Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Quest of understanding “Pizza does not grow on trees”

What is Bushcraft? I have been thinking over and over about this question lately. And seems I cannot quite confidently state the answer.
Sure, there seems to be some definition of it if you search on the Internet. But those only tells me, how and where the Bushcraft came to nowadays existence. At least, for me it does not tell much about what actually is a Bushcraft.

By looking at the activities we all bushcrafters do, we do somewhat closer to what survivalists do, yet it is different. We do things that are based on primitive skills and mountain / forest mans skills, but thats not all.
So are we doing all of those and calling it a Bushcraft? That kind of sounds closer, but I feel still missing the core of thing.

I cannot find the answer so, I gave up! And start to think of what I think and what it is for me.
I think, what I do in Bushcraft is to strip down the thing we have for granted to pieces and back track to how and where it came from. The food, water, house, heat/fire all the things that aid our day-to-day living. Understanding how its made and try to recreate it with my own hands.
Yes, it does sound like reinventing the wheel, but if I learn the most basic technology / skills, which made us possible to progress our lives to get here, then it is totally worth doing it.

Now, I have said it like this way, it all sounds BIG WORDS”…  but doing this is not that difficult. It is as easy as making pizza from scratch instead of heating up the boxed frozen one. All this knowledge and skills were found and practiced by everyone on the earth throughout the history. We just start to forget it sice we start to live in the modern society. Now, it is just need to find the information and try them out to relearn.

So, why do I do this??? I am not going to start to say, it gives me more opportunity of connecting to the nature. Perhaps it is, but to be honest, I do not think I am there yet.
One most simple reason come to my mind is that It is fun and I enjoy doing it. Also to understand and learn the most basic skills like making fire, finding food, making tools needed in wildness will gives me more flexibility and possibility on daily life. In fact, all those skills were totally alive and used daily when my grandfather was young.
Because of this reason, I practice my Bushcraft by more simple tools, prefer natural material, reducing the equipments I carry.

So am I really a bushcrafter? Humm... not sure... but I would say; I do not care if you or I go in to woods with loads of modern equipments or just bare naked, as long as having the mindset of "Bushcraft", I think we are bushcrafter.


Thank you for reading this long post. I might have said something totally off the idea of bushcraft, or you might agree or disagree. This is just what I have thought about and at this moment it makes sense to me.
So, I would like to hear your comments and thought on this. It will be great help on my quest of finding out What is Bushcraft?


  1. I'm pretty lax on my definition. I feel that anyone who attempts to learn what he can about the outdoors, and the skills that are useful there, is a bushcrafter. Each person will have a different set of prioroties and skills, though, and so be it. Enjoyment is, INDEED, the key.

  2. I like to have my own definitions of things based on my knowledge, skills and experience.

    My definition of "real bushcraft" is getting everything you need for survival, comfort and day-to-day living from the natural world. Stone/flint knives, animal skin or natural woven clothes, friction fires etc. I am nowhere near this level.

    My definition of "traditional camping/woodsmanship" is to use the skills, tools and knowledge of 100 - 300 years ago (for example, pioneers, mountain men, cowboys, Nessmuk, traditional Finnish etc.). This is more my area of interest, though my gear certainly does not mimic any one of these time periods.

    My definition of "modern camping" is the use of totally modern synthetic gear, often never using an axe or even a knife (for example, ultralighters), cooking with gas stoves etc. I'm not very much interested in this.

    So I would say that what most of us do in the "bushcraft" community is a combination of these three areas. For example: Someone might use a fancy carbon-steel knife to make a bow-drill set and start a fire, and then go to sleep under their silnylon tarp. If I were to put it into one sentence, I would say that modern bushcraft is like traditional camping using some traditional items/skills and some modern items/skills. That's how it seems to me.

    My personal preference is using fires for cooking and warmth, using gear made of natural materials, eating wild edibles etc. I do feel that this gives me a closer connection to nature and past generations. I feel that I am, to some degree, less reliant on modern technology and comforts. On the other hand, honestly, I'm not interested in using flint knives or boiling water in a birch bark container instead of a pot. I hope to someday learn flint knapping and these kinds of traditional skills, but I'm not very interested in using things like this regularly. That could change in the future, though.

    I often hesitate to call what I do "bushcraft", because of my definition of "true bushcraft" above. I really prefer to call it traditional camping. The main point of it all, as GS said, is to enjoy what you're doing, and it's up to each person to figure out what they like best.


  3. Thank you for the comments guys!

    Each person will have a different set of priorities and skills…>>
    True, and that I think is a good thing, yet because of that, it is difficult for me to see what is Bushcraft. Personal priorities and skills will give the enjoyment as the driving force of Bushcraft.
    But towards where??
    Bmatt’s definition of “real bushcraft" could be the answer to that??? If so, then make cense.
    As going through phases "modern camping”>"traditional camping/woodsmanship" then reach to "real bushcraft" seems good path to me. And on that path, we may mix up the different phases, which makes the “modern bushcraft”.

    I might be just taking this question too serious, but lately have been encountering the posts and comments questioning this. Since I did not have clear thought about it, thought good to take time to think about it. Also, personally would like to find some direction where I would like to go with this.

  4. I will add my spices into soup:

    I think one ideology for bushcraft it "know more, carry less". So you can replace some items on your carry by knowledge how you can improvise things from natural materials in nature. For example: many carry paracord with them, but with right knowledge you can improvise cordage from the tree roots, bark, saplings etc.

    Also think about word "bushcraft" it consists two words "bush" and "craft"
    So craft means doing something with your own hands handcrafts and bush means do it in the nature.

    - Finnman

  5. Thanks Finnman. "Know more, carry less", I think that is the word from Mors Kochanski right? And I see that, that word is running through out the Bushcrafters.

    However, the part I really enjoy in Bushcraft is to craft something out of naturally available. It is in a way what my childhood hero “MacGyber” was doing in the TV series :)