18 Survival Skills: How to Be a Real Woodsman

18 Survival Skills: How to Be a Real Woodsman
The ability to build a fire with one match can mean the difference between spending a cold night outdoors or staying safe and warm. â–  Photo by Keith Sutton.

Most of us love outdoor pursuits such as hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and canoeing. Yet even though we consider ourselves "outdoor types," few of us possess the survival skills and knowledge to be considered a true woodsman. Could you, for example, gather and cook wild foods without modern accoutrements? Do you know how to improvise or repair tools in the backcountry? Would you be able to find your way back to a vehicle or camp without a GPS or map? If your life depended on it, could you start a fire with a single match?


Unfortunately, knowledge of these "woodsman's ways" is increasingly uncommon. If forced by calamity into a survival situation, many people would find it difficult to stay warm, well fed and healthy. Some might even perish.



Learning the woodsmanship skills presented in this column not only is an insurance policy, but a way of getting back in touch with nature. It can be an adventure in which the reader discovers not only how to survive in unexpected situations, but how to live well whether fishing solo on a backcountry river, hunting with friends in a wilderness area or camping with family in a park near home. Those who study these tips will discover they can do things they never dreamed they could do. And at particularly high moments, they will feel a real connection to the natural world around them.


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