Watching ultimate television survivors like Bear Grylls or Survivorman Les Stroud brave a week of wilderness with little more than a pocketknife, a thermos of water and their wits is compelling entertainment from the comfort of your sofa. But how many of us could survive more than a day or two outside civilization?
The movie release of The Hunger Games this week puts one girl’s determined self-preservation on the big screen. An inspiration (or maybe a wake-up call), fictional teen Katniss Everdeen hunts, gathers, snares, heals and tracks both animals and humans in her race to survive the brutal Hunger Games. Adapted from the dystopian novel by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games pits children of a post-apocalyptic America against each other in a brutal public spectacle of kill or be killed. But for all its cruelty, the message is of self-reliance, strength and determination shown by the movie’s young heroine.
Want to channel a little of your own Katniss? Though your need may not be as immediate, having a few old-fashioned skills to keep yourself alive might just come in handy. You know, should the odds not be ever with you.
Tracking: Seasoned tracker Rob Gross presents a class on wildlife tracking through SRJC’s continuing education program. The introductory class shows how to read and interpret animal — and human — signs in the wild. May 19, 8:30am to 2:30pm, $73. santarosa.edu/communityeducation.
Snare Making: Katniss is an expert in setting snares to trap rabbits and other critters. Learn how to create and set them using forest resources in the classic reference, Deadfalls and Snares, AR Harding ($17, CreateSpace).
Turra’s Backroom Archery: Katniss’ top survival skill is her deadly bow. Learn archery skills at this Santa Rosa archery shop and range using high-tech compound bows, crossbows and simple bows. Lessons for adults and children are by appointment, usually held twice a month. The range is available for birthday party rental. 3325 Regional parkway, Santa Rosa, turrasbackroomarchery.com. Also, Sonoma County Bowmen (scbarchery.net) and Traditional Archers of California (traditionalarchersofca.org).
Girl Hunter, Revolutionizing The Way We Eat One Hunt at a Time, Georgia Pellegrini ($24, De Capo Press): As much cookbook as narrative, this former Wall Streeter heads to the woods to hunt down her own food for a change. Though the actual hunting tips are more anecdotal than practical, you’ll be able to make a devastatingly delicious partridge with pancetta and orange brandy sauce or braised pheasant legs.
The Unofficial Hunger Games Cookbook, Emily Ansara Baines ($19.95, Adams Media): Fans of the Hunger Games series will immediately recognize many of the dishes referenced in the book, from the Mellark Family Bakery’s French Bread to Lamb Stew with Dried Plums, President Snow’s Sauteed Dove Breast and Groosling, a fictional animal similar to a wild turkey. Despite the imaginative ingredients, the recipes are mostly home-cook friendly.
Adventure Out Wilderness Skills and Survival Clinic: Five hour hands-on clinic teaches basic survival skills including how to create shelter, find water, create a fire and forage for food. Held in Marin and Santa Cruz 3-5 times per month, $99. adventureout.com.
Knot Tying: Pro-Knot Outdoor Knots comes in a waterproof set of cards illustrating 17 all-purpose outdoor rope knots or as an iPhone and iPad app. Proknot.com.
Gerber Bear Grylls Survival Series Ultimate Kit,($67.50): Mutlitool, pliers, serrated knife, screwdriver, bottle opener, survival blanket, fire starter, fishing kit, signaling and rescue instructions. Sure, you could make your own, but Bear’s every armchair survivalists’ hero. amazon.com.
Paleotechnics: Ukiah’s Tamara Wilder and Steve Edholm have been teaching primitive arts including fire making, brain-tanning, using hunting tools, animal processing and wild food foraging. The couple offer frequent classes around the Bay Area, and will be part of the Buckeye Gathering April 29-May 5.
Buckeye Gathering Traditional Arts and Primitive Living Skills: This weeklong camp on native American lands near Forestville creates a temporary community around the ideals of self-sustenance, primitive living skills and cooperative work. It’s a back-to-the-land scene that may not be for everyone, but if you’re committed to learning the ancient arts of native peoples, living in a yurt and bartering rather than buying what you need, you’ll feel welcome. buckeyegathering.net.
Paleo Camp: Kids get a chance to try out their Paleo-skills June 11-15. The weeklong camp in Boonville includes hunting tool target practice, bow and arrow, fire making. paleotechnics.com.
Wild Foods and Their Processing Workshop with Tamara Wilder: Identifications, gathering, seasonality and processing of wild foods including acorns, manzanita berries, pine nuts, greens, use of mortar and pestle. June 23-24, Polcum Springs, paleotechnics.com.
Wild Mushroom Foray and Demonstration Lunch: Chef and forager Elissa Rubin-Mahon, April 7, 9am to 2pm, Relish Culinary Center, $98. relishculinary.com.
The Wild Table: Seasonal Foraged Food and Recipes, Connie Green (Viking Studio, $40). Local forager Connie Green is a favorite mushroom hunter of Thomas Keller. Her cookbook is ripe with recipes for foraged mushrooms and elderberries (her two local favorites), but delves into more exotic fare like cuilacoche (corn smut), nopales (prickly pear cactus paddles), and gives a nod to fiddleheads, persimmons, walnuts, spruce tips, stinging nettles and miner’s lettuce. wineforest.com
The Wild Table Wine Luncheon with Chef Sarah Scott: Green’s co-author hosts a Capitol-worthy luncheon at Chateau St. Jean demonstrating how to translate wild ingredients into culinary wonders. Three course with five wine pairings. Saturday, March 31, 110:30a.m. to 1:30p.m., $65pp, (877) 478-5326 to reserve.
*Editor’s note: It was incorrectly reported that Rob Gross was a former Navy Seal in the original report. Gross trained with the Seals and the US Border Patrol, but was not a Navy Seal.