“You stay alive. If they don’t kill you, they’ll take you north up to Huron lands. You submit, do you hear? You’re strong. You survive. You stay alive no matter what occurs. I will find you…no matter how long it takes, no matter how far. I will find you.” – Nathaniel (Daniel Day-Lewis) to Cora (Madeleine Stowe), before jumping through the waterfall in The Last of the Mohicans

The muscular movie The Last of the Mohicans is a 1992 American epic historical drama, set in 1757 during theFrench and Indian War. It was directed by Michael Mann and based on James Fenimore Cooper‘s novel of the same name. The film starring Daniel Day-Lewis, made women swoon and made men feel like they wanted to be more like the warrior-frontiersman Hawkeye than a desk ninja. As good popcorn chewing movies go this one is up there with the movie greats, right? It grossed $75 from its $45 million cost and over the decades became a fan favorite.

As a recap for those who don’t already know, the film takes place during the time of the French and Indian War, and Hawkeye is an expert tracker who does not want his English wards, such as his love interest Cora (played by Madeline Stowe) to fall prey to an Indian war party. Hawkeye does all he can to keep Cora’s father and family alive. Hawkeye rescues them from danger, and even helps the militia escape slaughter.

Coming off the movie My Left Foot, after portraying the painter Christy Brown, Day-Lewis was a scrawny pipsqueak. When Director Mann told the studios he wanted to have Day-Lewis in the starring role the studio heads said, “You mean that skinny guy who was in a wheel-chair to play the hero?” The actress Madeline Stowe, before agreeing to play the love interest named Cora, did not want to star with the scrawny actor. She was wrong.

The actor showed up on set muscular and toned after doing six months of body building and conditioning so he could run for distances. Day-Lewis looked the part of warrior Hawkeye but he also did an incredible amount of research for the movie as he prepared for his role.

Director Michael Mann encouraged Day-Lewis to do weapons training at an anti-terrorist camp. Day-Lewis also spent several weeks in the wild surviving on precious little. He learned how to skin animals, fight with tomahawks, build canoes, and make his own shoes out of leather. To this day, he makes high-quality leather shoes, with the skills he acquired. Those who live in NC are familiar with the location of the movie shoot. The movie was made on location around Asheville, in the Blue Mountains of North Carolina and other locations too. Day-Lewis spent weeks living in a North Carolina forest and by the time he was finished training he could fire and reload twelve pound flintlocks on the run. He spent five times a week for six months training to build up his stamina and upper body.

Now knowing this trivia information I provided there are a few questions I have to ask you. Are you willing to do the same or even more than this scrawny actor did to learn how to protect your family? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to rescue them if they get into a bad situation and have you done all you can to prepare them for the tough world out there?”

The reality is that few of us will ever have to do something like the hero Hawkeye. Save that honor and greatness for members of the SEAL teams or Delta Force as they hurtle into hot darkness aboard choppers searching for kidnapped scientists and missionaries. But those facts doesn’t mean we won’t one day encounter home invaders intent on raping our wife our daughter (s), or fighting off carjackers intent on taking our vehicle even if they know our children are in the backseat.

If you want to prepare them to handle danger, if you want to prepare yourself to handle danger, where should you start? First off, you shouldn’t wait until after ‘the fact’ to begin your effort to rescue them from ‘bad’ guys. If you want to be your family’s savior then do them a favor by teaching them valuable skills now and not after hell has kicked off.

“People seldom do what they believe in. They do what is convenient, then repent.”~Bob Dylan

I recollect the story about my buddy’s SEAL instructor who taught his daughter how to change a flat tire on her car. One night on her way to a rock concert she had to pull the car over. A heavy storm came overhead and was rocking the car and making the highway a swimming pool. Her car tire was obviously flat. She called her father who was at home and told him her location. He drove up to rear of her vehicle but never got out of his truck. The heavy rain kept pelting her head. By cell-phone, from his truck, he told her to do what he had taught her to do since she was a teen.

He watched from the comfort of his vehicle as his daughter, in her early twenties, changed the flat tire. She did all of this very well without the added illumination of his headlights, without her father holding an umbrella overhead, and without assistance from her gobsmacked, concert-going friends. He taught her well. She also carried a gun in her vehicle to let any potential abductor know she wasn’t anyone’s victim. Facts tell us the world is full of criminals just looking for a violent confrontation or a sexual assault opportunity. Are you going to be the parent, the father, the lover or sibling that does what is convenient and then repent in the morning?

Are you like this concerned father that beamed with pride when his baby girl did what he’d trained her to do since she was a tiny teen?

Be the hero. Be the savior. Teach them how to handle themselves before any damage is done. As a fighter trains, his mind also trains. Every time you or your family member trains you are improving your technique. Your perspective changes and you see things you didn’t recognize before. You learn to see how others can either be sheep or wolves. Are you the wolf? Hawkeye knew Cora was strong and could survive anything Magua and his minions unleashed upon her. Hawkeye knew she was a wolf and not a lamb.

The process of measuring yourself and people should be non-stop. There is a lot you can do to ensure you’re better prepared to help your family. Take the time to learn applicable training given by qualified instructors. Here are just a few classes that you can take:

  1. Marksmanship Classes
  2. First Aid Classes
  3. Survival and escape Classes
  4. Self Defense Classes
  5. Bushcraft Classes
  6. Land Navigation
  7. Wilderness Survival
  8. Disaster Survival

There is a lot that you can do to prepare before a crisis strikes. The word crisis is defined in the dictionary as: a time when a difficult or important decision must be made. Late President John Kennedy wrongly stated that the word crisis in the Chinese language meant danger and opportunity commingled; his definition is not correct. Sorry JFK.

But what if crisis meant opportunity? What if this time right now meant you had to make a difficult or important decision? Are you prepared to do all you can to become Hawkeye? Are you willing to transform, and do the hard work, in order to become your family’s protector? Don’t just go your whole life shielding them from every danger because that is impossible. Instead teach them to become competent in life. Teach them to become the best hard targets they can be. Teach them to become the shield that other people seek cover under. Use time as the opportunity to make them their own Hawkeyes.

Think about some of these concepts I want to impart here:

Planning: Are you in some kind of act or state of planning to control your environment as best you can? Can each of your family members articulate a good escape plan and alternative courses of action in case of a fire, flood, home invasion, or bar brawl?

Roles: What is their assumed function or part played in a particular situation? Are they your cover during a potential fist-fight at your local restaurant? Can they learn to scan your potential opponent for weapons or the opponent’s relative who is about to take a mad swing at the backside of your head? Can they adapt to the other family member’s role if one member goes ‘down’.

Drills: Have you subjected yourself or your family to doing training exercises? Have you practiced escape drills, shooting drills, fire drills etc.

Routine: Has everyone performed the routine; in other words are they able to do some part of a regular procedure rather than for a special reason such as filling up the car with gasoline when it runs dry?

Awareness: Have you been trained or trained your family members to have knowledge or perception of a situation or facts by gleaning the news or sifting data by talking to people? Are they aware of situations so they are not surprised by predators such as robbers, con artists or date rapists. Are they aware of what crimes occur in the next city over or the laws of the town they are visiting?

Tactical: Can you or they take actions or create carefully planned strategies to achieve a specific end?

Communication: Is everyone able to impart or exchange information or news to one another correctly before, during and after an incident? Are they able to use code words and visual signals?

There is a lot of information to cover here. Sift through and take what you want from it. In the end the choice to be a champion for your family is yours or not. Many movie viewers like the Last of the Mohicans movie because it’s pure escapism. Director Michael Mann married heroics with a love story. We want to be Hawkeye because the character is imbued with all we admire and wish to emulate.  Largely we define our ideals by the heroes we choose, men and women that symbolize courage, honor, justice and much more.

Be the hero. When your family needs you be able to know and say with conviction, “I will find you!”

“The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation, and go to the grave with the song still in them.” Henry David Thoreau 

Some interesting facts about LOTM

  1. Capt. Dale Dye, who served as the on-set military adviser, has played soldiers in everything from Platoon to Band of Brothers.
  2. Director Michael Mann’s initial three-hour cut was trimmed to 112 minutes for the theatrical release. Mann added an additional five minutes to the 2010 Blu-ray and dubbed it the “definitive” director’s cut.
  3. According to the NY Times, Daniel Day-Lewis and Madeline Stowe engaged in a prank war during filming that culminated in Day-Lewis staging a gruesome fake car accident for Stowe to witness.
  4. The production crew assembled a massive recreation of Fort William Henry based on the actual 18th Century building plans.
  5. Despite being set in New York state, filming took place in the Appalachian mountains of North Carolina. Mann felt that the North Carolina mountains better resembled the lush, unspoiled terrain of the time period.
  6. Daniel Day-Lewis prepared for the role of Hawkeye by living in the woods for several days and learning to hunt and skin animals. On set, he stayed in character by avoiding modern technology, traveling by canoe, and rolling his own cigarettes. His trusty flintlock rifle never left his side either.


By Michael Kurcina

Mike credits his early military training as the one thing that kept him disciplined through the many years. He currently provides his expertise as an adviser for an agency within the DoD. Michael Kurcina subscribes to the Spotter Up way of life. “I will either find a way or I will make one”.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.