Survival Training 101: Stay in a Hotel!

Here, have a grub!

By Donna Cavanagh • Guest Writer
Photograph: Photo by IStock.

My daughter’s boyfriend is an outdoorsman, and this is funny because my daughter is not the woodsy type. His idea of roughing it is sleeping in the woods without a tent; her idea of roughing it is staying at a hotel with no room service. I guess I should admit that she does take after me.
So, this week while he was visiting, he tried to show us how exciting it is to be in the woods and forests where they do not have restaurants, malls or indoor plumbing. He put on a TV show that focused on surviving in the wilderness. Two guys, an army veteran sniper and a self-proclaimed hippie survivalist, teach viewers literally how to survive if they get lost in the middle of nowhere. 

I was fascinated by this show because it showed me that if I ever got lost in the woods, I would die. I would definitely die. I know nothing about the wilderness. The army vet and the hippie, who walks around barefoot all the time, demonstrated what trees to snack on and what bugs to eat. I might be able to do the trees, but I do not know if I can eat bugs. I just cannot imagine myself doing that. I guess if I was dying of hunger, and I closed my eyes, I might be able to nosh on a bug, but I think I might have to be near delirium to swallow it. 

After they chowed down on grubs—yes, grubs—the survival experts explained that the wilderness is a dangerous place with man-eating animals, and they told viewers how to recognize a potential bear den or cougar lair. Again, my first instinct is not to vacation in places where these animals dwell. The only bears I want to see are the cute animated ones who answer to the names “Yogi” and “Boo Boo”.

The next skill the wilderness wonders demonstrated was hunting down game. The sniper guy had to make his own bow and arrow which he did with material he found in the woods. Yes, he used tree bark and camouflage duct tape and some kind of slimy tree sap to hold it all together. When he spotted a group of elk (I am not sure what the correct nomenclature is for lots of elk), he crept up on them and watched them intently as he prepared to make his move. I felt bad because the elk looked so cute. He was getting ready to shoot them, and I was screaming at the TV:

“Run, elk! Run for your lives! Run as fast as you can!”

My daughter’s boyfriend said there was no way I would be invited on hunting trips, and if I was lost in the woods with the sniper and the survivalist, and I’d scared away the elk, the two guys would shoot me for dinner and no one would know. 

I was a little insulted. Luckily, the sniper guy did not get an elk, but he did bag a wild turkey. I hate to admit it, but I did not feel nearly as bad over the turkey. Come on, I eat one on Thanksgiving, and I have turkey sandwiches, so how big a hypocrite can I be?

When the sniper guy spotted the turkey, he warbled this turkey call, and the bird responded and came closer and that is when he grabbed it with his hands and in almost one movement cut off its head, gutted its insides and de-feathered it. Then he put it on his homemade skewer and roasted it on the fire that he’d started with no matches. 

Damn! I have a tough time cooking a Butterball with the little plastic timer thing stuck in it, and this guy pulled out the feathers and insides and made a great meal. Suddenly, I found this guy to be sort of hot. Truthfully, I think any guy who cooks is sexy, but how many women have a man gut, cook and clean up dinner? Yep, definitely sexy. Maybe it’s time I raise my bar for sexy. The barefoot hippie eating the bugs was another story. I did not find him attractive at all. I think I need a guy with shoes. That’s just me, though. 

Anyway, the two wilderness experts made it out of these woods (which, by the way, were in the Pacific Northwest). They did not even have a compass.They just knew to go west and head to the coast. Again, this might be a problem for me. I can figure out east and west in the morning when the sun is rising and in the evening when the sun is setting. However, those hours in between, I pretty much wander around not knowing where the hell I am. That is why I am a big fan of GPS. If you stick me in the woods with trees that block out the sun, I am not finding west. So I would be toast because no one is going to find me in the middle of the thousands of acres of uncharteted territory. 

I guess I would not have made a great pioneer or explorer. I would not have been a welcome addition to the Lewis and Clark expedition or the Spanish team trying to find the Pacific. I probably would have made the Donner Party eat each other a lot sooner than they did. Oh well, I guess surviving in the wilderness is not my thing, so to keep safe, I will just rough it at four-star hotels. Why tempt fate?

First Published Fri, 2010-10-08 14:07

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