For some time, people who considered themselves “preppers” would concentrate mostly on food and water storage, gardening, and fortifying and equipping their home to “shelter in-place” in the event of an emergency, grid failure or some other calamitous event. Maybe they would also own firearms and have a bug-out bag in their house or car, but they still clung to the notion that if something disastrous happened, they were staying put. Or if they were forced to leave their home, surely they’d be able to come back after the dust settles (after say… 72 hours or so?), and the importance of learning wilderness survival or bushcraft skills rarely entered the picture.
I’ve spoken to many self-proclaimed “preppers” who adamantly rejected the title of “survivalist”. Some due to the negative perception of what a survivalist is, while for others, it was a statement of honesty – in other words; they really didn’t know the first thing about surviving in the wilderness (and weren’t really too keen on learning).
Conversely, there is a paradigm among some who describe themselves as “survivalists” who concentrate more on bushcraft skills and outdoor survival gear than on long-term food and water storage and other “prepping” concerns, as their plan is to “head for the hills” when disaster strikes and “live off the land” when the SHTF.
These two schools of thought occupy the far extremes of the spectrum and there’s a fallacy in both ways of thinking.
Making the assumption that no matter what happens, you’ll always be able to stay in your home is unrealistic. If your home is destroyed in a disaster (with your food storage and all your preps with it), or it simply becomes unsafe to stay where you are, you’ll be lost without the knowledge, skills and gear that’s required to survive in a more austere environment. You also can’t assume that your 72-hour bug out bag is all that you’ll ever need. If you’re forced to leave your home, chances are pretty good that you won’t have anything to come back to after 3 days.
If your plan is to beat a hasty retreat to the wilderness at the first sign of trouble thinking you can simply hunt and forage for your sustenance, you’ll be in for some unpleasant surprises as well. Most chiefly of which is that surviving in the wilderness is a lot harder than most people think. This isn’t going to be like a camping trip or an outing with your buddies, or an episode of your favorite survival show. It’s going to be arduous and long-term… Day-in and day-out, without rest for the foreseeable future. Even those of us who are experienced outdoorsmen and hunters would have a rough go of it.
There’s nothing simple or easy about hunting for your survival. The critters aren’t going to just come right out and let you shoot them just because you need the food. It takes a lot of energy and you will fail more often than not. Furthermore, you won’t be the only one out there with the same idea, and it won’t take long before whatever wild game is out there is depleted. Not to mention the added danger of being accidentally shot or injured by other survivalist hunters and the territorial conflicts that are sure to arise when someone (or a group of someones) gets the notion that you’re encroaching on their territory.
So if you’re subscribing to the romantic notion of the self-sufficient survivalist, living in the wilderness, you might want to develop some other options to pursue before it comes to that. Such as setting up a well-stocked wilderness retreat, making plans to go to stay with friends or relatives who lives out of state or at least out of the immediate danger zone (with a few different escape routes), as well as stocking and prepping your home, in the event that you will be able to stay put. Just because you are capable and have the know-how to survive in the wilderness, doesn’t mean that it should be your resort of first choice.
Fortunately, it’s been my observation over the last year or so that there’s a greater overlap between preppers and survivalists and the line between the two schools of thought has gotten a lot blurrier.
I would say that most “survivalists” these days are also “preppers”, but I don’t see as many preppers learning wilderness survival and bushcraft skills.
The truth is; you really need to be well-rounded in both areas. That’s why I recommend that all preppers get some kind of bushcraft training, if they’re not experienced at surviving in the wild. There are bushcraft classes and schools in just about every state these days, and you’re sure to find something going on in a county or town near where you live if you look for it.
Many bushcraft skills will also come in handy even if you don’t end up having to bug out into the wild. You don’t have to invest in a lot of fancy or expensive gear, either. In fact, you’ll learn a lot about improvising tools and getting things done with what you have at your disposal. There’s an old expression in survivalism: “The more you know, the less you need to carry”. Those who are experienced in the wilderness know exactly what that means.
We have lost so many of the skills and knowledge for being self reliant in our own natural environment over a relatively short period of time. For about 200,000 years, (not counting Neanderthal and Cro-Magnon) modern humans knew how to live and survive in the natural world, but since the industrial revolution, with all the comforts and conveniences it brought us, we as a species have abandoned all that. What percentage of people today know how to start a fire without matches or make improvised tools, or even hunt and dress game? How many people do you think knew those things 100 or 150 years ago?
I think a lot of the problems we have in this world stem directly from a sense of separation from our environment. We look at the natural world and wilderness as being “out there”, like it’s some other world that we don’t belong to. We feel more at ease in the artificial world that we’ve built for ourselves, and that just ain’t right.
So go out and learn some wilderness skills! You’re gonna need ‘em for TEOTWAWKI, no matter what your particular “plan” is.
To read more about why you should take a bushcraft course, CLICK HERE.