Important Tips for Backpacking with Your Dog

29 May

Written by Guest Contributor on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: A timely guest contribution from Dennis as the weather and the mid year holidays see more and more of us getting off the grid for some decompression time. 

Many backpackers want to take their dogs with them on backpacking or hiking trips so they too can enjoy the journey. Socialized dogs are an excellent companion anywhere, anytime. To go for backpacking with your dog you just need to train them, establish some rules and pack them accordingly.

Also, before going make sure your trail is dog-friendly. Many times this is for the safety of the dog.

Before you embark (pun intended) you need to think of the stuff both of you are going to wear, use and carry. Making sure your dog is also equipped properly for backpacking will result in a better experience for you both, and anyone else along or who you encounter. The regular gear you use may when alone not be proper for every instance with a companion. Be flexible and approach each adventure in its own way.

Preparation and Gear Tips for Backpacking with Your Dog

Here is some advice you can follow to prepare your dog for the next camping and hiking trip.

Preparing Your Dog Mentally

For camping and hiking trip, you need to prepare your dog mentally and physically like humans. Without some training they may get overwhelmed with the new environment and physical activities while you are on the trail. To avoid these troubles, you need to prepare your dog prepare for it, they are now out of their territory. Here are some tips to follow for the backpacker:

Start out with short trips and never do the training trips in the same locations – not a must, but the more variety a dog sees on these trips the better it adjusts to new outings. Start with some small and easier trails with your dog and observe how it responds. You can then increase the length of your trip gradually to make him familiar with the variety of trips outside his territory.

Physical Activities for the Dog to Make Him Fit for Trips

Prepare your dog physically, train him to run on command, to heel and to keep you in site. These are natural behaviors but positive reinforcement is time well spent. Train him for long walks with a smaller amount of food and water. As you know sometimes getting water on the trail can be a little difficult, so it is a good idea to train your dog beforehand.


Teaching the Dog Backpacking Trips

If you don’t know how to control your dog then it will be risky and problematic to bring him on the trip. See if it follows your command or not. Give your dog proper training to understand your command and to heed them.

(Editor’s Note: I only drew my sidearm once when I hiked the John Muir Trail and it was in response to a simple-minded hiker who had a 50 lb un-socialized pit-bull mix with him that he had no control over and who decided I didn’t belong on HIS trail. No one was harmed though I still to this day think I did this clowns neighbors a disservice.) 

You also need to teach your dog some rules and trail etiquette’s before planning for the backpacking trip.

Dog Dropping on the Hiking Trail, bad

Training, excursive and preparation is not the only thing that keeps things better on backpacking trips. Carrying the right gear is paramount  according to Alex Raynold of the Safariors website.

Along with the staples, always carry some plastic bags to pick up your dogs droppings and dispose of them properly. Leaving dog poop on the trail or around your campsite is very unhygienic and problematic for others.

Use a Proper Leash and Harness for Your Dog

While it is always good to let your dog range, for their enjoyment as much as anything, having  a flat collar or a body harness is a must. A front harness restricts some motion in the shoulders, therefore a body harness is a better, most secure option. If your dog does not walk well on a leash then a front-hook harness may be the better option for you.

Harnesses are always better than collars for backpacking or hiking as harness helps to even out the pressure across the body. One word of cautions, not all humans are dog-friendly, so pay attention to strangers reactions, Also, few wild animals are dog-friendly and the smallest of these can carry rabies or other harmful diseases, not to mention the environment itself where ticks and other pests are always looking for a food source.

You can also use a flex leash as this allows your dog to go, sniff around and come back to you.

Dog Shoes Can Be a Good Addition to Your Next Camping Trip

Many people might find this funny but dog shoes or boots are essential gear for your dog while backpacking, especially if your dog does not go outside often. These take getting used to so purchase inexpensive ones at first as they will most likely get chewed off during training. And remember they, like everything else on the planet, can be field-repaired with duct tape.

Carry Proper Sleeping Gear for Your Dog

Whether its winter or summer, you should carry a sleeping mat or pad or a sleeping quilt for your dog. If you are in the outdoors sometimes the surface you choose for camping may be too hot. Using a sleeping mat can save your dog from the heat. Conversely, cool ground drops core body temperature and that is seldom a good thing.

Sleeping gear can save your dog from the rough surfaces as well. If you think your dog is less padded then you might want to carry a dog sleeping bag for it.

Choose Your Track Accordingly

If your dog is trained for walking on trails, listens to your commands then you can choose any type of back packing you want. If your dog is not trained properly and does not always obey your commands then you should choose flat grounds and man made back packing trails and work on training out its bad habits before venturing off the grid.

There are some other small essentials to keep in your backpack for your dog. The collar or the leash of your dog can be broken or somehow your dog can become lost in woods. For the former, remember your duct tape, for the latter there are a number of tools. As a precaution, or last resort, you can always hang a small bell and an ID card on your dog’s neck. I suggest you do this no matter what fancier solution you have already put in place. 

Last Few Words

You need to be proactive while backpacking with your dog to protect him/her from unwanted critters. Also, do not forget to carry a first-aid kit and add a few extra bandages for your dog, who is as prone to injury as you are, maybe more so on outings. 

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Practical Prep: Range Tips

28 May

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

For many preppers, static square ranges are the only opportunity to put rounds through the barrel. They do have some limitations, and they can be pricey, but we can make a few tweaks here and there to both cut costs and make our time on them more effective.

Basic Supplies

Depending on firearm, shooting purpose, and range, what we need to carry changes a little. If we have a dedicated range bag (can be a lunchbox, laptop bag, backpack, whatever), a lot of the supplies can just live there.

Most of us will want something to fasten targets. Staples work on wood and cardboard. Tape covers all. Duct tape is excellent, but unless we’re using it to hang a chunk of cardboard on poles, we can go cheaper.

If the range has overhead lines, we may want to bring string, binder clips, or clothespins even if it’s supposed to already have them ($1 packs; don’t break the bank). For most indoor ranges and ranges that provide stands that go in pipes or holes, those fasteners are less of an issue.

(You still want the tape/stapler.)

Many shooters carry some patches and swabs, a little oil, and whatever tool they need to adjust sights.

If there’s not already a multi-tool in the house, snag a pair of needle-nosed pliers and a fairly sturdy but fairly small screwdriver. They end up doing oh so many things.

Most ranges require eyes and ears. Some have very specific requirements about side panels and visible hearing protection. Most are flexible. 

I have very inexpensive binoculars or Redhead scopes in my bags. They’re sufficient for spotting targets at my distances. If you’re shooting 100-yards+ on the regular, you’ll probably want better, but unless you really are going to be engaging at 200-500+ yards, don’t break the bank.

Other common adds include a ball cap, bandanna and-or hand wipes, tissue (ladies, dudes with ladies: tissue), a boo-boo level first aid kit (tissue or patches + duct tape = Band-Aids), and bug repellent.

Some carry tape measures. If you’re working on a zero without square-grid paper or going for super accuracy, go for it (or a schoolkid’s ruler).

Water is a biggie, although it’s sometimes restricted at indoor ranges.

Stash Stigmas

Class or training, private club to low-cost public, ranges seem to bring out the need to compete. That’s bad enough when it’s skills or hardware on display, but for heaven’s sake, do not feel the need to buy “good” targets.

Or to buy targets, period.

(Unless the range requires you to buy their overpriced paper and cardboard. We do have to follow the rules.)

There are too many freebie options and mods using what would otherwise be trash/recycling, to include salvaged skinny kitchen/bath shelves, election signs, DVD racks, dilapidated tomato cages, and kiddie wiffleball/t-ball stands.

If we do have to buy, buy lower-cost alternates – copy paper, paper plates, hanging plant/light hooks, folding stepstools, garden stakes we can duct tape into tripods if we don’t have soft soil or post holes waiting for us and then string line between or tape cardboard to, etc.

*Some ranges have restrictions about shooting at the ground, and want your bullets to impact the vertical berms. That means we either sit, or find a way to elevate targets.

The more we can save on targets, the more budget we retain for training and prepping other areas.

That goes for everything else on the range.

The next stall down isn’t going to clear pests from our garden, put venison in our freezer, or roll out of bed for our creak in the night. So don’t sweat them, whether it’s platform, ammo, or fancy gear, tight groups, or speed. We’re there to shoot, not compare.

*By all means ask if they have something you’re looking for, stuff or skill (but be mindful if it’s a pay-per-minute range or lunchtime).

Work Fundamentals At Home

Long before you get to the range, you should already be quickly gaining proper grip, familiar with trigger, snapping into the front sight, and quickly acquiring good sight alignment and picture. Carry your lifesaver to TV time, or lock yourself in the bathroom to aim in at the fine print on your ID if you can’t beg or bribe some “me” time otherwise.

That means you’ll probably want some…

Snap Caps

I like snap caps, but any kind of dummy/dud that protects from over travel by the firing pin is fine. They cost less than a box of ammo and provide thousands of trigger pulls, trigger pulls you can make anywhere, anytime.

If you don’t get snap caps, still work on drawing/presentation, grip, reloads, and sight picture.

Practice Like You Play

As often as possible, wear what you will be when using that gun (boxers and nighties are always exceptions; battle rattle is conditional), and go to an outdoor range in all kinds of weather – cold, wet, windy, blazing hot, early or late on bright days with sun in your eyes, nighttime, as close to sunset/sunrise as they’ll let you shoot.

Dry fire and dummy guns are always options, but seeing the tangible proof of what conditions can do to patterns can be highly educational.

Practice like you play also applies to shooting positions.

Use tables and rests to check the zero and test ammo, then get off them. Every fundamental can be practiced at home. Whether it’s hunting using position or rests of opportunity, or defensive and combat tactics, do it for real. And…

Get Rounds Downrange

Again, cover fundamentals in spare minutes at home. If you’re practicing just for hunting, take all the time you need (and practice paused/interrupted and terminated trigger pulls). If you’re practicing for a gunfight, ride the recoil, put the front sight back on the target, and pull the trigger again as fast as possible.

*As fast as possible includes blade-on-target sighting and proper trigger pull.

You don’t need bulls-eyes. You need a pattern mostly the size of a human head or a dessert plate.

If you can blast 3-7 shots at contact distances with your contact platform in a few seconds, then take a couple seconds for a shot that lands in a playing card, soup can, or even a 20-oz. bottle, that is really and truly all you need.   

*Again, hunting is an exception; ultimately aim for golf ball/light bulb accuracy.

If your pattern is bigger than that, absolutely, slow down until it is – unless you’re shooting pistol past 25-30 yards or rifle past 100-200 yards, in which case a K-5 ring or double stack of paper plates or notebook/copy paper is good enough. 

If you can get it tighter without sacrificing speed, great.

One shot, one kill slow fire is for scoped-rifle snipers. Most of Special Ops are landing multiple shots. Plan on it taking more to drop your target, too.

If you only ever practice slow shots, your range habits are going to do you a disservice one of two unfortunate ways if you ever actually need that gun.

Also practice multiple, random-count shots, not only either emptying the gun or using a Mozambique 2-1 or 3-1, 666-Devil, or similar. (They can be handy, but should not be the only.) A shooting partner or even having random timers set for 3-5 to 15-20 seconds tell you a target is down and out can help make practice less unpredictable.  

Take A Lap

In most potential scenarios for firearm use, some alert is going to send us darting – for a gun, for a more appropriate gun, or straight for The Bad Thing if we’re carrying; for cover; for loved ones.

If we’re practicing for combat or a bugout-contact situation, we’re even more likely to be exerting energy and darting around before and during a firefight.

Adrenaline alone – be it hunting, combat, or defensive situations – can send hearts pounding and hands shaking.

So simulate that.

Stressing and then taking a shot can also be worked on at home with snap caps (or air-soft guns, with some target prep), however, like weather, the bullet holes can be informative in ways dry fire isn’t.

Some ranges, it’s more than possible to do eight-count bodybuilders to simulate stress.

When we don’t want to attract the attention or are paying by the quarter-hour, instead, hold your breath while you hang and send the target, load mags, and sweep brass – repeatedly and as long as possible. Take your shots while you’re still trying to get your breath back.    

Mime What You Can’t Do

Range by range, we face varied restrictions on movement of all sorts. Some take a dim view on popping up and down, even. Even with at-home dry fire, eventually we do need to get the barrel dirty.

We can reduce motions to work inside a very small box for leaning, crouching, and footwork.

Holster limitations are among the most common. If a restrictive range is your only opportunity for live-fire first-shot drills, fake it by holding the barrel with the off hand (like the NRA side-by-side pistol pass) and mime the presentation steps, then drop the off hand once you have your shooting grip.

*Psst…practice that switch at home, unloaded, before trying it at the range.

Save the upper level shots – like from the hip or sternum/chin, or extending a fend-off hand while shooting from the ribs – but most ranges are fine for practicing one-handed pistol shots holding your range bag to simulate a child’s hand or leash, or the various flashlight stances.

Make The Square Range Pay Off

If we go just to blast now and then, that’s fine. But it’s hobby shooting, not training.

If it’s training, get the most out of that time.

Save money where possible, so it can be applied to other preps or more practice and training. Work fundamentals and movements at home. Don’t let hobbyists’ shooting standards or gear influence your practice. Find workarounds that are inside the rules if available ranges have tight restrictions.

Hunting or fighting, make range shots as similar to real-world scenarios as possible. It’ll pay off if you ever really need that gun.

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Shooting Tactics and Training: Practice Practicality

23 May

Written by R. Ann Parris on The Prepper Journal.

Static square ranges and competitions are commonly the only firearm practice available to preppers. Sometimes, those square ranges and competitions – and even classes – actively or accidentally build dangerous mindsets, habits, and complacency.

Knowing it, we can amend our maintenance and practice to get the most out of our gear, time and gunpowder and be more ready for real-world needs.

Home Range

Eventually we have to burn some gunpowder, but the majority of skills can be developed and refined without it.

We’re actually best served if at least some of our training time is devoted to the places we’re most likely to deploy a firearm – home, entering and leaving vehicles, workplaces, etc. House and yard can also amply accommodate training time with our battle rattle.

Get Fit

Core body strength, cardiovascular strength, and drills to strengthen leg joints and arms against sudden movement and – in our case – shifting terrain makes for a better gunfighter. It creates resilience to injury while increasing our accuracy and stamina.

Being able to move is big all on its own. It’s not actually practiced much in classes, but it does get verbalized: Move. We hear it different ways, but frequently.  

A moving target is harder to hit.

Move backward to gain and maintain distance from an attacker. (Remember the ol’ nuggets: “Distance favors the ranged weapon” and “greater distances favor the better shooter.”)

Find and hug cover, and then move from cover to cover while jockeying for advantageous position.

Move to the X, and move the hell off the X when necessary.

The ability to pop up and down behind cover, slide along cover to engage from a slightly different place, advance or retreat, and find an angle where we can end the threat relies on having bodies that will respond to our commands.

Physical Limitations

Age and injuries are among the many things that affect just how much we can move. The same-ol’-same-ol’ information that gets passed around isn’t as effective for us. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t bother.

If we’re stuck in a chair, we’re stuck in a chair. The shifting center of gravity in late-stage pregnancy is huge, and affects a lot of our abilities. If we need a cane or crutches, we’re not bouncing all over.

If anything, it means we need more exercise – retaining current mobility and working the details on how and where we carry.

String It Up

A holster or sling isn’t 100% required, but, gosh, they’re handy – especially if we’re preparing for Big-Time Badness. Even if we start with a shirt-sleeve pouch, doctored purse, and a DIY sling, find a way to get the gun out of our hands but on our person.

Otherwise, the chances of having it and getting it into play when we need it are pretty grim.

Get Off The Bench

Most of us need more work on unsupported shooting. Take a few braced or perfect-stance shots to develop and check zeros. Then shoot however you’ll most likely be firing that gun. If you can’t stand long, sit on the edge of a seat.

Absolutely be aware of opportunistic rests, lean against the vertical divider/post for that hunter’s shot, and develop/maintain knee-braced and – if you’re spry yet – prone stances (for pistol, too).  

Just don’t practice like there will always be something to lean on.

Standing Still

Even in classes, most shooting time is spent upright and static. Since in both defensive and combat scenarios, we’re ideally hugging cover like a long-lost favorite lover, and not all cover lends itself to adults ranging 5’ flat to 6’6”-plus standing squarely upright, work around the restrictions.

Building muscle memory for the ideal shot is great. However, after achieving basic accuracy (hunting and DM work are the only time you need hits tighter than a dessert plate), start moving around.

You can get away with side shuffles and a step or two forward and back at almost any gun range, and crouching at varying heights. Leaning around may look odd, but do it. Hunch (high enough to clear the bench), close your eyes, and open them as you bob up for a shot.

This one is ideal for off-range dry fire practice, but get in some live fire with typical carry gun(s), too.

Guns Move, Too

Rifle and shotgun don’t have quite as much movement as pistols, but there’s some. We’re leaning to check areas, changing grip and position to open a door or pass, lowering our profile/protrusion if we’re slow-checking corners, using cover, etc.

Our carry changes more still when we’re working with partners and teams.

Pistols are even more active. We’re still leaning all over finding exploitable windows or maximizing cover, we move the gun in and out, we go on and off the trigger, we tilt the gun. That puppy is almost never still – or, it shouldn’t be.

That’s something we can and should be working on in our usual spaces.

And, on the pistol-in-motion topic…

Practice Multiple Ready’s

We typically see very few ready positions, but there’s plenty of reason to have others that are equally second nature.  

The “safe” downrange location for pointing the gun changes. It’s not always the original target’s direction. Nor is it always down or up.

We also don’t always have two hands for it.

If we do have two hands, we may be giving directions or instructions to someone with the other, holding a child or animal reins/collar, dragging a victim clear, pausing to perform must-have lifesaving, unlocking or opening a door, sliding over something, or bracing a hand on something.

There are numerous circumstances when we’re not engaged just this instant but don’t want to holster or bag a firearm and don’t have anything that needs to die to point it at just now. Practice for those moments.

(Conditional readies are a good one for even just a mental exercise going through stores/workplaces/homes, too.)

Scan & Assess Requires Thought…

…Particularly the act of immediately snugging a gun all the way up against your sternum for Search/Scan and Assess phases of an engagement.

Scan and assess needs to be nigh-on constant and the act of deciding an engagement is over should be a multi-step process determined by the evolving circumstances, with a ready determined by that situation.

Neither should be trained as some one-size-fits-all habit.

Combat or defense, we stay aware so we can engage a target of higher priority if necessary.

Combat or defense, when our target(s) are down and no longer a threat, that gun should remain at least mostly presented – off the trigger and tilting up-down as needed for non-targets in the area, but at an active, usable state of readiness that allows for discretionary fire.

Combat or defense, with some few exceptions, that gun should really be at least mostly moving with our head and eyes.

Depending on the circumstances, straight and level ahead of us or in the original direction of fire may not even still be the best place to point a gun, even immediately after engagement (household construction standards, other responders and bystanders, limited visibility in that direction).

This is a problem at ranges where “safely downrange” only exists in one direction. That range-safety limitation may be the origin of so many people teaching it that way. Who knows.

Just be aware so you can practice practical responses at home, and mentally work it while out and about in public places. (Little hand motions at most, don’t tactical air-guitar your way through Walmart.)

While we’re talking about awareness…

Look Everywhere

Anytime we practice, and while we’re out and about, change your focal depth.

Our target is somewhere. Without even moving the eyes really, observe what’s between us and beyond it. Lift eyes, just a little left and right. Make sure nothing’s entering the frame. Depending on engagement scenarios, glance around.

It prevents habit-forming, blinding focus on our current target and only our current target, which keeps threats from sneaking into play and others from entering the frame and becoming accidental casualties.

And when it comes to staying aware…

Watch Where You’re Going

Really. It’s not only okay, it’s highly encouraged that you glance around as you maneuver.

Ranges are usually fairly smooth concrete, gravel, clay, and mown fields. (Pretty sure it’s a big time insurance thing that your shooters not be tripping constantly.) In action sports, it’s non-shooting personnel’s responsibility to make sure they’re not in our way. In training, we usually have plenty of room between moving shooters.

So we learn to not look.

I can think of very few spots in my yard and very few sidewalks, streets, medians, and parking lots where there is nothing to trip over inside 3-10 yards. If things go sideways in a school, store, or some other venue, count on them turning into a minefield of hazards, to include people bouncing all over.

If I’m on the ground because I tripped, I am a static target (AKA: easier to hit).

My response capabilities are severely limited until I get up. If I hit hard enough or got run over, I may not be able to recover or respond at all.

If I do not get my finger clear or jerk a shot, I may take out a bystander or another responder. (Making the situation worse is a big time no-no).

So, for real, dude, especially when moving backwards, watch where you’re going. It only takes a glance.

*Psst… That’s one of the exceptions to a gun staying pointed at the target instead of moving with the eyes.

Move Differently?

Yes, we move a little differently in some situations. We can hunker and run if we’re exploiting cover. We might practice off-road or parkour-style running so we can catch ourselves if footing gives way. Some team tactics work best with smaller, non-extended steps, because staying tight is important up until that minute we fan.

And, yeah – I mean, if it has to be said – you hold onto your gun instead of fully swinging both arms.

Mostly, though, no.

Just go, move, as fast as possible. Again: Moving targets are harder to hit. The zippier you are, the better.

Get Training

By no means should any of this suggest that I dislike shooting sports, square ranges, or classes as training aids. They’re vital. Training is the best investment a shooter can make. Ranges and sports allow relatively inexpensive maintenance and development.

Just be aware of the mindsets and habits that are sometimes instilled, and practice to prevent it from becoming a liability in the real world.

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A Preppers Guide on How to Catch Fish for Food

22 May

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Fishing is a popular pastime for tens of millions of people. However, this recreational activity often seen as a great way to enjoy a laid-back day off work derives from authentic food-gathering practices from generations ago. Catching fish to survive is a practice still in place today in some parts of the world, and on a grander scale to supply the needs of restaurants and seafood connoisseurs the world over.

Maybe you’ve had some experience fishing in the past but never caught and cooked your fish, or perhaps you’re entirely new to the concept of fishing for food. Either way, fishing is a discipline that offers many layers of advancement. You can begin your career with a simple spinning rod and work up to becoming an expert open-water fisherman or fly fisherwoman. And you can enjoy some excellent meals in the process!

Why You Should Eat Fish

In case you didn’t already know, fish is a delicious and nutritious source of food packed with protein and certain fatty acids you would have a hard time finding anywhere else. We encourage you to do your homework about the health of fisheries in your area, so you’re not negatively impacting local populations, and to understand which kinds of fish might get exposed to environmental contaminants like mercury. But as a general rule, fish are healthy to eat and provide an excellent source of calories in the wilderness.

Wild-Caught Fish Is Better

Did you know one-third of high-quality American-caught fish gets shipped to foreign markets? It’s true: We don’t eat enough fish in this part of the world to justify holding on to the delicious catch many commercial fishing operations bring in. That means by eating wild-caught fish, you are giving yourself a much better chance to enjoy some delightful fresh-caught salmon, trout or other native varieties of fish. And you’ll be saving a considerable amount compared to what you’d pay for it at the market or in a restaurant.

How to Begin When Learning to Fish

Even if you’re completely new to the practice of fishing, you’ve probably observed the fundamental equipment needed to fish that is, a fishing rod with proper tackle and a place to fish. Though you could go all-in with more complicated or expensive gear, the bare-bones list of a rod, tackle and a fishing hole is the best place to start. From there, you can add more advanced tactics that will help you catch more or different types of fish. For instance, you could learn how to use live bait, how to fish with a fly or even get in a kayak and paddle to the fish. Since fishing adapts well to different levels of physical activity, you can decide how much effort you’re willing to make.

The first thing you’ll probably want to learn is how to rig your fishing rod and cast. You can find a basic spinning rod at any sporting goods store. Make sure you have an idea of what kind of fish you might catch in the area, so you don’t buy a pole that’s too weak and that might break while fighting a fish. There are thousands of different reels out there, and you can choose something more complex if you’d like. However, a simple spinning reel that is reliable and offers adjustable drag should do the trick for beginners.

A local fishing hole is a good idea if you need to practice rigging your rod and tackle. However, take note that a venue like this may not going to let you keep the fish you catch. You might not want to anyway, given the conditions you may observe at some of these locations. So, once you’ve learned how to tie some weight and a swivel to the end of your rod, do some looking online for good fishing locations nearby. You might need to investigate renting a boat, or even taking a guided fishing trip while you’re new, to get access to the best spots.

Catch and Cook

When you add the process of cleaning and cooking a fish to the equation, there are a few additional things you should have at the ready while fishing. The first is a vessel to store your catch in. On an ocean fishing boat, there will probably be a live well, which is a special water-filled compartment that allows fish to remain alive until you return to the land to process them. More than likely, if you’re fishing from shore or on a riverboat, you’ll have an ice chest and can store your fish there after you catch them. When fishing from a small boat, you can also use a stringer, a line that keeps most of the fish in the water.

Killing your catch might be the most unpleasant part of this process, but it’s necessary. Many fishermen keep a billy club for this task. Once your catch is dead, you can store it in your cooler and ready it for cleaning. A poorly processed catch is bad eating, so learn how to efficiently clean your fish using a fillet knife to open the fish from head to tail and remove the organs, making as few cuts as possible and cleaning your knife frequently.

With your cleaned and processed fish ready to cook, now you’ve arrived at the fun part. Fish recipes date back thousands of years, and even if you’re not so thrilled about the process of catching fresh fish, you can become an expert cook and enjoy some exquisite cuisine that will impress your friends. Some popular methods of making fish include baking it, cooking fish whole in foil on the grill and making fillets or, with larger fish, dividing them lengthwise into steaks. Depending on your culinary skill, you can move into more advanced dishes like kebabs, ceviche or seafood pasta.

Don’t forget to share the catch with friends and family. It’s the law in many places. If you catch certain types of fish, it’s illegal to resell it without a business license. So don’t make that mistake and get busted — make everyone think you’re really generous and you wanted to give that 20 pounds of Alaskan salmon away!

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Fishing with the Right Equipment Puts Food on Your Table

7 May

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Growing up by the ocean I was fortunate that fishing was an activity that was convenient to not only learn, but to enjoy. Something I lost touch with when military service, college and a new family came to absorb all of my time. As preppers it is an important skill to learn and the changes in equipment have been dramatic over the years. As much relaxation as sport, at least the way I do it, it was my one pastime that afforded me some quiet moments. Time to get back into it, not only as a form or relaxation but as a way to put stock in the freeze for the rainy days sure to come. With the exception of the fish-finder, the information is as applicable to a mountain lake as to the ocean or a river.

Anymore choosing the right gear can make all the difference between a successful (productive) fishing trip and simply drowning bait. But, with the assortment of equipment on the market, pinpointing what you need can be a tricky balancing affair.

What lures should you use? Do you need a specific reel? Do you have to buy special lines to catch certain fish? Indeed, the list of questions is endless, or is it? Well, not if you know how to avoid the wrong stuff.

Hopefully the following rundown of essential gear will make fishing super easy, whether you’re a seasoned fisherman or trying to learn the ropes of the game.

Fish Finders

It doesn’t get better than this, does it? Imagine having a device that allows you to track down your finned friends every time you head out for a fishing weekend. Yep, that’s right! A fish-finder, at its core, will detect the presence of fish in the underwater environs of your boat.

On top of that, it’ll measure the depth of the water, and convert the info into a graphic rendition before displaying it on a high-definition screen. That way, not only will it help you identify suitable targets, but it will also allow you to guide your bait more intelligently.

All fish-finders are not the same though. As this Focus Fishings’ Garmin comparison explains, any model worth your attention must have a large display (5 inches or more) with stellar resolution. Further, it should have a back lit keypad so that you can use it at night. Of course, it has to be powerful enough to work in your projected fishing environment, and with your boat and its console.

Think of a fish-finder as the tool that will give you an edge time and time again.

Rod and Reel

Okay, some fishing enthusiasts may like to argue that you don’t need a rod and reel. Sure, but using the duo makes the entire experience smooth and easy. Even then, it is essential to note that there are specific rods and reels for every fishing style. You’re better off with a rod and reel combo that allows you to bait and lure fish that you are looking to catch. The old know-before-you-go adage.  Be it fishing for rainbow trout and hooking a brown trout can be considers a bonus effect, like ocean fishing for sea bass and hooking a grouper or a yellow fin. 

A medium action rod, with a line rating of 8 to 20 pounds is an excellent pick if you want to catch a variety of species found in rivers and lakes. A spinning reel (also known as “open face”) is ideal if you’re a first-time angler. Do your homework here as rods and reels can be inexpensive to beyond belief in costs. Most ocean fishing reels are north of $500 for a good one and can cost upwards of $8,000 for those used on professional charters looking for Marlin , Sword fish and Big Tuna. Expensive doesn’t always mean better for your needs, do your homework.


Lines, just like reels and rods come in a collection of diameters and materials. Large-diameter lines are relatively stronger in comparison to their smaller counterparts. Choose fluorocarbon lines, especially if you go  fishing frequently. These are robust, thin and abrasion resistant. And the beauty of it is that they’re almost invisible underwater.

Keep in mind that the idea is to use equipment that’ll increase your chance of catching fish as soon as possible

Tip – Learn how to tie knots before you go for fishing. The last thing that you want to do is to forget how to re-tie a hook to your line when a fish is biting.  Some basic knots to master to include the uni, Palomar and clinch knots. I for one tie about a dozen of them the night before any trip in the comfort of my home and keep them in my clean tackle box. Once I burn through that many I start to consider calling it a day. 


Tackles come in the form of hooks, floats, and weights and anything else you can squeeze in the box, like scissors, knives, hook removers, leaders, spinners, lures, lunch, beer can opener, beer can, and bait.


These help ensure that your bait stays underwater while providing a more casting distance. Consider split-shot weights if you’re a beginner. Besides, these are affordable (because you will surly lose some) and super easy to install.


There’s a lot to say about hooks, but for now, be sure and pick the snelled type. Why? Well, because these come with a pre-tied leader that you can quickly attach to a swivel snap. Also, ensure that your hooks are sharp and well-made. I for one do this by ALWAYS poking myself with one. I don’t recommend the method but I seem to be incapable of avoiding it, a price I’ll pay in the hopes of something fresh and pan fried later as a reward.


Often referred to as strike indicators or bobbers, these help keep your bait at a reasonable distance underwater and provide a visual indication that a fish is close to being on your hook. Floats are perfect for freshwater fishing in lakes or pockets of still water in flowing rivers. They are a big aid in bringing the “relaxation” into fishing.

Tackle Bag/Box

You must keep your gear organized – and that’s where a tackle bag/box comes in. Make sure that yours is big enough to accommodate everything. The grip has to be on point too, with contours for comfortable all-day carrying. Put differently: a tackle bag/box allows you to move from point A to B without overloading your hands. Now one can not talk about fishing tackle bags or boxes without paying homage to the age old tradition that it is considered bad luck to ever clean them. I myself practice an axiom to that rule where, if we are going in my vehicle, and you have followed this tradition to the point where flies are drawn to your equipment from the next county, your bad luck will hit before the day starts with you being left behind, smelly gear and all. I appreciate not getting cleaning fluids and oils on your gear, but when all your hooks have rusted together, well….

Final Thought

Fishing doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it is an enjoyable pastime if you know how to do it correctly. Other than the gear listed above, you’ll also need to have live bait and lures. With everything in place, you’re now set for a successful day (or night) of fishing. So, go forth and put food on your table and in your freezer.

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How To Teach Your Kids About Survival

30 Apr

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Comment: Another guest submission from Scott Huntington to The Prepper Journal. A subject we have talked about in the past and with the Summer break coming some food for thought.

We all love the great outdoors, and it’s a great way to spend time bonding with your family. If you go out hiking as a family, do your kids know what to do if they get separated from the group? What about other survival situations — would your little ones know how to stay alive until help arrives? Everyone should know some basic survival skills, regardless of their age. Here are some easy ways to teach your children about survival skills.

Be Stealth About It

This is the best tip we can probably offer you. Be sneaky about teaching them survival skills, the “wax on, wax off” method per say. Don’t walk up to your kids — especially younger ones — all doom and gloom and tell them that you’re teaching them how to survive in case the world ends.

All you’ll manage to do is scare them to death, and they won’t remember anything you try to teach. Instead, be sneaky about it. Take notice of what interests your kids and play into their interests. Approach it as a game, if it helps.

Don’t — “Hey, let’s learn how to build a fire in case you’re stranded in the woods all alone.”

Do — “Hey, wanna learn how to build a fire?”

Don’t put the focus on survival. Instead, shift the focus to learning new skills. If your kids are ever alone in a survival situation, they’ll thank you for these comprehensive lessons.

Focus on the Rule of 3

This isn’t some mystical voodoo — just a simple rule to help your kids remember what they need to focus on in a survival situation.

Remind them that they can live:

  • Three weeks without food
  • Three days without water
  • Three minutes without air
  • Three seconds without the right mindset.

From there, know your priorities — first, don’t panic. If you’re not swimming, you can skip the second one, focusing on water and food.

These aren’t the only things you need in the wilderness — fire, and shelter being among the most important — but reciting the rule a few times can help you get into a survival mindset.

One rule you should reinforce as often as possible is the Lost rule — if you get lost, you don’t move. You stay put and wait for someone to find you. Staying in one place makes it easier for search and rescue teams to find you, and could potentially save your life.

Get Out There

Kids aren’t going to learn how to survive in the wilderness if they spend all of their time sitting in front of video game consoles or televisions.


Take the family hiking or camping, and give your kids a practical application for all the skills they’ve learned. You should be there to supervise, especially if they’re trying their hands at foraging or fire building, but having a possible outlet for these new skills can help reinforce them in their young brains.

Make sure you have plenty of supplies on hand for these excursions, especially if you have younger children who aren’t up to building a fire or fishing for their dinner — or if the kid’s attempt to catch dinner falls through. Children of any age can benefit from regular camping excursions. Getting them used to the woods helps make it familiar territory and prevents panic if they ever end up out there alone.

Skills They Should Know

What survival skill should your kids know? That depends on their age — you don’t want to trust that a toddler can tell the difference between nightshade and blueberries — but most older children should know these basic skills.

  1. How to build a shelter This is vital in areas where it gets cold at night. Even a basic shelter could mean the difference between a successful night vs. the wild and/or hypothermia.
  2. How to build a fire You need a fire to cook food, boil water and stay warm in cold climates. In addition to creating a fire, your kids should know how to protect it for the night and how to keep it contained, so they don’t accidentally start a wildfire.
  3. How to purify natural water sources Rivers and streams might look clean, but they could hide dangerous bacteria that could make you ill. Boiling or otherwise purifying water could save your life.
  4. How to forage for foodWhile you can survive for three weeks without food, a lack of calories makes it harder to sustain because you won’t have the energy to continue moving forward. This is a tricky lesson because there are so many plants that look edible and are fatal — a handful of pokeberries could easily kill an adult, even though they look edible. Learning how to set snares can also help them stay full in the woods.
  5. How to defend themselvesSelf-defense is as much a survival skill as anything else listed. Even if they never need to use it, self-defense classes can be life-saving. Learning how to create makeshift weapons can also be a valuable skill.
  6. How to perform first aidTake a family trip to your local Red Cross or fire station and take a first aid class. It’s a lot harder to deal with a skinned knee or a broken bone if you can’t holler for mom or dad’s help.
  7. How to navigateA cell phone with GPS won’t always work if you’re out in the wilderness. Teach your children how to read a map and navigate using a compass. This can be a fun skill to learn — set up a scavenger hunt with prizes at specific coordinates.

There are plenty of other skills they’ll pick up along the way, but these seven can save their lives if they’re ever alone in a survival situation.

Closing Thoughts — Don’t Scare Them

While learning survival skills is important, your kids won’t learn anything if you scare them instead of teaching. Children will learn from everything you do, so show them the basics and let them run it with them. You’ll be surprised how quickly they pick them up!

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A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Mushrooms

25 Apr

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Editor’s Note: Always a subject I wanted to know more about so I asked Cat Murphy to share on the matter for The Prepper Journal.  

Ready to join the mushroom movement? There are lots of good reasons to grow mushrooms at home. They’re tasty, nutritious and they may even be good for our brains. But they can be pricey at the grocery store. Mushroom hunting in a forest near you is fun but labor-intensive. It can also be dangerous because edible varieties often have poisonous look-alikes. Growing your own mushrooms could be a good alternative.

To get started, you need to make a few decisions. First, figure out which type of mushroom you’d like to grow. The experts say oyster or button mushrooms are the easiest for beginners. Shiitake mushrooms are also relatively easy. Second, you need to decide if you’ll grow your mushrooms indoors or outdoors.

You can grow mushrooms indoors year-round. They need a dark, cool place to grow, such as a basement or crawl space. A dark drawer or cabinet will also do the trick. Here are the supplies you’ll need (quick note: you can buy mushroom growing kits if you’d rather not assemble these materials yourself):

  • Plastic tubs or baking pan.
  • Mushroom spawn (these are mushroom seedings.) Purchasing from a supplier is the best route for beginners.
  • Growing substrate like compost, straw, sawdust or even coffee grounds.
  • Damp towel.
  • Spray bottle.

Place several handfuls of your chosen substrate into your tub or pan. If you’re using straw or sawdust, you may want to pasteurize it to kill off any contaminants. Mix the spawn into the substrate and raise the temperature to 70 degrees (placing the pan on a heating pad works well). After 2-4 weeks, the spawn will have taken root in the substrate. This is called mycelium and looks like white fuzz. Drop the temperature to 55-60 degrees (you can do this by moving the pan to a cooler area). Cover the mixture with about an inch of potting soil, then spray the mixture with water until damp. You can place a damp towel on top to retain moisture. Keep the mixture moist and cool, and you should see small mushrooms starting to grow in about three weeks.

If you’re growing mushrooms outside, you need to keep your local climate in mind. Mushrooms like cool, humid conditions, but it is possible to grow them in more arid climates. You just have to water them more often. Growing mushrooms outdoors also takes longer (six months to two years). Once they’ve started growing, healthy mushroom colonies can grow for years.

There are several ways to grow mushrooms outside. You can mix spawn with compost and let nature take its course. Another popular technique is the log method. Oysters and shiitakes grow especially well on hardwood logs. Finally, you can grow mushrooms in raised garden beds or in damp straw in shady areas in your garden. If you have pets, consider covering the plants, since some mushrooms can be toxic to dogs.

Whichever method you choose, you can grow your own mushrooms at home without a lot of fuss. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can advance to all kinds of mushroom varieties. Along with saving money at the grocery store, you’ll have the satisfaction of growing a tastier product yourself.

Cat Murphy is a gardening and landscaping writer, and outdoor extraordinaire. She enjoys cooking for family and friends and going on long hikes anywhere and everywhere in nature.

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English Bird Hunting – a Proper Sport Indeed

19 Apr

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Upland bird hunting has always been my favorite, maybe it is the romance of the Normal Rockwell like backdrops, the open fields, the crisp autumn air, the well trained and disciplined dog, the silence of nature only broken by the flutter of a bevy of quail or grouse suddenly flushed from cover, or a majestic pheasant in flight? Maybe. However, on the other side of the pond, it is as much a pageant as a sport and the English leave nothing to chance. 

Just look at this site for the “proper” gear, , and read its explanation of the attire. One can almost feel the breezes sweeping across the fields as you read its content. In England birding is as much an event as a way to put food in your freezer and in fact there are many competitive bird hunts. So this second contribution from Cormac Reynolds to The Prepper Journal is especially welcome and contains a lot of useful information.

In order to succeed at these you not only need the proper attire, but you need to learn a few tricks so that they can help you develop a deep love for this shooting sport.

Watch the Bird

You should keep your sights on the bird; this is perhaps the best advice you will ever receive from the seasoned shooters. You should target the head or the beak and maintain that focus throughout your aim as you pull the trigger.

Being able to visualize something is an acquired skill that you will learn with time. Maintaining a locked focus on a moving object is hard. In most case, we will revert to the barrel because of that natural urge to line everything up before taking the shot. You should have your mind and purpose geared towards one object, the bird.

Move the Gun

It is natural to want to stop the gun. Losing sight of the bird as stated in the first point will not yield good results. You need to lift back the gun and move it to line up with your target and lift your head in place so that you have your target within sight.

Therefore, you should keep your head down with your weight on your front foot as you keep your eyes on the price. It will help you keep the rifle moving as you take your shot. Take your time so that you follow through the shot; do not take your head off the gun or finish the shot too early.

Timing is Paramount

With it comes to shooting game, you will either be a slasher or a poker. But both are not such an ideal trait. What you need to do is to adopt a rhythmic approach to taking every shot. Take your time and count to three before pulling the trigger. It will teach you to have smooth control and take the shot calmly.

Keep Your Feet Moving

Your feet are not nailed to the ground or set in concrete when you take your stand. Keeping them stiff will only create tension throughout your body causing you to run of swing. The best approach is to take a step into the bird’s line of movement, move a few inches. You will first move your front foot and use the rear one as a pivot to rotate as you aim. The key is to take small steps.

Practice Your Gun Mount

As you try to master your swing, you also should do the same with your gun mount. If you are having some difficulty finding the placement, consider trying the Churchill technique. You will pick your gun and place the butt under your armpit which pushes your rifle forward, but you will have to use your front hand to guide the process. That hand will serve as the lifting lever and should not be positioned too far forward; this will also help you have a smooth swing as your line your gun to take a shot.

Consider Eye Dominance and Gun Fit

Visiting the shooting range as often as you can so that you can hone your skills. For instance, you should go there to test your eye dominance. While at it, drop by an optician to have your eyes test and ensure you focus in sharp. It is natural for the eye dominance issue to creep in when you hit middle age. Ugh!


Therefore, you may have to change the gun fit once you hit your 40’s or 50’s. Moreover, you will need to use both eyes so that you can have a better view of your target. Use binoculars because they will help you have a better judgment of the range, speed, and angle. However, shooting with both eyes open is somewhat unrealistic for some shooters.

Your Chokes and Cartridges Should Inspire Confidence

Always use a cartridge that you know will not let you down. For instance, you will need a 38 – 32 gram cartridge if you are using a 12-bore. For some, they do not mind having a lot of shot in a small bore if it proves to be an effective way of bagging a price with every shooting event they attend. The 28 gram will work well with a 20-bore, but it can also work with a 28-bore, the same goes for the 25 gram.

When it comes to the chokes, many games guns have their first barrel over choked. Ideally, you will need to consider a piece with a very open first barrel; an improved cylinder denotes this. If you are thinking of taking down high birds, then you may want to change to the three-quarters.

Think About Line and Lead

If you take your shot but miss hitting the bird, then you could be missing with your lead. An error in this caused by misreading the bird or you have a poor gun handling technique that causes you to stop moving it when taking the shot. Well, you may mist a bird in close range, and this should not come as a surprise since many tend to miss birds that are in front of them. The reason for this is having errors of line because they do not line up their shot with the bird, which is something often attributed to over-extending the front hand.

Always keep in mind that barrels are canted relative to the line of the target as you swing the rifle.

Some situation may see you lose the line, but you can deliberately twist the barrel so that it stays in line; this is a technique that I teach most novice shooter. With the side-by-side barrels, the muzzle is mostly parallel to the line of the bird as they are perpendicular or over-and-under perpendicular to the bird.

For the right-handers, they make the mistake of arching the back too much when facing a driven bird that’s slightly right of the center, and they will push back their weight as they pull their face from the stock. As a result, the shot goes left because the barrel will not be relative to the line of the bird. To avoid this if you are a right-hander, you should gently twist the riffle anti-clockwise into the face as you pull the trigger.

Focus on the Moment

To perfect your shooting, you should not have your mind on your gun, the cartridges or the choke. Never lose your sights on the birds and ensure you observe utmost safety when taking every shot. People watching you may cause you to be hesitant causing the weight to come back or to lift your head; thus you lose focus on the bird. Such a habit is hard to break for people that tend to have a rationalized approach to shooting, and they ignore the relevance of having perfect hand-to-eye coordination.

You should be committed to shooting once you aim, nothing else should invade your mind and grab your attention. Keep your eyes on your target and move the gun accordingly to have it line to the bird.

Stay Safe

Again, you should ensure that you are safe. That is the secret of becoming a great marksman. A golden rule to never forget is you never shoot low birds. Also, never have your rifle point at something you do not intend to kill and ensure it is unloaded when you put it down. Also, it should be unobstructed when you pick it up or pass it to a colleague. Obstructions will be the cause of your gun backfiring and blowing up on you.

You should ensure that you see the light through the barrels before you insert a cartridge. For the multi-choke riffle, ensure the chokes are fixed firmly in place and only use the gun if you are confident about this.

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How to Use a Magnesium Fire Starter

16 Apr

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

A magnesium fire starter is one of the most standard and popular outdoor tools available in the market. They’re often used by people on survival missions and military personnel, and are available in various shapes and sizes in gear shops all over the country.

Magnesium fire starters are reliable, affordable and waterproof. Due to these characteristics, they are seen by many as effective alternatives to matches. For others who go on camping trips often, they prefer to take magnesium fire starters with them for emergency situations.

Unlike many methods of starting a fire, the magnesium fire starter doesn’t require particularly dangerous accelerants. All you need to do is take off a few shavings from the block and have the shavings placed on dry grass. That’s it; you have your fuel, and your fire is ready to be lit. Just spin the block and strike the metal with your blade. This action causes sparks to shoot out, and the metal shavings are ignited.

As soon as it gets ignited with a spark, magnesium tends to burn quickly, with a burning temperature of 5,610 Fahrenheit (the equivalent of 3098.8 ˚C). With this temperature, your grass and leaves will promptly catch fire, and you can grow your fire by adding some twigs and sticks.

However, there’s a bit of a warning for the user. While the magnesium fire starter works, it is not entirely foolproof. To ensure that you are safe, it is always recommended that you practice it a few times, and do so in an environment that is safe and controlled. Then, when you’ve been able to master this, you can move on to try it in the woods and see how it works for you.

Starting a Fire with Magnesium – Prepare the Site

The first thing you need to get done is to select a proper site for the fire. When you’re doing this, there are some factors that you need to put into consideration. These include precipitation level, the direction and intensity of the wind, the nearness to anything of value (in case you can’t control the fire), and the access to your cooking or your camping site. Based on experience, it is always recommended that you select a pre-existing fire site that is being frequented by people regularly.

Have Your Tinder and Wood Ready

Your fire will be built on something; that’s the base, and that is what you need wood and tinder for.

Not that the base of your fire will need to be as dry as it can possibly get. If you’re outdoors, you can look around you for a dead tree and make use of its bar. On top of this, you can build a bunch of tinder by collecting twigs and pieces of dry grass that are very small. You can also create a fire with sapwood or dry ark.

If you feel that you want to grow the fire, then you can collect a lot of small twigs. Also, as the fire grows, you’ll need some slightly larger sticks at the ready.

Shave the Magnesium

Get a decent knife (preferably, on that has a locking or fixed blade) and very carefully, grind or shave off the magnesium and put it into place. Magnesium can easily be blown away by the wind, so make sure that you perform this action in an area that is a bit sheltered. You can take as much time as you want, as long as you build a decent pile that can easily start a fire.

Then, Spark It

Most models of magnesium fire starters have the opposite side of the magnesium rod as the spot where the spark is made. Just get your blade and rasp it against the Ferro rod, and you’re ready.

However, it is always recommended that you control the sparks by moving the Ferro up while you hold the blade in a sale position. The only problem here is that this is easier said than done. Still, it’s possible.

Quick Tip: Some knives make it possible for you to use the back of their blade to shave the magnesium or spark the Ferro this way, you won’t risk dulling their sharp end while doing these tasks. This method is actually quite conventional, especially when you’re using a knife that has a squared-off, sharp back.

If you’re making use of the back of a folding blade, then it is recommended that you close the knife first and get the spark going with the exposed metal part. You can also make our spar with a lot of other metallic objects (and in some cases- such as when you’re already a pro- some pieces of glass).

You will need to exert some considerable amount of force if you want to get a good spark, so try to push hard while you rasp. If you are using the cutting side of the blade, then you can use the back section, close to the middle, so that you don’t end up dulling the front of the cutting side, which is usually the most commonly used part.

Ferro can be unpredictable at times, so try to experiment with it and get yourself familiar with its characteristics. Also, always keep in mind that the blade will be sharp. Don’t cut yourself.

Build the Fire

As soon as sufficient spark falls on the magnesium, then you get a fire. However, at this point, the fire is small, and it won’t last longs. So, use it judiciously; get small sticks, tiny grass pieces, and any other flammable material that you can get your hands on. As soon as the flames get going, build the fire as you see fit.

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How to Build a Bunker

12 Apr

Written by Wild Bill on The Prepper Journal.

Another guest contribution from Scott to The Prepper Journal.

Serious survivalists are becoming more prominent in modern society, especially as nuclear treaties change and the threat of war is omnipresent in everyone’s minds. Having a household bunker became popular during the Cold War, and while they have fallen out of favor in recent years, with the present state of the world, it might be a good idea to consider building one. Assembling one of these safety refuges is easier than you might think, even if you’re not an engineer. Here are some simple ways to build a backyard bunker to protect yourself and your family.

Why Do You Need a Bunker?

First, consider why you need a bunker. Do you live in a tornado-prone area, or do you want to make sure you’re prepared in the event of a catastrophe? A backyard bunker can protect you from a variety of threats, from nuclear attacks to the next world war.

The question you should be asking yourself isn’t why you need a bunker. It’s what you will do without one.

Choosing a Location

Once you’ve decided to build a bunker, your first step is to select a location. Ideally, you’ll want something close to your home where you can retreat in the event of a catastrophe. Take a close look — or conduct a geological survey — of your potential build locations to determine if they are conducive to house a bunker. Some areas — such as Florida, where the water table is close to the surface — require additional care and may even need surface bunkers. It is possible: Explorers found an old World War II bunker in Florida in 2017 that is still intact after all these years.

You will have to be aware of any underground pipes or wires in your digging location. If any utilities run through your yard, you’ll have to choose a new location or pay the city to relocate the services.

Don’t Forget Building Permits

Speaking of the city you call home, you will need to obtain building permits before you’re allowed to begin construction. Speak to the local city council or permitting office and ensure you are allowed to build a bunker on your property, and find out what it will cost to obtain those permits.

Don’t start building before you’ve obtained a permit, though. Violating local building code could cost you a lot of money in the long run.

Pre-built or Custom Bunkers

Once you have a location chosen and have obtained the proper building permits, you have another decision to make. You have to decide whether you’re going to build a custom bunker or install a pre-built option.

You can design a pre-built bunker with a steel cargo container or a large piece of underground piping. Both will have to be customized to be comfortable for extended stays, but they can serve as a foundation for a bunker to reduce construction time.

The other option is to build your bunker in place, using cement or concrete. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they’re two separate materials. Concrete is one of the primary ingredients in cement. It is mixed with water and other elements to create cement.

Of the two materials, cement is the better option. However, you will need to build frames to hold the vertical portions of the shelter, as well as the ceiling once you’re ready to pour it in place.

Time to Dig

By this point, you should already have a building permit and all the supplies you need for construction. Your next step, once you’ve chosen the bunker materials, will be to dig a hole. This isn’t something you’ll be able to tackle with a shovel and a couple of buddies, though. Be prepared to rent a backhoe or pay a company to dig the hole to your preferred dimensions.

Make sure you’ll have at least 2 feet of soil above you once you’ve finished — this serves as a buffer to protect you from gamma radiation in the event of a nuclear strike. If your bunker is 10 feet high, you’ll need to dig down at least 12 feet.

The exact details of the construction will depend on the materials and size of your bunker, so we can’t offer detailed instructions for this step. Stick to the plan you’ve created — whether you’re building it from scratch or relying on pre-built options — and take your time during construction.

A Method of Entry

One thing you can’t afford to forget when you’re building a bunker is a way to get in and out. Ideally, you want to have at least two entrances or exits. If one is blocked, you don’t want to be trapped in the bunker, especially if supplies or oxygen are running low.

Secure steel doors or bulkheads are ideal for this application, especially if they can be lined with lead to protect you from nuclear radiation and other contaminants.

Power and Supplies

Once you’ve completed the construction, it’s time to start considering supplies and electricity. You won’t be able to rely on local power and utility grids for energy or water. You also won’t be able to drive to the grocery store for food or head to the hospital for medical supplies. A bunker needs to be self-sustaining, which means you’ll need power, food, water, medicine and other supplies inside the shelter.

For power, you have a few options. You can utilize generators — in which case you will need a supply of fuel to last you until the infrastructure is restored — or you can rely on solar power. While it is true that the electronic components of the solar system may be susceptible to the electromagnetic pulse released by a nuclear strike, with some necessary repairs, it may be able to provide power through an emergency.

Once the bunker is ready for an emergency, make sure you stock it with enough food and water to last throughout any crisis. Depending on the situation, this could be as short as days, or as long as months.

One other supply that you need to consider is oxygen. A bunker is a contained system, which means that eventually, the air inside will run out. You will need to install a ventilation system as well as air scrubbers to remove carbon dioxide and other contaminants to ensure your air is safe.

It Never Hurts to Be Prepared

You may think you’ll never need a bunker of your own, but it doesn’t hurt to be prepared. In cases like these, it’s better to have a shelter and never need it, than to need one and not have it. Building a bunker is not a small endeavor, nor one that should be taken lightly. Make sure you have all your plans in place before you break ground.

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