The foundations upon which bushcraft stands are knowledge and the knife. The skills that are used in bushcraft are nothing new; many predate recorded history. Of the two foundations, knowledge is the most important. With knowledge a person can fashion a cutting tool from stone (chert, flint, basalt, etc…) or a blade can be fashioned from discarded steel or iron in the woods, all it takes is a little knowledge of lithics and metallurgy. By combining together a base knowledge with the skillful use of a knife it is very possible for you to not only survive in the wilds, but to thrive. That is the major difference between survival and bushcraft for me. I think of survival as fighting nature to live and bushcraft as working cooperativley with nature for mutual benefit.
The knowledge needed to get a start in bushcraft I have broken down into 4 basic skill sets of:
- Bladecraft- the use and care of blades (knives, saws, axes, etc…).
- Bindcraft- the use and care of bindings (cordage, ropes, wythes, etc…).
- Firecraft- the use and care of fire and fire lighting techniques (fire-by-friction, flint and steel, ferrocerium rods, etc…).
- Fieldcraft- the combined use of the above skills and ecology to utilize the landscape to thrive while leaving it better than you found it (shelter building, green woodworking, observation/journaling, etc...).