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Survival 102: 3 things you can do with acorns

If you have ever thought of cracking an acorn and eating it in the wilderness, it is likely that you quickly learned what mother nature’s natural syrup of ipecac will do to you.

If you were able to get past the bitterness of the meat, you likely experienced profound nausea and possibly vomiting. However, there are some actual survival uses for acorns, beyond  baiting deer or throwing at companions. The problem is that they must be prepared for hours before they can be used.

The problem with acorns is the fact that they are filled with tannins, (think tannic acid), that can be very beneficial if you are trying to preserve animal skins but are less so if being introduced to your digestive tract. They have to be blanched to be eaten by humans and you can get this done by either boiling them for hours, or letting them soak in a running creek for about three days. In a survival situation, I prefer the latter solution to the problem because you can hull them and then tie the meats off in a sack, or sock, or other porous container and then forget about them until all of the tannins have been leeched out. It does no good to just soak them in water without changing it.

Once thusly prepared these acorn meats can be used three ways:

  1. Roast them to eat like almond slivers. They are palatable and full of protein and vitamins. They taste a bit like roasted almonds without the tannins in them but have the consistency of a hazelnut.
  2. Grind them into flour to cook into breads or use to thicken stews. If you are like me then you eat a lot of stew in a survival situation, primarily because it is the easiest method of preparing elaborate quantities of ingredients quickly. The flour thickens stew nicely and gives it added nutrient. I’m not a big fan of bread, but I understand that there is nothing in the world quite like the taste of hot acorn cakes in the morning in a frosty camp. Just watch a rerun of Jeremiah Johnson o see a visual of this.
  3. Use the acorns to make a stuffing for wild game. I’m not saying that this s good, but it definitely is different.
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Survival 102: Growing Your Own Garden

I’m all for saving money, and one of the ways I do that is I have a backyard vegetable garden.
Right now half of you are thinking; “too much work”, or, “I don’t have a large yard or a tiller”.
That’s the beauty about this. I’m talking about raised bed garden, or gardening in pots. No expensive equipment needed, and fresh veggies from spring through fall.
You can go as elaborate or as simple as you like. You can buy the expensive cedar range beds at the garden center; or go to a home-improvement store, buy a couple of boards, (and usually they will cut them for free), and build your own.
Just a tip; keep your eyes open in late July into the fall when stores are clearing out their gardening supplies. You can find deals on beds, tools, pots, and seed.
Now, the whole point of this is growing stuff that you really like, (and buy regularly), at the store or farmers market like: salsa! Plant a tomato plant or two, a jalapeño pepper, and some cilantro. Buy the onion and garlic; they keep well, and when limes are on sale freeze the juice. Ta-da you’ll have the makings for fresh salsa on hand all year long and it will be so much better than that canned store-bought stuff.
Many plants now have been bred to be a bush type plant. That’s great for small gardening spaces, plant a bush cucumber or squash bush and have plenty for the season. There are many lettuce varieties with more flavor and nutrients than your bag of iceberg mix sitting in the store, and there are no worries about recalls.
They also carry strawberry pots; more expensive than a build your own 4 x 4 or whatever size you choose raised bed, but they last for years and take up minimal space. Fill them with ever bearing strawberries and have fruit from June until frost.
There are so many ideas for a small garden, get online, go to your garden center and get more. The more ideas the better. The main idea is this: it shouldn’t take you 10 years to recoup what you have in it. You can keep on hand the vegetables and herbs that you use regularly you can monitor how much or if you want to spray with pesticides… my tip, try to go organic as much as possible always keep an eye out for sales, or end of season clearance hit… Buy the seed starters when they clear them out and grow the plants yourself from seed, so much cheaper! And last of all plant what do you like this should be fun and enjoyable not another chore or an unsightly weed patch!
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Survival essentials: 3 reasons to keep a Case Trapper with you… no matter what

I have been a survivor all of my life, but I became a survivalist in 1987 when I took the Standard Course with the Old Tracker himself, Tom Brown Jr.

One of the things I had learned long before ever taking my first survival course was the importance of having a knife in your pocket. I grew up on a horse farm that also had a working herd of black angus cattle. My father, an old time cowboy, used to carry a pearl handled Solingen Cutlery stockman’s knife in his front right pocket which he used for everything from farm/ranch work, to entertainment. He even had one of the four blades on his full size stockman reserved for eating. He called it his apple blade. It didn’t escape my attention that the “apple blade” was also the preferred utility for cleaning the grit from under his fingernails when sitting around the stables at night after working horses.

We all know how important it is to have a good survival knife in your kit when on an expedition. However, you need to ask yourself how often the likelihood might arise for you to be thrown into an unforeseen circumstance where you won’t have time or opportunity to grab a kit bag, but will be forced to go with just what you have in your pocket. That’s why I always carry a Case™  brand trapper pocket knife. There are many companies that make these knives, however, few companies make them as well as Case™ does. Here are three reasons to keep a Case™ trapper in your pockets at all times.

  1. It has two blades. One is known as a clip point utility blade which comes in handy whenever you come across something that needs stabbed through… your belt for instance, if you lose weight and it needs to be tightened by making new holes. And lastly, the “spey” blade, which gained it’s name from the design which works perfectly for castrating livestock. It is also good for skinning by not having a sharp point that will slit your hide as you are skinning your game.
  2. It is well crafted. You might find other trapper style knives, but you won’t find one that is as well made as the Case™ brand. It is made to last and will hod up to the hardest abuse. There’s a reason you don’t find any cheap used ones on eBay.
  3. It has a lifetime warranty. If you manage to break this thing through normal use, you can get it replaced at no charge. Yet another reason you don’t find cheap used ones anywhere.
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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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Make that fire! Three tips to get fire everytime

If you have ever had the frustration of being on a campout or a survival situation, and you weren’t able to get a fire going, then this is for you.

I learned a long time ago that there is much more to building a proper fire than simply adding heat to fuel in the presence of oxygen. Even though all of those components are necessary, there is also a certain science that has to be followed in order to find an effective fuel. For those of you who have been there, you’ll know that fuel taken from the ground will not be suitable. Here’s why:

Just as heat is attracted to cold, (this is why the ground pulls the heat from your body when you lie on it), wet will go to dry. So whenever you have your fire fuel lying on the ground it is susceptible to getting moisture, especially since the low profile will prevent there being any circulation that could cause evaporation. So, that being said, here are three tips that will give you fire everytime:

  1. Find good tinder. Tinder is the stuff that will burn from a match. My favorite tinder is a bird’s nest. Now that being said, you shouldn’t be shaking baby birds out of their nest in order to build a fire, and you shouldn’t have to. There are plenty of empty abandoned nests out there.
  2. Find a good supply of wood. A good rule of thumb is to gather at least three times what you think you’ll need. I always look for a snarl of wood that has fallen from a tree during a past storm. I generally like to gather firewood that I can break to proper size because trying to cut or saw firewood in a survival situation is a waste of time.
  3. Build a teepee fire. This is an age old design that is tried and true. The concept is to use your smallest fuel, (your tender), as the nucleus, and then build your fire up in size from there.
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Survival 101: 3 things you must consider when hunting with a throwing stick

By: Mr. X, survivalist

As we stood facing the long line of upended pieces of firewood – all set neatly in a row on top of the railroad tie which was itself suspended between two short fence posts buried deeply in the ground – I remember thinking again that this is stupid.

We were learning throwing stick from the Old Tracker himself, Tom Brown Jr. An avowed hunter and outdoorsman, I can remember thinking at the time that this was a ridiculous endeavor, because no animal was ever going to just sit still and let you hit it with a stick… ridiculous! Except, here I am decades later and I can assure you that hunting with a stick is completely do-able.  The trick lies in two areas; 1. slow down, and 2. move fast.

I know, a contradictory in terms right? Well, not really, because to be a successful throwing stick hunter you have to master both concepts. The nuances to hunting with a throwing stick are in-depth, and I will not be able to cover a lifetime of learning in such a short article, but I can give you the three main concepts right here, right now!

  1. Slow Down. You have to stalk to be able to hunt with a throwing stick. The real trick is to create an environment that triggers the instinct to freeze and blend in to the surroundings. It is this freezing in place that gives you the opportunity to throw your stick, otherwise you have to really hone those skills to be able to hit the animal once the flight instinct has set in.
  2. Move fast. When you are within striking distance, you must be able to throw the stick faster than the creature can flee for it’s life.  This takes being able to go from a non-threatening pose to a deadly one in much less than a second. To  really do this effectively you must learn to “cock” your throwing arm while still stalking because any threatening gesture will trigger the flight response, and animals, it appears, do have at least a minimal understanding of the basic concepts of physics.
  3. Throw True. The trick to effectively using a throwing stick lies in the same skillset necessary to effectively throw a tomahawk, but on a horizontal plane as opposed to a vertical one. (The exception would be if you are throwing at a squirrel on the side of a tree or something similar).

 

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Military surplus news: 2018’s MRE change

Photo courtesy of the US Army

I’m so excited by the newest addition to the military MRE selection for 2018 that I nearly can’t stand myself.

In a move reminiscent of the daily lunch option at Preble Shawnee Consolidated High School in rural Gratis, Ohio, the military is now offering  an opportunity to have pizza for lunch out in the field as a MRE option.

In a recent news article in KITUP magazine the cat was let out of the bag:

 

The pepperoni pizza entrée has been added to the 2018 Meals, Ready to Eat menu and should be on its way to the field soon.

The pizza MRE will include cheddar and jalapeno cheese spread, Italian breadsticks, cookies, cherry-blueberry cobbler and a chocolate protein drink powder.

“You know, for a pizza that has to last for at least three years … it’s pretty stinking good,” said Jeremy Whitsitt, deputy director of the Defense Department’s Combat Feeding Directorate.

“Whenever we have sampled it with people, the primary comment that comes back is, ‘Hey, it tastes like the pizza I had last night that I put in the fridge,’ he said.

“I think that is a great compliment when you think about bread, sauce, cheese and meat — all have to survive in the same pouch together for three years without going bad, or getting stale or moldy,” Whitsitt added.

The pizza is made with a high-heat-tolerant mozzarella cheese and a process that controls moisture levels, pH and oxygen levels to ensure a three-year shelf life, he said.

However, it’s difficult to predict when units will see the new pizza MRE, he said.

“I can’t tell you when troops will see it because that’s all dependent on what their stock is and how quickly they eat though their older stock” of MREs, Whitsitt said.

Defense Logistics Agency officials said it will be available to most troops in about 18 months, according to a May 25 Army press release.”

The good news for us is that these babies will be hitting the surplus line soon enough and we can enjoy our youthful dietary measures all over again.

 
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Survival 101: 2 things you should never eat in the wilds

Consider this, years ago when I attended tracker school, I remember being told that I could eat anything I could catch in the woods during a survival situation. And for years I thought that was right. However, I have recently become enlightened concerning several animals that you should never eat because the risk of catching sickness from them is just too great.

Here are two critters you should leave be if you are hungry in the woods.

  1. Turtles. Though I have eaten many snapping turtles over the years, I am told that box turtles or other turtles are a bad choice as consumables because they are full of salmonella. I personally have never even been tempted to try to eat a box turtle, but point taken, if it ever comes down to it I will refrain from consuming such bounty, just on the off-chance that they are carriers of bacteria.

 

 2. Buzzards and other carrion eaters. I haven’t ever been interested in trying these either, but I have had ample opportunity to. These things lurk around the wilderness with a confident sulkiness that certainly would make them easy prey if you were so inclined to try to take them as game; however, this sulkiness may very well be a result of their knowing that they are inedible. They are in fact, a protected species and it would therefore be illegal to take them anyway. But beyond that it is said that since they eat refuse they are carriers of disease anyway and are thus not fit for consumption themselves. The truth of the matter is there is plenty to eat in a survival situation without having to rely on these two choice morsels. For the sake of friends, family, and those members of your party who are dependent on you, it’s probably best to stick with those known sources of protein.

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Honeysuckle: 2 reasons you must learn about nature’s treat

When I was a little boy running around my grandpap’s farm, some of my fondest memories came from learning from Grandpa and Grandma how to live off of the land.

They taught me many things about farm life and wilderness survival, having both lived through the Depression in Gobbler’s Knob, Kentucky… (Seriously)!

One of the things my grandma taught was one of nature’s simple little sugary treats, the dewdrop of nectar that can be ha from a Honeysuckle flower.

Now, don’t be surprised when you go to gather honeysuckle flowers, if you find it necessary to compete with any manner of bee-folk who will busily be buzzing around trying to gather sap themselves. Try to avoid the bees because if they sting you they will die, (usually because you slap the hell out of them), but sometimes because they are the type that gut themselves by using their stinger.

Here are two reason’s you should learn how to gather the drops of sap from these flowers:

  1. Because they are delicious. Though not much in quantity, these flowers are high in quality and the sweet droplets make a welcome respite when in a survival situation.
  2. Because they make a delicious and refreshing tea.  Simply take a pitcher of water, soak 25-30 flowers in it in the sunshine for 6-8 hours. The sun will brew the flowers into a crisp and refreshing sweet tea if you can get it cold, (a two hour dip in the creek will do it), but if you try to drink it warm you probably won’t like it much… at least I don’t.

I almost forgot to share the technique to enjoy the dewdrops of nectar straight from the flower. Simply pinch the petals between the thumb and forefinger of one hand, and pull the pistil out slowly with the other. The drops will appear on the end of the petals as the pistil is withdrawn… simply apply gently to the tongue for maximum effect.

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Military surplus equipment: 3 reasons you must be an outdoorsman

In these days and times, it has become more and more important to get off of the couch or out of the easychair. This is for many reasons. As in the days of Hemingway, the world has become a scary place and disorder and war is the commonplace. We had a time of peace and prosperity that has lasted a little more than fifty years, and now it is starting to heat up again.

Prior to and immediately after WWII, nearly everyone knew how to grow a garden, dress game, clean fish. This isn’t so much the case anymore and this generation would much rather scan Google on their iphone than they would scan the horizon for signs of wild game.

The problem with this is the fact that if TSHTF, you can’t eat that iphone. The good news is that we are not so far removed just yet from our roots that we can’t get back there fairly easily. So, here are three reasons you need to get back to nature and become an outdoorsman, three reasons that is if you want to be prepared to survive any form of apocalypse.

  1. It will keep you fit. One of the truest aspects of survival is the concept of survival of the fittest. Basically the fastest, strongest, most adept will get the resources over the one who is slower, slovenly, or weak. Plus, keeping fit is conducive with better health as well.
  2. It will help you learn to find food in the wilderness. Good hunting and fishing skills are akin to survival as well. It is a very small adjustment mentally to go from hunting mode to survival mode.
  3. It will give you confidence in times of trouble. Most people die of panic in survival situations. People have been found dead from exposure and starvation lost in the woods with lighters in their pockets while carrying rifles fully loaded. That only happens when you are not in the right frame of mind for survival.
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