Bushcraft is the name we give a collection of skills that all involve thriving in the wilderness. From knowing how to build a fire in various conditions to finding food by hunting and foraging, to carving and building necessary items from wood and other natural materials; bushcraft is all about acquiring the skills needed to survive without the need for grocery stores, sporting goods stores, or the corner market.
In this post, I decided to break bushcraft down into 10 basic foundation skills. Once these skills are mastered it is easy to add more in as you gain more and more knowledge and dirt time. Check out the 10 areas of bushcraft skill below and start learning how to survive one bushcraft skill at a time.
Fire craft is all about starting and maintaining fires in any condition. This includes multiple techniques for building a fire like flint, the sun, and smoldering plants. It also covers how to use fire for survival and how to transport the fire you built form one location to another to avoid having to rebuild.
There are a lot of reasons why it’s a good idea to get good at tracking. First, it’s a pretty great way to catch your dinner but past that it’s a very important part of OpSec.
By being able to track people and animals you can see if your proposed campsite is frequented by any specific animals or if people have been through it before. You can also see if anyone has been around your campsite or homestead recently.
Animals and people tend to follow the same paths over and over again, so being able to recognize these and track where they go can show you where to set snares, get water, and where to avoid when the footprints are bigger than you’d like.
This one is pretty obvious, but you need to know how to hunt effectively with a variety of tools. Sure, using a high-powered rifle makes hunting a lot easier, but in the bush you may only have basic supplies and a rifle might not be one of them.
The most common way to hunt in the wild is by trapping. Setting a snare to catch small game is a great way to learn how to survive off the land. Beyond the knowledge of trapping you need to learn how to handle what you trap and hunt once you’ve gotten it.
Learn simple butchering and skinning techniques to make sure you can actually eat what you catch.
Similar to hunting and trapping, learning to fish with a variety of tools will make sure you have a good high-protein and fat source of food. The two basic ways of fishing are with a line and hook and by trapping. You can build a fish trap as seen in the video below to collect fish without extra work on your end.
Keeping learning how to make a hook and lures is important as well, but the fish trap is your best way if you have the materials and the ability.
You can’t survive solely on animals and fish you’ve caught, especially if you can’t build a fire to cook them on, which means foraging is just as important. You need to learn what plants are OK to eat and which ones aren’t, as well as how to determine this in the wild.
Check out this site for some basics on eating plants and foraging, but make sure you learn what’s available in your area and what is your best bet for the most carbs and protein per ounce to save energy while foraging.
Building a good shelter is more important than just keeping dry, it gives you a sense of safety and belonging and keeps you safe from animals. Keeping dry is more important than just comfort too, keeping dry will keep you from getting sick and keep your gear usable.
Learn not only how to build a basic shelter, but how to build one from a variety of resources so you’re never stuck out in the cold.
Knives and Axes
One of the most important tools to bushcraft has to be the bladed implement. Survival knives and axes are vital to survival and knowing how to use and care for them correctly is as important as knowing how to find water.
We’re not talking about heavy-duty knifes here, but instead they are generally smaller and built for durability. Learn how to not only use a knife and axe correctly, but to sharpen, repair, and even make your own. Remember, there may very well be a time that there aren’t stores to buy knives from, so learn while you can!
You use a lot of wooden implements every day and don’t even think about it. From wooden spoons to handles for knives and other tools, knowing how to make wood into what you need it to be is pretty important.
Learn how to work with wood from start to finish and you can make just about anything. Think back to your wood shop days and replace all the power tools with hand tools.
Being able to make the containers that clothes, food, and tools go into is pretty important to learn. Today we go to the store, find something that fits and use it until it breaks and repeat the process. The bushcraft way is very different and once you build a few containers yourself, you’ll respect them a lot more.
Learn how to work with a variety of materials including leather, metal, wood, and even odd materials like tire rubber, which by the way makes a great sandal. You can make a waterproof tarp or food container by melting and applying wax to canvas and buckets out of hollowed out logs. Whatever you choose to make, remember that once you’re on your own, there’s no more Tupperware lady coming around to sell you containers.
Anyone who was a Boy Scout knows that rope craft and knot tying is one of the most important survival skills out there. From being able to tie down your tent to tying snares and quick release knots for climbing, rope craft is pretty important stuff.
Beyond tying knots however, knowing how to make rope is pretty important stuff. There are a few ways to make rope yourself, and this site has some great information on how to do it from natural fibers.
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