Friday, April 20, 2007

Who's Who - George W. Sears - Nessumk

George Sears was an outdoor writer who wrote mostly about his experiences in the Adirondack Mountains during the 1880s. However his impact on camping and woodcraft far outstrips that of his contemporaries and you will regularly see him quoted as a big influence even by the ultra-light hikers of today. He is one of the few writers who has also transcended simply being a camping or woodcraft writer as he is one of the great early influences on recreational canoeing as well.
He took the pen name "Nessmuk" as a tribute to a young Narragansett Indian named Nessmuk ("wood drake") who had befriended him and taught him hunting, fishing, and camping in his youth.
His ideas for ultra-light canoe's were cheifly expounded in his book "Woodcraft" and in his letters to the magazine "Field and Stream" (or online here). His concept of using a simple light canoe and being "self-guided" is still popular and has its adherents at
The other key tenent of being a follower of Nessmuk is his selction of cutting tools. There are no shrotage of web articles about this on the web, one of the best being "Nessmuk and His Tools".
Further biographical information can be found here and one of his poem's "Crags and Pines" is available too. The entire text of "Woodcraft" is available for download thanks to Outdoors
Despite the popularity of his approach to cutting tools he also offered advice on things from fishing to insect repellent and from Shanty tents to camp cooking. His ideas on travelling light and using woodcraft skill to make the most of our environement are still valid and to me he is one of the true fathers of the idea of Woodcraft.