5 Bushcraft Skills That Changed My Life
Everyday you perform mundane tasks like driving your car, buying food at the market or turning on the lights in your home. You’ve become accustomed to all of the modern conveniences our modern society affords us.
But what if a natural disaster or political turmoil were to strike your region?
What would you do if there were no electricity for your house or petrol for your car?
Suddenly, day to day living has become a struggle and the future looks bleak.
Bushcraft skills are techniques for living off of the land with a minimal set of tools and equipment.
Bushcraft skills will enable you to survive in the wild, away from modern conveniences.
Being Self-Sufficient is the Ultimate Survival Skill
Learning bushcraft skills will empower you to thrive in a natural environment. Being able to start a fire or tie the correct knot can be the difference between eating or going hungry and ultimately, life or death.
By learning these bushcraft skills, you will gain confidence and the positive outlook that are essential for surviving the most difficult of situations.
1. Harness The Power of Fire
Humans have been using fire for over a million years. It’s the one bushcraft skill that supersedes all others in importance.
A fire provides you with warmth, a way to cook food, purify water, create smoke signals, harden wooden spears, melt snow and it will keep most wild animals at bay during the night.
Starting a fire can be a challenge if you don’t have any matches or a lighter. So it’s important to assess your situation for things that will aid you in creating a fire.
Glass, batteries, soda cans, pieces of concrete and metal rods can all be utilized to create a fire. You will need different grades of wood to use as tender, kindling and fuel.
Tender is a small bit dry grass or hay that lights easily. Kindling is small twigs and sticks that will burn a little slower than the tender.
The fuel wood will be pieces of wood that are large and will burn for a long time. Always gather twice as much firewood as you think you will need otherwise you may have to go looking for wood in the middle of the night.
A magnifying glass can be used to start a fire on a sunny day. Place the glass about 2 to 3 inches above some dry kindling. Blow on the tender when it starts to smoke and it should flame up. Then put kindling and larger pieces of wood loosely over it to fuel the fire.
If you find a soda can you can smear toothpaste or chocolate onto the bottom of the can and rub it around for a few minutes. Wipe it off and you should have a very shiny metallic surface. You can use this like a parabolic mirror to concentrate the suns rays into a hot spot that will light a piece of kindling.
If the only thing available to you is wood, you can use the wood plow method to start a fire. Tale a small plank-shaped piece of dry, soft wood and a stick of hard wood that is about one half to three quarter inch thick and long enough to give you a good hand grip.
Use your knife to create a 1 inch groove down the center of the plank. With the plank lying flat on the ground, rub the hardwood stick through the trench until you have a decent amount of wood dust. Then, lean the plank against yourself so the wood dust gathers at the bottom of the trench.
Proceed to rub the stick vigorously through the trench until the wood dust begins to smolder. Add your tender and kindling while blowing on the smoldering wood dust until it lights.
2. Master Knots and Ropes
Knot tying is one of the essential skills needed to survive in the bush. Knots are used to create shelter, traps, snares, tools, weapons and clothing.
The four knots I would recommend learning first would be the square lashing, diagonal lashing, shear lashing and the tripod lashing. As the names suggest, these knots are used to bind polls together and are excellent for constructing a shelter or any framed structure.
The double fisherman, double overhand and square knot are all great utility knots that I couldn’t live without. The double fisherman and the square knot are used to join two similar-sized pieces of rope. The double overhand is a great stopper knot and will keep your line from slipping out of other knots.
3. Track What is Around You
Knowing what is around you is vital to long term survival.
By using tracking skills, you can hunt game for nourishment, find fresh water and food sources and even keep tabs on other people in your area.
Animals generally keep to set patterns of travel unless acted upon by outside forces and experienced trackers can tell how long ago something passed by and the general size and weight of the animal based on print erosion and depth and size of the impression.
4. Forage for Your Food
Foraging for edible plants is a primary skill that is essential for survival.
Wild greens, berries, fruits, vegetables and mushrooms can be found in most temperate zones.
Knowing what is edible and what is toxic can be tricky because some plants and mushrooms look very similar to each other. Never eat a plant or berry because it was eaten by a bird or deer because they can tolerate things that are poisonous to humans.
One of the most common edible plants is the dandelion. Dandelions are easily recognizable and every part of the dandelion is edible. The leaves make a great green salad and the stems and roots can be cooked into just about any dish.
Clover is another common edible plant and is great as a salad and the flowers can be dried and used to make a refreshing tea.
I recommend picking up a field guide for plants that are specific to your area or region and that has been published in the last five years.
5. Hunt or Snare your Dinner
Probably the most primal of all the bushcraft skills, hunting is a way to add protein to your diet. The success of your hunt depends on your ability to observe prey or evidence of its presence, and then create a plan to either track it down or trap it.
Keeping tabs on an animal’s daily movements will allow you to know when and where your prey should be in the near future. Inspecting the animal’s droppings is another way to indicate what, and possibly where, the animal has been grazing.
Tracking and killing an animal can be very resource intensive. You could spend hours or even days and still come home with an empty stomach. One way to avoid such a large expenditure of time and resources is the use of snares.
The main advantage of using a snare is that it frees you up to address other essential daily tasks while your dinner is caught.
Snares can be as simple as little loops of wire on a tree branch to capture birds or squirrels or as complex as a spring loaded trigger snare for larger game like rabbits.
One thing to keep in mind is that snares do not discern between animals and humans. It’s highly advisable to clearly mark you snares to avoid harm to other people in the area.