How Wild Deer came to be: A story from Chris Gilmour

April 8, 2019 - By Chris Gilmour, Adult Program Instructor & Coordinator

The Wild Deer Program is one of the highlights of my year. Of the many programs I facilitate each year, this is the one I continue to be the most passionate and excited about. Why does this program mean so much to me? Why has it changed the lives of so many people?

The past 20 years of my life have been dedicated to learning older ways of living in harmony with nature. I’ve become more adaptable and resilient. I’ve learned to read and interpret the natural landscape like a story. I’ve learned physical skills of survival and the cultural skills of passing these ways on. I’ve developed incredible relationships with mentors that have helped me learn and supported me through my successes and failures.

Growing up in the suburbs, I questioned a lot of things about our modern world growing up. I can honestly say that many of the cultural and environmental challenges we face today, I saw at a young age. For many years this created concern, worry, and frustration for me. Although my intentions were good, I had trouble relating my feelings to others without creating further disconnect. It was hard having such a deep love and connection to the natural world without a community that understood. This made it difficult to practice what I believed in. I had an ideal, a dream in my head of what deep nature connection could look like. Of what it might feel like to know the natural world with the same understanding, awareness, and connection that I knew my ancestors had, long ago.

Two decades ago, I dedicated my life to reclaiming this connection and relearning ancient knowledge. This is still one of my driving motivations. Back then, I had no idea it was possible to read subtle stories in the tracks of animals or hear the birds telling me about what was happening in the forest well beyond my immediate surroundings. To feel this connection and awareness coming alive again has been so powerful and has influenced every aspect of my life in a profound and positive way.

Growing these skills can be really challenging in the modern world. Often the hardest challenge is integrating beliefs that are in direct opposition to the dominant culture. Like learning to slow down and pay attention to a bird voice as I’m trying to keep to a busy schedule.

But integrating older ways of being has helped me learn to let my passions and vision be a guiding force for positive change in the world. And this has changed my life in powerful ways.

It’s why I was inspired to create a long term training program for adults, called the Wild Deer Program.

The Wild Deer program provides opportunities to create lasting change in our lives and exponential personal growth. With long term mentoring relationships and an emphasis on cultivating a community of learning, the program creates incredible momentum and inspiration in the participants. It becomes a small community of support, diverse experience, and shared values. A community full of highly experienced mentors supporting students to grow in areas of inspiration.

If you can relate to aspects of this story, or if parts sounds new and exciting to you, read some of the blurbs below, and consider joining us. Cultivate your connection to the land, develop your knowledge of the natural world, grow your physical skills of sustainability and resiliency, and expand the network of support around you on this journey.

If you feel a calling , we would love to welcome you into the Wild Deer herd this January.

Learn more about what this experience offers on the Wild Deer webpage.


Other voices from the Herd:

“Wild Deer gave me the grounding in naturalist skills and awareness I needed to feel confident starting an outdoor school in my own city. The leaders were passionate and committed to sharing that passion. It was inspiring to be part of an extended program that fosters such a culture of mentorship alongside hard skills development.”


“Not only did the Wild Deer program expand my skill set, the most memorable parts were the people and the deep connections made through the shared experiences. It was a powerful way to learn, grow and reflect and I highly recommend it for the inward traveler and those seeking to expand their level of awareness and connection with the natural world.”


“The wild deer apprenticeship came into my life through a series of synchronicity I am forever grateful for. It was my first introduction to these skills, and by taking this program a world of awesomeness was opened up to me.

I was studying Ecological Restoration and thought I had a lot of naturalist skills because I had learned to identify a number of local trees. Holy cannoli was I wrong! I didn’t even own a knife. Wild Deer was incredibly humbling for me, and as I began realized there was so much to know. I became more intrigued by the mysteries and lessons that live outdoors.

Wild deer provided me with so much more than an introduction to primitive skills. It was the first time I was exposed to singing in a group setting, which has proved to be powerful medicine in my life. I now keep a gratitude journal which makes me feel whole as a person and allows me to manifest the things that I need.

Wild deer provided me with a link to a community of genuine, hopeful and naturalist knowledge filled folks. A truly invaluable gift!”


“A rediscovery of the natural world in a profound way. I have always experienced nature “on the fringe”, with no real committed time to walking and discovering natural rhythms and the animal world. Now, I have a new perspective of nature, how I fit into it, and how I can be a positive contribution to the natural world”


“I have been so much more aware (of animals/birds movements and sounds) that it is incredible. I am usually the first one to spot them now. I have also started playing with my daughter using the string figures and she loves it.”