On Discovering Self

"Walk in Peace... Learn from Nature... Find Yourself...

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Little Fun With Four Basic Knots

   One of the requirements needed for BushclassUSA is to demonstrate four basic knots used in bushcraft. These are the tautline, which is used in tensioning tarp and tent setups most often when stakes are involved. The advantage is the tautline can be "slipped" into position and it will stay there under tension. The sheetbend, used to join two different sized ropes or pieces of cordage. Then there is the two half-hitches, used to tie cordage to anchor points as is a general slip not. Finally, there is the "Figure 8 on a Bite" which is used to make a none-slipping "eyelet" to act as an attachment point for other devices such as caribiners or toggles or even other pieces of cordage.
   The lesson plan for BushclassUSA is to complete 13 requirements and 5 electives out 7 possible, (your choice) before you can continue to complete the course by doing 5 "outings", one of which must be an overnight. I have personally been doing these kinds of things in bushcraft for a very long time, so I guess my outings to practice the required student lessons have been more or less unsanctioned. Oh well, it is hard to keep a good bushcrafter down. I just have to be out there in the wilderness.
   Since the "Student Practice For Four Basic Knots" was my last one "required" before my "outings", I decided to have some fun with it. I hope you enjoy the video.

   My hats off to "Red Green" and all our pals in "Canoodia" as they say, for their fine comedic sense and I hope that this gives you some ideas about learning some basic knots and will help you in your pursuit of the BushclassUSA Basic Certification. Knots are a lot of fun to learn, and will stay with you for a very long time. They are needed in bushcraft, so please learn them. As always, Happy Exploring.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

An Improvised Spoon

   As I have touched on this before, improvising is at the heart of bushcraft. Finding the materials you need to make tools and shelter and clothing in the bush and then discovering other uses for the things you do have on hand, becomes part of your mindset as you adapt to the wilderness. Solving problems is also part of that mind set, as new challenges present themselves. A common slogan amidst survivalists and preppers is "Adapt, Improvise and Overcome." A strategy born out of the military mindset that is taught in all survival schools.
   But bushcraft is more than survival, it is about living and thriving and finding your way and your "home" in the wilderness. It will present it's challenges, it will test your wits, but knowing that bushcraft also provides that treasure trove of wisdom and the answers to these challenges, is the key to adapting and to living.
   Last Saturday I had the opportunity to spend a little time with a new member of BushcraftUSA as I helped him to work on his "Student Practice for a Twig Fire." Here is a short video of a part of that outing, as we cooked a quick meal of rice and spent the time practicing our bushcraft skills.

I hope that Joseph will have even more fun as he continues to practice his bushcraft lessons and continues with BushclassUSA. I am sure there is more adventure to come. As always, Happy Exploring.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Some Of The Trees Of Bushcraft

   As I have quoted Ray Mears on the subject of Bushcraft in the "About Me" section of this blog, he speaks of finding that treasure trove of knowledge that allows us to find a kinship with the landscape. Part of that knowledge is learning about the trees that are on your landscape and how they are important to Bushcraft. I really enjoy learning all I can about the trees of Minnesota, and I use the book "Trees of Minnesota - Field Guide" written by Stan Tekiela. I have mentioned this and many of his other books in a previous post.
   Recently, I created a video for Bushclass USA for the lesson "Student Practice for Tree Identification". It required that the student identify five trees, give their common name, the scientific name, define what identifies that tree, like whether it is coniferous or deciduous, hardwood or softwood, leaf types, etc. Lastly, give at least two uses for each tree, preferably as it relates to Bushcraft. Here is the video I submitted for that class. I hope you like it.

   There are of course many more trees that are important to Bushcraft, but I just had to share a few of my favorites. I encourage you to also find time to learn the trees in your area, for in time as the wilderness becomes more known, the trees will become familiar friends. Learning how they are such a resource will make your landscape more like home. Happy Exploring.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Now About Those Personal Survival Kits

   Recently I had a chance to go thru my main survival kit and modify a few things with some new ideas and products. The overall effect was that the kit became smaller and more compact and even just a little lighter. I also got more of the kit together in one place, rather then divided over two or three pockets. So at the request of a couple friends and because I wanted to complete the elective lesson for Bushclass USA "Student Practice for PSK" I put together this video. Actually, it was done all in one take, so there was no real effort in putting it together. It addresses the needs of shelter, water, knife, sustenance, signaling and travel, first aid and of course fire. These things are at the heart of bushcraft, so I would encourage you to consider putting your own kit together with some of these ideas. I hope you enjoy the presentation.

I hope that will help you to prepare for your next outing. Happy Exploring.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Some Modern Bushcraft and Improvisation

   Today, while eating lunch, I re-watched a video I've seen many times. It was Ray Mears series "Bushcraft" and the episode about the American Prairies. He spoke of Jim Bridger, mountain man extraordinaire, who ventured into the mountainous regions that are now known as Yellowstone National Park, in the northwest corner of Wyoming. He said that the mountain men of that time, like Jim Bridger, did not start out as bushcrafters, but had to learn all they needed to know even before the first winter. They needed to be quick learners. They learned to improvise and adapt as they went about their daily lives. At the very heart of bushcraft is the ability to use the materials on hand, those things that you bring with you, and the things that the wilderness can provide. You do not need to bring all the tools you can, because you can make what you need as you go along.
   As more modern bushcrafters, we are drawn to the same core of bushcraft, to learn what we can about the landscape around us and to improvise the tools we need to adapt to that landscape. So with that in mind, and yet another lesson needing to be completed for Bushclass USA, the "Student Practice to Improvise A Cooking Implement From Metal" I set about designing and improvising a piece of gear that has been missing from my kit for a long time. This speaks to the "modern" side of bushcraft, but touches on a primitive need. Cooking with fire and metal is always a challenge. I hope you enjoy my lesson video.

   That should give me a piece of gear to play with for awhile. I can hardly wait to try some stir-fry.
Happy Exploring...

A Day Out With My Bush Buddy

   Today was a good day to get out, and so my best bush buddy and I headed out to practice some bushcraft and to test out our preparedness for cold weather outings. If you are active in the practice of bushcraft and have the chance to share that experience with kids, do it. It is a great opportunity to teach them skills that will last them a life time, and carry them forward to even more adventures and a continued love and curiousity for the wilderness and the out-of-doors. I hope you enjoy this short video of our expedition.

   Winter is still a great time to get out and enjoy the wilderness, but be prepared for any changes in the weather and plan ahead, should your conditions change. I will try to address the issues of winter preparedness in a later post and some hints as to how to handle certain conditions. It is all about what you have in your bushcraft kit and what you can improvise along the way. Happy Exploring.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Cooking Bread With Fire

   So the weather forecast was for snow today. I looked at the little weather app I have on my Ipad and it said that it would start snowing in my area around 2:30 pm. Hmmmm, seems that if I could get out the door and into the bush for a little dirt time, say around 1 pm, I might just be able to do yet another Bushclass USA required lesson. Getting it done before it snows. This one is called "Student Practice for Cooking Bannock with Fire". Sounded like fun. Of course I was required to take pictures or video and since I have found it easier lately to make the videos, I packed up the video gear and headed out for the adventure. I have cooked a lot of various foods in the wilderness over the years, but I still like cooking or making bread the most. It is a staple, when it comes to food in the bush. Having a good flour mix for making some kind of bread, is always a good thing. So here is the video of "How I Do It" and I hope you enjoy it.

   I have but three more lessons to complete, before I get the go ahead to do some more extensive outings that will combine or feature most of the skills demonstrated or learned in the Bushclass series.So I will have more videos and pictures yet to come. I hope you find them informative, my friends. Happy Exploring.