A Handy Little Gig

Primitive Gig

There are a lot of uses and a definitive need for a gig. No, not playing in a smoke filled bar somewhere, but a primitive gig for survival.

What exactly is a gig then? I am glad you asked.

The qualities of a gig are fairly simple as well.

  • It has to have a point in order to pin, stab, or poke the prey.
  • It can be attached to a long stick or pole in order to gain reach.

Outside of that, you can let you mind wander.

In the survival world, however, the definition broadens a little. It is used not just for fishing, but for frogs, ground animals, and if you want to throw it, birds. But it is not limited to animals as you can use it to grab out of reach fruits, nuts, and berries. Additionally, it is a defense item for personal protection which could include large predators or snakes.

By expanding the definition a little a gig is a great tool (or gig) for the modern or primitive hunter-gatherer.

So how does one make a gig?

Again, simplicity. I keep referring back to definition, so it could be nothing more than a stick with a single point which also is defined as a spear. For our example, we will be making one with four points. But if you just want to buy one you can go here. OR a portable one for your kit can be bought here.

Before you start making one, you have to make a decision. “GREAT! now I have to think.”

Do you want an all in one piece or do you want to make just the gig and attach it later. The process is fairly the same but if you make just the gig head, you will need to use cordage to attach it to a long stick. That’s also why I gave you two options for purchase above.

We will use a single stick for our gig. It needs to be longer than you are tall for safety reasons. You do not want to stumble and jab the stick in your eye. (“You’ll put your eye out kid”)

Now, let us start by splitting the stick for approximately 6″ from one end. I prefer to use the thicker or heavier end for this. We will cut it into four quadrants. (Think of a compass: North, South, East, West)

Carefully take your knife or sharp instrument and lay it across the end of the stick and push lengthwise into the stick. Once you have done this for about 6″, turn your stick 90-degrees and perform the same function. This will give you four quadrants.

Take a piece of cordage and wrap it just below the splits to prevent the stick from splitting out further.

Now it is time to sharpen those four quadrants into usable points.

Carefully, take a twig and slide it down into one of the split ends of the stick. I recommend using a stiff, green twig but use what you have. It needs to be no more than about 1/2″ in diameter and 1/4″ is recommended. Length wise, no more than about 1″ longer than your stick is wide.

FIELD NOTE: For those of you that are like me and do not carry a tape measure out in the field, knuckle to knuckle on your index finger is probably about 1″. If not exactly, it is close enough unless you are a child, then you would use your middle finger.

After this twig is secure and has gone about as far as it is going to, repeat with a second twig 90 degrees from your first one. Again, think compass.

The remaining time is the most time consuming in that you are just sharpening each one of the quadrants into a point. You can make them really sharp or semi-sharp for pinning as opposed to sticking.

Once you have gotten your gig the way you want it, you need to test it out. This will let you know if you need to sharpen the points more or if it was overkill. Head to the lake, pond, river, creek, or stream and start looking for fish near the bank. You can throw or jab your gig into the fish and then it is SUPPERTIME!

FIELD NOTE: I do not recommend throwing your gig into the water. If you do, chances are you will get wet when you go to retrieve it. Think hypothermia.

And there you have it. A useable tool or weapon. While the list of uses I have is by no means complete, it gives you a good starting point. For you visual learners, I have included one of my videos below that walks through the creation process.

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive