In this two part blog series, we talk to wilderness guide and TV presenter Megan Hine as she shares the fundamentals of bushcraft. Following completion of her degree in Outdoor Studies, Megan spent several years teaching bushcraft in the UK and leading International expeditions before becoming a consultant for adventure TV shows. Megan now predominantly spends her time scouting for wilderness locations and keeping the crew safe when filming starts.
Sourcing a container
When I am sourcing a water bottle or container, whether natural or man made, one of my biggest considerations is can it go on the fire? A lot of people advocate that drinking water straight out of water courses is safe, but it really is not. You do not know what has died or defecated upstream and the microbes; protozoa, bacteria, viruses are so tiny you will never see them. Some of these microbes can live in your system for years before they show any symptoms so unless there is really no other option, I always stick to my mantra:
Filter (if lots of sediment or organic matter)
Heat (boil) or
Treat (with chlorine)
When you think about how many different ways you use cordage (aka cord) when you’re out and about you’ll quickly realise the importance of it. From tying your shoe laces, tent guy lines, fishing line, making fishing nets, tying shelter parts together and everything in between.
But what if you don’t have any paracord (parachute cord)? – Firstly ask yourself the question ‘what do I need this for?
Cordage making is time consuming. If it’s just a temporary fix or to bundle something together then maybe just use a tree root, with minimal processing, or some young flexible branches. However, if you want to fish with it or use it for a bow drill string then you will have to take the time to process it properly, so it can be as strong as possible.
There are a few things I look out for in the properties of my cordage which means I don’t need to know the name of a plant or tree to identify its potential.
These are the properties:
How easily the cordage bends and flexes.
How well the cordage stays in a knot.
The stronger the better
The longer the fibres the better.
There is a sixth C which I always like to add and this is ‘concentration’. The only way to create the other 5Cs is by ensuring your mind is switched on, thinking like an opportunist.
Switching off in the wild can get you into trouble.
Our brains have a finite amount of energy and resources to draw on each day. In a potentially overwhelming scenario anything we can do to minimise the output, allowing us to stay focused on improving our situation, is vital.
Two things to consider which free up energy are acceptance and routine; this is the first step in any scenario which requires resilience. If our mind can grasp this, then we can suddenly free up energy and space to focus on the things we can change and influence.
In the wilderness, after accepting the situation I am in, I then enforce a routine on myself. I know that I am easily distracted, can often feel a bit lost and be prone to
overthinking – unless I have something to focus on. Routine gives me this.
On expeditions, routine plays a part in everything, from how I organise my hammock or tent each evening (every time the layout is exactly the same) to the order in which I find and treat water; when I fish or gather firewood.
Routine is so important because as the days wear on and I become tired or exhaustion threatens to overwhelm, I know I am meeting my basic needs each day. This minimises the chances of me just giving up and not getting out of bed.