Shikari Wilderness System
We have not even to risk the adventure alone for the Heroes of all time have gone before us. The Labyrinth is thoroughly known … we have only to follow the thread of the Hero Path. And where we had thought to find an abomination we shall find a God. And where we had thought to slay another we shall slay ourselves. Where we had thought to travel outwards we shall come to the center of our own existence. And where we had thought to be alone we shall be with all the world.
- Joseph Campbell
What is the Shikari Wilderness System?
Shikari is a community operating system structured around wilderness skills, it is the most comprehensive wilderness training system available.
White Pine Wilderness Academy was founded in 2014 and rapidly grew into the largest forest school in the midwest. We were faced with an urgent need for competent wilderness mentors and guides. Experienced educators and skills practitioners stepped forward with enthusiasm, ready to teach and plug in. Each new Wilderness Mentor followed the same cycle – enthusiasm – drawing upon their strengths – coming face to face with their fears (gaps in their wilderness skillset) – and finally – seeking acknowledgment for their strengths within the community in order to find the confidence to work with their fear.
The process described above is the heart and soul of Community health. We all seek to become the best versions of ourselves for our communities while being supported by that community. This dichotomy can easily become the breaking point for any practitioner on their journey. Without community acknowledgement and support, one’s practice will stop evolving and as a result so will the community. Experimenting with this process for over a decade is what gave birth to Shikari. The operating system you are reading has helped thousands of students reclaim their birthright of health and deep connection to community, nature, their own ancestry and themselves. Throughout this process Shikari has become the most comprehensive wilderness training system available.
In spite of all the positives that have come about from the advancements of the digital age, modern life has become a labyrinth of traps. Addiction to devices, political polarization, longer working hours, and social isolation, all seem to sequester us from nature, community, and ourselves.
We have identified three primary attributes of a deeply connected person; Peace, Power and Purpose. We find these qualities increasingly elusive in the digital age. It is our mission to nourish the fruition of these qualities within individuals and communities the world over.
In Eve Ball’s early 20th century interviews with the Western Apache she quotes elder Daklugie, ‘Our people roamed following the ripening foods, so that they could provide a year’s supply. They killed deer when venison was at its best, late in fall. They baked mescal in the spring when the blossom stalk was pushing through the leaves. And they gathered acorns and mesquite beans. They cached supplies in places near water and in strategic spots. When we traveled we followed the ridges. We prepared places for the helpless, the aged and the wounded. It was the ambition of every warrior to have the honor and responsibility of acting as a defender and provider of food for the helpless.’
The needs of the community and the competency to fulfill those needs, imbued the people, from a young age, with Peace and Purpose.
Daklugie goes on to say, ‘When we pray, we pray for courage. But above even courage is Power, the most valuable attribute that guides us throughout our lives.’
Eve Ball goes on to explain that Power is difficult to define as the Apache are reluctant to speak of it, but many in the community are in possession of it and it seems to come about through deep connection and asceticism.
The need for Traditional Cultures to advance community members from competent to confident, from capable to imbued with Power was likely a necessity. The void of Personal Power in the modern age is a substantial loss with tragic consequences.
The Shikari System is designed to create holistic Wilderness Skills Practitioners embodied in their own ‘Power’. Shikari will guide you into reconnecting with nature, community and yourself. The methodology is based on decades of research and experimentation with Wilderness Skills and Regenerative Community Design. Apply yourself sincerely to the journey and you will be afforded ceremonial Rites of Passage into Councils and peer groups. But you will find your greatest accomplishments through finding Purpose beyond self. We invite you to join us in dedicating your practice to the future generations.
How to Train with Shikari
Each Handbook is a manual designed to support your research, training and advancement as a Practitioner in that Pathway.
The Shikari System is comparable to a belt system in martial arts. Each Pathway follows the same cadence. It is possible and encouraged to train in multiple Pathways.
Coyote- Requires at least one season of focused training.
Wolf- Requires several seasons of focused training.
Warrior- Requires at least 1 year of focused training.
Shadow- Requires several years of focused training.
Quest- Often requires a decade of training.
Each Pathway Guides the Practitioner through:
5 Skill based Guilds supported with Skills Journals.
1 Medicine Area Guild, supported with Field Inventory Journals
1 Science Guld, supported with Species Journals.
Please do not approach these handbooks as a comprehensive manual for any one particular skill. The Shikari System provides structure, support and correspondence for your advancement.
For example, harvesting a sapling and crafting a Selfbow is one of the subjects covered on the Survivors Pathway. The journey from making your first selfbow to making a perfectly tillered hunting bow will likely take several years and dozens of bows. The Traditional Bowyer’s Bibles are a comprehensive 4 volume series that will support your journey as a bowyer much more than the Shikari Handbooks alone. However the skills journals, scientific research and mentoring correspondence found in Shikari will support your journey as a bowyer much more than the Traditional Bowyer’s Bibles alone.
If you are motivated by the Sacred Hunt Quest, as most traditional bowyers are, then you will need to specialize as a bowyer, while synthesizing additional guilds like archery, and tracking. For synthesis, the Shikari System is irreplaceable. And all Quests will benefit from synthesizing your training.
We are not attempting to replace your practice in Yoga, Jiu Jitsu, rock climbing, hiking, birding, foraging, or meditating, rather, we are aiming to deepen your practice through augmenting it with the core routines of Shikari. Industry leaders and elders like Kelly Starrett have decades of research in the Mobility Guild. The CyberTracker Evaluation system that supports the Track and Sign and Trailing Guilds, the Newcomb’s Wildflower Identification System that supports the Foraging Guild, the Wilderness First Aid certification system that supports the Safety Guild and Jon Young’s Bird research that supports the Bird Language Guild, are The Wilderness Industry Standards. These Guilds only need to be contextualized within Shikari, while Guilds like Throwstick, Nature Museum and Medicine Place may have less than a handful of dusty old ethnography articles and will require a tactical presentation of skills as well as context. That context is always aiming towards the creation of holistic wilderness skills practitioners and communities.
One symptom of life in the digital age is nearly unlimited access to information. Youtube university is an ever expanding database of free wilderness skills guidance, we’ve included playlist links to our favorite videos for each Guild.
What you won’t find on YouTube is the heart and soul of the Shikari Wilderness Correspondence System- competent mentoring that builds towards evaluated Rites of Passage.
X is for experimentation, the essence of the Shikari Wilderness System.
SKILLS JOURNALS – The Skills Journals, mentioned above, accompany each advancing skill. These journals are for drawings and notes about successes and failures in techniques, materials etc. A sample Skills Journal completed by a Council Member is included with each Guild.
FIELD INVENTORY JOURNALS – Field Inventory Journals accompany the Medicine Area Guild and involve mapping, naming, inventory and seasonal observations.
SPECIES JOURNALS – Species Journals support the Science Guild and involve sketches, notes and research around specific species of plants and animals.
Take your time completing each of the Guild Challenges at the Coyote level of your Pathway. Complete All of the Journals for each challenge, write a final reflection, then scan and send in your research to
The Senior Evaluators and Elders of your Pathway will review your work and offer mentoring correspondence through email and video conference.
When the Council feels you are ready and have mastered the skills at that level you will be invited into the Council.
Then you can progress to the Wolf level within your Pathway of training and then Warrior, Shadow and Quest.
Each of these Council levels requires a significant investment of time, research, and experimentation, they are huge accomplishments. Each of the Shikari Councils regulates this process with discernment and care. As a Council Member you will become a representative of the Shikari System so we invite you to carry yourself as such. This guidance can be found in the Oath, Protocols and Prohibitions and correspondence with the Council.
In order to keep the price of the Shikari Handbooks down we have separated the cost of Correspondence. This allows anyone with the Handbooks to train in the Shikari System for only the cost of the Handbooks.
If you do wish to enter a Council, which we highly recommend for reasons stated above, then please purchase the correspondence packages from whitepinewilderness.org/shikari. Correspondence packages cost $100 and will see you through the advancement of your Council from Coyote to Quest. Correspondence includes mentoring review of each X-Pac, an in person or video conference for each X-pac as well as provided Shikari bands, ties and certs for each council advancement (more on that below)
The greater Shikari Community finds expression in countless ways through workshops, evals, forest schools, rendezvous and social media. Council members will find comradery, peer mentoring, elders, and balance within a larger wilderness skills community.
Bands, Ties and Certs
(A Rite of Passage into the Council)
The Shikari Band is made from grain off, brain tanned, smoked, deer hide. Bands are 60” long and 1 3/4” wide. The directions are marked as place holders for all of the Councils.
Shikari Ties are made from cotton cloth in the colors of green, tan, red, gray and white.Ties are 30” long and 1” wide.
The Tie is attached to the Band by making a small parallel slit in the middle of the Band with a knife. The Tie is slipped through the slit and tied with a slip knot.
If the student advances within the Council, the new Tie can replace the old one, in which case the old Tie should be burned. Shadow and Quest Ties should not be burned and should stay attached to the Band.
A Council includes all of the Ancestors, Elders, and Practitioners of that Pathway. The Council is in charge of maintaining the integrity of the Evaluations and thereby the integrity of the Council.
The Ceremonial Rite of Passage into a Council is acknowledged with the gifting of a Band and or Tie by the Evaluator. This also involves Certification. The Council is then updated in our database, printed out for the relevant handbook and the wider Shikari community is notified.
One that has earned side by side Shadow and Quest Ties is eligible to be a Senior Evaluator.
A Shikari is a Wilderness Guide, competent in each of the 9 Pathways and a specialist of at least 3.
Coyote- Senior Evaluator/ Elder of 3 Pathways
Wolf- Senior Evaluator/ Elder of 4 Pathways
Warrior – Senior Evaluator/ Elder of 5 Pathways
Shadow- Senior Evaluator/ Elder of 6 Pathways
Quest- Senior Evaluator/ Elder of 9 Pathways
The Shikari Lineage can be traced back a thousand years to the ancient jungles of India where the transition from a traditional hunter gatherer lifestyle to one based on agriculture was taking place. It was here under the shadow of the majestic Himalayas in primordial habitats teeming with life, including the world’s apex predators, where the continents most ancient civilizations thrived. To these Ancients the jungle was, and still remains, home. It was the tracking, awareness, survival and scouting skills of these Indigenous Guides that earned them the title and position of ‘Shikari’. The Shikari skills became so revered throughout India that an official post of Shikari District Manager was created for every region in Northern India.
Famous author and Kumaon Shikari District Manager Jim Corbett states, “No mention is made in government records of man-eaters prior to the year 1905”, meaning, there were no incidents to report. This is a true testament to the ‘Jungle etiquette’ that Jim Corbett writes so beautifully about. However, human expansion was relentless throughout the 20th century putting overwhelming pressure on the hunter gatherer population as well as the remaining apex predators. These big cats were surprisingly peaceful in yielding their territory. Except for the rare occasion that a big cat was wounded, whereupon under great distress, they would resort to the practice of hunting man. Upon experiencing this ‘easy prey’ there was no turning back. The legendary Temple Tiger killed over 300 people in his 20 year reign of terror before finally being tracked and brought down by Jim Corbett on his third attempt. Time after time it was the skills of the Shikari that served to guide and protect man.
A Shikari is a Wilderness Guide. Their skills are called upon to Lead, Protect, Provide, even Heal.
The Shikari Lineage accounts for the first western documentation of inter-species communication, not as a scientific theory but as common survival knowledge and an integral part to maintaining “jungle etiquette”.
The Shikari Lineage also holds the honor of bringing about modern conservation in India. Much like the majestic Yosemite, preserved by the ‘Grandfather of Conservation’ John Muir, India’s Jim Corbett Nature Preserves are a testament to his love and passion for nature. Were it not for the Shikari Lineage it’s doubtful any big cats would remain in India.
Matt’s Grandfather Ernie Shull, spent 20 years in India as the Dangs District Shikari Manager. Here Ernie’s skills were called upon routinely, including in the harvest of the infamous Man Eating Leopard of Subir. This is where Matt’s father Dan was born and raised. For 25 years Ernie mentored Matt in the core routines of Shikari. More importantly Ernie provided an example of a life filled with passion, connection and purpose with the Natural World. As a result, Ernie’s life and teaching, like all Shikari’s, will live on for generations. It is a great honor for us to offer this unique training system, we hope you will find the same passion, connection and purpose that has inspired us.