3 Essential Bushcraft Skills

The game of “What If” is a game most people do not want to play. It is never fun to play out worst case scenarios in your mind, but the fact of the matter is, it could save your life one day.

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The game of “What If” is a game most people do not want to play. It is never fun to play out worst case scenarios in your mind, but the fact of the matter is, it could save your life one day. Do you have a spare tire, a jack and set of jumper cables in the trunk of your car? Hopefully you do and if so, that is a step in the right direction for being prepared. Everyone should have these things with them but there are some other tools and skills you should know in order to prepare for a worst-case scenario situation. There are many different situations you can find yourself in where these skills will come in handy and in the end, it feels good knowing that your life is in your control at all times. There are many books available on the market today that can teach you bushcraft skills (the one I recommend for beginners is “Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival” By Dave Canterbury and also “How To Stay Alive In The Woods” By Bradford Angier) and you can also glean a lot of wisdom from YouTube videos but I suggest, if you are wanting to learn the most about bushcraft, finding a local class where you can get hands on training. Until you get into that class however here are three skills, we think are essential to get you started in bushcraft survival.

How to Start a Fire

Fire is one of the most essential things you will need if you are in a survival situation. With fire you are able to keep your core temperature where it needs to be, boil water to ensure it is safe to drink, cook any meat you are able to harvest and also help keep out predators and pest such as mosquitos. I think it goes without saying that the best way to ensure this is something you are always able to do is have some sort of “fire starter kit” with you EDC (every day carry or essentials for survival you have on you every day). A kit could be anything from a book of matches, a lighter or for more seasoned survivalist perhaps some flint and steel with some cotton balls, but not everyone will have these tools on them at all times. What options are there if you do not have any of these tools available? There are a number of ways to naturally start a fire and I suggest looking up articles like “How to Start a Fire Without a Match” on artofmanliness.com, but I am going to focus on my favorite method and that is the Bow Drill. This is a very simple and effective way to start a friction fire. The basics are a socket (a piece of stone or wood used to put pressure on the top of the spindle while you spin), a bow (a piece of wood that has a slight curve and is roughly the size of your arm. The wood has a string of some sort that will wrap around the spindle. The string must be strong enough to spin without breaking), a fireboard (a flat piece of wood with a small notch cut into it with tinder underneath), and a spindle (a nice round stick that the string will wrap around). The idea is to create an ember in the tinder under your fireboard from spinning the spindle bac and forth using the bow over and over again. Once this is perfected, it is a lot of fun and very rewarding to accomplish.

How to Find Water

The first thing you need to do is really a toss-up between the fire and searching for water and it really depends on the situation you are in for which one should come first. If you are in a situation where you feel you will need to boil your water or you have the materials on hand to start a fire easily, go ahead and get your fire going so it is burning while you are out searching for water, in some situations it will also help you find you camp again if you get turned around while out. However, if you are worried you will not have time to start your fire AND search for water before night fall, water is your number one priority. A quick note, no matter how clean the water may look, always filter it in some way. There are a lot of filter straws you can purchase now to make a part of your EDC or you can simply find a way to boil it over your fire. The route you choose to look for water should depend on the climate and situation you are in, however here are a few quick tips for finding water in the wilderness.

1. Become aware of your surroundings and see if there is a lake, river or stream nearby. A lot of times you can hear water or in some situations you can ever smell the water. A lot of animal trails will also eventually lead you to water.

2. Look for a wet area on the ground or side of a hill and dig. This is one of the easiest and fastest ways to locate water near your camp.

3. Set up a rain catch of some sort to collect rainwater. This could be with any containers you have (or have found near camp) or if you have a large cloth or tarp you can always stretch that out with the two back corners higher than the two front corners to create a slide for water to collect in some sort of catch.

4. Another quick and easy way depending on your environment is to simply melt snow. Just keep in mind that you will need to melt a lot of snow because most will evaporite during the process.

These of course are only a few ideas however there are many more ways to find water in the wilderness so do some research and find out what you feel will work best for your situation.

How to Build a Shelter

Along with fire and water, shelter is one of those essentials that will ensure you are not only safe from the elements but also able to get the rest you need in order to make the trek back to safety or wait for rescue. There are more ways than I can count on how to make a shelter and if you have the time, get lost on YouTube watching all the amazing designs people come up with when they are making an emergency shelter in the wilderness. The fact is you need to find a way to get out of the elements and in most situations (not all of course) there will be trees and vegetation

around where you can stack some fallen trees and limbs up to create a small tent shape and then cover the sticks and trees with sod, moss and/leaves that are around you to be sure no weather can get in. It is always smart to build your shelter in a way that you are able to stay close to your fire while keeping a safe understanding that fire WILL burn your shelter down if you are not careful. Take the time to study several different types of shelters and build some in your backyard to get an understanding on what will work and what will lead to disaster.

Really when it comes down to it, water, fire and shelter are your three main needs when in a survival situation. That is why we chose these three skills everyone should know in case they find themselves in a worst-case scenario where they need to survive. Food would be your next task in this situation which would bring us to weapons and tools depending on how long you are out in the wilderness. If this is something you are serious about (and we all should be) I suggest finding some YouTube videos and some bushcraft skills books as soon as possible. The last thing you want is to find yourself in this situation and think “I wish I would have taken a little time to watch a YouTube video so I would be more prepared for this”.

Written exclusively for our company by Jacob Ruble