Episode-793- Zak Baker on Wilderness Survival, Survival Myths and Urban Reality

Zak Baker of BeFoundAlive.com

Zak Baker of BeFoundAlive.com

Zak Baker, founded BeFoundAlive.com in 2003, out of an insatiable love of the great outdoors, primitive cultures and self reliance. This love was kindled at an early age by his Grandparents, who were themselves a product of the Great Depression.

Zak would spend year upon year learning about local natives, searching for arrowheads and seeking out wild edibles, more importantly, he learned self reliance, integrity and a love of solitude from his Grandfather. This “dirt-time” set the course for a lifetime of learning and exploration.

Out of this experience BeFoundAlive.com was born, an instructional and consulting firm for Government personnel, educators, students, hunters, backpackers, executives, outdoor leaders, and others interested in mastering the skills of survival and self reliance.

Resources for Today’s Show…

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9 Responses to Episode-793- Zak Baker on Wilderness Survival, Survival Myths and Urban Reality

  1. @Jack and Zak,

    Interesting show.

    I had a comment on ‘The Walking Dead.’ I have been watching this show, but wow, it is frustrating, because it is essentially an exercise in stupidity. These people are almost entirely incapable of acting in a way that ISN’T self-destructive or mind-numbingly stupid.
    Here’s a tip…CAMPING in a Zombie Apocalypse…not a great idea. Take advantage of these things we call WALLS and you’ll fare much better.

    I agree Jericho (the CBS TV show) was much more entertaining. It was a bit of a suspense show with conspiracies and such, but I liked the survival mindset that was displayed by some of the characters. It actually had a very short (6 or 7 episodes I think) 2nd season, following a campaign by fans reacting to its initial cancellation.

  2. Autogenic breathing, as it was taught to me, is a technique used to reduce a person’s stress induced heart rate. I was taught the technique personally by Dave Grossman, author of the book On Killing. Autogenic breathing is indeed a great tool to have and we frequently employed it when I was an entry-team member of our SWAT team. It does have some limitations.  According to Mr. Grossman, autogenic breathing will lower one’s stress induced heart rate by 30%. 

    If your stress induced HR is > 115, fine motor skills become impossible. 

    If your stress induced HR is > 145bpm then complex motor skills become impossible. 

    If your stress induced heart rate is >175bpm then you enter the black zone and start experiencing a phenomenon known as hypervigilence which in layman’s terms is an uncontrollable state of panic. 

    So knowing how to lower your stress induced heart rate can aid a person in avoiding a state of mind that inhibits optimal combat performance. 

    And the way it was taught to me is instead of:
    In for 3
    Hold for 3
    Out for 3

    Was:
    In for 4
    Hold for 4
    Out for 4
    Hold for 4. 
    To be performed in a series of 3 cycles. 

    In addition to autogenic/combat breathing, there is another trick we used to reduce our stress induced heart rate and that was through stress inoculation. Medical science combats various viruses by giving a person a small, weakened dose of the virus to train the immune system to deal with it.  Likewise with training warriors. We gave new team members regular doses of ever-increasing amounts of stress through role playing.  One of the fundamental problems in most martial arts systems is sparring –  where two guys each trained with a similar skill set strap on gloves and under a tightly controlled set of parameters, in effect, determine which one is the better athlete. One of these participants “wins” and therefore gains confidence in what he has been taught. The other “loses” and therefore loses confidence in his skill set. Having 50% of a police force without sufficient confidence in their skill set to engage is a bad thing.  However, when role playing, the designated bad guy always loses unless the good guy flubs pretty badly. The pressure to improve comes from the peer pressure and the natural competitiveness of the participants. 

    I have been in MANY use of force encounters and BY FAR the best guys to have by your side were those that had been trained in the role playing paradigm. 

    The principles that served us so well in the world of policing also work in wilderness survival scenarios. If you want to avoid panic, the trick is to role play it with ever increasing levels of hardship. If your first experience with the outdoors results in your getting lost and actually being in a survival situation, your chances diminish drastically. If you are an experienced outdoorsman and you get lost, your chances will improve proportionately. For instance, how long does it take to build a debris hut?  I was shocked at how long it took to build the first one I did. I was even more shocked by how much material it took. Because of actual experience with debris hut construction, my personal rule of thumb is that shelter construction should be started no later than noon if given the option. 

  3. The conversation about space blankets rang so true for me. A few weeks ago, my husband and I decided to cover a huge window in our bedroom with a space blanket. We pulled one from the car emergency kit, and lo and behold, it was useless! Layers of the plastic had laminated together so that we couldn’t unfold it without tearing it, and there were gaping holes in the aluminum.

    The plastic alone would do an OK job at keeping someone warm provided it wasn’t very cold outside. (I learned this over the summer when we went on a camping trip and we had severe thunderstorms. I used a rain poncho as a blanket when the tent leaked, and I was plenty cozy because of the heat build-up between my skin and the plastic poncho.)

    Had we not had the experience with our space blanket though, I never would have realized that they’re not that helpful when it comes to keeping warm.

  4. Re: Moss on the north side of the trees, I know exactly where everyone got that from! I clearly remember being taught that in school, while studying the Underground Railroad. We were told that slaves hid in the daytime, and traveled north at night. On cloudy nights when they couldn’t see the stars, they felt the trees and since “moss only grows on the north side of trees,” they knew which way to head.

    I assumed that was true my whole life, until last summer when I went hiking and started looking around. It’s a sticky bit of info!

  5. That show was Jericho and it was set in Kansas not Colorado.

  6. LisaPainterGirl

    On plant identification (and myths)- I went camping with a group of ladies recently and one of them walked over to the edge of our camp site waved her arm around some plants and told everyone, “This is all poison ivy”.
    And I said, ” no, that’s a raspberry brier.”
    Not everything with 3 leaves is poison ivy.

  7. Hey Jack, in I-tunes this episodes has a tag of Ep 792, same as last show.

  8. Great show yall! Thanks for raining in my parade though! I thought it would be fun to build a kit using an altoids can. Now it does not seem so fun!
    Great interview, great info. I would like to hear more on survival myths.

  9. Jericho was set in the fictional town of Jericho, KS and was cancelled after one season only to be brought back by cbs after a groundswell of supportive fans demanded the show be brought back. Of course the “geniuses” at cbs slashed the budget and cast leading to not as great a product. Oh and putting it on at 9PM on a Friday night is never a good spot for a show. So cbs killed it before it even came back and when the ratings were predictibly bad they cancelled it again. Shame, I thought it was excellent TV. Great show Jack and Zak.