Every other month I look forward to the latest issue of The Backwoodsman. When I found this magazine it was like a breath of fresh air. Especially Being a “Backyardsman” in the July/August 2017 issue. Scott Siegfried could have been speaking for me. Like him, I wish I lived in a much more rural or even wild environment, but job and family responsibilities keep me in the city. But how can you be a backwoodsman in the city? His writing is full of ideas on living a backwoodsman life in the city – he calls it being a Backyardsman. I liked the idea so much that I decided to start this blog to explore it further. But how to be a backyardsman? How much can you really do in the city? If you think about it, quite a lot…
How to be a Backyardsman???
The first thing I read every time I get the latest issue of The Backwoodsman is read the Reader’s Requests box at the start of the letters section. This gives me an idea of what other people are interested in. Hopefully an idea for something to write about maybe. There are usually lots of good requests, but one in the March/April 2018 issue really surprised me – “How to be a Backyardsman.” Really? Every issue is packed with things you can do without being out in the woods. I got to thinking about it though and I’m guilty of the same kind of thinking sometimes. “Gee, if only I didn’t live in the city…” “Dang, if only I could take a month off from work and forget that I had a family to take care of, bills to pay…”
How to be a Backyardsman
First of all, what is a backyardsman? To quote Scott, “A backyardsman is basically a backwoodsman who sticks closer to home. He enjoys reading about survival, camping, old-timey stuff, self sufficiency, homesteading, etc. Dabbles in some ‘backwoodman-esque’ activities and hobbies. He may have a workshop where he makes…”
Well, you get the idea. Do you need to be living in a cabin or a tent to do any of these things? No. In fact, you could even do most of them in your… back yard. Wasn’t that easy? I’d even say that if you’re new at this, practicing in some skills in your backyard would be better than trying them for the first time in the back woods. For example using a tarp as an emergency shelter in a snow storm. Where would you rather try this for the first time? In your back yard, where failure means you go inside, have a cup of coffee, and think about what went wrong? Or out in the woods after a 10 mile hike, in territory you don’t know too well, where failure could mean that you freeze to death?
But what about??? I can’t…
Of course there are some things you can’t do in your back yard. Unless you’re incredibly fortunate, you probably can’t shoot a gun or hunt in your back yard. Heck, where I live it’s illegal to even shoot a BB gun in my back yard. That doesn’t stop you from building a black powder rifle kit though. Or learning to build an AR-15, refinishing the stock on an old rifle, making a custom set of grip for a handgun, reloading ammo, or studying for a CCW permit.
You probably can’t go fishing in your back yard. That doesn’t stop you from learning how to tie flies, make your own fishing lures, or raising worms to use or sell as bait. It doesn’t stop you from going to the park and learning to cast a fly rod. It doesn’t stop you from finding places to fish that are closer to home than your perfect backwoods fishing spot.
If you’re still doubting, just look through any issue of The Backwoodsman. In the latest issue, you can learn how to use a bow drill to start fires. Discover how to learn about your personal area of operation (AO) by going on micro adventures. Learn about whittling. How to make a quilt. Re-purpose a length of rebar into a walking stick. Make homemade grape wine. Put together a low budget camping kit. There is even a good write up on how to survive an active shooter situation. That’s just one issue, and every single one can be practiced in your own back yard. Heck, some of them don’t even require a back yard – a small bench somewhere is plenty of room.
What was the question?
Oh. “How to be a Backyardsman?” I hope this post answers the question. Being a backwoodsman or a backyardsman is a state of mind. You don’t have to be out in the woods to have that state of mind. You can have it and practice a lot of back woods skills right in your own back yard or abode.