Monday, July 27, 2009

A Fairly Complete Index of Mungo Bah Posts About Bushcraft, Camping, Canoeing and More...

As certain readers have requested, I have created a fairly complete index of Mungo Says Bah posts.

Please enjoy and comment freely!



Thursday, December 27, 2007

Bushcraft Course with Mors Kochanski - Theory, Fire and Kit

Sorry I haven't been writing much recently - preoccupied with other matters I suppose. My main writing is at Mungo Says Bah, so be sure to drop by and see it.

Here are the final set of pictures that I took at the Bushcraft Course taught by Mors Kochanski at Tim Smith's Jack Mountain Bushcraft & Guide Service in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire that I attended in early November of this year.

Among the various topics that Mors taught was the 'triangle of capability' as it pertains to tools in the bush.

The three aspects that make up the triangle are:
  1. what you know
  2. the tool
  3. the material on which you're working on

To be successful in your application of a tool, you must consider these points: Skill-knowledge, the quality and appropriateness of the tool, and the material upon which you are applying the tool all fit together as you make camp, or undertake survival or living in the woods. I suppose this could apply to everyday life too - or as I practice everyday: project management.

The course was more theory than practicum, which initially surprised me. But in retrospect, and indeed during the course itself, I was most grateful - I suppose I had previously been putting the cart before the horse in my outdoors experiences. Buy a tool, learn to use it, make mistakes, try again. I think learning comes first, application comes second.

Mors Kochanski stresses that we need to develop a knowledge-base, an education, and that we need to focus on the following elements in Bushcraft:
  1. flora
  2. fauna
  3. minerals
  4. technology (of which the following elements are crucial):
    1. fire
    2. bindcraft
    3. shelter
    4. bushcraft

Here is Decado sitting happily by the fire - he had a terrific time as well.

During the classroom time, we discussed the compilation of a survival kit, and learned to ask the main questions:

Is this item crucial to fire, shelter, or food/water? If not, what can I substitute it with? And of course once you have compiled a kit, you need to test it to verify its value. A survival kit is just that: something to allow you to not die. Survival is defined as a situation where there is a severe stress, that if it is not relieved, you die.

A parallel-lay fire kept us warm, as the temperature dipped to minus 2 degrees Celsius at night.

Living in the bush is a different matter entirely, and now we need to consider comfort, long-term sustenance etc... Morale has always been one of my main considerations when camping and I think this is important in both survival and simple camping.

I was able to ignite an ember of true tinder fungus using steel and a piece of chirt (a hard stone like flint). I wrapped it in a tinder bundle of grass and pine-needles and pretty soon I had a fire going. This was an amazing experience. It was the first time I had made a fire without matches or my normal ferrocerium rod, and with just a piece of steel file and a stone, and an orange spark.

Mors stated that if you have been able to tackle the fundamental survival concepts - i.e. if you have everything you need to deal with survival circumstances - "anything that happens to you that is lethal is not your fault". Neat concept to wrap your brain around, I think.

Tim Smith added a valuable point during the teaching to counterbalance all of the theory. He reminded us that "having done is more important than knowing how". I suppose knowledge and experience have to be attained hand-in-hand.

Here is the fire I made, I had scrambled to get my camera to record it for posterity... At least for my own satisfaction and memory! I know. I am a geek.

I won't get into the following list now, but some of the important items in a survival kit are as follows:
  1. properly conceived set of season-appropriate clothing
  2. means for fire
  3. sharp knife that can be sharpened in the field
  4. 1st aid kit and mirror (real glass mirror, not one of the plastic ones)
  5. navigation tools - compass, etc...
  6. sleeping bag is 2/3 of the need and mattress comprises the remaining 1/3 of the need
  7. metal pot
  8. shelter
  9. a knowledge of bindcraft
  10. signals (whistle, flare)
  11. more items (saw, axe etc...)
  12. pack

I have had a bad cold this past week, and once it has cleared up I intend to do some day time winter hikes into the woods. Should be fun - a campfire in the pine woods, a hot meal and a hot drink.

My main writing is at Mungo Says Bah, so be sure to drop by and see it.

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