Hawke's Green Beret Survival Manual

Essential Strategies For: Shelter and Water, Food and Fire, Tools and Medicine, Navigation and Signa


By Mykel Hawke

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$16.99 CAD




ebook $12.99 $16.99 CAD

This item is a preorder. Your payment method will be charged immediately, and the product is expected to ship on or around December 20, 2011. This date is subject to change due to shipping delays beyond our control.

The perfect home-reference book for both seasoned outdoorsmen and average citizens to learn comprehensive outdoor survival techniques.

This practical survival guide from U.S. Special Forces Captain and outdoor survival expert Mykel Hawke includes illustrated instruction on:
  • shelter and water
  • food and fire
  • tools and medicine
  • navigation and signaling
  • survival psychology

Hawke’s engaging style and matter-of-fact attitude-not to mention his incredible resume in the survival arena-elevates this book above its competition.






If you think about it, and you won’t have to think for very long, you’ll see that the term “survival situation” is redundant. If you’re in a situation it’s a survival situation.

One thing I’ve run into a lot lately, particularly among women, is a quest for the feeling of safety. To me the feeling of safety is an illusion of safety, but in actuality the only place safety exists is in the grave. If you’re dead, nothing worse is going to happen. Life is tough for everybody, but it’s deadly for the complacent.

Americans live in comparative safety. I live in Southern California, where we have a much better chance of surviving an earthquake than people in Guatemala. In the area where I live we’re surrounded by woods, and the place could go up in an hour, starting from any time at all. So, we might be isolated by an earthquake or roasted by a forest fire. Am I afraid? No. Am I concerned? You betcha. We have a first aid kit, thirty gallons of water, enough gas in the car to get out of Dodge, and a bunch of other sensible stuff.

Do I feel safe? No. Are we safe? No. Are we relatively safe, and are we prepared. Uh huh.

A.G. Hawke has written a really valuable book here, not because it’s packed with surefire survival techniques. It has some of those, but mostly it’s about attitude, and I believe that attitude is necessary for all of life, not just extreme situations. What it’s about is awareness, preparedness, and being ready to take every aspect of your situation back to zero, to look at everything around you for threats and tools. It’s about being calm when all about you are losing their minds. It’s about looking at things as they are, and not how you wish they were or how you fear they are.

A few years back I was getting ready for a flight to Texas from Kennedy in New York. The flight was delayed for an hour. My companion, who was a real dish, and moreover in the movie business, stomped her little foot and said, “This is unacceptable!”

Imagine, humanity longs to be able to fly for the entire 5,000 year history of our “civilization” and this one hour delay is “unacceptable.” This is not the attitude to take into a survival situation.

Actually my companion was just playing the role of “Cherokee American Princess.” She could ride and she could shoot. Other than the fact that she’d probably be wearing heels and an Armani suit, there’s no one I’d rather be thrown into a real survival situation with.

But I digress.

Point is, you need the survival attitude for every aspect of life. They’re all survival situations to one degree or another. What we call “survival situations” are sudden, unexpected survival situations, being downed in the arctic or the desert, having your safari overtaken by a civil war in some third-world hellhole.

But your home is a survival situation, your car, your job, a day in the park. Every one of those has potential threats that you’d be better off to be aware of and prepared for, better off to keep a cool head and an open mind.

That’s what my friend Hawke is about. Read this book carefully. The journey will be fun on one level, and instructive on another. If it makes you one-tenth more aware it may well have been the best investment you ever made.

—Jim Morris





A bit of background before we begin. . . .

I was born a po’ boy in Kentucky. My Pa was a soldier and my Maw was a waitress and we didn’t have squat. That’s it.

We lived like lots of soldiers’ families in the 1960s, especially the young ones like my folks: very, very poor. We literally had outhouses and well water. But hey, it wasn’t bad. And like a lot of families during the ’60s when the free-love and war-time mentalities separated the nation, my folks split up when I was young. So most of my childhood was spent living all over the Southeast with many different friends and relatives, whoever could take me in for a while.

What this meant was a lot of poverty and lot of hardship for my family, and a lot of time for me to try to escape all of that and explore the world away from all the troubles at home, whether it was in the country woods or the city areas not safe for the general public, let alone a child.

Now, much of the time, I’d be with my mother, back and forth in between spells with relatives, boyfriends, neighbors, sitters, and other friends or co-workers. My mother and father were both good-hearted people, but both had a rough childhood themselves and so, as very young parents, there were a lot of things they could’ve done better.

Many times, we had electricity or gas or heat or water cut off, or were evicted from our home. We lived in shacks, cars, and trailers with no utilities. We even lived one winter in a house under construction with nothing working, no doors or windows, buckets to catch the rain in the bedroom which only had one bed that we all slept in under one car blanket in all our clothes that we’d then wear to school the next day and all week.

So, many days I spent trying to scrounge food for my brothers and sisters since I was the eldest and the adult(s) were often nowhere to be found. Sometimes we’d have gas and water—shoot, if we only had flour, I’d make flat bread—and sometimes, I’d just go steal some food from the local store. Can’t count how many times they caught and kicked me out of stores, haha! But when they found out what and why I was stealing, they’d usually just let me go.

Now, I could speak a lot about falling in with wrong crowd and all that, but that is another story. The key in that part of my growing up was that I had a lot of near-death experiences, from car crashes to shootings, stabbings and a whole lot more. In all that, I developed an approach to life that comes down to this: Never Quit.

But what really set me on the path to cultivating a deep interest—and eventually, expertise—in survival, was the winter my mother went away.

I was 14; it was late fall in Virginia. I had started working at eight years old, doing yard work for folks around the neighborhood, then paperboy, dishwasher, and grocery bagger, before a great job came along. A friend was working for his stepfather doing high-water-pressure washing of trucks. They got a contract out in the country to use their water to clean the paint off a building and it was short notice; the money was good so I left that day.

Now, I wasn’t in school, and I’d often be gone days at a time. I’d tell my Maw I was at a friend’s and that would be fine by her as she’d have one less mouth to feed. So, it wasn’t too big a deal when I didn’t show up for a few days, but this job was two weeks, and it just so coincided with a time when she was evicted and had run out of options in Virginia. She got an invite from a friend to move to Texas, and she took it, leaving with my li’l bro and my two sisters, and without me.

Since we never had a phone, there was no way for her to reach me. When I eventually did return home, full of joy at the proper money I had earned, it was nighttime. It wasn’t unusual for the doors to be locked so I broke in. I went for the lights and the power was off; again, not too unusual, but when I called out and got that hollow echo of an empty house, I knew something was wrong.

I slept on the cold floor and, come daylight, I saw the house had been vacated and there was a note on the kitchen counter for me. Something to the effect of, “Dear Myke, I had to go to Texas. Sorry. Love, Ma.” And with that, I was on the streets. Winter was coming on hard and I had nowhere to go, but at least I had some money in my pocket.

I exhausted the good will of my friend’s parents after a couple of weeks, and there were no more regular homes and couches available to me, so I took to the streets in search of food, water, shelter, and warmth.

It was during this winter, when I had nothing, that I became a student of and believer in survival. Not that I knew it at the time; I was too busy trying to survive and being angry at my circumstance, in between bouts of sadness as well. I didn’t like it, but I could understand my friend’s inability to help me. I learned I could rely on no one but myself. On the whole I guess I did alright; heck, I survived.

I slept in dumpsters and hallways, broke into cars, homes, and offices—anything I could find. I found food in trash cans and behind grocery stores, ate lots of ketchup and mustard from fast food places, drank water from mall water fountains, took baths in public toilets, found heat in the form of homemade fires and the old fave: the heat cranked out from the refrigerator units behind grocery stores. I had to keep slapping rats that were trying to nibble on my head, but the need for heat made them only a small nuisance.

Spring came and I got a real break with a job at a grocery store, saved up enough money, and soon ran into my mother’s number-one fall back guy, Earl (R.I.P.), and he took me in.

From there, it’s just a story like many others—joining the service and growing up.



What I will say is that many men in the Elite Forces are just regular guys with a little extra drive. Some come from a background that pushed them a little harder; some come from the stock of being a little more gifted. But most are just regular folks who wanted something they believed in, tried, didn’t quit, and they made it. That’s all.

When it comes to career military pursuits, some try to be the best at what they do. For example, one man might get into hand-to-hand fighting and become expert. Some focus on the shooting, or scuba, or skydiving, or other such skills. For me, the thing that always held my interest was basic outdoor survival. So, whenever we deployed, that’s what I was interested in and developed. And over time, it became my area of expertise.

As to military background, my service started in the U.S. Army in 1982 and I’ve seen service in Active Duty, in the Reserves, in the National Guard, and later as a defense contractor as an operator and manager. I spent time in the Cavalry and Rangers before joining Special Forces. I qualified as a Special Forces Communicator, Intelligence Operator, and Medical Specialist attaining the enlisted rank of Sergeant First Class before being Commissioned as a an Officer in the Medical Branch. After 9/11 I was activated to report for the Special Forces Officer course, almost 20 years after first joining the Army. Upon completing this Detachment Commander course and all Officer Advanced courses required until reaching Lieutenant Colonel rank, I served in the Global War on Terror both abroad and at home. All told, my accumulated experience was gained in African, Asian, Latin American, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern theaters seeing combat in eight conflicts including over 80 actual engagements. An “engagement” in my experience was defined as folks actually shooting at me, unlike the current trend of counting a trip to the market as a “combat” mission. What it all means is that I gained a lot of real experience all over the globe under high threat—very risky and very real threats to my life with death a real, constant possibility.



As it was then, so it is now: I still have a job and family to tend, so you won’t catch me traipsing off to live a life in the Alaskan wilderness for a year at a time. I find that to be a luxury only afforded to people with lots of money or lots of time. And that’s not most of us. So I learn, do, and share what I can as I can in hopes that it will be useful for other folks like me: not the extremely rich or just plain extreme, but regular folk who have an interest in but not a consuming lifestyle in survival.

And my brand of survival could not be called “fancy camping,” nor is it an interesting academic pursuit of lost traditions and ancient primitive practices. It surely isn’t like some of the survival shows on TV these days that teach crazy stuff that might be able to be done by someone when things are extremely bad, but isn’t the best thing for most, most of the time. For most, doing some of those TV drama-survival acts will get you killed. And finally, my survival teaching isn’t some extension of all those military survival books out there, talking about techniques geared towards soldiers and the kit they have issued and available at all times. Heck, if you have even just a parachute kit for survival, you pretty much have everything you need.

Nope, this book is about a fusion of all these things. Using some real experience both from study and living, with some military aspects like the discipline and drive, with some good old fashioned common sense and, most importantly, the one thing we all have—the “will to live” no matter what it takes, to draw from everything around you to make it out alive and get home safe.

That’s what I hope to instill in anyone who reads this book—the belief that you will survive, and the knowledge that will help you to survive. I want you to believe that just because you don’t have all the goodies and supplies, or the training and experience, doesn’t mean you won’t or can’t make it; it only means it will not be as easy and you’ll have to try harder. But that’s ok, because lesson one is the most important lesson of all: NEVER QUIT!


The Hawke Teaching


When it comes to learning, I am not a natural genius or gifted with a high IQ. What I do, and do very well, is work smarter, not harder. More times than not, this actually serves better than having big brains, as those who do often know too much and perhaps think too much.

Within my company SPECOPS (www.specops.com), we train civilians in the skills of survival with a focus on medicine, mental and physical fitness, self-protection, food, water, shelter, navigation, and basically how to get out of simulated survival scenarios alive and well. These scenarios can border on the extreme, but our teaching methodology always remains simple: provide the most useful information and skills, and do so in a way that our students will be able to comprehend and apply the knowledge quickly and accurately.

When it comes to teaching, I try to reduce everything down to its simplest components. Then I place those components in order of their importance or sequence. I reduce these key concepts to one word each, then I use the first letter of each word to give me an acronym. Each word within the acronym reminds me of a phrase, and each phrase helps me to remember what I need to do or know. This method helps me retain complex information without feeling overwhelmed, and enables me to act effectively without becoming subdued due to the sheer volume of information.

An example is the common term “ABC” as it applies to basic first aid—Airway, Breathing, and Circulation. I, however, jumble the acronym to “CAB” for Circulation, then Airway, then Breathing, since most folks in dire situations are suffering from wounds and bleeding more than airway issues. Also, we can go a minute without air and be fine, but we can bleed out in a minute and be dead. So, I remember CAB, and if I don’t tend to these elements in that order, the victim will be catching a CAB—to the afterlife. I’ll expand on this lesson inside the book.

For now, another quick example of my teaching methodology is the “K.I.S.S.” principle: Keep It Simple, Stupid! That’s exactly what I always try to do, and encourage you to do the same when in a survival situation.

So in this book I will normally reduce everything down to one word. Those will lead to other words, then other phrases, then other concepts and ideas. In this way, you will have a mental survival kit containing the smallest, lightest things with the most uses.

You might also notice as you go along that I stay away from using names. I don’t say use this tree or that plant as you never know where you are going to be. I don’t give a rat’s butt what a thing is called by scientists or other experts. What I do care about is universal principles. There are always exceptions, but for most things there are general rules that will serve you well. For example, it’s not important to know the scientific or common name of every hard wood—if I can’t stick my thumbnail into it, it’s a hard wood. If I can, then it’s a soft wood. I will then use it according to my needs. If a wood is light and floats, maybe I’ll use it for a boat. If it’s hard and tough, maybe I’ll use it as a weapon handle or tool.

I suggest, as you go about learning, that you ask questions of folks wherever you are. Don’t mind so much what they call something, but rather note how it looks, feels, smells, etc. Then note its purpose and uses, as food, medicine, tool, or poison. And then give it your own name. This is how you’ll retain it best, and be most likely to recall it when necessary and apply as required. For example, I don’t recall the name for a plant, instead, I’ll name it the medicine plant, like the “tummy ache leaf” or the “fever root” or the “roof-tile leaf,” etc. This way, I’ll be able to identify a familiar plant and associate it with its purpose. After all, that’s all I really need—to see it and to use it.

With all my subjects, I teach that you should try to know about 10 options. Master one, be very good at two more, have tried three more, and be familiar with four more after that. If you have about 10 options for food, water, fire, and shelter, and master at least one in each category, you will be able to do whatever you need with the one you master and the other nine will serve you in various situations should circumstances change or preclude you from doing the ones you know best.

So, these are the basic things that everyone should learn, know, and be able to do with nothing but your bare hands, the clothes on your back, and your knowledge:

FIRE: Know how to make fire in at least one way with sticks only.

SHELTER: Know how to make one type of shelter from scratch that stops wind, rain, cold, and predators with no tools to assist you.

WATER: Know how to get water with no tools in at least one way, in the primary area where you live, work, and travel.

FOOD: Know how to make at least one simple trap or snare very well, and/or at least one fishing technique, with nothing but what’s around you.

PLANTS: Know at least three plants that are edible, nutritious, filling, plentiful, and easily identifiable in the area where you live, work, and travel. Learn them by their leaves, stalks/stems, and roots as all three are part of the plant, might have use, and will confirm identity of the plants. Take into account the seasons when they grow and soils where they grow, and any relative plants that are around that might lead you to them. Also know at least three plants that are medicinal in some significant way and that are easily identified, readily available, and most useful based on your needs.

WEAPONS, TOOLS, INSTRUMENTS: Know how to make at least one weapon that can defend your life or take an animal’s. Know how to make at least one tool that can assist you in improving your quality of life.

When you finish this book, don’t put it down. March right out with it into the woods or whatever your environment is, right now, today, or as soon as possible. Do this at least once, if never again, for the sake of your future survival and for those whom you care to return to should you ever become separated. Do it for life.

Finally, know that this book will NOT save your life. Let’s just set the record straight right up front. This book will give you some vital information that will serve you in a difficult time. But at the end of the day, should this hardship come your way, there you’ll be and then . . . YOU will save you. That’s all I have to say on that.

Happy Survivalin’!

WARNING: If you are a survival expert or outdoor professional, this book is not for you! (Although you may learn something useful which you may have considered beneath your skill set.)

This book is for every housewife, businessman, weekend adventurer, and any other person who is exactly the opposite of the typical tested survivalist. It’s for anyone who may one day find themselves in a dire position between life and death, where survival comes down to will and certain skills that you may not otherwise have. And my primary goal is to impart to you both the supreme importance of developing your natural will to survive, while also providing you with enough simple skills to make it happen.

Myself, I didn’t ask for this and didn’t necessarily want to ever be in the position where survival was my only option. But it came to me, and I learned from it. And now, I feel it’d be wrong of me not to share what I’ve learned. And that is the simple fact that anyone can survive even the harshest circumstance; they need only choose to do so. The rest is simply details that will help along the way. This book is meant to provide the simplest means to that end—everything you really need to know to survive, and nothing else.

Chapter 1:

The Psychology
of Survival


It happens to thousands of people every year, and it could just as easily happen to you. Your airplane goes down in the wilderness; or the train you’re riding derails miles from the nearest junction; or your car breaks down in the desert; or you get lost while hiking in the woods; or a snowstorm strands you in the mountains unprepared . . . the possibilities are endless.

In any case, you may survive the initial trauma event only to quickly realize that you are now in a terrible, dangerous predicament. It’s possible that everyone who was with you has died, including your spouse, child, or friend; or maybe some have also survived. It’s likely that you or others have sustained bad injuries; injuries that would make you vomit to look at. You may find that you have little-to-no resources available—no food or water, no tools, no communication device, and no clue where you are or how to get to someplace safe. But the biggest question of all is whether or not you will be able to handle the reality of the situation in your head and heart: Do you have the will to survive?

This book is for anyone who would hope to be prepared should they find themselves in such dire straits. The general survival situation I talk about inside this book is the kind that no one chooses to place themselves into—in other words, this is not for hikers or mountaineers or skilled outdoorsmen. And the information and skills I provide are meant to be grasped and applied by anyone. By far the most important factor in anyone’s survival in these cases is not only the topic of this first chapter, but it is something that anyone can develop and carry with them at all times. That is, a strong psychology for survival—the will to live.

Now I am not the smartest, strongest, toughest, baddest fella in the land. But I am the most dedicated to the commitment that I will fight death in all its forms; I will cheat it every chance I get; I will take every advantage I can get away with; and I will never, ever, EVER give up. Even if I should perish, I vow that my very cells will never quit and will fight even as the maggots eat my flesh, grow into flies, get consumed by birds and so on up the food chain until my cells make it back to civilization and home to those I love. It is my mission and my purpose to face down my fears and to fight for my survival with every fiber of my being. I will do everything and anything it takes to stay alive and to keep going with every ounce of my physical and spiritual energy, and I will do this until I get back home and into the hearts of the ones I love.

I am telling you right now that this is the single most important lesson in this book: NEVER QUIT!

No matter what your circumstance, the most important aspect of survival is psychology. This, ironically, is the easiest and simultaneously most difficult part to teach, because it is the only thing that absolutely must come from within. As a survival expert and teacher, I can open doors to your own survival psychology, and I might even find a trigger to release a trap and allow some crucial part of you out, but at the end of the day, this is the one thing that you must find within yourself, and you must allow it to take control in the worst of situations. Most of my survival courses, since they are usually with regular folk and not woodsmen, take the form of helping students to find this key element within themselves—the “will” to survive. All of the other skills and knowledge I teach are useless without it.


On Sale
Dec 20, 2011
Page Count
640 pages
Running Press

Mykel Hawke

About the Author

Mykel Hawke is a Green Beret combat veteran and Captain (Ret.) in the U.S. Army Special Forces; Director of Spec Ops Inc (an international outdoor-survival training company); and popular television survival expert from the Discovery Channel's hit shows Man, Woman, Wild and One Man Army. He is the author of Hawke's Green Beret Survival Manual.

Learn more about this author