Posts Tagged With: Secrets of the Forest

Real World Secrets of Stalking and Tracking Wild Animals

by Todd Walker

My legs felt like a bowl of jello sliding down an old wash board. I crouched in a non-human silhouette stalking in Ultra Slow Motion. A twig beneath my foot snapped and my prey jolted his head toward the sound. I froze and hoped my screaming quadriceps would support my motionless body until he dipped his head to graze again.

What was my prey? A deer realistically mimicked by our instructor, Mark Warren. This was my first of several classes I’ve attended at Medicine Bow in the north Georgia mountains.

I discovered Mark and his primitive school of earthlore from reading his first book, “Two Winters in a Tipi: My Search for the Soul of the Forest.” With every turn of the page, I knew I had unearthed a rare gem in the mountains of Southern Appalachia. That was over three years ago. To date, Mark has published his fourth volume of “Secrets of the Forest” and two books in a historical novel trilogy on “Wyatt Earp: An American Odyssey.” These books reflect Warren’s lifelong pursuits as a naturalist, instructor of Cherokee survival skills, and wild west history.

Over a year ago, I shared my thoughts on the first book in the Secrets of the Forest series, calling it, “The Best Outdoor Education Book I’ve Read.”  I should amend my statement to include volumes II and III in my assessment. Knowing Mark’s passion for archery and canoeing, the last volume in the series, which I’ve yet to read, I’ll bet he saved the best for last. For now, I want to highlight Volume III…

Eye to Eye with the Animals in the Wild and At Play in the Wild

The opening of this article was one of many exercises our class took part of in a two-day class at Medicine Bow. Reading this volume brought back my Real World experience as vividly as the day I studied a one-foot square plot of earth for slight changes Mark secretly made. Revisiting my field notes from the Stalking and Tracking class reveled just how much knowledge and experience had been shared that weekend. However, I had one regret – not taking better notes. Not a problem. I now have at my fingertips his many years of experience in a beautifully illustrated, photographed, and written field guide.

Who would benefit from this book?

The obvious benefit is for hunters pursuing game with traditional archery equipment. Hunting an animal with primitive weapons requires that one be as close as possible to the intended prey. In doing so, an ethical hunter shows respect and thanksgiving to the animal for providing nourishment and many sustainable resources.

Observers and photographers of wild animals would do well to practice stalking and tracking. Many phantoms of the forest you’ve only dreamed of capturing in your lens will appear when practicing these techniques. No telephoto lens required.

Anyone wishing to challenge their physical prowess should add stalking to their workout regimen. The level of functional fitness needed to stalk wild animals is different from any sport or recreational activity I’ve ever experienced. Mark told us that martial artists found the most success of anyone attending his stalking class. Even more so than professional athletes.

The main benefit I personally received under Mark’s instruction was the complete immersion in nature. Slowing down to a snail’s pace uncovered small, “invisible” wilderness details unnoticed when trekking full speed with human locomotion.

I approached this otter family to within 15 feet as they fed on crawdads in the creek.

An analogy Mark used was that of a rock tossed into a pond. The impact ripples to every shoreline. A stalker’s task is to minimize the wake in the animal’s living space. One’s goal is to become part of the “wild” world and not merely a visitor.

“Stalking and tracking are symbiotic. Tracking teaches where to stalk. Stalking teaches how to interpret a nuance in a track.”  ~ Mark Warren

Real World Secrets of Stalking and Tracking Wild Animals -

Mark describing details to a young student during our tracking class.

Educators will find lessons, exercises, and games throughout this volume. In our age of electronics, parents have the challenge of disconnecting kids from devices and coax them into trading virtual screens for forest streams. Mark offers hundreds of ways to make this transition fun, educational, and experiential.

If you are searching to find a unique gift for someone special this Christmas, I would recommend checking the book link at Medicine Bow. I’ve not found a more comprehensive book detailing the lost art of tracking and stalking.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

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Categories: Bushcraft, Doing the Stuff, Lost Skills, Primal Skills, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Secrets of the Forest: The Best Outdoor Education Book I’ve Read

by Todd Walker

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read -

I recently began working with at-risk youth in our county’s alternative school, Rise Academy. My “job” is to offer project-based learning opportunities to develop self-reliant skills in our students.

My curriculum guide is a blank slate. There are no state approved guides for Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance in academia. I must write my own. Out of necessity, I began to pull from my own experience and those of my mentors. Fortunately, one of my teachers, Mark Warren, director of Medicine Bow, recently published the first in a series of four books, Secrets of the Forest.

Secrets of the Forest, Volume 1, is broken into two parts:

  1. The Magic and Mystery of Plants, and…
  2. The Lore of Survival

I ordered and quickly devoured Volume 1. If you’ve ever wondered how to transfer lost knowledge and skills to our next generation, this book series is your guide. Mark is no newcomer in the world of primitive skills and nature study. He’s been passing on his knowledge to young and old for over a half century. I’ve had the pleasure of attending several of his classes in Dahlonega, Georgia. Mark is a walking encyclopedia of earth-lore and the skills required to call Nature home.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read -

Mark showing an impromptu lesson on stringing a bow during a Winter Tree Identification class.

Part 1: The Magic and Mystery of Plants

Students at Medicine Bow are fully submerged in experiential, hands-on learning. Reading Mark’s book is no different. Over 200 original activities are included to engage one’s senses in the forest. Making your own Botany Booklet, written and illustrated by you, is worth the price of this first volume. It only consist of six sheets of folded paper (12 pages) but will set a student on a path of discovery in the amazing green world surrounding us.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read -


“Plant study is the foundation upon which all survival skills are built.” ~ Mark Warren, p. 16

Mark is quick to point out that modern humans have lost the instincts of our paleo ancestors regarding plant usage. Therefore, we must approach our study of plants on an academic level. Eating the wrong plant, or wrong part of a plant, in the wrong season can be deadly. However, embracing the study of plants and trees for food, medicine, and craft is worth the time and effort.

I’ve read many online discussions of outdoorsy people expressing their desire to become more proficient in plant identification and use. Many have purchased botanical field guides specific to their locale. These guides are helpful for identification but rarely offer hidden secrets of a plant. In Chapter 6, 100 Plants ~ And Their Many Gifts, Mark offers insight into plants/trees of southern Appalachia which I’ve never read in other botanical books. Color photos of each plant await at the end of this chapter to aid in identification.

Chapter 10 is devoted entirely to Poison Ivy. Anyone spending time outdoors will appreciate the information on this rogue plant. From identification, protecting ourselves, treating the rash, and even making oneself immune, Mark covers it all.

Part 2: The Lore of Survival

“If you get lost out there, the world around you may seem your enemy, but it’s not. It’s just that you’ve forgotten what your ancestors knew a long time ago.”

~ Natalie Tudachi, Blue Panther Woman of the Anigilogi clan, Let Their Tears Drown Them (p. 167 – Secrets of the Forest)

Reading this volume will give you knowledge, but knowing is not enough – there must be urgency in doing the stuff. As with Part 1, many hands-on activities accompany The Lore of Survival section. Chapters include:

  • The First Step ~ getting started in survival skills
  • The Ties That Bind ~ cordage
  • Oh Give Me a Home ~ shelter building
  • Sticks and Stones ~ the multi-use rabbit stick
  • Water, Water Everywhere ~ water purification
  • Hors D’oeuvres of Protein ~ adventures with larvae
  • A Kitchen in the Forest ~ cooking in the wild
  • An Army of Silent Hunters ~ traps and snares
Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read -

Describing the finer details in a tracking class at Medicine Bow.

Mark’s approach to wilderness survival centers around the primitive technology used by the Cherokee who called Southern Appalachia home. Our relationship with “the real world” (forest) becomes intimate as we integrate primitive survival skills. This may seem overwhelming, depending on the forest to provide your needs, so take one skill of interest and practice until proficiency is developed.

Of particular interest to me, since I’m allergic to yellow jacket stings to some degree, is the section on making yellow jacket soup. Larvae, not adults, are used to make a nutty flavored, protein-packed soup. Mark gives detailed descriptions on how to “safely” dig and harvest larva from a yellow jacket nest. My experience with the business end of these stinging insects has prevented me from attempting a heist. However, after reading his experience, it sounds doable even for me.

Secrets of the Forest- The Best Outdoor Education Book I've Read -

Hands-on learning in a creek studying animal tracks and sign.

I respect Mark Warren a great deal, not only for his passion to share this lost knowledge, but more so because he lives what he describes his book. He traded theory for action decades ago. When purchasing his book or attending his classes, you’ll quickly discover that Mark is the real deal with a depth of experience sorely lacking in the world of outdoor education.

If you teach wilderness living skills, scouts, school children, or just interested in expanding your own outdoor education, I highly recommend Secrets of the Forest! Order yours at his site: Medicine Bow.

Update 08/11/2017: Calling Up The Flame – The Art Of Creating Fire -and – Feeding The Spirit – Storytelling And Ceremony : Vol. 2 – by Mark Warren just became available.

While you’re there, check out his class schedule. I’ll be attending The Art of Archery class in September. Mark knows a thing or two about archery. He was the World Long Bow Champion in 1999.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +YouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Lost Skills, Self-reliance, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , | 18 Comments

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