Bones and the rule of 3

Those of you reading this that have been on one of our courses will be well aware of the rule of 3 which is an aid to finding your biggest survival priority at that time.  Many of you will also be aware of the usage of bone to create tools. Did you think arrowhead already?….come on admit it! What else can you utilise bone for to aid you with the various survival priorities? Let’s dig in to it, ignoring the 3 mins without air we go straight to our need for shelter.

3 hours without shelter – There is evidence of shelters being crafted by leaning mammoth bones together to form a frame which would then be covered in animal skins to create a really robust shelter that would have a fire at its centre. You don’t have mammoth bones? Then what about the next element of shelter, clothing. Without the humble bone needle allowing us to craft and sew protective clothing from the elements our ancestors would never have been able to leave Africa. By making a bone needle you can now make clothing to protect your body from the elements. With a bit of imagination, you can go further, how about a belt buckle made from a scapula? A blanket pin to secure a hide cloak to your person? Buttons? All can be made from bone and more to aid in your shelter.

2 types of awl, a bone needle and a blank in progress Image: Daniel Topley

3 days without water – The need for water is a serious one and not only its collection but a way to purify it. You can collect water by many methods but that doesn’t always involve a container that you could then boil the water in to make it safe to drink. A skull cap can be used as a makeshift bowl/cup to both scoop water out of a source such as a river and then by heating rocks up in a fire and placing the rocks into the water filled skull cap it is possible to boil the water and make it safe to drink.

3 weeks without food – Arrowheads! We got there. To get your fats and proteins you will need to hunt or trap and arrowheads to be used with bows or an atl atl can definitely help. How about bone fishing hooks or gorge hooks that look like what you would use for a fish but have been used to catch birds by placing the hook into food for the bird and having them swallow the hook.

Deer nose bone fish hooks, gorge hooks and a blank in progress Image: Daniel Topley

Bonus: Fire – Can bone help you with fire? Yes. You can make an excellent bearing block to use with your friction fire lighting set and studies suggest bone can even be a fuel for your fire. You would need a well-established hot fire to begin with but once you have that to preserve your wood, bones could be added to the fire. They don’t burn as wood does but the marrow and fats in the bone will sustain the fire and there is evidence to suggest this was done historically though this one, I am yet to test personally.

Cow bone bearing block for friction fire Image Daniel Topley

We have scratched the surface of the possibilities, but I hope this has helped you to look at bones in a different way and most importantly to go out and experiment. If you have an idea, try it. It doesn’t matter whether it works just get that connection going with this marvellous natural material.

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