It was a dream come true for survival expert Brett Tutor when he took a call from Treasure Quest: Snake Island’s Jeremy Whalen and Cork Graham. The famed expedition leaders were looking for someone with wilderness survival and emergency medical training for their second expedition, which will be chronicled in Season 2 of Treasure Quest: Snake Island beginning Friday, Nov. 4 at 10pm ET on Discovery Channel. Tutor proved to be their man.
“If I get a call asking me to go treasure hunting in the jungle, I’m going to say yes,” Tutor says on being the newest member of the Treasure Quest expedition team. “It’s every boy’s dream to go get to do something like that. It was pretty cool. They kind of needed a jack-of-all-trades guy to come down, because they didn’t really know what they were going to get into. They just knew it was going to be difficult. And that it was. It was crazy.”
In addition to Whalen and Graham, dive expert Mehgan Heaney-Grier, boat captain Keith “Cappy” Plaskett and naturalist Emilio White all return for another go-round in search of the Treasure of the Trinity. This season, however, they knew they needed a man like Tutor as they were departing Snake Island and journeying into the deepest recesses of the South American mainland. While the snakes were bad in Season 1, Season 2 they contend with the punishing terrains of the Atlantic Forest and the treacherous waters of the Parana River, along with battling jaguars, pit vipers and venomous insects on land and piranhas and caiman in water.
Tutor is charged with the safety of the group. “I’m like the professional babysitter, basically,” he laughs.
Call it what you will, but Tutor brings to the team the most diversified background yet. The Austin, Texas, native started his resume at an early age —he was only 12 when he became a world ranked golfer, 15 when he started his carpentry apprenticeship under his grandfather, 19 when he moved to Hawaii to train in mixed martial arts and in his early 20s turned to humanitarian relief work in Kenya and then to the U.S. Airforce, until an injury led to his discharge. From there he went on to Tactical Medic SWAT school where he furthered his survival skill know-how and then used that working as an adventure guide and outfitter in Oregon. He eventually moved back to Austin and started flipping houses working as a general contractor and home inspector. He then started his own business and then started his own non-profit (Off the Grid International), and did some TV shows in between. Now his experiences, charisma and charming looks have led to Treasure Quest.
So how did the rest of the Treasure Quest team react to the new guide being hired to watch their backs, and what surprised Tutor about the team?
“I can honestly say that every single one of the cast members surprised me kind of in their own way. It was definitely an interesting dynamic because they had their bond already and their experience on Snake Island and they’re all incredible at what they do and they’re very experienced,” Tutor says. “I mean Megan is a world record free diver. She’s been scuba diving for decades and then I’m this new guy showing up and it’s my job to make the call on whether it’s safe to dive or not. And she’s looking at me like, ‘Who are you again, telling me what to do?’ So it was an interesting role to fill, but that was my job and I’ve done trips like this before. I spent a lot of time in the jungle. Anytime you have a team dynamic like that, especially if you’re a new guy in an existing team, I think just earning their respect is kind of what I focused on. Just doing my job and being a team player and just kind of earning their respect through action.”
A mutual respect was definitely earned, and the team got over the new guy thing pretty quickly. Tutor actually raves about his teammates.
“They’re all unbelievable at what they do. Megan was incredible. She is by far the toughest woman I have ever met. Cork has had a crazy life. To me Catty is the most interesting man on the planet. He’s one of those guys where you sit by a fire and you let him tell you story after story. Jeremy, you know when you watch a show like this you get these pieces of their personality and you have to make these assumptions of who they are in real life. Jeremy is such an amazing guy, he is so incredible and he is one of those guys that barely even exist anymore because he can do so many different things. He’s so … He’s MacGyver. He can fix anything. So just to be around people like that with that much life experience in their own categories. It was so fun to be a part of.”
The only thing lacking on Tutor’s resume was treasure-hunting experience, but that didn’t matter. “I don’t know much about it to be honest with you. I don’t have treasure hunting experience,” he shared. “It’s kind of like being a sheep dog in the jungle. They’ve done this before, and I’m kind of just like, ‘OK, maybe let’s not do certain things that could get us in trouble.’ And basically be a sheep dog. It was kind of my job.”
While Tutor has managed adventure groups before, this was at a whole new level as there were so many different things that could literally kill them. “Snakes, they had spiders that could kill you and you’d be dead in four hours if you got bit by one of these spiders. We were on the move quite a bit, and there was a time where we were by what’s called the tribe borders. It’s Paraguay, Brazil, and Argentina. There aren’t major cities right there. There’s a whole lot of jungle. When you have three borders like that, that’s a whole lot of movement during the night and people running things and you know, moving things across the border. There’s a lot of sketchy business going on so I mean from the snakes, to the caiman, to the piranhas, to the snakes and spiders, to the human element. There were plenty others to be worried about.”
As for what kept Tutor up late at night worrying, there was plenty …
“For me, the thing that kept me up at night was that we were so far away from a hospital. We were so deep in this jungle that any kind of medical evacuation would take days. Even like a spider bite or infection or broken leg or things like that that may not be the end of the world in a relatively normal place like America, but if something happened and you’re two, three, four days away from hospital access … That’s what scared me. Somebody breaks their back or falls off a cliff or gets bit by a snake or we run into some trouble. For me just the remote region that we were in was a theme that kind of stayed with me the entire time. It doesn’t take much out there.
“We ran into some pretty serious snakes over and over again. As an EMT I can say that you’re not supposed to administer anti venom in the field because a lot of people will go into shock. The anti venom itself is very, very bad for you. It’s really very intense. It’s kind of a last resort to use anti venom. So you have to use it in a stable environment under the supervision of a doctor. If somebody got bit by a snake and was treated in a hospital … I mean some of these snakes, you’re just not going to make it three days. The clock starts as soon as something happens.”
So what do you think of the newest member of the Treasure Quest team? Leave your thoughts below.
New episodes of Treasure Quest: Snake Island Season 2 premiere Fridays at 10/9c on Discovery Channel