The Realities of Primitive Trapping

So you have watched YouTube. You have learned some primitive traps. You have even set some squirrel poles in your backyard and have killed some mice with deadfalls. Now you feel you are ready to go into the wilderness for an extended stay to test your trapping abilities. You’re going to live off the land from what nature provides. I think that is great. You are doing exactly what you should do to hone your skills. In this article I am going to try to help you along your trapping journey by adding a bit of reality to the fantasy. I will dispel some of the myths associated with primitive trapping. Some of these myths are repeated in many books on the market, others are just unstated inside the trappers mind. Hopefully this article will clear up some of the common misconceptions and ultimately help you tune up your trapping ability.

Myth #1- Primitive traps are almost as effective as modern traps.

1  It is absolutely true that the best way to learn about primitive trapping is to study modern trapping techniques. Modern trappers don’t do trapping in their backyards as a hobby. They do this in the real world to earn income and if they fail they lose money. There are many videos on the market that show very effective ways to catch animals with modern traps. These are valuable resources and will help your primitive trapping success.

However, you cannot expect your primitive traps to yield you anywhere near the amount of meat that these modern traps can bring you. Allow me to illustrate this point with an example from my own life.

Several years ago, when Sigma 3 was a new school, Rob Allen (Sigma 3’s founder) and I, did a survival trip together for a few weeks. We were comparing modern survival with primitive survival. I, being a primitive skills specialist, was relying on only what nature could provide for me. Rob is a modernist and believes in taking advantage of technology as long as it is light weight and easy to use. Rob brought with him four Conibear traps and five yo-yo traps. I set at least 30 primitive traps. His traps provided our food for the remainder of our excursion. My traps provided a couple mice while his traps provided us with raccoons, possums, a skunk, and several dozen fish. Now I was no beginner when this took place. I had already lived several years in the wilderness off of only my traps. I knew primitive trapping was difficult, I just didn’t realize the huge difference in effectiveness between modern and primitive traps. This event changed my view on modern traps and now, because I like to eat, I always carry a couple Conibears with me into the wilderness.

Myth #2- A few traps will provide you with enough food to survive.

2   I’m not saying that you cannot survive on primitive traps. I have. What I am saying is that primitive traps do not compare to modern traps. While you may be able to survive on five Conibears, You will not be able to survive on five primitive traps, or even 25. Realistically, if you want to survive on primitive traps you need about 100 per person. And this is if your game is good. If you’re new to trapping, 200 traps is not a bad idea. Now this may sound like a lot but really it isn’t that difficult to do.  This is how I go about it. I sit around the campfire on night one and make about 30 traps. The next day I go out and set these traps in a line in groups of five. I mark each group of five by stacking three rocks on top of each other near them. Everywhere I see three rocks stacked I know there are five traps in the area for me to check. If your traps are camouflaged correctly they will be hard to spot. Make sure you check them all.

On night two, I sit around the campfire and make 30 more traps. The next day I go check my traps and add 30 more to the trap line. I continue doing this until I’m bringing in enough food to keep me satisfied. Once my trap line is producing enough small game I start constructing a few large game traps. That brings me to myth #3

Myth #3-Primitive trapping will provide plenty of large game.

3   Large game is obviously desirable. One large animal can provide several meals and can be preserved for later hard times. But large game is not to be expected. Small game is your bread and butter, and by small game, I mean mice, rats, squirrels, and rabbits. Once you have a steady source of these little fellows, then you can start aiming for larger things like ground hogs, possums, raccoons, and even deer. But remember; do not rely on these bigger animals for survival. Hope for them but do not expect them.

 

Myth#4-Primitive traps will start feeding you immediately.

 

There is some truth to this myth. Some of your traps may bring you food immediately, but the majority of your traps will not. Animals are not as stupid as most people think. They spend their entire lives knowing that everything wants to eat them. Because of this, animals have a naturally suspicious nature. When something new, like your trap, appears in their environment, their immediate reaction is fear.  They will avoid them at all costs. Your trap may need to be out awhile until it no longer seems out of place to the areas residents.

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Myth#5-Set your traps on animal trails

 

Remember Animals live their entire lives knowing other animals are trying to eat them. When you happen across an animal trail in the wilderness, odds are that many animals share that trail. Generally a deer trail is not actually a deer trail but a deer, coyote, raccoon, possum, bobcat trail. When an animal is using one of these natural highways they are on high alert. They are checking their six with their heads on a swivel to avoid the animals which will make a quick meal of them. This generally means that animals will not eat while traveling on trails. There are some effective trail traps that are not baited but funneling becomes a priority and again animals will become suspicious of anything new in their environment. What I generally do is set my traps at least five feet off the animal trails and I create a hidden little cubby with the bait in it. Of course this “safe place” is anything but safe but to the mind of the animal it seems safe. It can’t be seen from the trail (entrance away from trail) and offers a good hiding place from predators. If you are used to trapping on trails this little tip could double your success overnight.

I do not want to discourage you from using primitive traps. I just don’t want you to have an unrealistic expectation of their effectiveness. You can feed yourself and your family primitively. It just takes a lot practice and a lot of work. Your ancestors did it and so can you.

The good news is, once you have your traps out, they do most of the work for you. Unlike, primitive hunting, you may be able to actually sustain yourself with primitive traps. But dispelling the myths of primitive hunting is another article for another time. Until then, Thrive on!

 

Interested in learning primitive traps?  Be sure to Check out our Survival Trapper’s Bible Series:

 

www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLQeipmNB-ppLca8BNDMgsXpfqD97UlK3y

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.

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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

 

 

 

 

How to Build a Survival Crossbow

A Survival Crossbow
By Joshua G. Hamlin

crossbow 1We, at Sigma 3, recently posted a video on how to make a survival crossbow. I would love to take credit for inventing this crossbow, but I cannot. I looked at some early crossbows for ideas, and converted them into one I could make primitively. For one, I tie the bow to the stalk instead of nailing it. To do this, a hole must be cut through the sides of the stalk so that the cordage doesn’t pass over the area where the arrow rests. I also add a trigger cap which guides the string and holds the arrow (or bolt) in place. The trigger system itself is very simple. It’s a “T” shaped piece of wood that leans forward when you pull back on the trigger, releasing the string, and firing the arrow.

Now let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of this type of crossbow. One of the things that is so great about this crossbow is that you can sight down the arrow to aim. You still have to figure in gravity and wind resistance, but with a little practice you should be hitting your target every time. Another advantage is that your bow is ready to fire, instantly. You don’t have to draw back if you see game; you can just point and shoot. But the biggest advantage is that the crossbow can be set, with a tripwire or bait. Of course this type of trap is very dangerous and very illegal. The trigger does not discern between animals and humans and will gladly take down either one. For this reason, this type of trap should only be used in an emergency and should be clearly marked so that people can see it.

There are some other problems with this type of survival crossbow as well. First, the trigger is very sensitive and can go off accidentally, causing serious injury or death. Even a slight crossbow2bump can set it off. Be careful to never point this towards anybody or towards anything that may cause the arrow to ricochet. Another problem with this crossbow is that it’s awkward. It’s heavy and cumbersome. You can’t crawl through the bush without setting it off. Also, the arrow is only being held by the cap over the trigger so it will sometimes fall off if it’s leaned to the side. Finally, that string will get you. If your fingers or thumb are in the path of the string when the bow is fired it’s going to hurt. Be sure to hold the crossbow like shown in figure 2.

These survival crossbows are very useful and a lot of fun, so make one. Be sure to show us your results and feel free to ask for advice, anytime. Have fun and be safe

 

 

Wilderness Survival Priorities Timeline

This is a  priority breakdown of how one should set out to start a survival situation with almost no gear and their knife!

 

First Day- Build a shelter the first morning and get the shelter to a comfortable level of warmth for your climate. It must be dry, warm, and provide a place to store things. Custom debris hut is usually first choice in most climates in our area. I will make sure that my shelter is located reasonably close to a water supply. While I am gathering shelter materials I should also use the opportunity to gather firewood for the fire at night as well. Next, I will begin making a fire with primitive bow drill or a hand drill with thumbhole strings to reduce energy consumption and make getting a coal easier. If I have suitable cordage then I will always go with bow drill first but if cordage is in very short supply then I do the hand drill. At the end of day one I will shift my focus to making several no carve pauite deadfalls and split stick figure four deadfalls. Set them out next to pack rat dens and near other high traffic areas for small game. Before I return to camp I should try to gather natural cordage material to bring back and when night time arrives I can make several feet of cordage around the light of the campfire. Note: Always make time to forage for edibles to and from different spots and make a throwing stick while out in case possible game opportunity presents itself!

 

Day Two- Begin the morning by re-stoking the fire and go check my nearby traps to see if the overnight traps caught me breakfast. Return to camp and begin either processing trapped game or begin improving your shelter while it is still cool. Shelter building is one of the more labor intensive parts of survival and should be done when the least amount of calories will be used. Then begin making more simple traps as well as a few more complex trap triggers for larger game. If there is fish nearby then immediately begin making fish traps because they are the easiest prey to catch. Bugs, worms, and anything smelly works for land and water traps. While you are out always be foraging for convenient wild edibles and collect any potential harvest the forest provides you with! The second day should almost be completely consumed by shelter improvement and food gathering. But don’t forget to stay hydrated!

 

Day Three- By day three you should have several dozen traps set out and producing food. This is your main focus until you have created enough food generation sources to provide you with enough fresh meat to eat on hand and enough extra to begin storing extra dryed meats, edibles, etc. Begin putting these things back for your next move. Every time you are out always make sure you are gathering materials when they become available. Don’t wait and come back later only to waste more calories. If you plan to leave your shelter and be on the move, then make sure you have stockpiled plenty of dried food goods for your journey plus a little more than you think you need just in case!

 

Day Four- When day four rolls around you should be more accommodated to your situation and should be at least providing yourself with a minimal amount of calories to survive without losing to much weight, if any! You should continue to improve on your situation adding new food generation sources and utilizing your areas resources to be prepared for whatever your endeavor may be. You should also have begun making things like drying racks and tools to use to make your work easier!

 

-In my experience, this generally turns out to be the general timeline of how long it takes to begin being truly self sustained in a known wilderness area. Everyday, is a snow ball effect of how your resources collect and you should take every free minute to improve upon your situation. At night time you should be making cordage and use any free time in a redundant manner to make the most efficient use of your time! When your basic needs are taken care of, then you move on to the higher primitive arts, such as tool construction. Stick with these timeline goals in mind and you will do good in almost any situation!

 

Summary: Day one make shelter near water,  make fire, and then make traps to gather food overnight while you are sleeping; Day two should be shelter improvement, foraging, and making as many traps as you can, especially fish traps; Day 3 Continue making traps, improving shelter, making cordage and start putting food back if you have any excess; Day 4 You should be self sustaining in most climates by this time and should be producing enough food so that you are not losing any weight. Don’t Forget to Stay Hydrated!