Cyber Monday Special – Buy 3 Get 1 Free “Family” Survival 101 Class..

gift certificate

Break the bonds of consumerism today and invest in your family. BPO’s Cyber Monday special is “Buy 3, Get 1 Free” for the Family Survival 101 class on December 17-18.

This isn’t your typical, “feel good and sing Kumbaya while toasting marshmellows around the campfire” course. This is realistic training to prepare your family to overcome the threats and challenges associated with wilderness recreation.

Need incentive? A quick Google search of “family wilderness survival ordeals” will bring up the tragic stories of the Kim, Decareaux, and other families, that are sobering reminders of how quickly a family adventure can turn life threatening. Skills, knowledge, and a little equipment are all it takes to turn the odds in your favor.

There are two more family spots available, so first come, first serve. This deal breaks down to only $86 per family member for two days of training and allows you to give an experience instead of a gift.

Click here to learn more and sign your family up.

Email with any questions.

Hunters and Vegans – A Three Day Odyssey and the Quest for Calories..


Over in Asheville, North Carolina, a ridiculous war is being waged. An army of vegan extremists have descended upon a fellow instructor who teaches students how to raise, slaughter, and butcher their own meat. Their attacks have been focused on harassing calls, cyber bullying, and even death threats. Read more here: Vegan vs. Farmer

A friend of mine sent me a link for a counter-petition and an invitation to a counter-protest. I signed it, even though I have little faith in petitions and instead of attending the counter-protest, I decided to attend the opening day of deer and bear season in a “bushcraft” canoe excursion.

Loaded  with guns, beaver snares, some fishing gear, and zero food we set out to better understand our relationship with food and the natural world, during a three-day “living off the land trip”.


For a couple years, I have been mulling over the idea of offering three day “bushcraft” trips. A “no food”, minimal gear, private class on bushcraft, foraging, trapping, fishing, hunting, and survival skills. Maybe you eat, maybe you don’t, but it is a great way to learn, test, and apply your skills.

I have very strong opinions on self-reliance, hunting, trapping, and the like, so when I read the nonsense about stopping people from participating in “nature”, I get pissy. Since being pissy isn’t enough to change anything, I endeavor to bring BigPig Outdoors “Bushcraft” Trips to life in 2017. Stay tuned…

Enlisting my long time, bushcraft buddy, we set out to scout a potential route on Calderwood Lake, from Magazine Branch to Calderwood Dam. It is seven miles of beautiful lake bordered by Wildlife Management Area on one bank and National Forest on the other. Green star = put in & Red star = take out


Typically there is a sluggish flow towards the take out, but thankfully a frigid headwind kept us from enjoying a silent drift and forced us to fight for every mile. Even better was the fact that Greg “I am going to borrow your sleeping bag for a camping date” Grieco still has my 20 degree bag, leaving me with a 45 degree bag for the mid-twenties nights. The extra challenge was welcome, even though the purpose of the trip was scouting and obtaining calories. Since a fire ban was in effect, I utilized fluffy leaf beds, my clothing, and a hot water bottle (canteen) to supplement the bag and make it through the cold nights,

One of my “rules” for living off the land is to become an Equal Opportunity Omnivore focusing on calorie dense foods. Since we would be burning around 350 calories for every hour of canoeing, the best strategy was to forage for nuts, while opportunistically hunting, trapping, and fishing.

We trolled a lure off the back of the canoe, kept our eyes peeled for game, and scouted for beaver sign, but with two ounces of hickory nuts yielding roughly 360 calories, it wasn’t hard to figure out what would be on the menu.

Majestic mockernut..


Day 1:

AppetizerOrganic, free range hickory nuts served in shell with a rusty nail as a picker

Entrée – Curried squirrel stewed in a hickory nut milk reduction

Dessert Multiple servings of  warm and hearty hickory nut milk

Calorie countA gazillion – 

  • Hickory nuts (shelled) – 2976 per pound
  • Squirrel –  450



 Day 2: 

AppetizerOrganic, free range hickory nuts. All you can eat.

Entrée –  Sautéed groundnuts and hog peanuts with a touch of pepper & garlic salt

DessertToasted black walnut chunks

Second dessertRich, hearty, warm hickory nut milk. Multiple cups

Calorie count –  A gazillion and one

  • Groundnuts – estimate 500 per cup
  • Black walnuts – 700 for 4 ounces
  • Hickory nuts – 2,976 per pound


Day 3:

Breakfast – Hot leached acorn porridge and toasted acorn crackers

Caolries – 1,757 per pound

One huge, calorically charged meal per day and binge eating hickory nuts left me with plenty of energy and I didn’t feel hungry or tired the whole trip. On my return to the cabin, I knocked out my regular workout.

As you can see, we stepped into the world of the vegan for a couple days by neccesity. I heard one squirrel bark right at dusk, but we were in full-on nut processing mode by then.

Unfortuately for the vegan crew, the slow cooked, squirrel stew was by far the best meal and could only be challenged if a bear, deer, or hog had crossed our path. Fortunately for their side, the conditions, timeframe of the trip, and terrain weren’t very favorable. On Day 2, I did find some beaver sign where we dug for groundnuts, but setting my snares there would have required us to backtrack on our exit day.

Foraging yellowroot for tinctures and squirrel skinning lesson..

Mighty eagle watching over us and canoe camp..


Robert, a Continuous Improvement Director for a large corporation, recounted a story of the Mongols after they invaded China and were exposed to all the luxuries and amenities. They became soft, and seeing this, the Khan required the generals to return to the cold and barren Asian steppe each year to be re-hardened by the elements and minimal luxuries.

Regularly depriving yourself of food and taking responsibility for acquiring it allows you to feel and experience our true primal nature. I have seen it transform vegetarians into meat eaters and make meat eaters consume their veggies. In a society awash in calories and macronutrients, it is easy to lose touch with the hunter in all of us.  Some struggle with that, others don’t, and the pangs of hunger know no emotion, they only possess the drive to be appeased.



Families Only Survival 101 – December 17-18, 2016



I usually run a Holiday special every year, but this year, I have deciided to switch it up and run a “Family” Survival 101 class on December 17-18 with discounted prices.

This class is only open to families with kids and there is no age requirement. That means the pace will be a little slower and the challenges scaled appropriately, but Mom and Dad will get all they need to take care of the family in a wilderness emergency. The kids will get re-connected with the woods and learn realistic outdoor safety skills to keep them safe if they ever get separated from the party.

Whether your family is gearing up for the next outdoor adventure, prepping for uncertain times, or just want to grow together while learning new skills and facing challenges, this course is for you.


This holiday season, you have an important choice…

Buy the kids some junk they will play with for a couple months before it breaks and your wife or husband a present they probably do not want, or buy a gift that makes your family stronger, smarter, and more resiliant!!

Click here to read about the course and see the discounted prices. This is the only scheduled 101 class that allows children under 12 years old. Limited spots available: Survival 101

Got questions? Email :


October BUSAR Update…


Manventure – 

Since my birthday falls in October, I get to pick the training mission for the team. I believe that some aspects of life are best appreciated when under adverse conditions, so I pulled out my list for planning..

  • Cold water   √
  • Cold weather  
  • Minimal gear  
  • Tough terrain  
  • Sleep deprivation  

Last year, we crossed the Smokies via Ekaneetlee manway and swam Fontana to our pickup. 2015 trip This year, I figured I would switch it up and invade Tennessee from the North Carolina side of the park, traversing 3/4 of the park, mostly off trail.

Drop off’s would done at night in Fontana Lake, with each team not knowing their location. They would have to determine their location and rally at a UTM point. The simple rules were that you could not use established trails, except for Jenkins Ridge up to Spence,  and sleeping gear would only be jackets and garbage bags. We would follow the Defeat Ridge manway from the AT down to Middle Prong trailhead.

Night swim..


Determining location..


Somewhere on Horsehoe Ridge…

Foraging and tracking..

Rally points, pullup contest winner, and Defeat Ridge manway…


Routes in red, purple, and yellow..


Rescue Swimmer II – 

Herrington, Jutkofsky, Jernigan and Grieco knocked out the final part of the  Public Safety Rescue Swimmer course. BUSAR’s Jason Benjamin instructed. Lots of water time, simulated rescues and a night scenario.


GRSM Tech Team Training – 

Herrington and Grieco attended the Smokies Tech Team training focusing on patient packaging and setting up a highline.


VDEM SAREX – AAR by Doc Miller

I received Andrew’s text regarding the Abrams Creek carry out just as I pulled into Hungry Mother State Park in Marion Virginia where I was participating in a SAR Simulation during the Virginia Department of Emergency Management Ground Search and Rescue Academy on Black Diamond’s home turf. I regret the timing and would otherwise have been at Abrams Creek to help.
The VDEM SAR Academy is like nothing Tennesseans have ever seen. It begins Friday evening and ends Sunday evening for two week-ends hyphenated by a one week-end hiatus.   Intensive certification classes run simultaneously for the disciplines of Search Team Member, Search Team Leader, “Fundamentals for Awareness, Signcutting and Tracking” and Search Management. The finale is a Simulated SAR Exercise which commences at dusk on the final Saturday.  Although there was not a Management Team class this session, a scenario is customarily presented and all of the planning, searching and “rescue” is executed by the students under the eyes and ears of silent and often unseen “angels” who monitor and evaluate the process.  When necessary, some functions are augmented by prior graduates to achieve critical mass for a meaningful exercise. Typically there are multiple subjects, one of whom requires medical evaluation, “treatment”  and litter evacuation. This year there were two “family members” who had become lost while searching for the subject who originally went missing and was “injured” off trail.
A number of BUSAR members have worked with VDEM certified STM, STL, FAST and management personnel during the Virginia SAR Conference and the Blue Ridge Parkway SAREX earlier this year. There were four BUSAR participants in this October SAR Academy.
Rob and Ashley were FAST Instructors, Jenny was a Search Team Member candidate, and it was my privilege to function as Search Team Leader for a superbly trained FAST (clue aware, track aware, tracking) team. When assigned to a tracking or K9 team, the “leader’s” role is to provide communications, navigation, documentation and, if trained, medical support so the specialty teams can focus their awareness and observational expertise on the task with negligible distraction. Night operations add to the fun and challenge and provide valuable operational experience to the candidates for certification.
An added bonus of this Simulation was the opportunity to observe the real time location and movement of every field team on a computer projection screen in Base. The data was streamed automatically from DeLorme InReach satellite communicators which were assigned to each team along with their radio.
Computer Projection in Operations Section in Base
FAST Team Hotel Task: “Cut for sign along lake shore from Route 16 to drainage @ 5327/8229”.
We began the task at the bottom of screen and cut the sign which came from the opposite direction, then
made a big circle up to the bath house and back to the beach.
Another team’s search pattern is seen on the lower portion of the screen before it was redirected
to the  injured subject to assist in evacuation from his location seen on the upper portion of the screen.
Multiple teams converging at victim location to assist with litter evacuation.
Evacuation route of multiple teams to and from location of injured subject near top of screen to
Base near bottom of screen.
Participation in a Simulation provides the actual experience of signing into a search, waiting in Staging for an assignment, receiving a briefing (instructions) for the task, navigating to the designated search area, executing the task while communicating location and status reports, being debriefed, and signing out from the search. Those BUSAR members who attended the Blue Ridge Parkway SAREX experienced a similar immersion during daylight hours. These are invaluable skills for efficient, effective search and rescue.  The training, including meals and lodging, is free to any member of an agency holding a Memorandum of Understanding with the Virginia Department of Emergency Management. Black Diamond SAR Council serves SW Virginia and has responded in northeast Tennessee and in the Smokies.

Responses – 

  • Johnston and Morgan responded to Abrams Creek carryout

Workouts – Finally cooling off. Greg is getting ready to test for a Combat Rescue Officer slot in Alaska, so we have been doing a lot of military PT to support him. Lots of pullups, pushups, situps, and flutter kicks. His PT test is at the beginning of December in Anchorage.


Recruitment – 

  • Johnny Johnston –  Mountaineer, off-trail explorer, and Crossfitter

Fall P.E.M.U. Recipes…


Another fall foraging class in the books!

I have been busy gathering acorns and just now getting around to posting recipes for the food we didn’t cook on the campfire:

Watercress Soup

Lamb’s Quarter Artichoke dip – just substitute lamb’s quarter for spinach

Acorn cookies – Bridget used this one for cookies but substituted 1 1/2 C almond flour, 1/2c regular flour. She also added 3 tablespoons butter, 2 eggs, and glazed the top with maple syrup coconut sugar reduction

The acorn cookies above were made by Tara, the leader of the Hurricane Wives Club, as comfort food while our loved ones weathered Hurricane Matthew. I wasn’t worried, but I ate more than my fair share..
1 cup acorn flour & 2 cups all-purpose
2 cups of sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda & 1 tsp hot water
1 tsp vannila extract
chocolate chips
Mix eggs one at a time. Add dry ingredients. Cook at 350 for ~ 10 mins
The tribe sets out…

Swamp time…





Harry’s meal tickets..


Campfire feast..

To find out about future foraging classes, go here: P.E.M.U.

BUSAR Anniversary Update – September


BUSAR celebrated it’s one year anniversary this month!! Looking back, I am extremely proud of the missions and training accomplished this past year. Huge thanks to Steve Kloster and Jared St. Clair for supporting the idea and our team.

  • August – Smokies Litter Team day
  • September – Georgia Orienteering race
  • October –  Ekaneetlee ManVenture
  •  November – Rob Spieden Tracking class
  • December – Porter’s Creek, Lester Prong, “real” Bunion & Survival 101
  • January – Survival 101 & Downed plane search exercise
  • February – Survival 101 & Interagency SAREX
  • March – Skedco Manway carryout
  • April – K9 training, BTRT-E, Virgina SAR conference, litter team day & Smokies Tech Team
  • May – BLRI SAREX
  • June -BUSAR tech training, Swiftwater I & Black Diamond Vertical Training
  •  July – Swiftwater II & Black Diamond Vertical Training
  •  August – Swiftwater II & Black Diamond Vertical Training

Workouts – Crushing it as the weather cools off.. A couple of us needed to knock out the pack test, so we created the “SAR-duous” duty pack test. First three miles is standard USFS test – 45# in 45 min plus and additional 2 miles, switching out to SAR packs and carrying 35# kettlebells


Rescue Swimmer 1 – Herrington, Grieco, and Jernigan started the Public Safety Rescue Swimmer course, taught by Jason Benjamin. More info here:Rescue Swimmer



Black Diamond Vertical Training weekend 4BUSAR was again well represented at the final Black Diamond Vertical Rescue Training of the 2016 season. Excluding  our dedicated, exceptional Instructors Daniel Murray, Greg Osborne, Victoria Airey and the legendary Bob Barlow (caving, innovating and instructing since the sixties) BUSAR members comprised half of the class! King Cobra, Dusken and his Lady. Danny and I proudly showed the BUSAR colors.
After the students rigged the drops, the day was spent on rope learning new skills, practicing those previously acquired, and completing the Basic and Advanced Rope Techniques Skills check-off process: ascending, rappelling, pick-offs, ascending and descending past knots, transferring from one rope to another while climbing and descending, and
  Figuring out how to climb with a Rope Walker or make a climbing system from 3 random “parts”
It was another great day on the Rock. As always, BUSAR members are welcome to attend any and all sessions. Two day training is generally held the second week-end each June, July, August and September at Backbone Rock in Shady Valley Tennessee. There is a campground at the Rock. I will be your point of contact for any questions.
– Doc
GRSM Tech Team Training – Herrington, Miller, Benjamin, and Campbell attended the Smokies Tech Team training day. Great to support and integrate with the guys we will be working with in the field.



  • Cataloochee Search for family of five – Spieden, Herrington, Miller, Sledge, & Benjamin before being called off


  • Dusken Sledge – prior military, squad leader, mountain warfare school grad, & hiker