October 2006

This coming weekend is our town's annual ski and skate sale, where you can pick up used skis very inexpensively. For those of you live in snow country and want to make a winter sled for hauling gear in the bush, you can do so without having to boil and bend wood for a toboggan. [...]

I just heard from my friends Kevin and Polly at Mahoosuc Guide Service. They'll be offering a winter guide training course December 14-17 in the Lake Umbagog area. It will be offered through the Maine Wilderness Guides Organization. From the MWGO website: This workshop is designed to cover the skills needed to safely guide in [...]

ESSP Week 9 Wrap-Up

We just completed week 9 of the Earth Skills Semester Program. Most of the week was devoted to making bows out of locally-harvested white ash. In the past we've always reverse-wrapped the bowstrings, but this year we made Flemish strings where only the ends are reverse-wrapped. It worked out well because you can adjust the [...]

Simple Alcohol Stove

The topic of alcohol stoves comes up from time to time in winter survival and bushcraft workshops. This simple homemade alcohol stove comes from the newsletter of the Inuit Sled Dog International, and is especially useful north of the treeline.

It's been a few weeks, but I've finally added some new photos in the 2006 ESSP photo gallery to show you some of the things we've been up to lately, including tanning hides, foraging at the seacoast, and making bows. Let me know what you think of them.

I'll be presenting at the Snow Walker's Rendezvous at Hulbert Outdoor Center in Vermont again this year. The rendezvous takes place November 10-12 and is a great opportunity to learn from people who spend most, or all, of the winter in the northern bush. David and Anna Bosum, from the Cree community of Oujé-Bougoumou, Quebec, [...]

The date and time for our Earth Skills Symposium has been set. It will be on November 4th from 10 AM until 1 PM at our home base; 267 Camp School Road in Wolfeboro. The symposium is the final event of the Earth Skills Semester Program where students present their research and put their work [...]

White Ash Flat Bows

The ESSP students spent the second half of this week making wide-limbed flat bows out of white ash staves I harvested last year. They're coming along amazingly well. If you're interested in making your first bow, you should read Tim Baker's article titled Your First Wooden Bow. You should probably also read everything else Tim [...]

Based on a recommendation from friend and fellow Maine Guide Bud Farwell, I recently got my hands on a copy of “The One-Eyed Poacher and the Maine Woods” by Edmund Ware Smith through inter-library loan. Since it arrived I've been reading with delight the stories about Thomas Jefferson Coongate, the infamous one-eyed poacher. He's a [...]

Our semester students are working on debris shelters today. Although effective in certain conditions, the debris shelter is often promoted as the do all, end all of shelters. While I teach and have used them successfully on many occasions, I wholeheartedly disagree with it being the most important shelter. It isn't practical to build in [...]

We had a great day at the coast yesterday gathering wild foods, identifying plants and tracking on sandy beach at low tide. We covered the basics of pattern and clear-print tracking, then experimented with pressure releases and tracking games for several hours before our beach was retaken by the sea as the tide came in. [...]

We finished braintanning yesterday, and overnight about half an inch of rain fell. So this morning we'll be working on wet weather fire-lighting, then spending the morning reviewing. After lunch we're off to a nearby cattail swamp to forage for the roots, gather hand drill stalks, and maybe even make a doll out of cattail [...]

Bushcraft is Hard Work

Braintanning takes a significant amount of physical labor for the scraping process, let alone pulling or staking the hide as it goes from damp to dry. I'm reminded of this aspect of tanning each year during tanning workshops when I hear talk of sore muscles and blisters. At the end of the day yesterday all [...]

Today we start braintanning deer hides, or using brains to dress and soften the hides resulting in a chamois-like finished product. Each year I get a bunch of hides from a friend and fellow guide who butchers deer for hunters. The hides we'll be working on today were fleshed and mostly dehaired last fall, then [...]

We're back from our survival trip to the White Mountains and the students are carving canoe paddles. They're excited to work on the larger crafts and it's a good thing, because in the next few weeks they're going to make brown ash pack baskets, bows and arrows, and braintanned buckskin in addition to the paddles. [...]

This morning we begin the major activity for the week; a three-day walk in the mountains with limited gear. My gear will include an axe, a knife, a small piece of plastic, a small metal pot, a pocket-sized first aid kit and the clothes I'm wearing. The students will have a similar gear. Our goal [...]

 


 

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Note: Anything that appears to be an error in spelling or grammar is actually the author’s clever use of the vernacular, and as such is not an error, but rather a carefully placed literary device that demonstrates his writing prowess.

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