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Scavenging 101: 3 of the best places to get freebies

I’m not a big advocate of  trash picking; however, I must say that I have seen some really good merchandise over the years go into the dumpster and onto the curb. And as much as I am not an advocate of trash picking, I am also not a great advocate of wastefulness. We all are familiar with the old adage: “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. And the fact of the matter is that a resourceful individual can find use for nearly any and everything, while others, I call them “consumers”, are simply lost at the idea of re-purposing or repairing anything. So, the trick is that you as a survival prepper, or merely a thrifty individual, need to find the place where the consumers ditch their gear. Here are three tried and true spots:

  1. College campuses. This has been my best spot over the years. These young kids, their heads and hearts filled with visions of superiority and great wealth, will often leave huge amounts of valuable items right in the trash. Some of the item I personally have acquired from college campuses after graduation are: cellphones, laptops, televisions, household items, liquor, and food, (if you can stand it).
  2. High profile businesses. The really high dollar shops are more likely to put returned or slightly damaged items in the dumpster than they are to try to resell or auction them off. That type of behavior is often beneath such high falutin ideology. Why not take advantage of that fact and get what you can out of it. A word of caution: Be careful off competition at these locations, other scavengers will fight over this these spots. It’s never a bad idea to have someone watching your six… and someone else watching theirs. Remember the trailing gunman theory.
  3. Personal storage facilities. These are good picks because quite often when property is abandoned in units, they are auctioned off and the less desirable items are discarded as trash. A good thing to note; however, is that some person at some time had seen every item in that unit as valuable to some degree… however, they might have been a lunatic too.
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Apocalypse survival: 3 must have critters for the coming storm

If you have been watching the news at all lately, then you are aware that the nation and even the world are on the precipice of volatility.

Therefore, it would behoove you to be prepared for any upcoming problems and you don’t even really have to change your lifestyle much.

The fact of the matter is that as a species, on the whole, humans are highly dependent on animals. Not only do we eat them, we are also dependent on them in other ways. So, taking that in mind, here are three animals that you must have right now to function in a coming crisis.

  1. A really good dog. Pictured here is an Australian Blue Heeler Cattle Dog. These are my favorite picks as a survival dog for many reasons. First they are full of energy and very smart. Next they are easily trained and very loyal. Lastly they are herders by nature, and not only will they defend your pack, (family), but they will control and corral other animals as well. (There’s no telling what you might wake up and find in your camp in the morning).
  2. A sheep or a goat. Not only can these things live on nearly anything, but they are meat in hard times, and milk and heat in better times. You’ve heard I’m sure of a “three dog night”, one in which it was so cold that you need three dogs in bed with you to stay warm, well the going consensus is that a three dog night is equal to a one got night, or a half sheep night.
  3. Some chickens. Chickens are great for many things. Not only do they offer food in the form of meat and eggs, but they offer feathers for warmth and crafts, and they make excellent alarms for more than just the crack of dawn. They will shriek and raise hell whenever confronted by any predator.
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Military Surplus Survival: How to Pick the Very Best Gear

I recently read the news that an American Air Force base was flooded and nearly devastated in Nebraska. Fox News reports on March 20, 2019 that Offutt Airforce Base is under water to include offices, warehouses, and runways.

Who cares you might ask. Well, you should; especially if you are a purveyor of military surplus equipment. Because whenever military items become exposed to the elements like that, you guessed it, they immediately become surplus items. Nothin in the public domain gets thrown away regardless of what it’s been through. Which brings me to todays talking point, how to discern the good surplus from the bad.

Disasters like this should always be well researched and followed so that, if you are one to buy military surplus items, you can make sure that you aren’t getting damaged equipment. Most military surplus resellers are honest, hardworking people, but let’s face it, not all of them are well informed and quite often they won’t know the history of the surplus items that they buy in lots.

So therefore it is up to you to investigate when and where the natural disasters are happening, and then seek out that equipment that might have come from there. Last year for instance, the Carolinas were hit hard by Hurricane Florence and Parris Island as well as Camp Lejeune were both affected. So were the New River Air Force base and Camp Geiger. It stands to reason then that any surplus coming out of these areas for the next year or two would be deserving of special attention to ensure that no significant damage had been inflicted. A few questions to the reseller will  often answer any questions you might have, because even though the history of an item won’t be known, the location they were purchased from most certainly will.

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Kayaking 202: Turning a kayak into a photo taking machine

And so I take my final bow as I present to you my kayak, all tricked out and ready to go on lake-water adventures as I endeavor on a trip to capture the stoic visage of a family of American Bald Eagles which inhabit the local state park.

I have labored long and hard on it, (not really), and I have done all that I wanted to in order to get it seaworthy.

Here are the changes I have made to it that make it ready to capture the photos and video that I am going after.

  1. I installed a go-pro mount on the top at the bow. I discovered right off that trying to mount it with marine rivets as I did nearly everything else, because the rivets heads would interfere with the camera mount. Hopefully the gorilla glue that I utilized to mount it will hold, otherwise I’m going to be hoping that the waterproof case makes it float.
  2. I used the gorilla glue to also mount two watertight cases to the floor of the kayak. One is big enough to hold the camera that I plan to use for the kayak photography, and one to hold my cellphone. Though I could have easily drilled and riveted both of these cases in, I didn’t relish the idea of breaking that watertight seal in any way.
  3. I riveted two eye brackets into the bow in order to strap a tripod into the bow. As I shoot more and more photography, I learn more and more that I need to have a tripod for stabilization. And so I plan to utilize this configuration in order to get those photos that have so far eluded me from across the lake. Of course I’ll keep you posted! Stay tuned for the next installment of kayaking for photography…
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Kayaking 102: Getting Started

Kayaks on a Subaru Impreza

Ok, so I looked around a long, long time before I finally decided on what kayaks to buy for me and my son. I considered everything from used kayaks to inflatable kayaks… I even looked into used inflatable kayaks; here’s what I discovered:

Kayaks become more valuable with age.  And, like good military surplus, those that have a little wear and tear on them, (like a Vietnam era canteen with a bullethole in it), are worth much more than those that are brand new still in the package.

I mean I pored over the used kayaks in the online classifieds. I called, made offers, placed bids… all to no avail; because, every single kayak owner I found, who was willing to part with their beloved kayak, refused to do so -it seemed- without at least doubling their money (and sometimes tripling it). And so, after a couple of weeks of frustration, (yes I’m tenacious), I finally got on the Wally-world site just see what they had to offer. Boy, was I pleased. Wally-world had everything I had wanted and dreamed of right there at my fingertips.  Not only were the exact kayaks I wanted available, they were the right color, $40 cheaper than anywhere else, and they came with oars! Plus, Wally-world had a roof rack to fit my Subaru, AND they had a set of kayak racks as well. All told I spent $448 dollars and there was no shipping costs because I had the entire kit and caboodle sent to my local Wally-world. They sent me an email when it all arrived, and I shot right over there and installed the rack and roof mounts right there in the parking lot with a $5 tool kit I bought in the hardware section.  Total cost… $453, (including the toolkit).

Well, kinda… in the next installation, I will show you the modifications I found necessary to get my kayak right where I needed it to be to turn it into a wildlife photography machine… Stay tuned!

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All Terrain Vehicles: 3 things you must consider about maintaining your ATV

If you use an ATV, then you realize that one of the big aspects of owning and using an all terrain vehicle is the fact that they require a lot of maintenance. That being said, there are several important questions that you must ask yourself regarding whether you want to try to use an older model ATV or whether you should invest the resources into buying a new one.

Unquestionably an ATV comes in handy for everything from treasure-hunting to deer hunting. They are great methods of transportation for military surplus tent adventures as well. These things can carry a lot of weight and if you can balance it on your ATV, then you can usually transport it wherever it needs to go. However, here are three things you need to think about when deciding what type of ATV to get and use.

  1. Parts availability. One of the biggest problems you’ll run into when keeping an older ATV is the fact that the parts for it are going to be hard to come, and it is certain to go down at some time or another. Your best bet if you are going to use an older model ATV is to buy some spare parts whenever you can and keep them. This means extra fuel pump and several filters, spare cables and custom fittings, and any fuses or spare switches you can pick up, as well as several oil filters.
  2. Ease of maintenance. One of the advantages of an older ATV is the ease with which they can be worked on. ANY incorporation of electronics into the power train is going to result in complications in the mechanical function of the ATV in the event of a SHTF type scenario.
  3. Ease of transport. The lighter your ATV, the better off you’re going to be if you have to push, pull, or carry it. I once had a Honda 4trax that was light enough I could load it myself into a pickup truck without a ramp. It was on 250CCs, but it worked great for everything I needed it for.
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The Military Surplus Store, several reasons you need to shop there

The government warehouses are full of treasure and buying surplus military clothing and equipment is the way to mine it. Though the days of the battle ridden surplus of World War Two and Korea are gone, many can still recall the joy of sifting for hours through piles of olive drab. Treasures back then were different than they are today.  A long bayonet, canvas .45 holster, or a metal canteen – often replete with a bullet hole or two – could set both man and boy aglimmer with excitement at the prospect of a world at war. The bullet riddled items scarcely cost much more than the ones that could actually be used but they were always the first to be snatched up.  Old Colt .45’s and Tommy Guns with thirty round magazines could be found next to Springfield 1903’s and M1 Garand’s, all silent after having barked their destruction into the mass of an invading army. There was so much equipment left after WWII that the government had a rough time getting rid of it.

The world moved on and the rules have changed. You can’t buy old flamethrowers and weaponry as surplus anymore but that does not mean that there aren’t treasures galore to be had in the new piles of military surplus gear and equipment. Today’s market isn’t restricted to USA surplus either. European military surplus has been made available to the masses, as has Russian, German, and Israeli.  A trip to your local surplus store can reveal almost anything. Of course you buy camo pants and shirts, but did you know that you could possibly find a BPS, (military jargon for a big plastic shoppingcart)? Was your father or other family member in the armed forces during a conflict? Quite often you can find unit insignia and period surplus uniforms which match those that he, she, or they wore during their service.

There are many practical civilian uses for military surplus items. Old document cases and shoulder packs make excellent ipad cases. Modern day hunters who like to shoot primitive weapons such as black powder rifles will be well pleased with a military bread bag to use as a “possibles bag” for quick at hand shooting supplies. Two bread bags would be an ultimate for dove hunters, one to hold shells and the other to hold birds. Military surplus makes a great medium for artist and upcyclers as well. Consider upcycler Jake Wright who makes beautiful furniture from decommissioned, upcycled military surplus; while others find surplus gear and accessories useful as an artistic  medium for a memorial day war display.

No matter what your needs are you won’t find equipment and gear more rugged or well crafted

Than that used by the military.    You won’t find a better value for your money either, as some statistics show that military surplus usually sells at 1 – 2% of its commercial value.1 So if you are a hunter, outdoorsman, picker, artist, upcycler, war buff, or collector, make sure you check your local surplus store. You just might be surprised by what you find.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Portable Shooters Bench: Several Reason You Need to Build Your Own

 

When the time comes to head for parts unknown, one of the things you are going to want to have at your disposal is a shooter’s bench. If you do any amount of shooting using optics, then a shooter’s bench is going to be a must have piece of equipment.

There is no way to keep a scope zeroed in without a good rest and the ability to relax and take long distance, well timed shots. I personally try to shoot with iron sights as much as possible; however, I do know that sometimes you need to reach out and touch some other mother’s son, and to do that you need accurate optics.

I have looked over many different types of shooters benches, some homemade, and many factory made.  The video link I have posted is by the far the best and most affordable that I have found, and I have made two for myself.  I use them at the firing range now, and the fact that they are portable will only make them more valuable to me when it comes time to bug out. I usually have one or the other of them in the bed of my truck, so when the SHTF, I will not need to even think about them. Grab a bugout bag and go!

To make, simply cut the correct shape, and attach folding legs as per the linked video. These shooter benches are super sturdy, and you will be surprised at how well you like them. I use a pile of sandbags for mine, because you just need to carry the empty bags and fill them at the range, that way they lay flat and don’t take up much room at all. The bags can be used for hunting/gathering, building material and many other things as well.

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Hardcore rations: 2 must haves for emergency survival

If you have ever been a historian of the Civil War or an aficionado of Native American history, then you will know about the two survival foods that took both the Indians and the Europeans through many of their wars.   I speak of course about Pemmican and Hardtack.  Both of these survival foods are easy to make and will last a long time. Hardtack may even last forever. Both are made from some pretty common items, both are filling and calorie laden, and you could begin stocking up on both very easily. Here is how to make them.

Pemmican:

This was the primary mainstay of Native Americans when they were on the trail. Much like beef jerky, it was easily packaged and carried, and didn’t require any preparation for consumption. Unlike beef jerky, it contains fruits, vegetables, and tallow to give a more filling, energy boosting meal than one could expect from just dehydrated meats. To make Pemmican:

  1. Separate meat from fat and jerk the meat. Then melt the fat.
  2. The jerky should be so dry it crumbles, and the fat should be strained to get the detritus out.
  3. Grind the jerky in a coffee grinder.
  4. Grind up any berries or nuts that you want to incorporate.
  5. Mix 50/50 jerky and filtered tallow
  6. Add nuts or berries.
  7. Store in a cool dark and dry place, or freeze. Can keep for years.

Hardtack:

This is the food that many a Civil War soldier awoke to for breakfast on both sides. Hardtack and coffee was a common meal, because often the hardtack had to be soaked in the coffee in order to get et. Hardtack is super easy to make, and can last as long as fifty years without getting spoiled. There is nothing easier to make than hardtack, and though it won’t be everything you wanted, it will keep you alive for a very long time. This is how you make Hardtack:

  1. Gather the ingredients, 3 cups of white flour, 2 teaspoons of salt, 1 cup of water.
  2. Mix together in a bowl adding water until it doesn’t stick to your hands.
  3. Heat the oven to 375.
  4. Roll the dough out.
  5. Cut it into squares
  6. Poke holes in each square.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes on each side.
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