Bushcraft, a subject popularized by men such as Canadian Mors Kochanski and Englishman Ray Mears, is in essence the study of spending extended periods of time in the bush, or the woods, and using only a minimum of gear. It is the practice of existing within the natural environment and making, or crafting, many of the items that add to one’s creature comforts rather than packing them in. For this type of use, tools with a high level of efficiency in woodworking are a definite asset.

At first glance the Camillus Bush Crafter has somewhat of a transatlantic, Nessmuk meets Ray Mears appearance. That is to say that the size and blade profile is reminiscent of the hump-backed belt knife favored by “Nessmuk” in his trinity of cutting tools, but it has a saber or Scandinavian grind and full tang construction like Mears’ “Woodlore” knife that is popular with the U.K. bushcraft crowd. The overall length is 8.5 inches and the 4-inch blade is made of 0.125-inch thick 1095 hi-carbon steel. The contoured slab-style handle scales are made of brown Micarta, and give the knife a nice earthy look. The knife comes with a sturdy leather pouch sheath, and it has a leather thong that is 2.5-feet long attached to the belt loop tied in a square knot.

Craft Some Bush

One common habit among bushcrafters is to carry their knives around their necks for ease of access in pretty much any position. Since the knife comes supplied with a leather thong that is obviously intended to serve as a neck lanyard, I chose to wear the knife thus on the hike to my intended campsite, and through the initial phases of testing. At just over 6 ounces, and the 8.7 ounces sheath and all, the knife didn’t feel like a boat anchor around my neck so that was a definite plus, but this would be as heavy as I would ever want to neck carry. Having the knife positioned on my chest kept it from interfering with the waist strap of my pack.

Along the way I stopped now and then to gather pieces of wood from downed trees for whittling and carving later on, with some of the branches being more seasoned than others. In keeping with the theme of the knife I had packed along a large, hammer poll hawk for heavier chopping duties, so some of the larger limbs were lopped off with that. With other smaller branches I used a technique I’ve always just referred to as ring-and-break. For this I make diagonal push-cuts around the circumference of the branch and then break it for a much cleaner end than simply breaking will produce. The knife comes with a very nice edge, with only a slight secondary micro-bevel, so making the 0.25-inch-deep cuts into the wood for making the ring was easily done.

By the time I made it to the camp I had a good little bundle of wood to work with, so finding a log to sit on, I set about making a few things common to bushcrafting. The first project was fabricating a set of L-7 trap triggers, which required cutting a beveled end and a simple diagonal notch on one end, and then a ring notch near the other. The second project was to fashion a figure-4 trap trigger that is a bit more complex and requires making notches of various shapes, sizes, and depths.

By this point – after the long meandering hike in – my stomach was starting to growl, and this inspired the making of an adjustable pot hanger. The adjustable pot hanger is simply a fairly heavy branch with all the smaller branches cleaned off, save part of one left to serve as a pot hook, with a series of deep diagonal notches on the back side. It is used, in conjunction with a sharply beveled stick propped over the fire, to adjust one’s pot from a lower cooking position to a higher warming position without worry of moving the pot to maintain the fire, or having the burning logs adjust themselves and spilling your water or victuals into the fire. Personally I like to slowly cook or warm my soups and let the aroma whet my appetite. The various shapes, sizes, and depths of the notches; diagonal, square, and V-shaped, on all three of these projects enabled me to work the knife through a number of carving techniques and a number of grips. The knife is a good size for this type of work and is very nimble in hand. I found it comfortable to use in all of the over-hand, under-hand, and pinch-grip holds I used in making the push, draw, and chest-lever cuts I made, as well as the straight up slicing cleaning when flat notch ends. Even though the spine is sharply squared to serve a striker for a ferro rod, the thickness of the spine isn’t uncomfortable when using the thumb for controlling the force in detailed carving. The pointy tip works well for reaching into tight areas, cleaning up angles, and smoothing the square notch bottoms.

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