The History Channel’s Alone season nine episode five – “The Land Giveth” – finds most of the survivalists being fairly successful at hunting and fishing. Episode five begins with eight people remaining after Jacques left the show on Day 15 and Igor tapped out on Day 20. Not all of the remaining contestants have finished up their permanent shelters after 21 days in the wild, and by the end of episode five we ‘re down one more survivalist.
Day 21: Benji’s gut pile drew in a bear as confirmed by his trail camera. However, he’s decided it’s not the right time to shoot a bear since it’s not yet cold enough to freeze the carcass. Although a bear will ultimately be a necessity, he’s not capable of taking care of the meat right now. Benji’s giving himself another two weeks before he even thinks about hunting a bear.
He finishes his new shelter before the day’s done and is really satisfied with how it turns out. He has room to stand and it’ll be easier to keep warm inside than in his old structure.
Day 24: Benji sharpens his tools and cleans them up. He uses his ax every day and wants to keep it in good shape. “If you’re not starting your day with some ax sharpening, you’re missing out, folks,” says Benji.
Benji gets to work on a fleshing beam, a surface used to scrape animal hides. He wants to get as much meat as possible off the beaver’s hide. He plans on rendering the fat and preserving it.
Fleshing is labor-intensive and with primitive tools it’s even more difficult. Benji’s able to scrape off a lot of meat and plans on adding seasoning and cooking it that afternoon. (The tail serves as a platter.) Once he’s cooked the scraps, he has a half pan of “amazing calories.” He spoons it into the burn bowl he built on Day 13 and puts it aside for later.
Even though he has lots of beaver meat, he can’t resist taking a shot at a grouse. He misses twice but, fortunately, he knows where his arrows landed. He takes one more shot at the grouse in a tree – it stuck around for some reason, despite arrows flying toward it – and the third time is the charm.
Benji thanks the bird and says, “May your spirit be free.”
He confesses he never thought he’d be harvesting this much food with his bow. The land has embraced him and he’s well.
The grouse provides protein, phosphorus, and B12, and Benji cooks it that evening along with some beaver grease. He loves the taste and describes the fat as exploding in his mouth.
Day 26: Benji wakes with a stomachache and needs to retune his body with Quigong, a Chinese healing practice. After he performs Quigong he hunts for yarrow, an herb that helps with stomach ailments. He comes across some by the banks and thinks he’s feeling ill from overeating the previous evening.
Benji believes he’s a strong contender because of his versatile skills. However, he’s worried he’ll be sidelined for a while if his stomach continues to hurt him.
Benji wakes from a short nap on the riverbank and his stomach’s still off. He’s burpy and walks around a bit, and thinks maybe he ate something that had gone bad or was contaminated.
Benji makes it to bed and has a fever, chills, and stomach cramps. He’s also nauseous but can’t vomit, and when he thinks about the meat/fat his stomach turns over. Still, he’s hopeful this will go away and he’ll feel better tomorrow.
Day 27: 2am arrives and Benji’s definitely not feeling any better. He exits his shelter and finally vomits while cussing. Benji thinks he has “beaver fever” – a nickname for giardia.
2:30am and he’s up again, in pain and exhausted.
3am and his stomach is in turmoil. He describes the situation and it’s not pretty. (I’ll spare you the details.)
6am arrives and he hasn’t slipped at all. He’s not feeling any better and can barely get around. “That’s the end of the road for me,” says Benji.
It’s at the point where he’s worried he won’t survive if he doesn’t leave the Labrador wilderness. Still, he got to experience the changing of the seasons before he tapped out. He’s glad he came on the series and learned a lot from being part of Alone.
Jessie, Age 49, Pagosa Springs, CO
Day 22: Jessie heads out grouse hunting after hearing one near her shelter. She misses with her first arrow and doesn’t get a chance to take another shot. Her shelter’s coming along nicely but it’s a lot of work and she admits to being really hungry (and tired of squirrel).
Jessie’s calling her place hodgepodge lodge since it’s made up of multiple shelter styles.
She’s a strong believer in listening to nature and in divine timing. She refuses to set arbitrary time expectations on herself.
Adam, Age 36, Fayetteville, AR
Day 22: Adam describes his latest squirrel kill as a perfect shot (it went right through the eye). He’s satisfied with his hunting and fishing now and thinks every day is a gift. He shoots yet another squirrel, this time through the back of the head. He hears a third squirrel calling out but doesn’t look for him since he’s got a pretty good dinner already and it’s only morning.
His structure’s one of the best of the season and he sits inside, leans out the window, and pretends he’s serving customers. The menu includes crispy squirrel, leftover grouse, and berries.
Day 25: Adam didn’t sleep well the previous evening and his belly feels horrible. He eats some cranberries hoping to settle it down and worried he’s contracted a parasite. Adam hopes it’s not that and instead is just a screwed-up system from the weird diet he’s on.
Adam opts to spend the day in his shelter, resting.
Adam believes he has everything he could possibly want back home. The money would help his family tremendously (his mom needs new teeth) but overall he has a happy life. He plans on building a safe, comfortable homestead with the prize money. Adam gets choked up discussing how thankful he is for his life and the people in it.
It’s 10pm when he accepts the fact he’s got a gut parasite. He believes he has giardia and it’s causing him to feel nauseous and achy. He wonders how long he can live with it and if he can treat it. Adam’s hopeful that it will get better on its own but it feels like it’s getting worse.
Day 26: Adam rested enough to have the energy to collect birch bark for tea. He thinks that will help with his intestinal issues and is successful in harvesting the inner bark off of the tree. It’s supposed to stimulate and soothe the stomach. He doesn’t know the correct dose but is hopeful it will work.
That evening he drinks his birch bark tea and waits for it to affect him. A short while later his stomach’s much better and he isn’t concerned about having to tap.
Juan Pablo, Age 30, Pinawa, CAN
Day 22: Juan’s decided not to boil his water anymore because it’s too time-consuming and energy-wasting. Plus, it cuts down on the amount of wood he has to gather. He’s done this for 10 years and hopes he’ll remain healthy, well aware of the potential for digesting parasites.
He’s been existing on berries and doesn’t think his prospects are good for shooting a grouse or hare because he hasn’t spotted any droppings. His options: fishing…and…fishing.
Juan Pablo’s going to expend energy building a dock since that’s apparently going to be his main source of food. A seal swims nearby but it’s protected and he’s not allowed to hunt it.
Dock complete, Juan sits down to fish.
Day 24: Juan’s holding out hope the dock will make a difference. It’s definitely a better casting spot but his first fish of the day gets away. Fortunately, he pulls in a decent size brook trout and that seems to change his luck. His second fish is also medium-sized as are his third and fourth. By the end of the day, he’s reeled in six fish.
“I think I’m getting the hang of fly fishing,” says Juan.
This is more of a real-life survival situation rather than a competition to Juan, and he has no plans to tap out. Tapping out would never be an option in real life.
Juan cooks three of his fish and decides to save the other three.
Karie Lee, Ague 57, Sandpoint, ID
Day 23: Karie wakes to tea, warm sunshine, and thoughts of finishing up her shelter. However, she needs food first and has lost 20 pounds since day one. She heads off to hunt, hears a squirrel, and takes a shot. Although she initially believes she got him, she’s unable to locate the body.
Rain arrives and Karie sings “Waniska,” a Native American Cree song, inside her unfinished shelter. The songs she sings keep her in a place of gratitude as she learns from and listens to the land.
A big trout gets away but she doesn’t give up. A short while later she pulls in a 13” brook trout that will provide her with 800 calories. She cooks it up and eats the eyeballs, a good source of omega-3 fatty acids.
Although food is obviously important, it’s more about the spiritual peace for Karie Lee.
Tom, Age 34, Earlysville, VA
Day 23: Tom’s busy making traps including a wishbone deadfall. It’s a difficult trap to make and he explains how to carefully put one together.
A flashback shows Tom started working on his permanent shelter on Day 17. He describes his outdoor home as a combo of a log cabin, a mine shaft, and a giant basket. (Tom’s making it up as he goes.)
One Day 20, he has it in fairly good shape and constructs a workable chimney and stove out of rocks, clay, and mud. “A hearth is comfort no matter where you are,” says Tom, impressed with his work. He throws the tarp on as the roof to keep dry and sets about finding food.
Day 23: Tom hasn’t been having luck with his trap line but insists he has to check his snares every single day, even though they’re not close by. There’s a responsibility to do so daily and it’s inhumane not to.
His first two snares weren’t triggered but he scores big time with his spring snare that got a decent-sized snowshoe rabbit. (Rabbits average 875 calories.) Tom’s ecstatic and has to remind himself to calm down. It was only a foot off the ground and something checking could have taken it if he didn’t go to the trouble of his traps every day.
Tom’s a little worried that it could have been dead since last night but hopes the meat will be fine since it’s been cool. He’ll cook it a lot longer to make sure he doesn’t become ill. The rain starts as Tom prepares the carcass, describing the rabbit’s feet as small but full of tendons. The tendons are a good source of collagen and help keep joints healthy.
He confesses parts of Alone are way easier than he thought and parts are much more difficult than he assumed they would be. However, he’s feeling good physically and doesn’t feel alone in nature.
Tom has to be bleeped when he takes his first bite of rabbit. It’s delicious.