Survival Skills: How To Make a Bark Container

Did you ever notice how easy it is to knock off a chunk of tree bark in the late spring time? That phenomenon is due to the sap running in the tree and the bark temporarily loosening as the tree gets ready to put down another growth ring. This is the perfect time to peel bark for containers.

Bark containers have been used for thousands of years and are found worldwide. From the birch bark canoes and maple syrup buckets of the Native Americans in the North East, to Aboriginal bark cooking pots in Australia, the containers have been as diverse as the people who have made them.

Bark containers also give you a strong and versatile container to use for survival purposes in the wilderness, especially if your normal gear has been lost or stolen. Here’s how to make one type of bark container.
Collecting The Bark**
Through most of May and all of June in the US, you can collect tree bark from trees that have a flexible bark, like tulip poplar, basswood and hickory. Select a young tree with thin bark. The tree should be less than six inches in diameter for best results. Also, make your selection in a thicket if possible, to open it up for the benefit of the other trees. If you have a hatchet or saw, cut the tree down and drag it out of the thicket. In a primitive survival scenario, you can use a sharp rock that weighs about one pound as a bark chopper to remove the bark without cutting the tree down.

If you’ve cut the tree down, cut around the tree about 2 feet up from your felling cut. Then score a line along the length of the trunk that connects the two cuts. If using a stone chopper, mimic those cuts while the tree is still standing. When you’ve finished your cuts, carefully peel the bark off and then you’re ready to make a container.

Folding A Container
Getting the bark skinned off the tree is the most difficult part; making the container isn’t usually too hard. My favorite bark container style is commonly known as a “berry bucket”. To make it, scratch a football shape in the middle of the inside of your freshly peeled bark, with the “points” of the football just touching each edge of the bark. Fold the bark in half, allowing the scored section to bend freely, and tie the bucket together with cord or rope. Make this bucket style short and wide to act like a basket. Make another one long and slender for a nice arrow quiver that’s already camouflaged for the forest. Your only limits are the flexibility of the bark and your creativity.