HomeTracker SchoolClass Summaries

Seven Day Winter Survival class

February 2004
Brief summary by K.P.


The Tracker Trail website has no official connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever

Monday: Tom's opening lecture included aspects about what clans and family units did during the winter and that GF met very few individuals who could go into pure survival in the winter. GF said to practice the skills you are least proficient at to build proficiency in the ones you are good at. Also, tepid water is absorbed into your system faster than ice water. Next, Ruth Ann discussed the Modified Mandan Earth Lodge each group would be building. All day was spent building shelter. Tom really pressured us to get those shelters built because he wanted to teach 10 days worth of skills in 7 days! I was very drained after the Healing Class the week before but the class's energy and excitement helped me work in top gear! One thing I discovered was to wear only my outer garments, letting them absorb the sweat. Then when the shelter building was over for the day to towel off with my outer garments and redress in my long underwear and other layers. Stripping completely for a few minutes was cold but well worth it by having dry clothes in the evening! That evening Tommy taught us Crossed Throwing Sticks which we each made.

Tuesday: We all finished our shelters early in the afternoon.
The rest of the day was spent learning and making the Throwing Dart, Bolas and Slings. That evening we learned Pecking and Grinding, Hafting and the Limb-Assisted Mano Metatae (a class project). That evening we slept fireless in our group shelters.
Building, working in and sleeping in our shelters was absolutely the best physical part of the class in my opinion.

Wednesday: We learned and built Atl-Atls (male, female and mixed) and Atl-Atl Darts. Making the shelter draw smoke was covered because that night each group would work on skills around the fire in their shelter. Advanced Arrows were discussed including: nocks, composite arrows, arrows and points from a single piece of wood, fletching and more. That evening we learned and made Kulas; Twined Baskets, Survival Baskets and Braiding were then discussed. Submerged myself up to my neck in the stream today, not as bad as I thought and energized me for a a few hours after. The highs was in the 40's during the week.
Working on skills by firelight in my group's shelter really taught me a lot about my group. We were allowed our sleeping bags. After a peaceful night's sleep and waking up in a primitive shelter, I could feel myself becoming less and less civilized as the week wore on.

Thursday: Tom expanded on Advanced Shelters, drawing smoke and body heat reflectors. That night we would abandon our sleeping bags. Note: GF said that a shelter is alive and Tom has named every shelter he's built. Tom took us out this day and Friday and taught us to throw our Slings, Bolas, Throwing Darts, Atl-Atls and Kulas. The spiritual aspects of making and using skills was also discussed. That evening we learned Gorge, Circle and Composition-style Fish Hooks and Fishing. Advanced Fire was discussed including: experimentation, Camp Drill, Fire Crutch, Pump Drill, Fire Saw, Fire Piston and the Fire Plow.

Friday: Spiritual exercises today included: building our artifacts into works of art, being led to what we needed and letting spirit teach us how to throw our Crossed Throwing Sticks. We also covered and built as a class Reed Boats and Watercraft. Tom told us to gather tonight's firewood from the landscape reverently. To me, this was not only caretaking but also alluded to the concept of the wilderness as a Temple which Tom discussed on Saturday. That night we all took turns on fire watch. My time on watch was pretty indescribable; the hour or so on watch felt like only 15 minutes. Also missing that hour or so of sleep did not affect me as much as I would've thought during such an intense week. I really miss that shelter.

Satuday: We left our shelters up for future visitors. Tom showed us how to hang a sling and bolas on our belts for fast and easy use while hunting. He also covered the Thrusting Spear and Sharpening Wood and Bone to a Razors Edge. This was covered by Kevin at the Back to Back, but this discussion had more!
Tom's final lecture was about the spiritual aspects of survival.

There were only 50 people at this class. I went to it excited but very unsure of my skills, especially shelter. Group work and dynamics were such a huge, underlying aspect of this class that I quickly forgot my insecurities and just worked like a madman to make a warm shelter and finish all my individual projects. Despite the challenges the group really helped me pull through it and I would highly recommend taking this class if you're interested. As with all Tracker Classes half the experiences can't be put into words. Absolutely one of the best classes I've ever had!

This website has no official or informal connection to the Tracker School or Tom Brown Jr. whatsoever


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