Remarkable story about the light fingered hermit

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Mar 20, 2011
A guy in Maine, NE USA, walked into the woods one day for no apparent reason and remained undetected for 27 years. In all that time he only spoke briefly with one hiker he met on a trail. That was until the police caught up with him. He had survived for almost three decades by stealing everything he needed and used. He had become something of a local legend and people didn't believe any more that he was real.

What did he do with his time?

Knight said he spent his days at camp reading and meditating.
"I asked him, 'What kind of books do you read?'" Hughes said. "He said, 'Whatever I can steal.'"

He did absolutely everything to remain undetected. Never (!) lit a fire (imagine how cold it gets in the depths of winter there), developed expert skills in evading being tracked and camouflaged his camp from land and air.

He has no military or outdoor background and he seemingly used his wits and ingenuity to get by since the 1980s.

A fascinating story with pics of his camp etc.


Aug 1, 2007
New Forest
Obviously I can't condone his thieving - especially from a camp for people with disabilities - but it is an amazing story. It is hard to imagine how he survived the winters with no fire and reduced food.

After 27 years of living in the natural environment and no contact with other humans, life in County Jail, locked up with hundreds of other people, must be a massive culture shock. Still at least it is warm and he knows where his next meal is coming from, I guess.

He says that he did not fall ill because he was not in contact with others but that may mean that his resistance to diseases is now very much reduced. Goodness knows what will happen to his health in jail.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
That slide show of photos shows a calor gas bottle, so maybe he had that as his heating source as well. I would hardly call his camp a stealthy hide away though. Maybe his Ninja fu was weak. Still an interesting read though. Like Bartoon says, you can't condone his chosen lifestyle living on thievery but I still feel sorry for him having all that freedom to now be locked up in a cell for however long he gets sentenced.

Thanks for posting this.

Ed Edwards

Full Member
Dec 17, 2012
An interesting story. However, as others have said, the thievery does spoil the over all achievement of 'Surviving' for so long. His skills, rather than those of a person living with nature, were more based on stealing what he needed.

I'm afraid he's not going on my 'Heroes List' ;)


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Sep 8, 2011
Some folk just deal less well with society and other people, I suppose... loneliness doesn't appear to have been an issue, or he would have seeked company more. He obviously had little compunction about the theft aspect, irrespective of who it was off- more an extreme example of how a human behaves when they're completely isolated from community rather than survivalism but there but for the grace of your personal (if any) divine being, I guess!


Full Member
Aug 13, 2007
1000 reports of theft! - If this was your average urban scroat there would be outcry

I see nothing good about this story except he was caught.


Jan 29, 2010
Northern Ireland
Wasn't there a similar story a while back about another guy living in Utah (I think) who would break into holiday and hunting cabins to steal food (and take an occasional dump)? His picture was captured on a game cam but he was probably more dangerous as he was armed.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Jan 25, 2011
North Yorkshire, UK
There was a hermit back of the hills where I grew up in WA. Never saw him. Don't know his back story; guessing now I'd say he was possibly an old-school swaggie who ended up having to settle down when it became impractical to tramp the road.

Lived in a bit of a shearing shed (in that part of WA shearing sheds are built where it is convenient to muster the sheep). He repaired fences, kept an eye on the sheep and helped with the shearing. The farmer bought food for him now and then.

We were scared of bumping into him when we were kids, but I reckon he was a harmless bloke who couldn't cope with crowds and the modern (70s) world.


Need to contact Admin...
Sep 3, 2010
He merely stole food and supplies. It's no excuse but certainly understandable. Sadly, he gets to languish in jail while the financial services industry, who have stolen so much from so many of us, get to keep their spoils. Incarceration seems unfair. Therapy sounds more appropriate. I'd be more interested in understanding why he chose this lifestyle.


Jun 13, 2010
Bury St. Edmunds
Glad he's now behind bars as there was it seems no need for his self contrived predicament. i'm intregued as to who emptied his wheelie and dust bins though! He also seems to have been remarkably in a very good condition for this amount of time in the woods, perhaps he was a bit of a fantacist as the kit he managed to steal was all in a remarkably new condition. Something smells rotten in the state of Denmark me thinks!


Jun 10, 2006
south wales
He merely stole food and supplies. It's no excuse but certainly understandable. Sadly, he gets to languish in jail while the financial services industry, who have stolen so much from so many of us, get to keep their spoils. Incarceration seems unfair. Therapy sounds more appropriate. I'd be more interested in understanding why he chose this lifestyle.

So thats OK then is it him stealing from a centre dealing with disabled folks? and its certainly not understandable in my view. Incarceration seems very fair and if he needs mental health help I hope he gets it whilst he spends several years behind bars.

British Red

M.A.B (Mad About Bushcraft)
Dec 30, 2005
Glad they caught the thieving scumbag. I hope they throw away the key. He is not a Robin Hood - just a bottom feeding low life that deserves nothing but contempt.


Bushcrafter (boy, I've got a lot to say!)
Nov 10, 2004
Stealing is bad no matter whom it is a bizzar way he is actually showing great equality (don't suppose he did it because of that) in stealing from EVERYBODY without prejudice.....odd thing for me to say I know but I have a mate who lost his legs and he'd be more p'd off if he thought he'd been singled out not to have his stuff nicked because of that....he'd take it as yet another able bodied person treating him differently.... I know that sounds odd that he'd rather have his stuff nicked but really, he just wants to be as normal as poss.
Not really sure what this has to do with this story but it's more aimed at some posters on here who are, albeit, for the best of reasons actually being discriminatory and divisive.

Have to say I don't really believe a word he's claiming....sounds like a bit of a Walter Mitty type.....but hey, what do I know....I wasn't there lol


Bam. :)

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