Bushcraft is the skill of living in the bush, or wilderness. In it’s more traditional sense it involves foraging for food & water, building shelter from the available materials and even fashioning tools & clothing from nature. In a broader more widely practiced term it refers to wilderness survival, whether planned or due to necessity. Regardless of which level of bushcraft you plan on practicing there are several essential skills you need to master if you wish to survive.
Whether you have decided to emulate Jeremiah Johnson and live off the grid or find yourself unexpectedly forced to survive in the wild you will find yourself relying on a set of skill modern man does not normally practice. Due to the considerable number of modern conveniences that are now common place most members of civilized society no longer possess the survival skills that were once almost second nature. But bushcrafting is about changing this and knowing how to survive with little more than what you can carry in your pack or make on the go.
Master the following bushcraft skills and you will be well on your way to surviving in any environment.
1. Starting a fire
Regardless of where you find yourself the ability to start a fire is essential. Whether you need to stay warm, purify water, cook your food or simply keep wild animals away at night you will need fire. The ability to start a fire is literally a matter of life or death.
2. Finding food & water
Being able to eat and have fresh water is not a creature comfort it is necessary for the human body to survive. After only a few days your body will begin to shut down, making any other skills useless. Knowing where to find water & how to purify it, as well as what is safe to eat are so important you should not leave civilization without this skill.
– whether it is with a map & compass or by using clues nature provides (i.e. the stars) you must be able to find your way in the wilderness. Do not think you will rely on your cellphone, GPS or similar electronics- most lose signal soon after leaving the pavement and all will eventually suffer from power failure.
4. First Aid
When you are in the wilderness you are generally alone, and you are always far away from the benefits of modern medical care. Even a minor injury can be debilitating and something such as a serious cut can be deadly. Get hurt or sick and you must be able to care for yourself.
5. Building a shelter
You might be able to brave a night or two under the stars, if the weather cooperates, but eventually you will need shelter from storms, snow and even the sun. This means that you will need to have the knowledge and skill necessary to do so- there are no camping stores behind the next big pine.
As stated earlier there are various levels of bushcrafting and your particular situation will determine exactly which additional skills you may need. But start with the above and you will be off to a good start. For additional information on skills you need to be a true bushcraft expert check out this YouTube video.