA 3 Survival School

 

 

 

 

Demystifying a Few Common Mushrooms

The first rule of eating wild mushrooms is: DO NOT EAT THEM unless you are 100% sure of the mushroom you are eating. This is not always easy because some mushrooms that are choice edibles look incredibly similar to other mushrooms which will end your life. Sometimes a microscope is required to know the differences. We will not be dealing with any mushrooms in this category. I always hunt mushrooms that I know don’t have any dangerous look-alikes or ,if they do, I know positively how to tell the look-alikes from the real thing. Its these easy to identify mushrooms I’ll be talking about in this article.

CoralFungus

Coral Mushrooms

Corals 

One of my absolute favorite common mushrooms is the coral mushroom. These have no look-alikes and they are incredibly delicious. There is a great deal of variety with coral mushrooms but the basic shape resembles an ocean coral, hence the name. They come in colors from white to red to purple and orange. If you find any mushroom that resembles coral you can be sure without a doubt that it is edible and probably delicious. I have had a couple corals that were a little bitter. They were purple with short branches and looked like a cauliflower in shape. This is rare however and most are incredible. Not only do they have a wonderful taste, they also have a great texture.

blewit mushroom

Blewit Mushroom

Blewits

Blewits are another common mushroom we have been finding in abundance and they are delicious. They are a purple gilled mushroom that are pretty easy to identify but there are other purple gilled mushrooms to watch out for so be sure to do your research. I like to eat blewits with pasta and of course butter. Unfortunately they don’t retain their blue color when cooked.

Chanterelles

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Chantarelle Mushroom

Chanterelles are a wonderful tasting common mushroom and I’m always so glad when I walk up on some. They are trumpet shaped mushrooms with great texture and flavor. There are  many varieties but I find yellow trumpets more than any other. I also find orange ones called Cinnabars, quite often. There are a couple lookalikes to the yellow and orange chanterelles. One is the Jack-O-Lantern, which is poisonous, and the other is the false chanterelle, which is edible. You can tell them apart pretty easily. Chanterelles have false gills. Jack-O-Lanterns have true gills. And, False Chanterelles have hollow stems.

Puffballs

puffball

Puffball Mushroom

Puffballs are perhaps the easiest common mushroom to identify. They are generally round and white and their solid flesh is white all the way through if they are not too ripe to be eaten. I consider puffballs to be the cheap generic mushroom. They have mild flavor if they have any flavor at all and their texture is unpleasant at best. They can be cooked in a way to make them taste pretty good if you bread them and deep fry them, but they need a lot of seasoning. They are bland without it, and slimy. Perhaps I’m too critical of them but I have tasted heaven and had to come back to earth and eat puffballs. Once you’ve tasted chanterelles, morels, corals, and oysters, coming back to puffballs is kind of a letdown. However, don’t let that discourage you from giving them a try. Everyone has different preferences.

There are a few things to watch out for when picking puffballs. Some young very poisonous mushrooms in their button phase look like puffballs. Cutting the puffball in half will ensure you don’t have one of these buttons. Also as puffballs ripen they become inedible. Again, cutting them in half will let you know. If they are white and solid they are good to eat. If they are dark or not solid you can discard them.

Final Thoughts

This is just a small list of a common mushrooms and it’s definitely NOT a guide to identification. Be sure to do your research before eating mushrooms. There is NO room for error. If you make a mistake you may not live to tell about it. Some mushrooms are incredibly poisonous and have no antidote. If you think you have eaten a bad mushroom go to the emergency room immediately and take a sample of the mushroom with you if possible.

A good way to learn about wild mushrooms is at your local nature centers. They have helped me a lot. Also invest in good books and study them. There may be some type of mycological society in your city. Also, Facebook has several good groups with people who are experts or at least they think they are. Never trust any one source. Always get second and third opinions. When your life is on the line it is YOUR responsibility to be 100% sure. You won’t be able to sue anybody when you’re dead.

The Perfect Wilderness Salve

The Perfect Wilderness Salve

Last year I made an all natural product for medicinal uses that surpasses my expectations all the time and I just had to share it with everyone! If you don’t know what salve is then you are in for a real medicinal treat. Salve can be used for an amazing amount of external ailments. I have personally used it on boils, bites, blemishes (pimples), deep cuts, infections, and rashes! Its made of a medicinal concoction that relieves all types of symptoms. This salve is the single best thing I have ever used for treating poison ivy. Its really amazing at how well it works. The yarrow numbs the skins and eliminates the itch and the anti-inflammatory plants dry the wound up! Try it for yourself!

 

Salve is made as follows:

Items Needed: olive oil (or rendered fat for primitive applications), bees wax, medicinal herb concoction of your choice, boiling pot, mason jar, cook top or fire

Favorite Personal Herb Blend: When you combine all these plant medicinal properties together this recipe creates one of the most potent external creams that one could have. Better than anything I have tried store bought.

Yarrow- coagulant, pain reliever, astringent, disinfectant, anti-bacterial (extremely powerful herb)

Willow- anti-inflammatory, contains same properties as active ingredient in aspirin, chewing bark relieves headaches

Plantain- great for all kinds of external wounds, anti-bacterial, and many wonderful properties that have been used as a medicinal for thousands of years

Garlic- known for its abilities to kill hundreds of different micro-organisms, anti-viral, bug repellent, etc.

 

Fill a pan with small amount of water about an inch or two deep. Bring it to a slow rolling boil on low heat. Next fill your mason jar with your custom herb concoction and then cover the herbs with olive oil. The more herbs the more potent its medicinal properties. Set the jar in the water and let them simmer for 20-30 minutes. Make sure to not let mixture get to hot or it will hurt the medicinal potency of the herbs. After the mixture has had plenty of time to simmer then remove the mason jar and pour the contents through a piece of cheese cloth to filter all the particles out. Keep filtering until cleared of leftover herb particles. When you have properly strained everything, then set the mason jar with the olive oil back in the water on low heat. Then begin adding your bees wax. Amounts vary depending on how much you plan to make, but just add enough to give the mixture the consistency of Neosporin after it has cooled. Set it out in a cool dry spot to setup and come back a few hours later and it is ready to go. This salve will last for years and is guaranteed to produce awesome results. Try this recipe out sometime and make comments about your results in the forum.