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Old 10-31-2011, 02:11 PM   #1
Smithy OP
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The Bushcraft Thread

Ok, it got seconded and not vetoed, so here it is.

Discussion of bushcrafting, either as hobby or as a means to prepare for unforeseen circumstance where outdoors skills will be much more important than correctly ordering a latte.


Recently I posted my walkabout bag's contents.




I have attempted to cover my 6 basic needs - water, fire, shelter, signaling, food, and first aid. I am carrying the tools that make answering those needs easier and faster.

I'm also interested in primitive skills, which forgo the need for gear, but find it hard to dedicate much time to it. I consider myself friends with Alan Halcon, who is recognized as one of the masters of the hand-drill, and may still posses the shortest time record for generating a coal through its use.

I was a Cub Scout from the age of 8, though I'd been camping with my parents since I was born, practically. Earned my Eagle at 17, and have been a Scoutmaster in one capacity or another for nearly 20 years now. I have tried nearly every system of camping, from just jumping in the van with a sleeping bag and some groceries, to full-up Mechanized Infantry Scouting (2 Suburbans and trailers full of gear for 8 kids), and am now on a path towards ultralight, though that argument gets silly as you approach zero. I'm always on the hunt for useful ideas, tested methods, and quality equipment I don't need to think about too hard to use.

I participate on several other forums, though most of them tend to take the SHTF Uber-Prepper mentality a bit too far for my taste, and have too many politics floating like scum just above the rich soup of knowledge I'm really after. I'd like to keep this thread practical, and cooperative vs. competitive.


So what's your story?
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:23 PM   #2
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IN!

I love ultra-light hiking. I've got a rucksack packed out with the ten essentials. Will post pics tomorrow.
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Old 10-31-2011, 06:25 PM   #3
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Consider the tomahawk as a bushcraft tool.

It does not chop like an ax, but rather, pecks, at wood. Used smartly, it can be very effective for the light weight it represents in a pack.


It is also a multi-tool. From scraping, splitting, used as an adze, hammer (flat poll) or digging tool (blade or spike end), the head is useful in a wonderful number of ways.


Further, the hawk can replace other hard-to-make gear, like the bow of a bow drill for firemaking.

Exhibit A, from Lester River Bushcraft...
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Old 10-31-2011, 07:31 PM   #4
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:43 PM   #5
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This is going to be a great thread! I'm in.

I've been camping since I was very young. My dad is a retired Marine and our family vacations always involved camping and traveling to various places. I still prefer to travel and sightsee while camping out along the way. The majority of my camping these days is done from the back of a motorcycle, although in the past I've used canoes and my feet as the primary means of travel. Light weight and versatility of gear is something that is a priority for me. I am also an avid birder and take off (on my own) on various day long walkabouts, some of which are in remote areas where (in an emergency), I might have to be able to provide for myself for a period of time.

In my bow hunting days, I once got turned around in an unfamiliar swamp in fading daylight. To make a long story short, I ended up spending the night out. I was able to build a fire and get my bearings in the morning, but I learned some valuable lessons about the importance of being prepared when I was out on my own and things don't go as planned.

Most of my bushcraft knowledge has been gained from various forums, books (Boy Scout Handbook, misc. military survival publications, etc.), my own practice and folks I've met from time to time. I find this whole topic fascinating and would like to improve my skills and knowledge base.

I'd like to share a few things with the members here and also learn a few things along the way. I love the outdoors and anything that can enhance my enjoyment of it would be a big plus for me.
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Old 10-31-2011, 08:46 PM   #6
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You have to stay dry. Some kind of poncho? Tarp?
LED flashlights are the stuff. Cheap and long lasting. Get the double AA without those PITA cradles for the triple AAA batts.
According to the guy on TV you can eat about any dead animal as long as it's cooked.
Gaspipe just rolls up in a tarp when he camps.

DELTATANGO screwed with this post 10-31-2011 at 08:51 PM
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:11 PM   #7
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I think the single most important tool a man outdoors can have is a solid knife. The most important skill, however, is probably making fire. Fire is everything. It warms your body, cooks your food, purifies your water, cuts larger wood for shelter (so you don't wear out a knife on a 4 inch thick log), keeps the animals and boogeymen away, signals for help, can be used for first-aid (sterilizing and cauterizing), and just plain-old makes a person happier... and attitude is everything in a survival situation.

There are so many awesome and effective ways to make fire, I had to really scale down what I put in my walkabout bag. I chose to go with simple, light, and bombproof methods for that kit. I carry 2 mini bic's, a book of paper matches, have a zippo in my pocket, the ferro rod in the pack and a tiny one on my keychain, a tin of charcloth, and a pile of tinder-quick tabs and a couple wetfire cubes. If I can't start fire with that, it must be bad. About the only thing I could carry to up the ante a bit is a fire biscut (cedar sawdust soaked in wax) and a road flare.

Yes, under good conditions, one could do a hand drill, bow drill, Egyption bow drill, fire saw, or fire plow. Preindustrial kit would be flint and steel, with charcloth and tinder bundle. I've always wanted to try a fire piston, but the they're expensive and the one I tried to make didn't turn out well. But starting a "first fire" by primitive means without anything manufactured (including char cloth) is a challenging feat for anyone, and incliment weather complicates it exponentially. I prefer to cheat when I have to, and practice skill when I can.

But knowing how, if the modern tool breaks, or you run out of commercial tinder, or the lighter goes dry, is a valuable skill to have and one I need to develop more.

Hand drill with Alan Halcon:





This guy's a total goofball, but he shows the egyptian bow drill well enough:





Traditional flint and steel:

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Old 10-31-2011, 09:16 PM   #8
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This is gonna be fun. I am an avid outdoorsman. Hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, & dual sports. Those are my vices. If I'm not at work or home you will find me in the woods. Been hanging out in the backwoods since I was a child. I was hunting by age 4. My 3 year old is already fishing & can identify basic animal tracks. I am a firm believer that these skills must be passed on.

I will have to take some pics of my shoulder bag & its goodies. I am looking forward to the knowledge we can gain & share with each other.

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Old 10-31-2011, 09:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DELTATANGO View Post
You have to stay dry. Some kind of poncho? Tarp?
LED flashlights are the stuff. Cheap and long lasting. Get the double AA without those PITA cradles for the triple AAA batts.
According to the guy on TV you can eat about any dead animal as long as it's cooked.
Gaspipe just rolls up in a tarp when he camps.

I run with an ultra-sil tarp/poncho, with sewn loops for stake-out's and lines, which is enough for a one-man ultralightweight shelter. If I'm going with a group, or simply want wretched excess, I pack my Chinook guide tarp, which is a good 10x12. With that I can weather just about any situation in comfort.

My kit also includes the LED headlamp, which I prefer to a flashlight for the hands-free nature of it, when I want it - or I can just hold it when rummaging around in the dark for a moment.


Following the Rule of 3's, food is so far down the list that scavaging dead critters is very low among my priorities. Nothing wrong with found food, but questionable meat isn't something I want to be eating, no matter how well cooked.



3 minutes without air.
3 hours without shelter (in a hostile environment).
3 days without water.
3 weeks without food.

Sure, the survival shows get all uppity about "energy levels" and "hiking out, we need the calories" putting food at an inappropriate place on the list of things to do. The SAR guys don't teach "hug a tree" for nothing, though, and if you're really lost, and really hoping they'll find you, quit moving. Conserve energy, stay hydrated as best you can, and tend to your health and shelter from the environment while preparing to signal for help, visibly, audibly, or even electronically.

If you're not surviving, you're just camping, and camping happens along a spectrum of comfort levels.
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Old 10-31-2011, 09:55 PM   #10
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Good stuff, I'll be watching this thread. I've always been comfortable with "light" camping and packing as it comes with doing most of it from a bike. However, my real survival skills need work...I've never even considered that I wouldn't have access to a firearm and ammo, but in reality both weigh a lot and are never a given.

From the items posted so far, my first concern may be learning how to tie some darned knots, it's always been a weak spot for me.
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Old 10-31-2011, 10:16 PM   #11
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http://www.animatedknots.com/
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:43 AM   #12
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I'm in!

Study and research are important, but if I practiced as much as I read, I would be more proficient at the skills. The subject is endlessly entertaining to me though, and I enjoy spending time and thought on it.

When camping, especially on the bike, I try to have every item I take perform more than one function. I keep a list of what I take each time. After a number of trips, I TRY to eliminate the items that are not used. These do not include emergancy items for first aid or survival. Sometimes the comfort of having an item trumps the weight of carrying it.

I carry a mini Bic, firesteel and matches. I use an alcohol stove, and if fire starting is tough, a splash of alcohol does make things easy.
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Old 11-01-2011, 05:47 AM   #13
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I spent most of the first half of my life walking in the woods. That was one of the good things about being a third generation land surveyor. If you take camping out of the equation and are only talking survival then to me there is only one "essential": a damned good knife.

And by knife a mean a machete or bush knife of some kind. With that you can cut wood, dig, defend yourself and generally make most things you need. That is pretty much all I carry except maybe water. But I am rarely without one or the other of these trusted tools when I am alone in the woods:

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Old 11-01-2011, 06:39 AM   #14
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Been camping/hiking/backpacking since I was young. From the car as a roving base to remote solo stuff. Don't discuss it much because few understand my need for distance from humans occasionally. It's a source of pride that I can get by with what I carry. Not how I'd like to live but nice to know it's not a problem.

And the knowledge that nothing beats fresh brook trout for breakfast is priceless.
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Old 11-01-2011, 07:39 AM   #15
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Knives are an interesting subject, and we have a thread full of 'em.

But what makes a good bushcraft knife? Size? Shape? Mass?

Some prefer a long knife, like the gentleman above. Some prefer smaller pieces, like Mora blades for most outdoor stuff. I consider it entirely a personal choice, and I've come down on both sides of the argument at different times.

I think chief among attributes are that it be comfortable to use for long periods of time - when it's your most important tool, you should be able to hold it safely, cut without putting your own fingers at risk, and not incur blisters or discomfort while using it, a lot.
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