Adventurous Gentleman Podcast
On this episode of the Adventurous Gentleman Podcast, Patrick Rollins joins the show to discuss his experience as a wilderness survival teacher, his passion for the outdoors, important skills when it comes to survival and bushcraft as well as some gear suggestions.
Patrick is a lead instructor at Randall’s Adventure in Training School of Survival. From 1993-2012, he was a Sheriff’s Deputy with the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office in Georgia. Patrick is a certified First Responder, Firearms Instructor, Glock Armorer, Rope Rescue Technician, Swiftwater Rescue Technician (Rescue 3 International) and Wilderness First Responder (WFR). He’s trained in woodland operations, wilderness survival training, land navigation and training. Patrick has designed a highly acclaimed knife, the PR-4, for ESEE.
Today on the show we discuss:
- Patrick’s upbringing and his passion for the outdoors
- Patrick’s transition from a 21-year career with the Sheriff’s Office in Georgia to the Randall’s Adventure in Training School of Survival
- How taking on this job has changed him personally
- Randall’s Adventure Training School
- The 3 most important skills when it comes to survival and bushcraft
- The PR-4 knife Patrick designed for ESSE
- Patrick’s go-to knives
- Survival skills in the jungle
- Patrick’s experiences teaching in Peru and the Amazon
- Patrick’s go-to gear
[0:00] Introduction to show
[1:20] Introduction to guest, Patrick Rollins
[2:56] How did you get involved in the outdoors?
I grew up exposed to Red Dawn, First Blood and developed an interest in the outdoors early on. I joined Boy Scouts and had a coach at school show me Jeremiah Johnson, where I developed an interest in primitive skills.
[4:40] Inspired as a child, how do you get from there to where you are today?
I got into law enforcement right out of high school. In 2009, I took a 5-Day Wilderness Operations course at Randall’s Adventure Training Camp through work because of its similarities to a law enforcement camp. I learned basic human tracking, basic survival, land navigation and ropes. I fell in love.
[6:20] Teaching classes at Randall’s
I was asked to come back and teach classes at Randall’s Adventures. I would take a week off of vacation at a time. By 2012, I began teaching jungle survival in Peru. In 2012, another instructor and I were taking group to the Amazon by ourselves. This was a turning point where they were handing over the reigns the jungle instructor course to me.
[7:00] A new career
In October 2012, Patrick was offered a full-time job with the same salary to continue his work with Randall’s instead of his current job as Administrative Lieutenant of the Patrol Division at the Sheriff's Office. Everyone in his life said “go for it, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity” and his boss offered a place for him if the job at Randall’s didn’t work out. Patrick left his full-time job, an administrative job in an office to pursue his dream. He doesn’t miss it. Even during his hardest class, in the elements and he hasn’t slept in 3 days, it never seems like work to him. It’s just an adventure.
[9:33] How have you changed personally since starting this job full-time?
Starting this job has freed up time to do stuff that I love. Before I would have to do things on my own time, now it’s a part of my job. I don’t feel guilty that I have to take time away from anything or anyone else, it’s improving my skills too.
[10:23] What are the 3 most important skills when it comes to survival and bushcraft?
- Tool use - A lot of the tool use in bushcraft (primarily a knife). It’s essential to be good with a knife. 2. Fire. The ability to get it going when it’s bright and sunny, but also when it’s rainy and cold. 3. Be able to adapt and think outside of the box. To think of different ways you can use different items to your advantage.
[12:27] Experiences while in Peru
Using your knife to its fullest potential takes practice, learning different skills and what you can get away with. In Peru, you see people who can use machetes to their full potential and it’s amazing. You can entirely clean and process a chicken, gut and clean a piranha. You can watch the finess and it hammers home that there’s a lot you can do with a sharp blade. Living the the US, it’s about having the best, most high-quality stuff but for those living in Peru, it’s just living. [15:46] How many knives have you designed now?
Only 1, the PR-4. I was asked to design a knife that I would want to use in the woods. No plans to design more because I am not a designer. The inspiration for the PR-4 design Horace Kephart’s classic design. The knife has a spearheart blade, 4” blade, ⅛” thick.
[17:12] What was it like seeing the first prototype?
Connected with a blacksmith friend of a friend who created a prototype. The craftsmanship was second to none. Used it for 2 or so years before it was put into production. Never had any problems with it. It’s a simple design.
[19:40] Use the right tool for the job
The knife industry these days is more gimmicky, adding thicker blades, sawback, chop, saw and everything with it. You’re adding too much. It’ll never saw as well as a saw, chop as well as an axe and now never function well as a knife. I want knives to be knives. If you have an axe, use it for chopping. Use the knife for the knife tasks. Sometimes people want to buy their way out of learning something
[20:54] What was your go-to knife before you designed one?
The regular ESSE 3. I like a thin blade, ⅛” thick is thick enough for me. Then we came out with a 3HM, it has a rounded and more contoured handle.
[21:23] Why a thinner blade versus a thick blade?
When you get into notches, trap triggers, etc. A thick blade can make it more difficult. Our ESSE 5 is a ¼” thick that is meant to cut, pry and chop your way out of a crashed helicopter. This is way too thick and heavy. A small blade allows you to be more capable of handling it intricacy better.
[22:20] What was your first trip down to Peru and the Amazon like?
Knife skills and fire are where my passion lies. I came down this first trip to teach how to make fire in a rainforest. There was a moment of “maybe I’m in too deep.” It’s a fun place to visit but not to live. There was intense heat, humidity and so many insects. By the time I had been down there 2-3 times, I was handed off to be the lead instructor without supervision and pretty confident. The other instructor, Reuben, had been to multiple jungles around the world so I felt confident about the skills we had between us. Additionally, we always use the same guide, Percy, who provides teaches about the plants and animals of the jungle.
[25:15] When you’re down there, do you eat whatever you find or do you bring food?
As instructors, we’ll sneak some extra food to keep us going. You have to maintain a clear head and ability to teach everyday. With the heat and humidity, I don’t get that hungry but ensure we maintain enough calories. For the students, look for food close to shelter or water source. Especially catching food. There might be 2-3 days without food though so we do scout around for animals.
[27:30] Cooking animals found in the jungle
[29:03] Strange things Patrick has eaten in the jungle
Think of it just as calories and the energy that you’ll get from it.
[29:55] Has the jungle been the toughest place that you’ve had to do survival training or other ecosystems that are just as challenging or more so?
The jungle has heat, humidity, bugs and constant rain so that is challenging to deal with. I grew up in the Southeastern Woodlands, that is the most comfortable arena for me. As long as you can find water. The desert would be the most challenging because water is scarce. I haven’t done anything in the extreme North.
[31:14] Other than a knife, do you have a favorite piece of equipment you take with you?
I have a H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk. Short 19” handle with a hammer pull. Been with me on every trip. Light-weight and almost always with me.
[31:50] What are common mistakes people make when they’re on survival or bushcraft trips on their own?
When I teach classes, I find people can overestimate their skill level. They’ve grown up hunting, camping, etc. and you assume you can build a fire, for example. It’s an eye-opener. If there’s a chance your life might depend on a certain skill, you will want to have practiced it a whole lot before that moment comes.
[34:25] Is there anything that sticks out as the worst disaster while out there in the field?
We’ve been really fortunate about accidents. Before getting into using any sharp tools, we teach a safety class. We did have a case of a gentleman in a 3-day survival class who used the machete and cut himself on his opposite shin.
[36:05] What’s your gear list look like?
Information and links below
[39:26] With canoe camping, what type of canoe are you rocking?
Information and links below
[41:50] Always an interesting day in this profession
This profession allows you to meet varied and interesting people; bridge the gap between hunting and outdoor communities
[44:30] When you’re out in the jungle, is there ever something you’re not looking forward to doing?
Not really, worst part is just being in the environment, the jungle. The energy level drops as the days progress.
[48:37] Thanks for joining us!
Links & Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
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Patrick’s Camping Gear:
⅛” knife: ESSE PR-4, 3 or 3HM
Sleeping bag: Proforce Softie 9 Hawk
Sleeping pad: Therm-a-Rest Prolite
Tent: Big Agnes Copper Spur 2
Tent for canoe camping: Kifaru Sawtooth
Hiking boots: Salomon 4D GTX
Axe: H&B Forge Medium Camp Hawk
Fire rod: Swedish FireSteel Light My Fire Rod
Canoe: Old Town 147
Contact Patrick at Randall’s Adventures
Learn more about or take a class with Randall’s Adventures
Learn more about ESEE products
Subscribe to Randall’s Adventures and ESEE on YouTube
Buy Patrick’s ESEE-P4 knife