I'll Be Back...

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Hey guys! We need to talk...

I'll be away on an adventure for a while (over a month) and I won't be able to blog or check on any of my social media pages. I can't tell you specifically where I'll be, or what I'm doing, but I can assure you that I'll have more stories to tell, more battle scars to show off, and hopefully more knowledge to share. 
Stay real friends!
I'll be back soon!

Survival: Ignorance is Death

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That shadow is either of a cyclops or a punk taking a photo with his iPhone. Hard to tell...

Last week I had the privilege of spending a bit of time in the woods of upstate New York with some experienced outdoorsmen. It was great. I fried a trout on a license plate, had tea with Englishmen for the first time, and got a chance to experience an environment that was foreign to me. 
Another perk to spending time with other outdoorsmen is the opportunity to swap lies and discuss wilderness living skills. 
During one of these discussions the topic of trapping arose.  I quickly realized that I had made the mistake of putting my trapping studies on the back burner for too long. My knowledge of trapping was (and is) minuscule. I had used the excuse of "it's not legal in my neck of the woods" without really pursuing the skill enough to understand the essence of its importance. 
The skill of making improvised traps successfully and knowing where to put them is valuable, and shouldn't be ignored. 
The reality of the matter is that this skill could potentially mean the difference between life or death in a long term "live off the land" situation. 

Although I don't have the time for a long extended post on why I have avoided trapping skills until now, I do have time to make a simple statement. 

In survival, ignorance is death. 

Now, I'm off to study those trapping skills... have a great weekend everyone!

My First Arrows And How I Made Them

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A couple of months back I was hit by a blast from the past when I found a quiver full of arrows in my parents garage. They were my old arrows. The first dozen that I had ever fletched. I haven't hunted in the last few years, but the memories brought back by finding these arrows may just get me and my recurve bow back into the field again this fall.
I was humored to learn that someone had actually asked my dad if they were for sale, and offered money for them. 
Ahhhhh memories...
When I was 13 I decided it was time to make some cedar arrows. I had a few bucks in an old sock that I had earned mowing lawns during the summer, and after counting it, I ended up with just enough for the necessary materials. After some searching I hit up 3riversarchery.com and ordered 12 cedar shafts, fletchings, nocks, field points, broadheads, glue, and a taper tool. 
Back then I had access to a Bitzenburger fletcher, but after some failed attempts to align the feathers just right I ditched the main part of the jig. With only the clamp I used a fletching tape to fix the feathers to the shaft before finishing them off with glue down both sides of the spine and at each end. 
This worked well, and it's the same technique I use to this day. The fletching wasn't perfect, but they still fly straight!

As you can see, I chose orange nocks and white feathers for visibility purposes. 
The staining was a different story since I wasn't patient enough to apply the varnish before fletching the arrows. Luckily, cedar is extremely rot resistant, so the only real reason for varnishing is to protect the shaft from moisture, which could potentially warp the arrow. 

I'm very proud of the broadheads that I purchased. They were called "Ribtek" broadheads and were made in Australia. I haven't been able to find any of these recently, but back then they were known for being the toughest, cheapest broadheads around. Keep them sharp, and they'll have excellent penetration.

If you have any questions on how to fletch arrows, just leave it in the comments, or feel free to ask via twitter, facebook, or email at sam@samexplores.com

Now go make some for yourself!

Nature's Free Luxury Hotels

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Over the past few years I have had the privilege of spending a lot of time in luxury hotels all over North America. These aren't the hotels you see in magazines or on the travel channel. These hotels are far more exciting, enlightening, and economical. This video by Sir Alastair Humphreys (he has been knighted according to my blog) is inspiring to say the least.  

Enjoy the video, and enjoy your stay!

Microadventure Hotel from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.

Cody Lundin Provides Vital Info About "Survival Entertainment" Industry

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This photo is a screen shot taken from the Discovery Youtube Channel

So as many of you know, Cody Lundin is an experienced survival instructor from the mountains of central Arizona. He has been guiding since the late 1980s, written two books, been involved in multitudinous television appearances, and more recently he was involved with the show "Dual Survival."
While shooting season 4 of "Dual Survival" Cody was fired by Discovery, opening up an enormous can of questions in regards to why?! Why would one of the leading survival aficionados of our time be fired from what had so-far been a highly rated survival show.

In the midst of this, Discovery aired a show to attempt to explain why Cody is no longer with the show. If you ask me, the full show isn't worth watching. It's clear that Discovery tried very hard to make Cody look bad. Here, he clearly reaches a boiling point, but you have to look at what has pushed him  to it. As Cody has mentioned, he was not only pushed by his partner Joe, but also by producers who cared more about the ease of editing than actually producing a show with legit survival skills.

Via Cody's Facebook page, he made 4 public announcements to set the record straight. Although these are a bit long winded, they're a good reference if you're looking to know the true motivations of why he was fired, and the events leading up to him being fired.

On top of the statements made on his Facebook page, Cody has recently done an interview with the blog MasterWoodsman.com
I'm a big fan of MasterWoodsman.com and I believe it's one of the top blogs when it comes to wilderness survival and wilderness living skills, so hop on over and check it out!
Here's the interview


"Dual Survival Update

Dear Campers,
Unfortunately, I have been fired by Discovery Channel for differences over safety and health concerns on the show and will no longer be a part of Dual Survival. 

Although I’ll miss elements of the show, what I’ll miss the most are my fans and the opportunity to teach - on a global level – life saving skills, indigenous culture, and values of integrity and respect toward our natural world.

I have received numerous letters from viewers. Many are from kids, or their parents or grandparents, describing in detail how the show has changed their lives. It has brought families together, inspired kids to go outdoors, and motivated moms and dads around the world to take that family camping trip, many for the first time. If I can use a TV show to encourage people to turn off TV and turn on nature, I have done my job.

Thank you all very much for your support over the years. Be safe and prepared, and maybe I’ll train with you in the woods some day!

Stay classy,
Cody Lundin"- February 17, 2014

So that was pretty low key. Lets see what happens as the rumors begin...

"Dual Survival Clarification by Cody Lundin

Dear Campers,

Unfortunately, flurries of season four press releases by Discovery Channel have caused unnecessary confusion. Initial press releases implied that I was returning for the entire fourth season of Dual Survival. Not true. Later releases featured quotes from a new Discovery executive producer implying that I quit the show. Not true. Further releases implied that I couldn’t “hack” the show anymore and that I was unable to handle the survival scenarios. Not only are these implications completely false, they question my professional experience, expertise and integrity in a manner that I will not tolerate.

Given the promotional approach chosen by Discovery, I am left with no choice but to speak out to defend my reputation and career as a professional survival instructor with 25 years of experience. To be clear, the implications of my involvement in, and departure from, season four of Dual Survival in the network’s public statements have been inaccurate, uncalled for, unacceptable and untrue. It’s shocking to me that Discovery would treat anyone in this manner, and I am disappointed that this media organization would put its own reputation at risk by choosing sensationalism over facts.

Discovery is well aware of the actual circumstances that led to my firing from the show – circumstances that in no way resemble the message that the network has chosen to present so far. While I have not yet felt the need to address our differences in a much larger public forum, I won’t hesitate to do so if that is what is required to protect my integrity and my career. If the network continues to put forth a narrative regarding my departure, I expect it to do so in a respectful, fact-based way that allows us to part in a professional manner that will not harm either of our future interests.

The network should be aware that programming of this nature must be produced and marketed in a responsible manner with the highest level of regard for the safety and health of the hosts, production personnel, and members of the viewing public. I have shared this message with them many times. Failure to observe this standard could have tragic consequences that, with proper precaution, can be avoided. There can be no compromise when dealing with people’s lives.

It is true that I was scheduled to shoot all episodes for season four, but as I was fired due to differences over safety and health concerns, I filmed only four shows. The shows I participated in were filmed in Sri Lanka, Oman, and Norway. Matt Graham, one of the people from “Dude, you’re screwed” was hired to replace me. As Discovery moves forward with launching the new season of Dual Survival, I hope the network will choose a different tactic for the presentation and marketing of the show that is not at my expense.

On a brighter note, my farewell post was shared more than 720,000 times on Facebook alone with thousands of supportive comments from fans. I very much appreciate the continued support and hope this letter clears up any confusion.

Stay true and never waiver.
Sincerely, Cody Lundin" April 16, 2014

This is the post after the final episode aired...

"Dual Survival Defamation

Hi Campers,
Taking the high road does not involve letting disingenuous people dump on you. I have heard that Discovery Communications and Original Media (the production company) tried their best to defame me on last night’s program, even dredging back into season three. Like herpes, just when one thinks the last boil is gone, another one appears. A cease and desist letter for defamation was sent to both companies by my attorney weeks ago. It seems this was ignored. For executives to purposely pick and edit footage out of context at my and the viewers expense, all the while knowing the real back story, is without conscience. Once again, these actions are uncalled for and have forced my hand to defend my professional reputation.

What Dual Survival fans don’t know is that last night’s “behind the scenes” episode was Discovery’s “Plan B” at attempting to explain why I am no longer on the show. “Plan A,” which I refused to participate in, is far more interesting, informative and damning to those involved.

On a positive note, I am overwhelmed by the support I have received from fans. Thousands of you have sent notes of well wishing in letters, emails, voice mails, facebook, and on my blog. Many of you expressed sadness at my parting, but were grateful for the integrity. One couple who had used my role on the show to teach their children outdoor skills is now using my termination as a teaching point to remind their kids to be true to themselves regardless of the apparent cost. Brilliant! We can all lose jobs, we can all lose friends, but if we lose our integrity and honor, we all lose. I appreciate your supporting qualities that cannot be bought.

Remember, the Light never fails!

Stay true, Cody" May 22, 2014

In this final post you can really see how fed up Cody has gotten...

"Dual Survival Clarification (again) by Cody Lundin

Dear Campers,
I’ve recently returned from teaching survival skills in Europe. While I wish to move on from the Dual Survival debacle, ethically and professionally I need to set the record straight.

As I wrote earlier, the episode where Discovery and Original Media purposefully defamed my character in an attempt to explain my absence from the show was not their “Plan A.” Weeks after terminating me, they wanted to hire me again for the “original” behind the scenes episode. For this “Plan A” episode, a Discovery Channel executive suggested several times that I tell fans that I quit the show in order to pursue my survival school. As this was a lie, I refused to participate. I would state this under oath in a court of law.

My refusal to lie to my fan base resulted in the hodge-podge of out-of-context footage used to explain my absence. Legions of people saw through this “explanation”. Others…did not.

The real behind the scenes in Hawaii is more telling about the leadership vacuum that plagued the show. As an example, seconds earlier, the Hawaii footage would have revealed to the viewer an inexperienced, twenty-something producer repeatedly telling me to throw fire-lighting supplies over water to make things easier for editors in New York City. When I left this scene my mic was still on. The audio they used was a confidential conversation I had with another producer about repeated frustrations with this producer. This scene and the off-screen audio were between me and the problem producer, and had nothing to do with the show.

This season three producer had mismanaged previous episodes and would go on to mismanage several more. Regardless of numerous complaints from cast and crew, the executive producer at Original Media kept his friend employed. Also, stating that I was responsible for losing shoot time due to this is not true. We did lose shoot time, but this was caused by the actions of another which the entire crew witnessed.

After four seasons, 38 episodes and hundreds of hours of unaired footage, their top picks to make me look bad involve the non-show related footage of an incompetent producer, a backdoor product endorsement, laughing, and a dead Norwegian rabbit held by a crew member…..before the rabbit appears in the show? I could expose much more serious and toxic actions further cataloging a profound and chronic failure of leadership. Hopefully, this will not need to happen. This chapter needs to end.

The survival skills community is very small. Many people have suggested that Matt Graham should have been paired with me. Unfortunately, I needed to end my friendship with Matt three years ago. He chose to claim that he was my “teacher” for several courses to a company in the hopes of getting a product endorsement from them. As this company had never heard of Matt, but had known me for years, they approached me to ask if this was true. It was not. I have a zero tolerance policy with people who knowingly compromise another’s credibility and experience to promote their own. I’m sorry it turned out this way.

On a positive, many of you have expressed your support and asked if I would involve myself with more TV. I have turned down four TV shows to date. Nowadays, as all the experience one needs to get on a survival show is the ability to take off ones clothes, quality programming that integrates self-respect and professionalism is rare. If I find a network that is interested in teaching survival skills I would consider participating. I hope this statement clears a few things up. Thank you for your continued support!
Stay true, Cody"  June 5, 2014

I hate that survival TV has gotten to be like this. These shows should be about featuring experienced instructors doing what they do best. That being said, I still have hope for survival or bushcraft TV. I believe that there will someday be a show that teaches some legitimate skills, but until then, read good books, learn from professional instructors, and as always, spend time in the great outdoors!

Thanks for reading!

Experiences > Stuff

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my garage... yikes

I recently moved from my "cheapo, pay off debt apartment" to what I am now referring to as my "slightly better cheapo, pay off debt apartment."

I hate everything about moving.
I hate paying another deposit, boxing everything up, and of course, the act of physically moving everything that I own onto my truck and to its new home. However, like most things I hate, it teaches me something in the long run. 

As I was going through all of the clutter I realized that I had acquired a crazy amount of possessions in such a short time. Now, I never think of myself as a materialistic guy. I would even go so far at times to call myself a minimalist, but still, I had way too many things. As I sat near a pile of rubble it became clear that I needed to get rid of some of this stuff. It also became clear to me that even while surrounded by all of this stuff, none of it brought me happiness. 

I needed some adventure in my life. I hadn't paddled a river or hiked a ridge line in months. 

All of this sitting in piles of my crap (not literal) and contemplating a new adventure reminded me of something.
When I was 14 years old my Boy Scout troop took a trip to Ontario to go canoeing. I didn't have the money, but I felt the need to go. That's when the light bulb turned on. I would sell my stuff in order to get enough cash to pay for my trip!

I did this, and to make a long story short, I was on a bus to Ontario that summer, embarking on a trip that would inspire my career as an outdoor educator.  I didn't hesitate to sell my stuff, because I knew that experiences will always be far more valuable than belongings.

Fast forward a few years and I was suffering from the same kind of "cabin fever." After moping around town for a couple of months I finally summoned up the courage to sell my crumby jeep to buy a plane ticket. The very next week I landed in Arizona to live in the mountains and practice my wilderness skills. 
Definitely worth selling the jeep ;)

Yes, that was a little crazy. I was 19, and other than writing and coffee drinking, I had very few responsibilities. Now, as a married man with a busy life and a career to build, I still have the same longing for adventure. 

So here's what I'm going to do...

I'm going to collect all of my belongings that I don't really need, (This is everything from my old backpacking tent, to my "extra bike") add up what I can get from them, sell them, and turn my junk into an adventure.  I'm not sure where I'll go yet. Maybe to a river a few hours north of here, or maybe on a quick road trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. Either way, I'll replace stuff with experience...
a trade that I will always make.


Want to kick the message of this post up a notch? Join my email list, or shoot me an email at sam@samexplores.com telling me what stuff you're selling, and what adventure you would like to do. I'll keep you in mind, and one month from the time you contact me, I'll check back in to see how the adventure junk selling is going.

Thanks for all of your support, and have an awesome day!

What To Get Your Woodsman For Their Birthday

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I recently received an email from a mother who asked me literally one of my favorite questions.
It basically goes like this.

"Hey Sam!
My son is turning 11 and is interested in the outdoors. We really want to get him something he can use in the woods for his birthday?"

First off, thank you for being a great mom, and happy early mother's day. Now, let's answer your question. Here are my top ten items to get your child (let's say, 7-13 year old) for their birthday.
I prefer to purchase these through amazon, since many local stores probably won't have them.

1. A Good Knife

I recently wrote a blog post about which knives I think suit a young man best. I'll throw a curve ball here and suggest one that I didn't mention in that post! The Mora This is the knife I took with me on my first trip to Maine. It's inexpensive, sharp, and sturdy. I also like the finger guard for the inexperienced whittler. It may have saved my index finger a couple of times during my "not so experienced" days.  I used this knife daily for a full month and never had to sharpen it. It's an excellent choice, and a steal at just $9!

2. A Good Axe

The Axe is the most useful tool for heavily forested areas, but it's difficult to find a good one. Many stores will carry axes or hatchets, but they don't usually cut wood as well as they should, since most are made solely for splitting, or general utility.
This axe, made by Snow & Nealley, is definitely a keeper. It's short, lightweight, and perfect for shorter arms. When they get older, longer, and stronger, they should upgrade to a larger axe, but still keep this one around for splitting kindling and camp chores.

3. Paracord

This stuff is awesome! What can I say? Paracord is the outdoorsman's best friend. Some prefer using different types or cordage, but paracord is the perfect item to learn with. You can also choose from a variety of colors, which kids enjoy.

4. A Tarp

Any cheap tarp will do. You can get this at most department stores, hardware stores, sporting goods stores, or online. When they become lean, mean outdoorsmen, they may want to upgrade to a nicer tarp. However, this is not an item to spend a bunch of money on. I usually just buy tarps at my local hardware store, but I'll include an amazon link in case anyone wants to go that route.


5. A Ferro Rod

The first step to becoming a great fire starter is to learn a "one match" fire. This is exactly what it sounds like. Simply starting a fire using one match.
After that, I find that the ferro rod is the next stepping stone of one's fire skills. A ferro rod (or ferrocerium rod) is often referred to on TV as a "flint," but there's absolutely no flint involved. Simply put, ferro rod is a rod composed of metals which produce extremely hot sparks. The skill of using a ferro rod is a "must learn" for any young woodsman (or woodswoman for that matter!) They're also cheap. I recomend the one pictured below, since it includes many rods for the same amount you would usually pay for just one. This is also good since young woodsmen tend to misplace these!

6. A Recurve Bow

Growing up, I had a recurve bow that never left my side. I terrorized the neighborhood squirrels, became an excellent archer, and always used it in my robin hood haloween costume. I think I was robin hood every year from 7-12...
The point is, my bow led to so many great childhood memories that I feel the need to include it in this list. This bow is perfect for the young archer, and is even capable of taking game up to about the size of a raccoon. It's also the best bow available under $50.

7. Some Cheap Arrows

I like to teach youths how to build their own arrows, which cuts down on the cost. But until then, it's good to learn how to shoot with some cheap fiberglass arrows. The reason they should be cheap is because arrows are so easily lost. They can burrow into the grass, which can sometimes hide them indefinitely.

8. Mammal Tracks & Sign

I have had this book since my early teens and it can still keep me occupied for hours. The photos are fun to look at, and the knowledge within the text is top notch. It's a bit pricey, but it's worth the almost $30. I'm actually planning to do a full blog post just on this book alone. The really special thing about books like this is that they can involve the whole family. Finding tracks across your backyard quickly turns into an enjoyable family activity.

9. Field Guide to Birds of North America

This is essentially the bird watcher's Bible. Like this book above, it's fun to look at, and the whole family will enjoy using it to identify and learn more about birds! I paid $20 for this book at barnes and noble a few years ago, and it's now at $13.65, so that's a big plus!


10. Bushcraft by Mors Kochanski

This book is the primo guide to bushcraft, and survival in the north woods. It's written by a hyper-intelligent old timer named Mors Kochanski, who understands that every good book should have a bunch of fun illustrations! For this reason, I'd probably recommend this book to anyone age 8 and up. It's so essential that many professional woodsmen use it consistently as a reference.


P. S.

The mother who emailed me specifically asked about hammocks too, so I feel the need to answer that specifically. For messing around in the backyard, just get the least expensive one you can find. For camping, you'll want something with mosquito netting, like the one shown here!