How Learning Primitive Skills Could One Day Save Your Tail
When it comes to preparing yourself and your family for potential disaster, all that gear that you’re storing away (tents, camping stoves, fuel, food storage etc) may not be enough. While food storage, fuel and all the other gear that goes along with survival and preparedness is crucial, the best insurance you can give your family is learning primitive skills.
I know it’s hard to believe, but there were not always shopping malls and corner markets available to our ancestors. If you go far enough back in your own family tree (ancient Europe included), you will eventually find those who were hunter/gatherers. This was before flint and steel, before farming and agriculture, back when they lived directly off the land. With the onset of agriculture and specifically the industrial revolution, your ancestors had slowly lost their place in the natural world, and lost their understanding of how to live off the land.
It’s these skills that provide the ultimate back-up plan. It’s these skills that it’s time to relearn.
Here are just some of the benefits in learning primitive skills:
- There’s a feeling of well being knowing your skill and knowledge can save you and others. Being proficient at primitive skills provides peace of mind. I know that if I or my family were to be forced into a situation where we were stuck out in the wilderness for an extended period of time, there’s a good chance we would at least be able to come out alive. That knowledge is comforting.
- You gain a greater connection to nature and understanding of the rhythm and flow of life. Nothing brings you closer to nature than having to live by her rules. If you ever want to survive primitively then you’re forced to surrender to the will of nature. You learn what, where, and when plants grow that you can eat and use. You learn about the animals, their habits, and how the animals relate to the plants and each other. You learn how weather and seasons relate to everything else and how all this knowledge applies to your survival and well being.
- Ease of mobility. Knowing even a few primitive skills allows you to be less dependent upon extra gear which can weigh you down and slow you up.
- Your ‘gear’ is all around you. The better you get at primitive skills and knowledge the more you realize that everything you need is all around you. Nature provides you with tools, shelter, food, clothing and so on.
- Primitive skills provide a permanent solution. Your lifeline is not tethered to the gear you have or the food you carry with you. With enough skill you could stay alive indefinitely. It’s the ultimate bug-out insurance!
- It forces you to understand the principle behind the practice. When building shelters, making fire, finding food and purifying water, many of these skills are perfected and fine-tuned with experience. And nature provides the ultimate feedback: If your fire isn’t built just right, then there’s no fire; If your shelter isn’t in the right location then you’ll be cold/wet/uncomfortable. Primitive skills do not grant as much leeway in your ability as does modern-day gear. So it forces you to understand the principles. Once these principles are understood then they can easily translate to urban areas and using modern gear can be even more effective.
Unfortunately, becoming proficient with primitive skills requires a bit of practice. They are difficult to master. In a survival situation it also can be difficult to support others who have no skill since you are the sole provider. But despite these shortcomings, primitive skills provide the ultimate insurance and backup in an emergency situation. And in combination with modern-day gear you have the ultimate complimentary pair.
Must Have Primitive Skills
Here’s my list of must-have primitive skills:
- Fire Making: This includes not only how to set up and build a correct fire but also how to make fire without matches.
- Water Purification and Collection: This involves where to find it, how to collect it and once you have it, how to purify it.
- Shelter Making: Understand and know how to build at least one shelter appropriate to your biosphere that provides warmth and protection from the elements.
- Food Procurement: One could spend a lifetime learning all the skills surrounding obtaining food primitively, but for the basics, I would learn the following:
- The Big Four:While you should learn as many edible plants of your area as you can, if you had to learn just four I would choose these: Broad-leaf Cattail, Oak (acorns), Pine, and Grass. Most of the northern hemisphere contains these four plants and learning how to identify and use them for food can make all the difference.
- Throwing Stick Hunting: “Rabbit sticks” (short wooden clubs) used to throw at small game such as rabbits and waterfowl have been used by our early ancestors the world over. Take some time to gather some short, hard sticks about the thickness of your wrist and as long as the tip of your elbow to your fingertips. Set up some targets in a field or in your yard and start throwing. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your skill will improve with time. When hunting, I would suggest carrying two (the first stick does not always kill them outright) you’ll need the second one to deliver the final killing blow so they don’t suffer needlessly or worse yet, turn on you (we’ve all seen what rabbits are capable of in Monty Python and the Holy Grail).
Recommended Online Resources
- Survival Topics This is one of my favorite sites. Ron Fontaine does an excellent job at presenting survival skills in an easy to learn way.
- Wildwood Survival A huge resource for learning primitive skills with some video
- Primitive Ways Great collection of various primitive skills
- Nature Skills Good resource with some great articles
- Posted in Preparedness