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Browsing: Bush Craft

It amazes me how disrespectful some people are. I use the bush for my work, and I can’t believe how many times I come across human waste lying on the surface. Much of this is obviously a result of the ignorant belief that ‘no one will ever come this way’. Yes, we do! Soggy lumps of used toilet paper strewn all over the place are one of the most disgusting sights you can find in the bush or at a wild campsite; I’ve even encountered these in campsites with toilets. They are a mecca for flies, which land on these…

In any survival situation, we often have to be creative, and put things to uses for which they were not originally intended. Let’s forget for a few minutes about the personal hygienic properties of a Tampon, and look at it in another light. As a multi-purpose survival aid. The word “tampon” comes from the French word tapon, which loosely translated means “a little plug or stopper”. Rather surprisingly, you can do more things with it than its French name suggests. One of the earliest uses for the tampon as a survival aid (perhaps the more correct term is ‘first-aid device’)…

Spending weeks in the bush has become a big part of my life − and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But, of course, not everything is rosy out there, and one thing which can make life hell is the hordes of biting and stinging insects. Having been on the receiving end of many of these over the years, I have come to learn that even the most inoffensive looking creepy-crawly can fight back. Of course, many insects use warning colours or displays to alert you to their objectionable disposition, but despite this, I find that stings are still…

Fire-lighting is one of the most essential skills in any camping, wilderness, or survival situation. And, depending on the type of tinder you use, there are many ways in which a fire can be lit. But first let’s get one thing straight; you CAN get a fire going by rubbing two sticks together (fire by friction), but it takes a LOT of practice and elbow grease, and it is time consuming. So, let’s look at the various options available to you if your lighter has run out of fuel and the matches are wet. LighterJust because the lighter has run…

Since humans as we know them first roamed the earth, fire has been made by rubbing two sticks together in one of a number of ways. What is interesting is that where these methods (with a few minor differences) are found to be used throughout the world by indigenous people, the techniques are the same. The three techniques I will discuss here are the hand drill, the fire bow, and the fire plough. Just before we start, a brief note on the type of wood to use. Choosing the right wood is the key to fire by friction. The hearth…

If you need to find direction, but don’t have a compass or any other means of determining it, there are several ways of doing this that use nothing more than the sun and shadows. What we are describing here are the sun-and-shadows method, and the watch method. Please bear in mind, however, that while these methods may show direction, they show only the general direction in which to travel; they cannot be used to show precise direction. Using the sun and shadows We all know that the sun rises in the east and sets in the west – but…

When I’m out in the bush and a storm is brewing, I am reminded of a friend who was struck by a bolt of lightning, and his eardrums burst. I suppose he was one of the fortunate ones, because he survived. In South Africa, an average of 260 people are killed each year by lightning-strikes, and many more are injured, but survive. So, how do you avoid being hit by a bolt of lightning? Before we start, let’s dispel a myth. Firstly, you need to understand that nothing ‘attracts’ lightning. So, being outdoors and wielding a knife will not necessarily…

Wherever we are in the world, providing that there are trees and plants around us, nature tempts us with her own supermarket of fresh fruit and vegetables. The problem is that although a lot of this larder can be eaten, there is a good proportion which is inedible or poisonous; and just tasting or swallowing even a small piece of some of these can cause great discomfort, stomach pain, and even death. As none of these comes with a warning label, how do we know what we can and cannot eat? Avoid before you begin There are some common pointers…

The movement of wind and water over the earth’s surface, and varying localised temperature and air pressure conditions, create a range of weather conditions. Broadly speaking, air migrates from high pressure zones into low pressure zones, giving rise to warm air rising and cold air sinking. As the warm air rises, it takes up moisture; but the higher it goes, the colder it becomes. Eventually, the moisture begins to condense as clouds, and, as they say, ‘what goes up, must eventually come down’. Clouds Clouds are formed from millions of tiny water droplets which are cooled in the atmosphere. They…

In a Bushcraft situation, while making shelters, etc, it may be necessary to lash structures together. But what do you do if you don’t have any string or rope? Well, you can resort to making your own. There are many ways this can be done. We can use stems from certain fibrous plants or the inner bark of some species of trees – whether this be from the tree trunk, branch, or roots. However, it is important to understand that a tree is a complex living structure, with a multi-faceted layering system moving nutrients and water through this structure. Surrounding…

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