The Modern Hunter Gatherer - Book Review

Written by Tony Nester this book is a realistic guide to developing the skills needed to become a hunter gatherer in the modern world. Although the author is based in Arizona (something of a hotbed of primitive technologists) the book gives ideas that are applicable to different climates and countries.
Although the book is subtitled "a practical guide for living off the land" I would say it is something a little different. It is more of a guide to how to develop the skills to do so, rather than a simple how to tome. This has advantages as it means that basic principles can be applied to different eco-systems and situations without having to produce an encyclopedia.

Tortoise Mind, Full Belly
I've recently been reading, as part of the JMBU course, a book called "Hare Brain, Tortoise Mind" which talks at length about the benefits of instinct and slow, natural learning rather than a more traditional and structured approach. I feel that the ideas about slower ways of knowing are well suited to Nester's new book as it provides a framework, effectively a student's guide, to hunter gathering rather than a simpler attempt to transfer facts.

A Quality Original
The book is well written and free from the errors that have plagued some very well known bushcraft writers' works. The photos and drawings are clear and there are good pictures of trap layouts, hunting tools and techniques. The sections devoted to broader bushcraft skills and developing your trapping skills are particular favourites of mine and, in general, the book achieves something remarkable in the field of bushcraft/survival literature - it is original.
There are no major mistakes that I noted, other than the labelling of a pukko as a Mora, and the book is a professional production.

International Issues?
The author does have an American take on hunting, taking the .22 rifle as his weapon of choice and concentrating mostly on small game. I feel a European author would have written more about birds as a food source (pigeons are perhaps the most easily encountered animal here) and may have leaned towards a shotgun or air-rifle due to gun laws and the lack of space here.

In short, this is a great book and offers a variety of inspirations to develop your own hunting, fishing and gathering skills. It isn't really a simple how-to book but a deeper learning guide and as such has become a valuable part of my bookshelf.
Other reviews can be seen at Woods Monkey and Jack Mountain Bushcraft.


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