If you have been following along with my recent adventures, you will know that I have been visiting my new found brother in bushcraft and friend Shonuffisthemaster, for his hosted meet ups at the Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, MN. As of July 14th, 2013, I think he has held six meetings so far and had three individuals show up on three of those meetings, not of course counting myself.
I feel his frustration. He told me at this last Sundays meetup that he has counted 18 BushcraftUSA members and other friends, who have expressed interest in coming to the weekly meetings, many who want to practice skills and get in some dirt time. Some say they want to come to introduce their family members to bushcraft and are looking for a good days adventure. Yet others want to start on bushclass lessons and pick up a simple skill here or there. For reasons unknown, few make the journey, even when he has offered to give them a ride.
I know that life can interfere sometimes with other things in life. Adventure comes more easily with convenience. Sometimes dirt time just has to take a back seat and so it goes with bushcraft.
It is within our human nature to take the easy way out, conserve energy, rest up when it is needed, taking the time to nurse the aches and pains of the previous days demands and to roll over and go back to sleep when the alarm goes off on Saturday morning reminding you that there is a bushcraft meetup at 9AM and you wanted to go for sure on Friday night, but the movie lasted way into the night and the dinner was heavy and now you just feel... well, sort of our of sync with it all.
I think of these things, as I am sitting in my car, in the parking lot, on a Saturday morning at 9AM, with the rain coming down, and the clouds getting blacker and thicker and the wind is blowing. I think of what it is that is in me, that drives me to get out of bed every single Saturday and get into my "greens" and load up my kit and go to the meet up point for a mornings and afternoons worth of dirt time. What drives me to do this? Am I insane? Do I really like bushcraft and the outdoors that much? And why isn't anybody else wanting to do what I do? Where are all the interested bushcrafters who talk about coming to practice skills and to get involved? Yes, I do feel his frustration, we are a rare breed indeed.
So when I arrived at the Sunday meet up, I was glad to hear from Sho' that a friend of his was going to be arriving for the afternoon session and that she was bringing her 4 year old son. She was interested in learning more about what bushcraft was all about. I knew we would be able to demonstrate several things for her, and help her to make her own bow drill set and try a few more things.
As it was, Sho' and I went out for our usual walk about and then later returned to the meet up point for more skills practice. Here is a list of the things we did throughout the day.
Morning Session and Hike -
•Cordage practice - square laying, parallel lashing
•Improvised simple compass with magnetized sewing needle
•Knife sharpening - mora
•Wild edibles ID - black raspberries, wild crab apples, wild grape ( non-ripe)
•Medicinal plant ID - white yarrow, plantain, willow inner bark
•Non- edible ID- bush honeysuckle, buckthorn, Virginia creeper
•Poisonous plant ID - poison ivy, virginia creeper
•Practiced animal tracking - studied dog tracks and measured and direction
•Sourced natural cordage material - willow bark, basswood, nettle
Afternoon Session with Guest and son -
•Bow drill fire - red cedar spindle and hearth, jute tinder, shavings
•Built fire for lunch with splitwood
•Knife Safety and assisted guest to build bowdrill set
•Hand drill with chemical assist- sugar and potassium permanganate
•Flint and steel - demo and assisted guest
•Practiced deadfall setup with promontory peg trigger
•Made a Digging Stick
•Cooked kabobs over fire
All the activities were fun as usual, but the highlights for me were making the improvised compass, as seen here in this picture,
and demonstrating the use of the hand drill for getting fire with a chemical assist of potassium permanganate and sugar.
It was a great day and in the end, I was glad for Sho' that he was able to have a friend come and enjoy the time he spent hosting a great meet up. I sure hope he is able to get more people to come. Maybe as word gets around and more trip reports are share, others will see how fun it is and want to come.
I know I have wished for the same thing for my little band of bushcrafters, if only they were as excited and passionate about bushcraft as my friend Shonuff and I are. Until next time, Happy Exploring.