Do You Really Need to Be a Bushcraft Expert to Survive?

Here’s a question: do you really need to learn 15 or 20 skills to be able to survive in the wild? Do you really need to know all the possible ways to start a fire?

Becoming good at even one thing takes YEARS of practice, and that just not something most people are willing to do, particularly when there’re so many other things related to survival that need to be done.  

How about you focus on a few yet essential survival skills, the ones that are most likely to save your life in an emergency? If you plan your bug outthe right way, you shouldn’t spend more than a few days on the run. After that you’ll either be at your bug out location or going back home.

Of course, bugging in has its own set of skills and most of them are different than the ones needed for bugging out (gardening, raising animals, working the field etc.), but this is beyond the scope of the article. One thing you could do is pick 3 skills for bugging in and 3 more for bugging out, and commit 30 days to learn each of them one by one. That way it’s guaranteed you’ll at least get passable at them, though further practice will be needed.

Ok, let’s talk a little about the critical survival skills for when you and your family will run away from disaster or in an emergency (keep in mind many of these apply in get home scenarios a well).

#1. Self-Defense

No, I’m not going to list starting a fire at the top of the list because I believe 2 legged and 4 legged creatures are going to be your #1 concern out there. Everyone will be desperate, and they will do desperate things to take care of their basic survival needs.

There are many ways stay keep safe away from home: having a firearm and extra ammo, an alternative weapon as back-up (or as a primary weapon where guns are not allowed), and even learning to use other items in your BOB for self-defense, like Paracord or your stainless steel water bottle and even your LifeStraw to cause damage.

#2. Negotiation Skills

Imagine… you’vebeen on the run for days. Everything around you is falling apart. You will need alternative evacuation routes that are safe, you will need to know about possible roadblocks, you may injure yourself, your bug out bag could get stolen or your car could break down.

Like it or not, you may have to rely on others to help you. You’ll have to learn how to communicate with them in a way that doesn’t show weakness but, at the same time, it doesn’t signal you’re a troublemaker. To practice negotiation, you could:

  • Visit the flea market or other places where you can bargain for things, and try to get some good deals.
  • Ask your boss to promote you in a position which will allow you to communicate more with people, preferably face to face.
  • Play board games such as I’m the Boss, Santiago, My Barter Game and Chinatown. They will teach your children valuable lessons about reciprocity.
  • Read about human behavior. There’ plenty of books out there, such as Cialdini’sPsychology of Persuasion.

#3.How to Start a Fire

I think most people take this the wrong way. They focus on the extreme scenarios where they have no lighters or matches, and imagine having to use the hand drill of the bow drill methods.

I’m not saying they’re not fun, butthe odds of having to resort to them aren’t particularly high. There are easier ways to start a fire and they should all be in your backpack, your car or your EDC kit: using steel wool and a 9V battery, a Fresnel lens (you need sun for this), a ferro rod and so on.

If you’re worried you might lose all your fire-starting gear along with your BOB, try to keep some waterproof matches inside lanyard around your neck or in your pockets.


One of the most important needs when you’re on the run is the need to send and receive information about what’s happening around you or about yourself. While we all know how to use a smartphone or to use the radio to tune in to a station, some of the skills that few people know include operating a HAM radio and learning the Morse code.


In other words, keeping your mouth shut about who you are, where you’re going, about your plans and whatever valuables you have with you. For some, this may be the hardest skill of all. If you’re the kind of person who easily tells everything to others, if you tell them things they don’t even ask just because you want to bond, earn their trust and so on, allow me to burst your bubble and tell you that this could backfire on you.

Just because someone acts nice, that doesn’t meant they have their own agenda… and in an SHTF situation, guess what that agenda will be? To feed their kid, to get some extra ammo to stay alive. Those kinds of things.

Just because someone asks you a question, that doesn’t mean you have to answer it.

One thought on “Do You Really Need to Be a Bushcraft Expert to Survive?

  1. “Just because someone asks you a question, that doesn’t mean you have to answer it.”

    Unless it’s the wrong question.

    Then answer with lead.

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