How does Joe Public perceive bushcrafters?


Oct 6, 2003
I am not too worried about who at work hears that I am interested in bushcraft, but after years of experience with people's reaction to rabbit shooting, I am a bit careful about what I say to strangers.

Bushcrafters play with knives and axes, we make fires, we are generally not adverse to "natural" food, that can include killing and cleaning it ourselves. To a lot of people we could be aliens from another planet!!

Recently I have been on some walks with work mates through the local forest. They are happy to walk, they think that the woods are very scenic, but their interest pretty much stops there. They can't tell you the difference between an oak and an ash :shock: really! They look at the country as if it were scenery flashing by the car window.

They think me a little odd, but like me otherwise, so don't make much of my interests. At least they don't think bushcraft is "sad" :lol:


Yeah, it's a sad fact that most 'normal' people wouldn't know one tree or wild creature from another even if they had a big lable saying "This is a Linnet, not an LBJ (Little Brown Job)".
Some people have accused me of being an escapist who can't cope with the modern world, a fantasist. My answer is, "No, I can cope with the modern world, and it's going out into the woods that keeps me able to cope with it and not use my gollock on annoying wingeing...". I would say it keeps me 'normal' but to me, it's us lot that are normal, and the others who are weird.. :lol:
And one thing they forget, it US that are the guardians of the 'this green and pleasant land', :soapbox: even if we do end up using part of it to make a nice fire to roast other bits over. :chill:


Jul 31, 2003
Ed said:
I have been asked many times by parents if I teach children, they think it will be good for them.
The last time I was airgun hunting, a couple of weeks ago, a couple of young teenagers weandered into our camp attracted by the smell of frying pigeon. They were obviously a little surprised to find two twenty year olds in a mix of swannies and combats sitting round a fire carving spoons. They were however absolutely fascinated by what we were up to, so much so, that on the following day they actually brought their friends along! I don't know quite how much of this was entertainment in the manner of a freak show or an actual interest on their part, but we had quite an audience for a while, rather annoying when you see the woodies go hurtling from their roosts!

Similarly at University I often find people interested in what it is I do out in the woods, I literally can no longer count how many times I have heard, 'Can I come?' Although I must admit, rarely do people actually make good on that - though summer is on the way, so you never know. :wink:

We are quite open about what we do, and whilst I think there is a temptation for bushcrafters to be a bit secretive to avoid censure, I think that in my case at least, this would only lead to greater suspicion! In my experience people are a lot more receptive than I would have imagined although I wonder whether its just more acceptable for me to be interested in this, before I've settled down and got career plans. :lol:

Some things though people are never going to accept, picking up road kill I find to be the limit of a lot of people's palate, but then at the end of the day, in our society we are conditioned in such a way that we frown on these things. To borrow from Gary's post on rabbits - 'if its not in cellophane, its not real meat' is the mentality that I feel that I have been brought up in, and its a mentality that I feel I have to challenge every time I kill an animal for food.

Although I have come to expect it from some, it does annoy me that even my family, who know I am serious about bushcraft, find amusement at some of the things I do. Then again we all need a sense of humour :-D But it's my opinion that working in an office nine 'til five is much more of a joke than bushcraft! :)


New Member
Sep 3, 2003
Gary said:
Although I too often get 'the look' but hey, as with any minority thing I guess you just gotta learn to live with it.
Yep, I agree Gary ... now I'm proud to be in the minority!

It now staggers me how far down the road of urbanization we humans are and how far we are willing to push what seems to me like an unsustainable way of living ... :cry:


Oct 10, 2003
Land of the Angles
Most become more understanding and interested once they realise that you can learn quite a lot from your surroundings, and make things and eat things.

A good example though is from last week. I had a lifelong friend come and visit my family with his family. I've known him since I was 2 years old, and there is only 3 days age difference between us, but haven't seen him for a couple of years.

We went for a walk in the woods with the families and I found some cramp balls on a tree. I took a couple and he asked what for. I explained and he had fits of laughter, asking if I thought I was Ray Mears or something. Anyway, we laughed it off, but when we got home, he found my mushroom pocket guide in the magazine rack. He soon got started on taking the mickey about this too, andf then when he found the tree guide in there, that was it, I was an official tree hugger.

He asked if the ones I found in the woods were in the book. I showed him, and he read the text, then he read some more, then he looked up some of the other types as he flicked through, then he found that many could be eaten, then he realised he'd seen some like that in woodland near him, then he asked where I got the book from as he may get one too!!!

What a conversion!!

When he and I were kids, we spent nearly every day in the woods, in our den, doing many of the things I do now with bushcrafting. It was with him I lit my first fires, ate my first wild leaves, grass and nuts, drank spring water, built my first shelters. We knew all the trees, the bushes, the local animals. The pace of life just means he had forgotten that he too is a bushcrafter, he just hasn't practised for about 28 years.

I think it may be the same with Joe Public. Memory loss and fear of looking daft. When you're a kid you don't really care what others think. If you enjoy doing it you do it.
They just need to reach in and find that inner child man!! :-D


Feb 1, 2004
Its funny, mention Bushcraft and they think its something rude :oops: mention Survival and they think its about eating grubs/worms or worse stocking up arms :roll:
....but mention Mr Mears and they get all excited :-D and IMO he is the best advert for our fascinating past time.

BTW, I got my SquirrelBoy title from a friend I told about me eating said rodent on a course. Guess it must just seem odd to those who buy their food in wrapped plastic - but to us it couldn`t be more natural...


Aug 27, 2003
South Wales Valleys
....but mention Mr Mears and they get all excited and IMO he is the best advert for our fascinating past time.
I agree. More people are comming to understand what bushcraft is about from watching his programmes on tv and reading his accompanying books. The public are slowly changing their opinions and do see us in a more favorable light than say 'survivalists'. This can only be a good thing.



New Member
Nov 1, 2003
It seems like we all get the same thing. When I'm out and about, I try to avoid people as much as possible. The other day, I came wandering onto the road off a track and met a dog walker. The site of me in my boots, army lightweights and ventile smock with a stout staff in my hand made her look like she'd seen a ghost and she increased her speed. When i'm walking with friend's, I like to point out the different edible plants to people in the hope of teaching them something. They all seem pretty interested! Like Maddave, I often find myself grabbing and munching on a handful of beech or hawthorn leaves when walking down the street, only to realise what i'm doing.

Sorry for the rambling post.


Jan 19, 2004
At the weekend I went out early on Saturday morning on the farm where I 'keeper. As I was meeting some other people there at 10 I took some breakfast with me.

When I was in mid flow with the kelly kettle the farmer came past on a tractor, I could see him smirking as he came closer. As soon as he turned off the engine I offered him a brew, hoping to stop any witty comment. He said "No thanks. Bloody hell, you're like that bloke off the telly"

I wish ...

Remember this reaction is from a farmer that tries (and likes to be seen) to be conservationally minded, planting belts of trees etc. Basically someone who should have a sympathetic ear to Bushcraft - but no.



stuart f

Full Member
Jan 19, 2004
Hawick, Scottish Borders
After reading these posts i began to think that most people who are not familiar with bushcraft and mock us for what we do,maybe they don,t deserve an explanation about it. Maybe we as bushcrafters should just keep it to ourselves and not let on to joe public about its therapeutic value,the stress relief that it brings,the way in which i somehow feel cleansed when i get back from a few nights spent out under the stars.

So why feel ridiculed when we know better,maybe we should just keep the woods,the stars and the limitless fresh air to ourselves.

sorry i,ll get of my :soapbox: now.


Aug 28, 2003
Stew said:
...loads snipped... Crazy! how many people do you know that would be prepared to joint there own chicken?
A few... :-D I'll quite happily buy a couple of large chickens and dismember them into requisite portions, then make a couple of gallons of stock with the carcasses. Takes time, yes, but I'd rather do that than pay over the odds for the stuff - it is pretty tasteless as it is. I also make my own sausages now - takes flipping ages, but the results are worth it. I'm not convinced it saves me much financially, but that isn't entirely the point.

My work colleagues think I'm quite mad - an image I'm happy to encourage them in (it is a far more harmless/affable image than rambo wannabe). They know that I will happily shoot for food, enjoy blacksmithing (usually small projects), make knives, use said knives and can build or repair almost anything that it comes up my back to do. A few of them have queried the fact that some of my kit is issue; for those who don't know my misspent youth, I can explain that it is practically disposable at the price. I've an interest in "forgotten" skills and crafts, and my primary justifications are a) because I can and b) because so few other people are keeping them alive. The fact that it doesn't tally with most people's image of what a software engineer is suits me fine.

Ray Mears takes a lot of stick from some quarters, I know, but has done more to raise the profile of what we are interested in than anyone else I can think of. Well, possibly excluding The Good Life for some areas... (!) I doubt that the bushcrafty courses around the country would be as well attended without his efforts.
Mar 2, 2004
the question shoul be asked ..what do bushcrafters think of joe public.

i often judge people by their usefullness if we were stranded on a desert island.i gotta say i meet an awful lot of meat every day and some of them dont even qualify for that.! :twisted:


Feb 13, 2004
I'm quite alarmed by everyone's stories. I've never encountered anything like this. I can only presume that it's different to here in Wales, where there are plenty of people still practicing country ways.

(Although this does change a bit in the summer months when the tourists arrive and they do sometimes stare or make comments, but it's just something you have to live with along with sarcy comments about the Welsh language and local placenames. :roll: Gah! If I hear that line from Blackadder one more time about never asking for directions in Wales or you'll be combing spit out of your hair for a month ... like no one's ever said it before I swear I'll ... :banghead: !! Yawn! :wink:)

Could it be perhaps that Joe Public's alarm at bushcrafters practicing their skills has more to do with bushcrafters themselves feeling conspicuous and uncomfortable with what are doing? Just a thought ...

As you might know I'm into geocaching, which is also something people feel uncomfortable doing to begin with, but eventually you just learn to ignore what others might be thinking and get on with it! :wink:

larry the spark

Dec 16, 2003
I've never had a problem and more to the point couldn't give a monkeys what joe public thinks of me, whether I'm fully geared up for trip somewhere or merely picking plants or whatever on a dander up the hill. Most people are used to seeing DoE groups, hikers, ramblers etc so why are we any different? Some of my mates, especially downhill bikers, take the mick but to me they're just big kids in power ranger costumes (no offence bikers out there) ... take a bit of stick but give it back! I guess the firelighting and blade using side of things needs a degree of discretion but as for rest... fugeddaboutit!


Oct 31, 2003
The Netherlands, Delft
people just seam to see me as a paranoid Rambo type TEOTWAKI survivalist, wich i'm definatly NOT. People also seam to stare at me wenn i'm doing stuff. I'm not wearing mine green and brown clothing and stuff most of the time either. Finding you flint and stell kit in your backpack during lunch break and playing with it seams to be enough... ok, ok i have worn mine green clothing at school wenn i didn't had enough clothing to seperate normal and bushcraft clothing. And i have worn mine DPM parka ONCE wenn it was raining cats and dogs.


Aug 28, 2003
PC2K said:
Finding you flint and stell kit in your backpack during lunch break and playing with it seams to be enough...
I took some flint & steels into work and had everyone trying them out :-D
Didn't actually go as far as getting them to light anything, but got them making sparks.
Mar 2, 2004
larry the spark said:
I've never had a problem and more to the point couldn't give a monkeys what joe public thinks of me,

lol i was going to say exactly the same thing m8.
ps caught a couple of lovely trout tonight :cool: ]