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Pocatello survivalist 'naked but not afraid'

Pocatello survivalist 'naked but not afraid'

POCATELLO, Idaho - Imagine being dropped off in the middle of nowhere, without clothes, food or civilization to help keep your sanity intact.

That's exactly what happened to Jeff Zausch, 27, of Pocatello, when he showed-off his survival skills on the Discovery Channel's hit television series "Naked and Afraid." 

"It really is the most ultimate, extreme survival show they've ever done on TV," Zausch said. 

The show places two people in the middle of an unsuspecting region of the world for 21 days to see how they survive off of only one item they are allowed to bring with them at the beginning of the expedition. In Zausch's case, he brought only a flint fire starter, knowing that was all he needed in order to survive in the middle of the Madagascar desert.

As an Idaho native, Zausch said he was born and raised looking for adventure in the great outdoors, and surviving the state's high-desert mountainous terrain was just part of his childhood.

"I was a big hunter, fisher, backpacker and outdoorsman. But, that wasn't enough for me. I always wanted to take it to the extreme."

And take it to the extreme, he did.

When he and his new partner, Eva Rupert from Arizona, set-off on the first day, they were stripped of their clothes and sent on their way.

"That was probably one of the most awkward moments of my life to be honest," Zausch said with a laugh. "I mean, they drive me out to the middle of the desert, hundreds of miles in the middle of absolutely nowhere, they park the pickup truck, and they say, 'OK, time to take your clothes off, it's starting.'"

Zausch said within minutes, the two realized they needed to move quickly in order to start finding food and shelter before dark and the thought of their bare exposure was a distant thought, almost erased from their minds.

"People don't understand how much clothes keep you protected from things like wind, rain, rocks, sleeping in the dirt, bug bites, spider bites, walking across the desert; shoes and clothes would have made things one-thousand times easier."

He said surviving the show is only about 10 percent physical and 90 percent mental, and to keep himself staying positive and motivated, he kept the memory of his inspirational father close to heart.

"My dad always kept proving everybody wrong. Every time somebody would tell him he couldn't do something he would do it," Zausch said of his father who died this past May after struggling with heart complications his entire life. 

"So, when I was starving and things were getting tough, I would just think back to him and think, 'Jeez, my dad has done this for 51 years before he passed away. How can I not do it for 21 days?'"

Zausch came back with a few scars from torn-up feet, serving as a reminder tattooed onto himself from the most insane adventure he had ever experienced. Although fading on his skin, they'll always serve on the forefront of his memory, inspiring him to pursue whatever life has to offer.

The show will air Sunday night at 7 on the Discovery Channel.

Some of the video segments in this story are courtesy of the Discovery Channel and Jeff Zausch.

Click here for the show's website:

Click here for a link to Zausch's website:

See Zausch's audition video:


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