How to survive the winter in the woods

So, you have arrived at the place of hunting. The first thing to do is to prepare the lodge. In winter it is more time-consuming work than in summer, but you need to get to it right away.

Shovel the snow all the way to the ground. You can use skis, boards, or pieces of wood for this. A hole in the snow will shield heat from the fire and protect it from the wind. Make sure it is big enough, otherwise you risk burning your clothes with sparks flying from the fire.

If you have time, build a fire at the bottom of the pit, warm and dry the ground. It will be much more comfortable to sleep in.

On the bottom you should put a mat or if there is no mat put on the lapnik, twigs or grass; you can make a planking from felled poles. This will protect from cold and moisture. You should put on underwear or a shirt to sleep; otherwise you can burn your clothes or a sleeping bag while sleeping.

To cook food you just need to make a bonfire by throwing twigs on it. But for the night it is desirable to make a noodle. To do this you must put three logs on a small fire – two at the bottom and the third one on top. The logs should be secured to the sides to keep them from sliding apart. Such a fire can burn all night long (depending on the thickness of the logs) and give a lot of heat. One should lie down parallel to the logs to sleep. That is why it is better to take logs of the length of your height.

Softwoods burn well, but they spark a lot. To make a spruce or pine log bed, lie down on the windward side so that the sparks fly away from you. A good den made of birch is a good one. It burns more evenly and doesn’t spark.

You should not make a fire under big trees. Snow that falls from them can put it out. Such a case was described in one of Jack London’s stories. A hunter, who fell through the ice, made a fire with his last strength, and the snow falling from the tree put it out, and the trapper froze to death.

Consider the worst case scenario. You have damp matches or broken lighters. How do you start a fire? The easiest way is to pour the shot out of the cartridge, stuff it with dry rags and fire it. And then use the smoldering rags to start a fire. Before this you must carefully prepare the fire. To make it, you have to gather dry grass, small dry twigs of spruce or something similar. They should be lit. They ignite quickly and easily.

If the day is sunny, you can also make a fire with the help of some lens. It can be a lens from eyeglasses, watch glass, from a camera. You can fill a transparent cellophane bag with water and roll it up into a lens. It is also easy to make a fire with it. In winter, you can pour water into a hollow of a spherical shape; when the water freezes, you get a lens with which you make a fire. You can also carve a lens out of a piece of ice.

But what to do if you have no fire or firewood, and night or bad weather catches you in the woods? If there is deep snow, dig a shelter. It is necessary to dig about a meter deep, and then laterally. You will get a burrow in the shape of the letter “G”. It will be more comfortable in it than outside.

At night, you can block the entrance with a backpack to make it warmer. But you should not make a fire there. I know cases when people got burnt and died even in fishermen tents.

You can use different natural shelters for spending the night. These can be rocks, fallen trees and others. In the woods you can camp under a small fir tree. Typically, spruces are 1.5-2 meters high, completely covered with snow, and represent a kind of small house. If you shovel the snow out from under the spruce, you get a sort of tepee. Probably everyone has seen the famous movie “Dersu Uzala. In it there is an episode, when Arseniev and Dersu Uzala found themselves in a snowstorm in the steppe. In order to stay warm they gathered dry grass, made a little stack, burrowed in it and waited through the snowstorm.

If you want, you can almost always think of some shelter. One winter my friends and I got off the train in search of a “hard fisherman’s lot” in the north of the Tver region. But when we went out on the ice, we found that all of it was covered with about twenty centimeters of water. And we were supposed to spend three days on the ice. It was clear that it was impossible to sleep in the water on the ice in winter. But the way out was found. I shoveled the wet snow from the ice into a pile, half a meter high, and a sort of snow scaffold was created. I slept on it, spreading a rug. In the morning it would certainly squeeze through, and I got a little wet, but it was not like sleeping in water. The most important thing is not to lose your spirits and be smart!