613: Wilderness Secrets Revealed by Andre-Francois Bourbeau

by Gerard


613.69092: Bourbeau, Andre-Francois. Wilderness Secrets Revealed: Adventures of a Survivor. Toronto: Dundurn, 2013. 260 pp. ISBN 978-1-4597-0696-5.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 600: Technology
  • 610: Medicine and health
  • 613: Personal health and safety
  • 613.6: Personal safety and special topics of health
  • 613.69: Survival
  • +092: Biography

Andre-Francois Bourbeau is a survivor. He survived being airdropped into a Canadian forest for a month with nothing but what a random tourist was carrying around. He survived lighting his mother’s carpet after making his first friction fire (indoors). He survived leading sixteen kids on a camping trip and “accidentally” forgetting the eating utensils and flashlights. He survived being left alone in the woods with absolutely nothing but a bathing suit. In Wilderness Secrets Revealed, Bourbeau lets us in some of the survival tips and tricks he has discovered while out in nature.

Bourbeau is the first person I have ever heard of to have earned an actual Ph.D. in wilderness survival education. His main method of gathering survival skills is to remove one item of gear from his pack each time he goes out. In time, and after a lot of trial and error, you can learn to survive off what you can find in the wilderness. This proves very useful when he legitimately forgets a piece of gear on expeditions. Apparently, you can make almost anything out of birch bark (shoes, umbrellas, cooking vessels, etc.). It’s no wonder he currently holds the Guinness world record for longest voluntary survival expedition (31 days). Best survival tool in the book: He once fashioned a tiny survival knife by flattening and sharpening his jeans zipper tab.

While the stories do get a little repetitive, this book was a lot of fun and reads very quickly. You get to survive vicariously through Bourbeau’s experiences and live to tell the tale. He is clearly very excited by what he does for a living and that excitement seeps infectiously through the pages. His forays into re-enacting historical survival episodes, however, made me quite grateful for modern amenities. His survival tips give way later in the book to his philosophy both on ecology and life. Anyone with a penchant for the Great Outdoors or who watches Bear Grylls will get a kick out of this one.