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You’ve probably heard the classic proverb, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. It’s especially memorable if you’ve seen The Shining. When you’re out hiking, camping, or even surviving in the wilderness, you may be tempted to spend all your time working towards productive goals. However, it’s beneficial to take some time for leisure activities — they’ll improve your mental state, reduce stress, and hopefully prevent you from slowly going insane and trying to murder your family like the character in the aforementioned Stanley Kubrick movie.
Playing cards, board games, and books are good for leisure, but these items will need to be brought with you if you expect to use them. If you’re out in nature without any of these items, you’ll need to improvise sources of recreation, like native cultures and frontier settlers have done throughout history. Whittling tools, toys, and musical instruments from natural wood is one time-tested way of staying entertained in a survival situation.
The following video from Lazy Watchsmith shows how to carve a traditional willow whistle from a green wood branch. These whistles or flutes have been used as wind instruments for folk music in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and other Nordic countries. They can be used for this recreational purpose, or they can provide a way of signaling for rescue. Patterns of whistle blasts can even act as a means of long-distance communication.
The video host carves a whistle by starting with a green willow branch, which he says is easiest to find in late spring or early summer. The end is cut at an angle to form a mouthpiece, and a notch is cut in the side where air will escape. Then an incision is made around the circumference of the branch, and the bark is pounded to break free from the wood within. Once the bark tube is removed, the whistle notch is deepened, and a flat channel is cut to connect it to the mouthpiece end. Once the bark tube is slid back onto the wood, the whistle is complete.
Another step-by-step guide to making a willow whistle is available on Instructables.