LITTLE CATALINA, N.L. — Being in the woods — at home — is what Troy Bullock of Little Catalina loves. And he wants to be able to make a living doing what he loves.
Bullock has turned that love into a successful YouTube channel “13prevail Bushcraft” where he posts videos of outdoors skills and projects. And he’s had quite a bit of success — approaching 6,000 subscribers in the first several years since he’s been posting videos.
But he’s hoping to grow the online buzz to the point where he can do the videos full time, or at least incorporate the work into a full time bushcraft (outdoors survival skills) employment at home. Right now, he works in Alberta in the summers, while his family, wife Krista and three kids, stay at home in Trinity Bay North.
Bullock told The Packet he’s all about positivity and he wants to be able to do what he loves, where he wants to be — at home.
“I love YouTube and I love sharing the little bit of knowledge I do have,” said Bullock.
What he’s always done
Bullock says he grew up being out in the woods. The cod moratorium made for a difficult time financially and the outdoors was an open and available outlet for him, a gateway literally right in his backyard.
“I used to set rabbit snares from like 10 years old and stuff like that. I had my first trappers licence when I was 12,” recalls Bullock. “I was learning how to skin them from looking at books and stuff.”
When he turned 14, the government required individuals to take a course to get a trapping license. The course was $100. As a result, Bullock moved away from trapping but still maintained an outdoors lifestyle, making bough camps and things like that.
Sure enough, he slowly realized that the skills he developed in the woods became survival skills. What he once looked at as a simple camp structure, for example, was actually a survival shelter.
Documenting the process
Bullock says the idea of recording and uploading videos on bushcraft came when he was in Alberta with his family during a summer years ago.
While sitting around the apartment during a rained-out work day, they made a skit video together with the kids.
“I just wanted to put it on YouTube so the family back home could see,” explained Bullock.
That’s where the channel got its name— from that first video — Bullock’s favourite number, 13, and his favourite word, prevail.
He started to realize he wanted to record his passion, going into the woods.
“I’m getting all this following from people who are into trapping and hunting and bushcraft and boil ups and all this.”
He went on to hone his skills, practicing fire building and other emergency skills. Bullock recommends always practicing, even under poor weather conditions, as when you may need those abilities, it may not be perfect conditions.
Bullock’s first major catch in the online world came completely by accident.
While coyote snaring several years ago he came upon a young bull moose, caught by the snout in his snare.
“I guess the moose tried to take off and broke his neck … I grabbed the camera right away and made a little video.”
He says he made all the calls — Wildlife, RCMP, etcetera and cleared everything, by the book. He wasn’t at fault, it was an accidental catch.
Once uploaded the video took off, shared all over — including by Newfoundland Sportsman. As of publication, the video had about 325,000 views.
This led up until today. His videos now include projects as small as going down to the brook and cooking up frog legs, and as large as building his log cabin — beautifully overlooking Trinity Bay on a ridge. Bullock tries to do as many videos he can, at least a couple per month.
However, the online world doesn’t come without its drawbacks. He constantly deals with criticism from people who are against hunting and trapping.
“I’ve had people threaten my kids and everything … but you kind of have to have a thick skin with that kind of stuff because you don’t know where they are in the world and how they’ve been raised or whatever.”
More recently, 13prevail was named number 29 in the top 40 bushcraft video channels in the world by an online blog. He also has almost 1,000 Instagram followers and 800 Facebook likes.
He’s made friends from all over the world and even has been sent free products, like fire starter kits and a leather maker sent him a new sheath for his axe.
“It’s one huge community,” he said.
While Bullock started out reading books on how to skin a fur and gleaning knowledge wherever he could, now he provides a valuable resource for people worldwide, both young and old. His videos not only talk about hunting and fishing, but also what to do in emergency situations, building fires and more. And he’s still always learning himself.
He’s experimented with taking groups of kids out in the woods for learning opportunities and hopes to try that more in the future.
“A lot of kids around here follow up and say I’m an influence and want to get out and do what I’m doing,” he said. “I'm a huge advocate for getting kids out and into the woods.”
Until he can take the next step, Bullock’s continuing to grow his following, one subscriber at a time.
You can check out Bullock’s YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/13prevail.