The Importance of Learning Wilderness Skills

Posted on: March 19, 2014

I have long lamented what I feel is an overemphasis on wilderness skills in the prepping world (Exhibit A – The Living Off The Land Fallacy).  However, don’t take that to mean I poo-poo the idea of learning how to fed for yourself in the wild.  Far from it, actually.  I do believe every prepper should take the time to adopt and practice bushcraft skills.  But, I also believe they should only be one aspect of the overall survival planning process.

A well-rounded prepper is one who has taken the time to learn skills from all areas of the prepping world – homesteading, bushcraft, emergency management, urban survival, security and defense, etc..  By having too narrow a focus, you may limit yourself in your capabilities.  Think about it like this.  Preppers and survivalists are people who have taken steps to improve their situation should they find themselves in a crisis.  But, being that we have no reliable way to know what that future crisis may involve, we need to do what we can to cover as many bases as possible.

With regards to wilderness skills in particular, it is incumbent upon all preppers to learn at least a few basics.  I don’t care if you live in the middle of urban sprawl, in a suburban bedroom community, or way out where streetlights are something only remembered from vacations to the big city.

Some of these basics would include:

–Building an expedient shelter out of natural materials, such as a debris hut or a snow cave.
–Learning several different methods for creating fire.
–How to cook over an open flame.
–Finding your way using a compass, the sun, the stars.
–Being able to positively identify several different edible plants, including how to prepare them for consumption.

Now, you can certainly research all of those and other related topics at the library or online.  Heck, you can find thousands of videos to watch until your eyes feel like they’ve been hit by an industrial belt sander.  That’s all well and good but you shouldn’t fool yourself into thinking that just because you’ve read a ton of books and watched some video footage that you’re all set to tackle the wilderness.

No, you need to actually get off your butt and go outside.  Watching someone use a fire piston is a whole lot different than trying it yourself, especially the first few times.  Reading a description of how to cobble together a debris hut is worlds away from actually laying down in one you built yourself.

The benefits of learning these skills are huge.  Not only will you be better able to keep yourself and your family alive if the need arises, you’ll gain a tremendous boost in your overall self-confidence.  I’m tellin’ ya, if you’ve never before built a fire using nothing more than what you find around you, lighting it with a ferro rod or a bow drill, you’ll be amazed at just how proud you’ll feel when you do it the first time.  This is powerful, heady stuff, my friend.

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