One word people – “BUSHCRAFT”

Now maybe you’re thinking – Wouldn’t that be two words? Can this guy even spell? What is it anyway, do people make ‘bushcraft’ and sell it at their local market? Do people really do crafts in the bush? Can I craft a bush? Can I craft my bush? Can someone craft my bush for me?

SSSTOP!.. Enough with the questions already. (Deep breath) Ok Posse, let me get serious now and start from the beginning

Today I want to give you the lowdown on bushcraft and I’m gonna tell you what it is and how you can do it so join me now as we dive in and learn about Bushcraft For Survival

Bushcraft for survival

SURVIVAL REQUIREMENTS

So what do we really need to survive?

Well, based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, there are 7 main ‘physiological needs’ that we require. This means the things we as humans need to survive not only as an individual but also a species. They are:

  • Air
  • Water
  • Food
  • Shelter
  • Sleep
  • Clothing
  • Reproduction

Thankfully Mother Nature has laid down some of those for us and provided the materials and the ability (a body and a brain) to figure the rest out. For the purposes of this post I don’t think ‘reproduction’ is high on the list so we won’t be too concerned about that. We only want to know how we can survive and thrive in the wild, not make babies

 

WHAT IS BUSHCRAFT?

Bushcraft is essentially having the knowledge and skills to be able to survive and thrive in natural environments and has been around since before we started walking upright. However, it has been popularised worldwide by die hard individuals, authors and media types since the second half of the 20th century. The origin of the word “Bushcraft” is thought to have come from Australia and pertains to the skill set used to survive in the “Australian bush”

Australia rocks

 

“Wilderness skills” is another common term used throughout the world to replace bushcraft as some people’s eyes will glass over and they’ll apathetically scratch their heads when you try to explain to them where Australia let alone what ‘the bush’ is

N.B. the picture above is the big rock in Australia named Uluru. It’s not intended to represent the Bush…That’s in the foreground to the right 🙂 (Ok that’s it with the Bush jokes. I promise)

When you think about it, bushcraft skills should be kind of instinctual seeing as our ancestors survived millions of years by using them for. One might also be forgiven for thinking that type of survival know-how would have been passed down from generation to generation but that wasn’t to be

Unfortunately, as time went by that knowledge and those skills were lost on all but a few. Then we entered the ‘information age and we all got dumb and lazy and we now rely on so many ‘creature comforts’ that we couldn’t survive in our natural environment for a 3 days unless there was a 7-Eleven, KFC or Mickey D’s within a 2-mile radius…or maybe that’s just me

 

BUSHCRAFT SKILLS

Bushcrafted shelter

Becoming proficient at bushcraft makes all the difference between surviving and thriving in the outdoors but the ‘BIG 4’ skills are the ones that are going to keep you alive and enable you to get better at the craft

The BIG 4 are:

Notice how they all pertain to the most important elements of our physiological needs (as above)? Therefore, these are the ones you must become the most proficient at and develop a diverse set of skills in order to adapt to different environments. The rest will come

 

WHERE TO START

The good news is, it’s never too late to learn bushcraft and just quietly, I do believe that some of those survival skills are just lying there dormant in our DNA, ready to fire up again. So if bushcraft is all new to you and you’ve never tried it before then you can start small by doing some of the following:

  • Learn some knots
  • Learn how to start a fire (safely and without using matches or a lighter)
  • Find out how to source water
  • Get yourself a portable water filter
  • Practice whittling sticks
  • Try your hand at carving (spoons to start with)
  • Research what foods to forage for
  • Understand how to read a map and use a compass

Don’t feel overwhelmed, just do one or two things at a time until you feel confident with what you’ve learnt and move on to the next activity. The key to mastering bushcraft (as with most things) is practice, practice, practice and research as much material as you can can get your head around. This will broaden your knowledge and build your confidence and you’ll quickly be progressing onto more advanced stuff

It can take years to acquire bushcraft skills to the point where you could survive in just about any environment but jeez, what a skill to have

 

    BUSHCRAFT TOOLS

    Bushcraft tools

    Other than the knowledge and skills to become proficient at bushcraft, it is vital to have the right tools to ‘get the job done’. These tools include (but are not limited to):

    • Knives/Machetes/Carving tools – Whilst the “Bushcraft knife” is no doubt the outdoor survivalists ‘go to’ tool, there are several blades one should consider when getting serious about bushcrafting as they will perform different tasks more efficiently. These blades can be used for:Bushcraft knife
      • Preparing food
      • Skinning game
      • Clearing trails
      • Digging
      • Making traps and snares
      • Protection from wild animals
      • Making kindling
      • Whittling and carving wood
    • Axes/Tomahawks/Hatchets – There is many a skill to be learnt using any one of these babiesxes/Tomahawks/Hatchets and they are certainly a bushcraft tool worth mastering. They come in many designs and sizes. Uses include:
      • Falling trees
      • Clearing trails
      • Chopping wood
      • Splitting wood
      • Carving wood
      • Throwing (recreational)
      • Chipping ice
      • ‘Breaking down’ game meat (butchering)
      • Saws – Why use a saw when I can use an axe? Well, like any undertaking where tools areSaw involved, It’s better to use the right tool for the right job (you wouldn’t use a sledgehammer to crack a nut right?). Types of saws used by bushcrafters are primarily Folding saws, Pocket chain saws and Multi tool saws and they’re superb for:
        • Straight cuts
        • Notching
        • Clearing trails
        • Cutting logs and firewood
        • Using in confined space where you can’t swing an axe
        • Packing (most saws are compact & lightweight)
      • Whetstones/Oilstones – As you will have a few bladed tools, you’ll want to keepSharpening stone them well maintained. You can learn different methods to sharpen your blades such as rubbing clay on the end of a log to fashion a kind of sharpening stone or by putting some cutting paste on your leather belt and work your knife back and forth (stropping) but I recommend you go out and get yourself a decent sharpening stone

       

      • Fire starters – The ability to start a fire using various methods is absolutely crucial for the Fire startersbushcrafter. Ideally, one will know how to start a fire without the aid of man made devices, however some situations can make this near impossible. Fire starting devices include:
        • Firesteels
        • Water/storm proof matches
        • Lighters
        • A magnifying glass
        • Torch lighters
      • Navigation – Knowing where you are and where your’e going is imperative for anyoneNavigation venturing into the wilderness and learning to use the sun, stars and moon is a serious bushcrafting skill to master, but today we have a few tried and trusted aids to help us such as:
        • Maps & Compasses
        • Analog watch
        • GPS
        • Sat navs
        • Apps for mobile phones
      • Water filtration, Purification and Storage – It goes without saying that we will need toWater obtain drinking water when we are in the wild and there are many methods to do to this (too many to include here so I will dedicate a whole article to this subject so keep an eye out for that). Some of the tools and implements in relation to water are:
        • Portable water filters (see here for more)
        • Millbank bags
        • Billy cans
        • Water disinfection devices
        • Water purification tablets
        • Canteens
        • Water bottles
      • ShelterTarp and ParacordTo make an effect shelter for most conditions you only need two things – A Tarp and some Paracord. The rest will be left to your learning and ingenuity.  There are too many uses for Tarps and Paracord and too many shelter combinations to list here but you’ll learn way more along the way. Trust me. A few other uses for these two items are:
        • Sleeping on (protection from creepy crawlies and water, mud, dirt and sand) – Tarp
        • Blanket or Poncho – Tarp
        • Collecting rain water – Tarp
        • Covering your wood pile – Tarp
        • Wind break for you or your fire – Tarp
        • Gathering/bundling fire wood – Tarp and/or Paracord
        • Snare line – Paracord
        • Replacement boot lace, Belt, Drawstring, etc.- Paracord
        • Bow drill string (used to make a fire) – Paracord
        • Makeshift tourniquet – Paracord
      • Light – Sometimes the light from your campfire just won’t ‘cut the mustard’ so to speakLantern when it comes to seeing in your immediate surroundings at night and there will be times when you’ll need to venture into the darkness. You could make your own primitive torch (another bushcraft skill) or use a man made alternative such as a:
        • Lamp/Lantern (fuel, gas, solar or battery powered)
        • Spotlight/Flashlight/Torch
        • Headlamp
      • Too many tools to mention – There are many more tools available but I would consider the ones above to be fundamental bushcraft tools and although I could have gone on to include First aid kits, Cooking equipment, Fishing and Hunting equipment, Backpacks, Clothing, etc. I would be straying from our main topic of bushcraft and venturing into other types of outdoor activities which we also cover here at Odyssey Posse (Pssst, Have a sneaky peek, I’m sure you’ll find them interesting)

       

      LETS GET BUSHCRAFTING

      When you think about it, Bushcraft is one of the most primitive outdoor pursuits on the planet and it’s up to the imagination and tenacity of the individual as to how far one wants to take it (I’m having flashbacks of “Rambo: First Blood” right now) so whether you want to do bushcraft as a leisurely weekend hobby or take it to the max and master a skill set that would see you through any foreign invasion, nuclear holocaust or zombie apocalypse, well…that’s up to you but I recommend you do give it a go

       

      Until next time…

      HAPPY ADVENTURES!


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