Tag Archives: hypothermia

Class 28/44 – The double birdie pyros…


What does an double bird shooting accountant that was dragged to Survival 101 class know?

That she can overcome pain, adversity, push through physical and emotional barriers, find support in her loved ones, and accomplish something she didn’t think she could do.

Kerrie : “I can’t believe I did that”

Me: “I knew you could”

Sitting in 44 degree water after a 28 degree night in a survival shelter borders on crazy. Every fiber in your body screams, you start gasping as the cold water steals your breath, your mind seeks excuses to get out, your thinking becomes cloudy, and you question why you are sitting in a cold creek in the mid of winter shivering with your classmates.

And then it happens. You dig deep. You tame your breath. You find your reason for living. You focus your mind. And then you shoot your instructor the double bird.

And while the double bird was directed at me, it was really aimed at fear… pain.. self-doubt… social stigmas… and death itself.

Not everyone’s experience in the Creek drill is the same, but I highlight Kerrie’s because I watched her crush all those demons that day. I watched her go from inexperienced to being able to save her life and others under physical, mental, and emotional stress. Cold, wet, shivering, and confused, she was able to gather material to build a life-saving fire, a skill that very few possess nowadays.

This weekend I will be training another cast member for Naked & Afraid.

It, like all the other shows, are an illusion of reality. Reality doesn’t play fair, impose rules, or have an emergency crew on standby.

Reality knocks you out of your boat into icy cold water, like Craig Strickland and Chase Morland   stealing you from your beautiful wife and family.

Reality soaks you and your children on a cold, dark night like David Decareaux and his two boys  ripping you from the lives of your other children and loving wife.

Reality is the nighttime callout my SAR team got for a busted leg on an icy trail New Years day.

Reality will crash your car, dehydrate you, make your throat swell shut from a bee sting, and a whole load of other nasties.


Reality, inspired by these heart-breaking stories, also allows us to accept the ultimate responsibility for ourselves and family and do something about it.  It allows us to prepare our bodies and minds in the safety of a training environment or at home.

It allows us to train our mindset, like Kerrie..

It allows us to train our skills like Team Dirty Water..


And it allows us to choose the right gear, like Josh..


In our comfortable world it is easy to forget that the forces of calamity lurk in the shadows. It is also easy to forget that we alone have the responsibility and power to to fight them, alone if necessary.

As I type this, I look out the window at the snow falling. It is 18 degrees and I am about to head out the door to work outside.

Natural law is hard at work. The icy cold, the bone chilling wind, the never ending assaults on my body’s warmth.

I imagine in Kerrie’s office however, it is warm and cozy. Her co-workers chat about the latest news while sipping mugs of coffee. Removed and oblivious to the dangers outside, the keyboards click away and the phones ring. At the end of the day  when they emerge from their office it will be a hasty walk to the car. As the bitter cold attacks them, there will be a deep, primal reminder of their vulnerability.

There is however, one amongst them that needs no reminder.

Maybe she walks a little slower, soaking in the elements as they launch their onslaught to her comfort.

Maybe she smiles confidently knowing she has endured much worse and found untapped sources of strength.

Maybe she cranks out the defiant, double bird in the face of anything, and everything, that would try to take her life… 

Upcoming Survival 101 courses



P.S. – Moms that get survival books from their boy and read it in cold water rock!!


BUSAR Update – December & January..


Training – We trained at Lookrock in both December and January. December focused on hypothermia treatment, SKED packaging, and high angle recovery.

January focused on multiple reps of steep angle, with sessions after dark as well.

Morgan and Sharbel also completed BigPig Outdoor’s Survival 101 course in January.

And the Jernigator did a little run up Groundhog Ridge manway..

Responses – 

  • Grieco, Ransom, Sharbel, Campbell, Sledge, Jernigan, Geist, Wadley, and Lewis responded to the crash of N1839X. Plane crash in the Smokies
  • Grieco responded to missing AT hiker at Peck’s Corner

Team Workouts – 2017 marks the end of 35 pound kettlebells as we up it to 45 pounders. Thank you for the loyal service and punishment you have brought to the team…



Recruitment – 

  • Jeff Wadley – Former Lt Colonel in Civil Air Patrol and SAR theory junkie. Literally wrote the book on plane crashes in the Smokies – Mayday, Mayday
  • Ben Harrell – Former Civil Air Patrol ground team leader and computer wizard


Survival Tri-weekly -1/5/16


image: https://www.kelownanow.com/watercooler/news/news/Provincial/16/01/04/Injured_Skier_Airlifted_in_Nelson_by_Search_and_Rescue/

Welcome to another edition of Survival Weekly, where the real wilderness survival “reality show” plays out everyday, in the wild places around our world. These unscripted stories will give you insight to the true threats and challenges you may face in your outdoor pursuits. So sit back, relax, and read on to get a dose of reality to sharpen your most valuable survival tool. – BPO

Featured – 

911 call from rescued hunter – http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/donald-trump-heat-bill-clinton-36094578

Duck hunter fatalities – http://www.wfaa.com/story/life/people/2016/01/04/backroad-anthem-posts-tribute-to-craig-strickland/78280704/


News – 

New technology ill aid searchers – http://www.outsideonline.com/2043076/recco-rolling-out-year-round-rescue-system

Robot locusts for SAR – http://www.ecnmag.com/news/2015/12/robot-locust-can-traverse-rocky-terrain-and-assist-search-and-rescue

Sonar gloves – http://www.bidnessetc.com/60286-sonar-gloves-developed-in-japan-to-aid-underwater-search-and-rescue/

Cell phones and rescues – http://www.abcfoxmontana.com/story/30816288/cell-phones-are-improving-search-and-rescue-responses

Winter Sports – 


image: Image: http://www.theprovince.com/sports/really+nasty+area+north+shore+search+rescue+find+lost+backcoutnry+skier+remind+alone/11605562/story.html

Water Safety –

Hiking – 

National Park Rangers at Point Reyes National Seashore initiated a missing person search when they noticed a vehicle parked south of Pierce Point Ranch parking lot over two days beginning on January 1, 2016. After contacting family of the registered owner of the vehicle, a search was initiated on January 2 in the afternoon. By the next day, the search swelled to nearly 100 individuals from Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Marin County Fire, California Highway Patrolhelicopter, US Coast Guard helicopter, Sonoma County Sheriff Search and Rescue, Contra Costa County Sheriff Search and Rescue, San Mateo Sheriff Search and Rescue and California Rescue Dog Association.

After searching most of the morning on January 3, a body was discovered around 11 am north of Kehoe Beach. The Marin County Coroner’s Office has identified the body as 62 year-old John Son of San Jose, CA. Cause and manner of death are pending autopsy and toxicology results.

Lost & Injured hikers rescued –

Hunter-gatherer – 


Image: http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/sumas-mountain-rescue-1.3383744

Climbing – 

Vehicles – 

 Air ambulance crash – http://abcnews.go.com/US/dead-survivor-medical-helicopter-crashes-arizona/story?id=35791487

SUV occupants rescued –  http://www.theprovince.com/technology/rescued+from+stranded+suvs+snowy+sumas+mountain+abbotsford/11619778/story.html

Interested in learning skills to handle emergencies like the ones you read in Survival Weekly?  Check out BigPig Outdoors Survival  classes  – http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.htm


Image: http://www.kcsg.com/view/full_story/27007543/article-Search—Rescue-dispatched-to-fatal-fall-at-Yankee-Doodle-Canyon-area–UPDATE-?instance=more_local_news1

Class 5/34/15 – Practice what you preach…


After almost 3 weeks in sunny 70 degree Florida, we rolled back just in time for the arctic blast that is gripping the country with forecasts of single digits in our area. I figured it would be a great time for me to hit the woods with an ultralight shelter version and run the Survival 101 drills.

Last night I headed out with my hunting pack to simulate the overnight bivouac without a sleeping bag and jump in the creek in the morning. While I sleep out with every class, I don’t wallow in the creek with them as one of our safety protocols.

On the way  to the camp when I got a call from a buddy asking if I wanted a hog he just shot. Fate would have it, that I was visiting with a friend that was down from New York and wanted to bag a hog. So my buddy dropped this beauty off, and 6 1/2 minutes later it was poacher cut up and I was back on my way. Click here to see that technique. I have since modified it to start with one side’s legs first then the backstrap, flip over and repeat. https://bigpigblog.com/2013/12/23/poachers-cut-1-0/


Back on my way, I set up a “String only” super shelter with a 1 mil 9 x 12 drop cloth. At some point, I plan on doing a blog series about what I have learned since Mors first taught me that technique 15 years ago, but for now, the 1 mil version only weighs 9 ounces compared to 18 ounces for the 2 mil. Durability is the big question as 1 mil is pretty thin.



I bedded down around 11pm after building up my fire, brewing some pine needle tea, and making a hot water bottle.



I woke up at 1:30 am when the fire died down and loaded it a little too hot on next run.


So instead of shuffling layers, I opened the front to vent. Lulled by the primitive television, I drifted off to sleep again.


I woke at 3 am this time, loaded it up, closed the front up and bedded down. I couldn’t sleep until somewhere around 5 am, not because I was cold, but because my brain booted up and I started my usual lay in bed and think about all types of things, some practical and some nonsensical.

I woke up for the last time at 7:30 am and checked the low on the thermometer. It read 5 degrees. The indoor low actually occurred during the the open front stage.


Even though I had 1000+ calories in my pack in the form of almond butter packs and coconut oil, I wanted to simulate a hiker whose last meal was lunch. I did a 24 hour fast, drinking pine needle tea that night, and thawing out the leftovers for a morning brew. Staying hydrated during any fast is top priority and the tea gives you some vitamins.


My “rescuers” showed up at 9 am to be my safety team for the “Man in the Creek” drill.  Anytime you are survival training, always have a safety net and plan in place if things take a turn. Rick and Mike were there to monitor for hypothermia and I had a sleeping bag a short hike from my camp for my solo overnight. I had multiple contacts that were aware of my plans and a charged cellphone. Redundant, multiple safety nets mean you can push hard and train safe.

It was 15 degrees and time to take a morning dip in the 34 degree water.


IMG_0287 (2)

I ran through the same mental exercises as my students while I waited for the shivering to set in and then got to work.

IMG_0297 (2)


Usually we do this drill with natural tinders, so everyone always packs man made after that point, but having done that multiple times, I wanted to time the drill with my personal survival kit (PSK) contents.

My safety crew forgot to start the timer, but using PJ balls and fatwood made lighting the fire a breeze and took only a couple minutes.

Numb hands made the Strikeforce my choice of ignition as it fills the hands better when your dexterity sucks.


As my buddy Roberto likes to say.. “Fatwood. Don’t leave home without it!!”


Icy pants…


This post isn’t about bragging. Hell, 5 degrees is shorts weather in Alaska…

It is about “walking the walk”, something I value and appreciate in instructors. When I was LE, I took my job seriously. Bad guys were my main threat, so I trained, worked out, shot 3gun matches, and joined a MMA team. I chose those endeavors because they were realistic training modules for serious threats. Serious threats require serious training, and wilderness survival is no different.

Jobs change and new threats rise to the top. Getting caught out in crap weather overnight or falling in the lake are possible scenarios in my winter time work. While the threats may change, the reason to make yourself uncomfortable, experience numbing pain, and train hard don’t.


If your work or play takes place in the wils or you are looking for a challenge, there a two more spots open in this weekend’s class – http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.html

2014 Alaska Cold Injuries Guidelines…


You don’t have to live in Alaska to benefit from the wisdom in this manual.  A tip of the hat to Mike for sending me the link..



Interested in learning the skills to not become a cold injury victim? Sign up for your survival experience here: http://www.bigpigoutdoors.net/survival-101-1.html

Survival Weekly…


Injured hiker rescued –  http://www.castanet.net/edition/news-story-114413-48-.htm

Injured hiker and fisherman rescued – http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/long-busy-night-for-search-rescue-teams-ends-well-publish2_ap_d29e489a33f3bd260a9e1be93d5253a5

Survival gear lowered to stranded hunter – http://www.odt.co.nz/news/queenstown-lakes/300804/survival-gear-lowered-teen-stuck-bush

SAR initiated from a satellite messenger – http://www.cftktv.com/News/Story.aspx?ID=2155961

Father and 2 kids lost in swamp for 2 days – http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/04/29/search-crews-rescue-father-2-kids-in-sc-national-park/

Missing turkey hunters found – http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/06d6acd66a294ad9af8ab4d3f1cf0d38/SD–Missing-Hunters/#.U2bZ-fldX58

SAR underway for missing forager – http://q13fox.com/2014/04/27/search-underway-for-missing-93-year-old-federal-way-man/#axzz30nKkqK2P

Cold, wet, and rescued – http://infotel.ca/newsitem/cold-wet-and-rescued/it9630

Injured skier rescued – http://www.telluridenews.com/articles/2014/04/27/news/doc535ad75b6398d050261429.txt

Search and Rescue Weekly..

Injured Climber Rescued During Spring Storm – 

The combined efforts of search and rescue teams from Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Ouray Mountain Rescue, West Elk Mountain Rescue and Western State Mountain Rescue resulted in the successful evacuation of an injured climber from the Atlantis buttress during a spring storm on Sunday, April 13th.

The park received a report of an injured climber on Saturday evening.  Climbing rangers, including a park paramedic, located the climber late that evening and bivouacked overnight with him, treating his several injuries.  He was injured when he pulled a large boulder off the wall while leading a pitch on a route called “Hotlanta” on the Atlantis buttress.

Additional technical rescue teams arrived on Sunday to help raise the climber 1,800 feet to the canyon’s North Rim. Intermittent whiteout conditions with heavy, wet snow and gusty winds challenged the rescuers during this high angle rescue.

The climber, who is from Durango, Colorado, was taken to a medical facility with ankle, chest, and facial injuries. He is in stable condition.

Lost in the desert and forced to spend the night out – http://www.scsun-news.com/silver_city-news/ci_25565756

Stuck on a ledge after taking a short cut – http://www.standard.net.au/story/2229934/grampians-rescue-after-hikers-short-cut-leads-to-a-long-wait-for-help/?cs=72

Injured in a canyon – http://azdailysun.com/news/local/coconino-county-search-and-rescue-extracts-canyoneer-near-west-clear/article_ab5358b0-c45d-11e3-a493-0019bb2963f4.html

Father and son go hunting, end up with broken leg and hypothermia – http://www.stuff.co.nz/manawatu-standard/news/9938734/Father-and-son-hunters-rescued

Body of missing hiker found – http://www.marinij.com/marinnews/ci_25554480/body-found-mount-tamalpais-near-where-missing-woman

Three days in stuck in canyon country – http://www.kutv.com/news/top-stories/stories/vid_10608.shtml

SAR for missing hiker continues, but volunteer efforts scaled back due to subject drug abuse and violent behavior history – http://www.osidenews.com/2014/04/12/missing-person/

Injured hunter rescued – http://www.newstalkzb.co.nz/auckland/news/nbnat/953322285-family-agrees-to-name-missing-hunter