I love searching the Internet and libraries for bushcraft and outdoor survival-related videos and books. Now I have something to tell you. Many of these lists you read are wrong. If you do a search, there will be a general consensus of the top five skills being Shelter, water, fire, and so forth. I’m going out on a limb in reporting that they are wrong. Not all wrong, but it is not what you should study. Most of the listed are not skills. Water is not a skill, I’m not going to give you a tutorial on how to make water, water is not a “skill” it’s a priority. So the top five survival skills often listed, are priorities, not skills.
In my opinion, the top six skills for outdoor survival are as follows:
- Rope Fabrication
- Bow Drill Use
- Pottery Making
- Spring Making
- Knot Tying
Immediately, many people will see problems with this list, and that’s good to think critically about it. Now let me backup my reasoning starting with Rope making. People say building a shelter is a skill, but often these tutorials start with prefabricated materials.
Rope is quite easy to make from a variety of plants, both strong and fine. Yucca, Dogbane, Milkweed, Stinging Nettle, Cedar, White Basswood, and Tulip (poplars), are all excellent sources for rope material. Once you can identify several sources for fibers you will want to practice twisting material into rope. Often when you watch a survivalist running a scenario they mention there is never down time when surviving. Twisting rope is something that is a low calorie, time consuming task that you should spend every bit of “down time” doing. Primitive shelters often use rope to bind bundles of grass together to make waterproof, windproof barriers. Building a shelter is difficult without rope. If you are out in the wild, in any place in the world you will also want fire. If you do not have a lighter or fire making tools on your person, a fire bow is the best alternative that I know of to make fire. You need rope. Trapping, you need rope. Fishing, you need rope. Describing how to make rope is simple, twist two threads clockwise, and then twist the two threads together counterclockwise, while gradually introducing more material to the individual threads. The best way to learn however, is to watch someone skilled or watch a video of someone skilled, and then practice.
After you have become skilled, you can begin to create fine, and strong enough twine to fish with, but you will start to ask, how can I make this stronger? You can treat your primitive rope and twine with pine tar, or “pitch” which will help the twine stay intact and protect it from sun and water damage. Pitch is harvested and processed from white pine tar.
– One method for making pitch is to mix pine sap with wood charcoal, and then heat the mixture up in a container.
– The second method is to use a “airtight” non flammable container packed with pine wood (preferably loaded with sap). This “airtight container” needs holes for venting, and the bottom needs holes so as the sap heats up it will flow out the bottom into a catch container. While this is not directly a “rope making skill”, it is part of the process, and this pitch can also be used to waterproof nearly anything and was used for traditional boat building.
Warning:? Because pitch is highly flammable, extreme caution should be used not to ignite it, should you use it in any application.
Rope fabrication is a critical foundational skill. Every EDC kit includes rope, or twine, or string. However, harvesting and processing rope is fairly easy (although time consuming) and is a skill readily taught to young children as well.Continue reading“Top Six Outdoor Survival Skills, by Jonathan Gardner”