Hunting

4 Survival Skills Every Hunter Must Master

Hunter in the wild in a survival situation

Hunting and just generally being outdoors is always a rewarding experience. You learn more and see more than you ever thought possible. With that being said, Mother Nature must be respected. You have to be ready for the unexpected and prepared to react when things go wrong.

Hopefully, you’ll never need to tap into survival skills out in the wild, but you’d better know at least some basic ones. That way, if something goes wrong while you hunt, you can handle the situation and get yourself back to safety. Here are four survival skills every hunter needs to know.

1. How to Build a Fire

Make the fire in nature

Fire will allow you to cook food and keep warm among other things. In a survival situation, it’s absolutely necessary and you need a way to start one. You can carry a lighter or matches with you, but it’s worth knowing how to build a fire with nothing else but firestarter or fire steel.

I also recommend carrying some dried moss, grass, fabric, or some other kind of fire starting material with you. This is a must-have if you only have a flint and steel to start your fire.

You’ll want to gather at least one of the materials mentioned above, some small twigs and kindling, and some larger wood before you begin the process of actually lighting the fire. If you have a lighter, light up the smallest stuff first and build the fire as the flame increases. If you’re using fire steel, get a spark to land on dry moss, grass, or fabric and gently blow on it until you get a flame. Then add to the fire as it grows.

I strongly recommend becoming proficient with whatever method you choose to use before you start hunting avidly. This will ensure you can build a fire should you need to. Practice makes perfect, and you need to be well-practiced.

2. How to Find Water and Purify It

A stream hunters can use as a water source.

Without water in the wilderness, you won’t make it in a true survival situation. You need to be able to find water to drink.

Look for animal tracks and trails in the wilderness. Animals need water, too, and signs of them should be an indicator that it’s close by. Also, listen for water, you should be able to hear a river or stream well before you can see it.

There are numerous purification systems or kits out there for you to buy. I highly recommend one for every hunter. This allows you to utilize the water source you find. If you’re without one, you can boil the water, which should kill parasites and germs.

However, it’s important to note that you need to keep the water at a rolling boil for at least one minute. If you’re way up in the mountains, it’s recommended to boil the water it for three minutes.

3. How to Build Some Kind of Shelter

A hunter's tent shelter

If you’re out backwoods or backcountry hunting for a few days, you’ll need to have some kind of camp equipment or shelter with you anyway. A small tent can be packed away and a minimal inconvenience to carry. For multi-day hunting trips, have one with you.

If you’re out just for the day but far from civilization, it’s smart to have some kind of shelter with you, too. A small tent works, but so does a large poncho and some paracord. Several feet of paracord is easy to pack away, and ponchos pack up easy, too. if you need to create shelter, you can construct a tent out of those two materials easily.

If you’re without either option above and you get stuck in the wilderness, use the natural materials around you. With fallen branches, sticks, and leaves, you can construct a lean-to rather easily. Just at least make sure you have a sturdy knife to help you build your shelter.

4. How to Navigate With and Without GPS

A compass and map for navigating

I have a pretty good sense of direction naturally. However, many people don’t. Don’t worry if you struggle. There are skills you can learn to help. Learning to use a GPS system can make navigation easy. Pick a system and learn how to use it.

However, you can’t always rely on GPS, and you should learn to get around without one. Navigating without a GPS can be better managed with a compass. However, if you don’t have one, don’t worry.

Finding your way is easier during the day is easier than at night. The sun can be your guide. It rises in the east and sets in the west. If you know the approximate time of day, then you should be able to figure out North, South, East, and West.

That’s only part of the equation, though. You also need to know where you are in relation to where you want to go. Some basic knowledge of the area you’re hunting will serve you well. In most cases, with some basic knowledge of where you are you should be able to use the sun and figure out which direction to travel.

Maps can be helpful. I suggest carrying one. With a map, you can more easily figure out where started, where you are, and where you need to get to. With the sun as your guide, you should be able to find your way.

At night, the North Star needs to be your guide. The moon won’t cut it. If you don’t know where the north star is, look for the big dipper constellation. The two stars that form the outer edge of the dipper point towards another bright star. That is the north star. With that info and some knowledge of where you are, you should be able to navigate.


With those four survival skills down and your hunting skills, you should be able to make do in an emergency and get yourself through a difficult situation.

Anything not included that you think should be? Leave a comment below.

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