Living the Old Way, by G.T.

Ever since I was a little boy I dreamed of the life of a mountain man, living the old way. I grew up largely in Central Idaho. Stories of the Rocky Mountain fur trade and the men that forged a life in the wilderness were a big part of my life.

My Time in Service

After high school, I joined the Marine Corps, did five years, received an honorable discharge, joined the Army for another three years, and again was also honorable discharged. During the tail end of my time in service, I was able to study and become an actual participant in historical living and reenactments.

Working As a Cook For An Outfitter

When I was able to make it back to Idaho, I looked for opportunities that might present me with life living skills that correlated with the vision of the mountain man. One of my first jobs was working as a cook for an outfitter, up to 30 some miles into the wilderness on horseback with a pack train. It was just what I was looking for!

One of the things to know about the wilderness in Idaho is that there is no flat ground. Falling under the wilderness area rules, there are also no motorized utensils or vehicles. This restriction includes saws, chainsaws.

My Responsibility To Provide Firewood With Only an Ax

Being a cook for the group, it was also my responsibility to provide firewood for the stoves for three to four tents. My responsibilities also included providing the wood for the stove to prepare meals. Having only accessibility to an ax, a bow saw, or a crosscut saw was quite the eye-opening experience for a late twenties young man.


Where we were located, our only resupplies were once a week, usually accompanied with a new round of hunters. This gave me thought as to how our ancestors would have planned meticulous resupplies and used a large variety of things that the environment provided for them or they just went without. Back in the day, they only got a resupply once a year, or until civilization came close enough to be traveled to.

Difficult To Live Lifestyle Because of Rules and Regulations

I also gave thought to the feasibility and restrictions currently applied to those who wish to live such a lifestyle. In keeping with the rules and regulations of fish and game, licensing bureaus, and wilderness laws, it is fairly difficult to be legal and to live in that lifestyle. We have been censored and restricted and taxed in so many ways that the licensing taxes and restrictions on what we can do to provide food for ourselves in a nomadic, old-fashioned manner is almost unachievable.


First off, one must have a form of identification. In order to have a form of identification, a place of residence meeting specific civil codes, meaning running water and electricity is required. In order to obtain licenses for hunting and fishing, one must have a documented place of residence and a form of identification. The seasons allowed for hunting specific animals are restricted to specific times, and the same applies to fishing. There are restrictions to the time of day one is allowed to hunt and or fish. There are restrictions on how long one may camp in a single location.

Current rules and regulations on camping in a national forest or wilderness areas are restricted to a maximum of 18 days, and the next place of camp must exceed 10 miles as the crow flies, which is not ten miles of travel on the ground in a mountainous environment. It may equate to as far as 15 or 20 miles on the ground to equal the direct line on a map. There are restrictions of how close one can camp to running water. There are restrictions on how close you can keep your horses to the water, and there are restrictions on when one can cut firewood. Restrictions, restrictions, restrictions and more restrictions apply.

Only Thing That Cannot Be Taken Is Your Knowledge

Needless to say, this has changed the outlook on what I viewed as being able to live in the “old way”. As the years have gone by, I continued to learn and increase my knowledge of living skills and what would be considered a primitive setting. I have realized that the only thing that cannot be taken from you is your knowledge. A vast majority of this knowledge has been learned through primitive living settings, amateur archaeology, and living history organizations and groups that are available to teach others how people lived in specific time frames.


Granted, I originally started during the Rocky Mountain fur trade, about 1800 AD to 1850 AD, but I am now currently following my ancestral roots and now participate in living history and amateur archaeology of the Viking age, approximately 600 AD up to 1050 AD. The amount of research that is involved in such an expedition initially seems overwhelming, but it feels good to know how the average person lived in this time frame. They still have the technology of using metal tools that they create themselves and the use of fibers from wool and flax to make linen and wool clothing. It’s interesting to learn how they created farms and grew crops without the use of large farming equipment and what types of crops they did grow in that part of the world in that time frame.

Putting Knowledge Into Applicable Use Is Fascinating

It is not just the knowledge of how but also putting it into practical applicable use that is fast becoming so fascinating. Being able to forge tools and weapons for defending your own, being able to plant and raise hardy vegetables, raising livestock for your own sustenance, and the manufacturer and creation of your own clothing is what may be necessary to not just survive but to thrive in a primitive setting.

A Primative Setting- SHTF Scenario

Now, I am referring to a primitive setting as any setting where there is no running water, no electricity, and possibly to begin with, no structure for one to live in. This can be applied in many variations to a SHTF scenario. Whether it be an economic collapse, an EMP/ solar flare, relocation due to civil unrest, a grid down scenario, or any of the other variations thereof.

Knowledge Useful For Bartering

If one has to relocate, it is only possible for one to carry with them a specific amount of weight, so the things that are brought along are limited. Knowledge that is not electronically stored, written, or printed in a book but rather kept in the memory of the one using it and knows how to use it, is not only useful to the user by what it can produce but also is useful for bartering skills. An example would be creating a knife out of recycled metal parts for someone else in trade for fabric, or food, or anything else that you might need. It could also be having the knowledge to create a properly standing structure for a house or for storage of livestock or winter supplies, which could be traded for something needed.

Ways of Our Ancestors That Will Keep Future Generations Alive

Without that knowledge, life becomes drastically more difficult. It is the ways of our ancestors and the things that they used to survive and thrive in carving out a lifestyle that was able to continue future generations that will keep our future generations alive no matter what happens.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 79 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A Three-Day Deluxe Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $190 value),
  5. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site, and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord (in-stock colors only) from (a $240 value).

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances.

Round 79 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. I was born in 1939 the year “Hitiler” invaded Poland. I grew up during WWII. I learned to live without a lot of thing because they were not available. After the War we moved to my Grandparent farm in the California near Lindsey. We raised olive,cotton, cattle and hogs. I learned how to farm and ranch. We had Ford tractor but most of our hay was cut with and old horse drawn mower and rack. We ate OK because we grew a garden,fruit trees and raised our own poultry, hogs and beef. Us country kids didn’t have the best of clothes and shoes. We hunted birds, around the neighbor’s farms and ranches. We hunted deer in the Sierras. They were hunting license and no tags for deer. I think there may have been Duck stamps. I didn’t know you couldn’t hunt geese at night in the moon light until I was a teenager. I learned to can and freeze food, render lard and smoke meat as a young man. We didn’t have much but we got by. I spent 30 years in Alaska and all that my elder taught me came in very handy. The skills I learned from the old timer still works well except the body is wearing out. People today need to learn some of the old ways if they except to survive went we have a EMP or other catastrophic event. The guys with the badges probably will be far and few between. Our kids need to learn what it takes to make it if things go south. Good Luck The Gman

    1. Thank you for your post Gman. It fascinates me that tough people always find a way to survive. In this day, folks like you are few, and I admire your determination to persevere and survive. I would love to talk with you, your accumulated knowledge and experience is priceless. Thank you and God Bless.


  2. I’m reading the book “Pioneer Women of the West” by Elizabeth Fries Ellet.

    I’m finding as the population began to move from the east coast into the virgin territories of Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee that the people, though very resourceful and self reliant still had to on many occasions re-supply from a fort where goods were stored.

    I have heard it said many times, if there is an EMP we’ll be back in the 1800s.

    No, not even the 1700s from the time period that the above book is written.

    It will be the Stone Age. It will be incredibly hard. Those without strength and skills will perish.

  3. Please write a book about all your travels and learning and skills!! As you said everything is over regulated to the point where it is hard to live a self-sustaining life. Even in the wilds of the north country there always seems to be someone to check your license, how you got to where you are, time of day, etc. etc. Because of greedy selfish people, who want to take everything for money, the watchers are everywhere. Those who are truly trying to live a subsistence life style practice natural conversion laws so there will be animals, fish, birds etc., for next year and the next generation.

  4. I recall as a teen in the late1960’s being with my grandparents here in rural Tennessee and helping around the farm. There was no phone, no electricity, no running water, but a hand drawn well. Nothing was missed. During my college years (the 1970’s), I asked my grandfather what it was like living on the farm during the Depression. His answer was “we didn’t know there was one”. How very satisfying and life affirming. They had hogs, cows, chickens, a garden, and cut rail road ties from timber on the farm for money. They were married and bought this farm 98 years ago when they were aged 15 and 13 years old. I’m proud of my heritage. They weren’t quitters and never expected anything from anybody.

    1. You should be proud, jima. Your Grandfather was a remarkable man, I just am not sure if they are made like that anymore. Cherish your heritage, this country became great because of folks like your Grandfather!

  5. I’ve said it before, History books make great survival books and antiques make great survival tools. I cringe when I hear and see technology being spouted for TEOTWAWKI preparedness. It is much easier to prep if you simply give up on the idea of needing electricity. Not to say I don’t have a generator and solar but those are not really for TEOTWAWKI but rather a short lived SHTF incident. Learn History, learn to survive.

  6. Well …………………….there IS a way to bring back the old ways of lving………collapse the money system ( world wide ). Problem is, after that it ain’t going to be purdy ! . So I will keep learnin those alone-in-the-forest – skills.

  7. Always loved that lifestyle where we went exploring up the creek when electronics weren’t thought of yet.
    One lifestyle we can look to here in upstate NY is the old order Amish. Although they do purchase some store bought items they live mostly the way they did several hundred years ago. They have had to adapt some to the way they milk cows and store the milk to prevent bacteria from growing though. Seems like a hard but satisfying life.

    As “weird Al” says if i finish my chores and you finish yours we’re gonna party like its 1699!

  8. Once a year resupply. This museum in Kansas City illustrates that beautifully:

    Settlers depended on the boat to bring necessary implements and food. The museum has all those resupply items for us to learn from.

    I remember being on short rations at Camp Pendleton when torrential rains flooded the roads and there was no resupply. We made do and learned a few things. I was introduced to the P-38 so I could open a C-ration can and eat.

    Carry on.

  9. i was raised in the mt’s. of S.W Virginia in the 60’s. We were farmers on 650 acres and if we didn’t farm it ,hunt it ,or fish it , we didn’t have it . Our cash crop was tobacco and a small s.s check that my grand father got from working in the coal mines .We could not afford a Horse drawn wagon so he took trees out of the woods and hand hewed a set of runners and built a sled to haul crops ,wood , rocks or what ever else that needed moving . We used Carbide lights and a 22 single shot Colt rifel for coon hunting with my best friend (a Shepard dog) . As a kid of 7 yrs. i skinned the coon’s we hunted for their hides and tacked them to the smoke house wall to dry . My grand father would take them to the Stock Yard (which now would be called a Red Neck Flea Market ) and sell them . I might get from 50 cents to $2 depending on the grade. This was a lot of $$$$$ for a little kid. I used this to buy bullets and fishing supplies . We had no T.V and I was allowed to listen to the Grand O Opery an the news on the radio and that was it . we attended church on Friday or Saturday evening and then on Sunday . The nearest store was 10 miles down the mountain . I am grateful for that life experience and think i was blessed by God to be raised by such wonderful grand parents . We had a root cell cellar and a out house . Our water flowed from a hillside spring above the house to a 25 gal. crock on the back porch where the gasoline engine washing machine was for washing clothes . My grand maw heated water on the wood fire cook stove to wash clothes and fill a galvanized cattle watering trough in which we bathed . NOW IT”S CALLED PREPPING

  10. I can relate to this, but not actual life. When I graduated high school (’81), I wanted to be an Alaskan hunting guide. Bought the rifles (good excuse, lol) and began building a ‘grub stake’ for my hunting operation. An Alaskan fish wheel by the stream where my cabin would be. Even finding a lame Indian cook named Curly, lol. I had plans and dreams.

    My cousin also wanted to do this as well as one of his classmates. The classmate was able to go to Alaska, but came back six months later. Too hard – no one wanted to hire him (teaching a newbie was too much trouble was their excuse) and finding no work, he had to come back.

    So I remain an urbanite but do regularly go out hunting and camping. On private land, so fires gleaned from wood is no problem, we use stoves only when we are in a hurry or have a cold camp (no fire).

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