Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, March 20, 2021

MVNews this week:  Page 12

Mountain View News Saturday, March 20, 2021 


[Nyerges is an author and teacher, and columnist for this paper. This new book is 
available at] 

Anyone who has been teaching outdoor 
survival skills for any length of time has 
undoubtedly heard of Larry Dean Olsen. 
He was born in 1939 near Jerome, Idaho. 
After Olsen graduated from Brigham 

Young University, he began teaching survival field trips 
through the college’s Continuing Education Division in 
1968, sharing his love for the outdoors, and his intense interest 
in the skills of the local indigenous peoples.
At the time, there were scant few others teaching the skills 
that sustained indigenous peoples for millenia. As a Mormon, 
Olsen was devoted to always being ready, including 
being able to survive in a harsh wilderness. In addition, 
there were very few native peoples teaching the old ways 
of plant uses, flint knapping, trapping, and fire-making because 
most were too occupied just trying to stay alive in the 
modern world. 
As part of his outdoor training, he would take students into 
the desert of the Great Basin area and live off the land for 
a week or longer. They had to learn how to eat wild plants, 
trap small game, make fire with local materials, build a 
shelter, weave sandals, find water, and more. It was a grueling 
He then wrote “Outdoor Survival Skills,” first published in 
1967, which has long been considered the definitive classic 
book on the subject. The book has been updated every few 
years and remained in print all these years. 

“Outdoor Survival Skills” 

Larry was the originator of the Rabbit Stick Rendezvous, 

by Larry Dean Olsen 7th edition 

a gathering for a week where people could camp out and 

now available.Foreword and Photos 

learn the skills in a more leisurely manner. The event – and 

by Christopher Nyerges 

various knock-offs -- continues to this day, continued by 
students of his. His students began the Boulder Outdoor 
Survival School, and Larry continued to work at the Anasazi organization, which he co-founded, which 
gave guidance to youth in the wilderness.
Larry was perhaps the most visible person teaching and sharing the extreme art of living off the land. It is 
not an overstatement to say that everyone today teaching these skills has some lineage, direct or indirect, 
that leads back to Larry Dean Olsen.
I remember when I first found a copy of the original edition in my older brother’s things. He was a camp 
counselor and thought the information would help him. I took the book and studied it, and it became 
a part of my life as I pursued learning outdoor survival skills and the uses of the many plants that the 
indigenous peoples used.
Olsen’s book became my “bible” of a sort – the key to the actual application of every skill needed to stay 
alive without the assistance of civilization. I was amazed that such a compact resource even existed. I 
began to practice making fire with the bow and drill because of this book, and I learned the process of 
weaving sandals from cattail leaves. I also started making primitive weapons and traps, and I began the 
dangerous path of flint-knapping, which is the art of flaking a piece of obsidian or other hard material 
to produce razor-sharp arrow heads and spear points. It’s dangerous because if you don’t do it right, you 
take off pieces of skin, as I did too many times.
My school friend Nathaniel and I often practiced the skills together. We had heard about the budding 
Rabbit Stick Rendezvous, and wanted to attend a session in Utah. But for us, in high school at the time, 
getting the money together and traveling there was insurmountable for us. As I recall, the cost for the 
week was something like $70, but it might as well have been a million dollars for us.
Still, Larry was like an idol to us, you could say he was our cult leader in our secret wilderness sect. We 
worshipped him from afar. No, we had no golden idol, but we invoked his name at nearly every occasion. 
Over the years, I would quote Larry in the many books and newspaper articles I wrote. Eventually, 
around 2004, I became the editor of the Wilderness Way magazine, and called upon Larry for some 
advice, and to write for us. We talked on the phone, and shared e-mails. I never got him to write for us, 
but I did get lots of good advice. I never managed to get to the gathering that he started either, though I 
followed many of his journeys and adventures from afar by reading reports from other students.
I was saddened when I heard that this gentle giant died in 2019. I had always wanted to meet him, and 
to learn at his feet. At about that time, I was asked if I could update Larry’s classic book! What an honor 
it was to be a part of the Olsen lineage. I spent many months lightly editing the text, and adding some 
charts and short paragraphs where I felt it would enhance what Larry wanted to say.
The hard part of the revision was to provide all new color photos for all the skills listed in the book, 
including new photos for the various wild plants described for food, medicine, and other uses. Though 
I have been teaching for over 40 years, I was only able to draw upon my last nearly 20 years of photography 
with a digital camera. Whereas the original black and white photos had the feeling of going on one 
long trip with Larry, my pictures were picked from many classes over a long period of time, with men, 
women, children, and people of all walks of life. In many cases, we had to go into the field to take brand 
new photos of certain skills or crafts.
The result is the 7th edition of “Outdoor Survival Skills,” a book I am proud to be a part of. I hope that 
the memory of Larry Dean Olsen lives on, and that the introduction of new photos in a revised book will 
continue to inspire a whole new generation to learn these most fundamental skills. 

Boyishly Bold 

Want a friendly, 

beautiful orange & 

white male? Bolt is 

your guy! He’s only 

age 5 and “all boy.” 

Prepare for adventure! He loves to explore, and will investigate 
your closets, cabinets, boxes, and bags. He’ll jump up on your shoulders and fridge, too. Bolt 
loves to play, and will chase anything you might throw. Let him get to know you and he will 
cuddle while you are sitting down IF he's not too busy! He will go into a carrier fairly easily, especially 
if it’s ready with treats, and your vet will have no trouble clipping his nails or examining 
him. Bolt has not been with other cats, dogs, or children, so he may be best to be your only love. 
See more pictures, adoption information and application on our website at the More Cats page 
at Good News: Shiro has been adopted! 

Pet of the Week

 Three-year-old Sol is a gentle and intelligent dog,
and so handsome! He already knows his commandsof sit, down, paw, and touch, and he loves gettingtreats for showing off his tricks. Sol is a cuddly dogwho loves people and going for walks. He would dobest in a home where he can be the only pet and giveyou all his snuggles!

 The adoption fee for dogs is $150. All dog adoptionsinclude spay or neuter, microchip, and age-
appropriate vaccines.

 New adopters will receive a complimentary healthand-
wellness exam from VCA Animal Hospitals, aswell as a goody bag filled with information abouthow to care for your pet.

 View photos of adoptable pets and schedule avirtual adoption appointment at pasadenahumane.
org. Adoptions are by appointment only, and newadoption appointments are available every Sunday 
at 10:00 a.m. for the following week.

 Pets may not be available for adoption and cannotbe held for potential adopters by phone calls oremail. 

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