Wild Edible And Medicinal Plants in Wisconsin and Surrounding Areas

We get a lot of questions about what wild plants are there in Wisconsin that are edible to eat or use for medical uses. I did some research and found that are many out there in the wild. I am going to list a few and there uses.

1. Purslane

Also called pigweed. Grows everywhere. Very commonly seen in cracks in the sidewalk. Also grows among woodchips. Comes out in June. Best to harvest in the fall. This is when the plants are large. Has small dark seeds that fall out. Harvest in the morning. Nutritional content varies, depending on what time of the day it was harvested. Cultivated and eaten in Greece. Good in tabbouleh, on gyros and eaten with feta. Tastes like green beans. Very important – purslane is reported to be the highest plant source of Omega 3.

2. Chamomile

Also known as pineapple weed, wild chamomile grows in rocky soil and is seen commonly in driveways. It’s very aromatic. I can smell it when the wind picks up and follow the smell to the chamomile. It’s commonly made into tea and it’s good for digestion, nervousness, anxiety, irritability; it helps to calm and soothe you and it helps you sleep. Chamomile is so safe and mild it is used on children and babies.

3. Mint (Catnip)

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. This plant is more of a medicinal herb than food, although it can be used in place of traditional mint in any recipe. It’s very aromatic. The smell is dissimilar to mint found in grocery stores and distinctive. Use its smell to identify it. It grows in shady areas, under trees and other large plant growth. In cats, catnip is a stimulant and in humans it’s a sedative. Catnip tea can be good for allergies and the respiratory system. Some studies say catnip repels fleas and ticks better than DEET. This plant can help induce menstruation. Pregnant women should be cautious. In large quantities catnip can be an abortifacient.

4. Woodsorrel

Woodsorrel has a sour and lemonly flavor. It can make a good substitute for lemon in dishes. Looks like clover but is brighter and has small, yellow flowers. I see it growing a lot among woodchips, but I don’t think it’s particularly picky about where it grows. A naturopath once told me it was good for the liver, but only when fresh. Not when dried.

5.  Plantain (Plantago Major)

As common as it comes. Brought here by Europeans. Edible and medicinal. The most nutritious thing I have ever heard of. Fights inflammation in the intestine – from carrageenan for example. Detoxifies. Purifies blood. If you have a bee sting, take a piece of plantain, chew it and then place it on your wound. Good for blisters. Speeds healing. Natural Awakenings named them (and dandelion) in a piece about herbs that fight cancer. It can also help with psoriasis.

6. Watercress

Similar to a radish. Spicy and clean flavor. Grows near streams, creeks, pure running water and can grow in mud. Watercress is only as clean as the water it grows in. Boil or sanitize if at all questionable. High in vitamin C. Good for soups, salads, you name it. The wild variety is the same as the kind you can buy at the grocery store, except it is free.

7. Ginkgo Biloba

There are male and female trees. Only the female trees make the fruit and the ginkgo nut, which can be eaten. The fruit is not eaten. The popular ginkgo biloba supplement is made out of the leaves. When harvesting ginkgo nuts, gather the fruit. Remove the fruit using gloves (some people get a rash when touching the fruit, some do not) Wash and then cook the nut. Boil, fry, saute. Whatever you like. When cooked, the shell will remove easily. The cooked ginkgo nut looks an awful lot like a pistachio and you can put it in your mouth and between your teeth to crack then remove the shell, just as you would with a pistachio. The inside is green and reminiscent of a jelly bean. Ginkgo biloba is very nutritious, but also has toxin. They must be eaten in moderation. Taking vitamin B6 with ginkgo cancels out the toxin. (Still – eat in moderation!!!) Do not eat ginkgo nuts raw. Eating the nuts raw is unheard of. It is hoped the cooking process will eliminate toxins, but there is little evidence to suggest it does. In spite of this, cooking them is still your safest bet.

8. Chicory

Young leaves and roots are edible. Found very often on roadsides and in open fields. Comes out in the height of summer, along with echinacea. The root can be made into a coffee substitute and leaves can be enjoyed as a salad green. (There is a variety of chicory grown for its leaves.) The small blue flowers are beautiful, delicate and rare.

9. Sweet Pea

Usually toxic and inedible. The toxin makes you starve to death / waste away. One you’ll want to avoid. Some kinds are edible and can be enjoyed but it’s hard to distinguish the edible from inedible varieties. It’s just as hard to distinguish edible from inedible sweet peas as when foraging for mushrooms. So this is one that should only be undertaken if you’re an absolutely amazing forager and you really love peas and want free ones. Vetch is a look alike.

10. Creeping Charlie

Related to mint. Can be eaten in salads and used to make tea. Abundant. Creeping charlie can be bad for other plants because it can wrap around the plants and choke them. Has purple flowers. Contains a toxin. Nutritious, but eat in moderation. Very commonly seen as wild ground cover.

11. Garlic Mustard

One of the first plants to come out in the spring. Frost, snow and cold weather doesn’t seem to bother it. Invasive, originally from Eurasia. Bad for the environment (in Wisconsin). Grows everywhere. There are volunteers devoted to destroying and pulling this plant up. Take as much as you want. Edible raw but if you boil and change the water several times / eat garlic mustard this way, it will have a milder flavor. Also good when dried. It smells and tastes very strong. Reminiscent of garlic.

12. Stinging Nettle

Emerges in spring. By June the plants are quite large. If there is an extended growing season, (warm weather into the fall and winter) there can be a second resurgence. Used for food as well as herbal medicine. Very stingy. Harvest with gloves, or you may get welts. Some say these are good for your immune system but many things are. No need to get stung in my opinion. Boil stinging nettle then serve. Nettles are nutritious and a good source of calcium as well as many other vitamins and minerals. There is a contest in the UK where contestants eat as much stinging nettle as they can. Whoever survives is the winner and the toughest / manliest. It’s very entertaining to watch.

13. Cattail

Edible shoots and pollen. The pollen can be used to make pancakes. Very good in survival situations. The brown top can be used to carry an ember. The white, inner spear tastes faintly of watermelon and is the most fibrous food I have ever eaten. The fiber content makes them very good at cleaning teeth.

14. Lambsquarters

Used as food and as medicine by Native Americans. Very mild and tasty. Almost buttery. Wonderful taste for a green vegetable. Not bitter at all. Called wild spinach and by many other names. Contains oxalates, as do spinach. A nutritional powerhouse, but the nutritional content depends on where you harvest it from. It can soak up nitrates from the soil it grows in. Quinoa is closely related to the seed of lambsquarters. The seed of lambsquarters is edible, but hard to harvest. Many people say it’s not worth the trouble. Don’t let that deter you from trying the seed at least once.

15. Rose

There is the wild rose and the cultivated variety. Rose hips are an easy find for the urban forager. There is scarcely a park or garden without rose bushes. The fruit of the rose, the rose hip, ripens in October. The rose hip is edible throughout the winter. This is intentional. Some plants are edible throughout the winter so hungry animals have something to eat. Rose hips are high in vitamin C, fiber and antioxidants. They boost the immune system and fight off colds. The outer hull of the rose hip is what is eaten. Some guides say the seeds are edible, some say they are not. I eat the entire rose hip, seeds and all. I grind and chew it very well, but they are prickly and hairy. They can cause irritation. I think it’s too much work to remove the seed, but the best / tastiest experience is to remove the seeds and eat only the outer hull. Miranda Kerr uses rose hip seed oil for beautiful skin. Rose petals are also edible, but strong tasting and for lack of a better word, bitter. Rose petals are often used to make rose water.

16. Violet

Comes out in spring, usually in March but can be April or May if there is an extended cold period / winter. Violets can be violet, magenta, white and yellow colored. The leaves, stems and flowers are all edible. Use in place of spinach in your favorite creamed spinach recipe. Delicious! The roots are used to induce vomiting. Violets are commonly topped with sugar. Candied violets are used in baking sweets, treats, and to top pastries. Violets are common, beautiful and grow low to the ground. They grow along with grass, dandelion and garlic mustard, which also grow close to the ground.

17. Echinacea

It is found in prairie and grassland. It flowers in July along with chicory, during the height of summer. If you look for it late, you can find the cones without flower petals. These should be left because they contain the seeds, which create the next generation of echinacea. This is more of a medicinal herb than food. It is good for the immune system. The leaves, flower petals and root are used for herbal tea and tincture. A mild tingling feeling is experienced when drinking echinacea tea. It is unique and reminds me of being electrocuted.

18. Milkweed

Milkweed is of immense importance to monarch butterflies. Many plant it to attract butterflies to their garden. The shoots, flowers, green, unopened pods can all be eaten, but they must be boiled first. Milkweed is poisonous in its natural state. Discard the cooking water. The silk inside the young pods has a texture reminiscent of cheese. Once the growing season has passed, the dead stalks and seed pods still remain. These can be used to identify where new milkweed will appear. Note: The pods must be harvested when they are less than 1.5 inches long. If you harvest them late, they are too fibrous to be eaten.

19. Chickweed

Chickweed is edible and medicinal. It is found all over the world, even in the Article Circle. Its blossoms open in the late morning. Its leaves fold up at night and before rain. Chickweed’s stems, leaves, flowers and seeds are all edible. Mouse-ear chickweed must be cooked. Other kinds can be eaten raw. It contains nitrates. Do not ingest any kind of chickweed preparation if pregnant or nursing. This could potentially harm an unborn or nursing child due to the nitrates it contains. One should consider the nitrate levels in the leaves. Upon consuming chickweed, if one feels dizzy, weak, or faint, if you have a headache, see a doctor immediately. You may have nitrate poisoning from consuming too many nitrates. Avoid chickweed if allergic to daises. Good when young as a salad green. Rumored to taste like corn silk raw. Tastes like spinach when cooked. Can be added to soups or stews. Do this in the last five minutes to prevent overcooking. Chickweed contains ascorbic-acid, beta-carotene, calcium, magnesium, niacin, potassium, riboflavin, selenium, thiamin, zinc, copper, and gamma-Linoleic acid. In addition, chickens love to eat chickweed. This is where chickweed got its name. Chickweed can be used in topical form to calm rashes and eczema, too. It alleviates irritation and swelling from insect bites. Chickweed is not recommended for children in oral form. It can be used to treat an insect bite on a child so long as they do not put chickweed in their mouth.

Some of the fruit plants are Elderflower & Elderberry. Flowers and berries are the only parts edible. Boil or cook them first. Good for the immune system. Grape – fruit, leaves, seeds, young vines shoots are all edible.In fall it has bright red leaves and similar looking berries, they are not edible and very spicy. Black raspberry – leaves can be made into herbal tea, spring time makes the best tea. Mulberry- comes in black, purple,red, pink and white. Black/Purple are rip, Red are unrip, Pink/White are the sweetest.

SIGNALING FOR HELP

There are many ways in how you can signal for help in a survival situation…

GOT A WHISTLE, HORN or GUN?

Three short whistle tweets, three blasts from a horn or three shots fired from a gun and a pause means…HELP! And two short tweets. two horn blasts or two gunshot blasts back means “Hold on Buddy, I Hear Ya and I’m a Coming For You!”

GOT A MIRROR?

A small pocket or vehicle mirror? A flashlight or vehicle light mirror reflector? Some broken pieced of mirror, glass, a shiny tin can lid, aluminum foil, a CD, emergency thermal space blanket? If it’s a sunny day you can use all these items for signaling.

GOT SOME FIRE?

Something to ignite and start a fire with like a lighter, matches or some other type of fire starter? If you build three separate fires (100 feet or 30 meters apart) either in a perfect triangle or a straight line, internationally this means HELP! But if you can’t build them in a triangle or straight line because of the terrain, one signal fire is better than no signal fire at all. But try to build your fire(s) somewhere in an open area and as high up as possible so it can be seen better from the air and ground search parties too.

DID YOU KNOW…during daylight hours a signal fire can be seen a lot further away if you can produce the right color smoke? For example, if you’re in a green environment like a jungle or forest you should try to produce a “white smoke” which can be done by adding some green vegetation to your burning fire. And if you’re in snow white or desert environment you should try to produce “black smoke,” which won’t be easy unless you have some type of petrol like diesel, oil, plastic or rubber tire. 

GOT A STROBE or CAMERA w/FLASH?

You can use’em at night for signaling a long ways off. Ain’t got no strobe or camera but a flint & steel fire starter? Great! If you strike the flint once every 3 seconds the bright white flash from a distance will look like a small battery operated strobe light.

GOT A CELLULAR or TWO-WAY RADIO?

Never use it unless you have a good signal, keep it always turned off to conserve battery power. Turn it on only when you come to any high ground, but if there’s still no signal, again keep it turned off and put it on only when you arrive at some new high ground. If there’s no high ground in sight and it’s all flat, try climbing the tallest tree to pick up a signal. Repeat and keep trying.

GOT SOME BRIGHT COLOR CLOTH?

Though you can attach any piece of cloth to a stick and wave it, but the brighter the color the more visible it is.  It’s best to pack & carry something more compact & lighter like some bright orange duct tape, property marking tape or one of our emergency orange sleeping bag.

SIGNAL KITE

Now think about it, if you were in a remote desert, jungle or forest and you saw one of these flying in the sky what’s the first thing you would say to yourself? Like me you would probably say “..who in the hell would be flying a freakin kite way out here?” Get my drift, so to speak? Yep, I’ll bet you do, and I’ll bet that’s what you would say too, wouldn’t you? Makes finding a needle in a haystack a lot easier to find, don’t it? You can also make these signal kites out of those pocket aluminum thermal space blanket too. Which if the sun’s out it’ll be seen a lot further away than a regular old kite due to the reflection of the sun bouncing off of it like a giant signal mirror in the sky. And if you don’t know how to make a simple kite, no problem, just google “how to make a kite” and dozen websites will pop up. Now it’s entirely up to you if you want to write SOS or HELP on your kite, obviously if your kite is flown way too high up in the air no one is going to be able to read what it says on it. But should it come crashing down and lands in some trees and you can’t get it down, someone from the air or on the ground just might see it and it could still lead to your rescue. But make sure you use a magic marker and NO SPRAY PAINT or it will add too much weight to your kite and it won’t fly. IMPORTANT: Make sure you test fly your kit before packing it away, don’t assume it will fly without testing it first or you just might be carrying “dead weight.” Get it?

Don’t have any of these items with you?

But don’t worry you’re not screwed yet. What you can do to get a low flying aircraft/pilot’s attention is to use the letters S O S or H E L P. How? By constructing these letters out of some rocks, logs, tree branches, stomped down weeds, snow or sketched out in the sand. Preferably in a open areas or along a water shore, the bigger the letters the easier they will be seen from the air.Not enough room for all these letters? No problem, a large “X” is better than no letters at all and will still get a pilot’s attention and indicate someone down below might be needing some help.

When “lost” or “stranded” should you decide to try to find your way out or home, always leave some type of markings along your route of travel. Why? So in the event someone finally does realizes you’re missing and or someone comes across your markings, they will know which way you’re going. Or should you have to back track, it will be easier to find your last known position. Make sense?

 

Raising Livestock in SHTF Situation: What You Should Raise and Why

In the case of a SHTF event, we could live without internet, cars and gadgets. We could survive without electricity, air conditioning, heating systems and hot water. But we couldn’t make it without enough food supplies. Canned tuna, frozen beans and boiled potatoes can only last so far. All these supplies are bound to end sooner or later, leaving us exposed to starvation. So how can preppers improve on this aspect and ensure their food supply doesn’t run out after three days? The answer is raising livestock. Our ancestors didn’t have supermarkets, had never heard about take-away, fast-food, processed food or preservatives.

Their survival depended on livestock, fruits, vegetables, plants and seeds. Nowadays you can learn about all of these by getting an agriculture degree. But back then, knowledge was passed down from generation to generation and people had to learn from trial and error rather than from a YouTube tutorial. If you want to make sure you are truly ready for anything read all about the livestock you should raise and why. It’s never too late to start researching livestock and becoming an expert in the field.

Chickens

If we would have to advise you what livestock you should raise and why, based on rate of growth criteria, chicken would win by far. They manage to double their number with every year and they don’t require a complicated set up or high maintenance. They are great because they yield plentiful supplies of meat and eggs in relation to how much food they require. For example, a hen could supply you with 10 to 12 eggs for each five pounds of food. Another great benefit of raising chicken is that the birds are not picky about what they eat. They will happily peck on anything that they can find, from insects and weeds to leftovers from your dinner. The only drawback with this is that they can easily damage your garden, so you might want to fence them in to keep that from happening. Another pro for raising chicken is that they don’t need a lot of space or sturdy fences. However, you should keep in mind that these fowls will learn how to fly, so you might want to build a six-foot fence or add a top to their pen. You should also watch out for predators: foxes, owls, rats and opossums will all try to take a swing at your chicken if they’re not protected enough.

Pigs

Also dubbed the best garbage disposers, pigs will munch anything you put in front of them: kitchen leftovers, greens, roots and grains, just to name a few. In exchange for these, in return, they will give you bacon, ham and plenty of meat. Not only unpretentious eaters, pigs don’t need too much room either, despite their great size. The best time to buy a piglet is in the spring in order to give it time to grow and develop to more than 220 pounds over the summer. All the maintenance pigs require is feeding and watering two times a day as well as cleaning their pens every few days. Butchering a hog that weighs over 200 pounds is no easy task. But you’ll only be reaping the benefits. Almost every part of the pig is edible and ready to be turned into steaks, broths, aspic, bacon, ribs, sausages, pork loins and trotters. Even the skin is edible, although most people are reticent to eat it because pigs are not among the cleanest animals. Bear in mind that they might test your olfactory tolerance before you manage to fatten them up and transform them into pork chops.

Rabbits

Not only pretty faces, rabbits are clean, quiet and prolific. Ideal for small spaces, rabbits will thrive in modest sized cages and as long as their manure is cleaned out regularly, they will remain odor-free. These furry animals are extremely rewarding for the amount of care and food they require. Rabbits feed on hay, which should be cut in three-inch lengths and stacked into the hay-racks that must be kept full at all times. They will also eat dried bread or crusts and, as it may be expected, they enjoy nibbling on carrots and roots. A buck and two does will yield as much as 50 rabbits per year, which translates into roughly 170 pounds of meat. Not too shabby for the effort you have to put in every day. Rabbits can be consumed as soon as they are seven or eight months old, but you can wait and make a more consistent stew from a three-year old buck. While they can withstand harsh cold weather, they are not big fans of wet or hot conditions. Keep in mind that they will need a cool place in the summer that has plenty of ventilation and fresh water supplies.

Goats

Most people would prefer to have cows’ milk rather than goats’ milk. However, there are many reasons that goats make a better survival animal. They are much less expensive to purchase, they eat a lot less and will happily eat brush instead of pasture, and they take up a lot less space than a cow. A good doe will give birth to 2 or 3 kids and will go on to produce milk for up to two years. A dairy cow will give milk for up to a year and normally has one calf. Plus, keeping a bull around is not a fun prospect. A buck is much easier to handle. When your goat wears out, it will provide you with a more manageable amount of meat, whereas a butchered cow will take a lot of work to can or dehydrate. In addition, goats produce milk that can be used to feed orphaned foals, pigs, rabbits, dogs, cats, and baby humans. Cow’s milk is not as easy to digest for these youngsters.

Keeping livestock is not a decision to be taken lightly. These animals will depend on you for their food, water, and shelter. During drought conditions it will be difficult, if not impossible, to care for your animals. In that case you will need to butcher or trade them. Do you have what it takes to chop off a chicken’s head, or slit the throat of a pig? You may be surprised what you can do when put to the test.

If you can handle the responsibility of caring for animals, they will make your life much easier when there’s an economic collapse or worldwide disaster. Any animals that you do not need for food can be used to barter for other supplies. There will be a huge demand for eggs, milk, and meat after the stores close. So consider keeping a few easy care animals now, for survival in the future.

Vegetable Garden Planning for Beginners

Hopefully, you are already in full swing on your own garden, but if you have been putting it off, or are still conducting research on how to start your own garden, this article is for you. If you’re a beginner vegetable gardener, here are basics on vegetable garden planning: site selection, plot size, which vegetables to grow, and other gardening tips.

Remember this: It’s better to be proud of a small garden than to be frustrated by a big one!

One of the common errors for beginners is planting too much too soon and way more than anybody could eat or want. Unless you want to have zucchini taking up residence in your attic, plan carefully. Start small.

The Very Basics

First, here are some very basic concepts on topics you’ll want to explore further as you become a vegetable gardener extraordinaire:

  • Do you have enough sun exposure? Vegetables love the sun. They need at least 6 hours of full sun every day, and preferably 8.
  • Know your soil. Most soil can be enriched with compost and be fine for planting, but some soil needs more help. Vegetables must have good, loamy, well-drained soil. Check with your local nursery or local cooperative extension office about free soil test kits so that you can assess your soil type. See our article on preparing soil for planting.
  • Placement is everything. Avoid planting too near a tree, which will steal nutrients and shade the garden. In addition, a garden too close to the house will help to discourage wild animals from nibbling away your potential harvest.
  • Decide between tilling and a raised bed.  If you have poor soil or a bad back, a raised bed built with nonpressure-treated wood offers many benefits.
  • Vegetables need lots of water, at least 1 inch of water a week. See more about when to water vegetables.
  • You’ll need some basic planting tools.  These are the essentials: spade, garden fork, soaking hose, hoe, hand weeder, and wheelbarrow (or bucket) for moving around mulch or soil. It’s worth paying a bit extra for quality tools.
  • Study those seed catalogs and order early.
  • Check your frost dates. Find first and last frost dates in your area and be alert to your local conditions.

Deciding How Big

A good-size beginner vegetable garden is about 16×10 feet and features crops that are easy to grow. A plot this size, planted as suggested below, can feed a family of four for one summer, with a little extra for canning and freezing (or giving away).

Make your garden 11 rows wide, with each row 10 feet long. The rows should run north and south to take full advantage of the sun.

Vegetables that may yield more than one crop per season are beans, beets, carrots, cabbage, kohlrabi, lettuce, radishes, rutabagas, spinach, and turnips.

Suggested Plants for 11 Rows

The vegetables suggested below are common, productive plants but you’ll also want to contract your local cooperative extension to determine what plants grow best in your local area. Think about what you like to eat as well as what’s difficult to find in a grocery store or farmers’ market.

(Note: Link from each vegetable to a free planting and growing guide.)

  • Tomatoes—5 plants staked
  • Zucchini squash—4 plants
  • Peppers—6 plants
  • Cabbage
  • Bush beans
  • Lettuce, leaf and/or Bibb
  • Beets
  • Carrots
  • Chard
  • Radishes
  • Marigolds to discourage rabbits!

(Note: If this garden is too large for your needs, you do not have to plant all 11 rows, and you can also make the rows shorter. You can choose the veggies that you’d like to grow!)

When to Plant?

  • If you are planting seeds, consult our Best Planting Dates for Seeds chart. It’s customized to your frost dates as well as Moon-favorable dates.
  • If you’re putting plants in the ground from a nursery or transplanting from a greenhouse, see our Best Planting Dates for Transplants (by region).

Now Design Your Best Garden Ever!

Plan your perfect vegetable garden. Use our online Garden Planner to draw out your vegetable beds.

The best way to plan a successful veggie garden is to look at what similar gardeners have planned and see what works for them.

Camouflage and Concealment: The Art of Staying Hidden

Urban Camouflage and Concealment

It makes me laugh when I see a lot of SWAT Teams and PSD guys wearing Tactical Black and other colors that look cool but do nothing but make them stand out. In reality black is one of the worst colors to wear. Ask yourself, what is black in nature? Look around you and what in your surrounding’s are black? I expect very little… In urban areas most walls are white, gray or cream… Light colors! The colors you wear should blend in with your background whether its day or night.

At night dark colors stand out, especially when moving past light backgrounds and in urban areas most backgrounds are light colors. Even in rural dry areas when moving through low bush and fields the silhouettes of people in dark colors are easy to see at a distance.

You do not have to have expensive patterns to give you good camouflage and concealment, a gray dress shirt and a pair of light khaki pants is way more effective than tactical Tim dressed in SWAT black!

Movement and Rural Camouflage

Modern humans are positively disadvantaged when surviving in and moving on foot in rural and wilderness areas. Most people these days have never spent a night outside without any cover, let alone in bad weather. When you’re in the woods or bush you need to get comfortable in the environment. I remember one of my military instructors telling me that to be able to fight in an environment, you must first be able to live comfortably in that environment, and this is true. If you’re having difficulty living day-to-day how can you operate?


You should always consider camouflage and wear clothes that blend in with your environment, in urban areas wear light blues and grays in rural areas browns and greens. As I have said before there is no need for military camouflage clothing as this will just draw attention to yourself.You need to start using all your senses as the animals do, learn to identify sounds, smells, movements and what they mean. You need to especially be able to identify things associated with people, like foot prints, cigarette stumps, broken twigs or foliage, fences, straight lines, domestic animals, aircraft, vehicles, talking etc. Think about human smells like fires, food, fuel, human waste and tobacco; if your senses are sharp in bush or wooded areas you should be able to smell or hear people before you see them.  When moving you must do so quietly and regularly stop to look, listen and smell for any indication of people. If you identify people in your proximity are you going to take cover, evade or ambush?

Basic field craft, things are seen because of these reasons: Shape, Shadow, Silhouette, Shine, Spacing & Movement.

  • Shape: Disguise your shape; use foliage or rags to break up your outline.
  • Shadow: Keep in the shadows and always be aware that you are not casting a shadow that could be seen by your opposition.
  • Silhouette: Don’t stand out against skylines, lights, white walls, etc.
  • Shine: No chrome, shiny watches, mirrored glasses, sparkly jewelry and the like.
  • Spacing: If moving with others, remain spread out, but not too regularly and do not bunch together.
  • Movement: Move carefully, as sudden movement draws attention and is the main reason camouflaged personnel and animals are seen.

The basic guidelines for camouflage are

  • Learn to blend in with your surroundings.
  • If you are using foliage to conceal yourself or your position don’t use too much or too little.
  • If you are in a long-term hide remember to keep your camouflage fresh, dead foliage will alert people to your position.
  • When moving avoid skylines.
  • Don’t use isolated or obvious cover; it’s the first place others will look. Consider hiding in thorny bushes or nettles as most people will not expect anyone to hide there.
  • Camouflage your face, neck and any areas of the exposed flesh with mud, ash or charcoal from fires. Or use a balaclava or scarf to cover your face and wear gloves.
  • Take all noisy objects from your pockets, such as keys and coins and make sure nothing on your person rattles.
  • Make sure there are no shiny surfaces on your person, equipment or clothing.

Guidelines for Movement

You should always move quietly and cautiously and avoid stepping on dry twigs or breaking through foliage and undergrowth as this will make noise and leave an easy trail to follow. If you know you’re going to a rural area or possibly going to be in an escape and evasion situation avoid smelly foods, strong soaps and after shaves, as these will be easy to smell by those used to being in the bush. Always be careful not to leave signs you were in an area such as foot prints, broken foliage, human waste or trash.  Trash and human waste should be carried out of a hostile area and disposed of when safe to do so.

You should always move in “bounds” from one piece of cover to another. Your bounds should never be more than, say 50 yards, especially at night. When you stop at the end of each bound you should use your senses to try to detect any human presents then plan your next bound. Moving in short bounds is the safest way to move through populated areas or places there are unfriendly forces. Remember, always be prepared to take evasive action or defend yourself.

There are no set time periods for halts but you should try to take ten minutes in every hour on long journeys. Tracks, paths and roads make for fast, easy travel and can aid navigation but can also be very dangerous as your opponents will watch them closely. To be cautious walk a few meters off to the side of any roads or tracks.  Places to expect sentries are at the entrances to urban areas, on bridges, cross roads and on high prominent terrain.The speed at which you travel will depend on whether it’s day or night, the type of terrain you’re in, people or police patrols in the area. Never push yourself to your limit, you always need to have energy in reserve so you can run in an emergency; tired people are also rarely mentally alert. If you must run from your opposition try to do so only for a maximum of a few hundred yards, then slow down and move quietly, cautiously and cover your any signs of your direction of travel. Do not use obvious routes, which tend to be the easiest routes to use; head up hills and into thorny areas etc.

Avoid being silhouetted when crossing skylines and hills, go around them rather than over them where possible. If you need to cross an obstacle or skyline then keep low and crawl, if it’s a fence, crawl through it or under it. If you have to cut through a fence, cut through the lower strands and then disguise the hole with undergrowth or tie the wire strands back together, never cut through the top strands as this will be easily noticed.

Moving at night

You need to learn to treat the night and darkness as your friend, darkness affords you cover. Many people are afraid of being in the dark especially in rural areas or derelict buildings; you should use this to your advantage. If you are moving you should always try to stay in the shadows, if you get caught in a beam of light or car headlights you should freeze, the chances are that you will remain unnoticed. You must have your immediate reaction drills for encountering a person, being caught in light or hostile fire at the forefront of your mind. Being caught off guard will get you captured or killed.

There are both natural and man-made noises that are useful to you because they can cover up or disguise the sounds that you make when moving. The best time for moving covertly is during bad weather; rain will cover the noise of your movement and any ground sign you leave. Bad weather also keeps people under cover, lowers the moral of those standing guard, learn to love bad weather.

General guidelines for rural movement

  • Wear clothing that blends in with local people and the terrain.
  • Do everything possible to disguise evidence of your passage; cover foot prints, never break twigs or undergrowth and repair broken foliage.
  • Avoid contact with all people unless absolutely necessary.
  • Litter, food and human waste must be buried or carried with you.
  • Learn about tracking, then you’ll be aware of what anyone following you will be looking for.
  • If moving with others spread out and when crossing obstacles such as a rivers or roads etc. take up positions to be able to give warnings of any threats that might be approaching. Also stay low move fast and cross one by one.
  • Always be ready to take cover from gunfire or people you may encounter by surprise.
  • Remember certain smells indicate human activity; odors float downhill in cool air and rise on warm air.
  • Watch for stones, leaves or logs that have been moved, the undersides of these will be darker in color and damp environments, this can be an indicator of human activity or the location of hides.
  • Always look for straight lines as they are rare in nature and are usually man-made.
  • Learn to identify unnatural vegetation, such as green leaves among dead branches or areas of too much foliage as this could indicate human activity such as hides or ambushes.

These are some basic guidelines to get you thinking, these skills can’t be learn sat in a comfy chair, you need to get out and learn and practice them. Everything I have written about here is simple and the main thing required is situational awareness and common sense!

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 2

In this part, we will look at some other things to consider before you install your storage shed.  And some general lessons learned to keep in mind through the process.

Storage Shed Kit Sources

Doing an online search seems to be an effective method.  Doing a search for “shed kit” on eBay gave me an idea of what was available.  Searching for the top brands found companies specializing in shed kits such as ShedsForLess.com.  Once I found the make and model I was looking for, more specific searches found the best price.  Prices seem fairly universal, although I did happen to find a sale on my choice.  A local source may be cheaper since delivery can be handled in house, but will be increased by sales tax, so the total price should be compared with companies which have to include freight in the cost but don’t have to charge tax.  It seems that shipping is usually “free” (more accurately, included in the cost) on some of the major brands.

Keep in mind that the floor is usually not part of the kit, although often can be ordered with the kit.  Often it is delivered first, from a local source, which means the quality might not be optimal.  On mine, most of the joists could be forced into place, but I had one beam which was warped at a knot, and attempting to force it straight caused the beam to snap.  Replacing it was not trivial, since the only receipt I had was the shipping order, and it took a long time for the local store to find it in their system, since it did not have my name on it or even the name of the company I ordered from.  It was under the name of the kit manufacturer.

There are kits which are material only, and those which are pre-cut.  The latter is easier to assemble and requires less equipment.

Also, when pricing a (wood) kit, keep in mind that hardware is often included, but paint and roofing are usually not, and these products are not cheap.  I could not believe they get over $30 a gallon for paint these days; fortunately Ace had a buy one gallon, get one gallon free sale.  For most (wood) sheds, the specified roofing is shingles, and those run about $1 a square foot.    Flooring, roofing and paint was about 1/4 of the total cost of my kit, and that did not include the roofing gun and scaffolding which will be used for other projects as well.

Options

Often a kit company will offer “options” such as additional or different doors, windows, a ramp, shelving/cabinets and various ventilation methods.  If offered by the kit company you pretty much have to order it with the kit.  Ventilation is good to prevent heat build-up; a “ridge vent” methodology is probably the best, but usually not available with the kit.  If you are going to use the shed strictly for storage, then windows would seem to be pretty silly since you lose wall space and reduce the security.  However, if you are going to be spending much time in there, a window or two will be quite helpful for light, ventilation and to reduce claustrophobia.

What to Have on Hand

The first thing to attempt to arrange is other people.  There are a couple of aspects of building the shed which will be very difficult for a single person to accomplish, without using “tricks” which need to be purchased or constructed.  More people not only allow completing these aspects in a “normal” manner, but will make things quicker and perhaps even “more fun”.  After all, if a single person needs to drive 1000 nails, two people only need to drive 500 each, and so on.  Plus, don’t discount the motivation having others involved provides.  If you can arrange for a person or group to help, that should be great.  If you don’t have people available or that you trust, it does not mean you are out of luck, just that you will need to approach the project differently.

There are certain basic tools you will need.  For a pre-cut wood building, that will be a hammer, drill (primarily for driving screws), tape measure (25′ may be adequate for medium sized buildings), level, framing square, carpenter’s pencil and a circular saw.  Having a cut-off saw was nice (more ergonomic and precise), but is not really needed by the pre-cut kit; the square and circular saw will suffice since there are not that many cuts left to be made.  A panel saw would have been handy, but for the one cut needed for the floor of my kit, a long straight edge, a pair of clamps, and the circular saw did just fine.  And you will need a ladder or two.  And, of course, don’t forget safety glasses and work gloves.  Plus arrange for the equipment for your preferred painting methodology.

Remember those 1000 nails?  I’ve used a nail gun for construction and it is very helpful indeed.  However, since the kit came with all the correct nails, I did not bother getting the pneumatic equivalents.  However, roofing nails were NOT included, and roofing is enough of a pain; I got a roofing nail gun and the nails for it.  Some kits say that “felt” under the shingles is “optional”.  I disagree.  Not only does it provide protection from a small leak in the shingles, but it protects the shingles from the roof panels and vice versa.  For the felt, you will need a hammer stapler and staples (no, a pneumatic stapler won’t do; it goes right through the felt, and your hands will hate you if you try using a standard squeeze stapler).  For the shingles, a utility knife and a bunch of hook blades for it, and a pair of tin snips (for the edging).  Be sure the hook blades fit your utility knife; my knife had a couple of extra pins which match up holes only in the same brand’s (much more expensive) blades.

This list assumes that everything goes perfectly, which it sometimes does not.  For instance, if there is a warped or twisted board, it can often be forced into position using a pipe wrench.  Or a twisted beam can be encouraged to stay in place with a long bolt and nut, tightened with a wrench and socket wrench.  Some places get rain, and getting raw wood wet is not wise.  A tarp big enough to completely cover the roof (and bungee cords to fasten it down with) can be a great help.  Things sometimes don’t fit quite right; I found a package of composite (not wood) shims (from Timberwolf) to be of great help in these cases.  If you end up with a crack or hole that insects can get through, some spray foam like “Great Stuff” can help.  Although roofing CAN be done with ladders, it is a tedious, slightly more dangerous process.  Buying or renting scaffolding can make it go quicker and is a bit safer to boot.  Of course, it might be easier and not much more expensive just to hire someone to do the roofing.

I used several other tools which I had on hand, to overcome problems and make “enhancements” to the shed.  These should not be normally needed.

Caveats

It is tempting to just order the kit and work on the site when the floor kit arrives.  This can be problematical; it took me over a month to get the floor flat and level (since the ground was very much neither).  Yet, the shed kit arrived only a few days after the floor kit.  Be aware of what the relative weather is between the source and your location.  My kit came from Pennsylvania when it was cold and wet, and arrived in Arizona where it was warm and dry, and sat in that wildly different environment for over a month.  It is not surprising that I had more warping and twisting than expected.  Two lessons learned.  Prepare site before ordering, and be aware of relative weather between source and destination.

The floor kit is often delivered by a local lumber outfit, who may have a trailer and fork-lift, and can put the pile in a relatively out of the way location.  The shed kit may be shipped by a standard shipper who has nothing other than pallet jacks to move things around with.  Pallet jacks require a smooth, solid surface, so they had to leave my kit in the road and I had to quickly and manually move it into my pickup.  The total kit weight is a bit over a ton, so to move it from curb to site will take more than one trip with a “1/2 ton” pickup.  When you get to the site, have something for the materials to sit on to keep them off the ground, sort the parts by size, and then stack them with the last needed pieces on the bottom and the first needed pieces on top.  I had two stacks, one of boards and one of sheets.  Cover with tarps if precipitation is expected.

Find the inventory list before you start unpacking and use it to verify the contents as you unpack.  I did a manual inventory, and matching it with the official one I found later was a bit of a challenge, since my descriptions did not match theirs.  There were a couple of pieces missing and a couple which were unusable; a call to the company got replacements sent right out.  Read the manual from cover to cover before you start, then follow it “exactly” (except for any typos) unless you are doing the build by yourself.

It was annoying that the 16′ shed floor kit came with 8′ runners; it was a challenge to keep them together and straight; I eventually gave up and used “StrongTie” connectors to hold them together end-to-end.

Standard felt is very easily torn.  It usually takes two people to install, and after we got one side up and took a break; the wind, more accurately a gentle breeze, ripped most of it off.  I finally had success with double thickness felt which is somewhat stronger, a “tool” I built which allowed me to put it up by myself, and putting on the edging as quickly as possible to prevent  wind from getting under the felt edges.  Yes, you need more rolls (being thicker, there is less length in each roll), but in climates such as ours, you generally put on two layers of standard felt anyway.

How to start

The first step is to figure out everything you want to accomplish with your shed, then find out any limitations on what you are “allowed” to put up and where you want to put it.  This includes finding out what is required by building codes.  Make sure you have plans for any alterations to be made to the shed; find the materials and figure out when in the build process you will need to diverge from the standard instructions.  Next, find the model or models of kits which you like, and get an idea of the pricing.  Arrange financing (cash or credit), prepare the site (marking and leveling for wood, forms. rebar and pouring for concrete), then order the kit.  Find out when it will be delivered and arrange to be available, with a truck or two to move the parts from where they deposit them to the construction site, and preferably people to help to load and unload.

 

John Hertig

Introduction to Building a Storage Shed – Part 1

Why would you want to do this?  Look at the name:  STORAGE Shed.  Most everybody “needs” more storage because they can’t bear to have less stuff.  And someone preparing for bad times probably has more stuff than a person who doesn’t believe anything bad can happen and expects their parents and/or government to take care of them no matter what.  Some of that extra stuff you really don’t have room for in your house, and some of your prepping supplies you REALLY don’t want to have IN your house.  Such as a generator and fuel, oil and vehicle parts, battery banks and so on so building a storage shed makes a lot of sense in some situations.  You can, of course, rent storage space; there is a large industry devoted to just that.

There are a few problems with that solution though.  One, you have to go there to get your stuff, and that assumes that you have a working transport AND that they can or will let you have access if they have no power or their computers don’t work or the people in charge are honesty challenged.  Two, you have signed your stuff over to them if they don’t receive payment for any reason (such as banks being closed).  Three, you are usually contractually obligated NOT to store some of the things you don’t want in your house.  And four, they can raise their rates whenever they please unless you have a long-term lease.  The place I am at currently is charging me TWICE what someone walking in off the street pays, and won’t reduce it.  I could rent another unit, move my stuff over, and cancel the first place, or move to another location, but I know the new price will just start moving up again.  The cost of a storage shed may seem large, but I did the math, and it will be paid off by two years of storage fees, and that is assuming they don’t raise the rate again, which is a very poor assumption.

Look at the other part of the name:  Storage SHED.  Do you have a “post Apocalypse” trade planned or set up; blacksmith, gunsmith, leather worker, seamstress/tailor, weaver, or the like?  This could be used for your business or the tools and supplies.  Plus, a shed looks like a shed, but it does not mean it must be ONLY a shed.  It could provide camouflage for an entrance or exit from an underground area.  It can be built with concealed areas.  Some sheds are designed as, or can be converted to, a green house, if you are interested in growing your own food and/or medicinal plants or setting up an aquaponics system.

Ok, let us assume you have decided you want a storage shed.   But can you have one?  Like it or not, there are a number of people or organizations who have control over what you put up.  Do you own the property?  If not, the owner has complete discretion over what you put up, if anything.  And if you don’t own the property, do you really want to make improvements to it?  An option in this case might be “portable” storage, like a trailer, or one of those transoceanic shipping containers.

Do you belong to a “Home Owners Association”?  If so, you have contractually agreed to give them complete control of the exterior of your property.  Read the bylaws to see what is currently allowed.  Figure out what you can do which abides by any restrictions.   And once you come to agreement on what they will accept “today”, get documentation which grandfathers your shed against any future changes to the bylaws.

How close are the neighbors, and are they reasonable?  If you follow all the legal requirements, they may not be able to prevent you from doing what you want, but if they get annoyed enough, they can still cause you plenty of grief.

Dealing with Governments

And then there is the city, town, township, parish and/or county.  Each level of government will have restrictions on what can be done, based on the “zoning” of the property in question.  The less remote the property is, the more stringent the restrictions are likely to be.  These include things like the percentage of the property which can be “covered”, height restrictions, required distances from property lines and other buildings, and many other things, collectively known as “Building Codes”.  Your safest bet is to get a “building permit”, but this has some downsides.  First of all, as a survivalist, you should attempt to stay “under the radar”.  You would be hard pressed to be more obvious than having your plans on public accessible file with the government, and having inspectors checking you out each step of the way.  Second of all, it will cost.  The building permit has a fee, often based on type of building and square feet.  I once wanted to put up a carport, and they told me I would have to pay $5 per square foot just for the permit.  For posts and an aluminum roof; the building permit would have cost more than the carport.  Not only that, but it is likely they will factor this “improvement” into your property value when computing future property taxes.

By all means, find out all the restrictions on what you can put up; violating restrictions has potential for serious annoyances if the government wants to raise a fuss (and they usually do if violations are brought to their attention).  However, if you can avoid getting a building permit, that might be a good path.  For instance, here, if the shed is less than 200 square feet, you don’t need a permit.  That means a 12′ by 16′ shed (192 square feet) can be put up without a permit being required.  Just because a permit is not required, does not mean the restrictions can be ignored; you just won’t have the public records and government monitoring.

Ways to Get a Storage Shed

The “easiest” way is to have someone build it for you.  This will not be the cheapest option, and a competent builder will likely insist on a building permit, meaning not only public records and government monitoring, but the builder and perhaps others will know all about your shed.  The incompetent builder will refuse the permit and perhaps build something which violates code, with potential for eventual legal challenges or structural problems.  For smaller sheds, you might be able to have it pre-built and delivered.  You could build it yourself, which means you have to come up with a viable design (not that hard) and get the materials, which may be a challenge.  I don’t know about your location, but the lumber here is crap; warped, twisted, split, insufficiently dried.  As my dad said when we were trying to get lumber to replace a rotted porch, “I wouldn’t use this stuff for firewood”.  The remaining option is a “kit”.  This has the advantage that the design, acquisition of materials and much of the cutting are already done for you.  A good kit will have better quality material than you may find locally and instructions which most everyone should be able to follow.

Types of Storage Sheds

There are a number of architectural shed types.  Chose what you like, and what fits your landscape and restrictions.  I’m partial to the “barn” style, because it gives you more height, and even “lofts” in some models.  Possible materials include wood, steel, aluminum and various “plastics”.  Plastic and aluminum tend to be the hallmark of cheap “department store” sheds, great for lawnmowers and garden tools, but not what you would call “durable” or “secure”, and usually limited in size.  For a substantial shed, wood or steel is usually the way to go.  I’m more comfortable working with wood, so that is the path I chose, although steel seems like it might have some advantages.

Modifications

Depending on what you will use the shed for, you may want to make modifications or additions.  For instance, wiring it for electricity may be useful.  But since there is no guarantee electricity will always be available, make sure you have the ability to plug-in a generator (via a transfer switch), or add solar or wind generation capability.  In some cases, you may want to add plumbing.  Note that no matter how much of the electrical or plumbing work you are willing and able to do yourself, you should consider getting a permit for this work and having it inspected.  Unlike the structure, which is hard to mess up (especially if professionally designed), a mistake in the design OR execution of electric or plumbing can cause fire, electrocution, leaks, odors or rot/rust.  And if not up to code, an insurance company may refuse to pay off on a claim.  Wherever practical, have the shed “completed” so it looks like you are “adding” the electrical or plumbing and follow all requirements for what must be visible to the inspector(s).  Of course, if you got the permit for the shed in the first place, follow their instructions on when in the process the various inspections should be scheduled.  If temperature control is a concern, you may want to add insulation, cooling or heating.

Flooring

This foundation (literally) of a shed is an important decision.  The common choices are concrete, or joists with flooring panels.  Concrete may be “better” and in some cases easier; pick your location, set up forms and rebar, and have it poured.  It may be more expensive, and less versatile (it is kind of hard to dig through concrete if you decide a partial “basement” would be handy), and “impossible” to move.  Joists are likely to be less expensive and more versatile, and if the ground is not even, may even be more practical.  There will be beams running the length of the building, with the joists running across the building between the beams.  Flooring panels are laid across the joists and fastened in place.  Note that the beams and joists are in contact with the ground and so are at risk for rotting and/or insects.  Thus pressure treated lumber or corrosion resistant metal is critical here.

Site preparation is highly important, since in order for the floor to be flat and level, and stay that way, the ground must be flat, level and stable.  If it is not, you may be able to compensate by having a variable thickness concrete floor, or building a foundation or partial foundation for your beams out of blocks and concrete.  A “better” floor system is to have runners the length of the building, on which the beams and joists sit.  As long as the runners are flat and level (and adequately supported), it does not matter if the ground is, plus it also allows ventilation below the shed, which can help with cooling and reduction of condensation inside.  It also puts the flooring higher, which may make entry more difficult, but on the other hand, gives more protection against minor flooding.  The runners, of course, must also be pressure treated wood, corrosion resistant metal, or even concrete and/or blocks, and a ramp can compensate for the step up.

 

John Hertig

Winter Camping and Backpacking Hacks

Winter camping and backpacking have a much steeper learning curve than three season hiking and camping because you have to carry a lot more gear and learn so many new skills. Here are some tips and tricks I’ve discovered or learned over the years that have improved the safety and comfort of my winter trips.

Dig a Pit under your Tent’s Front Vestibule

Dig a pit about 3 feet deep under the front vestibule of your winter tent so you can sit down in the front door when you take off or put on your winter boots. This also increases the amount of gear you can store under the vestibule fly.

Bring at Least Two Stoves in Case one Fails

Stoves can fail in winter. White Gas stoves can get gunked up and stop functioning if they’re not cleaned properly or use dirty fuel. Canister stoves can also fail when it gets too cold for their fuel to vaporize. You best bet is to bring multiple stoves when you go winter camping or backpacking in a group, preferably ones that share the same kind of fuel, so you have some redundancy in case a stove fails.

Wear Oven Bags Over Your Feet to Keep Your Socks Dry

If you wear gaiters for winter hiking, your socks will get wet from foot and leg sweat. This is a problem when winter camping because wet socks will freeze at night unless you sleep with them in your sleeping bag. However, you can keep your socks dry if you wear oven roasting bags under your socks. Your feet will sweat less and stay warmer and your socks will stay dry because the oven bags contain all that sweat close to your skin.

Wrap Fuel Bottles with Duct Tape to Prevent Frostbite

In cold weather, the temperature of white gas, or liquid fuel as it is also known, can dip below freezing but still remain in liquid form. If it touches your skin, it will evaporate immediately, causing frostnip or a more severe frostbite. In fact, simply touching an uninsulated fuel bottle with the bare skin of your hand in sub-zero temperatures can cause a cold injury. You can prevent this by wrapping the bottle with duct tape to insulate it.

Sleep with your Boots or Boot Liners in your Sleeping Bag at Night

If your winter boots or bootlines have become damp during the day, you need to sleep with them in your sleeping bag to keep them from freezing at night. If your boots do freeze, you may not be able to use them again until they are thawed out.

Carry your Water Bottles in Insulated Pockets

When hiking in winter, it’s best to use wide mouth bottles that you can pour boiling water into each morning. These should be stored upside down so the tops don’t freeze shut. Store the water bottles in insulated water bottle pockets on the outside of your pack or inside your pack, surrounded by insulating garments.

Wear Nitrile Exam Gloves as Glove Liners

If your hands sweat when you hike and you have to carry extra gloves or mittens, you can cut down on the number of gloves you need to pack by wearing nitrile or latex gloves as glove liners. They prevent hand sweat from being absorbed by your gloves and will keep your hands warmer too. It’s the same principle as wearning oven roasting bags over your feet to keep your socks dry.

Use Lithium Batteries instead of Alkaline Batteries in Winter

Alkaline batteries perform very poorly below freezing and in cold weather because they are made with a water-based electrolyte solution. Lithum batteries on the other hand are much more powerful than alkaline batteries and function very well in cold weather, making them ideal for headlamps and other must-have electronics.

 

BUG OUT: 60+ Preparedness Resources for Bugging Out

Bugging out can mean many things to different people; but in general, when we talk about bugging out we are talking about having to make a quick getaway during times of crisis. The reasons for having to make this getaway can be anything from manmade or natural disaster that causes you to leave your immediate area to long-term emergency situations which could make returning home dangerous or impossible.

While the reasons for bugging out are many, it’s an action that should never be taken lightly, as it could carry significant risks to your safety and security. Becuase this topic is so deadly serious, we have compiled our top bug out bag checklists and evacuation planning guides to help you formulate a plan of action.

Man with Bug Out Bag

Some Important things you need to keep in mind:

  • Bugging out without a place to go is a recipe for disaster. You need to know exactly where you’re going and exactly how you are going to get there, including alternate routes in case your plans go bad.
  • Planning to live off the land without ever having done it before is not going to work. Don’t be one of those people who thinks he’s going to be some wilderness nomad wandering the countryside.
  • Evacuating increases your risk of being attacked during an extreme crisis, such as a disaster where people may be targeting those with supplies. You need to weigh the options carefully, and always keep self-defense in mind.

Topics Covered in this Bugout Guide: The links below will jump you right to the specific section.

  • Disasters that Might Cause you to Evacuate
  • How to Develop your Bugout Plans
  • Bug Out Bags and Emergency Survival Gear
  • Bug Out Locations (BOL): Where to Head when Things Go Bad
  • Bug Out Vehicles (BOV): Your Ticket out of Dodge
  • Self-Defense Considerations when Evacuating
  • Critical Considerations and Preparedness Resources
  • Recommended Preparedness Books on Bugging Out

Disasters Scenarios that Could Call for Immediate Evacuation.

Disasters and Threats to Safety

Having a well thought out evacuation strategy is an essential part of any emergency preparedness plan; equally important is understanding what threats are out there and what types of disasters and crisis situations could cause you to put your bugout plan into place.

While everyone’s reasons for evacuating will be different, largely based on their unique needs and circumstances, the following threats are all things that you need to consider when putting together your family’s bug out plan.

  • Large-scale Cyber Attacks that Take Down the Entire Grid: The Coming Cyber Wars that could change the world as we know it.
  • Pandemic Outbreaks and Localized Disease Epidemics: Throughout history, millions upon millions of people have died as the result of pandemic outbreaks; based on how poorly this country’s emergency planners reacted during the 2015 Ebola scare, pandemics and disease outbreaks are on the top of the list of considerations.
  • EMPs, Terror Attacks, and Grid Failures: What was once considered something out of a science fiction novel is now a very real possibility — the complete shutdown of our entire electrical grid.
  • An attack on your local Water Supply: From terror attacks targeting the water supply, to industrial accidents like the recent release of millions of gallons of Toxic Materials into the Colorado River, threats to the water supply are a serious cause for concern.
  • Disasters that cause breakdowns in Food Distribution Systems.  Modern grocery stores have about a 3-day supply of food on hand at all times. Even small-scale disasters can bring food delivery systems to their knees.
  • A Large-Scale Economic Collapse: Economies around the world are crashing, countries are drowning in record amounts of debt, and governments continue to pile on new debt like there’s no tomorrow. At some point, the house of cards will come crashing down.
  • Social Unrest & Riots: The social unrest in this country has reached a boiling point, and it’s not going to take much for this chaos to spread to other areas of the country.
  • Declaration of Martial Law: From widespread social unrest, crime, and violence to a growing national debt that threatens to sink the country, the writing’s on the wall: Trouble is coming.
  • Earthquakes: From the initial damage which could make your home unlivable, to the chaos that will follow as people take advantage of an already bad situation, earthquakes top the list of disasters that could cause you to evacuate.
  • Wildfires: Wildfires are a growing threat, especially in drought ridden areas of the Southwestern United States.
  • Hurricanes & Storm Surge Flooding: For those who live in hurricane zones, this is probably one of the top threats that would cause you to at the very least temporarily leave your home.

Evacuation Planning: Developing your Bug Out Plans

Planning evacuation Routes

Now that you have considered the most likely threats that would cause you to evacuate, it’s time to start putting plans in place to deal with each of the identified threats. The only way to truly be able to survive a threat is to have a plan in place to deal with it; a crisis is not a time to start winging things.

  • Stay or Go? You need to plan for both: While having a bug out plan is important, you need to consider the pros and cons of leaving or sheltering in place.
  • How to plan a bug out route for emergency evacuation: You don’t want to start thinking about how you’re going to evacuate as you’re grabbing your go bag during a disaster. You need to have a documented plan in place that will help ensure you’re able to make it safely out of Dodge.
  • Conducting routine emergency drills & disaster training: When it comes to real-world preparedness, your ability to survive a crisis comes down to two things: Your Planning and your Training. If you don’t practice your plans, then your plans are useless.
  • Making time for preparedness related training: To really be prepared to deal with disasters, you need to bring training into your daily routine.
  • You need a Communication Plan: During a catastrophe, it’s very likely that most communication channels will go down. You need to have a plan in place to gather information and connect with your loved ones during times of crisis.
  • National Trail System Map: There are thousands of hiking trails throughout the United States, these trails are something that should be kept in mind during disasters where you may have to evacuate by foot.
  • U.S. Railroad Traffic Atlas: Railroad tracks are another possible evacuation route that you need to be aware of.

Bug Out Bags and Selecting the Right Emergency Gear

Bugout Gear

The type of gear you select can go a long way in determining the outcome of your situation. When picking any type of survival gear, make sure you do your research; once you have the gear, make sure you test, train with, and thoroughly understand how to use all of your supplies.

  • The Ultimate Guide to building the Perfect Bug out Bag: When it comes to packing your Bug out Bag, a number of things need to be considered.
  • Bugout Bags for Children: Giving your child their own backpack filled with familiar items, essential survival gear, and comfort foods can be a real life saver during an emergency.
  • What type of Bag Should you buy? Military, hiking or hunting backpacks; which one is going to hold up when you need it, and which pack is right for your unique situation?
  • How to Pack Your Backpack for Easy Carrying: Believe it or not, there is a correct way to load a bag; something most hikers find out the hard way while suffering from all sorts of uncomfortable backpack related pains out on the trail.
  • The Best Portable Solar Panel Chargers for Disasters: These small portable solar panels make a great addition to any bug out bag; when disaster strikes they can help keep devices like cell phones, small tablets, flashlights, emergency radios, ham radios, and GPS devices up and running.
  • How much water should you be carrying in your bug out bag? Water is one of the most critical resources you need to survive any situation, but just how much should you carry with you?
  • Top Survival Knives for your Bag: In a survival situation one of the most useful tools you can have is a good fixed-blade knife.
  • 7 Tools Designed for Urban Survival: Urban Survival & Wilderness Survival are two very different things. Make sure you know the difference before buying a bunch of wilderness survival gear that you may never use.
  • Build the Ultimate School Bug Out Kit for your Kids: If you have a child in public school, it’s important to prepare them for the possibility of disasters that hit while they’re at school.

Bug Out Locations (BOL): Where to Head when Things Go Bad

Bugout cabin

When things go bad, having a dedicated bug out location can help ensure your survival. Not only will you have a place to go, far from the chaos and dangers associated with urban survival, but you’ll also have a place to store backup supplies and equipment.

  • How to Find the Perfect Bugout Survival Property: Bugging out without a place to go is not a plan; find out what you should look for in a survival retreat or bug out location.
  • How to defend your bug out location: Preparing your battlespace: During a complete meltdown scenario, the ability to protect your property from attackers may be a skill that comes in very handy.
  • 10 Tips For Bugging Out to the Country: How the average farmer or homesteader feels about urban folks bugging out to the country.
  • Safety Considerations When Buying Rural Land for Bugouts: While most people think escaping the city is the safest thing to do, there are some safety considerations you need to keep in mind when purchasing rural land.
  • What If You Don’t Have A Bug Out Location? Bugging out without having a place to go is not a plan; it’s called being a refugee. That being said, I do believe in having contingency plans, and not everyone can afford a dedicated bug out location.

Bug Out Vehicles (BOV): Your Ticket out of Dodge

off-road vehicle bugging out

Having a plan is great, but you need to account for how you’re going to get out during times of crisis. From bugout vehicles to walking out when things really go bad, here are some tips for getting out of Dodge in one piece.

  • Tips to Prepare your Vehicle for Bugout Disasters: Not everyone can afford a dedicated Four-Wheel Drive BOV, but everyone can make sure their vehicle is setup for survival.
  • BOV Chronicles: Creek Stewart’s Bug Out Truck: I’m not a big fan of most survival T.V. shows, but I do like Creek Stewart and his show on the Weather Channel. When it comes to survival experts, he knows what he’s talking about and seems to genuinely care about helping other people. His Bug Out Chronicles are a great look at what it takes to transform an ordinary truck into a top notch vehicle for survival.
  • Consider building a Mobile Bugout Shelter: When things go bad, having a dedicated bug out location or survival shelter can help protect you from the chaos and dangers associated with urban living.
  • 8 Considerations when Choosing a Bug Out Vehicle: Some considerations you need to think about when selecting a bug out vehicle.
  • This is how you make a vehicle unstoppable Off-Road: Here are fourteen basic off-road vehicle attributes that can be the difference between getting stuck in the woods and making a successful escape.
  • Driving Tips For A Safe Bug Out: Not many people think about what it will take to evacuate during a major crisis; in order to survive the mayhem associated with significant civil unrest, you need to learn these basic driving tactics.
  • Building a Bugout Bike: Scott Williams’ advice on why you should consider building an evacuation bike.

Self Defense Considerations when Evacuating

Self-Defense Training

There is one thing you can almost count on during times of crisis: There are going to be people looking to take advantage of the situation. Self-defense is something that you need to take seriously, and it needs to be part of any good survival plan.

  • Should you buy a firearm? The Pros & Cons of Gun Ownership: Firearms in the hands of a law-abiding citizen can save lives, and the numbers show it. During a collapse type scenario, the ability to defend yourself is going to be a top concern.
  • Bugout Guns: When disaster strikes, you may have all the supplies you need, but without proper firearms in your bugout bag, some thug could easily take all your gear.
  • Preparing for Riots: When disaster strikes, there is a pretty good chance you may see widespread looting and rioting; make sure you know how to deal with these types of events.
  • 5 Handguns for Bugging Out: If you have room for only one handgun and some ammo. What do you take?
  • Defending yourself from multiple attackers: I hate to break it to you; carrying a firearm does not guarantee your safety, and carrying a firearm without training is a recipe for disaster. You need to study the art of self-defense thoroughly and know how to defend yourself without a firearm.

Important Bugout Considerations and Preparedness Resources:

Images of Natural Disasters

The key to survival is knowledge; without it, you don’t stand a chance. Here are some other important factors that you should keep in mind when considering your evacuation plans.

  • You must plan for breakdowns in Infrastructure: Our nation’s highways have become so congested that from a preparedness perspective, they have left us completely vulnerable to both natural and man-made disasters.
  • Stay Away from Large Cities: No matter what disaster hits, facing it in a large city is going to be a whole lot harder than facing it in a rural area.
  • List of Emergency Communication Frequencies, Channels, and Networks: A detailed list of communication devices and emergency frequencies to monitor during a disaster.
  • Always carry an EDC with you at all times: Since most accidents happen when you least expect them, carrying an everyday carry kit is a good way to make sure you always have basic supplies on hand should disaster strike when your away from your primary gear.
  • How Much Money Do You Have in Your Bugout Bag? Having cash on hand is an important part of being able to Bugout. From paying for last minute supplies to being able to bribe your way out of sticky situations, there are a number of reasons to consider carrying cash in your emergency bags.
  • How Far can You Walk in a Day When Bugging Out? This is an issue that you must take into account, especially if you’re out of shape.
  • 7 Tips for Long-Term Survival After You Bug: You’ve bugged out; now what? Any good plan should account for long-term disasters and what you would do when the dust starts to settle.
  • 32 Resources & Preparedness Skills that Everyone Should Know: Skills that were once part of our everyday lives, ones that helped our ancestors thrive, have been largely forgotten; these skills can help you survive during a long-term crisis.
  • 27 Essential Preparedness Tips, Skills and Resources: The knowledge you need to survive in the face of danger.

Beyond the Bugout

When some people talk about bugging out, they’re speaking of much more than just planning for disasters. Some are looking for a way to drop off the grid and leave the trappings of modern-day society.

  • How to Disappear Completely and Start a New Life: Somewhere along the line, you may find yourself looking for a way to escape. In today’s modern world, the ability to completely drop off the grid is something that is getting harder and harder by the day; but there are some things you can do if you want to disappear and live off the radar.
  • Getting Out of Babylon: A lot of people believe a major collapse is coming; if that’s the case, one way to protect yourself may be completely dropping out of the system that’s responsible for this mess.
  • The Partial Bugout; Going Off the Grid: A real-life example of how one family successfully made the transition into off-grid living.

Recommended Books on Bugging Out:

Survival Books

  • The Ultimate Situational Survival Guide: Self-Reliance Strategies for a Dangerous World: Robert Richardson, founder of offgridsurvival.com, gives you real-world advice on how to survive the very real dangers present in today’s society. The book covers everything from natural disasters, man-made disasters and disease outbreaks, to essential tactics and step-by-step instructions for surviving urban disasters, crime, social unrest, and criminal/terrorist attacks.
  • Strategic Relocation: North American Guide to Safe Places: Author Joel M. Skousen gives you great advice on selecting bugout locations and long-term survival properties. The book examines in detail, various regions in the United States where you may be thinking of buying a home or bugging out to when things go bad.
  • Build the Perfect Bug Out Vehicle: The Disaster Survival Vehicle Guide: Creek Stewart, Survival Expert and Host of the T.V. Show Fat Guys in the Woods, details from start to finish everything you need to equip an everyday vehicle for a drive through and away from disaster-stricken areas—from survival supplies and storage solutions to off-road travel, communication, navigation, and security considerations.
  • Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late: Author Scott B. Williams’ book is an excellent resource for Bugout planning. The book looks at evacuation strategies and details the best escape locations in the U.S.
  • Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants: Knowing what you can and can’t eat during a long-term survival situation is something a lot of people overlook; Peterson’s Field Guide to Edible Wild Plants gives you details on what plants you can eat, and which ones you should avoid during an emergency.

Doctors Explain How Hiking Actually Changes Our Brains

hiiking

While it may seem obvious that a good hike through a forest or up a mountain can cleanse your mind, body, and soul, science is now discovering that hiking can actually change your brain… for the better!

Hiking In Nature Can Stop Negative, Obsessive Thoughts

Aside from the almost instant feeling of calm and contentment that accompanies time outdoors, hiking in nature can reduce rumination. Many of us often find ourselves consumed by negative thoughts, which takes us out of the enjoyment of the moment at best and leads us down a path to depression and anxiety at worst. But a recent study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that spending time in nature decreases these obsessive, negative thoughts by a significant margin.

To conduct this study, researchers compared the reported rumination of participants who hiked through either an urban or a natural environment. They found those who walked for 90 minutes in a natural environment reported lower levels of rumination and they also had reduced neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain related to mental illness. Those who walked through the urban environment, however, did not report decreased rumination.

The researchers noted that increased urbanization closely correlates with increased instances of depression and other mental illness. Taking the time to regularly remove ourselves from urban settings and spend more time in nature can greatly benefit our psychological (and physical) well-being.

Hiking While Disconnected From Technology Boosts Creative Problem Solving

A study conducted by psychologists Ruth Ann Atchley and David L. Strayer found that creative problem solving can be drastically improved by both disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with nature. Participants in this study went backpacking through nature for about 4 days, during which time they were not allowed to use any technology whatsoever. They were asked to perform tasks which required creative thinking and complex problem solving, and researchers found that performance on problem solving tasks improved by 50% for those who took part in this tech-free hiking excursion.

The researchers of this study noted that both technology and urban noise are incredibly disruptive, constantly demanding our attention and preventing us from focusing, all of which can be taxing to our cognitive functions. A nice long hike, sans technology, can reduce mental fatigue, soothe the mind, and boost creative thinking.

Hiking Outdoors Can Improve ADHD In Children

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is becoming more and more common among children. Children who have ADHD have a difficult time with impulse control and staying focused, they get distracted easily, and exhibit excessive hyperactivity.

Hiking In Nature Is Great Exercise And Therefore Boosts Brainpower

We already know that exercising is fantastic for our overall well-being. Hiking is an excellent way to burn between 400 – 700 calories per hour, depending on your size and the hike difficulty, and it is easier on the joints than other activities like running. It has also been proven that people who exercise outside are more likely to keep at it and stick to their programs, making hiking an excellent choice for those wishing to become more active on a regular basis.

Researchers from the University of British Columbia found that aerobic exercise increases hippocampal volume — the part of the brain associated with spatial and episodic memory — in women over the age of 70. Such exercise not only improves memory loss, but helps prevent it as well. Researchers also found that it can also reduce stress and anxiety, boost self esteem, and release endorphins. Many people take medication to solve each and every one of these issues, but the solution to these ills may be a lot simpler than you think!

How Can You Begin To Start Hiking?

Luckily, hiking is one of the easiest and least expensive sports to get involved in, and it can have great benefits for the whole family, including grandma! Start out small and test your abilities. Do what works for you — if that means just walking through trails in a park, that’s fine. Any exercise outdoors is better than none. You can easily find maps of trails around your home online, and there are plenty of smartphone apps to map them out, too. I recommend turning off your signal and your phone while hiking though, so you can reap the most benefits of the hike (though it may be wise to at least carry it with you in case of emergency).

Make sure you have some good sturdy hiking shoes, a hat, and a water bottle, and be sure to layer your clothing so you can take things on or off easily as you warm up and cool down. You may want to consider using trekking poles as well, which can increase your speed and take some of the pressure off your knees. Now, can you just do one thing for me?

Go take a hike!

Linked from: http://www.cosmicscientist.com/doctors-explain-how-hiking-actually-changes-our-brains/

Frostbite and Hypotermia Be Prepare

With extreme winter weather chilling much of the country, take a few extra steps to avoid frostbite and hypothermia.  Whether participating in outdoor winter activities or traveling, it is important to be prepared and know what to do should something go wrong.
  “A little extra thought can make the difference between a safe, enjoyable experience or severe discomfort that may result in injury.”
frostbitehypothermia
Prevent frostbite and hypothermia
  • Wear a hat and clothing made of tightly woven fibers, such as wool, which trap warm air against your body. A few lighter layers protect better than one heavy garment.
  • Protect vulnerable areas such as fingers, toes, ears and nose.
  • Drink plenty of warm fluids to help the body maintain its temperature.
  • If hot drinks are not available, drink plenty of plain water. Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms and will actually cause the body´s core temperature to drop.
  • Take frequent breaks from the cold to let your body warm up.
Signs & symptoms of frostbite
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Pain and swelling

As the condition worsens…

  • Total loss of sensation
  • Pale waxy skin will become dark bluish
  • In severe cases, the skin will look burnt and charred.
Do you know what to do for frostbite?
  • Cover the affected area.
  • Never rub the skin as this may cause further damage.
  • Warm the area gently by immersing the affected part in water that is warm and comfortable to the touch.  Continue until affected area is warm and looks red.
  • Bandage the affected area with a dry sterile dressing.
  • Ensure that the affected part does not become frozen again.
  • Get the person to a doctor as soon as possible.
Signs & symptoms of hypothermia
  • Feeling cold
  • Shivering (which will stop as the condition worsens)
  • Slurred speech
  • Pale skin, bluish lips
  • Slow pulse
  • Lethargic
  • Mood swings
  • Unable to think clearly
  • Unconsciousness
What should you do for hypothermia?
  • Remove wet or cold clothing and replace with warm dry clothing.
  • Keep the person warm by wrapping him or her in blankets and moving them to a warm place.  Remember to be very gentle in handling the person.
  • Never rub the surface of the person´s body, this could cause further damage if they are also suffering from frostbite.
  • If the person is dry use hot water bottles or heating pads to warm them.  Make sure there is a blanket, clothing or towel between the heat source and the person´s skin.
  • If the person is awake, give warm liquids to drink. Avoid alcohol and caffeine as they can hinder the body´s heat-producing mechanisms.

Cold Weather – Basic Survival Tips

army

It is more difficult for you to satisfy your basic water, food, and shelter needs in a cold environment than in a warm environment. Even if you have the basic requirements, you must also have adequate protective clothing and the will to survive. The will to survive is as important as the basic needs. There have been incidents when trained and well-equipped individuals have not survived cold weather situations because they lacked the will to live. Conversely, this will has sustained individuals less well-trained and equipped.

There are many different items of cold weather equipment and clothing issued by the US Army today. Specialized units may have access to newer, lightweight gear such as polypropylene underwear, GORE-TEX outerwear and boots, and other special equipment. Remember, however, the older gear will keep you warm as long as you apply a few cold weather principles. If the newer types of clothing are available, use them. If not, then your clothing should be entirely wool, with the possible exception of a windbreaker. You must not only have enough clothing to protect you from the cold, you must also know how to maximize the warmth you get from it. For example, always keep your head covered. You can lose 40 to 45 percent of body heat from an unprotected head and even more from the unprotected neck, wrist, and ankles. These areas of the body are good radiators of heat and have very little insulating fat. The brain is very susceptible to cold and can stand the least amount of cooling. Because there is much blood circulation in the head, most of which is on the surface, you can lose heat quickly if you do not cover your head.

There are four basic principles to follow to keep warm. An easy way to remember these basic principles is to use the word COLD–

C – Keep clothing clean.
O – Avoid overheating.
L – Wear clothes loose and in layers.
D – Keep clothing dry.

C – Keep clothing clean. This principle is always important for sanitation and comfort. In winter, it is also important from the standpoint of warmth. Clothes matted with dirt and grease lose much of their insulation value. Heat can escape more easily from the body through the clothing’s crushed or filled up air pockets.

O – Avoid overheating. When you get too hot, you sweat and your clothing absorbs the moisture. This affects your warmth in two ways: dampness decreases the insulation quality of clothing, and as sweat evaporates, your body cools. Adjust your clothing so that you do not sweat. Do this by partially opening your parka or jacket, by removing an inner layer of clothing, by removing heavy outer mittens, or by throwing back your parka hood or changing to lighter headgear. The head and hands act as efficient heat dissipates when overheated.

L – Wear your clothing loose and in layers. Wearing tight clothing and footgear restricts blood circulation and invites cold injury. It also decreases the volume of air trapped between the layers, reducing its insulating value. Several layers of lightweight clothing are better than one equally thick layer of clothing, because the layers have dead-air space between them. The dead-air space provides extra insulation. Also, layers of clothing allow you to take off or add clothing layers to prevent excessive sweating or to increase warmth.

D – Keep clothing dry. In cold temperatures, your inner layers of clothing can become wet from sweat and your outer layer, if not water repellent, can become wet from snow and frost melted by body heat. Wear water repellent outer clothing, if available. It will shed most of the water collected from melting snow and frost. Before entering a heated shelter, brush off the snow and frost. Despite the precautions you take, there will be times when you cannot keep from getting wet. At such times, drying your clothing may become a major problem. On the march, hang your damp mittens and socks on your rucksack. Sometimes in freezing temperatures, the wind and sun will dry this clothing. You can also place damp socks or mittens, unfolded, near your body so that your body heat can dry them. In a campsite, hang damp clothing inside the shelter near the top, using drying lines or improvised racks. You may even be able to dry each item by holding it before an open fire. Dry leather items slowly. If no other means are available for drying your boots, put them between your sleeping bag shell and liner. Your body
heat will help to dry the leather.

A heavy, down-lined sleeping bag is a valuable piece of survival gear in cold weather. Ensure the down remains dry. If wet, it loses a lot of its insulation value. If you do not have a sleeping bag, you can make one out of parachute cloth or similar material and natural dry material, such as leaves, pine needles, or moss. Place the dry material between two layers of the material.

Other important survival items are a knife; waterproof matches in a waterproof container, preferably one with a flint attached; a durable compass; map; watch; waterproof ground cloth and cover; flashlight; binoculars; dark glasses; fatty emergency foods; food gathering gear; and signaling items.

Remember, a cold weather environment can be very harsh. Give a good deal of thought to selecting the right equipment for survival in the cold. If unsure of an item you have never used, test it in an “overnight backyard” environment before venturing further. Once you have selected items that are essential for your survival, do not lose them after you enter a cold weather environment.

Sourced from http://army.com

A Simple Hatchet can Save your Life

swiss-reserve-hatchet

The hatchet is a small axe that is one heck of a survival tool, and it lends itself to numerous applications that help you not die. Let’s go over some of the way it can be helpful in a survival situation.

Fire Starter

You should have at least two to three different ways to start a fire, like waterproof matches, magnesium fire starter, and a lighter.  A hatchet is another very helpful item to have when needing to start a fire. It not only makes it much easier to cut large pieces of wood, but also functions as a striking tool to create sparks. Use as a striker only in an emergency situation to avoid premature dulling.

Defense

Finding yourself face to face with a large predator in the wild such as a cougar or bear is never ideal, and there’s no running away, as it sends a clear message that you’re food rather than a potential threat. Granted, you’d probably rather have a gun or an airbow to keep the predators at longer distances, but if things become too close, you can count on your hatchet. The hatchet works best when used in a hacking motion to maintain your defense.

Ice Cutter

Cutting ice and hard snow for water is much easier when you have a hatchet, as is digging out a snow shelter.  Ice cutting will come in handy if you need to dig a hole to protect a small fire from the wind.

Splint Assistance

Should you need to create a splint, a hatchet again comes in super handy. It makes it easy to cut and fashion a splint, whether for you or an injured party member.

Light Reflector

The metal section of a hatchet works as a light reflector, which sure is helpful if you’re alone in the wilderness and need to be rescued!

Hammer

The hatchet’s back end works as a very nice hammer.

Some would argue that you only need a fixed blade knife in your pack, while others would argue that the hatchet is the more important of the two. The reality is that you should have both. If you don’t have a hatchet in your survival bag, consider purchasing one. Chances are that you’ll be very glad you have it down the road.

Camping and Don’t have Soap…..Try Wood Ashes

wood-ash-uses

Have you ever found yourself in the wilderness or camping and realized you were without soap, don’t panic. It’s still entirely possible to clean your gear with…wait for it…wood ash. Wood ash actually makes a fantastic alternative when suds aren’t available or you decided to skip bringing bars of the stuff entirely to make room for other things. Wood ashes have been used as a source of lye in soap making for years upon years.

Here are a few tips for making the most of your wood ashes:

Hardwoods Vs. Softwoods

When choosing between hardwood and softwood, go for hardwood tree ash over their softwood counterparts, as hardwood trees are better for making soap.

No Residue

First and foremost, it’s essential that your wood ash be free from assorted residues. These include food, plastic, or any other trash, as they could easily make the ashes toxic. Use pure wood ash instead, which may require building a new fire at a different location and letting it burn uninterrupted until you can extract the ashes without issue.

Super-Greasy Pots

Use the greasiest pot you have to make your ash-tastic soap. Add a little olive oil or fat to ease the soap-making process, then add a few cups of ashes. If some of your ashes contain charcoal, fear not, as it will only aid the scouring process.

Hot Water

Add hot water to your concoction–enough to make a nice paste. This results in potassium salts, which will mix with the fat or oil to create your soap. It may not be the prettiest soap ever, but darn if it won’t clean the heck out of your pots and pans.

Let the mixture to cool before slathering your pots with it, and allow the soap to stand for a few minutes before scrubbing. Rinse pots with water to complete the process.

Wilderness and Emergency Survival Shelters

Shelter is one of the top priorities necessities in the wilderness, emergencies and survival situation. Knowing which shelter would be best for you depends on the situation or location you are in.

What you need to do is first ask yourself how quickly you need to build a shelter, and how long you plan on being in the local vicinity. In a true survival situation you will probably need to build a shelter rather quickly and preferably before night falls. Here is a few different types of shelters you can build, also you can pick up The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook which is A Step-by-Step Guide to Building Life-saving Structures for Every Climate and Wilderness Situation.

Squirrel Nest

The Squirrel Nest shelter is one of the most simplest of all woodland shelters. They are the quickest to put together since they are just a pile of leaves.

This type of shelter can be surprisingly warm and even effective at keeping you dry.

Mound up a huge dry pile of leaves and dig yourself a trough in the middle, lie down, and then pull the leaves over you.

Two or more feet of leaves on top will resist moderate rain for hours, but it’s necessary to lie very still to keep them in place.

To increase the stability of a squirrel nest shelter make the shelter between two fallen logs. This will prevent leaves from spreading out on the forest floor.

Debris Hut

The Debris Hut shelter provides a quick sleeping shelter for one to two people. However it is not possible to do anything else in it  such as cooking, working, etc.

To make a Debris Hut shelter cut a strong, straight branch at least 10′ (3m) long for the ridgepole. One end goes on the ground while the other is supported by a pair of sturdy sticks set into the ground and crossed and tied (using vine, paracord or even shoelace) near the top.

If you can find a naturally occurring support for the open end, such as a low tree limb, by all means use it! Lash the ridgepole to the support with cordage.

Cut a bunch of sticks at leave 1″ in diameter, and place them diagonally against both sides of the ridgepole, spacing them about 2″ apart. It is not necessary to tie them in place.

Now lay down inside and make sure it covers your entire body, with enough height for toes and at least 3″ extra width on  each side of your shoulders.

If you have a tarp or poncho place it over the ridgepole and secure the points of the tarp/poncho to the ground.

If you do not have a tarp or poncho, or would like more insulation then begin piling leaves over the sticks (or poncho)  and don’t stop until the pile is ridiculously high. The leaves will settle quickly, and the thicker the covering remains, the better it will protect you from rain and heat loss.

Lay more sticks or leafy branches over the leaves to hold them in place. Branches with pine needles are the best.

Now, if you haven’t followed the tip we have below, stuff the inside of the hut with leaves for insulation. Leave a good pile of leaves at the door. After you wiggle your way in feet-first for the night, pull the loose pile of leaves in after you to close the entrance and prevent heat loss around your head.

Tip: Build the debris hut over a huge pile of leaves to avoid having to stuff it later.

Shade Shelter

The Shade Shelter is primarily for those in desert environments but can also be adapted for colder weather locations as well.

This type of shelter is ideal for hot and arid climates where travelers or survivors need to be aware of the heat and sun which can lead to deadly heat stroke.

In winter environments travelers or survivors may need to protect themselves against sunburn or snow blindness.

If rain protection is not an objective then even a bare pile of sticks will suffice for a shade shelter that resembles a partial teepee.

Cut three long poles and last them not too tightly at least 1″ down from one end. Stand the assembly upright, then spread the legs into a tripod.

Take more long poles and align them between two of the poles, resting their tops in the crotch of the main poles at the top.

For protection from the sun from two directions, fill in two sides of the pyramid.

If long sticks are difficult to come by, last a couple of shorter sticks horizontally between two main uprights. You can then pile shorter sticks or even sagebrush against them.

For sun protection fro, dawn to dusk, use four poles for the main structure and cover three sides, leaving the open side facing north in the northern hemisphere, south in the southern.

Wind Block

While building a shelter to block just the wind seems like an awful lot of energy for a shelter tha

Lean-To

One of the most popular and well-known wilderness and survival emergency shelters is the Lean-To shelter.

Lean-tos are a class of shelter with a common configuration but no set structure.

They all consist of a flat slanted roof and, usually, two or more stout poles that serve as rafters.

Covering Your Lean-To

If you have a tarp or poncho use it! If not the below methods are great secondary coverings.

Large slabs of bark can be pulled off of down, rotten trees, and these make excellent roofing material.

Lay a curse across the bottom, then work your way up, overlapping each course like shingling a house.

Pile several feet of leaves over closely spaced roof poles and hold them in place with light branches, as for a debris hut.

The roof must be pitched steeply, at least 45 degree angle, if thatching is to be used.

Tip: For greater protection, sides can be added to a lean-to using the same methods. Ultimately, you can even enclose part or all of the front as well for a structure that will conserve heat as well as provide rain and wind protection.

In conclusion, there are various of types of shelters that we haven’t even covered. We will be doing a few more Shelter 101 write-ups that will include other types of shelters. Many of the above are excellent shelters for wilderness environments and for when you are in an emergency survival situation.

Excerpt from: The Complete Survival Shelters Handbook By Anthonio Akkermans

ANTI-HISTAMINE MEDICATION: A MUST MUST MUST-HAVE ITEM

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Not having at least one box of anti-histamines in the house at all times is a huge mistake. Not having a large supply in store for emergency use is a massively huge mistake.

First the science:

Histamine is present in most cells, it’s biologically active and is released in response to a foreign pathogen that irritates the body causing it to be released. It isn’t just released by irritants. Infection, physical damage and allergies all cause the substance to move from our cells and course around our body. A great deal goes on within the body before the hives that we associate with an allergy appear, and more still goes on before tissues start to swell and distort, a sign that an alleged is severely affecting the victim. You can find a full description of the sequence of events here.

Anti-histamines can relieve many of the symptoms associated with allergies. They can’t cure them but they can and do make life more comfortable for millions of people everyday.

Sensitivities to drugs, stings and foods are rarely life-threatening in the first instance unless the reaction is overwhelming tor the person is extremely sensitive to the substance in question. A good example is multiple bee or wasp stings that cause such a massive reaction that tissues swell and anaphylaxis occurs.

Usually anaphylaxis occurs after one or more previous exposures to the allergen, each reaction is worse than the previous one until the point is reached where exposure to the allergen causes a massive histamine release and anaphylaxis occurs within minutes of the exposure.

Antihistamines can slow down a reaction to an allergen, it buys you a little time in cases of severe allergies, time to call an ambulance or get to a hospital where airway and respiratory management is available.

An Epipen containing adrenalin should be high on your priority list if you can get one…here in the UK that’s impossible to do unless you are already known to be likely to suffer from, or have previously suffered from anaphylaxis.

So what happens though in times when help isn’t coming? In any kind of societal collapse hospitals may not be functioning in any normal sense of the word, what would you do then?

Airway management requires specialist equipment that is usually only available to those in the medical profession who are allowed to procure things such as endotracheal tubes and nano-pharyngeal tubes, then there’s the laryngoscope that you would need to visualise the larynx in order to site the tube. On top of this you need to have enough knowledge of anatomy to site the tube correctly so that oxygen actually ends up in the lung not the stomach. In a case of anaphylaxis shock where tissues are swelling and distorting it’s highly unlikely someone who doesn’t place tubes on a very regular basis would be able to do it. It’s at least a weekly occurrence to have a patient with a difficult airway that tries the patience of the most experienced airway management technician and even qualified anaesthetists that conduct laryngoscopy on a multi-times daily basis get the odd case they will struggle with.

In a collapse situation it’s safe to say that intubation isn’t an option for 99.99% of the population outside of the hospital environment.

This is why you need a huge stock of antihistamine medication.

If someone presents with anaphalaxis and their airways are swelling and closing they are in dire straights. Other internal changes are taking place and the situation will worsen very quickly, in short, unless something is done they will most likely die. ANYTHING you can do to possibly save them is on the table and giving them a large dose (two-three tablets) of antihistamine medication whilst they can still swallow is possibly the only hope they have.

Antihistamines can cause problems taken in large doses or if taken long-term as a preventative measure. The incidence of problems however is low and a life-threatening emergency has to be the priority.

At the FIRST sign of severe allergy get those drugs in, crush them up in a small amount of water and get it into them, they will get into the victims system faster if they don’t have to dissolve first so crushing them into powder makes them more easily soluble.

Ignore the one a day rule: Any numbness of the nose and mouth, swelling of the nose, lips and eyelids says it’s severe and if you know you cannot get to medical help within minutes give at least two crushed antihistamine tablets immediately.

In the short term you are not causing any damage to your patient. Enough of the drug needs to be given to start to counteract the effects of the allergen…and we have no idea how much that is because we can’t see what’s going on inside the patient.

Yes, if you have medical knowledge and the outside of a ball-point pen you can do a tracheostomy on the kitchen table but most people would be unable to cut a hole in their loved ones throat!

If you decide to take that option please make sure they have taken their last breath first – that way you won’y bear the unbearable responsibility of feeling you have killed them if it doesn’t work.

The human brain can go a full minute without oxygen before the effects start to become apparent.

Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction include:

  • generalised flushing of the skin
  • nettle rash (hives) anywhere on the body
  • sense of impending doom
  • swelling of throat and mouth
  • difficulty in swallowing or speaking
  • alterations in heart rate
  • severe asthma
  • abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting
  • sudden feeling of weakness (drop in blood pressure)
  • collapse and unconsciousness

Note that not all of these things will be present in every person suffering from a severe allergy.

On a less dramatic note having a large supply of antihistamines available can make life more bearable generally by easing itching and congestion in a variety of conditions from hay fever to mosquito bites.

Try and have some of the “may cause drowsiness” for the little ones, an itchy miserable child won’t sleep well and this has a knock on effect for the entire family. Getting them to drift off is no easy task when they are fractious. Most antihistamine medications are safe for youngsters and sleep provides relief for them primarily but also respite for everyone else.

Linked from: http://undergroundmedic.com/2016/11/anti-histamine-medication-a-must-must-must-have-item/

Homemade Dehydrated Chicken Strips – Shelf Life Report

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Two years ago I happened to make a particular batch of dehydrated chicken strips. The other day while defrosting one of the chest freezers we discovered a jar from this particular batch. Being two years old, I thought it would be helpful to be the ‘guinea pig’ and sample it, and report whether or not I survived…

Here’s my ‘shelf life’ report,
and the original article how I made these dehydrated chicken strips:

 

Here’s a picture of the newly discovered ‘canning jar’ of chicken strips:

dehydrated-chicken-shelf-life

We often store our various home dehydrated foods in canning jars and then vacuum seal them with this jar sealer tool. I’m sure that being vacuum sealed greatly enhances the shelf life…

In addition, since it is meat, and since we had room in the freezer – we kept it there.

Note: Obviously the freezer was key here. With that said, I was still curious after 2 years in the freezer which is generally not recommended for meat (lots of variability with that statement though).
The reason that we dehydrate chicken strips is actually for the dog – who loves to eat these as treats. He’s not spoiled or anything… 😉

dachshund-chicken-treats

 

Dehydrated Chicken Strips Shelf Life Report

I am happy to report that not only did I not keel over and that Mrs.J did not have to dial 911, the chicken strips were still damn good! The dog was eying me as I tried one, and he let me know that I better stop at ‘just one’… the rest are for him 😉
The Original Article:

How I Made Dehydrated Chicken Strips

It’s better to use chicken breast rather than dark meat because the dark meat has more fat in it and will spoil more quickly than the breast meat.

I used chicken breast that was still ‘on the bone’ (because it was on sale) and then simply sliced the meat off the bone with a sharp knife. Having a very sharp knife is important!
The next step is to trim away all skin and fat from the meat because the fat will go rancid if you leave it on. As you can see in the picture, I simply used a cutting board, a sharp knife, and kept a bowl nearby to throw in the fatty pieces of meat.

I discarded the skin but saved the fatty pieces of trimmed chicken to cook them separately for immediate consumption 😉 – less waste that way…

how-to-make-dehydrated-chicken-strips
I sliced the meat into strips about 1/4-inch thick. If you cut with the grain, the result will be a slightly more chewy meat. If you cut across the grain, the dehydrated result will snap easier into small pieces. It depends what you want…

Tip: If you partially freeze the chicken, it is easier to cut consistent width strips.
I then placed the chicken strips on my dehydrator trays and then set the dehydrator temperature to it’s max setting of 155-degrees F.

My Dehydrator: Excalibur.

chicken-strips-on-dehydrator-tray
Dehydrate the chicken strips until they at least reach a leathery consistency. Personally I like to dry them longer until they’re very crisp. This way they’re drier and they will last longer.

The dehydrate time will vary anywhere from 6 to 16 hours depending on your environmental conditions, how thick the chicken strips are, and how dry that you want them. Plan on starting this process in the morning so that you won’t run out of time during the process before having to call it a night and go to bed…

dehydrate-chicken

After the chicken strips have finished dehydrating, I broke them up into smaller pieces to keep them in canning jars sealed with a vacuum sealer ‘jar sealer’ attachment.

I also keep the jars in the fridge for an even longer shelf life. Home dehydrated chicken strips should last at least 1 to 2 months stored at room temperature (depending on storage conditions and environment), and much longer if refrigerated or frozen. The thing is, I can never test the actual shelf life because these things disappear sooner rather than later…

Linked from: http://modernsurvivalblog.com/survival-kitchen/dehydrate-chicken-strips/

Sleep and survival – smart prepper’s guide to choosing the best portable bed

Today, let’s talk essentials, but with a twist. We’ll talk about sleep and the choice of a best portable bed (air mattress or a sleeping pad) should you ever need one.The word, essentials has been used and rehashed in the preparedness community that the very meaning in vague for most people, so let us take a step back and ask ourselves, “What are the basic human needs?”

Water. Food. Sleep.

Right?

And while the topics of the clean water and water filtration systems and food, energy bars, our minimum needs are a subject of every 4th or 5th article that pops up in the community, try and think back to the last time you read an actionable article about sleep.

Chances are – you can’t…sleep is the one most commonly misunderstood basic human needs. The misconceptions about it have transferred from our everyday lives to the way we think about preparedness.

It all started the very first time we thought to ourselves, “I have to finish these reports but I’ll make up for the lost sleep at the weekend.”

Importance of sleep

The making up for the lost sleep at the weekend thing – IT’S A MYTH AND IT DOESN’T WORK. It’s been proven in studies for some time now that only one night of lost (or bad) sleep interferes with how our body functions.

And while those reports being late might not be such a big deal – what if you vigilance and responsiveness are affected when the time comes to defend what you love the most?

So, with that said, let us move on to the meat of this guide – proper planning of our sleeping arrangements or, to be more precise, choosing the best air mattresses for our shelters and sleeping pads for our BOBs.

Choosing an air mattress for our shelters

Whether you have an off-the-grid shelter or disaster strikes at home, the importance of owning a versatile secondary bed (s) cannot be over-stressed. There are a number of scenarios that will put them to good use.

Bear in mind that the kind of air mattresses we’re talking about here are only really an option for your shelter or as a backup bed to have in your home, not for your backpack. They are way too bulky and heavy.

Still, to get the most out of it, you have to know what you’re doing when choosing – so let’s make sure that you do.

Today, we’ll be talking about the INs and OUTs of choosing a good air mattress.

Materials of top airbeds

Most of airbeds are made of PVC, with some plasticizers added to increase durability and comfort – we want only the most durable and reliable air mattresses for our shelters.

There are thousands of them out there and it can be confusing, so let us cut through the clutter and get very specific about what to looks for.

Increased durability and low puncture resistance

Look for thicker PVC for increased durability. Go for anything close to 0.6 mm thick. Most of the airbeds will feature PVC that’s around 0.4 mm thick, there are only a handful that are extra thick…and don’t worry about not finding the information, those companies that make the extra-durable blow-up mattresses go out of their way to stress in the fact sheet.

Always take a special note of the weight of these babies because 50% added thickness will usually mean 50% added weight, so think about how that applies to your plans. It’s a good fit if it’s standing on the shelf in your shelter, but it’s not an option if you plan to bug out with your essentials in your backpack.

Safety and fumes

If you’ve ever owned an airbed, you know the issue of the rubbery smell lingering for days. It doesn’t feel great and there’s always that underlying feeling that it can’t be healthy.

In reality, safety concerns of an airbed are a thing of the past and the chemicals used in the manufacturing are a thing of the past. In fact, a study of off-gassing (fumes) as reported by users has shown that, in the long run, the issues of fumes and smells with airbeds is lower than any other type of mattresses (see graph below).

air mattress and fumes

Make sure that you inflate/deflate the air mattress a couple of times and leaving it out of that bag for a day or two before storing it on that shelf.

This will allow you to notice any flaws with the product as well as air it out and get rid of the plasticky smell.

If you still have concerns, you can always go with an air mattress that’s completely PVC-free and entirely textile-made. These are even more durable and less prone to punctures but there aren’t many of them and it might be a challenge to find one that would suit our other needs (like power-independent pump).

Power sources and the pump

Power outages are one of the first things that our minds go to when we think about calamity and it should, chances are high they’ll happen.

So the last thing that we want is to be stuck with a piece of plastic in a bag that requires electricity to be inflated, so…

Choose an air mattress that can be battery and manually-operated…

We are looking at an air mattress here with our prepper glasses on and the ones that you would do choose as a guest bed for when you have friends over will not do the trick.

We want a product that’s self-sufficient and that will serve its purpose even if the power is out. This spells battery or manually operated (preferably both).

Air Mattress Manual Pump

Lucky for us, there are airbeds out there that are designed for prolonged camping trips and these beds check all the boxes of our needs, too.

Making sure it fits the bill:

  1. Inflate/deflate the bed using the batteries or the manually/leg pump (usually comes separate)
  2. Make sure that the nozzles that come with the pump fit and can be used with your new air mattress
  3. Again, leave it out and inflate/deflate it a couple of times before storing to make sure it all works properly

Comfortable air mattress – what to look for

You might think that being comfortable is only secondary in a survival situation but let’s go a step back and remind ourselves of the importance of PROPER sleep.

Proper sleep doesn’t mean just getting the few hours – it means getting enough of all the sleep phases. That’s where the comfort comes in.

It might not be a big deal for a night or two, but should you find yourself sleeping on your secondary bed for months, it becomes increasingly important, so let’s take a moment and discuss what comfort means when it comes to air mattresses.

Chambers, weight distribution and comfort

When it comes to comfort, it all comes down to how well your weight is distributed across the sleeping surface – and chambered designed a much better job at that than any other internal structure.

Cchambered Design of an Airbed

Most of the time, the choice will come down to beams (air columns that run side to side) and the mentioned chambers.

Chambers pretty much act as a spring in a regular mattress, making the bed more comfortable and reducing the stress the seams suffer, making the bed most durable.

Go for 30+ chambers.

Thinking size and height

Air mattresses come in all the same sizes as your regular mattress and the size issue is pretty self-explanatory and comes down to what your space can accommodate but, thinking from a prepper’s perspective, twin size is the sweet spot.

Here’s why…

Twin size airbed comfortably sleeps two people. If you go a size up to a full, queen or king size and you still have a bed that can still only comfortably sleep two people but takes much more space.

You can also pick between a low rise and high-rise air mattress.

To sum it up – specifics of your scenario might change but generally, if you are looking for an air mattress for your shelter, a twin-sized chambered designed air mattress made of extra-durable PVC will cover most scenarios.

Thinking quality

An airbed is not something you can save a lot on and even if it was, you shouldn’t.

I guess you could say that about every item in your preparedness plan but it goes double for an air mattress since it is much more fragile and the difference between a high and low-quality airbed and a high and low-quality flashlight will be much more noticeable.

So, for your shelter, stick with the best brands and products that have stood the test of time.

How can you tell?

Look for low long the air mattress has been around

If you have set your eyes on a particular model, take your time researching it, looking it up on e-commerce sites and see how far back the users reviews go. Read the reviews of the air mattress and what people are sharing about it…its ability to hold air, the comfort, the reliability of the pump, etc.

Look for any changes in quality that might not be evident at first glance (know how to read air mattress reviews)

With the shady outsourcing practices and tenacious attempts of the companies to cut cost, it has never been more important to be an educated buyer.

Here’s a good tactic to spot any patterns of quality change – when you ticked all the quality and feature boxes, you still haven’t confirmed if the blow-up beds merit the ratings you are seeing today.

So, sort the reviews and read them starting from the more recent ones – these will be most relevant and will give you the best idea about the current quality of the air mattress.

Any change in quality will be reflected here.

Bottom line

A well-rounded survival plan cannot ignore sleeping preparations anyway you look at it.

What good is an expensive blade if the hand wielding it is shaking?

In Dirt Farmer Wisdom, Jo Jo Jansen says, “Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds” and he’s right on the money.

Protecting what you cherish and love calls for you to be your best self. Good sleep is an important piece of that puzzle.

Stay smart about staying safe.

Linked from: http://homesteadandprepper.com/sleep-and-survival-smart-preppers-guide-to-choosing-the-best-portable-bed/

How to Be a Prepper in College

university-of-washington

We all prep for different scenarios, and start at different times in our lives. What made you start prepping? Did someone convince you that it’s a good idea? What’s your excuse for not prepping? Most of the people I try to get prepared have many excuses for not starting. Being 22 and just one semester away from getting my bachelor’s, the most common excuse I hear is I can’t afford it. Well I say. If there’s a will,  there’s a way and in this article I am going to share how I practice being a prepper in college.

I grew up in a small farm town of 3500 people. Growing up I wasn’t in boy scouts. I was just a kid that liked shooting guns. We always had a little bit of food set aside, and we would always rotate food. I never realized what it was for. I never recall them talking about any radical ideas for it, just thought it was a good idea to stocked. Just. In. Case.

For the past four and a half years I’ve lived in a small apartment (now in a duplex) in a college town with a population of nearly 91,000.

The first couple years of my college life I was on campus in the dorms. Luckily for me, being on a native American campus we have a good amount of mother nature on our campus. Mother nature always provides, but you have to know where and what.

I have a pretty small collective of friends that I fully trust, but I have several acquaintances and connections that give me opportunity. My close friends my age know I prep, but they always say it costs too much to start prepping. While they say this I think in my head how much they drink and go out. Obviously you still need to live life and enjoy it, but I believe at some point you have to prioritize for the well-being of yourself and your family’s safety. There’s plenty of money to be made, and plenty of deals to be had. Building one bug out bag takes a good amount of planning and strategy which takes time. Just having one bag puts you ahead of most people in urban areas. I built my several bags and prep’s by purchasing one piece at a time. There is no excuse for the lack of prepping.

Prepping doesn’t have to cost a fortune

I’ve always had a knack for finding good deals. In no way am I wealthy, but I grew up wheeling and dealing. I am constantly scouring Craigslist, Facebook marketplace, etc. I work hard for my money, and when it’s not enough I find side jobs come in handy. Most college towns have places where you can donate plasma. This is a good way to build some spending money. My part-time job is an auto detailer for a dealership. I’ve found that I’m quite good at it and I like doing it. It is becoming a lost art and there is a lot of money to be made.

Side jobs are likely necessary to have enough cash to spend on discretionary supplies.

Side jobs are likely necessary to have extra cash to spend on discretionary supplies. Competition is fierce for these spots.

Another misconception that is popular with college kids making excuses in my area is that it’s all about spending money. Prepping isn’t only material things. Sure it’s a big part of it, but it’s also a mentality. Everyday I think what if’s and different scenarios to challenge my mind. Prepping is a prepared state of mind. This website and others brought me very good insight as to what I could and should do in different emergency scenarios. Even if you can’t afford to build several bug out bags, buy firearms, stockpile food and water, then you should definitely be researching other aspirations. Knowledge is power and there is a lot of survival information to be had on the internet! Not everyone grew up as a boy scout, I know I didn’t. Knots can be as important as knowing how to skin an animal, or what plants are edible.

Friends of mine that try to prep dismiss the fact that upon the beginning stages of WROL it will be a blood bath at regular store such as: grocery stores, pharmacies, gun stores, etc. They all say oh I’ll just go grab some food at the store. No. It won’t work that way. This is why it is very important for us to prep. Even if you live in the dorms it would be a very good idea to have some canned food, bottled water, flashlights, and batteries hidden away. There’s plenty more you can prep for but I believe most people I talk to could not handle a stressful event such as SHTF. If you have a little prior knowledge to survival and your environment, then it should help you prepare mentally. Having a small stockpile of supplies can be a safety net, and should provide you a little bit of time to collect your thoughts as to what just happened and forming your game-plan.

Start small but build continuously

I am just now starting to buy some canned food to put aside just in case of a power outage. A single can of corn in my area is merely 69 cents. It is easy and cheap to stock up on canned foods to keep in your place of residence. The only problem I see is when you must bug out, the canned food will be very, very heavy. Make sure to keep your home stockpile separate from your bug out bag supplies. A good habit for both is to still use the supplies in both spots and replace them with new ones to keep the “best by” date as far out as possible.

dormfood

It is easy and cheap to stock up on canned foods to keep in your place of residence.

My generation has lost the ability to be self-sufficient and prepared. For other college students reading this and wanting help to prep on a very tight budget, I urge you to read as much as you can. Free information will only be around as long as society holds up. To be clear I definitely live the “college experience”. I don’t go to parties or go out for nights of binge drinking. There is other ways to be social and they are much cheaper.

The biggest challenge in prepping for a college student is preparing for an active shooter. You don’t know when it’s coming, from where, or how many there are. Most college campuses don’t allow firearms or conceal carry. Some states are starting to allow conceal carry on campus which, in my opinion is a great idea. My state is one of those starting to allow that. Unfortunately for me I go to a Native American College that is federally owned so the law doesn’t hold there. How do you prep for an active shooter if you’re not allowed to have even a pocket knife, and you don’t want to break the law? This question brings me back to what I stated earlier about reading as much information as you can. The have been survivors of every school shooting and their stories are out there.

So I am constantly reading and building my knowledge of survival. Now what? Personally a bug out bag is my go to item to start with for any prep. Whether you believe in TEOTWAWKI or just wanna have a head start on a natural disaster there is always room for a bug out bag, and it is very important to have this bag with you at all times. I have found that Walmart can sell everything you would need for a bug out bag. Piece by piece you will complete it. That being said don’t be that person to go buy a “pre-made emergency bag” they are made in bulk and most likely won’t be very accepting to your specific needs. MRE’s are a good choice for any style of bag as well as freeze dried foods. You need to always consider where you would go, how far is it, and the terrain you would trek through. If you have found that there is several options for water I would choose Mountain House freeze-dried meals because, they are light and filling. If water sources will be scarce then MRE’s take much less water.

For the preppers who believe in the large-scale, scary things that could potentially happen remember that there’s always going to be someone wanting to take what you have. I once read a very good article on here that mentioned that no matter where you hunker down there will be people after it. You WILL be overrun. That has always stuck with me and because of it I am constantly thinking where would I go now? Where would I go next? I suggest knowing your terrain and various routes to get around area’s that are going to be most likely a huge mess.

A lot of the things I’ve talked about have been really similar. The constant repetition should help retain the information for all the young, hard-headed, minds I am trying motivate. I’ve only scratched the surface of what I could say, but for my first article I wanted to keep it short and to the point. Bottom line is if you keep making excuses you may find yourself scrambling when the stuff starts hitting the fan.

Linked from: http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2016/10/28/how-to-be-prepper-in-college/

Preparing a Wild Turkey

Intro: Cleaning Your Wild Turkey

You have finally achieved a successful turkey hunt and the most difficult part is over. But, there is still a lot of work to do cleaning the bird to get it ready to be put in the freezer. One of the most common questions and concerns of new turkey hunters is how to clean a turkey after they have shot it. This article will hopefully answer most of the questions about cleaning a turkey with some of the techniques I and many other hunters utilize.

Step 1: Make a Decision


The cleaning or field dressing process begins right after you shoot your bird. The first thing you need to decide after the pictures are taken is what you are going to do with your turkey.

Make a decision immediately about whether you will have the turkey mounted. This will determine how you will proceed with the cleaning process and how much care you should take transporting your turkey. If you are planning on having the bird mounted, do not field dress the bird.

You might also consider how you plan on cooking the turkey. Roasting, smoking or whole deep frying are cooking processes that work best with the skin still on the turkey, although there are techniques for a skinless turkey as well. Frying or grilling pieces of turkey will work well with a bird that has been skinned.

At this point , you have basically three options for continuing cleaning your wild turkey.

  1. Prepare bird for the taxidermist.
  2. Field dress the bird if it’s hot or you’re a long way from home.
  3. Wait until you get home before proceeding with cleaning the bird. If it’s cool enough and you have a relatively short trip home, you can wait before taking on the task of cleaning the turkey.

Preparing Your Wild Turkey for the Taxidermist

If you are thinking about having a turkey mounted by a taxidermist, by all means, shop around by visiting professional taxidermists in your area before you go hunting and get a feeling for the quality of their work and the prices they will charge. If you don’t have a good taxidermist in your area do not get discouraged. There are many excellent taxidermists all across the country and by asking friends and fellow hunters or doing your own research, you can find a quality taxidermist. Spending a little extra money to ship your bird is well worth it to get an excellent reminder of your trophy hunt. Mounting a wild turkey is not easy and if you let an amateur mount if for you, don’t expect excellent results.

The secret to getting good taxidermy mounts of any animal is 1) Keeping the animal in as good as condition as possible before it reaches the taxidermist, and 2) Choosing a qualified taxidermist.

Before the Hunt

Finding a good taxidermist is up to you but there are some tips that will help you get your bird to the taxidermist in as good of condition as possible. These are some general ideas and your taxidermist may have specific instructions on the way he likes to receive birds.

First, make sure and take on your hunt a large plastic bag and a cooler large enough to lay the bird in without scrunching up the tail feathers. Take with you some paper towels, cotton balls, and either a large plastic bag, a section of used panty hose, or both. Many taxidermists recommend using a section of used panty hose cut from the thigh area as a covering for the bird to keep the feathers in place. Cut out a section of the hose from the thigh area and tie up one end. Then after you shoot a bird, carefully slip the bird into the bag head first, pulling the stocking over its entire body. This will help keep all of the feathers in place. You can also just use a large plastic bag and slip the bird inside it and carefully carry it out of the woods.

Shooting the Bird

When you harvest a bird, always try for a clean head and neck shot. If you want the tail feathers to look good, do not shoot the bird head-on while it is strutting. The shotgun pattern will shred through the tail feathers and that will not look good at all. In fact, it’s best not to shoot a strutting bird period. Tthe best shot to take is a side shot with the bird’s neck stretched up. This should keep all of the shotgun pellets well away from the tail and wing feathers. It is much easier for a taxidermist to replace or repair a shot-up head than to try and repair or replace tail and wing feathers.The distance should be around 25 to 30 yards which is a good distance to aim for any time you are hunting turkeys. This yardage allows for a clean kill without too dense of a shot pattern which may cause extreme damage to the head and neck. If for some reason you do need a second shot to kill the bird, try and take it at the head only and from a sufficient distance to limit more damage to the bird.

After any turkey is shot, they often thrash around on the ground before dying. There really is not a lot you can do about this since picking up a thrashing turkey is not very smart. Your best hope is that he will drop dead and lay stone still after the shot which does occasionally happen. If he does flop around, pick up all of the loose feathers you can find and send them along with the bird to your taxidermist.

After the Shot


After the bird is dead, there are three keys to getting your bird to the taxidermist in prime condition.

  1. Keep the plumage dry and clean. Stuff paper towels or cotton balls into the bird’s mouth and anus to keep any blood or body fluids from soiling the feathers. Also, if there are any large or bloody wounds, stuff them also to keep as much blood off of the feathers as possible. It may be necessary to wrap the head in paper towels if it is really bloody.
  2. Limit feather loss and damage by slipping the bird into either the pantyhose section or a large plastic bag or both. Be very conscious of the tail feathers and do not scrunch or bend them. If the bird flopped around a lot, be sure and pick up any of the loose feathers.
  3. Keep the bird cool – As soon as possible, start cooling the bird by placing it in a large cooler. If you have to wait more than several hours to get it to a taxidermist, you will probably need to freeze the bird.

Also, do not field dress the bird. Most taxidermists would much rather field dress and skin the bird themselves.

Storing and Shipping

If you do not have a taxidermist picked out or you have to store the bird for a long period of time you will have to freeze the bird. Just make sure the bird has plenty of room and do not pile other items onto the bird. If you need to ship the bird to a taxidermist, contact them and ask about the best way to do this. They will be up to date on any airline regulations and can give you the best methods for safely shipping your bird.

In conclusion, try and choose a bird in great condition to be mounted and find a good, quality taxidermist. It’s worth paying a little more up front to have a long-lasting, beautiful memory of a trophy hunt.

Field Dressing Your Wild Turkey

Field dressing is essentially gutting the bird in the field while leaving the feathers on. Removing the guts or entrails is important to help allow the bird to cool faster and to keep the “juices” inside the bird from spoiling any meat. If it is a cool day and you aren’t far from home, you can skip the field dressing step and wait until you are home before cleaning the bird.

Here are the steps for gutting or field dressing a wild turkey:

  1. Lay the turkey on its back.
  2. Follow the breast down to the rear of the bird until it narrows to a point between the legs.
  3. Pull up on the tip and cut the bird open by making a shallow horizontal incision (through the skin only) between the tip of the breast and the vent (anus). It helps to pull out a few of the feathers in this spot so you can cut more easily.
  4. Make the incision large enough to insert your hand and pull out the entrails, making sure to pull out the heart and lungs.
  5. Cut around the vent (anus) by carefully following the intestine back and then cutting around its exterior. This is where you need to be careful since you don’t want any of the intestine’s contents getting on the turkey.
  6. Remove the crop (sac-like thing filled with what the turkey’s been eating) by making a cut on the neck of the turkey and reaching down and removing the crop located at the top of the breast.
  7. Rinse out with water and wipe with paper towels if you have these available.

Plucking Your Wild Turkey

The traditional way to clean a wild turkey is to pluck the feathers off and then gut the bird. This will keep the skin on the turkey which will give it more moisture and flavor after you cook it. You can also save the “giblets” (heart, liver, gizzard) from the bird and make a traditional turkey gravy later when you cook it.

It is preferable to pluck the turkey before removing the entrails. This keeps feathers from getting inside the bird cavity and in general keeps things cleaner. If you’ve already field-dressed the bird, don’t worry about it but be sure and rinse out the cavity good to remove any feathers when you are done plucking.

Turkeys have over 5,000 feathers on them and it is easier to remove them if the bird is dipped in hot water. Some people use boiling water but many people swear that water at 140 degrees is the optimal temperature for plucking a bird. Once a bird has been dipped in hot water, the feathers will come off much easier and they also are easier to handle since they are damp and they won’t fly around the room. A large washtub is best for dipping the bird but you may have to improvise if one’s not available. The large primary wing feathers can also be a problem and it’s easier to just remove the wing at the first joint past the shoulder so those very large primary feathers don’t have to be pulled out.

If you have left the legs on to help you dip the bird, you now need to cut them off. Then it is time to go ahead and remove the entrails by gutting the bird. This process is basically the same as Field Dressing with the exception of needing to remove the head with a large knife, cleaver or hatchet. Some people also like to use the neck to toss in the stock pot. That is your choice. You can also save the turkey giblets (heart, liver, gizzard) and use them to make a traditional turkey gravy. The gizzard is what allows the bird to grind up its food. Be sure and cut the gizzard open and to thoroughly clean it.

You should now have a cleaned bird that is ready to be cooked or frozen.

Skinning and Fileting Your Wild Turkey

Another option to the plucking and gutting method is to skin and then filet the bird’s breast meat off and remove the legs and thighs. This method is quick and easy and allows you to remove the meat from the bird without even opening up the body cavity. If you plan on roasting, smoking or whole deep frying your turkey, you might stick with plucking and gutting the bird since this method does not save the skin. I generally cook my turkey by frying or grilling pieces of turkey; using methods that make up for not having the skin on.

Generally, the areas I hunt are only about a half hour or less from my home so I never worry about field dressing the turkey. I just take it home and clean it immediately. I also hunt in Kansas and the weather is typically very cool during most of the spring and fall turkey seasons. On one hunt during the spring, the weather changed from sunny, to rain. to hail, to sleet and finally snow. If it is warm where you are hunting and it takes you awhile to get to a place to finish dressing the turkey, by all means field dress it first.

  1. If you are saving the tail fan or cape from the turkey, remove them first. I also always remove the beard before starting to clean the bird. If you are not saving the bird’s cape or tail you can leave them on and start by laying the turkey on it’s back.
  2. To begin removing the breast filets, pluck some feathers from the middle of the breast and make a small cut through the skin. Then work your fingers underneath the skin and pull the skin back from the breast down to the sides of the turkey.
  3. Find the breast bone and start by cutting down one side of the breast bone to loosen the breast filet from the bone. This cut will run from the lower tip of the breast all of the way along the breast bone and eventually up along the wishbone and to the shoulder / wing joint..
  4. Start at the bottom tip of the breast and work your way from the rear of the breast forward, fileting off the breast by pulling the filet and using the knife to help separate the breast where needed. Be careful of the crop when you get to the top of the breast. (The crop is the balloon-like sac up between the two halves of the breast by the neck). It is full of some nasty stuff and you don’t want to puncture it.
  5. Repeat this for the other side of the breast.
  6. Remove the thigh/leg by flipping the turkey over on it’s breastbone and skinning the thigh and leg.
  7. After they are skinned, cut through the thigh muscle where it attaches to the back. To help this process, grab the leg/thigh and bend them up towards the backbone until the joint pops loose. Keep working and cutting through the thigh until you can free the thigh/leg from the turkey’s body. Repeat for the other side. I usually then cut through the leg joint and separate the drumstick from the thigh. Wild turkey drumsticks are notoriously tough when you cook them. They also have tons of tiny, tough, bone-like tendons running through them. The only way I’ve found to make them edible is to cook them for a long time in a crockpot and sometimes on an old gobbler this doesn’t even work.

I hope these methods will help you enjoy your turkey.

Linked from: http://www.survival-spot.com/survival-blog/preparing-a-wild-turkey/