What is Bushcraft? The introductory guide to Bushcraft and Survival skills
Some of you reading this will be seasoned ‘bushcrafters’, some of you will be occasional and some of you will not have a clue what bushcraft is. In this post we are aiming to guide you through the essentials of what bushcrafting is. We will then talk you through what skills you will learn and need for bushcrafting, or to improve your bushcrafting experience. During this post we will also attempt to put to rest some myths about bushcrafting and people who bushcraft.
A brief explanation
Simply Bushcraft = Skills for the wild. Skills which will allow you to survive & thrive in the outdoor environment.
Bushcrafting isn’t a fad. It isn’t something that is exclusive to a certain type of person. It’s a collection of skills that can be used almost anywhere in the natural environment. This includes but is in no way limited to hunting, fishing, foraging, shelter building and tracking. That’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Another phrase you may hear being used is ‘Wilderness Skills’. This is more of an American and Canadian term, but pretty much means the exact same thing. We are finding though that increasingly ‘Bushcraft’ is the world-wide accepted term.
So Bushcraft isn’t a new thing
Heck no. Our ancient ancestors were the master Bushcrafters without even knowing it. From an early age they learnt which plants to use for food and medicine, how to create and control fire, what crafts could be created from the resources around them and how to ‘read’ the landscape and navigate through it using natural means. These and other skills enabled us to become the dominant life on this planet (yeah that’s how important bushcraft is).
The phrase ‘bushcraft’ is from skills used in the bush country of Australia, more precisely from one man, Les Hiddins, also known as The Bush Tucker Man – so literally translated that would mean – The man who gets food from the bush (wilderness).
Is it popular?
In recent years there has been a bit of surge in the uptake of bushcrafting skills and in the knowledge and perception of bushcraft. A lot of people credit this uptake to people like Ray Mears who has made it seem ‘cool’ again. And let’s be honest if you can build a proper shelter out of sticks and mud that’s pretty impressive.
In addition to the popularity gained from the media. It’s also gained popularity with people who want to escape the modern world, even if only for a few hours a week. Bushcraft can and is giving people a sense of freedom and fun, whilst reconnecting with skills that are no longer seen as essential to life.
What sort of skills can I learn?
There are a huge amount of different skills you can learn. However, because Bushcraft is such a diverse activity it would be impossible to learn everything there is to know in one lifetime. This only adds to the rewards the bushcraft offers.
Many people choose to specialise in mastering a specific discipline, such as Tracking, or Foraging for wild foods. While other people prefer to develop a broader understanding of as many aspects as possible. For the beginner, taking the first steps towards becoming at home in the wilderness can seem like a daunting prospect, simply because there is so much to take in at once. Even for the more advanced bushcrafter there is always more to learn.
As a general guide though these are some of the main skills you can gain:
Rope and Knot Skills
Gutting & Preparing Fish
How to preserve food
Survival Knives and Survival Tools
Food and Water Storage
You’ll also find that all of these activities fit in very well with other outdoor pursuits such as Rock Climbing, Canoeing, Archery and Hiking.
Bushcraft is more than just surviving in the wild. It’s so much more. It’s about being a able to live with and on the environment in a way that’s not just sustainable but also highly enjoyable and rewarding. Not to mention you don’t have to get stuck in hours of traffic jams. If you want you can completely forget about the modern world and take things right back to basics.
Don’t just read this though and decide to suddenly go bushcrafting. Take your time, watch videos on YouTube or read other blog posts which will give you a good idea of the things you need.
Now all that’s left for you to do is get started . . .