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Hunter Gatherer

The Hunter Gatherer course is one of BOSS’s most adventurous courses, designed to offer students the opportunity to truly live off the land for an extended period of time. After a period of preparation, you and your course mates will set off with only the clothes on your back – no food, minimal gear – to live as a hunter gatherer band for 9 days.

About the Course

The Hunter Gatherer course combines a 4-day, skills-intensive period in a basecamp with a 9-day, primitive living experience. It provides students with the opportunity to prepare their materials and refine their skills under expert instruction and optimal learning conditions during the Preparation phase and then test themselves out in the field with only their hand-made materials and their wits for the second. This is where you will be able to find out if you can comfortably survive in Utah’s desert canyons with only materials you have made yourself — for 9 consecutive days! No other school offers you this opportunity.

About BOSS

Since 1968, BOSS Courses have set the standard for low-technology camping and desert hiking techniques, where instruction is conducted with minimal intrusion of modern technology in environments that allow course content to be experienced first-hand. Our commitment to quality and to our core philosophies has earned BOSS its reputation as the survival school to go to when you want to learn from the best in the industry.

Less is More

In line with the BOSS Positive Impact Camping philosophy, the Hunter Gatherer course has a decided emphasis on using renewable, natural resources. Tents, sleeping bags, stoves, backpacks and many other “required” pieces of outdoor equipment are replaced with their low-tech counterparts: a poncho, a blanket, a campfire. The motto here is “Know more, Carry less” and we’ll explore how traditional cultures lived comfortably without all the modern gadgets like watches, radios, cellphones,etc (which are not allowed). Come learn how back-country travel can be a less intrusive and more harmonious experience.

Course Prerequisites

BOSS strongly suggests that students on the Hunter Gatherer course possess a certain level of comfort in the wilderness and a certain degree of competency and proficiency with primitive survival skills prior to taking this course. These skills can be obtained on the longer Field courses at BOSS, or elsewhere. If taken at BOSS, the suggested courses should have been completed within the past 5 years. If you prefer, it’s possible to take both the primary and advanced course within the same season at BOSS. This prerequisite is suggested so that all students enter this course with a clear understanding of the challenges of the Hunter Gatherer lifestyle and the skills that will be needed to successfully meet those challenges. If you have more questions about this, please contact us.

Course Content

During Phase I of the Hunter Gatherer course, our staff will provide you with the skills you will need for Phase II. This means that the curriculum is adapted to suit the group’s needs and the natural materials available, but skills may include:
  • Projectile point construction
  • Natural carrying vessels
  • Constructive plant use
  • Clothing and fiber considerations
  • Primitive food preparation techniques
  • Pottery and cooking vessels
  • Pack-frame construction
  • Mammal and bird traps
  • and more…
Orientation Welcome to BOSS, gear review & purchase.
Basecamp Preparation (4 days) You will spend the first four days in a basecamp preparing for Phase II. Because this is not a lot of time to prepare, days will be busy and we expect everyone to participate. Previous experience with traditional living skills is suggested for this part of the course.
Primitive Field Expedition (9 days) Off into the desert with little more than what you’ve made in the past (i.e., no modern gear), your group must find all food and water for the next 9 days. This phase may include a Solo (depending on your course).
Celebration/Graduation You’ve earned it.

Course Location

During the first part of the course, you will be in a BOSS basecamp. This primitive location (no electricity, phones, etc.) will give you the opportunity to focus on mastering the skills and producing the tools you will need for your upcoming expedition. Food will be available during this part of the course and instruction will be intense and hands-on. For Phase II, the group will head out to re-create the lifestyle of the Hunter-Gatherer band. Where we go depends greatly on the weather and the season (how the nuts, berries, etc. are growing). Because we will be encouraging students to live off the land and forage, trap, etc. for food during this phase of the course, only very small food packs (of primitive-style foods that you have prepared) will be given.

The BOSS Challenge

On the BOSS Hunter Gatherer course the challenge is not from the hundreds of miles you hike. Rather, the physical challenge comes from keeping your energy and activity level high even when food and water supplies run low. The combination of necessary exertion and minimal rations usually leaves students 10 to 15 pounds leaner at the end of the course and can be a new experience for people who normally travel with everything they need.

Health and Safety

BOSS requires that all Explorer course applicants undergo a complete physical examination and receive their physician’s approval in writing prior to final acceptance on the course. Please keep in mind, despite your physician’s approval and BOSS’s acceptance of you on the course, there are no guarantees.  Health and participation risks (inherent and otherwise) remain. It’s up to you and your physician to determine if a BOSS course is an appropriate choice. All participants must be aware of these risks and embrace them. For more information, please review Health and Safety.


The key to Explorer courses is a student’s maturity and interest in learning in a skills-intensive environment. The Hunter Gatherer course also contains a 9-day primitive expedition without food, which could prove too stressful for people under 18. Therefore, you must be at least 18 to participate in the Hunter Gatherer course.

Food and Diet

During Phase I, a healthy variety of natural foods will be available at the basecamp for all students. Cooking and food preparation will be a joint effort of the students and staff to ensure that all are comfortable, well fed, and able to learn as much as possible. For the expedition phase of the course, minimal primitive food packs will be carried, as students will ideally eat the foods they obtain while on the trail. This will be a test of the group’s resourcefulness and ability to successfully live in a hunting and gathering environment. Students with food allergies or dietary restrictions should contact us for additional information.