Wednesday, 20 December 2006

Bushcraft Christmas

Santa is a bushcrafter too,
How else does he know what to get me?
A non special knife just wont do,
Will santa this year forget me?

I cant blame the wife she's suffered all her life,
With my bushcraft fascination,
So if santa dont come - one things to be done,
Father Christmas Assasination!

I'll whittle the tree in to a bow and arrows you see,
And wait for the old fellow that night.
And if he comes the chimney or Stair,
I'll skewer there him - just right!

There in the dark in my swanni and hat,
I feel like a kinda of wolly.
As I cry out in pain again and again,
Cos' I pricked myself on the Holly.

Alone in the dark I hear a fox bark,
Then an owl calls softy outside,
Dropping my bow I hurry and go,
Back up to my big bed and hide!!

When morning doth come I welcome the sun,
But remember how my legs turned to jelly,
This bushcrafting game if its all the same,
I'll just watch on the telly.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Scandi style pot hanger

Scandinavian Pot Hanger.

In the world of bushcraft there is an amazing array of different suspension systems designed to assist us in hanging a pot above our camp fire to boil water or help us slowly simmer that backwoods stew.

But be it a Waugan stick, a dingle or a cooking crane of the most cunning design one defect in them all is the fact that the ‘crafter’ needs to spend time searching out the correct materials. ‘Not a hardship,’ I hear you cry, and you’d be right as there is always pleasure to be had, and wonders to be found while searching the woodland for that hook or forked stick of correct length and size.

But imagine that time is short before darkness descends upon you and its raining or your choice of materials are limits as might be the case in the northern boreal forests.

Well, all is not lost and thanks to the cunning wilderness living skills of a very good Swedish friend of mine, Preben Mortensen the granddaddy of Swedish survival, the wily outdoors person can quickly carve a Scandinavian pot hanger and is so doing not only impress their friends with their knowledge and knife craft but also, perhaps more importantly, quickly get the pot over the fire for that essential warming brew or meal.

So where do we begin?

First, select two thumb thick sticks with a forked off shoot at one end and one short straight section as pictured above.

Green wood while not essential is best for this being easiest to carve and less likely to suffer damage from fire in the short term. Try to select the wood from non-toxic trees or trees without a heavy resinous sap by nature as we don’t want to risk contamination our food even if this risk is small

A tip here is to leave all wood, at this stage, as long as possible so we can measure and trim it later – this will allow us to hang our pot at the optimum height about the fire.

Now having selected our materials and checked they are sound and not rotten or weak in anyway (don’t want our dinner dropping into the fire now do we?) we can happily make our way back to camp where we will work on the next stage of our hangers construction.

Having erected our crane, be it two forked sticks with a cross bar (more correctly called a Waugan (a name predating the turn of the century and as such the correct term given its age and in common usage by our US friends) or a Saster, Speygelia (what we Brits might call a Waugan stick thanks to TV or modern literature) over our fire measure the points where our two branches (once carved) will meet and in so doing lift our pot to the correct height about the fire. Once marked we take our knife and remove approximately half the wood from the poles length (as shown below) remembering to remove the material from the side of the pole away from the fork.

*Note the notched or beaked under cuts carved into the lower ends of the pole will become more apparent later.

Having carved both pieces as above pay particular attention to the removal of the ends of your poles (these being tops furthest away from the forked side branches). These are cut at a 60 degree or so angle so they face away from the carved or exposed wood with the angle going back towards the fork branch side where it is sticking out and as such both should be cut to a length which when placed together and slid into the notches on the adjoining half lock the whole thing together – see below

This done we can fine tune the lengths of our set up, adjusting the height of the pot (not the bottom of the lower forked stick) but so it is at a height where we can hold our hand above the fire for approximately 5 seconds without burning ourselves. This height above the fire will generally (flames going up and down, wind speed ect ect) ensure we boil water or cook food with the minimum risk of it burning if left unattended for short periods of time but also without wasting fuel by needing a hotter or longer burning fire.

I digress however so let us return to task.

Our forked sticks should now interlock but will lack the strength to stay locked together once weight is placed upon them so now we must make ourselves the locking bar. For this take our third shorter piece of wood and carve it into a flat square piece of a size approximate to the forked sticks but wider if placed horizontally across them (for thumb thick sticks your looking at a piece approximately 10mm wide by 20mm high and 80mm long – of course as with all things bushcraft these are only guides and the dimensions of your materials will dictate)

Finally we need to carve the lock itself. Place the finished locking bar across your two poles in a position central to both and mark the poles on the exposed side and across the grain to the width and half the depths of the locking bar.

Then using stop cuts remove the waste material inside these markings as below.

Carve slowly and with care as to much wood being removed will make the final hanger ineffective as the locking bar will not be able to lock the two poles in place.

This done we are finally ready for completion.

Place the two halves of the pot hanger together, their forks should now both be facing outward, and gently tap the locking bar into the carved lock recess. The bar should not slid in easily as its role it to force the two halves apart and thus friction lock the slanted ends tightly into the carved beak notches.

Once this is done and the whole hanger is locked tightly together we can trim off the ends of the locking bar so it sits flush to the wood.

Now is the time we can also trim off the forks of our two halves leaving them long enough to take our pots bail arm or handle but not so long as to get in the way during usage. Also remember to remove any other waste material until our finished article looks similar to the below.

This done all that remains is for us to fill the pot and hang it above the fire while we sit back contented in having displayed a new skill which will become a familiar friend on many future trails.

Saturday, 16 December 2006

Bannocks and bacon

Outdoor cookery guide
Outdoor cookery is an entertaining and fun way for enjoy your meals. Whether on the BBQ or over an open fire there are a few tips and tricks that can help you get the most from your experience.

Aside from the recreation aspects of cooking we should also consider its importance in bushcraft – a tasty meal, well presented would boost morale, lift flagging spirits and in many ways make what might be a terrifying experience less daunting. As well a feeding the spirit we are also feeding the body so we need to ensure we utilize all the nutrients and goodness of each meal by avoiding over cooking and controlling waste (waste of fuel and water as well as food).

Just like any budding Jamie Oliver, an outdoor chef needs to learn a few basic techniques before he can begin to enjoy those tasty treats that await him.

Ground oven cook times.
Food cannot be burnt or spoilt if cooked in a correctly constructed ground oven. Always allow the correct time so that your food can cook through. As a rule of thumb, I always add a little extra to be safe.

Haunch of Deer, pig or goat
2 Hours per Lb

Rabbit or Hare
4 hours

2 hours

45 mins – 1 hour

Shell fish
30 – 45 mins

Crab (small)
30 – 45 mins

Roots and tubers
3 – 5 hours

3 hours

Steaming times

Steaming works well on small game – to cook larger fare fire management is essential.

20 – 40 mins

Rabbit or Hare
2 hours

Shell fish
1 hour (discard any that remain closed)

Roots and tubers
4 – 5 hours

These are a few of the more expedient techniques you will be using as the series progresses – while steaming and ovens are good ways to cook don’t forget you can also boil your food as well as broiling and frying.

Let us look at rations – military rations and camping foods will be covered in later issues but for now, I want to get right back to basics – using ingredients readily available around the world both past and present.

In the heyday of the Fur brigades of the Rocky Mountains large companies such as the Hudson Bay Company and the North West Company issued their trappers and Voyageurs with rations, below is a list of what each man would received.

HBC ration: _
2 Lbs flour or 11/2 lbs sea biscuits (pilot bread)
1 lb fat mess pork (salt pork with no meat – what is called fat back)
2 oz sugar
½ oz Tea
½ oz salt
½ oz carbonate of soda (baking soda – for leavening Bannock bread)
2 oz peas or 2 oz barley

The peas and barley where intended to be boiled along side any game taken upon the trail.
This ration per man would weight 347 pounds if rationed for a 15-day trip.

NWC Voyageur’s meal
1 quart dried peas
4 oz salt pork
1 or 2 hardtack biscuits (British military rations have these called Biscuits AB or use can use 4 - 6 crackers)

The voyageurs who fixed this meal ate only once a day and usually around a communal cooking pot.

From these two examples, you can see how plain and simple rationing a trip can be. Below is a meal taken from an original recipe that will transport you back to the 1800’s.

Voyageur Stew
Taking the ingredients above, soak the quart of peas until the skins split. Add salt pork chopped into cubes and simmer for 5 hour (over an open fire or until meat is tender on stove) topping up the water as needed.
When ready add the broken hardtack biscuits and stir in until the whole stew becomes thick.

Then enjoy.

Just like the wily old trapper or mountain man we can carry with us a few basic ingredients that will (with a little imagination) stretch to serve us in a whole host of different ways. These ingredients may be all that are open to the modern explorer especially in some third world country’s but more importantly they offer us versatility in our cooking as well as being a important source of carbohydrates.

Batterdough – this is a multipurpose Bannock mix adaptable to various meals and needs

If we carry the below dry ingredients with us upon the trail we can cook ourselves anything from a simple Bannock or Fire bread, golden and tasty Pan Cakes, plump stodgy mouth watering dumplings or even a tasty pie crust or Pizza.

The list is simple. To cut down on weight you should only carry what you think you will need maybe even premixing the dry ingredients at home and carrying them in zip lock bags.

Plain flour
Baking Powder
Salt and Sugar.

I usually work on a daily ration of 2lbs flour, 2oz o sugar, ½ oz Salt, ½ oz Baking powder, 1lb suet (Taken from Hudson bay company daily rations) Unless I’m carrying other food stuff then I will carry less.

The below ingredients will make one bannock to serve 2 or 10 – 12 Canadian style pancakes.

10 heaped spoonfuls of flour
1 level spoonful of baking powder
4 spoonfuls of sugar
1/8 – 1/2 of a spoonful of salt

*A spoon being the size of spoon you have with you but deemed to be roughly tablespoon size)

Mix the above ingredients allowing as much air as possible to entire the mix. When ready slowly add water and work this in little by little. For a bannock, you will want a round cannon ball of quite stiff dough.

Grease a cooking pot with melted suet and place the dough inside. Slice a cross across the bannocks top then cover with a lid and bake over the fire or in an oven until ready (check after above 20 mins at medium heat.)

Other uses,

The bannock mixture can also be cooked on a plank or wrapped around a stick (in both cases use none toxic woods) as well as in an oven or pot, ensure the plank is heated before you add the dough.
Used as a base for a pizza bread - replace plain water with 50/50 mix of water and sun dried tomato oil (or all oil) also mix into the dough salami and sun dried tomatoes then fry in melted suet.
By replacing the sugar with suet (8 spoonfuls), you can use this as a dumpling mix. (More suet if you like ‘em stodgy!)
By replacing the baking powder and sugar with 5 spoonfuls of suet, you can make a passable piecrust.
To make pancakes mix the above ingredients with water until it forms a batter. Grease a frying pan (melted suet) and fry spoon sized lumps of batter turning once to golden on both sides. Even better if you have it fry the pancakes in bacon fat and serve with Maple syrup.
Mixing the bannock mixture with beer (traditional ales) to replace water makes a tasty treat and saves on your valuable water supplies.

Nettle soup.
Can be used as an accompaniment to our Bannock or as a meal in its own right.

4 large handfuls of Nettle tops
1 large onion (optional or add Ramsons, hedge garlic and chives))
I large spoon (heaped) butter (optional)
2 pints vegetable stock, bouillon, or chicken soup.
Salt and pepper– or paprika, chilli sauce to taste

Make up stock and bring to a slow simmer. Add chopped onion and butter and allowed to simmer until onion is soft. Stir in nettle tops and bring back to boil.
Once boiling add any further liquid as required and again allow to return to the simmer for a further 5 mins. (If using hedge garlic add last just before serving and finely chop)

Season to taste.


An interesting meal can be made by pureeing nettles tops (cooking in enough water to stop them burning and then mash once done) serve with a poached egg.

Food AND Water a wilderness guide
We all know that we need food to live. You are what you eat pretty much sums up our western attitude to food but in reality food is really of the least importance especially in an emergency situation.

However, if food’s importance is decreased waters importance is tripled. Not only do we need water for drinking but we also need it for cooking, washing and numerous other tasks.

With this in mind, I would like to point out the following facts.

You can fast for between 40 to 120 days. You may survive longer by fasting if you cannot,
Find more than 1000 calories on a daily basis.
Find 500 grams of Carbohydrate a day
If you use more energy getting food than you intake from it.

This sounds extreme but it will allow the body to go into starvation mode and in this state it will burn fuel efficiently – adding small amounts of Carbohydrate will hinder this and (as you will see below) cause you to suffer the effects of carbohydrate deprivation over and over – a most uncomfortable state of affairs. Bear in mind that we seem to fear being hungry without really understanding the effects of hunger and its effects on our bodies. We will cover more about this in later articles.

You can go without it for approximately 3 days (longer in some cases 4 to 6 being the maximum)

With adequate sleep and water in take you will live until you starve to death.

However, without sufficient water you should refrain from eating and smoking as both dehydrate you. Lack of water rapidly affects the body so remember the old adage - Ration sweat not water.

Thirst is not a guide to dehydration – check urine colour regularly as this is more accurate - clear or straw coloured is good anything darker indicates dehydration. Your best water container is your body so keep it tanked up always. There have been numerous occasions where tourists and people caught out by many of the worlds deserts have perished yet surprisingly enough when their bodies are recovered they are often found to still have water in their canteens.

As a rule of thumb always try to drink at least 2 litres of water a day – I like to carry a 2 quart canteen (approx 3 pints) in my rucksack as back up to my 1 litre bottle.

While water is heavy to carry (it gets lighter as you drink it) YOU SHOULD ALWAYS CARRY SOME.

Carbohydrates, relative values.
As mentioned above we need carbohydrates in our diet as these boost our blood sugar level and kick in to provide a quick release energy this being what our bodies, our muscles in particular would rather feed upon.
However, the glycin reserves we carry within us will only last approx two days or so and after this period we will start to burn fat or more importantly our subcutaneous fats, which our body uses as insulation amongst over things.

If this happens carbohydrate, deprivation will result and with it we will experience the following symptoms (especially if we are used to a normal starchy western diet):-

· Tiredness
· Headaches
· Loss of concentration
· Irritability
· Depression
· Self absorption
· And a feeling of continual cold.

All of these can make our experiences harder and in doing so lower our morale, most dangerous of all would be its effects on our levels of concentration. It is therefore a good idea to carry a small emergency ration pack a part of which should be your daily Carb’ intake as mentioned above.

With this in mind, it is wise to carry other ingredients to boost your meal. For additional ingredients I usually look to those that contain proteins and sugars (glucose sweets or Kendal mint cake are ideal) Also carry things you enjoy eating after all that will be a small boost to your morale if nothing else.

I usually prefer to carry rations that do not require re-hydrating in any way, as this is a drain on your valuable water resources, which would, in reality, be better off being drunk.
Worse than wasting precious water, if you are injured or unable to light a fire you will also be unable to feed your internal boiler and so you will start to feel colder and this will increase your chances of a cold injury or worse.

I usually carry the following:-

2 x 50g Beef Jerky
Drinking Chocolate.
Kendal mint cake.

Remember these are emergency rations but they still allow me to have a degree of versatility. The dried meat can be eaten without cooking while the chocolate can be made into either a hot or cold drink as well as acting as flavouring for many other things. The Kendal mint cake (being almost totally sugar) is where a lot of carb’s are stored and this, as well as being full of moral boosting flavour, is pack full of instant energy.

In addition to those above, I usually carry additional e/rats (emergency rations) in my Daysack and these include,

Chewing gum (these help relieve thirst in the short term and contain sugars)
Salt (many uses including flavouring and preservation)
Seasoning (curry powder/chilli powder or Tabasco sauce all improve the bland taste of wild fare).
Bouillon or Vegetable stock cubes.
Rice or Powdered Mash.
Boil in the bag meal (if room or weight allows)

Yet let me once again point out that while food is comforting, it is normally your last priority so concentrate your efforts on finding shelter, fire and water. We westerners tend to eat far more than we actually need to and so our stomachs and our habits tend to make us feel hungry even if we are not.

Boredom will also lead to hunger pains however these can be banished by action. In the bush there will always be something else that needs doing even if it is just collecting more firewood so if you begin to feel hungry distract yourself by working at tasks that will benefit you in the long run and take your mind off your stomach in the short term.

In real terms, it generally takes three days for the body to go into starvation/survival mode. This is the point where we will start to feed off our own stored proteins such as subcutaneous fats. Once you reach this point, hunger will diminish or disappear and you will find your senses becoming very much sharper allowing you to forage more effectively because your soft western body has suddenly woken up and started to act as it was designed to do. (This is something you need to experience to believe for it is truly amazing.)

With this in mind the canny bushman (even if they have food available) should consider the possibility of fasting for the first three days of any emergency situation or adventure.
In a short term situation (most rescues happen in three or less days) carrying a small emergency rations will help you fend off hunger pains and lift your morale. If you are confident rescue will not be long in coming you could eat your eat rations anytime.

Nevertheless always remember the advice on fasting and before worrying about food sources ensure your water supply is adequate for your situation.

Finally while wild foods are useful and can be a meal in themselves or can boost your normal rations it cannot be stressed enough that you should only eat what you can not positively identify and NEVER believe or use edibility tests these were designed for soldiers in escape scenario’s and done properly take many days to carry out.

Friday, 15 December 2006

Water Born Diseases

Waterborne diseases

For our native British Ancestors water was the gate way to the spirit world, to the lands of their gods. In to which the gave precious offerings and prayers - but to modern man water has just becoming a dumping ground, into which we throw our waste and chemicals!!

Where we run our courses in Sweden water can be crunk straight from the lake, its safe and clean but unfortunately over most of the rest of the world we have to purify our water to be safe.

Below are details of the two main nasties we are trying to avoid!


Symptoms of Giardiasis (common called Giarda)

A large volume of foul smelling, loose (but not watery) stools seven to ten days after ingestion, accompanied by abdominal distensions =, flatulence, and cramping, especially in conjunction with wilderness or foreign travel (other sources to consider are domestic dogs and cats and preschool day-care centres.
Sudden onset of explosive diarrhoea seven to ten days after ingestion.
Nausea, vomiting and lack of appetite as well as headaches and low grade fever.
Acute symptoms can last seven to twenty one days and may become chronically persistent or relapsing.
In chronic cases, bulky, loose, foul smelling stools may persist or recur – they may float and be light in colour.
In chronic cases significant weight loss can occur due to malabsorption
Chronic symptoms may include flatulence, bloating, constipation and upper abdominal cramps.
Many individuals, unknowingly are asymptomatic passers of cysts.

(If you think you have Giarda you should see a physician for stool testing and have medication prescribed, though it’s thought that most cases resolve spontaneously within 4 – 6 weeks. With any diarrhoea illness replenishing body fluids is critical. Keep in mind that the symptoms given above are non-specific many other problems can exhibit the same symptoms. In fact when testing samples nowadays it is recommended to test for both Giarda and another protozoan prolific in surface waters Cryptosoridium.)

Giarda cysts can be present in springs rising up from the earth as well as rivers and streams – these cysts or found to be both season and regional so it cant be predicted where the exist or went. While it is still possible to found fresh clean drinking water in the wilderness the risks of Giarda far out weight any time savings made in not purifying your drinking water – at the end of the day it isn’t worth the risk.

This parasite causes the illness crytosporidiosis and is found in backcountry waters often in greater concentrations than Giarda. As a protozoan it is similar to Giarda in all the following ways – fecal-oral transmission, intestinal propagation, viability in water for long periods, passage between humans and animals, characteristics of acute symptoms, potential for chronic affliction and occurrence of asymptomatic carriers.

Cryptosoridium however is highly resistant to chlorine – much more so than Giarda.


Generally speaking boiling is still the safest way of treating water. Bring your water to a rolling boil and this will kill all parasites and cysts - however if your source is chemically infected it may concentrate the chemicals so beware.

A safer means of purification is a filter - aviod filters which do not purify the water also!! These are more common than you think so always check the small print before buying. In my opinion the best filter system available to date is the PreMac filter, these clean and purify the water and thus render it safe to drink - the Iodine residue left also cleans the waterbottle and aids us in avoiding cross contamination threw sloppy drills or accidents.

Without water there can not be life - always ensure you drink from the dafest, cleanest source!!

Wood burning Poem

Woods for Burning.

Logs to burn! Logs to burn!
Logs to save the coal a turn!
Here’s a word to make you wise
When you hear the woodsman’s cries.

Beech wood fires burn bright and clear,
Hornbeam blazes too’
If the logs are kept a year
To season through and through.

Oak logs will warm you well
If they are old and dry.
Larch logs of the pine smell
But the sparks will fly.

Pine is good and so is Yew
For warmth through winter days,
But poplar and the willow too
Take long to dry or blaze.

Birch logs will burn to fast,
Alder scarce at all,
Chestnut logs are good to last
If cut in the fall

Holly logs will burn like wax –
You should burn them green.
Elm logs like a smouldering flax,
No flames to be seen.

Pear logs and Apple logs
They will scent a room,
Cheery logs across the dogs
Smell like flowers in bloom.

But Ash logs all smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old,
Buy up all that come your way
They’re worth their weight in Gold!


*Elder, sweet chestnut, cedar, hemlock, balsam, spruce and the pines all spit hot cinders into the air.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Your Goose is cooked.
Christmas is coming and the goose is getting fat ................ goose has always been a traditional Native British dish at Christmas lets forget the Yanky Turkey and enjoy a more traditional meal.

Now the old saying goes that there is more than one way to skin a cat and this is true and its not just cats we can skin! In a long term survival or emergency situation our aim would be to utilize every part of the animal but were game is plenty or where we have other uses in mind for instance the construction of decoys skinning is a valid option and should not be ruled out. Birds can be skinned just a readily as mammals and such a method as described below is far less pain stacking and messy then spending time laboriously plucking.

So how do we begin?

Firstly take one bird, any size.

Using finger and thumb carefully pluck bare a small area of flesh at the point where the stomach joins the breast bone.
Then using our knife gently slice the skin open – one cut should suffice here as we don’t want to go deep and damage the stomach wall as our aim it not to damage the meat or internal organs and rupturing the stomach could release bodily fluids which would taint the meat.

Inserting you fingers slowly pry open the flesh until you have made a hole roughly big enough for you to get your fingers in. Place you knife to one side (during butchery and game prep is the only time we do not return our knife directly back into the sheath).

Now manually enlarge the hole to expose the stomach lining and bottom of the breast or chest cavity.
This done, take you knife and again carefully nick the stomach lining to make it easier for you to pull open as before still exerting maximum care through out not to damage any organs needlessly.

Now you can reach inside and remove all the internally organs, you will also need to reach up into the chest and remove heart, lungs also.

Internal organs are of use to us so do not automatically discard. A study of these will reveal feeding signs for instance or we can use them as bait for traps and of course remember you can still eat most parts of these (the offal) too in soups or stews for instance. Try to waste nothing, this not only shows the highest respect for the creature but also the highest standard of woodcraft possible too.

Identify and check the condition of the liver, abnormalities should always be treated with caution and if unsure as to whether the liver is healthy or not always err on the side of caution and discard the whole animal or bird rather than risk the potential of ingesting some disease or illness.

Now, with our game cleaned internally, we move onto the actual act of skinning. You will notice that until now the skin has remained on - this is designed to protect the meat from dirt and damage as the internal organs were removed and is a pertinent technique with both mammals and birds.

So to the skinning, firstly remove the head (if stewing the bird leave as much neck on as possible), wings at the elbow and legs at the knees (read appropriate words for mammals)
Now slice or tear (depending on planned usage of skin) the skin from the opening we’ve created to the throat.

Essentially removing the skin is like removing a jacket. But bear in mind some skins are harder to remove than others, badgers and squirrels are really hard. For a deer you need to use a fist to push and pull the flesh away from the meat. Starting where most comfortable peel off the skin entirely from top to bottom until it has been removed entirely and your bird looks like the below.
Ideally at this stage we should wash the bird with clean water – if using a water bottle avoid contaminating the bottle with dirty hands or by touching its mouth to any exposed meat or bodily fluids.

The jointing and butchering is now down to you or you can opt to roast or boil whole remembering most goodness will be saves if boiled and made into a stew.

I’d suggest you use your knife as little as possible. Follow the visible white(ish) lines which denote where muscle and bone meet. Try to cut with surgical precision to avoid waste or unwanted damage.
The killing of an animal shouldn’t be an action taken lightly and the greatest of respect should always be paid to the dead creature with this in mind always prepare you game cleanly and professionally. Native peoples would pray to the spirit of the game and thank it for giving itself to them and for having the wisdom to surrender it’s live so that the hunter could live and this is something we should also do. Burial of any food scraps and waste is also a way of showing respect and will also ensure we do not invite vermin or disease into our camp.

I hope you have found this interesting, the basic technique above will work on most creatures however please use common sense if you come to practice this skill as I have deliberately not covered every aspect due to the fact the minor changes of technique are two numerous to mention here.Final thought, always practice safety and cover any open cuts on your hands before butchery.

Always clean your knife thoroughly before returning it to its sheath. Never risk cross contamination

Bushcraft Poem by R Service

The Men That Don't Fit

In There's a race of men that don't fit in,

A race that can't stay still;

So they break the hearts of kith and kin,

And they roam the world at will.

They range the field and they rove the flood,

And they climb the mountain's crest;

Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,

And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;

They are strong and brave and true;

But they're always tired of the things that are,

And they want the strange and new.

They say: "Could I find my proper groove,What a deep mark I would make!"

So they chop and change, and each fresh move is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs

With a brilliant, fitful pace,

It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones

Who win in the lifelong race.

And each forgets that his youth has fled,

Forgets that his prime is past,

Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,

In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;

He has just done things by half.

Life's been a jolly good joke on him,

And now is the time to laugh.

Ha, ha! He is one of the Legion Lost;

He was never meant to win;

He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;

He's a man who won't fit in.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

What are we up to?

Well with Christmas fast approaching myself and team are enjoying our season break. The mail order shop is as busy as ever of course but at least we all get time to chill at home, clean kit and make repairs to worn gear with has served us well all year.

For me this period is also a time to plan for the future and reflect upon the past.

The Past -

We've had a fantastic year, we've moved our course location from East Sussex to a private estate in Essex.

We ran a very successful trip to Sweden in June and along with Islay Birding also had a excellent week foraging and practicing our survival skills on our own deserted island in April.

The Future -

February will see us in Finland, snow mobiling, dog sledding and snow shoeing around one of europes last frontiers!! I experience which is priceless.

So watch this space for a full report.


We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children” Haida Indian saying.

The ancient wilderness living skills which today are grouped loosely together under the somewhat romantic title of Bushcraft are the skills of our forebears, practical skills which enabled them to make fire, find shelter, water and food in an often unfriendly world, but they are also skills which taught them a deep respect for nature and the world around them.
It is these same skills and this same respect that we at Bearclaw Bushcraft teach today for they have not changed in millennia.
More than this our ancestors vast knowledge also enabled them to live in harmony with nature and helped them to foster a deeper understanding of the passing seasons as well as the circle of life of which, we too, are still a part.
We look forward to you one day joining us in the glowing warmth and friendship of our camp fire, a place which has always been the traditional starting point for all great journeys. Its glowing heart is the stepping stone on to the ancient paths and trails where our ancestors once, so wisely trod, and a place were we hope to guide you as you begin your own bushcraft journey.