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

Uncle John’s Truck: A Story of Coming to Manhood in Rural America (part 3)

As soon as I was free of the crash and saw the scene, I knew someone had to be hurt, (it never really occurred to me that I was the someone who should have been hurt). I immediately reached back into my car, rummaged around in the debris until I felt the familiar canvas of my medical kit, and rushed to the Expedition that I knew had been occupied by the woman. I picked her first for two reasons. First, I knew she was of “young mother” age, and, though an Expedition is technically an SUV, for many it serves the same purpose as a mini-van, albeit a 4 wheel drive one. So I fully expected there to be a child restraint seat or two in that Expedition. I wasn’t wrong, there was a child restraint seat in the back; however, it was unoccupied.   Second, I was a little pissed at the old man in the huge pickup truck to be honest.

As it turns out, both of the other drivers were fine, and even I was fine, though I turned out to be sore as hell for about a week afterwards. Unfortunately my car was destroyed front and back.  My dad came and got me and together we followed the tow truck to the impound lot, we grabbed the plates off of the front and back, grabbed my personal gear… and left my first car in a dirty old gravel lot, crumpled and destroyed, surrounded by the corpses and skeletons of other peoples dreams and visions that had been decimated in like manner.

I don’t know what made my dad think of it, but he recalled that his sister’s husband, my Uncle John, had mentioned a few weeks earlier that he had bought a new truck and had his old one up for sale.  Uncle John is one of those guys that you want to have as a neighbor and a friend. He stands 6’7″ tall and weighs in at about 450 pounds. He’s not fat though. He’s a big solid chunk of muscle on a steel alloy frame. He used to pick up trailers and pull them to a bumper hitch while the rest of us were trying to back up and align the two. John was also the type of guy who really took good care of his things. A chainsaw, for instance, was taken apart and cleaned after use instead of being thrown haphazardly into the bed of a truck…

Tags: , , , , ,

Grubs, Slugs, and Earthworms: 3 Foods You Must Not Pass By in a Survival Situation

It is with great trepidation that I relay this information to you, strictly because it is to most people, distasteful.  However, in the interest of all aspects of survival, I feel like I must share these options with you.

Before we get started, let me say this: I would only use these food sources in one scenario – well, actually two – I would eat snails grubs and earthworms if I were A: in a position of needing to move quickly and maintaining strength, (i.e.; I were being pursued),  or B: I would resort to this if I were sick or wounded and had to have quick and easy proteins.

But this article isn’t about me; it’s about a quick and easy meal that will keep you alive in the event that you are caught in a life or death situation. Trust me, if you are starving, you will eat anything including the leather from your own shoes or backpacks. So let’s talk about how to eat these easy to catch, protein rich foods. First of all, you don’t want to eat them like you find them. Just because an old bear in the woods, or a skunk can eat earthworms right out of their nest, that doesn’t mean that you can. Your digestive tract is just way too pampered to deal with all of the residuals that come with such a meal. Secondly, understand that it does you no good to get food into your mouth or belly that won’t stay there because of your retch reflex.

  1. Earthworms: These should be purged before consumption. Much like a lobster, worms have a mud-vein that is full of worm poop. Worm poop is neither tasty nor nutritious. After purging, (leaving them contained in moist leaves for a couple of days), they should be boiled aggressively for at least thirty minutes.  Eat quickly with your nose pinched shut…
  2. Slugs: These should be cooked similarly to the earthworms above; however, I would collect snails in their shell before I would slugs. They are easier to handle, and there is less of a chance to come in contact with a toxic species, (Often due to their diets). The shell also gives you an opportunity to slow down and look for contaminates.
  3. Grubs: You should boil these as well, and my advice is to watch the local animal population to determine what local grubs would better serve as food. Bears, skunks, weasel’s, and Badgers  all eat grubs. Many of these are even tasty I’m told.

Just remember, there is always risk involved with consuming unknown sources of protein, so use caution and common sense as much as possible, and if a little bit of something makes you feel ill, you certainly shouldn’t consume any more of it.

Tags: , , ,

Survival News: Reviewing the Tom Brown Jr. Tracker™ Knife

I have been a survivalist for about thirty-five years now. I have also been a student of Tom Brown Jr.; having attended his standard class twice in the late 80’s. Back when I started learning this type of bushcraft, it was standard to head out into the wilderness with at least a bowie knife and a tomahawk. Those days; however, are over it seems. This is because my beloved teacher and mentor, Tom Brown Jr. himself, has created his own brand of knife that he has named the Tracker™. This knife, (made popular by a movie of the same namesake), truly seems to be the “be all-end all” in relation to survival tools, and here’s why:

  1. It has a chopping blade. The front end of the blade is not only useful for the fine skill usage such as skinning or separating bone, it’s also heavy enough to fulfill other needs such as cutting down saplings, breaking apart bone, or even throwing if the need were to arrive.
  2. It has a wood splitter. Another function of the tomahawk was that of splitting or shaping pieces of wood to make axe handles, bow drills, etc… The Tracker knife has a back portion of the blade that is perfect for splitting with an offset portion of the blade set aside for precision striking.
  3. It serves as a notch cutter. Often you find the need to carve notches for survival, making a survival bow or building a bow-drill fire set for instance. The top of the blade is serrated to make cutting notches very easy to do.
  4. There are many other functions too. Tiny notches on the wedge section of the blade work to trim cordage or cut fuzz sticks. The front and rear lanyard holes,  (on the handle and the kydex sheath respectively), serves in a pinch as a makeshift bow for a bow-drill, the offset curve of the wedge serves as a perfect surface for fleshing a hide.
Tags: , , , ,

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.
Tags: , , ,

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.

Tags: , ,

Deer Camp 101: Several Misconceptions about Whitetail Deer

 

I simply can’t believe that it is again September and yet another deer season is upon us. It really seems like just a week or so ago that I hung my bow and cleaned my .54 cal. Hawken for the season and settled down to enjoy the Spring. It wasn’t much of a Spring, at least not in Ohio, and it seemed like April lasted nearly four months. Primarily because it rained hard here from May until August. It’s still raining.

The good news is that it is now going to start to get cold and all of this precipitation, if it persists, will have a chance to turn into beautiful white snow… I love deer hunting in the snow.

So, as you get ready to seek your deer for the season, here are some current studies that I have read about that can affect your hunt this year; studies from the Penn  State University wildlife program that actually dis-spell many of the myths that most of us have believed about deer hunting but which have now been disproved.

  1. Deer move less when it’s windy. This one was a surprise to me, but it seems that deer move the same wether it’s windy or not. I know that it seems that they don’t but perhaps another study would show that hunters just get especially miserable when it’s windy and it just seems as if nothing is moving to us.
  2. Deer are affected by the moon. I guess that we want to believe that deer are moved like we are moved, and undoubtedly the moon moves me; (usually out of my easy chair and onto the deck). But the studies have shown that deer aren’t seemingly inclined to change their habits regardless of moon phases.
  3. Whitetail bucks move far and wide in search of hot does during the rut. No, apparently they maintain, for the most part, their 20 mile radius territory; however, it is unclear how far the does travel when they are hot, looking for a ready buck…????
Tags: , , , ,

There was blood in the leaves: lessons in tracking wounded game

It was a typical Saturday afternoon when I looked up from where I was working on the tractor tire to see Carl, dressed all in camouflage, come in to my shed with a serious look on his face.

“I need your help” he said seriously as he pulled a bloody shred of something out of his coveralls pocket and thrust it in my general direction meaningfully.

I took the tidbit trepidatiously and saw that it was two strands of bloody fat, each about three inches long… very strange item to have in one’s pockets.

I noticed that Carl was now looking at me hopefully, which was a welcome relief from all of the meaningful seriousness that I had been confronted with earlier.

“Well, what do you need?” I asked handing him back his fat.

“I need you to help me track this deer!” he exclaimed as if I were simple.

“What deer?” I asked…

Well, Carl had shot this huge buck, he said, and had found lots of blood and these two strands of fat. He had followed the blood for a distance of maybe a quarter of a mile and it had diminished and finally petered out. He had fallen asleep in his blind and had awoken to find this deer standing about twenty yards away and with it’s rear end towards him looking towards some does standing on a distant hillside. He had taken a quick shot with a Barrett crossbow equipped with carbon fiber bolts and Zwickey broad-heads. The fat told me the story. It was fall and the fields were ripe with corn and beans. The fat was rib fat, (I knew this from having butchered several hundred deer over the years). The reason the blood trail stopped was because the superficial wound had dried up… I wasn’t about to track that deer until he died of old age!

I only tell this story to introduce you to an aspect of hunting that is very important to any sportsman, hunter, survivalist, or prepper; that of reading sign. And in this instance, reading sign left by wounded game. So over the next several entries, let’s discuss tracking methods that will help you find the game you have lethally wounded, and disregard those you have merely inconvenienced… stay tuned.

Tags: , , ,

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.

 

Tags: , , ,

Survival 201: How to make meat in dire straits

 

 

 

Have you ever been in a survivalists dire straits? I’m not talking about the British rock band, but instead I’m speaking of, as Merriam-Webster puts it: “In a very bad or difficult situation”.  Dire Straits works like this: Imagine that you are on a five days fishing trip on Loon Lake in the North Woods of Maine. On the first day, as you are kayaking north along one of the many tributaries, you are suddenly overturned by a young cow moose who has ventured out into the lake for reasons known only to young cow moose, and your bungee strap, (which you had just unlooped to retrieve your camera to take a photograph of a different cow moose who was also swimming in the stream), snags around the moose’s neck and she swims off with your kayak, bedroll, rifle, and pack. You are left with your camera in one hand, (water soaked), and your kayak paddle in the other. It suddenly occurs to you that the last time you checked your GPS, you were 15 miles from your truck. You, my friend, are now in Dire Straits.

There are many issues here, but in this writing I want to address the problem of gathering emergency rations in the form of meat. Understand in this scenario we are only trying to get back to a place of restorability so that we can go from a survival situation to one of modern comfort. Hopefully you had the wherewithal to have a backup blade in your boot or strapped to your floatation vest. If not, better find some sharp rocks…

I like to kill two birds with one stone. So, if I’m trying to make my way to my car, and if I know I have to travel along a stream, I will generally travel at night and walk in the stream. I do this for several reasons, not the least is so that I can hunt while I’m traveling.  For some reason, I’ve always found that animals such as frogs, muskrats, raccoons, and waterfowl – creatures which are active at night – are more susceptible to  hunting because they don’t expect danger to come from the middle of the stream, they expect it to come from the forest. A homemade two prong spear, or gig is my tool of preference for this type of hunting because it’s easy to make and works great for frogs and fish if you drive them into the mud to hold them there until you can grab them The trick is to wedge them into the “V” of the spear.

 

 

 

Tags: , , ,

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).

 

Tags: , , ,