Just back from a wonderful weekend in Sussex woodland! You may recall I did a basic bushcraft course back in May and this was the opportunity to finesse the skills learnt back there and pick up a few more along the way. The ‘intensive’ course assumed we all knew how to establish our camp site, build and light our camp fires and cook our own meals over them. I used the same basha and bivvi combination I used in May and this time there were no pesky caterpillars dropping on me through the night, though again I had to resort to earplugs to block out the incessant noise of planes landing and taking off from nearby Gatwick (How do you put up with it?!).
Unfortunately, I almost immediately required the skills of our camp medic – ‘Manda. I carelessly trimmed a stave without holding it correctly (as trained previously of course, and I really should know better after years of workshop time), and my extremely sharp bush knife went stright into my laft forefinger. Luckily I didn’t lose the finger, but I have a cut over an inch long and bone deep that currently refuses to heal (I wasn’t aware of the anti-colagulant properties of the DiChlofenac I take for arthritis). Ah, experience.
The teaching style of the course was a talk and walk on the primary subject of tracking; how prints may be noted, analysed and followed. I wasn’t really aware of how much information one could glean from a simple footprint – the speed and direction of walk, sometimes the gender of the walker, even whether they were looking left or right! Much of the stalking lessons were taken from the teachings of Tom Brown Junior and I hope I remember at least some of it. We also sought out eaten food and droppings, beds and lays in order to work out the animals that were using the site, used a sand box to intercept animals using trails and runs and got up far too early to watch for deer we could hear rutting in the night.
And best of all had a great and chilled weekend with good company. If you’re at all interested in bushcraft, Dave is a good choice of trainer, and a laugh too.