Thursday, August 20, 2015

Into the Woods: Six Weeks of Bushcraft

As a Ph.D student in archaeology, I had the honor of teaching archaeological field methods to a group of twenty undergraduates for the last six weeks in the mountains. I taught them excavation, survey, artifact analysis, mapping, and you guessed it...after hours, there was plenty of time for the old ways!

After work we took part in activities ranging from bow carving to harvesting wild blackberries and making a nice Dutch oven cobbler.

I was lucky enough to befriend a couple of archery deer hunters. Once successful they were happy to show the students how to butcher the buck they got. After I helped them with the process they offered us the skin, ribs, heart, a leg and even the loins. We were extremely grateful!

The meat was well appreciated! I now have a recipe/cooking method that makes venison ribs come out so tender you simply can't stop eating them!

Some of the students were really interested in seeing if we could replicate the stone scrapers and flake tools we had been finding and try to use them in traditional hide tanning. I showed them my methods for making a frame, lacing the hide, softening, and smoking it, and they set to work with perseverance and great success!

One of my favorite times was when we got out some old cans, wound them up with fishing line and brought some lures along for a little hobo fishing.
We found massive schools of very aggressive giant pike minnow and fished with great success!

I'm not sure what happened to the photos of the fish cakes we made, but I can tell you they were a big hit!
However, nothing beat the tasty fry bread our wonderful Native American Monitor Deb made us.

Those are definitely smiles of total contentment!
With the skills Ryan had cultivated with his knife over the last six weeks he carved and erected a sign in honor of the ditch we'd come to refer to as Shane's Folly (where Shane's car and several others bottomed out and rolled away with flat tires).
It was six weeks with lots of laughs and plenty of adventure for those who love bear country. I will never forget this time and I look forward to all of the interesting research these students generate from the artifacts we identified, mapped, collected, and are currently analyzing.
Keep the old ways alive!

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