What is Bushcraft ?
What is Bushcraft ?
I started camping at a very young age. Growing up in Louisiana, we would often hit the woods and make a weekend of it. Later the family would hit the woods for several weeks camping along a river or near a lake. I grew up hunting, fishing and trapping. I often spent days in the woods hiking and camping on my own. Our family had a large piece of land, and I would go out at the lake near my home to do the same.
I loved the outdoors, and loved it more ,even when the weather wasn’t great. I would often be out hiking in the warm rain. Loving every minute of it.
I didn’t know it at the time but I was learning and using skills in the woods that I got from my dad, uncles and grand dads. I didn’t have any special kit. In the beginning I didn’t have any special clothing, or kit. No high speed fire lighter. Not even a tent nor sleeping bag.
Back then I used what was around the house. My dad being a soldier would give me some kit to use outdoors. He gave me a web belt with a canteen from the Army. I got myself an Army Poncho. I’d find twine and carry several feet of that with me. My fire lighting kit was a lighter and matches. I had a good pocket knife so that was covered. I was given an Army wool Blanket.
For food, I’d grab some things from the house. Can of beans, bread, hot dogs, to carry along. When it was hunting season I’d kill a squirrel. And when fishing I’d catch some brim, catfish or a small bass. I’d clean the animals, and skewer them over the fire, open the beans and let it simmer over the coals.
For me I was in the outdoors, and loving it.
So, again what is Bushcraft?
According to Wikipedia. Bushcraft is the use and practice of skills, acquiring and developing knowledge and understanding, in order to survive and thrive in a natural environment.
I read this and one thing catches my eye. Skills to thrive.
When I took my first Bushcraft Course under the Ray Mears, some many years ago. I found the course fun, and interesting. But did I learn anything new?
I would say, Yes!
But in reality, I didn’t learn any thing new. What I did do was revise what lessons, and skills I’d already learned growing up in the woods.
How to build a fire.
Build a structure to protect me from the elements.
Sharpen a knife.
Forage for food. (this depends on location, local knowledge)
Trapping animals and preparing them to eating.
How to carve a spoon.
Just to name a few.
I loved the course enough, that when I returned back to my home, I started teaching classes. My kids at first. And although, hey may be rusty, know how to start a fire.
I’ve taught Bushcraft for near 20 years now. Am I an expert? No, by no means, But this is due to life outside of bushcraft. If you don’t use it all the time. You get rusty.
I will say this.
The more knowledge you have the less you have to carry.
Plants, and animals are very important. If you don’t know what plants you can eat, or you can’t or won’t kill game to eat. You will fail at Thriving in the outdoors.
Of course you can do what many of “US” do when bushcrafting. And that is bring food. I do it. So does everyone else I know. But we still need to learn the rest.
So. What is Bushcraft to you?