So I have decided to start a blog to share some of my thoughts, musings and learnings around my exploration in bushcraft. As you probably have figured out by now if you have an interest in bushcraft, it is an exciting, never ending source of new things to learn. Bushcraft is the biggest topic in the world and often trying to define an outer limit to where things stop being bushcraft and become say survival or homesteading or just daily life is not as easy as it might first seem and in a lot of instances boil down to just timescales and intention.
In an immediate scenario of being launched into a situation where you have to provide basic requirements of staying alive this most would consider this a survival situation. But if we extend this to where we are spending a week to a month in the wilderness where we are now looking at choosing to be there and aim to provide some of our requirements for ourselves then again most would describe this as bushcraft. Now if we extend this time scale to several months to a year or more depending on how we choose to equip ourselves or provide our requirements some would call this bushcraft or if we were growing food to sustain a steady food supply and have built a small cabin to live in maybe homesteading. Now what about tribal situations in say the Amazon or Africa, if you are to believe television these people get up every morning with dramatic music playing in the background while they gather water for their daily needs or and ‘struggle to survive’ as they go looking for a sago palm to feed themselves. The skills and knowledge they use daily are often what we call bushcraft but to them it’s all quite calm and comfortable and they just call it living.
Now I am not trying to give absolutes or stake a claim on what’s what here by any means, in fact, just the opposite I’m trying to remove the boundaries and open up the fields of exploration to gain a better understanding of all of these skills and knowledge which ultimately will give a more holistic understanding of what we love doing.
I have noticed that as bushcraft becomes more popular (particularly here in Ireland) there are a lot of smaller places offering Bushcraft activities which is great, the more there is out there the better. But one of the less beneficial things is that buscfaft is becoming a reduced to a few basics and that’s it. There was a bushcraft course I proposed to a group of parents and children as part of an ongoing learning module to incorporate as an adjunct to their curriculum and one of the replies to it was ’bushcraft, we have done that already’ which emphasised the point for me, that bushcraft is thought of as just a few skills and tricks you do while camping, not a deep understanding or the world around you and the life you live in it.
What I have found in my own experience is bushcraft is more than just a few skills some choice items of kit and some select knowledge. For me bushcraft is all about living in place and every element that makes that possible. As well as knowing the core skills and how to craft the items you need in the short term you also need to develop an understanding of your environment, the plants, trees and habitats they create and the wildlife they’re home to. You need to understand how your own body deals with the situations you put it into be able to provide it what it needs to stay balanced and healthy. And if you plan on incorporating bushcraft as a way of life on a longer term or remote setting you need to be able to repair create and replace all of your equipment that provide you with the comforts you are accustomed to while there. How well you understand your environment and situation dictates how comfortable and self-reliant you can be.
I often say I don’t believe there are any extra points for being cold wet or uncomfortable in the bush, as if it’s sustained, it generally means you’re doing something wrong. So what I hope to do with this blog is to share with you some of my trains of thought that I wonder on and some of my experiments and developments that help me gain a better understanding of all the variables of living in place.