Posted on April 26 2019
In a Bug Out Survival Scenario can a HIPPY defeat a hard-core SURVIVALIST?
We made it into a short TV series. The results rocked our world.
Click Here to Watch the Preview of the Six Episodes
The simulation tested bushcraft, navigation, overland movement, hunting, gathering and combat, spread over two days, fifteen linear miles and six thousand feet of climbing. We threw a Navy SEAL into the mix to serve as judge, trainer and commentator.
Who would collect more calories? Who would better defend themselves? Who would get their butt beat and lose their cool?
Big Lesson #1:
Bug Out Bag WEIGHT matters MUCH more than we thought.
“Two is one and one is none.” It's a universal mantra among hardened preppers. But, we don’t usually think about having just one pair of feet, one back and one set of hips. Having extra gear can kill. And, that's exactly what we see in the show.
Tactical Dude (Mike Simpson—former Air Force Security veteran and expert survivalist) weighs his Bug Out Bag at 53 pounds, plus an AR-15 and a Glock, and Hippy Dude (Tye Boulter—expert recurve bow hunter and massive Grateful Dead fan) weighs in at 43 pounds plus a little .22 revolver. This weight difference ends up having consequences we never expected:
- Tactical Dude misses a chance at killing a huge tom turkey because he’s physically overburdened and blowing up when a turkey jumps in front of him.
- Hippy Dude hugs the canyon bottoms, grabs roots and gets a shot at a squirrel with his little revolver (but he sucks with it.)
- Tactical Dude doesn’t have the energy to grab small game or dig up wilderness forage when it appears. He simply doesn’t want to stop because when he stops, he's forced to rest for a loooong time.
- Hippy Dude gets everywhere first. He blazes across the mountains and gets to vital resources—namely a spring and a food cache—over an hour before Tactical Dude.
Big Lesson #2:
Owning Guns is NOT the same as Understanding the Wilderness.
Tactical Dude teaches combat firearms in Arizona at his own dynamic shooting/CQB course (and offers a damn fine training.) But all that combat knowledge and practice has come at a cost. Living in the lower desert of Arizona has come at a cost, too. He’s not conversant with the patterns of Mother Nature in the upper desert of Utah. The Hippy knows the woods in just about every season, at every altitude and this pays off.
When the Hippy sees good roots, onions and wild asparagus, he grabs and goes. Like a wild animal grazing, Hippy Guy’s knowledge of plants and animals allows him to make sense of the sea of green in the canyon bottoms and identify the useful plants on the sun-baked hillside.
Big Lesson #3:
Physical Exertion drastically subtracts from Judgment.
Tactical Dude doesn’t really know the plants, but he can’t even afford to even look around and think about them. He’s heads-down surviving—just trying to get up the hills. He's quite fit, but he has an ten extra pounds in his bag, plus heavier guns, plus ballistic plates plus a less-efficient pack. As his respiration and heart rate soar, he has trouble thinking. Huge opportunities blow past as he deals with physical overload.
Physical exertion clearly translates into poor thinking for both guys at different times. Tactical Dude could check a wild edibles book or carefully pick through plants, but he’s too busy gulping down air. He even drops his GPS in the dirt in his befuddlement and stumbles away from it. He’s only moving one mile every three hours, but even that’s enough to eat his lunch.
As any endurance athlete will tell you: cardio wipes out higher mental function. We discovered that making decisions while moving overland--and maybe fighting for your life--would be almost impossible in a SHTF scenario unless we were in prime physical condition.
Big Lesson #4:
Knowing ONE Wilderness doesn’t mean you know ANOTHER Wilderness, even a few miles away.
Even from one mountain range to the next, opportunities to find calories shift big-time. The kinds of plants and animals in one canyon change noticeably in the next canyon. Since Tactical Dude has gone from one state to the next state, he's pretty much lost in that biosphere.
While Arizona and Utah are next door to one another, they share a lot of flora and fauna. Both are high deserts, but Tactical Guy found himself completely unfamiliar with the opportunities to find food. The zone proves close enough to Hippy Guy's home woods that he figures it out a lot faster.
Being a bushcraft expert in one set of woods doesn’t exactly transfer even a few dozen miles away. If you’re being forced to cross state lines to get to your Bug Out Location, you may have to completely relearn some core skills (or go hungry.)
Big Lesson #5:
Surviving ALONE sucks, big time, compared to Surviving WITH A FRIEND.
Right from the beginning, Hippy Guy didn’t burn down his relationship with Tactical Guy, despite the competition. Even in the first evolution, Hippy Guy leaves Tactical Guy a helpful “easter egg” to kick-start the process of cooperating.
The show producers keep them apart as they navigate overland, but as soon as the two run into each other, they started combining skills. Sharing resources and calories led to wins for both of them.
But when the combat challenges come up, Hippy Dude lets Tactical Dude take the lead and it makes all the difference in the world when they come up against a marauder-turned-sniper. I won’t spoil the final episode for you, but Tactical Dude really comes into his own in a gunfight.
Watch all six episodes and ask yourself, “how would I do in this challenge?” We didn’t realize how this challenge would lead to volumes of good questions and hard education, even for the producers at ReadyMan. This challenge should be an entire season of a television show, we think you'll agree. As it was, we made six episodes and a couple follow-ups.
For sure, those of us who know more about guns than we know about digging up food realized: we can learn a lot from Homesteader Hippies.