Bushcraft - What Is It?

Bushcraft means many different things to all types of persons, to some it means wild camping in some far off location, living off the land using only things found in the wilderness. To others it is simply being able to light a fire using only a fire steel. The origins of bushcraft are probably lost in the mists of time, aboriginal peoples in the outback of Australia were able to survive in that hostile environment because they had an intimate knowledge of the wildlife, plant life and terrain. This knowledge enabled them to find water where there was apparently none, and food were no animal life or plant life appeared to exist. In short experience and folk law had told them that they could live in an extreme environment whose hostility to human life was second to none.

The same applies to the Bushmen of the Kalahari both tribes learnt their bushcraft in the same way. Word of mouth and experience were the key learning methods, there were no experts other than the ancestors whose stories of the dream time were handed down through the generations by tribal elders using word of mouth rather than the written word, or indeed television, dvd, computers, telephones, mobile phones, smart phones, two tin cans and a length of string, morse code, radio, ham radio, cb radio. Just proper bushcraft knowledge honed over the ages.

To live we need water, food, shelter and warmth. Nowadays water can be turned from brackish to potable in a number of ways, filters and purifiers are available to the outdoorsman but first he needs to capture the water or harvest it from his surroundings. This is easier if there is a river, lake, stream, brook, puddle, water course, water source available to him and he has some means of containing the water. Mess tins, a tarp, his hatf, the container for his survival kit or a plastic bag that was such an essential part of the survival equipment. Water from rainfall or the environment can also be obtained and treated by the survivalist. Using a tarp as a solar still is one way of doing this important work, it simply has moisture condensing on it in tiny droplets and dependent on the relative humidity of the area the amount caught can be enough to sustain life.

Having obtained and contained water the bushcraft expert or novice alike needs to ensure that it is potable before drinking or cooking with it. Potable means that the water will not contain any pathogens that could cause illness or in extreme cases even death. The simplest way to remove the nasties from water is by filtration, the Millbank Bag is the old Ministry of Defence favourite, this simple filtration device can be made of a fine mesh sock or pair of tights or even stockings, and filling them with sphagnum moss from the handy nearby peat bog. Filters can be commercially bought by the bushcraft enthusiast and are a much safer way of producing drinking or cooking water.


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