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Friday, March 20, 2009

Great Survival Books from Beserker

This post was written by an excellent blogger by the handle “Beserker”. His blog is full of great reviews on outdoor/survival gear such as the Maratac bug out bag review (one of my favorite every day items). Read his blog you will like what you find.

Woodcraft and Camping by George “Nessmuk” Sears is a great read for the survivalist, camper, and bushcrafter alike.
It is full of woodsy wisdom, useful tricks, and witty anecdotes. The highlights are the sections on bushcrafting skills
(woodworking, campmaking, shelterbuilding, firebuilding, etc) but the rest of the book is good too.
It is not a “book of lists” as so many of the modern “survival” books are. No, it is a book of skills–and useful skills at that.
Do be warned, however, that Nessmuk writes at great length. This is not the small pocket-handbook type of deal. It is a large compendium of woods skills,
skillfully penned in charming fashion. If you do not like reading long books or learning about bush skills in story format, tough. Read it anyway, it’s good for your character.
If you do, then good for you. You’ll enjoy it all the more. This book can be found in PDF format as well as in print no doubt.

Camping and Woodcraft by Horace Kephart, was written as a sort of tribute to Nessmuk’s abovementioned book. This does not mean, however, that it is written or organized the same
way or that it has all the same information within it. In fact, this book shines in its regard to the sheer number of illustrations. This can be a big help if you are a visual learner.
Kephart focuses much more on gear than Nessmuk did, but mitigates this weakness by introducing us to the art of making camp (he does not share Nessmuk’s dislike of wall tents) and camp cookery.
Altogether it is a great book and I highly recommend finding a copy and READING it, whether PDF ebook or hard copy.

The Way of the Woods by Edward Breck is a superb piece of literature with an emphasis on hunting and trapping. The author also discusses planning outings, first aid (unlike the other two books)
and basic gear for extended trips. It is interesting to note that there are certain points at which he disagrees or amends Nessmuk’s advice, such as his reference to “bug dope” and the recipe he
gives being generally more efficacious. This book, too, is available in PDF format and likely hard copy.

Camp Craft by Warren Miller is a good book, more “modern” if you will, in the respect that it advocates the more modern methods of camping and campmaking (Note the chapters titled “Eliminating the Blanket”
and “Getting away from the Browse Bed.” The purists among us may sniff at this and say that we will never give up our woolen Army blankets, match coats, and bush beds, but nevertheless Miller offers some insights
into why he recommends the “Leave No Trace” style camping. You may agree and you may not, but the sad fact is that with as many people using the woods nowadays, there have to be some restrictions on what we can do on public lands.
Private land now, that’s another story;) Available in PDF and probably in hard copy as well.

Camp Life in the Woods and the Tricks of Trapping and Trap Making by William H. Gibson is an informative book detailing many of the traditional campmaking and bushcrafting methods such as shelter building, procuring bedding,
boat and canoe building, suggestions on the best types of staples for trappers to take with them (he suggests potatoes, beans, flour, things that cannot be procured or grown with any ease in the woods). But by far this book is outstanding
in its illustrations, especially in its detailed drawings of traps and methods of trapping all manner of beast and fowl. This book is an indispensable resource for the burgeoning trapper. Five Stars! This can be found in PDF and possibly hard copy.

Woodsmanship by Bernard Mason excels in showing practical usage of the axe, safe handling procedures, proper dress, and the techniques range from beginner-level through advanced. He does all this with a neverending series of drawings and fotos
interspersed with blocks of text describing the process. Keep in mind that most of these procedures could be extremely dangerous, especially if you’ve got little or no experience swinging an axe. As always, take your time in learning axemanship.
Available in PDF and (probably) hard copy.

The Sportsman’s Workshop by Warren H. Miller is a practical, down-to-earth guide to frugal gear procurement. He wastes no time in letting you know that new, store-bought gear is not the be and end-all of outdoor recreation. New, expensive gear
will not solve all your problems in the woods; it will only weigh you down. Instead, he cared enough to write this book in order to show us how to repair our broken fly rods, battered and rusty firearms, torn tarps, ratty boots, etc.
He gives ideas for ways to make your own “repair shop” or “den” in a room in one’s house where one has the tools to fix broken or torn up gear. This is not necessarily a book of lists, thank Gandhe. I’m so sick of books of lists. (Can you tell?).
Can be found in PDF format and possibly hardcover.

Bushcraft, Scouting, and Woodlore Notes by Dr. R.W. Oelslager is a compendium of annotated illustrations depicting common (and not so common) bushcraft skills, projects, etc. It is very visually-oriented and easy to follow. As far as I know
it is only in PDF format but there may possibly be a hard copy floating around somewheres. You could also print it out though it’s huge, you’d want to duplex-print it. Don’t make the mistake I made, haha.
The cover illustration reminds me of some old Scouting documents somebody scanned and uploaded on the internet. Definitely worth having!

Survival Handbook by Raymond Mears is nice big book of what used to be common knowledge. Ray Mears is a veritable encyclopedia of all things bushcraft. He travels the world, studying primitive cultures and their ways of surviving inhospitable conditions.
Ray focuses more on modern gear than some of the old-timers do but that is to be expected in this day and age when it’s no longer acceptable to cut down saplings and build lean-tos wherever one goes. Nevertheless he does a great job of not leaving such skills
out of his book. I have the ebook version but may soon buy the hard copy as it appears to be a real tome. Highly recommended.

SAS Survival Handbook by John “Lofty” Wiseman, former SAS operative and survival expert, is an awesome book detailing many methods for staying alive in bad conditions. Keep in mind this is more military and survival oriented
(e.g. the skills it teaches are meant to help you survive a short period of E+E till you get home or are rescued, not bushcraft-oriented) but even so it is a great book. It teaches some really neat things like methods for building traps and snares as well.
I have the Collins Gem version (tiny pocketbook, very portable) but it also comes in a larger reference-size version. Either way it’s indispensable; at least as good (if not better) than the US Army Survival Manual, which, BTW,
is great too and can be found in a free online PDF file, or bought in hard copy.

These are all great reads which I heartily recommend if you want to learn to be more self-sufficient in the woods.
Again, these are only to SUPPLEMENT ACTUAL EXPERIENCE in the bush. If you don’t get out there–you’re nothing but a dreamer.



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