Tim Smith

Following the trend of recent years, spots in our programs are filling earlier than ever. Here’s an update on what’s still available, in chronological order. Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, spring 2018 (April-June). 3 spots open. Bonaventure Canoe Expedition, Quebec (June). Full Summer Woodsman (July). 1 spot open. Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester (July-August). 2 spots open. Wilderness [...]

BDN Cover

There’s an article featuring Jack Mountain in the Bangor Daily News spring 2018 spring/summer special section outdoors magazine. The article, titled “The Survivor: Deep in the Maine woods, Tim Smith teaches others to survive in the wild”, gives a brief overview of what we do and has enough philosophical nuggets to make it interesting. The [...]

New Role: Authentic Marketing Instructor I did a phone interview a while back that the person said they were turning into an article. Then I forgot about it until yesterday, when I saw the article. I like how it turned out. The article is about authentic marketing for schools by an outfit that offers services [...]

Next weekend, March 9-11 (2018), the 26th annual Wilderness Paddlers Gathering will take place at the Hulbert Outdoor Center in Fairlee, Vermont. It is put on by Northern Wilderness Travelers Conferences, the same group that runs the Snow Walkers Rendezvous in the fall. I’ll be attending and putting on a workshop titled “The Moveable Feast [...]

We’ve decided on the route for the 2018 Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. We’re going with a classic that will follow the Northern Forest Canoe Trail across the crown of Maine. Starting on the Moose River near Jackman, we’ll paddle to Moosehead Lake, where we’ll turn north to Northeast Carry. We’ll carry across to the West [...]

We recorded episode 32 the morning after returning from the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. I was joined by Dragan Uzelac, Blake Towsley and Colin Clifford, and we discussed the expedition as well as the need for a recreational options for veterans. Upon returning home, I purchased the domain FieldOpsInternational.com, and hope to have some sort of [...]

Waterhole Sunset

Sunset at the waterhole, sublime. One week to go in our winter wonderland. The group is fuctioning as a team, everyone is contributing, and there’s nowhere I’d rather be than tucked in the woods alongside a frozen lake in Aroostook county, Maine. #fulltanglifestyle

Episode 31 of the podcast is about the Primitive Wilderness Living Practicum, a program we facilitate. It’s a 21-day wilderness experience with limited gear, limited food, and a whole lot of learning and personal growth. We’ve had a lot of questions about it recently, so this episode is an attempt to answer them. This is [...]

This discussion has come up a bunch recently, so I wanted to define some terms that I use regarding celebrity outdoorsman and professional outdoorsman. A professional outdoorsman is a person who makes their living guiding, teaching, and otherwise working outdoors. A celebrity outdoorsman is a person who is well known on social media, reality tv [...]

On January 19, 2018 I was interviewed by Gundy on The Big Wild radio show, heard all over the midwest on the radio and the world via their podcasts. We were the first interview on this episode of the show (and the podcast). To listen, go to their website at: http://www.podcastgarden.com/episode/the-big-wild-011918_121684 You can also download [...]

2018 marks our 19th year of multi-week snowshoe and toboggan expeditions. In a world where bushcraft is becoming more about the gear and knives and celebrity outdoorsmen, I’m thankful for winter expeditions. In the cold, living and traveling in the forest, the extraneous fluff falls away. What’s left is authentic and real. And that’s getting [...]

Facebook, Youtube, And The Rest Can Keep Their Private Sandboxes We hit peak social media a few years ago and have been on the downward slant since then. Time spent on social media feels like an arms race of narcissism, and those are the good days. And now they tell us they’re changing the rules [...]

Episode 30 of our podcast featured Sam Larson. It’s the first episode we’ve recorded remotely (ie. not in the same room), as well as the first episode where we’ve recorded video, as seen above. If you’re looking for just the audio, go here. Sam Larson is the founder and owner of Woodsong Wilderness Outfitters, was [...]

In this episode I talk with Sam Larson. He’s the founder and owner of Woodsong Wilderness Outfitters, was the runner-up of season 1 of the TV show Alone, and is a Jack Mountain Bushcraft School alumnus. This is the first podcast we’ve also recorded as a video. You can see it at: http://blog.jackmtn.com/sam-larson-video-from-podcast-episode-30/ Links: Woodsong [...]

From a past Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. A participant fixed a broken axe handle in the field by wrapping it with saplings and lashing it together. It worked great. In the background is a canvas tent that was lived in for the winter. It’s not one of our expedition tents. In the photo below are my [...]

Twin Tents

18 years old and still getting the job done. Our 2 Egyptian cotton Ungava tents made by our friends at Tentsmiths. They have introduced many people to the sublime beauty of the winter trail.

Photo: Flooding a piece of cotton T-shirt with Ambroid glue and smearing it around with a dirty sock. Below are three stories about fixing canvas boats in the field. The moral of the stories is that you should know how to repair the craft you use. The more remote the trip, the better you should [...]

We’re bombarded with negativity and bad news in the modern world. So many alerts about all the deaths and evil and things to be afraid of. I’ve been moderating the information that gets attention from me for a while now, and I’m better off as a result. But I still read some news daily when [...]

Our new college partnership with the University of Maine at Presque Isle, also known as UMPI, is the focus for episode 29. Christopher Russell and I discuss what this means for students and the school. We’re putting together a new website that will explain academic options for college and gap year students at BushcraftCollege.com. Links: [...]

This past week I successfully passed the test to become a registered Maine sea kayak guide. It was the culmination of likely the longest testing process I’ve ever known. Let me explain. In 2000 I took and passed the written test to become a sea kayak guide. The Maine department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife [...]

Spinning bowdrills during a firemaking exercise on the Boreal Snowshoe Expedition. Context is everything. This exercise is significantly more challenging in the field than in a warm, dry, indoor location. Add the snow and cold and it becomes even more so. But that’s when it’s real.

Morning coffee on the beach. Cool and cold mornings are the norm during the end of the fall Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. The cooler temperatures make the hot coffee taste that much better.

Winter bushcraft gear and the knowledge to make it work is the topic for episode 28 of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft podcast. Ed Butler, Christopher Russell and I discuss sleeping bags, pads, dressing in layers, and how to carry heavy wool clothing. We also discuss the difference between Merino wool and Dan Marino wool, amongst [...]

Canadian guide, musher and old friend Jeff Butler (of Northwoods Survival) and I discuss how depth of knowledge is being replaced by shallow understanding and rant about a variety of aspects of the outdoor industry. We also talk about dispelling myths of survival and what he’s working on next; a cultural tourism business. Recorded at [...]

End Of A Long Day

Feet Up

Feet up while people cook their dinner over the group fire. Not in a rush. The foreground is in focus, while the background is not – exactly how I feel after a long day teaching and guiding.

Old-School Axes

Next up, a private axemanship course for a group of engineers and tool designers, teaching how to wield this simple tool safely and powerfully. From the left: Snow & Neally, John King, Spiller. Maybe an awesome new American axe in a year. #fulltanglifestyle 

One part of the off-grid (and full tang) lifestyle I’ve lived over the years that doesn’t get a lot of attention is keeping yourself entertained. Most people in the modern world watch a lot of video, whether via tv (older folks) or youtube (younger folks). Although things are changing, this has never been an option [...]

I get great, deep sleeps at the field school. It’s one of the things that I love about life here. Last night, though, I popped awake at about 3:40. I felt wide awake and decided to walk outside and into the field. As I stood there, I heard the distant mating call of a female [...]

Mist On The Bonaventure

The Registered Maine Guide podcast episode. Tim, Christopher and Ed Butler (aka WorkingClassWoodsman) talk about the history of guiding in Maine, the test to become a registered guide, and prognosticate about the future of guiding. If you want to learn about Maine Guides past, present and future, give it a listen. Recorded in the Guide [...]

Fly Fishing With A Nymph

Late summer of 2017 has been marked by extremely dry weather and low water in the Aroostook river. We have a USGS monitor station here in Masardis just upriver from the field school, and today (September 3rd, 2017) it showed the river flowing at 74 cubic feet per second. That’s the lowest I’ve seen it [...]

DIY Waxed Canvas Pack

Oiling a canvas pack, DIY waxed canvas. Equal parts boiled linseed oil and wax, heat until the wax melts, brush it on. Dry it for a few weeks. #fulltanglifestyle 

Many people these days are interested in learning how to go off the grid; to learn the systems needed to be self-sufficient in a remote location. These systems can include a humanure toilet system, rocket stove and open fire cooking systems, food storage systems, grey water systems, homemade solar power and hot water systems, and [...]

Carbon Steel Skillets

Seasoning new carbon steel skillets by rendering pork fat in them. They’re light, inexpensive and perfect for a traveling cook kit. Treat them like cast iron (no soap, keep them oiled) and they’ll last forever. From Agri-Supply.

snubbing down a sluiceway

One of my favorite spots in Maine; a remote lake with no road access. During the log driving days, they used dynamite to create a sluiceway, redirecting and enlarging the natural outlet for floating logs downriver to a sawmill. It’s just wide enough to float a canoe these days.

I have had the good fortune to learn from and call friend many of the titans of bushcraft and wilderness guiding. Knowing and learning from them has had a huge impact on my life and career. I won’t name names, but I don’t have to; if you’re reading this you probably already know half of [...]

morning fire photo

The fire is the central point of a remote campsite, such as this one on the Maine/New Brunswick border on the St. Croix river. We’re in Maine, but the far side of the river, visible in the background, is Canada.

Pack, Axe & Hat

Pack In The Mist

We are a species of countless wants, but very few needs. In this photo is my kit for canoeing remote rivers; when I have it my needs are met. An old canvas pack, an axe and my big hat. Seen here at Kicking Horse Pass on the Bonaventure river, Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec, in the morning [...]

Rips On The Bonaventure

The Bonaventure River has long stretches of whitewater and quickwater. You start in the mountains and end at the ocean. In between is a long, sometimes steep, downhill run.

People who write books or teach usually base their writing or instruction on one of three sources: Imagination: They write or teach what they imagine something to be like. Purely hypothetical. Research: They interview others in person or via what they’re written, and then draw conclusions from other’s experience. They don’t have the experience themselves. [...]

I was recently asked what the most challenging aspect of running this business is. After almost 20 years, I’m able to answer without hesitation; March. March is a tough month in northern New England. You can’t count on winter for winter activities, and you definitely can’t count on spring. As a result, you have to [...]

For episode 22 I spoke with professional forager Jenna Rozelle Darcy about wild food, foraging as a business, and using wild plants as part of a daily lifestyle. Jenna has been a professional forager for 5 years, selling what she gathers at farmers markets, to chefs, and direct to clients. She also teaches foraging classes [...]

The fall, 2017 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester has been full for months, but in the past few days we’ve had 2 cancellations, resulting in 2 open spots. We’ll be contacting the folks on our waiting list this weekend, but if you’re interested give us a call Monday morning.

“The Art Of Outdoor Living; A Resource For The Junior Maine Guide Program” is on my top ten list of most important books on bushcraft and outdoor living, and recently came back into print. It provides clear instructions on a variety of outdoor living skills. The updated edition features 280 pages of revised text, glossy [...]

Update about appropriate pot systems for the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. We’ve solved the problem of lids for the 2 quart stainless pails. As a result, we recommend bringing two of these to field school programs. From the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester Gear List: • Cook pot with a bail handle Will be used for cooking food [...]

Short video of poling a canoe in fast water, shot during the spring Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. The expedition canoe skills we teach are a long way from a short paddle on the pond. Professor Ben Spencer was coaching from the bow in this shot. The water was fast and deeper than it looked; challenging conditions [...]

Shelling Acorns

On episode 21 I speak with my old friend Chris Knapp of the Koviashuvik Local Living School in Temple, Maine. Chris has two decades of experience homesteading, teaching, guiding, and living close to the land. During our talk we discuss their Simple Life Internship, which is coming in 2018. At the end of our discussion [...]

I was recently in touch with Thomas Clayton from Wander & Roam Media. Ten years ago he came out the field school and shot this video. We’re talking about collaborating on another project in the future. This video is the favorite Jack Mountain video of a few people I’ve heard from, and this version is [...]

We’re Hiring. 2017 is the year we want to take our food production systems to the next level.  We’re looking for someone (or 2) experienced in with gardening and keeping chickens who is also interested in living a simple, off-grid lifestyle to keep us moving toward our goal of establishing a robust food production system. They will [...]

Episode 20 of the podcast is all about the reboot of the School Of The Forest, the JMBS youth and teen program. Christopher Russell and I discuss the educational philosophy of the program and what to expect as the program launches this spring and summer. Links: School Of The Forest SOTF Calendar Friluftsliv Article Book: [...]

Older video of a hand drill coal being made with a closeup on the fireboard. This is from 2007 (and rocking that 240p resolution), but demonstrates that with the right materials and a some experience, getting a friction fire coal doesn’t need to take a lot of time or energy. Remember that it is very [...]

Our instructors have the most experience and highest level of training in the industry. Other schools have instructor training courses lasting a few days to a few weeks. Our instructor training course is a minimum of 2 years. We run the longest and most challenging courses in the industry. Fittingly, our staff have the longest [...]

Many of our alumni go on to do awesome things. One of those is Thomas Letchworth. Since completing our yearlong immersion program, Thomas has been a full time student and entrepreneur. He started the Endurance Guiding Company, and has led multiple backpacking trips in the US and Iceland. As the Endurance Guiding Company, Thomas and [...]

https://vimeo.com/209919188 A show and tell of three options for personal pots for the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, as well as the 8″ dutch oven we recommend. There are lots of other options that will work, these are just the most common. Links to where you can purchase them are on our Wilderness Bushcraft Semester gear list.

Years ago I pulled the trigger on a 17” Maca dutch oven (seen in the photo above). It’s big, deep, heavy (29 quarts, 67 pounds empty), and has fed countless big groups at the field school. Maca made a name for themselves with their large-capacity dutch ovens. If you wanted to feed an army, a [...]

Our spring and fall Wilderness Bushcraft Semester courses this year are both full. The fall course has been filled for while, and we just filled the last spot on the spring course this week. There are just a few spots left on the Summer Woodsman and Riverman courses, and they probably won’t last long. We’re [...]

Mud season is in full swing, so fly fishing season is right around the corner. It’s a great time to learn to tie your own flies. With this in mind, Paul Sveum and Derek Faria are hosting a fly tying workshop on Tuesday, March 28th at 6pm. Bring your own vise and tools. $10 covers [...]

By the time spring arrives I’ll have spent six weeks in remote, off-grid camps this winter. We just returned from our trip to northern Quebec, and today I’m provisioning for the first of two Boreal Snowshoe Expeditions, starting next week. Below are a few random ideas on living out in the winter that crossed my [...]

Recorded right after we got back from our trip to northern Quebec where we spent a week immersed in Cree Culture. Living in a traditional shelter on the side of a lake, we learned about hunting, trapping, snaring, fishing with gill nets as part of learning about traditional northern life ways. In the podcast we [...]

Big group photo

PHOTO: Self Reliance Workshop on wild foods from summer, 2016. For episode 17 I spoke with Josh Arnold, the director of Global Awareness Local Action (GALA). GALA is a local non-profit we partner with for our self reliance workshop series, among other things. We were also joined by Christopher Russell. We talked about the history [...]

PHOTO: Bush camp from a previous trip to Oujé-Bougoumou The bags are packed, the crew is ready, and in the morning we’re headed north to northern Quebec to spend a week with my friends David and Anna Bosum. We’ll snowshoe out to a bush camp and spend the week immersed in Cree culture and life [...]

Episode 16 of the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Podcast is all about the role of crafting in bushcraft and education. Making things with your hands is a big part of our educational programs. I’m joined by Christopher Russell for a discussion about crafting as an educational tool, our experience with crafting during semester courses, and some [...]

We’re consciously shrinking. In 2017 we’re lowering the number of participants on almost all of our programs. It’s the opposite of growth, but our focus is on the experience. After years of experimentation, these are the numbers we find work the best for our immersion programs. The new maximum course sizes are: Wilderness Bushcraft Semester: [...]

Had a busy day in the office with our office manager. We were going over enrollment for 2017 and talking about past and future students. There was a period of time when she was looking through the enrollment paperwork and asked me if I knew/remembered person X, Y, Z, etc., and for each I said, [...]

Plagiarized Again

Mist On The Bonaventure

Recently it was brought to my attention that our website has been plagiarized again. Someone took our ideas and words (verbatim), used it as their own to sell programs similar to ours, and didn’t cite where they got it. Two days ago I received an email from a friend in Canada regarding a recent plagiarism [...]

Kancamangus Pass

After a great weekend at the Snow Walkers Rendezvous in Vermont I decided to take the scenic route home. It’s been a few years since I’ve driven the Kancamangus highway across New Hampshire’s White Mountains, but I have a lot of history there. From swimming in the rivers as a kid to backpacking as a [...]

Life is simpler on an expedition. The people on it have a shared goal and take tangible steps toward it every day. They come from different places and have different beliefs, but work together. When you stand shoulder to shoulder with someone while working hard as a team, you appreciate them, even if you don’t [...]

Poling Haycock Rips

This is a tricky rip to run as to do it well you have to do a long downstream ferry in a narrow space and keep your boat under control. The guy in the photo struggled with poling early on in the course, but ran this rip like a boss without hitting any rocks. Getting [...]

To learn new things is challenging. When you stay inside your comfort zone, not being challenged, you’re probably not learning new things. This is fine if you want to refine things you already know, but to blaze new ground demands that you be outside of where you feel 100% safe. In the photo above, participants [...]

Canoe In The River

We arrived at the campsite just as the rain began to fall. I unloaded my boat, but left her tied to the bank because the plan was to go pole up and down the rips when the rain stopped. There were a bunch of big hemlocks on this section of river, and they filtered the [...]

I loved this shot of the 20 footer, just below Little Falls under the brilliant red maple. She’s been my best and most consistent model for the past 15 years, and I never get tired of looking at her.

Paddling amongst the whitecaps with a brisk tailwind. Paddling in strong tailwinds is a seldom-used skill. As the waves increase in size they want to spin you. If you get spun it’s easy for the waves to swamp you. These guys had just come around the point into calm water. We hugged the shore for the [...]

A remnant of the log driving days, this stream was straightened and made deeper with explosives back in the day to facilitate floating logs downstream. It’s way off the beaten path of well-used canoe routes, but it and the pond above are among my favorite places in northern Maine. I’ve always loved getting out and [...]

During the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester, we want people to learn how to plan food and meals for an extended trip, starting with themselves and finishing with planning for a group. We also want them to learn how much water water they need on any given day in order to feel good and have their body [...]

I read some advice about choosing the right axe recently. I want to make a statement about choosing the wrong axe, or at least the closest axe. I’ve met young people who couldn’t afford a high-end axe and felt that their skills wouldn’t develop until they could. It’s not true. The path to axe mastery [...]

Just before they left on the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, I sat down with Raife Bowman, Dylan Robinson and Jeremy Yates to talk about their recent hike across Quebec and New Brunswick on the International Appalachian Trail. They used their homemade pack baskets to do the hike, and had some adventures along the way. Listen [...]

Our giveaway of a signed copy of The Woods Cook recently came to an end. I’m happy to announce that Mark N. from Illinois is our winner! I sent out the book a few days ago, and he should be receiving it soon. This was our first foray into giveaways, and we expect to do more [...]

At the end of week 6 of the spring semester I recorded the second podcast with Christopher Russell. We talked about the progression of the course, the instructor and guide’s dilemma, the 2 journeys (outward and inward) that everyone is on, and told a few stories along the way. You can read more about Christopher, [...]

There are a lot things referred to as survival skills these days that have nothing to do with survival. Survival is keeping your body alive. It’s pretty simple, but not easy. Over the short-term, defined by how long you can fast and go without food (longer than a month), you need to maintain your body [...]

On Wednesday, July 6th from 5-7 pm we’re offering our popular campfire cooking workshop in Wolfeboro, NH, in partnership with GALA as part of our Self Reliance Workshop Series. This time around we’re adding a special treat; we’ll be joined by instructor Derek Faria of The Woodsman School. Derek’s an old friend and Registered Maine [...]

Lining An Embacle

Remote trips, especially solo, aren’t safe or even possible without solid canoe skills; poling, lining, and paddling. On the Bonaventure I poled the upper section, lined ledges, and as shown here, lined through the ’embacles’ (french for log jams). As this was just a short drop inline with the current, I didn’t bother to tie [...]



Web Sites
· JMB Field School – Long-Term Immersion: Semester & Expedition Programs. GI Bill & College Credit.
· Classic Wilderness Guiding – Canoe, Snowshoe & Sea Kayak Trips
· JMB Folk School – Lodge-Based Programs & Short Courses
· School Of The Forest – Teen & Youth Programs
· BushcraftSchool.com – Online & Distance Learning
· JMBS Master Calendar – All Scheduled Programs

Typos, Etc.
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 demonstrating prodigious artistic prowess.


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