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No Gun? No Problem: Improvised Self-Defense In The Wilderness

self-defense weapons woods wildnerness gunsA walk in the park suddenly turns to tragedy when an escaped dog mauls one of your children. A nature hike is cut short when a deranged homeless man is seen skulking in the bushes. A camping trip turns into a nightmare when you get lost going to the bathroom, only to face an unusually brave coyote who snarls at you. All of these scenarios depict the need for an easily accessible weapon, which you may or may not have thought of beforehand. Thankfully, the wilderness is teeming with improvised weapons just waiting to be used.

First of all, no improvised weapon is going to be better than the weapon you pack and regularly train with! If you have the ability to carry a handgun, combat knife or other weapon, you should do so. Still, many national and state parks prohibit weapons since they assume that all firearms will be used for illegal hunting rather than for legitimate defensive purposes. Even if the weapons are legal, some park rangers and other park staff may inhibit your trip with undue scrutiny. The point is, you may not always be allowed to be armed whenever you feel like it, and therefore, you need to be aware of the potential for improvised weapons sourced exclusively from the outdoors.

THE CLUB

Clubs and their derivatives have been around since the first branch fell off the first tree and was picked up by the first man, who thought it would make a handy weapon.

Ultimate Tactical Self-Defense And Hunting Weapon That Doesn’t Require A Firearms License!

A club, stick, branch or whatever you want to call it makes a formidable defensive weapon, even in untrained hands. There are some guidelines you should follow, however:

  • If possible, inspect fallen branches that you plan to use as a defensive weapon before you use them. If they are lying on the ground, that means they’re dead, and if they’re dead, that means they might be riddled with termites or rotting, which makes them useless as a defensive weapon.
  • If you have time before a suspected encounter, select a piece of wood from a living tree to use as a walking stick or club. As a rule, the limb should be no thicker than an inch or so around, and should be as straight as possible, three to five feet long. Green wood like this is flexible and resilient when striking objects, and if you keep the diameter of the stick to 1 inch or less, you’ll be able to break it off the tree with body weight alone.
  • Occasionally, hardwood branches fall to the ground due to storms or other natural phenomena and then dry out over time, seasoning perfectly. Although rare, a dried piece of seasoned wood will harden while not becoming too brittle. From limbs such as these, you can make a spear by sharpening the point of the wood, then placing the pointed end in a bed of hot coals for half an hour or so. The wood will not burn, and will actually harden, giving the stick some extra punch.

THE ROCK

Perhaps the most basic of weapons, a simple rock imparts lots of striking energy into your target by virtue of its mass alone. Consider that a rock weighing as little as a pound can easily crack a skull or a rib when swung by the average adult – something most people cannot do with fists or feet alone. If you have the opportunity to select a rock before an encounter, pick the smoothest rock possible. This is so that you won’t injure your hand with sharp edges. If there are sharp edges on the rock, make sure those make contact with the attacker by pointing them outwards, keeping the smoother parts closest to your palm. Avoid flinty rocks or rocks that have cracks in them.

THE WAR CLUB

A great combination of rock and stick is the basic Native American war club, which is nothing more than a three-fourths inch to 1 inch diameter stick that’s about two feet long. The stick should be solid wood, free from rot, and can even be green. Split one end of the stick in half, with a slice around 8 inches long. Spread this slice open into two halves, and insert a decent size rock of about a pound within, then lash the whole assembly with paracord or even a shoelace. What you get is an extremely formidable weapon that is easily capable of shattering skulls – and best of all – the materials to make this club are found in just about every park, forest, campground, and wilderness in the country!

Improvising weapons doesn’t need to be hard. In fact, potential weapons are just about everywhere you look in the great outdoors. Next time you find yourself in some trouble, reach for that stick or rock, much as mankind has done for millennia, and even the odds a little.

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15 comments

  1. A stout walking stick should always accompany you when you can’t carry a “weapon”. Looking for rocks and sticks is all well and good, but when you need a weapon you need it right now! Murphy, in his capacity as a cosmic legislator, has seen to it that there are plenty of rocks and stout sticks lying around until an assailant shows up.

    A good walking stick is just a flat out handy item. We build ours out of cedar harvested on our homestead, we generally put a compass on the top, and wrap the handle with Paracord leaving a hand loop to which we attach a ferocerium rod for fire starting.

    A walking stick as a weapon has the advantage of being a familiar item with which you can practice, learn tactics, and gain skills. It is also always in your hand and ready to be brought into play should the need arise. Even if you are carrying, a good walking stick is not superfluous. You can even get away with it in town, if you can’t or don’t want to carry a “real weapon” and properly wielded it is a tremendous force multiplier.

    Rocks and branches are OK, for the unprepared. I prefer to be prepared.

  2. Back in the day a good tomahawk was a very valuable weapon. Watch Mel Gibson use one in the movie “Patriot”!

    • Awesome! Forgot about that one. There are several very nice tactical hawks on the market these days, at pretty favorable prices.

      “What weapon, Officer Friendly? This is just an innocent little camp tool.”

      Good call Nate!

    • still is a good weapon. A good balanced knife is a good idea as well.

    • Look for a Francesca—The tomahawk was based on it. It is a throwing axe with a curved blade. Even The Romans feared them. It was also scientifically rated one of the BEST hand weapons by a gaming company rating weapons for points in video games.

      Wielded by hand They could shatter shields and cut through most armor. One fighting technique was to have TWO, one of which you first threw at your opponent—either killing him on the spot or disrupting attack and disorienting him as he ducks and then , almost simultaneously, you charge holding the other axe, finishing off your opponent before he can recover.

      The Country of FRANCE was named after this weapon, as it was the favorite of the local tribes.

  3. Albeit a good walking stick or similiar item is indeed nice, I would prefer a good pocket knife with a 3 – 4 inch or so blade. Lock back or fixed, it doesn’t matter, but it not only makes a good tool for cutting and whittling that walking stick or spear, but it also can do a number on a any would be attacker. After you eliminate the threat, you can also possibly gut and skin the deceased (if it’s an animal – not a human) and use it for food. Sure, a big hunkin’ Bowie knife or Rambo style knife is nice and even impressive, but try to carry that around with you concealed. Besides, you don’t need an 8 – 10 inch blade to cause serious or fatal damage. Just make sure your knife is kept sharp. You can also mount your knife on the tip of your spear if you see the need and it will do much more than just a pointed end.
    Additionally, many tools in your tool box will also suffice as weapons in a pinch. Hammers, saws, box cutters, screw drivers, just to name a few will suffice in a moment of need. And yes, a tactical tomahawk, if properly wielded, can suffice very nicely.

    • Roger that RD76!

      Goes without saying that anyone caught anywhere (except maybe inside airport security) without a good knife really doesn’t deserve to survive! Back to the end of the evolutionary line for those folks, and hope they haven’t passed on those no-knife-carrying genes to any unfortunate offspring!

    • I don’t like putting my knife on a spear – if it gets lost/taken/broken, I just lost my knife. But a knife safely in my pocket can make dozens of spears, and who cares what happens to them.
      I also wouldn’t put my compass, firestarter, or any other essential item on something that may act as a weapon, same reason.

  4. I guess I was brought up right, I have carried my classic Buck knife for 42 years, ever since stationed in Thailand in ’73, even these days I never travel without it and a decent smaller locking blade in my pocket unless flying commercial, instructed many Scouts to respect and use the pocket knife during camping and on trails !!

  5. I always carry a drawstring bag. So what? Put a rock or rocks in it and you can swing with even more power than lashing them to a stick.

  6. You can sharpen the point of a green walking stick and harden it with fire….if you have the time. Something to do around the campfire your first night if you’ve been effectively disarmed by local laws or park regulations.

    The national parks can be pretty dangerous, robberies, assaults, murders out of proportion to the number of people there.

  7. Thanks, all, for the great ideas. I have knives but, being female, am afraid I would hesitate to use one on a human predator. I would NOT hesitate to use the rock-in-bag! I usually carry a walking stick.

  8. The main threat where I hike (western and northern NY) are wolf-sized coyotes, which are probably part wolf.

    I’ve always thought that a 170 lb. primate (me) armed with a 2 1/2 foot wood club (I prefer one about the size of a little league baseball bat) should one or more ever decide to approach me. A club or stick will be more effective than a knife or even a pistol in a close encounter with one of these German Shepard-sized canines.

    I also keep my eye open for a few good throwing rocks. The best ones are smooth, near-spherical river rocks found in creek and stream beds. I look for ones little larger than a golf ball, but a little smaller than a tennis ball, and put a couple in my pocket when I find them. I have a good arm, and it’s fun to practice throwing rocks now and then when you come across a wash or a whole field of them. Nothing will impress a too-bold coyote or wild dog like a well aimed missile to the head.

  9. Be sure to have more than one. If #1 breaks, or the wolf/attacker/whatever latches onto it, you’ll feel pretty dumb for not having a spare, considering it was FREE.
    Some native tribes would use a club in one hand and a pointed stick in the other – a very versatile combo that lets you stab&strike twice as fast, with each hand hitting during the other’s retraction. I included this tactic in planning lessons for my buddy’s wife when she asked for a tomahawk for her birthday. Give it a try.

  10. For me, I think its nice to learn defense without using any weapon, just a hand and your feet or anything you can use in your body and also learn how to dodge but if you have no choice but to fight, then use your surroundings. Good day!

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