10 Wilderness Survival Skills From Hatchet

When the world falls down, you can survive and thrive in a treacherous new reality. Hatchet is not about zombies or pandemics—it’s about surviving on your own terms amidst a collapse of society. Here are 10 crucial wilderness survival skills that will help keep you alive!

“Macgyver Survival Skills” is a book by the same name written by the late MacGyver. It provides 10 wilderness survival skills from Hatchet. Read more in detail here: macgyver survival skills.

Book cover, hatchet by Gary Paulson.

I was going through some old novels the other day and came upon a boyhood favorite, Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet. I hadn’t read it in about 15 years, so I decided to reread it for the purpose of nostalgia. If you haven’t read Hatchet, the fundamental narrative is as follows: While flying in a bush aircraft, an adolescent city kid called Brian Robeson crashes in the midst of the Canadian countryside. The pilot is killed, but the kid survives. Brian is left alone in the forest for 54 days and must learn to live in the wild with just a hatchet.

While re-reading Hatchet, I noticed a few things. First and foremost, the narrative is just as interesting and fascinating now as it was when I was twelve. It is, without a doubt, one of the finest novels for boys. Second, Hatchet is a lightning-fast read. If you wish, you can complete the book in one sitting. This weekend, I strongly advise you to read it. It’s preferable than endlessly scanning the web. Finally, although Hatchet is a work of fiction and not a how-to survival book, Brian Robeson can teach us a lot about how to remain alive in the bush. Gary Paulsen double-checked everything Brian did personally to ensure the narrative was true.

As a kid, I kept track of what Brian did to live; every guy silently fantasizes and wonders whether he’d be up for such a task. This time around, I couldn’t help but take some notes. Hatchet teaches ten outdoor survival techniques that any guy of any age may learn. All quotations are taken from the book.

1. Make a list of all of your supplies.

“It kept returning to it.” He didn’t have anything. Almost nothing, in fact. In reality, he reasoned, he had no idea what he had or didn’t have. Perhaps I should attempt to find out where I stand.”

Everything you have on you might be a life-saving instrument. Brian had a tattered coat, shoes, his beloved hatchet, a $20 cash, a pair of pants, and a t-shirt when he took inventory. There isn’t much. He utilized a shoelace to make a bow and arrow, and a $20 note and hatchet to start a fire without matches, thanks to his resourcefulness and innovation. Following Brian’s example is a good idea. Make the most of what you’ve got.

2. Get Your Head in the Game

“Brian used to have an English teacher, Perpich, who was constantly preaching about being optimistic, thinking positive, and being on top of things… Brian was thinking about him right now, and he pondered how he could remain cheerful and on top of things.”

Maintaining a cheerful attitude is one of the most difficult and crucial outdoor survival skills to master. According to studies, persons who adopt a positive attitude “think more creatively, integratively, flexiblely, and openly to information.” Furthermore, those with good views recover from physical illnesses and accidents faster than persons with negative attitudes. Creativity and physical hardiness are two characteristics that are required for survival.


It’s easy to fall into despair and feel sorry for yourself when you’re alone in the wilderness with few or no resources. Pity parties, on the other hand, will not get you anywhere, as Brian discovered after one especially trying night:

“He didn’t know how long it took, but he remembered sobbing in the dark cave corner as the moment when he learnt the most crucial rule of survival, which was that feeling sorry for oneself didn’t help… Nothing had changed as he sat alone in the darkness and sobbed till he was done, completely done with it. His leg was still hurting, it was still dark, he was still alone, and his self-pity had done no good.”

We spoke about how resilient males have an internal center of control in a prior piece. They’re in charge of their own fate and have a good stress tolerance. Those who have an external locus of control wrap up in a ball and scream crocodile tears about how horrible things are for them. When their backs are against the wall, which guy do you think will survive?

When it’s important to have a cheerful attitude while out in the woods, you don’t want to deceive yourself into believing things are better than they are. When things don’t go your way, you’re merely setting yourself up for disappointment, and keeping a realistic view will protect you from becoming complacent. You should constantly prepare and work as though you’ll be in this circumstance for a long time.

In other words, hoping for the best while preparing for the worse.

3. Develop your S.T.O.P. skills.

“With his mind opening and ideas occurring, everything sought to flood in, all of what had happened, and he couldn’t handle it.” The entire thing became a jumbled mess that made no sense. As a result, he fought it off and sought to focus on one item at a time.”

Brian’s survival was aided by the fact that he performed something that wilderness survival experts advocate without even realizing it. He used the acronym S.T.O.P. a lot: Stop, Think, Observe, Plan. Brian will be desperately striving to finish a task throughout the tale. For example, when he attempted to build a fire for the first time, he raced through the procedure and ended up with nothing. Frustrated, he came to a halt and deliberated on what was required to ignite a fire. He created a strategy to blow on the sparks as they fell in the tinder after seeing that he didn’t have enough oxygen or air for combustion. He was instantly engulfed in flames.

The secret to surviving in the outdoors is to avoid being panicked. In a survival crisis, sometimes the greatest thing you can do is do nothing and think. You’ll save yourself a great deal of time and work.

4. In the wilderness, even little errors are magnified.

“Small errors may develop into catastrophes, and hilarious tiny blunders can snowball to the point where you’re gazing at death while still laughing at the comedy.” If he made a mistake in the city, there was typically a way to fix it and make it right. It was different now…”


Small errors in the wild may be fatal. If you break your leg in the suburbs, all you have to do is put it up on a pillow for a few days and go about on crutches. It’ll be inconvenient, but you’ll manage. If you break your leg in the middle of nowhere, you’re in for a world of trouble. Because you won’t be able to walk, you won’t be able to hunt. You can’t eat if you can’t hunt. You will perish if you do not eat. It’s all due of a careless fractured leg.

There were a few instances in the book when Brian made little errors that may have resulted in major setbacks. Eating and vomiting the “gut berries,” failing to secure his shelter, allowing a porcupine to shoot a few hundred quills into his leg, and being sprayed in the face by a skunk. Many of his blunders might have been prevented if he had only been more cautious.

Granted, you won’t be able to prevent all blunders, but you should try to reduce them as much as possible. Most mishaps may be avoided by taking the time to S.T.O.P. It’ll also assist if you’re always on the lookout. Keep an eye on what’s going on around you. You never know whether you’ll be confronted by an enraged mother grizzly or a rampaging bull moose.

5. Always have a good tool with you.

“Brian opened the top of the bag and grabbed it. A hatchet with a steel handle and a rubber handgrip was found inside. The skull was kept safe in a sturdy leather box with a brass-riveted belt loop.”

The sledgehammer. Brian Robeson’s life was actually saved by the instrument. He utilized it to make a fire that provided warmth and security at night, as well as spears and arrows for hunting. Brian would have become insect food in a matter of days if he didn’t have that hatchet. In the woods, any cutting instrument would be useful. Even a rudimentary pocket knife. However, if I were out in the bush, I would want a good multi-tool, such as a Leatherman. I have one, and it has proven to be really useful throughout my outdoor adventures. However, I’ve lately been aware of a new multi-tool that I’ve added to my want list. Brian’s hatchet pales in comparison to the Atax. This device is capable of doing all tasks. It’s an ax, a skinner, a hammer, a wrench, a compass, and an arrow launcher, to name a few. Put this in the hands of a resourceful, capable individual, and he’ll not only survive, but also conquer the wilderness.

6. Know How to Get Clean Water and Where to Get It

“It was water,” says the narrator. He wasn’t sure whether he could drink it, however. Nobody ever informed him whether you could drink lakes or not.”

In a survival scenario, people often underestimate the value of water. For weeks without food, your body can operate, but go without water for a few days and you’ll perish. It’s not difficult to find water. It’s all over the place (well, except for deserts). The issue is obtaining clean water. Brian was fortunate enough to crash in the midst of the Canadian bush, right next to a beautiful, clean lake. He wouldn’t feel ill if he dipped his head into the water and drank it.


It’s unlikely that you’ll have the same luck. To eradicate any hazardous germs, most outdoor survival experts advocate boiling water before drinking it. Of course, this method presupposes you have a pot on hand. If you don’t have a pot, there are a few options for obtaining drinking water, such as collecting rainwater or making a water still. It’s also feasible to make filtration systems out of everyday items, such as a t-shirt.

7. Create a Safe Haven

“Protect your food and make sure you have a decent shelter.” Not merely a shelter to keep the wind and rain out, but one that will protect him and keep him secure.”

Obtaining (or making) shelter to shield yourself from the elements should be your next priority after finding water. When building a shelter, take use of your surroundings. Rock overhangs provide good protection. That was Brian’s method. If you don’t have access to a nearby rock overhang, you’ll have to create a shelter out of branches, leaves, and pine boughs. A lean-to shelter is a popular and simple wilderness survival shelter. Other shelter designs exist, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

8. Locate Food

“He’d learnt the most crucial lesson, the one that motivates all woodland animals – food is everything.” Everything revolved on food. Everything in the woods, from insects to fish to bears, was continually hunting for food – it was nature’s single most powerful driving force.”

Brian’s efforts to get food take up the most of the book. He spent the most of his time searching for food. He begins by indulging in a peculiar fruit, which causes him to vomit. After that, he comes upon raspberries growing wild and incorporates them into his diet.

However, man cannot live just on fruit. Brian’s body need protein for strength. Raw turtle eggs provided him with his first intake of protein. They were difficult to swallow at first, but he pushed himself to consume the nutritious liquid. He soon began to eat fish and birds. You may start learning about edible plants, berries, and roots now to prepare for feeding yourself in the wild. In addition, learn how to make simple traps to catch small wildlife.

9. Be able to start a fire without the use of matches

“He struck harder, holding the hatchet for a longer, sliding stroke, and the black rock burst into flames… He reasoned that there may be fire here. He said to himself, “I’ll have a fire here,” and hit again, “I’ll have fire from the hatchet.”

Warmth, light, protection from predators and insects, and a rescue signal are all provided by fire. Fire is also a great morale booster – it’s almost like having a friend. When Brian lit his first fire, he observed something similar. “I have a buddy, he realized – I have a friend now,” he said. But he’s a wonderful buddy, and he’s hungry. “Fire is a buddy of mine.”


Don’t rely on matches if you’re in a wilderness survival emergency. Even if you have them, they will be rendered almost unusable in windy and damp conditions. As a result, a man’s ability to ignite a fire without matches is critical. Brian started his fire by hitting the quartzite in his shelter with his metal hatchet blade. You should aim to acquire a variety of techniques so that you are prepared for any occasion. In addition to understanding how to light a fire, you should be able to construct a campfire that meets your specific requirements.

10. Get a Signal Ready

“He decided to keep the fire ready while he was working, and if he heard an engine, or even believed he heard an aircraft, he would rush up with a burning branch and light off the signal fire.”

Surviving in the wild is your first priority. The second most important thing for you to do is get out of there and back to safety. Fire is an excellent indication. Brian had laid up a fire pit that he could start as soon as he heard a jet. Another fantastic alternative is a reflecting mirror. While a specific signal mirror may be purchased, any shiny, metallic item might suffice in a hurry. You may also make search signs by scribbling “SOS” or “HELP” on rocks that contrast with the ground’s hue. In order for pilots to see your letters from the air, they must be at least 9 feet tall.



The “wilderness hacks” is a book that has 10 wilderness survival skills from the Hatchet. The author of the book, Gary Paulsen, has been teaching these skills for years.

Frequently Asked Questions

Related Tags

  • fire survival techniques
  • primitive survival hacks
  • desert survival hacks
  • art of manliness bushcraft
  • urban survival hacks