Survivorman’s Les Stroud has a new series of shows on right now (in the U.S.) where they re-edit the old stuff and put a new commentary on it. The series is Survivorman’s Survival Secrets.
One of the shows was on making fire, and one of the secrets for making fire with a fire bow is to do it barefoot.
Most of the stuff on Dual Survival is shot as if part of a set. They set up the situation and walk us through techniques while being filmed by a film crew, but they are really demonstrating it, not living it.
With Les Stroud he’s actually living it. He is his actual film crew. There’s nobody else there with him (though there is a support crew in the vicinity that can be contacted by radio in an emergency). Les not only has to survive, he also has to set up and run the cameras. And when he moves, he has to carry them with him, too.
By the way, Les is making new Survivorman episodes. In some of them he takes along his 16-year-old son, Logan, for a bit of “Survivorman and Son”. I’m looking forward to seeing them.
In Survivorman’s Survival Secrets — “Fire”, his number 1 favorite (or should I say “favourite”; he’s Canadian after all) method is the fire bow. Here he is on his very first time out filming, in northern Ontario.
And here’s the close-up.
Notice anything? Of course you do.
Here’s his voice-over while describing making a fire with a fire bow.
I’ve always preferred to go barefoot, even in the snow, when I attempt a fire bow. I find that I get a good feel for the baseboard underneath my foot, and then I can manipulate it and move it around a little if I need to. I always found that keeping my big hiking boots on added the risk of knocking the set-up flying, when I lift my foot off, and thereby destroying the little ember I’d created in the first place.
This is so right. When push comes to shove our feet really are (or at least ought to be) much more than just lumps attached to the bottom of our legs. They have the ability to assist us in so much more if we only let them.
I use the direct sensory feedback of my feet not only in walking, but also to do such things us pick up stuff without bending over (quite useful with a bad back), holding things down (particularly when sawing or other woodworking), or even tying a bow when wrapping presents (the toe does a nice job of holding the knot while you finish it off). Doesn’t evey other barefooter do this?
My only quibble is with the word “manipulate”. The “man-” in “manipulate” from from the Latin manus, which means “hand”. So what he is really doing is “pedipulating” the baseboard. (Yes, I’m being deliberately silly, but noting that even our language assumes feet should be shod and useless.)
The fire bow portion goes on to show his fire-making from the episode.
Interestingly, this takes place at and near the island of Tiburon in the Gulf of Califoria. This is the homeland of the Seri Indians, famous for their Seri Boot. (Well, “famous” since I refound the article on it.) Les even mentions being in their area (though he doesn’t mention the boot).
You get a good view in this split-screen shot of just how he is using his foot to hold down the baseboard of the fire bow.
Then at the end of making the fire, he explains some of it, and you can see him still barefoot as he does so.
You can see a clip online that shows him all through the fire-making effort. It includes the last three images. The clip is here (I’m afraid I cannot embed it). Of course, then he puts his boot back on.
Oh well, you can’t have everything.