All the Right Moves

updated 04/01/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/01/2001 AT 01:00 AM EST

Be an adaptable snake

A professor at the Yale School of Management and an expert on game theory and business strategy, Nalebuff, 42, has been a consultant for FORTUNE 500 companies and is the coauthor of the 1991 bestseller Thinking Strategically: The Competitive Edge in Business, Politics, and Everyday Life.

There is no clean way of winning. You have to choose between being honorable and winning, and what you need to do to win are things that make people not like you. The goal is not to be so obnoxious that people eliminate you out of exasperation, and not to be such an obvious leader that they eliminate you because you're a threat. Be a snake in the grass. An alliance is good in that it will get you through the first part of the game. But it's bad in that at some point the game shrinks to a size smaller than the alliance. The alliance has to turn on itself, and that creates real ugliness. It's not survival of the fittest but of the most adaptable. The best approach is to appear as if you're neither a standout nor a loser. You want to be safely hidden in the middle. Not Superman, but not Jimmy Olsen, either.

A cool head (and prior practice) make an ember to remember

Onetime cowboy David Alloway, 43, head of educational programs at Big Bend Ranch State Park in far west Texas, has taught survival classes in the U.S., Mexico and Australia for 20 years.

All this stuff of rubbing two sticks together is good to know, but it's really the decisions you make that determine who survives and who goes under. Establish your priorities: Water, shelter (which includes clothing), fire (which includes signaling to attract rescuers) and food. The most dangerous thing is when somebody says, "Once I saw in a movie..." Don't think you can just go out and make a fire. You really need to practice, and by far, friction methods are the most reliable. Or, if you have a magnifying glass and strong, direct sunlight, focus the sunlight into the smallest beam possible to start an ember, then blow carefully on the ember. The other danger is pessimists, who not only drag themselves down, but drag group morale down with "We're going to die." Immediately get a positive group dynamic going. Recognize each other's weak spots, defer to people's strong points and admit your own inadequacies. This is what really dovetails a group together.

Hook, line and sinker? No, just a quick hand

Hawaii-raised Jill Christensen, 26, has taught at the Boulder (Colo.) Outdoor School of Survival, the largest of its kind in the U.S., for six years.

At night, the best ways to stay warm are covering your head and feet, sleeping under trees—where it's warmer—and insulating yourself from the ground. The only water you should not drink is water that's crystal clear, without anything living in it (with the exception of rain water). If water doesn't have any plant life or insects in it, it's probably toxic. Also, don't eat if you haven't been drinking water, because digesting food requires a lot of water.

If you're lost, it's better not to eat any plants than risk eating the wrong ones. You're better off trying to catch mice or rabbits, but don't eat rodents without cooking them, because there can be the risk of bubonic plague. Fish in the afternoon when the water is warm. Fish seek cooler water, so check under rocks and banks. Go in slowly, get your hands underneath the fish, then move your fingers like you're tickling its belly. The fish may think you're another fish or a plant rubbing against it. If you can feel the head, grab it and jam a finger up under the gills so it can't wriggle away. It's illegal in most states to hand fish because it's so easy.

Don't leave home without a wallet 'survival packet'

A former survival trainer for elite Navy units, part-time postal worker "Mountain" Mel Deweese, 58, runs his Nature Knowledge survival camp each summer near Grand Junction, Colo.

Cold, fear, pain, hunger, thirst, loneliness and boredom are the seven enemies you've got to combat. I always add No. 8—ignorance. For food, I look under rocks, and if I find snails, I boil them. Insects need to be roasted. Both red and green ants have a lemony taste—they're more for seasoning. The best thing for finding water is your eyesight. In the desert, look for any type of vegetation and move to that. In the Navy we carried condoms as canteens. Fill them with water, put your sock over them and tie them on your belt. In my wallet-size "survival packet" are a flexible magnifying glass and tissue paper for tinder, a piece of wire for making traps and a piece of soda can I can fold into a whistle. To top it off I have a $20 traveler's check. I can always use it as a fire starter. But if I'm near enough to Las Vegas, I'm hitchhiking into town for a cold beer.

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