Our generation and the upcoming ones are getting more and more engulfed by technology, and we forget that some time ago, people were counting on their own survival skills to live the day.
In the last one hundred years or so, many of these skills have been forgotten, and few people remember what they meant for survival. Those still holding onto such skills are having a hard time passing them forward and will soon be forgotten.
The legacy our grandparents left us is not
celebrated and treasured as it should be, and even though there are a few books
out there describing their way of living, I believe we can do more to preserve their
memory. Most of their survival skills can still provide us with warmth,
comfort, food, and the knowledge to use sustainable resources in an environment
that allows us to be ourselves.
Kids nowadays don’t want to learn about the
old ways of living, and there’s no one to show them how simple and beautiful
life once was. Most kids are being handed everything they need, and today’s
educational system doesn’t allow much room for self-sufficiency or off-grid
I honestly believe that people should take
a break from the rat race every once in a while and look back at their
ancestors. Our current lifestyles
provide few, if any, opportunities to discover our real potential. Most members
of society are spoon-fed, and they will never understand what they are truly
capable of and if they can survive if this modern society will one day fail
In the wilderness, you have to play as Mother Nature dictates, and you have to be ready for any type of weather pattern. Having the skills to start a fire even when all the odds are against you, will literally make the difference between life and death.
Every wilderness environment will provide
you with the resources to survive, but you need to have the proper knowledge to
use such resources. The same goes when building a fire, and besides having the
right tools to ignite the kindling, you also have to know how to build various
types of fires and keep them going.
Our grandparents and ancestors didn’t have
the luxury of using all the synthetic fibers we have today to protect
themselves from the elements and stay warm. They had to use their skills to
improvise shelters and survive the night. Even the tents they had weren’t as
complicated as today, and only a few of them could afford them. They had to learn to build a vast array of
shelters based on what resources were available.
They experimented with various designs to
make their long-term shelters comfortable while at the same time provide enough
room to cook, eat, and sleep inside. Not to mention that planning was an
important process before the build stage itself since building a shelter for
one is much easier than building one for the entire family.
Finding your way in the wilderness is not an easy task, and our ancestors often had to rely on the sun and stars to calculate their position. They would often improvise a simple solar compass to calculate their longitude and latitude, the angle of the North Star, and an equation of timetable. To find their sense of direction, they had to learn the paths of celestial objects, but also pay attention to what was on the ground. The shapes, shadows, and natural formation can all be used for various natural navigation techniques.
This is a mandatory skill for preppers, but
few of us use it quite often. Back then, providing food for the family meant
using all their fieldcraft, tracking, hunting, and practical skills. It didn’t
matter if they had or fish for meat or if they had to forage. What matters was
to be both physically and emotionally prepared for such tasks since failure was
often more present than success.
Although land and water pollution was less hazardous back than, there were still hidden dangers in the water. Drinking dirty water from an unknown environment was a gamble, and it would often leave people very sick. Water filters were unimaginable back then, and boiling the water was one of the most common survival skills to make water drinkable. They also had ways to improvise all sorts of filters to separate the sediment and other water contaminants.
Reading signs or tracking is one of the
oldest skills that helped mankind survive. Our ancestors had a keen sense of
observation that allowed them to easily look for deviations in the way things
were normally supposed to look in their natural environment. The rule was
simple back then, as it is today. During your tracking sessions, if you spot
something that is out of place, you need to stop and investigate it further. Based
on your skill and experience, you will discover new details and additional info
you would need to track someone or something.
Making a snare was a skill that required
practice, and snaring, in general, required a lot of patience. Snaring helped
our grandparents catch small game, but it was also used to get rid of rodents
and other upsetting pests. Using snares for food and defense can make the
difference between life and death for the smart survivalist. Trappers have
known about snares for generations, but today’s technology has pulled the snare
out of the dark ages and turned it into a finely tuned instrument.
As a hunter, you had to learn game
preparation since it was a skill required to maintain the meat edible. They didn’t
have the luxury to preserve the pray in coolers or use other modern means we
have today. They would gut, skin, and prepare the prey on the spot for easy
transportation or preservation. In fact, in the field, most mammal preparation
is very similar, and it’s mostly a matter of size.
Today, fishing is mostly a hobby and a pleasant experience to pass the time in the great outdoors. Back then, it was one of the main skills that helped people put some meat on the table. They didn’t have any fancy rods or the modern tools we have today, and improvised fishing was their only alternative to catch something. Once you struggle with improvising bait, setting up the line, and playing the waiting game, you will indeed discover what survival fishing is all about.
To save time and take care of other chores,
they often built fishing traps. However, using fish traps is a labor-intensive
method of obtaining fish. You need to build the trap, place it in the right
spot, and wait. But on the other hand, you can’t go wrong with this method if
traditional fishing is not for you.
Most folks don’t know how to fillet a fish
and use the guts and all other parts as bait for other purposes. When your
ancestors managed to catch a fish in the wilderness, they knew how to prepare
it and how to make the most of it (using the guts as bait for snare or fish
traps). Nowadays, besides learning how
to prepare a fish, you should also learn how to remove pollution and
contamination in the fish you catch before feasting on it.
If wilderness living is on top of your
survival list of things to do and in your bug out plan, you should learn how to
prepare a bird. You will have better chances of trapping or hunting birds
rather than big game, especially if you lack hunting experience. Learn what
parts are edible and how to remove the meat from a bird using just your hands.
Making a variety of cordage was a necessary
skill back then, and in today’s world, few people can make a string from
natural fibers. I’ve learned to make cordage from stinging nettle and various
longer fibers, and I must admit it takes some time to get the hang of it.
However, once you master the learning curve, you will own a skill that is
You can find a lot of books on how to make various knots, but in order to have a good start on your survival skills, you should learn by making the clove hitch. Go further with a couple of tensioning knots for tarps, the figure eight, bowline, the timber hitch, and prusik knot. Each knot serves various purposes, and the more you know how to make, the better.
This is a topic I’m fond of, and I have a
great deal of respect for every forager out there. Our ancestors paid with
their lives so that we can today know which plants are edible and which plants
have medicinal uses. In the wilderness, being able to tell plants apart will
provide you with both food and medicine.
Foraging includes not only using the plant
but also being ready to transplant it or protect it for future generations.
Since the early days, humans managed to
survive with what nature had to offer. You may not have the skills for
trapping animals and be an efficient hunter, but you can still be a successful
gatherer. As a precaution to not get poisoned or worse, I advise you to learn
how to do a universal edibility test and always carry with you a field guide
for plant identification and preparation before consuming unknown plants.
In unfamiliar environments, you have to
look out after yourself since professional medical aid will not be available.
You need to be able to prevent accidents and take care of medical emergencies
without making things worse. Even so, there more you live in an inhospitable
environment, the higher the chances of getting injured or ill. By having first
aid training, you will be able to take care of minor injuries and illnesses.
However, to be on the safe side of things, you
should attend a wilderness first aid course. By doing so will learn how to
treat various medical emergencies, but most importantly, you will learn how to
improvise when resources are scarce and make do with what you have available.
If you plan on spending a lot of time in
the woods, an axe will become your most valuable tool to have and use. However,
it may also become a dangerous tool for you and others if you don’t know how to
use it properly. Learning to swing an axe requires proper training and
experience on the field, and you can’t master such a tool just by reading about
it. Even more, it becomes critical to learn how to look after your axe as it
may become your primary survival tool.
During a time of natural disaster or lack of fuel such as gas or electricity, cooking your food will require a great deal of improvisation. You will have to look back at how your ancestors did it and learn the same basic cooking techniques they exploited. Cooking over an open fire is different than cooking over embers, and learning how to establish and maintain a certain cooking temperature requires a lot of practice.
There are all sorts of scenarios that can
force you to test your improvised cooking skills and use your iron skillets
and/or Dutch ovens properly. Not to
mention that in certain cases, you can be separated from your tools, and you
will need to improvise even more.
In today’s world, our environment is governed
by speed and noise, and we all have the habit of making noise willingly or
without even realizing it. Learning to move quietly in an environment will not
only help you observe the world around you without attracting attention to
yourself, but it’s also a good survival skill. Moving without creating a phonic
impact will help you track or stalk people and animals, and it will help you move
undetected while traversing dangerous zones.
Making glue in the wild can be as simple
and easy as mixing pine resin with a bit of beeswax. This is another one of the
survival skills that would have been lost to time if it wasn’t for survivalists
and bushcraft enthusiasts keeping it alive. It will help you do various types
of repair if you run out of duct tape or other resources.
The general concept of survival for the
unprepared people living in an environment full of resources is to hunt and
fish, and overall, get anything they need or want from nature. This may be true
in certain cases, but we must also acknowledge that most people are just
consumers, and that’s pretty much all they know to do.
You can see that right now, “in times of
peace,” we are already destroying nature at a fast pace. Imagine what will
happen if folks around you will become desperate for food, or natural resources
to heat their homes or cook their food. In the past, our grandparents learned
to exploit nature only for what they needed and protect it for their future
needs, but how about us?
The survival skills I’ve listed in this article are just a glimpse of the knowledge our ancestors had. I honestly believe that we should take a break every once in a while from this rapid pace and look back at the old ways of living. It’s not only a proper way to keep the legacy of our ancestors alive, but also a good occasion to learn new things and improve our skillset.
Bob Rodgers is an experienced prepper and he strives to teach people about emergency preparedness. He quit the corporate world and the rat race 6 years ago and now he dedicates all his time and effort to provide a self-sufficient life for his family. He loves the great outdoors and never misses a chance to go camping. For more preparedness related articles, you can visit him at Prepper’s Will
This was a fantastic article and I enjoyed it but also believe it is spot on.
Good writing, I agree it’s Important to at least have an idea about these and a few other skills, then dive deeper into selected ones that are really vital. In doing so, we can not only improve our chances of surviving (as well as convenience and standard of living) but also to eventually take part into a community by contributing in some (or many) forms. Either way, being resourceful is a great way to build confidence and calm if things get rough.
I think nearly each topic could be an entire article &/or video (or more) on its own. If you already have articles on these topics, perhaps links to them would be helpful as well [or am I wanting to be handed what I need? ]
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Regardless of your level of commitment to surviving in times of chaos or turmoil, there are many places where you can make mistakes that will do more harm than good in the long run.
Even the most experienced preppers with years of experience in managing and surviving catastrophic events can make these mistakes. Chances are you already know about most, if not all of the mistakes listed here, however you may be committing them at this very moment. Have a look at some ways that you can overcome these shortcomings and make both your prepping activities and budget go further while improving the chances that you can survive anything that comes your way.
As someone that transplanted from a rural area to a city; I can more than relate to people that want to “go back to nature”, or find some way to own a homestead where they can have some peace and quiet. On the other side of the equation, or world, the economy, and the voting system are all tightly pegged to larger groups of people. No matter how much you may want to stay out of politics or other structural aspects of society, your lack of participation will only do more harm than good in the long run. Remember, when you are not present and speaking up, your voice is never heard at all.
When you do not express yourself in appropriate locations (such as town hall and city hall meetings, to the media, and in planning committees, other people will simply do what they please regardless of how short sighted and poorly thought out the plans may be. Everything we do as preppers is about survival, and that also means we must survive among other humans that have similar goals, but different ways of approaching them.
Here are some ways to overcome loss of valuable social connections and interactions:
Have you ever wanted to start on some new project and felt like you wanted to start building immediately? No matter how motivated you may be, a lack of planning, careful research, and organizing can cost you both time, money, and any chance of success. For example, let’s say you have been looking at problems associated with contaminated water. These days, no matter whether your water comes from a commercially processed municipal supply, bottled water, or a well, there is a very good chance that it is contaminated with everything from pesticides to chemicals designed to kill various pathogens.
Now let’s also say that you have been looking into all kinds of pre-fabricated water purification systems that may work for drinking water, however don’t supply enough water for bathing, washing, and growing healthy foods. Unless you are prepared to spend thousands of dollars on large sized reverse osmosis systems and other filtration methods, the fact remains truly clean, healthy water at sustainable amounts is beyond the reach of most people in the United States today.
As you wrestle with this problem, there is also a good chance that you will turn to DIY options that can be scaled and expanded over time to eventually meet all your water usage needs. No matter whether you experiment with taking water from the air, rain capture, or UV purification methods, it takes a good bit of planning to design and build these systems. Unfortunately, far too many people get a basic idea and then try to build it without doing adequate research on the materials, methods, and tools required to achieve their goal. Here are some ways to ensure you get the most out of organization, planning, and design oriented activities:
When you are good at one thing, but not so good at something else, it can be very tempting to avoid tasks that present more challenge. For example, if you are better at shooting a gun than canning food, then you will probably want to spend more time focusing on hunting or building your firearm and ammo stockpile. On the other hand, no matter how able you may be when it comes to providing food and managing self defense related issues, it won’t do much good if you don’t know how to prepare your food or recognize the signs of spoilage or other problems. It is very important to always be working on all areas of a sound survival plan.
The most important areas include: food management, water management, defense, sanitation, shelter, communications, health needs, information gathering, clothing management, transportation, social interaction, money management, time management, and environmental quality management, and broad scale skills (example starting fires, tieing, knots, recognizing useful materials, etc).
These are some things you can do to make sure that you are addressing all areas of a sound crisis survival plan:
There is no question that being a prepper can often feel like being a “Jack of all trades, master of none” at times. No matter how much you think you know or how much experience you have, there are always going to be things that pass by the wayside in favor of things that you use more or tend to do because they are easier. Do you avoid parallel parking even though you may have driven thousands of miles since you passed your road test decades ago? Regardless of whether you avoid parallel parking like the plague, back into parking spaces so you can get out more easily, or engage in other compensatory behaviors, the fact is your driving habits probably don’t include the full skill set you needed to get your license.
While you may not realize it, this tendency can happen in every area in your life. It doesn’t matter whether you suddenly have to parallel park a car or tie a knot that you haven’t used in decades. In a crisis situation, you may have to rely on things you haven’t done in a very long time to get through the situation. Unfortunately, if you fail to keep all of your skills, including rarely used ones updated, there is every chance you will panic and make mistakes, or be unable to complete the task with enough skill to succeed.
As with learning and applying a new skill, you must practice existing skill sets and make sure you have the most updated information. For example, if you took first aid courses decades ago, this would be a good time to take a refresher course.
Over the years, there have been a number of changes in how bystander CPR is administered as well as changes in advice on how to apply tourniquets. Brushing up on existing skill sets will also give you a good chance to learn about new tools that are available as well as how to use them.
When you have a shelf full of books or a drawer full of tools that simply sit there collecting dust, it is truly worse than not having them at all. If you don’t read and interact with materials that you are saving for a crisis, then there is every chance you won’t discover mistakes in the materials let alone figure out how to use the tools and materials that you purchased. Failure to use what you have can lead to at least two major problems that can derail your survival plans even in a fairly low level crisis situation:
Resolving this problem isn’t as difficult as it looks. There are dozens to thousands of things you can try to make or do that will help you survive both long and short term disasters. Do you have a sewing machine that has been sitting around for years? If so, visit any local department store that carries fabric and pick up a few yards of cheap material and a suitable pattern. No matter whether you sew up a blouse, aprons, wonderbags, or pillow covers, the important thing is to do something with the tools that you have onhand. Not only will you improve your skills, but actually completing a garment will make it much easier to gauge what items you need to have onhand.
Today, psychological problems have reached epidemic proportions in the United States. Well over 1/3 of the people in this country are using, or have used some kind of drug for managing panic disorders, anxiety, and other stress related issues. At the same time, people are turning further and further away from even believing they have a spirit and that there is something beyond this physical world. When you are in a crisis, rest assured you will be mentally, emotionally, and spiritually challenged. This is why you must not overlook mental and spiritual strength or the exercises that can help you become stronger and more able to deal with any number of situations.
If you are having mental or emotional issues, there is no point to denying there is a problem. It is very important to seek help from a qualified counselor so that you can get the help you need.
Mental and emotional wellness isn’t just about managing a disorder. It is also about making sure that you have the mind set and outlook required to reduce the risk of developing issues in a crisis. In particular, as a prepper it is all too easy to focus constantly on what could go wrong instead of on what can go right. From there, paranoia and distress can easily make it very hard to see any kind of future where something good will happen. Ironically, many of us are preppers precisely because we want to restore higher standards of living as quickly as possible after a crisis occurs.
As you prepare for everything from wildfires and hurricanes to nuclear war, it is very important to pay attention to your outlook. Make it your business to look for something positive in your life and in everything that you are dealing with. Take time to appreciate the small things in life and stay away from music or other media programming during times when you know that you are vulnerable to suggestion. While it is very important to stay informed about what is going on in the world and who the major people are in each situation, you should not sacrifice your mental and emotional well being. The news of the day can wait until you have had some quiet time or have done something else that makes you feel good about yourself and the future, regardless of what it holds.
Today, very little is written about the spiritual side of prepping. Nevertheless, people across time have come through impossible situations because they believed that something outside of the situation would come to their aid. As stubborn as modern scientists remain when it comes to accepting there are sentient forces and beings that exist beyond detection of the 5 physical senses, there is no doubt that these things exist. When you develop your spiritual strength, it will be much harder to derail you from doing what you must in order to survive a crisis. It does not matter if you are battling what doctors call an incurable cancer, driving through a blizzard, or getting away from an active shooter.
Spiritual strength is what gives you the focus to move forward and stay on your path, or make adjustments if needed. Even if no big or flashy miracle comes along, what you have inside may be enough to get you through. This is not to say that you should ignore common sense or tangible, physical skills and activities. Rather, spiritual strength should enhance everything that you do, inspire you, and help you develop useful insights.
When President Trump was elected, it threw our nation and the world into shock. While his ideas aren’t necessarily new, they are most certainly controversial in a time when other leaders have agreed to put aside national interests in favor of joining together to achieve certain goals. Because Trump believes these objectives are costing the United States more than what we get in return, it should come as no surprise he is facing a lot of resistance both within and outside the United States. This is just one of many reasons why it is very important to focus as much, if not more on international news sources instead of just going with ones based in the United States.
Here are some things you can do to make sure that you get better coverage of both national and international news:
I will be the first to say that there are times when I wonder why we ever got away from writing things in stone. Over the years, I have spent hours on end poring over plans for aeolipiles and rebuilding old computers. Even I must admit, however, there are a number of modern devices that are very useful for prepping. While it took some work for me to get accustomed to tablets, smart phones, and apps, it was well worth it.
In other areas, lack of understanding and keeping up with modern technology can be deadly. Let’s say you aren’t keeping up with changes going on in the production of meat and dairy products. Now let’s also say that something happens like the way Hurricanes Florence and Michael hit the pig farms in South Carolina; only this time there are no emergency crews available to handle the biohazards associated with the damaged farms. When you don’t know what is going in with newer or dangerous technologies, it is very hard to stay safe around them. In this case, if you had to navigate through an area that once housed a commercial meat or dairy farm, you may not realize that you will be exposed to any number of deadly diseases.
These days, it is also very important to understand all of the hazards associated with loss of data privacy and security. Even if you still go around town and pay your bills in person using cash, the fact remains your information is on a computer somewhere. By the time you take stock of the digital footprint you create on your own as well as what others say about you, the amount of data that can be stolen is downright staggering. Keeping up with emerging technologies and trends is about much more than reading about the latest smart phone or the newest changes in big screen TVs.
Here are some things you should be learning about as much as possible:
In one sense it doesn’t matter what is causing the climate to become increasingly unstable. No matter whether the changes are simply normal stages the Earth goes through or man made activity is the culprit, there is no question that something is going on. The longer you avoid thinking about what you can do to limit risks associated with climate change, the worse a time you will have when things like super hurricanes, wildfires that burn entire cities in a day, or massive earthquakes suddenly make life very difficult. Together with this, the rising rates of cancer, lung disease, and mental disorders all point to serious consequences associated with air, water, and food borne pollutants.
Here are some things you can do to limit your risks as much as possible:
When I was in my 20’s, I could run a mile in about 2 – 3 minutes, stay up around the clock to study, and eat junk food without gaining an extra ounce. While I haven’t necessarily lost all my strength and agility, there are definitely age related changes creeping up that slow me down from time to time. As a prepper, it is always important to be in the best physical shape possible. Unfortunately, with age, the best possible shape isn’t always what it used to be.
Here are some things that may help you compensate for age related or personal changes:
Prepping as a way of life can present many challenges as well as rewards. Interestingly enough, even people that have been living off grid or prepping for decades can still make some very common mistakes.
While 20/20 hindsight can offer you a lot of valuable information, it may be too late to correct past decisions once a major crisis occurs. Each day that our environment spirals into more unstable patterns is a day less that we all have to get ready for a major environmental collapse. It is also one day less that we have for living through food shortages, warfare, riots, financial collapse, and large scale disease outbreaks. As you look at your plans, stockpiles, and skills, make sure that you aren’t making these 10 common mistakes.
If you find that you are, the sooner you correct them, the better chance you will have of getting through any crisis that comes your way regardless of how much warning you have beforehand.
Carmela Tyrrell is committed to off gridding for survival and every day life. She is currently working on combining vertical container gardening with hydroponics.
Tyrrell is also exploring ways to integrate magnetic and solar power generation methods. On any given day, her husband and six cats give thanks that she has not yet blown up the house.
You can send Carmela a message at editor [at] survivopedia.com.
I couldn’t get Amber tracks to show their products.
If you are going to tell the results of the 3 second test, then do IT and stop running on at the mouth.
2 things a prepper should think about. You can stock pile toothpaste but it will eventually run out. Instead of or in addition to, buy big bags of BAKING SODA to use when you run out. Very cheap to replace after it expires but still usable if expired. I also cultivate easy to grow MINT. You can add chopped mint and sweetener (not sugar, duh) to the soda for an effective dentifrice. (I was a dental tech in my youth)
Second, as a kid, I spent many summers in rural Nebraska at my grandparents that had no toilet or shower with only a pump in the kitchen sink so we had to use an outhouse. In the out house, after doing ones business, we threw a 1/2 a cup of lime on the leavings. I store a 50 lb. bag of Type S Hydrated LIME out in my garage and a 5 gal. bucket, toilet seat optional. You’d be aghast at how much poop 2 or more people can produce after just one week. You have to have a means to neutralize it. It’s good at reducing smell and flies.
Not sure why you are going the hydroponics route when it depends on outside sources to feed your plants.
Seems like aquaponics would be the way to go for a prepper or someone just trying to be more self sufficient.
Good question. I see hydroponics as a better bridge to aeroponics than aquaponics. I like that both the water based systems improve yield, however I am always concerned about the increased risks for bacteria and other pathogens. In the long term, aeroponics is the safer of the three systems, however it is more complicated.
Very thoughtful column! Thank you very much!
I enjoyed the article. One thing though, if you were able to run a mile in 2-3 minutes you would be the fastest human ever in history!
Great thought provoking post, Carmela!
Thank you Carmela.
I have been at this for 60 years. Started one day when I said, to myself, “What am I going to do when one of my kids says, “Dad, I’m hungry.” “.
I always find something to think about when I read your information.
I wish I could tell you, monsieur Jones, to shut your mouth to your face. What have you done for anyone lately?
Thanks, Carmela. Always enjoy your articles.
when the power goes down how will you sustanibally keep the pumps running in a hydrophonics or a aquaphonics system for long periods of time
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