I just got back from 12 days on the road visiting relatives, and I’m out the door again tonight to help teach the Maine Wilderness Guides Organization winter guide training course. It runs today (Wednesday) through Saturday and takes place at Mahoosuc Guide Service and in the surrounding mountains. It’s been a busy month.
Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog
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Yesterday we got our first snowstorm of the year – 10 inches of dry powder. Tomorrow I’m going out tracking in the morning, looking to see who’s been moving since the snow fell. Tracking in fresh snow is one of the joys of living in the north. Shoveling it is one of the curses. We’ve [...]
It’s several weeks after the end of our fall semester program, and all the written work for the college credit option is in. I’ll be posting some of it here, starting with Russ Venditto’s final paper. It’s a .pdf file, and you can get it by clicking here. I’ve added a section to our Bushcraft [...]
After the semester ended and the two workshops with Mors Kochanski, I took a few days to catch up on some much-needed rest. But we were back at it yesterday with a winemaking workshop instructed by my good friend Shayne White. He covered necessary equipment and techniques for making wine inexpensively at home, and even [...]
It’s the last full day or our semester course, and we’ve been fortunate to have Mors Kochanski visiting with us and sharing his insights into the work everyone has done. Beyond the obvious benefits gleaned from him sharing his knowledge and experience, his humor around the campfire is always a treat. We’ve also been shooting [...]
To finish their pack baskets, folks have decided to make custom leather harnesses out of bark tanned leather. We didn’t tan it ourselves, but students are sizing it and using copper rivets to fasten the strip ends together. We had discussed using the braintanned hides everyone now has, but the thicker, full-grain leather is more [...]
As part of our ongoing series of sustainability workshops, we’ve scheduled a winemaking workshop for Sunday, November 11. My old friend Shayne White will be here walking us through the process of making your own wine at home with simple ingredients, as well as talking about the equipment you need to get started. There’s also [...]
This is the last weekend of this fall’s Earth Skills Semester Program, so it wasn’t much of a break. Everyone is busy working on projects, from scraping a moose hide to weaving pack baskets to tillering bows, as well as putting together our video from week nine. It will remain busy right up through Friday, [...]
A friend of mine shot a moose a few days ago and he’s giving us the hide to tan. I’m meeting him this morning at the town docks as he lives on the other side of Lake Winnepesaukee. The temperature is in the 30’s (just above freezing in Celcius) so I bet it will be [...]
Yesterday everyone sized their pounded ash strips and carved their skids, so today we’ll start weaving the baskets. Actually weaving the basket doesn’t take as long as getting and preparing the materials, so we should have some baskets near finished by this afternoon. They’ll have to dry overnight and be tightened, but the bulk of [...]
We had a great weekend at the wilderness first aid course sponsored by the Maine Wilderness Guides Organization. The course took place at Mahoosuc Guide Service, and we all stayed in their new Mahoosuc Mountain Lodge. A wilderness first aid or wilderness first responder course is a great complement to the bushcraft and guide training [...]
This morning we worked with map and compass for several hours. A student from last fall’s semester program joined us. She’s preparing to take the Maine Guide exam, and is studying a lot navigation skills and theory. After a half hour, everyone could orient the map and plot a course with their bearings exact. It’s [...]
Today we’re still pounding ash for pack baskets. It’s a big job, and historically marks a low point of morale for semester students because it’s so labor intensive and takes some time. To counteract this we sometimes hire a clown to come and make balloon animals on-site while eveyone is pounding. Spirits haven’t dipped low [...]
Our upcoming bushcraft courses with Mors Kochanski are now officially full. Hopefully Mors will be back out this way next year, or the year after.
I got a call recently from a writer with Outside Magazine looking for information on Bear Grylls and his show Man Vs. Wild for their November issue. (The article just came out and I didn’t make the cut.) I worked as the survival expert on the Alaskan Mountain Range episode of the show. Since another [...]
Pepe the porcupine is no longer with us – he’s alive and well about 10 miles from here. In a daring nighttime abduction, some of the ESSP folks caught him in a trash can and drove him far enough away so he probably won’t find his way back. Everyone had gotten a little attached to [...]
In late June, Pepe the porcupine walked out of the woods and started hanging around our field. He was a baby then, and has literally grown up while eating the clover and vegetables we grow. At the beginning of the fall semester, the students were interested in watching him as he lounged around, seemingly oblivious [...]
Our latest video, Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal 13: Earth Skills Semester Program Week 6, is live on our video page. It’s also on our Youtube channel and will be on our Blip.tv channel before too long. This video follows us on our canoe trip on the St. Croix river along the border of Maine and [...]
The Maine Wilderness Guides Organization, of which I’m a lifetime member, is offering a winter guide training course running from Wednesday December 19 to Saturday December 22, 2007. If you lead trips in the winter you should consider attending. From the MWGO website: This workshop is designed to cover the skills needed to safely guide [...]
In 2008 we’re officially adding a homesteading and organic gardening component to our programs. it’s nothing new; for ten semester programs, our students have played an active role in living sustainably on the land. But now we’re making it a formal part of the semester experience. Students will have garden space to grow some of [...]
I’ve been hearing about the so-called “sacred order of survival” for twenty years, and while it looks good on paper, in the winter bush it is not only bad advice, but can be deadly. Such ill-conceived advice also usually advocates building a debris shelter, which is an A-frame insulated with leaves. The questions I’ve posed [...]
In 2008 the Earth Skills Summer Program will evolve from a skills course to a bushcraft canoe expedition on Maine’s Allagash Wilderness Waterway. We’ll spend a few days working on core skills such as basic canoeing, axe use and safety, fly and spin fishing, navigation, firemaking and trip planning, then we’ll spend the remainder of [...]
Due to several recent cancellations, we’ve got two spots open for our upcoming workshops with Mors Kochanski. The first workshop, Bushcraft And Survival With Mors Kochanski, runs November 3-4. The second, Advanced Bushcraft And Survival With Mors Kochanski, runs November 5-6. The workshops are $250 each. These spots won’t last long, so if you’re interested [...]
Continuing our series of sustainability workshops, today at 2pm we’re running an acorn processing workshop. We’ll be collecting and processing acorns into food, as well as discussing some great uses for the by-products. If you want to come there’s still room, so give us a call!
We’re back from canoeing the St. Croix after a great week on the river. The weather was perfect, the water was still a swimmable temperature, and everyone learned a lot about poling loaded canoes through rapids. We managed to break one pole when it got stuck in the rapids, then was hit by another canoe, [...]
This morning we’re heading out for a weeklong canoe and bushcraft trip on the St. Croix river. I’ve been looking forward to this week for a long time, as I’ve always had a great time on the St. Croix and we’ll be there during peak foliage. Along the way today we’ll stop at a used [...]
Our latest video, Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal 12: Earth Skills Semester Program Week 5, is live on our video page. It’s also on our Youtube channel and will be on our Blip.tv channel in a few days. This week’s video chronicles our hiking trip in the White Mountains and gets you current on our projects. [...]
Our minimal-gear hike in the White Mountains was fun and a great learning experience. We covered a decent amount of ground, with the students carrying everything they needed on homemade pack frames and using their homemade rope as pack straps. They built their shelters as we went, and experienced what it’s like to travel with [...]
Our new video, Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal 11: Earth Skills Semester Program Week 4 is live on our video page. It’s also up on our Youtube channel, and will be on our Blip.tv channel in a few days. Enjoy!
This morning we’re off to the White Mountains for a walkabout, or limited gear hike. We’ll be there for several nights. The point of the exercise is for the students to put into action the skills they have learned thus far, as well as to explore some new and beautiful country. We’ve planned several routes, [...]
Some of our students made a music video on braintanning last week to share with their friends and family. I had no role in the production, or editing. It looks like they were having fun to me. See it on youtube. Enjoy.
We had a great day poling on the upper Saco river yesterday. We were joined by writer/photographer Christopher Percy Collier, who was working on a magazine story about canoe poling. From the put-in we poled upstream for several mies. It was slow going as the river was running at 175 cubic feet per second, which [...]
Today we’re off to pole and fish the upper Saco river. The weather is supposed to be beautiful, and although brisk, the water will still be warm enough for a midday swim. I’m bringing my fly rod and the video camera, so hopefully we’ll shoot some footage that will make it into this week’s Bushcraft [...]
We spent the entire day yesterday exploring the woods and looking for plants and mushrooms to identify and collect, as well as tracks to cast and scat to examine. Our travels led us a few miles into the woods, around an old beaver pond, along a stream, and through a variety of habitats. We found [...]
Today marks the start of week 4 of the Earth Skills Semester Program. This week we’ll be working on a new shelter, finishing our braintanned buckskins, and roughing out longbows. We’ll also spend a day poling and fly fishing a nearby river, and continuing with our studies of the natural world. Yesterday morning we put [...]
Our new video, Jack Mountain Bushcraft Journal – Episode 10, is live. You can see it at jackmtn.com/video. Have a look and let us know what you think.
Our semester students all passed their hunter safety tests, so each of them can now legally purchase a hunting license. We encourage all of our students to take a state-sponsored hunter’s safety course, which is a basic firearms course in addition to the content on hunting. We also recommend that they take a bowhunter safety [...]