The term woodcraft — or woodlore — denotes skills and experience in matters relating to living and thriving in the woods—such as hunting, fishing, and camping—whether on a short- or long-term basis. Traditionally, woodcraft pertains to subsistence lifestyles, with implications of hunting-gathering. In more recent times, and in developed countries, it relates more to either outdoor recreationalism or survivalism.
A woodland or wood is a low-density forest forming open habitats with plenty of sunlight and limited shade. Woodlands may support an understory of shrubs and herbaceous plants including grasses. Woodland may form a transition to shrubland under drier conditions or during early stages of primary or secondary succession. Higher density areas of trees with a largely closed canopy that provides extensive and nearly continuous shade are referred to as forests.
Hunting is the practice of killing or trapping animals, or pursuing or tracking them with the intent of doing so. Hunting wildlife or feral animals is most commonly done by humans for food, recreation, to remove predators that can be dangerous to humans or domestic animals, or for trade. Lawful hunting is distinguished from poaching, which is the illegal killing, trapping or capture of the hunted species. The species that are hunted are referred to as game or prey and are usually mammals and birds.
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping. “Fishing” may include catching aquatic animals other than fish, such as molluscs, cephalopods, crustaceans, and echinoderms. The term is not normally applied to catching farmed fish, or to aquatic mammals, such as whales where the term whaling is more appropriate. In addition to being caught to be eaten, fish are caught as recreational pastimes. Fishing tournaments are held, and caught fish are sometimes kept as preserved or living trophies. When bioblitzes occur, fish are typically caught, identified, and then released.
Whether traditional or modern, woodcraft may be roughly equated to the phrase "living off the land".
A partial list of recreational woodcraft techniques might include knowledge of wildlife behavior, identifying and utilizing wild plants and animals (especially for food), camp cooking, orienteering (including hiking skills and use of a map and compass), fire making (including procurement of firewood), selecting and preparing a campsite, lashing and knot techniques, the use of tents and wilderness first aid.
Wildlife traditionally refers to undomesticated animal species, but has come to include all organisms that grow or live wild in an area without being introduced by humans. Wildlife can be found in all ecosystems. Deserts, forests, rain forests, plains, grasslands and other areas including the most developed urban areas, all have distinct forms of wildlife. While the term in popular culture usually refers to animals that are untouched by human factors, most scientists agree that much wildlife is affected by human activities.
Orienteering is a group of sports that require navigational skills using a map and compass to navigate from point to point in diverse and usually unfamiliar terrain whilst moving at speed. Participants are given a topographical map, usually a specially prepared orienteering map, which they use to find control points. Originally a training exercise in land navigation for military officers, orienteering has developed many variations. Among these, the oldest and the most popular is foot orienteering. For the purposes of this article, foot orienteering serves as a point of departure for discussion of all other variations, but almost any sport that involves racing against a clock and requires navigation with a map is a type of orienteering.
Hiking is the preferred term, in Canada and the United States, for a long, vigorous walk, usually on trails (footpaths), in the countryside, while the word walking is used for shorter, particularly urban walks. On the other hand, in the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland, the word "walking" is acceptable to describe all forms of walking, whether it is a walk in the park or backpacking in the Alps. The word hiking is also often used in the UK, along with rambling, hillwalking, and fell walking. The term bushwalking is endemic to Australia, having been adopted by the Sydney Bush Walkers club in 1927. In New Zealand a long, vigorous walk or hike is called tramping. It is a popular activity with numerous hiking organizations worldwide, and studies suggest that all forms of walking have health benefits.
The Scouting movement has adopted woodcraft techniques as a core skill set known as scoutcraft.
Scouting or the Scout Movement is a movement with a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills that aims to support young people in their physical, mental, and spiritual development so that they may play constructive roles in society. During the first half of the twentieth century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys and, in 1910, a new organization, Girl Guides, was created for girls. It is one of several worldwide youth organizations.
Scoutcraft is a term used to cover a variety of woodcraft knowledge and skills required by people seeking to venture into wild country and sustain themselves independently. The term has been adopted by Scouting organizations to reflect skills and knowledge which are felt to be a core part of the various programs, alongside community and spirituality. Skills commonly included are camping, cooking, first aid, wilderness survival, orienteering and pioneering.
In the United States, woodcraft techniques in a military context are taught as part of SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training.
Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) is a program, best known by its military acronym, that provides U.S. military personnel, U.S. Department of Defense civilians, and private military contractors with training in evading capture, survival skills, and the military code of conduct. Established by the U.S. Air Force at the end of World War II, it was extended and consolidated during the Vietnam War (1959–1975) to the U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Navy and in the late 1980s to the U.S. Army. Most higher level SERE students are military aircrew and special operations personnel considered to be at high risk of capture.
Traditional woodcraft has particular importance in American folklore, especially that relating to the early American frontier.
In the UK, the Woodcraft Folk are an organisation founded on the principles of woodcraft.
A Scout is a child, usually 10–18 years of age, participating in the worldwide Scouting movement. Because of the large age and development span, many Scouting associations have split this age group into a junior and a senior section. Scouts are organized into troops averaging 20–30 Scouts under the guidance of one or more Scout Leaders. Troops subdivide into patrols of about six Scouts and engage in outdoor and special interest activities. Troops may affiliate with local, national, and international organizations. Some national Scouting associations have special interest programs such as Air Scouts, Sea Scouts, outdoor high adventure, Scouting bands, and rider Scouts.
Woodcraft Folk is a UK-based educational movement for children and young people. Founded in 1925 and grown by volunteers, it has been a registered charity since 1965 and a registered company limited by guarantee since 2012. The constitutional object of this youth organisation is "to educate and empower young people to be able to participate actively in society, improving their lives and others' through active citizenship."
Leave No Trace is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It consists of seven principles:
Backpacking is the outdoor recreation of carrying gear on one's back, while hiking for more than a day. It is often but not always an extended journey, and may or may not involve camping outdoors. In North America tenting is common, where simple shelters and mountain huts widely found in Europe are rare. In New Zealand, tramping is the term applied though overnight huts are frequently used. Hill walking is an equivalent in Britain, though backpackers make use of all kinds of accommodation, in addition to camping. Backpackers use simple huts in South Africa. Similar terms used in other countries are trekking and bushwalking.
Woodcraft is a recreational/educational program devised by Ernest Thompson Seton in 1902, for young people based on camping, outdoor skills and woodcrafts. Thompson Seton's Woodcraft ideas were incorporated into the early Scout movement, but also in many other organisations in many countries.
Survival skills are techniques that a person may use in order to sustain life in any type of natural environment or built environment. These techniques are meant to provide basic necessities for human life which include water, food, and shelter. The skills also support proper knowledge and interactions with animals and plants to promote the sustaining of life over a period of time. Survival skills are often associated with the need to survive in a disaster situation. Survival skills are often basic ideas and abilities that ancients invented and used themselves for thousands of years. Outdoor activities such as hiking, backpacking, horseback riding, fishing, and hunting all require basic wilderness survival skills, especially in handling emergency situations. Bushcraft and primitive living are most often self-implemented, but require many of the same skills.
Canoe camping is a combination of canoeing, long-distance travel, and camping. Like backpacking, canoe campers carry enough with them to travel and camp for several days, but do so via canoes or kayaks. Canoe camping is primarily practiced in North America.
Woodcraft League of America, originally called the Woodcraft Indians and League of Woodcraft Indians, is a youth program, established by Ernest Thompson Seton in 1902 and often regarded as one of the earliest youth organisations in modern history. Despite the name, the program was created for non-Indian children. At first the group was for boys only, but later it would also include girls. Seton instructed the children in his town in Connecticut in outdoor "Woodcraft" – knowledge and skills of life in the woods – and based much of the group's terminology and structure on the misconceptions about Native Americans that were common in that era. The program spread internationally to become the Woodcraft Movement and many of these programs still exist. Seton's Woodcraft scheme also had a strong influence on later youth programs and organizations, particularly, the Scout Movement.
Bushcraft is wilderness survival skills. The term was popularized in the Southern Hemisphere by Les Hiddins as well as in the Northern Hemisphere by Mors Kochanski and more recently gained considerable currency in the United Kingdom due to the popularity of Ray Mears and his bushcraft and survival television programs. 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 origin of the phrase "bushcraft" comes 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.
Outdoor education usually refers to organized learning that takes place in the outdoors. Outdoor education programs sometimes involve residential or journey wilderness-based experiences in which students participate in a variety of adventurous challenges and outdoor activities such as hiking, climbing, canoeing, ropes courses and group games. Outdoor education draws upon the philosophy, theory, and practices of experiential education and environmental education.
Traditional Scouting is "old-fashioned" or "back to basics" Scouting in some form, often with an emphasis on woodcraft activities. One form of Traditional Scouting, the "Traditional Scouting movement", aims to return Scouting to traditional style and activities; rejecting the trend of modernizing Scouting to appeal to more youths or identifying programs for younger children as Scouting.
Non-aligned Scouting organizations is a term used by the World Organization of the Scout Movement (WOSM), World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) and their member national organizations to refer to Scouting organizations that are not affiliated with them. See List of non-aligned Scouting organizations.
The Wilderness Survival Guide is a supplement to the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons (AD&D) role-playing game, written by Kim Mohan and published by TSR, Inc. in 1986 (ISBN 088038-291-0).
Bradford Angier was a wilderness survivalist and proponent of back-to-earth living. He authored more than 35 books on how to survive in the wild and how to live minimalisticly off the land.
Outdoor recreation or outdoor activity refers to recreation engaged in out of doors, most commonly in natural settings. The activities themselves — such as fishing, hunting, backpacking, and horseback riding — characteristically determine where they are practiced.
Calvin Rutstrum was an American author who wrote fifteen books, most relating to wilderness camping experiences and techniques. Most of his books were written at his cabin on Cloud Bay, Ontario.
"His wilderness experiences begin just before WWI and span the modern era including the environmental movement of the late 1960s and 1970s. He published his books starting in 1946 and continued to publish right up to near his death in 1982. ...Throughout his life he lived many experiences and held several jobs.....his writing skills were primarily self-taught from reading....Many of these jobs he held just long enough to set himself up for some time in the wilderness. Many of his wilderness years were spent wandering the Canadian Shield or the Boundary Waters area of Minnesota on long canoe, walking, or sledding trips. Over the course of his life he also maintained or built several residences-Canadian and Minnesota cabins, a Marine-on-St. Croix home and a New Mexico ranch home."
Batoning is the technique of cutting or splitting wood by using a baton-sized stick or mallet to repeatedly strike the spine of a sturdy knife, chisel or blade in order to drive it through wood, similar to how a froe is used. The batoning method can be used to make kindling or desired forms such as boards, slats or notches. The practice is most useful for obtaining dry wood from the inside of logs for the purpose of fire making.
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