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Interest in Wilderness Survival Leads Young RMC Man into Danger »
“If you’re ever attacked by a black bear, fight back as hard as you can,” his grandfather told him as a youngster. Little did he know how appropriate that advice would be the summer of his 19th year.
Dylan McWilliams is an extraordinary young man – one out of 893 quadrillion, according to National Geographic magazine. Within the last three years, he has been bitten by a rattlesnake, dragged by a bear, and bitten by a shark. How in the world could all this happen to one human being? “If you’re ever attacked by a black bear, fight back as hard as you can,” his grandfather told him as a youngster. Little did he know how appropriate that advice would be the summer of his 19th year.
Dylan McWilliams is an extraordinary young man – one out of 893 quadrillion, according to National Geographic magazine. Within the last three years, he has been bitten by a rattlesnake, dragged by a bear, and bitten by a shark. How in the world could all this happen to one human being?
“I think it’s just ‘cause I’m out in nature so much more than anyone else,” he responds simply.
His first attack happened in the fall of 2015 while hiking at night in Moab, Utah. He thought he had kicked a cactus, but looking down, he saw fang marks on his leg. Survivalist friends had told him that 60 percent of snakebites are dry bites, so he decided to wait ten minutes to see if any symptoms appeared. Ten minutes later, without symptoms, he chalked it up to a dry bite. But he didn’t get away Scott free. Over the following couple days, he felt a bit sick and vomited several times. Still, it could have been worse.
Working at Glacier View Ranch last summer as a primitive skills instructor, Dylan was camping in the open with other staff when he awoke around 4 o’clock in the morning to a crunching sound and realized that a bear had wrapped his mouth around his head and was dragging him from his sleeping bag. His instincts responded exactly according to his grandfather’s instructions. He fought back, punching the bear in the nose and poking his eyes as hard as he could. The bear dropped him and other GVR staff, awakened by the noise, made enough noise of their own to scare him off.
Dylan received nine staples in his head, a badge of honor for this outdoorsman.
Just last month while body boarding off Shipwreck Beach on Kauai, Dylan faced another attack, this time by what he believes was a tiger shark. He had already caught a wave and paddled back out on the surfboard when something hit his leg. He saw blood in the water and a shark underneath. Kicking at the 6-8 foot shark, he paddled as fast as he could toward shore where a bystander called paramedics. He received seven stitches.
“This time felt like the worst, Dylan said. “It was the scary part of paddling back in,” he explained. Interviewed by more than 100 news sources from all over the world, including Jimmy Kimmel Live, Good Morning Britain, and Studio London, as well as news outlets in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Germany, South America and Hungary, to name a few, Dylan says, “I didn’t really want all the publicity, but it’s helped me.” He believes it has given him a larger platform for speaking about God, yet whenever he expresses his belief that he wouldn’t have made it “unless God had a plan” for his life, he finds that the newscasters edit that part out.
Recently contacted by the Discovery Channel, he was flown to California to explore what might develop. Although Dylan’s not 100 percent sure where this will go, he knows the Discovery Channel would like to do a TV show with him. A call to the Discovery Channel went unanswered.
As a child, Dylan’s grandfather encouraged an interest in nature. During this time, he also developed an interest in American history, especially the characters of Daniel Boone and Davey Crockett. Admiring the way they lived, he went into the woods to practice survival skills, learning much through his experiences and taking survival courses each year he attended Daystar Academy in Utah.
He loves to go out into the woods to live in a primitive fashion, making his own soap from animal fat and lye from his campfires. He makes candles, also from animal fat, clothing from animal skins, shelter from whatever materials are available, and preserves food. The ability to survive by his own wits is what thrills him.
With his seven-month-old blue heeler puppy Apache by his side, Dylan has traveled to Georgia, South Carolina, Colorado and Wyoming. They plan to go to the Appalachian Mountains in the fall to hike the North Carolina portion of the Appalachian Trail and live in the woods.
Dylan says he will keep a journal and video the experience in order to share his knowledge with others. His long-range plan is to become a deputy sheriff and to teach wilderness survival.
-- Carol Bolden; photo by Dylan McWilliams