The simple answer – almost all of us. But here we celebrate the lives of some extraordinary men – survival experts, explorers and adventurers – who would know how to tickle a trout.
Airplane crashes and shipwrecks are merely an excuse for these chaps to demonstrate just how much they know about wilderness survival. There may not be a fishing rod to hand – but who cares when you’ve got skills like these.Fishing rod? No, thank you.
Eddie McGee was one of the world’s leading experts on wilderness survival. A former Para and SAS instructor, his first book, No Need to Die was for many years regarded as the survival handbook.
One of the first survival experts to bring his skills before a TV audience, McGee’s tracking skills were put to use by Police during a manhunt in 1982. Triple murderer Barry Prudom had been on the run in North Yorkshire for 15 days before officers called on McGee.
Three days later, he led Police to Prudom’s hideout. If anyone could track down a fish without any fishing equipment – it has to be McGee.
John ‘Lofty’ Wiseman
Any mention of wilderness survival has to include ‘Lofty’ Wiseman. In 1959 at the tender age of 18, he was the youngest recruit ever to pass selection for the SAS. He went on to serve in every theatre of war, from jungles to deserts and everywhere in between.
After serving for 26 years and 55 days, Lofty retired from the regiment to become its top survival consultant. In 1985, he wrote his seminal work; The SAS Survival Handbook, a must read resource for anyone wanting to prepare for the worst.
If anyone knows how to tickle a trout it’s Lofty. Fishing equipment? Lofty doesn’t need it.
The first thing Ray Mears does in a survival situation, is to whittle a spoon. Such optimism about his chances of establishing a ready food source is backed up by the fact that Mears has the skills to match his appetite.
He’s spent time interacting with and learning from indigenous peoples all over the globe. It doesn’t matter where he finds himself, Ray knows how to make himself comfortable. Need fishing equipment? Hardly.
Famous for being dropped off in remote locations in his role in the TV show ‘Man vs Wild’, Grylls is the all action adventure hero. From eating snakes to wrapping his head in his urine soaked t-shirt – there’s no feat of endurance too horrible for Bear to take on.
He has been criticised for faking it at times, but give the man a break – he drank water squeezed from elephant dung. Who wouldn’t want to rest up in a hotel after that? Fishing equipment? Nope. He’d either catch a fish with his ‘bear’ hands or order in sushi.
The man is a living legend. At the age of 68 he is about to set off on his most arduous expedition ever: to walk across Antarctica in the middle of winter.
His team begin on the day of the winter equinox – 21st March. They expect to spend six months tramping across the ice cap in the dark, in temperatures as low as minus 70 C. If they make it they’ll have to spend months waiting for the ice to retreat far enough for a ship to get in to pick them up.
So why do it? Because otherwise the Norwegians might do it first. Fiennes is the last of the Edwardian adventurers. We love him for it. Fishing equipment? Contact with water in the Antarctic would kill him. Let’s hope Ranulph sticks to freeze dried noodly things.
He’s been attacked by South African gold miners and left for dead, he’s eaten his own dog and been hunted by Colombian drug barons. Benedict Allen is a man very much in the mould of Ranulph Fiennes.
He eschews modern aids to help him on his long and arduous journeys, believing that going without is the only way to maintain the true spirit of exploration. In a multi media age, Benedict Allen is a dinosaur and proud of it. Trout tickler? He’s bound to be.
Sir Wilfred Thesiger
In many ways, we’ve saved the best until last. Thesiger who died in 2003 was surely one of the most eccentric adventurers ever to walk across a desert. He deplored modern conveniences – the steam train was about as advanced as he could tolerate.
Thesiger subscribed to a school of thought that says the level of satisfaction gained from completing a task depends on how hard it was. In this case, the harder the better.
He once spent three days dying of thirst and starvation on a sand dune in the Arabian, ‘empty quarter’. He was saved by local people, but insisted afterwards that he’d rather die than depend on a car to get from A to B. Use a fishing rod? Be a bit easy wouldn’t it?