13127 Whitefish Point Road
Paradise, Michigan, United States
Home page: www.tactical-net.com
Len McDougall is a professional outdoorsman with almost five decades of often hard experience that include being abandoned by search-and-rescue authorities as dead twice in the north woods. Len is an internationally recognized survival instructor/tracker, and author of numerous books, including Tracking and Reading Sign, The Log Cabin: An Adventure, Practical Outdoor Survival, Practical Outdoor Projects, The Complete Tracker, The Outdoors Almanac, The Snowshoe Handbook, The Field & Stream Wilderness Survival Handbook and Made for the Outdoors. He teaches survival, snowshoeing, kayaking, dogsledding, and tracking classes, and works as a wilderness guide.
Len's interest in all things natural began early. Having grown up with youngsters of the Odawa and Ojibwa tribes in Northern Michigan, the Elders considered him more Nish-na-bee (Indian) than Chee-mook-a-mon (white), and accepted the Scots-Irish kid as one of their own. With that status, he received the teachings of the Grandfathers, who are obligated by culture to pass what they know to the next generation. With no written language, the tribes had already lost much, but what remained was enough to strike young Len's heart with a passion that would subsequently consume his life.
At 12 Len was backpacking solo for a week at a time in summer. At 13 he was running a trapline to provide his family with meat and with money from the sale of pelts. At 16, he nearly died of hypothermia during his first solo winter camping trip when an unpredicted blizzard buried his camp. The following summer he was bitten by a Massasauga rattlesnake and survived 3 days alone in the woods before finding his way back home (Snakebitten!, Michigan Out-of-Doors, October '85/ Woods-N-Water News, July '04). At 23, he was given up for dead by local authorities while backpacking in -35 degree windchills. At 27, he was again given up for dead under similar conditions. At 38, he was stranded for 3 days alone in a blizzard with windchills that exceeded -65 degrees, but no one considered him to be in danger. At age 45, he built a log cabin homestead, with hand-dug well, using only hand tools, "just to see what the old-timers went through" (The Log Cabin: An Adventure, Globe Pequot Press, June '03)
In March 1997, Len discovered the first pair of mating timber wolves to migrate south to Michigan's Lower Peninsula in 100 years. Although publicly discredited and disparaged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources, for the next 5 years, he guided biologists from the Natural Resources Commission of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians into local wolf habitats to gather data on what has now become a thriving population. Len also served as Team Tracker for the Northern Michigan Wolf Detection and Habitat Survey Team.
Having forged a career in Manufacturing Quality Control for 10 years prior to becoming a writer, Len has found a niche in evaluating and writing about outdoor products. He has evaluated products for more than 150 manufacturers, including Coleman, Vasque, Winchester, Current Designs, Pelican International, Atlas Snowshoes, La Crosse, Kelty, MSR, Jansport, Kodak, Pentax, Nikon, Slumberjack, Tasco, Timex, Simmons, Buck Knives, Brunton, and Remington. His real-life, long-term field tests find flaws that were not apparent in less rigorous trials, and his findings have been used numerous times to improve existing products. He has been called on to evaluate conceptual designs and prototypes before they reach the marketplace, and Consumers Digest has hired him to award its coveted Best Buy rating to more than thirty outdoor products. He currently writes the Keen Edge and Survival columns for Tactical Knives magazine, and is on the publication's masthead as a contributing editor.
Born in 1956, Len says he's had more financially lucrative jobs than working in and writing about the great out-of-doors, but none have been more fulfilling. He likes to think that what he writes is a contribution to the well-being of fellow outdoorsman, and he openly admits to being an idealistic fool who's out to change the world into a better, nicer place for tomorrow's generations. A grandfather himself, Len has assumed the obligation to pass along what he learned from his Indian mentors. He smiles without humor at the recent trend toward being "green." "I've always known that if Hollywood said it was cool to be an environmentalist, everyone would be one."
Although considered a loner by the people who know him, Len prides himself on lending a helping hand to those in need. In his own words, "There are only two rules to a good life: "Always do the right thing, and always be the Good Guy. Everything else will follow." Despite that philosophy, his treatment at the hands of powerful political entities has been costly.
"...The Encyclopedia of Tracks and Scats should be required reading for any outdoorsman." Outdoorsman's Edge Book Club.
"If only this book (The Outdoors Almanac) had come along a few years ago." The American Library Association.
"...this expert's advice should be the first thing you put in your backpack." Military Book Club.
"Len McDougall tells it like it is and does not pull any punches..." Amazon.com
"...(Practical Outdoor Survival) is as essential as a knife or a compass for anyone who ventures into wild country. " Chapter 1 Book Club.
"...(The Outdoors Almanac) addresses nearly every outdoor skill imaginable..." Sioux City Journal.
"...veteran outdoorsman Len McDougall summarizes a unique blend of outdoors knowledge." Carson's Bookwatch.
Interests: Backpacking, snowshoeing, camping, tracking, hiking, orienteering, wilderness survival, shooting, kayaking, fishing, photography, wildlife observation, wolves, dogsledding, outdoor equipment, product evaluations.
Published writer: Yes