Friday, 1 April 2011

The Survival Connection. Part One.

There have been several survival scenarios built on the premise that we have to leave home and survive in the wilderness. In some circumstances with a large enough group of people you may be able to retire to your retreat, your small farm in the bush. But many worry about raiders once the food supplies run out in the towns & cities. Of course if this is an invasion by a foreign power, then you will have to leave your retreat and move further into the wilderness.
Think about that scenario, travelling to a new area to start from scratch. The journey, dangers, tools & equipment required, the skills needed, the ever present threat of attack, the need to grow your own food, to hunt & to trap. The constant work involved in just living, especially when you are first setting up. I think this is what Karl was saying in his recent post, many hands make light work. But if you are alone you will be working long hours until you get it all up & running.

Does this remind you of another time in history when people had to travel into the wilderness to settle? Yes, the settlement of the New World. Someone many years ago wrote in a popular US magazine that if anyone stood a chance of survival after TSHTF, it would be 18th century living historians. Why? Because this is what we do. We interpret & recreate that journey into the wilderness through Historical Trekking. We learn & practice the skills required to live in the wilderness. If we are a part of a group, then that group is our support, we all leave together. No fuss, no panic. We have done this a hundred times before. We are trained, skilled & fully equiped. That is why we stand the best chance of survival.
What if it never happens? Personally I hope it never does. Meantime I am having a lot of fun.

Woodsrunner’s Skills.

This is a list of basic skills in which I personally would expect an 18th century woodsman or woods-woman to have some experience with.
• Flint & steel fire lighting
• Wet weather fire lighting
• Fire-bow fire lighting
• Flintlock fire lighting
• Flintlock use, service & repair
• Field dressing & butchering game
• Blade sharpening
• Tomahawk throwing
• Making rawhide
• Brain tanning
• Primitive shelter construction
• Cordage manufacture
• Moccasin construction and repair
• Sewing
• Axe and tomahawk helve making
• Fishing
• Hunting
• Evasion
• Tracking
• Reading sign
• Woods lore
• Navigation
• Primitive trap construction & trapping
• Open fire cooking
• Fireplace construction
• Clothing manufacture
• Drying meat & other foods
• Knowledge of plant tinders & preparation
• Knowledge of native foods & preparation
• Scouting
• Basic first aid

Some of our group member's skills go beyond this list, some do not meet these requirements but have other skills which we need. One is a bowyer & knife maker, another is a nurse. Two are ex security & others have managerial and organisational skills. We have weavers & knitters, gardeners, seamstress, archers & skills instructors. This is the advantage of being a member of a well established group.

New England Colonial Living History Group 1680-1760. http://eighteenthcenturylivinghistory.freeforums.org/


Gorges Smythe said...

I believe your idea about re-enactors is correct. Incidentally, I never realized that the expression TSHTF is an international term! :-)

Karl said...

I'll second that... those with an interest in and who practise those skills in a group who have worked and lived together for some time will fare much better than some adhoc group starting out from scrath... just look at those reality TV shows where they get a group of INDIVIDUALS together and expect them to survive for 90 days... they always end up in some pissing contest over who knows what and who can do it better.... in an established group you have the "Tribe" instinct already...

Oh, and Gorges... yes it is an international expression now... along with SNAFU, FUBAR and TEOTWAWKI...



The Last Frontier said...

Good post. I've been adding to my own list of skills I need to either learn, practice, or teach my boys. Yours list is more organized. I will print it so that I can refer to it and stay motivated. From the emails I often receive, I think a lot of folks believe that since my family and I live in the Alaskan wilderness, we have already mastered all of those skills, and many more. I wish that were true! We came here with many modern conveniences, like a small generator, a few power tools, a chainsaw, etc. Even with all of that, our first few weeks were very difficult, especially for me. I'd never worked so hard in my life and been so exhausted at the end of each day as I was those weeks. I was amazed at the amount of food we ate! I'd planned on much more than normal, but even with my "careful planning", our supplies dwindled quickly. However, all we had to do was wait for the next scheduled plane to bring our our supplies that remained in town, and catch a ride back to town to go shopping. That alone almost made me feel like a failure for such poor planning. I thought about the Jamestown settlers.
Even though we'd been planing for this move for several years, finding myself alone in the wilderness with only my husband, and being hit with the reality that we either had to make this work on our own, or we'd be stuck in the city forever was almost overwhelming. We had the advantage of being able to plan ahead and bring what we needed, and go back for more if we needed it. Unfortunately, at the time, I had very few of the skills on your list. I can't imagine the psychological impact on someone who has never even considered a TSHTF scenario having to "sink or swim" in the wilderness.
Sorry for that long comment. Reading your post got me thinking about all sorts of things.
Best wishes,

Jenny said...

I confess I'm not that partial to the book as a whole, but SM Stirling's Dies the Fire made one observation that really struck home - in the first world, we have the luxury to practice this kind of thing for fun... thus there's an argument to be made we might be better off than those in a lot of developing countries growing dependent on imports. Don't know as it's true or not, but it's a fun hobby regardless. :p

... When you say "navigation" are you talking celestial navigation, instruments and all - or a more generic orienteering approach?

Murphyfish said...

Hi Keith,
A thought provoking post ] (well for me that is), with the way the world as we know it seems to be spiralling downwards I agree with you that people with the skills listed would have a far better chance if TSHTF, after all near enough everything taken for granted today from the production of food and shelter, to clothing and energy would soon cease and those without the skills to provide such for themselves would be the first to succumb. Excellent, eye opening post my man.

Le Loup said...

A lot of good feedback here, thank you all.
Karl. Thak you. I hope no one asks me what snafu & fubar stand for! I will send them to you!

The Last Frontier. Jenny,great comment. Enjoyed reading it very much. Thank you.

Jenny. Navigation using in our case the Southern Cross, the sun, a compass, & the practice of keeping a straight line in the woods without a compass.

John, thank you. I noted a small news item this morning which mentioned that experiments are now being conducted on fitting sails to cargo ships to save fuel!
What a great idea, who would have thought. Sails on ships!!!

Hutch said...

Great post, Keith.

Le Loup said...

Thanks Hutch, but I have forgotten what I had planned for PART 2 !!!