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Thursday, October 12, 2017



 Having amassed a great deal of books over the years on the skills and different methods of "survival", plus practicing the skills for years, it seems to me we have lost the idea of being in the wild. Concentrating on survival as dictated to us by our "leaders" in the survival world. What happened to going out and learning about the wild life & the plants? Planted in the back of our minds, oh my god, what if this bad thing happens. I don’t have the right knife or the right clothes, I will die on this spot. Hell, when I was a kid we didn’t even think about those things, we had water and some food with us that was it. Keeping things simple is the key, you want to enjoy the outdoors, not be
afraid with every step you take. If you have done a bit of basic homework like; shelter building and lighting a fire, you are good. Think back how many times have you really been lost. Really lost is a little unsettling, but in today’s world there are homing devices that call in for you and bam rescue is
on the way. Or lacking the device, the morning brings a new understanding of your direction. It is about participating in nature not fighting it.

Now I might be off my rocker, some think so, but I think it’s time to relax about being out in the wild blue yonder, a few basic preps should do you just fine. Practice the skills so they are second nature ... if you are just starting out, keep your trips short and quiet. It is not a contest, learn the wild life, the plants and what they can do for you. Study the best right now shelters to crawl into no matter where you are on the trail.. I like to take my time and study what is around me. Well to be honest at this point in my life I have to take my time, I’m just not in the hurry most seem to be in.. Enjoy your surroundings and sun on your face. In a another article I talked about the use of plastics, at one time I would have rejected the idea. Right damn now, however I have found
many interesting ways to use this world of plastic. It works for me and might work for you as well. I am still experimenting and finding ways to use these items.

The idea that going into the wild is only about survival, is crap, going into the wild should be about the joy and wonder of nature, not that a bad thing will happen. I don’t mean to be all Pollyanna about it but at almost 80 years old and having behind me more time on  trails than most of you are old, the times I have been in a survival situation are less than the fingers on one hand. You can even chop a few of those off and still it doesn’t amount to squat. Oh I know we can point out some really dumb moves by folks but I’m betting most of you are at least above the bonehead level. Good old common sense needs a comeback. The thing to remember is the products being touted by some expert are being made to sell to you out of fear. Sure some are really good but most will never be needed or used. Go out and have
fun be not afraid! Contrary to some who are making a buck off of your fears that they seem to delight in. In most parts of the USA you can find classes given by instructors who are not all caught up in gear and gizmos. Useless crap soon finds its way to the trash if you caught up in the fear, try not to be that guy, we all make mistakes. That’s the learning curve, but being in the wild is not rocket science, it is where we came from.  Be with it, the plants, the trees and the rocks are all living. Talk to them and get to know them, I think you will like what you find.

                                                                             Dude McLean

Wednesday, August 2, 2017


  The other day I had a class with some traditional campers including primitive skills, so at one point we decided to take a close look at what each one carried in their respective packs., One by one they revealed the gear, mostly very standard stuff, then it was my turn. As I laid out my gear there were a lot of wow and oh really, what’s that good for?

 First here is a list of what I had that day; Zip lock ties, tin foil package, plastic zip baggies large size, a plastic pilots canteen, contractor bags 5 of them. a few lite utility knives, my Vechawk , some clear contractor bags, 2 net hammocks, one 8x10 plastic tarp, 2 machetes, a large knife, Cold Steel Trail Master, my Kephart knife, a poncho, 2 plastic bottles, plastic ties ,3 bics, 2 military net laundry bags, saran wrap, matches, glue, tacks, flint and steel, tinder, one dry wall saw, 2 sets of arrowcards,  bungee cords, a set of  pruners, space blankets, 2 thin wool blankets, several wire snares, my trusty coffee can with a bale attached. Several birthday candles the kind that won’t blow out, Dried fruit, chia seeds, trail mix of my making , jerky, 2 or 3 tins of sardines , 2 tins of spam, tums, spices, coffee, Leatherman tool, spoon and fork, a wool knit hat, head lamp. I don’t think I’m forgetting anything. I explained with this gear I’m good to go, although I might add a few other pieces of clothing depending on the weather. I can go for a week with these items. I carry most of the gear with a set of Ribz, some on my belt some stuffed in a pocket, and some in a shoulder bag if I need it. I try not to use a pack anymore at all. The Ribz are kind of goofy looking to my mind but they work really well. 

 It was decided that we would set up our camp. As it went I had my shelter and fire set up and was laid out in my hammock while everyone else was still setting up, plus my coffee was brewing. I walked around the site and helped a few of the guys set up, they were a bit taken back as I’m known for my traditional gear and primitive skill set. However, at my age, I want more than light, I want really easy and fast and comfort so I am always on the lookout for ways to make my load lighter and better than quick. A tip of my hat to my good friend Mike Gapp for many of the ideas and gear suggestions over the years, a few of the ideas are mine if I stole them from someone, sorry I don’t recall.. 

In fact many of the tools and ideas are just the same old tricks and skills set to a different drummer, meaning it’s just a different set of tools used the same way as the traditional and the primitive. The primitive world is tied together. I’m just using different tools to do the tying, like the ziplock ties and I do not have to make my own cordage, done deal. 

 I am not saying to drop it all in favor of this gear. When it wears out and breaks you will need to resupply. With the primitive skill set you have the foundation to keep going. What the gear does, that I’m talking about, is like a slingshot into the bush that will get you going faster and allow a flexible system to get out of the area with almost no trace. If they find a piece of plastic they will not know what it is for or if it is yours.  

So what this comes down to is your camping gear is at the 99 cent store for the most part. Before you go off saying that I’m full of it try it. Just try it in your backyard where your next-door neighbor already knows you are nutz. If you cannot figure out how to use the gear post the question here and I will try and explain it to you. Like anything that seems to different the learning curve can be a bit confusing but only for a minute.


Dude McLean

Monday, March 6, 2017



 Many companies make lot of money selling camo... people seem to like it, it looks cool and is kind of fun to wear. Then you have the military camo and that has a more serious meaning, just how effective it is on the battle ground seems to be a matter of opinion. Any pattern only goes so far and it depends on how it is deployed. The number one thing is do not move, the human eye will catch movement. 

                                                                        Apache methods from long ago

 In my study of the Apache it comes as no surprise that they were masters of the use of camo, they were taught from a young age how to hide, and how to "rise from the grass". An elder would take a group of boys in the field, and at a word, no matter where they were they had to drop and vanish. They would pull the native grass over them or use a bush or rocks to hide behind. They would even pull a bush up by the roots to move behind, at a word they would reveal themselves. To "rise from the grass" as if coming out of the ground. As warriors, they employed this method with great success. By adding the use of a blanket, covering it with brush, dirt and grasses they vanished into the earth. It is
like seeing an artist at work, creating a hide that even within a few yards was not visible to the eye.

                                                                        What you can do 

 The use of a net hammock can be employed as a blanket by weaving grass and brush in and through the netting. Pull it over you and do not move, you have hidden in plain sight. If someone is looking for you do not stare at them. They will feel you looking at them, that is also a part of camo.  You have the best camo as it is local to the terrain where you are, the colors are all correct. If you do not have a net hammock use a blanket. 

It will take some practice to get it right, but it is a fun exercise in the bush. You can become more than one with the earth, you can be the earth. Now you are a yucca, now just a mound, a sage bush etc. you get the picture. See if you can fool your buddies. Remember shadows are your friend. So, no matter what your wearing it should not matter, when the Apache went to war they took off any clothing they had on for the most part. So, what you are wearing should not matter much if you employ what is around you in the right manner. Now go hide! 

      by Dude McLean

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


 The short cache is a special cache that is a short way from your home. It also is short, meaning it is
short on gear for use in an unexpected emergency. Which is what any cache is for, but this one is really short on gear that you can carry in one easy load, or being able to leave some of your cache for later if needed. My own short cache is within a five minutes’ drive from my home or a half hour walk. The short cache has some extra keys for my home and trucks. It has some water and MRE type food just a few packages. I like canned sardines as they pack
well and give one energy. My Short Cache has; a few snacks for the sweet tooth, some folding money, plus a list of phone numbers that I may need in an emergency, it has a few weapons and ammo, a sleeping system, a light tarp, some warm clothes, a poncho, a few machetes, camp knives, maps, a writing tablet with pencils, a carry system that is small and light. Other caches are more extensive and further away.  The short cache is a get you to the other cache with ease. It can also have a few head lights and a cooking system if needed.

 If for some reason your home is compromised, you have the means to move on if you need to do so. Or to gain access to your home and or transportation without any fanfare on your part picking your own time of access. The items I have mentioned are just suggestions for you to add to depending on your own circumstances, you may want to add insurance copies as well and copies of important papers. The short cache is meant to provide you for only a few days, thus the small number of items. 

 A few important things to keep in mind when preparing any cache is the container has to be water proof. I like a container within a container, the means to open the containers, and the means to dig up
your container if it is under ground. When you have all the items you are going to put into the container, place them all in the same room for at least 8 hours so they all are the same temperature. This procedure will help with the problem of condensation; this includes the container as well. Each item should be in its own container even if it is just a baggy. You should mark your containers as well.

 Just a suggestion for you to think about. I know many will have some great ideas to add to the list. A short article about not being caught short. 


 Dude McLean

Friday, July 1, 2016


  Simply a stunning book, the visuals, photos, are just perfection as is the rest of the book. This is not a plant ID book and not a cook book in the sense that that you have ever seen in the past, but a real breakthrough on originality in dining. Pascal offers a broad array of foods and drinks in an elegant and exciting way very clever in its presentation in an inspirational manner, yes even we can do it. Creating a form of foraging that is both a wild combo of ingenuity that demonstrates the huge potential of culinary art into practical recipes that nature provides.

Pascal’s hard earned infinite knowledge and the passion for the wild foods shine through in this presentation like you have never seen. We hear about books that are one of a kind and at last here is one that truly is one of a kind. Clear instructions for each recipe, that are unique, innovative ideas for using the wild flavors, all for your delight. The contents are amazing from making wild cheeses to primitive beers and cooking with dirt, sticks, bark, leaves, sap, and stones. Preserving by dehydration and making cold in fusions, creating wild spice blends and using wild mustards. How to make wild sodas and wild hot sauces to making jams and syrups with wild ingredients.

 Pascal states the book is not about identifying plants and not about cooking either it is about exploring from a culinary perspective what the wilderness is offering us. It’s about how to create interesting ingredients that will represent your local terroir as a forager, cook, or chef, to some degree it fills a gap between foraging and cooking. Many of the ideas and methods presented here you can use regardless of where you live most of the plants or related species are found around the world. 

Packed with information not one wasted photo or comment is to be found. Pascal has set a very high bar for anyone one to follow, and good luck with that. A most beautiful book I must confess that Pascal is a personal friend, and I am proud to be. His book has been a work of love in the truest sense. The detail is amazing, not to be missed, well worth the investment. A big book in every way. publisher is: Chelsea Green Publishing ISBN 97816035856061

                                                         REVIEW BY DUDE MCLEAN 

Thursday, June 9, 2016


 Having been involved in survival skills for more than 50 years , you learn to wean out things that are not useful or realistic , one learns to discount certain items that are not practical. I have spent a great amount of time learning survival skills  and honing those skills , I firmly believe you have to round out your skill set. The skill set includes the modern tools we have at our fingertips , these can add up in the dollar side of the margin( but you can find used tools for cheap) and you will find some are just not worth it and in reality just hype by some company but those that do work can be a life saver and add to your confidence level. Rounding out your skill set should include the primitive skills, I count the primitive skills as your foundation with which you can build on with any of the modern skills, if the modern tools fail you have the primitive to fall back on. 

                                                                       WHAT PRIMITIVE SKILLS 

Making fire with friction can be a life saving skill.  Learning the bow and drill and following that the hand drill . The bow and drill takes a while to get it , knowing what wood to use and
how to prepare the "set". The best way to learn is with an instructor who can show you in person , some can get it in a day others will take a week of working on it everyday . Once you get it do not let it rest , make a fire once a week to keep your hand in the game, if you let it go too long you will lose some of the nuance. The hand drill is a different critter  and much harder to learn, it will take devotion to learn the skill but you can do it. I suggest you become as expert as you can with at least one of these methods . WE have flint and steel as well not as hard to learn but does take practice, Even the lowly match takes practice to start a fire. A bic type of lighter is must carry  I feel in addition to the more primitive skills of fire making. The tinders and learning how to build a fire lay will come into, play  The ferro rod also is seen as away to make fire but this simple device seems not to work for many who have not practiced a bit . All of these methods  will take time and practice. Do not slack apply your self and you will  master all of the methods to make fire. Again if you can find an instructor to teach you it will be far easier  to learn. However there are some good videos to, teach you as well. Making fire one time is not enough , one has to make fire several times , like maybe 100 times or more before you own the skill. After that you have to keep up the practice at least once a week. However my favorite way of making fire is a ferro rod and/or Bic lighters , you should be able to make hundreds of fires with these tools.


Speaking of tools brings me to tools you can use and should master , a wood chisel is something to think about and a hand auger as well one you  can fit a handle on when you need it , this allows you make holes in wood( you might consider a stone auger as well) to build shelter and other tools where wood is needed.A saw is a tool that is helpful as well.  With these you can make furniture enabling you to live a bit more comfy in the bush , these tools ill also help you make weapons as well. Primitive blacksmithing is a craft one should try their hand at . Jason Hawk  is a primitive black smith and a master at it . We live in a world of tin cans and other metals , iron etc. and if you can craft many useful items from the scrap. a tin can will yield arrow heads and spear heads even a knife,  not a pretty thing but workable . I have witnessed Jason making items that are heated and pounding them into a tool using a rock as a hammer, again not pretty but workable. Jason has a series of DVDs called "Making Do" the poor mans forge on Paladin Press  , I feel they are well worth the money , I have been  pounding somethings into shape , it is slow learning process but Feel it well worth the time to learn the primitive skill of the blacksmithing side of survival skills , you wont make nor is your goal to create a really pretty shinny blade but with some leaf springs or any found  metals you can make hinges or any number of items, arrow heads , spear heads  large or small cutting tools.. *In a   SHTF situation you could barter your skills
or make items no longer found . Another tool is a good machete , they are easy to get now and they are cheap to aquire and they do not run out of bullets , they an awesome defense tool and very intimidating , just in a few countries they have killled thousands plus the more obvious uses , I would stock up on more than a few. One more thing I would have is a Vechawk and a Ecohawk , both tools created by Mike Gapp, I have found these to be very useful in camp and out and highly recommend them  you can reach Mike at

 ID'ing wild edible plants can help fill your larder . Learning the wild edibles is an on going education and can continue as long as you live it is a great feeling to be in the bush and just reach down and grab a few edibles as  you walk along. Wild plants offer many opportunities to fill you up or round out a meal . This skill takes a lot of time to learn but is well worth the effort . Once you get into it it will be second nature to learn new plants . There are many books and videos on the subject, but a instructor will give you a large step forward  some of the best meals in my life have a feast of wild plants. Never eat any plant you have not
Identified 100%. The problem is the time of year and where you live in some places it could good for only a few short months , learning how to grow food is a skill that one could learn now when if your crop fails it wont mean you starve, learning the ins and outs of growing your own food is a valuable skill to own. 


Learning how to trap is a skill set that is important as well. Keep in mind the little critters add up, and for the most part much easier to harvest than a big animal.Snares are  way  to trap that is very effective . The good old rattrap can catch cotton tails and bushy tails and other  small ground animals , even birds and snakes  . In my rat traps I drill at least 3 holes in the base  I tie down with cordage or wire so the animal  cannot  drag it off into the bushes. I suggest you use only the Victor brand of rat traps as they offer a good strong spring that is fast and will hold the critter  . Practice where you can , be aware of game laws . You can set snares that will let the animal go, you do that by using very weak wire that will break under any kind of pressure , then examine the location for tracks.  Adding the traps like Conibear or other steel traps will help feed you and family.. All traps are passive and are working 24/7 , hunting is only a one on one deal unlike a trap line that you check at the least 2 times a day if not more,  live hunting burns a lot of calories and limits your chance of a harvest , the live trap is a way to go also ,it is an MRE  fresh when you need to eat , most critters will eat anything you feed them . While I do like snares after one use they are for the most part
useless. The live traps can be used over and over , the same with a Conibear trap , keep in mind  that gun only has so many bullets and someday you will run out. Traps do not run out , they need no bullets.Let us not forget fishing , nets and other items that are not legal now may very well feed you in a SHTF life.  . 
                                                                                     THE COMBO

I like the combo of primitive and modern tools , it allows for more bang for your survival  life to thrive.I think our ancestors would jump at the some of the modern tools that are common now , so now is the time to grab some of the non power tools that can make for better conditions at really thriving in a SHTF life . Tools are for  us to understand and use o the best of our abilty, the modern tools are a huge advantage for the survival life.

                                                               by Dude McLean

Thursday, June 2, 2016



Many have little choice but to use small containers for water storage. There are a few things to look out for when choosing a container. One is the use of milk containers, a no-no for sure, no matter how well you think you can clean them out you cannot get into the small little imperfections on the plastic they harbor the bacteria that will turn your water bad in a heartbeat. Plus, they are flimsy and will fail in a short time. The same for those already filled water plastic containers with a spicket. The plastic is weak and will fail in a year or less. Avoid a problem and do not use these containers.

 Pop bottles are great and will keep water for years. A few drops of bleach in the water works well. I have had water in some pop bottles for years. When checked they were fine and good to go. Keep the bottles out of direct sunlight. Do not forget to clean the cap with bleach also. Be sure to include the threads of the bottle top. Any glass bottle is good but could lead to breakage. 

 The amount of water that seems to be suggested by the survival experts is one gallon per person a day. I think that is way too conservative, I suggest at least 3 gallons a day per person. That includes cooking, drinking and cleaning, like washing clothes. And that may not be enough, so go to the high side as much as possible, nothing replaces water in your diet. If you can find 40 gallon containers so much the better, but remember that water is heavy, about 8 pounds a gallon, so a larger container might be difficult to move and do not forget a small hand pump. 
For those of you who can get a hold of the 55 gallon drums or water storage so much the better but remember the weight you are dealing with. A 40-gallon container will weigh in at about 320 pounds, so a dolly might be a good investment or a very strong son. When I used the 55 gallon containers I placed them in a location so they would not have to be moved, I could roll the 40 gallon containers if I had to. I believe it’s better if you do not have to move them. Rolling them is a huge pain in the butt. It could compromise your container. No sense in taking that chance. 

 The alternative are the small containers, way better than nothing. The pop bottles are very strong as they have to be in order to withstand the pressure of the carbonation process. That’s why they do not fail over time, keep out of sun as that can make them brittle. You can stash them under beds, sofas, chairs, in cubby holes, in a garage on shelves etc. Years ago when I lived in an apartment I had about 100 bottles under a bed, even stacked them. Keep some in your trunk, under the seats, every little bit will help in a breakdown of water service if it ever comes to that. 

Do not forget your pets they will need water also. My deerhound drinks about a gallon a day. Water is something we cannot live without, plus if you have emergency food much of it needs water mixed into it or to cook it. I know water is not as sexy as food to store, but it is just as important if not more so. Water, prepare for it now. Once it is cut off, good luck with that one. Water is so common we often do not think of it ahead of time. It is not hard to get ready for storage of water, you just have to do it. Daddy can I have a drink of water? If you feel the water is suspect just boil it. Water is life. 


                                                                             DUDE MCLEAN