FROM TRAVIS O'DEAN-AUTHOR OF 'OVERTHROWN' AND 'AFTERMATH' VERY USEFUL PRACTICAL AND TACTICAL SKILLS
Being Quiet And Being Unseen...Pt. 1
This covers more than one subject and will take more than one post. I must apologize to anyone reading what has been written so far. As I've said, people are creatures of habit, and I'm no different. I've grown up camping, hunting and fishing. Most of my friends have done the same. So I take it as a matter of course that everyone knows what I'm talking about. But that isn't true, so I shall try to correct that situation now.
Many, if not most, people haven't spent nearly the amount of time in the woods as I have. What most folks know about moving through the brush comes from movies or nature shows. In both cases these scenes are filmed in places where the cameras can be moved around easily or on sound stages. That's not how it is in real life. For example, I've never seen a movie or show where one of the most common things in the world happens. Nothing bad, but it is quite startling. Try walking into a spiders web on an early morning when the light isn't so good. You have no idea it is there until it is stuck to your face. THAT will get your attention. And a lot of people will freak out about it with the first concern of 'where is the spider'? and then they will make a lot of noise trying to find the spider and get him off of themselves. Well, don't worry about him. First of all he won't eat much of you and he doesn't like the situation any more than you do. He will leave you at the first opportunity. But let's get down to a few more basic items.
One thing to remember is that when you travel down the road and look out the window, you can see just how thick the brush is, or can you? I have mentioned before that most people, including trained soldiers look AT bushes, not through them. If you know anything about the way plants grow, you know that they need sunlight. That's obvious. What you may not have thought of is that once you get under the overhead tree cover and the branches cut down on available light, the undergrowth thins out. Next to the road the brush has plenty of light and grows accordingly, but under that canopy, it is a different story. You will find under a heavier canopy of tree branches there is less undergrowth and vice-versa. Both of these situations have their plus's and minus's. Under the heavy canopy you will be able to move more quickly and because you can see what is in front of you, more quietly. Also a thick canopy helps to shield you from aerial observation. On the down side, you can be more easily spotted by men on the ground. The opposite is true for the thin canopy. The less cover overhead, the more easily you can be seen from the air, but it will be harder to be spotted on the ground. However it also means unless you move slowly and carefully or you are going to make all kinds of noise. Remember I mentioned that certain types of material make un-natural noises while others make more natural noises? This is where that choice you make on what to wear becomes important. A branch scraping against nylon sounds very different and is actually louder that that same branch scraping against cotton. Think about soldiers you've seen in their camouflage. They military doesn't issue nylon jackets to them. Why you ask? Just as I have been harping on, noise.
When you move through the brush, remember you aren't on the street. You can't just going barging along. When a branch reaches out and grabs you (and they WILL) slow your movement and let it slide slowly across your clothing. The noise won't be as loud and is much less like the sound of someone walking through the woods. When in the woods learn to do as I've already said. Put your toe down first and ease your heel down. I know it's hard to believe but with a very little practice you will learn very quickly to feel that stick under your foot before you put your full weight on it and cause it to snap, giving away your location to either the game you are hunting or to the people hunting you. USE nature to help you. If the wind is blowing, move though thick areas while the wind covers the sound of your movement. If there has been a heavy dewfall overnight or it has been raining, those wet leaves aren't going to crackle and crunch under your feet.
In the service we learn about what is called the military crest of the ridge. What that means is nature can be used for you or against you. If you walk along the actual crest of the ridge or hill top, your silhouette can be seen a long way off. The sunlight betrays you position or movement, The military crest of the ridge is down low enough from the top that there is no silhouette to be seen. If you must cross a hill, don't just go over the top. Get close to it and then circle around it to avoid being silhouetted.
There may come a time when you have to cross a stream or river. This is also a place where you can be easily seen, AND when you get to the other side you are wet and very uncomfortable. In cold weather it increases your chances of getting sick. So this is how you cross the river and come out reasonably dry. In your pack, bug out bag or whatever you have, carry two large heavy duty plastic garbage bags. These fold up into a compact little bundle and weight almost nothing, yet can be a life saver. Before you get into the water, strip down to nothing if your not shy about it and place everything in one of the garbage bags. DO NOT squeeze all of the air out of the bag. Tie the top closed as best as you can. Now turn it over and place it bottom side up in the second bag. Keeping as much air as you can in the second bag tie it off as well. The air in the bags should make them float, if you haven't overloaded them. UNDERSTAND, this IS NOT a flotation device. It will not keep your head above water, so don't try it. However with the opening of the second bag pointing upwards water will not get in to soak your clothing, and with the water pressure on the outside of the second bag, if you have done it correctly, the air in the first bag will not escape and so you arrive on the other bank, wet and naked or nearly so if you are the shy type, but with a chance to dry off, get dressed in dry clothing and move on from there. One other trick that works with this, usually in hours of reduced visibility such as dawn and dusk, is to surround yourself with a few branches so you look like deadfall that has fallen into the stream or river and nobody pays attention to you. That is if you do it one or two at a time and not a half a dozen or more at once.
For now, that's part one. More to come as I get the chance. Believe it or not, I do have to work for a living just like you.
Aug 8, 2019