8 Tips About a Secret Survival Skill Nobody Talks About.

When discussing the outdoors and survival skills, there is often the conversation around the shelter, water, fire, food. To be able to survive in the wilderness, you need these things. Each is essential to survival and requires a hard skill to result in a safe and successful survival situation. 

The Top Survival Skill That Could Save Your Life

Shelter, water, fire, food are all tools in the ultimate game of survival in the wilderness. However, these survival skills are useless unless you have honed one key skill. That skill is awareness.

It may seem basic, but that’s the point. To start with the basics ensures that you have a foundation you can rely on. If you were in a survival situation but were unaware of it, you are already at a deficit. This skill is instrumental, from car camping to a wilderness trek to a survival situation. Awareness should be your number one developed skill. The following are some guiding thoughts when developing this skill.

Float Plane Leaving Atakaki - Secret Survival Skill
Float Plane Leaving Atakaki

#1 – Take an awareness inventory of your situation

  1. What you know.
  2. What you know you don’t know.
  3. What you don’t know that you don’t know. Awareness for the unexpected.

#2 – Everyday Practice

You do not have to be in the woods or out on the lake to practice your survival skills. It’s a mindset you must practice. For example, if you are not in the woods when your phone rings or get a notification, take in and note your surroundings for a second before answering.

#3 – Know Your Limits

Technologies, in this case, often low tech, applied artfully equates to skill. Skill brings comfort; a lack of skill brings pain. Often when someone feels anxious about something, particularly an outdoor excursion into the wilderness, it may be because there is a skill gap; however, this suggests an increased awareness for knowing what you don’t know. An inexperienced person with no fear is likely unaware of what they do not know. The goal is to shrink the gap. Increase skill and thus increase comfort, even in the face of new situations or the extreme, survival.  Know where you sit and be mindful if your swimming in deeper water than you should.

BWCA Iron Lake Morning Coffee - Secret Survival Skill
Trying a new coffee method on Iron Lake (Hey I can’t survive without coffee!)

#4 – Test the Limits

If the calls for it, test your limits. If you know you have a safe shelter in reach if things go wrong. Try building your own makeshift shelter and even sleep in it. If you have never built a fire before, give it a try without a lighter or matches. The point here is to be aware of your hard skills’ limits and, in an appropriate setting, intentionally build them.

#5 – Skill Inventory

Be aware of what your skills actually are. Take an inventory of your skills. List all the skills and techniques that you know or have learned in your life. For example, if you really know how to identify all the plants and trees in your backyard, then with a little extra knowledge you have a skill that can translate well in the wilderness.

Pizza cooking over the fire in the BWCA - Secret Survival Skill
Homemade pizza cooking over the fire in the BWCA

6 Energy Conscience

Be present and mindful of your energy. Natural Law will crush material based ego. In other words, no whining. Energy to act = energy to complain. One will get you farther, the other will put you deeper in a hole. This translates to actual energy. A positive mental attitude can be physically stimulating where a negative attitude can do the opposite.

#7 – The “7Ps” – Know What Your Getting Into

Having a holistic awareness of your intended adventure can help prepare for what might occur when the unintended happens. Remember the 7 Ps: Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.

#8 – Don’t Panic

Do not panic! Hitchhikers guide, anyone? Panic is a focus of energies and senses into emotion, thus dampening your awareness. When I was getting my wilderness first responder certification, my instructor gave some sage advice. If you come into a situation and either doesn’t know what to do or feel panicked, have a smoke. Now I don’t smoke, but the idea makes sense. Please take a minute and get yourself together; take inventory of what you have and what you need to do before you do it. 

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