Archive for the ‘Wilderness Skills’ Category

Here is a peek at the varied and valuable learning objectives for the upcoming Wilderness Skills semester. This class just gets better and better! These are skills not just for the wild, but for living a strong, capable life during times of change, uncertainty, and disconnection.

*Wilderness Skills is for serious students with a maturity level that can safely handle these topics. Ages 12-17.*

Advanced knife techniques–  ever hear that the only thing you really need in the wilderness in order to survive is a knife? Learn carving techniques that will make your knife able to cut down trees,  slice 1/2” sticks in half easily,  and manufacture all the things you need quickly,  safely and easily. Knife technique and safety in-depth.
Includes- sharpening, oiling, proper grip, thumb pushing, back hand pull cut, feather stick cutting, sapling bend cut,  limb removal,  chiseling, boring.

Animal food– Trapping/hunting education for sustenance:  focusing on animal life cycle, behavior and physiology of the following animals: Deer, rabbit, squirrel, coon, and trout.  Snares,  deadfalls, and basket traps will be learned in-depth by safety trapping these animals on their natural routes with hand crafted equipment.  Also setting up hunting areas and learning to choose what areas are most productive and when. Local laws, hunting regulations and resources will be referenced. Snares/deadfalls placement and strategy,  fishing traps,  deer hunting preparation, catch and release fishing with minimalist equipment.

Projectiles- Throwing stick use and practice,  and archery refinement,  as well as a one day crossbow.

Throwing, stalking,  seeing, and hitting the mark

Advanced fire making- learn to make fires faster,  more easily,   and under more severe conditions.  I’ve learned a lot of new things that I can’t wait to share! Make a fire in five minutes with a 2” diameter stick and a match (no tinder),  Bow drill revisited and understood.

Food/Medicine prep–  The Big Four survival plants inside and out –  all medicine/food//utilitarian uses of quercus, pinacea, typha, and grasses(including phragmites,  etc.) will be covered.  Ever eat grass roots? These pants are listed as the most important survival plants to know.  Steamed grass roots/stems,  oak bark flour,  uses for tannic acids,  pine bark flour,  pitch gum, pine needle tea recipes, cattail stalks, hand drill,  pollen, pain killer.

Survival Medicine,  study on common wilderness maladies and their wilderness cures such as gastro-intestinal complaints, poisoning, common injuries,  fever,  headaches,  dehydration,   hypo/hyperthermia.

Students should please bring: knife w/sheath (available for $12 via North Wood Traditional Archery LLC),  wood matches, fish hooks and line, glass bottles, bandannas, binoculars (if available),  extra layers, hat, extra wool socks.  notebook, extra pencils/pens, swim suit (and the regular items required for Great Hollow Days, please refer to Director or Policy Document.)


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Howdy Folks of Great Hollow,

I’m Daniel Quiray, and this spring I’ll be helping Greg with teaching the Wilderness Skills Class.  For over a decade I’ve been actively involved in learning, practicing, and teaching “primitive” skills, the skills that indigenous people worldwide have used to live for thousands of years.  In particular the physical technologies and gathering of plant materials have interested me and consumed many hours of my time.  I also spend a lot of time foraging, kayaking, and exploring, on top of reading and writing and occasionally making my own hair-gel (after all, not all of wilderness living is subsistence).

As a recent graduate of Rhode Island College’s School of Anthropology, I gained invaluable experience and insight into the traditional lifeways of indigenous people throughout the world, but especially those in our own backyard.  This education has dovetailed nicely with my long held interest in primitive and wilderness living, as well as my belief that living sustainably and in tune with our landbases is important not only for our own satisfaction but for the freedom and wellbeing of the rest of our human and non-human relations.

I see these skills as the base, the roots, that allows us to create cultures in tune with the rest of the world, cultures in which people live freely.  From these roots we can grow a healthy tree.  I’m very glad to have the opportunity to work with a great group of people doing something so important, and I’m sure I’ll have a great time with all of the young people enrolled.  I look forward to a future in which we’re once again free to live indigenously, and I’m excited to play a part in that.

See you in the woods!

Daniel N. Quiray

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Good Hard Skills

As romantic a notion it is… this idea of living of the land, doing things as they used to, and tribal or Pioneer living, it is easy to theorize that the simplistic is ‘easy’. Nothing brings us back to reality like good old fashioned hard labor. An invisible but visceral experience of achievement can be much greater for a hard earned, small, Black Ash Basket, than a frustrating exchange of unloved work for a full shopping bag. This group spent most of the day rendering perfect strips of basket material, from hand made Oak and Hickory clubs, and I have to say they have a good stock of elbow grease. Interwoven (no pun intended) through the day was a plant mission, a blindfold drumstalk, grinding of Spicebush berries, journaling, dramatic storytelling, and plenty of teamwork.

For those of you who share my passion for plants, you may enjoy this link on Black Ash. One amazing tree!


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Ahh yess……. back at the hollow……

We are stepping into the new semester with fruiting ideas and energy, in tandem with the ripe concords, the juicy Russian Olives, and crisp heirloom apples. The breeze whispers invisible lessons of growth, discovery and ancient ways of walking the land.

Within half an hour they were no where to be seen….. traces in the barn of supplies collected, a walkie talkie brought, the pencil box opened and wrappers peeled back from a fresh package of moleskine journals. With hillsides rich in diversity, there wasn’t a chance of missing something astonishing. Stored in the mentors minds are basketfulls of questions and clues just ready …. open to the learning that unearths at any moment. Multiple animal tracks and traces were found and recorded, plants were identified and gathered, and teamwork was practised and tested. A first day foundation is built.

……………..”Cue the music”………..welcome Melissa!

Personally, I can’t help but hear the Allman Brothers’ “Sweet Melissa” when I see her. A bright, shining light of wonder and cheer, Melissa brings us a background in education but a present moment of openness and excitement. Let’s just say Melissa and Ethan are both very lucky – not to mention us!

OK – this really goes without any special narration. Just a goofy celebration of a great first day!

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