I can’t thank Heather Smith from Heather Smith Outdoors enough for taking the time to answer some questions for my readers. I’ve interviewed Heather before, at my old site. Heather is savvy, beautiful, the epitome of professional, an amazing mother and can fish circles around most of us. I can’t think of a better role model in the industry, and I was crazy excited to find out she was going to appear on Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid.
1. Of all the people I know, I can’t imagine someone being more comfortable in their own skin than you. That being said, how much of a factor was the “naked” part of “Naked and Afraid”? Humility aside, it seems like it would increase your vulnerability in the wild, significantly – even if only as a mental aspect.
Naked is how we arrive in this world. This is probably one of the most asked questions I get. Honestly, it really isn’t something you are thinking about. Your mind is focused on survival so from a mental aspect it doesn’t even play a part. However, on the physical aspect it’s rough! You never realized how valuable and protective just a simple pair of socks really is.
2. So, how about “afraid”? Were you ever really afraid?
I have come to realize my fears are different from other people. I have had a good life; a great one. I don’t fear wild animals. I acknowledge them, I know what they are capable of, but I am not afraid of them.
My fear is failure. Knowing how difficult each day was going to be and the real possibility of sustaining a serious injury that would send me home resulting in a failure of my goal definitely kept me on my toes.
3. For you, what was the biggest challenge?
Leaving my children for so long and not having any communication with them. It was brutal. The last thing my daughter told me was, “Don’t tap out and embarrass our family.”
4. I know your life revolves around the littles. How hard was it to be away from them that long?
That was my most difficult part of it. I felt like a part of my body was missing. My heart literally hurt without them. They are my biggest strength and my biggest weakness.
5. All things aside, was this fun for you? You seem to be one who relishes a challenge…
It was beautiful. I saw things that are only in books and stories. The challenge was amazing but the personal experience is something I cannot put in words. It’s truly amazing.
6. What advice would you give to someone, if they wanted to prepare for Naked and Afraid?
If you think you are trained, train more. Go to survival school, more than one. I recommend Northwest Survival School. Travis Johnson is one of the best teachers in the country and I sought him out to get the best training for survival. Build your endurance. Train to be alone. It’s a mental game. Prepare your mind you are going to need it. It’s literally like walking into Dante’s Inferno and going through the rings. It’s BRUTAL.
7. What was your biggest surprise about the experience?
I fell in love with the animals. I saw these amazing exotic animals and they had little families (cousins, uncles, grandparents) and they had the same daily routines. They all look out for each other and are so protective. I would sit, watch and giggle. It was awesome.
I also realized how fortunate we are to be born in America. We really don’t realize how good we really have it.
8. How did you feel about winning (or not winning :-/) ?
No one wins…a lot of people think there is a winner here. There isn’t one. It’s just a challenge as to whether or not you can survive 21 days in an environment that was designed to break you. For that answer you will have to watch the show and see what happens.
Thanks for the interview and your time as well. I greatly appreciate it.
Heather’s episode airs on March 26th, on the Discovery and Discovery + Channels. Check your local listings for the exact times the episodes air.
You can find Heather on Instagram or follow her on Facebook. You won’t find a more down-to-earth ambassador from the outdoor community.