How ToSurvival

Survival Skills Your Great Grandparents Had That You Don’t

PreppersWill – Our great grandparents were truly survivors and they were able to thrive in challenging times. If we think of our childhood and of everything they had to do, to be self-sufficient, we will realize they had survival skills that, today, we do not have. It is hilarious how we became so addicted to technology and how we forgot some of the survival skills our great-grandparents and grandparents thought us. We now use our phones even for the most basic things, like calculating the tip or learning how to boil an egg. We should look back and learn some of the survival skills our grandparents had.

I don’t have so many memories of my great-grandparents as I would like to, but I realize that some of the things we were doing together when I was a kid, were true life lessons, lessons that I’ve forgotten now. However, I can be certain of one thing: the survival skills they used more than 90 years ago will prove useful for me and my family when everything will go up in smoke and it will be every man for himself.

Here are some survival skills your great-grandparents had, skills that you should learn:

Hunting and Fishing

Everyone in your great-grandparents’ generation knew how to hunt and fish for food, it wasn’t a sport or hobby for them, it was a way to provide for their family and cut down on food costs. It didn’t matter where they lived, if they lived in a rural area or if they lived in the city. Being able to kill or catch their own food was an essential survival skill and it proved very useful, especially during harsh times, like the Great Depression.


One of the few memories from my childhood involving my great-grandfather is about us going mushroom picking. Even though back then I didn’t pay too much attention to it, today I understand it wasn’t just a bonding activity. For my great-grandfather it was more than spending time with me, it was about foraging and about teaching me how to find food in the forest. Foraging is the easiest way to procure food when being out in the wild, if you have the basic knowledge of what is safe to eat and what it’s not. It is one of the survival skills you should learn and pass it on to your children.

Related reading: Foraging during summer.


A close friend of mine told me a funny story about his 5 year old daughter, about how they visited a farm and what his daughter said; “Daddy is funny how there are two chickens, the ones we see here and the ones we eat”. For kids and for most of the teenagers today, acknowledging the fact that the chicken breast they ate comes from an animal they interacted with is a definite NO. Even more, the thought of someone having to butcher an animal and turn it into food, for them is unbelievable. In this modern age, it is unusual to have to chop up a whole chicken at home, let alone a whole pig. Back in the days knowing how to cut up a side of beef or butcher an entire pig was a set of survival skills known by all men and most of the housewives were taking part in it. Women were even dealing with the entire task when it came to butchering an animal. If supermarkets will be gone, most of the people will turn vegan rather than having to deal with butchering. And even if they build up the courage to do it, they won’t even know from where to start.


When I was a kid my great-grand mother used to send me to the neighbors to bring them eggs and I was usually doing it once or twice per week. I always thought the neighbors were grateful about the eggs and that’s why they were giving me strawberries or a jar of jam. Without knowing it back then, I was bartering with my great-grandparents’ neighbors and it took me years before I figured it out. In fact, bartering was so common back then that they didn’t had to tell us how it works or why they do it, it was part of the daily life. It was a common thing to trade goods and services with the neighbors and you had the constant feeling of being part of a bigger family. It was a natural thing for people to do, back then. Bartering is a skill that is coming back and it will be something you have to master when the dollar will crash.

Related readingBarter items you should have for WSHTF.

Repairing and mending

Today, if a shirt gets a hole in it, we throw it out and we buy a new one. We are a society that consumes without thinking and this trend is aggressively promoted by the media. Your great-grandparents didn’t let anything go to waste, not even a beat-up pair of jeans and it was a common practice for every other article of clothing they owned. Mending clothes was part of a woman’s chores and they took pride when restoring the favorite clothes of their loved ones. It wasn’t only about clothes, it was about anything that can be fixed or patched up, and it was a sustainable way of living. These are skills that someday might come in handy and you should be able to know how to fix the things you need. When was the last time you fixed something? If you can’t remember it, you’re probably not the handyman type.

Lighting a fire without matches

This was something done every day and their survival skills were improving with time, they didn’t need any matches to start a fire. This skill is practiced today by many preppers and survivalists, as fire is something that we can’t live without. Today it’s much easier to start a fire as there are all sorts of fire starters and other tools. It’s a skill that can be taught without difficulties and you should take some time and teach your kids how to do it. This article will teach you how to make a fire in the wild.


Today we don’t haggle, we argue with people about prices and we leave with a false feeling that we at least tried and we feel good about us, although we didn’t achieve anything. Our great-grandparents were expert bargainers and they managed to deal with local shop owners and tradesmen without breaking a sweat. They always left the store without second doubts and with the feeling they did good business. It might be true that corporate chains control everything nowadays and haggling is becoming a thing of the past, but there are also some good examples that show skill is still alive. This is something that will come in handy during harsh times. If you ever bough anything from Craigslist and you managed to bargain and get a good deal, then there you have it. You were a haggler for a brief period of time. When SHTF, bargaining will be a skill that will save your life and help you thrive.


I can’t remember a Christmas time from my childhood when I didn’t receive a gift knitted by my great-grandmother. She always took the time to knit and she would always get me a sweater or a pair of socks for Christmas. I can’t say I was found of it back then, but now I wish someone would give me a present that they made themselves rather than receiving something bought from a store. Knitting wasn’t a hobby for my great-grandmother, it was a method of making useful items for our family and it was also a good occasion to socialize with women from her community. You may find it strange that knitting is listed among the survival skills, but if you think about it, survival skills are not only about hunting and foraging, they are about being self-sufficient.


Today, for most of us, being successful at basic gunsmithing can prove quite a challenge. We are used to buy aftermarket parts and that’s about all when it comes to firearm modification. It wasn’t the same for our great-grandparents and having a good rifle ready at any time, made the difference between having a piece of meat on their plate or eating a salad. One may argue that guns weren’t so advanced back then and it was easier to modify them, it might be true, but our great-grandparents had something we don’t, they had the ingenuity and knowledge to do it. They didn’t have the luxury to buy a new part for their guns every time they had a problem and they fixed it with what they had. Gunsmithing is a skill that would be searched for in a long term crisis scenario and the more you know about your guns the more you will gain from this knowledge.

Related reading: 5 guns every prepper should own.

Hand Writing

Mastering hand writing was something common for our great-grandparents and it helped them in various ways; from keeping in touch with the loved ones to having journals for crop cycles. Today this skill is dying and it is all due to technology and the habits our kids are developing. If there will be no electricity, tapping your tablet will be in vain, and in order to make a list with your supplies, you will have to rely on your hand writing skills. There is no need to exemplify why writing is an important skill and why it shouldn’t be forgotten. Sure, it might not be a survival skill as many would think, but what if you keep a medical journal that holds the cure for your sickness and the only way to get cured is for someone to decipher your writings. I guess this puts things in another perspective, doesn’t it?

Our great-grandparents and grandparents left us a great legacy, they taught us how to be self-sufficient and how to face life challenges. If you have forgotten what they thought you, it’s better to look back and re-learn their survival skills. The ways of the old days may soon be back and it’s better to be prepared.

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The Wood Stove Generator Turns Your Wood Stove Into An Electricity Generator