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Survival & Primitive Skills

Survival   Non-primitive Living in the Wilds   Other Survival Books 
Shelters   Hunting   Plants for food/medicine   Animals for food  
 Flint Knapping   Tanning   Boats, canoes   Other Skills   Stories 

Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival
by Tom Brown Jr.
1983, ISBN 0-425-10572-5

A primer for wilderness survival without modern tools, this book covers topics from one's attitude in a wilderness survival situation, through the "sacred four" of shelter, water, fire, food, to tools and crafts.
Tom Brown's Field Guide to Living With the Earth
by Tom Brown Jr.
1984, ISBN 0-425-09147-3
This book continues where the previous one left off.  It outlines techniques for living in a "primitive" lifestyle indefinitely, in harmony with the earth.
From the Introduction:  "Living with the earth in its fullest sense is much more than mere survival.  It is also more than the frenzy and desperation that passes for life in much of the modern world.  Living with the earth is an intimate belonging, like the connectedness of a well-rooted tree."
Primitive Wilderness Living and Survival Skills
Primitive Wilderness Skills, Applied and Advanced

by John & Geri McPherson
published by Prairie Wolf
The first book was originally published as a series of small pamphlet-type books, now brought together all in one large book.  Tons of photographs and diagrams.  Covers brain tan buckskin, fire, cordage, bow & arrow, traps, cooking, containers, tools, shelters.  These folks also have videos that you can order.
The second volume is also extremely useful.
Visit their website at www.prairiewolf.net
They also have a series of videos:
The Rural Ranger - A Suburban and Urban Manual & Field Guide of Traps and Snares for Food and Survival
by Ron H. Foster
Self published. 
Ron contacted me some time ago asking to use some of my photos from this website in a book he was writing. Ron's book has a number of photos of traps from the site. This 190-page book has many interesting ideas for survival.

"The Modern Day Survival Primer For Solving Modern Day Survival Problems! This book will teach you the techniques to not just survive, but to use ingenuity and household items to solve your problems scientifically with a bit of primitive know how thrown in. A complete and detailed section utilizing explicit drawings and easy to understand photographs covers thoroughly the topic of survival trapping using Modern Snares, Deadfalls, Conibear Traps, and Primitive Snares. This book is dedicated for long term survival in the country or the suburbs to insure you survive and thrive! Build a solar oven or pasteurize water its all in here! Catch your dinner, then cook it or preserve it too! Food procurement is the name of the game along with purified water in a survival or disaster situation."

Visit Ron's website at www.survival-trapping-fishing.com 
The book may be ordered online at http://www.lulu.com/content/17107

Outdoor Survival Skills
by Larry Dean Olsen
ISBN 1-55652-323-8, published by Chicago Review Press
Larry Dean Olsen is to the west what Tom Brown Jr is to the east, in terms of survival skills.
Wildwood Wisdom
by E. Jaeger
A reprint of a book originally published in 1947.  Covers all aspects of wildness survival lore.  Tons of illustrations.
The Psychology of Wilderness Survival
by Gino Ferri
ISBN 0-9694132-0-3, published by the author.
Gino Ferri runs an outdoor wilderness survival program at various community colleges around Ontario (Canada).
Website: www.survivalinthebushinc.com
Deep Survival:
Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why: True Stories of Miraculous Endurance and Sudden Death

by Laurence Gonzales
What impels people to risk their lives by climbing mountains or deep-sea diving? What confluence of forces leads to drastic accidents? Why do some people survive disasters while others perish? A renowned journalist intrigued with risk, Gonzales conducts an in-depth and engrossing inquiry into the dynamics of survival. Relating one hair-raising true story after another about wilderness adventures gone catastrophically wrong and other calamities, Gonzales draws on sources as diverse and compelling as the Stoic philosophers and neuroscience to elucidate the psychological, physiological, and spiritual strengths that enable certain individuals to avoid fatal panic and make that crucial "transition from victim to survivor." People who survive being lost or adrift at sea, for instance, pay close attention to their surroundings and respect the wild. Gonzales also notes that survivors think of others, either helping a fellow sufferer or rallying to outsmart death in order to spare loved ones anguish. The study of survival offers an illuminating portal into the human psyche, and Gonzales, knowledgeable and passionate, is a compelling and trustworthy guide
Non-Primitive Living in the Wilds
Bush Craft
by Mors L. Kochanski
ISBN 0-919433-51-0, published by Lone Pine Publishing
Lots of detailed drawings, this seems to be a good book on this type of wilderness survival skills.

"After reading Northern Bush Craft (not a survival book but a living book) and practicing his techniques I would say Mors ideas are superior especially for northern area. I attended a week long session with Mors K. last summer and I learned more in the the first hour than I did in a whole day at Tom Brown's course. He doesn't talk or brag, he demonstrates and is able to explain. Look at his book closer and try it." --Review by "Joe"

Books by Bradford & Vena Angier:
In the 1950s the Angiers left Boston behind and headed for a cabin in the wilderness of Canada's Peace River country.  They wrote a series of books on their life there.  Some of their books tell their story and adventures, and some outline techniques for living in the wilderness.
  • We Like it Wild (story)
  • At Home in the Woods (story)
  • How to Stay Alive in the Woods
  • Survival With Style
  • How to Build Your Home in the Woods  How to build log cabins, camping shelters, and rustic furniture.  This is axe work, not primitive living.   Profusely illustrated with drawings and plans.
  • How to Live in the Woods on Pennies a Day: Cutting Out to the North Woods for the Good Life Forever or for Awhile   This book details how to search out your wilderness home, but since it was published in 1972, much of the info in this book may be outdated.  Nevertheless it is still a good reference if you can find it.
  • One Acre and Security: How to Live Off the Earth Without Ruining It   Includes a lot of info on various small-scale farming techniques.  Lots of illustrations.
  • The Art and Science of Taking to the Woods: A Complete Encylopedia of Outdoor Living
    by C.B. Colby & Bradford Angier.  This is not a guide to primitive living, but rather to camping, canoeing, and hiking.  Lots of illustrations
  • Home in Your Pack
Other Survival Books
Tom Brown's Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival Tom Brown's Field Guide to City and Suburban Survival
1984, ISBN 0-425-06815-3

This book completes the survival picture by covering survival in cities, amongst the works of humans.  Tom applies the "sacred four" of wilderness survival to an urban environment.

From the Introduction:  "The last thing I want to do is dwell unnecessarily on disasters and discomforts.....I have not limited the discussions in this book to emergencies and disasters.  I have put just as much (if not more) emphasis on understanding the city environment, living frugally and thoughtfully, knowing how things work, gaining confidence and control in one's life, and becoming familiar with the machines and systems that are so much a part of it.  This, too, is a logical extension of the survival philosophy.  For survivalists do not feel like victims or cogs in a machine.  They feel at home in their environment, wherever it might be."

Fugitive -  How to Run, Hide, and Survive 
by Kenn Abaygo 
ISBN: 0873647548

An interesting pair of books from Paladin Press by Kenn Abaygo...This guy definitely does not like Tom Brown! Although these books are oriented towards those on the run as a fugitive, there's some interesting ideas for the ordinary survivalist:

From the publisher's website: "If you're serious about going on the lam, this book may just save your life. Learn to build an evasion shelter, erect path guards, lose a pack of tracking dogs, enter the "network" of people willing to assist evaders, apply natural camouflage and utilize primitive first aid skills. This unique manual exposes you to possibilities you never even considered."

Advanced Fugitive - Running, Hiding, Surviving, and Thriving Forever
by Kenn Abaygo 
ISBN: 0873649338
From the publisher's website: "In this companion to Fugitive: How to Run, Hide, and Survive, you'll learn the advanced evasion techniques successful fugitives have used to get gone and stay gone for long periods of time - perhaps forever - and you'll benefit from their experience and their mistakes."

On page 91, the author expresses his disdain for Tom Brown:
"There's no hocus-pocus, no Tom Brown "Tracker" bush- or tree-spirit worshipping -- none of that crap. As a matter of fact, forget all that communing-with-nature, tree-hugging stuff. It might get you dead."

Shelters, Shacks and Shanties
by D.C. Beard
ISBN 0-89815-482-0, published by Shelter Publications
Lots of different types of shelters and cabins, most using axe and saw. Fascinating old-style book full of bush lore re shelters.
The Traditional Bowyer's Bible, Volume 1,2,3
by lots of authors
ISBN volume 1: doesn't have one??, volume 2: 1-55821-207-8, volume 3: 1-55821-311-2
The definitive guides to primitive archery.
Indian Fishing - Early Methods on the Northwest Coast
by Hilary Stewart
ISBN 0-88894-332-6
In over 450 drawings and 75 photographs, Hilary details how Native peoples fished in times of old.  The drawings are detailed and extremely interesting.  Excellent book.
Plants - for food & medicine
For books on identifying plants, see the Booklist - Nature & Tracking - Plants (identification) section
Tom Brown's Guide to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants
1985, ISBN 0-425-10063-4
Unlike most field guides, this one has a story of some sort about each plant, usually about an experience Tom had with it, or a story from Stalking Wolf ("Grandfather") about the plant.  The first part of the book deals with how to approach nature in an attitude of harmony, to gather the plants with a caretaking attitude.  The second part covers the edible and medicinal uses of 44 different plants.
In the Introduction, Tom shares with us a life-changing story in which he realizes that taking the life of a plant to feed ourselves is not much different than taking the life of an animal for the same purpose.
Edible Wild Plants  (Peterson Field Guide)
by Lee Allen Peterson
ISBN 0-395-31870-X
Medicinal Plants and Herbs  (Peterson Field Guide)
by Steven Foster & James A. Duke
ISBN 0-395-46722-5
Edible Wild Plants of Eastern North America
by Merritt Lyndon Fernald & Alfred Charles Kinsey
published by Dover
Originally published in 1958. A comprehensive guide.
It Will Last Forever: Traditional Yosemite Indian Acorn Preparation
by Beverly Ortiz, as told by Julia Parker
ISBN 0-930588-45-2, published by Heyday Books
I'm sure that a lot of the techniques could be applied to other areas and types of acorns.   Lots of photos.
How Indians Use Wild Plants for Food, Medicine & Crafts
by Frances Densmore
ISBN 0-486-23019-8, published by Dover Books
This book was originally published in a different form in 1928.  It is quite detailed and scientific, with tables, photos, and explanations.  A classic work.
Sacred Plant Medicine
by Stephen Harrod Buhner
This is a truly fantastic book, and the authors respect and dedication show in each word. The first half of the book is about establishing a sacred relationship with plants and using them in a sacred way. There is also a chapter on how to use the plants (make tinctures, etc.) and an excellent discussion of 18 plants and their medical uses. There are references to plants other than the 18 scattered throughout. Also included are plant-specific songs, prayers, origin myths, and tales of usage from five tribes in North America: Hupa, Catawba, Sioux, Kwakiutl, and Ojibwa.
    Here is the the Table Of Contents:
The Sacred and the Earth, To be Healed by the Earth, Visions of Sacred Plant Medecine, The Sacred Song of a Plant, Making Sacred Relationship With Plants, Healing in a Sacred Manner, Digging for Medicine: The Wildcrafting of Medicinal Plants, Making Plants into Medicine: The technology of Herbalism, Ceremony: Making Deeper Relationship with Plants, Four Sacred Plants of the Rocky Mountain Region: Their Sacred Qualities, and Uses as Medicine, A Short Compendium of Plants and Their Sacred Uses, The Birth of Gaiia, Suggested Readings and Herbal Sources, Wildcrafting Ethics and Guidelines.
(reviewed by someone on the Tracker email list)
Animals for food
Contingency Cannibalism: superhardcore survivalism's dirty little secret
by Shiguro Takada
ISBN: 1-58160-025-9, published by Paladin Press
A book for you hard-core survival types! This twisted, tongue-in-cheek look at cannibalism as a last-resort survival option analyzes real-life case studies and historical episodes of cannibalism. Then it examines the hard-core decisions and gruesome details one must know in order to partake in this grisly practice. Recipes included. "For entertainment purposes only".
Unmentionable Cuisine
Calvin Schwabe
Details of eating just about anything that moves on this Earth, including animals, reptiles, insects, etc. Based on research into many cultures the world over, this book includes authentic recipes and cooking methods.
Flint Knapping
Flintknaping - Making and Understanding Stone Tools
John C. Whittaker
Caught Knapping (video)
The Art of Flintknapping
D.C. Waldorf
An Introduction to Flint Knapping (video)
Bill Metcalfe
Wet-Scrape Braintanned Buckskin
by Steven Edholm & Tamara Wilder
ISBN 0-9654965-4-6, published by Paleotechnics
A pretty detailed book, lots of photos and drawings to help you understand what you're doing and why.
Deerskins Into Buckskins: How to Tan With Natural Materials
by Matt Richards
ISBN 0-9658672-0-X
A nice book, full of illustrations and photos.
Boats, canoes
The Bark Canoes and Skin Boats of North America
by Edwin Tappan Adney & Howard Chapelle
ISBN 1-56098-296-9
Very detailed drawings and numerous photos of primitive bark and skin boats.
Building a Birchbark Canoe
by David Gidmark
ISBN 1-55068-053-6, published by Stackpole Books
Detailed descriptions of the building of birchbark canoes, from several different areas of Canada.
by Hilary Stewart
ISBN 1-55054-406-3
A wealth of detailed information, and tons of drawings and photographs about practically every aspect of the use of cedar by the Northwest coastal indigenous peoples.   Excellent.
The Morrow Guide to Knots
by Mario Bigon & Guido Regazzoni
ISBN 0-688-01226-4, published by Quill
This 250 page book includes practically every knot ever tied, all illustrated with clear colour photos.
Natural Basketry
by Carol and Dan Hart
ISBN 0-8230-3155-1, published by Watson-Guptill
Wicker, splint, coiled, and twined baskets.
Survival Stories
Piers Paul Read
The true story of the survivors of a plane crash high in the Andes Mountains.
Into The Wild
Jon Krakauer
A true story of a young man who headed into the wilds of Alaska and died of starvation.
The Lure of the Labrador Wild
Dillon Wallace
The true account of an ill-fated expedition into the remote interior of Labrador (Canada) in 1903, written by one of the survivors. A great story of survival.

The Last Algonquin
by Theodore Kaziminoff
The story of Joe Two Trees, who is the last of his tribe of the Algonquins. Theodore has done an excellent job of preserving the story given to him by his father and keeping the memory of Joe Two Trees and the Algonquin Indians alive. Highly recommended.