Pagina principale Advanced Bushcraft: An Expert Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival

Advanced Bushcraft: An Expert Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival

Trek deeper into the wilderness with New York Times bestselling author Dave Canterbury!

In this valuable guide, survivalist Dave Canterbury goes beyond bushcraft basics to teach you how to survive in the backcountry with little or no equipment. Using the foundation you learned in Bushcraft 101, Canterbury shows you how to completely immerse yourself in the wilderness with advanced bushcraft and woodcraft techniques. He covers crucial survival skills like tracking to help you get even closer to wildlife, crafting medicines from plants, and navigating without the use of a map or compass. He also offers ways to improvise and save money on bushcraft essentials like fire-starting tools and packs. With Canterbury's expert advice and guidance, you will learn how to forgo your equipment, make use of your surroundings, and truly enjoy the wilderness.

Whether you're eager to learn more after your first real outdoor adventure or have been exploring the backcountry for years, Advanced Bushcraft will help you take your self-reliance and wilderness experience to the next level.

Anno:
2015
Editore:
Adams Media
Lingua:
english
Pagine:
256
ISBN 10:
1440587965
ISBN 13:
9781440587962
File:
EPUB, 4.32 MB
Download (epub, 4.32 MB)

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ANIMAL SIGN

Animal sign is the key to eliminating guesswork when setting your traps. Only trap where there is sign. Sign is anything the animal leaves as a trace that indicates it may have passed through the area. There are seven types of sign you need to know that will help you identify things like species, eating habits, and population numbers:


	Tracks: Examining tracks is the easiest way to identify the species. This can also help determine population numbers, frequency of travel in that area, and even preferred food in cases where you can tell that one animal has been trailing another.

	Scat: Scat left when an animal defecates can also help you identify species as well as what food source the animal is currently foraging.

	Slough: Slough is something from the animal’s body left behind after it is gone. Examples include a strand of hair on a fence wire, a feather dropped while preening, or shed snakeskin.

	Remains: The dead body of an animal will not only provide possible resources such as bait and attractants for other traps, but it also may give some idea of what other animals are in the area.

	Refuse: Refuse is the animal’s garbage, which will help identify its species and its travel routes. For instance, a squirrel midden, or refuse heap, is its favorite spot and will be littered with shells from the nuts it has been eating. A beaver or muskrat leaves behind chewed trees and branches.

	Dens: A den is an animal’s home. It can be a hole in the ground, in a bank, or in the hollow of a tree. The type of den is often a sure indicator of the species. You can usually set traps at the entrance or exit.

	Odor: Odor is the trickiest sign to detect, but cat urine has a distinct smell, as does rotten meat from a carnivore den where a fox might live. Obviously you’ll smell a skunk in the area, but other subtle smells can be identified as well.




Chapter 12
CONTAINERS AND CONVEYANCES

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The wi; nds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.”

—JOHN MUIR, OUR NATIONAL PARKS

Maintaining a longer-term camp will require restocking with supplies or maybe even moving locations, and for that you’ll need containers and conveyances. Here you’ll learn to fashion your own, from simple water containers to firing your own clay pots to building watercraft. I grouped containers and conveyances together in one chapter because they both relate to transportation: one to the transportation of goods and the other to the transportation of food.


Introduction

This is the second in what I hope will eventually be a series of books on the art of bushcraft, or wilderness survival. Bushcraft 101 was a primer on the skills necessary for a short stay in the wilderness. These skills include building an effective kit, selecting and managing equipment, developing supplies, and setting up camp. Much of our study was on connecting with nature and learning the basics for preparing ourselves for any climate and situation. In Bushcraft 101 we learned that many things can be accomplished with our own knowledge and a few tools. We talked about the kinds of things you need for a short stay outdoors. In Advanced Bushcraft, we will take these skills to the next level and prepare you for a lengthy stay in the wilderness.

The most important thing to understand before embarking on a long journey outdoors is resource management. You can only carry so much on your back—especially if you plan to hike or walk for a long distance. Since you cannot bring a truckload of supplies with you, you need to understand the limitations of your kit and how to maximize the environment and its resources to overcome these limitations. You must discern between which supplies you should carry with you and which can be harvested or manufactured on the trail. This requires keen competency in manufacturing versatile tools, starting fires with minimal forms of ignition, developing semipermanent shelter, and establishing an effective trapping campaign for food.

Long-term sustainability will require a lot of improvisation. Part of self-reliance is learning to deal with the unexpected. Tools will break, weather will turn, and food sources may be hard to find. You need to be confident enough in your skills that you can fix the handle on your axe if it breaks, and, when you do find that game, preserve the leftovers so the meat will last you a good while. If you understand advanced skills such as building watercraft and making containers for water and other supplies, you will be able to negotiate the climate and your environment for a long time. Don’t underestimate the value of comfort. If you are going to be out for a long time, a good night’s sleep is critical. Knowing how to assemble a sleep system by fashioning pillows and building raised beds will make a tremendous difference in your ability to be successful.

We will also take a close look at advanced wilderness skills such as weaving for additional clothing and shelter implements and net making to help secure fish and other water animals as additional sources of protein. Managing cordage and manufacturing additional rope out of natural materials will be a critical component of these practices.

Understanding the natural world will be absolutely essential to your ability to smooth it in the wilderness. It is your repository for food, fire-making supplies, and health resources, and it furnishes you a place and the materials to build your shelter. Being able to recognize the components of a tree, from the properties of its wood to the medicinal values of its outer leaves and bark, will allow you to take advantage of your environment’s largest resource. Recognizing animals and their behavioral patterns is what will help you outthink them when you’re hunting. Even the clouds in the sky can provide you with a weather forecast, which you can use to make adjustments to your camp and shelter. Remember to practice! Use short camping trips as an opportunity to hone these skills and experiment with life when you are carrying only a few things. If certain things don’t work out right away, that’s okay! Head home, rest up, and try it again on your next trip.

This handbook is intended for the woodsman who knows basic primitive survival skills and is looking to advance his knowledge and abilities for a longer stay in the wilderness—a few days or even an entire trapping campaign season. These skills will also help you in the event you become lost or stranded without resources. Mostly, though, these give you a chance to envelop yourself in nature as our ancestors before us did. As George Washington Sears (Nessmuk) wrote, “We seek the forest for adventure and a free, open-air hunter’s life, for a time at least.” Advanced Bushcraft is the handbook for your adventure. Use it to survive and thrive in the natural world.

—Dave Canterbury


DIMENSIONAL LUMBER

It is often much easier to work with dimensional lumber. Dimensional lumber is wood that has been cut to specific sizes—for example, 2" × 4"—so that it can be used for building. You can make your own dimensional lumber using simple wood tools and a large axe.

PROCESSING A TREE TO CREATE LUMBER

Once you have selected a log for your project, lay it on the ground in your workspace. To make sure the log does not roll, cradle it in two smaller logs with log dogs attached to each end. Now you will need to hew the log, or square it. Start by removing a line of bark from end to end across the face so that you end up with the thickness that you need. Picture the front of the log as the top of a stump when you are squaring it. This gives you an idea of how deep to make that first cut. Clear the bark and pop a line, using string wiped with charcoal, from end to end. This will make your cut line clear and visible. Start by making a series of V cuts with your axe about 2' apart down that cut line on the face of the log. These V cuts should stretch the entire length of the log. Then remove these 2' pieces with your axe. When the job is completed you should have a rough flat surface on one side of the log. Remove the dogs and turn the log over so that the other side is facing up and reattach the dogs. You can use an adze to square the surface. Repeat this process three more times on the log and you will have one piece of square timber.


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Making dimensional lumber




TRAPPING BIRDS

All North American birds are edible and plentiful, which makes them a good choice for your table in a long-term outing. For catching birds, three traps work the best: multiple ground snares, Ojibwa bird traps, and cage-style traps.

MULTIPLE GROUND SNARES

A simple stake in the ground surrounded by a small pile of ground debris can work with a group of small-diameter snares to create a network of ground snares. If you bait them with something on which the birds are feeding, such as small seeds, it is one of the most effective traps for small birds. The biggest challenges to this setup are:


	They must be small—snares should be made from very fine line.

	You need a lot of them—at least 25 snares with 2"–3" overlapping loops for a 2' square area.




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Multiple ground snares



OJIBWA BIRD TRAP

The Ojibwa trap uses a landing perch to lure the bird. The weight of the bird on the perch activates the snare, which in turn traps the bird by its feet. You first need a pole tall enough for a bird to want to land on, but not so tall that you cannot retrieve the bird after it is trapped. Sharpen the pole into a point on both ends. Sharpening will make it easy to drive one end into the ground and will ensure that the bird is not tempted to land on the other end instead of landing on the trigger.

Drill or carve a hole into the top of your pole, about 2" from the point. Place a second stick, about 4" long, into the hole. The diameter of this stick should be just a little bit less than the hole so that the stick rests in the hole rather than being tightly screwed into it. This stick will be the perch. Select a piece of thin cordage about half the length of your pole; this is the snare. It is important that this cord is not too long or else your counterweight will rest on the ground instead of pulling tightly when the snare is activated. Tie a stop knot about one-third of the way into your cord. Use a clove hitch to create a loop in the other side of the knot on your cordage (the longer side). String the cordage through the hole on your pole. Tie a rock that’s about the size of the bird you intend to trap on the end opposite of the loop. Place your perch stick into the hole where you have strung the snare. Carefully lay the loop of your snare on the perch. This perch is the trigger stick, and when the bird lands on it the trap will drop the rock and activate the snare. The bird will instinctively grab the stick when it lands, which will ensure that its legs are inside the loop of your activated snare. The big trick to this setup is making sure that the closed snare is drawn close to the upright pole so that when the bird is trapped it is held tight and close in an upside-down position.


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Ojibwa trap



CAGE-STYLE TRAPS

Before building a cage-style trap, you will need to prepare a series of sticks that are similar in diameter but get progressively shorter in length in order to build a cage similar to a pyramid. Make sure the sticks you select are fairly straight and about ½" in diameter. Cut 2 sticks for each of the following lengths: 12", 11", 10", 9", 8", 7", 6", and 5". Finally, cut 6 sticks about 4" long.

Take the 12" sticks and place them parallel to each other, about a foot apart. Attach a length of cord between the two sticks about 1" from their top ends. Attach a length of cord, equal to the first, between the 2 sticks about 1" from their bottom ends. Flip one of the sticks over so that the cords cross each other to form an X.

Push the 11" sticks under the cord, perpendicular to the 12" sticks, until they feel tight against the cord. The four sticks should now form a square. Now push the 10" sticks under the cord and over the 12" sticks until they feel tight. Push the 9" sticks under the cord and over the 11" sticks until they feel tight. Continue adding sticks under the cord, alternating sides like a log cabin until you get to the 4" sticks. Line these sticks in a row next to each other to create a secure roof on your cage. Double-check that there are no gaps on the roof too large through which a bird might escape. If you do see gaps, just fill them in with more 4" sticks.


BUSHCRAFT TIP

One of the main concepts to keep in mind for long-term wilderness living is that live food never spoils. Native peoples of the Americas realized this and began to cage and breed wild turkey and other animals a long time ago. The important thing to remember is that you should not process the food straight away, only care for it while you have it alive. This can be of big advantage in hot weather, but it can also be troublesome if you are in an area with many large predatory animals. This principle is very advantageous when you’ve caught animals such as turtles and frogs, which can be kept for a time in a sack or bag.



Small tripping lines work well when connected to a step or break-away trigger so that birds set off the trap as they are attempting to hop or duck the strings in order to access the seed bait in the center of the trap. In the right conditions, this type of trap can catch up to ten birds an hour.


BIRCH

There are several species of birch throughout the eastern woodlands, but black and river birch are the most prevalent in the middle ground areas of the Ohio River valley. All birches contain oil that can be extracted from the bark, and it is so flammable that it can often still burn even when damp. Birch is an excellent carving wood and is the preferred material for Scandinavian-made knife handles.


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Birch leaf



BIRCH BARK

Birch bark provides probably the most versatile and even life-saving resources of all the trees in the eastern woods, save maybe the pine. With its rich and volatile oils, birch bark burns with a dark black smoke that in the summer can help drive off insects. It is virtually unmatched in its ability to burn in damp conditions, and when using open flame it requires almost no processing to quickly create a hot, warming fire while drying marginal tinder as it goes. Birch bark is also prized as a material for crafting containers of all sorts and for weaving to make baskets and sheaths. Native peoples used birch bark to make the outer skin of canoes. It is best to harvest the bark from live trees between May and June, but this tree is so resilient and resistant to rot that bark can even be harvested from dead trees. It is possible to harvest the outer bark without killing a live tree as long as you are able to do so without disturbing the inner bark. Make test cuts to determine the thickness and pliability of the bark before making large harvests.

CHAGA (TINDER FUNGUS)

Birches that grow at higher altitudes or in colder climates are susceptible to a parasitic fungus commonly called tinder fungus (Inonotus obliquus), or chaga. Chaga grows in areas of the United States from New England and Michigan down to North Carolina. Chaga has long been sought for both its medicinal and fire tinder properties. It appears as a large blackened ball or mass on the side of the trunk of both live and fallen birch. This fungus has extensive medicinal value; many woodsmen will simply boil a chunk of it in their kettle as a daily tea to drink at camp. When it’s used as a fire starter, the yellow soft areas beneath the black outer crust will take the sparks from both steel and rod and will hold an ember to be used for ignition. You can slice it thinly or create a dust that can then be stored in your kit for later use.


MEDICINAL VALUE OF TREE RESOURCES

	TREE
	MEDICINAL VALUE



	Pine
	Decongestant, antiseptic, immune system booster



	Willow
	Pain reliever



	Poplar
	Astringent, diarrhea relief



	Oak
	Decongestant, astringent, diarrhea relief



	Sassafras
	Regulate digestive system



	Birch
	Antiseptic, insect repellant




BIRCH OIL

Birch oil is extracted by using two containers of metal or clay. The first, called the catchment container, is buried below ground to the rim and surrounded by dirt. The second container is filled with birch bark and sealed with a drain hole or holes in the bottom from which oil drains into the catchment container. This container is placed just over the catchment container. A fire is then built around the aboveground container to heat the material and release the oils until they slowly drain into the container below. The process usually takes several minutes to fill a small container. Then the top container is carefully removed to expose the pool of oil below. This oil is highly medicinal and can be used as both an antiseptic and an insect repellant. It is also flammable, so be cautious when using it.


BUSHCRAFT TIP

Birch oil can be further rendered into birch tar. To create birch tar you will need to slowly heat the oil to a boil like a gravy and then stir. Be careful because both the fumes and the liquid are highly flammable. Once rendered to a thick paste it can be rolled onto a stick where it can be stored for later use. This form of storage is called a pitch stick. The tar can also be molded onto squares or balls for storage and later use. Birch tar can be used for many purposes. When reheated, it is a completely waterproof gluing material. It is also a flexible adhesive and can be used for hafting and sealing both containers and leathers such as moccasin seams.




FRUIT LEATHER

Making fruit leather is the best way to preserve fruit for later consumption when you do not have the resources to set up a canning operation. For this simple process you do not need much more than a sky full of sun.

First mash and grind the fruit into a purée. You can easily remove the seeds by picking them out of the mash with your hands. Spread the purée over a flat surface, like a rock or cutting board that is about 1⁄8" thick. Leave it in the sun to dry for a few hours. You will know the fruit leather is ready by the glossy look the purée will get when it dries. Store it in a cool place where it will be safe from bugs and moisture. Fruit leather will last a couple months at room temperature but longer if it is kept cool. You can eat it as it is, rehydrate it to make drinks, or use it as an additive for recipes such as bread and cereal.


TIPS AND TRICKS


	If you are having problems identifying a tree in the winter months when you have only the bark to examine, look on the ground around the tree. The leaves around it, even if dry, will be a good indicator of what type of tree it is.

	When using tree bark as a resource, remember that the birch is the only tree that you can ring or girdle without killing the entire tree.

	After injuring a tree, applying a fresh coat of thick mud will help to protect it from further damage as it heals.

	Always collect “punky” wood, which is wood that is nearly rotten and very spongy in appearance and feel. Punky wood makes the charred material for the next fire.

	Keep an eye out for water vines. In an emergency, if water is unavailable, wild grape or water vines will hold water for several months from early spring through summer. Cut the vine close to the ground first and then about 2' higher. A large vine will hold up to a cup of water.




WEAVING

Weaving is broad skill that can produce anything from straps for a backpack to baskets or even shelter coverings. It can be as simple as weaving together small strands of cordage or as complex as using a loom to weave threads into a wide textile. In this section I will describe some of the most versatile weaving techniques that have served me well in wilderness outings.

Before we get started, here are some terms you should know:


	Crosshatch—Two series of parallel lines that flow in opposite directions so that they cross each other.

	Warp—The set of lengthwise threads on a loom.

	Weft—The thread that is drawn through the warp threads to create a textile.

	Shed—The separation between the upper and lower warp threads through which the weft is woven.

	Heddle—The part of the loom that separates the warp threads so that the weft can be threaded through them.

	Shuttle—Anything that will carry the weft across the warp and through the shed.



DIAGONAL FINGER WEAVING

Diagonal finger weaving is an effective technique to make short straps that can be used for things such as backpacks, gun slings, or other projects that are not particularly long or wide.

To get started, place two nails about 6" apart in a piece of stationary wood such as a workbench. Your weaving stick will rest on top of these nails while you work. Select a weaving stick about ½" in diameter and 12"–16" long. Double 5 strands of cord, such as jute string, over the weaving stick and secure each cord with a lark’s head knot. You will then have 10 strands hanging off your weaving stick.

Use a second stick, similar in diameter and length to your weaving stick, as a winding stick to be placed below the two nails that are holding your weaving stick. Wrap finished product around the winding stick as you weave. This allows you to stay close to your work area and use the tension created as the weaving stick rolls against those nails to create a secure weave.

Now it is time to get started. Set your weaving stick on top of the nails. Loop the tenth strand over the right-hand nail in your workbench. For the first row, take the first strand, which will be your active strand, and loop it under the second strand, over the third strand, under the fourth strand, over the fifth . . . and so forth until you reach the ninth strand. Then take the tenth strand off the nail and replace it with your active strand.

For the second row, take what is now your first strand and loop it, this time over the second strand, under the third strand, over the fourth strand . . . and so forth until you reach the ninth strand. Pull the tenth strand off the nail and replace it with your active strand.

Continue this process, taking the first strand in the line and alternating the under/over weave and then switching that pattern in the next row to the opposite, until your piece reaches the desired length. At this time, take your tenth strand and fashion it into a clove hitch to finish the strap.

CROSS WEAVING

Cross weaving is a process that can be used with any textured material like barks or cattail leaves. Cross weaving involves hatching and can be used to make materials as large or as small as you need. It can also be shaped into almost any configuration needed. Picture a tic-tac-toe board in which the lines of the board alternate over and under each other to form a weave.


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Cross weaving



WOODLAND LOOM

You can manufacture a large-scale woodland loom as a means for creating big sleeping mats or covering for shelters like wigwams. To make a woodland loom, secure one long sapling about waist high on a tree in a T fashion with a simple lashing. Place several stakes in the ground away from but directly in front of this crossbar. These stakes are your looming poles and should be lined up parallel to the tree. The longer the project, the farther the stakes should be placed. The width of your project will be determined by the number of stakes in the row. Then create another bar from a similar-sized sapling as the one you used for the T. You now have the components of your loom. You will then alternate the warps for the weave with strong cordage. Alternate so that the first warp is fixed to the sapling you secured to the tree. The next warp is secured to a stake. The next warp is secured to the sapling on the tree. The one after that is secured to the next stake in the line. Continue setting up the warps in this pattern until you reach the final stake. Use the crossbar as your heddle. Once the warps are complete you will be able to raise and lower the heddle to place wefts of material in the loom, alternating over and under them. Use another sapling as a beater stick to tighten the wefts as you go. This operation works best with more than one person.


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Woodland loom




Appendix A
TARP SETUPS

Following is a quick reference of basic tarp setups to assist you with your camp configuration. This form of temporary shelter, if properly constructed, will keep you safe from wind and precipitation. You can then set up a bed of your choosing to combat ground convection.


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TIPS AND TRICKS


	In the long run you will want dry wood for constructing many tools and handles, so collect good, straight hardwood pieces ahead of time so they have time to dry out completely around camp.

	Wood will dry out and crack faster once the bark is removed. This can be both an advantage and disadvantage, depending on the project for which you are collecting wood. You may want the wood to form a crack, which will make it easier to split.

	Always hang on to the shavings and materials you collect during woodworking projects. Store them in a dry place so they can act as ready tinder for fire starting later.

	Heavy cordage such as rope is one of the hardest things to reproduce from natural material, so this asset will always be a priority for longer-term kits.

	Any wooden tool will need to be oiled to keep it from drying out over time. Use animal fats or birch oil for this task. When a wooden tool is first made, you should oil it least every day for a week, every week for a month, and every month for a year.




Appendix D
PRIMITIVE NAVIGATION

When in the wilderness, you might find yourself in a situation that requires you to change positions or search out a new area. If you do not have access to a reliable compass, you may need to rely on primitive navigation to find your direction.

There are a few things to remember in navigation:


	Your shadow can tell you a lot about the direction of the sun.

	In the Northern Hemisphere, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west.

	The sun travels a southern arc across the sky, marking the passage of time during the day.



You can put all this together and deduce that when you wake up, the morning sun will be southeast. When you go to bed, the sun will be southwest. During the day, if your back is to the sun, you are facing north. If you are looking at the sun, you are looking in a southerly direction. I say “southerly” because most methods of primitive navigation will point you the correct way but will not give the point of cardinal direction accurately.

RULE OF EQUAL ALTITUDES

To get a correct east-to-west line using shadows, you first need to understand the rule of equal altitudes: Twice a day—once in the morning and once in the afternoon—the sun will be at the same altitude in its arc across the sky. Only at these two times will any shadow from a measurement object, like a stick, be the same length. This means that at only two times during the day this measurement object will run perpendicular to a north-to-south line in order to provide a true east-to-west line. You’ll need to use any shadow stick for several hours both before and after noon when the sun sets on its southern path.

THE SHADOW STICK METHOD

For ages, the shadow stick method has been the hallmark of primitive navigation. Travelers have used it to first find an east-to-west line and subsequently a north-to-south line. It has been my experience, however, that this method can be highly inaccurate because so many people do not understand the basic rules.

Selecting a Shadow Stick

Select a shadow stick that is at least 2' long. You want something that you can drive into the ground in a flat, unobstructed area so it casts a shadow. Then you can track the shadow’s movement while the sun continues on its arc. In the morning, place the stick in the ground and then mark the end of the shadow with a peg or stake. This shadow, in the morning, will be in a westerly direction. Wait at least a couple hours past noon and place another peg in the ground at the end of the shadow. Do this about every hour. After placing the final peg in the ground, lay a stick or a piece of cordage across the two most outside pegs. That is your east-to-west line.


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Shadow stick method



TRAVELING SHADOW COMPASS METHOD (PATHFINDER SUN COMPASS)

For a traveling shadow compass, you will select a smaller piece of wood, at least 5" × 7", that will act as a miniature traveling shadow stick. Place this board lengthwise to the east–west line you have made by the shadow stick method. Drill a hole into the center of the board, and place a small stick in the hole. This stick will cast a shadow on the board. Track the movement of the sun about every hour. As a reference, the sun moves about 15° per hour. This time, mark the end of the shadow right on the board. You can use a round pot or something similar to make the mark almost like you would with a protractor. Then divide these lines into 15° increments starting with the center and then two 45° points for northwest and northeast. Mark everything right on the board. The 90° mark will be on the back of the board. Place a dot on the board every hour through a full day of sun, and then, at the end of the day, connect the dots to form a curved scale. Now you have created your own sundial.

Once all your markings are complete, drill 4 small holes in the corners of the board so that it can be held above ground and kept level. Whenever you need to find a direction or estimate the time, simply hold the board with the back toward the sun and rotate it until the shadow touches the curved line. Set your sundial compass on the ground and this will give you the cardinal directions again from your standing position. Note that this sundial will only be accurate for about 30 days before the shadow length starts to change along with the seasons.

NIGHTTIME NAVIGATION

There are many methods of using the stars and constellations to find direction, but they can all get a little complicated. A good friend of mine, John McCann of Survival Resources, taught me a method called Left, Up, Right, Down (LURD). This allows you to pick any star (except the North Star because it is too high in the sky) and does not rely on any particular star group. Look for a star—not a planet—that is above the horizon but not too high in the sky. As the earth moves, the locations of the stars change, and this movement is the principle behind the LURD method. Find a forked stick that is about 3' in length and a nice, flat place where you can lie down for about 30 minutes. While you lie on the ground, place the stick in the air with the Y facing upwards and use that Y as a viewfinder. Now locate a star in this Y of your stick. Get comfortable and relaxed but make sure you do not move the stick. After about 30 minutes the star will have moved. Here is where the acronym LURD comes in: If the star has moved to the left, you are facing north. If it has moved left and up, you are facing northeast. If it has moved right and down, you are facing southeast. Basically left, up, right, down correspond with the cardinal directions of north, east, south, west.

THE MOON METHOD

You can use the phases of the moon, outside of the new and full moon, to determine direction pretty easily too. Observe any crescent moon and trace a line from tip to tip and then to the horizon. That will give you a southerly direction.


BUSHCRAFT TIP


	Use a string to verify that the two most outside pegs from the shadow stick are an equal distance from the stick for the best accuracy.

	Solar navigation follows Local Apparent Time, not Standard Time, and may not match your watch if you have one.

	Your watch can be a direction finder even if it has no hands. If you have a watch, point the hour hand toward the sun and halfway between the hour hand and 12 will be southerly. If you have a digital watch, just draw a watch face with hands on paper to match the one on your wrist.

	Moss does not always grow on the north side of the tree, but the heaviest vegetation will always point southerly to take advantage of photosynthesis.

	If you cut down a tree, the growth rings can help with direction finding; the tighter rings will be wider on the southern side.






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Using your watch as a compass



MAKING A SIMPLE SHADOW BOARD

Deducing general direction from shadows is pretty reliable, but it can be confusing if you have not had a lot of practice. If the sun is sparse or you are on the move, it is often hard to keep track of the shadows. You can make a simple shadow board to help guide you in these situations. All you need is a flat surface, such as a wood plank, with small ridges. Make a circle on the board by tracing a cup or a pot and using an X to divide it into four separate quadrants. Write letters in each of the quadrants in clockwise order: NWSE. This will look a different than a normal compass, but remember that we are dealing with shadow and sun travel. Make a hole in the center of the board and place a stick that will cast a shadow within the circle. Now you can simply hold the board in front of you and turn, directing the shadow to match the quadrant you wish to travel. The front of the board that you have labeled as the northern quadrant will, in turn, be in that general direction. For greater precision, pay attention to the time of day. If the sun is low from morning or evening, you will want to place the shadow more easterly or westerly in the quadrants for greater accuracy.


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Shadow board quadrants




WORKBENCHES

The original workbench was a simple knee-high stump. It seems like a minor amenity, but it provides a flat, stable surface for cutting, chopping, shaping, and anything that can be done with a one-handed tool. The stump vise previously discussed has several advantages and can be used a number of different ways. Many of these are used as bucking logs as well with a V cut channeled out horizontally and a wide kerf cut below the V. A kerf cut is a channel precreated like a jig from a saw cut. It is intended to guide the placement of the next cut. Then smaller materials can be laid within the channel and cut to length. The kerf cut is used as a guide for sawing off material like firewood.

Over time, the construction of these benches has advanced so that they include legs, which makes them more comfortable for sitting but less practical as a place to hang tools and cut wood.

PEASANT BENCH

This simple workbench includes a half-hewn log or flat slab with three or four legs attached. Eventually this evolved into what we now know as the shaving horse. Some peasant benches included a piece of rope that looped around the bench and held the work in place. The worker’s foot would hold the loop to the ground.


COMFORT

In this category you should think about how to get a good night’s rest in both long-term and short-term scenarios. Even if you are planning to set up a permanent shelter, you need to be prepared to set up a temporary shelter in case you need to leave base camp for a day or two. A good Egyptian cotton, oilcloth tarp of 8' × 8' minimum, like the one available from Tentsmiths, combined with a moisture barrier such as a tick mattress and a stout woolen blanket will do in the coldest of climates. Just make sure you have a proper bed and fire. The Pathfinder 100 percent wool blanket, from Self Reliance Outfitters, will work as a good three-season blanket, as will Witney (check eBay), Hudson’s Bay (available through Woolrich or L.L. Bean), or Tony Baker blankets. You can also look in surplus stores for any blankets that are guaranteed 100 percent wool. Any woolen blanket should be entirely made of wool and should be queen-sized or six-point dimension, approximately 96" × 96".

HAMMOCKS

Hammocks afford many advantages, even for use in a long-term shelter, and give a very comfortable night’s sleep. They have been commonly used by woodsmen since the 1800s. Older versions were fashioned from balloon silk, rope netting, or canvas. Balloon silk is not that different in consistency and weight to the parachute-type material used to make hammocks today. Hammocks can be a great three-season option when combined with a blanket. They can even be used in cold weather if you use some kind of quality underquilt that will combat convection issues associated with hanging above ground. A lot of hammock manufacturers now make a bug net that is either built into the hammock or available as an add-on. These nets create a screened enclosure, offering added protection from bugs.

TENTS

Small backpacking-style tents provide comfort and security from bugs and other wigglers. The downside is that their construction restricts your view and eliminates the ability to use fire as a heat source. There is always a tradeoff with any piece of gear! There are a lot of different types of tents on the market, but I would suggest selecting one that is made of the heaviest material you feel comfortable carrying. You will appreciate the durability. One other possible downside to consider is that condensation tends to form inside the tent walls at night, which can make them colder than open shelter. Look for varieties with mesh tops and a rain flap, which helps alleviate the condensation issues.

BIVVIES

A bivvy is usually a small tube-style bag that is made for a single person and can be set up very quickly. The same rules apply to bivvies as to tents: Look for durable material with mesh and a closable rain flap to help prevent condensation. Some manufacturers offer bivvies that have a sleeping bag included, like a self-contained sleeping unit.

TENT COTS

There are also tent cots made especially for hunting. These are self-contained tents and sleeping cots built into one unit. They can be quite comfortable and provide all the advantages of a raised bed and closed tent.

ULTRALIGHT COTS

Ultralight cots provide a comfortable raised bed in just a couple of minutes. These cots fold up very small and are extremely light, which makes them a great option for a good night’s sleep on longer treks.


BUSHCRAFT TIP

Point blankets are a type of wool trade blanket most associated with the Hudson Bay Company. These old standbys have been sold in North America since 1779. Point blankets have a series of colored lines (points) woven into them on one edge signifying the size of the blanket. During the fur trade era the largest point blanket was a four-point blanket of about 72" × 90". Modern point blankets can be found up to six points, or approximately 96" × 96". In today’s terms, a four-point blanket would fit a full-sized bed, and a six-point blanket would fit a queen- or king-sized bed. In the old days these points were also used to signify how many finished or “made” beaver hides the blanket was worth. So a six-point blanket was worth the value of six “made” beavers or the equivalent in another fur.




ITEMIZE

It’s true that plants and trees provide many resources, but it is absolutely critical that they are identified correctly before using them. A friend of mine, Green Dean, teaches a simple method for this called ITEM:


	I—Properly Identify the plant with at least two resources.

	T—Consider the Time of year: Is the plant growing or blooming in the proper season for its species?

	E—Observe the Environment: Is the plant or tree growing in a location true to its nature? For example, a plant that prefers dry, rocky soil will likely not be found in a marsh.

	M—Research the Method of harvest and preparation. Many plants must be harvested at a certain time in their life cycle, or a certain part must be harvested for use. Find out what method is used to prepare this plant for food or medicine. Does it need to be leached? Does it need to be double boiled to create a decoction?




Tables


BTUS FOR WOOD BURNING

	SPECIES
	HEAT PER CORD (MILLION BTUS)
	% OF GREEN ASH
	EASE OF SPLITTING
	SMOKE
	SPARKS
	COALS
	FRAGRANCE
	OVERALL QUALITY



	Black locust
	27.9
	140
	Difficult
	Low
	Few
	Excellent
	Slight
	Excellent



	Black walnut
	22.2
	111
	Easy
	Low
	Few
	Good
	Good
	Excellent



	Bur oak
	26.2
	131
	Easy
	Low
	Few
	Excellent
	Good
	Excellent



	Eastern red cedar
	18.2
	91
	Medium
	Medium
	Many
	Poor
	Excellent
	Fair



	Honey locust
	26.7
	133
	Easy
	Low
	Few
	Excellent
	Slight
	Excellent



	Larch (tamarack)
	21.8
	 
	Easy-med
	 
	Many
	Fair
	Slight
	Fair



	Lodgepole pine
	21.1
	 
	Easy
	 
	Many
	Fair
	Good
	Fair



	Maple (other)
	25.5
	128
	Easy
	Low
	Few
	Excellent
	Good
	Excellent



	Mulberry
	25.8
	129
	Easy
	Medium
	Many
	Excellent
	Good
	Excellent



	Osage orange
	32.9
	165
	Easy
	Low
	Many
	Excellent
	Excellent
	Excellent



	Ponderosa pine
	16.2
	81
	Easy
	Medium
	Many
	Fair
	Good
	Fair



	Red oak
	24.6
	123
	Medium
	Low
	Few
	Excellent
	Good
	Excellent



	Rocky Mountain juniper
	21.8
	109
	Medium
	Medium
	Many
	Poor
	Excellent
	Fair



	Silver maple
	19.0
	95
	Medium
	Low
	Few
	Excellent
	Good
	Excellent



	Spruce
	15.5
	78
	Easy
	Medium
	Many
	Poor
	Slight
	Fair



	Sycamore
	19.5
	98
	Difficult
	Medium
	Few
	Good
	Slight
	Good



	White oak
	29.1
	146
	Medium
	Low
	Few
	Excellent
	Good
	Excellent



	Willow
	17.6
	88
	Easy
	Low
	Few
	Poor
	Slight
	Poor




Return to main text



	MINERAL
	MOHS RELATIVE HARDNESS SCALE
	SCRATCH TEST
	OTHER FACTS



	Talc
	1
	Scrapeable with fingernail
	Used in talcum powder



	Gypsum
	2
	Scrapeable with fingernail
	Ingredient of plaster



	Calcite
	3
	Scratch with copper coin
	Used in cement



	Fluorite
	4
	Scratch with a nail
	Used in toothpaste



	Apatite
	5
	Scratch with a nail
	Mineral in bone



	Feldspar
	6
	Scratch with steel file
	Ingredient in glass, etc.



	Quartz
	7
	Scratches window glass
	Used in glass, etc.



	Topaz
	8
	Scratches glass
	Gemstone



	Corundum
	9
	Scratches topaz
	Rubies and sapphires



	Diamond
	10
	Scratches corundum
	“A girl’s best friend”




Return to main text


Chapter 3
WOODEN TOOLS AND SIMPLE MACHINES

“Nature’s Priority: Take care of the brain first. Then it will take care of you.”

—GENE FEAR,
SURVIVING THE UNEXPECTED WILDERNESS EMERGENCY

In addition to the five critical metal tools discussed in Chapter 1, there are five wooden tools you can easily craft yourself to aid in a long-term outing. The selection is dependent on the type of trip you have planned and what food and meat procurement supplies you are carrying. This list takes into consideration the fact that you are crafting most of your tools as you go in order to keep down the weight of your kit. This is especially true when you are traveling without conveyances.


POPLAR

There are many poplars in the eastern woodlands. The tulip poplar (sometimes known as the yellow poplar) is one of my favorites, but it is actually a magnolia and not a true poplar. Daniel Boone’s canoe was carved from this wood. The poplar is a soft tree and therefore makes an excellent primitive fire set such as a bow drill. The poplar makes a fine spindle as well as a hearth board for this purpose. Also fine for carving, it makes easy small camp items like spoons and spatulas.


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Tulip Poplar leaf



LEAVES

The leaves and the barks of this tree are very astringent and can be used medicinally for drawing infection or for driving toxins, like the oils from poison ivy, to the surface. A hot fomentation combined with a wash is one of the best ways to rid your skin of the ivy oils that cause rash. When taken as an infusion, the leaf tea is binding and can relieve diarrhea.

OUTER BARK

During the spring, easily remove the outer bark by prying it from the sapwood with a wedge or your axe blade. You can use this bark to make bark containers from baskets to arrow quivers. To do this, make two circular cuts through the bark around the tree; the distance between the cuts should be the desired length of the piece. Then, to open the bark, make a vertical cut by inserting a wedge between the bark and sap. You can then slowly peel off the outer bark. Remember that peeling off the bark will kill the tree, so make sure it is absolutely necessary before you do it.

INNER BARK

In the eastern woodlands, the inner bark of the poplar is one of the most prized resources next to pine sap. The inner bark provides both bird’s nest material and tinder bundles for fire. When harvested green, it also makes a strong reverse wrap for two-ply cordages. Many times the inner bark fibers can easily be seen through rotting bark hanging off the branches. If branches are dead but not shedding, the back of your knife will easily process this to make the inner bark accessible.


WATER-TYPE TRAPS

Net making is a difficult skill that can take a long time to master, but there are some nets that are easy to fashion and work well. Remember that any net will only catch prey that cannot exit the holes you have created, so many nets must be tailored to the intended fish or animal.

DIP NETS

Dip nets are usually attached to a hooped pole with which you can reach into the water and lift the target out while it is trapped. This pole can be fashioned from a green fork that is wrapped against itself to form the loop. The net is attached directly to this hoop while the tool is manufactured.


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Dip net



GILL OR STOP NETS

Gill nets must be long enough to stretch from one side of a creek or small river to the other and deep enough to stretch from the top of the water to the bottom. This type of net is usually weighted with stones at the bottom and has some type of flotation device at the top.


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Gill net



You can drive fish into a gill net by walking downstream and chasing them into it. When they try to leave the net, their gills pass through the holes but their bodies cannot. You can see why it is critical to know the average size of the fish you are hunting in order to make an effective net.

SEINE NETS

A seine net is large with very small holes. It can be walked through a deeper water source and often has a long stick on each end that can be used to manipulate smaller fish to a place at the edge of the water where you can grab it.

FUNNEL NETS

Funnel nets resemble dip nets in many ways and can be made with a small diameter and elongated for fish-type traps, or they can be made with a large diameter and laid flat to trap animals when the net is lifted.


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Funnel net



FENCES

Fences are used to guide fish to a certain location in the water or animals such as turtles to a location on the water’s edge. They can be built from any natural material including stones, sticks, or even logs. Fencing called a weir can be used to trap fish in a smaller area where they can be hunted with a bow or gig.


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Fencing



FUNNELS

Funnels are traps woven from natural materials and employ two cones that fit together so that fish can swim in but cannot leave. By simply tying the funnels together, both facing the same direction, you make the trap easier to open. The same concept will work with a 2-liter bottle; cut off the top and and turn it to the inside to trap smaller bait fish. This type of net is woven like a basket, and the outer piece has a hole in the bottom from which fish can swim into the larger cone where they will get trapped.

LINES WITH L7 TRIGGERS

L7 triggers are simple reverse notches that form a quick-release system. Employing L7 triggers in fishing involves using line and a trap together to actually set the hook after the animal runs with the bait. An L7 trigger is combined with a spring-pole device, allowing the line to be hand-cast off the bank with a baited hook. When the fish or turtle runs with the bait it dislodges the L7 trigger, which springs the pole and immediately jerks the line to set or lodge the hook in the throat of the prey.


SIMPLE CLOTHING PATTERNS

Here are some simple patters that you can use for clothing creation and repair.


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Basic shirt pattern




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Center seam moccasin




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Roman sandal




MAKING LEATHER

From the point of rawhide, you can actually take things a step further into the craft of tanning. You will need to wet the rawhide once more so that it is flexible but not so wet that you have to wring water out of it.

BRAIN TANNING

To tan an animal hide you need tannins, which you can get from the brain of the animal. Heat some water in a pot over the fire but be careful that it does not boil. Cut off a little bit of the brain and mix it into the water very well so that it turns into a paste. Once the paste is ready, you will rub it onto the hide with your hands like a lotion. If you decided to leave hair on the hide, just make sure not to place this paste on the hair side. Once the paste is thoroughly rubbed into the hide, the entire piece needs to be folded up and kept cool for 24–48 hours. The tanning will do its job during this resting period.

After this waiting period it is time to rough the hide. During this process you will squeegee any moisture and material off the hide so that it begins to dry. Spread the hide out on your stretcher or fleshing beam and use a dull hand-scraping device. Once the hide is dry it will need to be stretched and broken by hand. You can tie a rope between two trees and drape the hide over it or hang it over a dull wood stake so that the fibers start to break. When the hide is completely dry and soft you will have garment-grade, brain-tanned leather.

You will need to waterproof the leather or else it will go back to hard-shell if it gets wet. Build a tripod around a small fire that only smolders so that it creates a lot of smoke but not very much heat. Drape the hide over the tripod and fire so that it becomes completely saturated from the smoke and leave it there for a couple of hours. The hide will darken during this time. Take great care not to let the hide get too hot or scorch.

As you can see, making leather is labor-intensive, and keeping many hides in process at different stages makes things go easier. Either way, always be prepared with some manmade fabrics just in case you need something in the short term.

BARK TANNING

Bark tanning is a very complicated process and is not very practical if you are traveling light in the wilderness. I mention it here, however, because a lot of people believe that this is the only true way to produce real leather. This very old tradition was brought over by the colonists from Europe. The most complicated part of bark tanning is the time it takes and the size of the containers needed to accomplish it.

In this process you use tannins from trees such as walnut and white oak to tan the hide. Bark liquor is made by boiling large amounts of bark in three large batches of varying concentrations. The first batch is made very strong and then poured into a 15-gallon storage container. A second batch, a little bit weaker than the first, is poured into another large container. Then a third batch, the weakest yet, is made and poured into a third large container. It takes this much bark liquor for one deer hide.

Soak the hide in the first batch for a couple of weeks. During the first few days you must stir it often and then several times a day after that. The hide is then stored in the second batch of bark liquor for 4 weeks with the same stirring frequency. The hide is stored in the last batch for up to 12 weeks. Winter will be over by the time you get this far. At this point you still need to oil the hide, dry it, break down the fibers, and waterproof. You can see that although bark tanning makes the finest leather, it is a major undertaking.


ESTABLISHING A BASE CAMP

Setting up a base camp saves you from having to carry all of your supplies on your back at all times. Of course, building a more permanent shelter is a large undertaking, and it will likely take a couple days of work, maybe even as long as a week if you are without a helping hand. Bearing that in mind, the first thing you will need to do when you arrive at the place where you intend to construct your base camp is to build a temporary shelter to keep you until the permanent shelter is ready. Just remember that you need to finish building your permanent shelter before the weather demands one.

For your permanent shelter, you can either build a larger version of your temporary base camp (like a hunter’s station) from natural materials, or you can pack a larger canvas shelter in your kit. Whichever you choose, it must have at least three sides for protection from inclement weather and a large fire backing or portable wood stove that is at least as high as the pitch or roof of the shelter. In colder weather a raised bed is a must, but if the weather is fair, a hammock may be enough. Following are tarp configurations that can be used for a roving-type camp, working-camp structures, and finally methods for building a permanent shelter.


TABLET WEAVING

Tablet weaving, like diagonal finger weaving, is used to make straps that are strong but not too wide. In tablet weaving, however, you will not be manipulating the individual components of your project as much because you will not be using your fingers. In tablet weaving, cards, or flat pieces into which holes have been drilled, operate as the shed.

To begin, you will need to create an even number of square cards that are about 31⁄4" on all sides. For this you can use wood, cardboard, plastic, or any other material that is fairly stiff. Drill 4 holes, one in each corner, in each of your cards. These cards will act as the heddle, and one thread will pass through each of the holes to create the warps. So if you have 12 cards, you will have 48 warps.

The loom can be any two points such as sticks, for example, to which you can attach your threads. When you begin weaving, you can either hold the end of the loom that is nearest to the cards or attach it to your belt. The far end can be secured by a slipknot to a stationary object like a tree. Once you determine the number of warps, it is time to cut your string. Take the number of warps and cut half that many strings. If you want 48 warps, cut 24 strings. Fold each string in half and secure to the near end of your loom with a lark’s head knot. Once all the strings are attached, you can now thread each through the holes in your cards.

Once the warps are established you will need a shuttle to pass the weft through them. A net needle will work perfectly, or any needle that has an eye big enough to hold your cordage. To begin weaving, pass the shuttle through the shed, which is the gap between the top holes in your cards and the bottom holes. Once you reach the end of the line, turn your cards a quarter turn clockwise. Now pass the weft through the shed once more and, once you reach the end of the line, turn your cards another quarter turn clockwise. Repeat these steps until you reach the desired length. To finish the piece, simply tie off and braid the remaining length of strands.


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Tablet weaving




AXE AND TOOL HANDLE REPLACEMENT

It is inevitable that tool handles are going to break when you’re in a long-term camp. For that reason, you need to understand how to create and replace handles to extend the life of your tools.

Hickory is the preferred wood for straight tool handles. For bent handles, ash is the better wood. For shorter handles or for mauls, maple is a good choice. Handles are generally made from green sapwood. Heartwood within the handle may cause warping during the drying and curing process. Some shrinking will occur also, so make handles a little oversized in width. It takes several weeks for green wood to fully dry before the handle can be finally shaped and helved to the tool.

AXE HANDLES

Axe handles are the most common item requiring replacement at any camp. If you can make a good axe handle, all other handle types will be easy for you. Throughout most of history the axe handle was straight, but recently there has been a lot of speculation about the value of the curved dog-leg design and doe- or colt-foot design. Curved handles are helpful for carving-type blades. That said, there is no need to create extra work for yourself unless you want. A straight handle works perfectly with a single-bit axe, but experiment to see what you like in a design and determine what is most comfortable to you. I prefer straight handles for my larger axe and handles with a bit of an arc for my carving axe. All handles have an oval-shaped cross section so that they fit comfortably in the hand. Long handles should be thin so that when they are swung, weight is placed forward. Shorter handles should be thicker to ensure a solid grip.

When making a larger axe handle with a 21⁄2-pound head weight or heavier, start with a hickory log that is about 10" in diameter and 30" long. Split this log and quarter the halves. Then select the best 1⁄8 section to use for your handle. Next cleave the heartwood from the plank you have selected. If the material is still too thick, cleave it again. The rest of the quarters should be stored off the ground where they can dry out for later use.

For quick short axe handles, you simply need a hewing hatchet and a knife. For longer handles, a drawing knife will give you more flexibility to shape the handle. Start by squaring your wood as best you can, paying attention to the grain lines in order to ensure that the top of the handle has a good straight grain. If you still have the old handle, you can even trace it to make a pencil pattern right on the hickory wood. A shaving horse comes in handy when you are forming the shape of the handle. Don’t forget to leave room for the piece to shrink while drying.


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Axe handle



WEDGE AND HELVING

Before helving the axe you will need to saw a kerf cut from the top of the handle area to insert a wedge after the handle is in place. The wedge should be carved of hardwood and left a little longer than what is needed for it to be even with the handle. On the finished product you ideally want about 1⁄4"–1⁄2" of the handle above the eye of the tool. Metal wedges are not essential if the axe is hung correctly and then soaked in hot oil or tallow. Soaking the axe in oil after helving will make the wood swell and also seal it. I recommend that you coat the handle with birch oil after it is completed and hung. Add another coat each week for one month and then coat every month for the first year. This will help maintain the handle and keep it from cracking or drying out over time.


CAMP AMENITIES

No matter the size or permanence of the base camp you decide to construct, there are a few camp amenities you should include for both comfort and convenience.

LIGHTING

You need to think about sources of lighting to use as the fire dies down or before the fire is built. Headlamps are fine for a quick outing as long as your kit includes spare batteries. For the long term, candles tend to work best. Besides providing light, candles also have an open flame to aid in emergency or late-night fire starting. Beeswax candles can also be melted and used for many other purposes such as a lubricant or wood polish. You can even rub it on your tools to prevent rusting.

A simple lantern can be fashioned from an empty can to protect the candle from going out in the wind. If your hunting or trapping campaign has been successful, use fat from the animal to make oil lamps. Any concave container, from a shell to a hollow piece of wood, will make an easy lamp. All you need is a wick, which can be made from any soluble material such as cotton rope or natural cordage. You can also use a ball of compressed cattail fluff or corded cedar bark for a quick, temporary wick.

Make candles by dipping a wick of natural cord into a pan of melted tallow, letting it cool, dipping again, and letting it cool. The thickness increases each time. The difference between tallow and lard is the tallow will harden at room temperature and lard will stay soft. Torches are easily made by dipping dead plant tops like mullein into fat and letting them dry.

SOAP

Many plants have natural saponins, chemicals that are created by the saponification process when making soaps. This substance occurs naturally in many plants and creates a nice lather that can be used as a natural soap. In the eastern woodlands, the best choice for this is the bracken fern because its root is high in saponins. Yucca is another American plant that can be used for this purpose.


[image: ]

Simple lantern made from a can



LATRINE

For short-term outings it is easy to simply walk away from camp and dig a small cat hole for a latrine. Outings that last more than a couple of days, however, will necessitate a pit latrine. This pit must be a comfortable distance from camp but well away from any groundwater source. Generally speaking, the pit latrine should be as deep as possible but should be kept to at least 3' above the water table. Finding a spot this far above the water table can be a tricky undertaking depending on camp location and elevation. If you find yourself needing to choose between a farther walk and possible groundwater pollution, do yourself a favor and take the walk up hill. A good practice for wilderness pit latrines is to add ashes from the campfire daily. This will cover the smell, break down the fecal matter, and detract pests like flies. Once the pit is full within a foot of the top, cover it with debris and dig a new pit in a different location. Consider this matter seriously at the outset when choosing a long-term camp location.

LINES

Ridge lines are the best place to hang a lantern, keep clothing off the ground, or suspend a bag of goodies that may be needed at night. Drying lines should always be used to ensure you have a place to air bedding material and clothing during the day or when wet. Beating a wool blanket hung over a line will keep it free of dirt, dead skin cells, and many pests.

ESTABLISHING A SLEEP SYSTEM

Sleeping gear can have a big impact on the weight of your supplies—a simple canvas and a couple of wool blankets can add as much as 20 pounds to your kit. Still, a good night’s sleep of at least 6 hours is one of the most important aspects of long-term comfort and survival. Often my sleep system makes up two-thirds of my kit’s weight. The following items are a solid basis for a sleep system that will be effective in either a temporary or permanent shelter:


	Wool blanket (or two)

	Materials for a raised bed

	Canvas

	Large needle, like a sail needle, that is heavy enough to puncture your canvas

	#36 bankline for stitching the canvas

	Synthetic sleeping bag in case you are not able to return to the base camp for a night or two



BUILDING A RAISED BED

A raised bed is the best weapon against ground temperature when sleeping. You can manufacture a simple mattress, or browse bed, with a heavy painter’s canvas or wool blanket. First fold your canvas widthwise (not lengthwise). It is okay for your feet to hang off the end, but it is important that your bed be wide enough for you to roll over without falling. Thread your needle with the #36 bankline and whip-stitch the ends of your canvas together on two sides. The stitching does not have to be perfect; anything between 1"–2" stitches will work fine. It should not take more than about 15 minutes to stitch up two sides of the canvas.

Next stuff your bed with leaves and grass. This is the most time-consuming part of manufacturing a raised bed. Stuff the bed and then compress the material to make room for more. Stuff the bed again and compress the material to make room for more. This process can take as long as an hour. When the bed is packed with about 4" of compressed insulation, stitch up the last side with your whip stitch.

SETTING UP YOUR SLEEP AREA

Fold over your tarp and lay it down where it will act as a moisture barrier between the ground and your raised bed. The wool blanket will keep you warm while sleeping. Carry some sort of bag—even your haversack—that can be emptied at night and filled with spare clothing to act as a pillow. A pillow is a tremendous comfort that is often completely underrated.

HAMMOCKS

Hammocks are an option but will require an underquilt or some sort of insulation to battle convection issues that come with colder weather. A cheap way to deal with this issue is to place a thick pad like a ground mat in the hammock and a reflective batting on top of that. Then place your sleeping bag or blankets right on this pad. Reflectix is an insulation used for the home and can be purchased at any hardware store. It comes in 2'–3' widths and is basically a bubble wrap with Mylar covering. The other option is an underquilt that will trap warm air between the quilt and the hammock.


SIMPLE WOODLAND MACHINES

Aside from wedges, there are four other simple machines that you can fashion from wood material found in the landscape to help with tasks in and around camp.

WINDLASS

The windlass is used to move heavy weights or for tensioning. Typically, a windlass consists of a horizontal cylinder that is rotated by the turn of a crank or belt. A winch is affixed to one or both ends and a cable or rope is wound around the winch, pulling a weight attached to the opposite end. A windlass can be made even more simply with a loop of cord or rope anchored to a fixed object and then looped around another object to be moved. A lever of proportionate size is then placed within the loop and turned, end over end, to tighten the line until it eventually moves the object.


[image: ]

Windlass operation #1



You can also use larger posts as levers, either at ground level or standing, winding rope to move an object. A windlass can also be as simple as a tensioning device for a bucksaw, made from natural materials. A quick vise can be made from a green stump by employing a windlass to tension the work piece. A windlass operates very similar to a tourniquet in this case. It employs a few wraps of rope tensioned by a stick that is then held in place by tying it off to the lower area of the stump. It acts to constrict the work piece and as a holdfast. Killing-type traps sometimes also include a windlass device.


[image: ]

Windlass operation #2



INCLINED PLANE

An inclined plane is a simple machine for moving heavy objects above ground. The inclined plane takes advantage of angles in order to lever or pull weight forward on a shallow angle. This makes it easier to lift than pulling dead weight directly from the ground. You can, for example, move a larger log onto a bucking horse or pull a log uphill. To operate the inclined plane you take advantage of the hill and the log as a cylindrical rolling object. From there, you use a windlass to control the task of raising the log uphill.

To pull a log uphill you will take advantage of the incline plane of the hillside. You will need a length of rope long enough to form a W with the center wrapped around a tree at the top of the hill and the two outside Vs wrapping the log. The tails on the outside are used at the top to roll the log up the hill, with two people pulling at the same time.


[image: ]

Inclined plane



LEVER AND FULCRUM

A lever made of strong material like green hardwood can be used not only to roll large logs and stones across the ground but also to assist in rolling logs up an inclined plane. When using a fulcrum in conjunction with a lever, you can also lift logs and other heavy objects.

BOW AND DRILL

The bow and drill is one of the oldest simple machines. It is used as a primitive fire starter and can also be used in conjunction with bits of metal or stone to make holes in other objects. You’ll need to create a chuck when using this device for anything other than fire making. (Sometimes chucks are used for making fire too.) For more on this machine see the following chapter.


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Bow and drill




Copyright © 2015 by F+W Media, Inc.

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Interior illustrations by Eric Andrews.

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Cover images © Clipart.com.



FLOURS AND MEALS

These plant-based flours can be used in recipes, eaten alone, or added to another grain-based meal. Although plant-based flours are not technically categorized as preserved food, grinding things like acorns is a way of repurposing your resources and extending their life.

ACORN FLOUR

Acorn flour was a staple food item for many native peoples throughout history and acorns remain a major source of food for forest animals today. Its versatility makes it one of the eastern woodlands’ best plant-based food resources. I tend to seek out white oak acorns because they have fewer tannins and taste less bitter. Tannins within the acorn can give it a very astringent taste. It is important that acorns are processed correctly so they have a gentler flavor.

To process, you must first remove the shells. Crush the acorns with a rock or an axe. Then place the crushed acorns in a bowl of water; the shells will float and the meat will sink. Toss the shells. You want to process the meat down to the smallest-sized granules possible, so you will leach the meat and remove the tannins. To do this, drop the meat of the acorns in a clean batch of boiling water and let it cook until the water becomes brown. This discoloration is from the tannins. Place the acorn meat in another pot of boiling water and repeat the process. Make sure the water in the second pot is already boiling, because if the acorns come in contact with cold water, the process will undo itself. You will likely need to move the acorn meat to a new pot of boiling water three or four times before the staining stops. When the majority of the tannins have been removed, the water will remain clean. If you don’t have the necessary tools or setup, acorn meat can be leached in running creek water by placing it in a cloth sack and leaving it in the creek for a week or so. However, the resulting flavor is not as reliable as what you get with the boiling method.

Once the meat is well soaked and clean you can use a stone to grind it into a meal for hot cereal, use it as a bread ingredient, or dry it out and store it for later use. If you decide to save the acorn flour for later, plan to soak it in water before you use it to rehydrate it to its mushy status.


BUSHCRAFT TIP

The tannins that give acorns their astringent taste can be a great resource for other things like medicines and tanning. Save the liquid from the first pot of boiling water you used to leach the acorn meat and reserve it for later use. Astringents work best for external use in a wash or poultice, and the solution will be antiparasitic as well.



CATTAIL FLOUR

Cattail makes the best form of starchy flour that nature has to offer, and the process of extracting it is not overly complicated. First you will need to collect a good bucketful of cattail roots. Loosen the soil around the cattail and its root area. Then put your hand at the base of the stalk and pull to release the entire plant with the root. At this point you can ditch the stalks and just hang on to the roots. Once you have washed and thoroughly peeled them, place them in a bucket of clean water. Here you will begin to break up the roots, which causes the flour to separate from the fibers. Continue until you have separated all the fibers in the roots. As you work, the flour will settle at the bottom of the bucket. Pour out the excess water and dump the remaining mush on a flat surface where it can dry in the sun. Once the flour is completely dry, store it in a cool, dry place away from insects.

CATTAIL ACORN BREAD

2 cups acorn flour

2 cups cattail flour

21⁄4 teaspoons dry yeast

11⁄2 teaspoons salt

1⁄3 cup maple syrup

1⁄2 cup water

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Mix all the ingredients into a dough, shape it into patties, and throw it on some hot ash from your coals to make ash cakes. Wait until the ash is hot enough that it turns white. Brown the ash cakes to your liking, about 3–4 minutes on each side.


Appendix C
 CLOUD CHARTS

Reading clouds can help you predict weather systems. Here is a short primer on cloud types.

Altocumulus: These large, gray puffs usually indicate an afternoon thunderstorm is coming. Usually seen in the middle altitude in humid weather.

Altostratus: These gray/bluish clouds cover the entire sky and appear before a weather front in the middle altitude. You really can’t see a lot of sun with these clouds—maybe just a little where the clouds are very thin. These clouds usually indicate that widespread, continuous precipitation is coming.

Cirrocumulus: These clouds have a patchy or puffy white appearance. They are ice clouds that appear in the high altitude. They indicate that precipitation is coming within twenty-four hours.

Cirrostratus: These clouds are very thin and look like a halo around the sun or the moon. They are high-altitude clouds full of ice crystals. They indicate rain or snow will arrive in the next twenty-four hours.

Cirrus: These are thin, wispy clouds that appear in the high altitude. They look a little bit like hair. They travel from west to east and indicate that fair weather is coming.

Cumulonimbus: Appearing like giant pieces of cauliflower in the sky, these clouds can produce lightening, thunder, hail, and heavy rain. They can sometimes even form tornadoes.

Cumulus: With their puffy tops and flat bottoms, they indicate fair weather. They appear in the low altitude.

Mammatus: These form under a thunderstorm and look a little like pouches. They are evidence that a storm is weakening.

Stratocumulus: Gray or whitish in color, these clouds have round bases and appear in the low altitude. They hardly ever drop any precipitation.

Stratus: Of all the clouds, these hang the lowest. They are gray and cover the entire sky. They look a bit like fog and sometimes are accompanied by a light drizzle, but they tend not to drop precipitation.


BOATS

Here are a few different kinds of watercraft that can transport you and your kit if necessary.

RAFTS

A raft is a simple conveyance that can be used to transport you and or your gear over distance in water. Logs work best for this, but since they are round you need to secure at least two together as a stable platform to keep them from rolling in the water. In an emergency, lash (using shear lashings with clover hitches) two or three logs at the end that you plan to straddle while floating down the creek or river. Be very careful about the dangers that lie underneath you as you go—not just animals but snags and rocks that might catch your clothing or legs and pull you from the raft in a current. If you have time to build a more secure raft, lash your logs on both ends. Try to always sit completely out of the water on the raft, even on a hot day. Make sure the raft is wide enough for you to do this. If the amount of cordage you have available is an issue, try using thinner cross members on the ends of the raft and lash those together to lock the logs in place. A third option is to make a catamaran of sorts with a single log in the middle and smaller logs lashed to either side on cross members. Navigate this vessel by pointing the nose of the middle log and using a pole or paddle to guide it down the waterway.


[image: ]

Raft construction



DECK RAFT

You can build a deck raft by attaching several logs together to make a larger deck. You can hold this deck together in a variety of ways, depending on the resources you already have on hand. Log dogs are metal implements that can be removed when you’re done with the raft and taken back to camp for another use. In the old days, these U-shaped brackets would be hammered into two logs that were side by side and then staggered to create a larger raft deck. Nails driven into the cross members on the deck raft make a more permanent setup. You can also lash together the logs and recover the cordage at the end of the trip. Deck-style rafts afford the opportunity to build a steering rudder on the back that is built into a raised bracket. These deck rafts can also be large enough to hold a shelter tent for sleeping. They can also easily be fitted with a seat for long journeys.

SAILING A RAFT

When we talked about building a long-term kit (see Chapter 1), I mentioned the versatility of an oilcloth tarp. This material is lightweight enough that it can be used as a sail for your raft. When you are assembling your raft, notch the center log at about 8"–10" into the deck so that a mast can fit into it. Use a green sapling that is about 3" in diameter, and shave the end a little bit so that it screws firmly into this hole. Using the existing tie-outs you have on a Tentsmiths-style tarp, you can lace the tarp up one side to the mast pole. Use a diagonal bracing pole of about 11⁄2" diameter from the mast about two tie-outs from the bottom to the upper corner on the outside of the sail, and then use another piece of rope on the near corner to control the sail into and away from the wind. You can fasten the mast with a loop of rope, but make sure it isn’t tied too tight. You want the mast to swing so that the sail can adjust with the wind.


[image: ]

Attaching a sail



RUDDERS

A rudder allows you to steer the boat left or right while traveling. Rudders are essentially long oars that are attached to the back of the raft and sit in the water. You will need a stationary object or bracket to hold the rudder in place for steering. You will also need a fulcrum for the rudder. Both of these can easily be fashioned with a Y branch placed into a hole similar to the mast hole at the rear of the craft.

ANCHORS

Sometimes you may need to anchor your boat if you plan to fish or rest. Making an anchor is incredibly simple, and the materials you choose are at your discretion. A simple bag of rocks on a line attached to the raft will do just fine. You can even improvise something out of railway plates.

PADDLES/OAR

The terms paddle and oar are often confused, but there is a major difference between the two. Oars generally come in pairs and tend to be longer and thinner and are affixed with an anchoring bracket that can be pinned to a rowing craft. Paddles can be either single- or double-sided and can come in any shape. Paddles are used freehanded to move a craft forward. The type of material from which either paddles or oars are constructed can make a tremendous difference in the ease with which you can maneuver the craft.


BUSHCRAFT TIP

Paddles make it much easier to maneuver a boat, which makes them highly prized watercraft accessories. In fact, handmade Native American paddles were sometimes very ornately decorated and carved works of art. Understanding how to properly carve a wooden paddle is a good skill to own. Hardwoods are preferable for this task.



Use pieces that are at least 6" wide so that they operate as a serviceable paddle. The length is up to you, but start with something that is as long as the distance from your chin to the ground. From there, shorter lengths with wider blades work well as sculling paddles, for example.

BULL BOATS

Some Native American tribes used bull boats to move skins, supplies, and firewood from upriver areas back to camp. These boats were lightweight so that they could easily be carried overland and stored until needed. Since the bull boat is round, most navigation is achieved by sculling the paddle. The earliest bull boats were made with a wood frame and covered with a skinned green buffalo hide with the hair on the water side. Once the skin dried into rawhide, it formed a hard outer shell that was waterproof and durable. Many times the tail was left on the hide and used as a tug strap.

These days, making a bull boat can still be accomplished using a tarp or a heavy piece of canvas as a skin. Note that plastic or poly tarps are not a great idea for these crafts because they are likely to tear easily if they get snagged on anything in shallow water.

To build a bull boat, collect several flexible saplings about 11⁄2"–2" in diameter for the frame. First create the hoop size that you want for the finished craft. Eventually this will be the top or the gunnels of the boat. Lay this hoop on the ground and then lash a sapling bent from end to end across the center. Bend four more samplings and lash them at half the distance in both directions. You now have a solid frame that can be “skinned” to create your boat. To add the skin, it is best to turn the frame upright on top of the tarp that you plan to use, drawing all the excess material inside the frame. If you do not have tie-outs on the tarp, use toggles or small stones to secure it tightly inside the frame. To add buoyancy you can make a wreath or flotation circle around the outside of the boat. To construct this wreath, place stakes into the ground and lay bows onto the staked frame, lashing them around the perimeter of the boat. Then finish the frame in the same manner as before and skin it the same way. The advantage to this kind of boat is in the way it floats.


[image: ]

Bull boat



DUGOUTS

Dugouts, essentially canoe-type boats, are among the most resilient of watercrafts. That said, they are also very labor-intensive. You will need a proper tree of lighter wood such as poplar. Poplar wood will be easier to carve or burn out—whichever method you elect to use. Daniel Boone’s dugout was made from the yellow or tulip poplar tree. This project requires a good axe and a few other carving tools. Select a log that is at least one-and-a-half times wider than you and about 8'–12' in length. The size really depends on the kind of time you have and the equipment you are carrying.

Once the log is prepared, carve the ends into a wedge shape that will help the vessel cut through water. Then you will remove the bark from the log—a task that is much easier in spring than in winter. Now it is time to hew the log for further processing. Set up a hewing line on the log that is about two-thirds of the way up from the bottom of the log. You can make a simple chalk line by simply rubbing a string with charcoal and popping a cordage down at both sides to create a visible line that will guide you as you cut.

Make a series of V notches down the top of the log about 3' apart and cut down to the line. Turn the log on its side and remove the areas between the V cuts with your axe. This process is called hewing the log and is identical to the process used to make dimensional timber from a round log. Once you have a flat surface, roll the log again to the top and decide what method you will use to make the center cavity where you will sit. Make your decision to burn or carve based on the available tools. If you have an adze tool for digging out the space, use it in conjunction with an axe. Or you can burn down the cavity as you would to make a bowl: burn and scrape, burn and scrape, until you reach the desired depth and width of the cavity. The advantage to digging is that the log will dry more slowly, which makes it less likely to crack.


[image: ]

Dugout boat




TOOLS

Following is a description of some of the most important woodworking tools to include in your kit.

FELLING AXE

A felling axe is a little bit larger than the usual model. At minimum, this axe has about a 3-pound head weight and has a 36"-long handle. This is the best tool for harvesting larger pieces of lumber.


[image: ]

Axe types



BROAD AXE

The broad axe is the best tool for removing the last bit of material from the facing side of a log. It only needs to be sharpened on one side so that it can be used like a chisel. Sizes vary—some broad axes have smaller head weights and short handles, while others are very large. My suggestion is to carry a smaller broad axe and complement it with a larger adze.

ADZE

Adzes are used for flattening the sides of logs and truing the flats. An adze can be used in place of the broad axe in some cases because it works on similar logs but is more versatile. A curved adze can be used for many large-scale carving tasks such as hollowing out large basins or making dugouts.


[image: ]

Adze



FROE

A froe is a long, flat blade with an upright handle. This tool is used to split lumber along the grain to create flat pieces of wood such as boards and shingles.


[image: ]

Froe



DRAW KNIFE

The draw knife is very handy when removing bark from a log, and it can also be used to further shape the wood.


[image: ]

Draw knife



BUCKING SAW

A large bucking or bow saw is used to break down longer logs when creating shingles and smaller lumber boards. The bucking is great for breaking down firewood as well. I recommend the 36" bucking saw.


[image: ]

Bucking saw



LOG DOGS

Log dogs are metal-forged U brackets. The sides of the U are right angles, which makes them look square in shape. These log dogs are used to secure a log so that it does not roll while you are working on it. Notch two smaller logs with V cuts and place the working log right in their cutouts. These V cuts will cradle the log. Then pound in the log dogs with a maul so that one end of the dog is in the working log and one end is in the cradle log at an angle.


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Log dogs




Chapter 5
SHELTERING

“Shelter provides a microenvironment that supplements inadequate clothing or allows you to shed cumbersome layers, especially when you want to stop moving or when you want to sleep in cold weather. Shelter also enhances the effect of a warming fire.”

—MORS KOCHANSKI

When planning for shelter you need to consider both long-term and short-term options. Even if you intend to build a base camp with a permanent shelter, you might still need to travel for a night or two to hunt, trap, or fish. For this reason, your kit should include a system that takes you easily from cabin to woods with supplies that will be useful in either situation. The base of this kit will include:


	Waterproof tarp (Egyptian cotton oilcloth works well here)

	Wool blanket

	Simple sleeve of canvas (like a painter’s canvas) if you plan to make a raised bed




ANVIL STUMP

Find a large stump if you can, or just cut off a piece of log that is large enough for a seat. You will be surprised at the many uses it will afford over a short time. This stump will keep you off the ground and will also function as a workbench and a dry surface on which to process fire tinder and kindling. The anvil stump can also be used much like a sawhorse when you add V notches on the side into which you can place pieces of wood that need to be cut. Just lay your stump on its side and lock the piece of wood you want to cut into the V notch. The wider the notch, the bigger the piece of wood you can lay into it. This will help you avoid driving your axe or knife into the dirt by accident. The anvil stump provides a raised surface for a candle at night as well. The anvil stump can be further processed to make a grinding bowl on the surface and, on the other side, a series of cutouts that can be used to hold sharpening stones and flats of wood that can be used for cutting boards.


[image: ]

Anvil stump (clave)




ROVING CAMPS

In Bushcraft 101 we discussed the most common tarp setups. Here you will learn about some simple makeshift camp convenience items that will make common tarp and other temporary setups even more comfortable.

TENTS

There are many types of canvas tents and yurts that can be easily transported as long as you have conveyances. Remember that large canvases can be difficult to heat, so for a seasonal shelter, think about selecting something small. Much of the decision about what type of canvas shelter to use will depend on your environment. Open-faced tents like the Whelen provide three sides of coverage and can be used with a hammock. For colder weather I would recommend something that can house a stove like a small wall tent.

Small wall tents can be very comfortable and offer great protection from the elements especially if a stove jack is installed. Many of the gold rush miners lived in wall tents that were placed on raised platforms. These temporary structures were large enough that they could even hold a few small furnishings such as a chair and a small table. Within the wall tent you can easily fit a hammock, a cot, or even build a raised bed. The biggest convenience of the wall tent is that it provides coverage on all four sides, which makes it operate like a canvas cabin. An 8' × 10' wall tent provides plenty of room for one person. It can be used temporarily with all the same fixtures and amenities, such as lighting and sleep setups, that you will eventually use for a more permanent shelter.

STAKING AND TIE-OUT METHODS

No matter what kind of temporary shelter you use, it will need to be tied down or staked so that it stays secure. There are many methods for securing your shelter, all of which depend on the materials that were used to manufacture it and the environmental conditions in which it has been erected. I recommend staying away from grommets altogether; they seem to be the weakest link in any shelter no matter the material because they tend to weaken the surrounding fabric. Instead, opt for the tie-out or stake loops whenever possible. If you have only a blank canvas with no way to tie it off, place a toggle on the corners and fold it over the toggle; trap this with a jam knot on the corner of the tarp.


[image: ]

A toggle can be used to tie down a tent



You can also use a stone or even a wad of dead leaves to place a ball of sorts in the area that needs to be tied and then tie a jam knot over the whole thing. In the old days, musket balls were often used for this type of configuration.


[image: ]

A ball tie-down on a tarp configuration



All tie lines should be made adjustable for tension so they can be tightened or loosened when necessary. Adding this adjustability makes it easy to set up and take down your shelter. To do this, use flat slabs of wood with a hole drilled on each end that is large enough for the ropes to pass through. The rope is then placed in this toggle, one end in each hole, and knotted. If you are using loops for tie-out points, it makes sense to pass the rope through the loop before knotting on one end of this sliding toggle. After this it can be looped over a stake and then adjusted for tension. Another way of doing this is to use a standard trucker’s hitch knot with a tensioning loop on the tie-out ropes. You can also use a barrel knot, which will self-tighten when pressure is applied.

Another option is to stake your shelter right into the ground. In this way you are almost creating a microclimate, and wind and weather will have very little effect on it. A noisy, loose tarp that is blowing around in the wind will be an all-night aggravation. Be sure all lines are tight and secure enough to withstand any unexpected weather conditions. Stakes made of wood work well for longer-term camps because the wood swells with moisture, which further secures it into the ground. The length of the stake is really dependent on ground condition: Use longer stakes for moist ground and shorter stakes for dry ground.

If the ground is extremely hard, you might need to use metal instead. In those cases I recommend fashioning stakes from a 3⁄8" steel stock like rebar with a 2" × 120° bend at the top. If stakes are not practical at all, you can improvise with things like logs, rocks, or bags filled with something heavy like smaller rocks or dirt. If the ground is extremely soft, it may take a chain of two stakes to secure the tent in high wind conditions.


[image: ]

Stake-driving angles




SASSAFRAS

I include sassafras here because of the carminative value of the root tea. Finely ground dry sassafras leaves will also add a cinnamon-type flavor to foods such as bannock, a quick-fry bread. Sassafras was a mainstay tonic from colonial times until the 1960s when the FDA conducted tests that showed mass amounts of safrole caused liver cancer in rats. Root decoction can be used to ease upset stomach and regulate the digestive system.


[image: ]

Sassafras leaf




NETS AND NET MAKING

If you plan to spend time in an area with waterways, net making will prove to be one of the most valuable skills you will ever learn. You can make nets of any shape, size, or dimension to fit your needs. A good gill net (or stop net, as they are sometimes called) is a reliable source of food. Nets are wonderful to have on hand because they can also be multipurposed to cover and haul cargo or incorporated in land traps when capturing live food.

GILL NETS

Building a gill net takes a little effort but is an invaluable skill for long-term sustainability in the wilderness. These nets can be placed in a creek to catch fish or small mammals. For net building you will need the following:


	Large quantity of cordage with a thin diameter (I prefer #6 bankline)

	Small amount of a thick cordage (like #36 bankline)

	Net needle (these can be handmade with pine or cedar but commercial versions are also available in plastic)

	Mesh gauge that is the same width as your net needle



LOADING THE NET NEEDLE

First tie a clove hitch into your thin cordage and slip it over the point in your net needle. Flip the net needle to the back, bring the cordage down to the end of the net needle, wrap it around the base, bring it back up and wrap it around the point again, flip the net needle to the front, wrap the cordage around the base, back up around the center point, flip the needle to the back, and so forth until your cordage is loaded about three-quarters of the way up the point in your net needle.

SETTING UP THE MESH

Tie your head line to two stationary objects so that it stretches out at a height that is comfortable for you to begin working. This thicker cordage will act as your head line, and you will build your mesh by attaching the cordage from the net needle directly to this line.

Pull line from the point of the net needle and attach it to the head line with a clove hitch. You are now ready to secure your thin cordage to your head line with a series of knots. Using a mesh gauge ensures that every space in your mesh is the same width. Remember, the size of the spaces in your mesh determine what you will catch. If your spaces are 2" wide, anything that is smaller than 2" will be able to escape.

Bring your net needle line up at an angle and wrap it behind and over the head line and mesh gauge. Now bring the net needle line up again, but this time wrap it behind and over only the head line and make a knot around the loop you just made. Move like this, over the mesh gauge and head line, and then over just the head line and around your loop, until you have 15 knots in your head line.

OPERATING THE NET NEEDLE

Now that the cord from your net needle is secured to the bankline you will start forming the mesh. Begin where your needle is positioned at the right-hand side of your knots and work your way back to the first clove hitch. Hold your mesh gauge below the 15 loops you created with your first set of knots. Bring your net needle cord behind the mesh gauge and through the first loop. Pull the line the whole way through and tighten it against that mesh gauge. Then bring your line back up and around the back of your loop to make a knot. Work this way through all the loops until you get back to your first clove hitch. Hold the mesh gauge against your second set of loops and work your way to the end of the line, continuing to add to the loops until you reach your desired length.

FUNNEL NETS

Funnel nets are designed to be placed with the opening on the upstream side of the stream. They can then be pegged in place, and you can create a further funnel with natural debris or bait them for larger animals like turtles. A funnel net is constructed like a gill net, except for the head rope. Here, circle and lash a natural material like a green branch as a hoop at the head of your funnel. You can add additional hoops to the inside after the net is completed if you are working with a very long product. In this trap the fish will swim in but cannot turn around in the back of the funnel.


CORE TEMPERATURE CONTROL

This is the first and most important kit category. Clothing is the most basic way to control temperature. Here are some more specific guidelines:

CLOTHING

Pack at least two full sets of socks and undergarments, trousers, and shirts. Carry clothing that is comfortable in all seasons or be prepared to pack enough clothing for two different climates (for a total of four sets). I would recommend 10–12-ounce durable canvas pants like the tree-climbing pants offered by Arborwear. Long-sleeved, lightweight, canvas, button-down shirts are comfortable in all seasons, and cotton T-shirts take advantage of evaporative cooling in the summer. Do not forget to plan for rain and wet weather. Tentsmiths makes a solid raincoat from cotton treated with an oil/wax finish.

In winter, use a heavy wool layer that will act as insulation, such as the merino wool pants offered by Minus33. In general, nothing beats wool in cold-weather climates. It is comfortable, fire retardant, repels moisture, and even when it is wet it still acts as a good insulation. I prefer the Boreal Shirt by Lester River Bushcraft. It has never let me down, even on the coldest of winter days and nights here in the eastern woodlands. If freezing rain and sleet are an issue, combine the wool with an oilcloth raincoat.

FOOTWEAR

Leather boots are an absolute must for long-term wilderness activities. The Pronghorn, from Danner, is a great three-season boot, and their Canadian model works well in the winter. When choosing your footwear, remember that boots are only as waterproof as they are high. Carrying a second pair of boots will save a lot of trouble on long-term trips so you can alternate and avoid wearing them out too quickly. If carrying a second pair is too cumbersome, at least plan to bring a pair of moccasins to wear when walking around camp so that you give your boots an occasional rest. Moccasins, elk hide or buffalo, are also handy when stalking game in dry leaves.

HAT

Never underestimate the importance of hats when planning your kit. A good hat will protect you from the sun and conserve body heat—most of which is released through the head and the neck. A felted wide-brim hat works well in spring, summer, and fall. A wool beanie or toboggan will help combat the cold in winter. In the most severe weather I have found great comfort in the old leather bomber caps with earflaps and fur linings.

SCARVES

Kerchiefs and scarves have been staples of the woodsman’s kit for hundreds of years. Their uses go well beyond the obvious. The cotton netting used as a sniper veil works very well in summer and makes a great improvised net for fishing. Kerchiefs made from cotton, like the shemagh, are effective across three seasons. In winter, I prefer a 4' × 4' scarf, which not only keeps me warm but can also be used as a cape to repel snow.

GLOVES AND MITTENS

A sturdy pair of leather calfskin gloves will protect the hands from briars, brambles, and blisters when doing normal camp chores. In winter, arctic mittens with wool glove liners are indispensable. I have found that to stay comfortable for a full day on the trail or trap line, keeping my extremities warm is just as important as conserving heat on my core.


PLANT SOURCES OF STORABLE FOODS

Many plants provide storable food resources like seeds, seasonings, or bulbs. These food items can be processed and dried for later use.

BULBS

Bulbs can be stored in a cool, dry place for a whole season. There are some great plants with edible bulbs, such as wild garlic or onion garlic, in the woodlands. Ramps and leeks also contain edible and delicious bulbs.

ROOTS AND TUBERS

Cattail contains an edible, starchy tuber that can be eaten as well as stored dry. Arrowhead is another water plant with an edible tuber that has high starch content. Burdock contains a large taproot similar to the potato and can be easily stored for later use if kept dry. Dandelion root makes a good drink or coffee substitute. You can even dry it and grind it down for later use in a hot drink. Yellow nut grass is another edible root plant native around areas of water where cattails and arrowhead are found.


BUSHCRAFT TIP

The center of the cattail shoot is a nutrient-dense, edible resource that makes an excellent vegetable you can simmer in soups or sauté as a side dish. Harvest the cattail shoots in dry weather so that the ground is not too muddy. Select large stalks that have not begun to flower, and separate the outer leaves from the core of the stalk. Discard these tough outer layers until you get down to the soft center. This process requires a lot of peeling, and your hands might get pretty sticky, but the product is delicious and rich in vitamins including vitamin C, beta carotene, and potassium.



WILD SPICES/HERBS

Most wild herbs can be air-dried for later use. You can grind these dried spices into flavorings for food and teas. A few of my favorites are mustard seed, garlic mustard, mint, shepherd’s purse, and dock seeds.


A SIMPLE PEG LOOM

Simple peg looms are useful because they can be adjusted to work with materials of all sizes to make products of all dimensions. For the sake of our instructions, assume we are using wool