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Ray Mears Bushcraft DVDs
Bushcraft Survival | Extreme Survival | Walkabout | Wild Food
Reviewed by Thomas J. Elpel

      Ray Mears is one of the world's most recognized personalities on wilderness bushcraft and survival. He has a down-to-earth approach, an obvious love for his subject, and empathy and respect for indigenous peoples and their cultures. Mears grew up in the countryside of southern England, in an area rich with wildlife, where he learned to track foxes in the forest. Unable to afford camping equipment, he learned to make do with what he had.

      His judo teacher in school, a veteran of World War II, encouraged Mears to challenge conventional wisdom and practices, telling him he needed knowledge, rather than equipment to survive in the wild. Mears digested every scrap of information he could find about survival in his local library and began to discover skills that hadn't been used in his part of the world for millennia. As an adult he has traveled abroad, meeting indigenous peoples and accompanying them while hunting, tracking, and searching for wild plants for food and medicine. Mears founded Woodlore, School of Wilderness Bushcraft in the UK in 1983. His passion is to teach wilderness bushcraft as an encompassing study of nature that transcends cultural and linguistic differences.

Bushcraft Survival Series I and II DVDs

      Bushcraft Series I & II is a compilation of ten shows (five in each series) that were filmed by the BBC. These are among the most professionally filmed bushcraft and survival videos ever produced, and they are a real pleasure to watch. However, none of the videos covers "real" survival, since Mears packs along quite a bit of gear. He definitely likes his tarps and cords and cooking pots and knives. Although the film crew is not directly visible in the videos, the fact that there is a large entourage with Mears does occasionally become apparent. There are also times when one has to wonder if Mears truly knows primitive bushcraft at all, or if he just knows tarps and knots. But when Mears uses a knife and makes something with wood, whether it is a willow-framed buffalo-skin bullboat in America, a canoe paddle in Canada, or a cutting board in the UK, it is evident that he is truly competent at what he does. While it isn't clear why a person would need to whittle a fancy cutting board in the woods, it is impressive to watch this and the many other skills presented. I have certainly learned something from everyone one of the videos.

Bushcraft Series I includes the following programs:

  • Aboriginal Britain - Learn how our ancestors used the resources around them to feed and clothe themselves.
  • The Yekuana, River People Of The Amazon - Mears sets up a jungle camp and sees how the Yekuana live in harmony with their environment.
  • The Lost World Of The Pemon - Mears journeys to the huge rock outcrops which inspired The Land That Time Forgot and The Lost World.
  • Camping With The Hadza - Mears spends time in northern Tanzania among one of the last hunter-gatherer tribes on the planet.
  • Masai Safari - Mears fulfills a childhood dream by experiencing a true safari, Masai-style.
      Additional footage covers sharpening a knife in the field, sharpening a knife at camp, how to handle a knife, cutting with a knife, making cordage from nettles and an interview about the cheetah-kill filmed in Tanzania.

Bushcraft Series II includes the following programs:
  • Birch Bark Canoe - Ray Mears with Algonquin canoe maker Pinock Smith in Canada, one of the few people left who know how to craft birch bark canoes using traditional methods.
  • Canoe Journey - The canoe is the most natural way to travel and get close to wild life in wild places. Mears paddles down the Missinaibi River, a river as unspoiled today as it was three hundred years ago when it was the essential route for the fur trade canoes.
  • America - Mears takes a journey into America's past as he travels in the footsteps of Jim Bridger, one of the mountain men who opened up the route to the Pacific Coast of America. He makes a bull boat using willow and buffalo skin and spends time with the Shoshone.
  • Sweden - A country where the ancient skills of Bushcraft are alive and in daily use. Lars joins Ray Mears to share the campfire and discuss some of the Swedish traditions and to cook a salmon. He shows how pine tar is made and used on traditional skis before spending time with the Sami people and Yana sings for us.
  • Four Seasons - Bushcraft becomes a tool to provide a new perspective to the UK countryside and its changing seasons.
      Important Note: While the DVD encoding is for "All Regions", the movies are in PAL format, which will not play on all USA DVD players. If these videos do not play in your DVD player, then try playing them in a computer with DVD capability.

Bushcraft Series I DVD: 5 Shows (PAL FORMAT)    $40.00    Quantity:
Bushcraft Series II DVD: 5 Shows (PAL FORMAT)    $40.00    Quantity:

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Extreme Survival DVDs

      Extreme Survival retraces stories of survival, endurance, and tragedy in different environments all over the world. In a typical episode, Ray Mears retraces the paths and retells the stories of people who have endured harrowing survival experiences. These stories take him to locations all over the world to see first hand the challenges and conditions people have faced. Along the way, Mears demonstrates bushcraft skills used by the survivors. He also teaches the viewer how to avoid getting into some of these situations in the first place.

Extreme Survival Series I & II includes twelve 30 minute programs, including:

  • Costa Rica - Jungles can be daunting places for the uninitiated. Ray explains the fundamental skills of jungle survival and recounts the harrowing tale of 10 men who escaped a WWII prisoner of war camp, crossing dense jungle without the benefit survival training.
  • Arctic Survival - The arctic is a beautiful region of our planet, a region in which we must understand the mechanisms of staying warm. Ray demonstrates skills whilst visiting the Swedish Army Survival Instructors Course in Lapland.
  • Psychology of Survival - The most important thing to take with you on any journey is positive mental attitude. Ray tells of a family that were shipwrecked on the coast of Alaska in winter, ultimately their survival would depend upon their belief in each other, overcoming odds that the text books would have predicted as impossible.
  • Sea Survival - Ray shows how survival at sea requires forethought, improvisation, determination and the ability to make a new life as an ocean drifting refugee.
  • Geronimo - In the 1860's a small band of native Indians provided the finest demonstration of the military value of survival skills. Follow in the footsteps of the tenacious war leader Geronimo, exploring the skills his people employed to stay alive at a time when every hand turned against them.
  • Arnhemland - To the uninitiated the northern coastline of Australia is a harsh environment, sharks and saltwater crocodiles inhabit the coastal waters and rivers, fresh water is scarce and food seems next to impossible to find. With the assistance of local Aboriginal experts Ray follows the harrowing journey made by a downed aircrew in the 1940's.
  • Morocco - Arid deserts are arguably the hardest places to survive. Ray explains the basics of travelling safely in such regions. He recounts the sad tale of an aircrew that crashed where rescue was impossible and all hope was futile.
  • Rocky Mountains - The Rocky Mountains are a stunning sight to behold, but also a place where knowledge of how to stay warm, well fed and safe from bears can prove vital. Understanding and determination are the keys that unlock this Wilderness.
  • Australian Desert - Every year holiday makers arrive in Australia, hire 4x4 vehicles and head out into the outback, most without any previous off-road driving experience, knowledge of survival or even the most basic equipment necessary. Not surprisingly, there are sometimes disasters.
  • RAF - Royal Airforce personnel can find themselves operating in any environment on earth. Should they have to bale out they must know how to stay alive in environments which may seem hostile and where they may be hunted by the enemy. Ray follows the students undergoing a combat Survival Course at the Royal Airforce Survival School.
  • Alps - Mountains are beautiful and majestic, but also potentially dangerous for the unwary or unlucky traveller. It has been said that a little knowledge can be dangerous but in this programme we encounter a situation where a little knowledge saved two lives.
  • Desert Island - The classic survival situation has to be surviving on a desert island. In this programme Ray shows essential skills for a castaway while recounting two remarkable tales of island survival, one which lasted 30 years.
      This set also includes special features showing bushcraft skills Ray applies during the series.

Extreme Survival Series III includes six 50 minute programs, including:
  • Belarus - Ray travels to Belarus to meet with some of the surviving partisan's of the Second World War. For the Jewish partisan's, the forests of Belarus became a sanctuary and weapon in their fight against oppression.
  • Thailand - From the comfort of a jungle base camp, Ray tells the story of survival during the Vietnam War and meets with the first United States Air Force pilot shot down during the conflict.
  • New Zealand - Ray visits several Maori tribes, encounters tales of survival and hardship, and learns of the many skills, which are now being used to encourage the young to developing a more positive attitude to life.
  • Rogers Rangers - Follow in the footsteps of Major Robert Rogers as Ray tells of their epic withdrawal through New England where Rogers rangers fought off both the pursuing enemy and starvation as the seasons changed rapidly from Autumn to Winter.
  • Namibia - This arid coastal area, known as the skeleton coast, is one of the most inhospitable environments in which to survive. Meet with the indigenous Bushmen and encounter tales of shipwrecks, rescues and tracking.
  • Alaska - In January 1910, the steamship Farallon ran aground. The story of this shipwreck is as compelling as any and Ray tells of the crew's hardship and courage spent sheltering from the harsh conditions.
      This set also includes special features showing bushcraft skills Ray applies during the series.

      Important Note: While the DVD encoding is for "All Regions", the movies are in PAL format, which will not play on all USA DVD players. If these videos do not play in your DVD player, then try playing them in a computer with DVD capability.

Extreme Survival Series I & II DVDs: 12 shows (NO LONGER AVAILABLE*)
Extreme Survival Series III DVDs: 6 shows (PAL FORMAT)    $40.00    Quantity:

*Unfortunately, Extreme Survival Series I & II is unavailable in the U.S. due to copyright issues.-

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Ray Mears Goes Walkabout DVD

      Ray Mears Goes Walkabout is a series of shows filmed in Australia covering desert survival, exploration, and aboriginal life. It is more accurately described as a "driveabout" than a "walkabout," as Ray Mears explores the continent down under, retracing bushcraft legends and lore on the continent down under. Ray Mears Goes Walkabout includes two disks with a total running time of 265 minutes. Programs include:

  • Desert - Ray Mears is in desert survival mode as he follows in the footsteps of an unsung hero of Australian exploration to find out how John McDouall Stuart became the first European to succeed in crossing this continent from South to North and back again. Ray shows how to wring water from these barren lands and how travelling light is the key to success on such an epic journey.
  • The Bush Tucker Man - Ray Mears makes a journey across Queensland with Les Hiddins - The Bushtucker Man. There's no-one else in the world quite like these two men, they both share a love of the wilderness and have learnt much of what they know from indigenous people. Each of them has already left his mark on the world of Bushcraft, now they get to work together for the first time ever.
  • Torres Strait - Ray Mears travels to the Torres Strait Islands to learn how the island lifestyle has helped them retain much of their Bushcraft and knowledge. He finds out how these skills helped people survive during the Second World War and tells the story of Barbara Thompson, a young woman who was ship wrecked in the mid nineteenth century and survived despite the islands' reputation for cannibalism at the time.
  • Rock Art - Rock Art is incredibly important to the Australian Aboriginal way of life and the Kimberley area of North West Australia is full of it. Ray travels with an aboriginal artist to learn more about the significance of the art of the area and even has a go at painting in the aboriginal style himself.
  • Extras -Exclusive extra footage shot on location, with short segments covering: Travelling light (I wish...), Ray and Les on Working together, Plants and fruit of the Torres Strait Islands, Cycads, The guns of John McDouall Stuart at the History Trust of South Australia, Making a Wap (an Aboriginal Fishing Spear from Torres Strait), Tracking in the Desert, The Magpie Goose Dance, and Playing a Yidaki
      Important Note: While the DVD encoding is for "All Regions", the movies are in PAL format, which will not play on all USA DVD players. If these videos do not play in your DVD player, then try playing them in a computer with DVD capability.

Ray Mears Goes Walkabout (2 DVDs): (PAL FORMAT)    $40.00    Quantity:

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Ray Mears Wild Food DVD

      Ray Mears Wild Food is a series of shows filmed in Great Britain and Australia exploring wild foods of hunter-gatherer peoples. The primary emphasis of this series is on wild foods that were likely used by Great Britain's hunter-gatherer ancestors. The total running time is 345 minutes. Programs include:

  • Australia - Ray travels to the other side of the planet to hear from Australian Aboriginals about what food means to a hunter-gatherer and the role it plays in their culture as well as their society. Along with many other discoveries, the trip sees Ray sample that most iconic of 'bush tucker' - the witchetty grub, a huge maggot that lives in the roots of the witchetty bush.
  • Coast - Ray finds out just what Britain's coast had to offer our ancestors, as he continues to explore the wild food that tickled the taste buds of Stone Age man. The coastline of Stone Age Britain was rather different than it is today, as Britain was yet to become an island.
  • Wetlands - Ray and Professor Gordon Hillman, an expert in the use of plants through the ages, look at the marshes and waterways which our ancestors used for travelling and as an abundant source of food. Along the way, Ray explains how to take the sting out of nettles and how to use water lily seeds as a source of carbohydrate. He then travels to the spectacular Ardeche Gorge in France where he gains special permission to take to his canoe and demonstrate spear fishing.
  • Summer Harvest - Summer Harvest shows that our ancestors would have had access to a wide variety of plant foods, but meat would have been the staple in their diet. Ray shows viewers how they would have cooked a deer in a huge pit and then demonstrates how they would have preserved the meat by smoking it.
  • Woodland - For our ancestors, Autumn would have been the last chance to gather food before winter stole much of it away. Nuts are an obvious source of stored energy. Ray travels to the island of Colonsay in Scotland to investigate the remains of thousands of charred hazelnuts which date back to the Stone Age.
  • Extras - Extras include 45 minutes of additional bonus features covering: Introduction to cooking with a pot, Simple pot hanger, Tripod for single pot, Height adjustable hook, Multiple pots soft ground, Multiple pots hard ground, Baking Bread, Ramsons, Bush coconut, Witchetty grub the crew.

      Important Note: While the DVD encoding is for "All Regions", the movies are in PAL format, which will not play on all USA DVD players. If these videos do not play in your DVD player, then try playing them in a computer with DVD capability.

Ray Mears Wild Food (2 DVDs): (PAL FORMAT)    $40.00    Quantity:

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