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Conan The Bushcrafter


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#1 finmaccool

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 03:00 AM

Am I the only person who watches stuff like "Man vs Wild", "Survivorman" or "Dual Survival" and thinks about stuff in various Conan stories where Conan displayed what is now called "Buschraft"?
From REH's description of Conan eating raw frogs and avoiding Picts in The Black Stranger/Treasure of Tranicos, to DeCamp and Carter having Conan find flint and steel in the cave of the Thing in the Crypt and starting a fire.
In fact, I very much regret that REH never spent much time portraying Conan's life in rural Cimmeria. Wouldn't that have been fun!
I have a LOT of friends who are involved in Living History and historical reenactment and for the life of me I cannot help bit think that some of their gear - such as leather pouches with flint and steel and tinder in them- would have been common items in Cimmeria during the Hyborian era, or the Gunderland marches for that matter.

#2 Gin-Wulf

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 12:00 PM

i would have to agree with you, i wish we had more of a look into cimmerian life.i watch those shows too, thinking, conan could do that ,,

#3 Kortoso

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Posted 28 July 2011 - 05:28 PM

I agree. I have been a fan of primitive wilderness survival long before I read Conan stories.
It would be great to see Conan tracking a man across a rugged wilderness and the like. :)

#4 Morrigan

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Posted 29 July 2011 - 11:59 AM

I love those wilderness survival shows, Ray Mears is my favourite, and he's a local boy too.

http://www.raymears....t_Ray_Mears.cfm

#5 finmaccool

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Posted 03 August 2011 - 11:44 PM

I have been a fan of primitive living since childhood. My grandfather was half indian, and he taught me how to track animals, camp and so forth. He also told me never to go into the woods without a knife, LOL.... And I was a boy scout. But I still find those shows fascinating. I have caught several mistakes, usually by Les Stroud or Bear Gryls, and mostly I watch just to enjoy seeing the wilderness on television.

Edited by finmaccool, 03 August 2011 - 11:44 PM.


#6 Kortoso

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 12:29 AM

I wonder how much bushcraft was known by REH?
Was he lifting from other authors or writing from his own experience?

#7 finmaccool

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 06:49 PM

I wonder how much bushcraft was known by REH?
Was he lifting from other authors or writing from his own experience?


I would say it was a mix....

For one thing, Bob grew up in a rural area and we know he enjoyed spending time in the woods as a child. Passages in his writings have convinced me that Bob probably liked to observe nature very keenly, which influences even his pulp adventure stories in ways city bred authors just don't do. the way he describes animals and the woods for example.

For the other thing, he probably did read Walden, possibly even read Horace Kepheart and Nessmuk! He knew a considerable amount about the plains indians from his story the Thunder Rider (He knew things Hollywood did not know about until the 1970s for example), so I am guessing Bob may have either known elderly Indians or perhaps old Scouts or Indian fighters who told him a lot of that lore.
Also Bob was a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs and had many of the Tarzan books in his collection. Doubtless the idea of the Noble Savage living at one with nature influenced Bob too. Note that Conan is "of the Wild", especially in some stories such as the one with Balthus and Slasher (I had blood drawn and my brain is woozy right now, LOL...)
Remember, a lot of the skills and knowledge we are fascinated by today, when we see Bear Grills ,Cody Lundin or Tom Brown Jr. was stuff that just about everybody knew of a century or two ago. The term "Survivalist" was only coined in the last part of the 20th century by Kurt Saxon.
As one author of a survival book noted, in the olden days, EVERYBODY was a survivalist.

#8 Kortoso

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Posted 04 August 2011 - 07:30 PM

Was he a hunter?

#9 finmaccool

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 04:33 PM

Bob was not a hunter that I know of. I think he was like a lot of wilderness oriented folks in that he saw no need for it and would have viewed it as animal cruelty. I know folks who have tremenduous wooods skills and can track game and - if need be- kill it with a rock or knife. But they feel that what with supermarkets and restaurants there is no need to actually do that, its just a skill they have and maintain.
Many hunters are pretty much bewildered in the wilderness. In North America it is rare to find people actually 'hunting' anymore. Most sit in a tree stand and try to sniper an animal dumber than they are. Spot and Stalk hunting is dissappearing faster and faster every day.

#10 Fierro

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 04:52 PM

I love those wilderness survival shows, Ray Mears is my favourite, and he's a local boy too.

http://www.raymears....t_Ray_Mears.cfm

Ray Mears did an excellent piece on Rogers Rangers and the St. Francis Raid. Find it here.

Also one on the Apaches, here.

#11 Gin-Wulf

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Posted 05 August 2011 - 09:48 PM

Bob was not a hunter that I know of. I think he was like a lot of wilderness oriented folks in that he saw no need for it and would have viewed it as animal cruelty. I know folks who have tremenduous wooods skills and can track game and - if need be- kill it with a rock or knife. But they feel that what with supermarkets and restaurants there is no need to actually do that, its just a skill they have and maintain.
Many hunters are pretty much bewildered in the wilderness. In North America it is rare to find people actually 'hunting' anymore. Most sit in a tree stand and try to sniper an animal dumber than they are. Spot and Stalk hunting is dissappearing faster and faster every day.

i just have to say i agree with you 100% on that, i have the same feelings, im not an expert tracker but i am fair . i dont hunt because i dont see a point in it unless i needed to ,to survive.

#12 finmaccool

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Posted 15 August 2011 - 02:45 PM


I love those wilderness survival shows, Ray Mears is my favourite, and he's a local boy too.

http://www.raymears....t_Ray_Mears.cfm

Ray Mears did an excellent piece on Rogers Rangers and the St. Francis Raid. Find it here.

Also one on the Apaches, here.


Bushcrafting and wilderness survival have become HUGE trends here in the USA in the past two years. The thing is, I think Ray Mears was sorta ahead of the curve, as it were, as was Tom Brown Jr. and the late Ron Hood.
Brown has been teaching and preaching to the choir since the 1980s!'
It first started to take off a few years back when one of the cable channels had some survival specials. One featured Kentuckian Mykel Hawkes showing how to survive on a deserted island. Through the course of the show he used less and less equipment. I remember being fascinated by it, and how EASY he made it look (in reality woodscraft is hard!).
This was followed by the shows Man vs Wild and Survivorman. Then, the success of those programs lead to Hawks own series with his wife Ruth, called Man, Woman Wild, and to my current favorite of these shows Dual Survival with Cody Lundin and Dave Canterbury.....You guys will get a kick out of this. In one episode, Cody and Dave were stuck on the lone parie in the dead of winter and Cody cut off part of his buffalo hide robe to make cross gartered leggings (he always goes bare legged and usually barefooted.) Looking down at his furry boots, Cody opined, "I feel like Conan the Barbarian in these."

The custom and semi custom knife community and outdoors supply community have also exploded. You can see all sorts of versions and variations of a popular 'bushcraft' knife, usually a wood handled four inch blade knife with a drop point and scandinavian grind edge, and there are more companies making and selling compasses now than ever before.
What is funny is that so many people have failed to see something Neil Struass pointed out in his book "Emergency" before he went to Tom Brown's Tracker School. IE, in the past EVERYBODY was a Wilderness Survival expert, they had to be, or they would not have survived and we would not be here.
Occassionally people will look at Native Americans or indiginous aborignal types as examples, but a lot of folks forget people closer to home, like the Kentucky Longhunters, the Scottish Highlanders and others who had to know basic bushcraft skills in their day to day lives.
Highlanders and their equipment are fascinating- from the great kilt, which could be used as a blanket or small tent, to the dirk, to the sporran, which held all sorts of survival goodies.
Last year, I saw a great movie about wilderness survival called "Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America" which was a take-off on the Vinland saga, about two Vikings left behind in North America and the stuff they do to get by int he wilderness ...Those into bushcraft or REH stuff would probably enjoy this low budget film tremendously.

#13 Munthasem

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 04:25 PM

I like the idea that Conan actually was a natural original bushcrafter. He was indeed someone whose stories of such skills are told by generations to come so today's weekend warriors who no doubt have respectable knowledge of the stuff, draws it from some possible Conans and the world now long forgotten and burried except in the stories. Conan actually was a man who could in fact very much live remember some of the first flintknapping ever made by human hand, making a ropes out of some branches or long traces of animal skin and stuff like that. He actually could have a very real dillemas wether some knife or a dagger would be enough to both make a small hut out of branches in the forrest, as well as slay the sabertooth tiger as well if the situation demands it, so I believe Conan's skills in survival and bushcraft are something he's been taught from the first stumblings around so it's probably a thing like it's riding a bike for us. I like imagining him with some tools such as big Leuku type knives, some average axe, hammers and stuff like that, but when in need, he wouldn't need to dig into some hystorical books to find out about making a fire with branches spinning into the piece of wood. He'd remember this stuff from his grandparrents like we remember things like rottary dialer phones or writting letters instead of e mailing one another.

In his time, these things were not the luxury of learning because we find it cool and sometimes maybe usefull but the thing his life depended on. That's something I like about him. He is not cool bragging with this stuff. He came from that time we passionatelly read stories and legends about.
?Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely
in an attractive and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in sideways, Champagne in one hand,
strawberries in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and
screaming?.. WOO HOO?. What a RIDE!?

- Indian Larry Desmedt -
R.I.P. 1949. - 2004.

#14 Kortoso

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Posted 25 September 2011 - 06:14 PM

Last year, I saw a great movie about wilderness survival called "Severed Ways: The Norse Discovery of America" which was a take-off on the Vinland saga, about two Vikings left behind in North America and the stuff they do to get by int he wilderness ...Those into bushcraft or REH stuff would probably enjoy this low budget film tremendously.

Found it!
http://www.severedways.com/

#15 Ironhand

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:21 AM

I like the idea that Conan actually was a natural original bushcrafter. He was indeed someone whose stories of such skills are told by generations to come so today's weekend warriors who no doubt have respectable knowledge of the stuff, draws it from some possible Conans and the world now long forgotten and burried except in the stories. Conan actually was a man who could in fact very much live remember some of the first flintknapping ever made by human hand, making a ropes out of some branches or long traces of animal skin and stuff like that. He actually could have a very real dillemas wether some knife or a dagger would be enough to both make a small hut out of branches in the forrest, as well as slay the sabertooth tiger as well if the situation demands it, so I believe Conan's skills in survival and bushcraft are something he's been taught from the first stumblings around so it's probably a thing like it's riding a bike for us. I like imagining him with some tools such as big Leuku type knives, some average axe, hammers and stuff like that, but when in need, he wouldn't need to dig into some hystorical books to find out about making a fire with branches spinning into the piece of wood. He'd remember this stuff from his grandparrents like we remember things like rottary dialer phones or writting letters instead of e mailing one another.

In his time, these things were not the luxury of learning because we find it cool and sometimes maybe usefull but the thing his life depended on. That's something I like about him. He is not cool bragging with this stuff. He came from that time we passionatelly read stories and legends about.

This is not stories his grandparents told him about. This is life skills he learned in childhood the way we learned to tie our shoes or drive a car.
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#16 John Maddox Roberts

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 04:28 AM

REH had a minimalist style of writing. He would not go into the details of describing Conan's bushcraft. He would simply write: "Conan built a fire," or, "Conan built them a shelter," or, "Conan killed some game for their dinner." He would leave the rest up to the reader's imagination. Those who knew bushcraft would be able to envision what was happening. Those who didn't wouldn't know the difference.

#17 Ironhand

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 06:39 AM

REH had a minimalist style of writing. He would not go into the details of describing Conan's bushcraft. He would simply write: "Conan built a fire," or, "Conan built them a shelter," or, "Conan killed some game for their dinner." He would leave the rest up to the reader's imagination. Those who knew bushcraft would be able to envision what was happening. Those who didn't wouldn't know the difference.

REH did, however, describe Conan's tracking skills, his ability to evade hostile trackers, and his sense of smell.
"Did you deem yourself strong, because you were able to twist the heads off civilized folk, poor weaklings with muscles like rotten string? Hell! Break the neck of a wild Cimmerian bull before you call yourself strong. I did that, before I was a full-grown man...!" - Conan, in "Shadows in Zamboula", by Robert E. Howard
"... you speak of Venarium familiarly. Perhaps you were there?"
"I was," grunted [Conan]. "I was one of the horde that swarmed over the hills. I hadn't yet seen fifteen snows, but already my name was repeated about the council fires." - "Beyond the Black River", by Robert E. Howard

Read my Conan screenplays at The Scrolls of Ironhand (in particular my transcription of THE FROST GIANT'S DAUGHTER in Act II of "The Snow Devil") at
http://www.scrollsof...d.us/index.html or at
http://www.delicious...ic=ConanProject

#18 icarus

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 03:29 PM


Bob was not a hunter that I know of. I think he was like a lot of wilderness oriented folks in that he saw no need for it and would have viewed it as animal cruelty. I know folks who have tremenduous wooods skills and can track game and - if need be- kill it with a rock or knife. But they feel that what with supermarkets and restaurants there is no need to actually do that, its just a skill they have and maintain.
Many hunters are pretty much bewildered in the wilderness. In North America it is rare to find people actually 'hunting' anymore. Most sit in a tree stand and try to sniper an animal dumber than they are. Spot and Stalk hunting is dissappearing faster and faster every day.

i just have to say i agree with you 100% on that, i have the same feelings, im not an expert tracker but i am fair . i dont hunt because i dont see a point in it unless i needed to ,to survive.


I pretty much agree with you guys. I'm not a hunter myself but I love being out in the woods. Hunting isn't what it used to be, but we can't forget the science and benefits of conservation. If we didn't have hunters we'd definitely have some overpopulation issues. We're experiencing some of this even in lower Michigan. Here you can buy up to 5 antlerless tags a day... if you can afford it :P

#19 Kortoso

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Posted 26 September 2011 - 06:07 PM


REH had a minimalist style of writing. He would not go into the details of describing Conan's bushcraft. He would simply write: "Conan built a fire," or, "Conan built them a shelter," or, "Conan killed some game for their dinner." He would leave the rest up to the reader's imagination. Those who knew bushcraft would be able to envision what was happening. Those who didn't wouldn't know the difference.

REH did, however, describe Conan's tracking skills, his ability to evade hostile trackers, and his sense of smell.

Yes, but still without a lot of detail, probably in order to keep the story from being slowed down too much.

#20 icarus

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Posted 28 September 2011 - 02:13 AM

I was doing some browsing, kind of looking for some tips on how to stalk and hunt, and I found this website. It's some pretty good stuff and at least good for a look.
http://www.bushcraftusa.com/