Learn Bushcraft with Ray Mears
You are lost and alone in the wilderness. For the first day or two, it isn’t too bad apart from the mosquitos. You’re going to be rescued, right? On day three you’re concerned but still aiming to catch the next episode of The Walking Dead. But around day four, when nobody has shown up yet, the reality sinks in and you must start to plan your survival for however long it takes until civilisation comes looking for you, or until you find it again.
Raw snake is horrible, though, and getting wet really dampens your spirits. That cut could get infected if it’s left like that, and how do you navigate by the stars again? Wouldn’t it be good if you had learned some wilderness skills?
Enter leading authority on bushcraft and survival skills, Ray Mears. He wouldn’t magically show up to help you if you were lost in the wilderness, but learning from him would have greatly boosted your chances out there. Well known for his books and TV programmes on bushcraft, he has devoted his life to teaching people not only how to survive in wild situations, but how to thrive. Woodlore, his school of Wilderness Bushcraft, delivers what he calls ‘an inoculation against adversity’: a set of skills that will turn you from chicken-livered city dweller into red-blooded primitive, ready for anything.
The courses aren’t cheap, but neither is life. These are skills that could make the difference between returning home with some slight personal hygiene issues and not coming home at all. If you’ve got a week spare to ‘prep’, Fundamental Bushcraft covers the essentials and is held at Woodlore’s own camp in Sussex, England. Learn how to construct a leaf litter shelter, make a bow drill to start a fire, and ponasse a salmon (gut and spread it for cooking over the fire you’ve just started). Get your head round medicinal plants, water collection and purification, navigation and wilderness fishing techniques. Mears says the set of skills is carefully chosen to form a basis on which to build, as well as being the most essential and basic for survival in the wild.
Other week-long courses include Tracking, Navigation and CampCraft if you want to deepen your knowledge in those areas. Shorter courses include the 2-day Bush Chef, Family Bushcraft and Woodlore First Aid. Then for the hardcore and/or deep of pocket, expeditions take you to frozen Norway to retrace the steps of the Heroes of Telemark, and to the Swedish Arctic to learn Winter Bushcraft.
Bushcraft is likely to become addictive as you build your skills and gather unforgettable new experiences, so it’s as much a lifestyle as a survival education. You can tell your friends about the time you covered yourself in seal blubber, and you get to carry a big knife around. What’s not to like?