Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Reflecting On The Pop Can

This months blog is another example of creative uses of so called "junk" that you may find in the wilderness.  It is important to see things not for what they are but for what they can become.  The first picture here is a signal mirror that took just a few minutes to make without much effort at all and only with the use of a pocket knife.

This next picture is the same signal mirror shown in the shade.

This last picture shows the basic materials used to make the signal mirror.  It's a matter of simple cutting and then bending and crimping the edges together. 

You don't really need to join the two pieces of pop cans together, one can alone make a good signal mirror.  It is nice to know if you run into a six pack of cans in the wilderness you can make an even bigger signal mirror.  As seen on a prior blog the bottom piece of pop cans can be used as a fire starter because it reflects the rays of the sun.  Even a few bottom pop cans can be used in combination to make a mirror. 

So this is a very simple project that can be used to get someones attention that may attract the attention you need.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Survival Ideas that POP!

My last two  blogs contained some examples of useful ways to use a soda pop can in a wilderness survival situation.  These examples were just to get the reader thinking about how to use so called “junk” that you may find in the wilderness, as wilderness survival aids.  We will continue the next few blogs with some more examples of fun pop can uses.  Eventually we will go back to the “Take a Break” blog from February.  

Pop can Lantern - Full Flame
One of the examples showed how to make a lantern from a pop can and some cooking oil. .  So what if you find a pop can but you do not have some cooking oil?  Another option I have seen is to punch a hole in the bottom of the can and make a small door on the pop can and then push the candle up through the bottom hole as needed.  An easily made and useful lantern.  So what if you do not have a candle in your survival kit?  Well here is another example of a wilderness survival lantern.

"I" shape cut
Tab Hanger
Make a “I” shaped cut on the can which results in two doors that fold out from the can.  The bottom of the doors is about 1 to 2 inches from the bottom of the can.  Leave the pull tab on the can as this is useful for if the can is to be attached to a cord and hung suspended.
Some friends of mine recently gave me some deer steaks and a few deer ribs (Thanks Kami and Ivan!).  I decided to make some soup from the deer ribs. After boiling the ribs, I set the pot in the  refrigerator over night.  In the morning I skimmed off the very dense grease which had risen to the top.  I figured the fat could be used for making a candle.  I packed the cooled fat or tallow into the can then I found a small piece of scrap cloth which was stuffed in the center of the fat but just a little bit above the fat.  This was the wick to the candle.  Most any cloth will work or even a tightly rolled piece of paper or small piece of cardboard will make a sufficient wick.   
Wick is Lit
Melting Fat - Partial Flame
Once the wick is lit on fire, the heat wicks up the heated fat.  The fat then becomes the burning element rather than the wick.  If you are in a wilderness survival situation, you may come across an animal carcass.  Chances are the carcass still has fat that can be used for a lantern.  So here are a few pictures from my deer fat / pop can lantern.  The can reflects the light very well and the lantern gives off a good amount of heat too which could be a double benefit in a snow cave shelter.

The pictures below are simple pop can cooking pots.  I’d love to hear some thoughts and comments from readers regarding wilderness survival pop can uses.

Simple pop can cooking pot

Alternate pop can cooking pop configuration

Tuesday, August 7, 2012




Just a really short blog this time but I should have another blog posted within a week.  It will again be about popcan uses in the wilderness.  After that, it will be time to take a break from popcan ideas for a while.

Happy adventures and Be Wise In The Woods.


PS - Sorry again about taking so long to post, I'm still trying to learn how to use some of this modern technolgy.  A special thanks to me technical expert Jake for helping me so many times.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Sorry for  not posting a blog for a while, sometimes things happen.  I have been eager to post a blog in continuing where my blog from February left off. 

Take a break and STOP.  I mentioned that I would elaborate more on this subject and present some fun wilderness survival items.  The ability to observe your surroundings is important.  You can enhance your survival odds by having some knowledge and creativity of what can be used in your surroundings to your benefit.  Les Stroud touched on this skill in his book Survive.  He referred to this as “sculpturing”.  Simply put, it is the skill of being able to find multiple uses for items which you may find in the wilderness. 

Now, these links are just rather simple illustrations yet several good examples of “sculpturing”.  Please take a look at the following ----

A big thank you to the many people who have put these videos together and who have been so kind to share them for the benefit of others. 

There are several other cool uses for pop cans in wilderness survival.   When a person is in a wilderness survival situation, making use of things you may find can be a real boost to morale and increase your potential to do well.  More on this subject soon. 

Be wise, be safe and happy adventures.

- Magpie

Wednesday, February 29, 2012



While there can be many wilderness survival scenarios and each scenario may present different challenges, the one I would like to discuss for this blog is that of being lost or disoriented.  This may sound odd and some people may disagree with me but the first thing to do is-

That’s right!  Take a break.  Take anywhere from 15 to 30 minutes to just relax.  Sit in a comfortable spot and sing a song, recite a poem, watch birds, or have a snack – whatever relaxes you.  If you take just a short break this will likely diminish going into panic and just running and getting yourself lost even more.  Being relaxed will also likely help you to think more clearly when break time is over. 

Once break time is over, then you can take time to STOP.
S - STAY where you are if  possible as this will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
T- THINK calmly about your situation and options.  Evaluate and remain positive.
O- OBSERVE the weather, your surroundings, your equipment/supplies and capabilities.
P- PRIORITIZE immediate needs(shelter, medical, fire, water, signal and food) – develop a plan of action, follow your plan, remain positive. 

I’ll discuss more on these subjects in future months.  I’ll also present some fun wilderness survival items.

Remember to TAKE A BREAK and STOP.  Until next month—

Happy Adventures,


Monday, January 30, 2012


A very important key to survival experiences is your mental attitude.  I’ve studied many survival stories and I’ve been impressed at the difference a person’s attitude can make.  Some stories have been about individuals with virtually no wilderness survival training and without survival kits yet the person survived.   Having a will to live and to keep pushing on when the odds are against you is a crucial element to increasing your odds of surviving.  Of course, pairing up knowledge and tools to work with will increase the likelihood of survival even more if you keep calm and think things out with the attitude that you will get through the experience.  Keep in mind that you may experience a degree of discomfort yet you can survive discomfort too.  Almost every day we find ourselves trying to survive in many of the things we do.  If you are ever in a wilderness survival situation, keep in mind how many other experiences in life you have survived.  Think of positive things you can do to increase your ability to survive.  Make positive goals – don’t over do it though.  Think of positive things that you look forward to doing in life and think of people or places that are positive influences in your life.  Let these positives be a motivation to your survival.   Remember you are a positive influence to others who need you in their lives too.  Your mental attitude is an extremely important element to wilderness survival.  If you ever find yourself in a survival situation, remember – YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Attitude can present more dynamics to wilderness survival situations when you are with a group.  Some people may panic and they may be ill prepared mentally and emotionally to deal with a sudden wilderness survival situation.  They may even be ill prepared equipment wise.  If you are part of a group wilderness survival situation and you are dealing with people who may be prone to be panic which sometimes leads to impulsive and dangerous behaviors, keep in mind that you have the ability to share your positive attitude and work together to generally increase the potential of everybody surviving.  Generally, there is safety in numbers and better odds of coming up with great ideas when you put your heads together.

If you are considering taking a class in wilderness survival or going to a wilderness survival school, try to observe or learn about the attitude of the instructors.  Over the years, I’ve met people who considered themselves to be wilderness survival professionals.  Many of these individuals no doubt have lots of knowledge on the subject.  But, if the individual seems to have somewhat of a cocky attitude or a demeanor that belittles other people who are trying to learn, it is probably better to look elsewhere for a new instructor.  A good wilderness survival instructor wants you to succeed.  If you encounter an instructor with the attitude that they do not need to take precautions such as notifying others where they are going or they don’t need to take a survival kit with them because they have such vast experience and knowledge in the field of survival – it is likely best to avoid such people.  Such instructors will focus mostly on puffing up their own pride rather than focusing on  your ability to succeed.   I was in a conversation with my brother once about this and he stated that some wilderness survival instructors have the attitude that you’re not a real man if you can’t survive with nothing more than a toothpick and a comb.  This is not the right attitude for a good wilderness survival instructor. 

I recall several individuals I’ve watched on TV who were considered by some to be wilderness survival experts.   Some of them have even worked as a couple team in wilderness survival situations.  Although I think that these individuals all have some knowledge and some talent in wildness survival and a person can learn some good things from them, I also believe some of them were very poor examples in some of their actions and their attitudes.  One member of a couple team in particular I observed to be very negative and condescending toward his wilderness survivor companion.  Although they both seemed to make things work out by the end of each episode, I’m sure that his companion would almost have preferred to survive the wilderness alone.  Another so called expert who did a TV series was quite surprising to me in the fact that he frequently did incredibly dangerous activities that were very risky to his health.   One time he took a long jump from a cliff to grab onto a tree to try climbing down the tree when he could not actually see how far down the branches went and not knowing for sure if the branches would hold his weight.  The jump could have ended in death or broken bones – not good when trying to survive.  Although some people find this person to be entertaining wilderness survival (and in many ways he is), I would not recommend many of his ways because young people who watch him do risky activities may try to do the same thing and find themselves worsening their wilderness survival situation. 

While I’m not trying to find the bad in any of these individuals (really trying to keep a positive mental attitude) I would only caution against some of their attitudes and their poor examples.  Look for people who will give you a positive mental attitude and the skills to survive.
Next month I will be discussing what to do when you find yourself in a wilderness survival situation.    I will also present a list of topics I will discuss for each of the remaining months of 2012.  For now, just a reminder – YOU CAN SURVIVE.

Happy adventures,