Woodland Journeys of Self-Discovery
February 6, 2014 9:20 AM   Subscribe

The next year would change his life forever, challenge him in ways he couldn’t imagine yet and unsettle an entire town. But his first leap was simple. On an unremarkable day in September 2012, after so many other frustrating and unremarkable days, he stepped into the woods carrying only a tarp and a hunting knife. He walked through the thickets and pines he’d fallen in love with as a child, and busied himself with the most worthwhile job he could think of: survival. Into The Pines.
posted by Ghostride The Whip (32 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
There does seem to be a bit of a pattern where it turns out the only way many of these "survivalists" can make it living "in the woods" is by robbing from those still engaged with civilization.
posted by gwint at 9:32 AM on February 6 [15 favorites]


He also owed Nacogdoches County $60 a month for his probation...

Wait.
Is this typical? Do people on probation actually pay a monthly fee? Or, is this a Texas "tough on crime" thing?
posted by Thorzdad at 9:34 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


That guy took being a thief and a deadbeat to a whole new level.

She awoke to find her car ransacked and the contents of her daughter’s backpack spilled across the floorboards. Her Social Security card was missing from her wallet. She’d had $800 in cash stuffed in her checkbook and stashed in compartments around the car, all gone. The thief had also broken into the car of Meagan’s friend who’d been staying at the house—and who had yelled at the dogs to shut up, but hadn’t bothered to see what they were barking at—and stolen her purse.

Very interesting to see the habits of others laid out like this. I can't imagine leaving my wallet in my car, or having $800 in cash for any reason at all.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:38 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


Do people on probation actually pay a monthly fee?

It's true in at least a few other states that I'm familiar with, yes. I don't know if it's a universal practice in the US.
posted by jedicus at 9:39 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Wait.
Is this typical? Do people on probation actually pay a monthly fee? Or, is this a Texas "tough on crime" thing?


A person I know who happens to be on probation in California has to pay a fee like this, and as long as it keeps getting paid, his probation officer really doesn't give a crap about anything else he might be doing.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:39 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Woodland Journeys of Self-Discovery

Alternative title: Confessed Embezzler and Deadbeat Dad Goes on the Lam for a Year; Burgles Homes and Steals Guns
posted by Admiral Haddock at 9:42 AM on February 6 [16 favorites]


See also: the more sinister Malcolm Naden.
For nearly seven years Malcolm Naden evaded police, hiding out in the steep, thickly-forested bush of northern New South Wales, living off the land and stealing food and weapons from rural properties.

Dishevelled, muddy and sporting a bushy beard, the 38 year-old appeared in court today barefoot and shackled, to be charged with Ms Scholes's death, as well as the aggravated indecent assault of a 15-year-old girl.

Last seen just before Christmas, when he shot an officer as police closed in on his remote bush camp, Mr Naden was tracked to a house in Gloucester, 160 miles north of Sydney, early today. He tried to escape through a back door, but was bitten by a police dog and captured.

The former sheep shearer and abattoir worker had led police on a frustrating hunt, criss-crossing the remote and rugged Tablelands region, living off wild fruit and nuts and shooting wombats and wallabies. He also raided homes to steal supplies, and sheltered in farm buildings.

...
Numerous sightings of Mr Naden were reported over the years, with one woman claiming to have woken up to find him in her bedroom dressed in camouflage gear. Fingerprints linked him to a series of burglaries.
posted by zamboni at 9:47 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


There does seem to be a bit of a pattern where it turns out the only way many of these "survivalists" can make it living "in the woods" is by robbing from those still engaged with civilization.

I had a roommate in my 20's that hit the road and took on the life and ideology of the "Freegans". He would return to town every once and a while with a varying band of fellow travellers where they would generally couch-surf in our living room and eat everything in our house, all the time decrying our failure to escape the bonds of "Babylon", then as we'd grow more obviously tired of paying for them, they'd steal a few of our things and head back out on the road to the shelter of another bridge that they'd as of yet left unburned. Finally, he just burned out physically and mentally and realized what an ass he'd been to us. He moved back in, got a job and started paying for rent and food. Rejoining Babylon he's now a pretty successful small business man.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 9:49 AM on February 6 [11 favorites]


If we can't idolize angry/sociopathic white men with guns, who can we idolize?
posted by aramaic at 9:54 AM on February 6 [5 favorites]


When you see a "survivalist" with his face painted in camouflage, you know he's not really the survivalist he thinks he is.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:56 AM on February 6 [8 favorites]


I read this this morning - I don't really expect this Holliman chap to receive sympathy from anyone, no matter what flavor of blog it gets posted to.
posted by sidereal at 10:02 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Finally, he just burned out physically and mentally and realized what an ass he'd been to us. He moved back in, got a job and started paying for rent and food.

That's an elbow dislocatin'
posted by thelonius at 10:05 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


[Holliman] was a Navy veteran who once ran his own business installing phone and computer systems, then launched a comic-book publishing house...

Now that piques my curiosity, but my Google-Fu is weak. Anyone?
posted by Shepherd at 10:07 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


I don't really expect this Holliman chap to receive sympathy from anyone, no matter what flavor of blog it gets posted to.
Ah, but if he'd died on a burned out bus in Alaska ...
posted by k5.user at 10:08 AM on February 6 [7 favorites]


That piece is hard to read, because the fella who wrote it is not a very good writer. maybe he should stick to his first love, competitive eating.
posted by OHenryPacey at 10:08 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Can we not couch this scumbag's "adventure" in this Waldenesque manner? Please?
posted by humboldt32 at 10:10 AM on February 6


There does seem to be a bit of a pattern where it turns out the only way many of these "survivalists" can make it living "in the woods" is by robbing from those still engaged with civilization.

It seems to mesh nicely with most of the apocalypse fetishists I know who seem convinced the niceties of civilization will continue to exist (clean water, the internet) in a post-apocalyptic environment but they won't have to do stupid things like "pay taxes" or "deal with other people".
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 10:22 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


sidereal: I don't really expect this Holliman chap to receive sympathy from anyone, no matter what flavor of blog it gets posted to.

Especially when the article starts with barking dogs and someone's car being looted.

The pull-text for this post was the most positive way to open up the story, for whatever that's worth.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:25 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


“If I had wanted to really be a bad person out there, I could’ve been a very bad person out there.”


Oh, uh, ok. Cool? Good job on not actually hurting anyone as you terrorized their homes?
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:26 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Ah, but if he'd died on a burned out bus in Alaska ...

...he'd still be an ass for being a burglar, embezzler, and deadbeat dad.
posted by echo target at 10:32 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Richard Proenneke. Book. Video. Enjoy.

• Via cell phone with cracked screen. Apologies.
posted by RolandOfEld at 10:33 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Kind of makes you wonder if we should bring back "exile" as an intermediate punishment for nonviolent offenders instead of incarceration. You must live off the land and avoid inhabited areas on penalty of being shot or jailed. I would like to see this punishment applied to a lot of the finance types that got off scot free for the financial disaster.
posted by fraxil at 10:49 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


launched a comic-book publishing house, and had most recently managed the local water utility. He’d been a husband twice and a father five times - an expert in stucco, a veteran in love, and an outlaw in Peru.

Done a bit of long hunting myself. He's got waaaay too many guns to lug around. Don't haul much Coca Cola either.
I think they caught him before he either the woods, or some homeowner killed him or he killed himself, or he wound up hurting someone.

Richard Proenneke. Book. Video. Enjoy.
Yep. VAST difference between someone like Proenneke and this guy.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:01 AM on February 6 [2 favorites]


Ah, but if he'd died on a burned out bus in Alaska

The silly kid who died in a burned out bus in Alaska also wasn't a thief, deadbeat, etc. He wasn't evading justice for crimes committed.

While I agree with your larger point that romanticizing these sorts of things is probably not a great idea at all, context really does matter.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 11:08 AM on February 6 [3 favorites]


Do you know who these greenhorns need? Mad Jack to come and help them out.
posted by Elly Vortex at 11:48 AM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Well, some would disagree with that review of McCandless, but that's a tangent for another thread.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:49 AM on February 6


Which Mad Jack? There are a number listed by Wikipedia, all of them fascinating, and a number of them viable in the assistance to those who wish to live off the land.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:55 AM on February 6


Mad Jack the Mountain Man, friend to Grizzly Adams.
posted by Elly Vortex at 12:06 PM on February 6


The truck rumbled past and the driver—drunk or half-asleep, he figured—turned sloppily around the curve, spilling the flatbed’s load. When the truck had gone, Holliman crept closer and saw the pavement littered with 3-pound bags of cornbread mix.

It really steams me to see the number of cornmeal producers who continue to insist on transporting their product in unsecured loads on flatbed trucks at night. It's almost like the NHTSA's "Enclosed Daytime Transport for Better Cornbread" campaign never even happened.
posted by compartment at 12:24 PM on February 6 [11 favorites]


Mad Jack the Mountain Man, friend to Grizzly Adams.

God, what do TV casting folks do these days when they need somebody to play the savage-yet-sagacious, grandfatherly mountain man role without Denver Pyle?
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:32 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Not to get too deep into this tangent, but:

Do people on probation actually pay a monthly fee?

Very often, yes.
posted by TedW at 1:33 PM on February 6 [1 favorite]


Do people on probation actually pay a monthly fee?

Up here in the frozen north:
On Monday, Montreal judge Patrick Healy concluded in a 27-page decision that levying a $400 victim surcharge on a homeless and destitute aboriginal offender who survives on $600 a month in social assistance would result in a “disproportionate, unfit and unjust sentence.”
posted by sebastienbailard at 9:06 PM on February 6


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