Dave Canterbury’s book Bush craft 101: A field guide to the art of wilderness survival has long been considered the premier book on wilderness survival. After I have read this entire book I have to disagree. Here is why.
Bush craft 101 is a great book. I just do not think that it is the perfect book on survival. The term survival does not mean a whole lot in today’s market. People throw it around as they throw around their dirty underwear. I do not like this tendency and I am just as guilty as the next person.
What to pack.
Dave Canterbury starts off this book with what has widely become the basis for every single survival kit that has hit the market since then. This is where I think this book excels. I believe that you should carry what you need to survive.
The flaw that I want to point out in this book is he always points towards older more traditional gear. Where in today’s market you can find gear that is more modern and will work better for you. Not that there’s anything wrong with traditional gear. In fact, a lot of traditional gear will hold up well for you.
I believe that when it comes to the survival of you and your family that you should take every advantage of modern convenience and technology.
Tools and other assorted equipment.
Bush craft 101 goes into a lot of detail on the tools that you should know how to use. He starts by going into knives and their safety. I think that this part of the book is laughable. Every child should be taught how to handle a knife.
Now if you are looking at the book as a teaching tool for younger teens or children I think this is a perfect fit. If you are already an adult and do not know proper knife safety, What are you waiting for?
What I think this book gets right in this section and some that come after it is explaining what tools can do what function for you. He goes into great detail on which knives can perform what function for you. Anything from skinning to woodworking is in this book.
One thing I like about this book that comes into play in this section and others like it is the author has put in “BushCraft tips.” He explains ways to perform a task easier or a corner you can shortcut.
Bush craft 101 does cover a lot of things that have very little to do with basic survival. Sheath options and the pros and cons of each one will do you little to no good when you are trying to learn basic survival skills.
Safety and Maintenance
I love the portions of this book that deal with the safety and maintenance of the tools that are paramount for your survival. Having a knife but, it being dull is worth very little when you’re out there depending on it to save your ass.
A dull tool can be more of a detriment to your safety then it can help you survive. A dull toll causes you to expend more energy to perform the task. A dull tool can also hurt you. Having to push too hard to make a cut with a knife can cause you to slip and cut yourself.
Proper safety and maintenance on your knives and tools are paramount to your continued survival.
There are sections of this book that have nothing to do with survival. Felling trees and bucking logs is a skill that you are never going to need. It also has a section on webbing and knots that are highly useful. Yet, he goes into great detail on trapping. This is a skill that would come in very handy if you were lost in the woods for months but, in the short term, there will be little to no need for any of this.
Now what should have been covered but, wasn’t?
After going into great detail about trapping game and what tools you might need You would think this book has it all right?
Wrong. This book does not have a single section on water. The collection of it or the many ways there is to make water safe to drink. After all, you can only survive three days without water and in reality, most people can’t go a day without drinking water.
In our modern day, most people stay dehydrated under their normal daily routines. That is because we do not drink enough water to stave off dehydration. We drink sodas, coffee, and beer when we should be adding some plain simple water into that instead.
In the end, I think this book is a good resource to have. You can give it to your children and begin teaching them from it. Is it a true survival manual? No, I do not think that it is. I think it is a good resource to have as part of a bigger library.
The takeaways from this book easily justify it being purchased. I tend to think the word survival is thrown around to much and in the case of Bushcraft 101 a field guide to the art of survival maybe survival isn’t the proper word for it?
There is the basic information you decide the outcome.