“A captivating guide to finding one’s way in the wild.”—The Wall Street Journal
Publisher's note: The Nature Instinct was published in the UK under the title Wild Signs and Star Paths.
Master outdoorsman Tristan Gooley was just about to make camp when he sensed danger—but couldn’t say why. After sheltering elsewhere, Gooley returned to investigate: What had set off his subconscious alarm?
Suddenly, he understood: All of the tree trunks were slightly bent. The ground had already shifted once and could easily become treacherous in a storm.
The Nature Instinct shows how we, too, can unlock this intuitive understanding of our surroundings. Learn to sense the forest’s edge from deep in the woods, or whether a wild animal might pose danger—before you even know how you know.
With the promise of fostering a level of awareness so rarefied as to be a "sixth sense," Cooley (How to Read Nature) takes readers on a journey to acquaint them with the sounds and signs of nature. Using information gleaned from a "lifelong pursuit of outdoors awareness," Cooley shares the enriching "outdoor skills" that, like any skills, he promises, can be improved with practice. Cooley's lessons, of course, require many quiet and attentive walks in nature, but he shows that the lessons are there for those willing to spend the time. Readers learn the "browse, bite and haven" clues left by rabbits and deer so they can see animals in places overlooked before, anticipate the next move of animals as they head for cover, or pay attention when songbirds issue an alarm. Even the patterns that a flock of sheep gather in have stories to tell. As the lessons become more challenging and signs more subtle anticipating seasonal changes, for instance, or assessing the age of a hedge the rewards are there for those willing to learn the lessons provided in this detailed and lovely book.