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Pakisteel: The saga of the $15 Damascus

By: Mr. X, Survivalist

If you have been following me at all, then you know two things about me, well… maybe three. First, I’m always looking for a good deal; second, everything I do centers around survival; and third, I’m hard on equipment.

So, it should be no surprise to you that recently I was perusing eBay and discovered a veritable treasure trove of handmade custom Damascus steel knives that are extremely affordable. The problem is that they are all Damascus blades and they are all made in Pakistan.

I did a little research, and it seems as if there are some very talented bladesmiths in Pakistan; however, there is not a great supply of quality steel so they use old  rebar, a lawnmower blade, some pot metal from a sewer grate, etc… to form a blank that they can then grind and shape a blade from. The result is a very beautiful product that seems to fit the bill in every way. The question is “will they hold up in a survival situation”?

I went ahead and bid $25 on a few of them that seemed to be of better quality than the others, as much as I could tell from the photographs. One was a classic 12″ bowie knife and the other a “tracker” knife. I won the auctions for these two and am therefore going to put them to the test in survival situations and see if they hold up. If they do then I will also take them to an American Bladesmith Society guy I know and let him put them through the standard tests of the ABS.

The one thing I will note is that they both came to me dull as a fro, (an uncommon practice in American made knives), but both sharpened up to razor qualities with just a few passes on my old sharpening steel. So far so good. Our next installment will involve some simple survival tasks… stay tuned.

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RDDUSA Q&A’s : Installation number 1

Recently, we here at RDDUSA have been getting an increase in questions regarding the use and acquisition of military surplus items. We have always endeavored to answer these questions indepth; however, we think that it might be beneficial to offer a brief synopsis on occasion regarding simple answers. Therefore we will try to get a brief up every month or so regarding the most common of such inquisitions.

…enjoy…

Q: What is a reconditioned tent?

A: A reconditioned tent is essentially a refurbished tent. In most cases, military tents tend to serve their purpose far after the military is done using them. Although these are strong and durable tents they exhibit natural ‘wear and tear’.  That does not mark an end to a military tent’s life cycle as these tents are made from resistant materials and were built to last. Surplus dealers acquire these tents after the military has deemed them unusable for their needs and replace them with new sections, inseams, accessories and parts so they can be 100% serviceable again.

Q: How can I get military surplus clothing?

A: Military surplus clothing can be found through various outlets of online vendors, or at Army surplus stores. Surplus clothing also can be found at costume and props shops. Army clothing is especially popular during the Halloween seasons. The price of an Army costume can vary from $10-$15 for a garrison hat to more than $100 if using vintage items from pre – Vietnam era.

Most of the Military surplus clothing available for sale is from the 80’s-90’s American and European origin. WW2 clothing is becoming rare and harder to find. These items are especially popular among the reenactment fans and the film & TV industry.   Some rare and vintage military clothing can be found through Amazon or eBay, to name a few, but usually at a hefty price.

Q: How to buy military surplus online? 

A: There are a few ways to buy military surplus online. Although it is a small niche, there are a number of military surplus stores that not only sell at retail locations but also dedicate themselves to selling online and ship nationwide or on some occasions, globally. Online market places like Amazon and eBay also have sellers that specifically cater to military surplus items and even modern day gear.

Q: What is the best US military surplus online store?

A: Many online surplus stores may dedicate themselves to a certain category of military surplus gear. Some may only sell military tents, while others only sell military clothing, gas masks and accessories. Factors that you should take into consideration when choosing where to buy from are: 1. The position of the store in search engines results, 2.  Years in business, 3. Overall look, 4. Prices, 5. Secure shopping certification, etc…

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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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.

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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…????
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3 Points That MUST be Considered: A Survivalists View of Climate Change

By: Mr. X, survivalist

If you’re anything like me, then you are tired to hell of hearing about climate change, the green new deal, or anything else that stinks of political talking points… from either side of the agenda.

But with the advent of this debate, especially when taking into account the argument that we must change our lifestyle as human beings to accommodate global warming, I’m a bit perplexed. I’m perplexed primarily because of the fact that the way I was taught in my science classes, this earth has gone through no less than 5 complete ice ages. Five times this earth has had to adjust itself by global warming followed by global cooling, etc… Yet we have still gotten to where we are. Now, this point is being brought up outside of the concept of God. I personally am a devoutly religious person, but just for the sake of the argument I’m going to leave God out of it and strictly discuss the science of this matter.

I am personally unconcerned with the threat of global warming and it’s impact on the human race, and here are three reasons why:

  1. The earth has been binging and purging for centuries. As I mentioned before, this earth has gone through this process many times before, and most likely, has done so without the help of humankind. That’s not been proved; however, and there are theories in place that perhaps these past ice ages were the direct result of human, or human-like interference, but there is no evidence to support such a claim.
  2. Human’s are adaptable to stress. In a study by Akira Yasukouchi (1), it was determined that humans exposed to environment changes are generally exposed to very slight levels of stress over time. This is especially true when the environmental changes are experienced to a moderate degree, such as the raising, (or lowering), of the temperature that one experiences over the seasons.

  3. Stress induces adaptation in human temperature. Christaan H. Vinkers et al. (2) have determined that environmental induced stress actually effects the very temperature that the human body maintains itself at. Therefore, as the environment changes, (either by warming or cooling), which it is going to do with or without the help of humankind, our bodies will adapt to compensate.

 

 

(1) Yasukouchi A, Yasukouchi Y, Ishibashi K (2000) Effects of color temperature of fluorescent lamps on body temperature regulation in a moderately cold environment. J Physiol Anthropol Appl Human Sci 19: 125–134

(2) Vinkers CH, Penning R, Ebbens MM, Hellhammer J, Verster JC, Kalkman CJ, Olivier B. (2010). Stress-induced hyperthermia in translational stress research. The Open Pharmacology Journal 4:30–5.

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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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Treasure hunting 101: The Legend of Forge Hamilton

We have all heard, I’m sure, about the famous Lost Dutchman’s Mine near the Superstition Mountains of Arizona.

But there is another legend of that era as well, and with this legend are rumors of a treasure that has also never been found. This is the legend of “Forge Hamilton”.

Not related to Alexander Hamilton, the founding father, Forge Hamilton is said to have made his way west after immigrating alone to America from northern Ireland where he hammered out his trade as a blacksmith. All blacksmiths were horseshoers in those days, and Forge, (his true name is unknown), is rumored to have been one of the best horseshoers around. Decades ahead of his time, it is said that Forge could watch a horse through his three gaits; walk, trot, and canter, and make a shoe that would keep it sound for months to come.

Like most Irishmen, Forge was as tough as nails and was said to be good with a gun. He was even tempered but tough and he would often hire out to the stagecoach companies to ride shotgun and to keep the horses shod, killing two birds with one stone for the stagecoach companies. It was the wild west after all, and in that area of the country gold was king and plentiful, and murder and mayhem abounded.

There had been a rash of bushwhacking in the Phoenix area,  and everyone was on edge. Prospectors had been found all over the desert with their heads busted open and their gold depleted; however, no-one was able to find out where the gold was going. The territory marshal was keeping an eye on the assayers offices for anyone with a large amount of gold dust that was uncommon, and the sheriff and city police were searching all of the parcels and outgoing wagon parties and stagecoaches. It wasn’t until a local boy, who enjoyed watching the sparks at night from the horses hooves as they trudged over the exposed granite ledge on the trail out of town, raised a ruckus about the stagecoach horses not throwing sparks that the mystery was solved.

It turns out that Forge Hamilton was waylaying the miners in their camps, stealing their gold dust and smelting it into bars that he forged into horseshoes and nailed to the stagecoach horses as he rode shotgun to Denver, where he would switch the shoes with iron ones and then sell the gold far from where he was stealing it.

He confessed before his hanging, but he would not tell anyone where his trove of golden horseshoes was stashed. His house and shop were ransacked, but no golden horseshoes were ever found.

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Why survival? 3 reasons you need to hone your skills right now

There have been times over the years, as I live in luxury and ease, that I have questioned whether or not it was worth all of the trouble I have gone to in order to learn and live survival. There have also been long periods of my life that I haven’t bothered to hone these skills to their utmost. However, in these days and times I make it a habit to stay on top of these skills because by all signs, children, we are heading for some tough times.

You only need to read the news everyday to realize that we are heading towards a conflict, not only in the world, but within this country as well. With conflict comes hardship, and when society breaks down again, finally, it will be up to you to be able to fend for yourself and I’m here to tell you that you will need to have some survival skills in that time. Here are three scenarios that could throw us into a long term survival situation right now:

  1. War. You think it’s not possible? If so, it’s probably because you are a member of that privileged  generation who hasn’t had to live with the fear of an attack from a foreign, invasive army. The truth is that we as Americans are surrounded by enemies on all sides and there are many others who want what we have.
  2. Cyber attack. Whether you realize it or not, we are under the power of the Chinese and the Russians due to errant practices in the past. We have trusted hostile countries to act as manufacturers to supply the major components to our computers, which now run our power grids, weapons systems, public works, etc…  Who knows what kind of trojan horses they have planted on everything  from motherboards to cellphones.
  3. Far left election. Do you realize that there are political factions whose entire platform is to threaten our very way of life? They desire to take us back into the ages before fossil fuels and who knows if they will be successful or not?
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Finding the beauty: Tactics for Retaining Your Sanity in a Survival Situation

It had been a hard trip. I had started out three days prior, camping out along the paint creek area of southern Ohio, and had made my way through the landscape, ending up at a small tributary called Big Cave Run on the old map I had found at the local courthouse. It was an old property, (at least six thousand years old Biblically)… theoretically. Historically, the property had been documented by a governing source for over two hundred years. I had started out my survival trip with only the clothes on my back. I had made some slate knives on paint creek with the help of a huge block of sandstone that I happened to find sitting at the water’s edge. The wear marks on it told me that it had been a favorite place of others before me to sit and make tools as well.

The rain fell in a persistent patter. Not quite enough to send me to shelter, it was a warm early June, but just enough to keep the blackflies and mosquitos away, and to keep me soaked to the skin. By the time I had travelled the three mile distance to Big Cave Run, I had two knives, some cordage, a fish spear, and a trouser pocket full of frogs legs from the night before. I hadn’t been able to cook them because I couldn’t get a fire going to save me. And it was on Big Cave Run that I finally built a debris hut just so I could work out a fire kit. That night the rain finally stopped and I ate froglegs around a snapping fire while the spirit of an old indian kept me company. I left when he told me in the gathering darkness that this was no place for the living to have to be alone with the dead.

I left for him the spear and two knives to do with as he wished and I walked out of the creek bottoms and back to my car… travelling east.

This  trip lasted only three days, but in that three days I learned a valuable lesson on survival. That is to keep yourself involved in things beyond the plight at hand. The experience is so much more than where you will get your next drink of water or where you might sleep that night. Beyond the basic necessities of shelter, water, fire, and food, the most trouble you will have in a survival situation is keeping your mind occupied. Let it wander and entertain itself. At least that has always worked well for me.

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