About SurFiW

(pronounced "sure-few")

I am fascinated by primitive wilderness survival. My long term goal is to advance my survival skills to the point where I could be dropped off in the middle of a vast wilderness, with little to no supplies or equipment, and have a decent chance of surviving indefinitely. This has been my desire since I was a kid, reading Tom Brown's field guides and novels.

I have some skills. I can identify a variety of animal tracks and sign. I have built dozens of bow drill fires and a few hand drill fires. I can trap and eat small rodents and insects. I know a lot of edible wild plants. I can build a debris shelter. But I am very far from that survivalist ideal.

I believe that a major psychological obstacle to improvement has been a puritanical view toward the skills. I have spent much of my life believing that the skills are holy and they can only be approached in a certain prescribed way. The only respectable skill is one that involves 100% primitive implements. Anything in between where I am now and that pure primitive survivalist goal is unworthy.

I have spent much of my life believing that if I just put in the time, I would be able to read the emotions of a fox in his tracks, that I could stalk across dry leaves without making a sound, and that I could be in perfect blissful communion with nature while thriving without so much as a knife. That absurd idealism made me very frustrated and uncomfortable in the messy reality of trying to enter survival situations in my current state. I'm so out of touch  with my surroundings, so blind to detail. I don't see a lot of animals when I am out hiking. I only see a few tracks and signs. I go crazy trying to sleep in a debris shelter because I feel like I am suffocating. I get lonely and panicky when out in the wilderness alone. In short, I have always felt like a complete failure when I go out and try to develop the skills.

This website and blog represents my first concerted effort to revisit the skills without the puritanism. This is a documentation of my learning new survival skills, stripped of a priori spiritual significance, of political implications and activism, and other hippie bull crap. I'm not trying to start a new religion or follow an old one. I'm not trying to start or join a commune. The focus is on skills that are crucial to survive the first few days of any survival situation (hence Survive The First Week). Basic shelter and quick ways to obtain food, water and fire constitute the central theme. Bark tanning, building thatched huts and other long-term survival skills are very cool but will not be covered here.

What separates this website from other internet material is this. I will emphasize failure. I won't wait until I perfect a skill to post about it. I will document all my mistakes I make along the way. That, I believe, has been the missing piece in my own survival skills training.

The reader is invited to join me in this undertaking. Learn the skills with me, or just enjoy reading about them. For readers with more advanced skills than my own, I invite helpful comments and even guest posts. For readers learning alongside me, I welcome questions and comments and, if you want to document some of your own skill-gaining, even guest posts.