A Case for the Old Ways of Doing Things
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After watching legends Les Stroud and Ray Mears apply primitive craft to survive, I was impressed. I love to backpack, hunt, and camp. I figured that some additional, basic knowledge of bushcraft would only help me be better prepared, so I set about learning some of those skills.  You might ask, "Why would someone go to the trouble of, for example, learning how to make a fire by friction, when there are far simpler ways?" I, for one, plan to carry a small lightweight lighter, but the process helped me to understand the basic steps better; if you can ignite a flame with a bow drill, they you’ll be better prepared to be successful with a ferrocerium rod, matches, lighter, or whatever you have (or don't have).  Ultimately, I came away with a stronger belief in myself and my abilities, in addition to a greater understanding of the tools and principles. These have in turn, made me a better outdoorsman, and I recommend for any outdoor lover, to take the time to learn more about these primitive skills; it will help you better understand the why, as well as the how. Step one: get a quality knife. Early on, I realized that I needed to rethink a few of my gear choices, so that they were more adaptable in certain situations. I admit that I was too often more concerned about size and weight than versatility. At minimum, I knew I needed a knife capable of making an improvised shelter and a fire. Consequently, I replaced the small Victorinox classic, I usually carried, with a Mora 911. 
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I really like the Scandanavian style bushcraft knives. In the years since, I’ve ended up with an assortment varying in price from $7 to over $300. They all share some common characteristics, mainly a scandi grind and a strong blade (often full tang, though there are some impressive folding options now) that can be used to baton. They are also fairly easy to sharpen, which is helpful out in the field. Even when we are counting ounces, I try to make sure that there is at least one full size knife like this in the group - it is just good preparedness. A knife like this can be used to make a stretcher or brace, tent pegs, or a debris hut. They excel at batoning wood and shaving feathers for a fire. All things that will prove to be more difficult with a standard pocket knife. There are many decent brands out there, for any budget or taste. Sometimes even DROP delivers a good Scandianavian bush knife. Mora is a great brand to start off with because they are inexpensive and solid. They should be after making quality knives for over 100 years. The Companion in carbon steel is a popular choice. Other notable brands include Bark River, Helle, Enzo, or Spyderco. Take a look at their “scandanavian” models, and you will be able to see the little differences that make them ideal for this application.
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Step two: practice using your knife and honing your handling skills. The time you spend getting comfortable with it at home will pay dividends when you go to use your knife in the field. Make something fun, like a spoon or kuksa to practice holding the knife in different positions.

A sharp knife is usually safer than a dull one, so consider using a good quality strop to keep the knife sharp as you go, rather than opting for major sharpening less often. You can make one easily with some hardwood and leather. If you ever watch a chef in the kitchen, you'll see them pull out a steel to re-hone their knives as they use them. Similarly, to keep your knife sharp longer, strop it every 10 minutes or so as you use it with a good stropping compound. You don't have to be an expert to have fun, and anything you learn is just going to make you better prepared. In the end, isn't it all just another excuse to get outside?



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