Practically Seeking

October 2007 (Issue 6)

Hey there,
First, allow me to apologize for the tardiness of this issue. October has been full of activity for us. We've been busy with workshops and lots of mentoring here in New Jersey, and went from a week in Ontario to a week in the Mojave Desert with only enough time between to do laundry and repack. We're off again in a couple of weeks, this time to Arkansas and Texas for workshops in Primitive Hunting, Flintknapping, Fire and Tracking. We'd love to see ya if you're in the area. We'll also be in North Carolina in January, teaching at a 10-day Winter Advanced Skills class being hosted by Earth School (run by another former Tracker School instructor, Richard Cleveland). The class is about half full, so register soon if you are interested. So thanks again for your patience this month. November will be back on schedule! But first, I have a very exciting announcement...


What's New Upcoming Events Skill of the Month Eddie's Bookshelf Practically Speaking Final Note

What's New

Practical Primitive Logo


We are now accepting applications for participants in our new Intensive Skills Studies Program.
This six month program is designed to be an immersion into primitive skills and survival, but more than that, to provide a truly holistic understanding of how they all fit together.
I have always had difficulty with the "randomness" of classes and their lack of continuity and integration. This program will provide a real structure to the learning of skills, and demand self-motivation and commitment of the participants chosen.
It is limited to 4 people, and will begin the weekend of March 1, 2008.
We've done our best to design a program in which it will be practical for anyone to participate. You won't need to quit your job or uproot your home. Rather, participants will meet for one weekend each month for intense instruction of the month's skills and outline of the accompanying lessons, as well as a debrief of the previous month's exercises. Participants will also have four individual mentoring sessions each month, as well as the opportunity to attend any workshop I'm teaching during their six month session.
At the end of the program you will have the chance to put your skills to a real test in the full-survival outing that is the culmination of the program.
There are no minimum skill-level requirements for this program, only a sincere desire to seek a new way of learning the ancient skills, and a commitment to putting forth your best effort in all aspects the program.
All the details and the application form are up on the website. Applications must be in prior to January 31, 2008 for the current session.
I'm really excited about this and hope you'll check it out!

Road Trips

HUNTING SKILLS workshop in Arkansas

November 10 – 11
At the request of a group of folks who wanted to take the class, we've moved our upcoming Hunting Skills workshop to Fayetteville, AR. There's still room for a few more to join us, so if you'd like more info on this workshop check out our website or e-mail us at

It's TEXAS Time Again

November 7 – 27
We're heading for Texas in a couple of weeks, and are looking forward to holding our first workshops at Starhaven Ranch. We've added a couple of new classes to the Texas schedule, and we hope to see you there!
15    Tracking Essentials
16    Fire
18    Percussion Knapping
19    Pressure Flaking

Remember, we're driving down & back, so if you'd like us to stop off in your area, for either a "Skills 2 You" workshop or some mentoring, we'd be happy make a detour!


May 2008
We've had a few different inquiries and requests from folks out west wondering if we would be interested in doing some classes out their way. We're VERY excited about the idea, and are looking at the possibility of a "West Coast Tour" in May & June of 2008.
At the moment we're looking at the Portland/Glass Buttes region, Northern California/San Francisco area, Squamish B.C. (just north of Vancouver) and possibly the Interior of B.C., around Invermere and the Kootenays.
If you are around any of those areas and would be interested in being part of some classes we'd love to hear from you, so give us a call or send an e-mail. The more interest we find, the more classes we'll run! We'll keep you posted in future newsletters, and keep an eye on the website more more details.

Upcoming Events

10 Day Winter Advanced Skills

January 18–27
Tryon, NC

Eddie has been invited to be a Guest Instructor at this skills-packed class, being hosted by former Tracker School instructor, Richard Cleveland (head of Earth School). This is going to be an incredible program — Eddie knows all the other instructors for this course, and their high skill level and extensive field experience. If you can make it to this class, you will not leave the same!
But don't wait too long to register — the class is already half full!
From the Earth School website: "This program will hone your outdoor skills to a higher level than you ever thought possible. enrollment will ensure that you receive the personal attention necessary to truly learn these skills. This is the ultimate "Hands On" advanced skills program. Instructor to student ratio will be 1 to 5 or better !"
For more info see , or go directly to Earth School to register.

Free Open Skills Nights

November 28
December 19
January 16

Come on out and join us for our FREE Open Skills nights the third Wednesday of each month. Bring a project you're working on, a plant ID guide, an animal tracking book, or just come meet us and check out our new place. We look forward to having you here!

Skill of the Month

Examples of the Serving Wrap

Cordage: The Serving Wrap

The Serving Wrap is a technique that you will find useful in many ways.
This protective/finishing wrap can, for example, be used to serve bow strings (protect the string from the friction of the nock), install nocking points, wrap fish hooks, fletch arrows, wrap bow handles, finish basket handles and much, much more.
You can use almost any flexible material as your wrap; leather, rawhide, bark, cordage, vine etc.

In our example photos we are using wisteria vine, and using the word "cordage" as a catch-all term.

For photos to go along with these step-by-step instructions check out our website.

How to Complete the Serving Wrap

  1. Place your desired cordage at the spot you wish one end of your serving wrap to finish, and wrap once around your object, leaving a "tail" long enough that you will be able to pull your wrapping tight (about 3-4 inches).
  2. Go around once more, again wrapping over top of the protruding tail to help keep it in position, and snug it down good and tight.
  3. On your third wrap, slide the cordage underneath, so that this time the tail is laying on top.
  4. The fourth time around, once again wrap over top of the tail, and pull tight to lock it into place.
  5. Continue to wrap around your object as many times as you need to complete your project, being sure to keep the wrap snugged down and tight at all times. (You can wrap your "tail" completely under, or if you prefer, wrap over the tail enough times to ensure it will not come loose then cut the rest off.)
  6. Once you are close to the desired length, it is time to finish your wrap. On your next time around, bring the cordage down several inches away from rest of your wrap, leaving enough slack to create a large loop.
  7. Bring the cordage up and THROUGH the loop. Continue wrapping in the same direction, but now from the bottom up — back toward your original wrap. Wrap at least four times around, back up the piece, each time going under the loop.
  8. Bring the end of your cordage up to the original section and hold it down tightly against this portion of your wrap.
  9. Grasp the large loop with your other hand and bring it down against your object so that it is snug against the main wrap, holding down the end of your cordage.
  10. Continue the wrap by moving the large loop around your object. As you do this you will see the small section unwrap as the main side wraps down. Be sure to keep the end of your cordage held in place, and your wrap pulled tight.
  11. When all you have left at the far end of your wrap is your big loop, pull the end of your cordage as tight as possible. Using your knife or scissors, cut of the rest of your cordage as close to the wrap as you can. So long as you've kept your wrap good and tight there's no need to worry about it coming undone!

Enjoy this great looking finishing touch to your project!

Eddie's Bookshelf

Timeless Bowhunting

Timeless Bowhunting — The Art, the Science, & the Spirit

—Roy S. Marlow

Timeless Bowhunting is more than just a book about hunting with a bow and arrow. It is a must-have for anyone interested in archery, whether traditional or modern, as a hunter or for recreation. It picks up where most other bow hunting books leave off and, without getting into bow hunting particulars, is filled with valuable information on choosing the right equipment for you, and tuning it to bring out your best performance. The information on proper form, aiming methods and practice techniques will have your shooting improving faster than you can imagine.

Marlow also discusses the often overlooked problems of real-life hunting experiences such as "buck fever", shooting up or down hill, and shifting winds. Even the old-timers will learn a thing or two!

This book brings together Marlow's 50-plus years of experience as an engineer and bow hunter to benefit the reader with a plethora of practical practice ideas and well-researched information that should cause many to re-evaluate their own hunting scenarios.

In short, I loved this book and it has received high praise from many others more notable than myself. Whether you are an experienced hunter or have just picked up your first bow, do yourself a favor and give this book a read.

(Big thanks to Kfir for introducing me to this book!)

For more information on this and other recommended books, see our website.

Practically Speaking

Geese in Winter

Blow, blow, thou winter wind…

Winter… in spite of the recent warm weather in many parts of the U.S. we know that it is almost upon us. And when the cold winds, the flying snow, the dampness and the early darkness finally arrive they drive many of us indoors for the duration.

Although it is always preferable to be doing something outside, during the winter months that's not always realistic. Especially for those who live in the 9-5 work-a-day world. We get up in the morning and it's still dark. We get home from work in the evening and it's already dark. All we want to do is hole up in front of the fire (or that modern equivalent — the television) and wait for spring.

And that is OK!

The winter season provides an excellent opportunity to practice many skills in the warm, comfortable environment of your home, shop or garage.
Make pottery; it will have plenty of time to dry!
Work on cordage; make or repair your fishing gear, nets, clothing, etc for spring.
Make baskets; gift-giving season fast approaches!

There is a reason that the skills I've listed above were among those most often worked during the winter months — they could be! I just picked up a new book (which I plan to review in next month's newsletter) showing photos of some incredible fishing nets and amazing clothing &mdahs; all made from cordage that was undoubtedly spun up during the long darkness of winter. We saw several beautiful examples of these skills first-hand during our recent visit to the Chicago Field Museum's "Ancient Americas" exhibit. Why not spend some time this winter discovering how to make a cedar bark shirt? Or a sage brush bark skirt? Or a grass sleeping bag?

The list of projects that can (and should) be worked on during the dark days is virtually endless. The only thing you should not make is excuses for not trying something.
As I have said so many times, there is no failure, only failure to learn.

So stay indoors (if need be), and have fun!

One Final Note

We pray for the well being of our friends out west, and their families and communities who are enduring the aftermath of the wildfires. To the best of our knowledge all of our friends were blessed with safety for their homes, for which we are amazingly grateful!
And to my Blacktail Jackrabbit-huntin friend Zack, you are a real trooper!! It was quite a pleasure to see such a great attitude from one your age. Zack broke his ankle a couple of weeks ago and had to have screws put in, yet still tromped through the brush in the Nevada desert with us for many miles with nary a whimper. He got his hardware out on Saturday, and we wish him a speedy recovery! Take care Zack, and keep up the practice.
Once again, thanks for your patience this past month. We've got another busy one coming up, but promise to get the next newsletter out on time! And you all be sure to stay in touch.

Eddie Starnater
Practical Primitive

P.S. This is a very special note to the youngest member of our tribe. Stay strong little man. Listen to your folks, be good to your sisters, and know that we're thinkin about ya and missin y'all down here in Jersey. Grandfather Pine says hello and hopes you'll come back and play with him again soon. Love ya buddy, and we'll see y'all soon.

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