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From the author of Me and Earl and the Dying Girl comes a novel about music, love, friendship, and freedom. Outdoor Survival Skills has taught three generations of wilderness adventurers how to survive in nature without expensive purchased equipment, instead drawing on knowledge of the land and carefully tested techniques, many of them ancient, for finding or creating shelter, fire, tools, water, and plant and animal foods. Read an Excerpt Outdoor Survival Skills By Larry Dean Olsen Chicago Review Press Incorporated Copyright © 1997 Larry Dean Olsen All rights reserved.
In addition to directing the Aboriginal Studies Program at Schiele Museum of Natural History, Steve Watts is a member of the International Society of Primitive Technology. The basic kit takes many forms, depending on the time period (primitive, historic or contemporary).
When you teach primitive skills, what is the primary focus?  What skills do you feel are most important for campers or outdoorsmen?
The most important skills are those that make outdoor living not only possible, but enjoyable….edges and fire are always at the top of the list.
To promote the practice and teaching of aboriginal skills–to foster communication between teachers and practitioners– and to set standards for authenticity, ethics and quality.
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In this new edition, anecdotes from the author's lifetime of experience provide thrilling examples of the skills and attitudes that ensure survival outdoors. Students attending one of Steve’s classes at Rabbitstick (2010) all made a pin like in the bottom left while learning about Blanket Technology. Beyond the green of hay fields, in a land of sand and sage, I sifted artifacts of clay and bone and stone and ancient ways, filling my imaginings with adventures, digging secrets from rock shelters and caves. As we mentioned in part one of our interview, Watts, along with David Wescott, also keeps a classic camping blog.
I stepped far from bicycles and baseball into the making of a long walking.After many years, I sat on a rock and wrote the first edition of this book.
I gathered about me many Walkers wanting to make a living off the land and wanting to use Stone Age tools for making it. Now this thirtieth-year publication celebrates some early events and feelings and shares a few tales of how I learned the Anasazi Way and the making of these survival skills.The badgerstone changed my life forever. It all began when I was twelve years old.In the BeginningMiss Romain wanted my eyes on the blackboard, but out the window and westward across the desert lay the cave, and my eyes saw only the treasure in its deep floor. On Tuesday, I started making a new pair of high-topped moccasins from an old pair of field boots.
I cut off the soles, turned the boots inside out, and started sewing on soles of cowhide leather.On Wednesday I rolled up a blanket pack, sharpened my pocketknife and a small hunting knife, and made a long possibles bag from the leg of an old pair of Levi's. I was ready.My mother had watched my preparations carefully and had suggested enough additional gear to fill a covered wagon.

Skipping school for important projects like this one wasn't against her personal plans for my success in life. Daddy wasn't too concerned about my schooling either, but he had plenty to say about me going into the desert alone. After two days of stern warnings on everything from mosquitoes to rattlesnakes, he ran out of advice. I later learned that he followed me for the first mile just to see if I was really serious.My trail led down a steep gully for the first two miles. I had absorbed a great deal of interesting facts about Paiutes, Anasazi, and the flora and fauna of the great plateau deserts of Idaho. Actually, I hadn't realized it myself, and I wondered right off if I could get there and back to the drop-point by Saturday evening.I had previously spent parts of days alone working on Uncle Bill's farm and several one-night camp outs in the desert by myself.
As I hiked along the flat, three days seemed like quite a big chunk of time in this unknown, roadless place. But the land felt good under my new moccasin soles, and each step brought me more and more in touch with the breezes. I walked and tossed between a tiny grip of fear and a peaceful blending with the desert.Sage grew skimpy and short. Scattered on the flats were countless red-ant mounds, each surrounded by circles of bare earth where the ants had stripped the ground around their little pyramids. I noted in my journal that the few exceptions were due to some natural obstruction on the south side of a mound, like a tall bush or rock that shaded it. From this observation I concluded that the ants depended on the sun to warm their lives each day, especially in the winter when the sun swung low along the southern horizon and the ants were deep below the frost line. I thought about the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper, and I thought about my parents and our grocery store and the prophet who taught Mormons to store food and fuel for two years ahead.Somehow, I couldn't relate the ants to Miss Romain's class at school. I wondered whether ants found it necessary to hold classes of instruction for all upcoming antlets in order to maintain their organized and busy mound-building society. Red ants seemed ever ready for a fierce fight, though, so maybe they did have a school of some sort after all.Finally it struck me that the ants could serve as well as teach me. No longer were those little creatures mere teachers of philosophy, social organization, and architecture. At any time of the year, whether cloudy or in blizzard, the little mounds, averaged together, faced south. I knew then that I would never lose my way in the land of red ants.Red ants were also troublesome.
The flat stretched on and on and despite my many new thoughts and discoveries, the desert heat began to press down upon me. I had to move faster toward the still-thin rim of No Name Canyon.The stitching broke slowly at first.

My once-pleasant walking on the new soles of my moccasins suddenly became agony as my right foot scooped up sand and stickers and worst of all, red ants. Then the big toe on my left foot poked through and I tripped along in double-plop in the middle of nowhere. My feet were fairly tough and the sand didn't bother me too much, but the stickers and red ants soon found the tender spots between my toes. Finally I stopped, sat on my blanket roll, and pondered my dirty feet with little red pricks and bites all over them. The canyon rim looked even farther away and I wondered if I had been walking backward or something. I drank some of my water and slumped in the dirt on the big flat in the miserable west desert.Going back seemed the only way for me. I drowsed in the pungent shade of a sagebrush for a few minutes, and as I lay there, all my thoughts disappeared. I could feel the thump of my heart as it performed its duty without any effort or desire on my part.Slowly, I felt thumpings coming through the ground under me.
I just lay there, straining.In a few minutes, I heard a muffled growl and a spitting noise. Sloping upward away from the hole was a ramp of dirt tailings that peaked sharply at its top, clearly testifying to the enormous amount of earth moving that had taken place there.The muffled growls and hissing were coming from the hole.
It was a badger, a big one, coming out of the den backward!My curiosity faded as fear swept over me.
I could hear my heart right between my ears.Old Badger came out of the earth and backed up the long dirt ramp. This brought the stone to the top of the mound, but it slipped from his grip and went rolling back down the ramp and into the hole.
Old Badger finally lumbered back into the ground grumbling and hissing with typical badger temperament.
I could hear him deep underground almost beneath me, spitting and struggling.Presently Old Badger's rump emerged and once again he backed up the dirt ramp, pulling the stone along.
Old Badger spat out a whole string of unique sounds and followed the path of the stone back into the ground.The badger and the stone repeated the same dance over and over again until I became weary of watching.

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