True North Blog

Hunter Survives 3 Weeks without Food

As I regularly explain to clients during our wilderness survival courses, a lack of food in a survival situation is not necessarily a big deal.  In fact, in such situations, food is a detriment as it is a stressor on the body.  This is one reason why you’ll often hear survival instructors talk about the Rule of 3s — That is, one can go 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter in harsh conditions, 3 days without water, and 3 weeks without food.

The following news account, then, helps to underscore my point:

Police in Manitoba ended their investigation today surrounding the events that caused a man to become lost and stranded in the wilderness for three weeks while hunting.  Other than an apple, which he ate on Day One, he had no other food and lost 40 pounds.

So, this story helps to illustrate why, of the Seven Survival Priorities, positive mental attitude is always first and food is always last.  It also provides some insight into why I don’t think hunting skills, like trapping, is a vital skill to help survive an acute wilderness emergency.

Here are the details which CTV News reported yesterday:

A man who was lost in the southern Manitoba wilderness for more than three weeks is safe at home Sunday after being discovered by a motorist on Saturday. “Physically I feel good,” said 46-year-old Brad Lambert. “It’s been a very emotional time and I’m glad to be home. Happy to see my family and friends.”

Lambert went missing on Nov. 15 after being seen last in Marchand in southeastern Manitoba. He headed out on a hunting trip and didn’t return. The experienced hunter realized he was lost just hours after departing on the trip. “It’s very, very thick in there at times. It’s difficult to know your way around without a compass or without any navigation tools,” said Lambert.

For the next three weeks, he would spend his time trying to flag down planes, find a way out of the thick brush and boiling water. “I spent nights in my vehicle and days building fires, looking for planes, flagging down aircrafts — doing what I could — drinking a lot of water, which was available,” said Lambert.

Meanwhile, a massive search was underway to find Lambert. Police and residents scoured the area and put numerous calls out to the public and media for help finding the man, but weeks of searching turned up nothing. Archie Chabot was one of the people who searched for Lambert. He said he knows the woods well and isn’t surprised Lambert got lost. “It’s very easy to get turned around. You could wander in circles for days,” said Chabot.

Chabot said what was most surprising is that Lambert managed to find his way out. “The will to live is an amazing thing I guess,” said Chabot. Lambert said thoughts of family and friends at home in Winnipeg kept him going throughout the trying ordeal. “I made it through with the thoughts of my family and friends driving me and keeping me going,” said Lambert. “I had it in me to just keep going. I’m glad to be here.”

Saturday, after over three weeks of surviving on water, a motorist found Lambert on a southeastern Manitoba road. “A very nice man drove me right home. He just was on the road at the time passing by and stopped and picked me up,” said Lambert.

Lambert said finding that road was very difficult. At first Lambert said, he only found a trail. Eventually it led to a larger trail and that finally brought him to the road. “To get to that road was the lucky party I guess — to find it in the bush after being turned around and disoriented in that terrain,” said Lambert.

Lambert’s father, Norman, speculated shortly after Lambert had been found that his experience as a hunter may have helped him. Not so, according to Lambert, who said there wasn’t much to hunt. “I didn’t see anything to hunt or subsist on. It really didn’t come into play. It was more just survival mode – drink enough fluids – keep trying to be located,” said Lambert.

That focus on fluids is what may have kept Lambert alive, according to survival expert David MacDonald. MacDonald works with the International Canadian School of Survival and said Lambert is lucky to be alive. “You can survive three minutes without air, three days without water and three weeks without food,” said MacDonald. “So he was right on the edge of that.”

Now, Lambert said, he’s just happy to be home and is trying to regain his strength. Lambert said he’s grateful to be alive and also very appreciative of everyone’s efforts to find him. “I really want to thank everyone from the search and rescue community to people I don’t even know. I appreciate it greatly, and I’m just glad to be home,” said Lambert.


Do you want to learn more about wilderness survival?  Then consider checking out our Schedule to enroll in an upcoming survival course, like Basic Wilderness Survival.

Erik Kulick leaning aginst wall with True North badge on blue shirt

About the Author

Erik is the founder of True North Wilderness Survival School. He is a police officer, EMS provider, a Wilderness EMT, and a Fellow of the Academy of Wilderness Medicine. He has been featured in national and international media, including CNN, the Associated Press, and Backpacker. To learn more about Erik, visit him on LinkedIn and be sure to follow him on Facebook and YouTube.

Comments are closed.

Stay in Touch