I have traveled the world as Survivorman — experiencing and filming survival in every ecosystem there is—I can sit back and watch my shows and see John and Geri’s teachings peek through in every situation. I have been able to understand survival because of John and Geri.
Les Stroud aka Survivorman
One of the coolest books I’ve read this year is John and Geri McPherson’s “the Ultimate Guide to Wilderness Living. Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods.“
How good is it?
Well, think about this for a moment. Les Stroud gave them a big fat thumbs up and John and Geri McPherson have been teaching their survival skills to the survival instructors at the U.S. Army Special Operations, Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) school for many years.
How’s that for good?
John McPherson’s overall view of survival is very commonsense. What is taught doesn’t have to look pretty. It has to work. They work in the realm of simplicity and practicality; nothing superfluous.
Many writers write about survival, but many have never put their supposed skills to the test in the wilderness. Much of what can be found online is just copy and pasting from another source. The McPherson’s go way beyond regurgitating what they heard someone else say, and they do more than write about survival. They actually live it. The are true primitivists.
John writes,”We learned early on that, in our day (the 1950s through the 1970s), there was no easy way for us to master skills like this.” This meant the McPherson’s actually went outdoors to learn the craft and did it through trial and error. Their book title says it all, “Surviving with Nothing But Your Bare Hands and What You Find in the Woods.” How many people can actually do that?
I’ve built shelters before, but nothing of the scale or variety that they have.They really understand what they are doing. and they go beyond building shelters. Book chapters are about Primitive Fire and Cordage, Tool Making, Making Meat, Primitive Cooking and much more. I have read this book many times and really enjoyed the old black and white photos inside. Really, peering into another time.
What I truly like about the McPherson’s after reading their book is learning about their passion for primitive skills. They have committed themselves to being masters of their craft. The writer Cody Lundlin stated when he was once a punk kid attending a major primitive skills class, he happened upon John and asked him about softening deer skin to make it look perfect. John McPherson’s answer was, “Son, we don’t really care how it looks’—we want it to work”.
That’s enough for me. I’m not about buying books from a guy who’s never spent a night in the woods. I like to find someone who knows a lot more than me in order that I can grow. I think this is a useful book for those interested in being self-reliant. You’ll also find that John’s sense of humor comes through in his writing style. Some very knowledgeable people are unable to write a good book. This book is written with an easy to follow writing style and the pictures are very helpful. Projects are broken down and described with enough information for a beginner to understand and get started.. Worth the bucks if you buy it.