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It's a Jungle out there: MAN VS. WILD offers real survival tips

By Stone Martindale Jun 14, 2007, 3:15 GMT

It's a Jungle out there: MAN VS. WILD offers real survival tips

Snake Manu, 29, inserting two tree snakes through his nose and mouth, in Chennai, India smells what Bear Grylls is cooking.... December 2006. EPA/STR

Nature buffs and extreme action and adventure junkies have a great show to watch on Discovery network, MAN VS. WILD.

If you have never seen the show, each episode of MAN VS. WILD is based on real-life events where people fought for their survival after finding themselves in danger in popular wilderness locations. 

A seasoned adventurer and former British Special Air Service soldier, Bear Grylls demonstrates the basic survival methods for specific locations -- including navigation, making fire and finding water and food -- and goes one step further.  As he explains, the people who stand the best chance for survival are those who are prepared to push the limits, and he certainly does so himself.

Bear Grylls

Bear Grylls

World Premiere Friday, June 15, 9 PM ET/PT

EVERGLADES: This premiere episode finds host Bear Grylls stranded in the swamps of the Florida Everglades, where each year at least 60 tourists need to be rescued.  With more than a million alligators, thousands of snakes and even black bears roaming these waterlogged lands, the area has more than its share of hazards.  Bear demonstrates how to keep alligators at bay, deal with vicious razor-sharp grass and find stomach-churning food that will keep you alive if you find yourself stranded in this beautiful but dangerous destination.

REAL LIFE STORIES                                         


After becoming stranded, a young man died of exposure after leaving his uncle in their boat to go in search of help.  After slogging through swamps and 12-foot-high sawgrass, the man was found dead just 24 hours later and two miles away from his boat.  Disorientation and heat exhaustion is a real problem in the swamps, even for people who live there and know the area intimately.

A 62-year-old jogger survived for four days, stranded in waist-deep mud after getting lost and falling into a swamp during his daily run.  Searchers found him stuck in a bog, covered in insect bites and drinking the fetid water surrounding him. 



Bear Grylls offers the following potentially life-saving survival tips:

• How to find out how much daylight is left: 
If you’re out in the wild, it’s important to find or make shelter before the sun goes down.  To figure out how much daylight you have left, put your hand sideways up to the sun -- with the sun just above your hand.  Count each finger down to the horizon -- each one is equal to approximately 15 minutes.  So for instance, if you have four fingers between the sun and the horizon, you have approximately one hour left before the sun sets.  (From the Mexico episode)

• How to eat a scorpion, and other spiders and insects:
Spiders and insects are a particularly good source of protein, which the body needs to help rebuild itself.  You need to be aware before you go out, however, which have large amounts of venom and which don’t.  While they’re certainly not tasty, tiger scorpions of Mexico are nutritious -- as long as you cut off the stinger, which has a ball of venom inside.  To eat it, catch one (being careful not to be stung), then pin it down and take off the stinger with a stick.  Then he’s ready to be eaten.  Says Bear, “Tastes kinda like cheese that’s been sitting around for about three weeks…but worse.”  In the forests, look to dead wood to find your insects -- you will often find larvae in the wood, which are four times higher in protein than beef.  While they taste sour and are slightly gritty, they can be a life saver.  Another food tip from Bear:  stay away from mushrooms unless you’re an expert.  And while bats might be tasty, it’s probably not worth it to try to catch one, because of the risk of rabies.

• Beating the heat … by drinking your own urine:
If you’re stranded without water in a very hot climate, such as the Australian outback, you could die within hours.  The first, most important thing to keep cool is your head.  If you don’t have a hat, consider using your underclothes, such as boxer shorts, to create one.  Your second goal should be finding water.  If you are unable to find any, extreme measures may be necessary.  While unappealing, your own urine is safe to drink.  It is 95 percent water and sterile when fresh -- so don’t keep it in your bottle for long, as it can become a breeding ground for bacteria.  (From the Kimberley, Australia episode)

• Estimating how deep a pool of water is under a waterfall:
Waterfalls are dangerous and while you want to avoid jumping off one at all costs, sometimes you may have no choice.  With a waterfall more than 25 feet high, you need to make sure the waters below are deeper than 12 feet or you’ll hit bottom.  To make a depth gauge without string, look to Mother Nature.  For instance, yucca leaves have a sturdy stem that can be stretched out by biting and unfolding thin lengths, end over end.  In five minutes, you could have 50 feet of yucca “rope.”  The next step is to smooth the edges of a rock (so it doesn’t cut the “rope”), then secure it to the end with a hitch knot.  Drop the rock over the side of the waterfall and pull it back up after it hits bottom.  Every arm length of wet rope will be equivalent to approximately three feet.  If you decide it’s deep enough to jump, go in straight with your feet together, and beyond the raging white water.  (From the Mexico episode)

• How to properly eat meat in the wild, including sheep eyeballs:
Sometimes you will be lucky enough to find or catch meat in the wild.  Whenever you can, cook your catch; raw meat is harder to digest and could zap energy from the body.  In Iceland, for example, Bear tied his shoelace through bits of meat and dunked them into boiling geothermal pools to cook them.  Search for unusual but nutritious sources -- such as sheep eyeballs, which are high in protein and rich in vitamins A and D.  While eyeballs are OK to eat raw, it’s a good idea to heat them as well (boiling water is best) to clean away any bacteria.  (From the Iceland episode)

• How to travel through alligator-infested swamps:
In the swamps, always brandish a stick.  While not much of a weapon, it will give you several extra feet of reach to ward off angry alligators.  Get yourself high up a tree if possible, to scout out the area.  Watch for bubbles in the water; while they might just be the gases of the swamp, they also might mean that an alligator lurks underneath.  At night, you want to slumber above and away from the water, as alligators are more active after dark.  Set up camp in the trees; pop ash trees have bendable limbs that can be manipulated into a bed platform, and they also have vines that can be used as natural cordage to tie it together.  Make sure the wood is thick enough to take your weight and tie it all together with a simple overhand knot.  Ideally, pick straight timbers and remove the off shoots, which will dig in and make sleeping even harder.  Don’t make the mistake of using materials such as Spanish moss to pad your bed.  While it might look nice and soft, the moss is filled with tiny insects that will bite you while you sleep and make you itch for days.  (From the Everglades episode)

• How to recognize and get out of a flash flood:
Even if it’s clear where you are, miles away rain could be pouring down.  A wall of water full of boulders and trees can thunder downstream at 60 miles an hour, hitting with little warning.  If you’re following a river or stream, check the bushes in the area -- the ones that have been underwater will be bent over from the force of past floods and will give you an idea of how high the waters could possibly get.  Keep your ears alert at all times, and if you hear a distant rumble (like a jet engine) or feel the earth start to tremble, head for high ground as soon as possible -- up the side of a cliff, up a tree -- wherever you can get highest in the shortest amount of time.  (From the Mexico episode)

• How to escape a mud bog:
A mud bog is a place where the earth will literally suck you in, and the Everglades are filled with them.  In the middle is a sink hole, formed when water running underground erodes limestone and creates a pocket that fills with mud and water.  These holes have been known to swallow entire small off-road vehicles.  But the reason they are so dangerous is that if you fall into one of them, the more you struggle, the more it sucks you in.  The technique for getting out of a mud bog is to try to get a stick to put on the ground in front of you.  Use the stick to create more surface area to withhold your weight.  As calmly as possible, try to wriggle your chest onto it, crawling slowly and calmly until you get yourself out, an inch at a time.  (From the Everglades episode)

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If you have never seen the show, each episode of MAN VS. WILD is based on real-life events where people fought for their survival after finding themselves in danger in ...more

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