Bushcraft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival
If you are an avid camper or spend long amounts of time outdoors either hunting or hiking, learning a little bit about the wilderness around you can get you prepared to protect yourself should an emergency arise. We as a society (at least in much of the US) have lost our ability to do even basic things like start a fire, forage or trap for food, build a shelter, navigate using the sun and stars.
That's where Bushcraft comes in. The term Bushcraft is used to define a set of wilderness skills to help one survive and thrive away from the comforts of modern conveniences.
My wife and I have the car camping thing down to a science and have even spent a weekend out in the woods with Byron Kerns, but what I learned by reading this book is that the true secret to "roughing it" is to keep things as "smooth" as possible. Life in the wilderness is much more difficult than most of us can fathom. Even the guys with TV shows are never completely alone (cameras don't shoot themselves) and have some manner of support from either technology or other people.
This is where Dave Canterbury's book and his years of experience start us off. He has a pleasant writing style, supportive and engaging, which is most helpful when he's explaining a particularly technical setup. He sprinkles in historical references and a times pulls the reader back in time with him to imagine what life was like in the not too distant past for humanity.
At its core this book is an instructional tool, so expect details and specifics which one may find cumbersome for casual reading - but that's not the point. You don't casually read a VCR instruction manual either, you read it to get information. Luckily for us Bushcraft 101 is a decidedly much better read than a VCR manual!
My only regret is that there isn't more illustrations in the book - and its a shortcoming the author himself admits in the comments section of it's Amazon page "I gave my own book a 4 Star review as I would like to have seen more Illustrations to better explain much of the text but unfortunately that was not in the publishers budget." Such is life. Hopefully future editions will fill in some of the missing pieces.
The book runs through the list of topics you would expect: pack building, tools to take vs. tools to make, setting up camp, fire starting, trapping and cooking. Sometimes the author assumes you know a little more than what I think is a 101 level, but such is often the case when someone who is an expert describes something. They sometimes forget the fundamentals they had to learn to get to that level and how to share them with their audience or students. It's not a hindrance, its usually easy enough to infer the gist of his thought-process, and hopefully it inspires the reader to look deeper into the lessons and find other sources of information.
All told this is a great read - whether you ever plan on wilderness camping or not. The fundamentals here are important things to keep in the back of your mind somewhere as these are the trials and obstacles Mother Nature herself can throw at us and it would be a wise person indeed who pays attention ahead of time.
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