I’m a sucker for a good survival book, so when one of my Twitter followers mentioned that she had just released a new book on survival tips, I jumped at the chance to check it out.
Survival Tips, Tricks, and Traps is a brand new book released in April of this year by Wanda and William Priday and published by SaltHeart Publishers. At first glance, the two most prominent features of the book, without opening it, are the conveniently small size (9″x6″) and the rugged rubberized cover. This speaks volumes about its purpose: to be stuffed right into that side pocket of your camping pack or bug-out bag and actually be used!
I can’t stress enough how useful this book is. You have all of your basics like how to build small game traps and rub two sticks together, but you also have some fairly elaborate solutions to real-world emergency situations that you may not find in most survival field guides, such as navigation at sea or how to handle a firearm properly.
After reading the efficiently short book, I reached out to Wanda for an interview. I was pleasantly surprised at how well this book actually works as a survival companion, from the illustrations, the distress signal guide and Morse Code alphabet right down to the pages in the back marked “Firestarter.” How brilliant is that to simply include extra paper in the back of your survival book to act as kindling? So I had to get the full story from the author herself.
Post Apocalyptic Media: One of my favorite things about this book is how efficient it is. Tips and advice are concise and to the point. Was this planned while writing the book?
Wanda: It was planned, however it took many passes to refine the tips and advice to be concise. We rewrote and refined each tip and trick multiple times until it was clear.
You currently run a survival school called Gemini Survival School. Tell me a little about how that got started and where it’s headed.
Wanda: William and I started the school together and have taught one-on-one classes to friends and people in our local community. I had hoped to hold classes this past spring here in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but due to COVID, the workshops were cancelled. I hope to offer classes for next Spring and focus on assisting women with learning outdoor survival skills. You can find our website at www.geminisurvival.com.
Tell me about your background as a survivalist.
Wanda: Since I was young I have always preferred being outside and in the woods. I grew up living in the country and my father and brother were avid outdoorsmen. He taught me to track and hunt, fish, garden, raise farm animals and how to trap using traditional traps, not bushcraft primitive traps.
I spent a lot of time on my grandparents’ subsistence farm growing up and my grandmother taught me about edible and medicinal plants that she used out of necessity. She grew up poor in the mountains of West Virginia where knowing these things were important to survival. Knowing how to start and keep a fire going was the only way to keep a warm house. I also lived in a primitive farm house for a time while I was a single mom raising my two children, the power would go out often and stay out due to the remote location. I had to learn how to take care of myself and my kids with the most basic amenities.
My bushcraft skills, I learned mostly from William. He was always looking at what an item could be in a survival situation, so I learned that mindset and perspective along with tangible skills of creating weapons like sling shots, bolos, and making tools, shelters and primitive traps.
Are there any movies, TV shows, or books (etc.) you’d say inspired you along the way?
Wanda: Of course I have watched all of the survival shows from Dual Survival to Dude You’re Screwed, and was inspired by Cody Lundin’s book 98.6 Keep Your Ass Alive.
Your husband, William, passed away just before the publication of this book. Can you tell me what happened?
Wanda: William’s life story played a part in his passing away. He was born without his left hand and beginning at a young age was bullied and attacked by others kids because of this. Even into adulthood, even though he became a professional tree climber, (yes, he was a one handed tree climber) he experienced discrimination for his physical difference. Over the years this caused him to develop PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and depression. Those conditions were coupled with bouts of substance abuse through the years. The last year of his life, he had become extremely depressed and was having suicidal idealization.
About a month before he passed away he had threatened to commit suicide and I had him hospitalized. Upon being released from the hospital he went missing. He basically ghosted me and all of his friends. I filed a missing persons report and about 2 weeks after, I was notified by the local police department that he had been found dead sitting under a tree. The cause of death was heart attack and I think he ran himself ragged until he couldn’t go any more. He had become disenfranchised with the world and people in it. He was ready to be done with life.
I share this heartbreaking story about William’s death in the hopes that it will bring awareness to others to be kind to people no matter how different they may be from yourself. Whether they look different because they have a deformity, or simply a different skin color or they are from another country or maybe they have a different religion or belief system, whatever those differences are, being a bully and unkind to someone has lifelong lasting effects and can ultimately alter the course of a person’s life. Be tolerant and kind!
Many folks talk about writing their knowledge and experiences down on paper one day, but you and your late husband actually did it. What was the inspiration and that final push to write this book?
Wanda: William’s vast knowledge and hands-on experience was something I wanted to capture in a book to share with others. Once I mastered some survival skills, I realized that I had an improved sense of self confidence and reduced fear about the “what ifs” in life. I think having a base knowledge of survival skills improves one’s outlook and overall self esteem and I wanted other people to experience this boost in their thinking and the way they see themselves in the world. Also, the more of us that have these essential skills and knowledge the better off we will all be in a scenario where these skills are needed. Solo survival is only short term. For long-term survival you need a community of others that have skills.
If you could narrow your survival tips down to just your top 5, what would they be?
Wanda: Chapter 1, pg 4: Survival is a game of percentages. Every skill that you learn is a percentage of improving your survivability. The more you know, the less you need to carry, the better chance of your survival. Most people live in denial about life’s fragility and are unaware of how to provide for their most basic of needs outside of the current system. The most adaptable survive.
Chapter 2, pg 8: When you need to use your survival skills, more than likely you will be under stress and possibly injured. Be prepared and have your EDC with you and your BOBs pre-packed and ready to go. Have your bug out and bug in plans made and review them with your family and friends.
Chapter 4, pg 37: Learn to build and work with fire (of course, in a safe and responsible way). Learn what fire is about, how it works, how it burns, become familiar with this most valuable, lifesaving tool.
Chapter 6, pg 56: In an emergency, items that did not have much value before can be life savers. Learn to be creative and learn how to improvise. Improvising is a way of thinking; it is a tool.
Chapter 6, pg 57: When purchasing outdoor gear such as knives, bandanas, lighters, compasses, etc. select bright colors such as orange and red or add bright paint or tape to your tools, so when you lay them down or drop them, they will be easily found.
Thank you for the interview, Wanda! All of us here share our deepest condolences for the loss of your husband, but we hope that his legacy will live on through this book. You can find Survival Tips, Tricks, and Traps on Amazon here.