Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Starvation Man: A Fool in the Wilderness

This man is not Daniel Boone.

I have written in the past about the various fake "wild man in the wilderness" shows, from National Geographic's phony 'Wolf Man' stunt to the contrived toxicity of the poisonous snakes routinely handled by Steve Irwin, to the absolutely ridiculous fakery of Bear Grylls whose advice will almost always kill or maim you in short order.

The latest bit of idiocy comes from Channel 4 in the U.K., which sent "adventurer" Ed Wardle into the Canadian wilderness armed with a rifle, a fishing rod, and a well-stocked pack.

Seven week later, he had to be airlifted out of the woods because he was starving.

It seems this man did not know how to hunt and did not know how to fish.

But you would never have known that if you listened to him before he set out:

"I imagine I have a long future of fish-eating in front of me. It's going to be trout and grayling for 12 weeks.

"But meat's a relatively easy thing to get your hands on too. There are hares, squirrels and gophers. They're good to eat because they're fatty.

"The porcupines are easy to catch because they don't move very fast. As long as you're careful with the spines, they're a good source of food. You hit it with a big stick, roll it over, slice it open and peel the skin back, the same as you would any mammal."


Does this man actually know how to set a snare? Does he know how to make a fish trap? A deadfall?

Does he know how to load a gun? Does he know where animals feed and where they bed?

Does he know how to conserve energy? How to keep clean? How to make a shelter that will last? How to keep a fire going?

The answer to all of these questions was a resounding NO.

Instead of staying in one location and building up a store of food before moving on, he seems to have moved all the time. His shelters were crude and he seems to have had no knowledge at all of wildlife, guns, snares, traps or hunting.

Apparently he thought it was a simple matter of going out into the woods and picking food off the bushes, while having the wildlife run into your dinner pan fully skinned and lightly breaded.

Ed Wardle seems to have had no notion that thick forests are almost devoid of easy-to-hunt wildlife.

Raised on Animal Planet television shows and faked canned hunts he had seen on TV, he must have though the world was teaming with suicidal wildlife.

Wardle also does not seem to have much knowledge of self. A week alone without another person, a television, a radio, a book, a phone, or the Internet is enough to make some people slide off the hinge. A month or two of that, and some folks will turn past the bend. That is especially easy to do if your calorie intake is crashing, and massive amounts of physical work are being done because you are constantly moving through the wilderness. I know. I have been there.

Here's a hint: The people who made it in the wilderness alone were trappers who lived in trapper cabins.

Put out 12 leghold traps, two dozen snares, and bunch of bank lines, and you will never go hungry.

Fish and berries? Sure. Go for it. You can try to shoot some big game too, and learn to smoke it.

But in the wilderness, it was always traps and snares that kept meat on the table.


retrieverman said...

These shows are such crap.

I can't stand watching these Rambo meets Thoreau TV shows.

What ever happened to really good nature documentaries?

The last one I saw that was any good was one about wolves and caribou. I really liked it-- it was scientifically accurate and it really got you to think about the relationship between those two species. The caribou's migration route is determined by the bites of mosquitoes, which are blown by the wind. The wolves require caribou to feed their pups, but because there is no guarantee that the caribou will come by their dens, their fates are largely tied up in which way the wind blows the mosquitoes.

I used to love watching Steve Irwin, but I don't think I learned anything on those shows, except how to speak Australian slang.

Viatecio said...

I like the comment someone left on the news site: "If these reality programmes are to have any validity, they should have left him there."

In high school, we'd joke about making the Real Survivor, by putting people on an island for a time and leaving. We even had Survivor: Inner-City Gangland all lined up (we called it Ghetto at first, but figured it would be prudent to change it based on the Holocaust...there were a few of my friends who were Jewish and got uncomfortable whenever we called it that).

The best part about our Survivors was that in our minds, we would leave them alone with their own damn cameras and enough film to last for a few months. If enough people were still around to play, then we'd leave for another few months.

Jonathan said...

This guy might have made it if he had a decent terrier with him, but then, the credit would belong to the terrier.