Nikki van Schyndel “Becoming Wild” Book Review

Becoming Wild Book Cover

Book Review by Patrick Wiley

When I received an unexpected email detailing the upcoming release of Nikki van Schyndel’s Becoming Wild, I was ecstatic. I had heard about the book seven years prior, but it had practically become an urban legend. Drawing upon my own experience and occasional lack of follow through, I had long ago concluded that the book was probably just a dream Nikki held that would never come to fruition. As is often the case, Nikki proved me wrong. Nearly a decade after the initial birthing of an idea, Nikki’s book has arrived. The . . . → Read More: Nikki van Schyndel “Becoming Wild” Book Review

Making Healthy Natural Miso Soup with Kombu Kelp Seaweed

Clamming and collecting seaweed with wilderness chef, Charlie Borrowman.

Check out other cooking blog posts by Wolf College wilderness chef Charles Borrowman including Making Clam Chowder with French Herbs and more.

Living near the Pacific coast, we have the luxury of being in close proximity to countless numbers of seaweed (edible algea) including kelp species, each with their own flavors and uses. One of my all-time favorite seaweeds to use is kelps such as kombu (laminaria spp.) in the creation of dashi stock – the flavorful base for miso soup. Miso soup is fast, easy, and can be made from any fresh or dried giant kelp species.

Wolf . . . → Read More: Making Healthy Natural Miso Soup with Kombu Kelp Seaweed

Backcountry Camp Cooking Recipe – Rice Pilaf

Lead instructor and french culinary chef, Charlie Borrowman, demonstrates a marinade for campfire roasted veggie skewers.

Check out other cooking blog posts by Wolf College wilderness chef Charles Borrowman including How to Cook for Backpacking Trips and more.

When on a backcountry wilderness or backpacking expedition, it doesn’t take much more than the thought of yet another night of eating half soggy, half crunchy freeze-dried disaster to wrinkle one’s nose up in disgust. Thankfully, all it takes is a few lightweight and easy to pack ingredients to rescue you from eating $10 a pop astronaut cuisine or that MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) you packed that was likely left over from who knows when. Rice pilaf . . . → Read More: Backcountry Camp Cooking Recipe – Rice Pilaf

Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part II – Trip Preparation plus Wilderness Emergency Response Protocol

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Please click here to read critical introductory material in Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part I – Outdoor Risk Management including how to Engage the Frontal Cortex, recognize the difference between Perceived & Actual Risk, and mitigating the Eight Great Outdoor Hazards. These articles are designed to help the outdoor leaders cut the chaff, and start guiding students and clients with a solid foundation of knowledge.

If you would like intensive, hands-on training to become a highly effective outdoor leader, join us in mid June for our annual OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TRAINING EXPEDITION: Backpacking into Wolf Country course or stay all summer . . . → Read More: Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part II – Trip Preparation plus Wilderness Emergency Response Protocol

Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part I – Outdoor Risk Management

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If you would like intensive, hands-on training to become a highly effective outdoor leader, join us in mid June for our annual OUTDOOR LEADERSHIP TRAINING EXPEDITION: Backpacking into Wolf Country course or stay all summer and graduate from one of our six unique residential summer Environmental Education Apprenticeships on Outdoor Leadership & Nature Guiding, on Ethnobotany & Herbalism, on Wildlife Conservation & Tracking, on Traditional Technology & Survival, or on Homesteading & Sustainability.

Habit of Engaging the Frontal Cortex

Calling all 20 something outdoor leaders! Don’t be like me. Realize that the neural insulation that connects our frontal lobes is . . . → Read More: Hiking & Backpacking Leadership Part I – Outdoor Risk Management

Sensory Awareness – If You Learn Nothing Else!

Child of Air - Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert

Child of Air – Artwork used with permission by Joanna Powell Colbert of GaianTarot.com

Do you get a vague feeling that you hike past a lot of wildlife without seeing it – the deer hiding in the thicket, the coyote silently watching your every move, or the minutes-old cougar tracks saying she heard you coming? Do you wish you could be as good as those wildlife photographers or famous naturalists who tell stories of countless wildlife encounters that seem unreal?

It is true that some people have a natural aptitude for putting themselves in situations that attract wonderful experiences, . . . → Read More: Sensory Awareness – If You Learn Nothing Else!

Tracking Animals for Fun, Photography and the Hunt

Explorer of Earth by Joanna Colbert and used with permission for the Wolf College

It All Comes Back To Tracking – The Most Critical Outdoor Skill

Explorer of Earth by Joanna Colbert of Wolf College instructor and used with permission.

If you can find it, you don’t have to make it. But what’s more, tracking is exciting as a mystery. You can discover the story of what happened in nature before you got there, so next time you’re on the trail, see if you can spot an animal track. Don’t try to identify it. At least not at first. Jumping to a conclusion about the identity of a track unwise, and it’s . . . → Read More: Tracking Animals for Fun, Photography and the Hunt

Identify Birds Quickly by Sight, Sound & Behavior using Bird Feeders, Field Guides & Apps

Bald Eagle photo by Kimberly M Chisholm. Bald eagles have a distinct companion call in flight when returning to the nest, among other vocalizations.

Wolf Camp lead instructor Patrick Wiley birding in Northern Virginia during Wolf College trip to Washington DC

This article is being published in honor of the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count. Check out its great video instructions and online submissions tool.

Identifying Birds by Sound & Behavior

If you’re not already excited by birds and bird voices, check out my previous article on bird language which will teach you when predators are lurking around, when birds are mating, when chicks have hatched, where the exact edges of their territories lie, and so much more.

Fortunately, recognition of bird . . . → Read More: Identify Birds Quickly by Sight, Sound & Behavior using Bird Feeders, Field Guides & Apps

Why Birds Sing & What Birds Say – Their Languages, Voices & Vocalizations

Listening to Cedar Waxwing Bird Song - Artwork by Joanna Powell Colbert

Gaian Tarot artwork by Joanna Colbert with the author as model in willow tree with songbirds.

This article is being published in honor of the 2014 Great Backyard Bird Count. Check out its great video instructions and online submissions tool.

Nature’s Internet

Of all animals, birds in particular are in constant communication with one another. We can take advantage of their vocalizations to find not only them, but also to find the animals they call out. This activity is not an exact science, since one kind of bird call can sometimes have multiple meanings, but it doesn’t matter. . . . → Read More: Why Birds Sing & What Birds Say – Their Languages, Voices & Vocalizations

CAMP IS KEY – Why Summer Camp Is Critical For Childhood Development

Group of day campers doing the seaweed challenge on Lummi Island.

Group of day campers doing the edible seaweed challenge.

The American Camping Association slogan says “camp does kids a world of good” and it’s so true. Good camps expose children to a safe, uplifting world of diversity, challenge, fun and success.

Nowadays, there are specialized camps for every interest. But no matter the camp, it should include experiences rarely encountered in traditional schools which have moved away from holistic learning. The arts, for instance, are less available due to budget limitations.

Camp should always be a holistic learning environment, where lessons of life, sports, technology, the arts and outdoor . . . → Read More: CAMP IS KEY – Why Summer Camp Is Critical For Childhood Development

Reviews of the Top 10 Professional Wildlife Tracking Books

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It’s been a long time coming. The great Haitian-American naturalist John James Audubon hand-painted The Birds of America between 1927-1939 and with it, he set the standard for modern field guides. Now there are several excellent field guides to the birds, but it has only been recently that field guides to plants and other animals have risen to that level of user-friendly excellence. The following is a list of my Top 10 wildlife tracking book compilations, with must-have field guides in bold:

1948 Ellsworth Jaeger: Tracks and Trailcraft by Ellsworth Jaeger, first published in 1948, is the first . . . → Read More: Reviews of the Top 10 Professional Wildlife Tracking Books

A Teacher’s Guide to Carbon & Climate Change

Truths & Myths • Facts & Common Sense • Practicalities & Fantasies

So many people argue about climate change: whether it is happening, what is causing it, what to do about it, and how to deal with it. Even professional advocates of reducing atmospheric greenhouse gasses sometimes only have a simplistic understanding of the greenhouse process, and that elementary-level understanding can undermine their own advocacy.

For instance, advocates often say “plant trees” to address climate change, and that works for those of us who were already environmentalists. But if advocates explained the amazing process by which all plants take greenhouse-producing . . . → Read More: A Teacher’s Guide to Carbon & Climate Change

Filbert / Hazelnut Milk & Truffle Dessert Recipies

Hazlenut Collection

Beaked Hazelnuts (corylus cornuta) also cultivated and sold by the name Filberts, are found throughout much of North America, and they are one of just a couple native nuts available in Western Washington. Assuming you can beat the squirrels and jays to the harvest, or if you cultivate hazelnuts in your yard and protect them with covers, the following are some simple things you can make with your hazelnuts.

Harvesting, Drying, Storing & Roasting Hazelnuts

Hazelnut Leaves & Dried Nuts in the hands of the author. This photo is just good enough to see the fine fuzz covering hazelnut . . . → Read More: Filbert / Hazelnut Milk & Truffle Dessert Recipies

Stinging Nettle: Harvesting, Processing and Recipes

Wolf Camp and the Wolf College co-owner and lead instructor, Kim Chisholm, demonstrates how to safely harvest stinging nettle leaves without gloves.

Those of us living in the Pacific Northwest (and many other regions around the world) are fortunate to be gifted every spring with an abundance of Stinging Nettle (Urtica dioica). While it’s sting can be unpleasant, it teaches us to pay attention to our surroundings and I believe that’s a good thing. It also offers food, medicine and fiber if one knows how to properly harvest it. Here at the Wolf College, we adhere as closely as we can to the following Honorable Harvesting Guidelines for every plant we collect:

Wolf Camp and the Wolf College founder, Chris Chisholm, . . . → Read More: Stinging Nettle: Harvesting, Processing and Recipes

Herbal and Critter Forage for Healthy Chickens

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Organically raised chickens foraging on grass at Blue Skye Farm.

What are herbs and why might my chickens need them?

An herb or herbaceous plant is generally defined as “any plant with leaves, seeds, or flowers used for flavoring, food, medicine, or perfume.” Herbs can be used to prevent both internal and external parasites (via ingestion or externally when a chicken rubs against/brushes when walking by or sits upon them). Other benefits are brighter yolks, more nutritious eggs, more available vitamins and minerals for the birds in general, a calm flock and a lovely coop (among others . . . → Read More: Herbal and Critter Forage for Healthy Chickens

Tips for Eating Edible Insects

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Young Man at Wolf Camp eating Chocolate Covered Mealworms

All of us have eaten insects, whether we knew it or not. As a kid, I even ate a worm on the playground to impress and gross out my friends. It’s not really a big deal. Unfortunately, adults who spent their whole lives growing up in western culture, now consider the notion of eating insects nothing short of repulsive. The truth of the matter is, insects have be an integral part of the food chain for millions of years, and as the United Nations just reported, we should start eating . . . → Read More: Tips for Eating Edible Insects

Traditional Parfleche & Hide Tanning to Make Buckskin Leather

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How to Make Traditional Parfleche & Tan Hides for Buckskin Leather

1. Gut & Skin Hide removing as much fat as possible, but not puncturing hide with knife. In fact, just make your initial cuts and PULL IT off. There is a youtube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WzioyMC4qg that shows HOW TO GUT pretty well, but skip to this youtube video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLlU3l7YkTo for HOW TO SKIN a deer. Also look at the related recommended youtube videos that appear alongside these since people are always uploading new and better ones as time goes by. If you can’t work with the . . . → Read More: Traditional Parfleche & Hide Tanning to Make Buckskin Leather

Traditional Big Game Bow & Arrow Making Instructions

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A. Harvest the Wood Quickie Bow: Start with a relatively straight section of sapling or branch that is as free as possible from knots and side branches, and without any twist. You want this straight section to be 1-2 meters long and about 3-6 centimeters in diameter. Remember to cut carefully so not to create cracks or splits in the wood.* Big Game Bow: In the pacific northwest, find healthy stand of Pacific Yew, Vine Maple or Sitka Spruce. Harvest with a gardener’s eye. Here’s a good “moderate bow” video especially Material Selection & Preparation, with great overview starting at . . . → Read More: Traditional Big Game Bow & Arrow Making Instructions

Bow Drill Fire Making Kits – Directions, Tips, Tricks, Pitfalls & Advice

Workshop Participant demonstrating excellent bowdrill form

Making traditional fire by friction, or “rubbing two sticks together” is real, and it’s more than a fun project: it’s also the most reliable way to start a fire once you learn how. How can an ancient way of starting fire be the most reliable if it is difficult? Well, it’s only difficult if you haven’t learned how. Once you learn, then it becomes the most reliable method because the coal you create is durable in cold, rainy, and windy conditions. Further, you can’t “run out” of fire lighting material if you know how to make traditional fire by friction. . . . → Read More: Bow Drill Fire Making Kits – Directions, Tips, Tricks, Pitfalls & Advice

The Best Way To Make A Fire: Bed, Pillow & Blanket plus Criss-Cross Construction

Guardian of the Fire by Joanna Powell Colbert

I almost made my own fire-making video, but then I saw this great video by Peter Kummerfeldt who does a superb job explaining the best way to make a fire at Outdoor Survival-Chapter 9-Fire. The only thing missing from his explanation is that fire needs shelter. In fact, fire has the following 4 requirements:

Fuel Air Shelter Ignition, which Peter describes as “heat” in his video. The second and third sections of my article below emphasize the need that fire has for shelter, something few people realize. First, watch Peter’s great fire-making video:

The Bed, Pillow & . . . → Read More: The Best Way To Make A Fire: Bed, Pillow & Blanket plus Criss-Cross Construction