Sunday, July 31, 2011


The other day I stopped by the U. S. Border Patrol Museum in El Paso, Texas. On the way out, after checking out the hands-on displays (cow hoof soled shoes used to confuse trackers, homemade boat used by Cubans escaping Castro's "People's Paradise" an airplane and patrol car retired from the Border Patrol's inventory among other things) I purchased a paperback copy of Joel Hardin's Tracker

Turns out I got a good deal. The book had been signed by the author and had one of his business cards inside. But the real deal was the information I found inside.

Joel Hardin is an old school mantracker from the days when the Border Patrol was more into tracking than electronic surveillance. After honing his craft along both our southern and northern borders he retired and started an international tracking business and school.

In thirteen fascinating chapters Joel gives detailed accounts of tracking everything from lost children and outlaws to Bigfoot. He gives a detailed account of how he captured one Special Forces trained outlaw at gun point and tells, in detail, how he disproved one Bigfoot sighting.

There's a fascinating fact laden chapter on how he tracked a "mountain man" to within 100 yards of his lair (and, not knowing they were so close, ate lunch) only to be denied the capture. However information Joel gave local LEO's (Law Enforcement Officers) led to the arrest of "mountain man" Mincio Donciev shortly thereafter.

That's an occurrence that would develop into a pattern. Often distance and direction information provided by Joel would be used by LEO's to jump ahead and rescue/arrest the person he was tracking. Hardin says he doesn't mind others getting the credit although in a couple of cases, knowing how hard he'd worked, I'd have been hopping mad.

If you read the book Incident at Big Sky that I used as a teaching point you may remember it was tracks in the snow that lead to the downfall of mountain men Don & Dan Nichols

Although he repeatedly opines that tracking can only be learned by doing he gives the reader plenty of tips get started on. With minimal effort I've identified half a dozen animal tracks when walking around on soft ground. Whether I'd be able to follow them over hard ground like Hardin routinely does is another matter.

Although Joel clearly states he is not an animal tracker he devotes an entire chapter to the story of how he, as a hunter, tracked and killed an elk admitting "Tracking people and tracking animals are very closely related skills."

Where Hardin may jump ahead from one track to another based on his feeling of what the person being tracked is doing and his or her condition (It's important to note that he marks the last confirmed track before jumping ahead to where he thinks the next track should be so as to be able to go back to it and do things the old fashioned way if it turns out he's wrong.) he knows animals don't behave like humans and (other than tending to take the path of least resistance) can't be predicted the way human tracks can.

So, what's this book review got to do with your survival?

In hard times the ability to track an animal to its bedding area or follow wounded prey may make the difference between whether your family eats or not.

Separated from your family in the wilderness? Did a child wander off from your Bug Out Location? During a WTSHTF (When The $#!t Hits The Fan) or TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) event there will be precious little manpower available to form a search party for your loved ones. You may even have to track down someone who stole essentials your family needs to survive.

Gaining tracking skills now could be an inexpensive and fun to gain survival skills.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

On a recent episode of some bow hunting show Fred Eichler showed how to dress out an elk with a (very sharp) three inch knifeperiod. No saws no axes; nothing but the little knife.

First he made a cut under the "armpit" of the front leg cutting up around to take the shoulder with the skin still on (to keep the meat from getting dirty on the ground). Then he did the same with the rear leg. Backstraps were removed and the animal turned over so the procedure could be repeated on the other side.

By cutting down to and around in the joint he could remove whole limbs quickly without chopping or sawing.

Unless you want to tan the hide for a rug or something using the animal's hide to protect its meat until you get back to camp is an excellent survival solution.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

When There Are No Doctors

So how do you treat deep cuts, broken bones or Ballistic trauma (which may combine both of the former) when qualified medical help is weeks or even months away? (Years or maybe never in the case of TEOTWAWKI.)

First Aid as taught by the American Red Cross is just that FIRST aid (i.e. stop the bleeding, protect the wound, treat for shock and/or give CPR) until the patient can be brought to proper (professional) medical attention. Proper medical attention implies staff, supplies and tools that may not be immediately available in a When The $#!t Hits The Fan or The End Of The World As We Know It situation.

What's a prepper to do?

First, get free First Aid training and then advanced First Aid training from your local Red Cross. Yes yes, I know I just told you the Red Cross training is just a stopgap measure, but if you fail to properly open the patient's airway your surgical skills will come to naught before you can open your real survivalist's genuine war surgery medical kit.

What else can you do to help heal you and yours in such a time of dire need ?

If you've got the time and the bucks you may want to attend the Medical Corps class

They'll teach you how to use the contents of a Medic bag that can be bought at military surplus stores or online.

Filling the medic bag with the necessary contents including a minor surgical kit will take a bit of work on your part.

Real stainless steel surgical instruments can be a bit expensive, but will last through years of use. Made in China/Pakistan "stainless steel" surgical instruments are available for a lot less and may be the thing for you if you're not expecting to have to play doctor for twenty years after The End Of The World As We Know It.

There's nothing like sewing (suturing) up the wound on a dead chicken part to prepare you for the real thing, but books can help.

Even if you're not planning a safari to deepest darkest Africa or Amazonian jungles a cheap part of preparations would be the purchase of one or more of these books.

Where There Is No Doctor

Where There Is No Dentist

Emergency War Surgery

Superfluous Survival Tip of the Week:

New-skin Liquid Bandage (a close cousin of Super glue which can also be used) will seal up many wounds without suturing if you can get the surrounding skin dry before application.

QuickClot or Celox will stop almost all bleeding almost instantly and would make an excellent addition to your over-the-bathroom-sink home first aid supplies as well as your survival kit or Bug Out Bag.

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Saturday, July 16, 2011

Zombie Outbreak

Zombies in Popular Culture

Any teenager will tell you (in more detail than you might wish) that zombies are "the walking dead!" Gray skinned, slow moving, slow thinking beings with easily removable parts that chant: "Brains, brains, braaaaains!" as they stumble around with their arms held out before them. Teenagers will also tell you that the only way to kill a zombie is to blow its head off, beat in its brain in or cut head its off. Otherwise the parts will keep coming after you! Oh, and they might also happen to mention that zombies are fictional creatures.

Zombies in Survivalist Culture

Within the Survivalist culture the word "zombie" is sometimes used to describe survivors, other than you and yours, (OTYAY pronounced Oy Tay or Oy Tays) who stumble upon your BOL.

On a survival board I once requested a poster stop referring to OTYAYS as zombies because there remain several troubling problems with that misnomer.

• It's already taken.

You can order your Zombie Outbreak Barricade Tape HERE
You can order the pictures on the T-shirts HERE

• The meaning of the word is already well established in the public's mind and "your neighbors after TEOTWAWKI" ain't in that dictionary.

• Assuming that someone is "coming to take your food" means s/he hasn't done anything yet. There will be a lot of refugees if TEOTWAWKI ever comes. It might be better to lay low and let them wander by without attracting attention to yourself. Besides, killing everyone who wanders into your area of operations could have unintended consequences if you have a dedicated mailman.

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

Zombie Joke of the week:

What do zombie plumbers chant?

"Drains, drains, draaaaains!"

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Got a Plan? Is it Viable?

(This is a long one folks so, in case you don't feel like reading it all, I'll put the salient points up here:

1. After TEOTWAWKI people will not sit in the cities and starve.
2. Roving bands will organize into formidable militias to raid for food (and later) farmland to grow food on.
3. You can hide a bunker, but you can't hide fields, orchards or even pastures.
4. Only ORGANIZED resistance by farming communities has any chance of holding on to their farmland.
5. Medieval nobility knew that all power is ultimately derived from the land.
6. If you're thinking long term survival you need to be thinking communities not bunkers.

Sorry if that bursts your bunker building bubble.)

I recently read a letter sent to a survival blog in which a person claiming 27 years of Army experience and service in several "failed" countries states that if TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) occurs he expects a cascade of events which will render individual retreats and family survival farms untenable. His reasoning goes something like this:

A. "Food is the key resource" and there will be a tremendous population die off as the country regresses to an agrarian economy without the benefits of modern infrastructure with its (oil based) transportation and artificial fertilizer.

B. You can hide your bunker, but you can't hide your farmland.

C. After a TEOTWAWKI event unless there is an "immediate restoration of the economy" everyone living in cities is "doomed" unless they can "take over some kind of farm land."

He further states that the "teeming millions" in the cities [and burbs] will not "just starve and go away."

His points:
1. People are the most dangerous animal on earth and they'll be armed.

2. Small groups of raiders will quickly be replaced by larger better organized groups doing the same thing under the color of self-righteousness.

3. Without central authority people will form their own polities (governing bodies) organized around local government or churches [or survival groups?].

4. When (not if) a polity forms near you you'd better be part of that process or you'll be looked upon as a resource rather than a member of that community.

5. The newly formed local polity is almost certain to make mistakes. "Some of them are lethal blunders. Odds are, the locals will probably not have given a lot of serious thought to facing long term survival. They will squander resources and delay implementing necessary actions (like planting more food or working together to defend a harvest). They may even decide to take in thousands of refugees from nearby cities, thereby almost insuring their own longer term starvation."

He further states:
"A much better approach [for you] is to be an integral part of the community and use the combined resources of the community to defend all of your resources together. This would be much easier if a high percentage of the community were like minded folks who were committed to sharing and cooperating. Because any community with food is likely going to have to somehow survive while facing even larger polities, like nearby cities, counties or even state governments. Don't expect to face a walking hoard of lightly armed, starving individuals. Expect to face a professional, determined army formed by a government of some kind. [...] A small farming community can probably support a few outsiders, but not very many. The community will need to politically deal with outside polities or they will face a war they can't win. Hiding the fact that you are self sufficient is going to be hard. You can't hide farm land."

And that:
"Defending your resources against the nearby city will be even harder. You may be able to save the community by buying protection with surplus food...if you have prepared for that. You may indeed have to fight, but stalling that event for even a year could mean the difference between living and being overwhelmed."

Here I disagree. Buying off refugees fosters a sense of entitlement and insures they'll stick around for tomorrow's handout. They'll get mean when food runs low and they think you're holding out on them.

His conclusion is that to survive the community you live in will have to go into the crisis with a plan and that you'll want to go into that crisis as one of those making those plans and not as an outside resource.

He expects (based on his experiences in Albania in 1998 and other "failed" countries) that once it becomes apparent that the federal government has failed local committees will begin forming with the expressed propose of restoring order.
. . . . .

It's a frightening prospect. To begin with no small farming community has the resources to fight off a city and buying the city dwellers off with the finite amount of stored food available would only work until the farmers ran out of food they were willing to give away or, more accurately, pay. But the urbanites would still be hungry and they would know where to go for food.

But wait, there is hope because time keeps everything from happening a once. Will the unprepared hordes come pouring out of the cities the instant the end of the world as they know it is announced on TV ? Probably not.

For two reasons.
For one thing it probably won't be announced. In the face of impending crisis which announcement do you expect to hear broadcast by officials?

"Remain calm. Everything is under control or soon will be."
"Run for your lives, every man for himself!"

Yeah, I don't expect to hear the second one either. While the Chernobyl reactor was melting down Communist officials were privately evacuating their families while publicly proclaiming all was well because, they said later, they didn't want to create a panic. And I don't recall any officials or their families being caught at home in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit. Do you?

Second, when crises are announced people have a tendency to remain where they feel safe and comfortable i.e. at home. Every hurricane season we hear officials pleading with residents to evacuate endangered zones. Then we hear the death toll followed by interviews with survivors who stayed behind. In the absence of a clearly visible approaching danger people procrastinate and hope whatever it is will just go away.

If the approaching crisis does spur residents into evacuating you'll want to be the first out the gate. Our military veteran quoted above stated that once it became apparent that government control had lapsed in Albania roadblocks started going up within hours. I also believe there was at least one incidence of an official a roadblock going up when Hurricane Katrina* hit and that was when everybody knew there was still a federal government.

[*Two days after the storm passed, the Gretna police setup a roadblock on the bridge, refusing passage to evacuees. A lawsuit alleges that the bridge was closed due to racism against the largely African-American evacuees, while the city maintains that they had no facilities or manpower to serve the evacuees.[6]

In the initial weeks following the storm, only emergency personnel and contractors were permitted to use the bridge. The bridge reopened to traffic in mid-September as decreasing water levels on the East Bank of Orleans Parish allowed Interstate 10 to reopen and residents to return, but then was temporarily closed to regular traffic again when another evacuation was declared due to Hurricane Rita, with the bridge again reopening in late September.]

So you'll need to read between the lines of official news releases on an impending crisis if your plan includes vacating your bungalow in the burbs in favor of your bunker in the bushes.

But what about farming communities? Look at the size of a farm. It would take more people to defend it 24/7, particularly at harvest time, than it can feed.

Even smaller communities will have trouble though, because farming communities rely on massive amounts of outside input (oil based fuels and fertilizers) to make things work. How many farmers still have a plow horse drawn plow or a horse to pull it?

When I was stationed in South Korea I learned that farmers (there and around the world) sleep in the fields at harvest time to prevent the theft of their ripened crops.


CO writes:
"So lemme see if I follow you, because I am a little slow...

City Dwellers are going to become interested in agronomy? When I went through the Parris Island School for Boys, they made us all, as future amphibians, spend several days in a pool swimming with full combat gear. Those from the metropolitan places like New York and Philadelphia were petrified - they had never been swimming in their lives, as that is not a cultural norm of those areas, and many of them failed pitifully, and were retrieved from the bottom of a very, very deep pool before their lungs completely filled with over chlorinated water.

My point being that they will only do what they know. They don't have Pocahantas' family teaching them how to fertilize crops. My DNA may have tobacco farmers somewhere in it, but I grew up roofing with my Dad and uncle. I can't even grow a tomato, and I doubt there will be many resource materials in the Zombie World that will be available for me to use as guides. My 18th summer in Parris Island, and later, did teach me some other skills, however.

I gotta wonder if the street smart people will rely on their existing skill sets, rather than be patient and await the maturation of grain or soy bean plants. It just ain't in their makeup. It also isn't in the makeup of farming communities to understand the extreme, fast paced evil that metropolitans know as second nature. I doubt that people accustomed to riding subways are going to be skilled in equine transportation, either.

Just something to think on, brother."


Hummmmm… Somehow I've failed to communicate. What you are espousing is exactly what I thought I was writing about.

When forced by hunger to abandon their comfort zone in the cities ravenous city slickers will descend upon rural communities with the disastrous effect you outlined.


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Sunday, July 3, 2011

Pioneers Take the Arrows

Rush Limbaugh is fond of the phrase "Pioneers take the arrows" when talking about early adaptors of new electronic gadgets. That colorful corollary from our wild west past is still applicable today.

On a recent vacation I made it a point to stop by the historic site of Fort Bridger on my way up to see my sister. Little remains of the original "fort" and most of the buildings are reconstructions of improvements made by a later inhabitant, William Alexander Carter, who turned the fort from "little more than a crude collection rough-hewn log buildings" into a trading post with an ice house and other amenities. However, the fort's founder, Jim Bridger didn't fare so well.

Back on the Interstate I began comparing my current mode of travel and overnighting conditions with those of Jim Bridger, the Mountain Men and early pioneers.

I was traveling at 75 MPH (honest officer) in a heated vehicle on smooth tarmac while fiddling with the radio and snacking on Polypropylene and aluminized foil packaged foods.

Just a hundred and sixty some odd years ago pioneers traveling the same route would have been walking at a pace of from three to five MPH with lower speeds for rough terrain. Snack food was pemmican, jerky or berries scooped up along the way if in season. If they wanted music well, there was always singing, harmonicas and maybe a fiddle or two.

When I'd had enough fiddling with "good" music radio stations that seemed to go out of range just as I found them I'd pull into an inn, usually after dark, and dine at a nearby fast food McEmporium before retiring to a heated room for some "reality" television before a shower and sleep between clean sheets under a light blanket.

There were no inns for the travelers who pioneered these routes those many years ago. They'd need to stop before sunset to make camp, gather firewood (or dried dung) and prepare food. Red meat, fish and fowl, taken on the march, had to be eaten before it spoiled unless winter froze it.

Survivalist gurus make a big deal of telling students about heating rocks in the campfire, burying and them sleeping on the heated ground. (Almost easy with today's metal shovels, but try digging in the dirt with the wooden shovels of yesteryear.) However they don't show you the labor involved in gathering big rocks, digging a trench and burying the rocks after a long day of hiking through the wilderness. Yeah, it works, but it'll be pretty cold before you go to all that work for a heated "room" and, of course, there was reality harmonica playing which was probably more entertaining than the reality shows of today.

As I maneuvered over smooth concrete on six degree grades at 75 MPH through gorges cut through mountainsides I thought of the pioneers who'd climbed over those same ridgelines scrambling to maintain a balance between sustaining altitude (Colin Fletcher tells us to surrender elevation grudgingly because it must be re-acquired on the next hill.) and line of march to the next waterhole. Neither you nor I would willingly stay at Jim Bridger's place today when a Hyatt or a Hilton was within reach, but in its day Fort Bridger was a destination pioneers strived to reach before sundown because it offered supplies and amenities (a two holer?) not available on the trail.

So, what's all this reminiscing got to do with survival? Without electricity so called "First World" civilizations will be knocked back into Jim Bridger's world. That means horses and mules, buggies and freight wagons, hand pumped well water and harmonicas.

How prepared are you to feed, clothe and entertain yourself if the lights go out?

Superfluous Survival Tip of the week:

I've just started reading the Emergency Preparedness and Survival Guide an anthology of past articles from Backwoods Home Magazine. I received the book "free" with a two year renewal of my subscription to the magazine.

Both the book and the magazine are chock full of a mixture of sustainable farming/ranching advice and reviews of modern day tools and techniques. If you've aspirations of canning produce from your own backyard garden, baking homemade bread in your backyard in a homemade solar oven or controlling the squirrel population in your backyard Backwoods Home Magazine is a subscription you ought to look into.

I subscribe to the dead tree edition because I can't possibly try all the stuff they tell you how to do and I'll want access to that information if the lights go out.

You can peruse the electronic version of Backwoods Home Magazine while the lights are still on here.

_ _ _ _ _
Dusty Diggen's writes:
I live in the desert of Arizona in an old miners cabin,just 11 miles off from the paved road.

Most that stop by can't even begin to think of all the complications of living out,no lights,no tv, no phone, very little water, no flush toilet,

I do have wild Blue satilite and solar panels, so to me I am really livin hi.

It takes me about 1 1/2 hr to make that short trip in my 1953 CJ-5 , the old timers traveled that road every day with horse and team.

The temp has been 80+ at night and 119 during the day, I just wish I could be that tough, how did they do it?

It is very interesting to hear about all these city survival types that think they are just going to live out here off the land.

I hope they bring lots of good stuff for me to use when they are..........gone.

I have called myself Dusty Diggen's as Me and my cabin and are always dusty !
- - - - - -
You're right, Dusty, folks who think they can live off the land should try catching a rabbit sometime. Snare, trap, bow & arrow, pellet gun even with a firearm it ain't easy if you can't get the rabbit to cooperate.
_ _ _ _ _
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