Woods Crafts!!!

Trent Hardy

In the Brooder
5 Years
Jul 30, 2014
Newfoundland, Ca
Hi all,
I thought I'd start a little thread on the various little tricks, ideas, devices, etc that people have used while camping/hunting in the woods and have found to be successful. I'm thinking along the lines of improvised shelters, secondary uses for various items, tricks used for hunting certain game etc. Hopefully this will give people the opportunity to learn a few new tricks, I'll start out by describing a method of constructing a bed/shelter out of a tarp.

Name: the Tube Cot

Background: I initially read about this in either an SAS or US army survival guidebook (can't remember which), so any of you military folks may already be well versed in it. It works well in areas where you don't want to sleep on the ground but there isn't any really practical way of hanging a hammock there is no real way to. I've added a couple of pics to aid in my description

Tools required: axe/machete, line, tarp/blanket/thick plasic bag ~6'x6' (or larger)

Method of construction:
Please note, the lengths that I've used here are pretty rough. More or less gauge them while in the field

1) Cut four logs ~4-5' long (and maybe with a 4"-6" diameter) and make 2 A frames a distance of ~6'-7' apart. Secure them to the ground by tying to a tree, or driving them into the ground - basically whatever works for you where you are. The base of the A frames should be >4' (basically wider is better)

2) take your tarp (or whatever you have) and fold it in half. Then tie, or stitch the ends together to make a tube ~3' wide. If you happen to have a large tarp, don't fold it exaclty in half. The loose end can be used as a rain shelter later. tarp that is wider than

3) cut two more logs (again maybe 4" diameter at the thicker end) a length greater than the distance between the two A frames, and run them through the tube so they stick out on both ends (basically you've just made a stretcher).

4) Rest the ends of the cot on the two A frames. If everything is securely tied, you should now be able to lie on this cot

5) If you have extra material (as mentioned in step 2), tie a piece of line (or another stick) between the tops of the two A frames and fold the extra material back over it to act as a rain shelter.

Summary: I have used this method of shelter construction mulitple times, and have had great success with it. Once, myself and my 110lb dog both weathered a wicked thunderstorm on one of these cots (I had made it ~' long so we could both sleep on it). The cot which was quite similar to the one in the pictures below easily held me, the dog, and my gear (roughly 350 lbs total). Another time I was kayaking and the only beach I could land on was one that would be underwater when the tide came in. I constructed one of these to support me directly over the water and it worked great.

In addition, it's really comfortable. I've spent time sleeping on bough beds, hammocks, air mattresses (and yes on the ground :), and I can honestly say that some of my most comfortable nights in the woods have been using this type of shelter.

Once you get used to doing it, construction doesn't take all that long. Although you may find yourself having to adjust the spacing of the A frames to ensure you don't touch the ground while lying on it. Pictured below is one of my first ones, and I think it took me maybe an hour from start to finish. It should be noted that you don't need to be felling HUGE trees to build this. A lot of times, I have been able to scrounge my materials from previously felled trees and would encourage anyone who wants to try this to do the same (yeah, yeah, I'm a bit of a tree hugger :)

Although I've never actually tried this, I'm thinking that moss, grass ( or whatever) could also be stuffed into the tube to act as extra insulating material.

Please feel free to post any comments or questions

A finished tube cot

the same cot, but with an additional tarp added for a shelter


In the Brooder
6 Years
Jan 7, 2014
Australia NSW
Very nice, I'm looking to learn more survival craft this year. My only real experience so far is the SAS survival handbook and camping trips. But they've been pretty comfortable trips, I'm after a bit more deprivation than what I'm used to.

Ole and Lena

8 Years
Jul 22, 2011
Wright Co Minnesota
Matches dipped in clear nail polish or similar laquer will stay waterproof for years. Carry them in a container with a piece of the striker sandpaper and some wax paper. Never trust a lighter. They fail when you need them most and can be hard to operate with numb fingers.

Never drink unpurified flowing water. The most dangerous pathogen in wild water is Giardia lamblia (beaver fever). At least in Northern climes, there is not much else that will make you sick. Giardia spores are denser than water. Gather water from deeper areas offshore after the spores have had time to settle. If forced to drink from a flowing stream, search upstream for any beaver sign. If present, continue upstream until no sign present for a considerable distance.

Carbon steel will strike sparks from chert or flint. Stainless will not. Most ancillary parts on a rifle are carbon steel and can be cannibalized without affecting functionality (triggerguard, buttplate, sling swivels, etc.).

Tag alder and small birch boughs will burn green in winter with a slow, coaling heat for cooking.

Prickly ash berries (the little red ones that smell like orange peel) are a fantastic topical painkiller. Put them in like snus to soothe a toothache.

Rose hips, pine and spruce needles, and blueberries are natural sources of Vitamin C. After 3 days of backpack food, you will crave this vitamin, chewing any of the above will alleviate this craving.

Buckthorn berries are a strong natural laxative. Don't eat more than a couple, they are mildly poisonous.

Wild cranberries, lingonberry and dewberry can be found under the snow and edible even in dead winter.

Deer have a short attention span. Seems to be about 2 minutes. If they spot you or hear you, freeze for awhile, they'll forget you're there if they can't zero you in with any other senses. They seem to need 2 senses engaged on you to go into alarm mode and flee. Repeated negative stimuli will desensitize them and eventually they will think no more of you than a tree or fence post.

To get a squirrel to come around to the right side of the tree for a shot, hang your coat on a branch and circle the tree. If you have a partner, circle to opposite sides.

Ruffed grouse will almost always land in trees after you flush them. If you miss your shot, look up for them. Just before a snowstorm, they'll cluster up in a conifer stand near a food source on the East side. Grouse bonanza if you find them.
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Ole and Lena

8 Years
Jul 22, 2011
Wright Co Minnesota
Some more. Fire is the heart of your camp and the most critical survival/comfort tool you have in the wild.

Never sit directly upwind of your campfire. Causes a vacuum and the smoke comes back at you. Also blocks airflow into the fire creating more smoke. Sit crosswind or slightly downwind for the warmest, least smoky spot.

Bank your fire with a large rock or log opposite where you sit. Will reflect heat back on you. Use flat rocks to create a miniature stove for cooking. Bank 3 sides and leave a small slit at the bottom upwind and top downwind. Use small flat rocks on top of grate to block heat loss around your kettle or skillet. Fire is easy to control and you can do a lot of cooking with very little wood reflecting the heat back into your "stove".

Use 2 flat rocks on top of your grate to create a 1" wide slit. Use this slit to burn large logs in half instead of sawing or chopping. Carry a welding glove in your cook kit for handling hot stuff.

When you go to bed at night, prepare your tinder for morning. Place some small splints and tinder under a flat rock raised above the ground. Will make that quick morning heat much easier.

To bank a fire overnight, bury the coals with dirt and place a large flat rock on top.

Dead balsam and spruce boughs broken from a standing tree make the best kindling. You can get them to burn even in very wet conditions.

When the whole woods seems waterlogged, larger standing dead spruce logs can be split and burn well. The inside stays dry even after days of steady rain. Never camp in potential hypothermic conditions without an axe and saw for this reason.

. Don't sound like a rookie!
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