Ultimate Survival Alaska Explorers hunt and gather for calories The food possibilities in wild Alaska are plentiful if you know how to work for your meal.
The guys on the National Geographic Channel’s Ultimate Survival Alaska really do have to work for it—without fancy fishing poles or advanced gear. The extreme survivalists only have the tools in their packs and whatever they find in the wilderness.
“At some fundamental level, we’re not normal, well-adjusted, modern civilized human beings,” says Willi Prittie, one of the eight explorers. “We’re all throwbacks. Because modern life is not enough of a test for us.”
A 220-pound man needs approximately 2,400 calories every day just to perform basic functions like breathing and metabolizing food. Now imagine that same man is steering a handmade raft through Yukon River rapids and scaling mountain passes. His calorie intake must increase. With strenuous activity, a man needs 3,600 calories to maintain his weight and keep thriving.
The small sacks of beans and rice the explorers carry aren’t enough.
The 10-leg expedition in the brutal and dangerous Alaska terrain includes 200 miles down the Yukon River 50 miles in the Brooks Mountain Range at heights near 9,000 feet. This is no weekend hunting trip with the guys. This is finding the fuel to survive.
Alaska’s wild buffet includes:
Fish: Alaska is known for its salmon, as well as rainbow and steelhead trout, Northern pike, halibut and arctic grayling. On a particularly strenuous day, the Ultimate Survival explorers were overjoyed to land a half-pound of grayling with makeshift fishing poles. Another team constructs a dip net with a branch frame and discarded net.
Plants: Berries and edible plants are plentiful in Alaska. There are raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, and lingonberries north in the tundra.
Game meat: It takes a lot of energy to hunt big game like caribou and bear. The explorers are more likely to hunt rabbit, squirrel, birds and foxes.
When the explorers are desperate for calories, it’s hard to envy their rough outdoor experience. It can even lead them to harvest berries in bear scat and devour frogs.
“It’s amazing what will get you excited when you’re hungry,” admits one contestant.
There are moments of mercy like when native Alaskans invite them into a smokehouse to taste delicious cured salmon. But that’s the side of Alaska the show highlights—the beauty and humanity amid the extreme wild. Delicious wild bounty is just within an adventurer’s reach.
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