Friday, July 23, 2010

Bushcraft - Central Texas Style - Knowing Your Environment

One of the basic items involved in the practice of bushcraft is having a comprehensive knowledge of your environment. Your basic knowledge about the different areas of your environment will be a critical factor in your survival. This will be true in most cases involving both rural and urban settings. Knowing the resources in your area that are able to provide you with the basics for survival (shelter, water and food) will allow you to handle adverse survival conditions with confidence. Our environment includes a wide range of things that can have an adverse effect on our ability to survive.

One of the main environmental factors that will affect your survival is the weather. Your requirements for survival will be quite different in an extremely cold environment versus the needs dictated by a hot and dry climate. Your shelter needs can vary drastically in different types of environments and the availability of food and water can be similarly affected by the specific weather conditions in your area. It won’t hurt your chances of survival to become knowledgeable about the weather in your area and be prepared to properly deal with it.

Another major environmental factor that will affect your survival is the terrain. A rugged, mountainous terrain will be a lot more difficult to traverse than a gentle rolling plain. The type of terrain in your area will greatly affect the time and effort required for travel. Whether you are traveling on foot or by mechanical means (car, truck etc.), the ability to travel safely and efficiently may be hindered by the terrain. Travel may be required in order to find food and water resources or it may be needed to find suitable shelter.

The basic philosophy of bushcraft has always involved making use of your available resources. A proper and thorough knowledge of your environment will allow you to utilize the benefits and maximize the resources in your environment whether they are natural or man-made.

Staying above the water line!



Chief Instructor said...

Not to be argumentative, but what do you do with a diverse environment? I live in Ca. We have the Sierra Mountains and Death Valley. Less than a day drive between them. Much less. I camp in the Sierra Foothills but would be clueless in Death Valley.

Books? Rangers? Local residents knowledge? How do we gather the knowledge about significantly different environs in close proximity to each other?

riverwalker said...

To: Chief Instructor

A firm knowledge of the different types of environments will help you avoid those which you may be less prepared for in order to minimize your risk.

Actual first hand knowledge of the different environmental extremes is probably the best way to learn and realize your limitations.

You can learn a lot from books and the experience of others but there is really no substitute for actual experience.


My normal area is one of gentle terrain but the high heat and humidity require some getting used to and can be deadly even on a normal day during rather routine and mundane activities. Staying properly hydrated will be a priority. As a result, I never venture anywhere without a minimum of two gallons of exceptions. Dehydration will become a problem a lot quicker than any other problem. Even a close proximity to inhabited areas may not be sufficient to avoid serious problems.

On the other hand, I also spent ten days in the mountainous terrain of Northern New Mexico at elevations in excess of 9000 feet, which was a big change from the rolling terrain of the Gulf coastal plains where the average elevation is only a few hundred feet. Some of the simple techniques used were from gained from in hill country treks right here in Texas.

Even then, I knew the weather could be a big factor and although I arrived in the mountains to six inches of fresh snow on the ground, I merely changed boots, added a decent jacket and gloves and was good to go. I was prepared to adapt to my environment and had a pleasant experience in the mountains.

Knowledge is a foundation but actual experience in different environments will serve you the best.

I also took time to converse with the locals. They will indicate to you if the weather has been fairly normal or acting strange lately, etc.

Your knowledge and first-hand experience along with any type of localized information will allow you to realize if you are able to cope with a certain type of environment or if you will need to avoid it.

Being in close proximity to different environments allows the opportunity to learn first-hand your limitations and how prepared you are both physically and mentally. This is due in part to the fact that they are more easily experienced without the need for extreme amounts of travel.

Thanks Chief Instructor.


Ken said...

...thanx RW and Chief,comment and response was arguably more informative than the post(not doggin' the post tho RW) the old sayin' goes,practice,practice,practice...

riverwalker said...

To: Ken

Sometimes you can get more benefit from the comments...this is a good thing.

i forgot to mention that while in the mountains a trip to the ranger station helped also...maps,things to be on the look out for, etc.

The old saying "been there, done that.." has a lot of truth to it.
If you haven't been there or done that it might be time to try it out.

I spent some time in California in Chief Instructor's part of the woods...and like he said it varies widely. In Texas, you just have to travel a little farther to experience the different environments.

Had the opportunity to spend some time in the desert of Arizona...not something I enjoyed but was a real"eye-opener" when it came down to a significant change in environment.

I've had experience in colder environments as well...decided a cold drink and a little shade was a lot easier to deal with.

Thanks Ken.


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