The Death of Manliness: “Survival Expert” Almost Dies in Reality Show Fiasco


Got to love those armchair survivalists, you know the ones who wax philosophical on the Internet about how they would basically rule the world post TEOTWAWKI with their Ruger Mini-14, and AK clone and some handgun they can’t fire without getting hairline fractures in their wrists. For the last couple of years my precious survivalist websites have been filling up with these walking corpses who do nothing but wildly speculate on the lethality of various calibers and form “survival strategies” that sound suspiciously similar to the plot from Dawn of the Dead.

I blame the influx of two groups into survivalism for this sort of caviler belief that survival is simply a matter of buying a gun and a camp purifier and using Dies the Fire as a study guide. The first are the Alex Jones set, who are convinced that in the future they and their homegrown militia be fighting off the armies of the anti-Christ which will consist largely of hordes of people zombified by the evil vaccine lobby and their super-science. The second group are lefties who think that they are smarter than the average survivalist and thus better equipped (intellectually) to survive. This second group consists mainly of urban dwellers who have little experience with either outdoor living or “roughing it” in general but think that a few Google searches and a trip to Eddie Bauer will prepare them for anything.

Which brings me to the story of “adventurer” Ed Wardle. Channel 4 in England contracted this scion of manhood to basically go camping for three months in the admittedly inhospitable Canadian Yukon. Hilarity then ensued:

Seven weeks after striding out into the rugged forests of western Canada armed with a rifle and a fishing rod, Mr Wardle had to be airlifted back to civilisation suffering from starvation.

He sent out a distress call five weeks before he was due to finish filming his one-man survival programme Alone In The Wild for Channel 4.


Mr Wardle lived off berries and any animals he could catch while trekking between hand-built shelters made out of fallen trees.

At first he appeared to be weathering the challenge, despite his lack of survival training.

He had been confident of finding regular food, telling the Daily Mail prior to setting off: ‘I imagine I have a long future of fish-eating in front of me. It’s going to be trout and grayling for 12 weeks.

‘But meat’s a relatively easy thing to get your hands on too. There are hares, squirrels and gophers. They’re good to eat because they’re fatty.

‘The porcupines are easy to catch because they don’t move very fast. As long as you’re careful with the spines, they’re a good source of food. You hit it with a big stick, roll it over, slice it open and peel the skin back, the same as you would any mammal.’

However, friends following his progress on Twitter – including long-term girlfriend Amanda Murray who lives with him in Islington, North London – became increasingly concerned when he appeared to start losing his grip on reality, hallucinating and talking to insects as starvation set in.

Two weeks ago he tweeted about losing weight rapidly, saying his muscles were ‘disappearing’. Most alarming of all, he counted his heartbeat at just 32 beats-per-minute. A healthy range is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.

Meat is actually not easy to come by at all, which is something anyone who has ever been hunting or fishing would have told Wardle if he asked. Any outdoors, woodsloafer or even the blogger with the world’s most neglected survival blog could tell you that even in pristine wilderness you will not be successful hunting or fishing everyday. Hunting is, in fact, the very worst survival strategy since it is a time consuming, calorie burning endeavor that is not guaranteed to pay off in the long run.

For gathering meat, by far your best course of action is to run a trapline (using snares and dead-falls that require minimum equipment, as found in books like The Trapper’s Bible) that you can check after foraging for other food stuffs, and hopefully you’ll come across animal trails you can follow occasionally. You should therefore probably carry a few pounds of some sort of food stuffs to keep you going.

These are things an “intrepid adventurer” should know. You cannot simply be dropped off into a forest and suddenly become Grizzly Adams. Even the Mountain Men who opened the west made occasional contact with civilization to purchase staples like flour, coffee and whatever useful items they could afford. A real survivalist is a person who maximizes their chances at living through a situation, which takes practice, planning and common sense. Weekends camping in England won’t prepare a person for weeks of surviving in the Yukon. Relying on the hunting ability of a an urban dweller from a country where most people don’t even have any shooting experience is a recipe for disaster.

The planning for this trip was asinine. Wandering from point to point burns precious calories when setting up a semi-permanent camp and staying put would have given them all the footage they needed. Why they didn’t set him up a short distance to a water source (where animals will be likely to visit) with a tent (which even historical trekkers, those hardy souls who camp and wander using only 18th and 19th century era equipment, consider a near necessity of long stays in the wild) is beyond me unless this was some convoluted scheme to try to collect his life insurance. This trip was clearly planned by people who had no idea just how hard on man nature is. The “expert” in fact had no experience in woodcraft at all:

 Mr Wardle was chosen for the project because of his ability as a cameraman and producer, and his experience of filming in the North Pole and on the summit of Everest.

He has worked on shows for Channel 4, ITV, BBC and Discovery.

But he had no specific training for living alone in the remote territory, 80 per cent of which is pristene wilderness.

A man should be able to survive a few months in the woods, but to do so requires planning out your stay and dropping the childish fantasy you’ve developed from watching movies. Take the time to learn how to live in the wild, not by taking a few classes offered by the same experts that helped Channel 4  put this fiasco together, but by studying and practicing the skills you would need to do so. A man knows that he is not the great hunter for whom animals will willingly give up the ghost so that he can eat, and that in places like the Yukon a pound of Bisquick is worth its weight in gold. At the very least he should know that fishing with rod and reel is a hobby, not a survival strategy. Unfortunately, we have progressed to a point where most men not only don’t know that, but have no way of knowing that.

Tragedy is too often the result of that ignorance, and our separation from nature.

h/t The Firearm Blog

8 thoughts on “The Death of Manliness: “Survival Expert” Almost Dies in Reality Show Fiasco

  1. “Tragedy is too often the result of that ignorance, and our separation from nature.”

    This is so right, if ppl would just take the time and energy to prepare and learn a little, it could prevent allot of accidents.

  2. Exactly. Instead people think they can simply be told what to do by an expert and they are ready. People who think they can hunt to survive have never hunted. And people who think they can feed themselves with a Rod and Reel have not been fishing. A casting net and some snares is worth twice their weight in gold in a harsh environment like the Yukon. And some Bisquick and dried meat makes you king.

  3. Seen the show on tv. He had a gun but would not shoot an elk or ducks that he filmed because the season was not in as it was against the law. And he was starving at the time. Ahhhh, what the hell. Reality…….Bang Bang, roast duck and elk meat out in the middle of nowwhere. So fine me.

  4. You will see a push towards the commercialism of any movement. Be it Rush Wanting to claim victories of the Tea Party, or Discovery channels attempting to throw together a program that people might actually watch. Its all garbage.

    I am a survivalist… Actually I am a home steader. However I was offened by your view of two types of survivalist. Its that kind of narrow vision that is the very same ignorance channel 4 displayed. You left out the Ron Paul Libertarian supporter. The Christian believing we are simply living the “birth Pains” as written in Revelations, as the prereturn of the Lord. Try to be more open minded. We have many athiests and people of all religions that are survivalists.

    I did enjoy your article. I enjoyed how you mocked their attempt to portray a survivalist, and it failed miserably. On the other hand you, your self seem skeptical at a mans ability to survive in the wild. Again the Irony wasn’t lost. Man has survived thousands of years, with out collective efforts, cities, or Walmart.

    A mans ability to survive is based on his knowledge of nature, physical ability, willingness to survive. We have women on our boards who can identify food from medicine, just by walking through their back yards.

    When you attempt to stereotype people, your almost always wrong. Most of us not only are ready for when it happens, we live it now. Heirloom seeds, green houses, off grid technology, and yes, even fire arms.

  5. I didn’t say there were two kinds of survivalists I said that the influx of two kinds of survivalists have hurt the movement. I’m a survivalist (and even visit survivalist boards on occasion) but I can’t be open minded about people who are literally planning to murder me after a disaster and collapse.

    Many cannot survive alone in nature, that’s why civilization develops. Even mountain men met once a year, established trading relationships with tribes of the area (who had … civilizations) and relayed on European and American markets to fund their trapping. That’s my point. Alone in the wilderness seems a fine idea until you need a tooth pulled, or sprain an ankle. Like I said a few moths is all the average person could do without needing at least some sort of trade. As a prepper I factor that into my plans. If I end up in the woods for some reason I would be on the look out for trading partners. I also would go prepared.

    The boards are a network of people trading skills and knowledge to survive. That’s my point. A few google searches and a trip to Dicks is not sufficient to survive in the wilds. Being skeptical that most people CAN’T survive in the woods is not the same as saying no one CAN. But I preach realism and preparedness. Wondering to Alaska with nothing but a backpack, a shotgun and smugness is not a survival strategy.

    After TEOTWAWKI, it will be communities that survive, people who can work together to grow food etc. The lone survivalist who can’t integrate into a small town or farming community is doomed long term.

    Also I’m not sure you know what stereotype means…

  6. Here we go…

    Another oppurtunity for the armchair survivalist know-it-alls to tell how they are so much better and point out the flaws of this tard, ya good one, Im sure your all so much better and have it all figured out. Too much man vs. wild should help Darwinian theory thin out the pack i guess..

  7. Hey! Now Dies The Fire had some very good information in it . . . 😛 Anyway, I think that both types are laughable and I agree for the most part. My husband and I both have sensed that something big may happen in our lifetime since we were children. It was one of the things that brought us closer together as a couple, helped us ride out stormy parts of our marriage, and made sure we stuck to our goals to learn as much as practicable for if/when something happens to disrupt our lives.

    I DO think that Dies The Fire had a good message and good information. It mentioned practical things that my husband and I hadn’t thought of, even if the series later spun into pure fantasy land. But you know, I have extensive medical herbalism, wildcraft, canning, preserving (the OLD ways), cooking, gardening, seed collection, and sanitation training amongst a lot of other skills. My husband can do many other ‘old-fashioned’ skills as well. And as we’ve gone along, we’ve also picked up other people who believe similarly to us and will come together with us and contribute their own unique skills (including folks who have roughed it). Together we’ve made survival plans for various scenarios, laminated maps with alternate routes, set up various places to meet up, mapped out where salt springs and fresh springs are in our state, etc.

    Group survival is where it is, in our opinion. In order to survive and protect your own if TSHTF then you need to form small groups and trust those people implicitly. We also think you have to keep your skills sharp and constantly expand your knowledge whilst you can. If you can do that (and not go stark raving thinking about what may happen) then your survival chances go way, way up.

    Just our opinion.

  8. There was a lot to be learned from this show. Don’t be fooled by reality shows on TV they are scripted and controlled and very little “real” happens. This show was a failure considering what it’s goal was but it was very real and very illustrative of what the problems will be. Yes, he was poorly prepared for this but even those of us who might think we are prepared would/could suffer many of the same pitfalls.

    I think this guy’s connection with civilization was his biggest problem. He was trying to stay close to where he was expected to be when it should have been clear he needed to be somewhere else, somewhere that there was food. He also would have approached the problems differently without the ability to call in the calvary. He had an “out” and it crippled him. He never had the drive to survive deep in his gut. He always knew he could play his get out of jail free card. His emotional ups and downs were embarrassing but very real. Expect that, especially if you are alone.

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