Bushcraft is a means of survival in an undeveloped or non-industrialized environment. Essentially, it is surviving in the wilderness with a minimal amount of tools or modern means. Wilhelm Reich’s “Armored Man” analyzes how a man the industrialized society adapts to the surroundings by protecting himself against the pressures and aggressions of what the society creates. By adding these layers of protecting, man drifts away from the essential values of simple, daily life, and moves toward a style of living that outcasts the very essence of his being.
Modern man denies the aid of fellow human beings, learns to protect himself by deception and security, and quite possibly becomes dishonest to others, as well as to himself. The fundamental role of working towards a common goal or functioning in coherence with others is simply lost. This style of living has become more apparent in many aspects of industrialized societies in many ways. A closer inspection of modern man reveals a deterioration of values that will eventually lead to a means to death.
Stress, crime, pollution, overpopulation, and the overcrowded population of industrialized societies’ prison systems, as a whole, are suggestions that what is occurring in these countries is simply not working. The necessities of bushcraft leave very little time to be deceitful to the ones that an individual is working with to survive.
Furthermore, bushcraft prepares an individual to survive without the modern means at his/her disposal. It instills unity and trust in fellow human beings. It forms a bond that people simply must work together to survive.
Bushcraft empowers a person with the knowledge and skills to be self-sufficient and prudent, rather than wasteful or careless towards the environment that offers everything needed in order to live.
Values are one aspect that is simpler in the wilderness. The complexities of modern civilization are contrived from a lifestyle that requires a great deal of multi-tasking, as well as redefining living. Priorities of a typical person in urban society consist of work and then play. The family isn’t necessarily first.
The hunger of money has created a cesspool of decay on many different levels. A person’s workday is longer, minimizing the time allotted for the family or loved ones. In return, the person is rewarded with very little bonus money or overtime pay that is taxed more than regular pay.
The greed for money has quick stop, fast food restaurants slinging together meals that are prepared with grease and salt that invites a plethora of health issues. Children, in turn, are raised with a predisposition of (un)healthy values that are carried well into their adult life, sometimes never altered.
Appreciation of nature is discarded for the luxuries of items that are made from materials derived by man. Plastic, a material that does not decompose is created for the trivial needs of food storage, chairs, and other functions that will eventually be discarded; but where will these items be discarded? Most countries discard waste in landfills. A landfill covers the material so that the decay is blind to the eyes of society, yet the damage to the environment continues underneath the dirt which covers it.
The very same plastic materials are created in mass production in a factory that emits pollution into the air at an alarming rate daily. Much of the waste is discarded back into the environment by way of toxic waste into streams, lakes, and rivers, which at one point in time, was (and possibly still is) the providing source of tap water in many major cities. The environmental damage is incomprehensible. Many birds and water life have been sacrificed for the luxury of these plastic items, all for the luxury of sitting or storing food.
Paper is another commodity that has produced an insurmountable attack upon the environment. Newspapers are circulated daily in the millions, in order to be read one time, and then discarded. Though paper is now being recycled, the amount of damage sustained may be irreversible. The timber industry continues to pillage the ecosystem, ripping out trees at a massive pace in order to sustain the needs of failing economies. The loss of the forestry has a devastating effect on the atmosphere, which these trees create breathable oxygen for all of humankind.
There are some important skills and tools involved with survival that take precedence over others. Born out of necessity, these skills and tools are necessary to survive at the base level.
They encompass the three physiological needs outlined by Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs. Most experienced survivalists will know how to locate fresh water, but there is always the possibility of a water supply being contaminated.
It may be days before a fresh water supply is located, so a canteen or a jug of some sort is portable enough to carry without bogging the survivalist due to the weight. A mere blanket offers the body warmth and protection from the elements, so the body doesn’t have to fight to produce the heat it needs to survive. There are several alternatives to mobile shelters.
There is a debris shelter, and many variations of the sort. It is basically a set of bars, when fastened together, offer a support frame for natural materials or a nylon canopy. A tube tent is available, which is a fold away tent that rolls out and fits either one or two persons. There are items that are called containment basins, which offer a 10’x10’ shelter for more than one person. It may be a good idea to pack away emergency rations for the times that it is not so easy to access.
Trapping an animal requires a level of skill, determination, and patience. One particular trap is known as the “Conibear” trap, named after a Canadian who first constructed the trap. A snare is another type of trap. A very simple trap in design, the snare is basically an anchored cable or a wire noose that is positioned to catch rabbits, foxes, or any other type of animal that can be used for sustenance. The benefit of a snare is that they are very inexpensive and can be set in many different areas at one time. It snares the animal around the neck, and then tightens to prevent the animal from escaping. There are more evolved means of fishing, which include a pole, specific bait, and lures to attract certain types of fish, but fishing still remains a very inexpensive means to acquire food. Hunting offers a variety of weapons, depending on the level of survival that is maintained, as well as the environment.
A rifle can be used to hunt game and also provide protection for certain aggressive animals. It reduces the skill required to trap or fish, as a rifle can kill game up to longer distances. A bow or a crossbow requires a higher level of skill to hunt. There are other skills and tools that can enhance, aid, and refine the wilderness experience, but these are necessary for longer periods of survival in a wilderness setting.
Bushcraft offers a much simpler way of life. With a minimalistic approach, nothing is left for waste. Everything has a use, and everything has a function. The food consumed is wholesome and has no post-consumption detrimental effect upon the environment.
Burgers and fries are not individually wrapped with a material that will be used once and then improperly returned to the environment. The food is not prepared by some unnatural means, with animal fat or grease, and then salted to a point that the original taste is lost to health issues.
The lifestyle of bushcraft does not alter the terrain, but adapts to it. There are no toxins emitted into the water system, the life-spring of nature. Pollutants are not introduced to unsuspecting wildlife inhabitants.
There is no stress of working fifty to sixty hours per week, attempting to gain a promotion, and barely making enough to cover the bills. There is no stress of waiting in traffic jams and spending very little time with the people you love the most. Bushcraft offers a new appreciation towards the environment that offers everything necessary to sustain life.
It is a way to work with the land and gain knowledge of how life exists in a natural setting. Skills that have diminished or have been lost entirely to a new way of living are returned. The values that had driven people to do things in the past will be replaced with inherent values that allow a person a completely new understanding of life.
It will teach future generations what true values are, and that life in society is merely an unhealthy form of disheartened existence, that living is simpler in the wilderness, that survin=ving in the wilderness is living.