Exploring the Call of the Wild

For the first time ever, more than half of us live in cities; and by the year 2030, it is estimated that 60% of the world’s population will live in urban areas. We spend about 90% of our day indoors. But, switch on the TV and you’ll see an alternate universe where everyday people are returning to the wild, living like primitives, hunting their own food, and building their own homes far removed from civilization. Nature writer, David Gessner, explores our fascination with TV characters living primitive and wild lifestyles and also looks at the latest scientific evidence that proves we can all benefit from more time in nature tonight on Explorer: The Call of the Wild.


Science is proving what we’ve always known intuitively: nature does good things to the human brain—it makes us healthier, happier, and smarter. Nature writer David Gessner explains why.


David Gessner meets Colbert Sturgeon from Live Free or Die, who was living the supposed American Dream with a great job, house, and family. However, there was something in him that was pulling him away. But one day twenty years ago, he decided that he would leave the life as he knew it behind and start a new one, living alone totally off the grid in the swamps of Southern Georgia… and he’s never been happier.

Now we as a society all can’t do what Colbert did, but as we become more urbanized and dependent on technology, there needs to be a balance between the modern world we live in and our ancestral home, the wild. But how much time in nature is enough to create that balance?

David Gessner visits with scientists Dr. David Strayer and Tierney Thys who are doing groundbreaking research in this field to try and figure out this equation. Is just looking at images of nature on our computers enough? Or do we need to fully immerse ourselves in the wild for days to get the exact dose? Or, perhaps a couple of hours “forest bathing” with therapist Amos Clifford is the solution.

Why are we drawn to this way of life? Is it escapism? Or is there something more at work? Are we hardwired to heed the call of the wild?


As humans become more addicted to technology and withdrawn from nature, our brains are becoming rewired. Nature writer David Gessner explains why bringing nature back into our lives is so important.

Don’t miss Explorer: The Call of the Wild Sunday at 8/7c on the National Geographic Channel. And be sure to check out this month’s National Geographic Magazine that explores more from this topic, This Is Your Brain on Nature


  1. Ryan Ramey
    Fort Wayne Indiana
    January 10, 2016, 7:34 pm

    I don’t understand why you all will “bleep” out the “F” word but let the people take the Lord’s name in vain ? I love most of your shows but I ask you please to ” bleep” out the word ” God&#$%” when spoken, thank you the Ramey Family

  2. Ryan RamMe
    Your buttsville
    January 11, 2016, 7:16 pm

    Shut up Ryan

  3. james
    September 11, 2016, 6:27 pm

    colbert sturgeon is a fictional character. He is not real. nat geo just made him up for their tv show