The meaning of the word Bushcraft varies massively from person to person, but I’m not going to go into peoples opinions.
I am going to start with a quote from Elliot Lee, “like everything else bushcrafting has many different/varying degrees of knowledge/experience/skills, some individuals will be at one end of the spectrum (on one end people who believe that bushcrafting means being dropped off in the middle of nowhere buck naked and having to survive and at the other end climbing out of your £60,000 luxury campervan first thing in the morning and lighting your £500 barbecue with a fire steel) basically we all fall somewhere in between these two extremes”.
I whole heartly agree with Elliot Lees statement, bushcraft itself is huge spectrum of knowledge and skills and which ones we choose to learn falls to us alone and our individual situation, needs and beliefs.
The facts taken from two internet sources tell us that in fact hunting is a part of bushcraft (maybe just not your part).
The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of bushcraft is (skills in matters pertaining to life in the bush. Life in the bush here in the U.K. would be very hard foraging for vegetation in the middle of December.
Also Wikipedia listed some bushcraft skills including hunting in their definition “bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do nso. Bushcraft skills include fire craft,tracking,hunting,fishing, shelter building, navigation by natural means, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, water sourcing, hand carving wood, container construction from natural materials and rope and twine making among others”.
Hunting is an important part of self sustainability in the field.
Having already established that hunting is in fact an element of bushcraft I want to tell you about the different bushcraft skills that are intertwined with hunting solidifying it for me and for many others as a part of bushcraft.
I will start with air rifles as this involves a rifle it feels the furtherest element of hunting away from bushcraft.
Many skills we use in air rifle hunting come from other elements of bushcraft for example to find our prey we must study the land, use our tracking skills to find our target, once found we need to use our field craft skills to get into position ready to take our shot.
Field craft is the way we move across the land walking as stealthily as possible keeping to hedge lines and shadows. even the position we shoot from form field craft.
We also use our shelter building skills when making natural hides in the woods or edges of the fields to hide our appearance to the approaching prey. The joy of natural hide is one: you can leave it there for the next time (if you have permission to do so) and two:you are using the materials found in natural to put your skills up against the skills of an animal with greater senses than that of your own.
Hunting with catapults. The catapult is a fun one, and we’ve all made one at some point, my first catapult was made using rubber bands the postman left behind an oak fork with the bark still on and a piece of carpet as a pouch, made by my grandad for hours of garden plinking fun when i was a kid, but this fun tool is just that a tool, great for the opportunist hunter to use when they find themselves within close range to the target. Nowadays I make my own catapults using my wood carving skills that i have learnt through the many items i have shaped and carved.
Hunting with snares. Although you could use your twine making skills make snares out of nettle cordage, it is more efficient to use wire to make our snares. When we are snaring we are using our tracking skills to locate the runs of our prey, more specifically the exact location of where on their run they will step in order to place the snare just after it.
Traps make use of more elements of bushcraft than any other method of hunting. There are many types of trap many that are not allowed to be used here in the UK but that doesn’t stop people setting them up and then taking them down (without catching or trying to catch anything) as part of learning the skills of trapping. Two elements that most primitive traps have in common are wood carving as a lot of these traps need wood carved with notches or points in order to work correctly, we also need our tracking skills in order to figure out where we need to set our traps
Some traps require cordage to bind parts together, this is where our twine making skills come into play and some traps will need an element of field craft when approaching traps that have a live animal in them, as to not cause panic.
When using ferrets we must use nets made from either spun nylon or hemp. I often used nettle cord to repair the nets while in the field. Although i don’t consider this an overlapping element if bushcraft this is more using your initiative and showing how other elements of bushcraft can be used to help in different situations.
There are other methods of hunting that involve skills from other elements of bushcraft, hunting with bows, spears, atlatl’s and throwing sticks just to name a few.
Whether you agree with Elliot statement quoted at the start of this article or not, it is undeniable that there is a very strong relationship between bushcraft and hunting, taking varying skills from different elements in order to become more efficient.