Leon Pantenburg is a writer, photographer, backpacker, canoeist and self-proclaimed “Hardcore River Rat.” Leon canoed the entire Mississippi River from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to Venice, Louisiana in 1980.
Leon is the author of SurvivalCommonSense.com, a bushcrafting/wilderness survival website and blog that has been in continuous operation since October, 2009. He also wrote the 2020 Amazon.com bestseller “Bushcraft Basics: A Common Sense Wilderness Survival Handbook.” Leon is a wilderness enthusiast and never gets tired of exploring the great outdoors.
A retired newspaperman and journalist for four decades, Leon saw his share of man-made and natural disasters. This led to his interest in preparedness and survival skills, and to the topics he writes about in Survival Common Sense. Leon now teaches common sense survival skills to the average person in order to avert potential disasters.
In addition to his Big River canoe trip, Leon’s wilderness backpacking experience includes extended solos through Yellowstone’s backcountry, hiking the John Muir Trail in California, backpacking trips in Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Oregon and numerous shorter hikes along the Pacific Crest Trail. He has canoed Northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters, Oregon’s John Day River, Arkansas’ Buﬀalo River, Georgia’s Okefenokee Swamp, and honeymooned with his wife, Debbie on a Potomac River canoe trip.
From 2001 through 2017, Leon was actively involved with Boy Scout Troop 18 in Bend, Oregon as an assistant Scoutmaster and as a Scoutmaster Wilderness Skills Trainer for the BSA’s Fremont District. He has helped teach several thousand scouts survival fire making. In 2007, Leon received a BSA district award for “Outstanding Service to Youth.”
Leon is a two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships. As a student at Iowa State University, Leon earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and a second degree Black Belt in Taekwondo (chung do kwon). He is an enthusiastic mandolin player and fiddler and loves old time and traditional music.
River Rats never get too far from the river. In 2017, Leon retired from his position as an instructor at Central Oregon Community College in Bend and moved to Brandon, Mississippi. His association with Quapaw Canoe Company allows Leon to combine his love of canoes and the Mississippi River with his passion for teaching outdoor survival skills.