I can’t pick up the remote without running into a survival show these days.
One minute I’ll be watching a Chevy truck haul the heaviest payload in its class, and before I know it I’m face to face with some yahoo squeezing drinking water out of an elephant turd.
Weekly, various he-man survivalists are abandoned in remote wilderness locations to spend seven days cheating death… solely for our amusement. And amazingly, each and every week, they pull it off – at least the cheating death part.
Each episode, sub-zero cold, scorching heat, dehydration, famished crocodiles and the like take a crack at these chaps. I once thought this was pretty perilous stuff. Then I got to thinking: These guys are stranded every week, the odds are always stacked against them, and yet their shows have been on a couple years. So help me out here…
If this survival racket is so dangerous, why haven’t any of these guys croaked off?
“Okay tough guys, eat raw snakes, swim icy waters, wolf down maggots, drink your own urine, whatever. Enough of this tired, remote wilderness, see-how-much-danger-I’m-in, gee-it-really-does-taste-just-like-chicken nonsense – let’s get serious. Think you’re tough? Come survive a week on my deer lease.”
Try no running water, no electricity, a cramped 24-foot camper, and questionable cell phone reception on for size. Spend a week with the nearest restaurant, hot shower and flush toilet 5.4 miles away. Try washing your own dishes after every third or fourth meal. Not pretty is it?
Our televised pals are survivalists by choice. I don’t have that luxury. They choose the wilderness. I must brave the lease. Those of you who know the call of Muy Grande understand what I mean. They don’t have to do what they do. I have no choice.
Real danger abounds on a deer lease: Danger your buddy will first lay crosshairs on the 12-point you trail-cammed last month. Danger the old guy will mistakenly think he’s hunting your blind and show up after your feeder’s thrown. And worse… danger the Cowboys game will defy your tin foil rabbit-eared, battery-powered TV, and air on cable.
Wheel ruts cloaked in darkness, trail-spanning spider webs, startling rustles, misplaced keys, freezer burnt deer sausage, overeating, no batteries, no more ice, no more beer – you don’t hear of these on “dangerous” survival shows do you?
And the danger worsens as the inevitable silent menace, sleep deprivation, takes hold. Snoring, flatulence, and nightly gin rummy games, sometimes lasting past eleven, all work to prevent sleep and dull your senses. Symptoms may include over-sleeping in the blind, a lethargic attitude toward lunch, or the inability to keep track of own your Styrofoam cup. Although a drastic measure, intense afternoon napping is often the only cure.
In time, facing such peril breeds self-doubt and debilitating stress: Did I bring the right ammo? Is the feeder going to throw? Did the feeder throw? Will shooting that pig lessen my chances at a buck? Practical jokes, teasing, re-read magazines, re-repeated yarns, and the mind-numbing monotony of two daily hunts and a nap pile on to crack all but the strongest men. Honestly, I’m amazed I’m still alive.
You know, any moron can jump out of a plane with a canteen, knife and flint.
Survivor Tripp or Tripp vs. Wild? Any preference?
Tripp Holmgrain is an avid outdoorsman struggling to survive the TV season. Email him at email@example.com.