Hawk Circle Earth Skills Spring Semester March 22-May 16, 2009

Ricardo Sierra
Registered User
Ricardo Sierra
Registered User
Joined: December 1st, 2008, 8:29 pm

December 2nd, 2008, 12:03 am #1

Spring is a great time to be at Hawk Circle. For one thing, the return of the sun brings many wild edible plants, allowing us to study them as they begin their life cycle, a few at a time, and we can sample them, too, and create healthy, nutritious meals. Spring also brings some of the warmest days, when the temperature rises and there is almost no shade. You can almost feel the plants growing and soaking it up! Drying and working hides into buckskin is a joy at this point. In addition to these elements, each week, many new birds arrive back to the forests and meadows, wetlands and transition areas, to find a mate, stake out a territory, build a nest, raise some young and continue the species. Are we any different? I don't know the definitive answer to that question but I will say that the dawn chorus of birdsong, at this time of the year, is absolutely stunning! They truly add to the songs of the spring peepers, too. The woodcocks dance and twitter in the evening twilight, the partriges drum their fallen logs and turkeys call and respond throughout the day.....

You will probably wonder how anyone can concentrate on classes and skills, with all of these things happening all around us, but believe me when I tell you that we still manage nicely, and you won't be disappointed! Below is a list of classes, crafts, skills and expeditions that we will be undertaking this spring, and you are warmly invited to join us if you feel the call to learn with us.

-Ricardo Sierra, Director

The Art of Trapping- Paiute Deadfall and Baited Snares
Very few people living today have the ability to survive through the last months of winter. The art of trapping becomes essential during this time and allows the hunter to do other things while the trap awaits its prey. Making primitive traps takes more skill than setting out a steel trap, but is just as effective when in experienced hands. This course includes animal studies, construction of several types of deadfalls and snares, how to bait for a specific animal, and the legal, moral and ethical aspects of trapping. This course is an excellent companion to the Tracking Course also held in the Spring Semester.

The Art of Camp- Wilderness Survival Cooking Skills
Native people used various primitive techniques to fit their cooking needs. Some tribes buried their food in the ground with hot rocks for a slow style of cooking that allowed them to leave camp without worrying about food burning or being eaten by animals. Other cultures, like some Australian Aborigines, rock-boiled their food into stews wasting little of their food's natural juices. In this class we will learn both of these methods of cooking as well as spit cooking, clay baking, making bark containers, and we will create a comfortable camp to cook in. Be prepared to eat lots of great food and relax around the campfire.

The Art of Fire-In Depth Friction Fire with Barry Keegan
This course covers the many aspects of fire that are needed in both primitive and modern settings. Topics covered will include safety and hazards, tipi-style fire construction, bow and drill/hand drill fire by friction method, wood selection, natural tinder selection, fire uses, symbolism, and mythological importance. There will be a final test which will include making a bow and drill set without the use of knives, making string from natural fibers and getting a fire with the set collected.

The Art of Fishing-East Branch of the Delaware River Trout Fishing Expedition
In the early spring, the rivers are full, swollen with cold rains, snow melt, and hungry fish. These fish, many of them rainbow, brown or brook trout, have eaten little all winter except for the minnows they could chase down and catch, to slow moving water insects dislodged by the fast water. These fish are eagerly awaiting the multitude of worms that spill into the water along the banks, as they are awakened by the warming sun. At this time of year, streams can be difficult to fish, and yet the rewards for getting out early are many. Students will learn how to fish in deep pools, shallow tail-outs, log and boulder eddies and use a variety of baits, approaches and techniques to help us catch our dinner. We will camp and hike along rivers that host otters, beavers, black bears, bald eagles and most important of all, fish! This is a fun camping experience in a beautiful and rugged mountain area.

Nature Awareness- Stalking and Natural Movement Studies
This class combines the skills of moving with minimal disturbance in natural surroundings with the knowledge of how to observe minute and large landscape features that are important to survival. We will cover foot placement, weight transfer, wide-angle vision, blindfold walking, listening techniques, stalking games, balance and slow movement training. Extensive practice sessions using inner relaxation, breathing techniques, camouflage, stillness and more are offered in this exciting class.

Cultural Arts and Crafts-Survival Basketry
To take the branches of trees, or the long rootlets or vines of a plant, and weave it into a basket that we can use to carry our gear, we learn about the giving spirit of the plants, as well as the attention to detail that we must have to be able to shape our materials into a workable, practical art form. In this class we will learn about harvesting different basket materials, drying, storing and using them, as well as the techniques necessary to making a functional basket. Willow, ash, red osier dogwood, grape vines or honeysuckle may be used in the making of our baskets.

Cultural Arts and Crafts-Moccasins and Survival Footwear
To make moccasins, a person must understand how leather stretches and wears, know some different stitching techniques and when to apply each one, as well as how to select the right leather or buckskin for the craft at hand. In this class, we will learn these things and more as we select the style of moccasin and learn how and when to wear them in the field. We will discuss why different native peoples used different styles of moccasins for their environment, and how to care for the ones we make and use while on our trek.

Cultural Arts and Crafts-Creating Elm, Ash and Pine Bark Containers
Making functional baskets, cooking containers, quivers or drinking cups is a skill that can be much faster than coal burning a large log into a bowl, or weaving a basket from splints, vines, branches or rootlets. It does involve knowing which trees to choose, making simple tools and learning how to do this while not causing lasting, serious harm to the tree or environment. In this class, we will learn about working with barks, and make some different types of baskets for our use on the survival trek.

The Art of Tracking- Animal Tracking, Sign Recognition and Trailing Intensive
Tracking is an important supplement to all other wilderness skills. In most cases, effective primitive hunting and trapping is not possible without tracking. But tracking is more than just recognizing and following footprints. It is a doorway into the lives of animals and into the living world around us. Through tracking students will learn to recognize the rhythms of the forest and see firsthand how animals interact and respond to their environment. Trailing, track aging, trail and sign tracking, track pack basics and how to read the landscape as well as the individual tracks will be practiced. In this class we will learn the basics routines of a well-rounded tracking practice that can be the foundation for a lifetime of learning from the earth.

The Art of Tracking- Tracking Expedition
After learning many of our basic skills, we will venture into a region filled with wildlife, for an experience in tracking in sandy conditions, clay and decomposing leaf litter soils, as well as a multitude of transition areas, deep forest and sheltering thickets where the animals feel safe and protected. We will have the opportunity to track early and late, explore the unique areas of the region, learn new skills of survival and awareness. This expedition will give students a chance to pull all of the foundation skills together to begin to understand the way animals move and interact on the landscape through the ancient art of tracking.

The Art of Shelter- Debris Shelters in Spring
This course teaches the concepts and practical aspects of keeping a person sheltered from the elements. We will build a warm shelter with available natural materials and virtually no modern tools or equipment. Topics covered will include safety and hazards, methods of heat loss, insulation techniques, debris hut construction, door making, and awning/workspace construction. Students will spend at least one night in the constructed shelter.

In addition to this class, we will also be teaching students about using different tarp, tent and modern shelter configurations that can be assembled quickly when needed. We will use these techniques on several trips and expeditions, learning about staking options, lashing basics, knotcraft, height considerations, using existing trees for lines safely, situating the camp site according to the prevailing weather patterns and much more. A great bonus class offering!

The Gifts of the Trees-Pitch as Glue Studies
The study of making practical glues and adhesives is an often overlooked skill to the beginning earth skills student, lost among the many other important skills like fire, shelter or buckskin. However, glues and adhesives are important to many skills, such as attaching arrowheads, feather fletching, sinew backing on bows, sealing water containers and bark canoes as well as stone and bone knives. In this class we will gather pitch and other materials and learn to make several useful and practical glues that will help us in our crafts and skills throughout the season.

Gifts of the Plants- Wild Edible Plant Studies
Native peoples have used plants for food, medicine, and in other useful ways for thousands of years. It is only recently that the idea of eating a plant or weed found in the woods seems foreign. In this class we will recover this ancient connection by exploring the surrounding countryside in search of wild plant foods. We will learn where various plants grow, how to identify and harvest them before gathering together to prepare a wild edible feast.

Tree and Plant Identification- Spring Studies
Identifying trees and plants during the winter to early spring seasons is challenging, but it is essential for finding material sources for supplies, tools, food and much more in a survival situation. Learning the patterns of bark, branching, buds and overall shape of a tree can help a student confidently identify a tree species in all seasons and aid in the skills of survival and awareness. Students will study trees and plants in the field, gather information from field guides, and draw and journal the various details of each species. Edible and utilitarian uses will be sampled and experienced as time permits.

The Art of Survival-Five Day Survival Experience
Pulling together all of the skills of survival and awareness learned, students take to the woods in late spring, to test these skills in the field. Under guidance of our instructors and our own intuition and awareness we gather the things we need to survive, including wild foods, shelter materials, wilderness cooking and camp tools and utensils. Fire making, tracking, primitive weapons, weather, first aid and group communication skills are intricately involved. Underlying our skills practice is the process of building a relationship to the land that is forged in the fires of intense need and survival.

Core Curriculum-Community Living
This element of our program most closely duplicates the skills and understanding of how native people lived together in close contact in the wilderness. It demonstrates the vital need for communication, personal responsibility, group awareness and much more. It is also the source of tremendous closeness and joy that comes from doing things together like sharing a meal or doing chores. Spontaneous music, games and cooking sessions are all part of becoming fully alive in how we relate to each other in community. Service work is shared one morning a week and covers skills of tool use and safety. The various projects will benefit everyone at Hawk Circle. Weekly house meetings allow everyone to check in as far as needs and concerns, and helps to demonstrate good forms of communication.

Core Curriculum-Community Nights
These nights are a time to celebrate with the whole Hawk Circle community. Community Nights have different themes depending on seasonal celebrations or the group's interests. Be prepared for games, music, slide shows, stories, poetry, fun, and culinary delights.



Please note: This course includes all materials, tools, skills, and housing throughout the duration of the course. Food is not included but can be prepared in our farmhouse kitchen in a community setting. Check out our website for more information.
Ricardo Sierra
Hawk Circle Wilderness Education
Cherry Valley, NY
Office: 607/264.3396

"Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit"
-Edward Abbey

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Joined: September 11th, 2011, 7:10 pm

January 27th, 2018, 10:34 pm #2

what vine plant can I use to make bowstring ? I live in North East USA .