Bushcraft and Wilderness Survival Skills for Beginners
“It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change.”
― Leon C. Megginson
What is Bushcraft? Bushcraft is a skill that is used and needed by people to survive and even thrive in the wild. This skill however isn’t going to be learned by reading books or watching documentaries (although it will help) but by experience and mistakes. Learning bushcraft will require not only determination, patience, or time but also skills and quick wits. Being the strongest doesn’t always means the one who survives but being smart will increase your chance.
Surviving out there isn’t all fun and game or like in the movies. Most of the time, it’s all about preparing, setting up camp, doing tiring work, and mostly be boring. However, boring does not mean you’re not doing anything, but you will do a lot of tiring stuff that is needed to survive. Fortunately, being bored in the wild means you’re safe.
The most basic rule of survival is the rule of three consisting of: 3 minutes without air, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food. Air is all around us so in a normal condition it would not be a problem. Water however, is important for the body and for surviving. Due to pollution, drinkable water is available mostly on bottles. However, there are a couple of water sources that can be used to make drinkable water. Rivers or flowing streams are one of the examples. Flowing water due to the flow and natural filter are safe to drink in an emergency where water isn’t available. Rain are another source of water that is drinkable if in an emergency. But if it is not an emergency, then you should boil the water before drinking to kill off any bacteria in the water. Make sure the surrounding of the waters is cleaned and there’s no animal carcasses touching the water.
Finding a water source is also one of the most important aspect to consider when finding a camping spot. Placing your shelter near water source is the best option for water will be available and food can be found easily in water such as fishes or animals who go to drink. A flat and dry surface with little to no rocks near a water source is a blessing to find and should be the place you set your shelter. Your shelter should also be near the woods where there’s fuel for fire.
Setting up a shelter for beginners is a hard thing to do but there is a simple shelter that can be created easily (still hard). Firstly, after finding a good spot, find a big strong branchy tree. Then find a large Y-shaped branch and stick it into the ground a few feet across the tree (roughly a few more feet bigger than your body). Pat dirt around it to make sure it stands strong. Find several long and thick branches and put the most sturdy, long, and strong one in between the top of the tree and the Y-shaped branch. That will be the roof. Place long and thick branches (1-2 inch in diameter) leaning on the roof and do it on both sides. This will be the wall of the shelter so make sure it has enough branches and have little to no gap between them. Place tons of big leaves covering the walls as they will become your insulator. My trick is to use thick mud as glue so the leaves will stick. Remember to shake the leaves before using it because bugs will be there and they do not understand privacy. Dry leaves and small branches can also be use as an alternative. After all of this is done, push down a little on the walls on both sides to make sure it is sturdy enough to survive harsh weather. You’ll have a simple yet good shelter to rest on. Make sure to do it before night time.
As the moon goes up, the temperature will surely go down. To warm ourself we need fire. Making a fire isn’t as hard as it seems if you have the right tool. Making a fire from scratch is damn near impossible and time consuming so don’t bother trying. To make a fire, you need fuel. Lots of em. Fuels comes in many forms such as paper, dry leaves, branches, and logs. Then you should find a good spot near your shelter that is fit for a campfire (wide in space and little to no stuffs around such as grass tree plants and others). Find rocks as big as bowling balls and make a circle on the spot of the fire. This will keep the fire from spreading and starting a wild fire. Fuels should be ready to be used beside the campfire spot because once the fire have started you have to keep it going.
After all the fuels have been gathered and rocks have been placed, it’s time to start a fire. You should always start with small flammable fuels such as paper, dried leaves, and other small fuels. These things are easy to burn and can become a great fire starter. Start feeding it bigger fuels like sticks and branches until it is big enough to put chopped logs. In roughly 10 minutes you will have a campfire to cook on and to heat you up.
Pro Tip: Hand sanitizer have alcohol in them and is a great Firestarter. It will burn for a long time and is very easy to burn. Remember to pour water on the remaining of your campfire after using it to keep wildlife safe.
After doing all of these activities, your body needs fuel. Food is fuel for the body. Finding food isn’t an easy thing to do. Even hunting with a rifle needs a lot of patience and time. Fortunately, fishing is a good option to find food. Bringing a fish hook or making one from a can tab will make fishing easier. Bait can be found in wet grounds that is also covered by dry leaves. Another trick is to dig a hole deep and wide enough for an animal to drop into. Cover the hole with long thin branches and leaves then put bait such as canned food to attract animals. This are the most basic and easy way to get food.
Pro Tip: fruits and vegetables can also be eaten if found. However, always remember to eat what you already precisely know what it is. Don’t try anything new or anything similar to fruits and vegetables you know. Also, if something in the wild is colourful and shiny then stay away from it.
These kinds of activities are simple and easy. The problem that is the most difficult to face (for me) is Mosquitoes. Mosquitoes will inevitably appear either day or night. They are both annoying and dangerous because they can carry diseases. A simple solution is the eat garlic. Eating raw garlic will make you smell like one and mosquitoes will avoid it. Another simple trick is to create smoke. Mosquitoes will avoid smokes from campfires and resting near the campfire is a great way to rest easy with no annoying mosquitoes. Spreading crushed garlic around you or tossing a garlic near the fire to make the smoke smells like garlic is also a simple trick if you don’t want to eat raw garlic.
Tools are the things that made us different from animals. The right tools will make surviving a lot easier. A couple of tools that is essential are:
- Bushcraft knife
- Pan or a skillet
- Fire starting kit (matches or lighters or flint)
- Fishing hook with lines
- Metal cup
These are essential tools needed to survive in the great outdoors. Sure, stuffs can be made while in the wild like ropes can be made from shaved tree roots, but it is a waste of time, time that you might not have while trying to survive. On a personal touch, carrying a weapon goes a long way and you might not know what’s lurking out there. A pocket baton, a .45 mm 1911, or pepper spray will help fend you off against predators. Well, at least it will give you a chance of survival against big animals. Keeping your knife sharp is also an important aspect of survival. A dull one is useless. Keep it sharp by using a flat smooth stone as a knife sharpener.
All in all, surviving in the wild is a hard but not impossible thing to do. It will require patience, time, and even money to be thriving in the outdoors. Mistakes will be made but mistakes are priceless lessons needed to move us forward. For indeed survival is truly of the fittest.