If the world falls apart right now can I join your rag tag gang of survivors? I bring nothing but a good heart to th table.
If? lol Sure. Hearts are good eating ;)
Looking back on your rescue missions -is there a common mistake the people/victim made that could have been avoided? What is your general advise for maintaining moral during a lockdown/quarantine?
Thanks for the question. Preparedness and complacency are two common overlying issues. They have no training and no gear, but want hike in rugged terrain on 90 degree+ days, to try to climb a cliffside, or try to swim across a mountain river after a few beers.
Quarantine advice. It is hard to be alone with yourself if you are not happy with yourself. My biggest tip is to fill your time with something that is "self improvement" related. The small successes you get during the day will help boost your morale and make you happier with yourself. I have a book that teaches you to draw, where you do a new basic exercise everyday for a month. I'm also big on the Pimsluer language app, it offers 30 days to conversational proficiency and it seems to be working. Of course, EXERCISE, EXERCISE, EXERCISE.
What is one less obvious piece of gear that is absolutely essential to have with you in an emergency?
Stormproof matches and a "fuel cube"/accelerant. A proper set, like those made by UCO, will burn underwater or in the mud. They can't be put out once lit. When you need fire the most: in the cold, the wet, and the dark, it is at its hardest to make. All the natural tinder can be wet and useless within an hour of rain. Having an accelerant- a highly flammable, hot burning substance, is critical in these time. The fuel cubes made by popular bbq grill makers such as webber and duraflame are excellent. They burn at over 1,000F for over ten minutes with a high flame length. Fire is the most difficult survival skill to perfect, and perhaps the most essential. Having this combination can make it simple for the casual hiker.
If as a result of a sinking boat you found yourself in cold ocean water what would you do to maximise your survival time?
Tread water and try to focus on staying alive. Focus your breath. There's nothing much you can do here but try to use your will. There's been stories of people treading water over 12 hours in the ocean after going overboard. Just don't give up.
Have you thought of volunteering with Team Rubicon?
Yes! I actually just signed on last week. Hell of an organization. I recommend them to anyone.
I was listening to a podcast on people who go missing in National Parks and the author/survival expert they were interviewing suggested that people who have a firearm and a PLB don’t go missing because they or their bodies are found. How true is this?
I have a PLB and own a handgun (conceal carry, comfortable with it, go to a gun club) but I find it harder to take the gun with me. Sometimes it’s comfort with the area or because of state laws.
What are good alternatives? I like to take little hikes by myself but I don’t want to lose wild spaces due to lack of safety.
Great thing about federal lands is it is legal to carry a firearm in a "nonthreatening" manner. Many of these national parks, Yosemite is famous for disappearances and meets this description, has areas of remote, and very steep mountain trails, where on trip can send you tumbling hundreds, if not thousands of feet down a mountain side. A body crumpled up in the brush, 1500' below a remote trail, on terrain impossible to stand on, is really hard to find. I would chalk a lot of disappearance up to this. Bodies have actually been found like this after a fire runs through the area and exposes the skeletal remains.
PLB's are amazing. If you are hitting any trail alone I highly recommend them. I like the ACR brand myself.
I always carry camping now. Too many weirdos in the bush. If there is someone like the actual Yosemite killer around, they will likely not mess with the guy that has a .45 in his chest rig.
Edit: I also guide courses in Alaska, it is standard for wilderness guides to carry a .44 mangum with 300gr loads or higher. Never needed it but it makes me feel really comfortable. Animal attacks are beyond rare, but they do occur.
Oh boy do I have all kinds of questions, but I'll start with a basic one. What sort of hands on experience would you recomend to someone who wants to move beyond books and occasional day trips in the woods, and get some stronger experience? I know the best way to learn this kind of thing is to go and do it, so how would you recomend someone go and do it?
Of course, I suggest taking a class on wilderness survival and first aid. A wilderness first aid course is invaluable training for hiking or any activity in remote areas. A proper WFA will be two days long and teach you a lot of injuries and exposure, and how to prepare. I'm not one of those guys who says never hike alone, people do so safely all the time. Just get a little professional training before you do so. Taking a class in person will also help you absorb more from videos in the future.
Survival and bushcraft skills can be practiced very safely. There are plenty of easily accessible natural areas, even with phone reception. Hit a good area that you like and train in the skillset you're after. The better you get, the farther you can venture into more remote areas safely. Enjoy your time in the woods!
How hard would you say the training is? I'm pretty sure it varies from who you're training, but how intense can it be? How many people have quit because of the intense training? And also thanks for keeping the SoCal community safe in the times of fires!
Thanks for the question. I have everything from mild to wild, depending on the course and the target audience. Some is for all ages, but still hands on. Some field training will wash out a lot of people however. I've lost 75% of students on a desert field training exercise before. "Fatigue makes coward of us all"
Edit: Here is a link to my training courses. I run over 15 on a regular basis: https://www.californiasurvivaltraining.com/our-courses
Hi! Super interesting Ask me anything. How did you get to this point in your life? What led up to the start of this journey? How was life before you done all of this?
It would be hard for me to connect the dots that got me here. I've always wanted to work for myself, and I've always loved working with nature. After taking a spinal injury on the "Indians Complex" fire, and going home to an empty apartment on leave, receiving less than sub standard government medical care, I kind of snapped a little and said fuck it. I'm doing my own thing.
What type of person do you find has the most trouble living out in the wild?
People who have a demonstrable sense of entitlement. Nothing comes easy in field training. Even foraging wild foods can be exhausting. Some people just quit trying right away. As soon as something gets hard or awkward, they are afraid to look bad and just stop. They often count on the go getters in their group to do the hardest work for them.
Looks like you are a very intense person based on your description. Congrats on all your success! I admire self made people. What kind of advice would you give the average people in society regarding preparedness? Meaning, those that are not extreme but are capable. Those that may not have the time to train, but may go for a run once or a few times a week. What are the best things we can do to prepare ourselves for the unknown emergency (fires, quarantine, flood, anything we wouldn’t anticipate ahead of time)?
Thanks so much for the kind words. Think of what the grid provides you that you can't live without: clean water, climate control, hygiene, and food especially. Try to have enough gear/supplies to take care of these needs for a short time. A generator or water filter require no real specialized skills to use, anyone can do it. There are "micro" versions of everything. You can store water in 5 gallon jugs for very little cost. There are everything from roll up bags for showering to handiwipes for your hygiene. Small catalytic heaters run on camping propane bottles and will heat a small room in your house very well. I have a great gear tips page here: https://www.californiasurvivaltraining.com/gear
As you get what you need, arrange it into portable kits that are easy to deploy. Also, take a wilderness first aid or first responder course. These courses teach you what to do when help is hours or days away, and is useful in natural disasters as well. Over 2-5 days you will learn to perform a head to toe trauma exam, take a set of vitals, splint a broken limb, recognize a medical emergency, and much more.
What is the most common mistake that gets people lost in the wilderness killed?
Not brining any type of emergency gear at all, then never forming a signal once they are lost. Whenever you hit the trail, always have a basic overnight kit. In good weather and temperate areas, this can often be fit into a pocket. The number 1 killer of lost hikers is exposure. Always have what you need to spend the night without the conditions overwhelming you.
I like fish, is it safe to eat most fishes raw?
It really depends. Some will say not to eat any freshwater fish raw. I've eaten plenty of fresh caught salmon in Alaska, and it is delicious. Whenever you consume fish raw however you do run the risk of parasites. In a survival situation, it is better not to risk it if you don't have to.
Have you ever used anything you were taught before?
All the time. I've helped hikers with hyperthermia, gotten "unlost" using the escape azimuth technique several times, and had to drink stream water when I got really lost in the mountains at 15. I can be a bit of a risk taker so to speak.
What do you recommend the average person have on hand and know how to do in cases like this? Thank you for your Ask me anything!
Learn to put together and use something like this: https://www.californiasurvivaltraining.com/new-page
I train people to put them together on my urban disaster courses. Anyone can learn to put together a basic solar generator at home.
Have a basic kit that will supply clean water, emergency medical care, contain food that requires little to no preparation, provide some form of climate control (even a sleeping bag) and hygiene maintenance supplies.
I always recommend a wilderness first aid course or higher. They teach you to care for someone for extended periods of time, in austere conditions, and to improvise when traditional gear is not available.
It only takes a little training and research, that just about anyone can perform. The topic can seem overwhelming, but it is al really quite simple.
I’m sure you’re a pretty busy dude, but if you get bored or have some free time, would you mind chiming in on posts in r/survival every once in a while?
Would love to, but there are a lot of "survival experts" online, especially those with schools, and they love to troll my posts. They usually have like 20,000 posts in their history because they live online and not in the field.There's a group of fat old guys in So Cal that like "spending time dirty" that live to troll me online, and shit talk me at gatherings. They each have like a dozen different profiles on sites like that and barricade guys like me.
Mountain House or Backpacker's Pantry?
Mountain House by faaaaarrrrrrr. They have really upped the game. Large chunks of good looking vegetables and meat.
What's your best advice for taking out a pack of five coyotes?
Don't anticipate the recoil and remember to breath in between shots.
What’s the craziest mistake you’ve seen a trainee make?
Several have caught their shelters on fire before.
Would you compare yourself as better or worse at survival in general than bear grylls?
Bear Grylls is an actor. He needs teams of guys like me off camera to make things work.
What is your big out plan when society collapses?
Seize the Yosemite Valley with a small group of armed men and women and hunt deer with baseball bats until I grow old.
Who drinks more of thier own pee, you or Bear Grylls?
Bear Grylls drinks my pee... and vice versa.
Very specific scenario opinion request;
For a medium sized fixed wing aircraft, like a king air or pc-12, would it be better to crash in pine forest or water near shore? Heli rescue would be 4-8 hrs.
There are some obviously differing opinions.
The beach may ofter a water landing or nice stretch of beach. Better than slamming into the forest canopy. You are easier to spot near the ocean as well. But ya, it would suck to have to extricate yourself from a sinking aircraft while injured, even if you are dunker trained.
In your opinion, how important are comms in a short term scenario, ie uhf/vhf radios. What channels should people be using in an emergency? Tips for a newbie there would be appreciated.
What 5 things would you carry every day(call it a work backpack) to help in scenarios you most often encounter?
Thanks for the time!
Very important. Exposue and injury can kill in a day. It is important to get rescue started quickly. I tell people that as soon as their medical and exposure needs are met, signal right away. Even after rescuers get the report, it can be hours to overnight before they reach you. Initiate rescue early.
Storm matches with an accelerant.
A small water purifier
An emergency signal
A heatsheet style emergency blanket
Of course, I would recommend a knife/multitool, cordage, and a light as well.
What is the worst/hardest thing you have ever had to do?
Cutting fire line on a burning mountainside for 16 hours. It's brutal. My flight weight was 70lbs above my shower weight. That didn't count my 27lbs chainsaw when I was a sawyer.
I read through quite a few questions and replies ... sorry if this question was already asked and I missed it.
What important (and potentially life-saving) information or lessons did you learn only from your personal experiences and thought "Well, fuck -- I wish I'd have learned that in training!"
If it's ok, I guess I have one more question. Some people have a tendency to "lock up" or "freeze" when something happens and it's like they can't process anything in that moment. For example, say they witness an accident or some other situation where help may be needed. Why does this happen and can they learn to overcome it?
The reason I'm asking is because I've noticed this happens with my son (age 20 now) even in less stressful or less serious scenarios. The opposite is true with me -- for whatever reason, my brain kicks into overdrive and 50 things go through my thoughts all at once yet I can keep track of all of them. "They need help - go help - call 911 - where are we? - we're on the corner of This Ave and That St - stay calm - etc., etc. etc." In the same type of scenario, my son would have a blank stare on his face and just stand there. That sentence likely sounds much more judgmental than intended...
It seems like "freezing" in certain moments could potentially lead to an even worse situation - particularly if something happened (or is happening) to you or someone with you.
Thanks in advance for reading and replying if you have time.
Stay healthy! The world needs heroes like you!
Thanks for the question and the compliment. There are three reactions to these types of incidents, fight, flight, or freeze. It can take lots of training and exposure to extreme environments/circumstances to get this out of a person, since they have nothing in their life history to fall back on. If you've had nothing to prepare for responding to a major accident right in front of you, the mind has no "playbook" to pull from. For some reason, some people are just "wired" differently, it could be genetic. Hueristic decision making can be learned however.
I learned all bout staying warm in freezing conditions without gear on my own. I learned the hard way. Each new night my reflector fire wall got taller and longer, my firewood pile got larger, and my techniques for using both grew. Pain is a teacher.
is that survivman guy legit?
The most legit of the TV guys. He got caught faking shit and getting car rides as well, but he is pretty real.
Have you ever helped train people for naked and afraid? Would you ever be interested in doing that show?
Yes. Anastasia Ashley. And no, never. Thanks for the question.
What survival show is the closest to reallity?
Arghhhh. Maybe alone? They are just all so contrived though. Even the producers know that, I always get calls from networks looking for something "more real". I've had to fake a bunch of stuff (perform the task for them) for "contestants" on these shows, because so many show up and can't do a thing in the field when they get there.
Whats your favorite part of survival?
Sleeping on a brush bed under the stars in the middle of nowhere next to a fire I made with sticks. It's legit therapy.
What are the self defence tips you would give to an untrained/not so fit person?
Train. Get all of the secret techniques and magic techniques out of your head. If anyone says "just rip their ear off" or groin strike, or attack the pressure point, go somewhere else. I have a combatives program at my school. It is run by a former Marine Corps MCMAP (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program) instructor, who now owns an MMA fight gym (he was a fighter and still runs fight camps". The first thing we tell you is this is a great start, but not enough.
You would be surprised by what as little of three months of training will do. It can out you leaps and bounds above the average person. Go to a legit MMA gym, one where there are fighters. Learn to throw a punch with proper technique (this will greatly elevate your natural punching power), learn footwork and distancing. Learn how to defend a take down, and some basic bjj.
Put in three months and you will see a drastic rise in your fitness and capabilities. Hard to get ready in less time than that.
Thanks for the Ask me anything.
Any advice on how to deal with wild animals on the bigger size? Like, you are walking and you notice a boar looking at you.
The best advice is usually to ignore the animal. If it encroaches however, generally putting on a "territorial display" will be enough. Stand tall, get loud, kick up dust. If you start hiking in the Sierra's you will get used to yelling at bears and chasing them away. Most animals are quite afraid of us.
If that doesn't work bear mace and firearms do.
What is something practical but uncommon that every single household should do to prepare themselves for 'survival'?
Train with an expert. Everyone thinks they can watch a few YouTube videos and be just fine, but that's not how you prepare for disaster. If you train with your entire family, you will then react together. They are not just your family, but your "team" when shit hits the fan. Everyone has a role and is proud to fill it.
Working with people who live in all parts of the world makes certain aspects of survival difficult to teach. How much do you teach about local edibles? Do you have any online resources or books to recommend for those who wish to learn about local edibles in any given region in the world?
Because it seems to me that foraging for food should be an intrinsic part of almost any survival situation.
I teach what I call "pangea plants". Easy to recognize useful plants that occur across the globe at their latitude. Things like stinging nettles can be found from Chicago to China, and are highly nutritious.
What's the craziest thing you've done?
Cross Death Valley in the summer living off of the land with just a tarp, a pice of string, a knife, and a water bottle.
Any particular reason you decided to do your Ask me anything at midnight?
Started 9pm PCT. Probably not the best idea.
Have you watched The Decline on Netflix?
Not yet, will have to look it up, thanks!
Advice for someone beginning to look into survival methods? Ive been trying for a while, and i know sole basics, but I’m trying to expand my horizons in this field and become better! Anything i should research or do?
Train with me :) If you cannot, practice methods on your own in nearby sections of woods. The most important things just being in the outdoors and getting comfortable with the process operating in austere environments.
How many triangle bandages do you carry with you normally?
None. Too easy to improves a sling.
If this lockdown goes on for the next 4 months. What basic items should I stock up?
Food. Water. Hygiene needs. Medications and medical supplies. Something to keep your mind busy; books, playing cards, some new playstation games, whatever.
If the world collapses( or at least the USA economy), what will be the few survivals essentials a family needs?
Also, I am debating on buying a house inside the city or outside the city. What would you recommend and why?
You need to try to replicate the essential services the grid provides. Live in a desert or extremely cold area; you need climate control. Want to eat fresh food, you need power to refrigerate it. You want clean water, you need a purification system. Stock up on ANY essential medications as well, they are hard to reproduce on you own.
Teamwork is essential in these times. You would want a solid group of people around you. Train and prep together. A big part of society is everyone doing a part, it will be just as important to maintaining some kind of order in your life should society go away.
Out of the city. In a major disaster, the cities are traps. Good luck evacuating with 20 million others on California freeways. Don't expect to be able to live solely off of the land unless you farm and raise animals. The environmental destruction that has occurred to our natural areas is really bad. Waterways have dried up and some are too polluted to use, game animals can be in short supply, and vegetation is seasonal and requires water. All it takes is one upstream neighbor building a dam and poof, it's dry. This can be an issue in the country. Even in a place "with deer like rats" that will run out very soon. Not to mention all the other armed people in the woods looking for meat.
Favourite condiment? Thank you
A nice stone ground.
What are the harshest places on earth you have rescued/explored? Also what are your favorite outdoor places?
The Danakil Desert in Ethiopia. When I went you needed an armed military escort due to kidnapping threats. It has the hottest year round average temp on earth. It is literally in the middle of nowhere. I spent 7 days as an advisor there. Stunning landscape. I hope I can return someday.
So happy to have found this! I am a recent transplant to LA from the northeast. Took some wilderness courses there but desert is a whole new beast to me. Will definitely be signing up for some classes once we can return outside :). My question is what is an item that should be in my earthquake go bag that I probably have not thought of yet?
Hemostatic gauze like combat gauze or cello. Avoid the use of tourniquets whenever safely possible in disaster zones, due to potential limb loss. And don't forget to have a silcock key for getting water from tall buildings.
Have you ever visited Lake Tahoe? If so, did you rent a boat and lose your Oakley sunglasses?
Yes I have, many times. And no, I have not. Actually never been out on the lake itself.
What's the worst piece of advice that you've seen/heard given on a survival tv show?
That you can piss in a bag and use it as a magnifying glass to start a fire, even when the sun is going down.
What color is your toothbrush?
What is the best part of a human to eat? I have tried calf muscle, but it was super tough. Also is it safe, being that most Americans have diets high in processed foods; would those chemicals end up in the meat?
With any mammal the back strap is always the best. And our diets are no worse than what we feed cattle.
Any tips on how to survive trying to find toilet paper in stores at this moment?
Get to Target right when it opens. They all have TP now, you just have to get there early. Got a 12 pack about two weeks ago. Just saw some in a convenience store yesterday. Supplies are coming back.