Primitive Skills • Self-Reliance • Wilderness Survival • Bushcraft
Expand your skillset and deepen your experience through an apprenticeship with Gone Feral and Doug Hill.
Each year, we invite 6 dedicated individuals to take the journey of a lifetime with us. You could loosely call this the ‘everything’ course, as we attempt to pour everything that we know and do into this one intensive program. Over 9 months. In 4 seasons. Every. Feral. Thing.
If you are ready to embark on a quest to know the wild, learn wilderness craft, primitive skills, bushcraft, and survival, then read on. This may be the program for you.
But the road is intense. We ask that each Apprentice commits to an intensive study of what we have to teach. And we will meet you there. Each Apprentice’s experience is their own, and we guide you along the way. The more you put in, the more you will receive.
The Way it Works
The Apprenticeship is our flagship program. It is our primary focus, and Apprentices receive our foremost attention and energy. We’ve designed the program to provide an intensive, holistic learning experience for interested participants while also fitting into a conventional life.
- The ‘National Guard of Primitive Skills’
We meet for one intense weekend each month where we teach new skills, refine former ones, learn tool use, challenge you, and push you forward. Leave with a month’s worth of skills to practice and build on.
Our staff and your fellow Apprentices are available all month long for conversation, answering questions, sharing successes (and failures!), and to meet in person for additional support.
- By the End
We’ve designed the program schedule to build upon the previous month’s skills. This is one reason we ask for folks to commit. Skills build upon one another and we can’t go back. We all take the journey together. You’ll be stunned by where you are at the end.
What You’ll Receive
Apprentices learn and hone their skills through experience, maintain a logbook of benchmarks achieved, keep a journal of plants and animals, and receive a certificate upon completing the program.
Besides learning, Apprentices assist with projects at our field school as well as course prep & assistance, harvest materials, receive access to our public courses/workshops, and have the possibility of receiving paid work with Gone Feral or other organizations.
In addition to a first-rate education (and full-on experience) in wilderness & primitive skills, bushcraft, and survival, Apprentices receive:
- FREE access to our Fire & Ice: Winter Survival Course ($125 value)
- FREE access to our Hide Tanning Course ($225 value)
- Access to all of Gone Feral’s other courses during your Apprenticeship, at materials-cost
- A handmade sinew-backed Osage orange recurve bow – that you’ve made ($750+ value)
- Lifetime membership in our online wilderness training program The Pack ($180/year value)
- Open/FREE shop time for the duration of your Apprenticeship (normally $30 drop-in)
- All of the items that you’ve made during the course, including baskets, containers, weapons, fire kits, traps, knives, and much more…
- $2000-worth of materials, guest instructors, insurance, site fees, and more (included in the cost of the Apprenticeship)
- Gone Feral Swag: A Gone Feral T-shirt and Handmade Haversack (just plain awesome)
- A Certificate of Completion upon finishing the Apprenticeship (worthless or priceless…you decide)
A Program for Real Life
We’ve designed the Apprenticeship to work for real people, working hard, maybe hoping to make a change in their life or the world. Apprentice weekends rotate between overnights at our field site and ‘front-country’ days to access skills and materials not available in the high country. That’s nine months spent between 5000′ and 9500′, including the ecological zones (and resources) of the Plains, Foothills and Montane regions of Colorado. From February to October.
A long-term experience provides the opportunity to use skills and gather materials across seasons’ change, not possible with a short program. Between weekends together, private study and practice mean that Apprentices’ time onsite is maximized.
During our time together, Apprentices learn and practice core wilderness skills. These are meant as a foundation to build upon and to establish a common, professional language. Practice and completion of projects is expected between our sessions together.
The Common Core includes:
- Primitive Living Skills – Fire, Shelter, Tools & Containers
- Ecology – Plants, Animals, Tracking
- Navigation using nature’s signs
- Bushcraft – living in the woods without infrastructure using the knife, axe, and saw
- Bow-Carving – the Way of the Bowyer
- Animals – processing, preserving, working with rawhide, sinew, and bone, tanning skins
- Survival – theory, physiology, and principles, emergency fire, shelter, water, signaling, food, kits
- Stewardship – caring for and promoting health of the land
The Gone Feral Apprenticeship is designed around expectations of what a devoted student of outdoor skills should be able to achieve during an intensive study. These are listed as hundreds of benchmarks across dozens of skills-areas. Successful completion means that you have achieved all of the benchmarks required for the Apprenticeship Certificate Program. You could equate the Apprenticeship to a college-level study of wilderness skills.
Think making more than 100 fires with a bow drill sounds like fun? That’s one benchmark.
Receiving the Certificate is a point of pride and no small feat, however it is completely achievable given sufficient motivation, practice, and the close guidance we provide.
Participants accepted into the program will receive a printed and bound copy of our Logbook upon registration. Within the Logbook are all of the required benchmarks as well as plant and animal species journal pages. Over the course of the Apprenticeship, participants will learn and log 100+ species of plants/trees and 40+ species of mammals, birds, fish, and arthropods.
The 2017 Apprenticeship is underway. Dates for the 2018 Apprenticeship will be posted in Fall 2017.
The Apprentice program runs from February through October of each calendar year. Weekend sessions vary between wilderness overnights at our field site (predominantly) and our front-country site, in order to focus on specific skills/experience.
Wilderness Weekends run from Friday evening to Sunday evening, designed to fit into a traditional work life. Apprentices camp onsite at our 320-acre property near Ward, CO either in tents or in shelters they’ve built.
Front-Country Weekends are individual days (non-overnight), spent on Saturday and Sunday, roughly 9am to 6pm each day. Some weekends are split between front- and back-country.
Apprentices will receive a detailed monthly schedule, list of supplies, and logbook upon acceptance and registration.
Who the Apprenticeship is For
We’re looking for serious, committed people. If you want to work in the field of primitive skills, bushcraft, outdoor education, or related fields, this may be a good fit. If you’ve always wanted to learn wilderness skills to a depth you can’t imagine, the Apprenticeship will set you on the path.
Gone Feral is growing to the point of needing additional instructors. We also frequently receive requests for recommendations. The group of people we’re willing to stand behind is sadly slight. We’re hoping to change that – by training up future instructors the right way. Quality, personalized teaching. Solid learning, honed through experience.
Given appropriate drive, motivation, commitment to mastering the skills, and performance, Apprentices may be invited to teach for Gone Feral or recommended for other outdoor programs.
There is no fee to apply, however, payment (or down payment) as detailed below is expected within two weeks of acceptance into the Apprentice Program, in order to reserve your space – one of six.
Fees for the 2018 Apprenticeship are:
- Paid in Full = $7999 (upon acceptance)
- Payment Plan = $2000 down (upon acceptance) + $850 monthly (15th of each month, February to September) – $8800 total, credit card kept on-file
Prices include over $2000 in materials, insurance, guest instructors, and site fees.
The Apprenticeship takes place predominantly at Gone Feral’s Field School – North of Ward, Colorado. Local driving directions will be provided upon acceptance and registration. At times, we may travel to other sites or range farther afield as projects dictate or resources come into season.
Front-country sessions are offered near the Lafayette/Boulder, CO area, depending on season, skills, and materials.
What To Do Next
Interested in the Gone Feral Apprenticeship Program? Begin the journey by filling out the application. Applicants will be contacted for an interview.Apply For The Apprentice Program
Year 2: The Journeyman’s Path
After learning the Common Core, most Apprentices realize that they’ve only just begun a life-long study of these skills. We’ve had many of our Apprentices ask to stay on for a second year, hence our development of The Journeyman’s Path.
Year 2 is largely self-directed, with each ‘Journeyman’ (no longer an Apprentice) working closely with our Director, Doug Hill, to not only design an advanced personalized program, but to work/study independently. Journeymen (and women, of course!) may receive field site access, materials, private instruction, private invitations to events/courses, and much more, based upon the program they design.
While several Journeymen have chosen to continue a general study, they may also choose a path of private study to follow the specific direction of their goals. For example, one choosing the Survival path (see below) has the opportunity to put those skills to use in a self-imposed survival scenario at our Field School in the Colorado Upper Montane while we are nearby to offer support and safety in the event they are needed.
Journeyman Paths include:
- Survivalist – survive with minimal gear using what you find on the land
- Craftsman/woman – harvest wild materials and make tools, containers, weapons, clothes, and more
- Plants – edible and medicinal plant lore and use
- Bushcraft – long-term wilderness living without infrastructure
- Hunter-Gatherer – the ultimate generalist of the natural world
- Primitive – further your study of the tools and technology of the Stone Age
- Tanner – expand the skills begun in the Apprenticeship
- Educator – mastery of skills to transition to teaching
- Private Choice – Apprentices may design their own journey or continue a general study of skills