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Combatting Covid 19; 3 things you must do from a warriors perspective

After the tenth or eleventh time some nine year old skateboarding girl killed me in a game of World of Warcraft™, I decided that enough is enough.

I have been in lockdown, you see. I don’t know why I have been in lockdown, it is not me who falls into the susceptible class of individual who is likely to die from a Covid 19 infection. I mean, I am turning fifty this year; however, I keep myself fit by running and lifting weights and to be quite honest I am a bit of a masochist anyway. I am one of those rare individuals who enjoys having a surgery done and who gets a kick out of the recovery process. I recently had a rotator cuff repaired and the challenges I faced in the 10 weeks of recovery were high times.

Along the same lines, though I do not necessarily want to be infected by Covid 19, I certainly don’t fear it. I never expected to live forever anyway and have been in many situations where I expected the sudden thud and tug of a bullet to be the last sensation I would experience as I shed this mortal coil and traversed onto bigger and better things. To be honest, even if the afterlife were to hold nothing more engaging than the act of being transformed from organic matter into a bear turd, (Timothy Treadwell), it would certainly beat getting my ass repeatedly kicked in World of Warcraft™ by some 10 year old girl.

And so, as I said, I decided that enough is enough. I have been social distancing for two reasons. The first and most important is the fact that I hang around some old codgers who are susceptible and I wouldn’t want to get them sick; secondly, I don’t like being around people all that much anyway.  But I have found myself getting lazy and soft, and so I came up with three things we must do during this pandemic to get ourselves prepared for seeing it to the end.

  1. Get back to the basics. I mean this on a deeper level than the simple act of buying more mason jars or extending your garden. Get back to your roots as a hunter gatherer. These are the most basic of skillsets that allow the survivalist to subsist indefinitely with nothing more than good information and a field of adequate rocks. A good guide to follow is the teachings of Tom Brown Jr. (Ol Tracker® hisself). Though possibly not in print anymore, Tom’s books can easily be found in the library and on ebay; and he has a plethora of videos on Youtube, AND a school in Asbury New Jersey. The skills you can learn from Tom are second to none and I can’t recommend him highly enough.
  2. Stay in shape. Though I have developed great finger dexterity by playing World of Warcraft™ so much, the rest of my body has gone a bit to flab over the last couple of months. Get that ass out of that chair and go work out!
  3. Stay close to God. Most of the men and women I know who are survivalists or warriors, (often the two correlate it seems), have a strong faith in God the Father, if that is who you are, make sure that you take the time to spend with him that he is entitled to so that your faith doesn’t wane.

Mr. X, survivalist

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New muzzle loading technology: 3 reasons why the firestick must be a gamechanger

If you are a traditionalist like I am, then you probably have a .54 Hawken™ rifle lying around somewhere. Some of my fondest memories come from shuddering in the cold wind, fingers trembling, as I tried desperately to shake granulated black powder into my nipple hole to get a shot at a deer who is standing in a meadow, contentedly watching me with a bemused look on his face, because my ignition system had failed due to condensation of gunmetal and moist black powder…

Well, those days are over. They actually have been for a while with the development of the Pyrodex™ pellet system. But the need for a possibles bag and multi function process to effectively hunt with  muzzle loader is now even more streamlined and we are coming to a place where we can leave our possibles bags at home.

This new technology is called the Firestick™ and it has been developed by Federal Firearms Corporation. This new development still loads the round through the barrel, effectively keeping it a “primitive” firearm; however, the charge comes in the form of a plastic casing, similar in form to the old 45-70 Springfield Buffalo Gun, (the 1873 Trapdoor). This casing fits neatly into the rear of your supported in-line firearm, right behind your sabot round. There is a hole in the back for your primer to fit into.

This round is the equivalent to a modern rifle round and is nearly infallible while still meeting the criteria for muzzle loading rifles. This means that every animal on the face of the earth is now susceptible to primitive hunting. Here are three reasons this technology will be a game changer:

  1. You can keep all of your rounds together in one place. No more searching and digging in different pockets and pouches for a quick reload.
  2. The rifle won’t foul as quickly. This new technology is cleaner than traditional black powder and therefore won’t dirty your rifle.
  3. It’s more accurate and stable. This new technology offers a payload similar to a modern high powered rifle.
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Pakisteel: The saga of the $15 Damascus

By: Mr. X, Survivalist

If you have been following me at all, then you know two things about me, well… maybe three. First, I’m always looking for a good deal; second, everything I do centers around survival; and third, I’m hard on equipment.

So, it should be no surprise to you that recently I was perusing eBay and discovered a veritable treasure trove of handmade custom Damascus steel knives that are extremely affordable. The problem is that they are all Damascus blades and they are all made in Pakistan.

I did a little research, and it seems as if there are some very talented bladesmiths in Pakistan; however, there is not a great supply of quality steel so they use old  rebar, a lawnmower blade, some pot metal from a sewer grate, etc… to form a blank that they can then grind and shape a blade from. The result is a very beautiful product that seems to fit the bill in every way. The question is “will they hold up in a survival situation”?

I went ahead and bid $25 on a few of them that seemed to be of better quality than the others, as much as I could tell from the photographs. One was a classic 12″ bowie knife and the other a “tracker” knife. I won the auctions for these two and am therefore going to put them to the test in survival situations and see if they hold up. If they do then I will also take them to an American Bladesmith Society guy I know and let him put them through the standard tests of the ABS.

The one thing I will note is that they both came to me dull as a fro, (an uncommon practice in American made knives), but both sharpened up to razor qualities with just a few passes on my old sharpening steel. So far so good. Our next installment will involve some simple survival tasks… stay tuned.

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Deer Camp 2019: Be on the Watch for Poisonous Deer

Though they have not yet evolved in carnivorous or venomous creatures, that doesn’t mean that the whitetail deer population isn’t dangerous. No, they have not yet grown opposable thumbs, giving them the ability to shoot back, but they have developed a deadly disease known as EHD.

According to Michael Gordon of the Mossyoak.com website,  signs of infection are highly variable and many infected deer appear normal or show only mild signs of illness. When illness occurs, signs and lesions change as the disease progresses.

The animals are affected by the onset of a feverish and depressed state, swollen head, neck, tongue or eyelids and difficulty breathing. Deer usually die in one to three days from a severe infection. Some survive longer, becoming lame and lose their appetite while others may become disabled for weeks or months by lameness and emaciation.

The development of different lesions as progression occurs has led to the categorization of 3 forms of hemorrhagic disease: Peracute, Acute, Chronic.

PERACUTE

A very rapid form shows only severe fluid swelling (edema) of the head, neck, tongue, eyelids and lungs in animals living somewhat longer.

ACUTE

A “classic hemorrhagic” form occurs. These animals may have edema in the same locations as Peracute but also have hemorrhages or congestion in the heart, pulmonary artery and oral mucosa, with some having erosions or ulcerations on the dental pad, tongue, palate and rumen.

CHRONIC

The chronic form is signified by growth interruptions of the hooves and possible sloughing of the roof walls. Other chronic lesions include: oral ulcerations, Papillae loss and scarring of rumen mucosa.

But also note not all of the above lesions will be found in an individual deer. Other diseases also produce similar hemorrhagic and ulcerative lesions. Dead whitetail are often found in or near water. The high fever and edema causes an unusual thirst and deer seek water and often die there.

WHEN DOES IT OCCUR?

EHD occurs when there seems to be an abundance of the culicoides insect. These tiny biting flies are the culprit for spreading the disease. The males and females both survive by eating nectar from flowers but only the female needs to eat blood for the maturation of fertilized eggs. Females typically deed at dusk or dawn often in large swarms in the vicinity of water, marshes or rotting vegetation. The females then proceed to lay their eggs en masse in habitat ranging from water vegetation, slow running streams, damp soil and manure heaps.

Nature seems to provide the conditions for the outbreaks of biting flies. Man has tried to control them but has failed. Nature provides a kill switch that occurs after the first frost. All the biting flies die off and so do the EHD outbreaks within a few weeks.

IMPACT ON DEER POPULATION

The severity and distribution of hemorrhagic diseases are highly variable. Past occurrences have ranged from a few scattered mild cases to dramatic outbreaks.

Death losses during outbreaks usually are well below 25 percent, but in a few instances have been 50 percent or more. To date, repeated outbreaks have not represented a limiting factor to deer population and growth. There is little evidence to suggest that outbreak severity is related to population density.

HD is the most important viral disease of whitetail deer in the U.S. and occurs over a large part of the country. Although the frequency and severity of outbreaks vary regionally.

The disease is caused by related orbiviruses in the epizootic hemorrhagic disease  (EHD) and blue tongue (BT) virus serogroups. Because clinical disease produced by EHD and BT viruses is indistinguishable, the general term “HD” (hemorrhagic disease) often is used when the specific virus is unknown. The EHD and BT viruses are transmitted by biting flies and HD occurs seasonally in late summer and early fall and then quickly ends after a killing frost.

DIAGNOSIS

So what I’ve gathered here is that the virus is spread by a biting midge that breeds in stagnant and warm waters after a drought or prolonged warm spell. The insects emerge and bite the whitetail and the virus is spread by a female midge biting a whitetail that has been infected and so passes it on to the new host.

The virus is not always fatal but has a very high mortality rate. Some animals eventually build up a resistance and some do not. The EHD is not transferable to humans and the meat is safe to eat. Livestock can also be infected and the disease may be spread from flies that were incubated in manure piles and cattle watering holes.

Although it seems that Ohio’s deer herd could be doomed, EHD has been here before and always dies out in the winter.

At present, there are no wildlife management tools or strategies available to prevent or control HD. Although die-offs of whitetail often cause alarm, past experience has shown mortality will not decimate local deer populations and that the outbreak will be controlled by the onset of cold weather. (1)

There’s even a video out there of a deer suffering from this disease that drowns itself in chest deep water, not even bothering to swim or turn and exit the stream it had wandered into. If you see deer acting strangely this season, put them down and leave them. It’s better not to risk eating a diseased deer. It’s not like the herd is sparse. Make sure you adhere to local and federal law when hunting and let a DNR specialist know if you have any concerns.

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Treasure hunting 101: The Legend of Forge Hamilton

We have all heard, I’m sure, about the famous Lost Dutchman’s Mine near the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

But there is another legend of that era as well, and with this legend are rumors of a treasure that has also never been found. This is the legend of “Forge Hamilton”.

Not related to Alexander Hamilton, the founding father, Forge Hamilton is said to have made his way west after immigrating alone to America from northern Ireland where he hammered out his trade as a blacksmith. All blacksmiths were horseshoers in those days, and Forge, (his true name is unknown), is rumored to have been one of the best horseshoers around. Decades ahead of his time, it is said that Forge could watch a horse through his three gaits; walk, trot, and canter, and make a shoe that would keep it sound for months to come.

Like most Irishmen, Forge was as tough as nails and was said to be good with a gun. He was even tempered but tough and he would often hire out to the stagecoach companies to ride shotgun and to keep the horses shod, killing two birds with one stone for the stagecoach companies. It was the wild west after all, and in that area of the country gold was king and plentiful, and murder and mayhem abounded.

There had been a rash of bushwhacking in the Phoenix area,  and everyone was on edge. Prospectors had been found all over the desert with their heads busted open and their gold depleted; however, no-one was able to find out where the gold was going. The territory marshal was keeping an eye on the assayers offices for anyone with a large amount of gold dust that was uncommon, and the sheriff and city police were searching all of the parcels and outgoing wagon parties and stagecoaches. It wasn’t until a local boy, who enjoyed watching the sparks at night from the horses hooves as they trudged over the exposed granite ledge on the trail out of town, raised a ruckus about the stagecoach horses not throwing sparks that the mystery was solved.

It turns out that Forge Hamilton was waylaying the miners in their camps, stealing their gold dust and smelting it into bars that he forged into horseshoes and nailed to the stagecoach horses as he rode shotgun to Denver, where he would switch the shoes with iron ones and then sell the gold far from where he was stealing it.

He confessed before his hanging, but he would not tell anyone where his trove of golden horseshoes was stashed. His house and shop were ransacked, but no golden horseshoes were ever found.

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Why survival? 3 reasons you need to hone your skills right now

There have been times over the years, as I live in luxury and ease, that I have questioned whether or not it was worth all of the trouble I have gone to in order to learn and live survival. There have also been long periods of my life that I haven’t bothered to hone these skills to their utmost. However, in these days and times I make it a habit to stay on top of these skills because by all signs, children, we are heading for some tough times.

You only need to read the news everyday to realize that we are heading towards a conflict, not only in the world, but within this country as well. With conflict comes hardship, and when society breaks down again, finally, it will be up to you to be able to fend for yourself and I’m here to tell you that you will need to have some survival skills in that time. Here are three scenarios that could throw us into a long term survival situation right now:

  1. War. You think it’s not possible? If so, it’s probably because you are a member of that privileged  generation who hasn’t had to live with the fear of an attack from a foreign, invasive army. The truth is that we as Americans are surrounded by enemies on all sides and there are many others who want what we have.
  2. Cyber attack. Whether you realize it or not, we are under the power of the Chinese and the Russians due to errant practices in the past. We have trusted hostile countries to act as manufacturers to supply the major components to our computers, which now run our power grids, weapons systems, public works, etc…  Who knows what kind of trojan horses they have planted on everything  from motherboards to cellphones.
  3. Far left election. Do you realize that there are political factions whose entire platform is to threaten our very way of life? They desire to take us back into the ages before fossil fuels and who knows if they will be successful or not?
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Running missions: 3 reasons you should keep an item of faith with you

If you are the type of rugged individual who enjoys the use of military surplus tents and equipment, (and it’s obvious you are or you likely wouldn’t be reading this), then you know what it’s like to run a mission.

And since the last installment was about the legendary Case™ trapper style pocket knife, I wanted to play off of that line of thought this week and talk about my personal Case™ trapper and explain why it has significance and what three very important reasons are that I carry this particular knife.  My particular Case™ knife has an excerpt from The Lord’s Prayer engraved on it’s white bone handle. This knife goes in my pocket everywhere I go and there is a distinct reason I carry this knife.

For those of you who were Ernest Hemingway fans, perhaps you will remember that he always had a good luck piece on him. Now, in his case the lucky piece changed regularly because he was prone to losing them. I personally don’t carry mine for good luck. I don’t believe in luck for one thing. I’m a man of faith who believes in the God of the Bible, and I carry mine instead as a connection between me and my Maker. Here are three reasons why I carry the blade I do, and why you should keep an item of faith on you as well.

  1. It gives me courage. If you believe in God, then you know that he is an ever-present help in times of danger. I have seen many people draw bravery from religious artifacts over the years, everything from Stars of David to St. Michael medals.
  2. It keeps me focused. When things are spinning fast and I feel like my mind is going ten thousand different directions a second, a brief pat of my palm on my left trouser pocket brings a feel of that familiar bundle that connects me to the Lord. That touch is often enough to get me focused.
  3. With it I’m always armed. I used to work in a maximum security prison, and I’ve seen dudes get killed with soup spoons sharpened on a concrete window sill. I know how much damage I can do with a knife of that caliber.
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Reading sign: Natures way of telling you how to act

                                     

It wasn’t long ago that I showed up at the lake to try out my new kayak and I got a really good lesson in reading sign. I didn’t think much about the fact that there were literally no other boats out on the lake. As a matter of fact, it even occurred to me how lucky I was to have the whole lake to myself and I remember chuckling a bit as I launched from the kayak ramp.

Several hours later as the old crusty park ranger helped me hoist my bedraggled kayak up onto the deck of his huge pontoon boat, he laconically said: “Next time fella, learn to read the sign.”

The sign he was speaking of wasn’t a square piece of metal with words on it posted discriminately on a five foot post; rather it was the fact that no one else was stupid enough to get out on a lake swollen with floodwater from a week’s long rain.

The truth of the matter is that nature is full of signs that we should be able read quickly to know what is safe or not. A rattlesnake’s rattle, or the angry buzzing of bees doesn’t take long to figure out that there is a detrimental affect to the pressing of such a creature. As one wise old outdoorsman once said, “it’s God’s way of sayin’ ‘Don’t touch'”.

I recently ran into a less sinister but just as obvious instance of this early warning system when I was at the local title bureau and decided to take a picture of my truck to use in a future blog post. Suddenly I heard a violent hiss and felt the hot breath of a serpentine figure striking at but narrowly missing the back of my thigh. Succumbing for a moment to the normal jumping and feinting that accompanies such incidents, I finally got my bearings and turned to see a large female Canadian Goose who had made a nest right next to the door of the title bureau. Just goes to show, you should always learn to read the sign.

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Making meat 101: How to spot a game trail

It was a laughable scene in many ways. The figure four deadfall trap had been set well, but had two major, fatal flaws.

First of all, it was tiny for a deadfall. It was great if the setter had the intention of trapping moles or fieldmice, but it wouldn’t kill a rabbit or even a squirrel, (though it might have irritated the squirrel).  Secondly, it was set on the edge of a cornfield, which is fine, but it wasn’t near any cover and was out in the open. There was what appeared to be peanut butter on the end of the trigger stick.

In theory that’s a feasible setup; however, my experience has shown me that in practice this was more than likely to be a failed set. Here’s why: In order for a fieldmouse or a mole to get to the trap and partake of the peanut butter bait, (which would have been more valuable for caloric content than the fieldmouse it might have yielded), it would find it necessary to leave the thick foliage that protects it from the threat from above, (hawks and owls), and go out into the open. As a matter of fact, it would be a rarity, as determined by the sign, for anything small enough to get caught in the trap to be in the vicinity of it.

So, in this series I am going to show you how to run an effective trapline in the wilderness using nothing but pitfalls, deadfalls, and snare traps. All made from natural materials found in the woods. But in this first section we will simply discuss location. There are two types of places to trap small game, either in feeding areas or along game trails. The game trails are easier  to spot and trap because the game you are hunting will traverse the trail out of habit and won’t require conscious thought. There is a small game trail pictured in the photograph attached to this blog. Can you see it?

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Spring adventures: dodging eagle babies and more

As spring finally emerges from the frosty swell of what turned out to be a harsh winter, there are some things you need to be cautious of as you meander out on your warm weather excursions.

Of course we all know to avoid the baby skunks as we go about taking photographs or looking for deer sheds or morel mushrooms, but did you know that you need to be cautious about baby eagles too?

Evidently, the young eagles will begin trying to fly before they are ready and many actually end up on the ground after having become emboldened, (by the very fact that they are eagles I suppose), to try their wings before they are ready, and tumbling to the ground.

And so it was in such a predicament that I found myself in one fine spring day when I was just a boy. I lived near a state park in Ohio and decided that I would  forgo the farm pond that I usually fished and meander the five miles or so to Acton Lake at the Hueston Woods State Park. This was a more worthy adventure for two reasons. One: it was a state lake and required a fishing license, which I didn’t have, so it gave an additional element of adventure to my nine year old mind, and two: it was well out of earshot of my dad who was notorious for ruining my fishing forays with his various fool notions, (moving hay from one barn to the other for instance).

So it was with light heart and heavy worm can that I headed across the McQuiston’s pasture and into the wilds of Hueston Woods. I was nearly to the horseman’s camp when I came across this sweet little bundle of grey fur that looked just adorable. His little long legs and oversize yellow beak were irresistible to me as I scooped him up as he attempted to scurry off. His cute little pecks against my wrist were almost comical and though I didn’t know right then what kind of bird he was, I knew that he was a raptor of some sort and my mind was immediately filled with thoughts of becoming a falconer, raising this young bird to be my constant wilderness companion. I envisioned having a T stand built for him to perch on in my room and could just taste the wide array of small game that me and Ziggy could attain.

My, but couldn’t he howl? I was very surprised that such a little guy could work up such a piercing screech, but was confident I could train him not to shriek so. It was then that all hell broke loose.

Apparently mommy eagles don’t abandon their young when they fall from the nest because the next thing I knew I was in the fight of my young life. Here’s another interesting note. Eagles attack in pairs. Did you know that? And they are tenacious as well, being willing to follow an adversary for several miles if the atrocity committed is serious enough.

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