Three Months of Total Immersion Into Bushcraft

Hello, my name is Asa.

9 months ago I was lucky enough to win Bushcraft & Survival Skills magazine’s Christmas day competition for a 3 month work experience placement with Woodland Ways starting on May 24 at the Bushcraft Show and ending on August 24.

Asa Profile

I was welcomed into the company with open arms from day one, and never imagined to get out of the adventure what I did. Woodland Ways could have just used me to as a pair of hands to do menial behind-the-scenes tasks but instead I was thrust right into the action working with all of these incredible, genuine guys, and they allowed me to play to my strengths and truly make the most of the experience.

At the beginning my knowledge and experience was limited and bushcraft was more of an interest than a hobby as I hadn’t had much of a chance to practice it. This opportunity allowed me to gain some real dirt time and achieve some of the things I had read about in books. Over the 3 months I spent 68 days living the dream and helping out on courses, between the 3 beautiful and varied woodlands in Derbyshire, Oxfordshire and Leicestershire. I met so many amazing people and left the woods with so many stories and new skills.

Some of my favourite moments:

Getting an ember with the bow drill and blowing it into flame
This was my must-do challenge for the summer and as soon as the friction fire lighting kits came out on my first course in the Derbyshire woods I jumped in with the customers, getting an ember in about 10 minutes with instructor supervision and then on my own from scratch afterwards in about 5 minutes. The feeling blowing that ember into flame was awesome, one that has to be felt to be believed! By the end of the 3 months I had made many of my own sets, experimenting with different woods. I also had the opportunity to demo the fire bow for customers, which was an added challenge but helped secure a reliable set and technique to get embers every time!

Asa Tinder into flame
Getting my camp admin sorted and improving and refining my kit, and properly setting up a sleep system for a dry night’s sleep
When I first came into the woods in May my camp admin was abysmal, I was extremely messy and my sleep system was unreliable and I kept getting wet. A stern word from apprentice Ian Nairn kicked me into gear and over the course of the placement I refined all of my kit and improved my sleep system, until by the end I had just 2 bags and a sealable food box, sleeping in a Hennessey hammock. I really enjoyed streamlining my gear and getting rid of everything I didn’t need.
• Delivering knife safety and other sessions on courses
Over the first few weeks out I started to pick of a skill or two from the guys and eventually found myself wanting to share these skills with the customers. By the end of the placement I had delivered many sessions and helped contribute to other instructor’s sessions with things I had learned, I found this very rewarding. Bushcraft is all about skill sharing!

Asa Mart fire demo
• Being awarded a Gransfors Bruks axe for devising an activity for 180 school kids on a residential trip
180 kids, 3 days, 1 woodland. Sounds like chaos and it was, but I managed to keep the horde preoccupied for a couple of hours a night with a treasure hunt, and was rewarded by Jason with a small forest axe which now takes pride of place in my daysack!
• Carving my own spoon and using it to eat

Asa spoon
• Getting to know the apprentices and instructors of Woodland Ways around the campfire between courses and playing music together at the bushcraft show

Asa Saxon Mart
• Eating so much game!

Asa rabbit

My summer couldn’t have been more enjoyable, I have learned so much. The amount I got to see and do has only wet my appetite for more, and thankfully my adventure isn’t over. I am doing the 2 year Woodland Wayer course next year and director Jason Ingamells has very kindly offered to bring me on-board as an apprentice so I can build upon what I began to do delivering sessions, sharing the skills that I have learned with others. At the moment I am at the very beginning of my journey, but I couldn’t be more excited for the road ahead!

Oh and I wrote a bushcraft love song while I was out in the woods. You can listen to it here

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