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Medicine for the Outdoors

Dr. Paul Auerbach is the world's leading outdoor health expert. His blog offers tips on outdoor safety and advice on how to handle wilderness emergencies.

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Primitive Skills And Crafts

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Primitive Skills And Crafts is "An Outdoorsman's Guide to Shelters, Tools, Weapons, Tracking, Survival, and More" compiled by Richard and Linda Jamison. The book is published by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. and carries a retail price of $12.95 U.S.

The contributors to the book are Turkka Aaltonen, a survivalist and director of the Finnish Survival Guild; Donald Fisher, a historian of aboriginal lifestyles; Paul Hellweg, a wilderness survival expert and master of flintknapping (shaping flint, as for an arrowhead); the Jamisons; Peg Mathewson, an anthropologist; Larry Olsen, an outdoor survivalist; Jim Riggs, a primitive skills trainer; Steve Watts, an aboriginal skills expert; Dave Wescott, a pioneer in primitive outdoor education; Tamara Wilder and Steve Edholm, experts in primitive living skills; Ernest Wilkinson, an expert on animal behavior and winter survival techniques; and Margaret Wilson, a wild plant expert.

The book is written in essay format, rather than as an encyclopedia, so the writing style and level of detail vary from chapter to chapter. I found the historical explanations, such as that about the southeaster Indian rivercane blowgun, to be fascinating. So, as one peruses this book, he or she learns about how to make and/or use blowguns; hunting and fishing techniques with various spears, seines, improvised lines, traps, and the like; how to make primitive process pottery; stone survival tools; the many uses of the yucca plant, such as cordage, basketry, weaving, sandals, bags, mats, fire starter, and food; how to make hide glue; traditional basketry materials; tracking skills; primitive cooking methods; whole-shoot willow baskets; juniper-bark berry baskets; the nutritional value of a primitive diet; how to fashion a fire piston; throwing sticks; pine needle basketry; and the Paiute deadfall animal trap, to name a few.

There is no wilderness medicine in this book, but still much to commend it. It seems like it would be fun to attempt many of the skills described, so when your schedule permits, you might try to recreated some of these techniques, not so much to save your life, but to understand how incredibly easy we have it today. In listening to lectures by survivalists, I have come to appreciate that they certainly have their preferences for techniques, and opinions about the likelihood that any particular method will meet with success. So, you might wish to get a second opinion before you count on anything in particular that you read in a survival book.

If you are interested in the outdoors, and particularly in survival and history, this book is a fun read.

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About the Author

Dr. Paul S. Auerbach is the world’s leading authority on wilderness medicine.

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