How to survive in the wild using nothing but stationery equipment.
How can you survive if stuck in the wild with nothing but a pen, pencils, a sharpener, a notebook and an eraser? Read on for some simple suggestions.
Survival requires the individual to meet the demands of his or her body under the pressures of a particular environment. This environment can vary enormously, whether you are trapped in a jungle, caught in a desert storm, stuck on a desert island, or battling the freezing temperatures of the Arctic Circle. As such, this article will try to cover how each piece of equipment can be used in as many environments as possible. It is always recommended that you seek expert guidance before venturing into any extreme environment.
Pens come in many forms, the most common being the ball-point pen. I will deal here with the click-pen variety, although many of these techniques can also be used with non-click ball-point pens.
Ball-point pens are composed of many different parts and can be easily disassembled. Once disassembled, a variety of tools can be made using each of the pen's useful constituent parts:
- Fishing hook: the wire used to make the spring can be straightened out and shaped to make a fish hook. A fishing line can then be made by stripping pieces of bark (in a forested environment). Strings from fibrous plants, such as the Agave plant, can also be used to make a line. Alternatively, use fabric from your own clothing. Bait the hook, attach the line to a solid object on the riverbank/shore and leave overnight.
- Spearhead: If strong enough, the ball point itself can be sharpened by scraping it or bashing it with a rock and attached to a large stick for use as a spearhead. Because the ball-point won't be heavy enough to provide sufficient weight for use as a throwing-spear, such spears will only be useful for jabbing and short distance throws. For use on small animals only; please do not attempt to hunt large game, such as buffalo and rhinoceros, with the ball-point pen spear.
Insect trap: Once emptied, the long hollow plastic part (which ordinarily you would grip when writing with the pen) can be inserted into the ground (making sure that nothing is left protruding from the ground) and left overnight, thus causing unsuspecting insects to fall in. While the food acquired using such a method may not amount to much, insects are loaded with protein and any energy you get in survival situations will help you to stay alive.
Water-filter: By attaching a small piece of cloth over one end of any fully hollow piece of of your pen, you can improvise a filtered straw. This will allow you to drink from any puddles or pools of dirty water without ingesting any mud or gunk.
The Pencil and Pencil Sharpener
Pencils are a key tool in the struggle for survival, especially when used in conjunction with other stationery equipment, such as the pencil sharpener. The following are useful examples of how you can put these items to good use:
Poisoning animals: If equipped with an old-fashioned lead pencil, you can shave away the wooden exterior of your pencil using the razor blade from your pencil sharper and use the lead interior to poison your prey's favourite food source. This may be especially effective if the lead is inserted into some bait and left near an animal's nesting site. After the initial contamination, continue scanning the surrounding area for several days. You should come across at least one dead, very sick or slightly ill animal in this time, at which point you are ready to strike with your ball-point spear.
Landmarks: If in a snowy environment, try rubbing your pencil and some snow together in your hands. The snow should come away looking considerably darker than the rest of the snow. Use this snow to create distinctive landmarks in an otherwise bare environment, as might be encountered on the island of Svalbard. This method will cease to be of any use after a heavy snowstorm.
Small knife: The razor blade within the pencil sharpener is of immense value to the survivor. Although small in size, if embedded into a sturdy stick (to be used as a handle), this blade can be used for a variety of tasks; such as skinning animals, gutting fish, sharpening sticks for use as spears and pikes, for use in animal traps and many more. It may also be possible to trap animals by hiding the razor blade in some bait and then waiting for the bait to be consumed. The blade should quickly kill the animal from the inside, after which it can quickly be recovered.
Notebooks can also be very diverse. The rings found in a ring-bound notebook offer a slightly different set of tools to the survivor than a glue-bound A4 pad. For this reason I will only deal with the potential uses for paper and cardboard in an extreme survival situation.
Signalling: By arranging weighted sheets of paper in a particular pattern, it is possible to create ground-to-air signals, thus allowing you to call for help to any nearby aircraft. If you don't have enough paper to write the typical 'SOS', a large 'H' or an 'AAAAARRRGGHH!' should suffice. Doesn't quite work in the snow.
Insect-nets: By attaching several sheets together using a fibrous plant as string, and then attaching these sheets to a long branch, you can improvise an insect-net. Run or skip through a woodland or planted environment whilst waving this net in a figure-of-8 movement. You should quickly accumulate insects and bugs, which can then be eaten raw or fried.
Tinder: Paper makes for perfect tinder if kept dry. Simply create a bundle of crumpled paper. Then light a spark using a stone and the pencil sharpener's razor blade and your paper should go up in flames. Add kindling and larger logs to create a hearty fire. This fire can be used to roast meat and boil water- thus rendering it safe for drinking.
An eraser is one of the survivor's best friends. Use wisely:
Smoke signals: By burning rubber, you can emit very black smoke which can be used to create smoke signals. This is particularly useful in snow-covered landscapes, where the smoke will contrast the surrounding snow. Not quite as useful in darker forests or in areas with dark soils, such as volcanoes and Wales.
Some final tips:
Remember, once you use one of these improvised tools to capture an animal, you can easily use the animal's bones and teeth to make further tools. If you are trapped in an extreme environment, make sure to prioritise your own safety. Don't look for shortcuts and don't make any rash decisions. If you decide to go on an adventure, make sure to inform somebody else of your intended destination and route. If you are expecting rescue, make sure to stay put and use one of the signalling methods described above.