Think you could swap technologies for a day? Instead of cell phones and laptops, pick up some sticks and stones and get intimate with the technologies of our ancestors this weekend at the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Field Institute. Doug Hill, the focus of our August 5, 2015, cover story "Defending the (Modern) Caveman," will be bringing students back to the wild and teaching them teaching primitive skills during "Technologies of Your Ancestors: Primitive Survival Skills."
Hill takes the buzz phrase of "sustainable living" to new heights. While a lot of us are shopping for organic meats and vegetables or using petroleum-based items, Hill is taking home roadkill if it's fresh enough (after calling the appropriate authorities, of course), living off of the native greens growing in his back yard, making his own hand tools, and starting fires with a couple of pieces of wood, the old-fashioned way.
And he's bringing that expertise to this weekend's class, which runs June 4 and June 5.
"The goal will be to give everybody an overview of primitive skills," Hill says. "But they could theoretically be able to replicate this in the woods with nothing."
Hill plans to spend Saturday working on skills like fire-making, cordage, stone tools, weaving and making natural glues. On Sunday, students will continue with those skills and put them together to make what Hill calls a hafted, or a stone knife, with a stone blade and a wooden handle held together with natural glue and cordage.
"We're going back to the old ways," says Hill.
Primitive skills are hot! Doug Hill builds a fire with friction.
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Hill is the owner and founder of Gone Feral: School of Primitive and Traditional Skills. He has been an environmental educator for years and has studied with some of the country's most well-known primitive skills practitioners. Last December he took a winter class in Maine, and has since held his own classes on winter survival. In addition to running Gone Feral, which holds skills classes all over the state, Hill is an adjunct professor at Red Rocks Community College's Outdoor Studies program.
And at the end of June, Hill will kick off a yearlong apprenticeship program; he and eight students will meet one weekend a month to work on primitive skills. At the end of the year, they will head to the wild for a week to practice everything they've learned.
But before you sign up for that, you might want to look into this weekend's class; call the Rocky Mountain Conservancy Institute at 970-586-3262 or go to the RMCI website. For for other classes with Hill, see Gone Feral's website.