Ancient Pathways, LLC - School of Primitive Technology and Wilderness Skills Survival Courses [Flagstaff Arizona]

About Our Instructors

Tony Nester, Survival and Wilderness Instructor specializing in desert survival and primitive technology.Tony Nester

“We were safe with Nester. A survival expert who knows the woods and desert intimately.”  
~ Jay Stowe, Executive Editor, Outside Magazine

Ancient Pathways is a wilderness skills company specializing in desert survival and bushcraft. The focus of all Ancient Pathways courses is to provide hands-on training in practical survival skills and outdoor safety techniques. Our survival training emphasizes direct experience with the natural world and the critical skills you need to take care of yourself in the wilds. Tony Nester, who has over 27 years of experience teaching outdoor survival and guiding wilderness trips, began the company in 1989.

Tony has instructed desert survival courses for the National Transportation & Safety Board, National Weather Service, U.S. Military Special Operations Units, FAA, US Marshals, and for private corporations. He has extensive experience working with the media and film industry and has provided survival training for the film Into the Wild.

Tony has been featured in numerous media outlets including on NBC News, The Travel Channel, Maxim Magazine, The New York Times, and Discovery Channel. He is also a contributing writer for Outside Magazine and ran a popular monthly column on survival for many years.

In addition to extensive experience in wilderness survival, Tony has a BA in Anthropology and is a regular speaker at the Wilderness Medical Society’s Desert Conference. He is also the author of 11 books on outdoor survival through Diamond Creek Press. When he’s not out on the trail, Tony lives with his family in a passive-solar, strawbale house in northern Arizona.

Keep an eye out for the April segment of the Travel Channel's popular show Bizarre Foods which has Tony taking host Andrew Zimmern out for a wild foods trek in the desert.

Tony with the Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods host Andrew Zimmern after a day of filming in the high-desert.

Tony has been a Survival Instructor and Outdoor Consultant for:

  • Army Special Operations
  • Backpacker Magazine
  • FAA
  • FOX News
  • Maxim Magazine
  • National Geographic
  • National Transportation & Safety Board (NTSB)
  • National Weather Service
  • Ojibwa Indian Tribe
  • Outside Magazine
  • Popular Mechanics
  • Reader’s Digest
  • Travel Channel’s Bizarre Foods Show
  • US Air Force
  • US Border Patrol


Petroglyph Bar

Guest Instructors

Mike Masek | Herbalist

Mike Masek is a wilderness skills instructor, herbalist, and ethnobotanist living in Flagstaff, Arizona.Mike Masek is a wilderness skills instructor, herbalist, and ethnobotanist living in Flagstaff, Arizona. He has been exploring the canyons and deserts of the American Southwest for 30 years and is currently focusing on the traditional edible and medicinal plants of the Colorado Plateau. His field studies have also taken him across the US, India, China, and the Tibetan Plateau.

Mike is an adjunct faculty member at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he teaches traditional uses of native plants and wilderness survival skills. He has also taught programs through Coconino Community College, Yavapai Community College, Grand Circle Field Institute, and the National Park Service. For more information about herbal and botanical courses with Mike Masek, click here.

Subsistence Strategies for Living Off the Land with Guest Instructor Jerry Ward, March 11 2018- COURSE FULL

Join us for this special one-day class with Alaskan bushman and survival instructor Jerry Ward as he shares his encyclopedic knowledge and tips for living off the land and staying safe in the wilds. With a background in wildlife biology and a former Forest Service firefighter along with years as a trapper and woodsman, few people in the world of wilderness living today can match Jerry’s extensive experience in the backcountry. Topics covered include: survival firearms and caliber types, subsistence strategies & realistic expectations for feeding yourself off the wilds, traps & snares, bear safety, food preservation methods, cold-weather garb, and personal survival gear.

This course is held in Flagstaff and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Note- any traps shown will be for demonstration purposes only. Cost: $85.

Check the course calendar for specific dates.


Bill Downey

Bill Downey - Wherever his opportunities take him, Downey strives to blend his passion for teaching, for being in wild places, and for remote medicine and survival skills.His classroom may be on a university campus, in an alcove in the desert southwest, an historic bungalow in rural India, or along a river bank. Wherever his opportunities take him, Downey strives to blend his passion for teaching, for being in wild places, and for remote medicine & survival skills.

A native of Chicago, he’s made his home in a remote Utah desert town for the past 10+ years where he is a firefighter/paramedic. Experience in cultural resource preservation has given him a unique insight into how bushcraft is not a novelty for the present, but an integral part of our humanity and the development of societies.

As a whitewater river guide he has had the opportunity to explore unique and very remote parts of the western United States, and facing challenges in providing patient care & rescue in remote locations where calling for help is not an option. In recent years he’s spent much of his time looking at the ground in minute detail as he sharpens his skills in tracking. A professional educator specializing in wilderness medicine, Downey is proud to bring his expertise to Ancient Pathways.

Contact Information

Ancient Pathways, LLC
2532 N 4th St, PMB #313
Flagstaff, Arizona 86004-3712


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