Bushcraft Skills. No, I’m not talking about beer making skills; I’m talking about crucial survival skills - and not the kind you develop while hosting a birthday party sleepover for seven 13-year-olds.
Bushcraft is about real life nature skills that enable us to sustain a life using only our skills and what nature provides us.
If you found yourself in a need to survive situation, would you be prepared? Do you have the skills to not only make it through, but to actually do so comfortably? What does it take to be prepared for just about anything?
The Art of Bushcraft
Bushcraft may sound like a relatively new concept to some when, in fact, it is really more like the revival of indigenous knowledge, skills and a deep appreciation for our natural environment.
It is a practice that is becoming mainstream for those of us who feel that decreasing our footprint on the earth and learning to survive and find contentment with less, is actually more.
Bushcraft earned its name based on a certain set of skills that are highly developed among those living in areas that are largely secluded from society, often referred to as “The Bush.”Now days, the majority of folks living in the U.S., and other parts of the world as well, are raise with little knowledge about the outdoors, much less how to survive or even build a comfortable life in it.
There are many reasons why people are turning to Bushcraft as a hobby.
Not only do they find it exciting to learn how to scale back and live more simply and independently by relying on what they can find in nature, they also recognize that bushcraft skills offer the option of an entirely different way of life and not solely a means for survival.
The Great Escape
Bushcraft is a hobby and preparedness measure for some, but for others, it becomes such a passionate endeavor that it becomes their means of living.
So, why would anyone with all the luxuries of the “free” and developed world want to just walk away from it all and live with nearly nothing, out in the woods? The answers may surprise you, but the reasoning behind them, you’ll likely understand.
Part of the answer lies in the false claim that we live in the “free world.” But are we really free?
Does getting up and rushing our children off to school on our way to work, where we spend the majority of our days, fighting our way through rush hour traffic congestion to pick up the kids from the sitters on the way home just in time to prepare dinner, help with homework, do some household chores and then go to bed and start all over again sound like freedom?
Freedom - Just Another Word
There is a mortgage and a list of other bills to pay. There is a boss or clients to answer to. There is school to attend.
When we’re honest about it, our choices are few.
Technology is a fantastic thing – sometimes. In years past, one could choose to embrace and use it, but even that option is becoming extinct. Cell phones were at one time a matter of preference; now if you don’t have or use a cell phone people look at you like you like you’ve been lost in the forest for years.
Some solve the problem by getting a cell phone, and some choose to turn around and go back into the forest where they are free to decide how they engage with life.
Bushcraft Master 101
Bushcraft entails a range of knowledge and abilities that are seemingly endless.
After all, living in a remote location away from modern day amenities essentially means you’ll be relying on yourself to do and be everything you need. While there is a vast list of skills that can be developed, most can fit neatly into these basic categories.
One of the first things a great bush person needs to master is how to gather and assemble materials to create a suitable shelter.
Natural materials vary in all parts of the world, as will shelter materials and the weather elements the shelter will serve as a protection from. This is a must for survival and you are the new neighborhood contractor.
2. Fire Lighting
Your Bic lighter is not welcome here.
You must be able to light a fire for warmth, cooking and boiling water; and you need to be able to do so using friction, sparks and kindling.
3. Locating and Purifying Water
There are some pretty amazing survival gadgets that purify water. A true bush person will know how to survive by locating water and knowing different methods for purifying it to make it safe for consumption, sans the gadgets.
The Sierra Springs guy doesn’t deliver out here.
4. Hunting or Gathering Food
You will not survive for long without food. In a harsh environment you will spend some energy fending for your every need.
This energy requires fuel. You will need to know how to hunt or fish. This can also include the skills for identifying plants that may be edible as well. You are well outside of the Pizza Hut delivery range.
5. First Aid and Safety
Whether in The Bush or anywhere else, it is highly recommended that everyone has basic first aid training skills.
A bush master doesn’t stop there.
One never knows what kind of circumstances they may be up against where serious care or medicine may be necessary. There are no Urgent Care clinics to go to, so you need to be prepared to sew up that wound and to identify and use plants to create medicine.
So there you have a basic list of the skills you will need to be a bush master.
We won’t even try to fool ourselves into thinking that this small list is all inclusive of what it takes to survive and actually thrive living the bush life. It is meant to be a starting point with the categories growing larger as your Bushcraft is honed.
Gardening, food preservation, wildlife identification, and navigation skills are just a few skills that broaden the abilities of a bush master.
One of my favorite places to direct those with an interest in Bushcraft skills or for those looking for ways to be prepared or to simply live a more independent and sustainable lifestyle, is Pinterest and this will lead you to thousands of tips and techniques to begin your Bushcraft journey.
You can also connect with other Bushcraft enthusiasts at Bushcraft USA where you can find a host of topic discussions that include ideas, methods and product recommendations.
True North Athletics is also a great resource for outdoor adventure knowledge!
I hope you’ll join those of us who find deep satisfaction in knowing the methods of a simple and comfortable existence such as our ancestors practiced.