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What the Heck is “Bushcraft”?

The Oxford Dictionary defines bushcraft as "skill in matters pertaining to life in the bush ". I was somewhat underwhelmed when I looked this up.

In a broader sense, Bushcraft is not a single skill but a combination of many that help to provide the physical necessities for a person to survive (and hopefully thrive) in nature or the wilderness.

These skills include foraging for edible plants, tracking, hunting, or trapping wild game, fishing, locating and purifying water, shelter building, fire-starting, fashioning cordage and rope, knots, lashings, natural navigation, and tool or weapon making.

So let’s back up a bit. Maslow's hierarchy of needs defines physical necessities as the things you need to take care of to continue your physical well-being and survival. Things like breathing, urination, and defecation are quite motivating when there is urgency.

Ever tried to do something when you have to pee? Everything else just suddenly seems a little less important, doesn’t it?

Other needs like warmth, food, water, sleep, and shelter can be provided with the above skills.

Today, these needs are often overlooked or taken for granted. Supermarkets provide most of the food and drink we consume. Modern homes provide running water and warmth (or air conditioning), and a warm comfortable bed to sleep in. I am not typically a doomsayer, but our last two years of COVID have proven how the systems everyone depends on can be upset or lost.

Could you spend a night in the outdoors with just whatever you have on you? Maybe lost on a back road because your GPS died, or you have no cell service, or your car ran out of gas or power?

I am proud of the fact that when my friends were asked the theoretical question “What is the one thing you would want to have if you were lost on a deserted island?” most of the time they would just point in my direction.

Learning and practicing some basic Bushcraft skills can go a long way to keep you comfortable in an unexpected situation.

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