Tony Nester has authored another very helpful book for folks interested in spending time outdoors and re-connecting with nature and traditional wilderness skills. He writes from many years of hands-on, outdoor experience. This experience includes both the short term, survival perspective and the longer term, wilderness living view.
An important distinction to make in this field is the difference between Bushcraft and Survival. Bushcraft is about choosing to be in the outdoors and truly enjoying the experience. Cooking with a dutch oven, carving around the campfire, foraging and fishing by choice and staying well fed and well rested while doing it. Survival is a life or death situation that one tries to avoid at all costs. It is neither a choice nor enjoyable. This book is about enjoying the outdoors, not enduring pain.
This is a book that helps people know how to begin the exploration of bushcraft. It introduces a wide variety of topics in a well organized, user friendly format.
This book emphasizes three aspects of bushcraft: what you need to know in your head (info & skills), what you need to have in your hands (tools & gear). and quality sources for both.
While the usual gear is covered - knife & wool clothing - the true gifts of this section are the often overlooked but still essential tools - cowboy bedroll, cooking pot, slingshot and a folding saw. This section is not about shopping for the latest gadget. It is advice from someone who has spent a lifetime living and teaching in and about the outdoors. If it is on this list, experience has shown it to be needed.
The true gems in this section are the tools and resources used for food gathering - fishing, trapping, hunting and foraging. Very few books give this information and few wilderness instructors cover this topic as thoroughly as does Tony. I have had the good fortune to participate in many bushcraft courses with Tony - he really knows his stuff in this area.
The section on skills is tremendously helpful. Tony is very honest about the time, effort and commitment required to be competent in the outdoors. It is a lifelong study that can done step by step - tracking, fire making, foraging, shelters and so much more.
My favorite part is a skills list that lays out very clearly what abilities one must acquire to be a master woodsman. This list shows the depth of knowledge and wisdom that one can learn by spending more time in nature.
This book is the starting point. It is the ignition to the fire that is bushcraft. It is meant to be used as a guide, to help one make choices when shopping for gear, choosing a wilderness school or checking off what other skills need to be practiced and mastered.
Enjoy the read... then get outdoors!