True Tracks →
True Tracks - Spring 1999
School gets involved in escaped tiger case - by Dan Hirshberg
Grandfather's camp is reopened - by Mack Barnes
Making your own "True Tracks" - by Nancy Klein
Coyote Camps filling up fast
"The Way of the Coyote" pilot class -
by Nancy Klein
The Principles and Techniques of Skills - by Ninja
"Ninja" Joe is going, sets lance workshop -
by Joe Lau
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - by Ruth Ann Colby Martin
The nitty-gritty of back-tracking a tiger by our "team" is
reported in full detail - by Kevin Reeve
Cooking With Nettles (Urtica dioca) - by Mark Tollefson
Tracker Wilderness Experience a Success - by
Scout 'Protector' class new name, same course -
by Paul Bonner
Jon Young classes offered
Sticks & Stones
The Tracker School gets involved in
escaped tiger case
Tom Brown, Jr., along with Tracker School Director Kevin Reeve, was
called in by the Jackson Township (N.J.) police department on Jan. 27 to help ensure that
an escaped Bengal tiger did not elude them.
It was suspected at the time that the tiger had either escaped from a
nearby theme park, Great Adventure, or from a nearby private tiger preserve. Members of
the Jackson Township police department, several of whom had been trained by Brown, asked
for Brown's assistance in the event the animal eluded them and disappeared into nearby
"I have all the confidence in the world about the abilities of the men I
trained," Brown says of the Jackson police officers. "I didn't really need to be
Unfortunately, Brown and Reeve arrived at the scene moments after the tiger was shot.
It was confirmed through foot prints and blood that the tiger had been hit. Brown and
Reeve tracked the tiger through thick vegetation, across a stream, and finally to where
the tiger lay dead.
Brown, who does not carry any sort of firearm when he tracks, was backed up by officers
of the police department, including Anthony Senatore, a graduate of Brown's school.
The tiger was
beautiful," says Brown. "I wish the ending had somehow been different."
Brown, along with other officials, was hoping to capture the tiger alive. However, once
the tiger was close to escaping from the "containment" area, the decision was
made by law enforcement officials to shoot it so that it did not pose a threat to the
A few days later, Reeve returned to the scene along with school instructors Dan
Stanchfield, Ruth Ann Colby-Martin, and Tom McElroy, as well as caretaker Brian Gooding
and adjunct instructor Jon Young. They "back-tracked" the animal to within 1,000
feet of the private preserve to help officials determine the origination of the tiger.
|While the authorities have not officially charged (as of March 8) the owner of the
preserve with allowing the tiger to escape, they are requiring her to make extensive
improvements to her compound which currently houses 17 tigers.
The case, as well as the Tracker School, received massive media coverage, including a
piece in the New York Times national Week in Review section.
See also The nitty-gritty of back-tracking a tiger by our
"team" is reported in full detail (in this issue)
Grandfather's camp is reopened
The students of the October Grandfather class
were honored with the task of reopening Grandfather's camp in the primitive camp.
In the days of Grandfather, when the primitive camp was used , Tom and
Rick's camp was located near the main camp and Grandfather's was situated further to the
So we set out to clear the 100-foot circle of scrub oak, blueberry,
etc. that had overtaken the area. With axes, hatchets, saws and shovels, the path was
enlarged, the above ground growth was removed, roots were dug and the ground leveled. A
firepit was dug in the center. The process went so smoothly, it was as if Nature herself
cooperated with us.
In remembering the many plant people who gave their all, a portion of
the Scout prayer comes to mind:
"Honor me by allowing me to die for my people, for I love my
people beyond myself and I will sacrifice my all for my people, my Earth and for
Each item we placed in Grandfather's camp has its own unique history.
An archway, woven of grapevine cleared from the farm, stands as the entrance. A pine
stands to the left as you enter the camp. Grandfather's debris hut stood in that area. An
alter and bench were erected on that ground. They were constructed, as were the four
directional poles, from a cedar log that lay in the swim area back when it was originally
dug out by Grandfather, Tom and Rick.
The fire ring was created with rocks placed by each participant -
several pieces of bog iron Tom located at an old sweat lodge site near the Medicine Waters
and a few rocks from last year's final Standard's sweat lodge. The circle was completed
with backrests built by the students.
Grandfather's camp was officially opened Wednesday evening with a pipe
ceremony. The celebration was enhanced with the arrival of Brandt Morgan, Tom's co-author
on many of his field guide books, who made a surprise visit to the Pine Barrens for the
first time in many years.
It was an evening that all who were there will remember with awe.
Making your own "True Tracks"
At Tom's recent pilot class, "The Way of the Coyote", one of
the points he stressed was the importance of keeping a personal journal.
In past classes he has emphasized a journal also, but never more
strongly as in this class. When we began reading Tom's books, we all felt his excitement
and passion about life. How adventures abound in daily living; all you need do is to open
your eyes to the possibilities.
Tom has, since childhood, kept such journals, containing the
adventures, the skills ... the frustrations ... of learning about life in the wilderness.
Although he had no idea at the beginning where this would lead, he still felt the urgency
to communicate with someone who would listen - his journal. Drawing from this wealth of
information, we have a teacher who shares his, and Grandfather's lifetime of knowledge
with us. At times, we've all felt this loneliness, but we have a tool to help us, a
personal journal. Coming directly from my notes "...the journal is to grow, to learn,
to live like Grandfather, to find excitement, adventure, insights; to go out and look and
experience life. Use your journal to reread, relive something in the future, to draw
insights from your written experiences. When you write, go beyond mediocrity, don't write
'I wore a blue shin, I saw a bird.'... write with zest, excitement, detail. Look at things
with a Tracker eye for detail."
You could write with detail (92 pages), as Tom did once for school,
about the intricacies of lighting a match! Extreme maybe, but everyday living can unfold
multitudes of things to write about, to learn from, if only we look. And a journal is the
best way to guide us to understanding our physical and spiritual universe.
Coyote Camps filling up fast
After a very powerful "Way of the
Coyote" pilot class in the Pine Barrens this winter, Tom Brown and Jon Young are even
more excited than ever about the Tracker School's newest program, Coyote Camps.
The camps, which will be held at a picturesque site in the Delaware
Water Gap National Recreation Area in New Jersey, are for children ages 8-12 (with parent
or guardian) and for teens ages 1317. Run in cooperation with the Appalachian Mountain
Club, the camps run six days each.
The 13-17 year old camps are scheduled for July 25-30 and Aug. 22-27.
The 8-12 year old camp is set for Aug. 15-20.
The camps are quickly filling up, especially the 8-12 year old one (a
second 8-12 week may be added at a later date).
||The staff that is gathering behind the scenes, the volunteers that are
requesting space to help, and the amazing coyote culture and mentoring style promoted by
Young's Wilderness Awareness School are building into a great energy as preparations
continue. The synergy of the Tracker School joining forces with Young and his school's
cultural training team, and with the help of Deep Wilds' Mark Morey and Hawk Circle's
Ricardo Sierra, is a great sign for the future of youth mentoring in awareness and
survival skills nationwide.
We are very excited about the energy. We encourage all of you parents
to register your children soon.
At these camps, kids will be doing what they do best; playing,
creating, and following the unlimited trails of adventure that Mother Nature has to offer.
The skilled instructors will be facilitating a learning culture which
guides students into experiences that will nurture their natural connection to the Earth.
Students will work together in tight-knit groups with the instructors, learning and
sharing the skills that allow them to feel at home in the natural
world: Fire, shelter, water, understanding the language of the birds, animal tracking,
wandering, living and working with others, and much more. The children will come out of
these camp experiences with a burning passion to learn and grow.
|"The Way of the Coyote" pilot
The week of Jan. 31 - Feb. 6 saw Tom and the Tracker School presenting
a pilot class, "The Way of the Coyote" and indeed, it was very a very special
In it, Tom taught students how to integrate the skills they've learned
at their Tracker classes with their own unique abilities as teachers to inspire their own
students in the same way as he does in his books and classes.
What made the class more exciting were the lectures by Jon Young, Tom's
first student, taught truly in the way Grandfather had taught him. By sharing his own
experiences and those of his instructors, Jon showed the class firsthand what they, too,
are capable of doing with, and for, their students.
It was a class on learning where to begin, how to gently guide the
student's interest in the study of nature, to seek their own answers, going beyond the
physical aspects of learning and touching on the part that spirit plays in our love of,
and desire to save, the wilderness.
|The Principles and Techniques of Skills
Ninja Joe Lau
Tom often says that part of his vision is to
simplify. In Grandfather's journeys, he collected skills from both coasts and as far up as
Alaska and as far down as South America. Grandfather had to find the common denominators
between skills, philosophies and cultures in order to pass down what he learned to two
young boys. Tom has had the nearly impossible job of simplifying this even more, in order
to get this information taught to as many people as possible for our future as a
I wish to share with you what I feel works best for clarifying and
simplifying the learning and teaching of skills. First, I would like to reiterate how
important that learning as a student and transmitting experienced knowledge as a teacher
go hand in hand. The transmission of skills is a flow which should not be broken. Picture
a river, if you will, that does not flow well ... or at all. The water is stagnant and
unhealthy. However, a free flowing river is a much better provider of sustaining life.
Such are the lineages of martial arts where the teacher transmits to the student. The
teacher also guides the senior student on how to teach students, which is also part of the
learning process. The student must teach in order to keep learning as a student. Great
teachers will also add to the lineages what they feel works well in their adaptations in
my advice comes from my sensei Jack Hoban, who taught it to me in order to help my
learning as a teacher. It was taught to me to use in martial arts instruction, but I
notice that it helps me magnificently in teaching wilderness and other skills.
You should learn to recognize what is the "principle" and
what is the "technique." Now, I need to clarify the difference between the two
for you, so I will use the example of fire by friction. In the bow drill
"technique," the "principle" that gets you fire is the fact that
whirling a wood spindle back and forth on a board with a notch can get you a coal. The
"technique" is the variation of how the principle is applied! The bow drill is a
technique, because the whirling wood principle is applied by using a handhold and a
kneeling bow form. The hand drill is a technique, because the whirling wood principle is
applied by you being the downward pressure and spinning the drill with your hands. The
fire crutch is a technique, because the whirling wood principle is applied by use of a
large arm rest and a standing bow form. The fire log is a technique, because the whirling
wood principle is applied by lashing a log "handhold" to some trees and using a
sapling for a bow.
Get the picture?
|"Ninja" Joe is going, sets lance
workshopHello everyone, this is "Ninja" Joe
Lau. Just to let all of you nice folks know, I'm leaving the Tracker School.
I have been thinking a lot about continuing my martial arts training in
Japan lately and after meeting with Tom and Deb, it sounded like the right time to make
this decision. I would like to say that these last three years have truly been some of the
best years of my life and I hope to see a lot of you in future classes. I will be updating
my website (http:Hwinjutsu.com/WP/lau.htm) soon with new addresses and phone numbers so we
can stay in touch.
Also, I will be running a 3-day Lance/Spear Fighting and Ethics
Workshop before Scout class. Open to all students, there will be a limited
number of spaces so I can give personal attention. My background in this field covers 14
years of training in Bujinkan Budo/Kuki Shinden Ryu Sojutsu (Japanese Battlefield Spear
Fighting). In addition I have a 6th degree black belt. This workshop will go beyond what
is taught in Scout class.
Reduce, Reuse and Recycle
Ruth Ann Colby-Martin
Everyday we see more recycling stations across the United States.
Thumbs up. What I do not see very often is our fellow Americans, even environmentalists,
making the effort to reduce or reuse. Thumbs down.
I am continually inspired to honor the "three R's" by
observing others role modeling. Thus, I thought it might be helpful to continue passing on
some thoughts and ideas in hopes of inspiring you.
Modem America is a throwaway society. In a primitive lifestyle, you
walk up to a Spruce tree, scrape off some gum and chomp away - yum! In America, you buy a
package (throw away the receipt), open one package to find seven smaller packages inside
seven more foil wrappers. Not to mention the resources that went into producing,
transporting, and advertising that product. Everything we buy is as such. Think about the
amount of waste. It hurts, doesn't it?
The planet needs to think like survivalists. Think of everything you
use as a raw material. Utilize every piece of thread, artificial sinew, cord, string,
rope, etc. as if you had collected the plant/tendon yourself and made the cordage
yourself. In the winter. Naked. Realize that, although there is a lot of thread on that
spool, every bit you waste, wasted a lot more in its production, transportation, and
marketing. Think about that.
The web of life and its interconnectedness applies to the dump as well.
Everything you do affects your water, air, food, and quality of life, not to mention your
My challenge to you is this:
TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR EVERYTHING THAT COMES INTO YOUR HANDS. Do it
for a week; anymore and the grief of it will probably kill you. Every biggie fry you
gobble leaves you with the responsibility of a container. What can you do with that? You
could drop it into the landfill, which in reality is the same as putting it under your
pillow. It's just not going anywhere fast. Not in your lifetime. And as it does, it will
leach dyes and chemicals into your bed.
Turn off the water. Honor water as the lifeblood that it is. Think of each drop as if
you had hauled it from the river itself.
Why? The water you pull from the reservoir and do not use, must be treated with more
chemicals (that go into the ground) and is water that just won't be there when your
children need it.
"If it's yellow, let it mellow. If it's brown then flush it down." Each flush
requires many gallons of wasted water. Tell your friends you have septic problems. Better
yet, pee outside. Tear your toilet out and and install a composter. Or an outhouse. Don't
you think it's weird we crap in our houses?
Buy in bulk - from food to supplies, especially from health food stores and coops.
Think in terms of "refillables," from pens to liquid soaps to motor oil.
Buy fresh meat (or hunt), veggies (garden), and fruits (forage).
Realize that fast foods mean a LOT of trash that will be around when your
great-grandchildren are born.
Eat all you order at restaurants, or leave it if your only option is to take it home in
Smudge, instead of Lysol.
Bags. Wrap gifts with them. As stuffing for packages instead of "peanuts."
Trash can liners. As bags. Better yet, get cloth bags to reuse.
Buy holiday cloth (especially Christmas), and sew a simple pillow case with a
drawstring to "wrap" your gifts. These get passed around the family each year.
Now, that's a gift.
Mend your things (while your sitting on the phone or watching t.v.)
Most everything can be sewed, patched, glued, riveted, etc. Turn pants into shorts or into
bags... Turn your children's favorite worn out clothing into a quilt for when they are
older. In my house, I am under rule to retire my socks and underwear after being sewn
three times. After that they are quite threadbare, but ready to become children's stuffed
dolls (the socks).
Women! Use reusable pads or the Keeper (contact Ruth Ann for details).
Wash your children's diapers. There are even services to do this for
you, and I hear the cost is comparable to Pampers. Or be adventurous and try
Wash your ziplocks! That's a lot of plastic to be putting in the
ground. So don't! You can even buy a "bag drying rack!"
Fall in love with an insulated mug and/or a waterbottle and carry them
with you to refill at gas stations, McDonald's, etc. Buy soda in two liter bottles and
refill your cup.
Carry a handkerchief. I can't express the coolness of this item. It's
soft, dries with body heat, doesn't multiply to fill your pockets and thus, the dumpster,
and doesn't tear. I carry my great uncle's and it brings me great joy to use it. It lives
in my pocket. No worries. Washes with my pants.
PAPER. If your heart weeps for the great Redwoods and rainforests, then
start turning your paper over, and REUSING THE OTHER SIDE! Staple your receipts together
and put them next to your phone as a notepad. Or use for scrap paper. Put a stack on a
clipboard. Or put together with three rings (office supply store) and a cardboard cover
and use that notebook for class. When both sides are exhausted, retire paper to your
necessary bum pile next to your woodstove/fireplace, or recycle it.
By all means, recycle what you cannot reuse:
plastic, glass, tin, steel, aluminum, batteries, oil, paper, cardboard, etc...
YOUR CHILDREN THANK YOU.
The nitty-gritty of back-tracking a tiger by our "team"
is reported in full detail
On February 1, 1999 The Tracker School was contacted by Tony
Senatore of the Jackson Township Police Department to back-track the tiger shot on 1/28/99
on Wright-Debow Road. In response to the request, a tracking team was dispatched. The team
included the following trackers: Kevin Reeve, Director Tom Brown, Jr.'s Tracking, Nature
and Wilderness Survival School, Jon Young, adjunct staff and master tracker, and school
instructors Dan Stanchfield, Ruth Ann Colby-Martin, and Tom McElroy, as well as Brian
Gooding, a caretaker at the school.
(The following report was filed with the New Jersey Division of Fish, Game &
Wildlife by Kevin Reeve, Tracker School Director, who led a
"back-tracking" expedition in the case of an escaped tiger in Jackson
We arrived at police headquarters at 12:15 p.m. We met with Detective
Senatore and three State Department of Fish, Game & Wildlife Officers. After meeting
for a few minutes and going over maps, we proceeded to the field to get our first took at
the tracks. We started at the place the tiger was first seen at 654 Wright-Debow Road.
Gary, Wayne, and Walt showed us a known track. We spent approximately 1.5 hours here
marking all the tracks we could find, and doing extensive track measurements. We measured
track length and width. We measured stride, straddle, pitch and trail width. We spent a
great deal of time here getting to know the animal, studying its behaviors, what it was
paying attention to, sensing from the tracks the animal's state of mind. From a rather
extensive study of the tracks, it was apparent to us that we were not tracking a wild cat.
Jon and I have tracked mountain lions before and these tracks did not reflect the typical
behaviors of a wild feline. Rather than approaching this area with the stealth of a
hunter, the cat moved around it with a combination of puppy like curiosity and some
discomfort. It was clear that as it approached and moved around this house it was
uncomfortable with its surroundings, that it seemed to be looking for something familiar.
After a thorough familiarization period, we broke into two teams. Gary,
myself, Ruth Ann, Dan, and Brian went over to Berwyn Street to cut for sign. Jon and Tom
went with Wayne and Walt to the greenhouse area to begin backtracking. The greenhouse had
previously been identified as a place where tracks were found.
Jon and Tom found quite a number of tracks around the greenhouses.
There is one string of tracks several hundred feet long. This particular string of tracks
was right next to a fence. From studying the animal's behavior we concluded that the tiger
was used to walking near a fence and that the fence made him comfortable, perhaps even
secure. These tracks were backtracked to where the tiger emerged from the woods, northeast
of the property. When the trail went down into the briars, this team decided to move
further west and cut for sign.
In an effort to cut down on the amount of tracking required, Jon, Tom, Walt, and Wayne
moved down Wright-Debow road to the northeast to where a stream ran under the road. With
the direction of travel at the nursery indicating that the cat had come from the west and
moved to the east, we felt moving further to the east was a logical step in determining
the point of origin. The plan was for the team to walk the stream from north to south
looking for logical crossing points for a cat of this size. As Jon and Wayne got into the
stream and walked south, they encountered intense green briars. The green briars formed an
almost impenetrable wall that prevented them from staying in the stream. Finally they had
to move to the side of the briars, Jon taking the west bank and Wayne the east. Tom and
Walt had to circle to the west and attempt to hook up with them further down the stream
due to the fact that only Jon and Wayne had waders. After moving along in this manner for
over an hour and covering only a few hundred yards it became apparent that in order for a
tiger to get through the briars, it would have had to follow a deer trail. Finally, Wayne
encountered what he thought might be a track. Jon began working a deer trail, moving now
west to east towards Wayne and also encountered the tiger's tracks on the west side of the
stream. The tracks indicated a west to east direction of travel. Jon also found a
flattened area near the trail where the tiger had laid down to rest for a long period. The
elbow and hip marks of the cat were there, just as would be found in a mountain lion lay
only much larger. It was in this area that Jon found a hair, orange in color that appeared
to be a tiger hair. This hair was turned over to Gary. Jon also found where the tiger
approached the stream, placed one foot down into the water, found the ground giving way
and backed up. The tiger then moved to the side where it found a log and crossed far
enough on the log and jumped across the stream. It moved forward to where Wayne had picked
up the tracks. Jon and Wayne then turned west and moved towards where the rest of us were
tracking. They met Tom who directed them out of the briars and onto the dirt road that
runs from the end of Berwyn Street to the east-southeast.
In the meantime, Kevin had traveled with Gary, Ruth Ann, Dan, and Brian
to the dirt road that runs from the end of Berwyn street into the woods to the southeast.
We planned to cut north to south looking for an indication that the tiger had come from
further west. They began by cutting for sign along the edge of Berwyn. Dan and Ruth Ann
went north from Berwyn towards Woodbury road. Brian and Kevin began working from the dirt
road towards Alyson. Brian began working the edge of the road, and Kevin began scanning
the area about I 0 ft in from the road. Kevin almost immediately noticed a track and
Utilizing the stride measurements gathered at the house on
he identified seven other tracks coming from the woods and onto the dirt road. At this
point, Brian returned from his scan along the edge of the road walking with one of the
residents of the houses on Berwyn. This neighbor, who did not identify herself, told us
that this area had been a madhouse on Friday. She described a fleet of news vans and media
folks that parked along the edge of Berwyn, and that they had hiked back into the woods
looking for the tiger compound. She also said the police and state officials had been in
there on Friday too, looking for evidence. This explained why the area was so tracked up
with human prints, and why we were unable to locate more than seven tracks. The tiger had
emerged from the woods onto the dirt road by walking under a briar bush that was waist
high. This exit was not particularly open to humans, but the tiger had no problem
negotiating it, so the tracks were not destroyed. Right next to this area was a
well-trampled trail that bad many human footprints on it. The two trails merged about 20
feet back into the woods. Brian located within the sixth print, a hair consistent with
hair found between the toes of felines. It was turned over to Gary as evidence. These
seven tracks indicate a cat with no apprehension about being seen as it crossed an open
area. A wild cat will almost always move cautiously and apprehensively across an opening
like this. The apprehension that was present in the tracks found at 654 Wright-Debow is
not present in these tracks.
Brian and Ruth Ann also tracked further west on the dirt road that
starts at the end of Berwyn Road. They identified a probable track several hundred yards
west of Berwyn. This road is traveled frequently by partiers, and the tracks were pretty
well destroyed by traffic, so this print was a single print and no others were confirmed
in the area. This however is another piece of the puzzle.
By looking at the map of where the tracks we located were and the direction of travel
they indicated, we have four points in a line that indicate the tiger moving in a
northwest to southeast direction. The first track we were able to conclusively identify
was coming out of the woods approximately 100 yards behind the tiger compound at the end
of Berwyn Rd. We had a probable, but not conclusive track further down the dirt road that
runs from Berwyn to the SE. We had a series of tracks and a bedding area further
east-southeast from there where an additional hair was located. We have further tracks to
the northeast of this near the greenhouse. We have tracks around the house at 969
Wright-Debow Rd. Finally, we have the tiger shot approximately 100 yards southeast of this
sighting. It is our conclusion as professional trackers that the tiger shot at the end of
Wright-Debow road came from the woods bordered by Berwyn, Alyson and Woodbury roads.
Cooking With Nettles
never forget my first experience with Stinging Nettles. I was down on my hands
and knees one spring tracking a Pacific Blacktail deer. I had followed the young
doe for about 100 vards through some high open ground and then it had cut into a
low area that was overgrown with blackberry vines and willows and lots of ferns.
Determined to learn more of
this stately creature, I followed on all fours. I didn't get too far on the
trail when I started to get stung on my hands. The farther I traveled, the more
I got stung. In no time my hands burned so bad that I backed out of the trail
and left the deer alone. Now, I wondered, what the heck was making my hands bum
so bad. I got back on my hands and knees and searched the ground. All I could
see were a whole mess of little green plants about an inch high. At the time I
had no idea what they were, but I wasn't about to pick one to go home and try to
identify it in light of how bad my hands were still burning.
The memory of my burning hands
stuck with me for the next few weeks until I had time to grab a field guide and
go back to the place where I had gotten stung. When I arrived, I noticed that
these plants that were about an inch high were now about 8 inches high. They
were developing nice big leaves and I thought 1 should have a good shot at
figuring out what this feisty plant was. So I started flipping, and flopping,
and flipping pages, until lo and behold, I came across this picture that sure
looked like the plant growing in front of me. I read the description: "The
stinging hairs make this a difficult group to mistake. Erect, usually unbranched
weeds with paired toothed leaves." That sure sounded and looked like the
plant growing in front of me. Lots of little hairs (that I wasn't about to touch
again), paired, toothed leaves. Yes, this plant, I declared, is Stinging
I then started to study nettles in earnest. All
the books were full of medicinal and utilitarian uses for the plant. I read how
they were full of vitamin C and A, how they have acetyl- choline and choline in
them, both of which are deficient in Alzheimer's patients. I found out that
nettles are a great blood tonic and cleanser, I read how they are being studied
for their effect on kidney ailments, prostate cancer, gall bladder problems,
arthritis relief, and hepatitis.
I discovered that nettles were once grown as a
fiber plant in Europe, and they contain about 15% fiber by weight that can be
processed into a soft, flexible textile said to feel much like silk. I then read
how these plants made great cordage. Good for rope or any other thing that
requires a strong cordage material.
All this information was really exciting and
good information, but it didn't answer the one buming question in my mind. Does
it taste good?? Well, for that, I went back to my field guides. Sure enough,
according to Peterson's Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants
and Tom Brown's Field to Wild Edible and Medicinal Plants, Nettles are
good to eat!! When I read that, I was sold.
I began to experiment with cooking with
nettles. I tried them young, old, big, small, dried, and fresh. In the course of
about three years, I had harvested a lot of nettles and had become a lot more
friendly with the prickly plant. I hadn't really realized how friendly we had
become until one fall, after the first frost, I was gathering needles for
cordage and a fellow with his dog comes walking down a little used trail and
spies me in the middle of a giant nettle patch with nothing but a pair of shorts
on. He (and his big dog) looked at me kind of funny and he says, "Son, do
you know your standing naked in the middle of a patch of thistle??" With a
grin, I said, "Actually, I'm standing naked in the middle of a patch of
Stinging Nettles." He didn't see my humor and stomped off with his dog
eyeing me up more like dinner than like some funny guy in a thistle patch (I now
carry doggie treats when I go hunting the wild nettle).
Since my passion is
cooking, I ended up eating lots of nettles. I tried them boiled like spinach and
they were good. I made nettle soup and it was better. Then I stumbled upon my
favorite to date, Stinging Nettle Lasagna. It makes the lasagna taste great with
the slight bittemess of the young nettles and I feel great eating it knowing how
many great vitamins and minerals are in the nettles.
Lasagna is also a good way to
ease into eating wild edibles. Having them mixed into a very conunon dish can be
a great way to introduce nettles to a squean-tish child, or dubious partner that
doesn't have a great deal of confidence in eating stuff that can't be found in
the supermarket. Start slow with recipes like the one following and work up to
eating wild edibles on a more regular basis. With spring on the way, there will
be ample opportunity to sample a geat deal of luscious greenery. Have fun, and
remember, don't eat anything you cannot positively identify.
|1 lb. ground beef (or ground wild game)
2 tsp. salt
1 medium onion, fine dice
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2 cup celery, fine dice
1 tbsp. oregano
28 oz. whole tomatoes
2 tsp. basil
14 oz. tomato sauce
1 tsp. thyme
1-5 1/2 oz. can tomato paste
2 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup cottage cheese
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup pannesan cheese
2 cups grated mozzarella
12 cooked whole wheat lasagna noodles
3 cups fresh young nettle tops
1 cup chopped mushrooms
Saute onion, celery and garlic in 1/2 cup oil until onions become
translucent. Add ground beef and brown breaking apart with fork. Drain and chop whole
tomatoes. Add mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste. Add 1 tsp. salt
oregano, basil nd thyme and sinuner for 15 minutes. Combine egg, cottage cheese, parmeson
cheese, the last tablespoon of oil and I tsp. of salt. Mix together in a bowl. While sauce
is cooking, blanche nettles for 5 mintes until nettles are wilted. In a 9 by 13 inch pan,
begin with a layer of noodles on the bottom. Add a layer of tomato sauce, more noodles,
then the cottage cheese mixture. Finish with the last layer of noodles, the grated cheese
and a light sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Cover and bake at 350- for 25 minutes. Uncover
and continue to bake until cheese is bubbly and brown. Remove from oven and let sit for 15
minutes before serving.
Tracker Wilderness Experience a Success
The whole week was "brilliant," "fantastic," and
"the lessons learned really struck home after living them" were some of the
comments we received regarding the Tracker Wilderness Experience (9/2710/4/98) in
Sixteen students ventured to the Kickapoo Valley Preserve in western Wisconsin
for a week of survival living. The four instructors were Seth Recarde and Hilary Lauer,
two former Tracker instructors, Bob Barr, veteran Tracker student and seasoned helper, and
Chris Whitten, another Tracker veteran who has spent many weeks in survival living around
The Tracker Wilderness Experience offers graduates of the "Back to
Back" an opportunity to put zffl their skills together, and spend a week in
"survival" with the support of instructors, helpers and fellow participants.
Students brought only a knife, a thick blanket and the clothes on their back, and received
a few basic food staples for the week.
The class is a balance of structure and free time. Each day there is a
short class on a relevant topic, such as shelter from local materials, water purification,
local wild plants, cooking containers and others. The rest of the day students are free Lo
loragc for plants, make needed tools, work on shelters and other activities. Rick
Stahlhut, a returning student from the 1997 pilot class, summarized it well: "Just
the right amount of structure to help me learn, but enough freedom to allow me to make
The Kickapoo Valley Preserve is a lush valley with diverse plant life
and lots of wild edible plants. The Tracker School had a "special use" permit
from the preserve office to camp on that land, and was so well received that the school
will be able to hold future Wilderness Experience classes in the same place. We hope to see you there!
Scout 'Protector' class new name, same course
It is an honor to have been asked by Tom to develop a class that
mirrors all areas of Scout training and combines the Survival, Tracking and Awareness
ability with the Peaceful Warrior skills, into the Ultimate Scout! This class was formerly
called the Scout Martial Arts Class. The name was changed to emphasize that although the
instruction centers around martial arts training, it is not a martial arts course. The
focus is on the physical protector skills as they relate to the Apache Scout. This class,
which I teach with George and Vanessa Larson, is possible due to Tom's desire to take the
Scout Class to another level and to Big Frank's insight in seeing the void that this class
According to Tom, the "Apache Scouts were the best survivalists
and trackers. They were masters of escape and evasion, stalking and countless other
skills. These 'other skills' included developing warrior and 'protector' skills."
Grandfather taught Tom and Rick "wolverine" fighting techniques of the Scouts.
This combined the use of various weapons and empty hand skill development. The Scout was
that of a peacemaker, always the last one to pick up a lance.
The course is scientifically designed and will include lectures as well
as the physical instruction. In an injury-free and non-intimidating environment, you will
learn and be provided with the adequate time necessary to develop the additional physical
skills that helped to build the reputation of the Apache Scout.
For returning students, new training methods and skills will be added to each session
of instruction as well as a discount on the course fee. Note: As in past years, we will be
assisting Tom at this year's Scout Class also.
Jon Young classes offered
Imagine yourself with a group of well-trained and
highly focused trackers interested in advancing their skills and gaining forward momentum
in their tracking and awareness training.
Jon Young will be there, on foot, leading this powerful week that
follows up on the skills offered by Tom in his classes. This will be a fantastic dirt-time
experience that will really nail down the tracking skills of participants and guide
Shikari Tracking Program students farther on their own quest. We will be exploring cedar
swamps, traveling on foot by the twisting, mysterious dark and sacred waters of the Pines.
We will track on the pure white sands in the golden early morning sun, when the deep
shadows will reveal the stories in the fox tracks leading to the water. Please come join
us. Space is DEFINITELY limited.
Sticks & Stones
Karen Sherwood, former long-time Tracker
instructor, was at the California Standard in March. She taught the class section on
Edible and Medicinal Plants.
Comings and goings: Brian Gooding, one of our Pine
has left the New Jersey woods for Georgia where he and his fiance are preparing to have a
child. In addition to his duties as caretaker, Brian was doing a fabulous job as our
community education outreach representative. Meanwhile, Marion Chappel has moved into the
Pines as our newest caretaker. And for those of you who missed it, veteran caretaker
Michelle McCann left us in January. Mack Barnes has officially joined Tracker Inc. as our
Maintenance Technician and part-time instructor. Sorry to see you go Brian and Michelle,
glad to have you aboard Marion and Mack.
Please see the
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informal connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever