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Bush Craft Tools

If you are rescued, common sense will tell you that you’ll no longer need to worry about gathering food, water, shelter, and building a fire. So, if the weather is not, severe, strategizing about how you are going to signal for rescue should be your number one priority.

Other than a whistle, signaling tools differ from day and night. The following is a list of recommended, signaling,  bush craft tools.

Anytime Use


Whistles are compact and easy to carry; so, you should have a whistle on you at all time when you are in the wilderness.Distance-Range is limited for an average whistle. So don’t use a whistle as your only tool.

  • Distance-Range is limited for an average whistle. So don’t use a whistle as your only tool.
  • Tough To Find- A rescuer can have a tough time locating you if it is windy or there are echoes.Tip: Use the “International Distress Signal”- it is six whistles in one minute, and the rescuer, in turn, returns three whistles in a minute.Whistle Limitations

Tip: Use the “International Distress Signal”- it is six whistles in one minute, and the rescuer, in turn, returns three whistles in a minute.Whistle Limitations

Daytime Signaling Tools


The signal mirror is the most efficient signal for the daytime as they have been seen by rescuers up to 45 miles away and 16,000 feet up. However, you can expect that a properly applied signal mirror could be detected up to a distance of five miles. However, a mirror for signaling is only as good as the user. But, if correctly used, a signal mirror cannot be beaten.

You can use any mirror or other shiny objects for signaling. And as always, practice using the signal mirror before you begin any outdoor activity. Look at this following illustration for guidelines on using this tool.

Outdoor Survival Mirror Signal Rescue

Please note:
Hazy or foggy weather will make it difficult for pilots to see your signal. So, when you see a plane or helicopter, climb up the highest hill and start flashing the mirror. Also, if you don’t know where the aircraft is coming from; direct the mirror toward the direction of the noise.


Signs or Symbols

Through rocks or other forms of natural or manmade objects, you make a symbol or sign stating that you need to be rescued. If you are traveling outside English speaking countries, you should use international rescue symbols, which are shown below:

International Rescue Symbols

Below are guidelines on constructing symbols:

  • Letter Size: The letters need to be big enough for a pilot or his crew to see them from the air. The below image is helpful for you getting the correct size for the letters
  • Letter Contrast- You need to make sure that the letter symbols do not blend into the surroundings.

Tip: Space blankets are cheap and compact. So, carry extra space blankets with you as, in a pinch, they can be used in signaling.

If there are not materials readily available to make a sign you can use dirt mounds that’ll use the sun to cast shadows. Use the mounds in the shape of the International Distress Patterns that are listed above. For maximum effectiveness, that shadow signs or symbols need to point toward the sun.
When you’re near the equator, a line going north to south produces a shadow all day except noon. When you are north or south of the equator, try using an east to west point of the compass as a guideline.

Night Time Signaling


Fire is perfect for when you are uncertain when and even if a rescue team is searching for you. You can build a fire and with minimal upkeep you can have a rescue signal throughout the night. So, if it is nighttime and shelter is not an immediate issue, building a fire should be a number one priority. Any fires will do. The most efficient type of fire for signaling though is a pyramid fire, which produces maximum light and heat.  A pyramid fire is illustrated below:

Pyramid Fire


Flashlights are an extremely useful signaling method. Also, you can buy tactical flashlights which can be extremely efficient as they produce unnatural lighting patterns. So, they are more recognizable in the air.

In normal situations, flashing the light near a rescuer is sufficient. But, you may want to memorize this SOS Morse code distress call. This distress signal is the following:

  • 3 dots
  • 3 dashes
  • 3 dots
  • Repeat


You’ll never know when you’re going to be rescued. So, if the weather is not severe and you are not in dire need of food or water; you should start signaling about how you are going to signal for help. Above all, learn these signaling techniques and practice them and if you are ever stranded you will be ready.