USA Certified and Approved.
Leading Supplier of Military Field Gear for Over 30 Years

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.

Tags: , ,

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.

Tags: , ,

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.
Tags: , ,

Wilderness photography: tools to take it to the next level

If you are an adventurer, survivalist, hunter, fisherman, outdoorsman, prepper or any other form of military surplus equipment connoisseur, then you are probably a photographer as well, at least on some level. Photography is my passion. I am an avid hunter and outdoorsman; however, in this day and time I have traded in my rifles and bows for cameras.

Not that I have anything against hunting, I still will if and when the need arises, but in the meantime I prefer to keep my skills sharp by  taking photographs of the animals that I like to hunt and eat. I have found that it is less expensive in the fact that I don’t have to pay Big Brother for the privilege of shooting deer with a camera, (not yet at least). There are several plusses to shooting with a camera as opposed to using a rifle; if I accidentally shoot my buddy, it’s no big deal. Me and my buddy can each shoot the same deer, (several times), and if I happen to see the game warden sashaying down the trail, my guts don’t turn to jelly…

But that’s not the purpose of this blog, I want to turn you on to a great little invention that I have recently stumbled upon that has taken my wilderness photography to an entirely new level, that is the window based camera mount. I discovered this at my local outdoor outfitters store and couldn’t buy it quickly enough.

Now I don’t need to scramble for a camera when I see a sasquatch hunting feral pigs in a wooded meadow, or a fox squirrel riding a blue heron as it flies around Acton Lake… no, from now on I have my camera mounted to my driver’s window and merely have to turn it on and focus as best I can.  This thing is even designed to offer one handle operation for tilt and swivel.

Tags: , , ,

Military tent camping product review: The Hanging Cupboard

Whenever I go military tent Camping, I always seem to end up with my stuff piled on top of itself, pell-mell in a backpack. Getting what I need out of it can be a horrendous chore, and what normally happens is that I end up with an empty pack and my stuff scattered hither and yon all over the campsite to find what I need at the moment.

The good news is that for your next military tent camping adventure, you can have a nice portable hanging cupboard that will double as a backpack. According to the guys at Cabela’s you can:

Keep your campsite’s cook shack organized and clean with this weatherproof, collapsible cupboard. Extends to 30″, yet collapses to less than 2″ high for easy packing. Lightweight, water-resistant 400-denier nylon shell features three 22″L x 10″D shelves for food, camp equipment or other gear. Six divided outer pockets provide quick access to utensils or other necessities. Hangs from a tent frame, tree, R.V. or anywhere you need a portable pantry. Straps also make for easy rigging to a rope, so it can be pulled high in the trees at night, safe from marauding woodland critters. (http://reviews.cabelas.com/8815/516773/creek-company-hanging-camp-cupboard-reviews/reviews.htm)

This cupboard is perfect for a military tent because the hanging strap can be used off of the inner frame of your tent and is therefore off of the ground, easily accessible, and neat and tidy.

If you’ve never camped in bear country then I can’t stress enough the importance of having your gear, especially anything edible and/or tasty, up off of the ground. The reason for this is that bears are like raccoons in the fact that they will get into everything, number one, and number two, they believe that everything belongs to them. The best way to combat this issue is to get your gear up off of the ground.

Tags: , , ,

Deer camp 2018: utilizing road kill

Unless you are independently wealthy and are able to buy any manner of meat or other food items that strike your fancy, you are looking for a way to fill your freezer without emptying you wallet. One great way to do this to call your local law enforcement agency and get on their deer kill list.  Every day, across America, hundreds of police departments are forced to deal with deer that get hit by cars. They will give them away to anyone who wants them and it is completely legal, free venison.

Here’s the catch. Deer make it a habit to get hit by cars at the most inopportune of times, and if you are going to be a successful purveyor of free venison, you have to be one of those people who will answer the phone at 0300 in the morning, get out of bed, and go gut a deer by the side of the road. The cop will almost always hold the light for you and will keep you entertained with witty one-liners as the snow and sleet blow across your frozen bloody hands. The problems come when you are one of those people who won’t do that. Don’t come too many times, and police dispatchers will stop calling you altogether, favoring those whom they can depend on.

Often you will get the call to come take a deer that is too torn up to be of much value. At times like these, I smile, take the carcass anyway, and scrounge what I can for my dogs. I have an old meat grinder dedicated to Starling and Teeny, my two k9 friends. They love deer meat even if it is bruised or a little dirty, and a couple of deer will go a long way to supplementing those bags of dry dog food they seem to inhale.

Do yourself and your family a favor. Fill that freezer with venison that doesn’t cost you anything more than some time and a little sleep. It’s usually good, clean, fresh meat, and you’ll be performing a community service by getting that carcass off of the road.

Tags: , , ,

Survival poaching: 3 things you have to know to make meat in an emergency

Though I don’t in any way, shape, or form advocate the practice of poaching, I will tell you that in a survival situation you have to resort to any means necessary in order to get the nutrients that you will need to live.

That being said, you should understand that if you use some of the tricks I’m going to share with you today, you could very easily face charges in a criminal court if they’re ever discovered. The old adage “I’d rather be tried by twelve than eaten by worms” comes into play here though, and if your very existence depends on it, then the laws of nature and the writings of John Locke demand that you take the life of whatever you can in order to save yourself. Here are three ways to do it.

  1. Hook snares. Anything is susceptible to a hook snare. They are just what they sound like, a hook tied to a cord of some kind, with bait on it for an animal to gulp down and get hooked in the gullet. This is a very cruel technique and should never be used except in a life or death situation. Small hooks can be baited with kernels of corn and placed just below the surface of a lake at the bank for ducks and geese. Pieces of meat can be suspended with treble hooks from green branches for coyotes, fox, etc… Nasty bit of business and you should be in real trouble before you resort to this.
  2. Wire snares. Wire snares are effective as well, and can be set to trap and strangle anything up to a moose. For smaller game you can use old electric wire with the insulation stripped off to make a stout copper wire strand that keeps its form nicely, and which is strong enough to strangle anything up to a fox. You will need something more substantial than twisted copper wire for coyote, bear, deer, or moose. Basically set a wire snare wherever your desired animal may stick its head or foot. Attach the end to a sapling strong enough to hold it, or to a log big enough to eventually get tangled.
  3. Night shooting. Animals are largely nocturnal, and their eyes glow in light. This is a no-brainer if you have a gun with you, either build a fire or use a flashlight. When you see two eyes glowing in the darkness, shoot between them.
Tags: , ,

Survival 101: Making acorns edible

It is a fact of life that you cannot live off of meat alone indefinitely. And though you can often find black walnuts, pecans, and other nut trees to forage from, there is no nut tree as common as the Oak. Acorns, the product of the Oak trees, are prevalent, and if you could just eat them as is, then survival would for the most part be pretty easy as far as gaining food goes. You actually can eat them as they are if you don’t mind the bitterness and it is a funny sidenote to add that in the movie Jeremiah Johnson, the item that Jeremiah’s Indian wife gave him to eat that made him gag was an acorn cake which hadn’t had all of the tannic acids leeched out.

Making acorns palatable:

  1. Shell them. This is easiest done on a large rock with a smaller one. Separate the meat from the shell, and then grind the meat to flour with two stones.
  2. Leech the tannic acids. You can boil them out, changing the water periodically as it gets discolored. Make sure the water is at a boil each time you put the meat in, as going hot to cold tends to lock the tannins in for some reason. Another method is to put them in a sock and let it seep in running water for a time. This will remove the tannic acid and distribute it into the water source. You are losing tannic acids which are useful if you do this.
  3. After leeching the tannins out, make cakes out of the flour. These will be coarse and dry when done. A better acorn bread involves flour of some sort being added. However, these acorn cakes are very nutritious, high in energy and carbohydrates, and will hold you over for a while. I can imagine they are delicious with maple syrup.
  4. Bake on a rock over your coals.

As a side note, if you boil the tannic acid out of your acorn mush, make sure that you save it. It can be re-used as antiseptic, tannic acid for hides, or a low grade dye for leather.

Tags: , , ,

The Appalachian Trail: Using military surplus to achieve your travelling dream

March 12, 2018

 

If you’re an adventurer, lover of nature, history enthusiast, or part time hippie/tree hugger, you should consider all or a portion of the Appalachian Trail as one or more of your summer adventures. Though the trail is roughly 2180 miles long and it encompasses 14 states, it has many numbers of accommodations available for travelers.  Many travelers along the Trail have found that used military surplus and tents have come in quite handy while traversing the trails. It stands to reason that military equipment would be quite well suited to travelling the Trail. Military backpacks and clothing, not to mention wool blankets and portable cots were designed to offer the best comfort and greatest mobility.

In the summer months, there are thousands of volunteers who commit thousands of hours of community work to the trail. This includes upkeep on the more than 250 three sided shelters which are available to those who do not want to pack the weight of a tent around. If you are a novice hiker, then Maryland and West Virginia offer the easiest parts of the trail to hike, and if you are a hard core, adventurer with granite thighs and stainless steel sinew you should jump in at Maine or New Hampshire, where the hard parts are. Those who have traversed the Trail from Georgia to Maine are said to have done the equivalent of 16 times, and have at some time or another been in the company of black bears, Moose, porcupines, snakes, woodpeckers, salamanders, foxes, chipmunks, bobcat, and whitetailed deer.

You’ll meet plenty of other hikers too. Two to three million hikers walk a portion of the Trail every year, and there are literally hundreds of access points. Of those that try to hike the entire trail from Georgia to Maine, (usually about a six-month journey), only one in four make it.  You could be that one in four, especially if you give yourself the advantage of gearing up with used military equipment and surplus before you start out.

Tags: , , , ,

Survival 101: 3 things you must do now to get your sugar on

If you are a survivalist, prepper, self sufficient, hobbyist, naturalist, do it yourselfer, or just a fan of delicious sugary goodness then now is the time for action!

I speak of course of the time of year for those of us who are self-sufficient to get our tin buckets out of the shed and tap those trees that are good for syrup making. Of course we all know that we can tap all types of maple trees to get the sap for syrup, but did you know that you can also tap walnut trees and birch trees?

If you are into this, or if you have ever wanted to get into it, then now is the time to get started, and here are three things you must do right now in order to get started.

_______________________

  1. Go out and find good sap trees. The bigger the better, and you need to map your trees and mark them as you go so that you don’t forget where they are. A quick Google Maps search or check through your local auditor site will usually leave you with a great topological map that you can print and use in the field, but a better option is to use a smart phone and make a gps map in an app.
  2. Gather all of your equipment together at once. You will need cans, tops, taps, a rendering pot, and lots of receptacles for storing your sugary goodness.
  3. Set up a block of time. Though I’m not going into detail on technique in this writing, I will tell you that it will take hours for your sap to render to syrup… it takes ten gallons of sap to make one quart of syrup. There are plenty of tutorials out there for making maple syrup, and it is not rocket science. As a matter of fact, Penn-State University has an excellent resource for sap rendering and syrup making. 

Making and rendering your own maple, walnut, or birch syrup is second only to churning your own butter or grinding your own flour. It is also inherent to having your morning pancakes become something that is more than just breakfast… they become an experience.

 

Tags: , , , ,