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Fire and Australian Bushcraft

Corin

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Hi Moondog55.
Your post brought up a point (or skill) that I think is far more important than any means of making fire, primitive or modern. Navigation, and carrying a topo map and compass! Maybe I'll save this for another thread, so it doesn't get too offtopic.

So so true!!! Not just carrying a map and compass but knowing how to use them.
 
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Moondog55

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I said that because many of the hunters I know would be lucky to walk more than 5 or 8 k's in a days hunt and some don't usually leave the gulley they start in, funnily enough lots of them carry a GPS; but they only use them for logging data. way points when they find fresh sign, saved for checking on a map at home
 

smoke-n-mirrors

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I haven't seen this mentioned this above, so I thought I'd throw it in: Anyone else wondering about the psychological benefits of having a fire, given that psychology has a pretty big role to play in survival situations?

Just thinking "out loud" here: if my first instinct when I realise I'm lost is to stop, make a little fire and brew a cup of tea, is that more likely to lead to a positive outcome than if my first instinct is to start back-tracking immediately?
 

Corin

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I haven't seen this mentioned this above, so I thought I'd throw it in: Anyone else wondering about the psychological benefits of having a fire, given that psychology has a pretty big role to play in survival situations?

Just thinking "out loud" here: if my first instinct when I realise I'm lost is to stop, make a little fire and brew a cup of tea, is that more likely to lead to a positive outcome than if my first instinct is to start back-tracking immediately?

Psychology has a massive role to play... I totally agree with that. I guess it comes down to what you are used to though as to weather or not fire plays a part in your psychological well being. I don't bother, it doesn't worry me if I do or don't have one, but this will be different for everyone, and as mentioned above there have been situations when it was nice to have a fire, but I don't rely on fire.

Your suggestion to stop rather than back track, is absolutely true. I have taught remote and off track navigation for many years and strongly support this. When your realize you are not where you think you are, stop, have something to eat, drink, relax and then re assess your position. It is surprising what a huge difference this makes. If your thing is a fire and cup of tea, by all means go with that.
 

Moondog55

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I haven't seen this mentioned this above, so I thought I'd throw it in: Anyone else wondering about the psychological benefits of having a fire, given that psychology has a pretty big role to play in survival situations?

Just thinking "out loud" here: if my first instinct when I realise I'm lost is to stop, make a little fire and brew a cup of tea, is that more likely to lead to a positive outcome than if my first instinct is to start back-tracking immediately?

hell YES!

Stop; make a cuppa and start thinking not stressing, unless of course your backtrack is evident, immediate and accessible; in which case it makes more sense to turn around and go back, there is a lot to be said in favour of the old boyscout habit of leaving bits of brightly coloured crepe paper on the occasional tree.
I have never been truly lost, except on one occasion on a visit to Adelaide; although I have on many occasions realised I wasn't exactly where I was supposed to be.

Fire has many uses, boiling water is one of them, the emotional comfort provided by a small fire is immense, knowing you have the skill to make one in adverse circumstances is a definite psychological boost to morale
 

Big Bill

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Moondog......Fully take your point about Sambar hunters not using any Nav equipment.......I hunt Sambar regularly and very rarely use Map or Compass and don't use a GPS at all as they to me are unneeded to the Sambar man.........Hunting Sambar is all about doing your Homework on the animal, knowing your area, minimum movement and last but not least is the animal habits themselves and their pysical size........You really don't want to be carting huge bits of animal miles through the bush so I tend not to travel more than 1 maybe 2 ks from camp...........I have given up on remote back pack hunting Sambar as I cannot justify it to myself as ethical hunting as you will be mainly Trophy hunting and wasting meat...........Not trying to start a fight there but it's what I do........As far as fire goes I also think it is uneeded in many situations........Considering here in vic there are many above the snowline areas that are fuel stove only areas unless in a survival situation.......
 

Bartnmax

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I haven't seen this mentioned this above, so I thought I'd throw it in: Anyone else wondering about the psychological benefits of having a fire, given that psychology has a pretty big role to play in survival situations?

Just thinking "out loud" here: if my first instinct when I realise I'm lost is to stop, make a little fire and brew a cup of tea, is that more likely to lead to a positive outcome than if my first instinct is to start back-tracking immediately?

Ok, I haven't read every post within this thread but I thought I'd pass on one of my own experiences which may be relevent.
Abour 25 years ago I was deer hunting in the Vic' high country. It was a cold/wet time of year (winter) as these are the best conditions for deer hunting.
Now I am normally not one to walk a great distance when stalking (many hunters try to cover too much distance & in doing so miss a great deal or frighter animals out of the area before they even know of their presence).

Ok, so on this occasion I had crossed a river & worked back up a ridge & over the top into a 'virgin' gully. Found some nice sign of a big stag but I could see that fading daylight was going to beat me so I decided to head back to camp & try again the following morning. Due to my inexperience at that time I headed back down the ridge line but dropped off the wrong feeder ridge & found myself about 5-6kms away from camp with dark just about on me. Yep, first instinct kicks in-panic, but only for a few seconds until I started to think. I knew where I was. I was not lost - just further away from camp then I needed to be when dark arrived.
As I was on the river, & there were a few small rock overhangs that seemd to offer good protection from wind/rain, so I decided to stay the night rather than risk injury trying to get back to camp in the dark. There was adequate material to make up a reasonably comfortable shelter &, although I didn't really need one, a nice fire. Why start the fire? Well first of all was the MAJOR psychological benefit. I knew it would keep me warm, & it would also make a great signal in the dark if I did need finding (which I knew I didn't). I was also able to boil some river water in my panikin & make a cup of warm, suggary tea to bouy me spirits & strength (I always carry a panikin with a couple of teabags & a small pill bottle containing sugar, in my day pack.
This was a situation which could have easilly have gone very wrong if I had let panic instinct get the better of me. As it was I spent a fairly comfortable night in the bush in pretty inhospitable terrain, in pretty bad weather. It drizzled rain for most of the night but I was fortunate enought to have found an overhang that totally protected me. It was bitterly cold but next to my fire I was reltively warm. Bedding wasn't great but I was able to get some sleep between waking to tend the fire. The next morning I walked back into camp a very relieved hunter but otherwise uneffected hunter, thanks to my knife & ability to light a fire.

I rate mankind's 2 greatest achievements as the learned ability to create fire at will & the ability to create an edged impliment (knife).
Sure, if one has sufficent knowledge both of these things can, most times, be obtained from scratch without taking them with you, but if you have them with you, then you have a major advantage as the commercial impliments are infinitly beter then those you'll fashion from scratch.
Given the reletively light weight of the two objects I NEVER go bush anymore without a good knife & a feorcium stick/striker.
They have proven their benefit to me in a real life situation & whilst I know that I could create both from scratch if I really need to, I would never purposely leave either behind now.

Bill A.
 

Moondog55

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I rate mankind's 2 greatest achievements as the learned ability to create fire at will & the ability to create an edged impliment (knife).

Bill A.
Actually I would put champagne in as the third greatest achievement, I am having personal second thoughts on the ferrocerium rod tho, I could not get a decent spark yesterday and had to go back to my mainstay; the good old BIC lighter.
The scenario you describe is why my hunting pack is so much heavier than most of the fellas in NEDSA, I probably carry a little too much tho
 

Bartnmax

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Champagne No. Single Malt Scotch Whiskey - definitely YES.
I'd say that if you could not get a decent spark from a modern ferocium rod/striker then it must be pretty bloody poor product.
Even the cheap one's I've come across (& I have a few of em) are usually pretty reliable & very easy to use.
Used one of my own 'cheapies' last night (like to keep in practice when I can) & the biggest difficulty I have with it is in trying to see what's happening when using it. The spark is so intense/bright it is absolutely blinding.

By the way, just as an aside; a lot of people (myself included) often wear a buchcraft knife such as a Mora around their neck.
Ditto the ferocium starter.
I always make a point of using hemp or twine to hang mine on rather than synthetic cord. Why?
Well I usually have a fairly goodly supply of paracord somewhere (bracelet, belt, roll of it, etc), but the hemp/twine can also be unraveled & scrunched up to make an excellent tinder source for fire starting. Hemp is usually impreganated with kero during manufacture to slow down the decaying process.
Certaily helps when you're ready for fire starting if you've got it with you & dont have to go looking for it & it's very easy to get burning.
Mind you, there's not a lot of times when I dont have the ol' cotton wool balls with PJ, with me, which is even better then the hemp.

Bill A.
 
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Moondog55

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I was very surprised myself, it was wet but that should not have made that much difference and i was using the same knife to strike sparks as i use for practice at home.
I usually use very fine shredded stringybark for tinder, and this was bone dry and warm ( been in my undershirt pocket for a few hours ) and it wasn't lack of preparation either as once I had the tinder alight the billy was boiling in 4 minutes.
Hemp kerosene treated? Not that I ever saw but I have seen it treated with bitumen ( the old marline cord especially) The last lot of hemp I purchased was practically unburnable as it had been borax impregnaed to stop the rot and such anti rot treatment is also a fire retardent
 
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