The best books on nature education and survival skills

The Books I Picked & Why

Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills: Naked into the Wilderness

By John McPherson, Geri McPherson

Book cover of Primitive Wilderness Living & Survival Skills: Naked into the Wilderness

Why this book?

The McPhersons cover a lot of ground: tool making, hide tanning, fire making, cooking, traps, containers, shelters, all of it geared mostly toward the Great Plains since they live in Kansas. I found the accompanying photographs to be a big plus, making the skills easier to replicate for the reader. The voice of the authors is personable and believable.


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This Green World

By Rutherford Hayes Platt

Book cover of This Green World

Why this book?

For a basic understanding of how the plant world functions and fits into the web of life, this book will give the reader a good foundation for entering into the vast domain of botany. The study of plants should be the first undertaking of the survival student. Why? Because plants provide most of your resource materials, and – unlike animals – they are accessible all the time. Meaning, they don’t run away.


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Newcomb's Wildflower Guide

By Lawrence Newcomb, Gordon Morrison

Book cover of Newcomb's Wildflower Guide

Why this book?

The most critical stage of using plants is identification. An error in naming a plant could result in tragedy. Nature manufactures many chemicals harmful to humans. A plant practitioner must never guess. An ID must be positive. For that purpose, any woodsman/woman needs a reliable field guide with a user key that allows the reader to determine the name of a plant before any part of it is harvested. Mr. Newcomb has developed a user-friendly key for the layperson. It is much more efficient than most field guides without overwhelming the reader with intricate botanical vocabulary.


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Trees of Georgia and Adjacent States

By Claud L. Brown, L. Katherine Kirkman

Book cover of Trees of Georgia and Adjacent States

Why this book?

Because Mr. Newcomb’s book (above) covers only herbs, shrubs, and vines, the survival student needs a good tree identifier (field guide) to cover “the standing people.” (The Cherokee name for “trees.”) Because I live in Georgia, this book serves me well. If you live outside of the Southeast, you’ll want to find a book germane to your area. Trees of Georgia contains good photographs of leaves, bark, flowers, buds, and fruits of over 200 species.


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Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide

By Thomas S. Elias, Peter A. Dykeman

Book cover of Edible Wild Plants: A North American Field Guide

Why this book?

Putting a wild plant into one’s mouth must be preceded by positive identification. This book’s text and photos offer guidance and recipes. It doesn’t try to cover a huge number of plant species, but the plants that are included are covered in more detail than in most plant books. The introduction alone, in my opinion, is worth the price of this book.


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