Prepping is made up of many different aspects of life, and Bushcraft is one of them. You don’t need to be a Navy Seal to understand tactics and defense. You don’t need to be the CEO of a fortune 500 company to invest in gold and silver, and you don’t need to 30 days in the wild to understand Bushcraft.
As preppers all we need to do is take the advice from people who have done these things, and incorporate them into our prepping plans as we see fit. Today in the show I talked to Shawn who does take Bushcraft seriously, and he talked about the aspects of wilderness survival that are important to preppers.
As some of you know, Shawn runs the website FolkwayLodge and donated 2 of his American flag wall art in the last contest.
SPP184 Bushcraft Basics for Preppers
In this show we tried to cover as many topics as possible, and it’s pretty hard to do. This show is general information about Bushcraft for preppers. We plan on digging deeper into these topics and how Bushcraft applies to the 5 areas of preparedness in the future.
Here are some notes that Shawn put together for the show this week. If you do have any questions or comments, just leave them at the end of this article.
What is Bushcraft?
Definition of Bushcraft by Horace Kephart
– The Art of Getting along well in the wilderness by utilizing natures storehouse. –
“A good woodsman must be able to- enter the wilderness, with no outfit other than what’s carried by horse, canoe, or his back, and find his way without man made marks to guide him; they must know the habits and properties of trees and plants, the ways of catching and dressing fish and game, and cooking them over a fire. They must know how to build adequate shelter against wind and rain, and keep himself warm through the bitter nights of winter.”
- Water borne bacteria in North America, Ghardia & Cryptosporidium.
- CDC recommends filtering water first, then boiling for decontamination.
- Iodine, & Chlorine dioxide tablets/drops: These are useful, but not for long term. The recommendation is no more than 3 weeks. May be resisted by Cryptosporidium and are unsafe for pregnant women.
- Most chemical measurements are based on 32 oz., Mark a dimple large metal bottles.
- UV steri-pens not worth using long term, batteries are not reliable.
- Charcoal & Ceramic Filters by themselves are useful in time sensitive situations (bugging out), but no filter is 100%. Filters like the Sawyer and life straw are far better than a field expedient water filter.
- Boiling should always be used as primary method when possible, kills 100% of pathogens.
- Distilling water systems remove Lead, Arsenic, other metal substances, but are high energy, or slow/minimal effectiveness when using The Sun.
- Contact Time: CDC recommends boiling water for 1 min. to kill pathogens. 3 min. Above 2000m (6,562ft)
- Use metal containers, for water boiling and other uses (char material, medicine, cooking food). Plastic is not recommended.
- When no metal is container available, water can be boiled using a wood container, and hot stones.
Medicine & Edibles (Pine)
- North America holds 46 Species in 5 genera, very widespread and common throughout the States. Pine trees are one of most versatile and useful trees/plants.
- Best Pine to use is soft pine or white pine.
- An easy trick to identify White Pine is the needles. These pine trees have 4 or 5 needles together in one bundle, all others have 1, 2 or 3.
- Ponderosa, Lodgepole and Monterey pine are known to be harmful to livestock. Yew tree can be deadly to humans.
- Different parts of the pine can be used as an Antiseptic, Expectorant (Respiratory), Antifungal, Drawing properties (splinters), Vitamin C, Vitamin A.
- Pine needles can be used for making Tea, weaving baskets and fire tinder.
- Pine nuts edible on all pine species. Pine nuts are easier to find if the pine cone has not opened yet.
- Inner bark of the pine can be used for baskets, band-aid and even fried & eaten like pine potato chips.
- The sap from the pine can be as a glue (sap+charcoal), directly on cuts/burns/blisters, as a salve (sap+beeswax+oils), Bug Repellent (sap+castor oil+tea tree oil), and even a temporary tooth filling.
- The boughs can be used as roof shingles for shelter or bedding.
- Fatwood is an outdoorsmans best friend. It can be used as tinder or kindling, and makes starting a fire much easier. Here is an article that explains fatwood and shows some examples.
- The wood itself can be used for shelter, fire, tool handles, log splitting wedges.
5 Must Have Tools
In the show I asked Shawn what tools he considers a must have. He also mentioned how you should conserve your tools as much as possible. Try to use other resources whenever you can. You can also keep your tools oiled with cooking oil, and try to keep your tools sharp. A sharp knife is much safer than a dull knife.
Axe/ Hatchet: primary tool for Processing firewood, planks, shelter, wood carving, field dressing wild game and other common cutting tasks. You will want it to have an 18″-20 handle minimum, 26-28″ for large axe. Use Wedges whenever possible to extend the lifespan of your axe.
Belt Knife: primary use is skinning, cutting meat, prepping food. Secondary use is cutting sticks & Fine carving, processing smaller size wood. The blade should be about 5 or 6″ long, high carbon steel, full tang, no exaggerated point needed, sharp 90 angle usually on spine for fire and wood shavings, 1/8″ or 3/16 thick.
Jack Knife/ Carving Knife: This could be a Folding knife, or multitool with good blade that you always have in your pocket. Frontiersman used folding knife as primary whittling knife, but a separate knife specific to woodcarving is great to have. Mora makes excellent knives for carving. Can be stainless, but still prefer carbon because they hold their edge better.
Saw: These are safer and easier than axe and are an essential tool, especially in winter. I prefer metal bowsaw for camp with interchangeable blades. A wood bucksaw can be made. Some people also prefer the folding saws for on the trail like the silky or Bahco. Here is a comparison of 3 folding saw and how well they work.
Sewing Awl/ Scratch Awl/ Crooked Awl: High traded items in frontier times. Useful for drilling and poking holes in bark, canvas, leather, clothing. Needles and thread are hard to remake in the wild, so always have some with you. Speedy stitcher, extra needles and thread, sail needles, and a steel crooked awl.
The Basics of Shelter
- Shelters should be set up in places with adequate drainage to avoid flooding, near water, have wind protection, have fire material nearby. Shelters can be made from dead branches and even entire trees around you.
- A shelter is anything that keeps you warm and dry. A coat can be considered shelter because it protects you from the elements.
- The materials available to you fro building a shelter depends on the season and where you live.
- Shelter isn’t just the materials you find in the wild. You can use hammocks, tents, tarps and bivys along with wood shelters
- Sleep and comfort is the most neglected aspect of shelter building. Getting a good nights sleep is essential for endurance and energy. You could use your bug out bag as a pillow, and find some materials to make bedding.
- There are many different types of shelters. A “lean to” shelter is good for warm nights, and an “A frame or debris hut” shelter is good for cold or stormy nights.
- Tarp Shelters usually require hand made stakes, toggles, and rope to construct. If you carry a tarp with you, you need to know how to set up a tarp shelter. Also think about which water proofing methods are possible.
- Just a side note, frontiersman would have frowned on modern tents. they liked the open air, and fire beside them.
The Basics of Fire
There are many ways to get a fire started including a sun glass, flint & steel, a ferro rod, a mag bar and even a Bic Lighter.
Try to use your most precious resource last. This meas that if you have a Bic lighter, try to get your fire started with a ferro rod, and save that fuel for later when it might be crucial.
Sun Glass: This can be eye glasses, compass, camera lens, frenzel lense or a magnifying glass. This can be a tough way to start a fire and requires direct sunlight.
Flint & Steel: This could be a specific kit you have, a knife or any high carbon steel used with Quartz or Flint. works well with dry birds nest & char cloth or fatwood shavings. (see below)
Ferro Rod: Using a ferro rod takes practice. It should take 2 or 3 strikes as a goal to get a spark to catch. use the ferro rod with a separate striker or sharp 90 degree edge on back (spine) of knife or other piece of carbon steel. use dry birds nest, char cloth, fatwood or charcoal from punk wood to make this method easier.
Lighter: A full size Bic cant be beat, it’s easy to use, easy to store and when all else fails you’ll be glad you have it. You’ll want to know other methods of starting a fire, but always have a Bic (not a cheap lighter) with you just in case.
Materials for Easy(r) Fire Starting
Fatwood: This is from the resin collecting part of tree. It is a darker orange color, very flammable and smells like turpentine or pine sol. Collect whenever possible to use in the future. Use shavings as tinder, and sticks as kindling. Found in lower branch crooks, root balls, and dead stumps. watch for stumps as wasp nests.
Punk Wood: Dead & rotten part of tree. Works best when feels spongy and will compress between fingers, but it doesn’t crumble apart. Can be used just like char cloth to make char coal, even works well as is.
Char Cloth: To make char cloth you need some100% cotton material. The way it works is you put the char cloth in a tin and starve it of oxygen. Then you cook it until smoke stops coming from the tin. I did this video to explain more about how char cloth works.