Bushcraft is a popular term for wilderness skills. The term was popularized in the Southern Hemisphere by Les Hiddins (the Bush Tucker Man) as well as in the Northern Hemisphere by Mors Kochanski.
The phrase bushcraft’s origin is from skills used in the bush country of Australia. Often the phrase ‘wilderness skills’ is used as it describes skills used all over the world.
Bushcraft is about thriving in the natural environment, and the acquisition of the skills and knowledge to do so. Bushcraft skills include firecraft, tracking, hunting, fishing, shelter-building, navigation by natural means, the use of tools such as knives and axes, foraging, water sourcing, hand-carving wood, container construction from natural materials, and rope and twine-making, among others.
The word has been used in its current sense in Australia and South Africa at least as far back as the 1800s. Bush in this sense is probably a direct adoption of the Dutch ‘bosch’, (now ‘bos’) originally used in Dutch colonies for woodland and country covered with natural wood, but extended to usage in British colonies, applied to the uncleared or un-farmed districts, still in a state of nature. Later this was used by extension for the country as opposed to the town. In Southern Africa, we get Bushman from the Dutch ‘boschjesman’ applied by the Dutch colonists to the natives living in the bush. In North America (where there was also considerable colonisation by the Dutch) you have the word ‘bushwacker’ which is close to the Dutch ‘bosch-wachter’ (now ‘boswachter’) meaning ‘forest-keeper’ or ‘forest ranger’.
Batoning is the technique of cutting or splitting wood by using a baton-sized stick or mallet to repeatedly strike the spine of a sturdy knife, chisel or blade in order to drive it through wood, similar to how a froe is used. The batoning method can be used to make kindling or desired forms such as boards, slats or notches. The practice is most useful for obtaining dry wood from the inside of logs for the purpose of fire making.
Scoutcraft is a term used to cover a variety of woodcraft knowledge and skills required by people seeking to venture into wild country and sustain themselves independently. The term has been adopted by Scouting organizations to reflect skills and knowledge which are felt to be a core part of the various programs, alongside community and spirituality. Skills commonly included are camping, cooking, first aid, wilderness survival, orienteering and pioneering.
The term woodcraft — or woodlore — denotes skills and experience in matters relating to living and thriving in the woods—such as hunting, fishing, and camping—whether on a short- or long-term basis. Traditionally, woodcraft pertains to subsistence lifestyles, with implications of hunting-gathering. In more recent times, and in developed countries, it relates more to either outdoor recreationalism or survivalism.
Whether traditional or modern, woodcraft may be roughly equated to the phrase “living off the land”.