Bushcraft–the art of living off the land and thriving–is considered primitive by urban standards, but it is a low stress world that you build for yourself and your family. Sometimes it is hard to explain the joy and the sense of pride you feel when you know how to build your home, grow your own food, thrive, and prosper where many others cannot.
This life style is usually voluntary in countries such as the US, Canada, The United Kingdom, Australia, and South Africa. As an Eagle Scout, bushcraft was a way of life for me too. Through the long journey from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout you develop a love and understanding for this way of life.
But in a post-crisis scenarios you may have to survive in non-urban and/or hostile conditions for months, years, or the rest of your life.
Are you prepared to survive like this?
The 5 Tools that You Need
When you are living off the land, there is no way to go to a store and buy the tools you need. Therefore, bushcraft also encompasses making the tools you need in order to achieve all of your objectives and making purchased ones last as long as possible.
Depending on the geographic location, you will find that indigenous people have their own unique designs for locally fabricated tools.
In a post crisis scenario, having an eye for tool design and cultural markings can be an important part of being able to communicate effectively with other groups and gain a faster understanding of their intent, outlook, and past actions towards strangers.
There are five types of bushcraft tools (fixed blade knives, hatchets, axes, saws, and machetes) that you should be able to create, use, and maintain in wilderness settings.
While you can buy all of the tools listed in this article, being fully prepared for any crisis means that you can also manufacture serviceable items from natural materials. Consider studying metallurgy, stone knapping, whittling, and geology (in order to know which rocks carry metal ores of interest, etc.)
1. Fixed Blade Knives
The fixed blade knife should be a well-built knife that will give you years of good service without breaking or badly rusting. These knives are best suited for light to medium field duty as carving or whittling, skinning game, making snares and traps, preparing food, or cutting down branches smaller than your wrist.
How to Clean Your Knives
Always keep your knife clean, clean the blade and handle after each use. Do not soak the knife in water. Instead use a mild solution of soap and water on a clean rag or paper towels should remove any dirt and debris that may have accumulated during use.
Keep your fixed blade knife dry. After cleaning or exposing the knife to moisture the knife most be completely dried. Use WD-40 on the blade only to displace any moisture to prevent water spots and oxidation from forming. Then oil all metal parts. Remember to oil the knife regularly. Finger prints and weather are the primary cause of rust and corrosion.
Keep your knife sharpened. A sharp knife is safer and easier to use than a dull one. If you are new to knife sharpening use a fixed angle sharpening kit. This will give you a consistent grind from tip to base. Practice your knife sharpening skills on cheap knifes instead of expensive knives.
How to Store Your Knives
When not in use oil the blade and store the knife in a cardboard sheath. Do not store the knife in a nylon or leather sheath that came with the knife because it traps moisture and cause the knife to rust. A cardboard sheath will wick the moisture away from the blade’s surface and prevent dust from accumulating. Keep this knife stored in a cool low humidity area while in storage.
There are a few knives that I would recommend for bushcraft. Keep in mind that all the prices that you will see below are the manufacturer’s suggested retail price for each item.