• How to learn primitive skills

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  • Looking for recommendations on learning primitive skills, like making a bow and animal traps. Youtube? DVDs? Website? Book? Workshop?

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    Question by kevin kelly

If you're on the West Coast, Trackers (http://trackersnw.com/blog/index.php) are the place to go. There are others, including bigger and better funded operations, but Trackers have an amazing wealth of knowledge, a love of what they do, and a focus on pedagogy and sharing their skills that is outstanding. They cover everything from wilderness survival to crafting, from marine to mycology.

Answer by noirin
Answer by joshuaw

Trackers seems to be a camp, which I may not be able to make.

The book Camping and Woodcraft looks interesting, a reprint of lore from a century ago. Have you used this yourself, Joshuaw?

Answer by kevin kelly

One place to start is FM 21-76 US ARMY SURVIVAL MANUAL, which you can find for free in various electronic formats.

Answer by snoyes

In the Northwest, Wilderness Awareness School near Seattle is probably the best option, whether for a weekend, a year, or through self-study. http://wildernessawareness.org/ Mark Elbroch's tracking books are quite good.

Answer by john boylan

Foxfire books. Full stop.

Answer by m e
Answer by hughwalton

ME, I've seen the Foxfire books. What did you learn from them?

Answer by kevin kelly

Kevin, I have the book and have looked through it but not used the advice. Very practical advice some outdated but some still veryrelevant. How to make an effective bed-roll. How to make a lean-to. etc. Seems like not just lore but a practical handbook. Highly recommended even just for enjoyment reading.


Answer by joshuaw

Ahh ha! A downloadable public domain version of Camping & Woodcraft: http://archive.org/details/campingwoodcraft00kephrich

Note: The printed version seemed to also have a second volume printed with it. Not sure if that is in the PD version

A link for other books by the same author in the public domain: http://archive.org/search.php?query=creator%3A%22Kephart%2C+Horace%2C+1862-1931%22

Which also makes me think: Have you covered the Internet Archive as a "cool tool"?

Answer by joshuaw

Camping & Woodcraft is a good choice and even helped me get my current job.


I was doing a job interview on Skype and got asked one of those non-job questions: "If you were on a desert island, what one book would you want to have with you?"

Since I was in my home office doing the interview on a video chat I just turned around and grabbed "Camping & Woodcraft" off my bookshelf and held it up to the camera and said "I think this one would be handy to have." I got the job.


But another book I've had for many years is -- of all things -- a Reader's Digest book: "Back to Basics: How to Learn and Enjoy Traditional American Skills". It's really very good and nicely illustrated.

Answer by mike sisk

American Boys Handy Book. Definitive work on the subject. Make yourself a bow and arrows, build a raft, and float down the river to the gulf. Everything you need to know is right there.

Answer by jdeng

I second the Foxfire series for general, basic skills. We always had a set on our bookshelves. Otherwise, there are different books depending on which basic skill you wanted to learn. LeeValley.com offers cheap version of different books, which is nice.

Answer by caostaff

It's too bad North Carolina finally started going after Turtle Island; Eustace Conway is probably the foremost expert on primitive living but good luck having him write it down for you. If you had a spare two years he would teach it to you, but read "Last American Man" to figure out how difficult those two years might be.


Answer by christopher

I love Outdoor Survival Skills by Larry Dean Olsen ISBN: 0842500014. I used it all the time in scouts and it has lots of cool illustrations for trapping and snaring.

Answer by shroppy
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