Resources for bushcraft in Central Texas

Not sure if this is the right forum, but…

I have been researching bushcraft and have found several resources on the internet, but none specifically about conditions in central Texas. Does anyone know of any? Any recommendations?

Well, I think that if you look for Wilderness or Survival Training, you’ll have better luck. We don’t call it bushcraft here that I know of.

I’m not sure what you mean by conditions in Central Texas…weather, terrain, etc.? Weather would be fairly mild except in summer with moderate rainfall and fairly gently rolling terrain. It’s not desert, so water and food shouldn’t be terribly difficult.

By conditions, I mean local flora and fauna, geology, useful natural resources, dealing with flash floods (a big problem here) and any special conditions. How should I dress for the outdoors? Is there any gear that I will wind up using a lot? Is there any gear that I will never use and shouldn’t carry? How much water should I pack for different times of the year?

I know some of this stuff, but I a pretty much a neophyte.

I don’t know where you’re from or what you’re used to, but I’d say you’re not going to need anything extraordinary, since it’s neither desert nor arctic. It does get really hot in the summer. Flash flooding is certainly a problem, but depending on what you’re doing, it may not be an issue. It’s not like you’re going to be hiking slot canyons or anything. The topography is fairly gentle, as it’s basically southern coastal plain and forest. If you could tell me if there’s a specific area or activities you’re interested in and I might be able to tell you more.

I’m from central Texas, and have done a lot of camping there, including some “wilderness survival” stuff. Can you be more specific? Are you planning on visiting central Texas? It it some sort of program, or campsite specifically?

Thing about central Texas is there isn’t really any “wilderness”. Central Texas is heavily urban, the parts that aren’t are all privately owned. Most of the open land is used for farming, dairy farming, and ranching. It would be impossible to get lost in central Texas, you’d never be more than a few miles from a house or major highway. There are places to do camping, some quite beautiful and natural, but they are all managed by park services, and many are heavily traversed. There are private hunting leases as well, but you’d likely get run off by the owners before you could get comfortable.

If you are indeed coming to do some camping or hunting I can give you some tips. Or if you are looking for info for some writing you are doing I can give you some suggestions.

Well, I was thinking about doing some primitive camping. I live in Austin, btw. I would also like to know more about the native natural resources available to a hiker or camper.


Go to an outdoor store like REI. They have staff that can provide all kinds of info.

The key natural resources necessary for survival in Central Texas and the Hill Country are Shiner Bock and BBQ. Be sure not to stray more than easy walking distance from either.

OK, well if you live in Austin then you know the climate. Hotter than hell and humid, just about year round.

I’ve done some primitive camping about 30 miles north of Austin. I guess it depends on how primitive you want to go. I can’t imagine going without bug repellant, seeing as you’ll be covered in mosquito and chigger bites if you go without. Likewise, for deep camping I’d wear boots, long pants, and a hat for protection, in spite of the heat. Otherwise your legs will get torn up in the brush and you’ll get a nasty sunburn. So, other than what to wear for wilderness survival you need to address the following:

Water - there is plenty of water in central Texas, problem is that it may not be clean enough to drink with confidence. You’ll be exerting yourself too, so you’ll be thirstier than usual. I’d take a 2.5 gallon water carrier unless you are planning on taking iodine tablets or something to boil water in. Or you could camp somewhere with running faucets or pumps. Even then you’ll need a good 40 oz canteen.

Food - there is lots to eat if you know what to look for. In your area I’ve foraged cactus, blackberry, honeysuckle, watercress, dandilion, pecan, and others. Pecan, blackberry, and watercress are abundant enough to make a meal. I’d get a good book on the subject though. There are a lot of poisonous plants in Texas as well, most of the berries you find in Texas are not edible. I’ve never eaten a wild mushroom and I never will. You can catch crawdads and small fish pretty easily with your hands or with a net (or your shirt). You could kill an animal, but game is regulated, and so are most of the birds you’d come across. It is pretty easy to kill a squirrel, rabbit, or snake. But you’d need to be prepared to clean it properly, which can be daunting for a beginner.

Shelter/heat - the climate is mild enough to just wing it. You can just “meadow crash”, or build a lean-to out of branches and such. Bring a tarp to lay down on at least, or you’ll end up getting wet underneath. Also use the tarp to make a roof if it rains. I’d take matches or other means to build a fire which may be necessary for heat this time of year, but at least for cooking and entertainment. Some parks have rules about fires so make sure and check.

Etc. – there isn’t a lot of dangerous wildlife anymore in central Texas. Snakes are your biggest worry, and seeing as you are likely to avoid them you’ll be fine. Make sure you have an emergency escape plan. If you do get bitten by a cottonmouth, or if you twist your ankle, get heatstroke, or get attacked by fire ants and have an allergic reaction you could get into trouble even in some of the state parks. Again, unlike many states there is little public land outside of state parks in Texas – don’t go camping on someone else’s property.

At the bare minimum, I’d dress appropriately, and carry along a leatherman (knife and toolset), a pack of waterproof matches, a plastic tarp, some bug repellant, a sealed water jug, some twine, and my cell phone (turned off save an emergency). A nature guidebook with photos that covers local flora is a good idea too.

Is it preferable to use a hammock instead of sleeping on the ground? I actually find hammocks rather uncomfortable for long periods, but is there any reason to avoid the ground? Also, what about things like poison ivy? Where am I most likely to encounter it? Where can you go and build a fire?


There is nothing wrong with sleeping on the ground save you put down a tarp first, otherwise you’ll get wet when dewpoint hits. Just check for ants and scorpions before bedding down.

Poison ivy can pop up just about everywhere in Texas, but honestly it isn’t so common as to be a major concern. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t really look like a dangerous plant. Here is a link about the three poison plants you’ll find in Texas.

You can build a fire at most Texas state parks, but you have to follow the rules. You’ll have to build the fire in a designated campsite, and keep the fire in a site’s firepit or fire ring. You also have to make sure there isn’t a burn ban going on at the time. Some of the sites can be pretty remote so they may suit you. Just ask the park ranger when you check in, tell him or her that you want a remote site for primitive camping where you can build a fire and they’ll tell you where to go. You may want call ahead and check what sort of campsites the park has to be sure they have what you want. Some state parks are more like RV resorts than campsites. Also, officially you aren’t allowed to gather firewood at the parks to build your fire, but I’ve never seen that rule enforced. As long as you are gathering dead wood and not chopping down living trees you’ll be ok.

Here is a list of parks in your area. Again, Texas state parks are nicely managed and they’ll answer your questions if you call ahead. Often you’ll have to leave a message on voicemail because the ranger will be out on patrol, but they’ll always call you back.

Mother Neff is listed on that link, but it is closed, perhaps permanently, because of flooding. I’ve camped at many of these, and built fires at Bastrop, Inks Lake, and Colorado Bend.

You aren’t going there, but Man vs. Wild filmed a show in the Chihuahuan Desert of Texas. All you need are a few basic survival tools and a camera crew, lol.

Can you recommend any? Also, are there any good guidebooks on local geology and its uses? I only ever find limestone lying around (I guess there is there is a lot of granite north west of here).