DENHAM SPRINGS — Wilderness enthusiasts received a crash course at the Denham Springs Branch Library— one that participants said will help them stay safe while camping, fishing, hunting or hiking in the woods.
Jonathon Pinckard, the owner of the Louisiana School of Bushcraft, a self-reliance and survival school in Baton Rouge, provided tips — everything from what to eat to how to protect yourself against predators such as black bears — July 16 during a wilderness survival class.
Pinckard stressed confidence and safety first to about a dozen people, both adults and children.
“I want you to be able to go out into the woods and not be afraid of getting lost,” Pinckard said. “Wilderness safety is not necessarily about survival, it’s about preventing what can make a (bad) situation worse.”
Pinckard said the No. 1 thing people can do to avoid getting lost is to tell someone when and where they will be going into the woods. He also told attendees that if they get lost, stay put, which increases their chances of being found.
“Make a lot of noise,” he told them. “Get someone to notice you.”
Cole Miller, 7, came to the class with his grandmother, Janet Hood, of Watson. Hood said her grandson “likes to go trekking in the woods behind my house.” The duo, she said, engage in wilderness hikes together, find animals and identify them.
“So, I wanted to learn some survival skills in the wilderness,” Hood said.
Cole was a bit more adventurous about his expectations of the class, saying he wanted to learn how to build a shelter.
Pinckard, of Natchitoches, grew up on a farm and quickly learned how to survive without running water or electricity.
“I realized I had what it took to teach (wilderness survival) classes,” he said.
Although he now lives in Allen, Texas, Pinckard teaches the majority of his classes in Louisiana, primarily in the Baton Rouge and New Orleans areas because of the high number of people interested in learning about wilderness survival in the area.
Sarah Columbo, head of Adult Services for the Livingston Parish Library, also has seen an increased interest in wilderness survival, especially in Livingston Parish and decided to offer a variety of classes. The library now teaches participants how to make paracord bracelets — a bracelet made from a lightweight cord that can withstand 550 pounds of pressure when in use — and about medicinal herbs.
“I want people to be safe and comfortable outdoors,” Pinckard said. He also is starting a Wilderness Therapy program for troubled youths.
After listening to Pinckard’s advice, Clint McGee, of Denham Springs, said he’s more interested than ever in going camping.