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Hastily assembled and ill equipped survival plans

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SHTF Survival ForumScience channel Saturday morning of July 30, 2011 had a program on about Kublai Khan, and his doomed fleet that tried to invade Japan.

During excavations of the ocean floor, scientist discovered that most of the ships in the fleet were flat bottom river boats. River boats do not have a keel like what ocean going ships have. The keel helps ocean going ships weather large waves, while flat bottom boats will capsize.

It appears that Kublai Khan was in a hurry to invade Japan, so he ill equipped his navy with the wrong type of ship.  This short sight meant the fleet was lost in a storm.

How does the example of Kublai Khan apply to survivalism?

Those that do not take the time to properly prepare are doomed to fail.  The key word there is “properly” prepare.  Kublai Khan had his army, weapons, armor, supplies, ships,,,,,.  But the ships were the wrong type of ship, they were not ship designed for oceans, they were designed for rivers.

In the survivalist community, there are a lot of people that plan on grabbing their bug out bag, bugging out to the wilderness and living off the land.  There are lots of problems with that situation, such as being able to find enough food, diseases, illness, vitamin and mineral decencies,,, only to name a few.

Back in November and December of 2010, a buddy of mine and I spent 3 days on the Angelina river camping and trying to live off the land.  During those 3 days I did not see a single wild hog or whitetail deer.  Some deer came close to the camp site at night, but I did not see anything during the day.  We caught a few catfish, but not enough to feed a group of people with.  In order to catch enough fish to live off of, we would have had to have people fishing all day long.

One of the biggest issues are the people who fail to prepare at all for a disaster. These are the people that keep very little food at home, no bottled water, no fuel for camp stoves, little first aid supplies,,,,,. If there is some kind of disaster (like a hurricane), people rush to the nearest store and buy as many supplies as they can afford.

There are lots of issues with panic buying:

  • There is only X amount of food that people buy at one time. Usually its a partial shopping basket, or they can only spend X amount of money
  • Little thought is given to nutrition
  • When the shelves are empty, people may buy what they do not normally eat
  • Important items are often overlooked

If things start to get too bad (riots, natural disasters), stores will close and barricade the doors.  When a hurricane makes landfall, stores will stack bails of cardboard in front of the doors to protect the store from looters.

This video was taken right before Hurricane Ike made landfall.

Lets say that some kind of long term SHTF survival situation happens, whether its long lasting civil unrest, outbreak of some kind of new disease,,,, panic buying is a short term solution to a long term problem. People go into the store thinking they need enough food for 3 or 4 days, and by the time they run out of food everything should have returned to normal.

In my opinion, there are about 4 levels of Survivalist:

Short term survivalist – these are the people that buy enough food for a couple of weeks. they may keep a months worth of canned goods, rice and beans on hand.

Medium term survivalist – these are the people that might keep 4 – 6 months of food stockpiled. They may be stockpiling mountain house foods, storing rice, beans and oatmeal in mylar bags.

Long term survivalist – these are the people that store food in every closet, basement, closet and corner of their house.  Long term survivalist try to keep around 1 year of food and water stockpiled.

Top tier survivalist – these are the ones that have planned food production past one year, have access to a farm, have prepared a secure Bug Out Location, have land to garden and places to hunt and fish.  A top tier survivalist would rely on stockpiled food in the short term, or until they can get their livestock and garden production up to sustainable levels.

Can a panic buyer also be a top tier survivalist?  Sure they can, why not?

Lets say that John and Jane Doe live in an apartment, they have no room or money to stockpile several months of food.  But, John has a good friend or relative that owns a small farm in a rural area.  Lets call the owner of the farm Jack Doe.  John and Jack work out a plan that if some kind of long term SHTF situation happens, John and Jane can stay at the farm and help work the land.  Whether its providing security, cooking, cleaning, pulling weeds out of the garden, keeping animals like deer and rabbits out of the garden,,,, there should be plenty of work to go around.

The thing is, all of these plans need to be worked out ahead of time.  When your family runs out of food, don’t plan on just showing up at the door of your friends house asking for a handout.  It does not work that way.

It is impossible to plan for every SHTF situation.  Somethings are beyond our control, such as nuclear war, natural disasters and climate change for example.

Lets move past the food debate and talk about firearms. In the survivalist community there is a group of people who plan on using a 22 rifle for just about everything. Those people justify their decisions because 22 long rifle ammo is cheap, and it has a low report. With the low report, survivalist can keep a low profile while hunting, you do not want raiders and looters knowing your location.

The problem is, 22 long rifle is not adequate for anything larger then rabbit and squirrel sized game. Those people that are planning on using 22 long rifle for deer and hog sized game are doomed for failure. There are a lot of people that will argue that the 22 long rifle is the perfect survival rifle, but its not perfect for all size animals.  When hunting, as with everything else in life, use the right tool for the job.

Take the time to assemble your survival gear and make solid plans.  Just like in the case of Kublai Khan and his navy to invade Japan, hastily assembled and ill equipped survival plans are a plan for failure.

Cleaning up the bug out location

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survivalist camp bug out locationToday started out around 8 am with a shower, breakfast bar, and a monster energy drink.  From there my wife and I went to the local wal-mart, step daughters house, rented a carpet cleaner, sonic for a cheese burger, and the local feed and fertilizer store.

From the feed store, we went to the camp to meet up with my parents and some other family members.  After arriving at the camp, we cleaned out a spot for my uncles RV.  My uncle and my aunt got on the hunting lease with my family, so their going to be parking their RV at my parents place.  We had one person on a Craftsman chainsaw, one person on a pole saw, and 3 people pulling limbs out of the way.

Some of my observations:

The soap dispensers that I brought to the camp worked well.  We have 2 dispensers at the kitchen sink and master bedroom sink.

We need some more had tools.  My dad was working on the lawnmower and needed some tools.  We had enough to get the job done, but some extras would not hurt.

My mom found an LED flashlight that had been left outside.  Someone used the light to turn on the propane tank, and left the light outside.  One good thing, even after being left outside in the rain, the light still worked.  I have no idea how long the ;light had been outside, but it still worked.

I will probably buy a couple more

We need more hand tools, such as machetes, axes, shovels,,,, stuff like that.  Lets say that some kind of long term SHTF situation happens, we will need hand tools to work the fields.  What good does seed do, if you have no way to work the ground.

The ammunition stockpile looks good – we have several boxes of 223, 7.62×39, 30-30, 308, 30-06, 270, 280 and 22 long rifle.

Pistol ammo, I would like to have some more of are 9mm, 45 acp and 40S&W.

Rifle ammo, I would like to have some more 30-30, 9mm and 308, but that is just something I am going to have to work on.

Shotgun ammo, we could probably use some more #4 shot and some 00 buckshot.

But over all, if my family had to bug out to the camp, ammunition should not be an issue.  Ammunition is one of those things that you can not have enough of.

Now for a random video about survival gear:

On the topic of the ammunition stockpile, I would like to buy a set of shelves and move all of the ammo together in one location. Right now there are boxes spread out through 3 different rooms. The ammo needs to be centralized in one location.

While at the camp I thought about stockpiling diesel for the tractor. There are certain issues with stockpiling diesel, but having diesel for the tractor could really help kick start a garden. Instead of having to work the first garden by hand, we could use the tractor to work up 2 or 3 acres. Having 2 or 3 acres of land that has been worked up by a tractor could really help out in a long term SHTF situation. As for stockpiling diesel at a bug out location, I do not have an answer.

One of my big concerns is safe drinking water.  Even though I have a Royal Berkey that I keep at the camp, I do not think that a 2 filter unit could keep up during the summer time.  I might have to buy a couple more filters, so that the Royal Berkey is filtering though 4 filters.

We have a water well, but the well is not used enough to keep the water clean.

Our other water source is a nearby stream.  The issue is that people living up steam have livestock.  The run off from the livestock could introduce waterborne infections like Cryptosporidium and E. Coli.

While I was at the camp I made sure to water the oak trees that I am trying to grow.  The oak trees are part of my long term survival plans, as I want a natural setting that draws wild hogs and deer into a certain area of a field.  The field is overlooked by a deer stand, so anything that crosses the field should be easy pickings.

We had a slight injury Saturday, when some ran into a leveling blade that was attached to the tractor.  The first aid kit was used, and a bandage was applied.

Overall, it was nice visiting with my uncles and aunts. Hopefully I can learn from this trip to the bug out location and can improve on the essentials that we may need to survive a long term SHTF situation.


Well rounded survival plans

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survivalistI think there is a tendency to focus more on preps, and less on being self-sufficient. Who “really” wants to check on the rabbits, goats, chickens and pigs after working 8 – 10 hours? In todays urban sprawl, finding land to have a small farm is rather difficult as well. For a survivalist to be self-sufficient, their not only going to need fruits and vegetables, their also going to need meats, protein, eggs and fat. The problem is, for most people living in the city, having farm animals is not an option. So its a win-lose situation – people move to the city to get a job, but have to leave their farm life behind.

Here in Texas, its estimated that the average people has been removed from farm life for at least 2 – 3 generations. If some kind of long term SHTF situation happens, people will have a lot of learning to do.  Those already living on a farm might adjust well, but those used to urban life and instant satisfaction might be a little disappointed.

In the rural areas where I live, its not uncommon to see rows of pecan trees from the first settlers. But now, we are more worried about planting pine trees to sell for timber, then planting fruit trees.

Its not enough to just buy preps, without developing a well rounded long term survival plan. Stockpiling rice, beans, pasta, powered milk and pancake mix in mylar bags is not a long term survival plan, its a temporary survival plan. Buying superpails, making homemade superpails, stockpiling MREs, storing food in mylar bags just prolongs the inevitable, and that is running out of food.

Even though the words “self-sufficient” sound nice, its impossible to be totally self-sufficient. Even people in ancient times had trade routes, with some of the routes spanning thousands of miles. Even though someone might have everything they need right now, sooner or later its going to run out.

True long term survival plans not only include being as self-sufficient as possible, but your neighbor being self-sufficient, and the two of you trading supplies. Where one person grows squash, and other person grows okra, another might grow spinach,,,,, and everyone trade for the items that they need.

As wonderful as “bugging out to the wilderness” sounds, its going to be a short lived dream. To test the bug out theory, just got camping for 3 or 4 days, try to find your food, find safe drinking water, preserve your food,,,,,,, your probably going to catch Shigella or E.Coli and die. Either that or your family is going to starve.

Last December a buddy of mine and I went camping for 3 days on the Angelina River, which is close to my house. We were there for 3 days, and I did not see a single hog or deer. There were plenty of tree rats and catfish, but your not going to live off of that very long.

Video from that 3 day camping trip:

Forum thread about the 3 day camping trip. Post comments about the video in that thread please.

The goal of a serious survivalist should be to develop well rounded plans:

Stockpiling survival gear is not a well rounded plan.
Buying #10 cans is not a well rounded survival plan
Buying superpails is not a well rounded plan
Stockpiling ammo is not a well rounded plan
Having a bug out bag is not a well rounded plan
Having a generator is not a well rounded plan
Having a garden is not a well rounded plan
Stockpiling seeds is not a well rounded plan
Having a bug out location is not a well rounded plan.
Having barter items is not a well rounded plan.
Having cache tubes is not a well rounded plan.
Knowing your evacuation route is not a well rounded plan.

Its when the pieces come together that a plan becomes well rounded. A well rounded plan is like a circle, with each part of your survival preps being a small part of the circle. The larger your circle, the more rounded your circle is, the better.

Lets talk about the sharp edges of a survival plan. This is when you have plenty of canned goods for 3 or 4 people, SHTF, and you have 10 friends and family members on your door step. Then whatcha gonna do? Another sharp edge might be when you have canned goods, and tons of garden seed, but nowhere to plant a garden. Plenty of food, but no source of safe drinking water. Plenty of dried beans and rice, but no stove to cook it and no water to boil it.

Post your comments in this forum thread about stockpiling survival gear.

Three day trip to the camp

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survivalist campOn July 30th, 2010 my family and I headed to the camp for 3 days for a little get away. One of the things that I like to do on these little “get aways” is to take notes, and figure out ways to improve – what went right, what went wrong, and what can we do differently.

One thing that I wanted to test on this trip was the Royal Berkey water filter from – this will be covered in another article, its just too much to go into right now.

One thing that happened, was while the guys were washing off the 4-wheelers, the water hose was left on and the well was drained. So we were without water for about 12 hours – 8pm, until a little after 8 am. By turning off the water pump, the well had time to fill back up.

The propane tank is down to about 40 percent, so it needs to be filled back up. If you wait until the winter to fill it up, your probably going to be put on a waiting list.

In all, there were 7 people staying at the camp – and everyone had a place to sleep with a little room for more.

We had a 128 quart ice chest in the kitchen that was helping keep the food cold – but we also have a refrigerator and freezer.

Dealing with weather conditions – One of the big issues was the heat – the day time high temps were in the high 90s and low 100s. Any time of physical activity in the direct sun light resulted in instant sweat and fatigue. After only a couple of hours of working in the sun, it felt like I had been working for 8 – 10 hours.

One of the projects was to work on the shed – water had been getting around the door jam for several years and the boards had rotted away. It just so happened and the door of the shed faces east – straight into the rising sun. Even though work was started around 8 – 9 am, it felt like I was working in an oven.

This brings up an interesting topic, lets say that some kind of long term SHTF situation occurs, a lot of people are not going to be up to the physical labor needed to start a working farm. Lets say that a family has access to a 2 acre field that they can plant crops on. First the land has to be cleared – which can take days, if not weeks. And what about the physical demands that its going to take to work the land? Can most people of this current generation work a field with hand tools – in the hot sun – for 8, 10, 12 or 14 hours a day?

Some of the common problems with using hand tools includes injuries to the hands and feet. Why the feet? Because people that do not know how to use hoes and rakes my hit their feet by accident. People who do not take foot safety seriously, may learn their lesson the hard way.

So here I am, on the lawn mower, cutting grass that is almost 2 feet deep, wondering “how” this would be going if this was a SHTF situation and not a relaxing trip to the camp. Would it be better to burn the grass, and put the fuel towards a tiller, or save it for the truck in case I needed to go somewhere.

Food for thought – Lets say that you have 2 – 3 weeks worth of food at the camp – SHTF – its going to take a few days to get the crops planted, and several weeks before anything starts to grow. So what do you do between the time your food preps run out, and your crops come in?

July and August are the worst months for the Texas heat.  You step out of the door, and it feels like your stepping into an oven.  The physiological and physical effects that can have one someone can be very profound.  When you working outside, it feels like a weight has been attached to your body, and the heat feels like its sucking the life out of your body.  Even with shade and plenty of water, expect very little relief.

Some of the big issues that I see:

Fresh food – within a few days people are going to be living out of cans.  With eating a lot of canned goods also increases your sodium intake.

Keeping food good – even though you might have a freezer full of food, its going to do little good if the power is off and the food spoils.

Physical demands – most people today are not used to physical labor for 6, 8 or even 10 hours a day.

Transportation – your camp might only be 100 miles from your location, but its not doing you any good if you dont have fuel for your car or truck.

This video was posted to youtube on February 22, 2009. I think its related to the subject of this article.

Post your comments in this forum thread about survival retreats.

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Food sources in a post apocalyptic world

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Lets discuss food sources in a post apocalyptic world after SHTF.  Survivalist have a wide range of ideas on how to get food in a post apocalyptic world.  Some of these ideas cover everything from living a hunter-gather lifestyle, to living off of food stocks until society recovers, to farming and gardening.   Lets take a look at some of these ideas and make some comparisons.

The plans that each Survivalist has will vary widely depending on actual experience and training.  The plans range from the very well thought out and tested plans, to spur of the moment ideas.

Lets set the tone for this article – a new virus has developed that has a 90% fatality rate.  This is like what the Black Death was in 1348 – 1350, where 1/3 of Europe died.   Society has broken down to the point where no food or fuel supplies are being shipped.  People will not leave their homes except to find food – which gets more difficult to find.  Finally, people have to do “something” so they do not starve to death.

One survivalist approach is to Bug Out to the wilderness and live off the land – this is also called the “Bug Out Bag” theory.  In the event of a world wide disaster, the survivalist is going to grab their Bug Out Bag, then take their family out to the wilderness to live off the land.

This is reminiscent of prehistoric man living a hunter-gather subsistence lifestyle. There are several problems with this situation:

  • There is no support chain – if you need help, your own your own.
  • Very few people have the skills to live a hunter-gather lifestyle.
  • People have difficulty adjusting to sudden changes in their lifestyle.
  • Deforestation has destroyed a lot of native edible plants.
  • A lot of wild edible plants are seasonal.
  • Unsafe drinking water – people that adhere to the Bug Out Bag theory, underestimate the effects of water borne pathogens, as their primary source of water will be from streams, lakes or rivers.
  • At the mercy of the weather – rain or shine, hot or cold, your just gonna have to tough it out.

To a lot of people, these points do not matter. If Homo Erectus, Neanderthal, Cro-Magnon and early Homo Sapiens could survive for tens of thousands of years with simple stone tools, then so can they.

Bug out bag theorist forget – once agriculture was developed, the hunter-gather lifestyle was abandoned. Why expend so much energy hunting and gathering food, when it can be grown?


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