Like many nature lovers out there, you have to postpone camping and outdoor adventures until quarantine ends. However, you can take advantage of this confinement and learn some precious bushcraft skills from the comfort of your home.
Read on to discover vital survival skills that will come in handy when you finally get to gather your gear to venture into the wild!
1. How to Build a Fire
Having the skills to build a fire from scratch is one of the fundamental bushcraft skills that create a connection over time between modern men and our primeval ancestors.
A fire can keep you warm, help you heat food and stave off predators. However, building one is not as easy as it seems, especially when you lack matches, lighters, or flintstones. Here's how to make a fire in the wild when you have nothing but a knife with you:
- Carve a feather stick to create kindling or wood shavings.
- Find a flat piece of dry hardwood at least 2 inches thick.
- Use your knife to carve a shallow groove in the middle.
- Take a softwood stick and rub swiftly along the groove.
- With enough friction and strength, you will see sparks forming at one end of the groove.
- Place the wood shavings where the sparks appear and blow gently to help them ignite.
- Gradually add more dry tinder, twigs, and softwood to build a larger fire.
This bushcraft technique takes time to master. Make sure that you practice at home in an area that is far from inflammable materials.
2. How to Make Water in the Wild Drinkable
The lack of potable water is one of the biggest dangers for your survival in the wild. Another one is drinking unfiltered water.
While it may sound like a safe option, natural water may not be a healthy option in the wilderness. Many sources of natural water can contain parasites, viruses, and even decomposing chemicals from toxic waste.
Knowing how to transform a water source into potable water can save your life and keep you healthy at the same time. The easiest way to make water safe to drink is by boiling it. Generally, this process will give it a dry, bitter aftertaste.
To improve the taste of boiled water, you can filter it through a shirt or bandana. This way, most of the sediments will remain in the fabric, and the resulting liquid will have a more pleasant aroma.
You can practice this bushcraft skill at home if you have a source of water near your home. Otherwise, you can at least try to filter tap water through a fabric. Use a pH test to observe the differences between regular tap water and filtered one.
3. How to Forage for Food
Being lost in the wild with no supplies can make you hungry enough to eat anything you can find. However, if you don’t know which plants and berries are edible, you may damage your digestive system and even lose your life.
To enhance your bushcraft skills, you must learn how to forage for food. You can do so from the comfort of your home by researching books and online sources. Check for the plants growing in the area where you plan to travel on your next camping trip. Find out the ones that are edible and how to stay away from the toxic ones.
In the Northern Hemisphere, most forests abound in safe, nutrient-rich plants like stinging nettle, dandelion, lamb's quarters, and miner's lettuce. You can use them to refuel your energy as you make your way back to civilization.
If you do not know how to forage for food in the wild, you should avoid eating mushrooms. Some species are toxic enough to kill you, and others could give you fever and an upset stomach that slow you down.
4. How to Make a Weapon
Having a weapon in the wild can come in handy. You can use it to defend yourself from predators or to hunt small animals and birds.
If you are lost in the forest with almost no gear, you can still make a weapon from scratch. The best and easiest one to make is a slingshot. Here’s how to build it:
- Find a forked stick and use your knife to remove any twigs sticking out from it.
- The slingshot’s handle should fit comfortably and feel strong in your arm.
- Use the elastic from your pants to tie a sling bow around the slingshot’s two tips.
- Use a piece of leather or canvas as a pad.
Make sure that the elastic is tight enough to create the catapulting effect when firing. You can adjust the tightness as you go.
The best thing about building a slingshot is that you can do it at home. All of these materials are easy to find, and you can practice shooting with them before you leave on your trip.
5. How to Build a Shelter
In the great outdoors, a shelter is essential for your survival. If you are stuck in a remote environment for a long time, the shelter can keep you warm and protected. It can also work as headquarters from where you can set out hunting and fishing.
There are several ways to build a survival shelter. The simplest one is to hang a tarp over a fallen tree and create a fort-like area that will keep you safe from the rain and wind. You can practice making one in your backyard and know how to build shelter from scratch.
If you get lost in the wild during winter, you can dig an igloo in an area with heavy snow. The cold snow will provide excellent insulation and save you from frostbite.
If you have zero experience in bushcraft living, you should take extra precautions when being lost in the wild. Avoid taking shelter in caves that might already be the homes of forest predators. Also, you will want to prioritize warmth and protection over the view you get from your shelter.
6. How to Build a Snare Trap
You cannot choose where you get lost in the wild. In some cases, you will know very little about the plants growing in the region. So, you will have to rely on hunting and trapping small game to get enough meat to survive.
Here is a simple snare trap that you can build at home. It should help you catch small game prey, such as rabbits, squirrels, and other small animals.
- Get a piece of strong wire piece of appropriate length.
- Create a small loop on the end big enough to pass the snare wire through it,
- Pass the tail end of the wire through the small loop.
- Wrap the tail end of your wire around a tree a couple of times.
- Leave a small part of the wire to wrap around the wire going back towards the snare to tie it off.
- The snare loop should be as big as your fist.
- Place it in such a way that hangs just a few inches off the ground.
- Use sticks and rocks to create a tunnel leading the rabbits through the snare.
Build several of these traps around bushes and trees where rabbits like to nest. Leave them at least six to eight hours to expect a catch. Hang small pieces of brightly colored fabric in the trees above the traps to be sure you find them again the next morning.
You can practice building small traps and trapping skills at home. However, make sure that you dismantle them to avoid injuring local wildlife or pets.