Book Review – Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living by John & Geri McPherson

Wilderness Living Cover9As I am always looking to expand my knowledge, I was looking for a book specifically on primitive skills. While I have found several, the updated copy of “Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living” by John and Geri McPherson, was the one I landed on. Although this book was written in 2008, it incorporates some of John’s earlier works.

For me, the book’s introduction had me hooked and it took me down a long path that I was looking forward to. For any primitive skills book, I feel the beginning should be basic. “Wilderness Living” was no exception and started with fire and cordage. The McPherson’s are very thorough in this book. They do not just give you one way to do things and claim it is only their way that works. Quite the contrary, they give examples on several ways to perform the skills listed within the pages and associate those skills with photographs.

On the topic of photographs, I will save the downfall of this book is the quality of the photograph. The saving grace for this downfall is the amount of pictures that are included with each subject. This allows the reader to fully grasp the topic and the actions that are needed for each skill.

After fire and cordage, the reader is taken through making and using primitive tools. This has always been a fascination to me and usually the one place in a museum that I can be found, should my family be looking for me.

Throughout the entire book, the remaining skills are taught using those primitive tools. That includes the next chapters on shelters, bow and arrow making, and traps and triggers. However, I think the one that caught me off guard was the one entitled “Deer from Field to Freezer”. Although I grew up hunting and learned how to dress a deer, the McPherson’s discussed and showed how to do this with primitive tools. I found this to be fascinating and enlightening.

An added benefit to the trapping and hunting features was the chapter on primitive wilderness cooking methods. This means they teach you not only have to catch, harvest, and prepare the animal, but also how to cook it. All that’s left is to feast on the fruits of your labor.

As the book winds down, the reader is taking through primitive containers and how to make primitive pottery. I was amazed at some of the facts therein. My eyes were opened to some of the resources that I had never thought of.

The final chapter is on brain tanning a buckskin. The reader is taken through the process from beginning to end, all in reference to tanning in order to make clothing. There is however, a short section on tanning with hair on, which is more of what I was looking for.

“Wilderness Living” does include a section of resources, which provides even more value to this book. I will say this is a valuable book to add to any library. If you are wanting to learn any primitive skills, this book is a great place to start and does not require any prior knowledge or skill set.

Just the Facts:

Do yourself a favor and buy the book. This is one of those times where I really appreciated the digital copy. Special thanks to

Until then,

Use your instincts to survive