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What’s been happening at NCSS

During the off season, I took the time to reflect on the past year and how NCSS can improve. I also took some time to improve my own wilderness survival skills.

I attended Matt Tate’s (Host of Snowflake Mountain on Netflix) wilderness survival course at American Survival Co. I picked up a few new skills there and refined a few others. Matt was awesome, super nice, and just as you’d imagine him after watching his show. If you are in the Northwest Arkansas area, I highly recommend checking out his school! 

Here is a link to his website:

During deer hunting season, I worked on my stalking skills. Rather than sitting in a tree stand or a blind, I wanted to see if I could blend in with nature enough to catch a deer. Learning to move through the woods undetected by deer is harder than it seems, and practice is about the only way to do it.


There were times I was certain I had not made a sound. The wind was in my face so they shouldn’t have been able to smell me, but more than once, I was startled in the early morning silence by the huffing warning call of an elusive deer. Huffing repeatedly for several minutes, they’d  warn all the other deer in the area that danger was lurking through their woods.


And then there were times when I stalked up close. Close enough to draw my bow, but the adrenalin shakes kicked in and my body trembled enough to catch the deer’s attention. A staring contest would ensue between us making it impossible to adjust my position for a shot without spooking the cautious creature. Inevitably the deer would win the stand off and my hunt would return to square one. But the day finally came when I crept up undetected to the right place at the right time for a clean shot and I prevailed. 

I took the opportunity from my white tail harvest to brush up on hide tanning. While working with the hide, I relived the hunt and developed a deeper appreciation and connection to the whitetail deer. I also ended up with a nice rug to throw down in front of the stove!

I spent time developing flint knapping skills. I knapped several arrowheads out of chert/flint found here at NCSS. Each attempt gave me an appreciation for the skills the native people possessed. From finding a good piece of flint to shaping it one small flake at a time, my admiration to those who’ve mastered this skill grew deeper. I failed many times, breaking a half-shaped arrowhead in two or trying unsuccessfully to get a good flake from a large chunk of chert until I had demolished the entire stone with nothing good enough left to work with. But with each failure, I learned something…sometimes, simply about myself.

Sarah and I attended a course on mushroom cultivation with Wildwise Botanicals hosted by Rachael West of Eating the OzarksLearning how to grow edible and medicinal mushrooms is another step toward our goals of becoming self-sustaining. We inoculated oak logs with shiitake mushrooms spores and are anxious to see our yield in the spring! The course was very informative, hands on, and a lot of fun. Mike, the instructor was friendly and happy to share a ton of knowledge with the group. Rachael from Eating the Ozarks was a gracious host and even took us on a wild edible hike. Check them out at the links below.


To wrap up the off season, I’ll be in Lebanon, MO for the Midwest Bushcraft Show winter camp the weekend of February 23rd where I’ll be doing a demo on primitive fire making. Using a hand drill, a bow drill and flint & steel. Tickets for this event are only $30 for the whole weekend! Come join us and pick up some cool skills from camp food prep to fly fishing! I hope to see all of you there!


Here’s a link to the event:

NCSS Wilderness Survival courses resume in March!

Checkout the website for the Spring schedule.

I hope to see you in the wilderness this year!

Andre Branning

Owner & Operator

Nature Connect LLC

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