Dave Canterbury and Cody Lundin show how to survive in the wilds.
EVER so often, we come across stories of hikers who lose their way while trekking in the jungles. While it can be unnerving having to survive in a maze of shrubs and identical trees, there are ways to survive the ultimate wilderness test without becoming prey to hungry predators or stung by poisonous creepy crawlies.
Ask military trainer Dave Canterbury, and he will gladly share survival tips with anyone planning to go on an expedition – be it jungle trekking or mountain climbing.
The seasoned hiker’s rule of thumb is to do research on the destination, terrain, poisonous plant species and predators before a trip.
“Don’t let yourself become food for predators. It is important to understand an animal’s habitat and behaviour. It is equally essential to learn how to differentiate between poisonous and harmless insects,” said Canterbury in a phone interview from Ohio, the United States, recently.
Canterbury and primitive skills expert Cody Lundin co-host Dual Survival, a wilderness survival documentary programme on Discovery Channel (Astro Channel 551).
The 10-parter series, which premieres on Nov 1 (9pm), features the duo who showcase contrasting survival skills to educate viewers on ways to survive in different challenging environments.
The programme finds them being thrown into harsh environments that could happen to anyone – marooned sailors, lost hikers, trapped divers, lost-in-the-desert travellers and stranded mountain climbers.
Equipped with minimal gear, it focuses on their expertise in conjuring different methods to find their way back to civilisation and survive at the same time.
The series pilot, Shipwrecked, features the duo on a deserted island off the coast of Nova Scotia, Canada, during winter.
Armed with their skills, they salvage items such as blanket, knives and rescue flare to find shelter, fire, food and water in sub-zero conditions.
“It focuses on two people from contrasting backgrounds who approach survival with some semblance of teamwork. We are both trained in our respective fields and are teachers of wilderness self-reliance and primitive skills. In this programme, we try to show how to help save lives,” said Lundin from Arizona.
Other episodes see them as stranded mountaineers in New Zealand, lost divers in a labyrinth of underground caves in Belize, lost hikers in the sweltering jungles of Laos and travellers lost in Peru’s infamous Valley of the Volcanoes.
The guys were keen to share their knowledge (on survival skills) with the journalists taking part in the phone interviews. Questions forwarded were thoroughly answered to ensure everyone understood the importance of surviving in the wild.
Canterbury has over 20 years of training in military and civilian survival. Besides being a sniper and scout, he has trained soldiers in the United States, Central America and South Korea in unarmed combat and close-quarter techniques. He is also author of survival book The Pathfinder System: Survivability For The Common Man, which was released earlier this year.
Lundin is a survival instructor who honed his skills living in the deserts and mountains. In 1991, he founded the Aboriginal Living Skills School in Arizona and currently teaches survival curriculum in nonprofit school Ecosa Institute in Prescott, Arizona.
Lundin is also the best-selling author of two books 98.6 Degrees: The Art of Keeping Your Ass Alive and When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes. He hasn’t worn shoes (or long pants) for over 20 years and is the only person in Arizona licensed to catch fish with his bare hands.
If you are planning for a hiking trip, Canterbury advises to bring along some essential items.
“A cutting tool, combustion device (to ignite fire), covering device (to protect your body from hypothermia/hyperthermia), stainless steel container (for drinking water) and cordage (a rope or string made by twisting fibres),” said Canterbury.
When asked the importance of carrying a compass, Canterbury explained: “The compass is actually number six on the list, after cordage. To navigate effectively, you can rely on the sun and the stars. These are simple ways to get your bearings right.”
Lundin chipped in: “Other essential items include a knife, garbage bag, mirror and whistle. If you want to be rescued quickly, think of the ways to escape the woods. These include wearing loud colours, making loud noises or flashing devices that can attract attention.”
Interestingly, the show hosts agree that using common sense and being determined are far more important than theoretical knowledge, when lost in unfamiliar territory.
“You need common sense and the right mindset that you’re never going to give up. You need to have in mind that whatever happens, you’re going to keep going, and that you’re going to live.
“Beyond that, you need to ensure you have certain tools that will effectively let you control your body’s core temperature and keep you alive,” said Canterbury.
Lundin advised hikers on the importance of informing family and friends before embarking on a journey.
“Hikers need leave a five-point plan – their destination, expected time of return, who their travelling companions are, vehicle type and reason for the trip. This can expedite rescue authorities in finding a missing person,” he concluded. n DualSurvival premieres on Nov 1 (9pm) on Discovery Channel (Astro Channel 551).
Outdoor heroes: Cody Lundin (left) and Dave Canterbury filming on location at the
Olympic National Forest in Washington.