Now that we’re car-free, we may be spending even more time together then we already do. How will we keep succumbing to cabin fever, prairie style? (Prairie style means “with axes.”)
Well, while Erik obsesses on those pernicious skunks and even more heinous texting-while-driving music video producers, I’ll be laying low, watching bushcraft videos on YouTube.
We may as well give up our Netflix subscription because this YouHole is bottomless. I’ve discovered there are hundreds of men roaming about the woods with their video cameras in one hand and their survival knives in the other, ready to share their knowledge with you. And they are almost all men. I’ve only found a couple of women who put their adventures on video.
I’m not sure why this is such a male dominated field, except that it is greatly fueled by the love of pointy implements and the display and discussion of such implements–which seems a very masculine past time. But that’s generalizing, because I can attest that around our house, I’m the one with the fetish for sharp blades. And fire. And making things out of tin cans.
Anyway, there are many bushcrafters on video, but only a few rise to the top. Many–many–are hampered by poor sound quality and camera work. Their info may be good, but if I can’t hear them, or see them, I’m clicking on down the road.
In my journey of a thousand clicks, I’ve discovered many nice surprises, and I’ve learned things, too. These video makers are spread all over the world, so it’s a really nice opportunity to see different natural landscapes, and learn how people work in them. Winter survival skills may not do me a lot of good here in LA, but I do love watching video of the snowy Alps.
If you fall down this YouHole, you may find yourself gravitating toward a bushcrafter who lives in your climate zone, or one who shares your world outlook. As for myself, I’m pretty much all about watchability–yes, that’s a word–and that leads me to a couple of recs.
My hands-down favorite is Fun in the Woods. I can watch this channel for hours. Well, actually, I have watched it for hours. This guy is from Georgia. His landscape is nothing like my landscape, being as his stomping grounds are wet and tangled and perilously buggy and snakey. Yes, snakey is word. (The Angeles Forest, fyi, is dry and open, though it does have rattlers). So the focus of his skills, which seem to be all about getting yourself, your gear, and even your fire off the ground, are not so relevant to me. But this matters not, because Mr. Fun in the Woods, aka David Pearson, is a charming guy with a great accent and knack for story telling. Being into DIY, I also like that he makes a lot of his own gear and gadgets.
Better yet, he invested in a microphone and has recruited his son, the very dry-witted Nick, to be his cameraman, so the video quality is above average. Even when he’s solo, he knows how to handle a camera, and has a good relationship with it, so you feel like you are right there beside him.
I should warn you that you don’t watch Fun in the Woods to get quick info., because as David says, “I don’t make short videos” Or as he says, vid-ee-ohs. You watch him to kick back with a friend.
Mr. Homegrown will forgive me for confessing that I have a YouTube crush on this guy. As does my girlfriend, who I turned on to the channel. And she doesn’t even do any of this stuff!
Yup, this guy will blush to know he has groupies in LA.
- Meet the Bushcrafters: Here he’s telling the story of how he got into this stuff.
- Shelter and Fire in the Rain — mostly because the invisible Nick is funny in this one. Fan quote: “Drip. Drip.”
- Making The Shoveaxe Bush Tool: He makes this incredible axe/shovel hybrid. It looks like a work of art. It looks like Thor’s hammer. This video is the actual making, step by step. I don’t know why, but I like watching welding. You can skip to the last couple of minutes to see it in action.
- The Hand Drill: What Works for Me: I like his attitude toward this most sacrosanct of the bushcraft skills.
Another channel I will watch when I’m in a more hardcore mood belongs to Dave Canterbury’s Pathfinder School. They cover a lot of stuff that I don’t do, like hunting and blacksmithing, but I admire the grit. Here you can learn how to make a lamp out of raccoon fat and crap he scavenges from an abandoned cabin. This project is appealing (???) to me because it combines homemade oil lamps, which I love, with a more recent interest in novel ways to deal pesky backyard critters. Skunk lamp, anyone?
The Pathfinder School also has it’s own reality show–roughly cut footage of their camps and clinics. It’s like Survivor without all the b.s.. The sound and image quality can be dodgy, but I find it riveting viewing, especially the longer campouts, where the students are entirely miserable and stressed. There’s much to be learned there. I’d recommend the 4-part series somewhat confusingly named SAN ALTOIDS Tin Mini Kit.
Do any of you swim in this YouHole? Have any favorites?