Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury

Bushcraft 101

Bushcraft 101 by Dave Canterbury is a comprehensive guide to the art of wilderness survival. Written by survivalist expert Dave Canterbury, the book is based on the 5Cs of Survivability–cutting tools, covering, combustion devices, containers, and cordages–and provides readers with only the most important survival skills to help them craft resources from their surroundings and truly experience the beauty and thrill of the wilderness.

The book covers topics such as gearing up, your pack, tools, rope, cordage, webbings, and knots, containers and cooking tools, coverage, combustion, in the bush, setting up camp, navigating terrain, trees, trapping and processing game, and appendices. It also includes information on utilizing and conserving resources, wild edibles and medicinal plants, bush recipes, and a glossary.

Canterbury’s 5 C’s of survivability are: cutting tools, covering elements, combustion devices, containers, and cordage. He emphasizes the importance of having the right mindset when it comes to survival, creating a shelter, building a fire and staying warm, finding water, finding food sources, and first aid.

The book is written in plain and concise language and explains not only the hows of the skills, tools, materials, and methods presented, but the whys as well. It focuses on life skills essential to thrive in the wilderness in tune with nature, rather than just emergency survival skills and gadgets to get you out of a jam.

What I Liked

I liked the creativity, structure, and tone of the book. I’ve kept it for regular reference. I’m fascinated by how First Peoples, explorers, and settlers made their way with no or very little infrastructure. That knowledge is worth preserving and practicing.

What I Did Not Like

I really didn’t like how the book is for “bushcraft” but the subtitle is “art of wilderness survival.”

Because here’s the thing.

Very, very few Americans have access to privately owned wilderness – vast tracts of truly wild spaces without any human infrastructure.

The only true wilderness that Americans will access are Congressionally-designated Wilderness Areas on public land. Wilderness Areas on public land are subject to very strict Leave No Trace regulations from either the National Park Service, US Forest Service, US Fish & Wildlife Service, or the Bureau of Land Management.

This book provides so many tips & practices that violate Leave No Trace, Wilderness regulations, and general Wilderness Ethics.

Now, knowledge does not equal action. And there is good in preserving these techniques and traditions. I am 100% for practicing them on private land. But the author / publisher should have done a better job explaining how, when and where to practice bushcraft.

Actual Wilderness is not the place. I’ve seen too many over-used campsites in the Cohutta Wilderness where someone has obviously been digging a Dakota fire or some other destructive, ugly, unnecessary technique.

If you are using these techniques for actual survival…then, of course, do what you need to do…but you should have been smart enough to not get yourself in the situation in the first place. The first principle of Leave No Trace is plan and prepare.

Get the book, but also get access to some private land to practice the techniques, like this amazing Bushcrafter.

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