By: Teresa Mull
On season seven of the History Channel’s survival series “Alone,” participants were dropped into the arctic wilderness just as winter was arriving with nothing but ten items they chose to bring with them in a pack and some clothes.
“The rules are simple,” says the show’s website, “survive 100 days and win 1 million dollars. Over 6 seasons, no one has ever lasted this long. Achieving this goal will be a struggle, especially when the survivalists have to endure the intense conditions and aggressive predators of the Arctic.”
Roland Welker not only survived the hundred days, but thrived. He built “Rock House,” a substantial structure that looked like a mini castle. He ate fish gut soup, ants, grasshoppers, muskox hooves and intestinal contents with gusto.
Long story short, Roland won the million dollars.
He’s a seasoned big game guide, trapper, logger, gold miner, hide tanner, big machine operator, and renaissance man. In an exclusive interview, the “100-Day King” shared some of his secrets to surviving the unexpected. He’s a snippet from our conversation. Stay tuned for more from “The Last Bushman,” and learn more about Roland’s remarkable life and exploits here and here.
GPM: What’s your favorite self-defense weapon?
Roland: The ax. I never am without ax.
I carry a gun so much when I’m guiding. I carry a rifle every day on my shoulder, on the horn of my pack. You can’t go anywhere without it. That becomes a burden. And if you read the old accounts of the old-timers, carrying a rifle back in the settler days, you carried your rifle everywhere. Same thing when you’re guiding all the time, you get sick of carrying that rifle. But the ax always has to go to camp, always has to go in the boat. You need that more than you need the rifle. So my ultimate self-defense weapon is the ax. That’s the ultimate tool, right there. ‘Cuz I always have it. I always have this ax.
GPM: Advice for using an ax?
Roland: Mainly don’t hit your feet. When I’m swinging toward my feet, I like a wide stance. ‘Cuz you will miss sometimes. But if your feet are wide, you’ll go between your legs.
You gotta watch the other man, big time.
I got so much ax time under my belt, that thing’s like a three-and-a-half foot extension of my right arm.
It’s like anything you get good at. There’s no substitute for repetition.
GPM: What are some survival items you carry with you everywhere?
Roland: A knife, an ax, and some bedding. Bedding is huge. If you got a sleeping bag, there ain’t too much you can’t deal with. Tarps – it’s a five- or ten-dollar item, and it’s really important. The Leatherman has revolutionized the way a lot of people live. The LED, the headlamp. That too. Never go anywhere without that.
I’ll pick up another pocketknife and lighter wherever I go, too.
Teresa Mull (firstname.lastname@example.org) is editor of Gunpowder Magazine.