Bush Craft 101: A Field Guide to the Art of Wilderness Survival by Dave Canterbury
I spent quite a bit of time leafing through my Dad’s Army survival guide when I was a kid and I loved soaking up the info to try out on my hikes through the woods. Now, I should specify here that I am NOT an expert in wilderness survival and I prefer the comfort of home and hearth to the wilds. But I also feel that everyone should have basic survival knowledge just in case they are stranded in the woods or they wish to go hiking and camping off the beaten path. You also never know when this information will come in handy around your homestead.
So I was very interested in receiving a copy of Dave Canterbury’s new Bush Craft guide to read and review. For anyone new to Dave’s work, he is the co-owner and supervising instructor at the Pathfinder School in Ohio, named as one of the top twelve survival schools in the United States by USA Today. He also has an awesome YouTube channel if you’d like to see him in action.
This text is packed with information, but it’s also small enough to fit into a back pack to take with you for quick and easy reference. Dave Canterbury organizes his book into two parts, Gearing Up and In The Bush:
- Chapter 1: Your Pack
- Chapter 2: Tools
- Chapter 3: Rope, Cordage, Webbings, and Knots
- Chapter 4: Containers and Cooking Tools
- Chapter 5: Coverage
- Chapter 6: Combustion
In The Bush
- Chapter 7: Setting up Camp
- Chapter 8: Navigating Terrain
- Chapter 9: Trees: The Four-Season Resource
- Chapter 10: Trapping and Processing Game
There are also sections in the back of the book on Wild Edibles and Medicinal Plants, and a selection of Bush Recipes. Some of the recipes call for ingredients you are unlikely to carry in a backpack, but they sound pretty tasty and can be altered according to what you have on hand.
Five Cs of Survivalbility
In the first chapter, Mr Canterbury recommends organizing your essential gear on The Five Cs of Survivability:
- Cutting Tools
- Covering Elements
- Combustion Devices
Making sure you have the best gear in each of these categories increases your chances of survival and reduces the weight and bulk of your pack. The author gives advice on what supplies to choose, based on his own experience. He also recommends that you reduce your dependence on gadgets and convenience items by carrying tools and gear that serve multiple functions and allow you to make what you need for survival from natural resources.
Take Away Info
What I take away from this book is that it is jammed with useful, clear, and concise information about how to prepare for a trek into the wilderness, to stay as safe as possible on your journey, and to return home again. Down to earth instructions are shared for navigating wild terrain, setting up camp, creating shelter and fire, procuring food and preparing it, and using the natural resources available to your benefit. Much of the information will also benefit those who work with their hands on a homestead every day, such as how to use black walnut hulls to prevent your axe head from rusting, tying knots, and felling trees.
There are plenty of survival manuals available on the market, and I’ve read through a number of them. What sets this book apart from the rest is the easy to read writing style of the author, the depth of information for the size of the text, and the concentration on choosing the best gear for your needs without going overboard and taking the kitchen sink along on your trek.
I like the conversational tone of Mr. Canterbury’s writing. He instructs without getting lost in unnecessary information or preachy testimony. This is one of the most readable survival guides I’ve picked up and I look forward to reading it again and again.