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SURVIVAL 101; 3 WAYS OF MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR FIRE

A simple reflector

In the event that you ever find yourself in a true to life survival situation, it would be most beneficial for you to know how exactly to make the most out of your fire, because the fact is that the least you can waste the better off you will be. This isn’t a difficult concept to master, and the truth of the matter is that most survival knowledge is nothing more than common sense that isn’t necessarily common knowledge. Therefore, in this installment of survival 101, I will go over several ways that you can enhance your fire in the event that you are in a survival situation, or even if you are simply involved in a military surplus tent adventure with your friends or family. Here are three ways of making your fire something special.

  1. Build a simple reflector around it. The heat from a normal fire that is simply built on the ground will radiate away from the source in any direction that doesn’t present some form of resistance. This reflector can be made from anything; however, you would be smart not make it with something that is overly inflammable, or with rock that holds moisture. Neither situation will be conducive to a good nights sleep.
  2. Build a self feeding fire. This is not a difficult concept either, and the two can actually be combined to serve one purpose. A self feeding fire is accomplished by allowing gravity to work on your behalf and building a reflector that is made out of wood, which will slowly feed into the coals at an angle as the fire devours the wood on the bottom.
  3. Build a teepee fire. I have always preferred a teepee fire over a log cabin style fire simply because it is more efficient and doesn’t leave those unsightly ends laying around the coals. I can’t say that the teepee fire saves wood or burns slower, but it definitely burns more efficiently.
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CAMPFIRE RECIPE; STEW AND BISCUITS, NO DUMPLINGS

A dutch oven and fire

I was perusing the news recently when I happened upon an article which had the uncommon ability to start my mouth to watering and which furthermore set my imagination onto a much needed adventure, which entailed it’s being transported immediately to an arctic environment where I was suddenly inside a small trapper’s cabin, in the midst of a winter storm. It wasn’t really much as far as articles go, just an idea for a simple campfire recipe of Dinty Moore beef stew and some Bisquick biscuits, however, the combination of the two together elicited an excited stimulus of Pavlovian dimensions in my tongue and belly and I immediately began to scheme. In the original recipe it called for a can of Dinty and some Bisquick and milk… pretty boring, so I went into the kitchen and began to concoct this:

JOHNNY’S WHATCHA-GOT? STEW AND BISCUITS

Ingredients: One small roast cubed, three potatoes, six carrots, and some peas of you’ve got them. In a survival situation, I would prepare whatever meat I could get, excluding fish, and use cattail tubers in place of the potatoes and wild carrots in place of the carrots, (think Queen Anne’s lace). The initial trick is to boil the beef first, until it looks a little “raggetty”. In a survival situation, or even on a military surplus tent adventure with the family I would probably pull some wild onion and garlic to enhance the stew and keep the black flies away. In normal situations however, there is no need to put them all through that. Feeds four. The biscuits are most easily prepared in a skillet and are a concocted from lard, flour, some baking powder, and milk. In a survival situation you might be ok trying to use acorn flour in place of regular flour; however, it will be bitter and most likely will serve you better as dumplings rather than biscuits. In any event, I can easily imagine trying to brave the wilds of an Alaskan Wilderness with a belly full of beef stew and biscuits much better than I can a mouth full of jerky and hard tack.

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COOKING FRESH FISH ON A CAMPFIRE; 3 WAYS TO MAKE IT HAPPEN

When I was a young wild-man in training, I had several opportunities to practice my survival skills and I took every opportunity to do so. This was the case when it came to young love as well, and the girls with whom I shared a mutual affection were often reluctant to be exposed to the wonders of the outdoors, specifically in the form of wilderness survival. I found out very quickly that the most adventurous of women of the era were more prone to brave the wilds of the local malls than they were to try their hand at living off of the land, and it was therefore a special treat for me when a young woman of my affection finally agreed to a wilderness respite in the form of fish, (apparently the only wild game she could eat). I easily caught us a couple of panfish each and set about to scaling them with a rock, gutted them with the same piece of shale, (I couldn’t find any chert at the time), and cooked them to perfection on the green boughs of a willow grill, on a bow-drill fire I had quickly built myself. To her credit, she did pick through the bones rather courageously if a bit daintily, and she was great company for the rest of the day. It was, however, our last date and I’m not so sure that she really enjoyed herself though she had assured me that she had. In any event, these ruminations have brought me to the present topic, that of cooking fish over an open fire. This is one of my favorite wilderness meals because it is so quick and easily prepared, and here are the three ways I usually do it:

  1. On a simple willow grill. It is just a web of green willow boughs placed over a bed of hot coals. Probably the easiest way to cook them, however, I recommend that you don’t fillet them if you’re going to cook them this way as the fillets tend to get flaky and fall apart and will go into your coals and get ruined.
  2. On a spit over coals. This takes a bit more time, but the advantage is that it’s quicker because you can build a hotter fire. Be careful of singing on one side and getting it raw on the other. Spit cooking takes a lot of attention and care.
  3. On a rock next to the fire. This works best for fillets, especially if you don’t mind eating fish crumbles. The fillets cook more thoroughly and there is less attention needed but they will come apart as you go to turn them.
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HAMMOCK CAMPING; 3 REASONS THIS COULD BE THE WAVE OF THE FUTURE

One of the newest fads in the camping industry is actually a spin off from the newest methodologies of management in the business world, that of LEAN enterprises. While many people believe that the LEAN enterprise mindset is one of doing more with less, they often miss the forest for the trees aspect of LEAN, which is actually a philosophy of doing more with less waste. And the truth is that the exclusion of one word in a phrase can speak volumes in the form of missed opportunities. Take the example of hammocks for camping. The idea wasn’t to get rid of the tent as an icon of the camping experience, but rather to expand upon the concept of a tent and to take the tent to a new depth and breadth of having a home away from home. The truth of the matter is that with the extra space of the tent, which is not utilized, comes extra waste as well. Here are three reasons why:

  1. Most modern campers are opting for the light and move quickly aspect of camping. Things such as the hiking of the Appalachian Trail, and other camping and tent adventures bring the need to travel light and to be quick on your feet. Even if for nothing else than the wear the weight difference saves on your back, the hammock over the tent makes sense.
  2. The comfort that you gain from sleeping suspended in air as opposed to having to deal with the heat sapping, bumpy ground under the floor of the tent is second to none. Let alone the fact that this relieves the need for a ground cloth, severe weather sleeping bag, (which can be built right into the hammock), and repair kits for holes made while wallowing the floor of the tent.
  3. No need for supports. These things rely on already existing supports to offer the stability that they need to give you shelter. This does not have to be trees, supports can be rock faces, buildings, etc… might not be viable in Kansas, but these should do great anywhere else.
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4 great uses for a surplus bag

I read recently that an military surplus army bag makes a great camera bag. Well, huh? I guess that makes sense considering the fact that military equipment is designed to be ultra functional and practical. But there are many uses for a military surplus bag that goes beyond a camera bag. let’s be honest though, the military surplus bag looks cool as hell and there is little else that can just say “adventure and ruggedness” like the rumpled canvas of a coyote brown or OD green military surplus bag. I have had several uses for my military bags over the years. I use one, for instance, as a possibles bag whenever I go hunting with a black powder rifle. I like it much better than I like the stiff leather purse I bought at the second hand store years ago, simply because it is much more functional. These things are great and are multi-functional, the best thing about them is the fact that they are so in-expensive that you can have an assortment on hand for in the event that the need arises to have one. Here are four examples of great uses for a military surplus bag.

Photo By: petapixel.com

Photo By: RDDUSA

Photo By: RDDUSA

Photo By: RDDUSA

  1. As an herbalism bag. I like to hunt for tubers and mushrooms. I also like to go out during certain times of the year and gather flowers, roots, and leaves for different medicinal purposes. A good military surplus bag , especially one like the Australian soft bag, fits easily around the shoulder and neck, and offers a great way to save what you gather without getting in the way or taking up needed pack space.
  2. As a relic bag. I also love to hunt for relics. By relics I mean arrow heads, artifacts, treasures, etc. I find these types of bags to be perfect for underwater excursions as well. I also carry two or three military surplus bags with me whenever I am on a military surplus tent adventure, especially one with the entire family where I am usually the person who ends up packing everyone else’s gear.
  3. As a medical kit. I always try to carry some occlusive dressings, two or three tourniquets, and some combat gauze just in case I get into some trouble in the form of miscreant contacts, bear attack, or I run into a nest of sasquatches. Not common, but not totally unheard of either.
  4. As a shell bag. I had mentioned that I used a military surplus bag as a possibles bag, but another function I like one is for use as a bag to hold my shotgun shells when I am skeet shooting or dove hunting. This is much easier to handle than to try to juggle a box of shells, or to hold them loosely in my pocket.
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Should Chesty Puller get the MOH?

Chesty Puller

Lewis Burwell Puller, Chesty, as he is known, is an infamous Lt. General who has become the epitome of United States Marines. He was noted for his heroics and mental aptitude throughout his life and is seen even today as a hero to all members of the Marine Corps. According to the Marine Times, over 300 marines have had the distinction of having been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, one of the highest military honors that can be bestowed upon any service member. The award was began in 1861 and unfortunately, Chesty’s name has been omitted from the list of recipients. Chesty saw a lot of combat in his time, and his iconic frown and battlefield witticisms are legendary. For instance, he was once quoted as saying “They can’t escape us now” when he as told that he and his men were surrounded on all sides in Korea. Chesty earned five Navy crosses during his career, which is the second greatest military honor for valor. And there have been attempts made in the past to upgrade some of his medals to MOH, however, for some reason they have all failed. It is the opinion of many that the time has come to posthumously upgrade this war hero’s accolades to the greatest degree. Marines still learn of him and chant his name in boot camp. There is no greater aspiration than to be like Chesty Puller, much like Army soldiers still learn of Audie Murphy. A recent review by the Pentagon has revealed that there are hundreds of recent war veterans who have not been properly awarded for valor on the battlefield and the former secretary of the Navy, Ray Mabus, has recommended that some Navy Cross recipients have their awards elevated. Though the review is limited at this time to post 9/11 recipients, it is perhaps high time that this American hero is recognized as well.

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Women in spec ops… one year later

Ok, so it was a year ago that the United States military opened the world of spec-ops to women, a move that brought angst, strife, dissension and lots of ego based opinions. And after a year, we still do not have any women SEALS or Green berets. In a recent article on Military.com it has been reported that the prospects for women in spec ops are very few and far between, with the military even looking at individuals in ROTC and in some cases at civilians who haven’t even joined the military yet. Rear Admiral Tim Szymanski, the head of the Navy Special Warfare Command, has stated that it takes about two and a half years to get into spec-ops from the initial inception phase, which means that even when we get female soldiers who are able to make the cut into spec-ops, it wouldn’t be until 2020 at the soonest that they could join a team. And that’s if she can actually make it through BUDS which is too much for most men. Even the two women who had gotten through the Army Ranger training in 2015 haven’t yet been picked up by a Ranger unit. Though MARSOC was the first to be able to brag that it had three women in the pipeline for spec-ops training, it was apparent fairly quickly that none of them would make the cut and they all dropped out for various reasons. Lt. General Marshall Webb, the commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command has made the statement that even though the standards might be too tough for the majority of women, the fact of the matter is that they are too tough for the majority of men too, and the standards are not going to be lowered just to get women in. “AFSOC is looking for the highest caliber candidates”, he said, “and when a person meets that standard, she will be joining our ranks.’ And hopefully not until!

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Survival 101: 4 ways to survive a vehicle attack

Carnage in Nice, France

As much as it pains me to have to be writing this, it has become apparent that a new method of terrorist murder is the use of heavy, large vehicles to carry out nefarious attacks. In a move that will undoubtedly end the old anti-gun debate to an extent, the local radical movements have discovered that they have implements of destruction more deadly and prolific than firearms at their disposal, they are now using motor vehicles to kill. In response, we who call ourselves survivalists must change our behavior in order to counter the use of vehicles as weapons against us. Though a fast moving vehicle is a weapon of true havoc, there are many things that we can do to both counter a vehicle, and to keep it from becoming a battering ram to pummel us into destruction. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Awareness, awareness, awareness… The best advice I can give you is to be aware of your surroundings. look at people, make eye contact and try to see if they have nefarious plans in mind for you. Trust me, having survived many deadly encounters over the years, anyone who wishes you harm will give you a look prior to making a move on you. This look will freeze your very blood and it is that reaction which is an indicator to you that something is awry. Trust your instincts and govern yourself accordingly.
  2. Use your terrain to your advantage. Think cover and concealment. In the event that some idiot suddenly becomes maniacal in the operation of a motor vehicle, try to get something between you and the vehicle that it cannot easily pass over or through. a fire hydrant, a tree, a large or irregular curb, etc… all of these things can be used to your advantage.
  3. Stay out of crowds. I know that this is easier said than done in many occasions; however, if you are in an overcrowded area, that is a target rich environment to an active killer. At least do yourself the courtesy of staying on the fringe of the crowd.
  4. Familiarize yourself with the effects of glass on bullets. If you are one of those people, like me, who runs around carrying firearms with you at all times, you need to know and practice how your rounds will be affected by vehicle glass. I know from experience that windshields deflect my 9mm rounds high and to the right and they virtually disintegrate my first few 5.56 mm rounds. Basically, my practice is to “punch a hole” that I can then shoot through. You need to develop your own style and methodology and then practice, practice, practice… don’t forget to do your dry fit and dry run exercises either.
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PA sort of says “NO” to semi-autos…

If you had been planning to schedule a big game hunt as a military surplus tent adventure this year in Pennsylvania using your AR platform rifle, you better make alternate plans or get thyself to the gun-store ASAP. Field and Stream magazine reports that in a last minute move from the PA commission on fish and wildlife, a vote was cast to allow the use of semi-automatic rifles for only small game and for furbearing animals. This contradicts the approval in January, by the commission, which allowed for hunting of both sets with semi-automatic rifles. According to Brian Hoover, the commission Board president, this decision resulted from the commission having “Listened to their hunters”. According to Hoover, a recent survey has revealed that 64% of Pennsylvania’s hunters opposed the use of semi-autos for big game hunting; however, the opposition to the use of semi-auto’s on furbearing animals was much lower. According to sources, Pennsylvania is the nations holdout in regards to allowing the use of semi-auto rifles for big-game hunting, with even Ohio finally acquiescing recently to allowing rifles for use in the pursuit of their only big game animal the Whitetail Deer. In Ohio, the only stipulation is that the rifle cartridge must not be fluted and above .30. Commissioners do say, however, that the prospect of semi-autos for big game use is not entirely off of the board, it is simply off of the board for the 2017-2018 hunting season. The fact is that a new law came into effect in November which gives the commission the right to approve the use of the semi-autos and in effect, the commission is being cautious in the application of that new ability. To all appearances they are trying to be inclusive of their clientele in regards to changing the hunting laws of their state. This is actually a welcome respite from the traditional bureaucratic practice of legislators making rules about things in which they are not directly involved, and is an excellent example of mis-representation being curtailed and stifled by the powers that be.

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Concerning the blood bubble; 2 reasons it’s important in the bush

I was recently on a military surplus tent adventure with the family when my youngest boy developed an urge to chop something with his new tomahawk that I had recently forged him. All was well and good until he actually got to swinging that thing wildly, and nearly slipped about two and a quarter inches of the razor sharp blade into my left leg. After going through the usual dodging and feinting routines that commonly accompany such situations, I managed to wrench the tomahawk from his sweaty little paws and get the situation under control. I realized then that I hadn’t really given him much instruction on the intricacies of using tools in a survival situation and decided that my nescience wasn’t going to be the catalyst for the little guys hurt feelings. I then gave him some very pertinent lessons on what is commonly known as “the blood bubble” in survivalist circles. As are most things in survival, the blood bubble is common sense that isn’t necessarily common knowledge. So, the blood bubble is, in a nutshell, the concept that any tool or device is dangerous to an outside party within the space of the length of the implement plus the length of the wielder’s arm. In my native tongue: “you don’t want to be where he can reach you with it”. That, in effect, is the concept of the blood bubble. Here are two reasons why this concept is especially important when you are in the woods.

  1. You’re in the woods. Even though you should always have a well supplied trauma kit with you whenever you are on a camping trip or on a military surplus tent adventure, you shouldn’t ever really want to use it. The absolute best thing you can do with your occlusive dressing, hemostatic gauze, and tourniquets is to let them quietly expire unneeded. Being out, far from a well stocked emergency room is not a recipe for success when you have a sucking chest wound.
  2. You’re more apt to make mistakes. let’s face it, survival can be tiring, and when we are tired we often slip up. Doing things with more directed cognizance will help us to not make mistakes as often as we may if we just run on auto-pilot.
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