“What is Backyard Bushcraft?” If you have ever watched TV shows like Naked and Afraid, Dual Survivor or Alone, then you have seen bushcraft in action. Bushcraft is generally defined as the skill of living in the bush, another word for the wilderness. Shelter building, fire making, water and food procurement, and crafting tools, are all key components of bushcraft. We will learn these skills and more, but not from the jungles of South America or the Canadian Boreal Forrest, but right in your own back yard, and there you have Backyard Bushcraft.
“Why learn bushcraft skills and why learn them in your yard?” For one thing, these skills have the potential to keep you and your loved ones alive in a survival situation. Years ago, I learned about the general principals of survival through “The Rules of Three.” Three minutes without air, three hours without shelter, three days without water and three weeks without food and life is difficult to sustain. What many wilderness survival teachers leave out, is that three seconds of bad thinking can lead you to ruin before exposure, dehydration and starvation set in.
How can you avoid bad thinking in a survival situation? Proper preparation and training! My journey into bushcraft and wilderness skills began with Tom Brown Jr. His books and his courses in the Pine Barrens of NJ changed my life and the way I see the world. Absolutely worth checking out! There are many amazing bushcraft and wilderness survival programs you can travel to across the country if you have the time and money, but you don’t have to. You can begin your bushcraft training without having to leave home. Your backyard can become your classroom, your test zone, and your bushcraft playground.
I used the word playground intentionally because learning these skills are fun! Transforming a pile of branches and leaves into a warm and dry shelter is fun and rewarding for all ages. Sure, you can watch people on TV build a shelter and struggle to make a fire, but it is so much better to be the one making it happen! Imagine your next firepit night and instead of using a lighter and accelerants, you make it with a bow-drill or a flint and steel? I can guarantee you that you will have a profoundly different experience. Your guests will also be pretty impressed by your skills.
Now imagine that instead of hearing your children talk about being bored or needing money for video games, they are talking about going outside to build a shelter, or to practice their latest wilderness skill? They will be having so much fun, and your biggest expenses might be on a good knife, a hatchet, and few other useful tools. You might discover that they are less anxious and look healthier too. Your own reflection might surprise you. Spending time in nature is good for you! You will discover that there are so many activities and adventures to be had right in your yard and town and that being bored is a choice.
Pretty soon your neighborhood walks will turn into scavenger hunts for cordage materials, tinder bundles, bow drill parts and more. In future posts, we will dig deeper into the benefits of bushcraft skills and being outdoors in general, but for now you might want to check out this link.
In part 2 of Backyard Bushcraft, we are going to be talking about debris huts and other shelters you can make for yourself and family. Thank you for reading and for sharing.