Bushcraft book

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Nov 19, 2020
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I would like to take a book out with me on overnights (Europe), but I'm torn between the classic Ray Mears Essential Bushcraft and one of the three David Canterbury's bushcraft books.

Does anyone have any recommendations? Perhaps I've overlooked a gem?

For purpose: I'd like to read up on technics, skills, ideas (knots, traps, shelter building, wild edibles, tree ID etc) without resorting to my phone in the wilderness.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts,

Chris

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lostplanet

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Broch

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I tend to consider Ray Mears books as more 'coffee table' stuff TBH. There's some good stuff in most of them but they are far too padded with prose to be suitable as an on-site reference. I would second Kochanski (though it's based on Northern Forest living really - not UK deciduous). Not Nessmuk; it's a great book but difficult enough to read in the comfort of the home let alone out in the field. 101 is useful but make sure it has in it what you want to practice before venturing out; you could even take the second DC book out as well for the same weight as one RM book. If it's more primitive skills you're after I quite like 'Wildwood Wisdom' by Ellsworth Jaeger - though he covers shelters, and species ID (in drawings and description), but it's all North American based.

TBH though, no single book will give you good tree ID, plant ID, campcraft skills, foraging, trapping etc. So, ideally, no book at all. Go out with the intention of practicing just a few things that you learn before you go. Or, go with someone that can show you stuff they know. Plan to build up your knowledge over a few purposeful trips out.

This blog by Paul Kirtley discusses how to go about improving your skills quite well:

Bushcraft: Join The Route To Mastery (paulkirtley.co.uk)
 
Nov 19, 2020
8
1
38
GB
These are all really great comments thank you!

I managed to find Mors' Northern Bushcraft for a good price (30€). That'll arrive early next year, so I'm looking forward to that!

Also a very good point about going out with the intention to practice one skill in particular.

I've also ordered Collins free food which should be portable




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punkrockcaveman

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I've got the Dave Canterbury books and I like them but they are more instructional than anything, which isn't a bad thing but I struggle to sit and enjoy reading it, although some chapters are less like that.

The RM ones I have are good but I am currently reading the foragers calendar by John wright which even though it is sort of a field guide is a cracking read. Natural navigator by Tristan Gooley, The hunter gatherer way by Ffyona Campbell and the poachers handbook by Ian Niall are fab reads.
 

Billy-o

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Apr 19, 2018
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There's a pretty huge literature there. Fwiw, I liked reading Calvin Rustrum and a Sigurd Olson. I read Jim Corbett's Man Eaters of Kumaon when I was a kid, and an account of Shackleton paddling about in the Antarctic. There's a good chapter there when they reached an island and had to camp for some months, getting bored, smoking seaweed and eating seals.
 

Wayne

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A good read. Dangerous River by Patterson. Having paddled the Nahanni I can only marvel at what these folks did.
Any of the John Muir Books are definitely worth your time.
Desert Solitaire by Edward Abbey.
Winterdance makes me laugh out loud.
 

Broch

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I think he was after Bushcraft instructional books to be honest guys; things he could work from whilst out and about :)
 

TLM

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Nov 16, 2019
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Somewhat OT but then again maybe not, does anyone know of a book written about the principles of bushcraft instead of application to a specific environment? It is no good using clematis and elder if they are a thousand clicks away.
 

Broch

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Billy-o

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Kephart :) Big fat book of things to do with drawings of how to do them ...

I have so many of these things laying about .. especially from the 1960s and 70s. Secondhand shops are the best place for the little known but rather good ones. You'll just trip over them.
 

FerlasDave

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Slightly off the initial topic I think but I like to take a copy of the rspb bird guide with me. I keep an eye out during the day and tick off and date any new species I spot, sometimes I put a location if they’re something a bit more rare. It’s nice to flick through of an evening and have a look at what I’ve seen.
 
Nice idea.

I have a small notebook / journal with me when outdoors. I record "unusual" sightings, mostly wildlife, not just birds but reptiles and mammals. I even recorded some people wild swimming a couple of weeks ago in a regular haunt where I never seen them before.

As you say, nice to review during a quiet moment and bring back memories. Somehow notes are more evocative than a photo, to me at least.
 
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Nov 19, 2020
8
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GB
I just recieved my copy of the Northern Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski. Its the extended edition, with some nice colour photographs at the back. The conditon is good, with most of age affecting the cover. I'll probably wrap it to protect it in the field.

So overall, I have to say I like the book! There's no moose in Luxembourg, but apart from that, it's very useful!

Each sentence is a gem of knowledge - a tip to make success more likely. As many have said before, his knife and axe craft sections are extensive enough, and while he covers fire making well, the use of only a parallel lay is a shame, but logical if you follow his thought process (fire primarily for keeping warm overnight).

My next project using the book, will be to practice building structures. Tripods, pot hangers and the like first, then when the weather warms, so semi permanent shelters.

Thanks for the suggestions on books! I think I'll look into Richard Greaves next!



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