Excerpt: 'Hawke's Green Beret Survival Manual'

Read an excerpt from Myke Hawke's new book.

ByABC News via GMA logo
August 7, 2009, 10:37 AM

Aug. 10, 2009— -- Green Beret and outdoor survival expert Myke Hawke provides practical skills for how cope in any extreme situation in the outdoors. During his 25-year career, he honed his skills as a captain in the U.S. Army Green Berets, using his knowledge to start the survival training company Spec Ops Inc. He serves as a frequent survival expert on TV.

His book, "Hawke's Green Beret Survival Manual: Essential Strategies For: Shelter and Water, Food and Fire, Tools and Medicine, Navigation and Signaling, Survival Psychology and Getting Out Alive!" also includes more than 200 how-to illustrations.

Read an excerpt of the book below, and head to the "GMA" Library for more good reads.

[book pages 14-20]

A bit of background before we begin . . .

I was born a po' boy in Kentucky. My Pa was a soldier and my Maw was a waitress and we didn't have squat. That's it.

We lived like lots of soldiers' families in the 1960s, especially the young ones like my folks: very, very poor. We literally had outhouses and well water. But hey, it wasn't bad. And like a lot of families during the '60s when the free-love and war-time mentalities separated the nation, my folks split up when I was young. So most of my childhood was spent living all over the Southeast with many different friends and relatives, whoever could take me in for a while.

What this meant was a lot of poverty and lot of hardship for my family, and a lot of time for me to try to escape all of that and explore the world away from all the troubles at home, whether it was in the country woods or the city areas not safe for the general public, let alone a child.

Now, much of the time, I'd be with my mother, back and forth in between spells with relatives, boyfriends, neighbors, sitters, and other friends or co-workers. My mother and father were both good-hearted people, but both had a rough childhood themselves and so, as very young parents, there were a lot of things they could've done better.

Many times, we had electricity or gas or heat or water cut off, or were evicted from our home. We lived in shacks, cars, and trailers with no utilities. We even lived one winter in a house under construction with nothing working, no doors or windows, buckets to catch the rain in the bedroom which only had one bed that we all slept in under one car blanket in all our clothes that we'd then wear to school the next day and all week.

So, many days I spent trying to scrounge food for my brothers and sisters since I was the eldest and the adult(s) were often nowhere to be found. Sometimes we'd have gas and water—shoot, if we only had flour, I'd make flat bread—and sometimes, I'd just go steal some food from the local store. Can't count how many times they caught and kicked me out of stores, haha! But when they found out what and why I was stealing, they'd usually just let me go.

Now, I could speak a lot about falling in with wrong crowd and all that, but that is another story. The key in that part of my growing up was that I had a lot of near-death experiences, from car crashes to shootings, stabbings and a whole lot more. In all that, I developed an approach to life that comes down to this: Never Quit.But what really set me on the path to cultivating a deep interest—and eventually, expertise—in survival, was the winter my mother went away.

I was 14; it was late fall in Virginia. I had started working at eight years old, doing yard work for folks around the neighborhood, then paperboy, dishwasher, and grocery bagger, before a great job came along. A friend was working for his stepfather doing high-water-pressure washing of trucks. They got a contract out in the country to use their water to clean the paint off a building and it was short notice; the money was good so I left that day.Now, I wasn't in school, and I'd often be gone days at a time. I'd tell my Maw I was at a friend's and that would be fine by her as she'd have one less mouth to feed. So, it wasn't too big a deal when I didn't show up for a few days, but this job was two weeks, and it just so coincided with a time when she was evicted and had run out of options in Virginia. She got an invite from a friend to move to Texas, and she took it, leaving with my lil' bro' and my two sisters, and without me.

Since we never had a phone, there was no way for her to reach me. When I eventually did return home, full of joy at the proper money I had earned, it was nighttime. It wasn't unusual for the doors to be locked so I broke in. I went for the lights and the power was off; again, not too unusual, but when I called out and got that hollow echo of an empty house, I knew something was wrong.

I slept on the cold floor and, come daylight, I saw the house had been vacated and there was a note on the kitchen counter for me. Something to the effect of, "Dear Myke, I had to go to Texas. Sorry. Love, Ma." And with that, I was on the streets. Winter was coming on hard and I had nowhere to go, but at least I had some money in my pocket.

I exhausted the good will of my friend's parents after a couple of weeks, and there were no more regular homes and couches available to me, so I took to the streets in search of food, water, shelter, and warmth.It was during this winter, when I had nothing, that I became a student of and believer in survival. Not that I knew it at the time; I was too busy trying to survive and being angry at my circumstance, in between bouts of sadness as well. I didn't like it, but I could understand my friend's inability to help me. I learned I could rely on no one but myself. On the whole I guess I did alright; heck, I survived.

I slept in dumpsters and hallways, broke into cars, homes, and offices—anything I could find. I found food in trash cans and behind grocery stores, ate lots of ketchup and mustard from fast food places, drank water from mall water fountains, took baths in public toilets, found heat in the form of homemade fires and the old fave: the heat cranked out from the refrigerator units behind grocery stores. I had to keep slapping rats that were trying to nibble on my head, but the need for heat made them only a small nuisance.

Spring came and I got a real break with a job at a grocery store, saved up enough money, and soon ran into my mother's number-one fall back guy, Earl (R.I.P.), and he took me in.