I was doing a little researching this morning on wilderness survival techniques and discovered a news article which illustrates how the “Survivorman” show may have inspired one man to death.
Obviously I’m not saying that the “Survivorman” show is responsible for his death. I mean only to stress that when practicing wilderness survival techniques one should ensure that there is a plan A,B, C, and D for when things go wrong.
With every endeavor things never work out the way we intend. “Man proposes, god disposes”.
In one recent article, from CTV Toronto in March of 2010, Richard Code, a 41 year-old man from Ontario, Canada ventured out in the frozen Ontario bush with an axe, fishing gear, and basic winter clothing. No compass, map, fire starting devices, shelter, sleeping bag, or food.
He was found dead three days later frozen in the snow.
Apparently, like me, he was a fan of Les Stroud’s, “Survivor Man”. His landlord found many links to the “Survivorman” website. Unlike Les Stroud this man didn’t have safety precautions in place. If the base doesn’t get an update from Les every so many hours a team is sent to pick him up. If Les gets into a lethal situation he can radio for rescue with a GPS phone. They can find his exact location immediately.
His untimely death was not prevented by the precautions he took. Some of them included notifying the authorities of the exact location he was going to be traveling in and towards.
Practicing survival skills is fun but it shouldn’t require that you risk your life. That goes against the very essence of survival, which is common sense planning. Getting too extreme or macho in your approach will get you in trouble in most aspects of survival.
In another article in The Salt Lake Tribune of May 2nd, 2007 a man died from dehydration on a BOSS desert survival course. Instructors withheld water from the man to try to toughen him up. He died 100 feet from a cave containing a small pool of water that could have saved his life.
To me it is ridiculous to think that you are training yourself to survive by bringing yourself to the brink of death. You survive by not getting into that situation in the first place. If you’re unlucky enough to be in that situation then you need to survive by being extremely smart and efficient with all of your actions. These actions should be centered around controlling body core temperature, hydration, shelter, and foraging for food sources. Once this equilibrium is attained you should make efforts to build signaling devices such as signal fires (with green vegetation), or arrange a formation of rocks to form S.O.S. Do the same to form arrow pointers to mark your route that you are taking. Break small branches along your trail as well.
“Man Vs. Wild”, “Survivorman”, and similar shows are a great source of information and entertainment for us all but don’t get so caught up in your survival fantasies that you take things too far and put your life at risk.