Q&A With Mick Dodge the “Barefoot Sensei”

Twenty five years ago, Mick Dodge walked away from the modern world, leaving civilization behind to live alongside nature’s wonders in the Olympic Peninsula. Following a primal instinct present throughout generations of his family, Mick ventured deep into the Hoh Rainforest, making his home in the trees and hidden in the moss. Experience the wild life of Mick Dodge, a quirky character whose unique brand of Zen comes from living by his own code – off the land and off the grid.

Yesterday, we asked Mick Dodge to participate in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything). With the help of a nearby friend with Internet, Mick was able to answer tons of questions from our online community. If you missed it, here’s the transcript:

The description for one of the episodes says that you became so desperate for a decent meal that you looked through elk feces hoping to find larvae eggs. How did they taste, and what are some of the more unusual things you’ve had to eat in the forest?

Yoish! No i was not going to eat elk shit. I was trying to get the camera crew to eat it.

What does Yoish! mean?

Yoish! Yoish, is a word that my sensei taught me in Okinawa. It can mean many things. It helps me focus. If i am going to pick up a heavy stone and lift it. I use the word “yoish” to focus my attention and effort. then when i am in the game of life and need to get a grip on the moment. I can say “YOISH”deep inside me and ground with the moment.

You’re off the grid – How did they find you?

Yoish! Jenny and Michele of interchange media found me on Whidbey Island living in a tent sharing the earth gym practices, and then two years ago i returned to the Hoh River Valley my teacher and set up a earth gym for people to come and train. It was the band of women at the Olympic Mountains Earth Wisdom Circle that set up all the modern support to connect me in.

How do you internet?!?!?!?!?!

Yoish! I walk my way to my base camp. Turn on the computer and do you what you do. Though we are having a hell of a time trying to figure out how to do this now.

What do you usually eat out there?? Bugs??

Yoish! I eat food, some times insects, some times pizza. I run three terrains in the earth gum and have explored how to eat in all these terrains.

If someone had to live in the wild for 2 weeks but could only bring 3 survival items, what 3 items would you recommend?

Yoish! Knowledge, Skills and desire. They are the three pillars of training.

What is your favorite thing about living in the woods?

Yoish! Discovering the ways to use physical training to nurture our nature and release the rapture, landing the muscles minding into the heart of matter and earth is matter.

Does it get scary sleeping alone at night and have you ever been woken up by some animal visitors?

Yoish! The most scary animal are two legged creatures.

How long did it take your feet to get used to going barefoot? I walked home a few days ago with no shoes on and they were sore for days after.

Yoish! It has taken sixty two years. I am still following them. I just follow them and find my own rhythm, endurance, strength and balance in landing the earth.

Do you miss human companionship?

Yoish! Not at all i have lots of companionship.

How about a significant other? Does that person live with you and travel with you?

What do you enjoy most about your lifestyle?

You gave up on modern live. Did you also step away from women/sex or have there been “encounters”?

Yoish! I having been stepping “in and out” of modern living and the wild for sixty two years, all of us have. It is a rhythm “in and out” and “out and in”. The key word is the word “and”, which tracks and sounds into the word “land”. So i land my soles in the three terrains, the walls of the city, through the open fenced lands up into the gated wild and back again, seeking middle earth.

Do you really brush your teeth with a pinecone? I just have to know.

Yoish! When i am out on long training quest, absolutely. When i get back down to my stashes around the walls of the city. I have a tooth brush there. I often use cedar sticks also.

What’s the worst you’ve had to endure in the wild?

Yoish! Endurance is one of those physical qualities that have been my training goal. How to endure long journeys. How to endure the cold. In the city walls the most challenging thing for me to endure is the “boredom”. The mountain taught me that boredom is two words. “Boring and Dum”. So run through the boredom, dodge it and step into the organic organizing reality of movement in the moment.

In a recent interview I read that you used to teach the practices of the Earth Gym. What is the Earth Gym? 

Yoish! I have been exploring physical fitness all my life. The earthgym for me consist of three terrains, the modern city world, the open fenced lands and the gated wild. So i run these three terrains learning how to create a training hall in each of these three terrains. Movement and habits are formed in habitat. So it has been my “sole purpose” to use physical training to remember, recover and restore my soles to running life with rapture.

You said that you have developed a close relationship with fire to use in healing. What are some of the ways that you use fire to heal yourself?

Yoish! One of the ways i use fire is sweats. Another way is to dance with the fire. I often find that when i get a bit weak, run down. That a good dance with the spirit of fire, pulls me back into the “rapture”.

How long did it take you to grow that beard?

twenty generations

Have you ever missed the “modern” world? Where do you expect to be in 5 years?

I am always missing it, dodging it. After all i am a Dodge.

Have you ever come close to dying (of hunger, wild animals, weather, etc.) and if so what were the circumstances?

Yoish! One of the things that the earth has taught me about hunger, is to run, go on foot and just keep moving, the hunger pains take a back seat. It was amazing how long that i could go on foot and not eat the way that i had learned in domestication.

Hi, Mick. I’m a weekend adventurer that spends a lot of time in the city for work. What advice can you offer to someone looking to build practical outdoor survival skills without being totally immersed in the lifestyle?

Yoish! Follow your bare soles. The first thing that happens when you step out of shoes, or the shoe box is you have to “pay attention”. Then comes “acceptance”, learning to accept the habitat and the habits that you have. These two steps, attention and acceptance form into a stride of awareness, and the first thing that you need to be aware of is “shoe salesman” and you are your own best show salesman.

What tools do you use in your day to day woodland tasks and which is the most useful?

Yoish! I use sticks to leverage my bones and pull me out of chronic conditions formed from domestication. I use ropes to hang in trees and hang the sad and mad in life. When you hang up side down gravity will pull the grin back. My grandfather taught me that. I also use stones to grip and ground into the embrace of the the earth, and i use sacks, to sack and stuff the knowledge and skills that i learn in the gated wild, learn in the walls of modern living and learn in the open fenced lands.

surely you are observing everything around you every day … what changes have you seen in the forest ?

Yoish! Not far from my base camp are some “stump lands”, cut down, maybe ten years ago to feed the desire of the modern world. I train in these stumps lands, learn how to grow and heal with them, find the ways to help them grow back. I go into the old growth forest to get a feel what they can become again.

Have you seen or heard a Bigfoot?

Yoish! Absolutely, i have seen big foot. Though we call him big toe and he lives over in the seattle and comes out once and awhile.

Has there ever been a point in your life that you’ve regretted being a barefoot sensei?

Yoish! The word “sensei” is a japanese word, my sensei in okinawa taught me that it means “one foot ahead”. We are all sensei in something. We all have things to share. The word share tracks into the word “care”, and when you care about something in your life, gathering the knowledge and skills that you stick in your sack, or your cup, and then “share” it. Knowing when to share and when to empty your sack or cup and learn from others is the meaning of “sensei” to me.

What would you say has been your most meaningful experience in your life?

Yoish! I have them every day how to fit my bare soles into the gated wild and how to fit them into the modern world and finding the balance the middle path and have a good time while doing it.

I just made a post regarding my intention to do something similar to you, and was shown this – uncanny. What would be your most important piece of advice to an aspiring adventurer?

Yoish! Stand in your bare soles, take two fingers place them at the corner of your mouth, push your mouth up into a grin, and then get on with it. You have a primal body memory in you, all of us do, go on the adventure and release it. Then share with others what you discover.

Life without sneakers is a life I do not want to live

Yoish! I know what you mean. I often wear socks, mocks, hand crafted foot wear that fits the shape of my feet. But the sneakiest way to get around is the bare soles.

What made you want to live in the wild and is there anything you really miss while you are there?

Yoish! Freedom

What kind of product does that beard require? It’s glorious!

Yoish! Good Hoh Water, living water and not that dead water of the city. The water here is magical, likes to grow things.

For more on Mick Dodge and his wild life, tune in to The Legend of Mick Dodge Tuesdays at 10P on National Geographic Channel.


  1. Aki San
    January 9, 2014, 2:00 pm

    Instead of “barefoot sensei”, he should be referred to as the “Not always barefoot nonsense”. Just like most legends, he is totally a fake.. What a joke! So disappointed at NatGeo. There was a comment on a previous article about this saying, “Is he poaching?. I have to say that he is. He is also trampling sensitive areas without any regards to trail systems. I think DFW should give him a ticket, at the very least, then kick him and the NatGeo camera crew out.

  2. David Colley
    Lake Tahoe
    January 14, 2014, 1:14 pm

    Mick is an anomaly. In the over-processed world, Mick is promoting the connection to nature. I think this is something necessary for most people. If you live in, or near a wild area, great! you may not need to be reminded, however, most urban environments have replaced wild areas with strictly controlled parks that are far from the terrain that was originally there. If that is your understanding, then The Legend of Mick Dodge is a reminder that there is a place for wild areas and they need to be preserved. Mr. Dodge sees the importance of this and promotes a non-destructive approach to going into these areas.

  3. Jason E Hendrickson
    salem oregon
    January 15, 2014, 1:23 am

    Personaly i think its great. Wish i could do it and loose the grind of this domestication. Carry on mick… Peace!

  4. kennyb
    January 15, 2014, 7:16 pm

    mick dodge owes me 35 dolla.now i know where to find him.

  5. Ashlyn
    United States
    January 16, 2014, 2:29 pm

    I think we all can learn from Mick. He is what we all are meant to be. Free.

  6. jeremiah white
    olympia washington
    January 16, 2014, 4:59 pm

    dear mick I would like too live off the land and was wondering if you would teach me

  7. jeremiah white
    olympia washington
    January 16, 2014, 5:07 pm

    I would I like too meet you in person I loved the outdoors since a very young age im 23yrs old and im tired of the city and would love it if the only neighbors were animals and my backyard was the wild

  8. rrix
    January 16, 2014, 5:17 pm

    I started watching the show n liked it til yesterday, showed him cooking what they said were maggots found on a dead beaver…they were meal worms to begin with n they don’t feed on deas animals show is BS n i won’t be watching again

  9. wulfdog
    olympia washington
    January 17, 2014, 11:12 am

    I live in the Pacific northwest and can tell you there’s 1000s of off grid hippies (sensi) living all over in tents abandoned cars and vw vans. Most are sex offenders and drug addicts that leave their tents to come into town to steal or stand on street corners and take turns holding up the same cardboard sign that usually says “pregnant homeless vet lost job kids at home anything helps god bless.” Not saying Mick is any of these, but I am saying there’s probably more barefoot sensis in the Pacific northwestthan anywhere else in the us and most are not the cute little gnome looking men like Mick.

  10. Celeste
    Pacific NW
    January 22, 2014, 1:59 am

    Barefoot Mick is a legend and treasure of the Olympics. While many off the grid folks are living a primitive, private, forest lifestyle, Mick has become one with the natural world. He never hesitates to teach others how to tune in to the power of nature simply by walking barefoot. Living in the forests for months on end is no easy accomplishment and he certainly has longevity down on living this lifestyle. He is a modern day trailblazer for future generations of primal skills enthusiasts and is recognized locally as such.

  11. Mike Neskie
    January 24, 2014, 8:10 pm

    Seen the episode where you ate the “maggots ” I mean meal worms, bad acting !!! But when you caught dead crabs a tried to make them look alive I lost all respect for the show.

  12. Livviah
    January 25, 2014, 12:49 pm

    The land seems very beautiful, is it as beautiful as it seems?

  13. r christenson
    February 5, 2014, 12:16 pm


  14. Kathryn
    West Virginia
    February 7, 2014, 6:02 am

    how is Mick doing in the current February 2014 snow is he having issues living in the wild like he does? What about Will of Stone? I love the show.

  15. byron
    February 8, 2014, 9:38 pm

    I think that most of all the stuff on the show is cut and scripted, but I think that mick dodge has actually been doing what he says he’s been doing. So don’t go saying anything else about him!!

  16. Josh carney
    February 10, 2014, 5:24 pm

    This hippy makes a fun show. But he is a dillusional goof. I love watching him. He’s really cool and different. But he ain’t no Lewis and Clark. Bet he is another millionaire with the opportunity to do this. Penny less and broke no man could survive in the wild. Bullshit. Life span maybe 10 years. It takes working togethor to survive. Just like he cried at the site of logging. Lol. Timber management for harvest in coordination with fish and wildlife has created more wilderness areas than ever before. Your portrayal of hunters is absolutely left wing hippy stupid. Hunters provide billions in licence fees for habitat protection and pay for all protection and management. I guess Washington is just to close to California. Lol. Stupid

  17. Paul
    Finger Lakes, New York
    February 12, 2014, 7:49 pm

    Why doesn’t Mick Dodge carry a telescoping fishing pole and a small .22 pistol? Fresh fish and rabbit seems a whole lot tastier than maggots or road kill.

  18. Otter
    March 11, 2014, 9:55 pm

    Boo NatGeo… darking larva on a carcas? Brand new fish hooks? Dead crabs… wow, I have lost respect for the channel. Good job Mick but we all have the internet now.

  19. Monulette Williams
    southaven ms
    March 14, 2014, 11:51 am

    How did will of stone meet mick how did Carl build all that stuff and what does he do for money

  20. Joan
    March 17, 2014, 8:49 pm

    I don’t care what some people think. I hope they make more shows of Mick Dodge. It sure is better then most of what is on T.V. now days.

  21. Bear
    August 11, 2014, 11:46 pm

    Josh carney you do not need money to live off the land if you have the knowledge and skills to provide yourself with food shelter fire clothing etc. then you do not need huge amounts of money and yes he used to be a millionaire in case you are unaware he doesn’t use money he trades which I understand he uses to get money for other goods. If you are good enough then all you need to survive in the wilderness for the rest of you life are the clothes on your back and a knife always have a knife

  22. bri
    September 2, 2014, 8:01 am

    Mick you are my hero. So what if certain things have to be edited a certain way, maybe some things are fake who knows? But you are who you are and its not your fault that some peopke cant grip the fact that they cant be the awesome and smart bad ass that you are! I learned alot , and guess what? I the “fish hooks” didn’t bewilder me at all. Keep doin what ya doin soldier! I love u dude!

  23. Jonathan
    September 13, 2014, 9:21 am

    Can you help me please? Trying to kick modern world drugs, need to get away from my world and step into yours, but i dont want to starve or die can u please help me i got three kids and a precription habit, and i need to drop one and its not my kids im going to drop. Thanks in advance even if the answer is no. God bless you Mick Dodge I respect everything you are doing. People in ancient times were probably more happy not being bombarded with technology. Sincerly Jonathan Maestas.

  24. Buddy Connelly
    Pensacola, Florida
    September 17, 2014, 8:29 pm

    Did you ever live in Beaufort S.C. as a child???
    was your father named Ron??

  25. Ambree Barrett
    September 30, 2014, 8:55 pm

    I don’t give a crap about anybodys “theories” on Mick Dodge. Why does everybody always have to be so damn negative, my God!! . I enjoy watching him. I love his sense of humor and all of the stories he has to tell. If you don’t like him don’t watch him.

  26. Teddy
    Hawkins, Wisconsin
    October 1, 2014, 2:51 am

    Why “dodge” every single question? Whats the point? Is it so hard to answer things like, ” have you ever seen a Sasquatch”? You want to stop the logging, Mick? You know how…

  27. James Blocker
    October 7, 2014, 7:27 pm

    I can’t believe that NatGeo is trying to present this as truth. Please don’t insult us. The least you can do is make sure that his feet are calloused and that the items that he finds in the forrest are weathered to make it believable.

    Pittsburg California
    October 8, 2014, 12:21 pm

    I love the way you live. When my husband passes away, I plan to come that way, I want to get off of the grid. I am not a people person, I want to be your student.

    Pittsburg California
    October 8, 2014, 12:23 pm

    I love nature as well even though I stated I was not a people person, that is I don’t like drama, I like keeping it simple, and he keeps it simple.LPC

    October 15, 2014, 3:20 pm


  31. Clark
    United States
    October 19, 2014, 12:21 am

    Do you live a “crunchy” lifestyle when you are in town? Love the show. The scenery is majestic!

  32. White Devil
    Any town USA
    December 11, 2014, 8:04 pm

    The whole yoish, yiosh, yoush, douche, doosh, woosh, thing mixed in with all the hippy dippy, treehugger garbage has really been used up. Barefoot sensi? How about Will of Stone, are you kidding me? Oh and the other guy who hides in the woods and never shows his face. I embarrass my self by watching this junk.

  33. White Devil
    December 11, 2014, 8:07 pm

    Notice how he answers every question with DOUCHE, and some weird, crazy assed question?

  34. Sharon Bankhead Lammers
    December 24, 2014, 10:44 pm

    Was just watching the TV show “The Legend of Mick Dodge and he was talking about his grand-dad’s gold watch. well it wasn’t untill i saw the picture of Mrs. Peterson that i knew for sure that i had been at her cabin before either as a child or as a teen. i was in a way “handed off to her” and i think it may have been by his grand dad. for i remember the watch and it being taken from me when i got to the lady’s cabin and that they went looking for him and that she would hold onto it until they knew where i had gotten it. I don’t remember how i got to the place that he found me but he found me out there somewhere and he ended up getting me most of the way to the cabin but then something happened and i had to make it there after that and she took the watch. then she told someone to go tell someone that they had found me and that i was ok, just scared and tired and hungry but ok and that they would keep me there till they got word and then she would make sure that i got back to town safe and unharmed.

  35. ken
    December 24, 2014, 11:16 pm

    seems to me that you are hiding bigfoot .why not a show where you meet bigfoot?

  36. CarlaJean
    December 30, 2014, 8:27 pm

    Wowww, I love mitch hes great! Ive traveled to several places were there was no electricity or any creature comforts, no cellphones for weeks at a time, it was amazing, I making plans to do it again soon!

  37. Doc
    Live oak fla
    January 7, 6:36 pm

    Very silly compilation of pre staged man in the woods stuff…I particularly like the pristine leathers he wears..unlike Jeremiah Johnsons apparel.. I grew up in the everglades, very much different, but woods people that lived off the land didn’t have clean fingernails.. He does not live in the woods nor convenient stashes.

  38. Doc Hamilton
    Live oak fl
    January 7, 6:47 pm

    Ilove those pristine leathers…no not in the woods..

  39. Northwest Hunter
    January 15, 7:49 am

    Where is the dog?

  40. Doc
    Live oak fla
    January 16, 3:05 pm

    10/4 on the dog…

  41. laurie
    January 22, 9:29 pm

    i’m disappointed..i loved mick but I didn’t realize he had so much time in the city..(sadness) so what is the point of him being such a “nature” man..i bet he gets to town more than I do!

  42. Cathy
    Tenino, Washington
    January 29, 10:54 pm

    I really enjoy the show and watching you interact with Mother Nature. When I need a pick me up, I walk outside and just breathe. My question is, In the show you did on making your own wine, did you ever find out what happened to your friend, Howie? I hope he’s okay.

  43. elaine kowal
    January 31, 10:34 pm

    Mick you otta look up my friend, lives on a place up there they call ________ _____, she is waiting on you to come do some bartering, she is quite the survivalist I got a lot of folks like you knew one who lived in the woods as well, then he got teeth and citified. You are a spacial breed of folks I know, gotta do what you gotta do.

  44. elaine kowal
    January 31, 10:35 pm

    Oh ya love your sense of humor

  45. Mike
    Ontario, Canada
    February 4, 1:44 pm

    I love Nat. Geo. and love many of their shows…with that said, why would they insult anyone with 1/2 a brain, and produce phony / scripted programming & try to sell it as 100% authentic? It’s quite upsetting…just a real let-down.

    I gave this show a fair evaluation watching 7-8 episodes and every single one of them is blatantly fake.

    CHEAP man,…Just CHEAP.

    Finally, I have a friend of my family who unfortunately has a son who is mentally retarded. He makes a habit of using gut-WRENCHINGLY Pathetic sounds like Micks “Yoosh”. This poor child has a legitimate excuse. He is retarded.

    Mick is so stupid he even has the audacity to use it in type written responses? What a moron. My guess? He is a pedophile or something similar and has elected to become a recluse to keep himself from offending. Probably lives in isolation, but there’s no way he lives 100% in the wild.

    Shame on you Nat. Geo. for producing and airing such garbage.

  46. Doc
    Live oak fl
    February 5, 9:56 pm

    Easy Mike…It’s just a Show…

  47. Valhallkarie
    Nun ya Peru
    February 6, 2:16 pm

    I find watching mick and zoning out at the show in daydream about how great it would be to be free like him a deep desire. It also makes me realize all religion us absolute bulkshit,an attempt to control humanity and keep a select few pampered and benefiting from mans nature. The more that nature is removed from us and more orginaziations to keep the masses producing capital for the special few,I realize that nature,peace tranquility is the way the truth and the light. Life is a beautiful thing,it’s not about worshiping 1special imaginary creator and if you don’t you will burn in hell forever,this is all no true,nature is god and it’s all a magical process connected to eachother. The fear mongering is the special few investing in there labor force with consequence of eternal torture if not obey. Earth is the human religion,guess this is why the elite burned nature worship they knew the truth and that can’t happen.

  48. Doc
    Live oak fla
    February 16, 10:25 pm

    Yes Nun
    Well said…we are nature…we are one in the same as the tree..

  49. doug
    March 4, 10:38 am

    Watching the credits on todays episode showed a “Special Thanks” to Karl V. Holmquist D.C. A quick search on that name brings up Mountain Man Leather Works, a retired chiropractor, that lives right where the show says he does. A quick search for “Olympic Mountain EarthWisdom Circle” (also mentioned in credits) returns quite a few hits, with the first one being for their website, that guess what? It validates the claims in the show. My point in all this is simply that no television show is 100% accurate in what they are depicting. If they were, no one would watch, too boring. If you are focusing so much on a TV program that you feel the need to complain about it, it is time to change the channel. Watching TV is for entertaining. If you want to learn something, turn the TV off and get outside.

  50. floy o'neal
    new orleans
    April 9, 12:14 pm

    So mick cooked elk steaks over an open fire. Couldn’t help but notice he pulled them out of a pastic bag! If mick is trying to be environmentally concious, whats with the plastic. I hate plastic, i live in city and i d not use plastic – plastic represents the biggest decline ever known to civilzation. Typical man. He’ll save the envirinment soon as he finds it.

  51. Steve Wice
    Roanoke, VA
    April 9, 1:49 pm

    I love the show, whether it is fake or not. I love being in the forest, but I have too many health problems to leave civilization, unfortunately. I envy Mick. (Except his food choices!). Youich!

  52. nick nickerson
    sonora, ca. 95370
    April 24, 2:24 pm

    My 25 yo grand daughter with her 2yo girl wants to meet mick dodge for a hug and hello….she needs the inspiration he delivers….it’s a turning point for her briliance…that 5min. would significantly change her life to continue her work making our world a better place….thanks a million …we would go to him, we’re 800mi away….yet perhaps he could call Jessica; (campbell) 209-728-4648.

  53. Jimmy Gee
    Holland Ohio
    September 3, 6:39 am

    HOW ! can Mick be a Vietnam Veteran when he is only 62-??? Who were you with in the Nam Brother? I was in Hue Phu Bai last station.

  54. Steve
    Fullerton, CA / Hoquiam, WA
    October 24, 4:24 pm

    Hello Mick,,,Hope you can help. My daughter lives 10-12 miles north of Hoquiam WA off HWY-101 along the Humptulips River. The other day about 6pm she saw a white fog on the ground to about 15-20 ft. high that tuned to a Black fog in less than 30 sec.’s right in front of her eyes, there was no smell as to suggest a fire, her large dog started barking and growling frantically with hair standing straight up and wanted out of there. The Black fog was between the house and the river, the rest of the fog around stayed white and her dog was only afraid of the Black fog. My daughter is very much a outdoor enthusiast but when there is something she has never seen before and it is scaring the hell out of all the animals around it is time to take cover, she got her dog, cat and herself inside and locked the windows and doors. Have you ever heard of such a thing?? Any info would be great.
    Thanks – Steven Beers
    PS – This is not a prank – Thanks Again