We got the chance to sit down with Michael Barton of BushcraftBartons, who maintains a large video library of tips and skills that make enjoying the outdoors that much easier. From hunting and making fireside meals to surviving with bare essentials, Michael has a wealth of outdoors knowledge that we are eager to tap into.
OutdoorHub: How did you get started filming for BushcraftBartons? What were your aspirations at the time?
Michael: These videos started because of my wife Josie. One day she told me that I should share some of the stuff we did so that family and friends would see. At the beginning the answer was no. I did not want to share with anyone. I saw myself as an isolated individual, but I eventually changed my mind. So I made a video, started getting a few comments and subscriptions and that’s how my channel started rolling. My wife Josie should get all the credit. She is the one who pushed me.
Who would you say inspired or mentored you?
Sadly because of a rough childhood I had no one to mentor me. The thing that truly inspired me is the woods itself. I felt good in the forest and I am really attracted to it. At times when driving back from work or whenever I am on the road, I start seeing some wilderness and all I want to do is stop the car and jump in the bush. I had a lot of trial and error and still do. If you want a name I would have to say in the last five years Ray Mears was a great inspiration. To be honest right now, what inspires me are my faithful viewers.
What is the most dangerous thing you have done/encountered while filming?
Well I try and be as safe as I can whenever I am out. I say prevention is always the best defense. But I guess a scary time was while back on a canoe trip. We still had about five miles to do and had to cross this pretty big lake. All of a sudden I see some mean-looking clouds coming in fast. The wind was picking up, the waves were getting bigger, and my heart was starting to pump a little harder especially when thunder and lightning were getting into the mix. But we made it through safe…a little wet but all was good.
What was your hardest video to make?
Another three-day canoe trip and this time everything seemed to be going wrong. The weather was not cooperating at all and plus I was really ill at the time. It was very hard to concentrate on shots and trying to be joyful at the same time. I’ll just have to say that editing does wonders.
What gear would you consider essential to surviving for an extended period in the wild?
Ok lets make a list in no particular order:
- A cover (tarp, tent)
- More than one way of creating fire (lighter, matches, fire steel, firestarters)
- Food and water (cooking pots, cooking system and water containers; purifying tablets for water)
- A good knife, saw and axe
- A sharpening stone (dull blades can become a nightmare in the bush)
- Extra clothing (t-shirts, socks, underwear)
- Sleeping system (sleeping bag, hammock)
- Cordage (extra paracord is always useful in the bush)
- Soap, toothbrush, toothpaste (staying clean is a must)
- Medical kit (first aid, diverse pills for pain, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea)
- Dry bags (keep your clothes dry and food safe)
- Compass and map (if needed)
- Lights (headlights are most important as it keeps your hands free, flashlight, extra batteries)
- Protective gear (if needed, bear spray, bug repellent)
- Signaling gear for rescue (just in case, whistle, signaling mirror)
The list can go on or be a little different depending on your environment and season. The best gear is what’s in your head. What to do and what not to do. Knowledge is making wise decisions. Never forget to tell someone where you are going and when you are supposed to be back.
One of the most important aspects to bushcraft is the right knife for the job. What would you say is your favorite?
Well to me, bushcraft knives are all about making general tasks as safe and easy as possible. So my Woodlore clone would have to be my favorite. It’s made of 01 tool steel (keeps a good edge and is very tough) with a scandi grind (which is easy to sharpen and to control).
Now when speaking of a survival knife, that is a bit different. A survival knife (compared to a bushcraft knife and general tasks) is seen as a one-job tool, meaning it’s big enough to do part of the job of an axe but not too big so that it can also do finer cuts. My choice for me with no second thoughts whatsoever would be the Parang. The Parang is an excellent chopper and can easily do fine jobs.
What is your favorite food to make outdoors? How do you make it?
It would be too long to answer. Those that know me, also know that I love to eat outside but let’s round it up to meat. Love cooking meat. Either it’s right on the coals or done as jerky. Any way you cut it, I’d have to say that is my favorite.
What are some tips or something you have learned from a comment on your videos?
Again, I could spend a lot of time on this. If i have to narrow it down to one word it would have to be courage. Doing videos, even though they are fun to watch, are at times a lot of work and you have to go through many trials and obstacles. So, comments that encourage me is what helps me to keep going when the going gets tough. What is the definition of encouragement? Giving courage to someone. That is the most important thing I have learned through the encouraging comments of my subscribers and friends.
How has filming for a video series changed your approach to what you do?
At first these videos were for fun. Now my whole approach and goal has changed to wanting to inspire people to go out there and enjoy themselves. People wonder if I am about survival. Well at the beginning I was but everything has changed. When you think about it everyday we must work hard if we want to eat and pay our bills. Some people have to deal with things such as disease and violence. So when you get home, have supper and can finally get to bed to rest, you have survived another day. When I am out in the bush, it’s about living. Yes people can use what I show in an emergency scenario but my goal is to help and inspire and show them that they can do the same as in my videos.
What are your goals for the future?
My ultimate goal is to reach as many people as I can with the time I can put in. Hopefully, I will be doing this full-time one day.
We’d like to thank Michael for giving us the time to interview him and you can find more of BushcraftBartons’ videos at their channel on YouTube.
Editor’s note: This interview is part of a series with OutdoorHub’s featured video partners. Click here to read our interview with survival expert Dave Canterbury, and click here to read our interview with Addictive Fishing’s Kevin McCabe.
Image courtesy Michael Barton