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Survival (27)


The students that attended the CAG Navigator course conducted over 40 hours of classroom and hands on training. They worked in instructor led navigation groups, team navigation events and individual events. In total, each student traveled approximately 20 miles. Early movements were without a backpack, latter movements were with "bug out bags". The students had to push themselves to achieve their goals. They had to learn teamwork and how to travel based on overall capabilities of the team. The students that attended the CAG Navigator course conducted over 40 hours of classroom and hands on training. They worked in instructor led navigation groups, team navigation events and individual events. In total, each student traveled approximately 20 miles. Early movements were without a backpack, latter movements were with "bug out bags". The students had to push themselves to achieve their goals. They had to learn teamwork and how to travel based on overall capabilities of the team. Students learned how to:
  • Plot points on a map
  • Give a grid to their location
  • How to use major terrain features to pinpoint their location
  • How to set an azimuth on a map
  • Compensate for magnetic north and grid north
  • Use phone apps to navigate
  • Estimate distance
  • Keep a pace count and a plethora of other skills and topics.
All in all it was a great training exercise. I am pretty happy with the overall motivation and lack of whining. These guys and gals aren't keyboard warriors, they actually do stuff.



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BoB/EDC Bag example (Video)

https://youtu.be/NBqnSyTp9Rg Rather than tell you how to pack, I thought I would show you what im packing for everyday stuff around town. Remember to keep these geographically and seasonally appropriate. Snapshot packing list:
  • IFAK: CAG tier 1 IFAK: (MSRP $99.99) http://cagmain.com/shop-cag/#!/CAG-Tier-1-Med-Pack/p/50478734/category=13147503
  • Spare CAT7 TQ: (MSRP $28.99) http://cagmain.com/shop-cag/#!/Combat-Application-Tourniquet-C-A-T-Tactical-Black/p/50856842/category=13227550
  • Backpack: (MSRP$29.99) http://www.academy.com/shop/pdp/tactical-performance-1250-cu-in-hydration-pack
  • Area Maps and tourist maps
  • Compass protractor, pencil and paper
  • Signal mirror
  • Baofeng UV5Ra (MSRP$30.00 [Amazon]) http://www.amazon.com/Baofeng-136-174-400-480-Dual-Band-Transceiver/dp/B009MAKWC0
  • Headlamp http://www.lightinthebox.com/ls052-5000lm-3xcree-xm-l-t6-led-bike-headlight-headlamp-suit-2x18650_p2518149.html?currency=USD&litb_from=paid_adwords_shopping
  • Spare Flashlight plus batteries
  • Pocket knife
  • Fix blade utility knife, Benchmade Hidden Canyon Hunter (MSRP$135) http://www.benchmade.com/fixedbladeknives/hidden-canyon-hunter-family.html
  • Water bladder 2L
  • Several 12hr chemlights
  • Sharpening stone
  • Hand saw
  • Iodine tabs in a pill bottle (Remove the Rx label)
  • Extra waterproof baggies
  • Walk about radios when hiking with someone extra
  • Cell phone extra cables
  • Flavored tuna packets x3
  • Spare emergency blanket

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Review: MMI Raider Tent

As some of my followers already know, I am a fan of a lightweight tent for bugging out verses a simple, cheap tarp or trying to go all Joe Teti and make something from sticks. Sure, if I only have enough money for a tarp, that's what I'm getting and I will learn to do the best I can with it. However, I have been there and done that for years as a Green Beret. Truthfully, the Army poncho isn't much more than a tarp, albeit a little smaller and a little lighter. The Army shelter half, that's heavy and isn't much more than technology from the War of Northern Aggression. BTTL header [caption id="attachment_2629" align="alignright" width="300"]wpid-20151026_1743332.jpg.jpeg Tent loosely packed into it's carrying case, still slightly damp from the rain. The scale is calibrated.[/caption] First let me qualify myself a bit, 16 years as a Green Beret in the 5th Special Forces Group. For those that don't know, "The Legion" covers the Middle East. So whether it's desert, woodland US, rain, snow,  I've spent more nights sleeping in a bivvy sack, sleeping bag, on the hood of a HMMWV, under a HMMWV, on an M1 Abrams or on the rooftop of a building adjacent to some bad guys. When you are bugging out, or bugging home, (these terms will be used synonymously)  you should have a cache network. I'm getting older and I'm not the spry young Special Forces guy I once was. I also prefer some comfort when at all possible. Therefore, I have devised a network of caches, as you should, to help you met from point A to point B. That's either to or from work and on alternate routes. This allows me to start off with nothing and get what I need during my travels without becoming a looter (like most so called "preppers" will become....the zombies are coming!). In some cases this isn't possible. In those cases you carry what you need for that season and scenario. I have said before, the size of your bug out bag is inversely proportional to your skills. Low skill level equates to needing more stuff and vice versa. There are always exceptions and common sense reasons that this can change. Personally, I prefer to add a lightweight tent to my bob. It allows me to be 100% positive I will always have a quick, reliable, dry shelter. So, on to my review of the MMI Catoma Raider one man tent. Why a one man tent? Cross loading and autonomy. If you are bugging out as a couple or family, if one of you goes down, the others could be left without shelter. If each person carries their own tent, everyone will always have shelter. You wouldn't carry just one means of protection right? What if one of you needs to move to another location for some reason (service a cache) while the others stand guard? Larger tents can take quite a while to set up and take down. Also, you sometimes need more than one person to set them up.wpid-20151025_134357.jpgwpid-20151025_133023.jpg Out of the box, the MMI Raider Tent weighed in at 2.08lbs. Not too shabby for a full on all weather shelter. I commissioned my 14 year old son to set it up. As a control measure he did not know I was timing him. Unfortunately, the instructions were non visual, yet he still figured it out and had it set up for the first time in a little over 8 minutes. The take down was 4 minutes and 35 seconds. We both spent the night in the tent over two days. The temp only hit the mid 30's but with a green "Army Patrol Bag" ($19.99 surplus) it was comfortable. By the way, that sleeping bag weighs in at 2.4 lbs, compresses to a size slightly larger than the Raider tent. Seems like a winning combo to me for the weight and space. It rained in the early morning hours of the first night and there were no leaks. It rained most of the next day and though we were in and out of it, it stayed dry. The tent beaded up the rain like a champ, no need for silicone spray out of the box. I am 5'10" and felt I had plenty of room. I placed my boots near my head and still had room for a small bag. The design of the tent doesn't promote condensation collecting on the inside and dripping on you. As you can see in the photos, there is the inner part that can be used as a stand alone mosquito style tent, and the outer cover that protects against the elements. Or you could just carry the outer cover for half the weight and space. The outer cover can be adjusted all the way to ground level to prevent cold air from entering yet with just a little gap, allows for fresh air to circulate. If you are 6' 6" , it may be a little tight. If you are more than 40" all around, you may have some trouble. I timed my son setting up the tent a third time and it went from me tossing it to him, to ready in 6 minutes and 16 seconds. We also discovered that it was easier to roll both halves of the tent up together which had it packed up and ready to go in just over 3 minutes. We didn't test the set up time after we figured out the new technique. I really liked the Coyote tan color of the tent. As you can see (or maybe not) in one of the photos, a 5 minute hasty camouflage job made it virtually disappear into the Fall backdrop of Western Kentucky. I'm certain I could make it disappear in most any foliage (did I mention MMI makes thermal mitigating hidesites and net systems that actually work against thermal scopes?). [caption id="attachment_2623" align="aligncenter" width="660"]wpid-20151025_134038.jpg Hasty setup and camouflage of the Raider tent. about 10 minutes. Picture is from about 40 feet away.[/caption] A bug out shelter should be more than a shelter, it should also serve as a hide. If you are lost in a national forest, by all means shoot off your best Batman Signal but if you are bugging out because you are in a warzone or in a SHTF situation, a low profile may be in order. [caption id="attachment_2628" align="aligncenter" width="5312"]wpid-20151026_174829.jpg The Raider tent is stuffed into my Cryptek pattern baseball cap. The tent pegs to the left and the spreader to the right.[/caption] All in all, I'm glad I have this tent, though I think my son has commandeered it for himself. I'm willing to carry the 2lbs that fits within the space of a baseball cap (you could probably stuff it in a Nalgene bottle). I'd also add the 2.4lbs of a surplus army sleeping bag that takes up almost twice that space. Both for the peace of mind knowing I will never need to expend massive amounts of precious time and energy to build a Discovery Channel survival shelter, as long as I have my BOB.  It's also a tremendous benefit that I can set it up or take it down while I'm waiting for my Ramen to boil.  Additionally, I can't pack up my leanto style pine pole shelter, that I spent hours and 2000 calories building on my first night, and carry it with me during my bug out. Don't get me wrong, those basic shelter building skills are essential but if you are using them, either you weren't ready or things have gone terribly bad. That's worth $179 to me, despite the weak plastic clip on the guy line that pulls tension on the tent. I know we can't all afford that price and will opt for a tarp, a cheap Ozark trail tent, a poncho, a shelter half or what have ya, but its like anything else. You make due until you can get something better. As always, prioritize your readiness funds. I'll be getting two more of these tents in the future. That's this Green Beret's assessment. Take it, or leave it. De Oppresso Liber Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training

Buckets of Wheat: What are you going to do with them?

We have had quite a run on homesteading supplies at the Back to the Land Store since the beginning of the stock market’s giant swings. When folk begin to realize that life as they have known it might not be their future, they often start to purchase items that they never thought necessary before. It seems that the very first thing they want is a non-electric water pump, the second is a wood cook stove and the third is sealed buckets of wheat berries. As I see them leave the store with their new found treasures, I often wonder if they know what to do with that wheat. With the internet close at hand, recipes and techniques are readily available, but bread making is one of those skills that you really “knead to get your hands into”. Much of it is technique that only experience will teach, but it surely helps to work closely with someone who has already experienced the glorious triumph of a perfectly baked loaf and the disappointment of a failed one. One “knead” not reinvent that wheel. Let the CAG know when you are interested in attending a bread-making class so that we can schedule it. When I teach bread baking, I usually start with quick breads like biscuits, cornbread and popovers and then move on the yeast breads and sourdough. Each type has its own chemistry and techniques which are surely worthy to learn, but, times being as they are, I think learning to make sourdough bread is the most practical skill to learn.BTTL header To explain why I chose sourdough, I knead (there it is again) to point out that the characteristics that separate the types of breads are the types of grains and the types of leavening agents. While quick breads are simpler and easier to make, most depend on baking powder, a combination of baking soda and cream of tartar. Baking powder is inexpensive and easy to use. However, it has a relatively short shelf life. It should last 6 months after opening and longer if not opened, but it loses its potency over time. Packaged dry yeast will also lose its potency as it ages. Keeping it in the freezer helps, but it also has a finite life span. Sourdough cultures, on the other hand, can survive forever with very little care. Now, pay attention! I am not talking about what the Amish call sourdough or what was called Friendship Bread when it was all the rage in the 80’s. That bread, although “friendly” to the palate, will drive you crazy. It has to be fed well and often. Potato flakes are usually used to keep it going and unless you have a lot of friends and cousins with whom to share a cup of kindness, you find yourself having to discard a quantity of your stash every week - not to mention the stress of having to remember to feed the baby and bake every week whether you want to or not. I am talking about the kind of culture originally derived from the combination of flour, water and wild yeasts that are present in the air. In older times bakers kept their culture alive by adding some of the dough from an earlier batch to a new batch of bread and thus the culture stayed alive and active. Although they didn’t understand the chemistry behind it, the old timers knew that it worked. Today we can start with a dehydrated, dormant version of an ancient culture, turn it into an active culture and keep it long enough to pass it on in our wills. If the word “sustainable” did not generate such negative feelings in me, I would use it to describe sourdough bread. Establishing a culture and learning to make artisan bread from stored wheat can assure that you and your family will always be stocked with bread without having to visit the grocery store. Artisan Sourdough Bread20150922_160119 1 cup sourdough culture 6-8 cups all purpose flour, divided (depends on the flour) 4 ½ cups water, divided 1 ½ Tablespoon sea salt The process looks like this. The night before you intend to bake, remove your saved culture from the refrigerator.
  1. Take out 1 cup of your stash and combine it with 3 cups flour and 3 cups water. Mix and cover to “work” for about 12 hours. Add a cup each of flour and water to your stash and put it back in the refrigerator for the next baking.
  2. The next morning add 1 ½ cups each flour and water to the mix and allow to rest for an hour.
  3. Add more flour and salt until a soft dough is formed. I use a stand mixer. When the dough cleans the sides of the bowl, I have added enough flour. Knead for 10 minutes on medium speed or by hand, if you prefer. Sourdough will be slightly softer dough than those made with yeast, but it should hold its shape without slumping.
  4. Place the dough in a large, covered straight sided container which has been sprayed with cooking spray. I use a semi-transparent bucket with measurements so I can calculate how much the dough has risen.
  5. After it has doubled in size, gently punch it down and divide evenly. Round it. Rounding is a technique that forms the smooth “cloak” on the outside. Place the loaf on parchment paper that has been sprinkle with coarse cornmeal or grits. Believe me, this is the easiest way to handle it. I have tried all the other methods just so you won’t have to.
  6. Allow to rise about an hour depending on the temperature in the room. Sourdough may not double in size. About 40 minutes before baking, set your oven to 450 degrees. If you have a baking stone, place it on the middle shelf and a jellyroll pan on the bottom shelf.
  7. With a razor blade, slash the tops in some artistic design, but be sure to make the slashes deep enough to allow the loaf to open up and all the way down to the bottom. Otherwise, it will bulge out in places that you did not plan. Paint the loaves with an egg-wash made by beating one egg with 1 tablespoon water.
  8. I use a peel (like the pizza man) to transfer the loaves to the baking stone. Not only does it keep me away from the oven and support the loaves, it makes me look like I know what I’m doing. As soon as the loaves are in, pour one cup of water into the pan on the bottom and quickly close the oven door. Steam is sourdough’s friend.
  9. Bake 30 minutes or until a thermometer reads 200 degrees. Cool completely on a rack.
  10. Enjoy.
There is a lot more to making bread than mixing some four, yeast and water then tossing it in an oven. As Al over at CAGmain says, "We can provide you the 80% solution on the internet, the other 20% requires hands on experience, otherwise, it's all just theory."
I hope you enjoyed my first article in this collaboration between The Back to the Land Store and the Crisis Application Group. We look forward to developing this relationship as a training and education venue that one might call a "Readiness University".
Mrs. Pam

A Prepper's Introduction to Trapping

[caption id="attachment_26" align="alignright" width="168"]20150709_214136 This is MY set up.[/caption] Trapping animals has always been a viable means to procure wild game efficiently, easily and safely. Since the time of primitive trapping with methods such as the Paiute dead fall or Arapuca bird traps, newer designed reusable steel traps have become king. The effectiveness of modern traps surpasses the primitive designs with their ability to catch animals and by being able to set them quickly, effectively and have the ability to be used over and over again. There are a handful of different types of traps from killing traps to live traps. Live traps offer the benefit of an unharmed release of non targeted animals and also the ability to take the live animal back and wait to harvest at a later date. Trapping know-how is a very practical and sometimes overlooked skill for a prepper. For most people, meat is a staple in their diets and life would be unsustainable without it. Along with the harvesting the meat for food, the hides of the animals are very useful. Hides can be used to make clothing, tool sheaths, trade or barter, and sold to a furrier for cash. There are still to this day folks in places like Alaska for example that depend on the fur trade to support their minimalist yearly incomes, most of which generally goes toward paying property taxes, fuel, tools and other sundries on their self sufficient homesteads. In recent years with the development of massive scale animal farms providing to supermarkets, meat procurement has been as easy as stopping at a store on your way home from work and purchasing whatever meat you need for dinner. Meat is abundant and if by chance there isn’t exactly what you need at the market, there are plenty of substitutes. This progression of commerce within the free market along with different animal rights organizations such as P.E.T.A. have put a large damper on the amount of people trapping these days. Animal protection agencies have placed a lot of heat on trappers and have advocated that the traps harm the animals and cause cruel, inhumane and unnecessary pain to the animal. This has directly hit the fur trade industry and has driven down the value and prices of real fur and they have been replaced by cheaper synthetic furs. Because of the lower number of trappers and higher number of large game hunters currently in modern times, trapping can be a great way for a prepper to procure protein. We all can remember seeing the big toothy traps in cartoons and thinking how painful they looked. The truth is, they were. Those toothy jaws caused a lot of pain, broke skin, severed tendons, broke bones and the traps sometimes would remain unchecked for days and it would be unknown whether or not there was an animal suffering or killed on that trap. Because of these and other issues, with advice from animal rights organizations, there have been many developments in modern trapping that have made the process much more humane for the animals and minimizing suffering.

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A leg hold trap is a type of trap design that uses “jaws” that are operated by a trigger mechanism that when stepped on my an animal, it releases a spring that very quickly closes the jaws on the foot of the animal and holds it firmly in place. On a well placed set, the traps will usually catch a larger animal not on the leg bone but rather on their paw between their pads or the joint above the paw and the leg bone.Good Paw catch coyote leg hold trap Leg hold type traps have been redesigned and improved in many ways to both cause less injury to the animals and to achieve better catch rates. They no longer have teeth but are now using “laminated” jaws (wider jaw to have more contact area with the foot and less lbs PSI) which increases the jaws ability to hold the leg while causing less pain and damage to the animal. These traps can still cause pain and damage to the animal but the best way to avoid that is by ensuring that the proper trap is being used, the trap set is properly bedded with the correct chains, swivels, stakes, etc. and is checked for a catch within 24 hrs of being set. Waiting longer than 24 hrs, you run into the chance that the animal will chew off their own leg to escape the trap or they may even fall victim to a predator that they were unable to escape. In the event of their being a non-target animal caught in a leg hold, they can be released easily with nothing more than a numb foot that may be a bit sore for a day or two. traps2A Conibear trap is a killing type trap designed to cause an immediate dispatch of the animal rather than the long, uncomfortable period of time the animal spent caught in a leg hold trap. The downside of these traps is that they are non discretionary. Anything that triggers it will be victim and most likely be killed immediately. There are various sizes of these traps and it is important that the correct size and trap set is used for the specific animal that is targeted. It would not be wise to set a large #330 Conibear flat set out on dry land where there are coyotes when I am targeting a beaver in the river. Most likely if a coyote or even worse, a dog were to be caught in large conibear in a flat set there will be immense pain and suffering caused for that animal which I never wanted to trap in the first place. most likely the trap would be triggered by a foot and catch the animal by the chest causing 330 lbs psi to painfully break ribs and eventually suffocate the creature. These traps do work very well on land when they are set correctly and used to instantly break the neck of the animal. They are exceptional for catching water animals such as large beavers, muskrats, mink or even fish like bass, carp or catfish.. When implemented correctly, these are a great trap for preppers looking for any kind of meat for food or hide for survival purposes. Conibears have proven themselves to be one of the most effective and versatile traps for catching animals and is a key tool and necessity that is included in my preps.conibear den set Regulations have been put in place in regards to trapping methods, techniques and the types of traps being used. Most all of these regulations are based on common sense, morality and generally put the animals well being first. It is known by the trapping community as “Trapper Etiquette”.  For example, laws on the size of traps being used for targeted animals are put in place. It’s illegal to use a mountain lion trap to catch a bunny rabbit as that would surely kill the animal and cause extreme suffering in doing so. Most all trappers know that would be an immoral method to trap animals and hopefully would never do it. Like with any other hunting or killing of animals for food or resources, it is important to respect the animal, their environment and the other animals that inhabit the area. All sorts of regulations and rules have been put in place for the animals benefit but in all actuality, this is all simply good practice when trapping animals and will benefit the trapper and their yield as well. animal-track-guideTo be an efficient and effective trapper one needs to be able to read the animal’s sign, know how the animals think and recognize their patterns. This is as simple as finding a game trail in the grass and identifying what animals travel on this trail. A good thing to remember is that animals, like humans, prefer to take the path of least resistance. A lot of times there are many different animals that travel on these same trails and being able to pick which animal you want to trap is a lot easier than most people think. Firstly, learn to use sign from the animal. Footprints and scat are the easiest to find although sometimes it can be difficult to define a footprint in some conditions. Scat on the other hand is pretty straight forward; different animals have different poo. Don’t be afraid to examine it; study it and you will find that it can tell you a lot about the animal like  what its primary diet is by finding seeds, plant fibers or hair from the animals last kill or meal. Their diet determines a few things such as the overall health and ultimately what would be a good bait to place on the trap set to catch this animal.

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In an event such as economic collapse for example, high grocery store prices, martial law or civil unrest is prevalent, food shortages will be imminent. Most preppers should already have a good supply of food stored in case of such an event but nobody can really predict how long the epidemic or those storage's will last. If meat is among the food being stored, it most likely will be in a freezer and unless people have a means to keep the freezer running or can efficiently dry the meat, it could all spoil. Many of people will take to the woods and there is a possibility that the more desirable local game could be wiped out, especially large game such as deer.  Another issue to consider is that it may not be possible to take your rifle out to the woods to hunt. Hunting rifles are loud and can draw unwanted attention to yourself if you are trying to hold out or be unnoticed. If you are in a survival situation, it will be difficult and risky to leave your home or family and spend hours in the woods trying to track and procure game with a rifle, especially when there are other things that you could be doing back on your property. Traps on are a reliable solution to those issues. Less desirable nocturnal animals such as raccoon, opossum or even fox are edible. Eating those animals may not sound ideal but when the nutritional value of meat is hard to come by, those animals will be much more available. Traps can be set quickly, quietly and effectively. One can carry a few traps, bait, lure and necessary tools with them inconspicuously and set them in a matter of minutes. Once the trap lines is set, you can return home or go on about your business while the trap does the work for you. When making a trap set, the idea is to camouflage the trap from the animal and in addition to that, they are hidden from unsuspecting humans as well. With a good well executed trap set, only the actual trap setter or a very well trained eye would be able to spot the set which limits the chances of anything being stolen while it is placed.  The traps need only to be checked once every 24 hours which frees up valuable time during the day and night to dedicate to other things that need to be done. I hope any preppers who read this article can gain an understanding of the basics of trapping and the importance it may have in a survival role. It may help sustain your life one day in a time of need. [caption id="attachment_2435" align="aligncenter" width="660"] Back to the land![/caption]

The Bucket List

A friend was asking me how I store food for the long term the other day. This prompted me to dissect one of the buckets we normally rotate through and share it with you. When I first started making these buckets of food, all the info I read seemed to be oriented towards 5 gallon buckets of single contents such as rice, beans and such. Thinking from a bug out perspective (I was living in a subdivision near Ft. Bragg, NC at the time), I decided to blaze my own trail as usual. I didn't want to grab a bucket in a rush and end up eating white rice everyday. So I started making variety buckets. The idea was to use the rice as filler like packing peanuts. I was a little concerned with having canned food amongst all the rice but it was a calculated risk. I figured with the bucket filled, no dead space and an oxygen absorber, there would be little chance of rust or oxidization. At first it was sort of random and then there were "themed" buckets...Italian, Mexican and so on. Some diversity goes a long way when it comes to grub and morale. So I got creative. bucket open 3 I started with $3 bucket and lids from Wally world. Ordered some mylar bags and oxygen absorbers of the interweb and went shopping. I'm frugal so we would go to Save-A-Lot, Big Lots and look for sales. We started buying a few more of this and that. The instant type side dishes seemed like a perfect addition. we would disassemble the original packaging and vacuum seal the contents, then date and label it. Potatoes au gratin, Mac-n-cheese, Stovetop Stuffing, Hamburger Helper, spice packages to complement the other contents. Throw in some legumes, drink mix, hard candy and bullion cubes and you have a bucket that's around 40lbs with at least a weeks forth of food for a family of 4. bucket open Once we got going, we started vacuum sealing the canned food just in case the metal can deteriorated. This was to prevent it from spoiling the other contents. Turns out it wasn't really necessary. We placed the mylar in the bucket, put down a paper plate and a layer of rice. The intent was to prevent any the hard edges of the cans from puncturing the mylar if they managed to settle to the bottom. Then we just added the vacuum sealed side dishes and other contents and poured rice around it as we filled it up. Once the bucket was full, I used clothes iron too seal the mylar nearly all the way. We left it open just enough to get the O2 absorber in and then sealed it around the hose from the vacuum sealer. Once it was devoid of air, we would take the iron and finish sealing, then pulled out the vacuum hose. We placed 3x5 cards with the contents on top and put the lid on. You could also attach it to the outside for quick reference.

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This particular bucket was packed in December of 2008. Its nearly 7 years old. As you can see in the photos, everything is just as it went in. The rice doesn't have any off odors that old rice left out usually gets after a while. The canned goods have no rust, swelling or discoloration. All our buckets sit in a non-climate controlled workshop. So there was no special treatment, they are just how they would be with no electricity. The contents of this bucket are as follows:layed out 15 lbs rice 4 lbs of dry beans 1lb of lentils 2 cans of chicken 1 each cans of corn, green beans, diced tomatoes, tomato paste, fruit cocktail and evaporated milk 1 box of Stovetop stuffing 1 vacuum sealed bag of instant potatoes (2 cups from a big box) 20 bullion cubes 1 pkg Spaghetti sauce mix 2 pkg Italian seasoning 1 lb macaroni elbows in mylar 10 individual pkg instant Kool-Aid 1 pkg chocolate pudding To put some of this into perspective, there are 34 one cup servings (cooked) of rice, 24 one cup servings (cooked) of beans, 6 servings of stuffing, about 8 servings of mash potatoes, and 16 servings of pasta. When you start mixing and creating different meals it spreads out even further. Add some corn to the rice, add some wild game to the beans. Make a rice pudding and add some chocolate pudding mix.

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In my opinion, long term food storage shouldn't be about buying a bunch of food you don't normally eat and putting it away for 20 years. The key to successful long term food storage is to rotate stock and actually live off it now. This 5 gallon bucket will get turned into meals and eaten by my family over the next week or so and a new one will take its place in the shop. There are a lot of ways to store food. This is just one idea that seemed to make sense to me and it works. These buckets are good for camping, when store shelves are empty and for if you fall on hard times and get laid off work. if you need to bug out in a hurry, throw 2 in the trunk. Get creative. Keep your kids in mind as well. Jolly Ranchers will make a kids day if you really have to use your food stores. Firearms, Tactical & Defense Training

Visibility Signature Managment

Signature management is the ability to blend into your environment using different types of equipment or tradecraft. It is used to deceive your enemy’s observation equipment or mask your presence to the enemy. Just for a second, try to recall and remember the people you bumped into or encountered today while working, shopping or getting pumping gas. Most of you won't remember much unless someone or something stood out because of their clothing, attitude or language. Unless you work on a military installation, you more then likely didn’t see a whole bunch of people wearing military camouflage uniforms. When the SHTF, you may not want to take your family to your load out room and put on camouflage uniforms and body armor. Just because life just got complicated doesn't mean everyone is going to be wearing body armor and camouflage pants in the street or in town. Everything has a time and place to be used and taking just a minute to make the right choice might just save your life.Signature management is the ability to blend into your environment using different types of equipment or tradecraft. It is used to deceive your enemy’s observation equipment or mask your presence to the enemy. Just for a second, try to recall and remember the people you bumped into or encountered today while working, shopping or getting pumping gas. Most of you won't remember much unless someone or something stood out because of their clothing, attitude or language. Unless you work on a military installation, you more then likely didn’t see a whole bunch of people wearing military camouflage uniforms. When the SHTF, you may not want to take your family to your load out room and put on camouflage uniforms and body armor. Just because life just got complicated doesn't mean everyone is going to be wearing body armor and camouflage pants in the street or in town. Everything has a time and place to be used and taking just a minute to make the right choice might just save your life.2b6950e46da305872771bc6fc5de3485 Throughout my time in the military there has been one saying that has stood out and remained true in all the situations I have been in, “Right place, right time, right uniform, with the right attitude”. When the SHTF; it’s time to blend in and become the grey man/woman. You are not going want to stand out and bring attention to yourself and family. Being a "tactical peacock" could cost you your life or all of your provisions if you draw the attention of the wrong people. Does this mean you need to go and throw out all of your camouflage and hunting gear? No, because it has its place and use and is another tool in your arsenal. Think about this, if the police or federal agencies send in provocateurs to stir up trouble, they won’t wear their Sunday best in combat equipment looking all Operator as F&%k. operaator They will dress the part and blend in with the crowd. The same goes for undercover police officers today, the look and talk the part to deceive the untrained eyes and ears of criminals. You should try to blend in and go unnoticed. The best gunfight is the one you avoided. Being prepared and trained doesn't mean you should go out and look for trouble. Now let's discuss three styles of clothing.
  1. Military camouflage serves two purposes. One, it designed is to hide or conceal the soldier from the enemy and two, it provides the fighting force with a service common camouflage pattern that allows you to distinguish who is on your team. When its time to camouflage up and put on all that multi-cam gear you bought, just make sure it’s the “Right place, right time, right uniform, with the right attitude”. Remember military equipment intimidates most people. If you’re wearing combat equipment' it means you are on the offensive, you have planned a fight and its time to take action
  2. Hunting camouflage works great when trying to blend into the forest when you may need to explore or recon a new area. It takes a lot of energy and time to snoop and poop around unnoticed in full battle rattle. If it's hunting season or you're in an area where people are known to hunt, you may have access and placement when wearing commercial camo.  Just because SHTF doesn’t mean local authorities won't continue to try and enforce laws so blend in. It is a lot easier to just walk around in hunting camouflage with a hunting rifle (not a machine gun or death machine BOV you have been building in your garage). If you get caught in someone’s area and look like you belong to the military, a federal agency or a looter dressed like Rambo, the people you encounter just may shoot first and take your stuff off your dead body. But if you look like a local and act like you belong there, it just might give you that second look, just enough time to slow their reaction that could save your life (always have a back story). SF guys don't grow beards, mustaches or long hair to look cool, it's to blend in with the locals and give themselves the advantage of surprise and anonymity.dave
There are tons of low visibility techniques, from the simple like clothing, to the high tech like thermal mitigating camouflage, eventually we will cover them all. Next: Low vis/ signature rack systems verses body armor. (yes there's some 5th Group Mafia going on here for those that get it) Ski



Running CACHE Networks

Caches are prepositioned resources put in place to support a future activity. Classically we "visualize" them as buried treasure but they don't have to be buried, and we will cover that a little later in this article

Shady stuff in the hills

What is a cache? Caches are prepositioned resources put in place to support a future activity. Classically we "visualize" them as buried treasure but they don't have to be buried, and we will cover that a little later in this article. Having been to a Special Forces school for this, I'm happy to say this subject is one of my favorites and an area that I have plenty of real world experience. The challenge of this article will be keeping it unclassified, so if there seems to be a "gap" in the flow of the article, accept my apologies up front I'm trying to make everyone happy... Caches have been used for centuries, there's nothing new about them but in todays fast paced disposable world they are usually overlooked as lacking imagination or to time consuming. Of course the big army (or military) as a whole doesn't really use caches, but a cache system doesn't make sense for our modern army. They come complete with supply trains and never really know where the next operation will take place. They are designed for mobility. You however are not.

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You KNOW where you will be staying, working and traveling. A cache network would fit easily into the busiest modern schedule and as we will discuss lighten your bug out loads considerably. Caches are the difference between a 100lbs Bog out Bag (BoB) and a 20lbs BoB. Use caches to offset your emergency weight and have enough that you can afford to lose a few to the elements. Caching is a process not a singular event. Why use them? DSC_0114Caches will drastically offset the amount of weight and equipment required to get from A to B on any map. If established correctly, you could have a cache set up at all of your major check points and if you don't need to contents of the cache, bypass it and save it for later. If you have ever wondered how commandos get away with traveling so light, its because we aren't just moving to a safe area I'm admitting we are cheating, and picking up food and ammo along the way that someone else buried before hand. Like a magician, the trick isn't magic, its the assistant who skillfully positions the tools needed ahead of time when no one was looking.

[gallery type="rectangular" orderby="rand" ids="2365,2366,2367,2368"] Site selection criteria. Its not good enough to just pick a gnarly oak tree and have at it. In theory you should have dozens of these located all over the place so site selection criteria has to take on a consistent, and more primary role as you develop your network. Consider:

  • 24 hour all weather access
  • Enough cover and concealment to hide loading and unloading of the cache
  • You must have access to the site, and avoid places like banks daycare or municipal buildings that will draw unwanted attention (or security footage) of your activities. There's nothing illegal about caches, but it doesn't look good hiding in the bushes of a children's park.....
  • Will it develop? Will your cache be a burger king next year?
  • Anchor points. If the cache site proper doesn't have good visual markers it may make sense to identify a reference point nearby. For instance, 3 yards due north of the North East road sign at the intersection of Mayberry and main St.
  • Anchor stakes. It may not make sense to map directly to a cache, if that's the case map to a tent stake with a string leading you to the buried goods. Experiment with different methods.
  • Always consider that SOMEONE ELSE will have to service the cache. Don't assume you will be the one who is unloading the goods. What if you're hurt? or busy saving lives? Don't assume the tree you picked is unique enough for a stranger who has never been there to pick out of the crowd.

Types of caches. I like to build caches based on themes so that's what ill discuss in this article. Most of my caches are simple food and water 24 hour kits, small and easy to hide. I have 1 large cache, that remains unmarked and only I know where it is that contains everything I need to start over... I bury this early and let it season in the elements. Consider:

  • Support cache. Food, water, clothing and medical supplies.
  • Action Caches: Ammunition and "other" supplies, just in case I get disarmed.
  • Recovery cache: Important documents, cash, food, water, ammo, perhaps a weapon, family pics you name it. If your house burned down right now, what would you need?

You can build and camouflage caches out of anything, you're limited only by your imagination. Just make sure they are double weathered sealed. Consider using packing grease when storing working "metal" parts for long periods of time and using metal containers for water. Metal containers don't leak into the water like plastic bottles do. How to organize them into usable networks. Its all about the mapping. I break my mapping down into useable blocks that are easy for family members to follow and understand. There are 3, maybe 4 basic sketches you need to learn:

  1. Macro Sketch. Think state with multiple ports of entry like airports or interstate intersections. This way my cousin Earl can drive in and find his way around.
  2. Navigator Sketch. Now that Earl has his bearing from the macro sketch, its time to get him to the area where the cache is. This is the street map level sketch that references the major ports of entry from the previous sketch, BUT gets you to the road intersection where the actual cache is located. Google maps works well here, and several navigator sketches can be support by a single Macro sketch.
  3. Micro Sketch. Now that Earl is at the right intersection, he needs to know exactly where to dig. This sketch should have the precise pace count and reference points required to walk right up to the cache and it should also include any pertinent details the user needs to know: Police station near by, bring a shovel, service between this hour and that, etc....
  4. Point of view (POV) sketch. In some cases a site may require a perspective as if seen from the person performing the task, this is the case when the person loading and unloading the cache is face with multiple but similar choices in a given are. For instance multiple paths or multiple telephone pole. It doesn't hurt to include one in every report, but frankly they aren't needed unless you gauge the circumstances to warrant the work.

Here's an organization example of how I set up my cache mapping:

  • Macro (2GA1FEB2015)
    • Navigator Bug out (Husbands work and home)
      • Micro (Support) GA323-01
      • Micro (Support) GA323-02
      • Micro (action) GA323-01a
        • with POV
      • Micro (Recovery) no mapping
    • Navigator Bug out (Wife's work and home)
      • Micro (Support) GA324-01
      • Micro (Support) GA324-02
      • Micro (Support) GA324-03

I would keep all of these in a book and even supplement the data with a Google earth maps overlay. Ideally when I forward a cache I want the information as simplified as possible yet accurate. This way in a pinch I could simply "text" it to someone and send them on their way.

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Under this organization I can group my caches and maps into zones, and maintain an underground supply network that supports multiple family members in different locations, perhaps a child in college and so on. [gallery columns="2" size="medium" type="rectangular" ids="2353,2355"]


Mapping is the trickiest part of all of this. Caches are aren't any good if YOU are the only one who can use them. But for OPSEC or data reasons you may not have access to accurate enough mapping to make this work. So make your own! [gallery type="rectangular" ids="2360,2361,2362"] The trick to this is finding the right amount of detail with out over crowding your work. Practice this amongst your own group to see what I mean. Have one person draw a map to an unknown location, and another person navigate to it with out any assistance. Then you will see how your assumption over the obviousness of a particular reference point may not be as obvious as you previously thought. There is an art to it and it must be learned and rehearsed. We wont go to far into mapping in this article, its an article all its own but we will write it up as an addition to this cache piece.

Arizona Defense Supply!

Of course here at CAGmain we offer a wide variety of classes and that includes how to cache. Caching is a hybrid of field craft, administration and art its not just bury MREs in the woods for a rainy day. Play with Geocaching and get a feel for the venue and see what other folks have done. Its fun and family oriented I think you'll like it. Click this link to learn more! As always thank you, and please ask questions!



Austere Guide to Gauze

Hemostatic Gauze Vs. Non-Hemostatic Gauze... There are many types of gauze on the market to choose, from standard gauze rolls to different types of "Hemostatic gauze", which are impregnated in substances to help stop bleeding. Without understanding the differences between a package of compressed gauze, to Combat gauze, Celox-gauze and Chito-gauze, how they work, or even if they work, it can be difficult to decide which one is right for you and your medical kits. Here's the breakdown:

Our Special Forces medics are discussing trauma on CAG NET!

Plain (Non-Hemostatic) Gauze:  Often called Kerlix, and coming in "Z-fold" or "S-rolled", or even compressed to take up less space, This is a must and a minimum. While this gauze certainly is not as good as the hemostatic gauzes in terms of controlling severe hemorrhage , It's inexpensive and versatile use make it a must. This isn't just for packing a bleeding wound that a tourniquet can't reach, it can be used as simple bandaging, dressings, stabilizing such as a sling and swathe and so much more. For the low-cost, it's a stepping stone towards hemostatic gauze. I recommend at least 2-3, and more in your house/truck kit, for those areas on your body where a tourniquet can't stop the bleeding, or for a little pressure in an extremity that is not a severe enough bleed to warrant a tourniquet. [gallery size="medium" type="rectangular" link="none" orderby="rand" ids="2327,2328,2329"] Hemostatic Gauzes - For arterial bleeding, don't risk having a non-hemostatic gauze as your Primary choice, you and your loved ones deserve the best shot at survival. What you do for bleeding control for the first few minutes is similar whether you are in an austere environment or 911 is just a few minutes away... If you don't get this bleeding stopped, it will eventually stop when the patient runs out of blood. Unlike previous generations of hemostatic gauze, these do not generate heat or burn.  Here's your choices, and how they work:

  1. Combat Gauze:  Combat Gauze is the #1 choice of the U.S. Army Institute of Surgical Research and Committee of T.C.C.C and has earned it's place. It is impregnated with kaolin, which helps the bodies clotting along much greater than using standard gauze. It's got a hefty price tag, but would you rather have a wallet with more money or a heart with enough blood to keep pumping? For a bare minimum medical pack I'd recommend at least 2, because if the first one does not work, you will have to be more aggressive your second time.
  2. Celox Gauze - Unlike Combat Gauze, Celox does not help your body itself clot but creates one. This is because when the it comes into contact with blood it creates a gel. What this means in basic terms is if your patient does not have good clotting factors ( Hypothermia, Medications such as Aspirin, etc.) this is a good choice because it works by itself instead of supporting the bodies clotting process. 3.   Chito Gauze - Chito Gauze does not rely on the bodies clotting process, as well. Instead of a gel, it uses the chitosan and dressing to slow down and stick the blood and platelets to create a clot. Again, for those with poor clotting factors, this is a good choice.

[gallery type="rectangular" size="medium" ids="2338,2339,2340"] These are in no particular order, and I'd recommend all 3 as a good decision. While the Military recommends Combat Gauze as #1, their demographic is healthy young soldiers who likely don't have poor clotting factors. Even then, blood loss can cause hypothermia and ruin their clotting factors, making Celox or Chito-gauze an option as well. Now that you know why and how, you can make an educated purchase. Personally im a fan of Chito-Gauze, but I'm also a reasonably trained medic...

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A product is only as good as your training, so if you leave it on the shelf, it won't live up to it's potential in a stressful situation. Have a couple non-hemostatic gauze as "trainers" to practice wraps and packing wounds as free drills to keep sharp. You do dry Fits in a cargo pocket


What is the first Antibiotic, or even Medication, that one should stockpile for Survival? 

Easy question to answer! Self sufficient personnel often ask Austere Medical Professionals which medications, especially antibiotics they should stockpile to treat themselves or others in preparation of a time where the medical system may have collapsed, from geographical instability such as a Katrina like event to an economic event mirroring or worse than what Greece is currently going through.antibiotics Easy question to answer! Self sufficient personnel often ask Austere Medical Professionals which medications, especially antibiotics they should stockpile to treat themselves or others in preparation of a time where the medical system may have collapsed, from geographical instability such as a Katrina like event to an economic event mirroring or worse than what Greece is currently going through. My answer for which antibiotics/meds one should stockpile for that situation is none, maybe over-the-counter meds.  You're going to have to work hard to get from "None" to "Some."  Give me a second to explain myself.

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You can do a lot of harm by taking or giving medications, even the right ones. Best case scenario it didn't help at all, it could make it worse, and worst case be fatal. There is a reason why medical professionals are the only ones who can give certain medications. I'm not saying you need to rush out and go to Med School, but I am saying you're going to have to study and learn. While Medical Professionals have the foundation of schooling, that is not where knowledge is gained, it's where it just begins: What separates successful medical providers from the rest is studying and continuing to learn. So if a Doctor studies medications, why aren't you? Let's put it this way, You owe your patients, including yourself, the best possible treatment they could receive. Truly understanding why you're doing something is different from, "I'll buy Medication 'A' incase they have Sickness 'A'." Knowing which medication to give for which illness or injury is a knee-jerk reaction that does not account for obstacles and makes clinical judgment lazy. That's right, lazy. Medications are not just to be acquired and then left on a shelf. You don't treat by asking them to open their mouth, then throwing pills at them and whatever lands in there is good to go. You need to put some serious study hours in.

Join the Crisis Application Group!

It's the same concept as your Concealed Carry Weapon, you don't (or I hope you do not) buy it, slap a magazine in it and never touch it again; You do dry fire drills, go to the range, have spare parts, maintain and clean it. Weapons often get all the glamour, but the truth is you're far more likely to face a medical scenario, so why would you neglect the tools of the medical world? If you're going to use a medication you should know how it works, how much to give, side effects, alternate medications, and why you are giving it, etc. etc. Before that, you should know the patients history, especially medications, allergies. If they are allergic to cephalosporins, is Keflex good to give, or would you rather give Cefalexin? Is it used for gram positive or gram negative bacteria? Which antibiotics do you give for viruses? Will they survive without antibiotics? Why would you want to treat a teenager with strep throat? Now, The first antibiotic, the first medication someone should stockpile is a pharmacopeia as well as other references such as a Nursing Drug Handbook. [caption id="attachment_1968" align="aligncenter" width="600"]The good news is knowledge weighs nothing and you can take it with you everywhere! It's never hurts to have a few books on hand to double check, though. The good news is knowledge weighs nothing and you can take it with you everywhere! It's never hurts to have a few books on hand, though. There is a lot to remember and reference.[/caption]

"What if medicine is not my thing?"

If you're not that dedicated or medicine is not your forte, that is understandable. A minimum option that I wholeheartedly recommend for medical basics is the book, "When There Is No Doctor." It's used in countries as a medical reference for places that are much too far away to get help and casualty evacuation can be a voyage, much like what you and I prepare for. In addition, You can still benefit from keeping your stocks of medication, they are great to barter but may not be your level to administer care. Learning the chemistry and effects of medications takes YEARS of education and practice. Don't be in a hurry and don't settle for Google. Locate and learn how to use the references that the professionals use! CAG runs a forum called CAG NET, join and ask questions!

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