How To Survive Like Leo In The Revenant (Or Die Trying)
Do you have what it takes to survive like Leo DiCaprio in The Revenant?
Loosely based on the exploits of an actual fur trader named Hugh Glass, Leo's character is a lion at survival in the woolly wilds of the north. Time and again, faced with a badly broken body and almost certain starvation in a frozen landscape, Leo defies the odds and, using just his wits and wisdom of the natural world, lives to see yet another unbearably bleak day.
And what about you? Do you have the right stuff to tame the wilderness? You will now. Because here's your cheat sheet. It's Leo's top 5 survival skills.
Of course, before tromping off into the woods, you'll need a few things: A poncho made from the skin of the grizzly bear you dispatched via hand-to-enormous-paw combat. Also, a big knife. A flint stone. Some dry gunpowder. Recommended: A super-high threshold for both pain and disgust.
Okay, here we go!
1) Leo Gets to the Marrow
When Leo drags his broken body across the frozen earth to that dead, desiccated elk half-buried in snow, the carcass appears to be picked clean to the bone by scavengers. All that's left is the skeleton, poking through fresh snow. But buried within those bones, Leo knows, is a treasure of delicious, nutritious marrow. He breaks a rib bone, and digs out the fatty marrow with his fingers. It's a delicacy.
Practice makes perfect: You can perform a similar trick on Osso Buco's round "fortress-like" bone. It's not how Leo had it, but Billy Collins recommends that you enjoy "the secret marrow/the invaded privacy of the animal/prized out with a knife and swallowed down/with cold, exhilarating wine." Or if you're in no mood for "cold, exhilarating," try a bottle of barbaresco...at room temp.
2) Leo Becomes a Liver Lover
A bison uses its liver to filter toxins from the blood, just like we do. So the liver is kind of a sponge full of toxins. That tasty fact does not stop Leo from biting heartily into the gory raw liver of a recently deceased bison. It's...a bit messy. The grossness of it all tickles even Leo's gag reflex, but it doesn't stop him from diving right back in, face first into the gore. Neither should it you. To prep yourself, try this bison burger. Try it raw.
3) Leo Lights Fires without Matches
Using dry gunpowder and flint, Leo lights fires on dry grass.
We humans, always claiming to be the only animal capable of performing certain tasks (language, tool use); it's the very doing of these things that makes us human, we like to say. And then, of course, some animal comes along
while warning her pals about the menacing hawk up in the sky. Fair enough. But the fact remains, we humans are the only animal that can control fire. And we're the only animal that cooks. (Sigh.) Point is, when you find yourself like Leo, lost in the wilds without matches, it helps to have a flint stone in your pocket and some dry gunpowder...also some dry grass. Leo faces unspeakable hardships, but he always manages to get a crackin', cracklin' fire going.
4) Leo Configures A Fish Trap
Leo fashions a fish trap. He builds a U-shaped dam out of stones: fish swim in, they don't swim out. Because Leo pounces! He herds them with his hands into the deep-end of the U, and grabs one with his bare, frozen hands.
Meanwhile, mere steps away, yonder on shore, Leo's fairly respectable campfire is burning nice and hot. Doesn't matter to Leo. Leo bites right into the guts of the fish. That's extreme sushi. Later he'll drop the fish into the coals to cook it a bit. To prepare, practice with this salmon Sushi Roll.
5) Leo Knows Where the Wild Things Are
When raw fish and bison organs can't be had, Leo goes vegetarian, collecting wild onions from the river embankment. Note: You can always put your onions directly into your flint-flamed campfire -- good for the digestion. Or combine #2 and #5 and make Lola's Liver and Onions. As Lola says, and Leo might agree, "Don't believe the critics. Liver's delicious and good for you. Just be sure not to overcook it."
And when it's nap time? Oh boy, you don't even want to know....
In a related story, how well do you know your poisonous food? Take the quiz.