Back in July, we invited you all to take part in an interview with one of Woodlore’s Fundamental Instructors and newly-appointed Head of Operations, Dan Hume. Many of you got involved and kindly sent us your questions, which we then whittled down to the best 20 entries. During a break from leading our courses, Dan sat down with us for a chat and gave us his answers:
- In your current role at Woodlore, what is the most satisfying element to your job? (Question from Mark H.)
Seeing clients leave with new found knowledge and the confidence to go off on their own.
- And what is the worst thing about bushcraft and being an instructor in it? (from Mark O.)
I can’t think of anything, I just enjoy it so much.
- What has been your biggest challenge to overcome whilst at Woodlore, and what has this taught you? (from David J.)
The biggest challenge I have found is teaching clients while I’m at such a young age, where most are older than me. It has taught me to be more confident about my knowledge and to continue to learn as much as I can.
- What is the scariest situation you’ve ever been in? (from Debbie H.)
On a trip to Africa I had a close encounter with a lion. It didn’t present a threat, but as it was my first trip to Africa I found it very unnerving.
- What, in your opinion, are the most important qualities which determine a good Bushcraft instructor? (from Mark H.)
Patience, approachability, experience, teaching ability and a sense of humour.
- What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in the outdoors? (from Joseph S.)
To be motivated and constantly try to find answers to the problems you face. The piece of advice I was given was to always take the hard route.
- You are obviously doing something you really enjoy… If you were not a Bushcraft Instructor, what would be your second choice for a job? (from Mark H.)
I would be a paramedic or in the military.
- What other interests and passions do you have that are not related to Bushcraft and Woodlore? (from Zoe G.)
All of my interests revolve around Bushcraft, as it is such a massive subject. It can always be related back to Bushcraft. I enjoy deer stalking, history, and watching wildlife.
- What motivated you to join the bushcraft community, and what have you seen or experienced that has told you it was all worthwhile? (from Sean G.)
Being in the outdoors is something that just came naturally to me, a desire to be outside. Discovering Woodlore and becoming involved with them has made it worthwhile.
- Doing courses over and over again may look boring in the end. Where do you get your inspiration from to enjoy it every time? (from Ronald B.)
It is never boring as every course is different. There are different clients each week and different seasons. At the start of every course I treat it like a blank canvas.
- You spend all day teaching students. What is the biggest thing the students have taught you? (from Mark H.)
When you are teaching you learn the common mistakes made and then you can address them next time. It makes you a better teacher.
- How was it to be teaching your mother on one of your first Fundamental Bushcraft courses as course leader? (from Bert H.)
It was really good, it gave my mum a chance to see what I do, and I got to boss her around for a change.
- In your opinion, what is the most valuable advice you have been given in relation to survival? (from James)
Always have a will to survive and make sure your priorities are in order.
- Which Bushcraft skill have you found hardest to master, and do you have any tips which you think may help others to master it? (from Mark H.)
The fire plough is the hardest. It is not the most reliable way of making fire in this country, and I am still trying to master it. The only advice I can give is to persevere with it, like any Bushcraft skill.
- What conditions do you prefer making and maintaining a fire the most and why? (from Bart L.)
I like it when it is warm and dry, it makes fire lighting more pleasant. You can find dry tinder and fuel.
- When I make fire using the bow-drill method, I always have a hard time getting the tension of the cord just right. Too loose and it doesn’t grip the drill, too tight and you can’t get the drill in there at all. Do you folks have a special way of tying the cord, like the slippery adjustable loop used on guy lines? (from Jeff A.)
No, on one end of the bow tie a fixed loop, on the other end a couple of round turns and two half hitches. The drill should be difficult to put into the bow, but not too much of a struggle. Make sure you have got good paracord. If you find the drill slipping, a quick temporary measure is to apply tension with the fingers of the hand holding the bow. With experience you can gauge the amount of tension needed in the bow even before you start bowing.
- I am a devoted student to tracking, having recently joined a professional human-tracking group here in the US. As I get further into this art, will my concentration on human tracking limit my abilities to understand animal tracking? (from David T.)
Not necessarily, the principles of tracking are the same whether you are tracking humans or animals in my opinion.
- Given that, according to Mike Thompson (Everest Expedition 1975), “The important thing about food is that there should be some”, what are the best and worst meals you’ve had on the trail? (from Richard A.)
The most awful meal I had on a trip was when my companion managed to serverely burn the porridge.
The best meal is venison steak cooked quickly over the embers of a camp fire – delicious.
- If you were to choose only three items to have with you except for the clothes on your back, that you could do all of the basic things in a survival situation, like lighting a fire, purifying water and building a shelter, what would they be? (from Chris D.)
An axe, rifle and billy can.
- If you were to be stranded anywhere on the earth’s surface for the rest of your days, where would it be? (from Craig T.) WINNER OF DAN’S FAVOURITE QUESTION
Suffolk, where I grew up. It is where I started and where my interest in the outdoors was sparked. It has beautiful countryside and it is where I feel most at home.
So there you have it! The very first of our Ask an Instructor interviews; we hope you’ve enjoyed it, and we’d love to hear what you think of it. We’d also like to thank everyone who sent in their questions for Dan; due to the number we received we unfortunately couldn’t include them all. Also, congratulations to Craig T., whose question was picked by Dan as his favourite. Craig wins a £10.00 Woodlore Voucher for his entry.