Interview Done By Mike Wilkerson
Please introduce yourself?
EJ: I am EJ “Skullcrusher” Snyder. I am 48 years old and currently live in North Carolina. I spent 25 years in the US Army before I retired. I am a 91 Gulf War Vet & Operation Iraqi Freedom Vet. I have since gone on to become a full time Professional Adventurer & Survivalist and still teach Military Survival to Soldiers as a Government Contractor.
MW: How did you get cast for Naked & Afraid on Discovery?
EJ: Discovery brought me in to try out for “Dual Survival” as a candidate to replace Dave Canterbury as Co Host. I competed against several others but my good friend Joe Teti won the job. However, they told me that they really liked me and would be in touch. Next thing I know, I am half way around the world in Africa, with no clothes, a knife, and a woman I’ve never met before, and told to be at the extraction point in 21 days or miss your ride home. Lol!
MW: Are you know for being a survivalist?
EJ: Absolutely. I got a taste of it in 1988 while attending Ranger School, but, ever since I graduated formal Survival training from the Army in 1996 and then a Tracking course, I became obsessed with it. I have been on a self-study ever since and also ventured into the Self-Reliance of Survival. I work as a Government Contract Instructor now teaching Survival to Soldiers and also Civilians and others on the weekends. Survival is my life now!
MW: How was it to be in the middle of nowhere naked with Kellie Nightlinger for 21 days?
EJ: It was a very interesting experience. As far as the “Naked” part, it really was no big deal. After your first few steps barefoot in thorn ridden Tanzania, you forget about it pretty quick. It just made the challenge that much tougher from jump street. I never viewed Kellie as a “Naked” woman, but as my Survival partner and another Survival asset on hand, and I am sure she saw it the same way. The hard part was that we were from two completely different worlds and our Survival Strategies differed greatly. You don’t get to pick who you will wind up with in an ever day Survival situation and it was no different out there. You play the cards you are dealt. Lucky for us, we each brought different and complementary Survival skills to the table. In some Survival situations, you may find yourself with someone who has zero Survival skills at all, let alone outdoor experience. In the end, patience and understanding prevailed. We had to come together as a team to make it work or the whole challenge was in jeopardy. It was really tough out there!
MW: Tell me how the 21 days went for you?
EJ: It went very well for me and was the experience of a lifetime! I did get more than I had bargained for though. It really tested me on several levels at once, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I definitely left Tanzania a changed man. God tested and hardened me! It was the toughest thing I have done in my life to date and I loved every single minute of it! I was taken out of my Survival comfort zone and had to embrace the primitive side of Survival, which was not my strength, but I adapted very well, with thanks going to my years of leadership, military training, and experiences. Soldiers learn how to adapt to their environments very quickly and soon master them, because in our business if you don’t…you don’t get to come home!
MW: Give me a story from your time on Naked & Afraid?
EJ: Everyday, a lizard would come through our base camp and he was very fast moving. We tried to catch him all the time. It became a daily quest for us. We named him “Cheeky” because he would get up on the large rock and look at us, the whole time bobbing his head up and down, as if to taunt us. Kelly set up a deadfall trap that he sprung, and to this day, I still don’t know how he escaped that large rock. We even took turns chucking rocks at him. I got lucky on one occasion and knocked him off his perch but once again, he disappeared. I guess in the end, we had to thank him for giving us something to strive for everyday and keep us going. Cheeky, I hope you have a long and prosperous life and have lots of little Cheekies!
I’d have to say the hairiest time was the nightly visits by the pack of wild spotted hyenas. They really kept us on our toes. Security is always my number one priority going into any situation, whether the threat be man or beast. So I made sure to have a spear right from the moment we hit the ground. Heck, I am a Soldier! You can take the Soldier out of the Army, but you can’t take the Soldier out of the Man! So I usually sleep very little during these adventures, which I am used to, but when I do sleep for a couple of hours, its usually with one eye open at all times. Needless to say, they came pretty close to us, within 50 Meters or so but sadly they never made it all the way into camp! I’d of loved to have had a few Hyena Burgers, that’s been awesome!
MW: What was your favorite to do on the show? And why?
EJ: I loved going out every day onto the Savanah to hunt once I had shoes. It’s not every day you get to go on an African Safari…naked and get to walk amongst the wild beast of Africa side by side! It was an incredible feeling to be walking amongst all those wild animals out there. It was so beautiful and breathe taking. One day I was out there by myself and was surrounded, 360 degrees by hundreds of Zebras and Wildebeest. I felt blessed to pay witness to nature’s beauty. I always feel closest to God when I am out in the Wild and so very much at peace with myself!
MW: What is the craziest thing you ever saw during the production of Naked & Afraid?
EJ: I have to say Kellie’s crazy fishing technique. I was so bewildered by it, but so ever grateful, because of the awesome and much needed meal it provided us. And here is the kicker, my African Catfish was the first time I had ever eaten catfish in my life. And guess what my very first meal was with my wife Amy when I got home…..grilled catfish from Cracker Barrel.
MW: What would you say to the people who watched Naked & Afraid and say the show is fake?
EJ: I’d say clean your glasses, Bub! Naked and Afraid is the most real Survival Challenge out there that tests you to your core! You lay it all on the line every day! It’s not for the faint of heart, it’s no joke, IT IS THE REAL DEAL!!! If you sit there and think “Oh, I can do that!” Well, it’s one thing to think it…it’s a completely different animal to actually have even the courage to do it! There is a very vigorous process to even get a chance to be considered first of all. Secondly, you just can’t be the casual world traveler, or back packer, or even hunter.” Those skills are great but you better come with you’re a-Game and properly prepared, because 21 days is a long time. It’s even longer when you are tired, dehydrated, hungry, stressed, and hot, wet, and cold all at the same time! It will test every facet of your being on several levels.
I take the Profession of Survival very seriously, and I understand that while I am going through a challenge, it is very real. The dangers are real, the hazards are real, and the situations are real. Each time I go out, I know folks are watching. Folks of all ages and backgrounds, so I take the responsibility as a Survival Instructor, role model, and Survival voice very seriously, and responsibly where that mantle. I do not take unnecessary risks out there. I practice what I preach. By myself, I may take certain risks that would only cause a problem for myself, but when I am with others, than those risks may cause unnecessary issues and problems for the others to deal with. I would never want to put others at burden because I took an unneeded risk. I have a real problem with the You Tube darlings of the world who put out information to others that may not be correct, a risky practice, or irresponsible to those who are watching and are very impressionable to what these folks are saying and teaching. When you are on You Tube or TV, you have to remember that you have become a voice for Survival and have a responsibility to the viewer and student that you are putting out correct information and doing Survival properly. Survival is not an exact science. It’s a lot of trial and error. In my opinion, I have found Survival manuals and books to be a great source of knowledge and techniques, which I use religiously. But once you find yourself out there in the Survival situation, you have to adapt it to the environment. Be alert for what Mother Nature is telling you and adjust accordingly. Just because it’s in the book, doesn’t mean it’s the only and correct way! This is a lesson I have very recently learned, even after all these years, thanks to a very magical jungle!
MW: Will you be on the second season?
EJ: I would absolutely do it again in a NY minute!!! I absolutely love a challenge and testing myself to the core, at every chance I get!!! Season 1 was a huge HIT, and broke many records for Discovery and TV, but Season 2, as I understand it, will have some of the toughest places yet with many, many surprises for the Fans. It seems they have up the ante, so you don’t want to miss it! So tune in to Discovery Channel, on March 16th (check local listings for times) for the Special Premiere to off kick Season 2!!!
MW: How can fans reach out to you?
My Official Web Site (many links on me here):
Facebook Fan Page:
Everyone go here and leave a positive comment.
MW: Will you be making any appearances in 2014?
EJ: You can visit my web site or go to my FB Fan Page to keep up with what I have going on. I have lots of appearances coming up this year. I have several TV and Radio Interviews, Speaking Engagements, and lots of Gun & Knife Shows, Survival Symposiums, and Outdoor Gear Conventions that I will be making Guest Appearances at, signing autographs, taking pictures, and meeting with fans. I will also be starting up my own private Survival School soon and you can get all the details for on my web site. And yes, schedule permitting, I plan on making it back out for this year’s Sorghum Festival once again. My family and I had such a wonderful time at our very first festival this past year, thanks to a special invite from good friends of the family. My wife, Amy has roots there and is part of the Lewis Clan, so we enjoyed visiting the family stomping grounds. I plan on having a spot in the tent this year, if I attend, so that I am easier to find. My web site is a good place to go to contact me if you are interested in any of my services or purchasing merchandise from the Skullcrusher Store, stock pile dependent. I have lots of neat things up from time to time too purchase. Everything from T Shirts, hats, stickers, Survival Bracelets, my Signature Series Purefire Tactical Fire Starter, my SCM-18 Survival Blade, and much, much more. It’s growing all the time, as I am approached more and more by Survival and Outdoor Gear Companies all the time for my endorsement. Always check back there regularly for information or check the store to see if items are back in or not.
MW: What do you do in your spare time?
EJ: I enjoy spending time with my family, surfing, training for my next wilderness adventure, watching a good football game or MMA match, and of course a good cheeseburger and a beer.
MW: What would you like to say in closing?
EJ: “Tua Sponte Superstes” which is Latin for “Survive by your Own Will!” my Survival Motto!!! Remember…the Skills to Survive are great and they make life out there, that much better and easier, but if you do not possess the WILL TO SURVIVE…..making it may be impossible! I believe that an IORN WILL is the greatest Survival tool to have in your Survival Bug Out Bag!!! Stay tuned and keep an eye out for me in 2014 folks!!! And thanks for watching and supporting me!!!