Nothing says manly like making fire, eating grubs, and learning how to survive the harsh mistress that is nature. And that is exactly what I did this past weekend at the Southeast School of Survival with instructor Jim Greene. I figured as outdoorsy as I am I had better learn some skills to stay alive if say a zombie outbreak happens, a giant 2012 movie-esk asteroid wipes out half the population, or I just get totally lost following a pretty butterfly in the woods. And who better to teach me than retired Airforce SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) instructor Jim Greene who taught pilots, astronauts, and aircrew how to survive desert, arctic, ocean, and jungle environments for 30+ years.
So I went up to the beautiful north Georgia Mountains near Ellijay, GA stoked to experience and gain some survival knowledge that, I believe, has been forgotten over the generations. Think of what our forefathers had to do on a daily basis to get food, shelter, and water. They had hunt, gather, build, and wander. And in many parts of the world cultures still continue to live the same way. It was something I took for granted with all our modern conveniences.
After a long drive winding my way up into the mountains I arrived at base camp and we got to work straight away. We chopped down trees and setup our parachute tent base under which many of the discussions of tactics and techniques would be had. After which, Jim gathers all of us around and the first thing he says is “You’ve all seen Man vs. Wild, Survivorman,…guess what? they are TV shows…meant to entertain.” To which I fully agree. I mean come on Bear Grylls. Bounding from rock to rock, getting naked every show, and drinking his own urine?…yea clearly this guy knows how to survive. The whole weekend Jim was making fun of the so called TV “survival” experts and for a guy who has been in many extreme survival situations, he had a great sense of humor. The Southeast School of Survival was two days of non-stop knowledge and rebuffed many of the misconceptions I had seen on TV. Your on a desert island with water and food and you decide to make a raft to head out to open ocean to “hopefully” get found…nope…dead. You leave that nice river water source where people would be looking for you to bushwhack through the wilderness…nope…dead. You drink your own urine to “rehydrate”…um gross…and nope…more dehydrated…dead.
Jim really seemed to know what he was talking about. We created shelters out branches and leaves, made fire, created fishing nets and snares, learned what was edible and what was not. And yes I did try some wild foods. We ate prickly pear cactus, acorns, and oh yea did I mention I ate live acorn grubs as they wiggled in my mouth?…mmm mmm good. To be honest it didn’t taste bad at all once you got past the strange feeling of something squirming around on your tongue. Would I eat them on a normal basis? Na…but put me out in the wild without any food and I’ll be chowing down.
To put it mildly, it was an eye opening experience that broadened my views of what people use to do and are still doing in parts of the world. It makes you appreciate those modern conveniences like a supermarket, indoor plumbing, and nice houses that keep the bugs out. Would I call myself a survival expert after this experience? Not by any means, but lets just say I’m in better shape than the average citizen. Anyone up for the grub buffet?