Sunday, June 21, 2015

A new survival show, Les Stroud books, and the sequel to "One Second After."

This week the History Channel premiered it's new series, Alone.   The basic premise is that they dump off ten men up in British Columbia, and the last man standing wins the prize. They took a page from Les Stroud's book, and have each individual filming his own narrative rather than faking it a la Naked and Afraid.

The first show is still being broadcast at odd hours on the History Channel if you missed the roll out. Strangely, one of the contestants is a man from North Georgia, from a county near my own. I'm rooting for him, naturally.  I don't know where they found all these guys, since some of them are clearly out of their depth in the woods. One fellow from Ohio started out whining about how he's afraid of bears, and misses his wife and kids. He cries a lot. And this on first day.  All in all, it might be an interesting series. But then, I said that about "Alaskan Bush People" and that was so bad it was embarrassing.

I've lived in the woods for 30+ years, and I'd not have signed on for this show.  No rifle, no dogs. I'm out. The woods can be a very dangerous place and I think these islands in B.C. are more dangerous than our mountains. At least here starting a fire is no problem. Nor do we have gray wolves, or the numbers of mountain lions they have up there.

I put my money , in this order, on the Georgian, the Floridian (native ), and the North Carolinian.  The others don't impress me.

If you haven't read Les Stroud's two books, you might enjoy them.  I learned a lot about living out in the bush from them, though I fervently hope I never have to put any of it to use. I used to spend a lot of time exploring the forest here when my son was home, but those days are past for me now.

This particular book is largely a narrative of different survival situations people got themselves into.

Stroud writes about what they did right, what they did wrong, and how they could have avoided getting into trouble in the first place.

It's an interesting book and has some good common sense, practical tips for people going out in the bush.

This is a pretty good book as well.  It's paperback, doesn't cost a lot, and makes for good reading.

Stroud is the survival guru I have the most faith in, and the most respect for.  I admire Cody Lundin but he is second place because he has some strange personality traits that I think add to his colorful persona but may not be one hundred percent on track from a practical aspect.

The last Stroud series on American TV was his "Bigfoot" production, which I believe numbered seven one hour shows. He was careful not to take a position on the question of whether Big Foot does or does not exist, but he met some really interesting people and the show made entertaining viewing.

CC and I were talking about the sequel to  One Second After coming out.   That's a classic book about an EMP event, and I like it even more because it takes place about two hours north of where I live. The second book,  One Year After, will be available in September.


  1. I wish I had the time and money to read, but those days are mostly past. The bad thing is that when I have the most time (winter), I have the LEAST money! lol

    1. gorges,
      library card plus interlibrary loan. husband gets books from all over ohio that way.
      of course you have to go through snow to get them turned in on time.

    2. I've got all the time in the world. Sometimes it seems like I have too much free time on my hands these days. But then, it's been three years since I retired and I'm pretty sure I like this better.

  2. I haven't watched any les stroud but maybe I should. Don;t know if you caught my post about The Island but that was a really good show I think you'd like.
    That book one second after sounds good, I might have to add that to my wish list!

    1. Les Stroud is a Canadian, and one of the very few survival show hosts that I feel like is genuine. I hear there are a couple in England (not Bear the Faker), but I have never seen any of their shows.

      One Second After is a great read. The sequel is supposed to be political and I don't think I will like it as much, but I'll read it.

      I have not heard of the Island but I'll check out your post. There are a whole bunch of B.S. survival shows over here, like Naked and Afraid, which are totally bogus so I am always interested in watching new ones in hopes of something more realistic. Man, Woman, Wild was good. I saw a one off show with a Brit being dumped on a Pacific island that wasn't bad. There was one called Dude you're Screwed that was so pathetic I didn't make it through the first episode.

  3. Hey Harry,


    I never really watched much of Les Stroud or anyone of that nature. I cant say anything much either negative or positive on that.

    Looking forward to sequel to 'One Second After"

    The biggest two threats to our country are an EMP event triggered by a Nuke explosion in low Earth orbit.

    The other is our computer/electrical grid getting hacked.

    I missed the premier of "The Last Ship" last night. Its an okay show. Nowhere as good as the book, but okay to watch. A super flu wipes out the planet and there is only one U.S. ship left afloat and that's an Arleigh Burke class Destroyer. (in real life if a super flu hit, there would be entire battle groups left, submarines, bases. Im sure Diego Garcia would go into full lockdown and survive, along with a great many others.
    (in the book it was a nuke war and its one U.S. destroyer left and one Russian sub.

    I am trying to get all the times together for the following.

    New Walking Dead Spinoff premier.
    Hell on Wheels.
    The last Ship.
    That one on TNT I think where spider like space aliens EMP the planet, and survivors fight back (this one is good product placement for Springfield MIA's, FN Scar's and other rifles, including the main charactor's Aresenal AK-47) Funny how Hollywood likes that gun money.

    Ah' just remembered a show that should come on is that one with the West Texas cowboy, that's filmed in Brewster County outside of Alpine, Tx. Howdy Fowler, that's the name of the cowboy with the mule.

    Howdy Fowler's the real deal. I saw pics of him with his mule on John Wells blog. Hell' Howdy Fowler ought to have his own TV show (maybe include those off the griders in Arizona) they seem okay too.

    I gotta admit that with my families history of ranching and family that lived in Brewster County, Vernon County, Texas and in Chavez and Lincoln Counties in New Mexico. I am partial to the area and ranchers that are still trying to eek out a living to this day despite all the tyrannical environmental laws, taxes and intrusion from all levels of government.

    1. I taped The Last Ship last night but haven't watched it. I thought season one was not bad. Hell on Wheels was cancelled, as far as I know, but then they'd already killed off all the good characters except Boudin.

      I'm not sure they made a second season to Where the Wild Men Are, which I think is the show Howdy Fowler was on. I liked that series and I hope I'm wrong.

      Never got into the Walking Dead so haven't heard anything about the spin off.

      Falling Skies is the show I think you are talking about with the Aliens. Season 5 premiers Sunday 28 June on TNT.

    2. Hey Harry,


      Hell on Wheels premiers on July 17th if I remember that right. Its supposed to be the last season.

      The Last Ship comes on tonight for a two hour season premier (at least that's what I got off the website???)

      That's it, Falling Skies. In years past I was never really exited about tv shows until Breaking Bad and the surprisingly well produced 'Walking Dead.
      Breaking Bad helped bring viewers back to tv.

      I respect your decision for not being interested any zombie tv shows such as Walking Dead. Quite literally, the zombie plague thing is impossible.
      The basic premise that's interesting of Walking Dead is survivors being thrown together (because everyone else is dead or infected) and the survivors learning to scavenge and survive.

      The stresses the survivors go through sorts out the strong from the weak. One of the best charactors of the Walking Dead is a former abused and battered house wife who turned out to be one of the strongest, most pragmatic in the group. This character is almost a female version of "Mike" from 'Breaking Bad"

      Carol, that's her name. Just remembered. Yeah' for a few episodes Carol is pretty good with a scoped' AR-10 (.308)

      The lady went for abused victim who was afraid of her own shadow, to a true 'Valkyrie"

      I hope this new version of Walking Dead will be as good as the current Walking Dead.

    3. I was unaware that they were doing another season of Hell on Wheels. To be honest I quit watching it because all the characters I really liked got killed by the end of the last season.
      I thought The Last Ship had already premiered the new season. I haven't checked my satellite receiver to see if it's recorded on there yet. I rarely watch any programs at air time anymore because twenty minutes out of every hour is comprised of inane, condescending adds that I can't stand. By watching the recorded program I can skip the adds.
      I don't know why I never got interested in The Walking Dead. Just never clicked with me.

  4. Hey Harry,
    Love your contributions.
    We now live in north Georgia but I was raised in Savannah amid the swamps and marshes. Les Stroud is one of the best shows of its type mainly because there are no producers touting outlandish lies. Saw one guy recently building a log cabin out of "300-pound logs" which he easily hoisted on a shoulder for transport.
    The worst was "Live Free or Die" with that faker Colbert in the south Georgia swamp. The whole scenario of him wearing a wool capote and a gray fox cap in south Georgia was groan-inducing. The fact he used rusty traps that looked like flea market rejects let me know how ignorant the producers are to actual trapping skills. But when they said he got $130 for a couple of raggedy racoons, I lost it.
    And speaking of south Georgia swamps, I turned Les Stroud off when he shot an episode where he was afraid to approach the swamp itself because of the deadly alligators. You'd really have to be a Canadian to starve in a south Georgia swamp.
    Keep up the good work and stay safe.

    1. I remember that show with the weird guy wearing the 1950 era Davey Crockett colon skin cap. I think that was the episode that caused me to write that series off.

      One thing about the Les Stroud show shot in that swamp, he got some kind of infection in his mouth, which took three months to clear up. To this day he doesn't know exactly what it was. Swamps can be nasty places.

  5. I must admit Stroud is one of the more palatable among his genre, but he lost me when he did the hunting big foot series. I watched the first of the Alone series and was not that impressed. I just can't get over the dumbing down of the narrative and the personal conflict the editors invariably weave in to the story line of these so called survival shows. Like they are targeting a 12 yr old audience in all of these shows. It is just a turn off, and for me it detracts from the reality they proclaim they portray. The two series I have really enjoyed and solidly recommend because they have none of this hype are;
    "Fat Guys In The Woods" on The Weather Channel.
    And really outstanding "The Last Alaskans" on Animal Planet
    No voice overs, no hyping drama, no running out of daylight BS, no sucking the juice out of elephant dung, no rappelling down waterfalls on a rope made out of pubic hair or some other such made up nonsense. Just the people who live in remote ANWAR camps telling their story.

    1. I think a lot of people are really fascinated by the Sasquach thing. My two brothers are dead certain they saw one up in the Sierra Nevada mountains. I don't know, myself. I think viewer numbers were pretty high on the series and it provided a reentry into television for Stroud. He decided to not do more survivor man shows while he was going through a stressful divorce from his long time wife.

      I agree that some of the shows are phoney because the producers are trying to wring false pathos out of the characters. When Cody Lundin was asked about this very thing concerning Dual Survival, he famously replied "Come on, it's television!"

  6. I like Les. Can honestly say I learned a few useful things from him, and that's saying something. Get big kick out of Cody the Bush Hippy. For me,the barefoot thing is just silly. However, his emphasis on avoiding injury when alone in the wilderness changed my approach a bit. Used to take more chances -but maybe I'm just getting old.

    I'm not up on the new shows as I don't have regular TV. I wouldn't make for very interesting viewing. Once I set up camp I'd be the guy lying around all day in a hammock except for an hour or two a day when I did things like empty the fish and game traps and process food.

    1. Stroud and Lundin are the two figures in the field that strike me as the most honest and sincere. Cody Lundin is heavily influenced by the specific lifestyle and some of the things like going barefoot don't work for me. But that's a matter of personal choice and like you, I hold him in high esteem as a survivalist.

      I try to keep an eye on programming, looking for shows that might have something practical to offer. Satellite television, the only source I have access to up here, gives me a good selection of channels like Discovery Channel, the two history channels, Nat Geo, and others.

  7. Big foot has not existed in the modern era in the lower 48. The area they talk about is within my stomping grounds. There is a lot of space but it gets traversed more than one might think.

    Every fall that place is full of hunters and every summer it is full of backpackers. Sure most hunters stay within say, a mile of a road and hikers stick to trails. That being said if you fully identified every forest service road, logging road and skidder path that a jeep or 4x4 truck can travel, then shaded in a mile strait line distance from them this empty space is not that empty, even in the most isolated areas in the PNW.

    There is no plausible way to explain why we have not seen some drunk good old boy smoke one with a 30'06 or a backpacker hasn't found a carcass, or one walked down main street in one of those little villages and was seen my 30 people half of whom had cell phones and recorded it.

    I am psyched about the new book.

    1. I know a lot of people feel that way. But there are some pretty big unoccupied spaces in the U.S.and Canada, where there is no vehicular access. I know here, the national forest is vast. From one vantage point I like to go to, I can see the national forest stretching out to the horizon and there are no longer any vehicle accessible roads in that area. Our national forest wouldn't make a drop in the bucket compared to some in the West and Canada. I think most people don't venture far from the roads because they lack land navigation skills, aren't interested in packing gear in too far or game out. As for finding remains, I've lived in this forest since 1986, and though I don't venture out into it now for many years I enjoyed exploring it with my son. I have never come up on a bear skeleton in my wanderings,though the woods are stiff with them.

      I don't know the truth of it, and I concede your thoughts are all legitimate and rational. Maybe, like Fox Mulder, I want to believe!

  8. We don't have TV but that does sound like a program worth a look. But no rifle or dog? Funny how they make these "reality" shows so unrealistic.

    1. I agree Leigh. Nobody in their right mind would go out where these guys are being dumped off without a rifle for last resort protection and dogs, essential for moving through heavily wooded areas inhabited by first tier predators. Usually there is a huge film crew surrounding these characters in this type of show. But in Alone the participants are allegedly out there without an entourage. That's dangerous.

  9. I like Les too. Seems genuine, not manufactured like Bear Grylls. What I didn't get with Bear was why he took unnecessary risks? For example, running through a burning field, or using a long stick to jump from one gulch to another (My old special forces manual says you should almost never jump).

    As strange as it is, "Alaskan Bush People" is one of those shows that I can't turn off. Something about families working together I guess. Yes, lots of manufactured drama, but it's more like a comedy to me. Where else are you going to see a grown man howl like a wolf while trying to get a date?

    Looking forward to "Mountain Men". Just my 2 cents. --Troy

  10. Hey Troy. The thing about the"Alaskan Bush People " that made me uncomfortable was that they didn't seem to have any qualms about essentially begging other people for help. Then when the local people pitched in and helped them build a house, they ran away when they experienced some friction with other locals. I also thought they were just plain crazy. If I could learn not to not always take everything so seriously I'm sure I would enjoy more of these programs.

  11. "Bear" is the original snake oil salesman. I liked his show when it came out, and I just wrote off the stupid antics such as you mentioned as exuberance in a younger guy. Then someone told me he faked a lot of his show. He would show himself climbing up in a tree for the night, then show himself climbing down in the morning, talking about what a rough night he had. In reality. he was staying in a motel. I didn't believe the guy who told me this. I sent a certified letter to the network. I got a letter back, mealy mouthing but confirming everything the fellow had said. The network said they regretted any "misunderstanding" and promising they would prevent any repeats. I never watched "Bear" again.

  12. Those do look interesting! I have such respect for people that can live in the wild on their own.

    Happy Father's Day and First Day of Summer a day late!

  13. I'm happy to hear the sequel to 'One Second After' is coming out, that book inspired a whole lot of 'I Never Thought of That - How Would I Prep For That ?' thoughts. Starvation is patient - a lot of people in even these 'Normal Times' have to survive it.

    I enjoyed Man-Woman-Wild as well, Mykel Hawke's voice was rather monotone, but I enjoyed the 'snippets of survival' he related during the show. His wife is a heckuva lady to camp out in many of those scenarios.

    My wife enjoys watching 'American Bush People' - sez Birdy (oldest daughter) really pulls her own weight modestly without the showboating the boys do - just gets is done.