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Saturday, May 30, 2015

A Hard Critical Look At Preps, The Simple Stuff

A Hard Critical Look At Preps, The Simple Stuff

In the past I traveled to the most northern part of the state of California and Nevada.( Good enough and close enough for this article) I was the hired gun so to speak for two separate “groups” as a consultant and observer generating a report card on the areas they wanted advice on. This worked for me as the groups are not known to each other. But are within a 100 miles of each other.
I cannot and will not give specifics. However, so many things are generic and important and are often over looked either by small family groups or larger groups who are well backed by money.
I start out meetings with groups like these pretty much the same way. I ask questions. Most of the time , over the years, the answers are “stock” and predictable. In print it might seem simple and obvious but that is not the case year after year. Many of these folks are not unaware and some are very sophisticated.
I start with a general talk, no questions really just suppositions. What happens ? Someone volunteers information. As in we have several thousand dollars hidden here in cash and gold. What? I jump to my feet and yell, “don't tell me that” , It is none of my business, I don't need to have that info, please, why would you volunteer that info”. “Now you are going to have to move it because now I know the general location. If it does a vanishing act, all fingers will point to me”. ( I make it a practice to be blind folded the last several miles to the site). They want me to find the perfect place(s) for a cache or 10 of them. ” No, I do not want to know where you hidyhole anything. I do show and give them ideas, in detail,  of what to do and how to do it, but they have to find the perfect location on their own.
I love this one and this has happened a lot since 9-11. Most do not recognize the trap. ” We are very aware of the news and we follow such and such survival guru and the other guys as well. ” Really ” sez I. ” Yep and we feel that should the flag go up, the balloon, goes up, (add all the other SHTF sayings) we are so aware, so attuned,  that we will know when to pull the plug and bug it, heading to our “place” and be already in place before the highways and freeways are all jammed”. Me, “Really?” . This is when I ask a very simple question , ” When you saw or heard about the twin towers what did you do? Sit and watch it on TV or bug out? That was your cue to get out of Dodge and even out of Squat and Dot, wherever and run as fast as you could to the hills or whatever you have planned”. Silence. ” How did you know that wasn't a large scale deal as the news kept updating. Forget what we learned afterward, we didn't know that then”. Silence. ” So all of you were potential sitting ducks and maybe dead in an hour. This could have been a first wave and happen in one city after the other. After the planes, what next?”
My other question is, ” What have you got in place and who have you got in place that is on top of the information and who  is so much smarter than everyone else, that you will have ability to move ahead of thousands of other well informed people. We all get our info from pretty much the same places. So who is the special genius in your group that has this handled? ” Now this comes off very smart ass and a bit arrogant in print but in person it really gets attention. Fast.
One of the groups had about 40 members. Many professional folks, from lawyers to doctors. Firemen, cops, and everyday working people, all with a trade of some kind. All in all a good solid mix of people. Put together very smart, covering a lot of skills. I saw supplies, from food to water ( not enough at all) and tools for the future. A lot of good planning went into this venture. They showed me how well placed the “retreat” was. Well not really because too many people below them, on the road to the retreat, would have been aware of the building site and traffic as they passed through a narrow gorge to the retreat. A lot of activity will draw attention, always. They asked about the tactical location of this place and showed me what they had in place. Not bad, not good either. No fallback. In a collapse , for the most part we can forget about airplanes. Except from the military, and there should be no reason for them to seek you out over the thousands of other retreats around the country like this one. So they did not pay attention to the “high ground” , directly behind them. We had a one of those discussions about all of these issues.
Simple stuff, for the most part but I have seen this over and over again. They failed to break down the real use of water over a real period of time. Simple answer, dig a well, they have the money.
The plan is to have enough on hand for 90 days. They have seeds etc for a garden. None of them has ever grown a garden.
90 days for the food and water preps. This came from both groups. Where did this magic number come from? This is one of my pet questions. “Where the hell did you get that number? ” So after 90 days we are suddenly back to normal? We have it all handled in 90 days no matter what the problem is/was?” Both groups had the same number, I have run into this number time and again. WE do not know or really have any idea , if the “down time” is going to be 2 weeks, 60 or 90 days, a year or 5 years. If the whole grid went down it could take 6 months, I have read, but no one really seems to know.
The other group was small in comparison, about 15 people. A very modest but very nice “campout” place with some clever use of berms hiding RVs, plantings on the berms of native plants and trees. The longer this has to work the better it will be. A few easy to put up metal buildings, solar and a few genies. Some easy to raise livestock already in place. Chickens, rabbits, goats etc. All easy to feed. Two full time families in place. They have good use on a small output of money. Much easier to feed this small group.
Did I rip this one also, yes, but I won't go into the details, but much along the same lines as the larger group.
I have left out a lot of information here on purpose . I just wanted to highlight a few things that I have seen over the last 25 years or so that I have consulted with folks, most make the same mistakes over and over. Why? mostly because it has not been tested in this country. Very hard to see a real perspective when you are in the middle of it. We tend to accept what a more emphatic member has to say on a subject, and beats the rest down. Sometimes things seem logical but in practice they are not.
One last thing, getting there. Believe me no one has a special trail, route, road , etc that 1000s of others do not know about. I have been in very remote roads like in Nevada and watched as the road backed up after an accident, with a mile of traffic. Or even road construction . Take any road, trail. You only see it in a very short time span and in very short , minutes of use. Say it has been there for 30 years. Times that by the number of folks that travel the route in a year. You are talking one hell of a of folks that know your special shortcut. A trail, doesn't that say it all? It is a trail for a damn reason , lots of people have used it for years and years.
Answers to many of these things.
The simple stuff will trip you up.
I have made a long study of these conditions, and reached many conclusions after viewing many sites over the years.
Many have to be a custom job. Most issues can be handled.
Details, the simple stuff.
By Dude McLean


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A Prudent Man and Insurance

A Prudent Man and Insurance

In recent news stories there has been talk of the nut cases, “survivalists”, so called, or the term “preppers”, calling doomsday, and  they are out of control. Hoarding vast amounts of food and other supplies. Some say the government is keeping an eye on these dangerous people, for they are not the “norm”, and might be up to something that the government needs to keep tabs on. They are different and strange . Really? Are they serious?
Being prepared is a very broad term. Let's take a look at it. By state law in California we who drive must have insurance. So being a prudent person most have the insurance, it is not really all that cheap, we are told it is but in truth it is not. Some spend thousands a year, year after year.
If you own a home, a false impression in reality, the bank owns it till the last payment is made. You have to have home owners insurance and fire insurance, and in some places flood insurance, none of these are cheap. They do fall into the prudent man slot.
Now look at these insurance deals, I call them scams, even though you may go year after year with no claims you still continue to pay and over the years the rates climb. No one says you are dangerous , or strange , or different or written about as an oddity of some sort. No one says you are hoarding home insurance with money, you  are buying the item and storing it in a contract. Absurd? maybe, maybe not.
You are prepared for the worst. It is the accepted norm. In fact it is really strange and weird. The law says we have to do these things , or the bank contract says we have to this and thus or they will buy it and charge you.  We are following the dictates of our society. Therefore we are cool and prudent. No news items here.
See what happens if your own idea of insurance happens to be the fact that you wish to store away some must haves in order to “live”, to “survive” . Must haves are food, water, and other items that “insure” you and your family will continue to survive any conditions that would knock out the grid, stop the flow of traffic, like an earthquake, a huge ice storm, that lasts for several days, or months  etc. Name the devastation and let it roll. A prudent man could ride it out with his “homemade insurance”.
Nobody can tell you they will be there to help you. So you are left to take care of yourself. A prudent man, you would think, would make some wise choices. The basics are the first set of choices. It is your own homemade insurance that pays off in spades by keeping you and the loved ones alive and comfy. Is that so bad? What is so different about this as opposed to buying insurance for your car(s) when you have had no accidents in 20 years. Your house has never burned down, and never been flooded. We continue to pay. That is hoarding in more contract forms. Again, absurd? Really?
Store a little food that might last a year.My God he is hoarding! What?
Hell Im hoarding clothes, I have 30 shirts , 8 coats, 9 pairs of boots and shoes. 20 pairs of socks etc, but no one has ever said  anything about those items. But store a little food , something that is even more basic then clothes ( in places) and you have all kinds of fingers pointed at you. Store enough food for a year for  family of four. Now look at that in the context of what our expected life span is. So you have put aside enough basic food items for one year. Your life span is at about 80 years or so. That one year of food is for four people. Now break that down over the years you might live. It comes out to days, not months. And that is hoarding? Absurd? Really? Someone is worried that you have a few days of food that amounts zip over the period of your life span. That is absurd!
So the answer is, we should all just buy enough food for each day as they do in some places in europe where I have visited. Or better yet just eat out all the time, store nothing at home. Keep the cupboards bare. Do not lift a finger to help yourselves.
Being prudent in one goofy area seems to be okay, car and home insurance but not in other areas of your life. Like keeping alive. Home and car insurance will not keep you alive.
What pure nonsense we are seeing in the press and from other places.
Being prudent is the ability to stay alive and thrive by providing the goods and tools  to do so. You become less of a burden to the government and they can move on to some nonprudent slave of the state. I guess thinking for yourself and being someone who thinks ahead and plans a little, who is independent, is a no no.
It is all insurance. Part of being a human being. Even critters store food. Maybe we should look into that and stop that kind thinking.
What is your insurance?. Are you a , God forbid, a hoarder… Oh my…

By Dude McLean


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What’s For Breakfast

What’s For Breakfast

Breakfast, break-fast, break the fast from sleeping and not eating for 6 to 10 hours. I’am one of theose people who wake up hungry. Five minutes after getting up and dressed I want to eat. I want coffee, and “hot” food. I will settle for a cold cereal, but does not make me happy.
Oatmeal, cream of wheat are fine. Toast and coffee. Eggs and bacon and hobo fries, work well. At home, all of this is pretty easy to pull off.
While on the trail or camping it might be more of a chore for some and no biggy to others. For me though I still want it hot and right damn now. So what do I do? Enter my trusty coffee can pot, yep that one. And what do I cook? In one can goes the water for my coffee, in the other can goes a dry soup, yep soup, a good hearty one, even a canned one if I’ am in one place for a while. Soups are hot, they are easy to heat, and they are filling.
Many times as the soup is cooking I will either put in an egg still in the shell, and as the soup cooks/heats , the egg cooks inside the shell and I have a soft boiled egg, and my hot soup all done at the same time. Or I have cracked the shell and poured in the egg(s) to cook with the soup, I just stir it up in the soup. Yum sez I.
This is fast and easy. All kinds of dried soups are available as you know, they fit into your pack and you can cram them in the little spaces. I take mine out of the pouches and mark them with duct tape.
I have had people say , “soup for breakfast, you have to be kidding me” . Who said you cant have soup for whenever you want it? Ice cream for breakfast is just fine as long as my mom does’nt find out. Soups are  good in the morning, it is light , wont bog you down, hot and warms you up on a chilly sunrise. Light to carry. And you can even have it for lunch as well. As you learn the wild edible plants you might add those greens to the soup, you find along the trail. Things like the seeds fr curly dock will help to thicken the soup, lambs quarter in the soup is very very good. Experiment with what you find and you know 100% what the plant  is.
Hot soup fills the tummy and is fast and easy to fix. Not much to clean either.
Try some hot soups for breakfast, if you have not tried it before, now is a great time. For your consideration.
By Dude McLean


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The Speedhook


Going through some files and such I found an old copy of “The American Survival Guide” , well not really all that old, Dec. 1998. I flipped through the pages and it landed on an article that caught my eye. ” Speedhook, not just another fish story” by Andrew J. Pratscher, president of Speedhook specialists. I read the story and as I read it came back to me.
I do not recall the exact date I got my first order of Speedhooks but I know it was in the early 90s. I was thrilled with them and ordered more. They worked better than advertised.
The highlights of the article are about Andrew taking his 11 year old son fishing and realizing he had not fished since 1971. He came home skunked, his son did catch some fish. Andrew states that he was really trying to catch some fish  also but failed. Who hasn't been there?
He started messing around with some ideas and the Speedhook was the result.
Andrew had a friend who ended up funding the idea of the Speedhook and they were issued a patent on Jan. 2 , 1990. They did fishing expos and the response was way more than they could handle. They were putting the ‘Hooks together by hand and it was time to expand.
Speedhooks, if you do not know work great for pan fish, bluegill, carp, perch, crappie, rockbass, whitefish,, catfish etc, Some have caught flounder, pigfish and other types of saltwater fish also, says Andrew.
In my own experience I know they work well when fishing with kids .
The Speedhook  has the perfect name, because it sets the hook so fast the fish has no chance of escaping. When you are ready to eat, or in a survival situation that is important.
As a matter of fact, in his article Andrew writes they had the department of Defense interested, I think that worked out very well for Speedhook. DOD said, in their tests the Speedhook was able to catch birds, bunny's, and rodents… As a result the Speedhook is sold to every branch of the military. Not bad for starting at home fooling around with an idea
I hope everyone , every Dirttimer, is aware of this great tool, if not you should know it works well and beyond, fool around with them for while and you will be amazed.
This is one of the great tools that should be in every kit, and every pack. They take up such  little room it would be a crime not have a few with you, for the  great returns that it offers, get some. .now
“Survival Resources” our own, John McCann, sells the Speedhook. The plug is here , it was not planned, as I wrote the article, it came to me that John sells this fine product. Plus they are one of Dirttimes sponsors.
Now get out and use this great tool.
Just a short practice session is all it takes. Get the pan hot, let's eat…
By Dude McLean


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“attitude vs. ATTITUDE”


Stress is something we bring on ourselves. How to cope with stress is not always an easy thing to pull off.
Lets look at a trek, a camp in the woods, and it begins to storm, and the wind kicks up and it is way colder than we thought it might be. Bitch , bitch, complain and whine and more bitching. Well, being a former Marine I know how to really bitch and have made an art form of it, all Marines did. Getting down to brass tacks, all it really is is “attitude” .
I am going to pull one of those my Daddy always said, my Daddy always said , “any stupid S.O.B. can make themselves into a miserable ” , just keep it up and pretty soon you will be so miserable you will have lost any way out. They have convinced themselves that it is so , and so it is. Wrong! Attitude enters the picture, big and ugly and looking for you. Not a negative attitude, and not a pollyanna attitude, but an “Attitude” of “adventure”, of we can make this okay, not the way we planned to spend our day and night but let's make the best way we can. Attitude can be our friend.
Another way to put it is “mindset” and the mind will point out the attitude you decide to take. Making a bad weather situation , for example, into a challenge that can be met with humor with a real attitude is much better than the “screw it ” attitude. And the bitch attitude, fix it, make it do, and create a space for yourself and whoever else is with you. So you will be stuck there, cant hike, etc, build a leanto, or put up your tents, tell stories, make some hot coffee or hot chocolate, kick back enjoy the surroundings, hell you are not stuck at work. Watch the weather and see if you can spot any critters, nope, that because they are curled up and snug, make it so for yourself.
A little cold? Ahh so make a list of what you need to carry next time. Have an in depth talk with your fellow “attitude challenged friends” , make it an adventure.
You will no doubt have “heroes” , writers, from the past you look up to who wrote of the wild woods, the high deserts, the mountain meadows, do you think that each and every time they ventured into the Dirt it was all just perfect. No it was not. They were caught in the bad stuff, if that is what it really is, or not.. What would they have done? Kept busy is what they would have done. Make some crafty items, fool around with some trap triggers you never had time for. Try and keep that damn fire from going out, see if finding that dry wood can really be done as you have heard. Or read a book for awhile, take a nap , observe  nature.
At the Dirttime Event in Wyoming , DT10, we had rain, mud and several other challenges to overcome. A lot of things behind the scenes that most were not aware of. I bitched about some behind the scenes problems, but the weather? Nope, just deal with it. 99% of the Dirttimers didn't bitch, we improvised and made do the best we could. Most were prepared. A few didn't have all the gear needed in the rain, we got some extra gear from other Dirttimers. Our classes went on as planned, the cooking was done and  the hot food did cheer us up, everyone did their part and then some. By the second and third day the sun was out and we were dry and happy again. Attitude!
Did we like it raining ? No, but nothing ground to a halt. Attitude made into an adventure to be “lived”, to experience and tell the story later on in our  life.
Everything in life does not go as planned, not news to any of us. However, your own “Attitude ” and how you view what can be an adventure is a key part of living. Even if you are stopped cold in your tracks, and have to turn back down the trail, make it work for you and change the direction of your adventure.
Attitude and the “oh crap attitude”, mindset and what is. Deal with it. No one wants to hear someone whine and moan even if they feel like it themselves. Attitude can be directed. Fix it so you have the adventure in mind no matter what. That's the attitude.
By Dude McLean


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Mo Money: In Your Pocket

Mo Money: In Your Pocket

Saving money is something we all think we can do but seldom reach the amount we wish to save. There are lots of ways to save bucks.
One of the ways I have saved money over the years is, I pay myself.
What does that mean? In school, no matter your education level, no matter your ethnic background, no matter how smart your parents were, few of these had any influence on or taught you how to save money.
This is what I have done for about 50 years. It is simple, it is easy, I call it paying myself. It does involve buying some  used items, however, new also works, from clothes, to gear, to cars, to food, or something that is on sale.
Here is how it works.
Lets start with clothes, a shirt is on sale at your favorite store.
The shirt at the sale is 20 bucks, the retail price is 35 bucks.
I buy one shirt. I made 15 bucks that I pay myself by putting the difference in my savings stash/cache.
I buy a wool shirt at the thrift store for 6 dollars, many of the wool shirts I find are brand new, and in great shape. Say that it is a Filson brand. I look up how much that shirt is and I apply the difference to paying myself. Could be as much as a 100 dollars. If you cannot swing the 100, go for 50, or sink it to 25 bucks if you have to but pay yourself something. I buy a great deal of my clothing at thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets etc. Recently I picked up some Filson waxed bibs and a jacket with a hood, 25 bucks for the bibs, and 25 bucks for the jacket. So for 50 dollars I picked up about 200 dollars of clothes that I will use. I will send them to the Filson company and have them rewaxed for about 35 dollars. I paid myself a 100 dollars. Went right in the kitty.
Food items are treated the same way. All sale items are added up and I pay myself the difference. At times we cannot always do it, we just might not have the difference to pay ourselves with. I always try to pay myself at least something. A little is better than nothing.
Over the years, at the end of a year, the money I paid myself often paid for a great vacation, or for work on my home. Sometimes it went for items for my kids, you get the picture. Once you get in the mindset to  PAY YOURSELF , and start to put a few dollars away, it becomes second nature
and you feel guilty if you don't do it. Shame shame on you..
My suggestion is to create a place to stash the cash or even put it in a separate account. Over the years it can add up to some real money. Like paying for your next car or pickemup truck, CASH.
By being frugal, and dollar wise, you get to keep the money in your own pocket, not the other guys.
PAY YOURSELF
By Dude McLean


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Simple Tips For Water

Simple Tips For Water


In our wanderings we sometimes get low on water, depending what part of the country we find ourselves. In some areas water is always available, it seems. In many of the places I do my own dirt time, I am in arid regions.
I do run low on water , depending on the time of the year. .
Here are a few things you can do if you run into a low water situation, or no water at all. When most folks come upon stagnate water they are repulsed at first. But if that is your only choice, in most cases it is okay, if you are prepared just a little bit. Skim the top of the scum , fill up your can, billy, etc and then add some charred bits of wood from your camp fire , boil it and when it is finished boiling let it settle for a minute, and  skim some off the top again. Strain it, with a shirt , a bandana, or what have you. Set it off to one side and let it cool. Boiling sterilizes the water and the charcoal is the deodorizer. For the best results add an inch or so of charcoal.
Let all boil for 15 minutes to a half hour.. Makes for a sweet tasting water.
Cooling water when it is very hot was something all the old timers knew about. In today's world some may know and some might be surprised, this even works with the plastic water bottles, and those plastic canteens that impart a horrible taste, to my mind. This is really just common sense. Trekkers in the deserts carry water bags of canvas or made from linen duck. I have a folding bucket made of this stuff. When these bags are filled with water they exude a lot of moisture and cool the contents down by evaporation. Wet the covers on your canteens, works the same way. Those plastic bottles can be wrapped with a wet cloth , keep it wet, and let them hang in the air currents. Placed in the shade is best.
Filters::: Many have been confused about what a “filter” does, even the store bought ones. Remember at best they will clarify the water. Some of these filters jam up pretty fast, always try and prefilter them through a t-shirt or a bandana first. A filter should be cleaned on a regular basis, if in the bush at least once a day. Needs to have an intense wash/cleaning. You do not need your filter to be a hot bed of breeding  for your favorite germs.
The big point is that filters do not sterilize. They filter.
Water can make you very sick. And take you out of the game pretty fast. Always be careful about your water.
In a hard core situation if the water looks scummy etc, it can be okay to drink by following the rules. It is your own judgment call, common sense is always a must. Experience in the wild is earned while learning and doing.
Own The Skills

By Dude McLean


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MILK GLUE

MILK GLUE



Need glue? sometimes we find ourselves without it, cant find it or we used it all. But we need it now, the project demands it. Most of us have the makings right at home most of the time. They are milk, vinegar, water and good old baking soda.
How is it done ? pretty simple really. Warm the milk, do not let boil, try 8 ounces of cows milk heat to 250 F, add a table spoon of vinegar, stir until this mess forms some lumps. Now strain this mix and squeeze out the liquid before pouring back into the pot. Now you can add 1/4 cup of water plus a table spoon of baking soda. When it stops bubbling it  is ready to be used as a glue.
You can also use powdered milk instead of whole milk.
This mix works well if you should choose to try it.
It bonds much better than you might think. Very strong bond.
You can also try Knox gelatine , boil some water and then add the gelatine , stir it as you add it. This makes a good bonding agent as well.
Smear it on while it is still warm and lumpy. This stuff makes a very strong glue.
Gelatine works because it is made of protein by partially dissolving animal  connective tissue, collagen, in water. You find it as a powder in the market. I recall my Dad making this mix for wood furniture where legs had become loose etc.
These glues work well.

Look for the book ” Sneaky Uses For Everyday Things” , by Cy Tymony

By Dude McLean


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A Good Quote Defines Truth

A Good Quote Defines Truth

  These quotes all have a survival and a self-reliance theme that runs through them. I will give the credit to the authors when I can find them. If you take the time to really read each one you will see why they have stood the test of time.  
” ‘Firepower’ usually means an increased number of misses per minute. Fifty misses is not firepower. One hit is firepower” Peter Senich, Limited War Sniping.
” There is no such thing as dangerous weapons. There are only dangerous men” . Robert Heinlein.
” Being right too soon is socially unacceptable”. Robert Heinlein.
” The old lesson has been taught again that danger and challenge come from unexpected quarters and , in the last resort, there is nobody to rely on but one’s self”. Anthony Lejeune.
” The law, in curbing crime, is about as useful as the United Nations, in curbing aggression”. William F. Buckley, jr.
” Those who claim that they “reject labels” actually mean that they reject yours, but esteem their own”. Joseph Sobran.
” You never have trouble if you are prepared for it” . Teddy Roosevelt.
” I do not believe that all men are created equal, for the best of all possible reasons: because it is not so”. John Hancock.
” Capitalism brings the unequal distribution of wealth. Socialism brings the equal distribution of poverty” Anon.
” Not to know the events that happened before one was born is always to remain a child”. Cicero.
A Scouts Creed. ” I know where they are and where I am , while they only know where they are”. Chris Schollenberg.
” Nobody knows what a whole army of expert shots could do in the field, because there never has been such a thing” . A.G. Banks.
” One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. ” Plato.
” We are all ready to be savage in some cause. The difference between a good man and a bad man is the choice of the cause” . William James.
Many of these quotes were made hundreds of years ago, some 20 years ago. However, they  ring as true as if they were spoken today. Quotes have meaning and impact, because they reflect, at the least, what is true.

By Dude McLean

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

The Apache Cache

The Apache Cache

A cache can take many forms, from a bucket in the ground, to a concealed package up on a tree limb, to a hidey hole in a wall. And variations of all of these.
Before we had all the fine water proof containers  we now have at our disposal, the problem was keeping things dry and safe. Most folks when they think of a cache think hole in the ground. The hole in the ground has a place for sure. Over many years in my studies of the “cache” in all of it’ s provocative forms, I have stumbled upon many that are somewhat unique in the “build”, and placement. These include many that I have found in the bush, and forests, back yards, and other places too many to name.
 One of my many interests are the Apache, I have studied and read many books about this little known people as far as their lifestyle is concerned. Most think they know about these poeple  but much that is known has been given a blackeye because of the point of view of the writers, and a bunch of bad movie depictions. The Apache were the last indians to be studied, the last to be interviewed, and most of those interviews did not happen until the 1930s. But I digress, this about a cache and how the Apache used what they had, how they hid this cache from prying eyes, and kept it safe. This is one of the Apache traditional methods. I will bet you that some have never been recovered.
 A hole in the ground sideways. Yep, most of the time it is called a cave. The Apache cache was dug into the side of a bluff, arroyo, cliff, etc. They stashed food, weapons, clothing, containers, even water, anything that would help them when they returned. By hollowing out a small cave, for lack of another word, they lay in thick layers of grasses, reeds, stones, large containers, hides, each layer was seperated, until the cache held what they wanted. The cave, might be 4 feet deep, so you could reach in pretty easy, and as high as  3  to 6 feet.
 Once the cache was filled with goods, if wood was available, small wrist sized lengths were planted firmly along with reeds and stones,  so a wall was built to seal off the entrance. Once it was sealed they would wet clay, sand, dirt, stones, and match the rest of the face of the bluff ,  cliff etc, when it dried it blended in with all the rest. The inside of the “cave” was lined as much as possible before the final seal began.
 Simple and effective. Not the normal place one would think to bury something. As I mentioned, most think “down” and not “sideways”.  These caches were and are very effective today. Not the place most metal detector folks look at at all. Take the time on your next trek, look for likely places you could cache sideways, the Apache cache.
 You of course can make your cache much smaller, which is my recomendation,  you can make a series of them, that way losing one will not be the end. Like that would happen.
 The Apache cache method is a good one to consider when pondering how, and where. All you have to do is add the modern water proof containers, so let it be the Apache Cache.

By Dude McLean

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Every Home Is An Arsenal

Every Home Is An Arsenal

Home invasion! A common robber/bad guy(BG)/thief, some lowlife is invading your home. Now what? He is in your living room as you walk out of the bathroom, both of you are surprised, but it is your “turf”. Your bang stick is in the bedroom, so what to do? It is your turf, you know the room, and all it holds. Almost everything you can lay a hand on is a weapon.
The mind set has to be in place to protect yourself and your family. And you will do everything in your power to defend family and home. Look around your home with a fresh eye. Refuse to be limited just because you do not have a “conventional” weapon in reach. First, lets backup just a bit. If you can get out , do so. If you can hide, do so. However, if the confrontation is in your face , so to speak, then it is time for action. Yell at them and scream really loud, to get the hell out right now. The old guy next door might hear you, cool. Okay that didn't work. In the real world of, right now, we can only really count on ourselves. Most of us, not really being highly trained ninja kick butt beyond black belt kinda folks, the best bet is to keep as much distance between you and them. If the BG is armed you still have more than a chance at the “win”.
You are fighting the man not his weapon. That is why you have this mindset, almost every object in your home can be used as a weapon. Look around right now. Certain items are not used as much as they once were. One such item is a heavy glass ashtray, perfect for throwing. A pencil or a ball point pen for up close is very deadly if used right. How about a door, just slam it as loud as you can, and step back to grab a lamp and swing it when the BG comes through the door, followed by a chair in the air.
Got hot water on the stove, soup, stew, a frying pan, a coffee pot, these are throwing weapons. These are all makeshift , your mind has to let go of what the conventional use is, and make the leap to “weapon” .
How about a broom, and use it like a sword/spear, thrusting it just below the ribs, the neck, the eyes, the foot, etc.
A pocket knife, a set keys, belts used as a flail , hope it has a nice heavy buckle. House plants in pots. Speakers, a radio, any knick knacks you can put your hands on. Books, hard backs throw them, magazines rolled up and thrust at the face, cans of food, toys, a fishing pole, you get the picture.
Do a special look around the rooms of your home or office , go to your garage take an inventory of what could be the best objects you could use.
Be the survivor, be the winner and defender of your home. Maybe some of these ideas are not all that manly for some of you, but I think for most, these are very viable options. Good luck.

By Dude McLean

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Family and a Plan

Family and a Plan

You are at work. Your kids are at 2 different schools.
Your wife is at work. If she doesn't work, she is at the market, or anywhere except at home. You work 35 miles from your home. The kid in high school travels by bus 9 miles to school. The other kid is five blocks from home.
The market is 2 miles from home.
Pick the problem. Major earthquake. A terrorist bombing.
Floods. ( more people are killed in the U.S. by floods than any other of natures disasters per year). Or some other man made/caused goof up.
Do you have a plan that the whole family is aware of?
A meeting place, a place to leave a note. Sure we think at first,  cell phone. I think that may not be an option in a huge problem type of  disaster. When the 9-11 hit you could not get to New York, for the most part by cell phone. What does that leave you? A CB, well they are very short range in the best of times , and they will be jammed. Right now they are jammed in or near any large city, under normal conditions. And who are getting through to? Your other half doesn't have a CB and I’ll bet you your kids do not either. A Ham radio, they might work to get you in touch with another operator, but again do each of your kids have one as well as the other half. The communication factors by radio of any kind can very limited and may fail all together.
The family plan is to first have a “family plan”. A plan that not only includes you, and the wife, and the kids but other relatives as well. And old trusted friends, as a part of your family. Sit down and work out  how you are going to get home. Look at the alternatives, walking might be it. That's why you have a mobile bug out bag with real useful items from Survival Resources. That's why each of your kids also have a “kit” in that book bag they all carry today. And the  wife has one in her car/truck.
Walk to where ? What if getting to home base is just not possible for Dad. Roads closed, bridges down, flood waters, road blocks, name it. You need to talk about all of these things that are possible until your are numb. Remember if you plan for it, that will not be the one that happens, it will something we never thought of. But you do have a leg up by having plan A , B , C and beyond. We also know that in certain parts of the country we are more prone to whatever it is your area is prone to.
It could be possible that 3  of this family would make to the “meet up” place. Plan how long to wait, or where you would move to next, so that the 4th member will know what to do when and if they arrive. .
I have heard many folks talk about the “plan” but know few who have really worked out a viable plan.
With families I consulted with, on this important plan, it takes way longer that you might think to work out the kinks and the what ifs, they are different depending on all the locations of each family.
If you have not made a realistic plan, and if you think you have, try to shoot holes in it. Do not overestimate what you think you as, Dad , can do , make a plan that the rest of the family can survive on for at least a few weeks, until you can show up.
A heads up for family plan that will cost you nothing to put together, but it is the most valuable, and important thing you can do for the family and yourself.

By Dude McLean 

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The Intimidation Factor of Large Dogs

The Intimidation Factor of Large Dogs

I have been spending a lot of time doing research, and interviews, with many people, all for an upcoming book that I will complete at some unknown date in the future. My collection of books on dogs is growing by leaps and bounds. No pun.
One of the more interesting areas are guard/protection dogs, and how to use them, and namely the breeds, and or special mixes of several breeds. ( I will cover those in another article).
Im not getting into what I think about the results, and I’ am not doing this to put down your choice of dog/pet etc.
This is about facts as I have found them to be from many sources. We all have our favorite dog(s) that is for sure. Every time on any forum, when “what are the best dogs” comes up, and everyone hops on the bandwagon. Most of the breeds I will talking about I have never owned, been around many of them , hunted behind and with some of them, a few I've never seen in person.
First the difference between a small “alarm ” dog and an “intimidator” is huge, and I mean huge. I have found the bigger the dog the more intimidated the “intruder”, whether by accident or on purpose. Sometimes a” dog team “is the way to go.
Color, makes a big difference. Black seems to be more intimidating than any other color. Dogs with a black muzzle/face come next. White and spotted dogs are low on the list.
Let's start with what are known as the giant breeds. Great Danes are pretty well known. The Danes that are black, blue, or tan with black muzzles, are the best for what we are looking for. These are large dog, topping the scale at 150 pounds and up. They are wonderful family dogs, and will guard you to the death. They were once used as boar hounds and still are in parts of this country. When we see a dog with this stature who has a head that comes to your chest it is not taken lightly. The ancestors of these dogs were used in Roman times as man killers and the dogs of war.
Irish Wolf Hounds, an ancient breed, and the largest of what is termed the giant breeds meaning, how  high they get at the shoulder. Not a real aggressive watch dog, but the intimidation factor cannot be denied. They are great family dogs, and will defend any member of the household. Don't get them pissed off. This is a sight hound, hunting dog. Also used as a dog of war in ancient times.
Scottish Deerhounds, are very much like the Irish Wolf hound, the head and the body is a little more slender. They are very regal and never will back down. Somewhat like the temperament of the IW … These two breeds are very special and have needs other dogs do not. I would have one in a New York minute.
The Borzoi, an elegant looking dog, comes in colors from black to white. A little aloof, but is a family dog. And will guard you and defend you as well. All of the above dogs will hunt many different critters. The Borzoi was a wolf killer and are used in the U.S. for hunting coyotes, etc.
The Cane Corso is a huge dog, like a pit bull on steroids.
Very much the guard/protection dog. Family is first, all others standby to get out of the way. Very intimidating beast. I have a friend who has one, once he knows you it is okay, but you have the feeling he just wants an excuse.
Those are only a few of the giant breeds. There are many more, and any of them could be considered. They have special needs and need to be treated right. Need early training, and know who is the boss. Never strike one of these dogs. Or any dog.
Large breeds, most of you will know these dogs. The Rottweiler has proved itself as a very popular dog in this country. Like all breeds that become popular be careful where you buy. These dogs are family dogs, and will guard and protect. I have seen them from being on the small side to being very large, 140 pounds etc. Great dog.
Rhodesian Ridgeback, who is really a sight hound and a tracker/hunter. A good choice but can be stubborn and willful.
They scare the bad guys, and will defend your family and home. They work great in pairs. They have become very popular, and you need to check ,and make sure they are not coming from a puppy mill. I have hunted behind these dogs and they are fearless.
The movies favorite as the badass dog is the Doberman Pinscher, not really all that big, leggy and almost built like a greyhound. Really smart and easy to train, they are intimidating and have a rep. Can be a little high strung so be careful and research the breeder. I like these dogs and their personality. Attitude in all dogs is everything.
German Shepherds , everyone knows these dogs also.
great dogs, very smart and have a rep also. Hard to get one that has no problems waiting in the future.
I cannot leave out the Akita, They are aloof at times, stubborn and smart. I found mine easy to train. They are a watch dog and a guard dog, a family dog and very loyal.
My Akita topped off at 125 pounds and was intimidating if you didn't know her. Great dogs.
 Airedales, the working Airedale is one hell of a dog , hunter, a guard dog, and a family dog. Check out hunting and working Airedales, you are in for a treat.
Not enough room here to into all the breeds and what my choices would be and why. There are many fine mixed dogs that work out very well, will cover that later. What my book is looking at with certain breeds, is the intimidation factors and finding what is the norm and what is real with these large and giant breeds.
In addition I am looking at them for other uses as well, that will be in another article and or in my book.
Dogs are our best friends.

By Dude McLean

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” Poaching/Subsistence”

” Poaching/Subsistence”


When is it okay to poach, and what is the line between poaching and subsistence? Is this a line you can decide, and what does the law say if you are poaching or just trying to feed yourself, and perhaps your family. Concerning “poaching” , I am not talking about “trophy” hunting. I do not advocate trophy hunting at all but that's just me. Poaching is mostly regarded as a bad thing,  hunting out of season  or over the given limit of whatever it is you are harvesting. That is one definition.
 The history of poaching  goes back to the “Kings Deer” in England. What that really meant, is any critter was against the law for a commoner to hunt. The poacher in many villages was a hero and looked up too, and is credited with helping the common man from starving to death. Catching a poacher was a big deal, for the Kings men. All sorts of methods were used. All kinds of camo was invented just for, and by the poacher, and also for the “overseer” of the Kings forest, mostly the sheriff. Some of these “costumes” are still used today.
Poachers were killed if caught. In a nutshell this is where our laws come from concerning poachers in this country.
Still a huge problem here , mostly for trophy, and rare items like the “gall” from a bear. The history of poaching in this country is a article for another time.
Subsistence hunting in today's world might be a hard thing for you to prove, and be accepted by a  court, if you are caught. I believe you would be walking a very fine line. That decision is up to you. We all have options.
If you are in a personal survival situation, and you are hunting your way out of being lost, confused, lost your mind for 3 days, or are otherwise in a strange, and remote place as far as being able to eat just to keep alive. This would not be too hard to prove, I would like to think. This would be investigated, and the evidence would be pretty clear in your favor.
A SHTF situation, and you are hunting out of season brings up other questions. Like, will there be anyone trying to uphold those poaching laws in the first place? I doubt that very much. However, I do feel if you are hunting, trapping etc, you will want to be silent as possible so as not to draw attention to you and your “camp”. After all others will be hunting as well, so you do not need to attract others, don't even let them know you “here”.
This brings up the method of harvesting  game. Shooting, trapping, bow and arrow, or? Many have hunted behind dogs. Trailing hounds “bay”, and can be heard a long ways, I have hunted behind many hounds, and believe me at times you can hear them two miles away and more.  In a SHTF you want to be as stealthy as possible.
Trapping, is silent for the most part, depending on what you are after. Subsistence harvesting in a SHTF will rule out some lawful practices. For instance, you can snare  deer and many other critters.
One of the methods I am really liking is the use of ‘Sighthounds” , not really used all that much in this country but we are missing a bet.  They are silent runners, and silent killers, will bring down anything from a bunny to a deer, antelope, elk, bear, lion, and most four legged critters. A pair or more of sighthounds could be a great asset. The Greyhounds, Salukies, Borzois, Scottish Deerhounds, Lurchers, and many others could bring in a lot of meat, and more than enough to feed themselves also. They would earn their keep. If they can,  many times will bring the “prize” back to you. Like bunnies and other smaller critters. Combos of dogs would work also, small terriers are known as “earth dogs”, meaning they go to ground, underground and bring out the critters they find there.
The question will be , when do you follow the law, and when to you employ the subsistence,  “unwritten law” of self preservation. You will have to answer those questions, and many others as well. I feel these are things you should address now, plan, and train as your heart and brains dictate.
Do not poach, I am not advocating that practice. However, a line in the sand could be drawn next week, when you, and your friends and this Dude, will have to fend for our family. By planning ahead you will ready and in  front of thousands of others.

By Dude McLean

Patio/Garden Furniture as a Cache

Patio/Garden Furniture as a Cache



 Over many years in my research on “caching”, plus my personal experience finding, and the making of the cache, I have found to be always amazed at the place the hide has been found. Amazed in two ways. How clever one can be. And how stupid one can be. They might as well have hung a sign that said ” here is my stuff” .
  With this most important skill set  is the amazing ability of what folks come up with , the places to hide, conceal, and stash the booty. The idea of course is when you need it you will be able to lay your grubby hands on it. Some caches are designed for a fast retrieve, some take much more time. The place to cache is always a key factor. And the what it is you need to stash.
 Most of us have hidden some item in our home at one time or another. When I was about 12 years old I made a cache in our covered patio under a stepping stone. I hollowed out a hole and then used some cement to line it with. And placed the stepping stone back over it. It never really dried well. But the idea of hiding gear never left me. I have extensive files on caching, interviewed many cache “makers”, books  are okay up to a point , I have many of them, and there are many more of them. However, they all seem to repeat repeat ( that repeat is on purpose) but by doing, and seeing a real cache in action is the way to go. That can be  hard to come by. I have been studying  the “hide”, and have uncovered many caches over the last 40 some odd years. I am sharing a little bit of what I have learned the hard way with you. Nothing is set in stone, I am still surprised at the imagination some have. However, in most cases a cache can be very easy to find. Why? because the person didn't really think it through. We will try and avoid the obvious in this series  of articles.  Although it might be obvious to you, it is not the norm.
Patio furniture offers many potential places to stash your “stuff” . One thing cool about this type of furniture is no one really pays it any mind. Works better as it gets a few years on it. No one will steal it. They, the bad guys or whoever, want in your house so they can toss it.
 Today we still have some outdoor furniture that is made of wood. The legs can be hollowed out of a table. Hide what will fit. Some wood tables have very large legs. You can field strip a semi -auto and after making sure it is water proofed, insert and seal it off. Same with the chairs or the wood benches. With a wood bench or the table top you can pry up one of the boards , carefully, and hollow out a place from the top. Make sure the re-fit looks like the rest of the bench. After a season it will all blend anyway.  
 A lot of the outdoor patio furniture is made from tubing, wow, is that neat or what. I have found paper money rolled up and inserted up the legs. The arms sometimes have a padding or a wooden arm rest. Made to order for you to modify. Unscrew the wooden arm rest, take a hacksaw at about the half way point where the wood armrest fits, and cut there. Put in the bucks, diamonds, or whatever. Seal with super glue, or your choice. Attach the wooden arm rest, and there you have it by jove. Aunt Emma will never know her arm is resting on 3 grand and that is just one side.  Works for gold and silver coins as well. Just be careful that the chairs are weighted evenly.
 Got a patio table and umbrella, cool. The legs of the table are perfect, I love the ones with a glass top. You can see this coming, the umbrella is waiting for you to customize it. My favorite way is from the top of the umbrella. Take off the “final” (that's the pointy thing at the top), and do your magic with a drill. The bottom works well also. You are not going to get a lot into these small areas though. I feel we all need to put away some cash in a cache. These are for a fast fix of money if you need it right now. .
 Lounge chair. Do what ya did before with  whatever it is made of. The large cushion or pad is amost always tied down. Untie it, turn the pad over, and slit the under section at the seam. Put whatever it is that is your “stuff” in a water proof container and insert. Sew it back up. Turn it over and tie it down. Try and place your “stuff” where the cross pieces or springs are not going over the cache, but in between. So you are laying on your stash , you won't feel it.
 One of the most clever caches I ever saw was in a plastic raft thingy that you and the kids play on. It was a solid color, and made well. It was slit at a seam, and the items were placed inside. Seam was glued and sown together, so it would still float, and be blown up etc. Take out of the pool when not being used. Of course this only works if you have a pool, damn details.
 The next thing that meets the eye in your patio are plants. Potted plants. Hanging pots. No need of a plan here. The structure that might be you patio is an obvious place to cache. If no one can see the top of the structure, that old guy next door, the top offers some “places” . Depends on how it is built etc.
 BBQ, aha, it is hot, it burns stuff, not a place to hide anything. Oh really?  I think not. There are so many styles of the BBQ ,  I am not going into it here. It all rides on what kind you have, and what you need to stash. It is an excellent place for money. Protected the right way. Mostly in the legs. Again, depends on the unit.
The mind set for hiding things, and the idea of the cache, is training yourself to always look at anything with “cache” in mind. It is fun and makes your brain work.
By Dude McLean


In A Collapsed Society

In A Collapsed Society
Death, in a collapsed society, in a true wide spread SHTF deal, we will be faced with many “wakeup calls”. One of the most unpleasant will be death. Death of a loved one, by natural causes, accident or some other reason, will happen. Not only will we be tasked with the emotion but the trauma of what to do with the deceased, what to do and how to it and where to do it.
At our disposal (no pun) we have a few simple options we can employ. Before embalming was wide spread in this country, the time period from death to grave was within 24 hours. That was in the summer, high temperature has a huge impact on the decomposition , more so than a time period. Interesting that today 22 states require embalming after 24, 48 or 72 hours after death. However, they also have the option of refrigeration.
 A few 100 years ago our ancestors buried a body where it fell. Or was carried outside to a nearby “plot” picked out as easy to dig. They did not have any real options.
What we can do is wash the body, and perhaps dress it. This was common  and was an act of love, and respect. However, after a short time the body begins to lose all bodily functions. Cleaning the body for some will be an impossible task, it does eliminate “odors” .
 Our ancestors knew certain things, like the use of vinegar to wash out the mouth, helps to eliminate order. Folding of the arms over the chest must be done before rigor mortis sets in. Tying the feet together will limit after death contractions.
 Using a rag or a nice linen to wrap around the head, and under the chin will keep the mouth closed. We have all seen movies where the use of coins were placed over the eyes, well it really does help to keep them shut.
 Dressing the body, is helped by slitting the back of the shirt, blouse, coat, pants, dress, and tucking under the body. All the prep work will help when you must place the body into a casket of some kind or wrap the deceased in a blanket, and lower into a grave, you will have to dig. Perhaps in a total breakdown the family plot will make a comeback. You can mark the grave with a large stone, a hand carved marker from wood. If the time frame permits, you might be able to build a “pine box” or such. Six feet was and is the depth one should go for. If that is not possible, cover with heavy rocks, logs ,what have you, keeps the critters out. Or you might wish to cremate the remains.
 Recapping, I suspect most would want to make sure our loved one was clean and dressed for the long sleep.We will be face to face, and up close to death. Room temperature will dictate how fast we will have to move. We may not be able to do all that we would want for the deceased, however , being somewhat prepared for death will help. Discussing this topic with family and friends if and when we have a huge meltdown of some kind means that you be, at the least, able to handle the situation with some dignity .
 Third world and beyond countries still deal with death and the digging of the graves. The more you know about what you have to do, and the few options that will be open to you, the less trauma you will have over the lack of what we have come to expect with the death of a loved one.
This is not a pleasant article, it is not all romance and tough guys, it is being real. The survivors will have to deal with living and moving forward.
By Dude McLean


Monday, May 25, 2015

Tradition

“Tradition”
Tradition is a great word and can conjur up all kinds of visions covering a wide scope of what “tradition” might mean to each of us. Lets take a look at the use of traditions as in the skill sets for woods tramps ,and self-reliant types, a broad look at how, and why we do ,and or use a certain method.
Tradition, is something that is steeped in the history of any given skill, including the use of certain tools, clothes, shelter, in other words the approach to that skill set. Where did we pick up those traditions, or “this is the way to do it by gawd”. Many times it came from our dad, grandpa, uncle, aunt, grandma, and old mentor, a book , or this how it was shown to me by, you name the person. Most of the time when we learn a skill, then practice it it becomes second nature. This is it, I have that down. I always preach “own the skills” , thats right, but be flexible.
Just because anyone showed us how to do a certain skill, does not mean a better way is not lurking out there.
Dad said that this is the way it is done. Really? My dad showed me a lot of things. ( He would introduce me this way, “this is my son, I taught him everything I know and he still doesnt know a damn thing), a kind of,  just because he taught me didnt mean it was the only way.One of the things he taught me was never be afraid of change. Just because daddy did it this way, so for you this the traditional way to it, keep an open mind for another approach. Dad might even be way wrong. Same with anyone, accept what they taught you, keep an open mind for other methods.
Traditional should not remain “static” but we should have a weather eye out at all times to improve the method.
Over the years by observation, practising, doing, reading,through mentors, and fumbling around on my own I have a certain way of doing things. I like certain kinds of gear over others. I like traditonal packs, made from waxed cotton. I like to wear wool clothes in the bush, I like a leanto made from canvas or sticks etc. . However, that does not mean I have not tried many other packs, like the Go-lite system, works well, many will not use anything else. While I used this system for a few years it was fine. In the end  it was not my “cupatea”.  Light weight tarps and tents, again they function well, I didnt care for them most of the time.
Clothes, I still wear some light weight wonder shirts and pants. They tout all kinds of advantages, really? Not my favorites. You get the point.
So what Im getting at is do not be afraid to try something else. Do not set any tradition in stone, they all have a nuance, and you can learn those from many sources. Try not to remain static.
Several times in Classes with ,Christopher Nyerges, some student will say “thats not the way I learned it from soandso”, in one case it was how to make a fire using a bow and drill. Christopher asked him if he could make fire now. Answer, “no”, and we commenced to show him how to make a fire and he did, but it was still wrong according to him, but it worked. What?
As tradition points the way for many of us, lets not get lost in the mire of not having an open mind. There are many ways to skin a cat, as the saying goes.
Tradional is what I deem it is, for me .
The longer we live and the longer we are active in the skill sets the longer set of reference we build. So some methods become so ingrained, hard to break away from them. However, because of the longer frame of reference we build over our lives, the more we can offer alternatives that work, all nuance.
 For me my frame of reference goes back for over 60 years, so far my mind has not failed (much). I recall being shown how to shoot a certain gun when I was 12 and 13. Was that the right way, sure it was. Worked well until I went into the Marine Corps. Out of boot camp I went shooting with a bunch of my friends I had grown up with. They were amazed at how well I was shooting. I didnt notice the differnce until I was with them. So the persons who taught me to shoot, including my dad, had it down to a point. But the Marines Corps showed me another way. Sometimes, it is the teacher who cannot convey what they know,  articulate it in a manner we can understand. But they can do it just fine.
Tradition in the family is a wonderful thing. The traditional ways do not mean you cannot improve on the traditional methods. Dont get stuck in the mud.

By Dude McLean

Gun Safes

Gun Safes

Many of us are gun owners, and being responsible owners we have a gunsafe. These safes come in many styles and shapes, from a one handgun size to a safe that handles 50 rifles and 50 handguns. Plus the wifes gems and other small treasures, and important papers
Safes come with different kinds of locks, dial a number and key lock combos, to an electric lock. They come with shelves and other goodies. They come with a fire rating of being able to withstand so much fire for a certain amount of time before you are faced with a hunk of metal , outside and inside.
Now where to put this thing. The small ones are not much of a problem. It is the larger ones that seem to be the elephant in the room. Most of the large ones I know about are kept in the house. Some in a garage, but most do not like that. You can get a safe that looks somewhat like a coffee table and place it in the den or living room. The other half might be very unhappy, though. Some are able to place a large safe in a closet. Thats what I did for many years. I bolted it to the floor and the wall. Empty, this safe hit the scales at 900 pounds. Hard to move but it can be done. Thats why it was bolted.
I am assuming many of you have a safe. I think that is smart. However, this not about what kind of safes, and where they should go, and all the brands etc. This is about being “safe” and living with a safe. Lots of bad guys out there, and as things get worse it will breed more bad guys. In any climate there are always badguys The safe in the house only goes so far.
A true story: Many years ago not far from where my house was, a man was a professional hunting guide. He had a few safes loaded (no pun) with weapons. He dealt with many clients over the years, most of them knew about or saw the safes over a long time period. One early evening a knock at the door, he opened it, masked faces and gun in his face. He was forced to open the safes or they would not only hurt him but his wife and kids. He opened the safes. They took everything , a lifetime collection of fine shotguns, rifles, handguns etc. They tied up the kids the wife and him. They were never caught.
He had a safe. However, the contents were not safe and his famliy was not safe. Those of you who have guns talk about them more than you are aware of.
You never know who the person you know might mention in passing that soandso has these really cool guns. Oh, really? You become a target, (pun intended this time ).
What to do? You need a deversion. Sure keep the guns in the safe, just not the best or all of them, depending on how large the collection might be.
The safe that is obvious, is where they will go first and mostly last. You need a few other places to stash the other weapons. If you have a deep freezer, the chest type, by bagging your guns or whatever , you place them at the bottom of the freezer, put the food over them. There are wall safes that go between the studs, by placing a “door” over the front that blends with the wall and placing a piece of furniture in front of it, you are going to be in pretty good shape. You might even do a few other kinds of safes in the house. The garage lends itself to these wall safes as well. My garage was finished with paneling. And had a “grease pit” , never used as such, but it was hidden I could stand up in it.
Great for me. But most will not have this feature. An old fridge can be a safe as well, Im sure many of you have seen these, put a few crap weapons and those crappy knives in it. A large bathroom is a great room for a wall safe as well. Install an electric wall heater, just the grill, make a box that fits inside. With the grill and the knobs etc, it looks like a wall heater.
One of the coolest safes, hidey place, I ever saw was an old TV set. The screen was there, from the back it looked like all the guts where in place. NOT. The screen opened with a push of the knob, a simple latch made from the indside, and it contained 6 handguns, with room for more. Just an old TV with no value all dusty, sitting in the garage up on a shelf.
Deversion and stealth is the game.
Misdirection is the winner
Lots of other options here and this is not meant as an end all , but should get your brainpans working. Do a search for safes and look for some unique features.
Be safe out there
By Dude McLean

DirtCraft

DirtCraft
Dirtcraft, we are Dirttime, and Dirttimers, and Dirtbaggers. “DirtCraft” is the art, skill, knowledge, experience and the blending of  crafts, tools, and the study that boils down to “owning the skills”. Not only is it woodcraft, desertcraft , bushcraft, for us the name is “DirtCraft” . A part of DirtCraft is  “self-reliance, for they do go hand in hand.
 Once one can see many ways to get the same end result, of any skill, you are on the way to “owning those skills”. I do feel though, that many have not really learned “skills” or are not as accomplished as they might think they are. Why? Gadgets! tools that take the place of real skills, or so many think. Many of these tools are  good to so so, I have used many of them myself. And then rejected most of them.
 I feel if the old timers had a chance they would have jumped on many of these gadgets, and then would discard most of them. However, my point is the true skills, and the art of those skills, is undermined by “the latest gadget”. A poor substitute for real “Dirttime Skills”. They are selling us a marketing scheme and not much else.
“…with an infinity of contraptions, all offered as aids to self-reliance, hardihood, woodcraft or marksmanship, but too often functioning as substitutes for them” . Aldo Leopold wrote that about 50 years ago. I know of no one who can say it better. Fifty years ago they were seeing the old skills taking a back seat, and men like Aldo Leopold saw it happening.  Take away certain “gadgets” from many outdoorsmen and women, and they are lost, lonely, cant start a fire, or build a proper shelter, or obtain something to eat, cannot ID a plant or how to use it. Skills? Anyone?
 Many throw money at the gear, as if that will be the “fix”. These new tools will do a very good job at separating you from your money. Marketing is a wonderous animal, that is cunning, sly and lies a lot. Some things are just dressed up a little different and a catchy name is attached. Lets look at knives as an example.
 We have all kinds of herosuperchargedsteels. They are magic. Designed by, the great woods man of the month, month after month we are tempted by these “pied knifers” and many follow along shouting and singing their tune and shelling out tone of bucks.  True, some knives are way better than others. Some cost in the thousands, some cost a few dollars. Ahh, but then the design has to be taken into account. Some are really no more than prybars, some are very cool indeed.
 In truth a slight angle is about all that is new, maybe, and the use of hightech high tech names that are lost on most of us, are made up by the marketing department.
 In truth the knife is a tool that can only do a job  as well as the person using it. No  herosteel or designer is going to help you in the Dirt. You have do it.
 
 I have some high end knives, because I like them, and have a certain appeal for me. I have some inexpensive knives that I like just as well. We can only carry so many knives. The thing to remember is, it is not a contest. For many years like three hundred years, give or take a few, the common butcher knife, in a few different forms, was the woods knife, the fighting knife, the skinning knife, the knife to create crafts, carve, make trap triggers, bows , arrows, and such. 
 Many times I only take a “butcher knife” into the Dirt, they are very handy, a real tool, and I do not feel as if I’am under tooled, so to speak. The butcher, for me will answer all I need it to do. I might carry a few sizes for special work. Sheaths are easy to make, or not, meaning sometimes you do not really need a sheath.
 Some are aware that I’ am a big fan of the Skookum Bush Tool, still am, and I turn to that knife all the time. This was put together , not by a knife maker, or some big deal outdoor guy, but by a guy like us, who read a bit and saw an idea explode in his head, and sold some items to go into business, thinking by some goofy chance he might earn a living . I liked that. Not really pricey as a custom knife goes in todays world and he put together a great knife.  However, I still use several butcher knives that are wonderful tools, why?  they work. You can buy these knives mostly for under 30 bucks, carbon steel or stainless, your choice. Most are not real pretty because the are the “workers”  In the “Backwoodsman” magazine, ( a fine publication), Charlie Richie sells all kinds of knives, most of them are old butchers, and they sell for anywhere  from ten bucks to 35 or 40 bucks.  Only a few years ago most of them were 10 to 20 bucks. But real carbon steel butchers type knives are getting harder to find. Grab then while you can. Low tech.
 My point is you dont need a multitool/other gadgets, that do not really do a single great job with any one of its functions. Learn how, and what a knife is used for, it is a skill set. Let the skills be first and foremost. Study and learn those skills. Then turn to the primitive skills, if you do not already know them, learn how to use a discoidol blade. How to make a bow in the Dirt using rocks, how make a primitive trap, using a sharp rock to cut what you need.
 These are skills that are not expensive to learn. My friend Paul Campbell , is experimenting more in depth about how to use what is around us and how to use it. What he is finding will be a huge eye opener for most.  No gadget can step in and replace earned  knowledge. The truth is, even with the gadget you still have to know a few things. But by taking the time , and reading, finding mentors, practising, researching, experimenting, and being open to what others have to say and show/teach you , who may have a different way of doing the same skill.  Now that is what learning is about. A set of skills will emerge that will own.
 At some point you will suddenly find that you know how to do “that”, and you are now showing/teaching someone else how to do it. Dont let technology rob you of real life skills. After you own those skills , then hit the gadgets if you still think they are worthy. Or give them away.
 “Own the skills of DirtCraft”

By Dude McLean

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Knives, In The Dirt

Knives, In The Dirt
 In the Dirt how many “cool” knives do you carry? One , two, five, or more? Whatever the number is is it mostly the same “crew” that you take/carry in the Dirt, do the knives vary but the number might remain the same.
 Many years ago when I had more energy, I used to keep a journal of my camping, hiking, hunting, etc experiences, it was fun to write about for my own amusement , later on for my own education. What the journal led to was a breakdown of all my gear, how I used it, and under what kind of conditions, that means terrain, winter or summer, and what my purpose was while so engaged. Reviewing many of those notes, that at times I can just make out what I wrote, I ran into my thoughts on knives in the Dirt.
  First things first, I’am not any kind of knife maker, I’ am not a knife expert or even an “exspurt”. However, combining many years of “trail” and many errors, reading, observing the real users, including a whole gaggle of old timers, I have still not made up my mind. I remain to be impressed by anything new. That is called “marketing”. But have still managed to come to some conclusions.The notes I made might be found interesting by some.
  My notes say I had five knives almost all the time. One was always a folder, a SAK back then, and before that a slim 2 inch one blade folder. Now my folder is the “Outrider”( a sak). Im not listing all the knives I used, that is not the point, ahem, but the point is how do you find what you should or need to carry. How do you arrive at that decision.
  Break out the knives you carry. Think back about what you have used and what knife, or knives do you turn to over, and over again? One thing here, which of your knives are really doing the same thing, duty, as another knife you carry. Dump one of them.
  What knife do you use because it was marketed for that kind of use? Do you really need to use that knife at all. Remember, “gear fits the terrain”, not always but 90% of the time. Seems that the conventional wisdom over the last 100 years, speaking in broad terms, a camp knife is a blade of around 4 and a 1/2 inches and is a sheath knife, fixed blade. That is pretty simple. Well dont let that stop you from being confused because the number of knives that fit that M.O is staggering. My take is 41/2 inches, carbon steel, 1/8th of an inch thick. Lots to choose from in that select group. If you have one of these then it should work into your “always carry” gear.
  We are now with 2 knives, a small folder and a “camp” knife. Do you need nore than these two? For me I carry a neck knife, fixed blade, about a 3 inch blade, 1/8th wide. I use it for fine work, however, I could do without it. Look again at how much you use a tool in the same type of terrain. In a scaled down version of my knife carry this is it, these are the knives I use the most. The more you use them the better you get with that tool.
   Many of you like a chopper. They have a place in the right terrain. They can be heavy, and after a week in the Dirt, carrying one of those everyday, all day, it might begin to wear on you. Maybe not. I do not use a chopper, ahhh except in special circumstances I like a Kukuri, seldom is the key phrase here. The other sharp thing I use is a Granforsbuks “baby” hatchet, way lighter than a chopper, and does the job better IMHO. However, this is not about what is better but what you can carry to your benefit and your comfort, most important to you the  advantage in the terrain. A hatchet can be a very dangerous tool, way more than a knife. You really must move slowly with a hatchett because it could end up in your knee or other parts.  Find a mentor, or do some intense reading on the subject.
  On point but off just a little. I told, Alan Halcon, the other day that I ran into a bunch of my Dads knives, all wrapped up these many years since he died, at 93 in 1999.
Anyway the knives were real working blades and used in the Dirt. With a few exceptions all were some form of a butcher knife, many modified just a bit, all are well used and well taken care of. A few other camp type knives as well, this brings us back to the one fact, a simple inexpensive butcher type of knife should not be snubbed. They are light, if you do not like the handle, or slabs, change them. I find them as being very good users. Good enough for the “Longhunters” and the “Mountainmen” and many other true  backwoodsmen. I have put together a “kit” of  butcher knives that now have  sheaths, they are different shapes. I have named them after my Dad, they are the, “Blackjack”,  butcher knife kit.
   Try my method and keep a journal over the next year, list the gear you carry, how it is used, did you use it at ALL. Will another piece of gear work just as well. I know the old “saw” , “well I never know when I “might” need it. I used to use that as an excuse all the time just because I liked the idea of that piece of gear. My suggestion, get over it. What if I break one of the knives? What? Are you kidding me? If you do  break your knife you are doing something wrong! Like using the knife for a prybar. Only use your knife for what it is designed for. Period.
  Taking a hard look at what we carry and then following a plan about the “why” we are carrying the gear leads to being a real and honest DirtCrafter, who owns the skills. Your choice of gear is the first clue.
By Dude McLean p48