I read Desmond Morris at a very early age and he inspired me to look beyond the limits of which we are taught in school and the rest of a very controlled society. He taught me that we are a mere naked ape amongst furry relatives. Since that age I have been almost obsessed with trying to figure out the meaning of life. Living a year in Siberia, where all skills as a human was needed to survive, all the bushcraft that we carry in our genes came to help, I have since always carried an axe, and a saw (which makes things more efficient in my book) and a knife whilst leaving the so called civilization. These tools make me very happy and give me a satisfaction which is emotionally hard to explain fully. One feels complete. Therefore, I am very happy to introduce a fellow Swede who is an expert on bushcraft, Johan, and his article should be a must read for anyone venturing outdoors. He is a true outdoor person.
Do you know that we humans have been around for about 3 million years, 99% of this time we have lived as hunters and gatherers alongside Mother Nature? It is only in the last 1% of this time we have been farmers and just over 100 years ago the industrialization era started. Considering we have for such a long time been able to live in the wilderness without anything other than what we can find there, why do we find it so hard today when we are out in nature?
We have gadgets to tell us where we are, we have the luxury of portable fires that will light by the push of a button enabling us to cook, and there is even food that only needs hot water added and it´s edible. All this can become very heavy so some smart people have come up with the idea to make these things lighter so we can bring even more.
But there are other ways to go out and enjoy nature, this is known as Bushcraft and is what I believe, is the way of the future. By looking at how we have lived for 99% of our time on earth. By doing just what our ancestors did and live side by side with nature and use what it has to offer, we don’t need to bring as much equipment, but we do need to equip ourselves with the knowledge that has, to the majority, been lost. To make such a basic thing as fire can be really hard especially if it has been raining for a week but it is worth so much to us. To really get in touch with our ancestors there is the skill of fire by friction (rubbing 2 sticks together to make fire). Here you need to identify the right type of tree and know where they grow and to know which pieces will work best together before you can even start. It takes some practice to learn this skill but it´s not impossible. It´s a very good way of testing a person’s determination, but when you succeed there is an enormous amount of satisfaction and a direct connection with our ancestors. Many people will laugh, smile, jump for joy or even cry when they have succeeded with this skill.
Staying dry, warm and hydrated are essential skills to be able to live in the wild, staying dry by making a shelter, to make water drinkable, identifying plants for food or to be able to catch fish and prepare it and last but not least to be able to make your own equipment and tools. To make your own equipment from natural materials has a freedom to it, because if it breaks or becomes lost, you know how to repair it or even replace it. Things you make yourself are unique and will not be as soulless as the things you buy. If you have ever made a simple thing such as a spoon to eat with you know the feeling of finding a piece of wood that would be suitable and then whittling it down and finally ending up with something which is mainly used to put food into your mouth. But for you it will have a value and a memory from the time you made it.
Hand in hand with creating items you need, comes the basic essential tools. Not long ago the knife was carried by everyone and used daily for everything from carving to being used with your spoon at the dinner table. Today we see this tool – the knife as a weapon and it is often forbidden to carry one in public. Not many people know how to use simple tools such as knives and axes and they are increasingly perceived as weapons and not as the essential everyday tools they once were.
Skills like these are great to be able to use when hiking, canoeing or just travelling through the wilderness. It means you are no longer dependant on stoves to cook with or provide warmth. Instead of eating something from a bag, try and make a fresh salad from what you can find in nature it will be an experience in itself. You might not travel as fast as you would like but I promise you will see and experience a lot more and will be closer to the nature and also the hunter gatherer within you.
If you want to know more about Nordic Bushcraft and Johan have look at www.nordicbushcraft.com
Johan grew up in Sweden’s countryside and from an early age, nature has been his playground and still is. It is in nature where he feels most at home and it is there he spends much of his time trying to learn as much as he can from it. Since he spends a lot of time in nature and every year goes on week long trips from paddling in the rivers and lakes in the south to hiking in the mountains in the north. He has acknowledged nature’s real value. He has studied Survival and Bushcraft with several instructors and has studied and worked for the renowned WEISS School (Wilderness Experience Survival School) before starting his own school Nordic Bushcraft.