I just finished Tony Nester’s new book The Modern Hunter-Gatherer; A Practical Guide To Living Off The Land. If you don’t like reading book reviews, here’s the abbreviated version; It’s great, get a copy, read it twice.
As the title suggests, it’s a primer for those looking to supplement their diet with wild fish, game and edible wild plants. Unlike the countless books available on hunting and fishing, the focus of this book is for the person looking to for food, not sport.
Most of the information in print and on the web dealing with this topic is, in my opinion, complete crap. It is usually either cribbed from fifty-year-old military manuals, or is the product of people with maximal imaginations and minimal field experience. In the first chapter there are sections on “The Challenge Of Living Off The Land” and “The Realities Of Living Off The Land” that put all of the often repeated-fallacies to bed. I’ve discussed parts of what is covered in these two sections hundreds of times, although never as well thought out as Tony has written, and am excited to finally have a reference on the topic I can point people to.
The remainder of the book is practical advice on hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging for edible wild plants. There’s nothing fancy about his approach, and thats what makes it so refreshing and useful. Instead of diagramming 50 traps, he covers three; one of which you won’t find in any other book in print, and no other survival manual that I’ve seen, which is one of my personal favorites; a log deadfall from the boreal forest.
Tony is an experienced instructor who is well-respected by his peers, and this comes through in the book by not filling page after page with facts and trivia in order to impress the reader with how much he knows. Instead, he writes what is necessary for the reader to understand the topic. As anyone who has tried to learn how to do something from a book will attest, more details often make it harder to pick up. While there is a three-section appendix with lots of details, the text isn’t bogged-down with extraneous minutia. The material is clearly written with the beginner in mind, but even the seasoned outdoors-person will pick up tips and tricks Tony has distilled from his two decades of teaching survival courses.
My only reservation about the book is a photo of an improvised fishing rig (on page 46) made with a soda can. After a vast amount of field research with this technique, I’ve found that the fish bite better when the can used is a 16 oz. can of the cheapest beer available.
All in all, it’s a great book and will become a required text at the Jack Mountain Bushcraft School. If you’re interested in what it really takes to subsist in the bush for an extended period, get a copy and read it five times.
From the back cover:
Have you ever wondered how to walk into the wilderness and harvest your own food? Are you interested in integrating healthy, wild plants into your diet while reducing food costs? Do you want to learn the time-tested methods for living off the land in case you become stranded in the wilds or face an emergency where the grocery shelves are empty?
In his fourth book, survival instructor Tony Nester delves into practical methods that he has applied on extended survival courses over the past twenty years showing the best techniques for beginning and advanced students of wilderness living. This innovative book illustrates, with detailed photos, the essential methods for harvesting, preserving, and cooking small game, fish, edible plants, and how to reduce your dependence on “the system.”
Recapture the excitement of wandering on the land unencumbered while depending on nature’s resources and the skill in your hands.
You will learn how to:
– Realistically obtain wild foods from the land as a beginning hunter-gatherer.
– Select a survival firearm for hunting and why small game is the answer to feeding yourself in the wilds.
– Put together a low-tech but quality fishing kit for catching easy-to-obtain panfish
– Carve, set and utilize traps that actually work in a survival situation and can keep your family fed in a long-term emergency.
– Make delicious jerky and preserve meat the old-fashioned way.
– Harvest and prepare edible plants found in your own neighborhood.