Wandering Aimlessly

by Phil Burkhouse

Last week’s question asked: who was Nessmuk? Since Nessmuk is an Indian word meaning wood duck, we might surmise Nessmuk was of Indian origin, but that would be incorrect. Nessmuk was born in Massachusetts in 1821 and given the birth name George Washington Sears.
Nessmuk was a tiny man, five foot three inches tall and weighing about 105 pounds. Very early in life he was taken under the tutelage of an Indian, was nicknamed Nessmuk, and learned many of the secrets of the woods. At an early age Nessmuk developed a knowledge of how to set up camps, build fires, cook, fish, hike, canoe, and survive with ease in the woods.
Nessmuk migrated from New England to New York and then to Pennsylvania and shared his knowledge of the outdoors by guiding and writing about his adventures. He was one of the earliest pioneers in outdoor writing and wrote primarily about woodcraft and roughing it in the outdoors. He is best known for his almost forgotten book named Woodcraft published in the 1880s with several later reprints.

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