This week I decided to write a bit on a philosophy that I have been taught time and again throughout my bushcraft career. In short, real world experience is key.
Lets take my current project for example. Of course, saying "current project" is kind of a joke because once my child is born I'll put everything on hold for a bit to do fatherly stuff.
My current project is to design and build a simple and effective plywood canoe. In theory, I know all about building canoes. I've been looking at designs on and off for a couple of years now. I've designed and carved half a dozen canoe paddles, so I'm pretty good with wood working. I've even paddled a few hundred miles in canoes over the past few years. But, at the moment everything I know about building the canoe is in my head. I've never actually done it. On the other hand, there's my buddy Dan.
Dan recently constructed a plywood canoe, and I must say, it looks awesome(canoe is featured as the thumbnail photo)! According to him, it's also awesome out on the water! Dan's knowledge of canoe building is infinitely better than my own. Why? Because he's actually done it. He has cut the pieces, sealed the edges, painted the hull, all of it. My knowledge of canoe building is restricted to what I have read in books or online, and wood projects that I have tinkered with in the garage. Dan has actually done it.
Dan has the right to give out pointers and advice on canoe building. I don't.
It's important to know difference between theory and reality when it comes to wilderness skills.
I see this all the time in the bushcraft world, especially when it comes to long-term wilderness living. So many people out there think they know everything about everything that they will ever need to know about the wilderness after watching youtube videos 6 hours a day for the last 4 years. The lesson is, you don't know until you try. That's why I encourage people to go for it. Pack your backpack, head to the woods, and stay there for a month. Or, better yet, take an immersion course. You don't know how incredible nature is until you've lived in it.
In short, when it comes to bushcraft, you don't know how awesome it is until you've truly explored it. Furthermore, you don't know how to do something correctly until you've done it before. Never take direction from someone who appears to have knowledge or experience. Make sure to do your homework before you trust an instructor. There are hundreds of great instructors out there, but there are thousands that are crap. This is particularly true when it comes to youtube.
So always keep in mind...
There's a difference between a trapper and a trap carver.
There's a difference between a hunter and a guy who shoots at targets with his bow.
There's a difference between a proper survivalist and a person who has a thousand youtube videos of meaningless gear reviews of survival toys.
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