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Playing with baby skunks, (and dealing with the aftermath)

If you have never had the pleasure of holding or playing with a tiny baby skunk, then my heart goes out to you because you have really missed out on something. This is because skunks are adorable, especially baby ones.

I remember seeing a group of baby skunks once on the college campus I was working on with my old buddy Jaybird Young.

“I’d love to hold one of those” I gushed as the little line of furballs marched past, following their seemingly serious-minded mom.

Jaybird thought quietly for a moment, one hand resting on his chin as he contemplated. “You know”, he finally replied, “they can’t spray when they’re young like that I’ve heard”.

“You sure?” I asked suspiciously, “I never heard that before.”

“Positive!” he said.

That was the day that I discovered Jaybird Young to be a liar and a fool; or maybe I was the fool. In any event, one thing you need to know is that little skunks can spray just as well as big skunks can. And let me tell you that there is a reason that skunks only have one natural predator known of, (great horned owls), can you guess why?

Here’s a little biological information regarding skunks. First of all, the chemical that they secrete to make that smell is called mercaptons and they are the same exact substances that are found in tubers such as wild onion and garlic. This is why sometimes the aroma given off from a skunk spray is often enticing in a strange way, and sweet smelling. That is, when they are experienced from a distance, the experience is quite different when experienced up close.

If your experience with baby skunks somehow goes south, here’s a no nonsense recipe for knocking the edge off of the assaultive odor, (there is no “cure” and I really can’t be bothered with that “tomato juice” nonsense). Here’s the winning recipe:

Measure out 1/4 cup of baking soda and mix it thoroughly with about a quart of hydrogen peroxide. Add a couple of tablespoons of your favorite smelling dishsoap, (preferably something that goes well with garlic). And then wash well the contaminated areas.

 

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USMC: 7 new boots that are on the list

Do you remember the good old days when you were issued one pair of uniform boots of the same exact style as everyone else in your branch of the service? Well, those days are over, at least as far as it goes for the United States Marine Corps. In a recent article written for Military.com, the Marine Corps has, in an effort to continually improve the equipment and clothing of the branch, approved 7 new brands of combat service boots. “”

According to the article, “Marines can now choose from 16 different combat, rugged all-terrain or optional boots. The list of approved styles was released in a service-wide administrative message last week, which was signed by Lt. Gen. David Berger, the head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command.”.

The article, written by journalist Gina Hawkins goes on to give a brief description of the merits of the new approved footwear, as well as a detailed listing of them and their manufacturer.
“These are the boots that were added to the list of officially approved footwear:

Combat:

  • Bates style No. E30502 (hot weather)

RAT:

  • Bates style No. 29502 (hot weather)
  • Wellco style No. E114 (temperate weather)

Optional:

  • Danner Reckoning boot style No. 53221
  • Bates lightweight style No. E50501 for men and E57501 for women
  • Danner’s Marine Expeditionary Boot style No. 53111 (temperate weather)
  • Danner’s MEB style No. 53110 (hot weather)

The Marine Corps first authorized Danner’s Reckoning hot-weather boot last year. Even though it wasn’t formally publicized, word spread quickly when the service started selling the boots in the exchanges, Hamby said.

The last time the list of authorized boots had been formally updated was in March 2016″.
What this means for the civilian military surplus community is that these same boots will at some point in time be made available as surplus. Because, even though the individual soldier will often purchase the footwear of his or her choice directly from the manufacturer, the military will still buy mass quanities of same for research, testing, deployment, etc…

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Military surplus camouflage: Flecktarn vs Digital

Flecktarn is a term derived from two German words, Fleck and Tarnung, which mean speckled and camouflaged respectively. This pattern was developed by German engineers in the 1970’s and replaced the more floral pattern of Germany that was popular during WWII.

What’s interesting is the comparison of modern American military digital camouflage, adopted in 1992, to its European counterpart.

There are as many styles of camouflage as there are tastes in women. And the fact of the matter is that each one has its own use and advantages, depending on the environment and situation that one finds oneself in. Some of the styles of military grade camouflage are as follows:

  1. Brushstroke. Developed by British during WWII using large brushes to paint different swaths of colour over their khakis before jumping into enemy territory.
  2. Tigerstripe. Very similar to brushstroke and popularized in the jungle warfare experienced in Vietnam, these cammies were highly sought after but rare, being used mostly by elite special forces and supply clerks.
  3. Duck Hunter. Used mainly by US Marines fighting the Japanese in the Pacific Theatre of WWII. This style became popular amongst American outdoorsman and was prolific in early department megastores like K-mart.
  4. Engineer Research and Development Lab, (ERDL). This pattern was much like the Duck Hunter pattern in the fact that it was popular with hunters.
  5. Woodland Camo. This was by the far the most popular of all of the camouflage patterns, at least until the early 2000s when the digital camouflage came on the scene.

The end result of all of this has culminated in the modern American digital camouflage. The United States Marine Corps was the first military branch to adopt the micro-pattern camouflage, finding that the small dot pattern was more inherent to camouflaging than any of the larger pattern, blob style patterns.

And in the end, even though the German style of Flecktarn is stylish, sporty,  and sustainable, it is not as effective at hiding you in the bushes as is the American digital pattern.

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Holidays season 2018: Christmas at the Whitehouse

This is now the second Holiday season with the Trumps in the Whitehouse, and according to sources, they have gone all out to celebrate the upcoming festivities.

Though the Trumps have been the source of much mockery in the media, the president and first lady are definitely two people who don’t do anything halfway. This rings true in regards to holiday decorations as well, and sources have revealed that Melania Trump has taken full responsibility for the decorations of the White House this year.

In a time when American car manufacturers are deciding against the ongoing employment of the common man in favor of the corporate expenditures of the future, and the retail sporting goods outlets are electing to stop selling what the original sporting lifestyle stood for,(outdoor living), it is comforting to know on some level – at the highest level – tradition and core value is still meaningful.

If you look closely at what this administration is doing, you will see a reflection of the Americana ambiance that has permeated this culture for the past several decades, if not centuries. The red Christmas Trees, blue silver and gold decorations, and the garland, holly, wreaths and tinsel all bring to mind a simpler time. A time that creates the same nostalgia in the heart and soul that is somehow reminiscent of the military surplus tents and equipment that is inspiring in much the same way.

As we head out of 2018 and into 2019, we do so with the understanding that the old days are slipping from us as quickly as the generation that has tried to keep it alive. The new generation keeps track of time and days much more stringently than any generation ever has before as it seems that the closer one watches the clock tick by, the faster it seems to go. If you get a chance to watch traditional holiday favorites this year such as It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Story, make sure that you do. It won’t be long until these old favorites become despised antiques that will occupy the same place in the hearts of this new generation as your grandpa’s old army tent.

 

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How good of an outdoorsman are you? Can you tell the difference between a cat and a dog?

Watch this video! Watch it closely because it has caused controversy in the social media world. It actually made me a little sad to watch this because it tells me a lot about how far away from nature most people are today.

I will say that I had the mystery solved in approximately 3.5 seconds and it only took me that long because the boy had brought me my coffee and I had looked up to indicate my thanks. What threw most people off I suppose was that very cougar like tail that this dog has. However, that is where the similarities end on this. Here are three reasons why you should have known this is a dog and not a cat.

  1. The way it’s acting. Cougars, even captive ones, are very wary of people and they actually don’t seem to like people at all… ever. So the fact that this canine comes sauntering into the picture nonchalantly, as if there my be a Snausage® to be had somewhere, is very telltale.
  2. . Those ears. Anyone who has ever paid attention at all will take note of the fact that a catamount, cougar, mountain lion, etc… has rounded ears that tuck back close to the head, (to keep them out of other animals mouths I’d assume). This animal has ears that stand erect and are as pointy as stilettos… Italian stilettos.
  3. The gait that it has. How many of you know that dogs are diagonal walkers and cats are lateral walkers, (for the most part at least)? What I mean is the difference between a trot and a pace if talking about horses. Cats usually move both feet forward on one side at the same time, (lateral walking or pacing), while dogs usually move opposite feet forward diagonally at the same time, (diagonal walking or trotting). Studies have shown that they do this to prevent their feet from colliding in the event they need to move quickly to avoid danger or subdue prey.
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Junk food survival: 3 reasons you need to include corn chips in your bugout bag

By: Mr X, Survivalist

 

I have been assailed lately by health food nuts. My wife, for instance, has gotten onto this grassfed beef movement. Well, that’s all well and good, and the fact of the matter is that I can see the intelligence in eating food that has been prepared in accordance with the plan of the One who created it; however, that doesn’t mean that the schemes of man can’t sometimes be beneficial, especially in a survival situation.

And so, it is this humble survivalist’s opinion that you should take the time to throw a couple of bags of corn or potato chips into your bug out bag, because they actually come in quit handy for certain situations. Here are three prime examples of times when you will be glad you have them and some practical uses that you can put them to. Not to mention that they are cheap and easy to come by, at least in this day and time.

Prepared chips are highly caloric and high in carbs.

If just taken at face value, and used for nothing more than a prepared and individually packaged food  source, these small bags of chips are excellent for short term survival needs. They are salty and filling  and will give a much needed burst of energy and warmth by their very nature.

They are salty.

Not only is that salt beneficial to you, but it is also attractive to other creatures of the wilderness and    is therefore beneficial for use as bait. This has been one of the most confounding aspects of survival that I have experienced whenever I have tried to lure game into a trap or ambush area, finding a bait source that would attract them that wasn’t available somewhere else.

They are highly flammable.

In a survival situation, this is much more exciting than it might seem right now, especially if you are caught in a rainy or foggy environment. They are also waterproof while they are sealed in their bag; however, I would recommend that you open them under cover if you plan to use them as a fuel source for a fire.

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Making a legacy: How military surplus carries on tradition

It was with mixed emotions that I drove the boy to the Armed Forces Career Center for the final time.

He is, as I write this, in the process of becoming a United States Marine. I couldn’t be more proud of him and I was assaulted with a plethora of memories during that long final drive as I tried to offer him my advice on how to survive boot camp, forgetting for the time being that if he is at all like me, he wasn’t paying a bit more attention to what I was saying than the man in the moon. That’s because he is the type that wants to sort things out for himself, and he also knows that the boot camp I experienced in 1992 is not the same boot camp that he will experience on Parris Island in 2018.

However, we did have a great opportunity to relive some exciting moments that we shared together over the last 22 years.

His first deer for instance. This was a three day deer camp that culminated in his shooting the biggest doe I have ever seen straight through the heart with his brand new Mossburg 20 gauge shotgun that he had gotten for Christmas that year. I had just watched him allow a much smaller doe to creep past us, right underneath the deer stand we were sitting in. He had simply watched her go by, unable to move fast enough to click the safety off and fire the shot that would have made meat for the family for the winter. I was quietly chewing his ass, when he suddenly snapped off the safety, threw the shotgun to his shoulder, and blasted past my ear without a word of explanation. I was a little pissed, thinking that he had simply done that for dramatic effect in response to my chastisement, and then I saw the blood spatter in the snow. A spatter which ended in a steaming pile of nearly a hundred and fifty pounds of fresh venison. That was a great day for me, because being squeamish,  I offered him the chance to clean all the guns when we shoot in exchange for my dressing the game that we shoot. He soon discovered that we shot much more than we hit.

 

And so I look forward to the times that we can spend in his deer camp, telling his war stories to his sons as we sit in his grandfathers old military surplus army tent. This is what memories are made of.

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Buying a survival truck: 7 things you must consider

Recently it became apparent that my car, which has just gotten off warranty, was designed to start dollaring me to death. Notice that I didn’t say “nickel and diming” me. That’s because the particular car I bought only has $200 + parts on it.

That’s ok though, it’s still a good car it’s just not something I’m going to be running around the countryside in. This car, which is extremely good in the snow, will instead sit in a driveway awaiting the coming of age of my 13 year old daughter who will then start driving it, (and will work countless hours at McD’s to pay for those $300 sensors).

And so then it is time for me to find a used truck with which to foray out on my adventures from. I have purchased many such trucks over the years and have developed seven rules I go by when doing so. Here are seven sure fire tips for buying a used truck.

  1. Get 4 wheel drive. You might be tempted to buy something that has rear differential and whatnot because it is cheaper, but there is a reason the 4 wheel drive trucks sell so much higher, and faster. That’s because if you need it you really need it.
  2. Check the 4 wheel drive out. Just because you found a truck that say 4X4 on the bed, doesn’t mean that the 4wd works. Check it before you buy it. I always stop and place the truck in neutral before I engage the 4wd in either high or low.  I know that many are designed to allow for shifting on the fly… but why would you?
  3. Buy from a private owner. I say this having bought used cars from the dealership before and having them be ok; however, I’ve always had my best luck when buying from a private owner.
  4. Take a long look at the current owner and his things. This is going to be a great indicator of how the truck has been maintained. Does the guy or gal keep his place clean and neat? Is the grass mown and trimmed? Get a look into his garage, are there tools scattered around?
  5. Look for rust! Rust is the biggest enemy to any vehicle. Look for bubbles in the paint too, because that is rust as well. I always look at the frame as well. I once bought a 13 year old used truck without checking anything else out when I saw that the original factory stickers were still stuck to the frame it was so clean.
  6. Check the Fluids. One big indicator that something is awry is the presence of certain kinds of fluids in places they should not be. Oil in the antifreeze for instance.
  7. Ask a lot of questions. Find out why the person is selling his  truck. Did he buy it for a child? Those are the best ones to get, the ones that were bought for a child which the child didn’t want. Another good buy is someone who has lost a loved one who owned it, or who has simply bought a new one because he or she had the money to and nothing better to do with it.
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Kayaking 202 (C): 3 things I have learned the hard way

Ok, so this wasn’t nearly as easy as I thought it was going to be. To be honest, though I am in very good shape, I am in terrible shape for kayaking and I much underestimated the flexor muscles necessary to keep this tippy thing above water. Therefore, today I am sore and, (I know from experience), tomorrow I will be REAL SORE! That is okay though because I really learned a lot from this endeavor.  And I really had a good time. Despite living a life fraught with danger and adventure, I have never been kayaking before. I have spent hours and hours canoeing but the two aren’t really alike.

Kayaking for the purpose of photography, too, added a dynamic to this experience that makes it like no other endeavor, and since the purpose of this writing is to give advice on kayaking for photography, here is what I have learned from my first try.

  1. Use that launch at the marina. I took the path of naturalism for my first trip and I found out that the path of naturalism involves two things: water and filth. There’s nothing like flinging wet lake scum across your camera lens while flipping your legs into a kayak from the water’s edge that will make you squirm and squeal maniacally. Although it’s doable in a pinch, there is a very convenient launch at the marina that offers you the opportunity to insert and extract easily with very little water and no lake scum involved.
  2. Lose that tripod! Though it seemed like a good idea at the time, I am better off using a handheld camera because the kayak is in constant motion. Just… no! put the camera around your neck and shoot by hand. You can keep the tripod with you for the chance that you might pull up to shore and get a shot from the land, or from a submerged log.
  3. Use your rivets. Remember the nifty watertight containers that I gorilla glued to the kayak? Well, it doesn’t hold. So there is a reason that most things end up getting pop riveted for marine purposes.

In our next installation we will look at some of the improvements I’ll make to the improvements I made initially and we’ll give her another try… stay tuned.

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A trip to the car dealership: 3 things you must always do to get the most for your money

As I sit here at the Subaru dealership where I purchase all of my family vehicles, I am reminded that those of us who use and purchase military surplus tents and equipment do so for one reason and one reason only; because we want the best value that our money can bring us.

There’s nothing wrong with being thrifty, that is simply being a good steward of the money that you have been entrusted with, and I am always looking for ways to make my money go further and last longer.

I know from experience that almost any trip to the car dealership is going to cost me $300, and having just spoken to the service technician, (here because of a “check engine” light activation), I learned that today is no exception because the sensor that I need replaced is $260.00 plus tax…

But that’s ok, because as I look around the showroom, I’m finding ways to even out the expenditure. One of the things that I notice immediately is that there is a Coleman tent in the showroom that has the Subaru label emblazoned across the top. The fact of the matter is that I am in the market for a new tent anyway and have been looking for one, (not that I can afford it now after buying a $260 sensor), however, I know that I’m also going to need to buy a new car in the next two years…

So, here then are three things you must do to always try to get the most bang for your buck:

  1. Try to get some freebies added on. Whenever I buy a car, I always look for some freebies to get thrown in to “seal the deal” if you will. The aforementioned tent is a good example. I don’t know of any car dealer who is going to let a $24,000 car deal go down the tubes over a $70 tent. I, on the other hand, will walk right out the door over a $70 tent, or a $250 set of roof racks, ($49.95 at Wal-Mart).
  2. Don’t do the trade-in thing. There is only one reason that dealerships, whatever type they are, take trade-ins. That’s because they are profitable. Why let the dealership get the most out of your valuables? Sell them yourself and get the full dollar amount out of them. It’s not that much trouble and you work too hard for your money to give it to someone else.
  3. Always consider buying use items. I’m not a big fan of buying used cars, just because I like to start off fresh with a factory warranty and know exactly how that thing was maintained all of it’s life. But for everything else I buy used. My cameras, guns, electronics, etc… are always bought used or surplus just because for the most part there are no hidden variables to worry about. What you see is what you get and wear and tear isn’t likely an issue.

 

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