What is Bushcraft?

What is bushcraft? Well, according to the Oxford English Dictionary it’s “skill in matters pertaining to life in the bush”. Sounds pretty ambiguous to me.

What ever you call it bushcraft, surviving, wilderness self reliance, primitive living, it’s what we do. We grab sticks and rocks, smack them together and make things like fire, traps and shelters. But what does that mean? To me it means a good time, fun with friends, and a night away from this computer and all the lights and sound of the city, but most importantly practicing a lost skills. But I don’t practice them in preparation of the end or because I think I’ll get lost in the wilderness some day. I practice them because I enjoy it. Just like many other hobbies. Why do you play music or draw? Because you think you’ll be a huge musician some day or a top selling artist? Probably not. You do it because it calls to you and you answer. You’re not trying to be the best or even make a buck. You do it because you love it.

It seems that the general consensus among those who don’t practice these particular skills deem it unnecessary and paranoid. They look at us through stained glass, not seeing the whole picture. Not seeing our motives and ambitions. They wonder why and when they tag along, not matter how rarely that is, a different picture is painted.

Here is a story:
It was this time last year, April 14th to be exact. It was our first gathering. We held it at a good friend’s place. Not huge but nice. We were a few hundred yard from his house and while we were having our get together he was having a few people at his place. Well, my buddy and someone else decided to come down around 21:00 after most people had left and the rest were huddled around telling stories and just chatting. Now, my buddy Jeremi had hung around with me multiple times while I practice so he understood but this other fellow hadn’t. With a couple of drinks in his gut I guess he felt inclined to ask a few questions. We had tables set up with dutch oven on them filled with the best peach cobbler I had ever had (thanks AMS). I guess this fellow had noticed all of this. And asked “I thought you guys were supposed to be surviving. This don’t look like surviving to me, it looks like camping.” I was of course irritated and rebutted, “This isn’t about surviving it’s about living.”

Now, I’ve thought about this idea “This don’t look like surviving…” I’ve come to a conclusion… it isn’t. I’m not trying to learn survival skill even though these skills could greatly improve your odds of survival. I’m learning ancestral skills that were once passed down from one generation to the next. They have been lost and today the closest most kids get to learning these skills is watching a “survival reality” TV show.

I don’t believe that the end is near or that you will ever have to know these skills to stay alive. But I do believe that without them we wouldn’t be here. We owe it to our ancestors to keep these skills alive and known. They knew these skills because they had to. And we should honor that.

We live in such a luxurious age with lighters, rip-stop tarps, portable water filters, padded packs, carbon steel knives. The least we could do is to remember the sacrifices they made just to make it to the next day.

3 Responses to “What is Bushcraft?”

  1. Tom Glasscock says:

    Well written. A way of life. A life that we enjoy. A life lived out of doors. Lived not surviving but thriving. Thats liberty.

  2. its / it’s
    “Why do you play music or draw?”
    “mine’s place”
    etc.

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