Four Must-Know Facts for First-Time Bushcrafters
Bushcrafting is a wonderful, immersive experience ideal for anyone who wants to get back in touch with the simpler aspects of life.
However, to survive your Bushcraft experience requires knowing more than how to set up a tent. Absolute beginners may have this over-simplistic look on Bushcrafting.
Before heading out into the wilderness, absolute beginners should do their research about proper Bushcraft techniques. To interpret this research properly though, you need to know some basic facts.
Get to know the area you intend to bushcraft in.
Do your homework on the area you plan to visit. Is it easy to get in and out of. Do you have to worry about wild animals eating you while you sleep. Is there a supply of fresh water and potential food sources.
Bring the right Tools
Make sure you are geared up for the trip. Bring a knife, bring a second knife, plenty of water and a means to filter extra water. Something like an axe to chop firewood and something to light a fire if you are not skilled in the art of fire starting with natural resources
Planned wilderness experiences are better than unplanned.
If you have no prior bushcrafting experience and journey into the wilderness with no plans, you are setting yourself up for disaster. Why not try some of our Bushcraft Tips and guides to keep you on the right track next time you head out.
Every aspect of your first experience should be planned. From the location of your homebase to what you can forage in case your food supply dwindles, you should have every feasible situation planned for. You need to be prepared for every possible natural occurrence within the area you plan on Bushcrafting in. That way, you are less likely to be caught offguard.
How do you plan for a bushcrafting experience though? Try taking a three-step approach to your planning:
Get to know the area you intend to bushcraft in.
A few months before the experience, do as much research as you can about the area before making your journey. Then compile a list of needed supplies and skills for the trip. Figure out the basic and area-specific materials you need. For example, if you plan on Bushcrafting on a mountainous region, bring along minor climbing supplies. Also, keep in mind any dangers of your location. If your planned area experiences flash floods, set up homebase and your intended exploration areas on high ground. With all these factors in mind, map out the location of your homebase, your foraging areas, and your hunting grounds. Figure the radius of how far you will travel from your homebase. Limiting yourself to too little of an area will feel confining, but allowing yourself to wander increases the risk of you getting lost.
Bring the right tools.
Once you know your location, purchase the necessary tools. Keep in mind your Bushcraft skill level. If you are bad at lighting fires with nothing but the tools of nature, purchase a fire starter. Don’t know how to tie knots well? Buy material that requires knots no more complicated than the average shoe tie. Bad at cutting rope, cloth, and similar material with a knife? Pick up a pair of camping shears in addition to a bushcraft knife and invest in a good camping axe. A good quality bushcraft knife is indispensable while living in the wilderness.
Also, remember that cheaper materials require more maintenance than the more expensive ones. For example, a 420-grade camping knife is more prone to chipping and dullness than a more expensive M2 camping knife. A $17 tent is far less durable than a $200+ one.
Building items from scratch with natural materials can easily go awry if you are unsure of what you’re doing. If you want to go cheap, be prepared to maintain your cheap item.
That being said, be respectful of your budget. Get the best for what you can afford.
Plan for the future.
Once at your chosen destination, keep a journal of your experience. Take notes on the environment, the effectiveness of your planning, and your overall experience.
Your journal will highlight the weak spots and the strengths in your wilderness skills. With this information in tow, you’ll be more prepared for your next wilderness excursion.
Underestimating the power of wildlife can end your life.
The leading cause of death for first-time Bushcrafters is an underestimation of wildlife. Animal behavior is uncontrollable in the wild. The area you are camping out in may have a population of bears or wild boarss o make sure you do your research before you set out. Wild Boar Hunting is a great source of food if you are out long-term but make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into before you decide on this as a viable food source. Certain strains of fruits and vegetables can kill you. Because of these two facts, it is important to know how to assess the surrounding wildlife.
Tracking is useful for non-hunters too.
Bushcrafters who double as hunter use tracking as a method to place the frequent locations of their targeted game. Even if you have no plans of hunting during your Bushcraft experience, tracking is still a necessary skill. Get to know the prints and signs of the animals in the area you plan on “roughing it” in. What you find may determine if you need to adjust your planned areas of exploration.
See the signs of a high frequency of large bears in your area? Immediately change your intended location. You do not want to be surprised by a large bear rummaging in your food supply. Avoiding presence of bears and other dangerous animals is an obvious precaution.
What is not obvious to most first-time Bushcrafters is the danger of having a significant presence of common prey animals. For example, if you observe the signals of a high rabbit population near your homebase, consider moving locations.
Wherever large amounts of prey are, their predators are bound to follow.
Foraging is risky if you do not know what you’re doing.
First-time Bushcrafters often get sick, perhaps even die from eating poisonous strains of fruits or vegetables. To ensure that this does not happen to you, get familiar with your Bushcrafting area’s wild plant life. Before your journey, glue in or draw pictures of safe and unsafe plants in your journal. Before eating any plant, check your journal first. If you still remain unsure of the plant’s safeness, refrain from eating the plant.
Wilderness excursions are safer with another person.
Having someone with you for your first Bushcraft experience makes the situation much easier. If you do choose a partner, make sure they are as enthusiastic about the experience as you are.
Whether they are a fellow newbie or an experienced Bushcrafter, they should put in the work of surviving in the wild.
Your clothes are part of your shelter.
When we give out our bushcraft tips to friends we always mention clothing.
Your clothes should be as durable as your tent (although not made of the same uncomfortable material). Dress appropriately for the area you are Bushcrafting in.
Wear long sleeves in cold areas and short sleeves in hotter areas (or a thin long sleeve shirt if the area is prone to mosquitoes). If you plan on frequently getting wet, wear clothing that dries quickly or bring water-resistant apparel to wear while you are in the water.
While knowing these facts and tips will help you greatly during your Bushcrafting experience, you cannot predict the outcome of your trip. Even if you are the most cautious individual, you still may end up in harms way. Nature, at its heart, is an unpredictable, uncontrollable beauty.
You cannot predict the actions of a force that is uncontrolled. For this reason, Bushcrafting is a manner of survival as a opposed to a manner of conquering.