There is all kinds of information in nature if you know how to read it. However, with advances in technology and the steady migration of people into urban environments, many have become completely removed from nature.
Being able to read nature’s signs has become a lost art in modern times. The ability to decipher what nature is telling us could become critical in a disaster. Ask A Prepper posted an article about some of the significant signs that are available to us if we just knew where to look and what they meant.
“The early pioneers, and the mountain men and trappers who helped open up the West, were experts at reading the natural world.”
First up is finding your way around. The first recommendation is to never rely exclusively on GPS.
“The best way to navigate is with a map and compass, using GPS as a backup. That way your map-reading skills stay sharp, and you’ll be able to adapt when your GPS battery dies unexpectedly – or when the SHTF and the whole network goes down. But what if your compass gets broken, or you’re caught without any navigation equipment? Luckily, nature has a whole load of navigation tools built in.
If the sun’s up, you can always be sure of what direction you’re going in. All you need is a watch or clock that’s set to the right time. An analog watch is best; if you have a digital one you’re going to have to start drawing clock faces in the dirt.
What you have to do is point the hour hand at the sun. Going anticlockwise, half way between the hour hand and 12 o’clock is south (if you’re in the northern hemisphere – if you’re south of the equator it’ll be north). Once you know where south is you have all the rest of the compass points too. As long as you update every 30 minutes to an hour this method is easily accurate enough for emergency navigation. If you’re lost in the woods and need to find the way out, for example, this will do it.
The Pole Star
What if you need to know directions at night? Find the stars at the end of the dipper; these are called the Pointer Stars. Now draw an imaginary line through them. Go up five times the distance between the Pointer Stars; close to where you’re now looking is a bright star, brighter than any others in that part of the sky. This star is Polaris, the North Star or Pole Star. If you’re anywhere in the northern hemisphere Polaris is to your north.
You might have read that moss grows on the north side of tree trunks. This can be very useful at night if it’s too cloudy to see the stars – or, if it’s really bad weather, too cloudy to see where the sun is.
The reason moss usually grows on the north side of trunks is that it doesn’t like being dried out. The north side is in shade when the sun’s light is at its strongest, so moss prefers to grow there. The air close to the ground is usually moist, too, so ignore any moss growing less than two feet above ground level.
The same techniques work for lichen on boulders or stone walls; if there’s no other reason for it to stay moist, it’s probably the north side.”
Next up is locating food, or wild game in this instance. With a little knowledge and some practice you can begin to know what the wild animals in the area are doing and where they are.
Most animals are creatures of habit. They move between sleeping, eating and watering areas as part of a daily routine, and unless something forces them to change it they tend to use the same routes. The ground may be worn bare or show lots of tracks; it could even be worn into a trough. Look for tufts of hair or feathers caught in branches along the trail, especially at narrow points and corners; that can tell you what kind of animals are using it.
Beds and Dens
A bed is where an animal regularly sleeps. Usually it’s underground or in thick undergrowth, for solitary animals. Animals that live in groups might sleep in the open where they can protect each other more easily.
A den is where an animal gives birth and raises its young. If you find a lot of bones or hair around a suspected den that could mean a predator with cubs – probably a good place to avoid.
Predators leave distinctive sign, and kills are among the most useful. Be wary if you find fresh predator kills. If there’s meat left on the carcass the animal could still be around, and in close country you might not get a lot of warning if it thinks you’re trying to steal its kill.”
Knowing what the weather may bring is crucial in a survival situation. There are many signs in nature that could help you determine what is to come.
A red or pink sunset usually shows that the sun is lighting up dust in the atmosphere, which generally means a high-pressure system and warm, dry air. A red sunrise means something very different. That’s more likely to be moisture in the air, showing low pressure coming out of the east – where most storms come from in the USA.
If the moon’s up, study it carefully. If it has an orange color there’s probably dust in the air – which means good weather. If there’s a fuzzy ring round it this probably means rain is on its way; moisture in the air is refracting the moon’s light. If it’s bright and clear, that doesn’t tell you much in summer. In winter, however, it usually means cold, dry weather.
Animals can tell you a lot about the weather; they’re much more sensitive to changes in pressure than we are, so often they can tell you what’s coming. If you have a cat, watch it when it washes. They usually don’t wash their ears, but a cat’s ears are very sensitive to pressure, so if it’s rubbing them it means the weather will probably change soon.
Birds also have sensitive ears. If they’re flying high you can probably rely on at least two or three days of good weather. As the pressure drops, signaling the approach of bad weather, they’ll fly lower to avoid pain in their ears. If they stop flying altogether and take shelter in trees when you’d expect them to be active, a storm could be just a few hours away.”
There are many more signs in nature than what is described in this short article. Identifying plants as being edible or poisonous for example. You may want to study up on this more yourself, but nothing beats first hand experience or talking with someone who has more experience than you do.