British Bushcraft and the 21st Century

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nobby

New Member
Jun 26, 2005
370
2
71
English Midlands
Emma said:
Well if I couldn't get food from the hedges I'd be having that little bit more trouble paying my rent...
Hi Emma
Something that I think that I am seeing here is that we all use bits of bushcraft as convenient.
Your usage has some economic need and no doubt other reasons as well.
I'm just finishing building a boat for creek and river running, and coastal cruising. I have been learning about the free foods available in and around water from books and courses (helping others to make their living from bushcraft) :0)
I want to be able to utilise what is around me. I don't have an economic need for it but I do have an interest in unprocessed 'natural' foods.
My bushcrafting is coming down to sharp edges for food preparation, collecting food and, off the boat, fire for cooking. The shelter elements are unneccessary because I will sleep on the boat, but have the option of basha and hammock.
What practical use are others making of their bushcraft, or is that another thread?
Cheers
 

Abbe Osram

New Member
Nov 8, 2004
1,402
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57
Sweden
milzart.blogspot.com
nobby said:
Where is the place of Bushcraft in 21st Century Britain?

Is it different for different people?
Abbe Osram lives in a way that requires bushcraft skills for everyday living and I guess that in the North Americas and parts of Europe it is still possible to move around for days without coming across other folk, and to live off the land.
Ray M. obviously earns a living and has become a celebrity. Others earn a full or partial living teaching the skills.

What of the rest of us here in Britain?
Where there is "Gain" you will find Bushcraft. Simply said nobody is doing something that doesn’t brings him or her some gain. Now the old Mountaineers didn’t travel the woods and made their living out of the woods because they loved nature so much. It was money. Some of the heroes of the old days where quite tuff and cunning business people. The guys washing gold rushed out of the woods to party away the money very fast too. Then we have all the Bushcraft companies, yep nature and money. If they don’t sell they all will disappear and stop it.

What about the Bushcraft TV? If people get bored with the Ray Mears Show or Survivorman or the guy who filmed “Tribe”, they will stop producing their stuff and its all over. Then there is another type of "Bushcrafter" the spiritual-philosophical type. Is there gain? Yes, after he found the truth, himself or whatever he is seeking he will write a book and leaves the woods for good, Henry David Thoreau comes to mind. He left his cabin, moved back to town and wrote books and died. He too got something from the woods and then....well they all are leaving.

Now, what about the adventurer? Well, he is aiming high, getting the job done, gets his name in the papers / TV writes a book, holds meetings and shows etc etc.

Now what about the average “Bushcrafter”, working in London, sitting in his office waiting for the lovely weekend to meet up with his mates in the wood. Yes, he is gaining recreation from the woods or is he not seeking his friends only? Are we united behind a common idea (Bushcraft) to find each other and feel a little more home, a little warmer in the hearts?
We say we love nature but do we really? What happened if the group of friends is not coming anymore to our meetings are we than going alone? Will we go and be a Bushcrafter if we are all alone? We say and dream of going into the woods and live a life in a cabin. But is it really true? Some who did it , soon they hate the thought of being out of sight and out of thought.

We write a book or have a webpage ( :rolleyes: ;) :D ) Yes, feeling important is so great for the ego! LOL

Yes, I know what you are thinking now. Abbe, you are wrong! I am going alone in the woods end enjoy it too. You sleep even a night or two there but why the fast rush out of the woods? We rush to the computer and tell our buddies what great guys we are. Are we are not in for the "gain" of ego, to prove somthing to us and others? Even the old guys wrote stories about their adventures and pulled a profit from it. One of them was a political figure and gave out his books just before election time. ;-)

There are for sure some people in tune with nature for the sake of the relationship with it, but very few I am sure. Most of us are looking for "gain" only. If you reach your personal "gain" you will turn your back on the woods and hit the road, I am sure about it.

I went to the woods myself and loved it and nature loved me, I felt at home. Then I started to think how I could make money, how I could make a living and suddenly everything got dull. I didn’t feel at home anymore and it felt nature told me that I should not make a prostitute out of her. Ok, I said and we became friends again. Then I went to the woods, needing healing wanting the old great feeling back and nothing came. I got angry and thought that nature living sucks. It was boring and no gain, I wanted to leave that “hell hole” to a warm place, with TV and a bottle of wine. No gain - no woods.

Today I want to learn to see the woods as a partner telling me to change if I have too, telling me the truth about myself and learning to live simple. That is dam hard business a part in me wants it, the old donkey in me doesn’t. Lets see who is winning.

I might even stop with my webpage, I don’t know yet but it crossed my mind.
I don’t want to use nature only as a provider for "cool" stories and seeking "gain" again.
Lets see what Mrs Nature is telling me.

Long story short, where is Bushcraft and where its going?! Its in your head and will be what you are!

Cheers
Abbe
 

tyrcian

Member
Feb 7, 2006
34
0
31
Guisborough, Cleveland
Hunter Gatherer said:
Well, as long as the population of the U.K. doesn't double in the next 100 years, I would imagine that bushcrafting will become even more important than it is today. How so? As more and more people will move and live in larger and larger urban area's, anyone who practices and promotes bushcraft will be a beacon to those souls who have lost touch with our connectedness to the land. Every generation in Britain, other than this one, all the way back to the Mesolithic, lived very close to the land. Bushcraft was THE way of life.
As I see it unless the govt goes completely bonkers, they will continue to protect lands, forests, area's of outstanding natural beauty, creat new national parks, and interconnected pathways. As they are today. I was completely surprised at the # of area's the govt is proposing to have some level of protection, for such a small island with such a large population.
Although I don't live in the UK(Canada presently), it is by and far the best place in the world(Canada a close second). Maybe I see things from a different perspective from this far away, but I think the prospects for bushcraft are very good.
Cheers
Alex

I am not being racist or anything here, but I am speaking in terms of popoulation. I heard some way that if asylum seekers and foreigners keep coming to live in the UK, then in 50 years or so the British popularity will be a minority. Made me wonder if the planet is getting to small for us?
 

ilan

Nomad
Feb 14, 2006
281
2
66
bromley kent uk
like many i am sorry to say it is As i am getting older and remember 40 years ago the fields i camped in is now a housing estate , the "Wild river" i canoed up with the tangle of willow trees a water meadows now has houses to the waters edge with neat clipped lawns. the water vole long gone as the banks have steel and concete piles the water buttercup uprooted by the power boats Yes to see those changes in a short period of time i am scared . :confused: :(
 

nobby

New Member
Jun 26, 2005
370
2
71
English Midlands
tyrcian said:
Made me wonder if the planet is getting to small for us?
Absolutely not. We only live on a small portion of it as yet, and I expect that war or disease will eventually reduce the human population to sustainable proportions; if it gets to big.
 

nobby

New Member
Jun 26, 2005
370
2
71
English Midlands
ilan said:
like many i am sorry to say it is As i am getting older and remember 40 years ago the fields i camped in is now a housing estate , the "Wild river" i canoed up with the tangle of willow trees a water meadows now has houses to the waters edge with neat clipped lawns. the water vole long gone as the banks have steel and concete piles the water buttercup uprooted by the power boats Yes to see those changes in a short period of time i am scared . :confused: :(
You speak of 40 years as a short time but it represents better than half an average life.
In the '40's my mother was bombed out of four houses in East London. She was often scared and confused, but she ends her days in a Kentish village that has recognisable Saxon origins; a span of at least 1400 years.
In the 1600's England was at war with itself and there was lot of scaredness and confusion. Many expected an apocalyptic end but went on to colour the globe pink.
Nope, for me, the gloom and doom scenarios don't work at all. Anyway, why worry about it? We live, we die but life goes on.
 

tyrcian

Member
Feb 7, 2006
34
0
31
Guisborough, Cleveland
nobby said:
Absolutely not. We only live on a small portion of it as yet, and I expect that war or disease will eventually reduce the human population to sustainable proportions; if it gets to big.


hmmm I don't want people to die but in a lot of ways humanity deserves it.
 

pibbleb

Settler
Apr 25, 2006
933
7
47
Sussex, England
I've just watched the show on BBC1 about Global warming. It's very sad but it's quite clear that we are the worlds own enemy. :nono:

I'm really concerned about what my kids are going to miss out but more importantly I'm shocked by the lack of concern shown by the powers to be. :(

Pib
 

running bare

Banned
Sep 28, 2005
382
1
60
jarrow,tyne & wear uk
nobby said:
Absolutely not. We only live on a small portion of it as yet, and I expect that war or disease will eventually reduce the human population to sustainable proportions; if it gets to big.

thats the human way. over populate and have a world war or two. or even introduce birth control into the water system.even china is trying to bribe its populace to slow down :lmao: :lmao: :lmao: :lmao:
 
M

Mooney

Guest
Thats a really great post abbe, a bit depressing in a way but you make a great point.

im a young guy and ive always been(still am) unsure with what job/carreer i should choose to follow, should it encompass my love of nature or should i try to leave bushcraft etc as a hobby so it doesn't as you say become dull.

Thanks for your insight
John
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,534
404
Mercia
Its an interesting thread this. I liked Abbe's post as it was highly though provoking. In my view, "Bushcraft" is a hobby and escapism pure and simple. If peoples motivation is to improve the lot of wildlife or the planet, then I'm sorry to say that in my view they would probably accomplish more by selling off their gear and buying some solar panels and giving the balance to a charity that preserves habitat (and then staying out of that habitat altogether).

I do understand that learning about nature and feeling close to it offers a motivation to feel more protective towards it, but its not an end in itself unless it results in some action (which could be to change shopping habits, recycle more, give to charity etc.). As stated above, many skilled "Outdoorsmen" were skilled through necessity not choice. The gamekeeper on the farm we live wants an Impreza and a holiday in a nice hotel!

So the place for Bushcraft? Its a hobby, pure and simple (IMHO). Its not a crusade, it doesn't of itself save the planet or improve the lot of anyone or anything but its practitioner. There is also a place for an awarenes and activity in ecologgy, conservation etc. but those things are not the same as Bushcraft.

Just my view and absolutely not intended as a dig or a rant - I'd be interested in others views or refuting my position!

H
 

Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
35,697
1,780
S. Lanarkshire
I grew up in a family, and in some ways a community, which hadn't forgotten all of the pre - industrial foraging/gathering. I learned the gardens as a very small child, what grew where and when, the habitats that the birds preferred, learned to watch for the signs of life, rot, useful....then I learned the walks and woods around our homes, and how to exploit the resources in season. Food, medicine, comfort :)
I live within three miles of where I was born, where I grew up, married, raised a family and still stay. It's slap, bang right in the middle of the Central Belt, the most heavily populated area of Scotland.
Bushcraft, a new term for me, is an awareness of the natural world. It takes many forms, from enjoyment to necessity, but it's a very good thing. I don't feel it's something to scream out about, but something to *do* as well as an attitude of mind. In the 21st century it's a very healthy dose of common sense and reality :D The earliest evidences we have of humanity are fire and toolmaking; being *capable* seems to matter at a very basic level to people, it satisfies something almost visceral in us.
Bushcraft is a great excuse to get out there and do things; brew up/ make fire, view and record the world/ sleep out and be at one with the natural world, grow and cook/ hunt and gather, need something/ sew, carve, cord, trap, net, walk, sail, paddle, ride, run.........It's quite a small word really for such a huge lifetime's experiences.

Cheers,
Toddy
 

pibbleb

Settler
Apr 25, 2006
933
7
47
Sussex, England
I agree with Red when he says that Bushcraft is a hobby, after all, with a family to support and a limited knowledge of my hobby I couldn't begin to meet any of my obligations if it was anything but. In addtion to which I have a crabby job which takes up to much of my own time and I often work with self serving crabby people so yes I will often use it as an escape.

I further agree with the point that we would actually do the habitat more good if we were to stay out of it and sell our gear and use the funds in renewable energy for example.

I personally believe that if you spend so much time in such an environment it is almost unavoidable to feel a oneness with it.

A Crusade? Well no I gree probably not, but when we see that the environment in which we spend our free time, where we return to a pre-instustrial time, is being destroyed by the modern miracle of man, I personally think its a crying shame if we don't stand up and say something.

At the very least we'll end up with no where to play, sitting at home with our Xbox plugged in, at the very worst we'll leave nothing for our children to inherit

IMHO

Pib
 

Abbe Osram

New Member
Nov 8, 2004
1,402
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Sweden
milzart.blogspot.com
Mooney said:
Thats a really great post abbe, a bit depressing in a way but you make a great point.

im a young guy and ive always been(still am) unsure with what job/carreer i should choose to follow, should it encompass my love of nature or should i try to leave bushcraft etc as a hobby so it doesn't as you say become dull.

Thanks for your insight
John

Hi mate,
Please understand me right, its very important! You should always follow your heart but the very important thing in all of this is to be honest with yourself. You should not leave Bushcraft, but be honest in it. What I mean is not that you can’t make money from it either.

It’s not what you do but how you do it.

You see, there is the tendency to romanticize the past and we think that the old heroes where super bushcrafters, that’s wrong. But this doesn’t take anything away from them, quite the opposite, if you see something clearly and real, you start seeing, you have the chance of meeting with the core of truth.

When I wrote about our hobby and us, I wanted to point out that we should sit down and start thinking it through why we do what we do. I could see from some of the Threads here in the past that we got a wrong picture, some of it sounded like we would be a religious sect believing that we are the 200 000 entering the eternal bliss of the woods while all the unbelievers are going down with the rotten world.

You should not go away from Bushcraft but you should go beyond the form and the ideas we have of things and meet nature directly. Bushcraft should not turn into a religion or a enterprise but it can be a tool a road for something better, truth and real life.

How does it work? Ok, next time you are going to a meet and get the wonderful feeling in your body telling you: YES!!!! That’s the life I want to live!!! Then this is the right moment looking into your self, looking deeply. Ok, where is that feeling coming from? Ahh, its the fellowship of my mates, we talk the same stuff, we dream the same things etc etc. And the old guy there showing me his secret bushcraft trick is amazing, I love to hang around him and learn from him. But why do you feel like that? As yourself, watch yourself.

Maybe all of that gives you a feeling of family you never had. Therefore you feel great. That’s it, nothing more and nothing less and that’s ok! One can stay like this and be happy, no harm done but it has nothing to do with nature. Bushcraft became a tool for you to unite and find a club. Therefore we should not laugh about people who meet up for any other thing, we are not better than a knitting group or people going to church as they experience the same thing. Unity they have a teacher (Pastor), learning skills (praying, knitting, etc) , holding fellowship etc etc. That’s ok too, why not, lets not judge. We do Bushcraft, they do Church ---great!

But now you want to go beyond: Take you Kit, take your Bushcraft skills and go out in the Bush be there for some days and write down what you experience.
Listen to yourself, to nature and see. Maybe you experience high excitement the first day, you have a lot to do, build your camp, get ****** at yourself for forgetting how to do this or that skill you know you should know but have forgotten. The night comes you get the fire going and start thinking. You are planning what to tell the other here on BCUK what you experienced, write letters in your mind, get hungry. Ok, after a while you mind calms down what then..... ??Watch yourself but don’t judge yourself. Bushcraft can be the right tool to find your self. If you stay a week and enjoy every moment, great, ask yourself why you enjoyed it. If you run crying out of the woods the first night, great, don’t judge yourself and noticed what makes you do that. What made you go into the woods and what made you that you rushing out in terror the next morning. This kind of experience can teach a person a hell of a lot. Think if you experienced just that and now you are sitting there, at the fireplace, hearing your pals talking about how wonderful life would be if they only could live the life of a Long Hunter, being month at a time in the woods alone, living from the Bush. Everyone is happy, lifting their beers shouting yeah yeah. You don’t say a thing, but you wonder how they would do and if they would really enjoy it.

Don’t find Bushcraft - find yourself - use Bushcraft as a tool for that. That is ok, even making money with it -but watch what is happing to you in the process- keep thinking and seeing straight.

I had a friend who started out with sledge dogs, he left his soooo depressing office job, he was longing soooo much out into the woods. Today, ten years after he started his company he is sitting in his office, running the most successful company in the north. He is not going out more than he did before working in town, he is making money, he became a big money maker.

That his choice, his life, but was it the call of his heart? Is he still following his heart? I don’t know. We are not friends anymore.


Cheers
Abbe
 

running bare

Banned
Sep 28, 2005
382
1
60
jarrow,tyne & wear uk
I further agree with the point that we would actually do the habitat more good if we were to stay out of it and sell our gear and use the funds in renewable energy for example.


sorry ive got to disagree with this statement...if we stay out of it and sell all our gear to plough into renewable energy ( presumably windfarms ) then where will the wind farms go? in the countryside that we once used reducing the woodland on top of hills.nobody will want a wind farm near a city or town.what about nuclear. low carbon footprint but at what cost years of cleaning up after decommissioning,leaks and how to get rid of the waste? same again nobody wants it in their town/city. solution bury it underground preferably in the countryside. i think not from my stand point, i live and work in town,i drive use gas,electricity not exactly prime candidate for friends of the earth. but i honestly think that if we dont use the countryside then the powers to be will give companies carte blanc to do with as they see fit with the countryside.... out of curiousity what kind of energy source are you thinking about?
 

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
25,534
404
Mercia
running bare,

My point was really that Bushcraft as an activity doesn't do much to help the environment - in fact it as a minimum disturbs it (through abrasion if nothing else). I'm not saying that its a problem, most if not all of the UK environment is man altered if not man made (including Dartmoor and the Highlands). To help the planet and the environment, I was suggesting a small solar rig on a South facing roof of the house maybe coupled with a small wind turbine. Both could charge a small battery array and power household applicances through an inverter. I've a number of such rigs in urban houses (I'm not advocating wind farms BTW).

I wasn't seriously suggesting that people do this - merely suggesting that it might have a better overall effect on the environment than a weekends Bushcrafting. Theres nothing stopping anyone doing either of these things (Bushcrafting or personal renewable energy) or indeed both or neither. I was simply trying to illustrate that Bushcraft alone does little to help the natural world we enjoy. We enjoy it as a hobby. For some, that means doing something (else) to preserve / conserve the natural environment. For others it doesn't. No intention to lecture or advise, just observe that, of itself, Bushcraft in the 21st century is, in my opinion, a hobby.

Red
 

running bare

Banned
Sep 28, 2005
382
1
60
jarrow,tyne & wear uk
soz red i got the wrong end as norm....like the idea of personnal energy generation but im a bit sceptical of local councils stopping the likes of wind turbines. if we all had a small wind turbine and solar panels on our houses we would only use what we can generate and thus become more energy efficient. as my wife and i go to the woods together then the energy consumption in the house is reduced and also the strain on the environment. a bit simplistic i know but to me id rather be outside with a small fire for heat and light than indoors burning god knows how many times more energy ..

just my personal view mate :D
 

gregorach

Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 15, 2005
3,723
26
47
Edinburgh
Ah, but the "bushcraft philosophy" (to coin a dubious phrase) of improvisation and adaption (or as Abbe has it "use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without") certainly can be used to make a difference. Sure, you can try to replace your current energy with energy from more sustainable sources - or you could ask whether you really need all that energy in the first place. Rather than buying new stuff, you can repair old stuff, or make stuff out of scrap. I mean, how many people on this forum will repair an item of clothing rather than replace it, and how does that compare to the population at large? It's a very different attitude to that of the modern consumer, and that is the really important thing in my opinion.
 
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JonnyP

Full Member
Oct 17, 2005
3,833
29
Cornwall...
Well for me, todays bushcraft has come from my interest in survival which started in the early eighties when the star wars thing was big news. I wanted to learn how to survive when the americans and russians hit it off, so I started to learn about survival tecniques by reading the books on the subject and getting mags like swat and combat and survival. But it was all armchair stuff then and nothing was really taken in, just reading it. Nowadays I am getting out there and doing it (to quote Adi Fiddler), and I am learning so much more than I used to by doing so. I call it bushcraft now, but to be honest the survival side is in the background (just in case)...................Jon