Basic Wilderness Survival Skills

The Basic Wilderness Living Skills

This page is more about longer-term wilderness living skills. For short-term wilderness survival skills (such as you would need if you got lost in the wilderness), see Survival Essentials: How To Survive In The Wilderness.

My own focus for the year is in four categories: Fire, cordage, plant food and animal food. Of these, plant food and animal food are the highest priority—since it would be possible to carry factory-made firelighting tools and cordage (and other basic tools such as knives). In the animal food category, traps are the highest priority, since all the survival experts say that trapping is by far the easiest and most efficient way to acquire animal food.

I have left out water, since in the area where I live it is very easy to find water. It would be good to know some of the basics of finding water though, if you do not already. I have left out shelter, since I think it would be possible to make some kind of shelter without a lot of knowledge. I think I could figure out the essentials of shelter if I really needed to, and more than that can be learned later.

The following is taken from "Naked Into the Wilderness 2" - Primitive Wilderness Skills, Applied & Advanced, by John and Geri McPherson, pages 199-205. Note that the first volume of "Naked Into the Wilderness" is one of my Top Two Essential Wilderness Survival Books.

The second volume is currently (at the time of writing this) out of print. I have placed a link to it at on the right of this page, where you can see the best available second hand price for it. If you can find it at a similar price to what it was worth new (about $25USD), it would definitely be worth getting, (although I would recommend other books ahead of it as a third essential book to get).

Note that I personally would add (at least some basic knowledge of) plants to the list of essential skills.

So, what about the skills? Well, we consider that there are five basic skills that one needs as a pool. All other skills derive from these.

1) Fire, 2) cordage, 3) traps, 4) tools, and 5) shelters. Fire not only comforts but is a tool. Cordage is vital in many projects including many traps which is what will be feeding you. Tools, most notably a sharp cutting edge of stone, are required for just about all projects. Shelter will protect you from the elements.

If you were to use the term survival, these are the basics to have down. Being proficient in these can save your life. The basics. Most other skills or projects require the use of one or more of these. So, if one desires to be a well rounded all American aboriginal, this is where to begin. Get a good grasp of the basic wilderness survival skills.

If someday, for whatever reason, you were to want to place yourself in a long term primitive living situation, they you would certainly want to add to this list. Tanning, pottery, bows (& arrows), more & better methods of food procurement, containers (& more containers), cooking skills, navigation, biology, geology. The list is long. Of skills, This is what I want to stress. Skills.

Face it, if you can't stay alive, there's nothing to live for. And what will keep you alive are the basic skills mentioned earlier. To live comfortably, the advanced [tanning, pottery, etc.] living skills come into play.

Of the number of people whom we've come into contact with over the years in this field (many thousands), in our opinion, only a very small handful would qualify as being capable of actually heading "naked into the wilderness" with any chance at all of surviving even the first week, much less any extended period of living.

A handful out of thousands...... Why?

Well, it's because there's just too much emphasis placed on what we refer to as woo-woo.

Head to any primitive gathering. Look at many books on the subject. Encounter just about any man on the street who is into primitive life-styles. Where do you find the majority of people and time spent? On basic non-essentials.

Much past experience has shown us that as a general rule, the more fluting, drumming, chanting and storytelling one is involved in, the less one knows about the actual living skills...... Paint and beads may look pretty but they won't fill your belly.

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