The Art of Creative Bushcraft

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Thanks for stopping by the Agile Woodsman!

What is the Agile Woodsman?

A woodsman is an outdoor enthusiast, one who appreciates and derives great satisfaction and joy from spending time participating in the great outdoors. I focus on the art of Bushcraft, which also applies and enhances to other activities such as backwoods camping, practicing the art of survival, adventure sports such as kayaking or rock climbing, fishing, hunting, the list can go on forever! The Agile Woodsman benefits from the relaxation of being out in nature and appreciates the confidence and satisfaction that backwoods, survival and primitive skills bring to his or her life. The sense of peace and wholeness of self that spending time in the outdoors can bring can really bring a new perspective on living.

An Agile woodsman is one who learns to improvise and adapt to his or her surroundings, using creativity, adaptability, and motivation to create solutions in the bush, far away from modern technology and convenience. This form of Agility makes a back woods adventure more fun and safe and makes a person more resilient and successful in a survival situation.

My goal here is not to create yet another place where gear and skills are all that’s talked about. Yeah knives are cool, but there are a GAZILLION places that talk about this stuff and provide gear reviews. We’re going to try and stay focused on the actual “Craft” behind bushcraft. The experience of being a human out in nature and how to better pursue that.

What is a Woodsman?

Bushcrafters, campers, hikers, hunters and more are all woodsman in different ways. We all enjoy getting into the bush and appreciate the wonder that mother nature has to offer. Being a woodsman, though, implies a skill set, one that keeps us in tune with nature, provides a connection to our surroundings, and skills that allow us to take advantage of the many resources the woods have to offer.

Bushcraft and woodsmanship does have a loyal and growing following, however in an attempt to define bushcraft, I found it impossible, as it means something different to each person. However, in modern society, the bigger trend in camping is marked by a disconnect from nature. Often a trip to a campsite reveals this trend and manifests in people bringing all manner of modern conveniences into the woods with them. This is merely living in a different location, not woodsmanship. At least we can appreciate the desire of these folks to get out into nature, thats a start!

A woodsman knows how to use the natural world around them and is forever in the process of learning more. Whether it’s starting a fire from materials found in the forest, constructing a shelter, or knowing knife skills and how to use cordage properly, the woodsman has a skill set which allows them to be comfortable in the woods without the noise of modern conveniences. Not only that, the woodsman often prefers the company of nature rather than bring the trappings, vanity, and distraction of modern society with him or her into the woods.

So it goes beyond just hunting or camping. This ever growing skill set is an art, one that brings us in close to nature and to the roots of where man has come from. The woodsman is comfortable navigating the wild places of the world. He knows that many of the resources he needs will be provided. She knows that after she camps somewhere, the next person that comes along will hardly be able to tell she was ever there.

There are many schools of thought in the outdoor world and the bushcraft community. Some have an almost military approach, one where it is me against nature and I have to survive, and it will be a fight to do so. There is a growing trend right now, called the Longhunter, which recreates the explorers of the 1800’s in the United States. This school recreates the old school gear of the old explorers and shuns modern gear; there is a large focus on “tradition” here. Other bushcraft camps like to bring in a lot of gear and set up a “basecamp” while others go in with almost nothing at all. No way is the right way but I have a thought on this.

I think it’s ideal to be able to not just survive, but be comfortable out in the woods. This means having the skills to really know how to use the resources nature provides with a minimal amount of kit. It’s also knowing how to use our gear properly. There is a lot of theorycraft going on around the internet and none of it amounts to a hill of beans if you don’t go out to use and practice them (it often doesn’t go the way it seems it should on paper!).

So this is the goal of my website, to foster, promote, and enhance the idea of learning about these skills, of appreciating and being in harmony with nature.

I hope to talk about things like:

  • Tracking

  • Woodcraft

  • primitive woods skills

  • sustainability

  • bushcraft skills

  • why nature matters and how to connect with nature

There will be a lot more on this list as we go along. I am not an expert “survival” instructor nor do I wish to be dogmatic and promote only one way of doing things, or say that my way is the right way. I do hope to share ideas and promote a love and appreciation for the outdoors, and I think that can be gained by wholeheartedly participating in nature. I also see the value and enjoyment of learning to not only survive, but thrive, in the bush. Surely any outdoors person can benefit from learning these skills and can elevate survival skills, as something one only uses when in trouble, to skills that we use because we desire to.

 

Why learn bushcraft?

Survival shows are really popular right now, but bushcraft goes beyond survival. It is not a fight against nature, rather it is being in harmony with nature. If I am in the woods for whatever reason I want to more than survive, I want to be comfortable and I bet you do also. Bushcraft teaches us how and gives us the tools to do this. Yes, what you learn from bushcraft can be applied to life and death survival scenarios. In fact many bushcrafters will be well prepared for such an eventuality. But what we take away from bushcraft goes deeper than just survival. It encompases a connection to nature and self that modern society has robbed from us, keeping us isolated from the environment in which our species evolved.

 

  • Bushcraft teaches us to be ok with ourselves, without the distraction of 24/7 electronics to keep our minds off of things. There is a wholesomeness to be found in the woods on a “self” level. At risk of being cliche or using “woo woo” terms, bushcraft helps with personal growth by slowing us down and paying attention.
  • Bushcraft teaches us now to honor nature and all of it’s creatures. We learn to be thankful for each stick she provides us for shelter or a fire.
  • We learn to blend in to nature rather than clashing with it. Go to any pre-made campground and there is noise everywhere and not an animal in sight. Moving quietly and inconspicuously allows us to see nature for what it really is. Leaving no trace of our passing keeps nature in harmony with itself.
  • Being in nature reveals many truths about ourselves and the web of greed that passes for society today. Nature is honest in a beautiful way and sometimes in a brutal way.

 

Beware the Expert!

There are a LOT of outdoor, survival, bushcraft people out there trying to teach skills. Each one, I am sure, has something to offer. However very VERY few are “experts” and I would treat such claims with a healthy skepticism. The natural world is barely knowable in one lifetime. Learn from a variety of people. Participate in classes, online forums, and so on, so you can get a consensus in your mind about what works and what will not.

For instance, there are a lot of videos on youtube about “primitive” fire making skills. They proceed to grab a board and a stick, already prepared, and make a bow drill fire. It seems to me that these are skills you would need when something has gone wrong. Yes, practice, but you’re not likely going to carry around a full primitive fire making set. A fire steel is so much more compact! You need to know how to source materials out in nature, right now! Anyone can do it from a set that is already proven to work, so big deal. Watch technique from these guys, but it won’t help much if you can’t do it from scratch.

See what I mean? I am not an expert either, but I do know some things. And my focus is to help people learn how to be in harmony with nature and use that to enhance all aspects of living. Just turning off the television once in awhile is a grand start!

 

What else?

Another goal of this project is to encourage participation in the outdoors by our families and kids. Children are growing up in a different world. It’s hard for them to even contemplate a world without being connected 24/7. Peer pressure is prevalent not only in person at school, but in the online world. With my kids and hopefully with yours, when we go out into the back country, I can see them change back into kids, and drop the concerns of hair style, clothing style and other superficial concerns placed on them by their peers. They also can be encouraged to think about the larger world, about what’s really important, and that there is indeed a world outside of iPods, texting, brand name clothing and the latest hair style.

The freeing of the mind that occurs when we get out and spend time in the woods and leave our day to day concerns behind us is really profound. You don’t have to be an expert to get out there and enjoy the outdoors, so plan a trip soon and don’t forget the family. They will thank you for it.

A big part of this site will be you, the reader. Ideas, thoughts, and criticism is always welcome!

 

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About me:

My name is Mike and I am an outdoor lover, nature advocate, rewilder, nature connection, I make custom hand made leather goods. I live near Redding, California, surrounded by mountain ranges and beautiful National Forests. I am a writer at Agile Woodsman to share my love for nature and the woods with everyone, and to share bushcraft skills so they can be passed down to the younger generations.