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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

A Real Man

 A Real Man
One of the pleasures of working with the military special operations community is all of the stories that the guys share around the evening campfire when we’ve finished the day’s teachings.
We have one unit in particular that we have been working with for many years and the unit’s NCO, Mike, shared a great tale with us involving a camping trip he went on with his 14-year-old daughter who he visits with each summer.
Mike had taken his daughter Ashley on a 3-day campout in the forests of Pennsylvania. One evening, he wanted to show her how to make fire by friction, using the bow-drill. He had cut down a cedar branch and used it for his fireboard and drill while securing a maple branch for the bow. Using his bootlace for the bowstring and a chunk of maple for the handhold, he created a primitive fire in mere minutes. His daughter sat entranced the whole time, watching her father’s finesse with the ancient skill. When Mike was done, she immediately grabbed the primitive tools and looked them over, yearning to recreate fire as her father had. It was a proud moment for Mike. They spent the rest of the evening working on survival skills, carving spoons, and laughing about other trips together.
Fast forward two weeks to Ashley’s birthday party at her mom and stepdad’s house.  Amidst a crowd of friends and family, Ashley’s stepdad is ready to light a blaze in the backyard fire pit. He returns from the garage with a stack of newspaper, matches, and a can of lighter fluid. Ashley moves forward in disgust at her stepdad’s materials and declared, “A real man can make a fire with his bare hands and some sticks. A real man doesn’t need to use matches or a lighter!”
An awkward silence enshrouded the guests as a frostbitten expression slid over her stepdad’s face. Ashley’s mom quickly stepped in and plucked her daughter from the crowd while comforting her husband.
Later that night, Mike got a call from his daughter recounting the whole story and could barely restrain his laughter. However, Mike said his ex-wife had another take on the story and its long-lasting ripple effect at the party. 

***This story is an excerpt from Tony's new book, Life Under Open Skies: Adventures in Bushcraft. Available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and other digital platforms.*** 

About Ancient Pathways

Tony Nester is the author of numerous books and DVDs on survival. His school Ancient Pathways is the primary provider of survival training for the Military Special Operations community and he has served as a consultant for the NTSB, Travel Channel, Backpacker Magazine, and the film Into the Wild. When not on the trail, he lives in a passive-solar, strawbale home in northern Arizona. For information on Tony’s books, gear, or bushcraft courses, visit

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