24-Hour Survival in the Woods Alone: Could You Do It?

Wendy Geller
Senior Editor
Our Country

What would you do if you found yourself alone in the wilderness -- with nothing but yourself to rely on?

Road Trip host Marc Istook wondered that very thing. So he went out to Liberty, Texas, to learn exactly what one needs in order to survive 24 hours alone in the wilderness. Luckily, he recruited an expert guide: former Green Beret Mykel Hawke, who learned about survival first-hand at a young age.

As a teenager, Hawke lived on the streets, relying on his wits to stay afloat as he watched friends go to jail and even get killed. From there, Hawke decided to pursue his interests in survival skills via the military, where he spent 25 years.

Post-military, he embarked on a career teaching survival training and education, even hosting on TV shows such as "Lost Survivors." Needless to say, Hawke is the guy you'd like to have along if you're ever stranded far from civilization!

The worst wilderness survival error in Hawke's book may surprise you: He claims it's overconfidence, which can lead to disaster. "Most people over-estimate their abilities," he explains. "They over-estimate how easy it is to make a shelter, how easy it is to start a fire, and how long they can go without water. Those can all be fatal mistakes."

He breaks it down succinctly. All one really needs to pull through in the woods are three things: Water, fire, and shelter. When in the wilderness alone, the first thing he suggests doing is scouting out a good place to build your shelter (high ground, level). From there, Hawke showed Istook how to create a rough-looking but functional hut out of branches and leaves; how to find and collect water; and how to start a fire using a technique that's thousands of years old. Once the fire's started, water can be boiled and made safe to drink.

Although all of these tasks are challenging, they are doable, as Istook quickly learned. They also instill a sense of appreciation for all the modern amenities we take for granted every day. The next time you turn on your stove, faucet, or light switch--consider what it would be like to go back to the basics like Istook and Hawke explored in Liberty. Could you survive such a test?

For more information about Hawke's training sessions and various speaking engagements, visit here.