Practical Bushcraft Exam

We use the logbook to track the individual progression of each student. However, there are some skills where a demonstration of the skill set is necessary for competence. You can either complete a task safely and efficiently, or you can’t.

The practical exam process is about having a minimum skill level necessary to be able to lead trips and travel through remote areas safely.

Practical Exam Components:

Candidate will demonstrate their knowledge of fire by explaining what the five stages of fire are, then demonstrating their competency and skill with those five stages.

The axe is the first tool of the woodsman. Candidate must demonstrate safety and judgement in using the axe under any conditions.

The knife is the general tool of the woods. The ability to safely and powerfully wield it, while posing no danger to one’s self, is of critical importance. Candidate will be tested on its safe use by carving several objects in a given amount of time.


Candidate will demonstrate their knowledge of building a bucksaw out of natural materials (will be given a blade) in 30 minutes using only a knife. Candidate will then use the saw to section a log.

Cordage And Knots
Candidate will demonstrate knowledge of, and ability to tie, a series of knots useful for general bushcraft, as well as specific knots to traveling.

The canoe is the transportation method of the northern guide. Candidate must demonstrate their knowledge of canoes, and ability to control a loaded canoe in various conditions of wind and water.

Candidate will demonstrate knowledge of map and compass for use in navigation by taking a bearing with a compass in the field and explaining the dif ference between magnetic and geographic north. Candidate will complete triangulation exercise demonstrating knowledge of using compass to find a specific point. Candidate will then use the compass to plot an accurate course on a topographic map. For barehand navigation, candidate will use natural direction indicators and their knowledge of geometry to create an accurate direction indicator, explaining how they would calibrate it to measure one degree of accuracy.

Candidate will demonstrate their ability with regard to food preparation by lighting a fire and baking (in a reflector oven), frying and boiling a meal consisting of sourdough biscuits, cof fee, and two fried eggs, finishing at a specific time.

Candidate will demonstrate their knowledge of survival by discussing the survival equation, then talking about the appropriate order of survival priorities in a survival plan.

Individual Shelter
Candidate will discuss the physics of shelter construction as they build an individual shelter chosen by the instructor. Candidate will identify the mechanisms of energy transfer and how the shelter minimizes these.

Tree And Plant ID
Candidate will demonstrate their familiarity with the flora of northern Maine by identifying 25 plants chosen at random by the instructor. Candidate must know the common name and latin name, as well as the english and latin family names. Candidate should know something about the uses and lore of each plant.

Lost Person Scenario
Candidate will demonstrate how they would deal with a lost person on a remote trip. This will be a live-action exercise with someone actually being lost.

Camp Life
Candidate will demonstrate their ability to set up and manage a clean and safe remote campsite.

Candidate will demonstrate their understanding of the weather and observational forecasting by identifying the wind direction and cloud type, then making a prediction about the weather for the next 24 hours based on their observations.


Candidate will demonstrate their understanding of the sharpening process and the ability to sharpen a knife to a shaving edge.

For more on these topics see The Jack Mountain Bushcraft Student Handbook.


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