Winter Woodsman Course & Frozen 24 Survival Challenge

2024 Course Info
· Dates: 2/4-2/10
· Max. Size: 10
· College Credits: 2
· Americorps: Yes
· Tuition: $1050

Boreal Winter Bushcraft, Survival And Guide Training Course

Course Calendar     Register Now

Our overview of winter bushcraft and outdoor living in the frozen wilds of northern Maine. Topics covered are snowshoes and snowshoeing, sleds and toboggans, canvas tents, wood stoves, shelter construction incorporating wood stoves, ice fishing, tracking, axe, knife and saw use and safety, use of the ice chisel, understanding ice and ice safety, winter tree identification, outdoor cooking, making emergency snowshoes, and, in general, how to live safely and comfortably below zero. The goal is for participants to learn how to conduct themselves well in bitter cold.

The Frozen 24 Winter Survival Challenge
On the last day of the course, the frozen 24 winter survival challenge begins. Students head into the forest to spend 24 hours with the clothes on their back, an axe, a knife, a metal pot, a section of tarp, and what ever else they can carry in their pockets (matches, string, food, etc.).

Winter is a season of narrow margins in the north woods. The cold and snow quickly magnify accidents and poor decisions into life-threatening situations, and the stranded traveler quickly learns that the skills that served him or her well in warmer weather are sorely lacking when the temperature is frequently below zero degrees Fahrenheit for weeks at a time. But for those who would learn the skills of winter it is a magical time, when all the bugs and people have gone away for the season, leaving the quiet bush to those who would venture forth armed with knowledge and experience. You can gain both knowledge and experience in our Winter Woodsman course.

With our practical, hands-on approach you’ll develop knowledge and experience that will serve you well whether you’re forced to spend a night out at the end of hunting season or are planning a multi-week snowshoe trip.

Course Content

  • Defining survival and survival priorities
  • Fire: 5 stages of fire, 1 match firelighting, lighting a fire by friction, percussion, refraction and modern firelighters
  • Shelter: Concepts of shelter, hoop house, quad pod, dome, emergency open shelters that will keep you alive at 40 below zero and the role of snow as an insulator and when and how to construct snow shelters
  • Water: The role of hydration in survival, winter water sources, melting snow
  • Sleep: The importance of restful sleep in survival
  • Dressing for the outdoors: The role of clothing in survival and such topics as the difference between wet and dry cold and appropriate footwear for each
  • Tools: Knife, axe, saw, and ice chisel
  • Identification of Useful wild plants of winter
  • Identifying and understanding animal tracks
  • Ice fishing with modern and improvised equipment
  • Safe travel on ice
  • Living on snow shoes
  • Methods of increasing one’s acclimatization to the cold
  • Examination of myths and inaccuracies on winter survival that are prominent in the literature

Participants will have the opportunity to build a shelter and spend several nights in it, build a bush bucksaw, build a pair of emergency snowshoes and a simple but effective snowshoe binding, build a packframe and much more.

NOTE: No fish and game laws will be broken during the course. Snares will be constructed, explained, then taken down as snaring small game is illegal in Maine. Ice fishing will only be carried out by those with a valid Maine fishing license.

Gear List:   You’ll need a cold weather sleeping bag, cold weather clothing, a sheath knife and axe, snowshoes and personal eating kit. We won’t have extras. A good place to start is with our Winter Woodsman gear list.

Travel Information and Directions:   Travel information is located here. After you register you will receive local driving directions to our site.

Parking:   We’ll have a small plowed area next to the road. From there it will be a .6 mile walk to the field school. Snowshoes will almost definitely be required.

Arrival and Departure:   The course runs from Monday morning to Saturday morning. Plan to arrive on sunday afternoon, between 4 and 6. You can also stay locally on Sunday night and arrive Monday morning by 8 am. The course is over on Saturday morning.

Accommodations:   You’ll be staying in heated canvas tents and shelters. There are also cabins available through Blackwater Outfitters, located five minutes away. They can be reached at: 207-540-4101.

Meals:   For information on food and meals, visit our Food and meals page. There is a grocery store in Ashland, about nine miles from the field school.

Cancellation and Refund Policies:   Please visit our School Policies page for information on all of our policies.

What is included with the tuition:   Included in the tuition are all camping fees, instruction, and group gear.

What is not included with the tuition:   Not included with the tuition are personal gear, items from town and any foods other than those specified on the Food and meals page.

Course Insurance:   Adventure travel and wilderness education are not inexpensive, and anything can happen when we’re in the bush. We recommend that all participants have medical insurance. We also recommend you protect your investment with travel insurance for trips and tuition insurance for courses.

Tobacco:   Smoking is not permitted in or near any buildings, tents (unless it’s your own) or shelters. All cigarette butts are to be placed into the metal can provided.

Telephone: We don’t have a phone or electricity. If you need to be in constant phone contact please consider bringing a cell phone, and if you need to charge a phone (or other electronic device), please look into getting a charger or bringing extra batteries.

Other: Please don’t bring any pets or illegal drugs.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

We reserve the right to include or omit any of the course topics listed due to class interest, availability of materials, inclement weather, or other factor that makes them impractical or unsafe.

Course Calendar · Apply Now
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