Survival(Primitive) Camping Arkansas and Area
I have a new plan for 2012 for fun and adventure. Let me explain what I mean by “survival camping” which is between being lost in the woods and camping. (A) Instead of going to a state park and camping in a designated area I intend to camp in the real wilderness where civilization can’t be seen from the camp site and nearby area. Hikes will probably consist of nearly level 1/2 to 1 mile hikes. (B) I intend to get my pack size down from 120lbs in days gone by (a long time ago at age 18-23) to 30 or 40lbs now at age (42). I realize some who are into survival stuff go much lighter than this. For survival I feel that if you can pack it in to the wilderness and back out then it should be considered survival camping as long as the weight doesn’t cause you to fall and break something. Some may feel the wallet weight needed is too extreme for some items. There are always cheaper and more expensive ways to do the exact same things. Some of this is up to the individual. To be honest in most of the USA a person could walk into the wilderness with near nothing and exist there for a day with no food and little to no water and be fine. You usually only get into real survival when your stay becomes 5 to 7 days or more. (C) I intend to try out survival task, especially related to hunting, fishing and food gathering. I don’t really mean that I intend to survive off the land by bringing into a wilderness only a T shirt, shorts, sandals and knife. I am not a survival expert. I have watched all or most of Les Strouds videos “Survivorman” and other videos of his. I have read a book recently which got me interested in this called “Adventure Travel In The Third World: Everything You Need To Know To Survive in Remote and Hostile Destinations” A friend Steve Rogers recommends a book called “Science of Survival”. At least I think that link points to the book he was telling me about.
I intend to camp in Arkansas and possibly neighboring states areas. Will be camping anytime I can get a free day. Multiple days will be difficult as I work a demanding career. I may camp alone or with friends if I can get anyone to come along. The idea is to pack light, live off the land if possible and in a location where no civilization is within sight. I intend to try out survival task which of course mainly requires acquiring water, and food by hunting, fishing, trapping, gathering, foraging. I do not intend to use tents but to sleep in the open or under makeshift shelters. I won’t bind the fellow campers that go along with to such a rigid outline. I intend to take photo’s and report on successes. Groups could pack lighter from the list below, as in not everyone would have to carry all those items on the lists. Some of those could be carried by one or two only.
It would be nice if I could make one trip to each county in Arkansas, 75 of them in all. I doubt I’ll have that much leisure time soon, or travel money. Counties of Arkansas My area is Yell, Logan and Pope counties. Its the area I know best. I have also spent a lot of time in Newton County on park land and around it. Only a little time in Stone county. I grew up in Yell County. And I currently reside in Pope County.
In Arkansas we have regions such as Ozarks (NW), River Valley (W Middle), Central (Center), Ouachitas (W SW), Timberland (SW,S), Delta (NE,E,SE). Each area has its own unique characteristics. Maybe at least I can plan one trip to each of these areas this year. I also intend to talk about geology a bit and collect some rock samples.
Below is a possible packing list. The idea is to pack less than 30lbs not counting camera’s, radio, cell phone, guns and ammo. [x] I don’t have it [o] I do have it. If I say (maybe) it means that is an optional item. A good way to weigh your pack and pack items is to use a fish scale. I intend to weight the items below as I acquire them and post the results here so that the reader may design his own pack. Obviously a person could pack lighter in warmer weather, or choose options to replace cold weather gear weight. Backpacking.net Make Gear page Is a site full of info on how to make your own camping gear. I’ll bolden the expensive items I don’t have just yet.
- GPS Device (maybe)[x] Which might be a smart phone such as I Phone or Android and not without map and compass.
- USGS Topo Map Copies or printouts of area camped in [x] Map Catalog Also USGS.gov has a nice topo map locator and downloader. Arkansas Topo Index Map PDF
- County land owner map copy for area you are in [x] Online Parcel Maps.org And as an example Yell county Arkansas online map.Yell is my home county, the one I grew up in and know the best.
- Print out from google maps terrain view [x]
- pencil and paper[o]
- Decent Compass (Suunto) [o] I have a cheap made in china compass — 2 oz.
- Clinometer (Suunto)(maybe) [x]
- Elevation meter(maybe)[x]
- Lights Petzl Lights
- small led pen light [o]— 1/2 oz.
- small led head lamp with head straps [x]
- small led lantern [o]—6 oz
- small green led hat light [o]—1 oz
- small led shoulder strap light, vest light or collar light [o]—2 oz
- led combo work light/flashlight [o]—5 oz
- carbide light (Premeir) with carbide and repair kit(maybe) look on ebay for these. I hear they are no longer in production in any brand. Be ware of Butterfly brand.[x]
- chem lights mini and large [x]
- solar charger with rechargeable batteries (maybe) [x]
- solar 3 led flash light [o] Nebo brand, — 2 oz
- small 2D incandescent flashlight [o] — 9 oz
- larger square battery 6v incandescent flashlight  — 1lb
- crank charged 5 led flashlight [o] — 7 oz
- tea candles[o]— 4 at 1/2 oz ea.
- solar led yard light(maybe) might be good or when the fire dies low or goes out in scaring critters away. $1 single led solar light, — 2 oz.
- Butane lighter both flint striker and electric (not without other more sure methods listed below but along with)  — 1 oz ea.
- flint steel (ferrocerium rod) [o] — 2.5 oz
- striker (can be high carbon steel knife or sharp rock or broken glass) [o] is with flint rod.
- Potassium Permanganate (water filtering agent) and Glycerin (cosmetic) in separate vials.
- (solar) magnifying glass [o] I have a wallet size one. — 1oz
- (solar) incandescent flash light reflector [o] — 1 to 2 oz part of one or two of my flash lights.
- (solar) page size Fresnel lens [o] — 2 oz
- (solar) bottom of coke can or beer can polished  I have this as my coke can alcohol stove.
- Steel wool (maybe)[x]
- Trioxane tabs (maybe) [o] — 1 at 1.5 oz
- Diethylene Glycol (maybe) [o] 2oz per pack
- lint wax or Vaseline (maybe) [o]
- cotton balls with wax or Vaseline (maybe) [x]
- charcoal and or char cloth (maybe) [x]
- tea candles [o]— 4 at 1/2 oz ea.
- alcohol wipe or hand sanitizer (maybe and can be used for starting fire) [x] wipes — <oz hand sanitizer bottle — 2.5 oz
- A couple of cheap cigarettes kept sealed and dry, tobacco can be used as very good fire tender. [x]
- small alcohol stove [o] I have a small coke can stove — 1/2 oz
- small candle stove [x] Specially home made stove. Has a candle in the bottom with 4 wicks for 4 flames. Holes in the sides for air intake and holes in a lid where hot air escapes underneath a pan or canteen cup.
- small propane stove with stubby canister [o] I have Colman MSR style. top is — 7 oz.. propane canister is — 12 to 16 oz.
- small amount of cooking alcohol(pga) [o] Jim Clear $7 per pint 375ml, 190 proof. — 12oz includes plastic bottle.
- stainless flask, 8oz vol. empty [o] 3 oz
- small solar oven (maybe) [x]
- small rocket stove (maybe) [x]
- canteen cup [o] US Military style, stainless steel— 5oz
- small pot, pan, plate (aluminum) [o] 8 oz
- fork spoon knife combo [o] I have a fork/knife and spoon /knife combos, cork screw and bottle opener — 6 oz
- collapsable water container [x]
- MSR style water filter [x]
- empty canteen [o]U.S. Military Style Plastic — 1oz
- a few coffee filters (for pre-seiving before filtering)[x]
- small amount of powdered cement, lime, powdered clay, or other flocculant (maybe, for flocculation) [x]
- dehydrated or dried
- black tea [o]
- powdered or granulated
- sugar [o]
- creamer or powdered milk [o]
- powdered eggs[x]
- powdered milk[o]
- flower and corn meal[o]
- hot chocolate powder(maybe) [x]
- tang [x]
- crystal light [x]
- coffee [o]
- sources—Not only are these good emergency food stores but also good camp food to pack.
- dehydrated or dried
- First Aid
- Aspirin and Alieve [o]
- tooth ache numbing meds [x]
- small scissors [o]
- small bottle of hand sanatizer(maybe) [x]
- alcohol wipe singles(maybe) [x]
- 100% deet (spring and summer) [o]
- razor knife blade or two [o]
- Chemical Hand warmers [o] 2 at 1 oz ea.
- Chemical Toe Warmers [o] 2 at 1 oz ea.
- Q-Tips [o]
- Firearms, fishing gear and knives
- AR7 .22 [x]
- 22 ammo [x]
- Snake Charmer 410 shotgun modified choke (full choke extension)[x]
- 410 shells with bird/small game shot [x]
- 410 heavier game loads [x]
- 357 (maybe) [x]
- .38 rounds [x]
- .357 rounds [x]
- Small .22 revolver or single shot .22 pistol. (maybe) [x] (I have .25 cal semi pistol)
- Pump BB gun rifle? Pellet Gun rifle? Air .20 .22 or .25 cal rifle? I wouldn’t use CO2 or dive tank charged guns except from the vehicle and at the homestead. They would be a bit heavy to pack or possibly unreliable (when they run out of gas) A good looking rifle is the Beeman duel cal. .177 and .22 has barrels that swap. Shoots 1000 fps pellet or 850 fps .22 These are accurate from 40 to 70 yards.
- Pump Pellet gun pistol? Crosman 1377 or 1322 .177 and .22 cal respectively. Shoots near 500fps accurate at 10 to 15 yards.
- Bows and Arrows? Air Pistol gun shooting bolts? Blow guns? Slings? Sling Shots? Sling bow? Spear? Atlatl? Well I wouldn’t pack all of that but a person might consider any of that to be valid survival tools. A good bow to take might be a recurve takedown(detachable limbs) bow. These are as light as 2.7 lbs in 55# draw.
- Belt/Leg knife (m14 bayonet) some recommend knife with hollow handle [o] Have a cheaper $15 lockback stainless steel knife and a double blade utility knife. — 5.5 and 7 oz.
- Swiss army knife(maybe) [x]
- Lineman Pliers multitool [o] I have a cheaper multitool. — 9 oz
- Machete  Gerber with saw teeth on back and case —1lb
- Hatchet (maybe) [x] Gerber — 12oz
- paring knives (a couple)[o]
- fillet knife (maybe)[o]
- diamond knife sharpening rod or other diamond sharpeners [o] — 4.5oz
- small wet stone sharpener [o] — 1oz
- packable fishing pole [o] (3 piece fly rod) — 8 oz
- crappie real [o] — 1 oz
- fishing line, fly’s, white gig, hooks, weights, floats, fly bubbles, swivels etc. [o] a few oz
- a few fishing yo yo’s (as many as you may want to pack) don’t forget about limb lining technique as well.
- hunting camo [o]
- hunter orange (if necessary) [o]
- polypro cold weather gear [o]
- army wool glove liners[x]
- army leather gloves [x]
- furry head cover or ski mask head over [o]
- combat boots (jungle type in summer) [x]
- jacket [o]
- coat if necessary [o]
- mosqueto head net [o]
- Poncho, Sleeping Bag, Mat, Hammock
- Military Poncho (used as tent covering if needed) [x]
- Cheap Poncho (like trash bag almost)[o] — 2 oz
- 4 lb sleeping bag good for 0 to 30 degrees (packs small 8″x20″) [o] I have a 7.5lb cotton military bag and 3.5lb down liner. Good for 0 to 10 degrees F.
- 1/2 lb military poncho liner[x]
- 1 lb Fleece bag  I have a fleece blanket. — 8oz
- Self Inflating Pneumatic Sleeping Mat (packs small 4″x14″)[x] I just bought military mat. 4″x17″ — 1 lb 14 oz
- emergency blanket [o] — 2 oz
- mosqueto netting [x] I have a head net — 1 oz
- Quality but light weight Hammock such as Hennessy Hammock and some cordage for tying sides back(out) This hammock also functions as a tent with rain fly cover and mosquito netting built onto it. [x] — 3lbs 9oz for a larger one.
- 2500 cc pack (inside frame recon type pack) [x] I do have a book back pack to use
- Vest lots of pockets inside and out [x]
- Waist,Fanny pack with pockets (maybe) [x] I do have a small hand carry pack with strap
- Camera Equipment
- still photo digital cam [o[
- digital video cam (maybe) [x] My photo cam will do short video.
- tripod (maybe)[x] My dad has one I can borrow.
- (for me)digital voice recorder (for taking notes for this blog)
- Cell Phone (off except for emergencies)[o] If Its an I Phone might use it for weather reports and live weather radar map data. If I Phone is used for map, it should not be a replacement for printed map. Can also use it for gps tracking with “GPS Track Recorder Lite” app. The basic versionis free.
- Ham Radio (maybe) If not licensed then at least you can listen to it sometimes and anyone may use a ham radio in a real emergency (assuming you know how to tune and operate it).
- tuna tin radio, head phones, wire antenna, code key[x]
- walky talky style radio[x]
- small packing radio used for all bands, mic, antenna, headphones[x] I do have a small 2 meter radio that will pack, but I wouldn’t want to pack power for it.
- Walking Stick (for balance, snake probing and can be hollow and contain survival items)[x]
- Small air horn (for scaring animals and signaling for help)[o] — 3 oz
- Whistle (for signaling or scaring animals)[o] — 1 oz
- Pepper spray (for bears so that they can think “mmmmm I love spicy food”)
- flagging tape (for use when lost for both alerting rescuers and for marking a trail)[o]
- Instrument for telling you barometric pressure, temperature, wind speed and direction. (snipers use these instruments)
- binoculars or scope for gun or telescope. [o] I have 12 x 32mm — 10 oz
This next list is one I got from a friend of mine named Steve Rogers. This is his BOB (Bug out Bag) or Emergency Kit. In my packs above this stuff would go in the vest. He puts his in a fanny pack. This is very light and is good for example for times when you need to step away from camp. Its good for times when you need to move light such as fishing or hunting away from camp. Its also good to carry it for runs to and from vehicle from camp.
List of Arkansas Critters to be wary of written by an Arkansas Native (me). We have more animals and insects than these of course. Some I didn’t list here might cause concern the first time you see or hear them until you find that they are harmless. Some Africans I knew who were students told me they were amazed by our lighting bugs.
- Larger Animals
- Big Foot A man/ape like ghost of a creature that is rarely seen or rumored only, very shy, not harmful, smells bad, may howl and throw rocks at you.
- Black Bear Rarely harmful and sometimes seen. Much more common today in Arkansas than 20 years ago.
- Elk (Bull) Possibly harmful, North Arkansas area, sometimes seen.
- Deer (Buck) Unlikely but possibly harmful, seen often.
- Wolf Rarely seen but possibly harmful.
- Coyote Commonly seen, unlikely to be harmful.
- Mountain Lion A ghost that is rarely seen in rumor only.
- Panther A ghost that is rarely seen in rumor only.
- Bobcat Commonly seen, not afraid of humans, a small cat to be wary of.
- Alligator Seen on some waterways and lakes. Mostly docile but possibly harmful and a worry none the less. More populated in eastern and southern Arkansas.
- Wild Hog Very common today, shy and will run like hell, but if cornered may fight like hell.
- Badger Rarely seen. Will stand their ground.
- Beaver Seen often around water, mostly harmless.
- Smaller Harmless Animals
- Skunk Common to rare.
- Opossum Common to rare.
- Armadillo Common
- Raccoon Common
- Squirrel Very Common
- Rabbit Very Common
- Wild Turkey Common
- Dove Sometimes seen
- Quayle Common
- Duck Common
- Geese Sometimes seen
- Fox Rare
- Otter Rare
- Mink Rare
- Timber Rattler Fairly common, very poisonous.
- Diamondback Rattler Rarer but common, very poisonous.
- Copperhead (Pit Viper) Very common, poisonous.
- Cotton Mouth Water Moccasin (Viper) Very common near water, poisonous.
- Corral Snake Ghost snake extremely rare, very very poisonous. These may be found in the southern Arkansas area.
- King Snake Somewhat common, harmless and eats other snakes. Rumored to cause ill effects if you are bitten by them. They are immune to the bites of other poisonous snakes. There is a version of this snake that resembles the Coral Snake in coloring.
- Spreading AdderSomewhat rare, it raises up and looks like a mini-cobra. Harmless.
- Black and Green snakes Not common, harmless.
- Terranchula Spider Rare, Harmless
- Wolf Spider Fairly Common, Harmless
- Black Widow Spider Rare but potentially deadly. Very poisonous.
- Brown Recluse Spider Very Common and possibly deadly, poisonous.
- Hobo (funnel) Spider Common and poisonous. Their bites may be mistaken for Brown Recluse bites.
- Scorpion Rarely seen and may sting.
- Bats Common. Eat insects. Are said to carry rabies but I’ve never been bothered by them.
- Other Insects
- Red Wasp Common, Sting and hurts like hell.
- Yellow Jacket Wasp (Hornet) Not common and attacks like killer bees.
- Mosquito’s Common near water
- Natts Not so common but are in huge swarms near bodies of water. Can choke on these.
- Chiggers itch badly. Somewhat common in grassy areas.
- Seed Tics attack in masses. Sometimes experienced near grassy areas.
- Tic bite Common
- Fly’s and Horse Fly’s bite and Common
- Fire ants sting Sometimes seen.
So you can see after reading the list above that there may only be a dozen or even half a dozen critters to worry about in a given camping location and time of year. I’d say the main ones being Bear, Bobcat, Coyote, Wild Hog and then Elk and Alligator if in certain locals. Of those Bear, Bull Elk and Alligator are on the top of my list. In most locations that means Bear is the only real worry and even they are not much of a worry. Most snake encounters I have had have resulted in the snake going the other way or standing its ground. In either case I move around its area once I am aware of its presence. Snakes become dangerous when you accidentally get too close. Copperheads and Moccasins are the most aggressive but I’d give Copperhead the top rating for most worrisome snake. Of the insects the Brown Recluse spider is by far the most worrisome. Whats funny is that the Raccoon is the most likely animal to mess with your camp while you are sleeping at night. They may even come up to your sleeping bag and nibble on your ear.
Just as in most locations around the globe the weather has injured or killed more people in the wilderness than anything else. Floods, Heat, Cold and Tornadoes are at the top of the list in Arkansas. Falling and or breaking a leg is more of a worry than being attacked by wildlife.
In Arkansas we have many wonderful state parks, some of which you may only camp in designated camp sites (booo, more liberty!). Others have designated primitive camping areas. From what I’ve seen these primitive sites are on pavement with slots for parking and area to setup tent, a grill and trash cans etc. They can even have a bathroom and water nearby. However for now you may camp most anywhere in the national parks, and federal lands such as forrest service lands, wildlife refuges and wilderness areas, so long as you pack out your trash and don’t start forest fires. Pay attention to burn bans in dry weather. I think that camp stoves for cooking may still be used during burn bans, but not camp fires or charcoal fires. Aside from those areas, land owned by logging companies is on the list of hot spots where I would not ask permission for camping, hunting, fishing.
Land owner relations is important. Private land that is either purple painted (keep off) or even not posted would require permission. Especially if you are not from the local area nearby the landowner its best to get permission that is if you don’t want to be woke up with a shot gun in your face being told to leave. A stop by the county courthouse will get you a county land owner map or copy of, and you may even get land owner contact info from the Tax Assessors office. Parcel Maps.org looks extremely promising for online land owner map data. I tried to zoom in and identify a friend’s land and it showed all his land to be logging company land, which was incorrect. It did seem to have some almost useful info on it though. Otherwise it never hurts to stop, knock on doors and ask. Some people are nice others are just not trusting enough to give permission for camping/hunting/fishing. Others have less than legal activities going on and don’t want you anywhere near their crops or stills. I am neutral towards that kind of thing but they may not know that. And I’d even be willing to purchase some camp cooker fuel from the guys with the stills. And some if not much of logging company land may be leased for hunting to individuals or hunting clubs.
Only kill to eat what is in season and that is if you have the proper licenses. Some survival eatables do not have seasons and can be killed and eaten any time. Example might be snakes, turtles, lizards and frogs. I’m not sure about which birds might be kosher. Maybe Crow(has a season), Black Bird, Starling etc. Song Birds are off limits. Otherwise it most likely has a season and a license or stamps or whatever. And some are banned anytime anywhere. See the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission web site for further details. Also if you stop by Wal-Mart they have a free booklet in their hunting/fishing section on hunting and fishing regulations. Of course in a real survival situation you would use that regs book for fire starting.
Finally I’d say camping in 4 person groups or more is safest. Be sure to inform someone whom you know and trust when you are leaving, where you are going (what area you will be in, roadway directions and maps with circled areas, coordinates). And they should know when to expect contact with you (check in) and when you will be leaving and back in town/home. Might not hurt to know a local contact in the camping area that you could call on if needed, if possible. For ham radio, be sure and check to see if you can contact a repeater and have a local ham listening for your calls on a base station if possible.
If completely alone there is a service called a spot messenger which is a satellite connected device. $170 for the device and $8/mo for subscription. You can send an alert, short message and call for non-emergency help or emergency help. If an emergency a helicopter may be dispatched with rescue team.
Also there are small emergency ham transmitters that put out preprogrammed Morse code messages on long distance code bands. That’s not any guarantee that you will get help however it is something that might get you some help. Calling for help on ham radio is serious business though. No playing around or crying wolf.
Below are some images which show candidate survival camp locations. The first one is in my home area in Arkansas. This is in the Mt Magazine National Forrest. This is part of the Ozark Forrest. Though its more the River Valley Area.
The next image is the Hurricane Creek area. It is off of Piney Creek area. This is in the Ozarks and Boston Mountains. There are millions of awesome camp sites in this area of Arkansas. I only wish I had enough lifetimes to see it all.
The next location is in Central Arkansas and nearly in Ouchita Mountains and area. This is next to Lake Maumelle and Little Rock off of Highway 10.
This next area is near a friends house on Piney creek closer to the Arkansas River in the River Valley Area. I’m not sure what is there, it just looks interesting from topography.