Author Bio: Hey guys, I am John. I have been engaging in outdoor activities since I am 16. I share my experiences and stories over at Epic Wilderness.
Primitive survival skills are basically skills that have been practiced since the paleolithic age (the earliest days known to mankind, at least till now). In my honest opinion, every men should practice these skills as they are very useful in challenging times (probably when you are bugging out).
One of the many reasons I find primitive survival skills useful is because they don't require any form of modern gadgets/tools. All you actually need is knowledge and proper practice. This is great because in hard times (natural disaster, stranded in the wilderness, etc), more often than not you wouldn't have all the fancy tools with you.
Okay, I have made my point, so let's get dive right into the 5 skills you should definitely master. By the way, you don't necessary need to take up survival courses to pick up these skills. There are plenty of articles and Youtube videos out there that will teach you all the skills below. What you really need to do is to put these skills into practice. (I am not saying that survival courses aren't helpful. In fact, you might learn much faster with an experienced survivalist guiding you).
Note: I am only covering primitive survival skills in this post. If you are interested in learning other basic survival skills, check out this post.
1) Being able to think rationally
I can't stress enough how important it is to be able to think rationally. You have to understand that every survival situation is different and therefore, you have to access the situation and take the right step. Just for your information, the underlying reason for most deaths is that they can't make the best decision at that point of time.
I know you might be thinking, 'come on, who can't think properly?'. Well, when you are in a challenging/dangerous situation, you will be really panic and this distorts your ability to think properly. I encourage you to apply the S.T.O.P methodology. Basically, it stands for Sit, Think, Observe and Plan. Essentially, you have to calm yourself down and come up with a plan to survive by observing and accessing the surroundings.
Some good questions to think about include:
- Are there any immediate threats? (such as dangerous animals, etc)
- How can I get out of this situation? (how can you locate your members, signaling for help, etc)
- What must I do to survive while help is on the way? (food, shelter, water, etc)
This leads us to what I like to call, Rational Prioritization. Basically, you are going to list down (in your head) the things that you will have to do - building a shelter, signaling for help, finding food, etc. Then, you will rank these tasks according to the level of importance to maximize your chances of survival.
Note: Being able to think rationally and make the best decision doesn't mean that you are making the right decision. Knowledge and experience are two important factors that will help you make the right decision.
2) Building a bushcraft shelter
Bushcraft shelters are temporary/permanent shelters that are built using natural resources you can find around you. Normally we use branches, small logs, bushes/dry leaves and roots as materials to build these shelters. A sharp knife should be good enough to build them (although it will be easier if you have better tools).
Bushcraft shelters are really important for your survival simply because they provide protection from strong wind and extreme weather. Keeping your body temperature stable is crucial or else you might have hypothermia (extremely low temperature) or hyperthermia (extremely high temperature). In extreme cases, they may cause death. Also, shelters provide extra protection towards dangerous wildlife.
There are many types of shelters and they are used for different purposes based on your needs at that point of time. For example, a swamp bed shelter (lifted up from the ground) is useful in damp, wet areas. It's also useful in areas with lot's of bugs and critters.
3) Building a campfire
There is a saying, 'Fire is one of the survivalist's best friends'. It's very true because fire is one of the important thing you need to survive. Fire:
- keeps your body warm in the night
- keeps bugs and insects away from you
- can be used to cook food and water
- can be used to signal for help
Starting a fire is not an easy job, especially if you don't have fire starters with you or the weather is extremely bad (raining, snowing, strong wind). Damp condition also makes it hard to start a fire. Other than that, starting a fire should be pretty doable as long as you practice a few times beforehand.
Before you start a fire, you need to gather the necessary materials. These include:
- Fire starters. These can be lighters, matches or flints (it's not easy to start a fire with flints).
- Tinder, easily combustible materials. These can be dry leaves, grass, bushes. (preferably dead as these dead leaves are very dry).
- Kindling, easy combustible materials, but larger in size. Dry branches and twigs will do the trick. (preferably dead)
- Fuel. Bigger logs or stems. Anything that can burn for a long time to keep the fire alive.
4) Find/Prepare drinkable water
There is no need for me to tell you how important it is for you to have drinkable water. You start off by searching for a water source. In most occasions, the easiest way to go about it is to locate streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, etc (rivers and streams are the cleanest source of water). If you can't find them, your last resort will be looking inside a cave for underground water sources or streams. Be careful though, there are often animals residing in caves and some caves have collapsible rocks.
You can't just drink any water you found. You have to make sure that it's safe to consume. Normally, you just need to boil the water to kill microorganisms. Boiling water is not easy especially if you don't have pots or containers. One way to get water that you can drink directly is to collect them from high areas. The higher it is, the less contaminated it will be. However, you have to judge yourself if it's safe as it can still be contaminated by animal's urine, etc.
If you have the capability of boiling them, make sure you do so just to play safe.
5) Finding/preparing food source
Food is probably the last thing in this list you want to worry about because you can survive for more than a week without food. However, you shouldn't take it for granted because your energy level will deplete without food and this will lead to other potential problems.
One of my favourite food source is edible plants/fruits. They don't require much energy or skill sets to get. All you need is the knowledge to identify plants and fruits that are edible. They are perfect when you are new to the surrounding. The downside is that plants and fruits don't provide enough energy.
If you are stranded or have to live in the situation for more than a few days, it's highly recommended that you hunt for fish or small games that you can find around you. If you have a knife with you, that's perfect. Or else, sharp sticks or rocks will do the trick.
Now, cook your trophy (the animals you caught) over a fire. A tip here is that you would rather the food to be overcooked. It's also advisable to cut them down into smaller pieces to ensure that the food will be fully cooked.
That's it from me. 5 primitive survival skills that I think every outdoor enthusiastic should know. Trust me, they will be very useful in critical situations.