Is it just me... ("primitive" vs modern)

Discussion in 'Bushcraft' started by AxesAreBetter, Feb 28, 2016.

  1. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Is it just me, or are we have a lot of arguments lately between the "bushcrafter/primitive" side of the forum, and the "stockpile/modern" camp?

    I'm not fanning flames, or calling anyone out, BUT, I do have something to say, and I don't want it to get lost in a particular thread.

    The "primitive" skills that we keep bringing up are skills that we are discussing as a SUPPLEMENT to your modern kit, to act as an alternative in the case of the loss, damage, or otherwise lack of having the high tech stuff at your disposal.

    We are not ADVOCATING you abandoning you kit and your preps to go "play caveman" (a term we almost universally hate) and get yourselves killed. Empirically, these "primitive" skills are the ones that people in life or death situations always fall back on. Advocating that you practice (key word) these techniques before you need them is not an insult, or bad advice. Please, quit getting butthurt about it.

    We all have stories about how bad the "primitive" stuff is compared to the modern higher tech options. We are very well aware that they require more work, and more knowledge to perform. And we usually carry the modern stuff with us as well, but, we do not let it handicap us by planning on solely relying on it into infinity. The difference between (two ready examples, not mudslinging) "atlatls suck" and "bowdrills are not Zippo's" is that we have accepted those facts, and have worked through them to find the better ways of performing those tasks.

    Or not, because I suck at primitive fire. That is all the more reason for me to spend more time working on it, not an excuse for me to quit. I am fully aware that we all have our lines in the sand, and there is no issue about maximizing your surivability based on those things.

    Hopefully, this will set the stage a little bit to have a better discussion on "primitive" vs "modern". And if not, I at least got to say my piece. Y'all have a good one.
    Oltymer, Motomom34, chimo and 17 others like this.
  2. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    A well thought out and articulated post, and thread topic AAB! (y)

    Prepping modern vs old school, doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. They are not mutually exclusive things that you can only do one...or the other....only have the benefits and advantages or one or the other.....suffer the inconveniences and disadvantages of one or the other. Survival is about having the widest possible repertoire of knowledge, skills, resources, values and attitudes to be adaptable enough to cope with any life threatening contingency that life is able to throw at us.

    Should one go past what is convenient and readily available that is modern and of current hi tech capabilities.....the answer to that is no. Should we neglect old school primitive technologies because they require effort and practice to acquire the necessary skills to be effective with them...the answer to that is no. The advantage of old school that it has stood the test of time, and requires no special materials that can't be gathered or manufactured from that which is readily available. Modern technology is great....if it is available....but when it is not....then you really need back up options, else your adaptability capability falls away fast.
    DuxDawg, Motomom34, phorisc and 6 others like this.
  3. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    agreed. it is a matter of how do you handle a situation when you don't HAVE your kit bag with every gadget? or your lighter has failed, it's getting late, and what do you do now?it's a matter of having back up abilities to augment your modern methods, not in place of them.
    yes, i do know how to thatch a roof to shed rain, but i'd much rather string up a tarp.
  4. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Very interesting topic and at its heart, the real question of survival after TSHTF. Primitive is the correct answer if it is going to be an event that ends society and technology as we know it, at least on a personal level. Modern or stockpile is the correct answer if at some point society and technology return to some level at least related to what we have today, 1850's to 1920's perhaps. One , modern, is more aimed at minimizing the pain of the transition and improving your chances of surviving the event, short term or long term. The primitive is aimed at increasing your chances of survival in the short term and easing you into a long term no modern tech style of life. I don't think that you are limited to one or the other and hope to learn of as many primitive things as I can. But is it primitive to stock a simple Raspberry pi solar powered computer in a Faraday cage with a complete set of herbals, Foxfire books, edible plants list, information on thatching a roof, and black smithing etc on a memory stick as well as having a wood fired forge, hammers, tongs and an anvil set aside? That is where the fun begins as I want both worlds if at all possible and hope to try to land on my feet no matter what the event is and at what level it ends up.
    DuxDawg, UncleMorgan, Aeason and 4 others like this.
  5. Hanzo

    Hanzo Monkey+++

    I agree with you, @AxesAreBetter. Take the best stuff you can with you (and backup), but do not abandon the old ways as the knowledge of their use still applies when using modern stuff. And that knowledge could potentially save your life, even while we hope that scenario never occurs.
    phorisc, UncleMorgan, Aeason and 4 others like this.
  6. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    IMO, depending on one's perspective, old is blended with new or new is blended with old.

    For example, use bow and arrow or cross bow for hunting; keeping ammunition for self assumed predators.
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  7. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    The definition of a survival situation almost boils down to simply needing what you do not have.

    If it's fire, having three ways to make it fast and easy is good, and another nine ways to make it less conveniently (too) is even better. That way, you'll be able to have a fire when you need it.

    And then a winter stranding can be reduced from a survival situation to a mere inconvenience.

    So, like the White Knight, a survivor should carry something for every situation. And carry most of it as knowledge in the head and hands to keep the weight down and save on pack space.
  8. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    I have to STRONGLY disagree with this constant barrage of "18th century" "1920's" crap that "modern" preppers seem to think was the bleeding Stone Age. The fax was invented in the 1840's, we have had GLOBAL TRADE since the Copper Age, most of the "primitive" stuff being called out is not even primitive, it is stuff from the last couple of hundred years.

    To put it another way, even in the 20's, people where regularly surviving on the primitive skills of hunting, creating your own kit from what was available, and other forms of food procurement. "Modern" prepping is the city folks your grandparents helped out, not the rural people who survived.

    "Modern" is all electronics based. Electronic lighting, cooking, temperature regulation, and manufacturing. "Primitive" is anything before that. If you do not believe me, go look around in the community. Sure, I plenty of people can make a dehydrator, or the oven. And a lot of people mistake that, for actually having learned an "old timey" skill.

    Also, a word about "mountain men". Mountain men are not people who go into the wilderness to live. They were people who went traveling into NATIVE OCCUPIED LANDS to trade with the natives for something that held value back in civilization. They did not go out alone (average party size of 30 some odd men?), they were often outfitted by a corporation that they stayed in depth to for life (sometimes passing debt to their children), and they most often traded with the natives for food, transportation, directions, help, and "other" supplies.

    If y'all want to talk about misconceptions, I think we should start talking about the misconception of what "Primitive" is, not about how "bad" it is. The fact the the majority of people have the wrong idea of what we do is the big issue.

    As to the "pain of transition", you are either modern, or you are not. You can either supply your civilization with electricity, supplies that run off electricity, and ways of resupplying all of those things, or you are simply lying to yourself about the situation.

    Not meaning to come down hard, but I feel it is my duty to try and reach out to y'all.
  9. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    When I read about these groups; I wonder how they plan on feeding themselves long term... I believe I can make an educated guess.
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  10. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Not a lot of good options, are there? The facts, as I see them, is that someone will have a surplus to sell to the locals (farmer economy), or madness, chaos, and the return of the warpath.

    Has anyone every thought about how exposed you are, fishing? The easiest and best way to feed a group, and you are so exposed doing it. Any thoughts on fishing without getting shot? Been wondering about that one recently.
  11. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    It may well be that the discussion is about what is modern and what is primitive. Perhaps I should use classical rather than primitive? A knife made with modern metal, modern tempering methods, and a micarta handle on a Gurka pattern is it modern or traditional? A well built run in oil gearing water pumping windmill, what period is it? If I take a classic 1950's Delta table saw that weighs 400 to 500 pounds, replace the bearings and set it up to run off of a water wheel, easily done by the way using under the machine shafting techniques from the 1920's, is it modern, classical or primitive? It requires no electricity and with a few spares, could probably be used for another 75 years. I agree with Uncle Morgan that having 5 ways to do any thing is more important than a single definition on the subject and creating the options before the event and learning how to use them is the key. It is even better if you enjoy your "hobby" and never have to depend upon them for your survival.

    On fishing, trot lines from the bank or modified long lines from the open water, fish poisons like some plants, fish traps in the rivers and ocean, spearing fish in narrow places after the fish being driven there, hunting fish in shallow water with bows etc can all be used to minimize your exposure and increase your catch and when matched with smoking, drying, salting and pickling, surpluses can be stored for future use. All of those techniques at least border on traditional.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
  12. chelloveck

    chelloveck Diabolus Causidicus

    Subsistence poaching has a long and "honourable", though often illegal heritage. Subsistence/survival poaching of necessity was a covert activity. Learn the art of successful subsistence poaching!

    Welcome to the story of village poachers in Stoke Goldington

    Ragnar Benson Survival Poaching
    UncleMorgan and Aeason like this.
  13. Bandit99

    Bandit99 Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    I have never thought of doing one and not the other and I am constantly looking for ways to improve both. For example, I do know how to make fire with just what I have available but I also try to keep a bar of magnesium handy. I have something to make sparks but I also have Bic lighters. I have LED flashlights and lanterns but we also have pitch here to make torches and we know how to make candles...well, the wife does. I think they complement each other and to just do one without the other is put it mildly.

    "Has anyone every thought about how exposed you are, fishing?"
    Oh great! Thanks a lot buddy! Now, every damn time I go fishing (have a huge lake next to me) I will think someone has me sighted...Great! :):)
  14. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    Unless I am at a living history event, getting bent out of shape about handle materials is silly, unless, it effect the bottom line in a significant manner. I have a lot more opinions on compound vs selfbows, because there is a real difference there. I suppose that if you put a...carpenters hatchet handle on a kukri/Gurka design, I would give you flak, but micarta is actually pretty cool.

    Technically, that level of tech is "modern", on the mill thing. Compare at crosscut, bucksaw, or half a dozen other things that lean more toward "man powered". That said, if you have one, it has it's place. I would ask how you are going to replace the parts you mentioned without modern tooling. That would be your basic answer.

    Don't get me wrong, either, I am generally a big fan of modern things, I just know from experience that they do not hold a monopoly on good gear. You would be surprised how much stuff that is modern exists just because it can, not because it is even attempting to improve or solve an issue. It is also a complex subject that in a lot of cases does require specifics to debate properly.

    I can fold up my arrow bag, wrapped around a tin of spare arrowheads, with a small bag of survival strings that I make, and an arrowmaking kit, and in less than two pounds of kit, plus a blade or two, and I can transition from firearm to bow or atlatl. With an archery kit that I have geared towards SHTF/Combat by training. Not a brag, not a guarantee that it'll work (planning on taking it to a 2-gun match soon. HAHA!), but I studied what our ancestors actually did, and experimented with it to find the nuances that made the difference.
    UncleMorgan, Aeason and chelloveck like this.
  15. Tikka

    Tikka Monkey+++

    Not for the people in their sights. Our mileage may vary; however, sooner or later it will come to that. Having 5 years of food for 2 people becomes 6 months for 10 people.

    Folks will be exposed feeding their animals, gathering eggs, stocking firewood for winter, and so many more things. Let's be blunt, anyone with a scoped rifle can turn lives of others into a life of fear.

    Trot lines is one solution and being in a location where very few others will go is another.
    Aeason, UncleMorgan and chelloveck like this.
  16. UncleMorgan

    UncleMorgan I like peeling bananas and (occasionally) people.

    If a person is trying to subsist in hostile territory, where the enemy is locked and loaded and will shoot on sight, they're going to have a very hard row to hoe.

    Every track they leave can lead the enemy to them, so secure travel becomes ten times slower and twenty times harder.

    Every moment spent out of deep cover makes them a potential target for an unseen sniper.

    No one can live like that long-term. You can't hunt, trap, grow food, or fish safely.

    You can't even walk to the outhouse in safety, much less build a fire and cook a meal.

    That's why everyone will need a tribe when the SHTF. Enough people to hold and patrol enough territory for the tribe to survive and for its members to live in reasonable safety. A large enough and sufficiently war-like tribe to flat-out kill any and all invaders.

    Call it a village, call it a county, call it a state or a nation. The names don't matter. Only the fact that they can protect and police their territory.
  17. duane

    duane Monkey+++

    Wounded Knee wasn't an isolated incident, just a little larger scale and better documented than most others. You talk of the future, others talk of the past, best to consider others mistakes and attempt to learn from them and I hope we don't have to include death songs and ghost dances.

    Primitive vs modern didn't work out to well under those conditions. It wasn't the weapons that destroyed them, it was the long tail of supplies and men that the army had. About the only time they got to choose the site and the time was at Greasy Grass and then the canon still dominated the field.
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2016
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  18. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    The crux of that problem was that the Natives had a very different idea of how wars were fault. And no sense of scale for how many of the Easterners there were who could immigrate. They largely (from first contact to date) have had a general sense of live and let live mixed with a fight and then go home mentality. I'm trying to find the best words for this...

    The Natives did not regularly practice Total War on an empirical scale. Europeans were long accustomed to this, and had no problems with germ warfare, genocide, and of continuing to throw men they didn't like into a veritable meat grinder for several hundred years. By the time they had figured out that "white" politics were not "their" politics, they war was lost, and the reservations were damage control.

    Had they "taken them seriously", the way the "skraelings" did with the Norse, it would have been a different ball game all together. By the 1800's, American tech was at too great of an impetus, and their ability to not give a flying crap about the sacredness and longevity of the land also caused major issues for the Natives. It was largely just a perfect storm of things they were culturally not adapted to withstand over the course of centuries.

    Even then, using "primitive/Native" tech, it still took the hiring and conversion of Natives to the American cause (cultural issue) for the Americans to successfully bring the Natives under their thumb.

    Mods, you can edit this, but I just want to say that Custer was a bastard that deserved every cut he got.
  19. AxesAreBetter

    AxesAreBetter Monkey+++

    I cannot remember who said it, but I heard a man make a good point not too long ago. And please, remember, I am no where near being even acceptable at most primitive skills. But, he said that most of the schools and the manuals focus on skills, and there are a lot of them, that historically would have been taught to per-pubescent children. The stuff that we are struggling so hard to accomplish in the field is stuff that would have been second nature by the time these people reached high school age, and then other things would have been taught on top of that.

    Our culture teaches other "survival methods" (twitter haha) for our society, as it somewhat should, but we cannot afford to lose the older ways. And they are so often so startlingly different than our perceptions that we fail in attempting them, because of how much information has been polluted and lost.

    The skills and techniques that we spend most of our time arguing the efficacy of are largely skills that historically would have been taught to the junior high and high school level students. And a lot of that information is lost because "why learn to build a bow when I have this gun".

    At my age, and in my predicament, I'm trying very hard to walk that line into something that works. All of the electricity in the world does me almost no good, because I do not understand it. I have skills, and a lot of hard experience in being in bad situations in the middle of nowhere with no escape. And the only ways I have some out of it is because I studied "Injun fighting" and dared to wear funny clothes. Clothes are a rant for another post, though.

    Anybody have any thoughts on things that need to be worked into the post-basics bushcraft course?
  20. Minuteman

    Minuteman Chaplain Moderator Founding Member

    I am reminded of the quote, and I am paraphrasing, but something like "What is the best weapon to fight a war with. The one you have." A lot of these latest and greatest bunkers, BOL's, BOB's etc are only good if you have them. The chance that in a total SHTF scenario you may lose, or be relieved of, anything you have is very significant. To know how to improvise weapons, fire starters, shelters, all the "primitive" skills is simply prudent prepping.
    I am also reminded of a line from the movie, IIRC, "Zulu Dawn". A true story of the British fighting against the primitive Zulu warriors. One officer smugly states that "They are savages with spears." As the entire regiment is about to be wiped out an officer reports that they are almost out of ammunition to which the man says to the guy who dismissed them "But they still have plenty of spears".
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