Wednesday, June 8, 2016


An idiot’s guide to Beaver Chewing

On Wednesday the 1st of June, at around dusk, myself and a group of 19 others with our guide, Nick, embarked on a shortened survival and bushcraft course. Being from Australia, I have had my fair share of bush stories which have required skills related to the Australian climate. So, it was with great joy and expectation that I could be part of this experience to hopefully learn skills capable of helping me to learn how to survive in the Canadian wilderness. As soon as we left the Ranch we were thrown into a pit of knowledge with nearly everything around us capable of being used to help us survive. The start of the course was rapid and its depth of knowledge could only grow.

As we walked around the trail of our main base of operations, we came along a freshly fallen willow tree. We had already been told the importance of “green” wood for its flexibility and the multiple ways it could be manipulated for making it into structures for shelter, used for cooking and much more. The question was then raised of ‘how could we cut off a piece of this wood’ and ‘how long would it take?’

The first answer was easy, we could do it with our knives, which we found out was an important part of any survival kit. The second stumped us (no pun intended). We mustered up answers ranging from 5 to 10 minutes. Then our guide Nick, emphatically announced that it could easily be done under a minute depending on the thickness of the wood. With our mouths gaped and minds tangled we eagerly awaited the answer to the riddle.

Nick first explained the structure of the wood. He explained that most wood had a tough and hard layer, with the tough layer being likened to leather for its malleability and strength and the hard layer being likened to that of glass which is hard and strong but also having a characteristic of being brittle. The tough layer is also known as the Sap wood and the hard layer known as the Heart wood. With our ears fixated on this description, our minds began to click into to gear of how we could cut this wood.

Nick continued with his explanation by introducing to us a knife cutting method called ‘beaver chewing’. With his knife held in one and the intended wood he wanted to cut in the other, he explained that in order to cut the wood we first needed to get rid of the Sap wood and then simply apply force to the brittle Heart wood to break it off. My mind was blown away.

He then proceeded to make incisions with his knife around the wood, through the Sapp wood to the start of the Heart wood. He then cleared the Sapp wood and with minimal exertion, effortlessly snapped the piece of wood he wanted off. My mind continued to be blown away.

The method was a simple and effective way to get the wood we wanted to enhance our chance of survival by using it for shelter and other various purposes. The paraphrased mantra that Nick used and really stuck to me was ‘look, think and imagine’ and the Beaver Chewing method shown to us was a testament to that. All we need is a sharpened knife and a thought out, logical plan and we are capable of cutting limbs of trees in a matter of minutes. Amazing!

My time in this short course was an enlightening one. My mind was encapsulated by the endless possibilities of things that could be used for survival. This course not only taught me the importance of knowledge of our environment but also the importance of using our most valuable tool, our minds. I’d recommended going on the Bushcraft and Survival course because you’ll learn valuable and lifelong skills as well as being able to explore the beautiful expanses of the Chilcotin Holiday Ranch and the Wilderness of the Chilcotin Mountains.


About Unknown

We are a licensed guide outfitter and we conduct guided wilderness adventures throughout our 5,000 square km operating area. This guide area has been operational since 1880, making it the oldest in British Columbia. More about us HERE.

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