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23 June 2010
A regular question on various bushcraft communities and forums concerns which are the best bushcraft books, as I've got about 70-80 related books and probably around 5-6 GB of files and e-books there's a fair bit to pick from. Below are my top 5 for someone with a general interest, each one designed to offer something different and with the intention of there being minimal overlap and a different style between each book.
Bushcraft - Mors Kochanski
If you were only to get one book this would be it, it's not the densest book but it contains a wealth of information that you simply won't get anywhere else. It deals with a myriad of things from crafts to cooking to tree identification and tools and does a good job of illustrating what a wide subject bush lore is.
Primitive Technology: A Book of Earth Skills
This one focuses on the primitive aspect and deals with many crafts made with stone tools. It is certainly still relevant if you're using modern tools and contains more inspiration and ideas for projects than any other book I've ever come across. There is a second volume which is just as good as the first if you enjoy it.
Camping and Woodcraft: Horace Kephart
This is a veritable encyclopedia of information of early 20th century woodcraft and camping. It contains huge amounts of information on practically every subject under the sun and notably, a good section of recipes. Maybe not one to read from cover to cover but an excellent resource book.
Indian Fishing: Hilary Stewart
This book shows you the sheer range of things which can be crafted from nature using only simple hand tools. It covers nets, spears, hooks and all other methods of catching fish as well as the related art and cooking techniques. More than any other book this shows you an end goal for your knife skills and a true element of wilderness living skill. There's a preview on google books and Mungo has discussed the book on his blog.
Cache Lake Country: JJ Rowlands
This is the diary of a timber cruiser who spent a year living in a cabin in the Northwoods. It contains a huge range of nature observations as well as stories and has some beautiful woodcuts. Although it is a journal in includes plans on how to carve different items, fashion moccasins and sleds and cook various meals. It's truly a must-read for anyone interested in wilderness living.
It's a pity to restrict it to 5 but without knowing someone's location and interests it's necessary to leave out a lot of good books - my personal favourite is perhaps the Snow Walker's Companion, I read it every winter when the snow falls, but if you're not looking for information on hot-tent winter camping in deep snow then it's not going to be as useful as the books above.
Hopefully these books also show a variety of approaches and viewpoints and demonstrate what a broad and deep subject bushcraft and wilderness living is.
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13 June 2010
One of my favourite bloggers, Torjus Gaaren, has been blogging again recently at his Living Primitively page. Along with American Bushman and Pablo's Woodlife his was one of the first bushcraft blogs that I read back in 2006. His blog contains a variety of material on his prmitive lifestyle hunting and gathering in Norway.
Although I'm not a practicioner of primitive skills that has not stopped me from reading a lot about the subject as it combines two of my passions, bushcraft and history. Sometimes it does make me wish there was suitable stone for tool making near here!
Torjus has produced 2 E-books, one on working wood with stone tools and a new one on making moccasins and sewing implements.
The Basics of Woodworking with Stone Age Tools
This is the first of Torjus' Ebooks, and is available as a free download through his blog. This book concentrates on the various techniques available to primitive wood workers and deals with them in a logical framework. The book doesn't look heavily at tool manufacture and does approach things in an interesting way. The reliance on methods such as splitting with wedges and abrading have important applications for any bushcrafters who don't regularly take an axe with them. It's well worth a read and offers some good guidance and inspiration
Making a Primitive Sewing Kit and Pair of Moccasins
This is the newest E-book and is available as an download through Lulu for the price of $5. It's not a very long book but contains good instructions and pictures. The moccasin pattern is something I'd love to try but getting hold of suitable material is easier said than done. It's not the moccasin section which is the highlight though, it's the designs for bone needles, awl and a needle case in the Saami style. The information in here is not unique, but I doubt you'll find it done anywhere else using stone and bone tools. The biggest reason to buy this book is that it will help the writer further his research and experience and hopefully prompt another book.
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3 June 2010
Summer is coming, at least in theory although with the rain and storms here you wouldn't know it. Summer means more woods time for many of us and more creature activity as well. Sadly, not all creatures are equally welcome.
Pablo, of Woodlife fame, has launched a campaign raising awareness of ticks and tickborne diseases. For more information than you can shake a stick at you should head on over to the TickWatch homepage.
I've had a Care Plus Tick Remover for a couple of years as part of my first aid kit, it weighs next to nothing and costs less than £3. If you can get hold of one a pair of pointed tweezers are also an option and are even recommended as part of a first aid kit by Mors Kochanski.
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