14 Skills Every Self-Reliant Person Should Have


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Self-reliance is somewhat of a three-legged table. People may talk about each of the three legs separately, but they all rely on one another.

What are these three legs I’m talking about?

  • Stockpiled supplies
  • Equipment
  • Knowledge

While stockpiling supplies and securing equipment doesn’t take much thought, knowing how to use them to survive and be self-sufficient does. Below I’ve combined skills that are needed for wilderness survival with skills that are needed for homesteading and urban survival. That’s because to be truly self-reliant, one has to be able to take care of their needs in any circumstances.

1. Gardening

A vegetable garden goes a long way toward making one self-reliant. You can pretty much feed yourself off of it if you are a successful gardener. That’s harder than it might seem, as plants don’t always cooperate. Learning how to maximize the harvest from your “farm” is a skill that few have. But once you learn it, you’ll have plenty to eat.

2. Animal Husbandry

Domesticating animals saved man from having to go hunting for meat all the time. While hunting is an enjoyable activity, it’s actually very inefficient. You’re better off raising your own animals for meat, as you’ll get more meat for the time invested.

3. How to Tan a Hide

If cloth is no longer available, the only way you’re going to have clothes to wear and moccasins for your feet is to know how to tan a hide.

This has become an almost lost art in modern times, where we can buy clothes, fabric and even tanned leather.

4. Sewing Clothes

sewingMaybe sewing seems a bit simplistic to you as far as a skill, but you’d be amazed at how few people know how to sew anymore. I’m not talking about sewing on a button or repairing a torn seam, but how to make your own clothing. It’s much more complicated than you think, especially if you don’t have a pattern from which to work.

5. First-Aid and Natural Medicines

Basic first-aid can save lives, perhaps even your own. Throughout history it has been the infection that develops in a wound — not the wound itself – that has been a big killer. Proper wound treatment stops infections, greatly increasing the person’s chances for survival. Likewise, knowing which herbs and essential oils to use for which ailments can save your health and life in a crisis.

6. Basic Emergency Home Repairs

Your home is your basic shelter. But what do you do if something happens to your home? Most of us call on the appropriate tradesman to come and take care of our problem, paying them for their time and skill. While there is nothing wrong with that, it’s not self-reliant. Besides, what are you going to do if that tradesman isn’t available? Better to know how to do basic carpentry, plumbing and electrical work, so that you can make the repairs on your own.

7. Various Ways to Build a Shelter

Shelter is the most critical survival need there is. While your home is a shelter, it doesn’t help you much if you are forced to leave. Nor is it going to be much help if your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere and you have to work your way back to civilization.

Simple shelters can be made in a number of ways. And while they may not be pretty, they will protect you from the elements, keeping you warm and dry.

8. Where to Find Water – And how to Purify it

The average person can only survive for three days without water. So, no matter how much water you’re stockpiling, you’re going to need more. That’s why it’s important to know where to find it, both in the city and out in the wild. There are many ways of purifying water in a survival situation and the more of them you know, the better. That way, you can always make sure you have water that is safe to drink.

9. Various Ways to Start a Fire

Fire has been called man’s greatest discovery. Fire will keep you warm, cook your food and even purify your water. Knowing how to start a fire, especially in difficult situations, is an essential skill that everyone should know.

10. Hunting and Trapping

Our ancestors put meat on the table by going out into the wild and hunting it, not by checking the meat cases in the local grocery store. One who truly knows how to hunt and can make some primitive weapons with which to hunt is pretty much always able to find something to eat. Of course, hunting is great when there’s big game around to go after, but even in areas where big game is scarce, small game can often be found. However, hunting them is very difficult. Better to trap them. That means knowing how to build a snare. You also need to know where to place that snare, so that you can be sure of it catching something.

11. How to Clean and Skin an Animal

fishing silhouetteHunting and trapping are only useful if you know what to do with the animals you catch. You have to know how to clean the animal, skin it and even butcher it. These skills are often lost to us in modern times, unless you are a hunter. But even then, I’ve run across some hunters who don’t know how to skin their catches.

12. Fishing

Fish are another excellent source of protein, one that some say is even healthier to eat than meat. But you’ve got to know how to trick those fish into jumping into your frying pan. It’s not enough to count on the hit and miss tactics of most recreational fishermen. You need methods that are guaranteed to work so that you can make sure that you have something to eat.

13. Edible Plant Recognition

While some of us would love to live off of just meat, we really can’t do that and maintain our health. Plants provide needed carbohydrates and vitamins to our diet. But finding the right plants can be risky; some are poisonous. That’s why it’s important to know how to recognize the edible plants for the area in which you live. This varies across the country, as does the foliage that is available.

14. How to Survive Loneliness

I know, how can I call that a necessary skill? It’s simple. We, as people, are highly social creatures. Much of the social contact we need comes through the interactions we have with the people we depend on to meet our other needs. But if you are going to be self-reliant, you’re not going to have as much contact with those people. So, you need to know how to keep yourself mentally and emotionally “up” even without as much contact with others.

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