New Series “Live Free or Die” Premieres Tonight

Americans today constantly have their eyes locked to screens — their phones, tablets, and televisions. Workweeks are getting longer and the retirement age is getting older. There’s an obsession with money and material goods. But there are a handful of people who are rejecting these ways of life. They’re moving away from the cities, living with only the bare necessities, pledging to Live Free or Die.

National Geographic Channel’s new series Live Free or Die examines one of America’s most remote subcultures, following five individuals living in the country’s backwoods and swamps with few of the trappings of modern society. Freed from the constraints of a technology-fueled existence, they are modern-day pioneers who rely only on skill and intuition to harness the natural environment.

These five individuals are participating in a lifestyle trend known as “re-wilding” — a new term that refers to the un-domestication of humans and reverting back to our wild roots. They live almost completely off the land, in simple homes without any electricity or running water. The woods furnish their rugged lifestyle, and wildlife populate their dinner plates, bringing significant challenges that often require quick and innovative solutions in their constant struggle to survive. They are faced with natural obstacles like brutal weather and depleted food sources and must find ways to subsist that don’t violate the strict code they hold themselves to in order to remain self-sufficient. It is this very code, the difficulty of keeping it and the potential to triumph over nature that fuels their desire to remain on these modern-day frontiers.

“There’s a cost sometimes to living this way,” says Thorn, who lives in a self-made hut in the forests of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “But at least I have a lot of time. When I lived in the city, I was a schoolteacher. It was wonderful, but being on someone else’s terms was really difficult and I just wanted to drop out of it. This forest just gave me this unique opportunity to get away from that and actually live free.”

“Doing this work is very freeing. It’s very liberating,” says Tony, who lives off the land on a mountainside in Appalachia. “We’re rulers of our own destiny here.”

Meet the primitive Americans:

ColbertColbert, Georgia swamps

Colbert is a former financial advisor who, after raising two daughters, quit his job and abandoned his mainstream existence, moving to the swamps of Georgia to live a simpler life. An expert woodworker, Colbert built his own home from wood found in the swamp. He hunts, traps and forages for food, herbs and medicinal plants, using only what the swamp provides for his survival.

GabrielGabriel, California coast and mountains

Gabriel lives a nomadic lifestyle between the mountains and the sea of California. At age 10, Gabriel met a man who inspired him to deepen his relationship with nature, which led him to this lifestyle as an adult. For the majority of the year, he lives a simple life with his wife, Luna, in a cabin with no running water by the coast. But for a few months every year, he leaves for the mountains to live off the land.

ThornThorn, Blue Ridge Mountains

Thorn lives on 120 acres in a remote corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains, relying on the forest for his daily survival. Even his hut was built entirely from materials found in the woods. Two years ago, Thorn quit his job as a schoolteacher to move into the forest. He has a 5-year-old daughter who spends part of her time living with her father in the woods.

Tony and AmeliaTony and Amelia, Blue Ridge Mountains

Seven years ago, Tony bought a seemingly barely habitable plot of land on a Blue Ridge mountainside and built a home on it with his own two hands. He now lives there with his wife, Amelia, who couldn’t resist him after seeing his house. Raised by unconventional parents, she moved to the mountains 10 years ago. Tony and Amelia are turning their hillside into a garden that meets most of their needs.

The premiere episode, Live Free or Die: Rise of the Wild, dives straight into the world of wild living as five individuals tough out winter in America’s backwoods and swamps. Everyone is in search of food, but the winter weather is making the hunt difficult for some. In the Blue Ridge Mountains, primitive woodsman Thorn struggles to find even a trace of wildlife to turn into a meal. Meanwhile, close by, homesteaders Tony and Amelia battle the cold in their small cabin, making use of any meat they can get their hands on. Down in a river-swamp in southern Georgia, modern frontiersman Colbert shows his expertise when he catches a large beaver near his home. And across the country, in drought-stricken central California, nomadic hunter Gabriel sets his sights on small game and lands a rat, providing him with food to get by.

Live Free or Die premieres Tuesday, Sept. 30, at 10 p.m. ET/PT on National Geographic Channel

Comments

  1. R.Knotts
    California
    September 30, 2014, 5:38 pm

    I would love to live as a free man but with so many ailments and 78 years old and I have not been able to work since 1985
    I would never be able to survive in the wild. God Bless these
    men and best wish`s to them.

  2. Lifeis Good
    Chicago Il
    September 30, 2014, 10:54 pm

    I watched the premier tonight of “Live Free or Die” on Nat Geo.
    I do think the program shows promise if they would just turn down the background music or eliminate it all together.
    The music was so loud I couldn’t understand what the characters were saying.
    “Live Free or Die” isn’t the only show on your channel that has this annoying volume problem as most of your shows bombards the viewers with drums and guitars and keyboards first, story content second.
    The music adjusting to the mood of the scene; “suspenseful” music during a suspenseful scene. “Action” music during a action scene; etc. etc… .
    It really makes me wonder if you do this because you think it will make the show better? .. Or do you know that the show isn’t any good and this is your attempt to make it better?… Or do you assume that the tv viewing public are mindless idiots that are so easily influenced by beats and musical notes?
    What are you afraid of? You don’t think the story line of the show, the characters are really interesting enough without “mood music”?
    Give viewers more credit and turn it down or off!

    Please adjust your sound or its probably the end to me watching natgeo.

  3. Don
    AZ
    October 2, 2014, 9:19 pm

    I watch Live Free or Die tonight and am wondering if Colbert is a deadbeat dad. He stated he had two daughters and that after his bankruptcy and divorce he moved to the wilderness.

  4. Kimberly Mears
    Fayetteville, NC
    October 6, 2014, 12:43 pm

    Dear Don,
    In answer to your valid question, no, Colbert is not a deadbeat dad. I am one of his daughters and even though he has moved to the wilderness, he does still come to see us(his two daughters, our kids, and husband) and we go to see him and spend time on his land. He does travel some too in which he teaches survival principles. He is a loving father and grandfather and shares with us all that he has learned over the years. I love him dearly and am glad he is doing what he loves 🙂

  5. Mark
    Earth
    October 7, 2014, 9:45 pm

    What a joke. Nothing about this is living “free”. You’re either still mooching off of friends who rely on society or you yourself rely on society for something. Quit trespassing, quit being a leech, be a parent none of you would truly make it if there was a place you had do what you say/think you’re actually doing…

  6. Chris
    Chicago, IL
    October 8, 2014, 8:34 am

    I saw what happened to Colbert’s house last night. It was terrible. Any way we can donate to help him rebuild?

  7. Wes Z
    Somewhere on the Outer Banks, NC
    October 9, 2014, 4:54 am

    I have been looking for a fund to donate to help Colbert out but I haven’t found one.

    Hey Mark on planet Earth – take a break dude… Live Free as in “Free Spirit” also applies. You need to un-wrap your head around that all mighty dollar that obviously controls your life.

  8. Edgar Cano
    Williams az
    October 9, 2014, 5:28 pm

    How did colberts shack burn down

  9. Emily
    Burnsville NC
    October 9, 2014, 8:26 pm

    Is Thorn and Colbert from Mars Hill? Just wondering because that is close to my home which I find amazing.

  10. ron baker
    springfield mo
    October 10, 2014, 1:00 pm

    Well, I did try to watch the latest episode, but due to the loud background noise, I could not make out the dialogue. Tuned out after about 5 minutes.
    Could be a good show, but for all the noise.

  11. Paula
    Canandaigua Ny
    October 11, 2014, 2:01 pm

    I watched this with my 14 year old daughter and we saw the commercials for the next episode where Colbert’s home burnt down. I’ve always know my daughter had a huge heart but she was almost in tears and wants to “have him”. I actually felt sick seeing him cry and I pray he has his life back to normal.

  12. ron
    missouri
    October 11, 2014, 3:58 pm

    What happened to my post? Somewhat critical of the loud noise drowning out the dialogue. Can’t take a little criticism??

  13. William Pickley
    VA
    October 11, 2014, 7:49 pm

    Where are Tony and Amelia located? That’s considered the Blue Ridge Mtns? That’s gotta be a mistake.

  14. Wesley Horton
    oklahoma
    October 11, 2014, 10:29 pm

    I’m pretty sure the producers or some production assistant did it. Apparently, he was heard off camera telling one of them not to smoke near the kerosene tank.

  15. Dave
    Nc
    October 14, 2014, 4:09 pm

    Or it could’ve been because it’s a wooden cabin, dry, and he kept open fires unattended and stoves burning… Sometimes things just burn down and accidents happen. Couldn’t help but feel for him though, he built it by himself w bare hands…wow

  16. Nancy
    Mi
    October 16, 2014, 11:56 am

    This is to “Life is Good” Chicago, Il Sept 30 10:54PM. Couldn’t agree more. My husband & I had the same exact problem but fixed it with “TV EARS”. This is not an ad for them just fact. They really work.
    As to Colbert, he reminds me of an actor in movies but I can’t think of his name. Does anyone out there know which actor he resembles?

  17. M E Brooks
    Columbus, GA
    October 23, 2014, 8:37 pm

    Given that Colbert’s cabin burned down some time in the Winter in 2013-2014 (Dec 2013-Feb 2014) based of the lack of leaves in the swamp, he probably has already built another cabin at the airing of this episode 09/2014. We’ll see soon enough as the episodes play out. I have nothing respect for Him and these who choose to live like this. In this nation, they could choose to become leeches on the Tax Payer and sign up for Obama Phones, Food Stamps, Housing, Insurance, etc. etc. etc. but no. They want to live free. God Bless them. And you who criticize or make light of their choices, you can just go to hell.

  18. Randy
    North Dakota
    October 23, 2014, 8:38 pm

    This is one really stupid show- good concept- interesting idea- lots of starving pilgrims- gimme a break- sell that bobcat pelt and buy some beans- is that the best they can do for water? In North Carolina? Thorn has knives and cooking utensils but no fish hook? Really? Colbert? First rules of fire- jeez- I’d think nat geo could do better

  19. loner
    wi
    October 24, 2014, 6:11 am

    nation geographic this show is so far from the truth to live on your own. I have no respect for this channel. What a farce

  20. Randy
    North Dakota
    October 24, 2014, 10:17 pm

    Oh- Gabriel needs a 22

  21. Joe
    October 25, 2014, 7:38 am

    This has to be fixed for the viewers, it’s entertainment not reality. Colbert likely has another house somewhere else. The fire was likely planned to add some excitement to the show. As for the guy living in a house of sticks, with not even a fish hook. Do you think his 5 yr old kid really spends days in those conditions, with no food, and no heating. It is all jazzed up to get a captive audience

  22. Robert Cook
    South Carolina
    October 29, 2014, 8:10 am

    I like Live Free and Die! Its truly a shame when those that DONT understand the meaning behind the desires of the individuals on the show. To be able to live your life without all the modern amenities is a challenge in itself. Those who are critical should turn off all electricity to their home attempt to “Live” without running water, lights, refrigerator and my mercy most of all TV and Computer. Whether you believe what they are doing or not You attempt it and the judge others. I have a place in Appalachia and I can believe things. Dont judge until you walk in the others shoes!!

  23. KOShea
    Charleston South Carolina
    October 29, 2014, 10:11 pm

    Whether some of the things are done specifically for the camera or not doesn’t bother me at all. I enjoy the concept of people making a living outdoors with absolutely nothing but some basic tools. The younger generations would highly benefit from seeing people function without all the crap that people think that they need. Some is excessive, but nevertheless, it’s still cool. As for Thorn, I first have to say that his little daughter is absolutely adorable. They both have a great energy about themselves. What a sweetheart that absolutely loves his dad and the outdoors. Good energy!!!

  24. Joy
    Hamilton
    November 8, 2014, 4:36 pm

    It really just makes me wonder People who critisize really found time to rant here. You probably need to live free of stress in your life. Watching behind a television makes you feel you are entitled to say anything you want. Let them be and let them do what they want. Youre not giving them money or help so shut up and change the channel. Dont ruin it for everybody that likes this kind of life style and show. If you never experience this kind of living you dont know what youre talking about. Other 3rd world countries still lives like this not just America. Sometimes its not a choice. So move on and bitch about your life somewhere else nobody cares here about what you think.

  25. Adrienne
    November 8, 2014, 8:15 pm

    BTW…I think the other folks on the show are great!

  26. Adrienne
    November 8, 2014, 8:21 pm

    And now Thorn has tied a rope around his goat’s NECK to pull wood……idiot. Okay, I’m finished.

  27. Mary Ann Rousseau
    Savannah
    November 10, 2014, 11:46 pm

    Where is Colbert’s swamp. Is there still land to be purchased in that area?

    I admire them all. I think this series is fascinating.

  28. RoadHog
    November 12, 2014, 1:03 am

    Tony and Amelia – Amelia is awesome and seems to have most of the knowledge and does the tough jobs – haven’t yet seen anything Tony seems competent at doing – think Amelia might need a real man that compliments her talents. Move on Amelia – you’re to good for Mr. Chicken Sh–!

  29. Brenda
    Jasper Fl
    November 12, 2014, 6:49 pm

    My husband and I met Colbert the other day. What a very nice interesting man! We hope you only success in your venture. Joe and Brenda (Applebee’s Veterans Day )

  30. sam
    kissimmee
    November 18, 2014, 10:38 pm

    Watching this for the first time and it’s going to be the last …frontier men with funny hairdo and an old man running around the forest naked NO NO NO !!!!!

  31. Brent
    Estarkansas
    November 20, 2014, 8:01 pm

    Bravo to nat geo. What an interesting group of people! Plenty of things to learn here and laugh about. All the characters show caring and compassionate sides to their lives.

  32. sheralyn
    alabama
    November 21, 2014, 11:45 am

    The key word to what they are supposed to be doing is “minimalist” living. Means you live off the land using minimal belongings. So I find it kind of stupid to have axes, knives etc. but no rifle or fish hooks. Also trying to figure out why Colbert is wearing a fox skin hat when it’s obviously hot. Or what the hide over the shoulders is for when his a$$ is bare. I lose interest when they start playing dress-up and communing with the great bear spirit.

  33. Dan
    NC
    November 23, 2014, 12:15 pm

    For people like these folks to “live free or die” it takes responsible adults going to work every day.

  34. Ron Simpson
    Fla
    December 2, 2014, 5:15 pm

    Nancy, I think you are thinking of Steve Buscemi of Boardwalk Empire.
    Ron and Life is Good, I agree about the background music in the shows, can’t stand it.

  35. Beth
    fl
    December 7, 2014, 3:54 pm

    Do they get paid for being filmed? Or do they do it for free?

  36. Robert Hilliker
    United States
    December 9, 2014, 5:51 pm

    It’s certainly a very interesting program. I could do without the moralizing against the modern world every four minutes though.

  37. Anthony at Grow Paradise
    Hawaii
    December 11, 2014, 1:07 pm

    I just think that they would have seen the massive amount of smoke filling the sky when the house was burning down. And yes…why a hatchet but not fish hooks? Where do they draw the line? Good premise of course…check out Daniel Vitalis and his re-wilding talks

  38. Fender
    NC
    December 15, 2014, 11:04 am

    What a joke, this is so scripted and not reality. Thorn has been seen numerous times in our little town eating at restaurants and coffee shops. So much for the big drama of “What am I going to eat today”. He parades around town in a loin cloth and chaps and does a big stretch in front of some young girls so his junk will hang out for them to see. Real classy. You would think a true mountain man would keep his junk covered and protected.

  39. Genetics
    Czech republic
    December 27, 2014, 4:23 am

    I commend these people for their strength & will to thrive & survive without their cell phones, playstations, drugs, alcohol, grocery stores, washers, dryers, Etc. I would bet everything I own that most of you idiot Morons in this forum wouldn’t last 2 weeks before you were completely broken physically, spiritually & psychologically! PERIOD! So before making these ignorant comments I suggest you take your loud mouth out & prove yourself Man/Woman enough to live such a lifestyle. IDIOTS!

  40. Tim ferral
    N Cal
    January 8, 2015, 2:23 pm

    What a dumb show with all the phony bs dialog. I give it 1 star if the were 100 stars.

  41. FTD
    Midwest
    January 8, 2015, 7:10 pm

    Genetics! This is a Television Show that is STAGED!! I have seen first hand how people leave their city jobs and move North to the Wilderness area and think they are going to live like a Voyageur! Or a Native American! They don’t last long and they head to the welfare lines! Reality is not a norm with some of these folks Genetics!

  42. Tony
    Mexico D.f
    January 12, 2015, 2:46 pm

    Did anyone know who sings the Theme song of the series an the name of the song???

  43. Alex
    Long Beach, CA
    January 23, 2015, 12:53 am

    I absolutely love this show PLEASE keep the episodes coming. I watched the whole season twice on Hulu. My favs are Colbert and Thorn. It broke my heart to see his house burn down and I wanted to make a donation to help him out. His faith and kind spirit is amazing. Thorn is hardcore – seems like a nice guy, too. All the other cast are great as well. I also like it when they teach you how to do things and survive as well, like when Colbert showed his grandkids how to cook the fish in the coals and catch them.

  44. GeminiChild
    Minnesota
    February 16, 2015, 1:51 pm

    Well first of all kudos to all of the hard working men and women I really would love to be Living Free. Instead of living in the city because this just isn’t me. I am not going to become a citiot. I will never give up my love for nature it is too strong. So I may see ya soon.

  45. James
    NYC
    February 16, 2015, 3:05 pm

    Tony ! You don’t have the stomachs for
    hog guts .

  46. Mrs E
    Australia
    March 1, 2015, 12:16 pm

    So sad 🙁

    Re Nancy – I think he looks like Don Knotts

  47. Joshua
    New Mexico
    March 16, 2015, 8:04 pm

    I would love to live in the wild. If my daughters mom was as understanding as Thorns ex I would live just like Thorn does. This show is awesome my wife and myself both enjoyed this show I can’t wait for another season if there is going to be one.

  48. Marco
    Prague
    May 12, 2015, 7:03 pm

    His show is obviously staged. If you don’t see this then you are obviously an idiot.

  49. Carla S
    Clearwater, FL
    October 5, 2015, 2:55 pm

    I have looked all over hoping to find an w-mail for a producer on this show. I saw something, and immediately thought of Tony & Amelia…… It is a Zero Energy Cool Chamber. They have done a project using clay for the Rocket Stove and this project would be a useful nice addition to the homestead. It helps preserve fruits and vegetables. Here is the link – I hope someone can forward it to them. Many Thanks in advance !!!!!
    http://indianruraltechnology.blogspot.com/

  50. KellyB
    NC
    October 27, 2015, 9:18 pm

    What county/town does thorn and amelia/tony live in the blue ridge mountains?! I can’t find the info anywhere and I’m dying to know

  51. Peggy
    BC, Canada
    November 23, 2015, 1:20 pm

    What happened to Thorns goat?

  52. rrodscott
    United States
    November 23, 2015, 10:10 pm

    Equating this show with the “reality” junk that rules the air waves is crazy because most of the other shows demand that their participants display the jealousy, greed and envy that draws viewers. Some viewers who like this show might enjoy the PBS “House” series. The show uses cultural historians to create settings that mirror as much as possible the conditions of the period in which the series is based. In nearly every part of the series, the determinant of who would be successful was the participant’s willingness to do very difficult manual labor. The participants who were willing to do the hard work usually did well. The executive types usually ended up looking like fat, lazy bums, because they spent all of their time trying to find someone else to do their work for them. None of the participants of “Live Free” carries more than a few pounds of fat. When the woman who looks like Jennifer Connelly’s younger, prettier sister starts swinging that sledge hammer, With No Gloves, take it from a guy who paid his way through college by cutting pulp wood , , you can’t fake swinging a sledge or an axe. Either you know how to do it or you don’t and these people have either been supporting themselves by cutting wood and driving stakes before they joined the show, or the show is pretty close to accurate, when dramatic license is allowed.
    Please don’t compare a show like this with a reality show that scores high ratings because some guy gets to watch twenty women fight for their five minutes of fame.

  53. rrodscott
    United States
    November 23, 2015, 10:28 pm

    For those of you who say that the guy with the mules is incompetent, I was raised on my grandpa’s farm, and nearly everyone plowed with mules, since plowing the side of terraced mountain with a tractor was a good way to get crushed like one of the rats on the show. My grandpa probably didn’t way much over a hundred pounds, but he could work mules like they were robots. Some of the other farmers could work mules, but I’ve seen a couple of them screaming at their mules, and one guy was so pissed off at his mules that he would hit them on the head with a 2×4 every time the mules got away from him.

  54. rrodscott
    NC
    December 4, 2015, 2:29 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that the people in this show are filling roles that reflect the different stages in human history from hunter-gatherers to what we are now. Tobias is a hunter-gatherer who relies on small animals and plants in an arid setting, much like our prehistoric African ancestors. Gabriel is a semi-settled hunter-gatherer who has discovered the spear thrower and is therefore capable of taking larger animals to supplement his diet. Thorn is a settled hunter-gatherer who has adopted agriculture. Colbert’s lifestyle parallels the French trappers who lived as hunter-gatherers who had adopted intermittent commerce. The couple has adopted a settler’s life that parallels Willa Cather’s adventures and has implemented an active barter system that relies on community. Finally, Derik has adopted a specialist’s life in that his forging labors don’t directly lead to food but to trade goods. The show has lots of interesting and amusing facets.

  55. rufus
    WA
    December 26, 2015, 10:34 pm

    Anybody know if the show is renewed for a third? I’m tired of binge watching and I need some new episodes.

  56. Joseph
    Melbourne
    February 3, 11:38 am

    Good show less background music or turn it down

  57. Joseph B.
    July 25, 10:52 pm

    Does anybody know the caliber of Colbert’s rifle? Could it be an M14 shooting .308? Seems to be a damn good rifle.

  58. Joseph B.
    OHIO
    July 25, 11:06 pm

    guess theyre only going to let me post one time!!

  59. matt lewis
    August 4, 7:53 pm

    Is it just me or was the footage of the buck that Thorn missed the same buck that Colbert shot??

  60. Grace consoli
    Calabash,nc
    August 7, 3:48 pm

    So glad to have “LiveFree or Die” back on . People need to see pure stuff on TV. Instead of junk. Thanks. NatGeo

  61. RP Richard
    Springfield, VT
    August 11, 4:26 pm

    No one tromps through the woods, talking with wife in tow, making all kinds of noise and bags a turkey. His first time out, not knowing that turkeys are one of the hardest animals to bag.
    No one goes tromping through the woods making all kinds of noise with wife in tow… And bags a dear first time out with no idea what it takes to actually hunt.
    Both Tony and wife are just happily gabbing and just walk into a few turkey and then sneak up to shoot them. Turkey’s eyes are so good, they see everything moving around them like most birds. Think about this, if a bird has poor sight, how can they find seeds laying on the ground while flying, or see rodents, or fish in the water without excellent eye sight. Dear’s ears are extremely accute. They take flight as soon as they hear unfamiliar sounds. They can smell humans for many hundreds of feet if down wind too. There are people that walk up to dear while hunting as the dear are totally exhausted from being chased for the last few days during hunting season, but again, they are doing their best not to make a sound and usually walking onto the wind if possible. I’ve been hunting since 1964, and know how hard it really is. I’ve seen lucky shots, and first morning, first ten minute bags as well, but these people know what they’re doing.

  62. Shannon shelton
    Evarts ky
    August 20, 3:31 pm

    I have watched this show. And what I find is that you will block all profanity but you will not block the God #%*& word! Children of all ages watch this show and I find it hard to understand this! If you can block all the other profanity words please block this one as well!!!!

  63. Jim
    Maine
    September 5, 9:29 pm

    It’s entertaining butt please don’t believe they don’t have money. How much are you paying the cast? Guaranteed it’s 6 figures.

  64. Amber
    NC
    September 19, 9:48 pm

    So tired of hippies, yankees, and liberals taking over the south. This show is a disgrace to the south and to southern Appalachia.

  65. ben
    September 28, 6:04 am

    with the cabin burn down I think what could of happen is someone took something and burn down to get ride of evidence probably took the animal Furstenberg

  66. Punk
    Wi
    October 10, 11:23 pm

    So new to this show. ..find it interesting. ..but what do each of them do for water ? I have yet to see any of them drink anything

  67. Mike
    Georgia
    October 16, 6:21 am

    Reading some of these comments is more entertaining than the show. If you don’t like it change the channel. Apparently it triggers something inside them that hates the show/concept but can’t change the channel. Has any of the haters been arrested for road rage? Just wondering.

  68. Camilla
    California
    October 18, 5:41 pm

    We knew Thorn when that was not his name, and we loved him dearly. I am wondering how Thorn “lives free or die” with cameras following him around all day. Also, he must be earning some money and royalties. We wish him the best, he always wanted to live like this.