Below the Surface : Naked and Afraid w/ Wes Harper

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On the popular show Naked and Afraid, a group of people are given the task of surviving in the wilderness. They are only allowed to bring two items with them and they must rely on their training and mental toughness to survive. How do they get through these extreme challenges? What do they draw into to survive without food for days at a time? This week Wes Harper from the show Naked and Afraid sits down with Dr. Hirsch to talk about his experiences filming the show! Learn more about your ad choices. Visit

Below the Surface
Each week Board Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon, Dr. Elliot Hirsch, sits down with patients, celebrities and experts to go below the surface on topics within the field of medicine and current events.

Episode transcripts

Straw media. This week we havea very special guest, West Harper,
from naked and afraid and naked andafraid excel, to discuss his experiences participating
in these survival challenges. I'm DElliot Hirsh. Welcome to below the surface.
There's something inherently fun about sitting onmy couch with a drinking hand,
fully clothed, watching a group ofhungry, naked and bug bit and survivalist
struggling to survive on the show nakedand afraid. I've been a huge fan
of the show. The Twenty oneday challenges are great, but my favorite
are the forty day group challenges.I always wonder, though, about the
mentality of somebody who signs up fora challenge like this, especially the ones
who make it through the first challengeand then sign up for another round,
knowing how uncomfortable, stressful and dangerousthe tempts can be. Definitely seems like
a mental game. Those with thestrongest wills do the best. We all
enjoy the show. My whole familywatches it. We love to armchair coach
the contestants, of course, andcheer them on as they as they thrive
in these really rough and God forsakenparts of the country in the world.
One of our favorite duos of alltime was west and Gwen on the most
recent excel version in South Africa,and although Weston make it to the entire
Fort Day challenge, he displayed suchcalm and leadership and skill I was,
it's really excited when he agreed totalk with me today. West, welcome
to below the surface. Hey,thank you, doctors. Appreciate you having
make my pleasure. You know,I'm a big fan of naked the fright.
I've watched most of the episodes andmost of the seasons and after watching
the most recent excel challenge, Ithought that because of kind of unique circumstances
around everything you went through, yoube a great guest to have on the
show, and so I really wantto start with why do you do something
like this? What is it aboutstarvation and danger and hunger that makes you
want to go spend forty days nakedin the wilderness? Well, I don't
think it starts off that way,you know, and when you phrase it
like that it doesn't sound very goodeither. But you know, it kind
of all started with the first showI want I did in Brazil and I
grew up out doors and I don'tlove the age where you got kicked out
of the house when it got lightand let back in it there time.
So you know, I did myshare of running through creeks and woods and
all that kind of stuff. ButI wanted to do the first show in
Brazil because I was kind of outof things to do, like I'm gonna
Push Yourself, slight adrenaline, JunkyCher and and and I just wanted more
and I had been watching the showfor years. I said, well,
Jeez, this would be great.And then once I did Brazil, I
swear I'd never do another one becauseit was one. Her was wonderful and
listed a long yeah, it wasso awful, you know, but after
a couple weeks you start forgetting thebad parts and just, you know,
remember the good parts. And sowithin a month I was dying to go
back, and so when the opportunityto go to exel, South Africa,
came up, I jumped at it. So That's interesting. It only took
you a month or so where youI guess your you healed up, you
recovered and you were already getting thaturge you out there and push yourself again.
Yeah, it's it's very strange,but you kind of get addicted to
the suffering. who like the somethingabout that makes you like want it more,
honey. It's kind of like peopletalk about getting a tattoo. You
get one, well, that meansyou're going to get two or three,
and that's kind of the same waythat I feel about doing the survival challenges.
You Get bug bit and tore upand you're miserable and starving, and
then something about it makes you wantto do it again. Now is what
your wife's say about all this?Oh boy, that's back and forth.
She is my biggest supporter, HMM, but at the same time really wishes
I would stop. Sure, yeah, she sees me come home from these
challenges and you know, I'm threethousand, two hundred and fifty pounds later,
my mind is wandering somewhere else becauseI can't focus on anything at home,
home, and you know, shesees the toll it takes and for
that she would rather I stop.But when she sees the episodes and when
I'm gearing up for the episodes,I mean she's a great supporter. So
when you say all right, so, honey, I'm going to go spend
forty days starving the wilderness and you'regoing to take care of the kids for
the next month or so. Yeah, now she's suggested that doesn't go over
real well, you know US usuallystarts with some flower. Yes, of
course. Yeah, honey, canwe talk about something? Look at PAP
do you do to get ready forsomething like that? Well, first thing
you do is you take off yourshoes, okay, and you walk barefoot
wherever you can just to get thosefeet toughened up. And generally, you
know Brazil and South Africa, you'rein the directs on and so you try
to really get a good tan going. And then you practice all your survival
skills. You know, you orevery type of firestarter to ever made and
you buy seven different men chetties andyou just practice. You go out in
your backyard or in the woods andyou just practice, practice, practice,
making snares on a different type ofshelter and tying up as much cord did
you can possibly make, and youjust do that in all your free time,
you know, when you're not atwork and not playing with your kids,
you just wander out in the woodsand you just go at it for
a while. So when you gotthe neighbors dog and your snare, you
got to remind yourself that you're justprepping. You're not actually going to kill
the dog and cook it in theback yard. Is that would double the
neighbors all know by now. Theysee they see me walking barefoot and I'll
stop. They know what's up,what's going on interesting. So, yeah,
but now they see me back thereusing a bow drill. They know
what time of this do you didyou gain weight intentionally before the show?
Oh Yeah, put on the extramaybe one fifte hundred and twenty pounds,
just knowing it was going to goingto come right back off. Yeah,
gaining weight is not a problem forme. And so, you know,
a couple dark beers and a few, you know, take out meals and
I'm right where I need to be. A few sticks of butter, get
you up there quick yeah, yeabetter. All right. Right, when
you're prepping for the show, doesthe does the show give you classes on
like this is the the the edibleplants in the area, this is what
you should avoid. These are theanimals ease, are their patterns, that
type of thing. Well, beforebefore you actually get out on you in
the environment. Before the challenge starts, you to meet with a local wildlife
person and M and, you know, thank go over some basics with you.
You know, they hold up aplan so that you eat this plant,
you're going to die. And Yeah, I mean you get some real
black and white things. And thenafter that they kind of leave and you
know, your imagination run wild andyou just go after it. What's the
what is the actual the time courseof Hey, west, you MBA naked.
The phrase xcel and okay, yeah, sure, I'll do that.
Like, how much time do youhave from there until they take you to
where you're going to be, andthen how much time from when you arrive
wherever you're going to be until you'reactually naked in the wilderness? Oh,
it's it's months. Okay, OH, months of either application process or the
the network calls you and says,we're considering you for Excel. Are you
interested? Prop six months, gosee. Plenty of time. Yeah,
and you know, if you getasked, it generally means that they're interested
in having you there. So atthat point, you know, while you're
talking to them, you start unlacingyour shoes. You know, you start
getting ready to start pressing. Butthen once you get to the country that
you're going to do it in,you generally have two, three four days
before you actually get inserted. Nowthere's a lot of logistics that go into
you know, for Excel, theyhad to organize, you know, twelve
different travel schedules at lodgings, youknow, to get us ready so we
could all go in on the sameday. It's quite complicated and so it
takes a few days when you're onsite to just wait. Really it's that's
the most painful part of is justwaiting, getting ready, waiting to go
over there kind of putting you upfor the time being. Yeah, the
survivor village, some you know,really down and out hotel, just wherever
they can find a bed and putyou for a few days. May I
guess it's if you're going to aboutto spend forty days out sleeping in the
dirt, that necessarily to put youup in the Ritz Carlton for the for
the week when you're prepping. OhNo, I don't. I don't really
think that crosses their mind. Justby the places I've stay, like,
let's go fin for yourself with theFood and you know, you can sleep
in the back and yell pick youup in the street and a couple days
and you'll go. You know,it's not far from that, honestly.
You know they're so they're so busygetting ready because their job, you know,
their job is way more complicated thanmine. Mine's just to survive.
What they've got to shoot, allthe footage, twenty four seven audio.
You know, it just it's it'smadness what they have to go through.
No, it's a lot of workfrom the production standpoint. Actually, I
had a patient who was a cameraman, naked and afraid. He done bunch
of episodes and we talked about it, just a small thing that we did
for him in the office and hetold me some of the issues that he
had filming and it sounded like,you know, he what he talked about
the contestants. It sounded like heit was harder for him to get the
shots and to kind of stay awayfrom everybody but still maintain authenticity of the
show then it was in certain respectwith people who, like you said,
just had to survive and not worryabout is this a great shot? You
know what's what is this look like? Was that look like? Well,
they are industrial athletes, to besure. You know, dressed head to
toe and Mesquita gear, snake boots, you know, rain jackets, paunches,
and then carrying an eighty pound cameranow walking backwards through, you know,
through brush. I think, yeah, they really put themselves through it.
When you're when you're waiting, inthat period after you arrive at the
destination, before you're inserted, doyou meet the other survivalists or are you
pretty much isolated on your own?You're pretty much isolated on your own,
especially the twenty one day challenges.See if your idea who's going to be
there with you. No, absolutelynot on the twenty one. But you
know, when you get to thexcel level, they you know, there's
a social media undercurrent going on wherepeople will go, Hey, I might
be going out of town for sixweeks, yes, and I was going
on to town for six weeks.Yes, and some of the go,
but I don't know, I mightbe. And then you know, you
start piece and together who's probably goingto be out there, and so you
get it a little frame of reference. Okay, so you know you have
at least a basic idea and thenwhen you see him you're like, Oh,
yeah, okay, that makes sense. I see why you sent that
tweet out there. I knew it. I knew it. Yeah, that's
exactly right. When I went onExcel, I knew ten of the twelve
people that were going. Okay,so you really yeah, interesting. Yeah,
yeah, it's hard to keep allthat quiet when you know and everybody's
make up doing the same thing Ido. You have to plan to be
away for six weeks yet put yourlife well, yeah, you really do.
And, as prevalent is a lotof people are on social media,
they pretty much let people know they'retaking a break. Anybody thinks are you
know, falling off a cliff oranything? So they know. Yeah,
so they know. Did you knowGwen before you got there? No,
no, not at all, notin the least. The only thing I
had done is watch her, herepisode a couple times, because it seems
like you two right from the startyou really hit it off and you had
great chemistry. That's yeah, asI watched the show, it's one of
the first things I know is thathow similar you two are in your styles
and how sometimes, when you're watchingthis, so you see draw them are
you see friction immediately, like whenthey I remember the guy's name with a
duct tape when he came into ranGwen's camp the tea. You look at
like, Oh boy, yeah,yeah, it's Joshua. Well, Gwen
and I I mean I have myhairs on my arm raised right now,
because she is still a dear friendof mine today. I talked to her
yesterday. Hello. Yeah, thesecond we met each other, we were
talking for all of a minute andwe knew that we were going to be
super compatible. We just we hadthis feeling between the two of us that
yeah, all right, you may, buddy, we got this, you
know, and and our friendship onlydeepened every moment we were in the challenge.
It was. It was a rareevent for sure, and I was
super grateful that she was that waspaired up with her. Now, her
background was a little bit different fromyour. She was from she's from a
different part of the country. Shehas a totally different occupation. What do
you think it was just you twohad very similar styles, just from your
training, or why do you thinkyou hit off so well? You know,
she she's about my age, she'sa year younger than I in and
she has five kids. I havefive kids and so we and they're about
the same age. So we've gonethrough those stages of life at the same
time and I think that was mostlyit. Our skill sets were wildly different.
She was a cop and she's ahomes fitter. I have no idea
about any of that. I'm aguy, you know. But the stuff
that keeps you grounded we had verymuch in common, and so we picked
up a immediate friendship and carried itright through till I had to leave.
But it's whenever you have a commonthat type of thing, a common background,
at least in the sense of havingthe five kids being a similar stage
in your life, it's definitely goingto make it easier to relate to somebody.
And so obviously your first impression ofyour partner was great. You guys,
you said you hit off wonderfully.What was your first impression of South
Africa? Was it? Was itthe weather? Was it the animals?
Like, what was the first thingwhen you said, okay, I am
in this, what was it thatmade you feel like that? It was
dry, hot and dead. HMM. They were in the middle of like
at least a seven year drought andit was just dead. There it was
so hot and dry. You know, you just felt like you're walking into
a to a graveyard. Wow,it was really rough. You know.
You really had to get your mentalgame up, like immediately. Yeah,
it just felt like there was nohope. The truck and we're inserted.
You just didn't feel any hope,wow, at all. You were just
going, Oh shit, this isgoing to be rough, and it was.
To you said that the feeling ofwhat so wasn't just one thing,
it was the overall feeling where theheat, the dryness, you I mean
you've got some while I animals runningaround, but as you progressed to find
your campsite and find the water source, the overall sense of oppression that you
feel from the environment is it's isoverwhelming. Is it like okay, you
see you get mental game going.Is it? Do I have to how
do I overcome this or what doI have to do? Are you just
understand it's going to be painful forthe next however long you're there and set
up for that? Well, fortunately, your own enough of a high going
in. Your adrenaline is pumping,you know, so you know you can
overcome the world. At that pointyou're still feeling that dread, but your
heart still racing, and so thatwill ast for I don't know, half
a day, sometimes twenty four hours. But when we walked our four or
five hours and finally got to thatlittle spring and the small amount of green
that we had, yeah, thatwas a big relief at that point.
You know, we took a breathwhen you're like okay, you know,
we have some resources here, thisis home, we can make this work.
That must have felt like the gardenof Eden compared to the landscape you
walk through. It was a completeoasis. Yeah, it really was,
because our walk in was really awful. You know, you just not used
to that environment and all of suddenyou just get popped down in it and
it's just sucking the life out ofit. Huh? Sure, not to
mention your feet are getting shredded fromthorns like we do not have in these
raise it light DARNS, double thorns, for sure. See, that's the
part where I think me and probablyninety five percent of the people watching would
just tap out and get back inthe truck and then top back on my
flight to California. The drink.Well, you know, if you got
if you got your contracts on thatyou were going and took those shoes off,
you know, six to eight monthsahead of time. Yeah, you
know. I mean it really doeschange things. My feet to this day
or still wrecked. No, I'msure from the you know, from from
what Africa put them through, andmy train need to get ready for it.
Put them through. You probably haveout there, like your place is
down there. Oh, they werelike dog balls, for sure. Absolutely,
like primitive man. You know,that's that's that's how you have to
kind of be to get through that. Yeah, it's like having a truck
tires, you know. Okay,my feet were better than most, but
you still had big thorns. Itwould that would ravage you pretty good,
I'm sure. Well, it's IT'sother thing too, is and you look
at the show. I remember watchinganother episode where somebody said that they had
prepped for I was a month ortwo where every day for a certainmount of
time, they just walk them brokenglass and jumped up and down a broken
glass. And Yeah, as youwatch these episodes, it makes sense because
your feet something I can absolutely takeyou out very early in the competition.
Oh yeah, just one random form. It really gets you good, you
know, can get in fact,absolutely, I mean, and it's a
little things, right, you getan infection and you're out of there.
You know, you hang on fora couple days, but then they're going
to pull you out because I don'twant you to lose your foot. Yep.
So, and that's that's why thelife expectancy in, you know,
the seventie hundred, eighteen hundreds,nobody live past fifty. Is the only
ways to die. Yeah, totallyunderstandable. Totally understand animal so as I
mean back up a low. Thisas you're walking in is hot, super
hot, you and Gwen, oryou really just kind of pushing through it,
trying to get to where you're going? What is your interaction with the
crew, kind of starting here inthe moving forward? Is the crew?
Are they just kind of floating around? Most of it is most of it
filmed with remote cameras. Like whatis your actual dude, you talk to
the producers daily? Or, asmost of this just kind of like the
camera guys are around, you tryto ignore them? No, you really
you don't try to talk to thethe producers and camera people. They really
are trying real hard not to talkto you as well. They are trying
to be as much of the backgroundas they possibly can, and so your
interaction is very, very limited.And you know, after you get used
to somebody film and You while you'reyour naked, after that, you know,
will experience goes by. It reallyblend into the background and it's hard
if you haven't been there, it'shard to imagine that, but they're really
part of the scenery after a littlebit and and you kind of don't notice.
It's odd, but it's that's howit happens. So you just get
into the zone. Yeah, you'rewhen you're in your mental yours on the
mental toughness and you're really focusing onsurviving and making the kill or getting the
water working on the bone or whereveryou're doing. It. Sounds like the
crew just like you said, theybecome part of the background. You don't
even see them. Well, yeah, you know, when you're you're in
the thick of it, you reallydon't care about a camera. HMM,
that, you don't care at all. You're just trying to make it for
another hour or another day, justsurviving. So so yeah, they blend
in your feel like when you arein a hunt or something. Was was
the camera ever distraction to the toyou or to the animal. Or there
is you're sneaking up on the animaland you're get ready to take your shot
and then, like the Camera GuyClick something or something makes a noise and
the animal spood. Well, thatis something that the camera people sound people
are very wary of, because oneperson doesn't go hunting. It's not just
the survivalist it goes hunting. It'sa survivalist, to camera guys on,
an audio guy right, that gohunting. And so they, you know,
they try their absolute best to bequiet, to be, you know,
stealthy and not not screw up,you know, your hunt. Uh
Huh. So, you know.I mean, do things happen? Sure,
but are they making their absolute besteffort? Yeah, they really are.
Let's take a quick break and whenwe come back we'll talk with West
about surviving between successful hunts and stayingpositive. So, speaking about hunting again,
you it took a little while untilyou made your first kill. What
did you eat up until the firstthe first time when Ryan was there and
you went on the group height,you got the you got to kill.
Oh, well, you know,since it didn't make the highlight reel.
Yeah, we ate quite a bit. Nothing to really sustain this, but
I mean we ate, oh,dozens of lizards. MM. We had
a turtle that we had gotten outof a little pond there, okay,
by our place. The trees move, Ponti Trees. We boiled those leaves
and we were eating some of those, although they were tough. They were
discussing. We ate them and ofcourse, you know, the one that
made the show was allow experience.Of course. Yeah, let's talk about
that. I'll experience a little bit. How much? How much of that
plant did you actually eat? Iate pretty much half of one leaf.
Wow, I mean, which isa good amount, you know, maybe
the size of a note card.Uh Huh. So I ate that and
that was plenty. How quickly?How quickly was it before you said I've
made a horrible mistake. This isthis is not going to end well.
Well, about fifteen minutes after wehad eat and H Huh, I'm not
some weird stuff happening. And thenit took about five more minutes before before
Gwen and I said, you know, we have done it now, since
we were sharing the same experiences,and that was the only thing that we
have eaten that day. Yeah,it could have caused that. We knew
where were inro go, you know, one five hundred twenty minutes and we
were we were had that. OhShit. Yeah, and so what do
you do? Have you? Didyou? Did you make yourself throw up?
Did you go eat some charcoal orsomething, or how did you?
Had you deal with it? Effectsof the toxin? Well, I mean
it was really debilitating. That's onething you don't see, I mean lose
your muscle control. That was theweirdest thing ever. But I managed to
kind of crawl belly crawl out ofthe Boma and and I shot my hand
on my throat just to try tothrow up, and that's on TV pretty
clearly. Yep, Oh, yeah, yeah, I threw up everything in
my stomach and that was the bestthing I could have ever done because,
you know, after two, three, four hours after that, I really
started feeling better. Okay, didthat was Relaxi of at all. Do
it get anything going from the otherend? No, no, just no.
It was all from your gut up. And and poor Gwen, Oh
poor gwen. She didn't throw upand so, you know, I was
feeding her charcoal and she just kindof had to weather the storm and so
she was. She was sick allnight, whereas I got over it in
just, you know, a couplefew hours. But yeah, she had
a rough go of it. Ithought it was with Alt I thought it
was a little ironic, and we'lltalk more about how you how the season
ended for you in a little bit, but in cert certain types of allow
it actually is a pretty powerful laxative, naturally, and so I thought that
was a little ironic at the alummag sick, whereas if it maybe was
different type of allow in the endI might even helpful for you. Yeah,
yeah, I don't know that.That also was my first experience rants
with Allo other than, you know, putting it on a sunburned yeah,
I'd never eat now before, soI don't have a whole lot compared to
I just know like would not eatit again under any scumstances. Yeah,
I'm cured off, Hollo. That'sone of those things where when you go
back to the guy who prepped youfor the challenge, like Hey, you
know that plant that you said wouldkill me? We you should have planned
this one out too. But theythank you for that. Yeah, exactly,
thanks for now. Where were you? So when you you did you
had done quite a few hunts upuntil when Ryan got there and you got
your first kill. What's what wasyour state of mind? How did you
keep yourself motivated? When you're outthere it's a hundred, twenty degrees,
you and Quin are starving, howyou keep yourself going back out there to
try again to get to get thekill? It's tough. It is really
tough because you know you fail.It's just fail after fail after fail.
And I took I took quite afew shots before I actually connected. The
one nice thing was, I guessday fourteen or so. They don't show
it, but I shot a squirreland so forgot to say that, but
we had a squirrel. So Ihad one success with the bow and Arrow
and at that point I said,okay, you can do this, get
your butt up, go out huntingagain. But yeah, I mean it's
really hard on your your mental game, because you feel like a failure.
I mean just an ABS salute failure, and I think having Gwen in the
camp, knowing that if I didn'tgo out there and kill something, she
wasn't going to eat, was prettymuch what what propelled me to keep going.
See you find it a provider mentalityor something bigger than yourself to motivate
you, to push yourself so thatthe two of you sixted as a group.
Not so much you view that asokay, this what we have to
do, rather than a failure.Yeah, yeah, I mean I had
to go every day. I canlet myself down all day long, but
I've been I couldn't let I couldn'tlet when down. I had to get
something so she could eat and youknow, and I benefited, of course,
but my mindset was just like wow, I am failing Gwen, not
just myself. What do you feellike when you finally did make that first
kill? Oh, that was likeChristmas morning, I am telling yeah,
I'll track and the it's called aclip springer. Yeah, rock jumper track
in that and seeing it piled updead, I mean just a wave of
relief, tears in my eyes andI was really excited, happy, and
then the emotions coming. I tearsin my eyes and I was just like
so relieved. Yeah, that thatwe were going to actually have a meal,
like a reasonable meal, and sothat was that was that was great.
That was a moment that I reallywill never, never forget. It
was fantastic. Well, like yousaid, it had been so much failure,
nothing that nothing that you were warn'tdoing. It just said very difficult
environment, and then you go outthere, you finally have success, you
eat, you're going to provide foryour team. It's understanding that you have
a live emotion around it because itwas a very successful thing. It was
a lot of effort went into it. What it actually takes? Like,
you know, was that? I'mobviously you had eaten a while, but
can you describe the taste? Youknow it was gamy. Yeah, like
I mean it didn't take quick tastelike store bought beef or anything like that.
It had a very wild flavor toit but you know, it was
on the order of deer or somesome, some wild pork types food.
Be kind of I mean it tastedlike clip sprayer. It's really it's a
really hard to say. You know, it tasted like chicken. I'm not
tasted like clipspring something. First BiteI had I go oh, yeah,
that must be what clips fur as. It's different than anything else that ever
had. Do you even taste it, thore, or is it that that
play? You're so hungry. You'relike, I'm just going to eat as
much of this thing as I can. Oh, you taste, everybody?
Oh Really? Yeah, okay,Oh, yeah, yeah, I didn't
expect your body is your buddies notonly crave in the protein, but when
you're out there there's nothing to taste. I mean drink water all the time.
You know, you can't slam adiet mountain dew or something like that.
I mean there's nothing, and sowhen you get that something that has
flavor, it is the best thingever. Just explodes, explodes in your
mouth. It does, it reallydoes. Wow, do you think that
having Ryan there, just psychologically,having one other person to Ha, do
you think that helped you your confidencegoing into that hunt? A hundred percent?
And I didn't I didn't know that. If I don't think that,
I thought him being there would makeme better, but I thought our overall
team's chance of getting a game animaljust went up dramatically. So it's much
relief that we had two people withbows that were actively hunting than just me.
It took a lot of pressure offand probably calm me down a little
bit where I actually could make adecent shot. You know, it took
a lot of pressure off. Well, that's it. Yeah, that's a
very interesting thing that you're saying andwe see that a lot. Like I
with my I have a ten yearold who plays baseball and I remember a
game like it was a year ortwo ago, where their team have been
struggling a little bit and they wereup in there in the playoffs and the
first kid up usually didn't hit,but he got a hit and then everybody
all of a sudden, team justrelaxes and it's like, okay, well,
you know, the pressure is off. The first kid got to hit.
You know now we have we canrelax because he's on base and the
next guy doesn't have to work ashard and everybody relax. All of a
sudden everybody, teams started thinking theyhad it, they won the game.
It's the same type of thing.I think, when you are out there
and you have more people where youdon't have to have put as much pressure
on yourself because you focus on justgoing through the fundamentals of shooting an Arrow.
You know, you focus on yourbreathing, your sighting, you line
up the shot and then you don'tworry about the outcome, which is hopefully
getting a kill. You focus moreon the process and then your performance and
then ultimately the outcome will take careof itself. Yeah, that's absolutely correct,
a hundred percent correct. When youbring somebody along like that, it
elevates your own game, you know, and so so when you come in
breath, do all the right things. Definitely, and it's always about we
always talked about the process to andthat's something that that my kids and I
talked about. And even in surgery. You know, I don't focus on
the outcome of a surgery. Istarted the surgery. Focus on these are
the steps I need to do insurgery, and the outcome, hopefully successful
operation. But you never think I'mgoing to. I got a knocked us
on out of the park. Youthink, okay, I'm going to do
this, this and this to getto that point, and absolutely more success
that way. Yeah, yeah,how did that experience with right? How
did that impact your mindset when theyou know, couple days after you had
to hunt with Ryan, all ofa sudden for more people come strolling into
camp and you're like, Oh,okay, I guess we're going to need
to hunt a little more. Yeah, well, since I had gotten a
second clip springer the day they arrived, you know, before they came in,
my confidence all of a sudden wasright where it needed to be.
I knew I could do it.You know, I just I felt like
okay, I'm I felt like Iwas unstoppable at that point in the hut
in the hunting department. Yeah,you know, like okay, I got
this. But when I saw fourpeople come in to camp, I was
yeah, so Ge was, youknow, Gosh, this is for people,
and Ryan was one of them.So I said, all right,
we got another hunter. But therest of them were not hunters, and
so I think, yeah, yeah, I guess, running like a carry
the hunting load. Yeah, theydid. They did tons of other things,
and so I'm not knocking them atall, but as far as food,
just, you know, yeah,yeah, that rested on our shoulders
a hundred percent. What do youthink's the optimal number of people on the
team? You think two or three, or different roles or like how if
you were to put together your ownsurvival team, what would you what would
you have on it? I wouldsay too or six. Two or to.
Yeah, anything more than six Ithink it's just kind of wasted hands.
Okay, but but if you havesix, that seems to be a
real solid number. You have oneor two people hunting, one or two
people taking care of Camp Chores,and that is not to be underestimated.
Camp Tours are incredible, you know. I mean running a fire or two
seven there's a constant search for wood. No, sure, it's constant battle
for getting your water. If youdon't have a natural spring, you got
to boil it constantly. I meanit's it's a it's a big deal.
And then you got two people thatare taken care of shelter, and your
shelter is never done. It's justnever done. You Think, Oh,
we've got our bonm and we're donenow. That's not the case. You're
always adding to it, fortify andit improving it, you know. So
it's more comfortable. Trying to makeyour experience out there just a little more
comfortable every day, I can imagine, every time it de sing goes down
and you hear the hyenas around you. Next morning you wake up here like
we should probably throw a couple morethorn misses on this thing. We need
more bro Yeah, absolutely, that'sthat's true. That's very true. So
six seems like good number, butthen you know, to is also really
good too, because you just breakup the doors two ways and you have
that one to one interaction with someoneyou know, I'd pans a true partnership.
And as long as you have agood partner, yes, like I
do with Gwen exactly, then thenit comes off without a hitch. Yes,
you know, I would struggle.To have a bad partner and know
what to do, then that wouldbe that would be tough. Yeah,
and that's where the the I elementof the banishing on this past years I
thought was really interesting, because ifsomebody wasn't pulling their lower just didn't fit
in with the group, you couldjust say hey, you know what,
this isn't working out. You gottayou got to move along. Yeah,
yeah, that's so. That's whathappened with those, with Joshua, you
know, Aka duct tape. Youknow, he wasn't outsider. Yeah,
he was an outsider from the secondhe got there. and Andy he was.
He was different than Gwen and I. He really was who's he was
a lot younger, his idea ofsurvival was a lot different than ours and
we just didn't feel that at anypoint the three of us could make it
work. We felt like we werecarrying the load, and it's as much
as we didn't want to be dirtbags then and have it portrayed on TV
either. He had to go ifwe were going to make it, he
had to go. Who is wonderinghow much of that, like, how
much of that is anything, versushow much of that actually was what you
were experiencing on the ground, andthere's no way for an outsider to know.
But it seemed like, based onthe way they film the show,
a to show, it seemed likehe spent most of the day just kind
of laying around and you and Gwen, we're getting water, getting would kind
of working on a Boma, lookingfor stuff, and then he kind of
perk up around the afternoon time goout and shoot arrows at stuff and pretend
he was hunting. You know,to be perfectly honest, they probably showed
about fifteen percent m of really thethe horror of Oh really, his survival
abilities. Okay, yeah, itwas really bad and I thought they were
actually kind of gracious that the onlyshowed what they did, so is even
worse it really was. You know, they could have picked a bunch of
different stuff to to highlight, butmost of it was the same. It
was just constant. It was aconstant drag, constantly doing nothing, constantly
sleeping, and I'm sure he hashis own things that he needs to work
out with that. Yeah, andI wish him the absolute best anything,
but for being in Africa and survivingthat on wasn't going to cut it.
No, it's certainly not. Withthe way that you and Gwen were.
You guys are grinding to just kindof just barely make it through. Yeah,
yeah, we had to be atough, tough couple of people to
come in and try to be thirdwith. Oh yeah, now what was
what was the scariest other other thanthe end, and we'll talk about that
in the second but other than whatthe medical thing you went through, what
was the scariest moment? Are scariestanimal or just scariest encounter that you had
while you're on the show it?You know, there were so many of
them. I narrow it down toone for you, but there were so
many of them. When you haveHyena's right outside your Boma, yeah,
and they're on all sides of youdoing that wicked laugh and you know they're
talking about you. I mean that'sfrightening and having things come through your camp
at night having bad boons that arereally pissed off that you're there. Yeah,
you know, a band of seventyfive. That's if they decide that
they're just going to take you out, you're just done. There's nothing you
do. But the scariest thing forme was actually the elephants. Elephants,
yeah, you know, you thinkelephant and you think the zoo. Yeah,
just sitting around they seemed awesome andyou know, they probably are to
a degree, but they came throughour camp almost every day and a lone
elephants not going to bother you toomuch. The male elephant, he's pretty
much not going to bother you.He's just going to show that he's,
you know, in charge and yougo okay, you're in charge and then
you're fine. But the mamas thathave babies, that's that's the really scary
thing. And we had several timeswere a group of three, four MOMS
and their their baby elephants would comethrough and they were they were close.
You know, this is not acrossa parking lot, this is this is
really just, you know, thirtyyards away. Wow, and if they
felt you were a threat, theMOMS, they would. They would just
crush you. They and you couldn'tdo anything about it. So just just
knowing that, and you'd see themwalk along and then they turn look at
you and you know, all youwant drains out of blood, drains out
of your face. Hey, isthis the moment? Yeah, they were.
They were majestic and wonderful, butalso you knew that that that,
that was it. You didn't havea chance. All the rest of the
animals, you said, well,if I have my chetty machete, I
at least yeah, I get itto you good licked in, and yeah,
maybe I can survive. The elephants. Now you just knew it was
over. If they decided it wasover, you just your machelle. We
just bounce off that. You haveno defense. Yeah, no, none
whatsoever. The rest of them,you felt like you had a fighting change.
Yeah, elephants, Nope, theyhold all the cards. How bad
were the insects? Insects, therewas pretty much they had new pawny nets,
okay, and the pawny and youcan call them bees or GNATS,
are small, and they were theones that would fly around your face all
day long. Yeah, and theywould land on him and bite worsting you.
Whichever it was, it was prettyconstant, and I mean it was
you know, they were a pain. You know it it at once again.
It's like a tattoo. The firstsecond or two doesn't hurt that bad,
but after you gotten fifty bites,Oh yeah, it starts to creep
up on you and you know youget pretty aggrevated with that and it drives
you out of your mind if youlet it. That's psychologically. That seems
to me to be probably the mostdifficult thing. I mean, with the
hunger and the heat, you kindof get used to that because it's just
the state that you're in and it'spart of the experience. But then when
every thirty seconds, every five minutes, you're falling asleep and something buzzes into
your ear or you feel a littlesting in your leg, they see,
you know, your legs itching andyour other eggs eaching and you've got thollands
of eaching spots. To me,that seems like that probably one of the
hardest things to have to overcome.I would say you're absolutely right, because
it's constant. There's no relief fromthat. It's just keeps on after you
constantly and you think. Okay,maybe, you know I put up with
something for a few hours a dayand then it's going to slack off and
I'll be all right, I canregroup. No, it don't keeps on.
Wow. So that is a verytough on. It interesting, though,
though, the Elephant Dung we had, yeah, from all the elephants.
Yeah, if you burn it,which it smokes very nicely. Uh
Huh. It keeps them away aslong as you keep a lot of smoke
in there. And so there's evenclips in the show where rhyme's got just
his hand holding Elephant Dung. Yes, it's smoking blown. Yeah, and
his face. Well, that's becausehe just escaping the move bonny bees.
They just can't take it anymore.Yeah, it's interestings. Yeah, yeah,
so there was a lot of smokedelephant Dung on that trip. There
was a there was a scene atthe right, right before you had to
leave, where the medic is talkingto and this this was just kind of
a it was almost like a surrealmoment for somebody who was watching a show
where you've got a whole bunch ofnaked survivalists and you all at this point
of looking pretty a macheated, prettygaunt. You have a morbidly obese medic
who looks like he just finished asnickers bar. You've got Ryan sitting on
the ground holding a smoking ball ofElephant Dune, and then you are just
coming off your homemake commode, whichI got a compliment you on. Looked
amazing, and you're like struggling tomake a Balbom and ryding's burning this,
this elephant Dung, like as asacrifice to the poop gots to try to
help you that, you know,get things going here. Right, right.
Oh, yeah, yeah, thatwas a tough day for sure.
That was a tough couple days foreveryone. That was one of the days
where the heat got up over ahundred yeah degrees, and even when the
wind would blow, it was ahot wind. Wow, it was everybody
it just about had it on thatday. So what actually to me?
From from a medical standpoint, itsounded like you had an anal fissure just
from from Constellation and straining. Whatactually happened there where you just did been
a couple weeks since you made adollment. You'd starting to get some more
solid food in your stomach. Whatwhat happened? And then know what was
it actually cause you to have toleave? Well, you know, I
hadn't really gone to the bathroom theentire time and I went from eating a
few lizards to throwing up a Looh, and then on Day sixteen, I
just started having towns of Jerky,you know, built tongue from those animals.
And and so I really just gotsuper backed up and the problem was
bigger than that, I came tofind out. But yeah, you know,
I had the doctor come over andhe did the exam and all that
kind of stuff, and I wasbleeding from straining. But they were there.
There was a real feeling that somethingbigger was at play and so,
you know, and I felt likethat too. I was trying not to,
you know, complain about it,but I was getting this really bad
feeling that that there was something backgoing on, and it turned out there
was. You know, I hadcontracted hepatitis a Nah, and then eat
and an equal I infection. Okay, and so that, combined with,
you know, everything else I justmentioned, I had to go. I
was only, you know, twentyfour hours away from having to have surgery.
Oh, sure to start, youknow, evacuating me. And so
it was. It was actually aclose call and they they have that on
a follow up on the show thatnot many people get to see because you
have to actually go online and lookat it, but it's me in the
hospital and the doctor talking about how, you know, something has to happen
here because he's going to die.Yeah, and so it turned out to
be a lot more than just aguy who couldn't use the bath. What
actually happened once you left? Didthey take you to the hospital and what
they do for you? Oh Yeah, they zoomed me to the hospital.
Love talking about this process I had. I had three animals help boys,
and that did not work. Man, and then they gave me a round
a colonoscope medicine, Uh Huh,and that did not work. Okay,
and then they gave me another rounda colonoscopy medicine and they said this is
about all we're going to give youbefore we're going to go ahead and schedule
you. Yeah, and then,you know, about an hour later,
I saw young nurse walk by andshe had a cup of coffee. Who
yes, and I said, youknow what, well, let's just take
this up a notch, and soI asked for a cup of coffee and
I think it was probably timing waseverything. I think all the rest of
the chemicals were starting to do theirJohn but you know, something about having
a cup of coffee on top ofall that. I started to rumble and
an hour later I was I wasempty. Success was that? was that,
safe to say, the most satisfyingbathroom experience you've ever had? You
know, yes, and no,it was the most painful thing ever.
Okay, it was so painful onmy rear end because they had been playing
around, digging in there everything.Yeah, you know, all humility is
gone at that point and you justlike, Dear God, you just go
to the bathroom please. You know, I don't care anymore. But but
yeah, I never felt so goodas when I was done, that's for
sure. Wow, what was withthe with Hepatis? You think they think
that was from eating some contamina tomeet or something like that, seeming with
the Equali. You know, noone really knows. Yeah, because so
much is going on that that itcould have been one of a hundred things.
They don't know when it happened,where it happened, and you know,
once you get to the hospital you'reout of context of the rest of
the show. Sure they're just focusedon how to get you better, you
know, and so there's not awhole lot of looking back at that point
to try to figure out why ithappened. They're just figuring out how to
get you better. Yeah, soafter all that, with with everything you'
been through, would you do again? Well, funny you say that.
So the spring season is coming out, the two thousand and twenty one spring
season is coming out and anybody's hada close eye on it may have seen
me on the trailer. So yeah, it's safe. I can actually say
something now. I am in thespring season doing another challenge. I can't
really talk about it because discovery isgoing to, you know, introduce it
like they like to. But youare not done seeing me on the old
teams. Not all right? Well, we look forward to seeing you back
out there and hopefully I will findout in the spring. But hopefully this
is a smoother experience for you andlike, without giving it away, I
can tell you it is good.We're not going to have a repeat of
South Africa about that, let's sakeyou se well, thanks less appreciate taking
the time out to talk to ustoday. Yeah, Dr Her spanks very
much as a lot of fun.I really appreciate thank you. Thanks so
much for listening. That's it fortoday. Be sure to tune into our
next episode in two weeks, whenwe talked to somebody with a very interesting
and dangerous job. If you enjoyedthis episode, click subscribe and leave us
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