It has been two years since I first wrote you about discovering your books and web site. I start every day by reading the posts on your SurvivalBlog, without fail. You have provided an invaluable tool and gift for readers. What a blessing you have given so freely to others. Thank you and God bless you for all that you do. May you always have dry ammo and socks.
In the last week there have been several posts and subsequent replies that have really caught my attention, “Hunter-Gatherer Mobile Survival by Blue Sun” and “Lessons From Life On The Edge by Tim K”. I also recently watched “Doomsday Preppers” and the new season of “Dual Survival” on television. All of these have gotten me thinking a lot about the various approaches to “Survival” and the mindsets therein. There really seems to be two main camps when it comes to surviving. One being the “deep larder retreat” and the other being “head to the hills”. The retreat mindset is the more prominent, safest and wisest, whereas the bugging out to the boonies is the stepchild, distant second cousin, often mocked ugly elephant in the room.
As I watched “Doomsday Preppers” I kept thinking, for the most part, awesome, good, and excellent, etc and I agreed with the “experts” analysis of each. However, what stuck out to me was whether each of the groups would be able to do what Tim K. (Life On The Edge) found himself having to do? Other than the vet and maybe one of the guys in his group, I think not. As I have read the posts on your site over the years I keep coming up with this same dilemma. Excellent, awesome advice and suggestions if you (1) have a retreat, (2) have the money, (3) are able to get to your retreat and (4) are able to just stay at your retreat. But I keep seeing real weakness or lack of creditability given to the ugly elephant nobody really wants to have to think about. When there is a post about backpacking, bugging out to the boonies, surviving off the land, etc I keep seeing a quick knee jerk to discredit the concept or polite lip service being dished out.
I have family members that are or have been in the military going all the way back to the Revolutionary War. Why would the military put the recruits through such rigorous training in less than ideal circumstances if it were not one of the most important anything’s out there? Basic hardcore survival skills are critical. Could all these people with their deep larder retreats turn into a Tim K., Cody Lundin, Dave Canterbury, Bear Grylls, or Les Stroud if need be? Or even get remotely close to real surviving? I have found myself in a similar situation to Tim K. and have had to learn “Lessons From Life On the Edge” the hard way. He may have started out with nothing but his ability to do some “critical thinking” enabled him to acquire items that would seriously help him out in a survival situation. Don’t get me wrong I believe 100% that the retreat approach and stuff therein is invaluable and the way to go under “ideal” circumstances when life is less than ideal. But I think people are developing a habit of relying way too much on their “stuff”. Yes, it gives you peace of mind and a sense of security but so does having the other mindset. You need both.
I readily admit I have come into the prepping movement completely backwards compared to the mass majority of people and usually keep my opinions to myself, knowing that I am not a part of the popular herd of people. I came from a background of doing a lot with a little. Later in life, I started acquiring the stuff that makes life easier. To me the later are luxuries. In my younger days, I lived out of a backpack for two solid years while traveling throughout the Northeast & Canada utilizing the barest of food caches/ “resupply” every couple of weeks. I did not have or use a tent, GPS, water filter, cell phone, MREs, toilet paper or all the other things that make life a lot more comfortable. For the next 10 years I made it into a profession. What I learned and developed in those two years are critically invaluable to me.
I invested in myself first and developed skill, common sense, know-how, strength, courage and a sense of well being that is still with me 25 years later. I know what Tim K. spoke of, and he like I, will always get where we are going. We will always survive and make it. Will you? You need to have both mindsets. Both are invaluable and neither should be overlooked or down played. Critical thinking is the key to both approaches. A deep larder retreat is ideal and absolutely the way I would choose if I were always in a position of choice.
Unfortunately, there will be many that this approach may not be a choice for them. Knowing some very basic skills and critical thinking might just get them a little further down the road, might give them half a chance. Why discredit the possibility of making it with little to nothing in an outdoor situation. It drives me nuts when the concept of having to survive in the boonies comes up and people immediately jump to the conclusion that it is impossible, crazy, or that they’re disillusioned. Sounds like a beer bellied weekend warrior/hunter to me. I taught soft city people the basics for years and no one died or starved to death.
Don’t get soft just because you have thousands of dollars worth of stuff and a safe place to hang out. Run the scenario of what if you found yourself in the situation where you had nothing and no place to go? What would you do? Where would you go? What five items are the most critical to have? If you had only a day pack to survive long term, what would you take? Me, I would have kept the screwdriver. Why not allow the less fortunate, less prepared, less financially able people half an ounce of hope? Why not leave the possibility open? Why not devote some blog space or time to the hard survival skills? I know there are other bloggers out there with good ideas or experience on how to make a lot out of a little. Why not share with others some of the most basic of basics in hopes that it just might help someone else. Something is better than nothing. Those that have hope are not disillusioned. – An Outward Bound Prepper
Letter Re: Hunter-Gatherer Mobile Survival