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Backpacker Magazine – September 1999

The Wisdom of Abo Dude

To all the techno-weenies with your space-age outdoor gear, Cody Lundin has some advice: For that day when your butt's on the line, you better know how to get primitive.

by: Annette McGivney, BACKPACKER Southwest Editor

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Resources

Outdoor Survival Skills, 6th edition, by Larry Dean Olsen (1997; Chicago Review Press, Chicago, IL; 800-888-4741; $14.95).

Primitive Living and Survival Skills, by John and Geri McPherson (1994; Prairie Wolf Publishing, Randolph, KS; $9.95).

The Tracker, by Tom Brown Jr. with William Jon Watkins (1986; Berkley Publishing Group, New York, NY; 800-631-8571; $6.99).

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival, by Tom Brown Jr. with Brandt Morgan (1987; Berkley Publishing Group, New York, NY; 800-631-8571; $12.95).

Wilderness Survival, by Gregory J. Davenport (1998; Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA; 800-732-3669; $14.95).

Survival Schools

With no agencies regulating the survival school industry, just about anybody can hang a shingle that says "Wilderness Survival Training." That means you need to do your homework to find a reliable school that's worth your time and money.

Start your search the old-fashioned way: Talk to friends and acquaintances who have first-hand experience, and look for brochures at your local outfitters. Then check the Wilderness Schools Home Page on the Internet at www.geosmith.com/wilderness. Survival schools aimed at outdoor recreationists are listed based on recommendations from Web site viewers and the brochure and promotional materials of the school.

Once you've found a few schools you're interested in, study their Web sites and request brochures and course schedules. Most schools aimed at outdoor recreationists clearly say so in the mission statement.

Call the school and ask about the balance between teaching primitive living and modern survival skills to see if the school's education priorities match yours. Also ask for a list of satisfied customers, and make sure the course is at least 70 percent hands-on training.

Ask how the school deals with environmental impact during field courses. Building fires, foraging, and constructing debris shelters can damage sensitive environments. Responsible schools have a method for mitigating impact on the outdoors.

To get you started, here are some wilderness survival schools, all geared toward backpackers and all with established reputations. This list is by no means inclusive, however, and there are many quality survival schools across the country that aren't mentioned here.

Aboriginal Living Skills School, P.O. Box 3064, Prescott, AZ 86302; (520) 636-8384; abodude@aztec.asu.edu.; www.alssadventures.com. Instructor/owner Cody Lundin offers courses in both modern survival and primitive living skills, centered around the Southwest desert environments. Prices range from $230 for a two-day course to $830 for an eight-day course.

Ancient Pathways, 5205 E. Cortland Blvd., #395, Flagstaff, AZ 86004; (520) 526-4218. Anthropologist Tony Nestor uses his knowledge of ancient Native American traditions to teach survival skills and animal tracking techniques. Prices begin at $65 for a one-day field course.

ANEW/Simply Survival, P.O. Box 1159, Stevenson, WA 98648; (509) 427-4340; www.ssurvival.com. All courses taught by school owner/founder Greg Davenport, a former U.S Air Force survival instructor and author of Wilderness Survival (see Resources on page 150). Focus is on modern survival skills and group/corporate leadership training. Prices are approximately $120 per person, per day.

Boulder Outdoor Survival School (BOSS), P.O. Box 1590, Boulder, CO 80306; (800) 335-7404; www.boss-inc.com. Field courses teach students how to survive in the Utah desert with little more than a wool blanket. Some "skills" courses focus on teaching traditional living techniques used by primitive cultures across the globe, while allowing students to take modern backpacking and camping gear. Prices range from $535 for a four-day course to $2,425 for a 27-day course.

Desert Survival Workshop, Big Bend Ranch State Park, P.O. Box 2319, Presidio, TX 79845; (915) 229-3416; www.tpwd.state.tx.us. Courses in modern survival taught by Australian bush veteran and Texas State Park Ranger David Alloway. Cost is $350.

Earthwalk Northwest, P.O. Box 461, Issaquah, WA 98027; (425) 746-7267; www.EarthwalkNorthwest.com. Primitive living skills with an emphasis on learning how to identify edible and medicinal plants in the Pacific Northwest. Prices range from $225 for a two-day course to $650 for a week.

Headwaters Outdoor School, P.O. Box 1698, Santa Cruz, CA 95061-1698; (831) 423-3830; www.hwos.com. Primitive living skills classes emphasize tool making and wildlife observation and tracking. Prices range from $125 for two days to $590 for a weeklong course.

Mountain Shepherd, 220 Regal Oaks Way, Amherst, VA 24521; (804) 929-5309; www.mountainshepherd.com. Courses in modern and primitive survival skills, plus a family camping seminar that teaches outdoors skills to all ages. Prices range from $78 for an overnight course to $125 for a two-night class; family discounts available.

Northwest School of Survival, 39065 Pioneer Blvd., Ste. 200, Sandy, OR 97055; (503) 668-8264; www.nwsos.com. Courses in both primitive living and modern survival. Other outdoors skills classes include mountaineering, avalanche/rescue training, and using a GPS. Survival course prices range from $375 for a two-day class to $1,150 for a five-day class.

School of Forest Princess Peers, R.R. #1, Peers, AB, Canada, T0E 1W0; (780) 693-2428. Classes in modern and primitive wilderness skills taught by Mors Kochanski, an international authority on cold-weather survival. Prices are approximately $60 (Canadian) per person per day.

Tom Brown's Tracker School, P.O. Box 173, Asbury, NJ 08802-0173; (908) 479-4681; http://members.aol.com/trackerinc. The beginner's survival course provides instruction in primitive skills including shelter, fire, tracking, trapping, and tanning. A new course, called Coyote Camps, is aimed at teaching nature observation and survival to children. Prices are approximately $700 for a weeklong course.

Wilderness Heart Awareness and Survival School, P.O. Box 598, Buckner, MO 64016; (816) 650-3600; www.sound.net/~wheart. Courses in primitive living skills, focusing on environmental awareness, for adults and children. Prices range from $100 to $150 for two-day courses.

Woodmaster/Hoods in the Woods, P.O. Box 383, Lake Hughes, CA 93532; (888) 257-BUGS; www.survival.com. Former U.S. Army Special Warfare Team member Ron Hood teaches primitive skills with a "tough love" approach, including sleeping on hot coals to stay warm and in hollow logs. Prices are approximately $1,000 for a weeklong course.


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READERS COMMENTS

Bud
Jun 28, 2012

Wrong, Jim. There is no "social contract" (I love those trendy buzzwords) with anyone except your own people. If you think you can convince the world to pay for 3rd-worlders to have 14 kids per family, you've a long road to hoe. Europe looks like it's about done in its current radically egalitarian incarnation, and I'd imagine the US is next.

Far more likely than a "social contract" is 1st world economic collapse, with the resulting halt in food and medicine to the 3rd world causing the worst famine in human history. When you create a bubble, you shouldn't be surprised when it bursts. Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret.

Jim Mark
Dec 26, 2011

Cody Lundin's "off-the-grid" desert home begs the question, "Is it wilderness, if humans maintain permanent, non-nomadic habitation in it?" To me, if all the federally protected wilderness in the U.S. had a permanent population of just several thousand, it would no longer BE wilderness.

In one of the episodes of the first season of "Dual Survival," Lundin and Canterbury were seen attempting to kill a domestic goat with wooden weapons in a post-hurricane scenario in the Dominican Republic, a goat that might have been 25% of one family's entire wealth only 3 days earlier. I think perhaps the population of the planet has increased to the point where the social contract that created "the grid" is now a necessity, not just a trendy option to be dispensed with because you like the feel of bare feet against the earth or the wind blowing through your genitals.

Brian Bennett
Jul 16, 2011

I think he is a brilliant man wish I had a dad like him or Atleast the skills he has I didn't no much about him until dual survival which opened my eyes and now I watch all his stuff and try to teach my self how to do it minus the dangerous stunts but whether he's on tv or not he's always gna be king of the wilderness in my book and Cody if you ever look At this it would be cool to say hi to you 785 806-2959 or email me at mrbennett2150@yahoo.com

KAWIKA (DAVID)
Sep 27, 2010

MOST OF WHAT CODY TEACHES IS COMMON SENSE SURVIVAL. I LEARNED MOST OF IT AS A YOUNG BOY SCOUT, I'VE ADVANCED MYSELF THROUGH EXPERIMENTING. I'M 69 YEARS OLD AND HAVE USED FIRE STARTING TECHNIQUES AS LUNDIN TEACHES MANY MANY TIMES. ITS FUN TO SEE THE FACES OF PEOPLE WHEN YOU START A FIRE WITH TWO STICKS. THEN EVERYONE WANTS YOU TO SO THEM HOW ITS DONE..:>)) FINDING WATER AND FOOD IS ANOTHER STORY..NEVER GIVE UP. I LEARNED TO FIND WATER BY GOING OUT INTO THE WILDERNESS WITH A FULL CANTEEN FIRST, LOOK FOR SPOTS WHERE YOU THINK WATER IS AND DIG. WHEN YOU FIND WATER YOU'LL KNOW WHERE TO LOOK WHEN YOU DON'T HAVE A CANTEEN..EXPERIMENT..HOWEVER, EVEN BEING 69, I AM THINKING OF GOING TO CODY LUNDINS ALS SCHOOL JUST TO SEE IF I CAN MAKE IT.

John Batam
Sep 13, 2010

If he was 32 at the time of this article, then he is 42 or 43 now, yet wikipedia says he is 35.

larry
Aug 02, 2010

Reply to Connie
Feb 09, 2010

I think you missed the point - yea, we should be taking care of thep lanet we live in - but the author of this article is doing something useful too. She's learning basic skills that all of us need to know. Things that will keep any of us alive in a bad situation. Anyone can get into a bad situation. She backpacks alot - she needs to know this stuff.

What Cody teaches is way closer to nature than what you do.

Joe
Aug 10, 2009

DDT has saved many more people than it ever harmed.

Casey Lyons
Jul 16, 2008

Hey Connie, if you're out there, can you email me? casey@backpacker.com

Connie, veteran/native american
Jun 09, 2008

I think your creative energies and talents would be better spent on helping the society be better, than planning to "bug-out".
The wildlife has cancers, one Montana graduate student was stopped from making the count of hunter kills having cancers and other disease. Our world is already spoiled and is practically nowhere pristine. The ice fields of Antarctica has ppm of lead and DDT.
If you find somewhere reasonably pristine, there are people there, who are not stupid: they know large tracts of open land are necessary to sustain practically any small population.
In West Marin, they have organic intensive and sustainable farming and ranching on a small scale, specifically "urban farms" and small ranches having a diversity of "livestock".
In Washington State, the really big Lake Washington was cleaned up by all the small communities and large urban cities agreeing to clean up their own act.
It is not too late to make the world a better place, if not entirely on the original model: people are a part of nature too.

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