Survival is in my blood and has been from my childhood. I have gone from catching fish with a rod and reel to catching them bare handed, from reading books on survival to writing books on survival, from a student seeking experts to an expert seeking students and my motivation to both learn and teach is as strong as it ever was if not stronger.
I spent my youth rambling around the hills of the northeastern dairy farm on which I lived. Initially, my interest in the outdoors related to food to keep my growing appetite in check, but it wasn’t long before my ever inquisitive mind wanted to know more. I discovered that camping was better when items were “forgotten” and improvisation was required. Slowly I shed the items found in camping packs until I shed the pack itself. Always curious, I chased many questions that led me to aviation where, at fifteen, I gained the moniker “Wildman” from my flight instructor. The survival skills and dreams continued to simmer through my early teens, sometimes on the back burner, but more often on the front and I continued to learn and share what I knew. Working at a survival school, I quickly rose to the position of “Head Instructor” and began acquiring other survival related skills like tracking and primitive pottery as well as various hunting methods.
Traveling far and wide in search of more survival knowledge, I hitchhiked through Mexico; skirting rebellions and gun toting, bribe demanding “Federales” as well as the rather brash drug dealers of the mid 1990’s eventually making it to Belize where I spent time in the coastal jungle. The mountains of Fiji, the hinterlands of New Zealand and the Outback of Australia drew me on ever lengthening journeys into remote and dangerous situations in which my knowledge of the outdoors, wildlife as well as a bit of common sense, saw me safely through. I hunted and trapped wild boar for the National Park Service, tracked missing kids and wounded deer alike, and always sought more. Free diving and spear fishing, caving, both dry and underwater, rock climbing and structure scaling all fueled my passion for learning about our species and how we interact with the wild world.
Taking survival out of the proverbial classroom, I left the students behind and headed out with the clothes on my back and the knife on my belt to test my knowledge in the natural world. One such 50 day event is chronicled in my first, coauthored, book “Wilderness Survival – Living off the Land with the Clothes on Your Back and the Knife on your Belt” International Marine/Ragged Mountain Press, 2006. Seeking to reach more people and share more of my expertise, I wrote a second book, this time on my own, titled “Wilderness Survival Handbook: Primitive Skills for Short-Term Survival and Long-Term Comfort” McGraw-Hill 2010. I spent time in Alaska, Montana, and the Canadian Rockies working on my understanding of snow shelters and mammal tracking. For desert survival, I hit the southwestern US and northern Mexico as well as Western Australia. For Jungle survival I ventured into Central America, Hawaii, Fiji, the Northern Territory in Australia. In all, I have visited all but three states in the U.S. and many countries on my quest for knowledge and I have no plans to stop.
In all of this were injuries and loss. I broke my leg three times, as well as ribs, nose, fingers, toes and a collarbone too. Friends died or were killed due to everything from free diving to cancer and while sobering, I learned from these events and moved forward.
Currently, I work as a tracker, survival instructor, naturalist teacher, nuisance hunter, hunt manager and gather data on wildlife for study. I am also a teacher at the local private school.
I am always looking for the next adventure, the next chance to try something new, gain knowledge and share it with those interested enough to watch.