Home' The Backwoodsman Magazine : Nov-Dec 2017 Contents inexperienced woodsman, as well as those times when
you are exploring new places and during seasonal changes.
10. Sketch Book: Sometimes a picture really is
worth a thousand words. Even as a “writer”, I often find
myself scribbling a rough sketch of a design or a nature
scene to really capture what words cannot. Sketches,
outlines, and designs can be helpful when you’re in
the market for a new sheath for your French Trade or
a new set of blanket roll straps. Also, a quick sketch of
an unidentifiable bird or butterfly can be helpful when
trying to identify species.
11. Interesting Finds: We’ve all walked into the
house with a grin on our face at one point or another,
holding a shed set of buck antlers or a uniquely-patterned
owl feather. Some have even
brought home relics of yes-
terday: lead shot, arrowheads,
and rusted muskets. These
are the one-in-a-lifetime finds
that stick with you, but end up
collecting dust on the mantle.
“W here’d you get that?” a
friend may ask, inspecting the
find. You think, but cannot
recall. “The woods”. A use-
ful location and date is helpful
in the long run.
12. Scrapbook: Where do
all those leaves, feathers, and
flowers go? If you’re sticking
them in your possibles bag or
shoving them in your pocket,
you’re risking damaging these unique items. Your jour-
nal is a great option for both pressing and preserving
13. Inspirational Quotes: Whether it’s Horace
Kephart, who said, “The man who goes afoot, prepared
to camp anywhere and in any weather, is the most
independent fellow on earth,” or George W. Sears, who
said, “The law is a farce—only to be enforced where the
game has vanished forever”. Don’t get caught around the
campfire without your favorite seminal woodslore quote.
These can even be instructional. One example of such a
case is, “Set up camp before you start drinking”. Author
14. Poetry: In the vein of Nessmuk’s Forest Runes
book of poems, every woodsman stumbles upon a line or
two while trekking through nature. How could you not?
Mother Nature is the greatest muse, constantly providing
a series of inspiring images for those who wander into her
presence. Sometimes, other types of creative writing—
songs, riddles, even jokes—may pop up, too.
15. Personal Reflection: At it’s core, the woods-
man’s journal is best at being the open ear, the friend
who never judges, and the woman who never speaks. It
will listen, it will take in your emotion, and disperse a
general feeling of freedom. You don’t have to pour your
heart on page, but sometimes reflecting on a traumatic
event, a recent change, or a bad decision can make the
difference between moving on and getting stuck in a r ut.
Your woodsman’s journal can really be your go-to
place to deposit the cache of your mind, freeing it up
for more important tasks, like that beer in the bottom of
your rucksack. It doesn’t take much effort to strap on the
headlamp and write for ten minutes before dozing off to
the sound of crickets and campfire.
Determining what type of
notebook your carry is purely
personal preference. Some peo-
ple prefer the wide pages and
high school nostalgia of a spiral
or composition notebook, while
many veterans prefer the nimble
Field Notes journals for record-
keeping. Either way, something
with durable pages might help,
especially in the rainy season
and throwing your notebook in
a large plastic baggie may do
If you are interested in some
bushcraft quality journals, there
are quite a few options out there.
Your local Barnes & Noble offers
a wide variety of high-quality leather notebook and Field
Notes covers. While leather will run you a pretty penny,
it’s worth keeping your thoughts safe and secure.
After all, the effort you put into reading this article
and buying a notebook, be sure that you don’t forget
something to write with. Pencils and pens are standard,
but differ widely. Pencils have the benefit of being able
to be sharpened in a manly fashion using your 6.5”, hand-
forged, carbon steel bush knife. Pens, especially once on
the page, are most durable, but anything is susceptible to
rain and snow. These utensils are too cheap and light to
not pack a few different sorts. This author prefers a black
permanent marker for the most durable writing.
The woodsman’s journal is not only an essential part
of any bushcrafters kit, but any human being interested
in a mind dump. Although the woods are often the best
place to think, keeping a journal can help you focus on
the more important things in life, like the next campfire,
the next bend in the river, and the next campaign. Do
yourself a favor - grab a notebook, a pen, and hit the trail!
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