In a survival situation, you need to be able to protect yourself from whatever lurks out in the wilderness. Pick any film at random that involves a plane crash or jungle adventure, and there's a good chance that you will see someone carrying a pointed stick at some point. Well, it might look good and bring dramatic effect, but there's a strong argument in favor of the survival spear. They can be used for hunting, as a walking stick, and of course, for fighting off predators.
Not every survival situation is the result of a major catastrophe. Sometimes, you head out into the backcountry with survival in mind, carrying a full bug-out style bag, packed with specially selected equipment. Or you might be lost on the trail and know that remaining stationery usually heightens your chances of being found by rescue crews, in which case you will have with you just what you take on the trail. When you pack for your trip, essentials like a knife and a fire starter can be the difference if you have to survive.
What is used to make a spear will depend on the style that you choose. There are plenty of different types, and you can make them as complicated and engineered as you like, but there is a reason that the humble pointed stick has been trusted for thousands of years. If you work your stick right, you can end up with a tip harder than copper.
To make your survival spear, you need a sturdy branch or a sapling that's just a little taller than you are. Keeping your spear longer than you are tall means that when you stand it on end, you're not going to have an accidental meeting with the sharp end. For a strong and supple spear, your branch should be about the thickness of a broom handle and should still be green. Cutting living trees does go against leave no trace principles in the outdoors, but in a survival situation, we sometimes have to forego our preferred morals.
Step 1: Find your chosen branch or sapling and chop it off as close to the base as possible. You can use your knife or a hatchet for this, but a folding saw will give you the cleanest cut. Use your knife to strip off any extra growth from your spear.
Step 2: Shave the bark from several inches at one end of your spear. Once it is clean, use your knife to shave the end to a point. Hold your spear securely in one hand and always remember to sharpen the stick away from your body.
Step 3: When your spear is sharp enough, heat the sharp end in your campfire to harden the tip. Heating the tip dries out the wood, hardening it so that it is much stronger, less flexible, and will last longer. Remember, you're toasting your spear slowly, not trying to burn the end.
If you have any grease to hand, like a tub of vaseline or lip salve, you can grease the tip of your spear before you heat it and protect the wood. This stops the tip of your spear from charring as easily. If you don't have any grease to hand, you can substitute pine sap.
Step 4: Your survival spear is ready to go. If you have time to burn and want to make the most robust spear tip possible, you can use a smooth stone to burnish your spear tip. Rub the stone firmly over the spear tip to compress the fibers and toughen the wood until it almost looks glassy and feels as tough as steel.
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