For four seasons, fans of AMC's The Walking Dead have watched Rick, Daryl, Carol, and their not-so-merry band of survivors fight for their lives in the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse. While the show's first season was about finding a safe haven, and ideally a cure for the infection that has transformed so many of the group's loved ones into flesh-eating beings, the current season sees them settling into the Kübler-Ross model's final stage of grief: acceptance. Take away all the zombies and what you've got with The Walking Dead is a story of survival. If you stop to analyze some of the key tactics the group has employed over the past 45 episodes, you might just learn a thing or two on the off chance you need to survive in the woods (or the even further off chance you come face-to-face with a reanimated corpse). Which is why we asked the Boulder Outdoor Survival School's program director Steve Dessinger and director of program development Laurel Holding to weigh in on the lessons we've learned – and the likelihood of enduring – on The Walking Dead.
Know your edibles
Each member of The Walking Dead's group of survivors brings a different – and mostly useful – skill set to the table. Rick is a former cop, Daryl is an expert hunter and tracker, and Michonne knows her way around a katana. Yet there doesn't seem to be a resident edibles expert in the bunch – someone who knows which plants that are safe for human consumption. "There are no rules of thumb such as colors of berries or anything like that," says Dessinger. "If you don't know what it is, don't eat it. One abundant [and] easy-to-learn edible plant food found in many parts of the world is the inner bark of Pines (Pinus spp.). Note that this is a specific genus; I am not using the term in the casual way some do when referring to any evergreen tree. The needles of pines are in bundles, two or more needles are bound together where they meet the stem of the tree in a small sheath." When it comes to animal life, "all meat should be cooked thoroughly before eating," advises Dessinger. "If an animal is acting strange (such as a wild animal letting you approach it), it may be diseased. In some parts of the world bubonic plague (black plague), though not normally common, still exists; the plague is spread by fleas, usually living on small mammals. We recommend that mammals in our area be handled with long sticks and dropped into a fire to singe the hair off and kill any fleas that might be on the animal. If an animal's liver is spotted, it is likely diseased and a person may want to avoid eating that animal."
Credit: Gene Page / AMC