Survival/bushcrafting books: why Foxfire is better then the famed SAS handbook

“Wilderness is a necessity … They will see what I meant in time. There must be places for human beings to satisfy their souls. Food and drink is not all. There is the spiritual. In some it is only a germ, of course, but the germ will grow.” John Muir

It is important to understand that for myself and many others the idea of “prepping” and “survival” is ridiculous, at least as it has been presented by the so called “professionals” selling their various majik tricks currently and calling it prepping. For those like myself, we were raised to understand that when we were hungry we took a deer, wild sheep, rabbits and more. When we need to eat we harvested wild greens and drank from streams locally to us.

Those times are behind us now sadly, for in todays world if I hunt without extensive permitting I will surely end up in jail. Feeding my family in todays advanced world means paying for permits to do so or worse, being stuck with the crap fed to us from farmers who long ago sold out too greed and need to survive themselves. Can I still do it? Surely, will I? That is neither here nor there for the purposes of this article. As far as those around me know, I rarely purposefully break a law. And this is necessary for their sanity and safety.

Quite honestly, the psuedo modern post 1999 prepper is almost always an middle aged or aging yuppie who enjoys the idea that lots of stuff and a “perfect location” will help them survive. From my own personal experiences, it is the rare, very rare one of these modern “preppers” who actually takes the time to actually engage in shifting their lives to adapt, and very few of them do much more then buy property, guns, gold, ammo and far too many MREs. Thankfully if something large were to happen these peoples homes would be gold mines for restock if needed.

I was raised early cutting our heating wood for the long very long and extremely cold winters of Illinois. We would trap muskrat and beaver and hunt racoons too make the difference up for the lack of farm work during the winter. I can remember wading into the creek behind our house, Little Indian I believe was the name, it was a tributary to the mighty Fox river which I have very good memories of canoing as a child at least twice that I can remember as well. My father spent long nights pelting out racoons, muskrat and beaver before opening his own construction company prior to a religious division sending us far away from what I had known as a child. However, it was the basis of skills adopted as a child that allowed me to easily transition into a different location utilizing the same approaches with a very different set of animals and plants being available.

Mountain men of the “wild west” are often seen as uneducated, dirty scroungers by modern revisionist history. The truth is quite far from this however, the truth is these men who preferred living away from “civilization” were far more likely to be the most trustworthy, healthy and all around beneficial individuals someone wanting to “survive” could have as a friend when traveling across the pre state western and southwestern United States. These men took the time to understand the local cultures and learn the languages of the people whose land they were traveling through. There is a reason individuals like Jim Bridger and his ilk were very valuable to a wagon train.

Modern Americans love to make fun of West Virginias hillrods and the deep Souths, blue and smokey mountain hill living communities. According to modern standards these people really are different. Rarely will you meet someone raised in that culture who fits easily into a modern city environment. However, I highly doubt that even the so called “professionals of survival living” who recommend ridiculous military manuals and write endlessly about their religious convclaves and segregation of people for any number of reasons, could, or would be able to keep up with my kin and those like them when it comes to living well in the “wilderness”.

So when I recommend books like the Foxfire series (purchase using this link) or see the background on it here, follow this link. I do so because this series while being based in the southern Appalachian mountains is very applicable to life where-ever you may be. This is a series that simply shows how people have lived apart from city state dwellers for centuries. Scottish, Irish, Norwegian, American Indian and more; have over the years made a point of ensuring they stayed in the “highlands” regardless the continent those were on. Where do you think the fabled SAS and US Army Special Forces individuals learned their tracking, hunting, scrounging and more originally? It wasn’t from a government funded think tank. It was a direct result of seeing the absolute havoc caused by squirrel hunters from Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and hillrods from the Appalachians (and more) during WWI and WWII when they were allowed off the stupid leashes put there by their government handlers who preferred throwing away lives to actually saving them.

On a personal note, I have been using the Foxfire books and many other similar books since the early 80’s as well as practicing a life designed around the principles espoused in them. This prepping life as some refer to it now is not a new concept nor does it need modern military manuals and approaches signed off by the FDA. Rather, it is a life that has been lived for thousands of us and millions of our ancestors since before the USA and Great Britain were even ideas.

It is the city-state lovers who have created an entirely new segment of mainstream society based around faulty assumptions in large part promulgated by individuals who have only recently begun practicing what they preach.  Individuals like Jim Rawles (yes I detest the man, he is a liar and his close friends are worse). Bah, I say, sure rarely they may actually have beneficial contributions, however, it is rather likely that by following their views you will simply become a well hidden gold mine of supplies for individuals like myself, who have no problem scavenging from the dead, especially those who are so stupid as to believe a US military “intelligence officer” with a POLY SCI degree can teach them something about “survival” when he has no real active experience in it.

The SAS manual is a fun read, but in all fairness unless you plan on actually training regularly with more than the occasional weekend photo-op of yourself and a few pretty ladies with pretty Ars and big murikan flags and the ever present 1911; unless you plan on actually practicing regularly, is a useless manual for you. It is not filled with things that will allow Tom and Dick and Jane too simply become special forces types overnight. What I offer is the ability to read, retain and practice using information that isnt based in war but rather in peaceful living and living WITH the land you are on. Regardless where that may be. The Foxfire series, allows this. Promotes it in fact.

The Foxfire series was put together over the course of 20-30 years by teens who related stories, how-to’s and much more about the hard scrabble lives being lived every day in the Appalachian Mountains by people who have been there since before the United States existed. It is the sole currently produced survival manual that can actually helps someone who wants to live and live well. It teaches something most military supporting people will never understand, how to think on your own, and how to live a life in sync with your surroundings versus “carving out a life” from the surroundings.

If you are unable to or unwilling to put $200 into buying the entire series, get the first 3 books at least. These will allow you to do so much more than any number or combination of books previously looked at by yourself. Understanding your local flora and fauna regardless location is also an essential part of living well.

You are your own person, make your own mind up. However, remember, the US military or the British Military are really not that special, the average military member has less ability to survive on the street then the average gang banger does. For myself personally, I will keep with what I know works based on my frequent trips out into the wilderness that surrounds me. You keep your campers and SAS manual and rarely used firearms. I will keep practicing with my handmade bows and arrows and will continue to show any who want to learn, for free, how to live and THRIVE right where you are.

Free the mind and the body will follow.

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About Jesse Mathewson

Jesse Mathewson is the author of the popular blog, jessetalksback.com and provides commentary to many varied places based on a background that includes education in criminal justice, history, religion and even insurgency tactics and tactical training. His current role in his community is as an organizer of sorts and a preacher of community solidarity and agorism. He also runs Liberty Practical Training, a self defense school specializing in the practical applications of defensive approaches versus the theoretical. As an agorist, voluntaryist and atheist his life is seen as crazy and wild by many, though once they get to know him most realize he is a bluntly honest individual who will give you the shirt off his back if he believes it is necessary to help you. Very simple, "That which is voluntary between all individuals involved is always right, if it is not voluntary, it is always wrong."
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2 Responses to Survival/bushcrafting books: why Foxfire is better then the famed SAS handbook

  1. droptozro says:

    Thanks you for the article and sharing your experience with these books. You’ve definitely peaked my interest. I’ve been looking for some books that have actual practical living experience off grid, especially historical information… and this may be the gem. Experience is one of the best and hardest teachers, if we survive it. I don’t have $200 to drop on the entire series, but I’ll look into getting a copy of the first 3 at least for now.

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