Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog

Welcome to the Jack Mountain Bushcraft Blog. Since 2006 we’ve been blogging about bushcraft, education, expedition leadership and the woods life. You can view the archives by category or by date under the Archives tab in the menu at the top of the page.

cover photo of The Humanure Handbook

Maybe the rest of the world is catching on. Here’s a link to an article about the use of human urine as fertilizer to contribute to food security: phys.org. From the article, :”Urine contains nitrogen and phosphorus, two essential nutrients for plant growth. Urine can thus serve as an almost cost-free and locally available nutrient [...]

Unloading on a remote beach

Many of our alunmi have become Registered Maine Guides. A guide license is necessary in Maine to receive any form of payment for your services in the field. It is a state license which is granted at the end of a testing process. In recent years students on long courses have tried to get all [...]

usda hardiness zone map

The USDA recently updated it’s hardiness zone map with data from the last few years, and northern Maine is getting warmer. On the older maps, Masardis was zone 3B. On the updated map, we’re zone 4A. It’s an indicator of changing times. It also opens us up to a wider variety of perennials we can [...]

Lighting a woodstove in a shelter on a snowy day

It has been cold and snowy in Aroostook County this week for the Autumn Woodsman course. We’re past the halfway mark on the course, and thus far we have covered a lot of ground, including axemanship, fire making and management, fire by friction, navigation, hot tents and stoves, woodstove lighting and management, and a bunch [...]

a small shelter next to a long fire, no sleeping bag

A small shelter next to a long fire, spending the night with no sleeping bag in the cold. The details all matter: The size of the fire, the quality of the fuel, the width of the bed, the distance from the edge of the fire to the back of the shelter, the overhead volume of [...]

image of night fires in front of shelters for no sleeping bag exercise

One of the shelters students spend the night in on the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester is one with no insulation, just a fire to keep warm. This image is from that night a few weeks ago. It is a great learning experience with regard to the use of fire to keep warm, the science involved with [...]

Austin Film Festival schedule

I’m currently in Austin, Texas for a week visiting family. My son is a freshman in the film program at the University of Texas at Austin. Today a film of his is being shown at the Austin Film Festival as part of their Young Filmmakers Competition. So I’m spending the day as a proud father [...]

Tim on CNN, screenshot

I was interviewed on CNN last night, on the show Laura Coates Live. They wanted a Registered Master Maine Guide and survival instructor perspective on the fugitive from the Lewiston shootings, potentially hiding out in the woods. It was an interesting experience. Here’s how things like this work, or at least how it worked for [...]

Fire alongside a remote lake in northern Maine

It is Friday of week 8 (of 9) on the fall, 2023 Wilderness Bushcraft Semester. Everyone has been hard at work and the finish line is coming into view. What remains to finish are some practical exams, the solo, and a night spent in front of a fire with no sleeping bag or blanket. The [...]

Peak northern Maine foliage shot from the Deboullie mountain fire tower.

We’re at peak foliage in northern Maine right now. The nights are cooling off and it feels like fall. I have been seeing a lot of animals as they get ready for the cold season. Yesterday morning I jumped a deer while riding my bike, and in the evening I saw a lynx crossing the [...]

Tim in the canoe, early spring

I picked up a new piece of software called Retrobatch that batch processes photos and went through all the old hard drives full of photos to make an archive. My rough count is around 37,000 images that I’ve shot over the years. Not all of them are mine; maybe 1000 were taken by others, but [...]

Sunset over the north Maine woods

Today is halfway day for the fall, 2023 semester. To celebrate it we are heading out on the Aroostook river for a few days in canoes. We have had the wettest September I remember, and the rivers in northern Maine are near or at spring flood levels. This means that traveling downstream will be easy, [...]

Deer in the field

This morning the parking lot is empty for the first time in 14 weeks. We finished the summer Wilderness Bushcraft Semester with three people receiving their Journeyman Certification. It was a challenging course. June started cold and rainy, then got very hot, humid and buggy. But it was a solid group of people and they [...]

Field School From The Air

JMBS Field School from the air

We bought an inexpensive drone this past winter and have been getting some aerial photographs. This image is shot directly above Moose Vegas, looking toward the pond, Guide Shack, big field and the river on the right. We are excited to get better at using it so as to get some great canoe expedition photos.

river break photo

On expeditions and long courses there are many things we have no control over. These include, but are not limited to, water level, weather, wind, bugs, etc., and the list goes on and on. I frequently tell our students that we are not in control when we head out into the woods or on the [...]

We’ve reached halfway day on the summer Wilderness Bushcraft Semester course. We’ve been busy with camp projects and making things, and today everyone will be bringing their newly-made canoe paddles and poles out on a three-day trip. I love it when a group of individuals become a team, and that’s the point of the course [...]

Packing up on a gravel bar

I’ve guided a lot of trips over the years, and some stand out in my mind, often because everything didn’t go as planned. Like the one in this picture. It was the second week of June, 2018, and a small group of friends and I were on the Gaspé peninsula in Quebec, coming down the [...]

June Days Start Early

A dog and his girl looking across the lake at the mountain.

This time of the year days are long here. First light this morning was at 4:01 am, and last light is at 9:10 pm. That is a great thing, because there is a lot of stuff to get done. We’re starting week 3 of the Wilderness Bushcraft Semester (session 1) today, and have a full [...]

Traditional gear for a life in the boreal forest in winter.

In the photo is my kit for snowshoe expeditions and winter camping excursions in northern Maine and further north. Starting in the bottom right is my axe, a 3.25 lb. head on a 30″ handle. Moving clockwise to the left is my 3-strake toboggan for hauling everything. I made this one a while back out [...]

The Merry Men Of Maine

Huddling by the cook fire

“These legends and these men are true and alive, and are known throughout the big woods north of Katahdin. They are men of the forest, and they smell of woodsmoke, fly dope, hard work, tall mountains and pine spills. Given a junk of salt pork, some dry beans and flour, any of these men can [...]

Island nap

On Friday we finished the 2023 Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester with practical testing of fast-water canoe poling maneuvers at a local rip. The water was deep and fast and the black flies had just emerged, adding to the difficulty. But we had a few people pass the tests by demonstrating their mastery of the material [...]

lifting canoe over logs

We are back at the field school after our first expedition of the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. It was challenging. We encountered cold air and water temperatures, strong and unyielding head winds, and a few long days of paddling. But everyone got better and everyone got stronger. On our final day we paddled 28 miles. [...]

lakeside sunrise

We’re at the tail end of the first week of our spring canoe semester. I had been worried that the road wouldn’t be passable for week one, and although we were able to drive into camp it was a close call. This time of year in Aroostook county can bring a variety of weather, from [...]

Note: This post was originally published on this site in December, 2010. I was rereading it this morning and thought the modern world could use a good role model for self reliance, one that wasn’t interested in selling them guns, survival gear and an end of the world mentality. —- I’ve been writing a lot [...]

Today we begin the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester, our 4-week canoe guide training course. It is our 58th long-term program, and our 24th year. Spring has been slow to arrive to Aroostook county, but the snow has retreated and we can finally drive into the field school (it is deep snow that stops us, not [...]

We filled our spring and summer courses exceptionally early this year, and now we’re into the season of the churn. The churn is what I refer to as the season where people realize they will be unable to attend due to injury, change in life situation, etc. To date this year we have lost 2 [...]

If you want to learn to fish, there are four steps. Learn about water, specifically freshwater ecology. Learn the natural history of fish in general, as well as the individual species you are targeting. Learn about what fish eat and how to mimic these foods. Learn about tackle and techniques. In our modern world, people [...]

We are excited to announce the route for the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester coming in May. For the past decade we have been running this program during the summer, which has limited where we could go to those waterways that had water during the frequent summer droughts. By moving it back to May, it has [...]

Spring is right around the corner, and we’re looking forward to an exciting month on the remote rivers of northern Maine in May on the Wilderness Canoe Expedition Semester. We get a lot of questions about recommended fishing gear for our spring programs, so today I want to address this. While we do have fly [...]

I just finished a 7-day fast where the only things I took in were water and strong black coffee (because weak coffee is the devil). I have done a bunch of these, stretching back to the mid-1990’s, and while there is a renewed interest in fasting as a result of the intermittent fasting diets, it [...]

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