“There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot”  (Steven Wright)

toggle_speargunAn item you commonly see in PSKs (personal survival kits) is a single loop of snare wire.  For the jungle at least this is not the most useful item you could take with you and some catapult bands may well serve you better.

This may seem counter to commonly accepted survival ‘wisdom’ but there are number of reasons  for this:

1. One loop of wire = one snare (not enough)

2. Rattan can be used (and is used by the Orang Asal) to make snares so there’s no need for the wire as long as you know how to process rattan into strips.

3. Snaring requires a degree of knowledge about animal behaviour (if you put the snare in the wrong place, you won’t catch anything)

4. Snaring requires you to stay in one place, whereas opportunistic hunting allows you to hunt on the move.

5. The easiest place to hunt for protein in the jungle is in the rivers and streams.

bamboo_catapultSimilarly setting a fish trap (night line or twig trap) may work if you are staying in one place but is not so good if you are on the move…. and don’t forget that a fish hook is only as good as the bait you put on it (and fish can be frustratingly picky about what they eat!)

Even in small streams in the jungle you usually find fish and, because the water isn’t too deep, it is relatively easy to catch them (either by hand or with a spear/arrow).  The Orang Asal will walk up stream in a line towards a pool, frightening the fish in their path forward and then, once the fish are all in the same place, pick them off one by one.

speargun_triggerHowever, to get close enough to the fish to spear them is a bit tricky and you need to stay very still. move very slowly and be patient….but it can be done and, as my Orang Asal friend Sammy explained to me, the best time to do this is between 8pm-midnight when the fish are, as he described it “bodoh” (Malay for ‘stupid’).

Making some sort of speargun is quite straightforward and, as long as you can find some bamboo, it’s easier than building a bow fishing kit.  A speargun also has the advantage that it is less bulky, doesn’t require any movement to load (as it’s preloaded) and allows you to get closer to the fish – e.g. you can crouch in the stream and submerge the arrow tip under water (which is more difficult to do with a bow and arrow).

In a jungle survival situation streams and rivers are the obvious place to look for protein – fish, prawns, crabs, frogs are all there  – and a couple of catapult bands will greatly increase your chances of being able to catch something for dinner.  Also worth mentioning is another PSK  item that can be very useful: a mozzi head-net which can double up as a small net to catch prawns.

There are other uses for these rubber bands – as waterproof fire starters, to make a head torch band and to fashion a compression bandage.  Useful things indeed!