Amazing bush craft

Amal Chatterjee
9 min readMay 24, 2022

Source : Google photo of amazing bush craft

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Synopsis: Some people mistakenly think that a tropical forest somewhere can make for a nice adventure for hunting, fishing and making shelter to enjoy nature. A forest can be a dreadful place unless you have the skills to survive there. This skill is learned from the practical experience under the guidance of a bush craft master. So do not try it on your own thinking that it is easy because it is not.

I admire the people who are born with an indomitable spirit of independence. This trait manifests itself at a certain stage of the development of a child because at first the child is totally dependent on his mother or someone who feeds him regularly and takes care of him.

But as he starts to grow up, the built-in spirit of independence starts to show that later develops the kid into a remarkable, self-confident and self-assured individual who is eager to learn the skills from his elders so that he can survive anywhere under any set of circumstances.

This spirit is more praiseworthy when found in a young girl who can hardly be more than 18 years of age. We usually form a stereotype opinion of females in a macho society where boys are preferred over girls and the females are considered to be the weaker sex who are either exploited by the males or at worst condescended about.

I have lived in many parts of Africa where women become self-reliant at an early age and do most of the hard work to help men build mud homes, gather firewood from the forest, get shea nuts to make shea butter, plant and harvest crops, till the plots to remove the weeds, plant vegetable garden near their village, prepare meals that require pounding of corn or millets every day and do this while carrying a baby on their back.

Source: Google photo of a hard-working African woman

They fetch water from the well, sweep and clean their homes and yard every morning and do numerous other chores like making baskets or weave cotton to make beautiful rugs or clothes for men and children. They milk their cows and goats and take care of their chicken and ducks. They hardly ever sit still so you may say that they are very hard-working women.

I have noted this hard-working nature in Asian women as well notably in Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Burma and Indonesia. The mountain people in these countries work extra hard to remain self-reliant and produce some of the most exquisite handicraft like potteries, shawls or blankets using their primitive tools and looms. Their bamboo homes are a work of art. They are so well made and sturdy that it will certainly impress you.

The mountain people belong to certain tribes who live close to the forested areas from where they get their building materials like bamboo and wood not to mention source of food, they hunt for there. They become excellent hunters at an early age and learn to build traps to catch fish from the streams or small animals in the forest. They gather honey in the forest as well as numerous medicinal plants and roots they learn to use to heal wounds and treat sick people.

This strong spirit of independence born of necessity in the Montagnards, or the mountain people of Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and other countries makes them survive in areas where the city people cannot. When these mountain people move to cities for reasons of their own, they gradually lose the knowledge of survival that is passed on from one generation to the next. The war in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia displaced thousands of tribal people that made life very difficult for them.

The Vietnamese girl I am about to show you in a video below is a very young woman who could hardly be over 18 or 20 years in age and highly skilled in the bush craft she has no doubt learned from her elders. She does not look like a mountain girl that makes her more remarkable. She goes to the forest somewhere in Vietnam and carries some very basic tools like a saw, a machete, a digging tool, a shovel or a spade, ropes, cords, a starter kit for making fire, some plastic sheets and two adorable pets. The baby monkey and the dog are inseparable as best friends.

There alone, she selects three trees that are close to each other. She first makes a tall ladder, climbs to the top of it and cuts grooves on the trees. Then she cuts strong logs that she ties to the trees in the notch she cut and gradually builds a beautiful and sturdy platform high off the ground on which she gradually builds a tree house. I will not preempt the story here so you should watch the video below to admire her extraordinary skill in making the tree house, catch animals using traps and sets up traps to catch fish, crabs, shrimps etc. in the stream in the second video.

She finds a huge a monitor lizard trapped in a fishnet that she rescues and lovingly frees the animal and sets it loose. She rescues her dog that was attacked by a large snake and kills the snake that provides her a lot of meat. She rescues her pet monkey that had wandered off into the forest and attacked by a wild animal and cares for its wounds on the head using medicinal plants she has a lot of knowledge of.

In short, this girl is adorable and will impress you if you just watch her videos and know how extraordinary she is. It is hard to believe that there are young girls like her so skilled in the bush craft. She is also very lucky to live in Vietnam where she can go to a forest and make her home there and grow her own food without any government official bothering her.

Can you imagine doing it anywhere in the United States or Europe? An armed forest ranger will suddenly appear out of nowhere and ask you haughtily for a permit that you must provide. Failing to do so will entail a big fine. You need permit for everything worth doing like fishing, hunting or building a tree house in these countries that in my opinion are over regulated. That is why people like the Native Americans no longer live in forests, so they are herded like animals into the so-called reservations where they are pitiful and unhappy.

Their proud ancestor lived freely wherever they wanted and maintained their freedom but not anymore. In most countries of Southeast Asia and India, the tribal people are mostly left alone to live the way they have always lived so no one bothers them. No forest ranger with a gun in his holster shows up to ask for permits although illegal hunting of tigers and other endangered animals is banned by the authorities.

Another point is the geographic location that counts as well. The Asian forests are rich in diverse type of plants, trees, bamboos and vines that the tribals can cut to build their homes. The forests are full of wild animals like pigs, wild chicken, small deer etc. The streams are a rich source of fish, crabs and shrimps. There are wild fruits and berries that anyone can harvest. The two videos will show how the young girl gets her food.

Once I had an adventure when I slept in a forest in California near a stream when I heard a growl of a wild animal during the night. It could have been a mountain lion that is very dangerous. I was so scared that I covered myself up completely in my sleeping bag and stayed absolutely still and controlling my breathing. I was very lucky that the animal went away and did not investigate the sleeping bag, so I learned my lesson and never ventured into a forest alone. I had no tools or anything to defend myself with, so it was a very foolhardy thing to do. I blamed it on my young age when people sometimes do foolish and dangerous things.

One has to be trained in bush craft to survive alone in the forest. You have to be trained to know which fruit or mushroom is edible and which one is poisonous, which plants have medicinal properties and what they can be used for. You must have training on how to build a house with bamboo and how to make the roof with leaves or bamboo.

There was a TV show where a few men and women were given a week or ten days to survive on their own in a dense forest somewhere and were given some basic tools. They had to be naked but that was just to spice up the show because there was no need for them to be naked in the forest.

So, some men and women accepted the challenge because of prize money but it was a pitiful show because they were city people who had absolutely no training on how to survive in a dense forest. They did not know how to make traps to catch fish, so they tried spear fishing and failed. They could not catch any wild animal either so most of them starved and became weak. They cried most of the time and wanted to go back but they had to stay the required 10 days, so they were desperate. When they caught a tiny fish, it was not enough for one mouthful. They did not know how to make shelter with wood or bamboo, so they shivered in the rain and got bitten by mosquitos. A forest can be a dreadful place if you are not trained to survive there.

But this girl was absolutely fearless and handled all situations very well because she was well trained. She was very resourceful and provided for her pets and herself using her skills. How did she learn so much at such a young age? Who taught her how to make traps, make baskets, make bow and arrow with a trigger and identify the medicinal plants?

There are a large number of books that identify plants and animals or how to make a shelter, but nothing beats the practical training under the supervision of someone who knows who has long experience in bush craft. Such knowledge is usually passed on from one generation to the next.

The secret to survival alone in the forest is in improvisation. One has to work with what is available there. In the video the girl finds a lot of porcupine quills and instantly knows that they make wonderful arrow heads. She knew that a lot of crabs hide in holes in muddy areas of the forest, so she fearlessly reached out deep in the holes to grabs the crabs.

She knew that banana trees have a lot of water stored in them, so she made a bamboo pipe to thrust into the stem and sweet water flowed into her mouth. One cannot survive anywhere without water, so she always selected a site close to the stream.

These videos will show you what is bush craft and how these very young women make it look easy to put up a shelter and find food. You can learn a lot about bush craft just by watching them. I am not suggesting that you should go to a tropical rain forest in Southeast Asia to try your luck, but it should not stop you from admiring these hard-working girls.

Should you ever be in a forest on your own, at least you should be well prepared with some tools, mosquito repellants, water and food plus a good sleeping bag. I was foolish enough to think that I could just spread my sleeping bag near a stream and sleep, but I was lucky. Nocturnal animals come out to drink from the streams so please do not make such mistakes.

Source : U tube video

Source : U Tube video

Source : U Tube video on bush craft

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Originally published at on May 24, 2022.