Everything I Know About Survival, I Learned by Watching Discovery Channel

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I’ve learned a few things watching Discovery’s survival series.  First, that Leatherman tool (used by Survivorman’s Les Stroud) I’ve been carrying around for years, and distributing as Christmas gifts to friends when I couldn’t think of anything else to buy them, could save their life.  Who knew!?

Disclaimer: this post is in no way meant to denigrate the manly men of Discovery, who are seriously cool - especially when balancing on helicopter skids 9,000 feet above Mexico’s Copper Canyon, and/or throwing up after eating Moroccan goat testicles, urinating all over their shirts and wrapping it around their heads to stay cool, or playing their harmonicas in their lonely, makeshift shelters.

There’s nothing like watching men eat goat testicles in HD!

At any rate, I’m passing on these handy survival tips picked up while watching Discovery Channel.

1.  Always get yourself down to the river bed.  This is what Man vs. Wild’s Bear Grylls does, frequently.

2.  Never worry about crossing a ravine or gorge.  Invariably, conveniently, a tree limb has fallen across the divide and you can scoot across, sitting.   Should you fail to stumble upon a fallen tree, you will probably find old rope lines strung up by armed forces the year before.

3.  Don’t waste precious energy trying to catch fish.   Almost no one seems to have mastered this skill, not even Bear.  Survivorman and Man vs. Wild are riddled with scenes of fishing attempts gone bad.

4.  If you are lucky enough to catch the elusive fish, make sure to tear into it with your teeth, raw, like an animal.  You must also repeat the incantation: "I love sushi!" or make other sushi comments, where appropriate.

Bear, fish, sushi

5.  Don’t forget to eat the maggots.

6.  You’re not a man, woman, or human unless you’ve undergone ritual hypothermia by voluntarily dunking yourself in frigid water or stranding yourself in the Arctic Ocean in one of those big orange suits.

You must then hoist yourself onto the ice by grabbing your boot impressions, strip off your wet clothing, dry yourself off with snow, and do push ups or jumping jacks naked (like Bear).

and/or await a pre-arranged rescue by the Coast Guard.  Added manhood points for shivering in a sleeping bag, risking heart failure from after drop (like Les Stroud).

Bear, naked, jumping jacks:

7.  Eating and/or drinking really gross stuff (that’s "full of protein") is also part of the manhood survival ritual - testicles, live tree frogs, elephant fece fluids, and did I mention the maggots?

8.  Who needs GPS?  Without a compass, there are a million ways to navigate.

9.  It’s amazing how many rock overhangs are available for shelter.  The abundance is just astounding.

10.  On Man vs. Wild and Survivorman, there must be a lot less daylight than the rest of the planet because Bear and Les Stroud are always about to run out of it.  

There is one hard and fast rule in the wilderness - you may not start to build your shelter or fire until there is barely enough light to complete your tasks.  Then you must run around like a maniac.  Don’t ask me why.  This is just one of those funny rules of survival.

11.  If you find yourself in a dangerous situation - an unexpected cliff with no route down or no way out, and (like Bear) you’re too stubborn to walk the long way around, don’t panic.   Just wait until after commercial break.   

After commercial break, you will always figure a way out of any situation.  Solutions include climbing down a rock face (keep your weight in your legs), sledding on your backside 50 mph down a slope using a mountaineering technique called glissade, or taking a short cut through a glacial ice tunnel. 

But remember - and this is a key survival tip - to find your way out of any dangerous predicament, you must wait until after the commercial break.

12.   Man vs. Wild etc. is the best argument eva! for carrying waterproof matches on your person.  You could freeze to death in the time that it takes to get a fire started using some of those labor intensive techniques. 

13.  Without fail, you will wake up in the morning, exhausted, grouchy, cold and usually wet.   You are not a true man or a survivalist until you can emerge after a tortured night from under your rock overhang or your makeshift shelter looking haggard.  You must also stretch and declare that you’ve had the "worst sleep of your life."

14.  During your long, lonely tortured night don’t forget to play your harmonica or look at laminated pictures of your kids.  What would survival be without a little angst.

15.  And finally, if you’ve survived the survival shows, you must complete your training by watching at least one parody.  This is "Man vs. Girls Gone Wild."  Warning: prepare to go "ewwwwww!"   But  all of the Man vs. Wild plot devices are instantly recognizable.

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