The Michigan Bushcraft Spring Gathering is taking place on Cooke Pond, Au Sable River, May 4-6. Melissa Miller, survivalist of Discovery TV’s Naked and Afraid, is our headline presenter.  Her and all of our other presenters will be at the pavilion at Lumberman’s Monument on May 5th. All of the presentations are free of charge and camping all through the weekend is free of charge as well.  LOTS of gear giveaways and raffles.  Much thanks to all of our sponsors: CRKT Knives, Spyderco Knives, Tops Knives, Grayl Water Filters, A1 Woods and Waters, Haglunds All Outdoors, Dogwood Custom Knives, Jay’s Sporting Goods, Michigan Tactical Store, PCS Outdoors, Karen Hood and

At 9 am John Chagnon, editor of the trapping section of Michigan Woods N Waters Magazine as well as the driving force behind will be giving us the scoop on how to get started trapping.

Tim Parsell of Parsell Artisan Works takes to the stage at 10 am.  He will be teaching us how he carves and hafts an Axe.

USFS archaeologist Jim Renn will be along at 11:00 am teaching us how to craft and throw Atlatls.

At noon we will break for lunch   There are many picnic tables and grills available and lunch is a bring your own affair.

Blu of Mi.cology will be talking to us at 12:45pm about identifying wild edibles and mushrooms outdoors

A USFS ranger will be along to teach us all about the history of the logging era on the AuSable at 1:15 pm.

2:00pm brings our featured presenter, Melissa Miller, Discovery’s Naked and Afraid survivalist extrodinaire, to the stage.  She’ll be giving us the inside scoop on her experiences on Naked and Afraid as well as showing off some cool survival blades.  You won’t want to miss it.

Ben Piersma, from, will be presenting at 3pm on proper Axe usage. He studied under Mors Kochanski and we’re super pleased to welcome him as a presenter.

4 pm brings us Fraser and Peter of the Nessmuk Wilderness School,, to teach a firecraft class. They’ll be coming all the way from the other side of Lake Huron and we’re fortunate to have them aboard.

More presenters are yet to be announced… possibly. Waiting to hear from a couple of others.

Either way, I hope all of you will attend.


Hello again Bushcrafters,

The first weekend of May comes around this year May 4-6. That’s the time to gather on the river. It’s free, there’s lots of space and very, very few people. I’ve camped this past year at site 36 and scouted the whole area on the peninsula there, sites 32-36 and it is a wonderful space to spread out and set up camp. Sites on both Islands are options as well for those of us who will be paddling.

Paddlers will find it easiest to put in at Pine Acres and pull out at Sawmill Point if they wish to go ‘downstream.’ That’s about a 2 hour paddle. There are numerous sites to camp at within that 2 hour paddle and info can be found about all of those sites at the link at the bottom of this post. As it’s a dam pond, there isn’t much current and staying near shore one can paddle ‘upstream’ without much difficulty.

There are two islands that camping are allowed on and suitable. Myself and my family are planning on setting up on the larger island closest to the the sand dunes and, as per USFS rules, no one else will be allowed to camp on it as we will have the maximum number of campers allowed (10). The smaller island has one campsite on it and is a great place to set up camp for up to 10 people as well. I’ve stayed there myself and love camping there. The sites on the peninsula across from the small island are all excellent as well as I’ve been to all of them last fall and can recommend them highly.

For those who might be driving and car camping, there are a large number of sites that are free at Sawmill point, about a mile or two down river. They are accessible from Cooke Dam rd which goes north off of River rd. Not far at all from Lumberman’s Monument.  The camp ground next to Lumberman’s Monument is also an option, if you are willing to walk in from the parking area at the visitors center, but it will be closed to vehicle traffic and the rangers have asked us to keep it clean and not set hammocks up in that campground. Plus, too and also, the entire area surrounding area is Huron National Forest land so dispersed camping is an option as well, just not within 200 ft of the river, unless it is a marked backcountry site.

After the long cold winter, there’s nothing like paddling to renew your soul, though with this event, hiking and horseback riding are options upon arrival as well .  Let’s spend some time on one of the most beautiful stretches of river in the Great Lake State.  It’s an incredible stretch of river, very scenic and a lovely place to spend some days outside.

Make the trip. It’s worth it.