Mastering Bushcraft: A Beginner’s Guide on How to Learn

Bushcraft is a set of skills that involves using resources available in the natural environment for survival. It includes fire making, foraging food, tracking, trapping, hunting game, and shelter-building using basic bushcraft gear. Learning and mastering bushcraft skills can be incredibly rewarding and can help you when SHTF (shit hits the fan).

If you’re interested in learning bushcraft, there are several ways to get started. One of the best ways is to go camping on crown, public, or open access land. Starting out with the safety net of some comfort amenities can make it easier to learn the basics. Not everyone has to start out by wandering into the wilderness with nothing but a knife and a sense of adventure.

While there’s no substitute for hands-on experience and in-person instruction, online courses can be a convenient and accessible way to learn new bushcraft skills—especially if you don’t have access to in-person courses or quality instructors in your region. A bushcraft online course can teach you survival in the wilderness from the comfort of your home.

Understanding Bushcraft

What is Bushcraft?

Bushcraft is a set of skills and knowledge that are used to survive and thrive in the wilderness. It is all about becoming self-sufficient in nature, and being able to use natural resources to meet your basic needs. Bushcraft skills include everything from fire-making, shelter-building, water purification, hunting and fishing, to navigation, tracking, and foraging for food.

History of Bushcraft

Bushcraft has been practiced for thousands of years by indigenous people around the world. It was a way of life for our ancestors, who used their knowledge of the natural world to survive and thrive in harsh environments. The term “bushcraft” itself originated in Australia in the 1800s, and it has since become a popular term used to describe wilderness survival skills.

Today, bushcraft has become a popular hobby and a way for people to reconnect with nature. It has also become an important skill set for those who want to be prepared for emergencies or disasters.

In summary, bushcraft is all about learning to live in harmony with nature, and using the resources around you to meet your basic needs. It is a valuable set of skills to have, whether you are a seasoned outdoorsman or just starting out in the wilderness.

Essential Skills for Bushcraft

When it comes to bushcraft, there are several essential skills that every survivalist must know. These skills can mean the difference between life and death in a wilderness survival situation. In this section, we will discuss the four critical skills that every bushcrafter must master: Shelter Building, Fire Starting, Water Sourcing and Purification, and Food Gathering and Preparation.

Shelter Building

In a survival situation, shelter is your first priority. Exposure to the elements can quickly lead to hypothermia, which can be fatal. To stay safe and warm, you need to know how to build a shelter using natural materials. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Look for a location that is protected from the wind and rain.
  • Use natural materials like branches, leaves, and bark to build your shelter.
  • Make sure your shelter is big enough to fit your body and your gear.
  • Test your shelter before you settle in for the night.

Fire Starting

Fire is essential for warmth, cooking, and signaling for help. Knowing how to start a fire in any condition is critical. Here are some tips to help you start a fire:

  • Collect dry kindling and tinder before you start.
  • Use a fire starter like a lighter or matches.
  • If you don’t have a fire starter, use natural materials like flint and steel or a bow drill.
  • Build your fire in a safe location away from your shelter.

Water Sourcing and Purification

Water is essential for survival, but it can also be a source of disease. Knowing how to source and purify water is critical. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Look for a water source like a river or stream.
  • Boil your water for at least 10 minutes to kill any bacteria or viruses.
  • Use a water filter or purification tablets if you have them.
  • Collect rainwater if you can.

Food Gathering and Preparation

In a survival situation, food is essential for energy and nutrition. Knowing how to gather and prepare food is critical. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Look for edible plants and berries.
  • Learn how to trap and snare animals.
  • Cook your food thoroughly to avoid foodborne illness.
  • Avoid eating anything you’re not sure is safe.

By mastering these essential bushcraft skills, you can increase your chances of survival in a wilderness survival situation. Remember to practice these skills regularly to keep them sharp.

Tools for Bushcraft

When it comes to bushcraft, having the right tools is crucial. In fact, some experts say that all you need is a good knife to survive in the wilderness. While that may be true, there are other tools that can make your experience much easier and more enjoyable. In this section, we’ll cover the essential tools you need for bushcraft, including knife skills, axe skills, saw skills, and other important tools.

Knife Skills

The knife is the most important tool in your bushcraft kit. It can be used for everything from making shelter to preparing food. When choosing a knife, look for one that is sturdy, sharp, and comfortable to hold. You should also learn how to properly care for your knife to keep it in good condition.

Some basic knife skills you should learn include:

  • Whittling: carving wood to make tools or utensils
  • Feathering: creating fine shavings to start a fire
  • Batoning: splitting wood for kindling or to make boards
  • Skinning and gutting: preparing game for cooking

Axe Skills

An axe is another essential tool for bushcraft. It can be used for chopping wood, making shelter, and even preparing food. When choosing an axe, look for one that is well-balanced and comfortable to hold. You should also learn how to properly care for your axe to keep it in good condition.

Some basic axe skills you should learn include:

  • Chopping: cutting wood into smaller pieces for firewood or building
  • Splitting: making kindling or boards by splitting larger pieces of wood
  • Hewing: shaping wood into a desired shape or size

Saw Skills

A saw is another tool that can make your bushcraft experience easier and more efficient. It can be used for cutting wood, making shelter, and preparing food. When choosing a saw, look for one that is durable and comfortable to hold. You should also learn how to properly care for your saw to keep it in good condition.

Some basic saw skills you should learn include:

  • Cross-cutting: cutting wood across the grain
  • Rip-cutting: cutting wood along the grain
  • Notching: cutting notches in wood to fit pieces together

Other Essential Tools

In addition to a knife, axe, and saw, there are other tools that can be useful for bushcraft. These include:

  • Fire starter: such as matches, a lighter, or a ferrocerium rod
  • Cordage: such as paracord or natural fibers for tying and lashing
  • Water filtration: such as a water filter or purification tablets
  • Navigation: such as a map and compass or GPS device

Having these tools in your kit can make your bushcraft experience more comfortable and safe. However, it’s important to remember that the most important tool you have is your knowledge and skills. Practice using these tools and learn new techniques to become a proficient bushcrafter.

Safety in Bushcraft

When it comes to bushcraft, safety should always be a top priority. Working with sharp tools and being in the wilderness can be dangerous, but with the right knowledge and preparation, you can minimize the risks. In this section, we’ll cover the basics of safety in bushcraft, including first aid, navigation, and wildlife safety.

First Aid

Accidents can happen in the wilderness, and it’s important to be prepared to handle them. Before heading out on a bushcraft trip, make sure you have a basic first aid kit with you. The kit should include items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and tweezers.

It’s also a good idea to take a first aid course to learn how to properly treat injuries. Knowing how to handle cuts, burns, and other common injuries can make all the difference in an emergency situation.


Getting lost in the wilderness can be a scary and dangerous experience. That’s why it’s important to know how to navigate. Before heading out, make sure you have a map and compass with you. Learn how to use them properly and practice your skills before you go.

It’s also a good idea to have a backup navigation method, such as a GPS or a smartphone app. However, keep in mind that these devices can fail or run out of battery, so it’s important to have a backup plan.

Wildlife Safety

The wilderness is home to many different types of wildlife, and it’s important to know how to stay safe around them. Before heading out, research the wildlife in the area you’ll be visiting. Learn how to identify dangerous animals and what to do if you encounter them.

When camping, make sure to store your food properly to avoid attracting wildlife. Keep a safe distance from animals and never approach them. If you do encounter a dangerous animal, stay calm and slowly back away.

By following these basic safety tips, you can enjoy your bushcraft experience with confidence and peace of mind.

Practicing and Improving Your Skills

Learning bushcraft skills is just the first step. To become proficient, you need to practice and improve your skills regularly. Here are some ways to do that:

Training and Courses

Taking a course or training program is a great way to learn new skills and improve existing ones. Many organizations offer bushcraft courses, ranging from beginner to advanced levels. These courses can teach you everything from basic wilderness survival skills to advanced bushcraft techniques. Some popular courses include:

  • Wilderness First Aid
  • Fire Making
  • Shelter Building
  • Navigation
  • Trapping and Hunting
  • Foraging and Wild Edibles

Practice and Experience

Practice is critical to mastering bushcraft skills. You can practice your skills in your backyard, local park, or nearby wilderness areas. Here are some ideas for practicing bushcraft skills:

  • Build a shelter using natural materials
  • Start a fire without matches or a lighter
  • Identify and forage for wild edibles
  • Navigate using a map and compass
  • Set traps and snares for small game

The more you practice, the more confident and capable you will become.

Joining a Community

Joining a bushcraft community is a great way to connect with like-minded individuals and learn new skills. There are many online forums and social media groups dedicated to bushcraft. You can also join local bushcraft groups and attend meetups and events. Here are some benefits of joining a community:

  • Learn from others’ experiences and knowledge
  • Share your own skills and knowledge
  • Connect with others who share your passion for bushcraft
  • Get feedback and advice on your skills and techniques

By practicing regularly, taking courses, and joining a community, you can become a proficient bushcrafter and enjoy the outdoors with confidence.

Martin Smith
Outdoor Expert at Bushcraft Explorer | Website | + posts

Martin Smith is not just your average outdoorsman; he is a dedicated explorer with a deep passion for survival and bushcraft. The natural world has always been his favorite playground, which led him to develop a profound understanding and love for bushcraft skills. His curiosity is insatiable, constantly driving him to uncover the secrets of the great outdoors and unravel the mystery behind survival in nature.

Martin is the creator and host of the popular YouTube channel, 'Bushcraft Explorer,' where he shares his experiences and teaches essential survival techniques. But he isn't just a content creator; Martin is a survival expert who has spent countless hours under the open sky, perfecting his bushcraft skills.

From constructing shelters and crafting tools to identifying edible plants and purifying water, Martin has honed his survival skills in the most challenging environments. His dedication to mastering bushcraft has shaped him into an authority in this field, making him more than qualified to share his knowledge with others.

But Martin doesn't just talk the talk; he walks the walk. He spends a considerable portion of his life outdoors, continuously expanding his knowledge base and skill set, all to feed his love for the wild and provide his followers with up-to-date, reliable, and practical survival tips. He is also an avid hiker and explorer, often traveling to remote locations to test his skills against nature’s challenges.

Martin's writing, much like his videos, is brimming with practical advice and insightful tips. Through 'Bushcraft Explorer,' he not only shares his profound expertise but also inspires his readers and viewers to embrace the beauty of the outdoors and the thrill of survival. His commitment to making bushcraft accessible to all is evident in his easily digestible content, making his work valuable for both beginners and experienced outdoorspeople alike.

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