Stone-Age & Wilderness Survival Skills

What would you do if you found yourself lost in the desert, the mountains, or any number of beautiful, yet potentially deadly environments? Would you know how to make the things that you need directly from the Natural Environment? What if you lost some or all of your modern gear, which anyway can be lost or fail altogether? Would you know what to do?

Though countless people find themselves in survival situations each year across the U.S. and the globe, few are prepared for such a calamity. If you or your family enjoy time in the great outdoors, then you owe it to yourself to empower your mind with the knowledge that may someday save lives.

Unlike many survival courses taught today, we focus exclusively on what Nature can provide, not fancy modern survival kits. Using only the surfeit of Nature, you’ll learn an empowering variety of time-tested Wilderness Survival Skills. We’ll cover: Fire-by-friction, Tool-making, Water-finding, Safety, Navigation, Wild Edible & Useful Plants, Shelters, basic Hunting, Emergency Signaling, and more! We invite you to experience the old adage - “the more you know, the less you need!”.

VISIT VINCENT'S ETHNOBOTANY & WILDERNESS SURVIVAL SKILLS BLOG

WILD EDIBLE PLANTS

Arizona contains an incredible array of delicious and nutritious Native Plants that helped form the dietary basis for the long progression of cultures preceding our own. Now you too can learn to supplement your existing diet with these tasty treats, as well as safeguard yourself and others in an unexpected survival situation. For those who desire, you may wish to solely subsist from wild edible plants for several days, learning the life-saving gifts of these plants firsthand. Alternatively, they can serve as snacks and supplements to your everyday fare. You choose! Best of all, given the wide range of plant communities found in our Sky Islands, your new knowledge is often highly transferable to other parts of the U.S. and even beyond!

Exploring among the area’s Deserts, Streams, Forests, and Grasslands, you’ll learn how to find, identify, harvest, process, eat, and store a plethora of wild plant foods. Roots, shoots, leaves, flowers, fruits, and even sap take on new life as you ingest and enjoy them. We’ll also look at a hunter-gatherer diet for the area (including seasonality), cover a variety of stone-age cooking techniques, discuss safely using wild edibles, practice sustainable harvesting techniques, and make several plant collecting/ processing tools. By the end of the class you’ll count each plant as, literally, a friend for life!

Raven's-Nest Plant List (downloadable PDF)

WILD MEDICINAL PLANTS

Relying strictly upon modern medicines and pills these days, many folks have lost touch with the medicinal plant traditions practiced by their not-so-distant ancestors. This hands-on fun, and informative class is your Rx, then for remedying this deplorable situation!

Using the plethora of environments at our disposal, we’ll delve into a wide variety of natural, plant-based medicines. During the class we’ll address such common ailments as: headaches, stomachaches, sore muscles, infections, bleeding, abrasions, eye infections, sore throat, colds, skin rashes, sunburn, and more. You’ll prepare your own herbal salve and wild teas to take home with you. We’ll also cover herbal poultices, decoctions, infusions, and tinctures. The knowledge gained here can aid you in everyday life, as well as during your time spent in Nature. Learn how Nature truly heals all and about the power that plants possess!

Raven's-Nest Plant List (downloadable PDF)

NATURAL SHELTERS

Take away our modern buildings, tents, plastic, and other modern contrivances and many would be at a loss as to how to shelter themselves from the elements. Now you can learn first-hand how to construct, live-in, and maintain both ephemeral and semi - permanent stone-age shelters. Using only the abundance of Nature, including grass, earth, rocks, sticks, leaves, bark, and reeds, you’ll soon gain insight into what it takes to construct a strong and functional shelter in the wild!

You can choose from one or more environment when designing your Natural Shelters class. Sonoran Desert, Chihuahuan Desert, Grasslands, Chaparral, Evergreen Woodlands, Pine Forests, Montane Meadows, Recovering Burns, and Spruce-Fir forests all presents unique opportunities and challenges when devising your shelter. Pick the environment(s) where you anticipate spending the most time.

With the knowledge that you’ll gain in the class, you’ll soon be crafting your own wilderness shelters from the Earth’s bounty. A night spent in a natural shelter can be the culmination of your RAVENS-WAY experience. Perhaps no other skill is quite as satisfying and empowering as the ability to create an effective shelter in a multitude of situations!

STONE-AGE TOOLS

If you were pressed to define humanity from a behavioral perspective, then categorizing us as the great tool users would indeed be a stellar answer. While its true that other species use and even make tools, no other animal remotely concocts the dazzling array of implements that humans lay claim to. In the realm of Wilderness Survival you simply won’t get very far without a good set of tools!

Stone, bone, antler, wood, and clay are some of the materials you’ll work with in this class as you learn the ancient wisdom of stone-age tool-making. While there are many projects to choose from, you may well make some of the following during your time with us - stone saw, stone knife, pecked bowl, burned bowl, digging stick, cactus brush, tongs, wedges, plant containers, cordage (plant rope), and more. Further, we’ll guide you in learning how to effectively use each of your creations, pushing your skill level to new heights.

FIRE-BY-FRICTION

Of all the tools that humans regularly employ, none is more impactive or defining than Fire. No other species that we know of makes fire and employs it for the multitude of purposes that serve humanity. Here we’ll delve into some of the time-tested fire-making traditions of our ancestors from around the globe.

You may choose to focus on any of the following techniques or to try your hand at all of them: hand-drill, bow-drill, fire-plow and fire-saw. These methods collectively span most continents and constitute an incredible storehouse of knowledge. Using the finest materials available in the U.S. and perhaps the world, you’ll learn how to gather your own raw materials and fashion them into a beautiful and efficient fire-making kit.

We’ll also use fire as a tool to craft other objects and to provide us many of our needs. Fire can furnish light, warmth, protection, cooking, and a wide range of tools. Perhaps its greatest attribute, however, is as a life-saving friend in times of extreme need!

SENSORY AWARENESS

Sensory awareness is the ultimate foundation for all other outdoor skills and knowledge.  At RAVENS-WAY we’ll welcome you to a new world - one where brilliant colors and dances of shadow and light grace each moment. Textures draw you near to touch and experience, while rich tastes and delicate aromas prove equally alluring. The symphony of Nature accompanies these sensations as you relearn the art of sensory awareness. Through a series of outdoor exercises and experiences you’ll once again feel “sensible”, as you join in the eternal Dance of Life! This class is a must for those seeking a deeper level of connection with Nature!

THE ART & SCIENCE OF TRACKING

Wildlife Tracking is likely a pursuit as old as our species itself. Whenever those first human or prehuman eyes set upon an impression in the ground and associated it with a certain species, they embarked upon an ever-evolving story that continues to unfold today. While hunting and safety are still two major reasons to learn tracking, there are numerous other impetuses at least as valid to start you on your tracking adventures. 

In our opinion, there is no superior method for slowing down your racing mind and peacefully enjoying the natural rhythms of the wild than probing the tracks and signs of wildlife! Further, searching for wildlife, while ignoring tracks and signs is akin to only gazing at the covers of books in a library. The language of the land unfolds constantly before us, as countless animals script their own, unique stories into the landscape. Wildlife Tracking is also a vital skill that lends its knowledge to many other outdoor pursuits, including wildlife photography and a variety of field sciences, such as wildlife conservation. Finally, slowly tracking wildlife is often the best way to actually see various species, given the unobtrusive nature of this pursuit.

Employing science, the art of interpretation, slide shows, journaling, and various tracking exercises you’ll soon be uncovering the many natural mysteries that lie hidden in the land. You’ll discover new insights into Nature and yourself through the ancient art of Tracking!

ROPE-MAKING

The world is full of various fibers and after taking this class you’ll know just what to do with them. Using you own hands, as well as simple stone-age tools you’ll learn the both basic and advanced cordage-making. Along the way we’ll also craft a variety of projects that rely heavily on the rope that we’ve created. Hand-made rope often implicates itself in a surprising array of other skills. Want to tie your shelter together, carry food and water, hunt with a bow, make a fire-by-friction, or craft a basket? Rope may help provide a solution!

While in the wilderness you may sometimes feel “fit to be tied”, but here you’ll realize that you need to be “tied to be fit”!

ABORIGINAL ART

Have you been yearning to explore your artistic side, but been daunted by uninspiring materials and media? Here is your chance to release your inner artist in the most primal of fashions. Using only raw materials furnished by the Earth, you’ll realize the difference authentic items bring to your art.

Cultures the world over have always melded art with function. Here we follow these traditions, as you embark upon one or more personal projects that reflect your interests and your personality. You may create a mini petroglyph, a rock bowl, a symbolic hunting bow, an elaborate necklace, a well-adorned backpack, or whatever your imagination envisions. Primitive artist Vincent Pinto will guide you as you embark upon new artistic tangents.

ETHNOBOTANY

Ethnobotany - the study of how people use plants - is a vital foundation for becoming a well-rounded Naturalist and even a real human being.  After all, for the vast majority of human history the ability to find, identify, and use wild plant species for a plethora of purposes has been a hallmark of our species.  Native plants still conceal a bewildering array of uses that can markedly enhance your everyday well-being and are well worth getting to know.  There is no better place in all of North America to learn about these beautiful and utilitarian plants than in our fabulous Sky Islands of southeastern Arizona.

Wandering Deserts, Grasslands, Woodlands, and Forests we’ll locate, identify, and use a wide variety of Plants for food, medicine, shelter, tools, art, music, dyes, fire-by-friction, hygiene, adhesives, and more. Cacti, trees, shrubs, vines, ferns, mosses, and lichens all possess a profusion of information that will benefit you. Several plant-based crafts can serve as a reminder of your newfound incredible wealth of plant wisdom. Seasonally, you may also enjoy delving into the wild cuisine that our delicious native plants have to offer.

Many people who take pleasure in seeing wildlife also enjoy this class, as going slowly and investigating plants is often conducive to close encounters with our spectacular native animal species!

CLICK HERE FOR A  PLANT LIST  OF RAVEN’S NEST NATURE SANCTUARY
(DOWNLOADABLE PDF)

VISIT VINCENT'S ETHNOBOTANY & WILDERNESS SURVIVAL SKILLS BLOG

STONE-AGE HUNTING & TRAPPING

During this class we will hearken back to a time when we sought the lives of our animal relations for our daily sustenance. We will approach each tool and hunting weapon with an attitude of reverence and respect, seeking to honor the hunt. Hands, sticks, rocks, traps, snares, and bow/arrow gain new meaning when used properly and when crafted directly from Nature. You will also learn the art of transforming your quarry into a plethora of useful items. See how hides, bones, antlers, hooves, and sinew gain new life in a variety of stone-age projects. Primitive fishing trips can also be arranged.

FLINT-KNAPPING

One of the most vital and basic of Stone-Age and Survival Skills is to be able to transform rocks into useful and beautiful tools. Starting with gathering, we’ll create a variety of stone tools and implements using skills and ingenuity passed down through the ages. Rock saws, knives, scrapers, spoke-shaves, wedges, drills, etchers, arrowheads, and spear-points are some of the projects that we will make via this ancient art.

SOUTHWESTERN BASKETRY

Weaving constitutes one of the most vital skills in the stone-age world. Baskets and other woven implements often excel for storage, food preparation, backpacks, hats, carrying devices, footwear, and many other uses. Plant identification will soon lead us down the path of gathering and weaving our own baskets using only what Nature provides. Plaited, twined, and coiled basketry techniques will all be explored. By the end of this class you’ll have a beautiful and functional basket to take home with you.

WILDERNESS SURVIVAL SKILLS

What would you do if you found yourself lost in the desert?  The woods? Would you know how to make the things that you need directly from the Natural Environment?  What if you lost some or all of your modern gear - would you know what to do?  Though countless people find themselves in survival situations each year, few are prepared.  If you or your family enjoy time in the great outdoors, then you owe it to yourself to empower your mind with the knowledge that may someday save lives.  Unlike many survival courses taught today, we focus exclusively on what Nature can provide, not fancy survival kits.  We invite you to experience the old adage - “the more you know, the less you need!”.

VISIT VINCENT'S ETHNOBOTANY & WILDERNESS SURVIVAL SKILLS BLOG

TRANSITIONING TO THE WILD (Primitive Living I)

This custom-made class is a beginner’s introduction to the fundamental stone-age skills that form the foundation for all others. We run this course with the support of a modern nature center and campground at RAVEN’S NEST. Here you will learn how to fashion rope from plant materials, build an efficient fire lit with a hand-drill kit, find and identify Wild Edible Plants, learn some basic Tracks and Signs, learn about finding Safe Drinking Water, cover basic Wilderness Hygiene, Hunt with Your hands/rocks/sticks, learn one style of Primitive Trap, Build a Basic/One-Person Shelter, and make the following: Stone Bowl, Rock Knife, Rock Saw, Mineral Paint Kit, a Woven Mat, Digging Stick, and more!

INTO THE WILDS (Primitive Living II)

Our intermediate stone-age skills course allows you to take your knowledge to a new level. Set amidst the Wilds of RAVEN’S MOUNTAIN in the foothills of the Chiricahua Mountains, we begin to transition into the Wilds of Arizona. Some of the skills we’ll cover include: Advanced Rope-Making, Fire-Plow and Bow-Drill Fire-Making, Collecting and Processing Wild Foods (we’ll have one or more Wild meals), in-depth Tracks and Signs, Wild Medicinal Plants, Small-Game Hunting Bows/Arrows, 2 more types of Animal Traps, one type of Snare, Multi-Person Shelters (incl. with fire), Woven Basket, and Hide-Tanning. You must have “Transitioning into the Wild” or an equivalent class as a prerequisite to this one.

A HUNTER-GATHERER’S LIFE (Primitive Living III)

In some ways this is the ultimate RAVENS- WAY Survival and Stone-age class! Here we apply the skills that we learned in “Transitioning to the Wild” and “Into the Wilds” (prerequisites for this class) in a true wilderness setting. We begin with several days of crafting whatever tools we’ll need for our expedition. In addition to the skills covered in previous classes, we’ll also create a stone-age backpack to carry our vital gear. We will then embark on an expedition of several days to a week or more into some of the Wildest country in North America. During our time in the Wilds, we will endeavor to work as a Hunter-Gatherer Team, cooperating to meet all of our basic needs and beyond. If you’ve never experienced the thrill of living in harmony with the Earth, then what are you waiting for?! Push your skills to the limit in this once-in-a-lifetime class!