So, dear Reader, to finalise the articles about the long hunter - or more correctly the 21st Century Longhunter let me first remind you of my original thought/post that started us off ................
So what is this? I've heard the term popularised by Dave Canterbury and his
disciples and frankly like the sound of creating a kit based on what our
ancestors carried for hundreds of years using items that are simple and can be
used for a multitude of tasks, its something I have promoted many times myself
over the years.
A Longhunter (or long hunter)
was an 18th-century explorer and
hunter who made
expeditions into the American
frontier wilderness for as much as six months at a time. Historian Emory
Hamilton asserts that "The Long Hunter was peculiar to Southwest
Virginia only, and
nowhere else on any frontier did such hunts ever originate"
although the term has been used loosely to describe any unofficial American
explorer of the period. The parties of two or three men (and rarely
more) usually started their hunts in October and ended toward the end of March
or early in April (Wikipedia)
We've explored what a 18th/19th Century long hunter would carry and we've also considered what modern models of their traditional kit we could use, but lastly lets us put ourselves in their shoes.
Firstly, and this is where we sometimes can go wrong, we imagine the longhunter as a figure of romanice, the back woodsman fighting the cunning savage while at one with nature. And while I grant they may have been more experience and more in tune with their environment I doubt the longhunter was any different than a modern outdoorsman in his mind set. And this is the key for as we all know 99% of us into bushcraft or wilderness living aren't adverse to kit. Indeed this series or articles are really about kit, old fashion style!
So what would the 21st century long hunter do for kit? He'd have all the modern gear or at least the best he could afford - and this is where I think our 21st Century Longhunter AKA DC fans have gotten it wrong.
Traditional skills and kit are great fun and we should all espire to learn the skills and have a working understanding of traditional skills and clothing, what worked and why but we, like a modern longhunter shouldn't ignore the modern alternatives if available and better.
Now that is another question, are they better? As I have mentioned before a Swandri Mosgiel or bushshirt is only a modern version of a blanket coat or wool hunting shirt so very similar and very effective garments (as is a modern blanket coat you make yourself provided to get the correct materials) so in this light we see traditional items or skills as being better than some modern alternatives.
Undoubtedly some modern kit is superior, its no coincidence that sleeping bags have replace blankets or a nylon tarp a canvas diamond shelter for example - but don't write the old stuff off either - a blanket, for me, still has its place in bushcraft and I always carry one. Indeed back in the days when I worked for Woodlore even the great bushcraft guru Ray Mears used to recommend them and we even had them on the kit list for courses! A blanket is a item of multiple uses and anything that has more than one use should always be considered at least.
So in conclusion my friends, what is all this fuss about the 21st Century longhunter?? Sure, travelling back in time, taking to the woods with old time gear and using only old time skills makes you a better bushcrafter, or at least a more well rounded one skills and experience wise. And to me it's also fun to challenge myself to find food, keep warm etc etc using minimal kit but lets not lose track of the fact that Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett or Jim Bridger if they were alive today would all be out there in goretex smocks and be using blue flame lighters ....................
But that doesn't detract from the purest skill - the zen of bushcraft which to me is still a weekend in the woods with just a blanket, a billy and a knife!!