Monday, March 31, 2008

Food Procurement 3 of 3: Preparation of Fish and Game for Cooking and Storage

You must know how to prepare fish and game for cooking and storage in a survival situation. Improper cleaning or storage can result in inedible fish or game.


Do not eat fish that appears spoiled. Cooking does not ensure that spoiled fish will be edible. Signs of spoilage are:

  • Sunken eyes.
  • Peculiar odor.
  • Suspicious color. (Gills should be red to pink. Scales should be a pronounced shade of gray, not faded.)
  • Dents stay in the fish's flesh after pressing it with your thumb.
  • Slimy, rather than moist or wet body.
  • Sharp or peppery taste.

Eating spoiled or rotten fish may cause diarrhea, nausea, cramps, vomiting, itching, paralysis, or a metallic taste in the mouth. These symptoms appear suddenly, one to six hours after eating. Induce vomiting if symptoms appear.

Fish spoils quickly after death, especially on a hot day. Prepare fish for eating as soon as possible after catching it. Cut out the gills and large blood vessels that lie near the spine. Gut fish that is more than 10 centimeters long. Scale or skin the fish. You can impale a whole fish on a stick and cook it over an open fire. However, boiling the fish with the skin on is the best way to get the most food value. The fats and oil are under the skin and, by boiling, you can save the juices for broth. You can use any of the methods used to cook plant food to cook fish. Pack fish into a ball of clay and bury it in the coals of a fire until the clay hardens. Break open the clay ball to get to the cooked fish. Fish is done when the meat flakes off. If you plan to keep the fish for later, smoke or fry it. To prepare fish for smoking, cut off the head and remove the backbone.


To skin a snake, first cut off its head and bury it. Then cut the skin down the body 15 to 20 centimeters (Figure 8-24). Peel the skin back, then grasp the skin in one hand and the body in the other and pull apart. On large, bulky snakes it may be necessary to slit the belly skin. Cook snakes in the same manner as small game. Remove the entrails and discard. Cut the snake into small sections and boil or roast it.


After killing the bird, remove its feathers by either plucking or skinning. Remember, skinning removes some of the food value. Open up the body cavity and remove its entrails, saving the craw (in seed-eating birds), heart, and liver. Cut off the feet. Cook by boiling or roasting over a spit. Before cooking scavenger birds, boil them at least 20 minutes to kill parasites.

Skinning and Butchering Game

Bleed the animal by cutting its throat. If possible, clean the carcass near a stream. Place the carcass belly up and split the hide from throat to tail, cutting around all sexual organs (Figure 8-25). Remove the musk glands at points A and B to avoid tainting the meat. For smaller mammals, cut the hide around the body and insert two fingers under the hide on both sides of the cut and pull both pieces off (Figure 8-26).


When cutting the hide, insert the knife blade under the skin and turn the blade up so that only the hide gets cut. This will also prevent cutting hair and getting it on the meat.

Remove the entrails from smaller game by splitting the body open and pulling them out with the fingers. Do not forget the chest cavity. For larger game, cut the gullet away from the diaphragm. Roll the entrails out of the body. Cut around the anus, then reach into the lower abdominal cavity, grasp the lower intestine, and pull to remove. Remove the urine bladder by pinching it off and cutting it below the fingers.

If you spill urine on the meat, wash it to avoid tainting the meat. Save the heart and liver. Cut these open and inspect for signs of worms or other parasites. Also inspect the liver's color; it could indicate a diseased animal. The liver's surface should be smooth and wet and its color deep red or purple. If the liver appears diseased, discard it. However, a diseased liver does not indicate you cannot eat the muscle tissue.

Cut along each leg from above the foot to the previously made body cut. Remove the hide by pulling it away from the carcass, cutting the connective tissue where necessary. Cut off the head and feet.

Cut larger game into manageable pieces. First, slice the muscle tissue connecting the front legs to the body. There are no bones or joints connecting the front legs to the body on four-legged animals. Cut the hindquarters off where they join the body. You must cut around a large bone at the top of the leg and cut to the ball and socket hip joint. Cut the ligaments around the joint and bend it back to separate it.

Remove the large muscles (the tenderloin) that lie on either side of the spine. Separate the ribs from the backbone. There is less work and less wear on your knife if you break the ribs first, then cut through the breaks.

Cook large meat pieces over a spit or boil them. You can stew or boil smaller pieces, particularly those that remain attached to bone after the initial butchering, as soup or broth. You can cook body organs such as the heart, liver, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys using the same methods as for muscle meat. You can also cook and eat the brain. Cut the tongue out, skin it, boil it until tender, and eat it.

Smoking Meat

To smoke meat, prepare an enclosure around a fire (Figure 8-27). Two ponchos snapped together will work. The fire does not need to be big or hot. The intent is to produce smoke, not heat. Do not use resinous wood in the fire because its smoke will ruin the meat. Use hardwoods to produce good smoke.

The wood should be somewhat green. If it is too dry, soak it. Cut the meat into thin slices, no more than 6 centimeters thick, and drape them over a framework. Make sure none of the meat touches another piece.

Keep the poncho enclosure around the meat to hold the smoke and keep a close watch on the fire. Do not let the fire get too hot. Meat smoked overnight in this manner will last about 1 week. Two days of continuous smoking will preserve the meat for 2 to 4 weeks. Properly smoked meat will look like a dark, curled, brittle stick and you can eat it without further cooking. You can also use a pit to smoke meat (Figure 8-28).

Drying Meat

To preserve meat by drying, cut it into 6-millimeter strips with the grain. Hang the meat strips on a rack in a sunny location with good air flow. Keep the strips out of the reach of animals and cover them to keep blowflies off. Allow the meat to dry thoroughly before eating. Properly dried meat will have a dry, crisp texture and will not feel cool to the touch.


In cold climates, you can freeze and keep meat indefinitely. Freezing is not a means of preparing meat. You must still cook it before eating.

Brine and Salt

You can preserve meat by soaking it thoroughly in a saltwater solution. The solution must cover the meat. You can also use salt by itself. Wash off the salt before cooking.

Excerpt from the US Army Survival Manual FM 21-76


Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Future

"Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there's still time to change the road you're on." - "Stairway to Heaven" by Led Zeppelin.

Route 1 -

Solutions to Earth's problems are discovered and implemented.
(We all live happily ever after.)
Example: Designed by Luigi Colani, this house maximizes use of land space.
A rotating central room is bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom.

Route 2 -

Poor political, social and environmental decisions are made.
(Chaos rules.)
Example: The film Idiocracy visualizes what would happen if Devo's proposition--that mankind is in the process of de-evolution--came to pass. The catalyst: the overeducated start having fewer children while the undereducated have more.

Which way are we headed?

Perhaps that question is best answered by asking another question--undoubtedly, the most important question of our time:

"In a world that is in chaos politically, socially and environmentally, how can the human race sustain another 100 years?" - Dr. Stephen Hawking. Read replies.

A newlywed husband is fascinated by a fortune telling machine in a cafe that makes uncanny predictions about his future. William Shatner and Patricia Breslin star in the season two Twilight Zone episode, "Nick of Time" (pt.1) (pt.2) (pt.3)

One thing remains certain...

"The future's uncertain and the end is always near." - "Roadhouse Blues" by The Doors.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Fed Drops Propaganda Flyers on U.S.

Fast Food Death

"Do you know why Americans call it 'fast food'? Because it speeds them on their way to their graves. " - Chuin, from the film Remo Williams.

1000 calories = Arby's Meatball Toasted Sub
1000 calories = Boston Market Boston Sirloin Dip Carver
1000 calories = Burger King BK Quad Stacker
1000 calories = Dairy Queen Large Oreo Cookies Blizzard
1010 calories = Carl's Jr. Original Six Dollar Burger
1010 calories = Jack In The Box Ultimate Cheeseburger
1010 calories = Sonic Peanut Butter Shake - Large (20oz)
1010 calories = White Castle Strawberry Shake - Large (Columbus & Detroit regions)
1020 calories = White Castle Chocolate Shake - Large (New York region)
1030 calories = Dairy Queen Chicken Strip Basket (4 piece)

1030 calories = Dairy Queen FlameThrower GrillBurger (1/2lb)

1030 calories = Dairy Queen Medium Choc. Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard
1030 calories = Del Taco Macho Bacon & Egg Burrito
1030 calories = Hardee's Grilled Sourdough Thickburger
1050 calories = Dairy Queen Large Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard
1050 calories = Del Taco Macho Combo Burrito
1050 calories = Jack In The Box Vanilla Ice Cream Shake (24oz)
1060 calories = Hardee's Big Country Breakfast Platter - Sausage
1060 calories = Hardee's Six Dollar Burger
1070 calories = Carl's Jr. Bacon Cheese Six Dollar Burger
1070 calories = Jack In The Box Sirloin Cheese Burger
1070 calories = McDonald's Deluxe Breakfast (Reg. Size Biscuit) w/o Syrup & Margarine
1090 calories = Jack In The Box Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger
1090 calories = White Castle Chocolate Shake - Large (Nashville region)
1090 calories = White Castle Fish Nibblers - Sack
1090 calories = White Castle Strawberry Shake - Large (Minneapolis region)
1090 calories = White Castle Vanilla Shake - Large (Nashville region)
1100 calories = Del Taco Macho Nachos
1110 calories = McDonald's Strawberry Triple Thick Shake (32oz)
1110 calories = McDonald's Vanilla Triple Thick Shake (32oz)
1120 calories = Jack In The Box Bacon 'n' Cheese Ciabatta Burger

1120 calories = Jack In The Box Sirloin Bacon 'n' Cheese Burger

1130 calories = Burger King TRIPLE WHOPPER Sandwich
1130 calories = Carl's Jr. Western Bacon Six Dollar Burger
1130 calories = Dairy Queen Large Chocolate Shake
1130 calories = White Castle Chicken Rings (20)
1130 calories = White Castle Chocolate Shake - Large (Cincinnati region)
1140 calories = Carl's Jr. Guacamole Bacon Six Dollar Burger
1140 calories = Hardee's Big Country Breakfast Platter - Chicken
1140 calories = McDonald's Deluxe Breakfast (Large Size Biscuit) w/o Syrup & Margarine
1140 calories = White Castle Vanilla Shake - Large (Cincinnati region)
1150 calories = Hardee's Big Country Breakfast Platter - Country Steak
1160 calories = McDonald's Chocolate Triple Thick Shake (32oz)
1170 calories = Del Taco Macho Beef Burrito
1180 calories = White Castle Vanilla Shake - Large (New Jersey region)
1188 calories = Nathan's FRENCH FRIES (SUPER SIZE)
1210 calories = Jack In The Box Egg Nog Shake (24oz)
1220 calories = Hardee's Big Country Breakfast Platter - Breaded Pork Chop
1220 calories = Jack In The Box Strawberry Ice Cream Shake (24oz)

1230 calories = Burger King TRIPLE WHOPPER Sandwich With Cheese

1230 calories = Jack In The Box Chocolate Ice Cream Shake (24oz)
1230 calories = White Castle Chocolate Shake - Large (New Jersey region)
1250 calories = Hardee's Double Thickburger
1270 calories = Dairy Queen Chicken Strip Basket (6 piece)
1290 calories = Jack In The Box OREO Cookie Ice Cream Shake (24oz)
1300 calories = Dairy Queen Large Chocolate Malt
1300 calories = Hardee's Double Bacon Cheese Thickburger
1300 calories = Nathan's Chicken Tender Platter
1320 calories = Dairy Queen Large Choc. Chip Cookie Dough Blizzard
1420 calories = Hardee's Monster Thickburger
1520 calories = Carl's Jr. Double Six Dollar Burger
1537 calories = Nathan's Fish N Chips
1680 calories = White Castle Chocolate Shake - Large (Louisville region)

"Breathe out... slowly... do not gulp. If you do not breathe correctly, you do not move correctly. Pitiful. I can see the deadly hamburger has done its evil work. We must sweat the poison from your body and rebuild. " - Chuin

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Bombs Stink: The Survivability of Human Scent

The wreckage of a car bombing in eastern Beirut that killed a high-ranking terrorism investigator and three others, January 26, 2008.

Paper Written By

  • Rex A. Stockham, Explosives and Hazardous Devices Examiner, Explosives Unit, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Quantico, Virginia
  • Dennis L. Slavin, Bloodhound Handler, South Pasadena Police Department, South Pasadena, California
  • William Kift, Bloodhound Handler, Police Service Dog Unit, Long Beach Police Department, Long Beach, California

A new and innovative approach that uses human-scent evidence to identify bomb makers and arsonists is presented. The process of identifying and locating a suspect after an explosion or fire is often complicated by the fact that improvised explosive and incendiary devices generally employ a time-delay mechanism to allow evasion well before their functioning. One approach that uses specially trained bloodhound-handler teams as an investigative tool to identify people who had contact with the devices has been developed. Pipe bombs containing explosives with varying explosion velocities were functioned, and metal and plastic gas cans were burned with gasoline. The purpose of this feasibility study was to demonstrate the survivability of human scent after being exposed to extreme mechanical and thermal effects from the explosion and burning of various energetic materials and the potential for use in criminal investigations.


The ability of bloodhounds to effectively match collected scent to the correct person and follow that person through and across numerous environments to an effective conclusion is accepted in most courts and has been validated in a recent scientific study (Harvey and Harvey 2003). The authors identified no published studies that explore the durability of human scent.

In traditional bloodhound circles, the anecdotal information passed from trainer to student is that human scent is fragile and easily destroyed. Many dog handlers in the United States are taught that identifiable human scent disappears after 24 hours. European studies using properly trained scent-identification dogs showed acceptable performance levels with collected scent that was aged two weeks to six months (Schoon and Haak 2002).

This paper will demonstrate that human scent is durable and will remain identifiable after being exposed to extreme mechanical and thermal effects associated with the reactions of various energetic materials. This feasibility study does not address the durability of human scent as a function of physical parameters, such as surface temperature of materials. The effects encountered in the detonation of improvised explosive devices and the deflagration of improvised incendiary devices are not consistently reproducible due to the myriad of variables that can affect energetic material performance in an improvised device. In addition, conditions encountered by bloodhound handler teams during crime scene responses are never identical. Therefore, the test design discussed below reflects conditions encountered in an urban setting and examines the potential to use this technique in a criminal investigation.


Generally, there are two methods of bloodhound-handler training in the United States—traditional and specialized. The traditional method teaches a bloodhound-handler team to have the dog search for matching scent at the beginning of the trail by casting about. The handler then determines the presence or absence of matching scent by "reading" the dog's behavior. Some groups have trained their bloodhounds to return to the handler and provide an alert upon determining that no matching scent is present in the area.

Scent collection techniques used to acquire human scent vary widely in the traditional bloodhound community. The most routinely used methods are direct scenting, swiping, and absorption. In the direct-scenting method, the bloodhound handler allows the dog to sniff the actual item of evidence. With the swiping and absorption methods, scent is transferred onto a gauze pad instead of using the actual item of evidence. Swiping, a direct transfer of scent onto a gauze pad, is achieved by wiping the pad across the surface of the evidence. Absorption, or placing the pad next to the scent article for an extended period, relies on the gauze pad's ability to gather scent while being in direct or indirect contact with the evidence. Although these methods have been used for decades, the potential for negatively affecting trace evidence is clear.

The specialized bloodhound-handler teams use a different response system to indicate the presence or absence of matching scent at the start of a trail. Although traditional handlers must rely on their ability to "read" the dog's behavior, the specially trained teams use a simplified yes or no response technique. At the start of the trail, if matching scent is present at the location being checked, the bloodhound trails. If no matching scent is present at the location being checked, the bloodhound refuses to trail. Once the bloodhound has started trailing, thus indicating the presence of matching scent, much of the handling techniques used in the traditional bloodhound community are relied upon.

The specially trained bloodhound-handler teams employ the Scent Transfer Unit (STU) to collect scent pads. The STU-100 is a portable vacuum collection unit that uses the flow of air to transport the components of human scent onto 11.25 by 22.86cm sterile surgical pads. (The pads are considered sterile for medical usage, not to denote an absence of any chemical compounds.) The vacuum's intake funnel supports the sterile pad to allow the evidence to be placed on or near the pad. At full charge, the STU-100's 12-volt fan pulls approximately 400 liters of air per minute across the surface of the evidence and through the pad, thus trapping the scent-causing materials. Where traditional scent evidence recovery techniques require direct scenting from the article of evidence or touching the evidence with a gauze pad, the airflow across the scent pad allows the evidence recovery personnel to immediately capture scent, thus minimizing the loss of other forensic evidence. It also provides a consistent type of scent article for presentation to the bloodhound.

When the investigators develop a suspect, the specially trained bloodhound-handler team is brought to a location recently visited by that person to conduct a suspect-location check. Typical locations for scent checks include the suspect's residence or work because these locations provide large areas of deposited scent due to the frequent travels in and out of the buildings. Generally, case law in the United States requires that the dog-handler team be placed on a trail where the suspect was known or believed to have passed. In order to fulfill these requirements, the handler is placed on this fresh trail location and asked to introduce the previously collected scent pad to the hound. The handler knows that he has been placed on a known trail but is not told details of potential outcomes, thus keeping him blind. In addition, the handler does not know if the scent pad for presentation is a negative control or a scent pad collected from an article of the crime.

Because these specially trained bloodhounds provide a yes or no response, a positive response indicates to the investigator that additional investigative efforts should be exerted to determine the reason that the dogs matched scent from the evidence to the location. This type of positive-scent match is most often associated to a resident or frequent visitor to that location. Assuming that the scent article being used contains a viable amount of scent, a negative response during a location check provides strong evidence to eliminate the suspect from the investigation.

Bombers and arsonists typically employ some time-delay method in improvised devices to remove themselves safely from the scene of the crime, and many of these events go unsolved. Using scent collected from the devices, qualified bloodhound-handler teams can use scent pads to conduct suspect-location checks, thus providing a new tool to assist in the identification and capture of these individuals.


Test Material

Four pipe bombs and two gas containers were used for scent articles. Four 2.7 x 20.3cm schedule-40 steel pipes and eight end caps were purchased wrapped in plastic. The gas containers, one metal and one plastic, were purchased new and immediately placed into large plastic bags.

Twelve test subjects were selected from a local search-and-rescue organization that had not been used in any previous training or testing. Most target and decoy pairs chosen were the same sex and age. In order to deposit scent, the targets handled their respective items for approximately one to two minutes, placed the items into resealable bags, closed, and labeled the bags. During the explosion and collection process, the bomb technicians and scent-pad collectors were monitored by the test planners to minimize any scent cross contamination. To accomplish this, the technicians and collectors were required to wear a new pair of latex gloves each time a new device was handled. Because assembly and collection personnel could have contributed scent even while wearing gloves, they were not permitted to be present during the testing.

Pipe Bomb Preparation

Four pipe bombs were constructed using two low-explosive powders and two high-explosive materials. Goex (Doyline, Louisiana) black powder, a 6:1.2:08 mixture of potassium nitrate, charcoal, and sulfur, and Bullseye (Alliant Powder, Radford, Virginia) double-base smokeless powder, a combination of nitrocellulose and nitroglycerin, were chosen for the two low-explosive filled pipe bombs because of their availability and common use in domestic bombing incidents. In its legitimate form, smokeless powder is used for reloading ammunition, and black powder is typically used for a type of sport shooting. Kinepak, (Slurry Explosive Corporation, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) a binary explosive consisting of a mixture of ammonium nitrate and nitromethane, and Composition C4, a military's cyclotrimethylenetrinitramine (RDX)-based explosive were the selected high-explosive fillers.

Figure 1. Photograph of a Black Powder Explosive

Figure 2. Photograph of a Smokeless Powder Explosive

Figure 3. Photograph of a Binary Explosive

Figure 4. Photograph of a C4 Explosive

To ensure the safe initiation of each buried pipe bomb, a detonating cord booster was placed into the energetic material. Holes were drilled in one of the two end caps to allow for the insertion of a length of Dupont (Dupont-ETI, North Bay, Ontario, Canada) 70-grain per-foot detonating cord with a pentaerythritol tetranitrate (PETN) core. After the pipes were half filled with the explosive material, approximately 10cm of a 61cm length of detonating cord was inserted into each pipe with the remaining length protruding from the containment vessel. A U.S. military nonelectric blasting cap and black powder core time fuse were used as a time-delay system to initiate the detonating cord boosters.

Each assembled device was placed inside a 20-liter plastic bucket that was packed with dirt. The bucket was then suspended inside a 189-liter steel drum and detonated. This technique was used to recover as much postblast fragmentation as possible. Some devices required the steel drum to be partially buried to further restrict scattering of fragments. Fragment recovery was completed for each device immediately after detonation, and before the next device was exploded. A screen sifter and magnet were used to locate and collect the smaller pieces. The recovered fragments were placed inside polyethylene resealable bags.

The maximum approximate reaction product temperature of black powder and double-base smokeless powders are 2380K and 2200 to 3800K, respectively (Picatinny Arsenal 1962). The reaction product temperature in detonating explosives can exceed 5000K (Persson et al. 1993). The ignition source temperature of gasoline is 1083K (Henderson and Lightsey 1984), with a much higher flame temperature that is dependent on oxygen content. These temperatures are not the surface temperatures of the containers but are provided to demonstrate the range of temperatures that can occur in the reaction zone of various energetic materials.

Arson Device Preparation

Two gasoline containers, one plastic and one metal, were placed on the ground and covered with one half liter of gasoline. The gasoline was ignited and allowed to burn for two minutes. The fire was then extinguished with water. After cooling, the remains were placed in separate paper bags.

Members of the Texas Bloodhound Search and Rescue Team

Dog-Handler Teams

Twenty professional and novice bloodhound-handler teams were used for this study including 16 handlers and 20 dogs. The bloodhound-handler teams using two dogs in this test were designated with the same numeric identifier but with a different alpha identifier (i.e., 4 and 4a).

Thirteen of the handlers were specially trained. The remaining three (10, 11, 14) were traditionally trained. Five handlers were full-time law enforcement dog handlers, three were reserve officers, and eight were civilians. The handlers' experience levels ranged from 700 cases worked to no field-case experience. The dogs ranged in age from under one year to seven years old. Twelve teams had previously trained on arson debris. Three teams had previously trained on bomb debris.

Follow this link to Table 1.

Scent Collection

Scent pads were collected from the pipe-bomb debris by placing the fragments onto the STU-100 and running the machine for approximately 30 seconds. Scent pads were collected from the arson debris by placing the STU-100 intake funnel inside each bag and running the machine for approximately 30 to 90 seconds. The decision to place the evidence article directly on the scent pad or to place the intake funnel inside the evidence container was made specifically for ease of processing. No empirical data has been gathered to determine if either collection method is superior to the other.

In order to eliminate cross contamination, the STU-100 intake was cleaned according to manufacturer's recommendation by using isopropanol swabs. The STU-100 was allowed to dry prior to collecting scent pads from each of the six devices. To minimize preparation time, most of the scent pads were split evenly with scissors into two sections after scent collection, thus creating two pads from one. Before cutting the pads collected from a new device, the scissors were cleaned with isopropanol swabs and allowed to dry. Half of the pads were collected with the STU-100 the same day the devices were functioned. The remaining halves were collected two weeks later. All of the pads were packaged in polyethylene, resealable bags and maintained at room temperature. The scent pads were randomly aged two days and 16 days before being presented to the dogs.

Trail Information

The trails were run in an urban public park frequented by joggers and people walking pets. Because it was previously demonstrated that bloodhounds are capable of identifying human scent that was vacuumed onto a scent pad (Harvey and Harvey 2003) and capable of matching that scent to a suspect on aged and contaminated trails through an urban environment (Harvey and Harvey 2003), no attempts were made to age or contaminate the test trails. For the test trails, 12 people walked a split trail; six scent targets and six decoys. On each trail, two people (target and decoy) were started at the same point and walked the first section of the trail side by side. After approximately 14 meters, they split at a 45-degree angle and continued another 18-27 meters to their respective hiding locations.

The bloodhound-handler teams were not permitted to see the trails being laid, and the target and decoy were hidden at the end of their trail.

Six stations were set throughout the park, one for each device. At each station, the target and decoy laid a new trail in a different location for each bloodhound-handler team so that no team ran the same trail. Each bloodhound-handler team completed one trail at each station. For each starting location, the teams were placed directly on the target and decoy trail. After placing the dogs in harnesses, the handlers were given an arbitrarily selected scent pad for presentation to their dog. The parameters recorded were as follows:

  • Did the dogs begin to trail?
  • Did the dogs identify the target person?

The following outcomes were recorded. For beginning to trail, a YES was recorded if the dog indicated the presence of matching scent at the start of the trail and began to follow. A NO was recorded if the dog gave no response to the presence of matching scent at the start of the trail. (Table 2)

Jogging trail, Central Park, New York

For the identification of the target person, a YES was recorded if the dog trailed to and alerted on the person at the end of the trail. If the dog trailed to the decoy person and gave a positive identification, a false positive (FALSE) was recorded. If the dog trailed but did not identify either the target person or the decoy, a negative identification was noted. Because the teams were given two minutes to complete their test, the positive or negative identification results only reflect the immediate response given by the dog at the end of the trail. The trails were monitored and recorded by people without knowledge of the correct outcome.

The test design replicated common crime scene practice; therefore, no negative-control pads were introduced. In actual casework, the bloodhound-handler team is placed on a known trail and given scent collected from an instrument of the crime. If an identifiable amount of scent is present on the scent pad and the bloodhound finds matching scent at the start of the trail, the bloodhound-handler team follows the trail to its logical conclusion.

Follow this link to Table 2.

The overall percentage for a positive beginning to trail indication was 78.3 percent. Beginning to trail indications were calculated by using the scores of the bloodhound-handler teams that indicated positive at the start of the trail. A no-response indication at the start of the trail did not necessarily signify that there was no matching scent present on the pad or at the trail beginning. This negative alert may also indicate that the dog was not able to detect such low levels of material. (Table 2)

The overall combined score for positive identifications was 70 percent. The score for dogs that indicated matching scent by beginning to trail and correctly identifying the target person was 88.6 percent with no false-positive indications. (Table 2)

Eight dog-handler teams with a casework experience level under five conducted 48 trails with 34 positive begin-to-trail indications (70.8 percent) and 31 positive identifications (64.5 percent). (Table 3)

Five dog-handler teams with a casework experience level more than five and fewer than 100 conducted 30 trails with 24 positive begin-to-trail indications (80 percent) and 19 positive identifications (63.3 percent). (Table 3)

Seven dog-handler teams with a casework experience level over 100 conducted 42 trails with 36 positive begin-to-trail indications (85.7 percent) and 34 positive identifications (80.9 percent).

Follow this link to Table 3.


Several aspects of this study must be considered when factoring the significance of the findings. Overall, the dogs correctly identified the target person in 53 of the 80 bomb-debris experiments and 31 of the 40 arson-debris experiments with no false-positive identifications. The combined results and the absence of false-positive identifications supports the general reliability of this procedure and indicates that dogs can detect and identify human scent on bomb and arson debris.

Some positive identification could have occurred because a dog alerted on the first visual cue that it received. In the training of various teams, trails are set up so there is only one choice at the end of the trail—to identify the scent target. Teams that have trained with multiple decoys on the scent trail typically have dogs conditioned to check each person for a scent match. The specially trained teams in this study use multiple decoys in training. It is unknown whether the three traditionally trained teams use similar techniques.

The number of target identifications may have increased if there had been no time limit for the completion of each trail. The two-minute limit did not provide enough time for some of the bloodhounds to make a choice. This time limit may have also had a beneficial effect because the handlers did not necessarily have the time to entice their dogs to choose one target over another in order to complete the trail with a find, thus causing false-positive identifications.

No readily identifiable differences were observed that indicated the scent pads collected on the day of device functioning produced better results than the pads collected 14 days after the event. The following tables specify the scent-pad collection information and the test results for each pad.

Follow this link to Table 4.

Follow this link to Table 5.

Follow this link to Table 6.

Follow this link to Table 7.

Follow this link to Table 8.

Follow this link to Table 9.

Follow this link to Table 10.

The explosion and burning of the test materials in this series was conducted to maximize the chances of recovery. There are too many uncontrollable environmental parameters associated with the explosion and burning of materials to reliably replicate events associated with an actual crime scene. In each of these events the materials would have been handled differently and subjected to scattering, weather, and the influence of the actions of emergency personnel. Likewise, it is impossible in an experimental test scenario to control all of the environmental variables to accurately replicate trailing conditions experienced in casework. Consequently, the results derived from this type of feasibility test series only demonstrate the survivability of identifiable human scent and the potential to use it in an investigation. It does not indicate the ability of a particular breed, nor will it provide sufficient data to predict a scent dog's reliability in casework or testing.

Caution must be applied when dealing with human-scent evidence. Because scent is easily transferred, a positive trail or identification resulting from any scent article only shows a scent relationship to the scent article and must be verified and corroborated through other investigative means (Stockham et al. 2004). This scent relationship generally establishes a direct or indirect link between a person and an article of the crime; it does not prove complicity.

Search and rescue dog being trained.


This feasibility study demonstrated the ability of human scent to survive the extreme mechanical and thermal affects associated with the explosion and burning of various energetic materials. Furthermore, the ability of specially trained bloodhound-handler teams to match the collected scent to the correct person after these violent energetic events was demonstrated. By conducting suspect elimination checks with scent pads collected by the STU-100, a portable vacuum collection unit, this specialized approach has shown that it can assist in providing valuable lead information for investigators, focus valuable and often limited resources, and aid in the solution of crimes.


Harvey, L. and Harvey, J. Reliability of bloodhounds in criminal investigations, Journal of Forensic Sciences (2003) 48(4):811-816.

Henderson, R. W. and Lightsey, G. W. Effective flame temperatures of flammable liquids, Fire and Arson Investigator (1984) 35(12):8.

Persson, P., Holmberg R., and Lee, J. Equation of state of the explosion products. In: Rock Blasting and Explosives Engineering, CRC, Boca Raton, Florida, 1993, p. 102.

Picatinny Arsenal, Encyclopedia of Explosives and Related Items, PATR 2700, Volume 2, Dover, New Jersey, 1962, B170, C34-35.

Schoon, A. and Haak, R. Stability of the odor left on an object. In: K9 Suspect Discrimination, Training and Practicing Scent Identification Line-ups, Detselig Enterprices, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, 2002, pp. 47-48.

Stockham, R. A., Slavin, D. L., and Kift, W. Specialized use of human scent in criminal investigations, Forensic Science Communications [Online]. (July 2004). Available:

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Food Procurement 2 of 3: Traps, Snares, Killing & Fishing Devices


For an unarmed survivor or evader, or when the sound of a rifle shot could be a problem, trapping or snaring wild game is a good alternative. Several well-placed traps have the potential to catch much more game than a man with a rifle is likely to shoot. To be effective with any type of trap or snare, you must:

  • Be familiar with the species of animal you intend to catch.
  • Be capable of constructing a proper trap.
  • Not alarm the prey by leaving signs of your presence.

There are no catchall traps you can set for all animals. You must determine what species are in a given area and set your traps specifically with those animals in mind. Look for the following:

  • Runs and trails.
  • Tracks.
  • Droppings.
  • Chewed or rubbed vegetation.
  • Nesting or roosting sites.
  • Feeding and watering areas.

Position your traps and snares where there is proof that animals pass through. You must determine if it is a "run" or a "trail." A trail will show signs of use by several species and will be rather distinct. A run is usually smaller and less distinct and will only contain signs of one species. You may construct a perfect snare, but it will not catch anything if haphazardly placed in the woods. Animals have bedding areas, waterholes, and feeding areas with trails leading from one to another. You must place snares and traps around these areas to be effective.

For an evader in a hostile environment, trap and snare concealment is important. It is equally important, however, not to create a disturbance that will alarm the animal and cause it to avoid the trap. Therefore, if you must dig, remove all fresh dirt from the area. Most animals will instinctively avoid a pitfall-type trap.

Prepare the various parts of a trap or snare away from the site, carry them in, and set them up. Such actions make it easier to avoid disturbing the local vegetation, thereby alerting the prey. Do not use freshly cut, live vegetation to construct a trap or snare. Freshly cut vegetation will "bleed" sap that has an odor the prey will be able to smell. It is an alarm signal to the animal.

You must remove or mask the human scent on and around the trap you set. Although birds do not have a developed sense of smell, nearly all mammals depend on smell even more than on sight. Even the slightest human scent on a trap will alarm the prey and cause it to avoid the area. Actually removing the scent from a trap is difficult but masking it is relatively easy. Use the fluid from the gall and urine bladders of previous kills. Do not use human urine. Mud, particularly from an area with plenty of rotting vegetation, is also good. Use it to coat your hands when handling the trap and to coat the trap when setting it. In nearly all parts of the world, animals know the smell of burned vegetation and smoke. It is only when a fire is actually burning that they become alarmed. Therefore, smoking the trap parts is an effective means to mask your scent. If one of the above techniques is not practical, and if time permits, allow a trap to weather for a few days and then set it. Do not handle a trap while it is weathering. When you position the trap, camouflage it as naturally as possible to prevent detection by the enemy and to avoid alarming the prey.

Traps or snares placed on a trail or run should use channelization. To build a channel, construct a funnel-shaped barrier extending from the sides of the trail toward the trap, with the narrowest part nearest the trap. Channelization should be inconspicuous to avoid alerting the prey. As the animal gets to the trap, it cannot turn left or right and continues into the trap. Few wild animals will back up, preferring to face the direction of travel. Channelization does not have to be an impassable barrier. You only have to make it inconvenient for the animal to go over or through the barrier. For best effect, the channelization should reduce the trail's width to just slightly wider than the targeted animal's body. Maintain this constriction at least as far back from the trap as the animal's body length, then begin the widening toward the mouth of the funnel.

Use of Bait

Baiting a trap or snare increases your chances of catching an animal. When catching fish, you must bait nearly all the devices. Success with an unbaited trap depends on its placement in a good location. A baited trap can actually draw animals to it. The bait should be something the animal knows. This bait, however, should not be so readily available in the immediate area that the animal can get it close by. For example, baiting a trap with corn in the middle of a corn field would not be likely to work. Likewise, if corn is not grown in the region, a corn-baited trap may arouse an animal's curiosity and keep it alerted while it ponders the strange food. Under such circumstances it may not go for the bait. One bait that works well on small mammals is the peanut butter from a meal, ready-to-eat (MRE) ration. Salt is also a good bait.

When using such baits, scatter bits of it around the trap to give the prey a chance to sample it and develop a craving for it. The animal will then overcome some of its caution before it gets to the trap.

If you set and bait a trap for one species but another species takes the bait without being caught, try to determine what the animal was. Then set a proper trap for that animal, using the same bait.

Note: Once you have successfully trapped an animal, you will not only gain confidence in your ability, you also will have resupplied yourself with bait for several more traps.

Trap and Snare Construction

Traps and snares crush, choke, hang, or entangle the prey. A single trap or snare will commonly incorporate two or more of these principles. The mechanisms that provide power to the trap are almost always very simple. The struggling victim, the force of gravity, or a bent sapling's tension provides the power.

The heart of any trap or snare is the trigger. When planning a trap or snare, ask yourself how it should affect the prey, what is the source of power, and what will be the most efficient trigger. Your answers will help you devise a specific trap for a specific species. Traps are designed to catch and hold or to catch and kill. Snares are traps that incorporate a noose to accomplish either function.

Simple Snare

A simple snare (Figure 8-5) consists of a noose placed over a trail or den hole and attached to a firmly planted stake. If the noose is some type of cordage placed upright on a game trail, use small twigs or blades of grass to hold it up. Filaments from spider webs are excellent for holding nooses open. Make sure the noose is large enough to pass freely over the animal's head. As the animal continues to move, the noose tightens around its neck. The more the animal struggles, the tighter the noose gets. This type of snare usually does not kill the animal. If you use cordage, it may loosen enough to slip off the animal's neck. Wire is therefore the best choice for a simple snare.

Drag Noose

Use a drag noose on an animal run (Figure 8-6). Place forked sticks on either side of the run and lay a sturdy crossmember across them. Tie the noose to the crossmember and hang it at a height above the animal's head. (Nooses designed to catch by the head should never be low enough for the prey to step into with a foot.) As the noose tightens around the animal's neck, the animal pulls the crossmember from the forked sticks and drags it along. The surrounding vegetation quickly catches the crossmember and the animal becomes entangled.


A twitch-up is a supple sapling, which, when bent over and secured with a triggering device, will provide power to a variety of snares. Select a hardwood sapling along the trail. A twitch-up will work much faster and with more force if you remove all the branches and foliage.

Twitch-Up Snare

A simple twitch-up snare uses two forked sticks, each with a long and short leg (Figure 8-7). Bend the twitch-up and mark the trail below it. Drive the long leg of one forked stick firmly into the ground at that point. Ensure the cut on the short leg of this stick is parallel to the ground. Tie the long leg of the remaining forked stick to a piece of cordage secured to the twitch-up. Cut the short leg so that it catches on the short leg of the other forked stick. Extend a noose over the trail. Set the trap by bending the twitch-up and engaging the short legs of the forked sticks. When an animal catches its head in the noose, it pulls the forked sticks apart, allowing the twitch-up to spring up and hang the prey.

Note: Do not use green sticks for the trigger. The sap that oozes out could glue them together.

Squirrel Pole

A squirrel pole is a long pole placed against a tree in an area showing a lot of squirrel activity (Figure 8-8). Place several wire nooses along the top and sides of the pole so that a squirrel trying to go up or down the pole will have to pass through one or more of them. Position the nooses (5 to 6 centimeters in diameter) about 2.5 centimeters off the pole. Place the top and bottom wire nooses 45 centimeters from the top and bottom of the pole to prevent the squirrel from getting its feet on a solid surface. If this happens, the squirrel will chew through the wire. Squirrels are naturally curious. After an initial period of caution, they will try to go up or down the pole and will get caught in a noose. The struggling animal will soon fall from the pole and strangle. Other squirrels will soon follow and, in this way, you can catch several squirrels. You can emplace multiple poles to increase the catch.

Ojibwa Bird Pole

An Ojibwa bird pole is a snare used by native Americans for centuries (Figure 8-9). To be effective, place it in a relatively open area away from tall trees. For best results, pick a spot near feeding areas, dusting areas, or watering holes. Cut a pole 1.8 to 2.1 meters long and trim away all limbs and foliage. Do not use resinous wood such as pine. Sharpen the upper end to a point, then drill a small diameter hole 5 to 7.5 centimeters down from the top. Cut a small stick 10 to 15 centimeters long and shape one end so that it will almost fit into the hole. This is the perch. Plant the long pole in the ground with the pointed end up. Tie a small weight, about equal to the weight of the targeted species, to a length of cordage. Pass the free end of the cordage through the hole, and tie a slip noose that covers the perch. Tie a single overhand knot in the cordage and place the perch against the hole. Allow the cordage to slip through the hole until the overhand knot rests against the pole and the top of the perch. The tension of the overhand knot against the pole and perch will hold the perch in position. Spread the noose over the perch, ensuring it covers the perch and drapes over on both sides. Most birds prefer to rest on something above ground and will land on the perch. As soon as the bird lands, the perch will fall, releasing the over-hand knot and allowing the weight to drop. The noose will tighten around the bird's feet, capturing it. If the weight is too heavy, it will cut the bird's feet off, allowing it to escape.

Noosing Wand

A noose stick or "noosing wand" is useful for capturing roosting birds or small mammals (Figure 8-10). It requires a patient operator. This wand is more a weapon than a trap. It consists of a pole (as long as you can effectively handle) with a slip noose of wire or stiff cordage at the small end. To catch an animal, you slip the noose over the neck of a roosting bird and pull it tight. You can also place it over a den hole and hide in a nearby blind. When the animal emerges from the den, you jerk the pole to tighten the noose and thus capture the animal. Carry a stout club to kill the prey.

Treadle Spring Snare

Use a treadle snare against small game on a trail (Figure 8-11). Dig a shallow hole in the trail. Then drive a forked stick (fork down) into the ground on each side of the hole on the same side of the trail. Select two fairly straight sticks that span the two forks. Position these two sticks so that their ends engage the forks. Place several sticks over the hole in the trail by positioning one end over the lower horizontal stick and the other on the ground on the other side of the hole. Cover the hole with enough sticks so that the prey must step on at least one of them to set off the snare. Tie one end of a piece of cordage to a twitchup or to a weight suspended over a tree limb. Bend the twitch-up or raise the suspended weight to determine where You will tie a 5 centimeter or so long trigger. Form a noose with the other end of the cordage. Route and spread the noose over the top of the sticks over the hole. Place the trigger stick against the horizontal sticks and route the cordage behind the sticks so that the tension of the power source will hold it in place. Adjust the bottom horizontal stick so that it will barely hold against the trigger. As the animal places its foot on a stick across the hole, the bottom horizontal stick moves down, releasing the trigger and allowing the noose to catch the animal by the foot. Because of the disturbance on the trail, an animal will be wary. You must therefore use channelization.

Figure 4 Deadfall

The figure 4 is a trigger used to drop a weight onto a prey and crush it (Figure 8-12). The type of weight used may vary, but it should be heavy enough to kill or incapacitate the prey immediately. Construct the figure 4 using three notched sticks. These notches hold the sticks together in a figure 4 pattern when under tension. Practice making this trigger before-hand; it requires close tolerances and precise angles in its construction.

Paiute Deadfall

The Paiute deadfall is similar to the figure 4 but uses a piece of cordage and a catch stick (Figure 8-13). It has the advantage of being easier to set than the figure 4. Tie one end of a piece of cordage to the lower end of the diagonal stick. Tie the other end of the cordage to another stick about 5 centimeters long. This 5-centimeter stick is the catch stick. Bring the cord halfway around the vertical stick with the catch stick at a 90-degree angle. Place the bait stick with one end against the drop weight, or a peg driven into the ground, and the other against the catch stick. When a prey disturbs the bait stick, it falls free, releasing the catch stick. As the diagonal stick flies up, the weight falls, crushing the prey.

Bow Trap

A bow trap is one of the deadliest traps. It is dangerous to man as well as animals (Figure 8-14). To construct this trap, build a bow and anchor it to the ground with pegs. Adjust the aiming point as you anchor the bow. Lash a toggle stick to the trigger stick. Two upright sticks driven into the ground hold the trigger stick in place at a point where the toggle stick will engage the pulled bow string. Place a catch stick between the toggle stick and a stake driven into the ground. Tie a trip wire or cordage to the catch stick and route it around stakes and across the game trail where you tie it off (as in Figure 8-14). When the prey trips the trip wire, the bow looses an arrow into it. A notch in the bow serves to help aim the arrow.

WARNING: This is a lethal trap. Approach it with caution and from the rear only!

Pig Spear Shaft

To construct the pig spear shaft, select a stout pole about 2.5 meters long (Figure 8-15). At the smaller end, firmly lash several small stakes. Lash the large end tightly to a tree along the game trail. Tie a length of cordage to another tree across the trail. Tie a sturdy, smooth stick to the other end of the cord. From the first tree, tie a trip wire or cord low to the ground, stretch it across the trail, and tie it to a catch stick. Make a slip ring from vines or other suitable material. Encircle the trip wire and the smooth stick with the slip ring. Emplace one end of another smooth stick within the slip ring and its other end against the second tree. Pull the smaller end of the spear shaft across the trail and position it between the short cord and the smooth stick. As the animal trips the trip wire, the catch stick pulls the slip ring off the smooth sticks, releasing the spear shaft that springs across the trail and impales the prey against the tree.

WARNING: This is a lethal trap. Approach it with caution!

Bottle Trap

A bottle trap is a simple trap for mice and voles (Figure 8-16). Dig a hole 30 to 45 centimeters deep that is wider at the bottom than at the top. Make the top of the hole as small as possible. Place a piece of bark or wood over the hole with small stones under it to hold it up 2.5 to 5 centimeters off the ground.

Mice or voles will hide under the cover to escape danger and fall into the hole. They cannot climb out because of the wall's backward slope. Use caution when checking this trap; it is an excellent hiding place for snakes.


There are several killing devices that you can construct to help you obtain small game to help you survive. The rabbit stick, the spear, the bow and arrow, and the sling are such devices.

Rabbit Stick

One of the simplest and most effective killing devices is a stout stick as long as your arm, from fingertip to shoulder, called a "rabbit stick." You can throw it either overhand or sidearm and with considerable force. It is very effective against small game that stops and freezes as a defense.


You can make a spear to kill small game and to fish. Jab with the spear, do not throw it. See spearfishing below.

Bow and Arrow

A good bow is the result of many hours of work. You can construct a suitable short-term bow fairly easily. When it loses its spring or breaks, you can replace it. Select a hardwood stick about one meter long that is free of knots or limbs. Carefully scrape the large end down until it has the same pull as the small end. Careful examination will show the natural curve of the stick. Always scrape from the side that faces you, or the bow will break the first time you pull it. Dead, dry wood is preferable to green wood. To increase the pull, lash a second bow to the first, front to front, forming an "X" when viewed from the side. Attach the tips of the bows with cordage and only use a bowstring on one bow.

Select arrows from the straightest dry sticks available. The arrows should be about half as long as the bow. Scrape each shaft smooth all around. You will probably have to straighten the shaft. You can bend an arrow straight by heating the shaft over hot coals. Do not allow the shaft to scorch or bum. Hold the shaft straight until it cools.

You can make arrowheads from bone, glass, metal, or pieces of rock. You can also sharpen and fire harden the end of the shaft. To fire harden wood, hold it over hot coals, being careful not to bum or scorch the wood.

You must notch the ends of the arrows for the bowstring. Cut or file the notch; do not split it. Fletching (adding feathers to the notched end of an arrow) improves the arrow's flight characteristics, but is not necessary on a field-expedient arrow.


You can make a sling by tying two pieces of cordage, about sixty centimeters long, at opposite ends of a palm-sized piece of leather or cloth. Place a rock in the cloth and wrap one cord around the middle finger and hold in your palm. Hold the other cord between the forefinger and thumb. To throw the rock, spin the sling several times in a circle and release the cord between the thumb and forefinger. Practice to gain proficiency. The sling is very effective against small game.


You can make your own fishhooks, nets and traps and use several methods to obtain fish in a survival situation.

Improvised Fishhooks

You can make field-expedient fishhooks from pins, needles, wire, small nails, or any piece of metal. You can also use wood, bone, coconut shell, thorns, flint, seashell, or tortoise shell. You can also make fishhooks from any combination of these items (Figure 8-17).

To make a wooden hook, cut a piece of hardwood about 2.5 centimeters long and about 6 millimeters in diameter to form the shank. Cut a notch in one end in which to place the point. Place the point (piece of bone, wire, nail) in the notch. Hold the point in the notch and tie securely so that it does not move out of position. This is a fairly large hook. To make smaller hooks, use smaller material.

A gorge is a small shaft of wood, bone, metal, or other material. It is sharp on both ends and notched in the middle where you tie cordage. Bait the gorge by placing a piece of bait on it lengthwise. When the fish swallows the bait, it also swallows the gorge.


A stakeout is a fishing device you can use in a hostile environment (Figure 8-18). To construct a stakeout, drive two supple saplings into the bottom of the lake, pond, or stream with their tops just below the water surface. Tie a cord between them and slightly below the surface. Tie two short cords with hooks or gorges to this cord, ensuring that they cannot wrap around the poles or each other. They should also not slip along the long cord. Bait the hooks or gorges.

Gill Net

If a gill net is not available, you can make one using parachute suspension line or similar material (Figure 8-19). Remove the core lines from the suspension line and tie the easing between two trees. Attach several core lines to the easing by doubling them over and tying them with prusik knots or girth hitches. The length of the desired net and the size of the mesh determine the number of core lines used and the space between them. Starting at one end of the easing, tie the second and the third core lines together using an overhand knot. Then tie the fourth and fifth, sixth and seventh, and so on, until you reach the last core line. You should now have all core lines tied in pairs with a single core line hanging at each end. Start the second row with the first core line, tie it to the second, the third to the fourth, and so on.

To keep the rows even and to regulate the size of the mesh, tie a guideline to the trees. Position the guideline on the opposite side of the net you are working on. Move the guideline down after completing each row. The lines will always hang in pairs and you always tie a cord from one pair to a cord from an adjoining pair. Continue tying rows until the net is the desired width. Thread a suspension line easing along the bottom of the net to strengthen it. Use the gill net as shown in Figure 8-20.

Fish Traps

You may trap fish using several methods (Figure 8-21). Fish baskets are one method. You construct them by lashing several sticks together with vines into a funnel shape. You close the top, leaving a hole large enough for the fish to swim through.

You can also use traps to catch saltwater fish, as schools regularly approach the shore with the incoming tide and often move parallel to the shore. Pick a location at high tide and build the trap at low tide. On rocky shores, use natural rock pools. On coral islands, use natural pools on the surface of reefs by blocking the openings as the tide recedes. On sandy shores, use sandbars and the ditches they enclose. Build the trap as a low stone wall extending outward into the water and forming an angle with the shore.


If you are near shallow water (about waist deep) where the fish are large and plentiful, you can spear them. To make a spear, cut a long, straight sapling (Figure 8-22). Sharpen the end to a point or attach a knife, jagged piece of bone, or sharpened metal. You can also make a spear by splitting the shaft a few inches down from the end and inserting a piece of wood to act as a spreader. You then sharpen the two separated halves to points. To spear fish, find an area where fish either gather or where there is a fish run. Place the spear point into the water and slowly move it toward the fish. Then, with a sudden push, impale the fish on the stream bottom. Do not try to lift the fish with the spear, as it with probably slip off and you will lose it; hold the spear with one hand and grab and hold the fish with the other. Do not throw the spear, especially if the point is a knife. You cannot afford to lose a knife in a survival situation. Be alert to the problems caused by light refraction when looking at objects in the water.

Chop Fishing

At night, in an area with a good fish density, you can use a light to attract fish. Then, armed with a machete or similar weapon, you can gather fish using the back side of the blade to strike them. Do not use the sharp side as you will cut them in two pieces and end up losing some of the fish.

Fish Poison

Another way to catch fish is by using poison. Poison works quickly. It allows you to remain concealed while it takes effect. It also enables you to catch several fish at one time. When using fish poison, be sure to gather all of the affected fish, because many dead fish floating downstream could arouse suspicion.

Some plants that grow in warm regions of the world contain rotenone, a substance that stuns or kills cold-blooded animals but does not harm persons who eat the animals. The best place to use rotenone, or rotenone-producing plants, is in ponds or the headwaiters of small streams containing fish. Rotenone works quickly on fish in water 21 degrees C (70 degrees F) or above. The fish rise helplessly to the surface. It works slowly in water 10 to 21 degrees C (50 to 70 degrees F) and is ineffective in water below 10 degrees C (50 degrees F). The following plants, used as indicated, will stun or kill fish:

  • Anamirta cocculus (Figure 8-23). This woody vine grows in southern Asia and on islands of the South Pacific. Crush the bean-shaped seeds and throw them in the water.
  • Croton tiglium (Figure 8-23). This shrub or small tree grows in waste areas on islands of the South Pacific. It bears seeds in three angled capsules. Crush the seeds and throw them into the water.
  • Barringtonia (Figure 8-23). These large trees grow near the sea in Malaya and parts of Polynesia. They bear a fleshy one-seeded fruit. Crush the seeds and bark and throw into the water.
  • Derris eliptica (Figure 8-23). This large genus of tropical shrubs and woody vines is the main source of commercially produced rotenone. Grind the roots into a powder and mix with water. Throw a large quantity of the mixture into the water.
  • Duboisia (Figure 8-23). This shrub grows in Australia and bears white clusters of flowers and berrylike fruit. Crush the plants and throw them into the water.
  • Tephrosia (Figure 8-23). This species of small shrubs, which bears beanlike pods, grows throughout the tropics. Crush or bruise bundles of leaves and stems and throw them into the water.
  • Lime. You can get lime from commercial sources and in agricultural areas that use large quantities of it. You may produce your own by burning coral or seashells. Throw the lime into the water.
  • Nut husks. Crush green husks from butternuts or black walnuts. Throw the husks into the water.

Excerpt from the US Army Survival Manual FM 21-76


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