My first wilderness adventure began at a very young age. Chris - 8 years old at Nebraska Fair with favorite rooster, Speedy.I was only 8, walking along a game trail in the woods of Plattsmouth, Nebraska with my older brother Joe (9) when we were suddenly scared stiff at the sound of footfalls in scuffling leaves approaching fast. Thoughts of a charging bear or mountain lion ran though my head. Were we going to die? ...before we knew it, 3 whitetail deer jumped clear over the top of our heads! First a buck with a nice rack of antlers, then a doe and finally a young fawn. It all seemed to happen in slow motion. Like a ghost, they gracefully bounded over a distant barbed wire fence down hill and were gone like it never even happened. Simultaneously, Joe and I looked at each other and said, "DID YOU SEE THAT?!"

That was magic. How many kids at school could say that they had wild deer jump over their heads? The very next year, I witnessed my first mountain lion at dusk, wading chest deep in snow in the backyard while I was washing dishes (my parents never believed me).

Out stalking wildlife at 16 in Ava, NY.I was hooked. I loved the outdoors and went out to play every chance I had. You never knew what adventure was just around the corner. I grew up in a military family of eight, where I was the second oldest. We moved around to a new Air Force Base (in the U.S.) every three years or so. Where ever we lived, I ALWAYS made it a point to go find and explore the wild places, even if it were a patch of woods behind temporary housing. It was my world.

As I grew into my teens, I began to explore ways to incorporate mother nature's vast resources into my life, just like the Native Americans did for thousands of years. My father taught me how to tap sugar maple trees for sap and to boil it down to syrup for pancakes. I applied milkweed juice on warts for removal and boiled the tannic acid out of acorn shells to use as an astringent on my face to clear up bad acne.

By the time I reached highschool in Rome, New York, I decided to take it to a whole new level. I was determined to learn how to live off the land, free of society's deadlines, expectations and dependence on money. I always felt like I was born in the wrong time period and maybe should have been born several hundred years ago.

Living in a primitive cabin on Pikes Peak, CO.First braintanned deer hide, CO.I constructed my first waterproof primitive shelter (lean-to) at 16. Dressed in a loincloth made out of jeans, rope and fishing line, I learned to use mud as camouflage, insect repellent and to help mask my human scent while out stalking deer and observing wildlife. Everything was learned through trial and error, experimenting, seeing what worked and what didn't work. I essentially was reinventing the wheel of survival as I didn't have any guidance. Some of these learning experiences I endured were very painful. Like the time I winter camped in the snow in an old Korean down army bag. Temperatures plummeted down to -15º F that night, and I awoke with my ankles frozen in place, forcing me to hobble through the snow in my wool socks to the nearest road for help. Through that painful experience I learned how sleeping bag insulation can bunch up creating gaps. I also learned about dead air space and hypothermia. I always told myself what doesn't kill me will make me stronger and more knowledgeable. A warrior on a mission.

I learned flint and steel fire starting from Steve in the Biology Dept. at the University of Wyoming where I was studying wildlife management. When I found myself spending more time in the Laramie river stalking muskrats and beaver, than studying for exams, I knew that I needed something more.

My bedroom (leaf wickiup) in parent's backyard in Fairfax, VA.Having a little ground squirrel for lunch, MT.I bought and read every book on wilderness survival and primitive living that I could get my hands on and traveled around North America seeking out existing survival instructors to help expedite the learning process and fill in the holes.

My travels took me as far north as Kodiak Island, Alaska where I tracked 1,200 lb. brown bears, when I wasn't working at a salmon cannery and as far south as Chihuahua, Mexico with David Holladay, who taught me to make huaraches or tire sandals and guided me down to visit native Tarahumaran villages.

In the spring of 1997, I apprenticed Snowbear in North Carolina, who taught me to stop bleeding with Wild Geranium and many other ancient Cherokee healing practices, using native plants of the southern Appalachians. Later, I assisted Snowbear in teaching bowdrill fire & cordage making at Green River Preserve, NC (4-day camp), Shamrock Middle School (1,000 kids), and Baylor School (seniors) in Georgia.

Wet-scraping a deer hide in snowstorm at 10,000 feet, CO.Bighorn sheep ram skull, WYI have suffered pulmonary edema, becoming completely emaciated while tracking bighorn sheep at 12,000 ft. for the Wyoming Game & Fish and spent the winter in a 6' x 8' dirt floor primitive cabin at 10,000 ft. on Pikes Peak, Colorado where I braintanned my first deer hide out of a book.

In the Fall of 2003, I participated in Lynx's Stone Age Living Project along the Yaak River in northwestern Montana, where we hunted and gathered as nomadic people for two weeks, using only the primitive gear we created ourselves.

From being caught in a blizzard, chin deep in snow in Wyoming to almost getting struck by lightening while camping in the Adirondacks, the learning experiences go on and on. Always testing and pushing myself to my perceived limits and beyond. When I look back on it now, my whole life has been one great wilderness adventure! Living life to the fullest.

Wilderness adventures in Chihuahua, Mexico.Now I wish to pass on what I've learned to you through my school of wilderness survival and primitive living here in Upstate New York. Every skill that I teach is backed by a real life experience, giving it substance and depth.

Life is short. Don't wait! Grab your camera and friends and lets go on a wilderness adventure today!

Chris Dougherty, Founder, Director and Instructor of Chris Dougherty's Wilderness Adventures

Living in the moment!Your Instructor.