Are you a prepper or are you practicing prepper?

Have you actually done “it” yet? Practiced that skill you’ve read about, but have never actually done.

Half-measure prepping is like running a race and not crossing the finish line.

It is one thing to read, research, debate and buy items. It is another aspect of prepping to learn and ingrain new skills

Untried and untested items in a prepper storehouse could be a dangerous discovery when the SHTF and you need to rely upon them. That isn’t the time to find out you have forgotten a key part needed for another item to work, or that the item in storage isn’t appropriate for your climate or location.

There is a lot to learn and it can be overwhelming. But, what you learn today and every day before some disaster strikes can help you.

You can learn by reading to a point, but actual experience is needed for many prepping skills. A day or two course is great, but you need to practice in order to retain those skills.

The practice component of prepping is important in that it also helps us to keep our preps simple and not get overblown on items that are unnecessary. 

Let’s take hunting for an example. Once the stored food runs out, hunting is going to be a fact of life. Those who survived The Great Depression and other long term disasters quickly found that out. Back then, there were more people who knew how to hunt properly because we had more smaller family farms and a denser rural population with those skills.

You have a gun and bullets. Great, but have you actually hunted and if so, for how many seasons? One season is not enough to learn everything.

In any crisis, but especially a long term crisis, it is important to know how to practice good animal stewardship. You don’t kill the pregnant does or the does with fawns. Fawns stay with the mother for two years.

Be honorable in your hunt and grateful for the animal who gives its life to feed you. Night hunters are not honorable nor are those who take more than what they will use. Animal populations can be decimated very quickly and those who do this will starve in the end. 

If you wound it, track it. Hunting is not about letting any animal suffer because you missed the shot. Do you know how to track an animal?

Do you know how to dress for a hunt? Do you know how to stay safe around an animal that you think is dead? A kick from a not quite dead deer can cost you a limb if they break the skin and you get infected without antibiotics in a disaster.

Hunting is a skill that must be mastered over time and preferably taught to you by an excellent hunter so that you learn the right way to hunt and harvest your kill in the environment you will be hunting in.

Have you learned how to properly and safely harvest your kill? Did you buy the proper saws and knives need to butcher the animal? Do you have freezer wrap and freezer tape or some other method of preserving the kill? Do you know how to use the entire animal including the hide? 

Do you know to trim all the fat off a deer because it affects the taste of the meat and makes it gamey tasting? Do you know how to properly cook venison so that it tastes really good?

I could have substituted so many other skills: fishing, baking with a solar oven, repair and maintenance of your home and property, gardening, repair and sewing of clothes, evacuation drills, op/sec drills in and out of the home.

The list goes on and on for a reason. It is because each of us comes here with a different background and different skills. Some will have a longer list to learn, while others may want to reconsider their prepping plans.

It is only through careful consideration of what you will need to actually do in a crisis that you will know if it is for you or if you need to do something else.

For example, if hunting seems like too much to take on, then learn to fish.

Harvesting a fish isn’t difficult. For pickerel (walleye) we cut off the head behind the gills, slit the belly and eviscerate. Take the split fish and very carefully take your sharp boning knife and run it between the skin and flesh of the fish. Carefully cut out the flesh from the spine area. Feel with your fingers for any bones you missed.

I haven’t cleaned a fish for years but my “hands remembered” the skill as I typed this. I might have missed a point but if I had a fish in front of me, I am confident that it would come back to me.

The Indigenous people in Northern Canada make a fish head soup that is a delicacy. Also, get a good boning knife. Mine was from a fish processing plant and designed to be extremely well made.

A final point about practicing, you will also find out what you are physically and mentally capable of doing. Knowing our limitations is a very important part of prepping.


  • Comments (13)

    • 5

      Happy Friday Ubique. I hope that we all can get out and practice with our preps this weekend.

      I’ve sure learned a lot of things over the winter from The Prepared and am hoping that with the better weather that I can get out more often and actually put what I’ve learned to practice. 

      Watching how to start a friction fire on YouTube and actually doing it is very different. When we put our preps to action we learn far more than we can from reading online. And I think the most important lesson is what YOU can do. Knowing our limits and abilities is what the practice is for. Sure I can read about killing, gutting, and cooking a squirrel but do I have the stomach to do it? No blog post or article can tell me if Robert can do this or not.

      Ubique, what is something that you are wanting to actually do? I’m hoping to learn more about navigation and orienteering, this is something that you need to actually do to know.

      • 4

        Hi Robert,

        Right now I am actively practicing food production, discreet food production, and experimenting with how much I can produce on my property which is a town lot 50′ x 120′.

        I am approaching it the same way as I did with my small home by careful position of planters and working vertical space. I placed food grade buckets of vegetables and herbs around the South side of my home upon the river rock that wraps around my house. 

        I hope to slowly incorporate the secret garden idea of vegetable grow amongst the meadow I am creating this year in the back yard.

        It was frustrating to wait so long to undertake this but I had to wait for security cameras (due to neighbor situation) and room in the budget. The good news is that now I am rolling along on this project. It was worth waiting for .

        The navigation and orienteering is a really good idea! It’s been years since I did any sky searching. My dad taught me about sky naviation when I was little. I’m filing that away, Robert. I think that is something that would very necessary and a lot of fun to practice. Thank you for the idea and good luck with your learning about it. 

      • 3

        I agree.  When I was a kid I spent an afternoon trying to start a friction fire.  I failed miserably (and I think hurt myself)  but have carried two means of starting a fire or lighting a stove on every camping trip since.

      • 4


        You learned before a disaster what didn’t work for you and found two other means that did. That is prepping wisely.

    • 4

      Are you a prepper or are you practicing prepper?

      I guess I’m both.  I either currently practice or have practiced in the past with most essential skills/items.  There are some items, however that I’ve never used but I feel confident we can make them work.  For example I have a solar oven in storage and have never cooked with one… but I’m sure we can figure it out.  I have the plans and have studied making an earth oven but have never built one.  I’m blessed to have plenty of sand & clay on my property… the two ingredients necessary.

      I’m sure no one can know it all or will have the ability to learn it all.  Some things will have to be learned on the fly.  Hopefully those things won’t impact your odds of survival.  But IMO, there are some critical skills that need to be known & practiced.  Number 1 would be well practiced in shooting & make sure you have plenty of supplies for such in stock.  In a crisis, you will be responsible for your own security and your firearm skills will help put meat on the table even if you haven’t hunted before.  The primary skill needed in hunting is shooting accurately.  #2 for me would be to have a home garden, no matter how small, so that you can practice growing your own food.  Some things you can learn as you go but there are skills to be learned in shooting & growing food.  Those take experience.

      BTW, regarding fawns, the males are kicked away the first year before breeding season.  The females can stay for a year or their entire lives.  However a one year old “fawn” is actually a yearling and can most certainly care for themselves.  A two year old deer is an adult, even if she stays with her mom.  Like you say, don’t kill a mom caring for a helpless baby.  In the spring & summer, even if you don’t see a fawn, good chance she has one hidden in the grass.  But I’m afraid in a crisis, “hunters” will kill whatever moves.

      • 6

        But in the movies the hero who has been anti-gun their entire life is able to pick it up and after the side kick showing them where the trigger is they are an expert marksman and can take out swarms of mercenaries in tactical gear without ever having to reload. Surely I can pick up self defense after SHTF right?

        I agree with you on the gardening. Start now, learn what works and what doesn’t. Print out instructions for each plant before hand so if the internet was ever to die you will have everything your plants need like correct depth of planting, how much sun, PH of soil, etc…

      • 8


        If we can all just make it to Hollywood and a movie set, we’ll be fine 🙂

        It doesn’t quite work that way, does it?

        Good idea to have hard copy of important information/instructions.

        I keep organized sections in my big preparedness binder. (I’ll need a cart to lug it around if I have to bug out).

      • 4


        “Buck fever” is a problem. That’s why the experience of going out with a seasoned hunter can really help calm people down. My dad taught young people to hunt after their parents were unable to teach them. He had a way of getting through to people.

        Agreed that well practiced in shooting is an important skill to have be it for security or hunting. Also agreed on the gardening. There is so much to learn and parts of gardening are always going to be unique to our respective environments. People forget that in a region, the climate can vary somewhat.

        The books are nice, but it takes hands on learning and experience to understand how to do something. Experience also helps us to cope when things go wrong. We can look back in a gardening journal and realize what might have gone wrong.

      • 4

        Yes, buck fever is a problem.  Of course, a current hunter will fare better putting meat on the table but my point is not everyone can hunt & not everyone wants to hunt now.  I’ve hunted plenty in my life but haven’t done so in many years.  Guess I got soft with old age but I get no thrill from taking a life if not necessary.  Living a rural life, I get plenty of thrills seeing wild animals daily, so heading to the woods for a hunt is not an escape for me.  Just this morning, in the dark headed down to the horses, we jumped a rabbit.  The orchard fence was to its left and it really didn’t know where to head to… until my dog, Stanley, gave it a bit of a run.  Then this afternoon when feeding catfish, got to see one of our bald eagles again on the pond.  Deer are everywhere.  They don’t excite me much anymore unless I get to see a very young fawn with spots.  When I see twins, which is not terribly unusual, that is special.

        My point is, one can quickly learn from mistakes & become a decent hunter.  One can’t quickly learn how to shoot properly.  It takes lots of practice.  I believe in first things first.  First get a gun that you can control… then shoot the heck out of it.  Then if you want to hunt, then move onto that. 

        IMO, your best preppers have a green thumb and are a good shot.

      • 5

        I counted 6 deer grazing in the neighbor’s lawn and my lawn last night. 

        When my Dad stopped hunting, it was because he always liked animals and birds. I asked if he was going out for a deer that year and he said “no, I like the deer and we don’t need to do that anymore.”

        For him, it was part of our sustainability on the farm and in the early years in the city. Once he felt they could buy their meat, he no longer hunted.

        I love the deer too. If it were bad enough, I would hunt again. But my leaning is to fish. I like fishing. Like gardening, it is very relaxing and in a crisis we need all the relaxation we can get 🙂

      • 3

        Deer are cool to watch. Such a peaceful animal. Do you have any fishing tips? I’ve only gone as a kid and don’t remember liking or being particularly good at it. Something I should maybe practice with though, there are many lakes around me.

    • 4

      Good afternoon Ubique,

      Real good …… Try out first and consider trials in both hot and cold season and both daylight and during limited visibility.

      Add the required amount of bleach to that creek water NOW and see if it works. Do this in cold weather and night/daylight.

      Evacuate with clickable pen(s) for notes rather than cap that must be removed. 

      Big gloves or mittens can be rigged with paracord and draped over neck for minimizing procedure of on – off – put somewhere.  Pockets already loaded with stuff.

      Yes, had practiced some some book-learning skills and believe made the correct decision on not using some of the practiced skills. Had taken some survival courses teaching about fish traps made from sticks. The “R.O.I” – Return On Investment – was not worth it. It takes time for a usual small catch and daylight hours are given premium hours by my requirements.

      Besides fishing line and hooks/a small supply of lures, some lures are already attached to line. The same principle is pre-threading a couple of sewing needles.  It’s getting dark and ….Fishing line next to a small net.

      Fishhead soup, a side order of decayed rice and besides the Great Depression, heard the stories of WWII in Asia. No saki available.

      • 4

        Good afternoon Bob,

        All really good suggestions. I like the idea of preparing lures and line, and pre-threading needles. Thank you Bob.

        Some ideas are good in principle and not practice. Like you said ROI matters.

        I look at what skills have stood the test of time. I prepare for worst and hope for best. For me, that usually means subtracting any heavy tech or electric involvement and be responsive to conditions without those ammenities.

        A feast can be many things in a disaster.