Knowing where to find the resources for survival is a major bushcraft skill, and using our knowledge to make use of these resources is just as important. Bushcraft skills include an abundance of survival skills, like hunting and fishing, trapping, foraging for food, making shelter, and making fire. Once you understand these skills, you will certainly be able to fend for yourself in the wild.
1. Foraging for Food
Foraging for food is a crucial bushcraft survival skill. No matter where you live, you should be able to find a variety of wild edibles you can eat to survive, such as nuts, seeds, fruits, and berries. Most of the time these types of foods do not need to be cooked, which is helpful because you will receive more calories from the food when it is not cooked.
Understanding how to identify plants in the wild is an important skill you need to survive. Besides knowing if they are safe to eat or not, you should also be able to identify certain plants for medicinal purposes, like Yarrow for example. Yarrow is a perennial herb that can be used to help heal wounds, cuts, scrapes, or abrasions.
2. Building Shelter
Without shelter, becoming exposed to harsh weather conditions can kill you in just a matter of minutes. Finding or making a shelter is a bushcraft skill everyone should know. One of the most common ways to make shelter is by making cordage from natural materials. Cordage is great to use if you do not have a rope because you can use it to assemble lash poles or frames to make you shelter.
Cordage can be used for other useful purposes as well, like creating snares, traps for hunting, fishing lines, making bow drills, or it can be used for climbing. The best source of natural cordage is cedar bark. You can find Cedar trees all over the place, especially in the northwestern region of the United States.
To make cordage from cedar bark, you will need to harvest the inner bark of the tree, which is the stingy layer underneath the protective layer of the tree. Dry out the bark before you use it for a rope though so it does not shrink.
3. Hunting and Trapping
Hunting and trapping game for food is essential for bushcraft. While berries, plants, nuts, and seeds are good enough to eat for a little bit, they will not provide enough nutrition for long periods. Trapping allows you to save your time and energy, while hunting requires you to actively search for and chase your prey.
When you trap your prey, you need to get good at tracking animals and looking out for signs of where they are. Look for animal droppings, pawprints, tracks, or signs of disturbed vegetation. Once you know where your prey is, you need to make a trap. You can make a deadfall trap, a spring snare trap, or if you are catching fish – a woven fish trap or prawn trap.
When hunting, it is important to use camouflage and wear bushcraft pants so you can blend in and not draw attention to yourself. You still need to follow all the same signs when hunting as you do for trapping prey.
Knowing how to make a fire is vital for bushcraft. Fire can be used for many important factors in survival, like using it to purify your water, cook your food, keep predators away, provide you with heat, and give you light. To make a fire, you only need heat, fuel, and oxygen. These three things are known as the “combustion triangle”. If you do not have one of these three things, you cannot create a fire.
Oxygen comes from the air that surrounds us. You can best use oxygen for fire-making by having proper ventilation. Heat can be produced through friction. If you create an ember and it touches your fuel, you are set. To get fuel, all you need is tinder or firewood. Tinder is made from thin shavings of wood, or even feather sticks. Combine your heat, fuel, and oxygen and you will have yourself a fire.
5. Knot Tying
Knot tying is an important skill to have for survival. It might sound like a simple skill, but it is extremely useful to know how to properly tie a knot. There are various types of knots that serve different purposes for bushcraft.
- Tautliner Hitch – alters the traction on a tarp shelter
- Bowline Knot – has the strength of cordage or rope and can be tied with one hand
- Prusik Knot – great for hosting yourself or another person to a mountain or cliff edge
- Square Knot – Used for many purposes and is best used to connect ropes together
- Clove Hitch – is used to help secure cordage to trees
- Figure Eight – does not come undone with pressure and is best used for climbing
6. Wood Carving and Sharpening
Wood carving and sharpening is vital for making wooden tools and weapons. Some examples of wood carving and sharpening are to make a wooden spoon or fork, making traps, snares, wooden spears, bows and arrows, a bow drill set to create a fire, and much more.
To properly carve and sharpen wood, you will need a solid foundation and a pocket knife. Be sure to cut away from yourself and others for safety reasons. When carving while sitting down, keep your elbows on your knees so if you slip, you will most likely cut your leg rather than anything else more fragile. Keep your knife edge sharp so your knife doesn’t slip and take your time to ensure you don’t get hurt and you properly carve your tool.
Fishing is an important survival skill for a couple of different reasons. One reason is you will need fish for food as a source of protein to keep you healthy in the wilderness. Another reason is that fish will help promote healthy brain function and keep your blood pressure down. Setting fishing traps can save you time and any free time you have can be used to make shelter or fire.
Nothing beats catching a fish yourself and enjoying it over your own fire.
Understanding bushcraft skills plays a huge role in survival for not just you, but for your family too. Knowing these important skills will set you up to survive a long period of time in the wilderness and will save the life of you and your family.