Best Bushcraft Gear: Craig Caudill
Bushcraft, to me, is a fantastic way to spend time enjoying the outdoors while at the same time becoming a good steward of the resources it provides. You may consider those lofty ideals. There are also ample and solid callous-making work things to do as well. All that serves to make any bushcrafter a more self-reliant and resilient woods person. Tools always make our life easier when practicing our bushcraft skills. Here is a quick and dirty (pun intended) list of the top five tools I use when bushcrafting.
A Long Knife
A long knife, my cutting tool. Growing up, I used long knives as game processors, cutting tools, light chopping tools, and a draw knife. An actual draw knife is your best bet when you need a draw knife. However, in the bush, why not have a tool that can be used in multiple ways? A long knife like the Shemanese I designed and LT Wright Handcrafted Knives built is my go-to blade. It brings modern materials and craftsmanship into play with 100s of years of skill-based use. When my home state of Kentucky was the “frontier,” knives like these were carried by men who blended with and sometimes conquered that frontier. I choose to walk in their footsteps and carry the same.
Everyone needs significant chopping tools. I equally go between my Beaver Bill tomahawk and my Gransfors Bruk wildlife hatchet. Both take care of the lightweight chopping tasks that I use them for. For example, chopping dead trees for firewood, shelter, traps, or similar can be done. Bear in mind I wield both of these one-handed, so I would step up to a more appropriate axe when cutting large amounts of firewood. Still, for basic bushcraft tasks around camp, these serve me well.
READ MORE: How To Sharpen a Knife without a Sharpener
For my third piece of gear, I have to go with a froe. There is no better tool for my efforts to split wood accurately. A great teacher recently guided me in turning a hickory tree into a rocking chair. The froe proved to be indispensable in working on that project. I use one now to split firewood for kindling at the cabin. They are so easy to use and very hardy if you get a good one.
What good is a froe if you don’t have an excellent mallet to go with it? After storms here in Kentucky, I like to find dogwood or similar dense trees that have been knocked down by falling trees and use them to make mallets. I actually prefer to call them bushcraft hammers. They are suitable for knocking in pegs and driving a froe in the right direction. Generally, any hammering I might need around the cabin or the workshop.
Finally comes the not-even-close-to-being-historically-accurate tools that I own, my Silky saws. I have the Pocketboy, Gomboy, Bigboy, and the insanely large Katanaboy. I love these saws because they make fast work of cutting whatever I need. The different sizes mean there is one for each job I might cut into. For example, I use the Pocketboy when I teach a trap building class and the Katanaboy when I do wildlife habitat management in the backcountry. It does not weigh much and can easily do both large and medium-sized tasks.
All in all, bushcraft makes for a great hobby for me and a way of life for others. I love keeping old and near history alive. Therefore I will continue to use a mix of old and new tools to enjoy my time bushcrafting. I hope my list encourages you to get your own, or make your own, and get busy in the wilderness somewhere soon. It is a great way to spend your time.