The 2018 Ultimate Guide for Beginner Bushcraft
Picture this. You and some friends are out casually hiking for the afternoon, so you do not pack your normal rucksack. You all are laughing, cutting up, with not a care in the world, while taking in the awesome fellowship between friends. As the sun starts to set, you notice your not where you thought you should be and realize you are lost. The trails you were following must not have been marked correctly. As the thought cool night starts to fall, realization sets in. You are going to have to stay the night out in the cold unprepared.
- What do you do?
- Can you survive the night? Even worse, more than a couple of days?
If you have the right skills you have a better chance and that is where bushcraft comes in.
What is Bushcraft and how does it differ from just going camping?
skill in anything pertaining to bush country, as in finding one’s way, hunting, or finding water.
It is the art of being able to survive on minimal gear in any situation, wilderness survival skills.
Originating from Australia “the Bush” and what “bushman” used to survive in such unforgiving territory. Read more about origins at Wikipedia.
It’s not just an art to look cool, be a hipster or pretend to be a GI Joe.
[Tweet “It is a form of art. The Art to Survive in your surroundings.”]
Camping is fun, it teaches you how to be in the outdoors and allows you to enjoy being in God’s creation.
I loved camping as a kid with my dad and I hope to be able to do it more with my kids when they get older. They are just too young right now to appreciate it (as of writing this, my daughter is 5 and my son is 2 ½ years old).
My daughter and I, took our first camping trip this year and it did not go so well. Read all about the 21 easy made mistakes camping toddlers that happened to me on our trip and hope you do not make the same mistakes.
With camping everything, everything is cozy, comfortable, pre-made, commercial, out of a box and with usually all the comforts of home.
You unload the pots, pans, coolers, folding chairs, generators for power, lighter fluid, a bag of charcoal for the grill, tents, cots, sleeping bags, bug sprays, mosquito nets, bags of snacks, all toiletries including makeup and hairspray. The list goes on and on.
Practically setting up your home, just outside still within walking distance from your vehicle.
Now before anyone blows a gasket, I am not saying this is how everyone camps, nor am I saying this is a bad thing.
Camping this way is family friendly and is a good time for everyone and will make lasting memories for years to come.
Some of my best memories are trips just like the one mentioned above, just try to learn some new skills while you are in the woods camping.
Why is bushcraft a better option?
Bushcraft takes away the comforts of home, that normal camping allows.
It is a minimalist way of camping, teaching you how to do without the luxuries and the technologies that have modernized our way of doing life.
This way of “camping” gets you back to learning how to survive on what you have and can carry in a rucksack.
Teaches you skills that our ancestors used generations before us, that has been lost due to other generations not passing down the art of tried and true methods as taught previously to them.
Because you never know when you’re going to need any one of these skills or when these skills may save lives.
No one can predict your future, but you do not want to not know the skills when you desperately need them.
That is why it’s important to practice the art of survival for when the “what if” ever happens to you.
Emergency situations are not the best time to “try to figure out” or learn.
Here is what a small bushcraft base camping with minimal gear looks like when all set up.
Bushcraft Survival skills to practice that can save your life.
-Shelter the number 1 skill to learn
A shelter is one of the most important aspects of survival and camping. It is very difficult to be able to survive or Camp without having a shelter over your head to keep you out of the elements.
What is the number one survival Shelter by most bushcraft experts?
The standard tarp.
My set up – – – – – #bushcraft #woodsman #theloneoakwoodsman #theleagueofwoodsmen #instanature #forest #modernoutdoorsman #traditional #primitive #survivalskills #wildernesslivingskills #selfreliance #photo #modernoutdoorsman #photography #forest #getoutside #natureseeker #livinglife #survival #instagood #photooftheday #wildernessculture #adventure #setup
The Standard tarp can be used for various different situations.
- One way is to be a cover overhead
- Can be used as a mat to lay down on
- Use it as a blanket.
The tarp is the most versatile shelter and the lightest to carry in your rucksack or pack.
Choose the tarp, with paracord and makeshift stakes.
This setup is the lightest to carry, can be used almost anywhere and in almost any situation.
Still confused how to make a shelter out of a tarp?
Here is a video on how to set one up.
Another way to create shelter is by creating one out of materials in the environment.
Which would mean cutting yearling trees and making either a teepee Style using tree coverings, spider hut or makeshift lean-to out of the same style of materials found in your environment.
All kinds of shelters can be made out of just about anything but you need to decide what works best for your situations and skill level.
Finding water is essential to staying alive
Water is vital.
You need to find water as quickly as possible. The water needs to be clean and drinkable.
If you cannot find drinkable pure water then you need to use a water purifier or a purification process, as well as boiling BEFORE CONSUMPTION.
Every person should have water purifying tablets or a purifying filter in their emergency sack, backpack or whatever means of a kit that you have.
Without water, you will not make it.
[Tweet “You can make it 30 days without food but you cannot make it 3 days without water. Water is very very important.”]
You can find drinkable water in streams, rivers, ditches, condensation, dew in the morning on leaves, muddy puddles found in your environment. You can also make water by using different types of instruments, like stills, to make your own condensation.
**CAUTION** Make sure you boil any water you plan to drink that you know has not been purified. YOU MUST BOIL ALL WATER BEFORE DRINKING.
-Building a fire quickly and efficiently without gasoline
The thirds most important element is fire.
You need to know how to make a fire without gasoline, lighter fluid or any other flammable material that has to be purchased.
Knowing how to make a fire with natural resources that you can find in the woods or in your environment.
These skills need to be taught and learned PRIOR to being in an emergency situation.
An emergency is not the time to learn.
The type of fuel we are talking about, in order to make the fire the proper way, is wood tender, chips of wood, dry grass, dead foliage, dry moss or anything else that can be burned by a spark.
What will you need in order to make a fire?
You will need:
- way to make a spark (ignition)
- some fuel tender (something from the list above)
- Oxygen (forced)
These are the three Essentials to make fire.
Finding Food in God’s Grocery Store
Gathering, fishing or hunting for food.
Food is an important necessity while trying to survive or just recreational camping.
Which I am sure I do not have to tell you this as we all love to eat.
If you do not bring your food with you, you will have to find food in order to survive or have a pleasant camping trip.
What are some things to look for when trying to gather food or trying to forage for food?
Berries wild berries are easy to find in certain regions however they are not abundant everywhere. They are edible plants in not only your backyard but also and the Wild. Roots, mushrooms, certain types of moss, certain types of blades of grass, pine needles and many, many, more are available for you to eat.
Fishing for Meat
Fishing is a great way to provide a protein source for your immediate survival or just for recreational camping.
Don’t know the first thing about fishing? No worries. We have you covered here in this post – New and Complete Helpful How to Fishing for Beginners.
There are several ways of catching fish.
If you want to look at it for my minimalist point, all you need is a small spool of thread or fishing line, like monofilament or braid, fishing hook, weight, and something to use as bait.
This method is called handlining and has been around for centuries as a way of catching fish. You can read more about handline fishing with a complete breakdown for beginners with our article here – New and Complete Helpful How to Fishing for Beginners.
Me, my little brother and our friends, that we grew up with, use to handline catfish out of the creeks and ponds inside the neighborhoods.
It was a lot of fun and super easy to do.
How we would fish with hand lines. We would tie hooks on about 2 feet from the sink weight and then use pieces of hot dog as bait.
We would spoil off about 10 ft of monofilament line (because it was cheaper) spin it around our heads, as if we were throwing a sling, letting go at the very last moment to get as much distance as we possibly could with our line.
Once the baited hook is in the water, we would hold onto the spool in one hand and the line that is out in the water in the other, and wait to get a bite.
When the bite was on, you will feel the line in your (that is in the water) begin to tug from the fish trying to swim away with the baited hook.
What you would need to do next, is just pull the line that is in the water with your hands. By doing this you set the hook.
Once you set the hook you need to hang on because it’s going to be a fight.
Continue to keep pulling in the line until you bring your catch up to the bank and free from the water.
The second method brings a fishing pole however they can be somewhat clumsy to carry and sometimes awkward to pack but they do make collapsible fishing poles to fit in a rucksack or backpack.
My most favorite method, if I’m not being an extreme purest minimalist, is to bring my travel fly fishing rod.
Fly fishing is not only a sport but an art. If you have never fly fish before, you really need to try it.
This type of fishing is definitely a challenge, but much more rewarding with every catch.
There is a lot of movement going on but the reward of catching a fish on a fly or lure that you tied is much more gratifying than any other way of fishing I have done.
For me, I don’t think I will ever go back to spin tackle after learning how to fly fish.
You can catch all types of fish on fly fishing gear.
The Flies are all different shapes, sizes, colors, and weights in order for you to be able to catch the smallest brook trout all the way up to sailfish and Marlins.
It truly is one of the most versatile ways of catching fish.
If you would like to learn how to fly fish as a beginner than read our article designed specifically for you : How to Fly Fishing for Beginners Made Simple
Did I mention how much fun it is?
Hunting and trapping game animals.
Another method in order to provide protein and fat for yourself is through the art of trapping and hunting.
Trapping is when you set up traps in order to catch the small game or even larger game if the trap size permits.
These traps go back all the way to ancient times.
From small quail traps, squirrel traps or snare traps to larger traps as in pits with spikes and large falling objects.
In today’s time, the steel step traps are more commonly used.
Hidden, so the animal steps on the trigger of the trap and it collapses around the animal’s ankle.
These traps are used mainly for fur trapping, however, in a survival situation, you could use these traps as well if you had them on you.
The only drawback to carry in these or trying to carry these is they are very heavy and usually would not be with the minimalist bushcraft survival bag.
However, a lot of other traps can be made with natural materials, like that of the snare trap step traps.
These are great for catching small depending on how long you will be in your current survival situation or recreational camping.
Stalking, my favorite way to hunt.
“2And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.
3Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.
Stalking is probably my favorite because it allows me to move around, however again challenging as the more moving that you do, the more sound that you make and the more sounds you make, the less likely you are to see any game animals for harvesting.
Weapon of choice is the bow and arrow, the art of archery.
As you can tell I’m more of a person who likes the challenge in anything that I do.
Archery dates back to ancient periods of history for hunting, as well as for Warfare.
Archery takes more skill level in order to get everything just right to take your shot and make it count.
However I do also hunt with a gun so I’m not a purist, but I do enjoy it a little more.
As stated before, I like the challenge, however, I feel, with archery you get to be a little more intimate with the process of the hunt.
Shots are not taken at 100+ yards away. They are taken within 50 yards and under, with most shots taken within less than 20 yards.
Stalking an animal to within 20 yards, without being identified by their incredible instincts, while being able to draw your bow and make a shot that allows you to harvest the animal for all of your essentials brings you to a level of respect for “the hunt”.
You have given the animal a level playing field during the hunt as you trying to outsmart his God-given instincts of survival.
A true testament to survival for both parties involved. You the Hunter and the animal as the prey.
Insert videos photos and any other resources on trapping and archery hunting.
Bushcraft equipment and gear: minimal but are essential
-Fixed blade knife, strong, sharp, that can be used correctly
A good, sturdy, sharp knife, is the one tool you must make sure is in every pack, kit or pants pocket every time that you leave the house.
If you can, and your state does not have legal guidelines about knives for carrying, try to get a fixed blade knife in the 5-7” blade range.
The fixed blade is all one piece so it does not fold.
A folding knife is not as durable as a fixed blade knife for some of the tasks you will require your knife to do bushcraft.
Making sure that your knife is sharp is essential to ensure your tool will work for you when you need it to.
There are a lot of techniques on how to sharpen knives but what will be explaining in this series is how to do it the old fashion way, with:
The reason that you want a fixed blade knife is that it gives you more versatility on what you can and cannot do like with a folding blade or pocket knife.
A fixed blade knife can actually work like a Hatchet if need be depending on it.
Batoning is a key essential to learn when working on your bushcraft survival skills.
The process looks like this. Place the knife blade sharp side down, into a piece of fire tender (small branch) and using a larger stick or branch as a hammer, hammer down of the back of the knife blade to the drive the blade through the wood tender splitting it into smaller pieces.
Not wanting to beat your expensive fixed blade knife for fear of breaking it?
I am with you on this one.
Some of these knives can get very expensive, so why would you want to go and risk breaking the blade? My thoughts exactly, however, I have been known to do it.
Another approach to splitting wood with a knife, without the risk of damaging your expensive blade is by building a wedge out of hardwood.
Take another larger piece of hardwood and shave one end of it into a wedge shape. Think like the shape of an ax head.
The same principle applies.
Cut a groove into the top end of the wood you want to split and place the tip wedge into the groove. Now grab a larger piece of hardwood branch to use as a hammer.
Hammer on the hardwood wedge until the wood you are splitting, splits.
Wood split without possibly damaging the expensive knife that you will need for other important tasks.
The reason that you would want to do this, is to cut smaller wood into fire tender without the risk of cutting yourself with a hatchet or ax. Major cuts out in the wilderness can happen quickly and that is not what you need in a survival situation.
Losing an appendage or not being able to stop bleeding is almost always fatal in survival situations.
It is not advised to try to use a hatchet on small pieces of wood.
I am speaking from experience with this.
Just not too long ago, I was trying to chop a small piece of fire tender into smaller pieces for quick-fire making.
Low and behold, it slipped out, and I hit my finger with the hatchet.
Lucky for me, I was only in the backyard with a backyard campfire and was able to clean it out, dress it properly to make sure infection did not set in and that I did not need stitches.
Batoning will keep this from happening if done correctly.
Keep your knife and your hatchet sharp, very, very important.
Make sure that you maintain them with proper oils to keep from rusting and to maintain a sharp edge.
Knife sheath and Hatchet scabbard are very important in order to keep the edge from getting nicked, but also to keep you from cutting yourself or your items inside your rucksack.
The proper way to sharpen a knife or Hatchet
Use a metal file or rough edge steel in order to begin getting the shape you require to create an edge.
Once the edge is to its folding point, where each side of the ax or knife blade folds over each other at the edge causing burrs.
This where you would then bring a sharpening stone to the edge, finally remove the burrs off of the edge smoothing its surface.
Once you remove the burrs and smooth and the edge, the third and final step is to use a leather strop.
This can be accomplished with the very leather belt that you’re wearing.
Flip it over to the rough side (the side that would rub against your pants) apply an abrasive paste or toothpaste, and begin to work the edge of the blade against the leather holding leather tightly.
Hold the edge at about a 25-degree angle and slowly slide the edge of the blade against the leather.
You must have maintained a tight hold on the leather so that the edge of the knife or Hatchet does not cut the leather.
This final step removes the minute, small micro-burs, that you cannot see and cannot get with a stone creating, a razor-sharp edge.
Survival weekends are a great way to hone your skills
Find out where your weaknesses are and what Bushcraft skills to practice.
This is a great way to see what you are good at and what still needs work in honing specific skills.
For instance, I am terrible at feather sticking. Not sure if my knife is at the right angle, sharp enough or if I am picking the wrong type of wood.
What I do know if that is a weakness that needs to be worked on so that is what I work on. Honing that skill that could mean life or death someday.
You are only as strong as your knowledge of your weakness.
Placing yourself in a situation (not an emergency but scheduled) to where you have to rely on only your skills will allow you to see what you need to work on.
If you do not put yourself outside your comfort level, you will not identify these areas that need work.
Build your own bushcraft skills checklist.
Like with the above honing your skills, survival weekends can show help you build a checklist of skills that you need.
Here in Florida, I don’t really need to practice the skill of making a fire in the snow. It never snows here and if it does (mainly in the panhandle) it is not very much. That skill is not one that I would necessarily need in my checklist for bushcraft here in Florida.
However, building a fire in the rain. I most absolutely need to add that to my bushcraft checklist for here in Florida.
There is a saying here. “If you do not like the weather here, give it 15 minutes because it will change.”
During summer months, you can count on afternoon sun showers almost every day.
Checklists will help keep you organized, train you on what “you” will need in your rucksack and teach you the flow of how to successfully perform your skills efficiently.
Your checklist may be different from mine, as well as others because the checklist is catered to “you” by what have learned, your skill level and preferred tools.
For example, your preferred fire starter method may be a lighter and waterproof match. When I prefer a magnesium striker and char cloth. While others may prefer flint and steel.
We all have our own preferences, skill levels and that is why to discover your checklist is vital.
Create your own bushcraft survival kit to meet your skill set.
As mentioned above, your bushcraft survival kit is not a cookie cutter, one size fits all style of kit.
It needs to fit your needs and the environment you will be in.
It all starts with the key factors being covered, staying minimal with just the necessities and the ability to put them all in a rucksack, backpack, haversack or satchel (some kind of carrying source).
- Shelter (tarp or small tent)
- Water needs (purifier or tablets)
- Fire Starter (at least 2 different ways)
- Hatchet ( Got this one for Christmas and love it – review coming soon)
- Saw (folding or small bow)
- First Aid kit
- Appropriate clothing
- Paracord (50 feet)
- Gloves (leather)
- Cup or mug
- Any food you want to bring
- Any medications that you MUST TAKE (be smart about this)
- Anything else your skill level may need or want to carry
Remember, the idea is to be minimal and use what God has created to supply everything else that you did not pack.
We are going to do a full review on what to put in your Bushcraft Kit going over:
- the different items to bring
- why you should pack them
- How to get the best bang for your money with gear
- What not to bring because you can make or find it
- And more in-depth on the types of kits you must have
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Camping and Bushcraft have a lot of the same features. Getting you and your family out the house and into God’s Creation for you to enjoy.
Whether you like the idea of minimalist bushcraft style of camping, learning new skills or honing what you already know, try taking your next camping trip to the next level and remove some of your comforts to see what skills you need to improve.
It could mean the difference between life or death for you and your family in an emergency situation if you are not prepared.
- What if your favorite way to camp?
- Is it bushcraft or the traditional way?
Share this with someone you know who needs to step up their game at the campsite and Let’s have a talk about it.