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Browsing: Bush Craft

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…

Water is the most abundant substance on earth, and essential to all forms of life. If you run out of water, and cannot locate a source, in some situations the consequences can become dire very quickly. Fortunately, wildlife can give us a few pointers on how to find it. By Paul Donovan Animals can be categorised into three groups, based on their water reliance: ‘non-dependent’, ‘less-dependent’ and ‘dependent’. Although it is impossible to cover the dependency needs of every animal species, this overview points out a few which are reliable, and a few which are not. Some animals may not…

Reaching 30m in height, with a circumference in excess of 28m, the baobab tree can live for several thousand years. By Paul Donovan If you found yourself stranded in the middle of nowhere, you would be hard-pressed to fi nd in one place all the elements you require to survive. You have to go hunting for them. Th at is, of course, unless you fi nd yourself in the proximity of Adansonia, the Baobab tree. In my view, this tree is a living survival kit, as it can help you out in so many ways. Sometimes known as the ‘upside-down…

If you are open to their clues, various animals can lead you to water in an emergency, but once you have found a water source, you should not simply go and drink it, even if it looks clean. Water is a two-edged sword. It is the most important element we need to keep our body working, but it can house bacteria and pathogens which can cause us great harm. It is therefore important that we treat all water, irrespective of how ‘clean’ it may appear, in such a way that we render these harmful organisms harmless to us. Before we…

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