Some woodslore I have learnt over the years:
· If you want to learn what nature has to teach, you must first understand that you are just another animal and have a natural place in this environment.
· Never rush through the woods unless you have to, you can miss a lot along the trail by rushing. Take the time to stop frequently and to look and listen.
· Always remember to look up when in the woods & look out for “widow makers”. Widow Makers are branches which have broken off and are just hanging there waiting for the wind to bring them down.
· Always check the safety of the trees around you when choosing a camp site. Especially look out for widow makers.
· Never step onto a log which may not hold your weight. You never know what may be inside it.
· Never step over a log without knowing what is on the other side.
· On very windy days, it is best not to wander in the woods. Even a small stick from high in a tree can be driven into the ground.
· Never use your axe for cutting firewood if there is no real need. Plenty of firewood can be collected from the forest floor, and wood can be broken over a rock or on another piece of wood.
· Pay attention to the sounds around you, any and all sounds should be watched for. A falling branch, a falling tree, animal noises, breaking sticks, rolling rocks etc. Always trust your instincts even though it may seem not to have come to anything. If it does not feel right, pay attention.
· Always clear a debris free area around your camp fire area and your shelter so that fire can not spread in the night.
· Never make a fire in very hot weather.
· If you do not want to attract attention, do not make a fire.
· Always carry enough food supplies in case game is scarce.
· Always carry some foods that do not require cooking.
· Always carry your gun loaded when there may be potential danger.
· Always use a hammer boot/cap on your flintlock as a safety precaution.
· A gun shot can be heard for miles in the woods.
· There is very little edible plants available in winter time.
· Traps will save ammunition and they will be working for you while you sleep or are busy with other chores.
· Keep an eye out for natural shelters on your travels, you never know when you may pass that way again and be in need of a quick shelter.
· Always look after your equipment and keep it in good order and your blades sharp. Your tools have a specific functions, don’t use them for any other purpose if you don’t have to.
· If you are going to make a shelter, do it before you make fire. If it starts to rain or snow, you can make fire under shelter.
· Always store spare kindling at the back of your shelter in case your fire goes out in the night.
· Stack firewood close so you can stoke the fire without leaving your blanket.
· Use rocks at the back of your fire to reflect some warmth into your shelter. Never use rocks from a creek or river.
· If you dig a fire pit, use the earth to surround the pit to stop rain water flowing in and extinguishing your fire.
· Make your bed on a pile of sticks to keep you up off the cold ground and to let water flow under you should it run through your shelter.
· Collect water for you water bottle at every opportunity. You never know where the next water source may be.
· Water is a source of food, always follow a water course if you can.
· Other animals can teach you much, pay attention to them. Animals do not naturally rush through the woods without reason, pay attention. Other animals may have better hearing and scent than you do, and this can save your life. Pay attention!
· Always carry spare tinder in your pack.
· Look for tinders along the trail if you are getting low.
· Make sure to top up your tinderbox at every fire making if it needs it.
· Always have your fire steel securely tied to your person so that it can not be lost.
· Before making fire, remove your powder horn and place it at the back of your shelter and cover it with your blanket.
· Always try and set up camp in daylight, and check the camp site for ant and spider nests.
· Layer your clothing on a trek so you can remove or add to suit the temperature. Don’t push too hard and perspire, if your clothes do get wet in winter, take them off in front of the fire and dry them out before bedding down, or you will get cold in the night.
· Always carry a candle with you in your fire bag, it will help to make fire if the kindling is damp.
· When your gunpowder wallet is empty, it is a good place to store spare tinder.
· When looking for dry kindling in wet weather, look under rocks and fallen trees, look in hollow trees, cut wood from dead trees; under the surface it will be dry.
· Prepare several sizes of kindling before making fire.
· Trees will usually fall down hill, but not always!
· The bark will come off a living tree easier in the summer than in the winter.
· Any large animal is dangerous if wounded.
· Snakes can be slow to move and aggressive in spring, take care where you tread.
· When drying your moccasins in front of the fire, do it slowly! Do not overheat the leather.
· Always plug the vent hole before making fire with the lock of your gun.
· Always make sure your gun can’t fall when not in your hands!
· If you should lose the trail when tracking wounded game, mark the last sign with your handkerchief or neckerchief or patch cloth and move in ever increasing circles around your marker until you pick up the sign again. Always take care the game is not waiting in ambush!
· Be sure to clearly sight your game before you shoot.
· Be sure of the area beyond your target.
· A ball or bullet can ricochet off water.
· When using an axe or hatchet/tomahawk, make sure you are clear should the tool glance off the wood.
· Always carry a bandage for injury or snake bite.
· Some people have survived 3 weeks without food, but depending on exertion and weather conditions you will need water within 3 days. Always carry water with you.
· On long treks, carry a ball mould and a lead ladle. You can remould the spent lead you retrieve from game.
· Do not use dried grass or bark as wadding if there is a danger of starting a fire!
· Char your tinder in the fire and extinguish it by placing it in your tinderbox and closing the lid.
· Keep some uncharred tinder in your tinderbox.
· Carry your fireworks in a greased leather fire bag to keep them dry.
· Always wrap the head of your hatchet or use a sheath when carrying.
· A button closure on the flap of your shot pouch will keep all inside safe if you should take a fall.
· Wear your powder horn toward your back when hunting so as to stop sparks landing on the horn.
· Seal inside your lock mortise and barrel channel with beeswax.
· A smokeless fire is made with small dry kindling.
· To keep a straight line in the woods without a compass in daylight, place your back to a tree and focus on another two successive trees in front of you. When you reach the first tree, put your back to that tree and repeat.
· Marking trees to mark a trail is a good idea to maintain direction, and to aid you should you wish to return. But remember, other people can follow your trail.
· To keep you warmer at night with only one blanket, carry extra clothing in your blanket roll.
· When packing for the trail, there must be a compromise between two principles: maximum self-reliance, and minimum weight.