Book Review (and giveaway): The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide

by Erich

Recently, Creek Stewart sent me a copy of his latest book entitled, “The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide” to review.

In this article, I thought I’d tell you a little bit about the book, what my opinion of it is and how you can win your own copy…

First off, for those not familiar with Creek, he is the author of Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. He’s also a regular contributor to the popular blog, The Art of Manliness as well as the owner of Willow Haven Outdoor — a leading survival and preparedness training facility in central Indiana.

As someone who’s been practicing wilderness survival skills for some time now, when I first saw this, I thought it was going to be another one of those crappy wilderness survival books I’ve been seeing on the book shelves lately. That is, they take a popular personality (in this case, Katniss from the Hunger Games books/movie), and uses it to sell a book of “survival” skills that are just another rehash of all the other basic survival skills’ books out there — in other words, nothing new.

This book’s not like that.

Not only does the book show some unique skills I don’t typically find elsewhere (debris “nests”, hammock A-Frames, natural rain collectors etc) but it also has some new ones I haven’t seen (like the snow kabob) and it does all of this in an entertaining way by interweaving the cool survival stories and themes that are in the Hunger Games books (the movie didn’t show much of that unfortunately).

Who is this book for?

Although from reading the cover you might think that this book is only for young adults or fans of the Hunger Games series, but it’s actually full of solid survival info that applies to anyone interested in that kind of stuff (like most of you guys 😉 ).

Having said that, if you have a friend (or kid) that loves Hunger Games, this is a great way to get them into learning about wilderness survival. In fact, I could totally see this book as required reading for girl (and boy) scouts. I know when my girls get old enough to appreciate the Hunger Games books, I’m definitely going to use this book as required reading for them too.


Here are the contents of the book by chapter:

  • CHAPTER 1: Survival Mentality – Think Like a Victor
  • CHAPTER 2: Survival Shelter – Mother Nature is the Ultimate Gamemaker
  • CHAPTER 3: Hydration – Haymich Says “Find a Water Source”
  • CHAPTER 4: Catching Survival Fire
  • CHAPTER 5: Tools of a Survivor: Katniss’s Forage Bag
  • CHAPTER 6: Beyond the Fence – Survival Hunting & Gathering
  • CHAPTER 7: Survival First Aid – Healing Basics From Katniss’s Mom
  • CHAPTER 8: Navigating the Capitol: Tips and Tricks for Travel, Rescue, and Evasion
  • CHAPTER 9: Raiding the Cornucopia – Building Your Survival Kit

I think it’s pretty cool that not only did Creek weave in the Hunger Games themes and story line, but he also covers the most important aspects of survival.

Final Thoughts

All in all I really liked this book and thought that Creek did a fantastic job at making core survival principles relate to such a popular story. The way the book is written will likely get many who are not interested with wilderness survival at least open their eyes to the importance of it.

If you’re looking for a pure survival book, there are better ones out there, like the Airforce Search and Rescue manual (AFR-64) which I highly recommend. So if you’re expecting something all encompassing than this might not be a good fit.

However, if you’re looking for something more entertaining (unless you’re a bit strange, military manuals aren’t known for their entertainment factor), love the Hunger Games series, and at the same time want something to serve as an excellent primer to wilderness survival, then you’ll love this book.

Even for us old hats, it still contains some gems.

How to Win Your Own Copy (and some other prizes)

Now something for you guys…

Two of my readers will win the following:

  • An autographed copy of The Unofficial Hunger Games Wilderness Survival Guide
  • A Willow Haven Outdoor logo sling pack
  • A 100% cotton Willow Haven Outdoor survival bandanna and,
  • A multi-functional survival tool with built in lanyard, compass, ferro rod, whistle and water-proof container for storing matches other survival kit items

To get in the running, simply leave a comment here on the blog about either your favorite wilderness survival skill that was mentioned in the Hunger Games books/movie or tell me a wilderness survival skill that you always wanted to learn.

That’s it!

I’ll randomly (through a random-number generator) pick two winners and post the winners names here on Friday. Once I announce the winners, you’ll then need to contact me through the contact form on the blog telling me the address you’d like it shipped to.

“And may the odds be ever in your favor…” (sorry, had to do it)

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Comment by Neil
2013-05-22 08:58:02

I always wanted to learn the fire plow method to start a fire.

Comment by Bailey McClure
2013-05-22 09:13:40

I really want to learn to use a bow drill

Comment by Sandie Taft
2013-05-22 09:16:00

I love your web site. Recently I taught a community preparedness class and used your ideas on prepper sanitation. We have used many other of your ideas also and always refer our class members to your web site

Comment by Anna Lapping
2013-05-22 09:16:17

I want to learn to use a bow or cross-bow. I took archery in college as a phys ed requirement, but that was too many years ago. I’d also like to learn to make my own arrows.

Comment by John Yost
2013-05-22 09:21:28

Until you pointed it out; I never realized all the survival skills and tricks told about in the book series. There are quite a few.

Comment by Jeffrey Wright
2013-05-22 09:24:50

As being an Eagle Scout and being one of the first people to obtain the Wilderness Survival Merit Badge back in the day, have learned that even though you use your skills at the time, you will lose your abilities fairly quickly when not using them. Having survived Vietnam and being Special Forces you learn even more skills about how to escape and evade. Skills you do not use on a daily basis or at least monthly you will lose fairly quickly. You have to keep your skill levels up and this includes fire building and all aspects of survival. Just remember people a skill lost is just as bad as a skill never learned, it’s to late when you need it and don’t have it. Have always wanted more time to inhanse the skills me already has, and learn more about the area I am in for each part of the country, the world is different.

Comment by Lori Spier
2013-05-22 09:26:21

Hopefully the chapter on hydration does include some info on how to purify the water you find. Is the book written for young adults? If so, awesome. YAs (ie, teens) tend to get scared or intimidated by survival books written for adults – a YA version would be a great way to get them started thinking about being prepared.

From the books, I do like that the use of herbs and alternative healing methods are shown in a positive light. IE, when Gayle was whipped, using snow packs to reduce the inflammation and numb the pain. Not many people would think of that.

What do I want to learn? Snare making for small game.

Comment by Kevin
2013-05-22 09:31:20

I’d have to go with learning to use a bow drill too.

Comment by Jim J
2013-05-22 09:32:15

Survival Mentality is, I think, the most important skill to have. Everything else just follows. If we don’t have the right mentality then we don’t have the desire motivation (Time?) to learn the other skills that follow.

Comment by Ken
2013-05-22 09:32:41

As far as one of the skills in the movies, I would like to become much better at archery. I have not read any of the books so not sure if it is mentioned but I would really like to learn how to build and use snares for trapping.

Comment by Christine L.
2013-05-22 09:33:45

I loved the Hunger Games because it really got you thinking about the importance of being self reliant. Since first hearing about it, I have not been able to get out of my mind the desire to learn to use a cross bow. I have been researching them both on line and in stores and figure that son I will have enough saved to buy one.

Comment by Bill Ethridge
2013-05-22 09:36:31

My daughter already picked up love of Archery from the books, this should boost her existing interest in survival even more.

Comment by Rachael
2013-05-22 09:41:42

I’m already working on my archery skills, so I’d want to learn plant ID. What I can eat, what would poison me, what I can use as medicine. Awesome this came up though. Re-read the first Hunger Games as a refresher before reading Catching Fire in anticipation of going to see the movie. Thanks!

Comment by MorrisB
2013-05-22 09:42:59

TSHTF and I am lucky enough to escape to a (somewhat) nearby woodsy/forested
area. I look down this valley. Where do I go? The base of the valley where there’s a creek? Look for a feeder stream? Set up camp on the sunny side of the hill? Find a secluded area for OPSEC reasons? Find a spot where I have good visibility in all 360 degrees? Look for well-used animal trails and signs for food availability? Where’s most important?

Comment by Jerry Beck
2013-05-22 09:52:39

A survival skill I never hear mentioned is how to tunnel underground without disturbing the surface or having a cave in that traps you. I have always wanted to know how to do this.

Comment by Mark
2013-05-22 09:55:07

Escape and evade, building a fire when when it is wet.

Comment by M. Lindsay
2013-05-22 09:59:28

In my Physical Education classes I have been exploring the idea of teaching a survival class. Some of the skills I am hoping to learn/pass-on, are shelter building, starting fires, food gathering, and finding water.
From I movie hunger games, I would like to also teach my students the art of building survival tools.
I have a long way to go before I can introduce this, but, with-in a few years I would like to have the skills for this to become a reality.

Comment by Ladyhawke
2013-05-22 10:03:20

Finding “food” in the wild….edibles and how to tell them from their toxic lookalikes.

Comment by Dana
2013-05-22 10:03:44

I am currently making a blow gun and darts. I would like to get good enough with it to hunt small game.

Comment by Jake Sepulveda
2013-05-22 10:08:31

I was glad to see the poison berries in the Hunger Games. So many people just awesome it’s safe to eat just about anything you come across. Proper plant identification is something I’ve wanted to learn for a long time.

Comment by Pineslayer
2013-05-22 10:09:18

I poured through the Hunger Games series, fun read. I am constantly trying to get my girls to at least think about skills ranging from water procurement to situational awareness. I will have to pick up this book for my daughters since they loved the books and movie. The skill that I need to improve on is trapping. Passive hunting is a game changer when calories and time are low. Thanks for the heads-up on the book.

Comment by Tinman
2013-05-22 10:16:47

Great review. It has prompted me to re-read the Hunger games.

Comment by Meagan
2013-05-22 10:29:26

I’d like to learn more about tying different knots for different situations.

Comment by Joe
2013-05-22 10:48:02

I’d like to get a bow and begin working on archery skills. I currently hunt with shotgun/muzzleloader, but they would a little too noisy for my liking in a SHTF situation.

Comment by Shannon
2013-05-22 10:51:36

I have zero intention of reading those books, however I would like to learn how to forage for edible local plants and bow hunting skills wouldn’t be too shabby either.

Comment by Big Al 3
2013-05-22 10:52:25

As a Scout leader for years now, I know fire is at the top of the list of skills. Always have more than one technique in your basket of skills. I like bow drill, fire piston, & flint/steel. Persevere, and remember to keep your cool.

Comment by Clarence
2013-05-22 10:53:57

Hi, Thanks for doing this. Personally, I could benefit from the first aide, field medicine components. Thanks, C

Comment by Susan
2013-05-22 11:02:01

I’ve been attending a local archery range recently, and want to improve my skills with bow and arrow. I’d also like to learn more about plant identification – although dandilions are edible, I don’t think I’d want my entire diet to revolve around this little diuretic weed!!!

Comment by Jim
2013-05-22 11:23:56

I really appreciate your work and share with several conacts nationally. My skill is survival structures and wilderness shelters. I have incorporated your techniques into my tool bag and readily share with others via Hootsuite.

Comment by Pete
2013-05-22 11:26:06

Thanks for the review. Although I haven’t read or seen the Hunger Games, I look forward to doing so. Probably the use of snares and preparation of wild edibles and cooking them to make them palatable.

Comment by Lynda Kolbinskie
2013-05-22 11:31:10

As a long time avid archer, The Hunger Games helped to refocus a lot of attention on archery as a sport and life skill. As to the survival guide, refreshing my avoid and evade skills was what I really liked to focus on as a skill to practice. If you have to bug out, it’s the first essential you would definitely need. My dad was a career AF Sgt. The other basics survival skills are second nature to me, from shelters, water sources, foraging, etc. But then, as former law enforcement officer, I win has always been my favorite game of all!! LOL

Comment by Jim
2013-05-22 11:43:41

I would go with the snares and traps for small game.

Comment by Justin
2013-05-22 11:53:02

I’ve always wanted to learn how to make good snares and traps.

Comment by Carol
2013-05-22 11:55:22

I, too, could use some more info re. snares and traps. And maybe some fishing tips.

Comment by steve
2013-05-22 12:07:47

I have hunted for years but do not know how to snare animals. Learning to snare is my summer project

Comment by wendy b
2013-05-22 12:13:46

I always wanted to learn archery and snaring animals.

Comment by Chris
2013-05-22 12:33:39

I’ve always wanted to know how to properly skin and prepare an animal before cooking.

Comment by Jason
2013-05-22 12:41:36

I’d enjoy learning how to utilize every part of an animal for survival, not just the meat.

Comment by cat
2013-05-22 12:50:30

When my kids started reading the Hunger Games, I did too. I think having the survival mindset and some abilities is most important. When stuff gets rough you need to know that you don’t have to curl up and die.

Comment by Colleen McCaffrey
2013-05-22 13:02:14

I would love to learn methods of water purification and plant identification. I am new to prepping, so I pretty much need to learn everything.

Comment by Lawrence Patterson
2013-05-22 13:21:01

I would like to learn more about plant and mushroom ID. And how to use the poisonous ones as well as the safe ones.
I really like your site and your e-mails that I receive.
Thank you

Comment by Devyn henrichs
2013-05-22 13:21:51

I’ve always wanted to learn plant identification and the use of snares I know a few snares but I’ve never caught anything with them.

Comment by Ray
2013-05-22 13:26:27

I would like to learn what wild plants are edible in my local area.

Comment by Heather C
2013-05-22 13:41:43

My favorite wilderness survival skill that was mentioned in the Hunger Games books/movie was the edible/medicinal plant identification reference manual created by the family.

Comment by liz
2013-05-22 13:50:11

I want to learn how to make comertable bedding in the also what is ok to eat ,what nutrition that plant to berry has ect.

Comment by fitz2
2013-05-22 14:00:14

I am very new to all of this, but I really want to learn about hydration and shelter building, then evade and food. I think water is most important as we can go longer without food than water.
Hope I win.

Comment by Angela Perry
2013-05-22 14:24:10

I want to learn how to hunt and prepare game for my family from the hunt to the table and even how to make my own weapons/hunting devices. And I want to learn how to find water and make sure its treated properly.

Comment by Josh C.
2013-05-22 14:40:36

I’ve always wanted to learn how to track prey and properly carcass game.

Comment by Dustin
2013-05-22 14:41:41

In the movie, I thought it was neat how they were advised to not ignore survival skills during the training sessions, but the girl who camped on the ridge and lit a roaring fire was quickly discovered and dispatched by the pack of other tributes, while Katniss watched from a hide spot.

Bottom line: the girl with the fire might have survived if she used a Dakota fire hole instead. 🙂

Comment by Coral
2013-05-22 14:48:36

The survival skill of bartering played a huge role in how Gale and Katniss were able to provide for their families. They were poor and didn’t have money to buy the things they needed so they bartered. In a real emergency money will mean very little. Fresh meat or medicinal plants are worth way more.

Comment by Adrian Reed
2013-05-22 14:51:59

I always wanted to learn how to build/use a dew water collection system!

Comment by Aaron Smith
2013-05-22 14:57:12

I think bow hunting skills are great — I hope to develop mine this fall.


Comment by Tray
2013-05-22 15:35:16

I would like to learn the plow method of fire starting. I would also like to learn more about primitive hunting techniques: atlatl, sling, spear and trapping.

Comment by Terri
2013-05-22 15:51:53

I’ve always wanted to learn how to kill an animal and tan the hid with the brain. (That may be beyond my 50 year old abilities at this point but I wanna do it some day.) And then make old school jerky from the animal. Is that a survival skill? LOL!

Comment by icepeoplecavern
2013-05-22 16:05:44

Constructing the Ultimate Forage Bag. A woman has to eat, doesn’t she? 😉

Comment by Monica
2013-05-22 17:15:27

Even though I’m an adult I read all the Hunger Games books, twice. They reminded me of all the times I went camping as a kid and imagined what it would be like to survive on my own without the comforts of a tent, etc. The skill I would like to learn the most is hunting with a bow, its on my list of things I want to do this year. Oh, and of course learn to evade and escape our crazy government – just kidding. (sort of)

Comment by momwithaprep
2013-05-22 18:54:12

Thanks for the opportunity!

I’d really love to learn how to hunt.

Comment by Rachel
2013-05-22 19:00:12

Would definitely like to learn plant ID. The versatility from plants is amazing, and can help heal you (medicinal uses), feed you, kill you, or be used as shelter and fire fuel.

Comment by Ian
2013-05-22 19:34:06

I’ve always wanted to learn to hunt with a bow.

Comment by Andrew
2013-05-22 20:02:47

I always wanted to learn the bow drill as well as how to shoot with a takedown bow.

Comment by Mark
2013-05-23 00:17:16

I’ve always wanted to know how to tan hides with no technology or modern chemistry. I’ve heard of using brains and using urine, but never seen actual instructions.

Comment by Rowan McDirk
2013-05-23 01:58:13

I’d like to learn how to track and trap.

Comment by Jami
2013-05-23 04:58:04

I’d love to know which plants are safe to eat or have healing properties, and which ones are poisonous.

Comment by Mariana
2013-05-23 05:20:10

I loved the way Catniss climbed to tall trees to be away from her adversaries. As a child I used to compete with my sisters to find who would climb faster and higher to the trees in our backyard. I was allways the winner. I tried to teach my kids to climb to trees, but haven’t beig very succesful, maybe because they are a lot bigger and less flexible than me.
I personally would like to learn how to make a fire and how to make and use bows and arrows.

Comment by Chas of Alaska
2013-05-23 06:23:41


Interesting comment… I’m a “student” of the blow gun as well. I’m using a 1/2 inch copper pipe 5 feet long with a PVC 3/4 inch to 1/2 inch reducer as the mouth piece. I have been making darts out of bamboo skewers. I roll the sharp end of the skewer in JB Weld and let it dry. JB Weld can be filed / sanded so it makes the tips pretty solid and very durable for multiple uses plus it adds a bit of weight which in turn adds to penetration power. Using cotton balls and white glue for fletching on the darts also. I’m interested in hearing about your gear…

Comment by jeff mullins
2013-05-23 07:34:43

The best method for building a semi permanent shelter in the woods.

Comment by Tracy Vest
2013-05-23 09:56:57

I personally feel these are skill everyone should know and sadly we’re loosing in this new age of technology first. I find it all worthy.

Comment by Conni
2013-05-23 10:35:37

My favorite part is how before the games, Katniss learned how to hunt, forage, feed her family, and otherwise survive. If she hadn’t, she wouldn’t have stood a chance in the arena. I’ve always wanted to learn how to shoot a bow. Hopefully I will.

Comment by Lynn
2013-05-23 16:41:19

After reading The Hunger Games I bought a compound bow for one of our survival tools. Bow is better than guns, quieter and you can reuse the ammo. Camouflage might be pretty important depending on the circumstance.

Comment by Duncan
2013-05-23 18:49:21

I would like to work on my medical abilities. Though widely covered, it is hard to learn how to, say, set a bone, from a book.

Comment by Sarah
2013-05-24 10:31:45

I would love to get better at archery, but mostly I need to get more confident snaring. I think this book would get my son interested in survival techniques as he is a big fan of the Hunger Games.

Comment by goat haunt
2013-05-24 10:59:37

The line in the movie “pay attention to the survival skills, especially fire”
is a good intro to talk to non survivalists.

Comment by Dave F
2013-05-24 11:17:36

I am always wanting to learn more about foraging. Shelter isn’t a problem, but food and more importantly water is what I want to make sure I am prepared for in survival situations.

Comment by Janet
2013-05-24 12:38:50

I used to love making forts in the woods as a child, and I would enjoy learning the skill on a more advanced level–as well as foraging for wild edibles.

Comment by Pat
2013-05-31 21:30:58

You can get a good field guide to wild edible plants in your area. Any book store or on line will have them. I studied my field guide (Northeast) this past winter to get ready for a five day survival challange next month. There are lots of things to consider when foraging for plants. I found it much easier to pick which season you want to start in and learn no more than ten plants for that season that are abundant in your area like the garlic mustard. Learn them backwards and forwards so when you are out there you will have no doubt about what you are picking. If the illistration in the book does not give you the confidence you need to identify then look for photos on line and study all photos. Look for hints of smell and texture. I also keep another field guide in my BOB. If you are in a survival situation there could be no worse mistake than getting sick or even death by making a bad choice.

Comment by hada
2015-06-07 08:49:16

I really like reading a post that can make
men and women think. Also, many thanks for allowing me to comment!

Comment by Gary
2015-09-10 00:58:14

Love what I’ve seen of Creek’s other lessons. This would be very valuable.

Comment by Billye Tillmon
2019-11-27 09:58:05

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Thanks a lot for your detailed reason, you
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look to comprehend what’s happening.

Comment by Shelli
2019-12-09 10:08:37

That is a pleasure to read your post and eventually
clarify the issue myself.

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