Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Making Grass Rope With Kids
Grass ropes are a fun and easy activity for any group of people, from adults to kids as young as 7 or 8 years old. Building the rope requires teamwork and cooperation. Testing the strength of the rope through games of tug-o-war is an opportunity for great camaraderie and raucous competition. All can be accomplished in less than an hour. Rabbitstick and Winter Count are a great place for kids of all ages to learn primitive skills.

At this year's Rabbitstick Rendezvous Tom Elpel of Pony, Montana taught a class on making grass ropes, as shown in the video below. Be sure to look for his Grass Ropes article in the Fall 2011 Bulletin of Primitive Technology.

Revisit this 1o minute slide show from Rabbitstick 2010. This will give you a pretty good idea what a Backtracks Primitive Skills Gathering is all about.

Christian Noble Production

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

February 12-18
September 9-15
(Go to for full details)

July 8-14, 2012
(see what's up at

Monday, December 19, 2011

A photo from ca.1990: Left - David Wescott, center - Dick Jamison, right - Larry Dean Olsen. The genealogy of skills traditions is an important thing to remember.

A Genealogy of Skills Traditions

In 1988, Larry Dean Olsen (author of Outdoor Survival Skills and founder of the Woodsmoke Journal in the late 70s) gave us permission to use the Rabbit Stick name to reinvent this unique teaching and learning experience. Rabbit Stick Rendezvous had been discontinued after the 1978 event, so our reissue of the new event as Rabbitstick after 20 years marked the reintroduction of an important part of the contemporary primitive skills movement. 2012 marks our 25th year of hosting this nationally recognized gathering (For information visit us at

In 1979, Dick and Linda Jamison (authors and creators of the acclaimed Woodsmoke books and video series) took over as hosts and called their event the Woodsmoke Rendezvous. In 1982 the name was changed to the Woodsmoke Primitive Living Conference, and was discontinued shortly after that. Last year, we approached the Jamison’s asking permission to use theWoodsmoke name for our newest skills gathering. They not only granted permission, but promised that if health issues would allow, they would join us at the new gathering. 2012 will mark 30 years since a Woodsmoke gathering has been held. If you're interested in Bushcraft or Classic Camping Skills, make sure you don’t miss this important anniversary event July 8-14, 2012 (For information click on the Camp and Trail X button in the column at right).

February 12-18, 2012
What a way to start off your New Year.
Don't miss it !

Register early and save at -

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Rabbitstick 24 is on its way!!

Keep up-to-date about all of the plans for this years Rabbitstick, and count down along with us. Our early registrations are coming in fast, so we plan on having a great turn out. Remember, early registration ends September 1 and the late fee of $75 goes into affect. Register early and save.
Rabbitstick 2011 reminder postcards are in the mail.

A portion of last years camp as seen from the air.

Come to Idaho and escape the heat.....

It's been an amazing year - record snowfall and a winter that seemed to last forever, a spring that didn't arrive until June, and now an incredible late summer explosion of premier weather accompanied by displays of wildflowers and cool temps. The Rabbitstick site is hosting its usual display of summer foliage and wildlife after being under spring floods for a long time.

We are now getting ready to host Rabbitstick 2011 - that's #24 to be exact. Tell your friends to plan on joining us for another great year of skills, music and fun.


Pass along to this information to anyone planning to attend. Our late registration fee is $75, making late registrations $350 (still a bargain at the price).

Saturday, February 5, 2011

We've been doing this a long time !

Winter Count Staff 2008 collodian photograph by Loch Wade.

Well, the trailers leave tomorrow for their trip south. If all goes well, we will be on site Wednesday and begin setting up. You're welcome to join us, although student services don't begin until Sunday dinner. The excitement is growing and people are still registering. Winter Count 2011 is just around the corner. Hope to see you there.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Check out the forecast for Winter Count.
The Old Farmer's Almanac predicts:
Feb 12-18 Sunny; mild, then cold.
Sounds great to me.
Here's a sample of what's on the schedule so far.

Buckskin bags, knotless netting, felting, primitive pottery and firing, brain tanning, moccasin making, hunting skills, tracking and trapping, flintknapping, beadwork, bullroarers, flute making, finger weaving, rattles, cattail crafts, gourd crafting, knife sharpening and safety, bow-drill - hand-drill - mouth-drill - fire plow - fire saw - fire pistons, pump-drills, atlatls and darts, bows and arrows, blacksmithing, Sonoran plant life, medicinal plant uses, agave roast, knife and sheath making, drop spindles, roadkill, and much more.

Early Registration Ends

If you haven't registered yet, please let us know that you are coming, but plan to bring your registration information with you and pay at the gate. All forms for registration are available on-line. We'd still love to have you join us, so plan to check-in and register on-site starting at 10am on Sunday morning. There will be instructors doing demos and displaying projects all morning during registrations, so plan not to miss it. Intros will start about noon with a blanket fair, and class announcements start at 1pm.


If you know someone who does not use the internet or credit cards, please let them know we can accommodate them so long as they contact us in advance. We have a few people paying cash at the registration table and even a few bartering (in advance - don't just show up expecting to do that) for goods they have made. Our Work/Trade positions are full. Talk to us at the event if you would like to work next year or at Rabbitstick.

Let's Go Stone Age

We had a late run of about 80 registrations in the last couple of days - many returnees, and lots of excited first-timers are about to create a vibrant community in the middle of the Sonoran Desert. Lots of skills, music, and good times. Please remember, this is a family-friendly event. Please leave the drugs, dogs and alcohol at home. Consider the fact that if you can't do without them for a few days, you might have a problem you need to deal with.

We're ready to head south!

When we woke up this morning it was -25˚ (-40˚ just up the road in Island Park). I shot this photo out the back door at 11am, and it was still below zero. Make plans now, if you haven't already, to join us in Arizona for few days of great instruction and friendship. Winter Count 2011 is just around the corner. Pack your tent, your fork and spoon, a good crafting knife, and meet us in Maricopa Feb 13. You won't regret it.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Early Registration Ends Soon!

We have been experiencing our usual rush of last minute calls and on-line registrations for this year's Winter Count early-bird price. We will accept registrations postmarked Feb. 1, and the PayPal price will hold until midnight Tuesday. So, if you aren't registered yet, get it done as soon as possible.
Please Note: If you register after the early rate changes, or you intend to register at the gate, please let us know you are coming so we can plan food and instructor amounts. We want to make sure we have plenty of classes for everyone. Be sure to let us know your plans. Thanks!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Winter Count isn't just for those who wear buckskin. There are lots of people who use primitive skills to work with a broad range of participants. The Elemental Awareness boys will be there to put on a desert skate contest and archery blanket shoot. Great for the kids who love to roll.

Here's another link to a more current video from Elemental Awareness' last visit to Winter Count found at the Element Skateboards site. Shred On!
Video Link:

Be sure to be there.
Sunrise over Winter Count camp, 2010.

How’s everyone?

Sorry for the delay in responding to everyone’s e-mails for the past couple of weeks, but we’ve been out of the office. I had the chance to go to MN and take a Traditional Norwegian Ski Making workshop. When I got back, I spent a week in the Tetons conducting a training for the local university (-14˚ last Thursday), so we're ready for a bit of warm weather.

My ski blanks fresh from the mold - before shaping.

Now we’re back in the saddle and getting ready for Winter Count. Registrations are coming in at a record pace, and staff are checking in, making this years event another exciting event...Lots of anticipation. Word is the Arizona weather is spectacular, but we still need to plan for anything.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Check out what it's like to be at a primitive skills gathering. Here's footage from Rabbitstick 2010. The scenes would be the same at Winter Count, but not quite as green. (Note - double clicking on the movie will take you to YouTube for a full-frame version).

Join Us!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Winter Count staff of 2010 invites you to join us in Arizona
for a week of amazing sharing and learning.
Don't miss another year - it'll be great!

Happy New Year - The Countdown Has Begun - 38 Days to go!

Remember, early registration ends Feb 1., and tuition goes up to $350.
So register early, and save!