Finding Water in the Wild

Dear Fellow Survivalist;

Getting caught out in the wilderness can instantly put you in survival mode. If you aren’t properly prepared, what started out as a simple nature walk can become a dangerous survival odyssey. Simple things like shelter and water can make the difference between life and death.


Where you end up makes a huge difference as well. Some parts of the country are teeming with wildlife and have an abundance of water for you to drink. Other parts are extremely arid, with little water, little shade and the animal life is harder to find. But your needs don’t change with the terrain or the climate. So, you’ve got to find ways of meeting those needs, even in the worst of circumstances.

Finding water can be challenging, but you can improve your chances by following a few simple steps:


Work Your Way Downhill

Water will always flow downhill, so if you’re on the heights, move off of them, looking for the low ground. Even on seemingly flat prairie there are some areas that are lower than others. Look at the lay of the land and find your way down, because that’s what the water is going to do. If you’re in the mountains or hills, find a valley or canyon between two mountains or hills and follow that down. You might find water pooled by a beaver dam or a natural depression in the rock.

Look for Vegetation

Plants need water to survive and they can’t go walking to where the water is. So, look for an abundance of plant life; that will indicate water. Even in the greenest areas, there will be more plant life where the water is, than there will be in other parts. Especially thick foliage in one area means that there is a pool, spring or subterranean water available. In a desert, a line of trees will pretty much always indicate a stream bed, even if it’s a dry one.

Follow Game Trails

Animals also need water to survive. Many wild animals will go to water early in the morning and at dusk, before bedding down for the night. This means that many game trails will lead to water. If you stumble across a game trail while you are searching for water, follow it downhill, it will almost always lead to a stream or pond where the animals are accustomed to finding water.

Follow Animals

Likewise, you can follow the animals themselves. Wild animals are skittish around humans and will generally run away. But you may see them from a distance, moving in the direction of water at the end of the day. You might also find cattle moving towards water and be able to follow them. Left to graze, cattle revert to their wild ways.

Don’t Forget Man-Made Sources

As you are looking for water, don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for canals, ponds, wells and tanks that man has made. In farming and ranching country, the farmers and ranchers need to supply their crops or livestock with water. This can be one of the most sure sources you can find, especially in ranching country, where you might walk through miles and miles of ranches to find the next town.

Never Trust the Water You Find

Always be sure to purify any water you find out in the wild. Even if it looks perfectly clean, it can be filled with microscopic pathogens that you can’t see. Gone is the day where you could drink fresh water from a spring or mountain stream, without worry. Today, you don’t know who else has used that water source or what they have done to it. Someone upstream could use the stream as a toilet, not realizing the danger they are causing to others downstream of them.

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You want to make sure that you always go into the wild with a canteen, water bottles or a camelback flexible water bladder, as well as some means of water purification. Proper preparation and equipment can often be the difference between life and death.

Be sure to fill any water containers you have, every chance you get. Even in country where there is a lot of water, you can end up crossing dry spots. You don’t cover that many miles in a day of walking, so that next water source might be more than a day away.

Talk to you soon. Until then, keep your powder dry and your survival gear close at hand.

Dr. Rich


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