Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Bushcraft videos… someone please poke my eyes out with my Bushcraft knife.

If you thought the tacticool fashion community was the silliest thing on Earth you’ll be surprised when you looked into some of the weirdos you can find in the new breed of wilderness survival, these days now in vogue and known as Bushcrafters. Not talking about Lofty Wiseman here and some others that are the real deal, I’m talking about these 20 year old something or older that just last year picked a knife for the first time in their lives, cut away a few chips of wood and discovered a new age lifestyle of some sort in what used to be called camping, hiking and wilderness survival.

I wont be mean and link to some of the posts and videos I’ve found on youtube under bushcraft, but how stupid can a person be? No offense meant to the guys over at UK, but some of the ones I saw by British folks are some of the most ridiculous. They talk about the innocent little Mora knife as if it were almost a nuclear explosive device. Folks, it’s a knife no bigger than a steak knife!… less than half the size of a cook knife, for the love of God if you’re afraid of falling over it and stabbing your femoral artery as you make a pointy stick just don’t use knives, or pointy sticks, or forks. I’ve watched some of the most stupid, most ridiculous techniques used to sharpen a stick, a soft and green one at that, as thick as my thumb. Warnings about Tennis elbow risk (when making a pointy stick with your green twig) were almost more than I could take. I’m not Mr. Bushcraft buy both my grandparents were carpenters. I’ve used knives and sharp objects for as long as I can remember, sharpened them (which seems to be a mystic lost art , even among these sort of bushcrafters) Helped my grandparents and my father make enough pieces of furniture, made and fixed some of my own (oh yes, I’ve even sharpened sticks once or twice) yet I don’t have tennis elbow. All this nonsense being said and done while dressing frontiersmen clothes. Videos on how to make a notch? What the hell? I understand that this silliness has a lot to do with the so called “knife crime” paranoia over there. As ridiculous as it is, it is being drilled into their brains and its understandable that this may happen after a few decades of such insanity. Sorry for the rant but its just amazing to hear people talk about knives as if they were loaded guns, specially when every kitchen in the planet has a dozen knives just as big. Seriously folks, the tacticool fashion queens have nothing to be ashamed of after what I just saw over on youtube.

The Bushcraft dude.

*The bushcraft guy Wears buschcrafty clothes of course. Earth tones and such for when in the woods. Makes sense. That way no one finds you if a stroke drops you there among the bush and leaves while you go camping and you need help.

*Buschcraft ego is indirectly proportionate to the size of the knife used. The smaller the knife, the bigger his bushcraft gonads will be. Preferably the knife will be a small necknife, 2” blade tops and replicating prehistoric stone knives. Cavemen had those small knives so that’s the best thing, right? Lets better not take into account that they were made of stone and anything bigger would have shattered when put to use, not to mention, they didn’t HAVE anything better to begin with. Everyone knows that stainless steel knives are no good. ATS-34, VG10, none of those steels are any good for bushcrafting, you have to use carbon steel.

*For starting fires, a firesteel is used. God forbid you from using lowly matches and lighters. Firesteel are more bushcraft type. Doesn’t matter that ferrocerium rods (Firesteel is one commercial brand) wasn’t invented until after 1880 and even common safety matches already existed by 1844. The firesteel throws sparks and stuff and looks cooler, like a caveman. But the real cool bushcraft guys use flint and steel (made by a bushcraft blacksmith of course) or fire bows. Of course this is a pain in the butt to use, starting a fire this way requires desert try tinder and the kit itself uses up ten times the space needed for a pack of 25 storm matches, a lighter and a Firesteel as backup, al put together.

As for knife safety,

1)The hardest part, an specially for some of the new Bushcraft types: Don’t be an idiot. This basically means, understand that sharp objects cut. Understand that if you do lots of strength against a particular stubborn knot you’ll likely end up moving the knife further away than expected when you get through it. That people shouldn’t be around, specially in front of you, when working with a knife.

2)Cut away from you and not towards you. Always. Your hand is still “you”, so your hand should not be ahead in the direction you’re cutting.

3)Always keep your knives and cutting tools sharp. Knives that aren’t sharp are more unpredictable and require more force to compensate for the lack of cutting ability.



Anonymous said...

Huh, I'm still not sure exactly wHAt it is you're discussing on this one. (Not sure I want to know either.) Some kind of mental conditioning of the public to fear sharp objects?

That "emo" word of yours comes to mind for some reason.

They must not have any manufacturing left in the UK, lots of very sharp metal edges in the factories I've worked in, seems like such an environment might scare the daylights out of these people. Never mind a day on a farm.

Matt said...


Good rant. I don't care for the "bushcraft" videos much easier. I don't care for british things much overall, but thats another story.

I'd like to point you towards a U.S. based site where all things "bush" are discussed. Includes knife safety, guns, preparedness, survival skills, large knives, small knives, making knives etc. Lots and lots of great information, including a lot of downloadable books and magazines. Yea, it has lots of prejudice towards old clothing, carbon steel and the mystical MORA knife. Lots of great people and information though.

The Urban Survivalist said...

Some of those videos do get pretty ridiculous. They mean well, though, and there's a lot to learn from some of them. It's all about doing more with less. Having the knowledge and ability to disappear into the woods for days, weeks or months could be really useful in extreme situations. It's true that most of the guys making these videos couldn't actually do that but it's something that's worthwhile to aspire to and you can't get there without practice. Ragging on the guys who take their little knives out to the field to practice making fires with firesteels is kind of like ragging on the guys with $3000 tricked out ARs that just put holes in paper from 50 yards when they go to the range.

I don't understand the Mora hate. It's a $10 knife that can take a lot of abuse. They're sharp from the factory, they're easy to resharpen, they hold a good edge, they're sturdy and they're extremely lightweight. Mine is stainless if that gives you an idea about how much stock I put in the "carbon vs stainless" debate. You'll have to spend upwards of $50-$100 to get a better knife.

You're right about knife sharpening. I'm getting better but it's not something that you pick up from watching youtube videos. If you don't have someone who really knows show you how to do it then it's not easy.

FerFAL said...

Some are good, some are ridiculous, its the later I was mentioning. I dont hate Moras, have one right here and its the best 15 buck knife you can buy!


Anonymous said...

I agree - quite a few of the videos seem to imply if you don't own THIS particular knife, you are toast - the others will melt right in your hands.

Lynn said...

I look at youtube "instructional" video's like Led Zeppelin fans.

For every good fan that "gets it" and can communicate well you get ten 16 year old kids that just heard Zeppelin for the first time and have to tell everyone they are the greatest band in the world. The new fans are eager to show everyone that they "get it" and want everyone to join them in singing Zeppelin's praise.

Sometimes you have to just watch, smile, laugh if you have to, and help make sure they don't hurt themselves in their excitement.

cryingfreeman said...

@ Matt: I'd love to know what specifically you don't like about "British things".... Speaking as a Brit myself ;-)

That said, there's not much right with the UK any more, unless one is a zombie socialist.

Anonymous said...

Sorry but I respectfully dissent

These videos are not for you. You are a real grown up guy, honest father, autonomous citizen. You are self-reliant and knowledgeable. So knowledgable you publish one of the world's best blogs.

Unfortunately some people are not like you.

They were urbans half castrated by a nanny state, nanny parents and a socialist social environment which raised them as sheeps.

Growing up, they open their eyes and try to learn during their adulthoods, things that were (quite deliberately) hidden to them during their childhood, a period during which you learnt common sense, probably by cutting/burning/tripping yourself whithout major consequences.

Some people didn't. So SOME of the videos you are cricticizing can be seen as "litteracy lessons for illiterate adults". Some of them are just masturbation, of course.

But very basic outdoor advice like :
* do not trust non purified water from rivers
* a big stick is good versus animals (it intimidates), and a knife is innapropriate (wounded animals may become enraged)
* never light a campfire without having mustered something to shut it down before (a bucket of earth is OK)
* never ever sleep with drenched clothes. Even in the snow. On the worst case, sleep naked
* tell someone where you go before leaving for a long time alone
* avoid walking at night in forrest and mountains unless forced to
* ...
are legitimate advice for "outdooring 101" videos

So I agree that you hear stupid shit, though you don't need youtube for it : a friend of mine who is a "seasonned outdoor camper" teaches to confund "lone bees, storm, missing a meal, a splinter of wood, ..." with "allergic shock to venom, 50% chance of getting hit by lightning, fainting due to hypoglycemia, tetanos, ...". Being an able outdoorer somewhat requires to trust yourself, soaking things like "eating later", "getting bitten my a mosquito", and "having a an Opinel instead of the lifesaving Mora".

Anonymous said...

This one time I was chopping little sticks in the woods with my 2 inch pocket knife, and people passing by were looking at me as if I were murdering a bunny with a machete...

I've never had such a laugh, I almost sh&t my pants that day.

I like Europe!!

Why don't you come live here, Fernando ;-)

Ed from Europe

Don Williams said...

1) I myself think that the best survival technique is making sure you end up in a situation where you have to know survival techniques.

2) That being said, it's handy to know how to survive in the primary Earth environments -- Arctic, alpine, temperate plains, temperate woodlands, tropical swamps and rainforests, Pacific islands, etc.

3) During the Cold War, the US Air Force developed the best survival manual I ever saw -- from the viewpoint of depth and breath. The Air Force's motivation was that B-52 pilots in a nuclear war -- and astronauts in peacetime --could find themselves landing almost anywhere.

4) However, it seems that the emphasis on that has declined with the development of satellite phones, long range helicopters, end of Cold War, etc. They developed some very ingenious survival kits, however, as did the Soviets.

5) In fact, the Soviet Soyuz spacecraft that dock at the Space Station are armed -- with a small, short-barreled, rifle-shotgun combination gun. So presumably they could take control of the Space Station from the unarmed Americans if push came to shove.

6) The Soyuz have the gun because one of the craft once missed its landing zone by 400 or so miles , it took a day for the Soviet rescue forces to locate the off- course craft in Siberia , and the Soviet cosmonauts spent a night listening to wolves scratch at their door.
heh heh

See and

FerFAL said...

Ja! thanks Ed but no thanks. :-) Family is still there tought, hope you guys get rid of those damn worthless socialists. They are the cancer that is destroying Europe.

"and "having a an Opinel instead of the lifesaving Mora".
Tha Opinel rusted like nothing I've seen before. Crazy. I read somewhere that they are doing some stainless ones now too.

cryingfreeman, hope I didn't offend you. I was speaking about a group of people doing tihngs that I thought where pretty ridiculous thats all, as someone else pointed out, some people never went camping in their lives so they may find it interesting. Other than that I really dont like the knife madness going on there. The safe knife ( a knife sold in US with a big fat "stab proof" tip ) is proof of the times you guys are living in over there.


Don Williams said...

Correction to my post above at 7:03 pm. Should have read
"I myself think that the best survival technique is making sure you DO NOT end up in a situation where you have to know survival techniques."

Anonymous said...

The UK got rid of the Socialists (if you can call them that, they don't have any socialist policies, just pro-big business). UK has lovely right wing party in power.

I wouldn't get bothered about informational video's on youtube or anyother place, they are entertainment. You can get instructions on how to tie a neckties, button your shirt or make cider;once you have watched them you have achieved their aim - increase the hit count and advertising revenue.

BTW, UK manufactures and exports twice per capita of the USA. Its the US that doesn't have any manufacturing capacity.

Bro. Brandon B. said...


I think that you are missing something here that many folks miss - the distinct line and boundary between bushcraft hobbyists and survivalists/preppers. Altho there is often crossover in interests [preppers who enjoy bushcraft and bushcrafters who like survivalist stuff] they are two separate animals and interests. Practically speaking the value of ultra-traditional bushcraft skills is marginal unless you are prepping for a TEOTWAWKI type event. even then, readily available modern gear will often make a better choice.

I think alot of people just don't realize that bushcraft and survival are two separate interests. My take? bushcraft is for fun and survival is serious business, after all my family may depend on my preparations some day.

That all being said, any idiot with a camera can and does put stuff on youtube that is garbage. Consider any source before you glean information from it. I put a good amount of stock in info you've shared – yet I still can't say I agree with everything you say. After all, you're still just another voice on the internet!


Anonymous said...

Hmm. The only bushcraft-y videos on youtube that truly bother me feature a young boy who shall remain nameless, though you may have seen him. He's always "alone" and demonstrating one thing or another or showing his gear or "possibles pouch".

I can't watch his videos (have stopped, actually, 'cause they honestly creep me out) and wonder what on earth is the story behind this kid. Is he actually going out into the woods alone? If so, where on EARTH are his parents? If he's not alone during these "adventures" why doesn't anyone else ever appear in the videos with him? I suppose it's possible someone else has been in his videos at some point, but I've only managed to sit through a handful before I couldn't watch anymore.

As for bushcraft videos in general (and yes, there are some UK bushcraft videos that make me want to giggle due to some of the outfits some of them are wearing--raccoon tail???, but I try to sift out any useful info without being too distracted by the rest), I'm not sure what it is that bothers you so much. I don't see how learning skills (however outdated they may seem) is a bad thing. As long as they're not total nonsense, it can only make our brains work more, no?

Saying we don't need to know how to make bow drills or whatever because we have matches now is (to me) like saying "Why learn martial arts when guns are so much more efficient for self defense?" or "Why diet and exercise when there are pills and surgeries that can lower your cholesterol, blood glucose levels and weight?"

As for the fire steel, I think the idea is that matches don't work so well when they get wet. Plus, sparks are way more fun to throw than that puff of smoke and sulfur smell that matches produce. ;)

BTW, to the commenter who said that the best survival skill is not being in a survival situation, tell that to the folks who lived through Katrina and were herded into the SuperToilet, or the folks in Haiti or Pakistan or the ones who survived the tsunami in 2004, or even people who were caught in the chaos of 9/11. Can you predict the next survival situation everyone should avoid?

For the record, the closest my magical, mystical Mora Clipper's seen to bushcraft so far is a bit of wood carving and yard work.

P.S. big sticks don't work on all animals. For several days in a row, I had an unfamiliar dog wandering around my neighborhood. He'd bark at me anytime he saw me in my front yard, take semi-aggressive steps toward me and try to intimidate me while I went about my business. I tried waving a stick at him a few times 'cause I really don't want to harm a dog if I don't have to, but it had no effect on him. Once, I did manage to run him off by just slamming the stick down in the street, but I broke off a piece of the stick in the process and he just came back around the next day. His people must have finally tracked him down 'cause I haven't seen him in a few weeks, but this dog had *attitude*.