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Bushcraft

Bushcraft is a popular term for wilderness survival skills. The term was popularized in the Southern Hemisphere by Les Hiddins (the Bush Tucker Man) as well as in the Northern Hemisphere by Mors Kochanski and recently gained considerable currency in the United Kingdom due to the popularity of Ray Mears and his bushcraft and survival television programs.[1] It is also becoming popular in urban areas where the average person is separated from nature, as a way to get back in tune with their rural roots. The phrase bushcraft's origin is from skills used in the bush country of Australia. Often the phrase 'wilderness skills' is used as it describes skills used all over the world.

Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include firecraft, 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. 

Etymology

The Oxford English Dictionary definition of bushcraft is "skill in matters pertaining to life in the bush".

The word has been used in its current sense in Australia and South Africa at least as far back as the 1800s. Bush in this sense is probably a direct adoption of the Dutch 'bosch', (now 'bos') originally used in Dutch colonies for woodland and country covered with natural wood, but extended to usage in British colonies, applied to the uncleared or un-farmed districts, still in a state of nature. Later this was used by extension for the country as opposed to the town. In Southern Africa, we get Bushman from the Dutch 'boschjesman' applied by the Dutch colonists to the natives living in the bush. In North America (where there was also considerable colonisation by the Dutch) you have the word 'bushwacker' which is close to the Dutch 'bosch-wachter' (now 'boswachter') meaning 'forest-keeper' or 'forest ranger'.

 

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