-A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.-
Alright lets be honest…
How many of you have enough water stocked up for your family to survive 72 hours? Have all of your important document in a place where you can get to them if (God forbid) something catastrophic happens? Have an emergency plan in effect (yes this means practicing it.)? Just in case you happened upon this blog by accident, or have no idea about self-preservation, prepping, survival or anything along those line, the basis of most people’s ability to survive in any given situation seems to rely on there B.O.B. or bug out bag. A bug out bag usually consists of tangible items that would be used to keep said person, or group of people in some cases, alive for a predetermined length of time. Do I believe in the idea? Of course I do. Do I think that everyone should have enough personal survival gear to perpetuate their existence? You bet. Do I think that there are a lot of things that get forgotten when people war-game their survival scenario? Sadly yes. We as Human beings are pretty impressive creatures, as a whole we are limited only by what we believe we can, or can’t do. Wake up tomorrow and decide that you want to learn Spanish… I’m betting by noon you will know enough to probably find a restroom, order food, count to 20, insult someone and find the Police. (Which may be an important thing depending on how good your insults are.) We are limitless, have you ever decided to take up a new hobby, and within a few sessions you either realize that you had a knack for it or you were able to learn it quickly? I think most people do it on an almost daily basis.
So with all this unabated potential, and want to be prepared, what can we actually learn that may help us on our pursuit of self-reliance. I came up with a list of things that I believe get over-looked, but are pretty realistic needs in a survival situation.
1: Learn to drive a manual transmission. I know it sounds pretty lame to some, and to others it sounds like I just asked you to drive a a jet ski to the top of Everest. In a true to life survival situation you may be forced to drive something that actually has 3 pedals on the floor (the middle one is the brake ;)) Maybe you are at a family event and someone gets hurt, and the only vehicle that you can use is a stick? Or maybe your on the search for a new car and the only vehicle’s in your price range are manual. According to Edmunds.com as of 2013 only 3.9% of new vehicles have a manual transmission. But I bet that you have a friend who drives a stick, and (if you’re like me) I bet you don’t have 100 people who you call friends, so chances are pretty good that at some point you may be asked to “move their car”. Plus its fun, driving a manual transmission won’t make you any worse of a driver, its not like you have to choose one or the other, it just gives you options. At any given moment I can jump into almost anything and drive it, semi’s, tractors, motorcycles, sports cars or my 1 ton. With a little practice and a little patience it becomes old hat, and you may just be able to be a hero some day.
2: Learn to cook. Not like ramen or pop-tarts, but real food. Learn to use a knife, how to season things and a few different ways to cook. Food is important, not only does it nourish our bodies, but it also gives us a sense of family and comfort. Start simple and easy, then broaden your horizons. My mom always says that a good cook can make a meal out of anything, I whole heartedly believe that to be true. Recipes are a good start, and definitely a good way to get your feet wet in the cooking game. As your skills progress, try to make things with limited ingredients, or even better, have some one else buy ingredients. Then piece together a meal with what they bought. Not only is it fun, but it is also a great exercise for survival situations.- Word to the wise, learn to cook over fire. I think its funny that people will have 3 ways to start a fire in their survival gear, and have absolutely no idea how to cook with it. Fire+Meat=Awesome
3: Learn to preserve food. I guess I could have just added this section into “learn to cook”, but I believe that it is important enough to deserve its own section. There are many ways to preserve food, but the most widely used is canning. I actually just started really getting into canning a couple of years ago, it always looked like it was a lot of work, and I never thought that I had the need to jar anything. Now I look back a little ashamed of myself for being so foolish. Canning is actually pretty simple and a ton of fun. If your new to it and want to learn the basics its hard to beat www.freshpreserving.com. Its the website created for Ball® mason jars, it has a ton of recipes and techniques from super beginner to ultra advanced. If you have a small backyard garden, canning is definitely for you. What finally pushed me into canning was actually a want to pickle. one stop to a local farm and feed store and I was on my way. 4 fours later and I had pickled everything we had in our house, we had dill pickles, hot pickles, pickled jalapenos, pickled onions and even pickled eggs. They all turned out great and became a new family favorite. But canning isn’t the only way to preserve your food. From smoking fish to Air-drying biltong, meat preservation has been around since we first learned that fresh protein, like all things, doesn’t last forever. There is no finer treat then smoked salmon, jerky, or a dried salami. It’s just a matter of learning the process and keeping the tradition going.
4: Learn to sharpen a knife. A man is only as sharp as his knife. If you carry 3 knives on your person and in your pack and none of them are sharp. You might as well have carried nothing. There is an art to sharpening a knife. No matter what your preferred sharpening implement is ( I prefer a Lansky or a Gatco, but I also use a flat stone too.) learn to use it well. you don’t have to regrind the edge, only touch it up. Its therapeutic, it teaches you to have patience, and to dance the line between perfection and destruction. That lesson holds true to more than just sharpening your knife.
5: Learn to read a map and compass. I love my Garmin GPS, and I don’t head out on a hunting or fishing trip without it, but I understand the limitations of batteries. When I started my voyage into the outdoor lifestyle, the only GPS systems that were in existence were owned by the military and were expensive. We navigated by forest service maps, and by lensatic compass, compared to a modern GPS it was about the equivalent of shooting geese with stale marshmallows! But it taught me a few things about not just knowing where you are, but understanding where you are and how you got there. With a map and a compass (and a little understanding of the land) you can figure out where your going. AA batteries or not.
6: Learn to sew. I know, I know… You have enough food and water to last 10 people 720 days, you have 10,000 rounds for every firearm that you own, you have a bunker that makes the Beverly Hilton look like the Bates motel. But can you sew? Sewing is a bushcraft that is often times over looked. Not only can you make items that are not currently in your inventory, but you can also mend items that have been rendered useless due to use and harsh conditions. And (you knew that at some point I would bring it up) in a pinch you never know when you might have to throw a suture or two into someone who has had a mishap. Yes I have given myself stitches, it was an early more difficult time in my youth where I didn’t have enough money to pay for a hospital bill. It was a split finger that had been cut and wouldn’t stop bleeding no matter what I tried (Remember that I spent a fair amount of my youth in survival classes and doing first aid) so I went to work cutting the fingernail out and preparing the surface for stitches. 6 or 7 stitches later my finger was all sealed up and looked pretty decent if I don’t say so myself (even my Dad later agreed). Did I do it all right? Not so much, but luckily it was a finger where I didn’t need to know how to split the skin from the fat to do sutures. But it held and stopped further bleeding and introduction of infection. All because I learned to sew up holes in hunting pants. Consider it a skill that you can use for its intended purpose, but is also a good mental part of your first aid kit.
And lastly 7: Learn to listen, and be a decisive problem solver. I, (as most Men) like to think that I can take care of any situation. See problem, fix problem. Period. Problem is that some problems can’t or don’t need to be solved, they need to be adapted to. If actually placed into a desperate situation, the most important thing to do is be able to listen, and organize problems into order of importance. Someone has a sliver? Well that is unfortunate, but the fact that it is 20 degrees outside, and we don’t have a fire takes precedence over it for the moment. Once a fire is established, then the sliver has to be taken care of. (Some wood causes infection and festering. But beyond that, its uncomfortable and the fact that you take care of it, shows that you care.) An empathetic individual who has sound reasoning can accomplish many things with the help of those that trust him.
Maybe you already have all these skills, and if you do, that is great. Whats next on the list then? Each day we are given the opportunity to further ourselves, be it financially, spiritually, or with intelligence and experience. If we make a conscious effort to add more knowledge to our survival kit everyday, then the pack that we have to carry becomes lighter. If we share that knowledge that we gather with those we care about, and in return, they return the favor to us, we all become closer to our common goal. And let’s be honest, that sounds a whole lot more like the future that I want to be apart of, How about you?
-Grant Willoughby 5/15/2016-