In an email exchange with a good friend of mine last night I mentioned all the “preppers” that I saw at the Tanner Gun Show last weekend, and how it was kind of a weird feeling walking around with all of them, knowing that they would be my competition if the world were to go to hell in an instant. My friend said she wasn’t familiar with that term and had to look it up. This is in no way a slam against her, not everyone is into preparing for disasters, but it got me thinking a lot today about my behavior in that regard, and I decided that I want to write more about this topic. In my mind preparing for disaster is an extension of survival skills, with a lot of logistical planning thrown in.
I have written several articles about preparing for natural disasters (usually snow storms or storms that cause power outages), or making a bug-out bag which you can read by clicking here, and there are a lot of other topics to discuss, which I will in the future. But one thing I thought of today that I do on a regular basis is what I call “productive hobbies.” I have nothing against people who for example play golf, but what do they have to show for themselves at the end of the day? For me, my hobbies result in something, whether it is something physical, or a skill learned or honed that may save my life some day.
Obviously my hobbies of fishing and hunting put food on the table, but I get so much more out of those hobbies than just food. I learn outdoor skills, I learn about all types of animals, birds, and fish, and I am proficient with many different types of weapons. To prepare for my time in the wild I am constantly practicing and perfecting my survival and orienteering skills. Clearly these things will give me a strong advantage if I am in a survival situation.
I also like to build things, all types of things. This is a skill that is very valuable to me when it comes to building emergency shelters in the wilderness, or in an urban survival situation the ability to construct things myself could be a life saver. A couple of weeks ago I built a work bench (to use for more of my productive hobbies). It was not a big project, it only took about four hours, but I did it for a fraction of the cost of buying one, and the enjoyment and satisfaction I experienced were well worth the time.
One of my more time consuming hobbies is knife making. This is something that gives me a great deal of personal gratification, although in the beginning it was a bit frustrating to get the knives to come out just right. But I have reached the point now where I am not intimidated by knife making, and I can produce some very nice looking and functional knives. The knife and sheath pictured above is a set I made as a gift for a friend.
Leather work is one of my favorite hobbies, and I can make all kinds of things; from leather pouches, bags, moccasins, and various other useful items. Most recently I made a belt sheath for one of my hatchets. I could have bought a sheath for $20, but it was a fun little project that occupied an evening. The next thing I want to attempt is to make a coat out of one of the elk hides I have, which will be a very
special project that will hopefully result in a garment that I will wear on a regular basis. This skill has obvious rewards in a survival situation, and one that has special meaning to me since my mother was a very good leather Smyth before she passed away. I use a lot of the tools that she passed on to me when I work on leather projects, which of course makes me think of her while I am using them.
Finally, one of my hobbies that I truly enjoy is fly tying. While this can be a very tedious process, it not only saves me a ton of money (a single fly can cost about $1.00 these days), but it also allows me to use materials from animals that I harvest, like pheasant, elk, deer, geese, turkeys, and ducks. Two of my most consistently productive flies are the pheasant tail nymph and the elk hair caddis, and I feel a tremendous sense of accomplishment when I catch a fish on a fly that I tied from an animal that I harvested.
Those are some of my “productive hobbies,” and they are things that I do on a regular basis to keep my skills in tune, save me money, and provide a great deal of personal enjoyment and satisfaction. Hopefully this will give you some ideas on developing or working on your own productive hobbies, and in some way preparing you for what the future might hold.