Wilderness advice you probably won't need.

Red touches yellow,
Kill a fellow.
Red touches black,
Friend of Jack.

I’m unlikely to be in an area within the range of coral snakes, so being able to tell the difference between one and a king snake or milk snake is probably not something that will come in handy to me.

You reminded me of:

Red sky at night, Sailor’s delight
Red sky in morning, Sailor’s warning

But anyway, I happen to know four or five ways of finding north in the wilderness but I don’t see myself needing them anytime soon…

I once read that a really great way to scare off mountain lions is to pick up a small child a wave him or her around in the air. The theory is that it will make you look bigger and fiercer if your waving other creatures around, but I wonder if it also works to get the lion away from you and interested in eating the child.

When hiking in bear country, always have a buddy with you that runs slower than you do.

and if that dont work…toss the child at the lion.

I learned a slightly different version of this:

Read and yellow,
Kill a fellow.
Read and black,
Venom lack.

And, I’ve actually had occasion to use it once. It was a king snake.

In an emergency, the juice from a green coconut can be used as an IV.

It’s useless to me, too, even though I live in the range of lots of coral snakes. The rhyme only works in the US. In the tropics, there’s some red-black guys that will kill you. I know of someone who picked up a coral snake here in Panama based on the rhyme, thinking it was harmless, and got bitten. (He survived.)

The rule here is: if it has any combination of red, yellow, black, or orange on it, leave it the hell alone.

My policy is to leave ALL snakes alone, unless they are kept as pets and the owner assures me that they’re not venomous. Even then, if I think the owner is particularly clueless, I’ll leave the snake alone. I am not scared or squicked out by snakes, in fact I think they’re kind of cool, but I don’t know enough about them to easily identify the harmless from the ones with venom. Fortunately, most snakes around here are inclined to leave humans alone, if the humans will only respect the snakes’ territory.

Now I wonder if I can still light a campfire using only one match. I used to be THE one to make the fires in Camp Fire Girls (back before they allowed boys to join). These days, I’d probably take one of my candlelighters, and use it.

  1. The Sun
  2. The Stars
  3. Vegetation Growth (though technically just a long-term version of solar position)
  4. Magnetized metal
  5. Fashion a GPS unit out of Yucca Leaves?

The advice matches what I’ve heard and read, but I’m not sure about your explanation for why it works.

Making yourself look big and scary helps, but it’s also a matter of simply not looking like a prey animal. Lions generally hunt prey which goes on all fours and is smaller than themselves. By standing upright and being taller than the mountain lion, you break its “prey pattern” so to speak. Raising your hands above your head, or opening your jacket in order to look bigger, probably also doesn’t hurt.

Small children look more like what a mountain lion normally eats, so you want to pick them up from the ground. I don’t know if a mountain lion’s thinking is sophisticated enough to reason “he is waving another creature around, he must be bad mojo” or whether it’s just a matter of the resulting composite creature looking sufficiently different from what the lion normally recognizes as prey to make it go off in search of something more familiar.

Oh, and if all else fails – fight like hell. Sure, the mountain lion is stronger than you and has bigger teeth, but you are fighting for your life and it is just trying to get a meal. If you make yourself more trouble than you’re worth, it may go in search of easier food. And even if you don’t survive the encounter, you may at least have given it a bad memory which may keep it from trying to eat other humans in the future.

Assuming that you’re stuck in one place for more than a day, and desperately need to find North, you jab a stick in the ground. At daybreak, jab another stick in the ground, where the shadow falls. At sunset, jab a third stick in the ground, where the shadow falls from the first stick. Now, mark halfway between the sunrise and sunset sticks, and then draw a line leading to the initial stick, and you have a north/south line.

Personally, I think it would be better to set a smoky fire if that’s at all practical.

Yeah, I spent entirely too much time reading survival manuals as a child.

I’m able to light a fire with only a single gallon of gasoline and one cigarette lighter. And WHAT a fire!

Another wilderness survival tip… don’t light a fire using a gallon of gasoline in the wilderness.

I am pretty sure that the mountain lion warnings at the trailhead of virtually every trail in the Bay Area of California say to make yourself look bigger and fight back if necessary, but do NOT bend over to pick up a stick or your child unless you want both of you to be lunch.

Every time I try to remember one of these things, my mind edits out the relevant bits, and I start recalling plausible but terribly wrong things. (Is it friendly fellow? Dead drops Jack? Which color touches which?)
I’d guess I’d make a terrible girl adventurer.

'And this is my adventuring companion. My girl adventuring companion. :smug: ’

If you just remember to leave all snakes alone, you’ll probably do fine, assuming you’re in North America. Our native snakes are not really aggressive, to my knowledge. They just want to go about their business.

I have absolutely no advice for surviving an encounter with a mountain lion. I have enough trouble surviving house cats who mistake me for a prey animal that they could actually have a chance of eating.

I learned this a different way that takes less than an hour. Find the straightest stick you can. It doesn’t have to be that long. Anytime the sun is up jab the stick in the ground pointing directly at the sun. You’ll have it right when the stick leaves little or no shadow. In a short time a shadow will appear. No matter the time of day that shadow will always point east. 90[sup]o[/sup] counter-clockwise is north.

Sure, it’s not going to be exact but I think it will get as close as the method you described and it’s a lot faster.

What can I say? It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read survival books/manuals. When I was a kid, I had fantasies of taking my dog and living out in the wilderness, living of off fish and rabbits. Since then, I’ve come to the realization that I LIKE indoor plumbing, electric lights, and other modern conveniences. Especially online access.

My cats also approve of indoor living. And they approve of canned tuna, which can be be opened and eaten any time of the day or night that the Two-Legs can be persuaded to do so.