Solo Survival- How to Survive Alone in the Desert

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EzGfug8A2s

[Music] hey this is Tom McElroy wild survival skills calm in this video I'm going to
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head out into the Sonoran Desert for a week and document the crucial steps I take to show you how you would live out
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here in full survival alright my first step is to get out of this area right now I'm under full sun exposure
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it's early morning so that doesn't matter so much but before it gets to have you know Sun right overhead I need
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to get up into these canyons that I can get some shade and potentially find some water
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okay here we go I've got my shelter this is my favorite one because it doesn't have any rodent material inside not much
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evidence animals are using it a small entry way that I can close off in a fairly small cave that I can heat up
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pretty easily also there's a ton of material nearby a bunch of rocks ten feet away in a dry streambed and so it's
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not going to take me too much energy to carry those up here and seal off this section it's really windy today and I
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bet it's going to be super windy tonight the temperature fluctuates between 95 and 45 at night so you know I've got to
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worry about the heat in the day but I can't forget that it's going to get cold tonight for this type of shelter to work
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I don't have the insulation inside there really isn't that much to help hold my body heat in so I need a fire luckily
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for me deserts are some of the easiest environments to get a fire going alright so like I said there's a dry creek bed
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just down below so I've collected a bunch of rocks got them all piled up here so I can put this together really
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quickly I just want to seal off the entryway as I was walking up here I already saw snakes I saw a Gila monster
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so anything I can do to discourage rodents and animals from coming in here I also want to block the wind so I'm
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going to build up the entryway close it off as much as possible just so that I can sneak in and out and it'll even
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actually hold in some of the heat so I'm just going to throw a bunch of rocks up here and call it good all right so this
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is a rocket science I piled up a bunch of rocks I need to make sure it's really sturdy try to fill in all the gaps maybe
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throw a bunch of dirt in there if I had clay I would mostly though this is going to be a wind barrier and it's going to
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help hold in a little bit of the heat and reflect the fire light while I'm in that shelter and with a small fire I'm
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going to stay really warm in there alright so what I've got here is the skeleton of a saguaro cactus and in
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lower areas like this where we don't have very much agave and yucca for making hand drill this is a fantastic
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hand drill so I can break off this skeleton one of these little ribs and this becomes a really good handle I can
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just spin one against the other and it's going to work and get me a whole Suns going down time to get going
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what I'm going to do is just flatten out this bigger piece of Saguaro this rib of a saguaro plant it's going to be my fire
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board as I'm carving I'm just kind of feeling it finding a spot that feels like it's
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nice and solid not rotten or anything like that whole thing's pretty good and I don't
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need this much okay I'm going to square it off so it's just flat on top 90-degree edge on the side flat on
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bottom and now I've got my thinner Saguaro rib that I'm going to use for the hand drill the drilling section of
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this thing now lower ribs aren't always perfectly round more often not they're kind of like little rectangular and so I
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think my hands can handle it but just at the base here it's going to make sure it's as round as possible a lot of times
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I'll just take a gritty stone and just sand it just by rubbing on the edges the square edges you round it all out all
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right next thing I'm going to do is just point the end of this thing it's solid piece of wood so I just point the end
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put a little divot right in there and that's my setup oh all right well it's a tight shelter but that's the idea
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there's definitely a lot of really nice overhang out there that hopefully you know I'm going to spend most of the time
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in a day in those and just sleep in here at night I've started to collect some leaves and some creosote and all that
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and I don't make a nice bed hopefully we'll keep some bugs away maybe a snake and I definitely got to stock up more
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and just put in as much as I can and just bear with the smell of the creosote so alright I've got my hand drill
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getting a little windy out there so decided to bring it on in here last thing you want is to make a hand drill
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and then the wind comes and knocks your your formed coal out from underneath you and so this is the hand drill call
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spindle and nice and straight and basically to make frictions the same thing as everything it's pressure and
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speed so if I spin it really quickly between a hand while I'm pushing down on it
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creating pressure down at the base here that should do it so having the right combination of
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pressure and speed the right materials I should give you a fire going so what you can do is spin it between your hands
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just get warmed up don't kill yourself in the beginning putting all your strength into it and eventually you're
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going to push down real hard and when you do that your hands are probably going to go down it's smoking already
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real good so that's a good sign just going to speed up a little bit build up the heat so I don't just kick out all
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just just give it a little burst at the end all right so I think I've burned through my rock so hopefully it's
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there still smokin just barely hanging on though I'm not even going to touch it
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who's going to let it sit for a second just maybe fan some air into it you can see it's just now starting to catch on
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it just had a tiny spark in there I got lucky because I burned through the baseboard so I couldn't have gone any
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further all right I'm going to make sure all of its on this would ship really let it grow and let it smoke on its own you
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don't want to rush this part there's plenty of time better to let that heat and that red cold start to grow before
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you throw it in your tinder bundle so I've got on a little wood chip you'd see it's glowing oil night I'm going to put
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it right into the best part of my tinder bundle the part that's really fluffed up and dry hopefully the whole thing is but
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there's always one little section that's awesome I wrap it up like a bag in a bird's nest kind of let it sit for just
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a second let that heat gather and then I'm going to blow on it I've got my fire made behind me so I'm gonna have to do
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some quick switcheroo but for the camera's sake I'll try to hold out as long as I can this smokes more and
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Grille glows more I can blow harder hello hey starting to burn my fingers all right so like I said my fire pit
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back here I'm just going to put it in there just before it explodes into flame all right taking the time hunter why
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please yeah I never had this happiness that all right stop struggling
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oh there we go huh man use my tinder wasn't good enough early in the desert things light up so quick and you never
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know when you turn a camera on things tend to go wrong but I thought worked out going to be nice and cozy in here
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it's really starting to take off now I want to build it small in the beginning make sure it's well ventilated does seem
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like the draft is pulling it out that way and just going to slowly build it bigger try to get a hot base of coals
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and eventually make a little rock wall so that it really does vent out and doesn't smoke up the entire shelter but
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it's really having panic there for a second it wasn't going to go here we go a nice little fire may be able to kick
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back on my bed here lay down and they really want throughout the night is a nice cozy warm shelter ventilating super
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well and it's toasty in there I really don't have to have a very big fire going all right so it's definitely pretty cold
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last night just now waking up and the Sun is just getting over the horizon and this is the time to find water I need to
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make sure I don't get dehydrated water is number one priorities that I pretty much have to find water today or this is
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over to check yourself you can pinch this the skin on the back your hand if it snaps back into place really well
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this is not if it snaps right back to where it was that means you're not dehydrated but if it slowly goes back
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then you're probably pretty dehydrated so check yourself checking urine make sure it's clear but I mean you get out
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there and find some sort of water and last night went pretty good I stayed warm ish the problem is I fall asleep
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fired kind of dimmed down and then I get some sleep wake up have to restock it and then just do it over and over and so
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I only got a couple you know three or four hours of sleep or something but the ways it as it is there just isn't much
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or any insulative plants out here that don't have thorns in them so it's really just going to be stock in a fire and
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trying to sleep in between I did put hot rocks on the fire little flat hot rocks and I pulled them underneath me in the
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middle of the night to kind of radiate some heat up at me problem is that only lasts like an hour hour and a half with
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these rocks so I just have to switch mouths but yeah I'll find water before the Sun really starts coming down
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all right so my best strategy at this point to find water is to get us out of the Lancer take your milk and find areas
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where in these erroneous there's really green areas over here we're just super condensed green there's a lot of Palo
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Verde trees or willow trees in areas like this and that might be my best area for getting water obviously straight
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down in the middle of the desert where it's not very green everything's kind of pale I know that's not a good spot so
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you need to head up into some of these rodeos and try to find a really good sort all right I scored here I've got
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some clay and I can just tell by looking at the texture of the soil and then I kind of take it and spit on it and mash
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it around and it's got good elasticity definitely not the greatest so it might need to be purified but from this I can
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make a clay pot I can boil water possibly even I could make a canteen so that when I'm walking out of here I can
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take water with me this cactus here is the subject probably the biggest survival myth on a planet
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this is a barrel cactus and you've probably been told before that if you cut a barrel cactus open you can just
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drink the water out of it it's a huge myth it does not work one I have no idea how in the world I'm gonna chop this in
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half without an axe or a machete and two it's full of oxalic acid when you do finally start chewing it up and makes
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your mouth pucker and it's really bad for your system so you're not going to get water out of the barrel cactus like
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you've seen in the movies the good thing that I can get out of this are these fruit at this time of year this is the
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one cactus that's really fruiting and so this is going to be a staple food for me out here but what I can do is just take
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these fruits and these guys they're just slightly early but they still taste pretty good they have a very um kind of
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sour taste to them but the yellow part is very edible green part might just be a little ripe right now and that's a
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super good edible it doesn't have thorns on it or glaucous or anything that you need to worry about
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so barrel cactus is one of my favorite foods out here right now another thing to note that when you look inside
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there's a ton of seeds those actually chew up fairly well and so you can just eat those seeds there's proteins and
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little bits of oil in there so really good stuff for you barrel cactus is going to be my staple and there's a ton
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of it out here all right so I've been digging holes everywhere trying to unearth water in
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these dry creek beds and I'm not really coming up with much I just found this puddle here it's just as one little
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puddle and the bees and flies are all over it right now which tells me it's probably not the
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greatest it might be just really stagnant and contaminated and so last resort I can use this and purify it what
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I'm going to go do is go down the dry creek bed just slightly and start digging a really big hole until I hit
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water I the biggest thing to remember is that in the desert you're not always going to find water especially in the
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dry season this is post wet season so I'm doing pretty good right now but there's times where your only play is to
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travel in the mornings and evenings and get yourself out of the situation because you're not going to find water
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and without water in the desert you're not going to live this for me is going to allow me to stay here hopefully I can
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find a pure source though so I'm down the creek bed a bit and taking up with my digging stick making a hole and I'm
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starting to hit damp soil which is a great sign that that water actually is just traveling underground a little bit
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and I can dig it out this is a really good sign even if it doesn't work out here because the rocks I'm sure it'll
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work out in a different area so I'm going to keep digging the problem is once you get deeper than about 12 inches
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you dig and all the sand just fills your whole back in and so I'm just going to 5 to find a really good area where the
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waters really at the surface so I'm going to look around try to find a low-lying area maybe with some without
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as many rocks in it and do got that water now this water doesn't just kind of 6 12 inches underground doesn't mean
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it's purified that doesn't mean it's coming out of a spring that water can still be contaminated and I'm going to
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have to purify that I'm doing really good set and hit water further down here so I'm just going to dig this out it's
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pretty murky but hopefully if that settles after I've dug then this is going to be a really
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good source of water what I need to do now to purify this water is to boil it so what I'm going to
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do is Rock boil it and some clay I don't have time to burn out a wooden bowl there's not much going on here I think
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that didn't have the clay I might try to go for a century plant and make a container out of that really quick and
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see if I can boil but this works really good in a pinch and at least in the beginning it's going to be great over
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time I could see this in a pain but I've got some of the less pure clay that I'd dug out of the ground and super gritty
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but that doesn't matter so it's great for this type of project what I'm going to do is just mash it up as much as I
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can and I'm just going to make a dish out of it now it hasn't been fired if not pottery but clay still isn't very
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porous and so it's going to hold water the only thing I need to do is support it so what I can do is dig out addition
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to the ground the sides of the large silver bowl you can see this soil is damp too so I'm going to dig this out
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put the water in here but now the structure of this hole that I've formed here is going to support the clay and
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then the clay is going to hold the water for long enough to boil I've had them hold the water for a solid hour or two
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before it all kind of went through so it gives you plenty of time to make a fire throw hot rocks in there and boil it up
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so that's my plan so what I need to do now is just make a really nice round disc really pounded clay together and
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while this stuff isn't the greatest it's pretty good so I'm definitely going to be attempting
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some pottery later with the better stuff and see what I can do so once I have this disc shape I'm gonna
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thin it out get it as big as possible line this hole and then just smooth out the inside of the clay as much as
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possible so there's no cracks early all right so what I did here was to make a clay impression the ground I fired up a
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bunch of hot rocks in the fire and I could just take two sticks lift them out and chuck them into this bowl I need to
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raise the temperature of the water up high enough to kill all the bacteria that could potentially be in that water
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on the safe side if you bring that water to boiling you know you're good while boiling it and the clay impression
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was definitely worth it it was a pain all right after digging out this hole I looked around and found a much better
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spot where there was less rocks interfering and I was able to dig out a nice well that I could come back to
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every day so having a canteen would be absolutely amazing out here in order to do that I
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can't just use this raw egg to make a pot probably won't work for something super fancy and I don't want to take any
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chances so I'm going to grind up this clay and purify it and then I can make something really nice out of it
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my routine every day was to go out into the desert collect and gather as many things as I needed during the hottest
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part of the day expended hiding out in this overhang the first few days this mint purifying its color cut alright so
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most people will tell you to grind up pottery and either purified by letting in water settle which takes another
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bucket and a lot of time or to grind it up put it on a big cloth and then let the wind kind of winnow away the finest
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particles because they blow a little further than the heavier thing that's all those other things take way too long
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I just don't have time for either one so what I'm doing is just grinding it up as much as possible picking out the
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obviously really big pieces but then I can put it on my shirt kind of bounce it around and when I do that you can see
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already how many of the big pieces and the whole fiber pieces come to the top from here I can scrape away all the
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bigger stones just do it again and again now you don't need to get everything but you do want to have a consistent size of
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particle in there to make a clay pot you don't need 100% pure clay you just need all the material to be about the same
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size with no materials that are going to blow up or crack or anything like that so getting rid of some of the bigger
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pieces and that's really going to help so I don't have any big rocks in there that are definitely going to make it
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break before putting all the work in to purifying I wanted to test the clay so I pinched together a couple tiny little
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pots and threw them into the fire well most of them did crack a little bit it shows that the clay is great potential
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all right so I'm going to set up my figure-four trap is a deadfall I've jammed some wolf berries into the bait
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stick I've got my rock here and there's a bunch of rodents Scott around here so I'm thinking this is a good spot to trap
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lots of tracks right there we go it's all set up looks like a little figure four once the animal comes in and
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touches this bait stick hopefully doesn't take much but I really have to set it in between a point where all this
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wind isn't going to blow it over and set it versus it needs to be sensitive enough of the animal so hopefully that's
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the middle ground that I'm compromising on I'm going to disguise my trail camera in right about here and hopefully that
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will do it you all right so come up this morning and I
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looked at the trap and it looks like they're women taking in it maybe it just sprung but then I thought little Hales
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digging outside so let's check this guy buddy he's gotten some scraps of the gears are all cut up
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order to clean this animal really the big thing is you want to remove the skin and you want to remove the guts
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everything else is just bones and meat if your knife just underneath the skin and pull up without ever cutting into
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the abdominal cavity you're going to cut straight up the belly up the inside of each leg and then you can peel the skin
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back surprisingly this game comes off pretty easily and just pull the arms through and pull it all the way off the
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head all right admittedly I'm doing a little bit of a sloppy job gutting this animal
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but I had a few open cuts on my hands and the last thing I wanted was to become blood brothers with a packrat
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all right I got this animal what I'm going to do is pinch the abdominal muscle I'm going to cut just the
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abdominal muscle and slide by knife under it without puncturing the guts it's hugely important that you never
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puncture the intestines because I could easily spoiling your meat and make you stick from here I continue cutting up
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through the rib cage all the way up to the neck I can cut the head off at this point my knife the other way down around
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the groin and around the anus and pull the guts out and then in one package now I'm left with just meat and bones and I
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can stick that right over the fire I like in any survival situation you end up collecting so much stuff that you
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can't possibly just carry it all around in your arms so I'm going to make a basket out of this so tall plant the
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great plant to know not only does it make a great basket but the stock on it is fantastic for making friction fires
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all right so I've collected a bunch of Soto leaves I removed all the thorns from the outside you know went pretty
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quickly and I probably could've done it with my fingernails if I didn't have a knife and what I'm going to do right now
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is make a plated basket where it's something you probably did it a kid with popsicle sticks to lock them together in
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a square and I'm just going to fold up the ends and keep going under over under over and it should make a really strong
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basket of these leaves are almost unbreakable alright to make this kind of basket again it's super simple all I
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need to do is start off with a few and then build out from there but right now I'm just building the base this is going
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to be a square basket and so if I take start three by three and I'll match one up in the middle so that goes over under
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over the next one I'm going to go under over under okay just like that and then the next one's going to go back
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to over under over and just by doing that we all know lock these things together now as I build out I can either
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kind of make it you know rectangular or perfectly square totally up to you and so again next one here it's going to go
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the opposite of the last one they're going to get a little mess up you just pull them back together makes a real
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nice strong base for this basket you all right as I said that's super super
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simple just a bunch of under overs you can make it rectangular or perfectly square that part's entirely up to you
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all I'm going to do now is fold up these ends at a 90 degree angle and I'm going to weave around with other soda leaves
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so that it goes under over under over all around the basket all right so by oxygen I thought I'd crossed record and
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it didn't so I missed a little segment there but you'll get the idea basically you know here's the base that I started
00:27:48
with from there I turned up at a 90 degree angle with all these spokes the ones that were originally six count and
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I wove in sideways going around one layer per leaf that go all the way around and then the next one up if it
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was started where it was weaving under over under over throughout the spokes the next layer up is going to start
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litter over under over so they vary every time I go up a layer and that's what locks it in place and keeps the
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basket together kind of you know common sense right now what I'm doing is just tucking in the rim and you know this is
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a pretty good sized basket I definitely got a lot of other things to do so I'm not going to keep going and make it much
00:28:30
bigger clock's ticking I got things to do so I'm going to call it here it was a great bath it feels really sturdy and
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it's going to be a huge help then I'll have to carry everything in my arms anymore
00:28:51
all right so this is the Choya plant and right now there's a ton of buds coming off of these things for the Native
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Americans of the Sonoran Desert this is one of the staples to their diet and even though it looks really scary it's
00:29:02
got tons of thorns on it it's not that hard to process and you get a lot of food out of it so and it actually tastes
00:29:09
really good so what I need to do is pull these buds off of here collect a bunch of them and then I just kind of roast
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them over the fire and they're good to go before I do that I need to make a pair of tongs because up until this
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point I've just been using two sticks and fumbling around with it kind of a pain so it's going to quickly show you
00:29:28
how I'm going to make a pair of tongs and then go around and just fill up on these Choya bug there we have it nice
00:29:41
pair of tongs this is going to help a lot instead of trying to fumble with two sticks like it happened I just walk
00:29:49
right up grab them I got a big bud right there all right the middle of the day I'm avoiding the Sun is also a huge
00:30:04
rainstorm out there so it seems like a perfect kind of the processes join a bug so what I'm doing is taking them from my
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basket here I got about a little more than half full from about 10 or 15 minutes of collecting and you look at
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these things and you think there's no way you would ever want to touch them or eat them but they're actually fantastic
00:30:22
and what you can do take a couple thrown on a flat rock like this so you just roll them around and a
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lot of the thorns are going to pop off if not you're going to get rid of the sharp tips on the thorn so they just
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don't hurt as bad okay you know there is a certain point where it doesn't do as much but do little
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circles and then from there once the storms are kind of taking off it's not that bad you can actually touch it and
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it really doesn't get you you need to remember any time you eat anything kakasii is that they don't just have big
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thorns that have these microscopic little thorns and clusters that we galapiat so I need to make sure to get
00:31:05
in there and get all those clauses out but I'm just going to come in here and slowly kind of just have a nice relaxed
00:31:12
couple hours in here and pick off a bunch of these thorns each one of these may take 45 seconds to
00:31:19
a minute so for this side you know imagine in one hour you have 60 to 80 of these things and it'd be a really good
00:31:26
meal so the energy that you put into this you gain ten times as much back by eating them so absolutely love these
00:31:33
things and you should definitely learn them and process them when you're out in the desert here's another great edible
00:31:39
plant that's out here again covered in thorns and this is the prickly pear it's got really big thorns coming off of it
00:31:45
doesn't look very inviting and it also has all those little glocken my experience with blockage don't cook out
00:31:51
very well in a fire and so I like to make sure to scrape them all out cut them out remove them and it just takes a
00:31:57
lot of time but it is a good survival food it's good to know it's very easily identifiable and you're not going to
00:32:03
mess up so what I'll do is just get my tongs and I'll start scraping all these thorns away I need to remember not to
00:32:12
ever walk here again in my bare feet but if I just scratch along the surface a lot of these bigger storms are going to
00:32:22
start breaking off alright get the edge like thorn 400 by now anyway you can see how all those big thorns broke off and
00:32:47
at the base of each one of those thorns are a bunch of tiny little irritating little like kind of you call them thorns
00:32:55
but they're no good you need to cut those out or scrape the heck out of them with your knife or on a rock but those
00:33:01
need to be totally gone and then I'm going to cut around to the edge then ice pry this up on a fire and I can eat it
00:33:06
again not my favorite edible plant but a really good survival food to know alright so here we go I got the joy of
00:33:16
buds clicking on sigh right here they're just kind of sitting right on a not super hot bed of
00:33:21
coals and I'm just kind of keeping them from burning turning them over but making sure those Glock is get really
00:33:27
cooked these things are delicious I love them prickly pear kind of the opposite I'm
00:33:31
making sure it's over some really hot coals under the care of it burns a little bit as long as all of those
00:33:36
blockages are singed little rat guy is on the stick that I you know put a couple sticks through his abdomen area
00:33:44
just so he doesn't flip over I just slowly turn them with something like this you want to make sure that you
00:33:50
don't just have it on fire you don't want to just singe and burn me just have it on over a hot bed of coals and this
00:33:57
is going to be great occasionally I turn it and the big thing with this guy is that I want to make sure it's extremely
00:34:08
well done you know I know medium rare rare meats much better but if you're in a survival
00:34:14
situation cook everything really thoroughly don't take a chance that you're going to get some sort of food
00:34:19
poisoning all right it's the moment of truth everything's cooked and I let it cool off a little bit and it's just
00:34:25
ready to go for the taste test I'm excited tons of food my energy has been great
00:34:30
for this entire trip so far and I'm no doubt with all these edible plants that it's going to be fairly easy to get
00:34:37
enough calories during this trip so let's start off with the soya stick a quick look make sure that I don't see
00:34:46
Glock is or any things that's going to stab me I eat these all the time I've never had a problem but every time I'm
00:34:53
just a little bit paranoid about it and just make sure last thing I want is a mouthful of splinters but this is one of
00:35:01
my favorite foods this is something you would eat at home it's fantastic tastes like asparagus heads so really good
00:35:07
stuff alright we've got the thumbs up go to pound those eat as many of those as I can possibly process the rest of the
00:35:16
time here so those are already good to go prickly pear now it's not good Oh her color here
00:35:28
is your survival food it's going to keep you going cooked over campfire just doesn't taste
00:35:34
that good but it's good I'm it's fine if you're in survival you're starving to death you unit and then last but not
00:35:43
least there we go the one I'm real excited about the bust off is back leg is really well cooked
00:35:51
just want to make sure no uncooked portions in there the last thing you want and just pull off sections of meat
00:36:00
from his leg looks real good there you go oh it's fantastic you know once you get over the fact of what you're eating
00:36:11
meat to me it all tastes the same so it's going to be a great meal really excited Suns going down right now the
00:36:18
winds starting to pick up it's starting to get cold so I'm going to down a bunch of this food along with the barrel
00:36:25
cactus fruits that I've been eating and transfer some of these coals into my shelter and go to bed
00:36:33
but great day great food got some big projects to work on in the morning so I'm excited for that alright this is the

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