Bushcraft for Hunters

Show Notes

On this episode of The Western Rookie Podcast, Brian talks with Kevin Estela about bushcraft, outdoor skills, and lifelong learning.

 Kevin is the director of training and bushcrafter for Field Craft Survival – a source for all your outdoor bushcrafting education needs! Kevin has built a life of gathering knowledge, experiences, and information about different climates and now uses that knowledge to help and train others to be more resourceful in the wild. Brian and Kevin discuss lifelong learning, most common bushcraft skills for hunters, and what it takes to win wilderness reality TV shows! Check out the links below for more information about Kevin and Field Craft Survival.

Kevin’s IG

Kevin’s Book: 101 Skills You Need to Survive in the Woods

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Have Questions or Comments? Send an email to Brian@westernrookie.com!

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Show Transcript

[00:00:00] You're listening to the Western Rookie, a hunting podcast full of tips, tricks, and strategies from seasoned western hunters. There are plenty of opportunities out there. We just need to learn how to take on the challenges. Hunting is completely different up there that park said 26 big game animals. You can fool their eyes, but you can't fool their nose.

300 yards back to the road, turned into three miles back the other way. It's always cool seeing new hunters go and harvest an animal. I don't know what to expect. If there's anybody I want in the woods with me, it'll be you.

Welcome back to another episode of the Western Rookie Podcast. I'm your host, Brian Krebs, and I'm super excited again today because we are gonna be talking field craft survival with the director of Field craft Survival director of Training and Bush crafter. Kevin Estella. Kevin, how you doing today?

Fantastic. Brian, you weren't kidding. That [00:01:00] is a pretty short introduction, but I like it. Great. To the point. Let's get at it. Yeah. I don't drag 'em out. I think people are, people probably tune in to listen to the guests talk, not myself. And so I just want to cut right to the chase and let the guests let you share your story.

Share share your knowledge. Yeah, I respect that. Let's get right to it. So what can I tell you, man? I came across your page and I noticed that you, it, it really looks like you've built a life around being outdoors. That is very much an understatement. I there's no doubt about it.

For my entire life I been an outdoors England. And hunting and fishing and camping out there, and eventually getting into skiing and scuba and whitewater kayaking for many years as an instructor. I've really enjoyed the great outdoors everything I can do in them and through field craft.

I lived in Utah for a couple years and [00:02:00] now I'm here in North Carolina running our training division out of our Aberdeen office. And the whole time, even when I was a full-time, high school history teacher, every chance that I got to have free time, I spent it outdoors. I spent it doing something where I could break away from my regular 7:30 AM to 2:30 PM job.

When I got the opportunity to break away from that and I could join and work a very untraditional job where I get to do a lot of cool stuff I jumped on and here I am today. Yeah, that's a, that's an incredible journey. What a ride to, to bounce all around, but always be centered in the outdoors.

And do you have a favorite outdoor activity? Is it hunting? I see you fishing, just camping, cooking, outdoor cooking. What's your favorite? Okay, so my favorite is what I'm doing that day. And I think we all have been in that scenario before where if you're canoeing on a river and you forget a fishing pole and people fishing and having a [00:03:00] great time, you probably are a little envious that they're fishing and you are not.

So you just have to take in the experience that day, or maybe you're on a backpack hunting trip and the hunting's not so great, so you break out the fishing pole and hard activity another. If I am backpacking, I'm bringing a fishing pole, or if I am fishing or camping, I'll bring a slingshot, just to mess around with some plinking or a 22 rifle, 22 pistol.

So I try to do as much as I can every single time I go out, because I'm sure there are listeners who have experienced that where they're like, man, I should have packed this, or I should have done that. And I think that's really, what I'll say that I do best right now is I try to blend it all to create these great experiences whenever I venture for away from home.

Yeah. I like the way you put that because I think I am the same way, but it's not so much I'm as structured as you sound like [00:04:00] you are with like, I'm intentional about making this day, getting the most outta this day. I think I'm more on the opposite. I have the shiny object syndrome.

Where if I'm fishing today, I get so into it and all of a sudden, like fishing is life, right? If I have a big Canadian fishing trip like we do every year in the spring, I forget about everything else. I'm just focused on catching big walleye. And then as soon as that's done, we start food plotting and all of a sudden I'm switching gears and my favorite thing about my entire life is now food plotting.

And then we'll go elk hunting in September. And all of a sudden, I'm on that, all of a sudden the archery elk is live or die, right? And so I think I do it by accident, but I hear what you're saying. Like you just, you go out and make the most of what you can. And I've been, I've certainly been there.

I've been there and been like, wow, this fishing's not good today. Wish we brought something else. Or the hunting's not good. There's no elk bugling, but there's grouse everywhere. We should have brought a slingshot. Exactly. Yeah. Because grouse, as we all know are pretty, pretty easy to [00:05:00] harvest, pretty easy to take down.

It's hard to believe. Natives up in Alaska used to snare them, the snare pull, and they will let you just walk right up to them and put a snare over their neck and cinch it down. You know what I mean? I just think it's really cool when you get to combine a few different things, but I get it where you're coming from, where you're hyperfocused.

I happen to be the total opposite. I'm the poster child for undiagnosed outdoor a d h, adhd and when I'm doing one thing, I have to jump around, do another thing. My friends call it restless AF syndrome, and they know that if they're going with me, they better drink caffeine because it's just hard to make me stop.

Yeah, that's good. Yeah. Caffeine's pretty good. I had to start bringing some on my elk hunts but what, so it sounds like you definitely dedicated hunter dedicated outdoors. Men just love nature, but there's, I think there's a big difference between someone that loves being in the outdoors and someone that pursues like bushcraft, right?

Case in point, I've been an outdoorsman my entire life. I [00:06:00] live in the outdoors. We have our own properties. We go on trips, hunting trips in the mountains, fishing trips in Canada. We just bought a farm. I had no idea what any plants are. So I go start walking them through the swamp on my farm.

Wake up the next morning with a rash everywhere. Comes to find out our farm is loaded with poison sumac. So someone like you, that's probably more into bushcraft and field survival, woodsmanship probably can look, walk through the forest and you're looking like, oh, there's a hemlock tree and there's a spruce tree, and ooh, that one's poison sumac.

I should walk around that. And there I am, just breaking branches, bulldozing my way through. So where did that start? Where did the bushcraft start? I always tell people the earliest teacher I had is my father. And my father taught me to appreciate wilderness survival because that's what he had to do when he was in the Philippines.

And my grandfather had to move many of the townspeople from the Philippines into the jungle when the Japanese Imperial Army invaded in [00:07:00] World War ii. So my dad lived in a cave from roughly January, 1942 until August of 1945, give or take a couple months on both sides, and that's where they lived, and he grew up.

So as a kid, I really got into outdoor survival because my dad used to tell me about survival in the Philippines, and it sounded cool. And I'm a, I'm an eighties baby I grew up watching Rambo and Commando and all these movies where you had these larger than like action stars and predators, and it was just so interesting to me to, see the survival side.

But I didn't really get into the bushcraft side, which is the bigger picture because, there is a difference between survival and bushcraft survival. There's always an urgency where it's like life or death. And bushcraft is, as you implied, living off the land. It is, knowing the difference between, what plants are out there, what trees are out there, what can do what for you, what you can resource.

So I didn't really get into that until I was in my early teens, and [00:08:00] I started reading the books of Ray Mes and I started reading Richard Graves bushcraft book and. I got into studying bushcraft, in my early teens and in my twenties for certain. And then I studied it, obviously at the main premise School, school, Jack Bushcraft, and then where I was the lead survival instructor for many years at the Learning Center in upstate New York.

Okay. Okay. So you've been in it, you're not like a self-titled bush crafter. You, I didn't even know that you could go get formal training in it other than obviously the, like a go to a company and take a three-day course. But you're saying there's university like classwork.

Yes. So I'll put it this way. There's no governing body, universal governing body that recognizes anyone with the title you survival instructor. Governing bodies that regulate the title guide. [00:09:00] And there are governing bodies that regulate the title naturalist. Now, I'm not a guide, I'm not a naturalist, but I am a survival instructor.

I'm someone who teaches bushcraft and survival, because when students are in my classes, yes, they'll learn how to make an emergency fire. This past weekend I was out in and I was teaching primitive survival, so showing how to make cordage out of longleaf willow. And I was showing students how utilize.

Natural, plants out there to create fiber friction. So I'll say that, but there isn't a governing body that, that regulates the bushcraft or survival instructor title. When you do it for long enough, you are what you do. And people recognize me for that. And, I've written a book and I've written close to 200 printed magazine articles so people know that I'm legit.

Not to mention, I'm not afraid to demonstrate in front of people at a moment's notice. Hey, let's go do this. Okay. So I'll say that you can take formal courses and there are some great programs out there. [00:10:00] Right now, Tim Smith's program at Jack Mountain Bushcraft is probably the most intensive in the nation for semester long training.

But there are courses out there. And if you are out there doing more with less, and if you're utilizing the environment and being resourceful with limited resources, guess what? You're a Bush crafter. I'm okay saying that a bush crafter, and I always tell people as far as competition, that they say oh, aren't you afraid of calling that person on bushcraft too?

I'm like, absolutely not. My competition are the people that don't want us to be outside or wanna take away our rifles, so we can't do this or that. My competition isn't the person that wants to do what I'm doing. It's the person that tells me that I can't do what I love to do. Yeah.

That's a good way to put it. That's a really good way to put it. And so how much of Bush crafty? I don't know if that's the word, Bush crafting? How much? I think you just made it up. I think we're, I think we're good with that. How much of the, how much of Bush craft is. [00:11:00] Is regional, like you said, you're in North Carolina right now, so how much of what you do is specific to North Carolina and how much of, it's almost like universal put me in any landscape and these skills that I have will translate versus maybe for an easy example, like North Carolina's probably got different life, plant life, animal life than Utah.

When I grew up in New England and where I did a lot of my training was upstate New York at the Wilderness Learning Center, Maine. I was on a very different latitude than where I'm now. And you'll find that plant plants and trees that you're gonna find in any given environment, they tend to follow bands of latitude.

So I'm very comfortable. Seattle, Michigan, New York Maine, Iceland England. Sweden, you name it. Like I've been to all those places and I've gotten by just fine with [00:12:00] understanding what plants are up there, understanding how to harvest them and do what I need to do with them.

It was a great shock when I moved out to Utah because everything out in Utah is sagebrush, right? Sagebrush Juniper. But here's where it gets interesting. From my move from New England to Utah to North Carolina, there are certain universals and in the survival community and the bushcraft community, you always hear about the rule of threes.

And people say okay, on average you can live about three minutes without oxygenated blood going through your body. Three hours, expose the elements without good shelter, three days without water and three weeks without blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, right? Everyone knows those rules of three, but there are other universal concepts that are rules of three.

So when it comes to fire making, you need heat, air, and fuel. That's a rule of three. When it comes to cordage making. You need length, strength, and flexibility. When it comes to making shelter. You need something to sleep inside, open and under. So there are so many additional rules of three that if you understand the concepts, they're universal in life.

And whereas in upstate New York, I might be [00:13:00] using birch bark to create a natural shelter a water resistant, roofing system for my shelter. In upstate New York. I'm not using that down here in the Carolinas where there's a lot of pine, there's all sorts of lob, lolly, pine, and there's all sorts of other plants that you're not gonna find out in Utah.

And in Utah, I might be doing something totally different because I need to really focus on shade that I gotta be careful because there's a 40 degree temperature soiling with the high desert. So bushcraft is definitely something that can be very specialized to a given area. Like my home will always be the northern woods.

I know that area better than anywhere else, but I enjoy training in other environments. Jungle, I enjoy training in northwest rainforest. I enjoy training in the desert. I love learning and that's something that differentiates a.

Let's go and see if we can defeat Mother Nature. Mother Nature has a [00:14:00] winning record and Bushcraft recognized that. And it's more like how do you live with nature as opposed to against it. You tend to live a lot better when you keep Mother Nature happy. She's like the, not the stereotype, the nagging wives out there, but she's like the wife.

You don't wanna get angry. Because she gets angry, she'll swallow you alive and she'll kill you. So it's learning how to deal with nature and live with it as opposed to, fighting against it. Yeah, that makes sense. So would you say the ideal contestant for a loan or any of these shows where you get dropped off, it's reality tv, some are better than others, but for the concept of you get dropped off and you're trying to last longer than anyone else, would you classify that ideally as a survivalist, or would that candidate do better if they were a bush crafter?

I'll say anyone is gonna do really well on that show if they're fat, and I'm totally fine saying that [00:15:00] because I've spoken to many contestants on a loan. I've podcast with them myself. I'm friends with many of them, and there's an unwritten guidebook for how to win that show. And it's very simple.

It's how do you control starvation the best? And there are many aspects of that show that don't get televised. And I have no existing NDAs with the Discovery Channel, so I can say these things. They have to use barbless hooks and there are hunting and fishing regulations where there might be a caribou right in front of you, but that caribou might be outta season.

But you have a beautiful bow and you've got the skillset, you can't take it. So the network tends to stack things against the favor of the contestants because if it was too easy, it would be drama. I was just speaking to someone from a different TV show and this person was actually gaining weight on the show, so they said, you can't have this, and this.

And then that person got sick and the network, they [00:16:00] don't have your health. Their best interest. If that were the case, they would tell you, don't go on the show. So it really doesn't matter if you are someone who believes in just strictly survival. If you come from like a modern survival background or military background, or if you are a, you knowI smelling, ganja, smoking hippie, bush hippy, it doesn't matter if you're a bush crafter the hippie or the military guy.

If you go in there heavier than everyone else and you have an understanding of how to get food and you can build a shelter that retains heat, you're gonna go pretty darn far. But then there's every so often an exception to that rule. Jordan Jonas went in at about 165 pounds and because he couldn't pack on weight and he left at about 165 pounds.

So I think the best bet is to go in fat if that's your goal to win. But if your goal is to live a very long life, Good, healthy system, I'd say avoid that show because half a million dollars is not [00:17:00] worth it to walk away with something that you'll have for the rest of your life that impairs your ability to go out and do things in the great outdoors.

Yeah, I've always thought that a half a million. And that's if you win, like I'm a smart guy, but I'm not an expert bush crafter and so I'm smart enough to realize I ain't gonna win. I'm just gonna be lonely and cold and miserable for about 20 days and then I'm gonna tap out, or, 40 days, whatever it is, I'm probably not gonna be the guy that wins.

And I don't know if I wanna be a lone long enough for to win, like I'm an extrovert and there's not a lot of people interaction on that show. And here's something that I do like about the show, is that it really demonstrates the importance of recognizing that human beings are social creatures.

And I had an experience in 2016. I did a three week long float trip float, dragging trip in Alaska with my buddy Mark Knapp. And while I was on that trip, we were off grid for the most part, with the exception of a Garmin inReach. And I had a [00:18:00] dream that my father died, and it was the most vivid, scariest dream I've ever had in my entire life.

And I told Mark, I was like, mark, I need a huge favor. I need you to contact your wife. She needs to contact my sister, make sure my dad's okay, because I just have a terrible feeling. And he did. And everything ended up being okay. But it's interesting when your mind isn't constantly bombarded with Instagram notifications and email notifications and text message beeps and phone rings and all that great stuff.

Your mind is left to go to places where it hasn't been in a long time. And not only did I have that dream about my dad passing away, which thank God was not the case, but I had memories come back to me from high school that I forgot about for 30 years. You know what I mean? I'm sorry for 20 years. And it was really interesting for my mind to go back to those places.

And I can only attribute that to being in that semial alone state where I didn't have distractions from the outside [00:19:00] world. And I got into the natural rhythm of the great outdoors. Yeah. I hear what you're, I hear what you're saying. I did a, I did an L hunt once and just the way it worked out, I was the only one that had points and it was a use it or lose it scenario because it was like 10 years before I could get a better unit.

And so it's like I might as well use these points. And so I go on this hunt alone and I'm thinking, I've done some weekend trips alone, and I'm not camping. Like I'm not backpack hunting, this is base camping. I've done some base camp weekends and yeah, it's boring, right?

Sometimes when there's no action, it gets boring, but I've done it. I'll be fine. I got up into the high country of Colorado and the, out of all the aspects of the hunt, the mental part was the, by far, the hardest. Like it started to really suck. Being alone, not talking to anyone, your thoughts. It's almost like you said, when your're not, when your mind isn't getting distracted, it'll start creating its own distractions, rightly in [00:20:00] the form of absolutely.

Thoughts. Imagination in your case dreams, and it's, those aren't always good. They don't always paint the best picture. Yeah, that's absolutely true. And yeah, at the same time, like in the short term it's like the outdoors is almost like a drug where a little bit of medicine goes a long way.

A lot of medicine can be dangerous. A little bit of aspirin can relieve some pain. A lot of, bit of, a lot of aspirin will go, will send you to the hospital. The great outdoors, if you can unplug for 72 hours and just go, then you know what, that type of reset is good for you. But if you go too long, it drives you crazy.

It makes you wonder what are people doing in the world? Like I want to connect there's no such thing as a tribe of one. There's no such thing as a civilization of one. And we're very social creatures. So you gotta get out and you gotta get back at some point. But [00:21:00] if you're driven then you can go a couple days or three days or maybe four or five even and just get away as long as.

You understand what could happen to you along the way. And it's always nice to be able to pull the plug at any time and say, you know what? I originally planned to go out for five days. I'm going back at four. Like that is the ultimate freedom. You schedule five days, but you go as long as you want or as little as you want, you're good to go.

Yeah. Yeah. It makes me wonder what is with these people that, I forget the guy's name, but he picked the guy that he's famous for going up to Alaska and living by himself, and he pretty much video logged the entire process, built his own cabin, but he lived by himself. Was that like 40 years?

So he, he did that in his middle age years. That was Dick his documentary was alone in the wilderness. And yeah, he was up there for 40 something years. He made one of the most elaborate. [00:22:00] Log cabins with fully functional wooden hinges. And in his documentary, he's he's feeding birds outta the palm of his hands.

And he had moose that would come to visit him. Like that guy, pretty much, he was living in a different era as well. He didn't have all of the luxuries that we have in the problem a hand, like when we say, oh, I, I need to grab my phone. You're not really grabbing a phone, you're grabbing a supercomputer that has more capability than the lander that landed on Mars that landed on the moon.

I don't think we've landed on Mars yet, unless the government's not telling us something. But it's pretty amazing when you think about it. Like that guy lived in an era where, he was doing things before high-tech fabrics. A high-tech fabric at that time was wool. Maybe it was Marino wool and he was doing everything with traditional tools.

Again, that guy I would consider was more of the bush crafter. Naturalist than I would, hunter fishermen or whatever. But talk about a super resilient individual. Great [00:23:00] mindset. Skillset, and amazing willingness that he demonstrated by building that cabin. Yeah I agree. Phenomenal talent. I'm just wondering what's going on in his mind to be able to be up there alone for 40 years.

I dunno, 'cause if I go alone for four days, I'm starting to think, all right, I wanna get back. And I get, it's a different era. I would almost, I wonder if it was, different. Like they didn't have Instagram and Facebook and supercomputers to connect with 400 people or 4,000 people.

I feel like back then the 40 people in your community or in your life were that much more important, right? You connected with them way more often every night at dinner, every day out at the farm, you went to church, all the, or whatever, all these, but they had 40 people that you were ultra connected to versus now, I'm loosely connected to a thousand.

But it's the it's still a total level of like social [00:24:00] aspect of my life. Maybe. I don't know. It just, it seems like there's gotta be some wires twisted to be able to do it for 40 years. Yeah. I've heard people say that most people can only maintain between one to 15 friends, right?

Like you can have like true friends one to 15, and when you start trying to add another person into your friends group, something's gotta give, right? Someone's gotta go. There are people out there that can exist with just one person in their life, and there are people out there that need the comfort of saying, these are my seven best friends.

Like picture any of the pictures of any of the girls that, that post up every fall, drinking cappuccinos, wearing Uggs and a denim shirt and tight pants. And there's probably seven to 15 of them in a group, but there's not like a group of 50 of them. You know what I mean? Like right close friends groups are meant to be small.

And I just [00:25:00] wonder like what could draw someone to, to become like almost like a Herman, like that, what if, I don't know prey's backstory, I don't recall it. If he lost someone or if this was just a seasonal thing. But I could imagine a time where someone says, you know what?

I'm done talking to the world. I want be reclusive and live this way because I. It already happens with the homeless population. But then again, you look at the homeless population and even the homeless tend to congregate and work with one another and they tend to be social. So it really takes a set of kaons to go out to the Alaskan wilderness and do it all by yourself.

Yeah. I think that's really powerful. Yeah. An incredible story to be able to do it and a video at all at a day where that wasn't commonly thought of. Nowadays it's, oh, I gotta capture this, I gotta get content. But back then it was remarkable. And yeah, I agree. Because so many people I hear be like, oh, I'm so ready to just give it all up [00:26:00] and move to Alaska.

Or, ah, man, if everything ever happened to my wife and kids, I'd be in Alaska living by myself, and I'm like, eh, probably not. You'd probably go and you'd probably make it like three weeks. I agree. I agree. And I hear that a lot with the hunting side of the community, because this is a, this is a hunting podcast, but I'll hear a lot of people will ask me about questions.

They'll get, they'll have questions like, Hey, I'm doing an elk hunt. I got a couple questions. And I'm like, great. I love it. What do you, what are you thinking? Where are you going? What state? And they'll be like, I'm gonna do a 14 day back country Colorado hunt. I'm like, wow. You got a group? Or how'd you land on that?

And they're like no. I'm just going by myself. And it's I don't have the heart to burst their bubble, but I know that they're not going on a 14 day backpack hunt because it's hard. Like it's freaking hard. And for a first hunt, you're going to probably more dangerous than hard. But I hear it time and time again, and I [00:27:00] just Come up with a backup plan.

I've been there, I've done that. It can be pretty mentally tough. Don't feel like you can't go to town, get a hotel, go out to dinner, go to Subway, talk to the person behind the counter for a minute, and the, and it seems like the optimism never ceases to fail, or they're just like, no, I'll be fine.

But I hear that a lot. Is that common with new people to the bushcraft or to the naturalist community where they like this just abundance of optimism and like overconfidence when you first get into it oh, it looks so fun. I can do this for two weeks. Oh, there, there's no doubt about it. That people capability and.

The superhero that, we all picture like in the movies and we all picture to be the type of person that we'd wanna come save ourselves. But the reality is that we often [00:28:00] take ourselves out of the mindset that we need to be in. When people go on vacation, they say to themselves, I can't be bothered with this.

I'm on vacation. Just because you're on vacation doesn't mean that you let down your guard. Just because you're traveling doesn't mean that you say I don't have to worry about things at home, or I don't have to worry about the normal worries that I have at home. There's no doubt about it.

You, you have to always, be aware when you're traveling about, and especially when. I've seen on courses timeless times, like multiple times where someone shows up and they're like I can make a fire. I'm like, okay, I can make a fire as well, but my job is to see your threshold for fire making.

So we'll start off and it's okay, can you do a feral rod fire? Absolutely. Great. That's the easiest way to make a fire in the great outdoors. Use a feral rod in pre-made kinder, and then, okay, let's use some storm matches. Let's use a big lighter. Now let's go back in history and let's use one match and we'll do a one stick, one match fire, and [00:29:00] then we'll do flint and steel, and then we'll go back to do primitive fire.

And, oh, when you think primitive fire is over, let's do primitive fire with natural cordage that you.

That's the pinnacle of fire making is if you can say, I'm gonna go into the woods with nothing and come out with a fire. And that's something that I still struggle with because I'm not the greatest napper. I can make a sharp edge and I can exploit cracks and dried wood to, get my bo drill fire going and I can make natural.

There are people out there that will say, I can do all that. And it's okay, let's test you. That's my job. And then they get to a point, and what often happens is that someone will say, you know what? I'm just gonna use the big lighter, or I'm just gonna do this. And it's hold on. One, there's something to you can learn about your fail points, and then I can coach you and you'll get past them.

But there are people out there that will say, a, this will never happen to me, or B, I will always [00:30:00] carry this, so I never need to know how to do X, Y, Z. And there are times when you can't always carry things and there's no way of knowing if it won't happen to you. So it's a good thing to learn. From people who are willing to train you, but there are many people that don't wanna be trained because they would rather live comfortably living in this idea that it's never could happen to me.

They'd rather be comfortably numb than be educated. And that's true of so many different pastimes in the great outdoors. People that think they know everything about fishing and then they end up throwing their lore in a tree. People that end up going kayaking or canoeing things, they can run a rapid.

And the next thing they end up swimming. People that go up into the mountains and they get, turned around and they end up sideways on a trail and the next thing you know they're wedged up and they can't get down. We see it every single year. If people just stepped back and they had a bit of humble pie and said, you know what?

I dunno, everything, and guess what? It's okay to not know everything, then I think we'd be in a better [00:31:00] place as outdoorsmen collectively. But, I don't think that's ever gonna happen. I think people are way too proud and they don't wanna admit that that they've got some weaknesses. Yeah. I think there's some inherently conflicting characteristics at play here about the people that like doing what we like to do.

And I'm nowhere near what you do, but just put yourself in a situation outside of the couch. I like to chase bulls in September on a mountain well by nature. That makes me probably headstrong. A little bit arrogant, maybe a little bit cocky, a little bit overconfident. It makes me that kind of person to wanna go out and do that.

And then that's just, diabolically opposed to me being humble at, at times. So it's like it's two conflicting characteristics of the person that wants to go do. It's probably the least likely person to admit they don't know what they're doing. But here's how it's different.

And this is [00:32:00] something that maybe is a great takeaway for you and for the listeners tonight, that we can wear many hats in our lives. And one of the hats that I tend to wear is I am super competitive. I try to do things to the point where, I want to be number one in the class. Like I just went to a shooting class at Glock and I'm listening to the guys introduce themselves and there's some amazing shooters there, SWAT team guys from all over.

And I was like, yep, guys, I'm just a big training junkie. But deep down in my head I was like, I wanna win the top shot. I wanna have the fastest time. And I did. But I also know that I need to take off that hat when I leave that training environment. And I need to go from thinking I'm the best. To hopefully become the best in the cross by shooting that well to being that person again, who's willing to receive criticism, who's willing to train those fail points.

So you can wear the hat of super aggressive, super cocky, go-getter when you go out in the trails, but [00:33:00] at some point you need to be able to turn that off. When you recognize a time that you need to turn it off. If you get lost or if you get turned around, you don't say to yourself I'm gonna keep going.

I'm, it's hold on you. I need to recognize that as much as I love doing what I'm doing and as much as I wanna get out there, I need 30 seconds to run something in head.

Tactical community that I hover in and I just witness a lot. It's called Turn the Corner, right? How do you turn that corner when you recognize that something's wrong and then adjust? Course. A lot of people can't do that, but it's really awesome when you meet someone who is capable of doing that.

And I've seen a lot of students over the years that can do this where it's alright, it's go time. And they put on that competitive streak or they put on that, that, I'm half polish. So I would say that Polish stubbornness. So they put on that polish stubbornness and next thing they just go and go.

[00:34:00] It's okay, time out, let's go back to this. And then they turn it off. So that's a, an amazing capability that hopefully you and your listeners can pick up where it's don't be afraid to be the go-getter, right? If you wanna to get the big bull, then you gotta be aggressive, you gotta go after it.

It's not gonna come to you. But at the same time, Learn to turn that off and recognize that you need to turn it off if something else arises. Yeah. Good. It's a really good way to think about life because it's so hard to get better at something when you don't think there's a problem. Correct. And then so it's I, I don't know what the, what happened, but it had to have been the elk, not me.

Okay. You're never gonna get a better at elk hunting if that's the, if that's the, after action review every time is, that elk just didn't wanna play. If you're like, man, what did I do to mess that up? What could I have done better? And so I'm maybe I do have two hats.

I just don't switch back and forth between the two very easily. So once I'm in one and one, I feel [00:35:00] stuck in that one. And then once I'm in the other, maybe I feel stuck in that one. But it is, like you said, it's an important skill to have. I. If you wanna get better, I suppose not everyone probably caress about getting better, but I do.

Yeah. And how many people have you met who have said, this has always worked for me? Gosh, I hear that expression all the time. It's complacency, it's this is way, we've been hunting this way for 20 something years. We always hunt this way. It's okay, it works until it doesn't.

And what if there is someone out there that's willing to go further? What if there is someone out there that's willing to, attempt a new method of hunting? Like a good friend of mine is Aaron Snyder. Aaron Snyder is coming out to North Carolina in November. He is gonna do a three day intensive hunting training course.

And Aaron is the guy who has stocked up the deer to the point where when he's at full draw, the broadhead is between the deer's antlers, and he does it by changing out. His boots, a pair of booties where he can [00:36:00] actually feel the ground underneath him as he's stocking. There are people out there that would say, you don't need to do that.

We've been hunting in boots for the longest time, and who carries two pairs of socks or two pairs of boots footwear? The guy that is capable of doing that, that you can't do, like there are folks out there who will fall on tradition and say this is the best thing because it's the only thing that we've been using for 50 years, and they're so unwilling to look at the new person who's got maybe a great way of doing something that might be better than theirs.

So it's important. It's I get it. Tradition makes sense. I love tradition. I'm a former history teacher. I teach history tradition, but I'm also very willing to recognize when someone comes in the room and shows me a new way of doing something, I'm like, Ooh, how can I blend that to what I always know?

And if you can create that hybrid. Where, maybe you're a dy in the wool. Like I love wooden rifle stocks, I love wooden rifle stocks. And then you find some guy who says I've got a wooden rifle stock that's wooden [00:37:00] and there's inlays of carbon fiber here and there. Maybe you can still have your wooden stock, but maybe it's a little bit of a blend that's new technology that actually makes you better.

And if you can make yourself better by 10%, then why aren't that's, yeah. There are people out there that just refuse to do that. A 10% improvement. That's huge. I'm looking for the 1%, like what can I get 1% better on something? And that's, oh, I agree. That's how I approached life.

But but I wanted to switch gears a little bit. 'cause we've talked a lot about maybe general aspects of being a bush crafter and also just a learner, right? A lifelong learner. Yeah. But you wrote a book and. What the title 101 Skills You Need To Survive in the Woods, right? That's correct, yes.

Yes. And so I wanted to ask you, I wanted to pick your brain a little bit on what are some of your favorite outdoor skills that you use? Hunting it, bringing it pretty close to the [00:38:00] hunting. So maybe not so much on how do you source natural fish bait, right? But what do you find yourself using out of your knowledge toolbox the most when it comes to being chasing game hunting, whether it's bow or rifle, either one.

Land navigation comes to mind right off the bat. Okay. So something that I tell my students something. I tell all the people that come and train with us at Field Craft. I say, when does hunting season end? And I'll have people, pull out their phone and say, oh, November 15th, or whatever it may be.

And then I say to 'em, I'm like, You think the season ends and what they look at me like, what do you mean? I'm like, you don't do any scouting in the off season. You don't do any, traveling to that environment and just glassing. And they're like, oh yeah, I do that. I'm like, you don't think you're hunting, just you're not taking, you're not killing, but you're hunting.

And they're like, that's a good point. Guess what? Hunting season never ends. Like they, I've had people like [00:39:00] come to that conclusion that, hunting season never ends. And something that they've used and I use is land navigation. So when I teach Land Nav, it's a very intensive class, and I can teach it a lot of map work.

In eight hours I can get people creating route cards and doing amazing Terrain association and whatnot. Day two, it's a lot of practical in the field, but once you understand how to read a map, you can see the topography that's outlined on the map. Almost in three D form. And you can get an idea of, alright, if I were an animal, here's my water source.

And if I pair that topographical map and understanding of terrain and understanding where these water sources are, then I can also look on that map and see what would be the easiest line of drift. And a line of drift being the place where a person or an animal is drawn to when it comes to walking through a given area.

So walk through a valley [00:40:00] instead of over the hills, that type of deal. So when you start looking at a map, but from the hunter perspective as opposed to the backpacker perspective or the camper or the search and rescue guy, and you start looking at the map, you can say yourself, where would these animals bed down?

Where would they be able to easily escape if they encountered a natural predator? That type of thing. But then you start using all of the technology that's available to you, like Google, earth and 3D satellite imaging. And you can actually look in and see okay, green on the map represents vegetation, but what kind of vegetation?

And on Google Earth you can see, alright, that is a field with some spruce trees here and there. But that is a very thick wood line. So I use land navigation like you wouldn't believe when it comes to hunting in the great outdoors. It's just, I like knowing where I am. I like knowing where all the terrain is.

If I'm in New England, I need to know where property [00:41:00] lines are. So I'm always using online programs like Onyx Hunt and I use Gaia for straight line distances. So I'm using land navigation hunting more than anything else. And then after that, the nice skills and instead of carving wood as.

Dressing out an animal. I'm using multiple knife grips when I'm, cleaning out the cleaning out the carcass, going and taking out the rib meat and, taking out all the little bits that, that I can get before I drag the, before I drag the skeleton or leave the skeleton, in a place where, nature will take care of it.

I think between the compass and the knife skills, those are the two that, that I'm using the most. And the only thing I'll say that's different is when I'm bush crafting, when I'm doing survival stuff, I'm using a survival knife or a bushcraft knife. Something that's more of like a puco design or a very, guard design.

And when I'm hunting, I'm using a different knife. I'm using more of a, like I, I love my Victorian knot [00:42:00] cheapo filet knife, it's a stiff boning knife. I've used that. How many animals to, to process, all the game from it. I'm using different knives, different tools when I do those different tasks, but the grips are the same.

And like I said, the understanding of the map and how to utilize it, that's all the same. Okay. Yeah, that's pretty, I like how you elevated land nav beyond, the immediate portion of it where it's how am I gonna get where I want to go? Because a lot of people think of net land nav in that term of how do I want to get to where I want to go?

And you look at a map and I'll tell you, the easy way to get good at it is to not know what you're doing for about two or three days of elk hunting. And you realize real fast, there's easier ways to run around these mountains than going straight up and straight down and correct. And so you get good at it by [00:43:00] default, but then elevating it to that next level of, okay.

How would the animals be using this mountain? And now I know where I'm not only how to get where I want to go, but why am I going to this spot? Yeah, and think about it this way, right? Like we teach, it's important to always have an emergency. Asthma, an emergency bearing. So if you are hunting in an area where, let's say that there's, for whatever reason there,

The fuel source. What way would you go if you had to get to water? What way would you go if you had to get to the nearest road? So we always teach what's referred to as map reconnaissance, where before you go into a given area, you understand where these emergency are to these different destinations.

The same way that we have that concept of emergency asthma. So do animals animals know where they're going? They walk over their tracks the same way [00:44:00] over and over. And you can almost be guaranteed that if an animal is, in a place where it's really vulnerable, it's got a way out.

They pay attention to the ways in and the ways out. There's no doubt that you can elevate your navigation to beyond what most people know it as, which is, how do I get in, how do I get out? How do I set my compass? How do I take a bearing? Like you can use navigation in so many cool ways when it comes to hunting.

And there are some good practice habits like get off your G p s, save your GPS for emergencies only. And there's a difference between navigation and navigating navigation's using all your tools. Navigation is when, I'm sorry, navigating is when you are actually out there and you're like, okay, I see the road that goes up the mountain, but it's a long way around that road.

Or, I can handrail that river if I want to. But to get to that point over [00:45:00] there, I'm just gonna cut through the field. If you can do that, guess what you're navigating. It's different than navigation. Navigation is very formal. Navigating is out in the field, getting your boots wet and your hands dirty as you, you make your way around.

Yeah. I get it. Because I'll be honest, we use a lot of onyx. That is, we're doing navigation, right? We're not navigating until we start hunting. And then you're like, oh man, this is looking good over here. But that's like small scale, small scope or small scale navigating. But we don't, just the style of hunting that, our group does, especially out west, isn't like true back country.

We are doing base camps with day hunts mostly, and we've always been loosely prepared to do a night out, which is, still not that extreme to just have a tent and basically you're just saving yourself two walks, a walk out, and then a walk right back in the morning. But we're not doing this extreme stuff.

And so that's a, those are a bunch of skills that I would really need to get polished [00:46:00] up if I was gonna say, okay, I'm doing, I'm leaving the truck, and I'll be back in three or five days, depending on how the hunt goes. Yeah. And the type of hunting that you're mentioning is still common, right? A lot of people do that type of thing where you have a camp and like a spike camp and you strike out from every single day going for whatever you need to.

That's super common. There's something to be said about when you get out into a given area, understand what your left, limits are as well as what your backstops are. So if you know a given hunting area and someone tells you, Hey you can hunt in my property, right? Let's say that you do get access to private land.

Someone says You can hunt in my property. But you gotta stay to the west side of the river. Guess what? That creates a backstop, not to cross that river. They tell you I own that property. Up to that ridge line. There's maybe your left limit. Or maybe, just from looking at the map that is of the area that you're going to okay, here's a 1000 by 1000 meter grid.

Here's another and here's [00:47:00] another. Okay, there's a mountain. Here's up here. So you write a note and you yourself, okay. When I land on the ground's distinct saddle up in that ridge line, that's say, my northwest direction from where I'm. You can have all the safety gear in place and you can put away your kit as long as you do that prep ahead of time.

And there's no nothing stopping hunters from visualizing what they need to do before they get in the field. Like you can experience a hunt before you go on that hunt. Like I'm headed out to Colorado next week, I'm going on a backpack fishing trip, and I'm already experiencing in my head what I'm gonna do.

I'm going to land, I'm gonna stow my bag that kind of houses my, my, internal frame backpack. It goes through the airport. I'm gonna stow that in my buddy's vehicle. I'm gonna stow my pelican case for my pistol and I'm gonna load it up. And I run myself through the scenario of alright, so now I get to camp, what am I gonna need?

I usually like hiking in with heavier boots, but I [00:48:00] like camp shoes. So I throw my camp shoes in my back. If you run through scenarios, if you visualize, which is such an important skillset, it'll help you prevent. Yourself from making those stupid mistakes, like getting lost, like forgetting simple things that you might need when it comes to processing an animal let's face it, some people go hunting and they forget the necessary permits.

They leave it behind on the table or whatever. You know what I mean? If you, before you step out the door, if you can say to yourself, alright, lemme run through my hunt. Just visually run through it, you'll have all the prep you need for when you get out in the field. Yeah. Yeah. I do a lot of visualization.

I'm a very imaginative person, but I also have a lot of systems and I almost live and die by the system. And for example, my system is when I buy a tag or when I get a tag, Or when that season opens, that tag goes in a Ziploc bag and it goes in my [00:49:00] vinyl harness. I have a vinyl harness that's got like a zippered pocket on the backside, so like up against my chest.

And so I know every tag is in there. I might be bringing a white tail tag out to Colorado, but it's because I know it's gonna be in there. I don't really need to pinch ounces or grams at this point. And I never hunt without my vinyl harness. I'm just that, I'm just that person. No matter what I'm doing.

I always have my vinyl harness on. And so that's just a system that over time I've developed, because I've done the same thing. I've gotten out west and I'm like, oh shoot, I forgot my tags. Now I gotta go find a regional game office, hope they're open, go get a reprint. And so I've, I visualize this, but then figure out there's certain things where it just works so much better.

If you have a process like you, it's just habit. This is how I do it, this is what works for me, and this is the process I use. Yeah, I agree. Those SOPs are so important, it's so easy to get caught up in the moment or get distracted and, our eyes place play tricks [00:50:00] on us. So even having a process of, alright, I'm gonna double check everything, I've had some people say did you check it to make sure it's there?

Yes. Then forget about it. But I've also had people say, go into my pack and grab that for me and, bring that over here. Then when I grab it, something falls out. Like I've seen that happen where it's damnit, that must have fallen out when I reach in my bag, at the trail head.

And it was dark. It's It's okay to double check things. It's okay to buddy check things like, but some people don't wanna do that. They're headstrong, and I get it. I'm headstrong too at times. But when it comes to an important activity, like a hunt of a lifetime, which every hunt is a hunt of a lifetime, then you can't make simple mistakes.

Like when you're doing something big, don't screw up with something simple. Yeah. Usually when I do big hunts, so like an elk hunt I have lists that I've relied on for years, and I will, like two weeks ahead of time, I start looking at my list. I start visualizing what's different about this [00:51:00] hunt?

What do I need, what don't I need? And I start making this list. And it's way early, right? So I'm not cramming, I'm not in a rush. And then I start organizing my gear and I'll pick the least used room in the house. I lay out every piece of gear and if it goes inside of a kit or like a little bag, a stuff sack, then I'll, I'll check out each item as I put it into the stuff sack, and then I check off like that stuff sack and I just methodically work my way through this list.

And the key is doing it way early. 'cause if you do this the night before you leave, you'll forget a lot of stuff. Yeah, man. I'm all, I'm a huge fan of using Google Docs. Like my friends laugh at me for how organized I'm in some ways, like other ways I'm a total mess. But and when it comes to my gear, like I have Google Docs with alright, this is my travel.

I'm camping, like I can grab that bag and it's got everything I need and I can go on that Google Doc [00:52:00] and it tells me the inventory of it in the box that I use. When I teach bushcraft, it has an inventory of everything that's in that box. And when I look at all my other stuff, there's an inventory, like I know exactly how many pistol mags I have for each of my blocks.

I know how many rifle mags I have. Like I have an inventory. And when people say like, why do you have that? I'm like, 'cause I have downtime. And I can't always be out in the field. So when it's, ridiculously raining here or late at night, or if I have a couple days off and I just wanna sort my gear, I'm gonna do that because you take care of your gear takes care of you, bottom line.

And I always want to know what status my gear is in. So even in my inventory, I'll say okay I've used that headlamp on, four trips. Maybe on the fifth trip I'm gonna change out the batteries. Or that pistol red dot, the pistol red DOT's been running for. And it's got a five year battery life.

Those batteries are pretty damn cheap. I will change out that those batteries at three years. Like people are [00:53:00] so content saying it's working well, why don't you press check your gear, make sure that you know that the batteries are fresh. Know that the chamber's loaded. Know that you know that knife is sharp.

Know that tent is free of any holes. Like it's okay to go through your gear because those little mistakes, those little oversights that you have when you're out in the field, they can turn into a nightmare. If you pack up a tarp from one camping trip and maybe one of the tie out lines is frayed or damaged, and you forget about it until the next time you're like, shit, I shoulda this.

I shoulda this repaired. Now you can't tie it down when the wind is picking and the coming, so it's important to press check your gear. Yeah. Yeah. And it's an, I think the, you, your level of detail orientation really needs to match the level of that you're gonna take this, right?

So we're base camping, but you're in the middle of nowhere, right? There's no Amazon or Walmart to bail out if you forgot [00:54:00] something, right? And so you kinda wanna make sure you at least have all your stuff out there, but you can always come back like, Hey, my bow, this thing got loose. I gotta go get my Allen wrench.

I didn't pack it, it's at camp. But if you're gonna go, maybe more so on the side where you take it, where Hey, I'm gonna go for five days now you're committed. You're married to your gear, at that point, have it or not, you're gonna have to make it work. Yeah, and I've had a lot of people say to me over the years for breaks I'll just send it back.

It's got a lifetime warranty. And I'm like, there's no such thing as a lifetime warranty, or I'll just send it back when you're in the woods for an additional 72 hours and you need it now. So you need to always ask yourself, is the warranty more important than the reliability? Because I am willing to pay a little bit more.

And granted, listen I've been a magazine writer and an outdoors guy for years. I've gotten stuff for free. And I'll tell people when I [00:55:00] get something for free, when I pay for something, many times I pay for my own gear. And I'll say, I would rather pay for something that I know will work than hope that.

But yet there are other people out there that are like, I'll just fix it when I get home. What if you need that to get home? Yeah. So that's one of those mindset things that drives me crazy when I hear that. It just, it's like a ice tick in my ear or nails on the chalkboard. It's like you're settling.

Stop settling. Yeah. Yeah. Definitely are. What does, like your average, I'm just curious about you specifically. What does your average outing look like? Or your average, like recreational you're not working, right? You're not on a training mission, you're just doing this for fun. Are you doing like big, deep backcountry excursions?

Are you doing maybe more three, four day things? What does the average trip look like for you?[00:56:00]

Like that. A lot of my stuff when I have free time, which is usually just like one or two days a week at most, like I work five days a week, many times six or seven. So I don't get extended trips that are personal many times. I'm very fortunate when I do a hunt it's usually covered by the company.

So I did a western hunt in Wyoming eastern Wyoming, and that was covered by the company. But when I do get a chance to go out on my own, it's usually around the holidays and I still go hunting in my home state of Connecticut. Even though we've got some ridiculous laws and whatnot, I don't mind going out by myself to my old stomping grounds.

And I will wake up at four o'clock in the morning to drive to the site at and get there at five or five 30. The sun will come up at six 30 or seven. And in Connecticut, it's a lot of still hunting, but I will absolutely sit still. One spot and just sit and sit. [00:57:00] And I, it's so peaceful for me. So my average day could be a trip like that, or it could be me grabbing a chest pack that is loaded up with my fishing gear and a backpack.

And in that backpack I've got all my basic, 72 hour kit, like my canteen, a whoopi, a poncho, things like that. And I'll go out and I'll go fishing in the mountains and then I'll come home that day, so I don't mind doing stuff like that. Like I do a lot of very deliberate one day trips and I get so refreshed, so re-energized when I do that thing.

Any chance that I get to do an overnight, I'm gonna do an overnight. And if I visit my girlfriend, I'll find a way to go fishing down in Florida. If I, do something for the company, I'll find a way to get out in the great outdoors. When I was out in Utah recently to teach, I flew out to Utah. I had to teach Friday, Saturday, and Sunday I'm sorry, Friday, Saturday.

And course on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, I flew out there on Wednesday and I had the option of staying in a hotel [00:58:00] or being up in the mountains at elevation. And I told him, I'm like, you guys know where you can find me? And they're like, you're gonna be up in the hills? I'm like, yeah, why wouldn't I be? This is the most amazing country to go camping in.

So my typical trip is very deliberate. When I go with purpose. And whether that's to go fishing or hunting or to go into, the property that we use for field craft to go shooting or whatever it may be, there's always purpose and I always get it done, and I always feel so accomplished at the end.

And of course there's downtime. I do enjoy a good cigar every once in a while. That's usually involved in my in my one day trips too. Yeah, perfect. You gotta have those, you gotta have those little, I don't know if they're not quite creature comforts, but those little things that just put the cherry on top, dude, I'll call it what it's a weakness.

I love a good cigar. It's a weakness. Yeah. Unless you're with me, then that'd be a strength 'cause I probably wouldn't be able to smoke a good cigar, awesome. We're [00:59:00] touching up on just over an hour, obviously. I wanna be respectful of your time and you're farther east than me, so it's later out there than it is here.

But I wanted to give you an opportunity, Kevin, to share with the listeners where they can find you and where they can find your book if they're interested in learning 101 different skills they could use to survive in the woods. Yeah, of course. So people can find me at field craft com. That's the company website.

My. Place of business is in North Carolina. So I run the training division here in Aberdeen and we do bushcraft survival training, land navigation training, medical training shotgun training. Our tactical training director, Casey, he runs all of the pistol and rifle cords about a maxin. So we have a lot of training that we do here in North Carolina.

We'll get you ready for the field. People can message me on Instagram at Ella Wilded. They can email me if they want Estella at renewable [01:00:00] com. And you can find my book at Barnes and Noble. You can find my book at books a million on Amazon. You can. Field craft. People always say where's the best place to, give you the most from the sale?

And it's I get the same commission that I've been getting for four years off that book no matter where you buy it. So as long as you can find it for a good, cheap price, I'm happy. And if you wanna do something that's really cool, something that I've been encouraging everyone to do, please buy a copy of it if you have one already, and donate it to your local library for distribution and specify that so they don't sell it.

Just because I want to encourage people to get into the great outdoors, and not everyone's gonna have 20 bucks to buy a book. And maybe there'll be a kid today, like there was when I was young and I was that kid going to the library, checking out books, getting inspired by outdoor writers, and maybe by donating a book to your library, a book that I wrote, you'll inspire a kid to be the next generation of outdoor.

Wouldn't that be cool if you could just look [01:01:00] down wherever you're looking up from. In a hundred years, and there's some person on a podcast that says, I got into it because I read this book at my local library. That would be really cool. That would be so cool. That would be amazing. That's I guess why we do it.

That's why you do it anyway. You're the educator, right? That's the dream. Yeah. Lifelong never end. There you go. Thank you for being here, Kevin, and thank you for listening folks.