15 Important Bushcraft Skills Everyone Should Know
Essential skills everyone needs to live off the grid and survive
Bushcraft skills, or those skills which require that a person understands and utilizes nature and natural methods to survive, are essential for any man.
Being able to take care of not only yourself, but also your family in a crisis survival situation, will be greatly dependent upon your survival training and survival equipment.
Here are 15 important Bushcraft Skills everyone should know.
1) How to use an axe
One of your most essential pieces of survival equipment is your axe. You must know how to use the axe.
The best axes are no longer than from the tip of your fingers to the bend of your elbow. (or what’s shown below)
Image source: http://www.africanarcher.com/axeCraft.html
This allows for easy carrying as well as versatility of use. Always plan your cuts so that the axe blade is facing away from you.
The axe does take a great deal of practice in order to use it for bushcrafts. Keep your blade sharp.
You can use the axe from the handle or from the head. You can even use it as a replacement knife if needed.
2) Bowdrill for fire starting
When starting a fire using the bowdrill method you will need to have drill, a half, and a Bearing block.
You should use some form of lubrication in your hollow (such as a snail) so that the wood moves freely.
Of course, the most important part is the string. Cut a small notch (1/8th of the hole) so that ash does not accumulate and cool your coal.
Remember to keep a steady pressure while using the bowdrill method.
Survival training must have canoe training. In a survival situation you will be required at times to navigate rivers and lakes.
Ensure that your oars are cut to the same length and width (if making more than one) so that you do not have any inconsistencies when rowing.
If you are the sole occupant of the canoe, use the two stroke paddle method (being two on the left, two on the right). Ensure that you use the river to your advantage to avoid over exertion.
4) Edible Plant Identification
Perhaps the most crucial of all bushcraft skills is the ability to identify edible plants. Blueberries and blackberries are seasonal.
However, there is a great deal of edible vegetation for preppers and survivalists if they know what to look for.
5) Identifying poisonous plants
The rule of thumb in outdoor survival is “leaves of three leave them be”. It would behoove anyone to add a plant and herb book to your survival equipment.
This way you can identify which plants are safe, which are poisonous, which are edible, and which can be used for medical purposes (such as Aloe).
You do not want to mistake poison ivy or poison oak for the wrong plant, especially in areas which will become very agitated with movement.
6) How to make your own fishhooks
Fishhooks can easily be made with a little practice and a sharp knife. It is best to carve the hook from a single stick.
However, if you have to you can use two strong sticks and bind them together (either by string or by using a notch and grove method).
Note that if using a two part fishhook it is best practice to use it only on smaller fish. Larger fish should be captured using either a single hook or a fish spear.
7) Cleaning your catches
Food, water, and shelter are the three elements of survival. When catching food either by hunting, snare, or fishing, you must know how to clean your catch.
Fish should be scaled from the tail to the head where catfish are scaled from the head down. Wild game should be hung with the head up to avoid the bowels breaking and ruing the meat.
Cuts to your catches should go from the sternum to the groin. Work from the top to the bottom after removing the internal organs.
8) Know your Snakes
Every area is different and has different snakes which need to be identified.
Diamond shaped heads are generally poisonous where rounded heads are not.
However, do not assume that a snake is friendly. Remember, Red and Yellow kill a fellow but red and black is your friend Jack.
It is always best to err on the side of caution in the outdoors. Better yet, leave them be unless you are planning on harvesting their meat.
9) Bowl and spoon carving
You will need to know how to carve bowls as well as spoons. This is needed not only for eating, but for storage as well.
You do not want to keep food sitting on the ground, a bowl is needed.
Spoons are also a diverse tool. Practice and skill will be needed in order to get the technique correct.
Utilizing your axe will greatly reduce the time in getting the initial shape of your bowl or spoon formed.
What do you do when you are in the woods and there is no stream from which to get your meat?
The answer is that you track.
Following physical tracks is ideal, but you may also have to know how to read broken twigs and rutted spots. Never go into an animal’s den.
A cornered animal is dangerous. Track the animal and find out where it eats and what trails are common.
11) Maintaining drinkable water
You should always keep a three day supply of water on you.
Where this may sound a bit excessive, consider that in a survival situation, water will be scarce.
When you can, camp close to fresh water streams or rivers. Purify the water by boiling it.
As heat kills most germs, it is advised that you do so. Before boiling your water remove all large contaminants.
12) Binding a wound
Preppers who have practiced bushcraft skills will be quick to inform you that wound binding is a regular activity.
True, caution is taken in all activities, but it is inevitable that accidents will occur. For small cuts, you want to ensure that the wound is cleaned and covered.
Burns should be kept aired to avoid irritation and further injury.
Practice crafting crutches (I would recommend that you make a crutch support for your walking stick very similar to a bearing block design) so that you are ready should you need to craft one quickly.
13) Start a fire with Flint
Being able to start a fire with flint is essential for times when you do not have access to the wood to make a bowdrill.
You will need to have flint and steel in order to make the fire.
Prior to starting your fire you will need to gather very dry kindle.
If using a farrow rod use the back of your knife (the tool that comes with it is usually rather small and weak). When using any of the two methods keep your flint still and strike with the other component.
14) Make a shelter
Survival training must include practice in making shelters.
The easiest way to do this is to create a lean-to.
To do this you want to have dead fall, or something to build your lean-to against. Keep in mind that if you are building a fire you will want to allocate a bit of space to that as well.
Your open area needs to be facing the dead fall, boulder, etc. .
Use forked supports for the frame and then use dead wood for the roof. Once constructed, use green leaves to keep out rain.
15) Know how to navigate
All the bushcraft skills available are of no use if you cannot navigate in the woods.
If you continue to go in a circle, you will use all your supplies, game will become scarce, and your chances of survival will become bleak.
Focus on understanding how to read the stars, locate moss on trees, follow the flow of water, and watch the sun in order to get natural bearings.