SUR­VIVAL’S NITTY GRITTY

PART 3 OF AMER­I­CAN SUR­VIVAL GUIDE’S EX­CLU­SIVE THREEPART IN­TER­VIEW WITH SUR­VIVAL IN­STRUC­TOR AND AUTHOR CREEK STE­WART

American Survival Guide - - FIRST WORDS - BY MICHAEL D’ANGONA

rop in be­tween.

In gen­eral, I’ll dis­cuss what I re­fer to as “wild water.” This is sim­ply sur­face water, such as a river, ond or stream, in any back-coun­try wilder­ness en­vi­ron­ment. Re­cent stud­ies sug­gest that this ype of back­coun­try water is sur­pris­ingly less risky to drink than most might as­sume. Through ar­i­ous tests, it has been found that even where the mi­crobes that cause dis­ease ex­ist, they are ften so di­lute that they don’t pose a real threat to hu­mans. [Go to https://www.wemjour­nal.org/ ar­ti­cle/s1080-6032(04)70498-6/full­text for more in­for­ma­tion on this topic.]

How­ever, ev­ery ef­fort should still be made to ei­ther fil­ter out or kill all mi­crobes from wild water, clud­ing bac­te­ria, pro­to­zoan cysts and viruses. Min­i­miz­ing risk is at the core of sur­vival. Sur­vival dif­fer­ent from camp­ing. If you’re camp­ing and you drink wild water that gets you sick, you just o home or go to the hos­pi­tal and you’ll be okay in a few days. Be­cause these op­tions aren’t vail­able in a sur­vival sce­nario, the de­ci­sion to drink wild water with­out mak­ing sure it’s safe is pretty big one. The con­se­quences are dire—vom­it­ing, di­ar­rhea, de­hy­dra­tion and even­tu­ally, eath. This ex­act sce­nario is one of the lead­ing causes of death in the world. It’s a se­ri­ous is­sue if ed­i­cal at­ten­tion isn’t avail­able.

With all of that said, even if there is no way to fil­ter, boil or oth­er­wise pu­rify wild water, one hould al­ways drink be­fore suf­fer­ing from ad­vanced stages of de­hy­dra­tion. De­hy­dra­tion will kill ou 100 per­cent of the time.

“IN MY EX­PE­RI­ENCE, A CAMP EX­POSED TO THE WIND WITH A SMOKY FIRE IS THE BEST SO­LU­TION FOR MOSQUITOES.”

ASG: On the sub­ject of liq­uids—drink your own urine dur­ing des­per­ate times, or is this ever okay?

CS: It is never okay. Here’s a quick and sim­ple bi­ol­ogy les­son: Urine con­tains sodium. The

mount of sodium can vary de­pend­ing on the diet and the per­son. In or­der for your kid­neys to process salt water, it must first be di­luted us­ing your fresh water stores. This fresh water is pulled om other ar­eas of your body to do this. Ul­ti­mately, be­cause of this bi­o­log­i­cal process, you end p uri­nat­ing out more water than you took in, which leads to in­creased de­hy­dra­tion.

How­ever, it is pos­si­ble for a per­son’s urine salt level to be lower than his or her body, which ould not re­quire the ex­ces­sive use of fresh-water stores. But when you’ve reached a point of ehy­dra­tion where you’re con­sid­er­ing drink­ing your urine, it is likely very con­cen­trated with not nly sodium, but also an ar­ray of other waste prod­ucts your body is des­per­ately try­ing to get rid f. In­stead, use your urine in a makeshift so­lar still and dis­till the potable water from it.

ASG: When cooped up in a camp with oth­ers for days on end and no show­ers in sight, does one ven­tu­ally be­come obliv­i­ous to the com­bined odor of smoke, sweat and dirt ev­ery­one emits?

CS: In my ex­pe­ri­ence, it’s quite the op­po­site. The aro­mas of smoke and dirt are wel­come smells ver any­thing and ev­ery­thing the hu­man body se­cretes, ex­pels and emits. Sev­eral years ago, I lmed a tele­vi­sion show for which I took three guys into the woods for a week. We’d of­ten­times leep in close quar­ters. I’ll never for­get one par­tic­u­lar week when we ac­tu­ally named our shel­ter The Funk Bunker.”

ASG: From mosquitos to bit­ing flies to imbed­ded ticks, have you ever wit­nessed in­sects tak­ing own even the most sea­soned out­doors­man?

CS: Bit­ing in­sects can drive a per­son to the brink of in­san­ity. I’ve been swarmed by black clouds f mosquitoes in north­ern Min­nesota and have had to scrape seed ticks from my skin with a rowel in Mis­souri. There is no greater feel­ing of help­less­ness or tor­ment. It is a tor­ture un­like any ther; and, in some in­stances, it can be nearly im­pos­si­ble to es­cape.

This is one of the great­est rea­sons I pre­fer cold weather sur­vival over warm weather sur­vival. I’ll hop fire­wood over bat­tling in­sects any day of the week. In my ex­pe­ri­ence, a camp ex­posed to he wind with a smoky fire is the best so­lu­tion for mosquitoes.

ASG: Has there been a time, un­der pres­sure and un­der the cam­era’s eye, that you failed or took ay too long to com­plete a nor­mally sim­ple sur­vival task?

CS: There aren’t enough pages in your mag­a­zine for me to list them all! Trust me when I tell you hat my ca­reer is filled with more fail­ures than suc­cesses.

I’ll never for­get my first big news ap­pear­ance. was just start­ing out as a sur­vival in­struc­tor nd landed an ap­pear­ance on the largest news et­work in our re­gion. I was pumped, be­cause his was my big break.

I de­cided to shock and awe the host and view­ing au­di­ence with the bow drill fire start. fter I fin­ished talk­ing about the im­por­tance f choos­ing the right sur­vival in­struc­tor, I ot down on the ground and started drilling. ome­thing wasn’t right. I started to sweat nd get frus­trated. I looked up a minute or so ater to see the ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer mak­ing he “cut” sign with her hand across her throat. was like one of those bad dreams where ou go to school in your un­der­wear—ex­cept wasn’t a dream. I failed, and I was hu­mil­i­ated. hey cut to com­mer­cial break, and I left eel­ing com­pletely de­mor­al­ized.

That would be the first of many em­bar­rass­ing fail­ures in my life as a sur­vival in­struc­tor.

ASG: Which one sur­vival task or tech­nique (if ny) would you be em­bar­rassed to say that you mply “can’t get,” no mat­ter how much you try?

CS: I’m not sure about “can’t get,” but I’m not a big fan of big, open water. I’d re­ally pre­fer never to have to sur­vive on a raft in the mid­dle of the ocea

ASG: You make it look easy to film a sur­vival-style tele­vi­sion pro­gram, but be­hind the scenes, does the power of Mother Na­ture fre­quently throw a curve ball into the mix?

CS: Thank God for ed­i­tors! Ev­ery time I set up to teach a so­lar fire-start while film­ing, the clouds ro in. Ev­ery time I try to have a con­ver­sa­tion to the cam­era around a fire while film­ing, the smoke blow straight into my face. Ev­ery time I’m con­fi­dent I can find a wild ed­i­ble plant in an area, there are none in sight. One thing I’ve learned about film­ing and sur­vival is that your great­est skill is flex­i­bil­ity. Mother Na­ture al­ways throws you a curve ball. I’ve al­ways thought it ironic that we call her “Mother Na­ture. That term im­plies that she cares and might want to nur­ture you. She doesn’t care. Not at al

ASG: For bet­ter or for worse, your ex­po­sure “on-air” gives you a celebrity sta­tus among many view­ers and fol­low­ers. Has this ex­pe­ri­ence al­ways been pos­i­tive, or have there been some sit­u­a­tions that made you long for the out-of-the-spot­light life again?

“I’VE AL­WAYS THOUGHT IT IRONIC THAT WE CALL HER 'MOTHER' NA­TURE. THAT TERM IM­PLIES THAT SHE CARES AND MIGHT WANT TO NUR­TURE YOU. SHE DOESN’T CARE. NOT AT ALL!”

CS: De­spite my very pub­lic per­sona, I am a ery pri­vate per­son. In gen­eral, it’s all pos­i­tive. ut, I’ll ad­dress the nega­tive as­pect with a tory about my­self.

Hardly any­one knows that I’ve strug­gled ith a dry skin con­di­tion called pso­ri­a­sis ost of my life. Be­cause it was vis­i­ble n my scalp and legs, mid­dle school was retty bru­tal. You know how kids are. I hated ym glass, and lice checks were my worst night­mare! I was the butt of more than one mid­dle school joke, that’s for sure. I re­mem­ber when I was a kid, ly­ing in bed cry­ing and sk­ing God why in the world He would al­low e to have skin like that.

Thirty years later, I fi­nally fig­ured it out! He as just tough­en­ing me up to be a well-known sur­vival in­struc­tor in a world with so­cial me­dia!

ASG: And speak­ing of ded­i­cated fans, what ould you say is the odd­est gift that some­one as sent you?

CS: I’ve re­ceived a ton of awe­some gifts from ans. These in­clude knives, art­work, cards, tters, pho­tos, cloth­ing, sou­venirs, hand­made ifts, books, Bi­bles, a big box of mug­wort aves and even clip­pers—with a note co­mand­ing me to cut my hair! One guy sent me he spin­dle from his first suc­cess­ful bow drill. ve got­ten freshly baked cook­ies and home­made jams. I’ve opened pack­ages with seeds, plants, fruit, antlers and even freshly made aple syrup. I’ve re­ceived Boy Scout patches om all over the world and pho­tos of big, fat ow drill em­bers.

But there’s one gift that stands out from all he rest. I’ll never for­get open­ing it. In­side was a card and small box that looked kind of like a jewelry box. I opened the card, which ex­plained that the ashes in the lit­tle box were from Sam, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi who ap­par­ently loved watch­ing re­runs of my show, SOS: How to Sur­vive, on The Weather Chan­nel. The owner ex­plaine in the card that ev­ery time Sam heard my voice, he would run and sit in front of the tele­vi­sion and learn sur­vival skills. He felt Sam would want at least a part of his re­mains to be with me.

Who would’ve thought that my big­gest fan would be a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Sam! Rest in peace, Sam.

ASG: When tak­ing “new­bies” out into the wild for days or per­haps weeks, what per­sonal item is the most dif­fi­cult for them to give up dur­ing their time away? And when they do, how long is it be­fore they for­get about it and en­joy the won­ders of na­ture around them?

CS: Their bed. They typ­i­cally for­get about it around day three—af­ter two nights of no sleep.

ASG: Last, but cer­tainly not least: your name. Is it truly "Creek," or is that just a fit­ting nick­name? And will you re­veal your ac­tual first name?

CS: We have a tra­di­tion in our fam­ily to name the boys af­ter where they were born. It worked out pretty well for me, but my brother got the short end of the stick. His name is El­e­va­tor. So, was I re­ally born in a creek?

No; Creek is a nick­name given to me by my grand­fa­ther. It seems I spent a lot of time in the creek when I was a boy, and ev­ery time my fam­ily needed to know where I was, they looked to the creek. Be­fore long, they just started call­ing me that. It suits me. Iron­i­cally, with my pro­fes­sion, I still spend most of my time in a creek some­where. I've of­ten said that my grand­fa­ther de­fined my des­tiny with that name; he'd get a real kick out of what I've de­cided to do with my life.

So, what’s my real name? I have no prob­lem shar­ing that. But, I'll an­swer your ques­tion with a bit of a quiz. It's the first book in the New Tes­ta­ment. No, it's not Ge­n­e­sis—i said the New Tes­ta­ment.

“I STILL SPEND MOST OF MY TIME IN A CREEK SOME­WHERE. I'VE OF­TEN SAID THAT MY GRAND­FA­THER DE­FINED MY DES­TINY WITH THAT NAME; HE'D GET A REAL KICK OUT OF WHAT I'VE DE­CIDED TO DO WITH MY LIFE.”

Left: Creek skins a snake, which he says tastes very good (and yes, it tastes sim­i­lar to chicken). (Photo: The Weather Chan­nel)Be­low: The sun cast­ing shad­ows, the wind blow­ing props or a sud­den rain­storm can put a dent in an oth­er­wise smooth shoot­ing sched­ule. (Photo: The Weather Chan­nel)Bot­tom: Things don’t al­ways go as planned when un­der the cam­era’s eye. Creek learned this first­hand while film­ing in Mother Na­ture’s back­yard. (Photo: The Weather Chan­nel)

Far left: Althoug eat­ing a scor­pion will pro­vide some much-needed calo­ries, it is not the tasti­est snack in the world. (Pho to: The Weather Chan­nel)Near left: Sur­vivaHacks is just one of many books Creek Ste­wart has writ­ten, in­clud­ing a cou­ple of fic­tion works. Visit his web­site to see the com­plete list.

Be­low: Creek boils tiny min­nows in­side a plas­tic bot­tle over his makeshift camp­fire. (Photo: The Weather Chan­nel)Bot­tom: Creek cooks squir­rel meat over an open fire. (Photo: Creek Ste­wart)

Bot­tom right: Creek ties off sup­port ropes be­fore his de­scent down the moun­tain­side. (Photo: Creek Ste­wart)

Top right: Creek takes an or­di­nary item—in this in­stance, a spoon— and cre­ates an ex­tra­or­di­nary sur­vival aid: an ar­row point. (Photo: The Weather Chan­nel)

Creek demon­strates his re­source­ful­ness as he cre­ates a pair of shoes us­ing a car’s floor mats. (Photo: The Weather Chan­nel)

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