Tag Archives: trapping

Prep for Freedom, not Fear…

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Last weekend my buddies and I rolled up to the Mountain Preppers Expo in Sevierville, TN.  http://www.mountainprepperexpos.com An extravaganza of booths, merchandise, and lectures for the disaster preparedness community.

It was a great time walking around, meeting new people, seeing old friends, looking at the exhibitor’s booths and crawling through an Atlas Shelter. I wish I had known about it sooner as I would have set up a booth myself, but there is always next year.

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Attending the expo motivated me to write a post in reference to a mental outlook on preparedness.

First let me say I was prepping, or whatever you want to call it, long before it was cool and the subject of reality shows. I have been into stuff like this since childhood. I was ready for Y2K and subsequently every theoretical “Doomsday” non-event that didn’t happen after that. Like many Type-A personalities, I got in deep, too deep, spending time, energy, and money where it could have been better utilized. It is not that what I was doing was wrong, I was just approaching it with the wrong mindset.

Survivalism and prepping can have a nasty side effect of instilling a “fear” mindset. Hollywood, the media, the marketing industry, and internet gurus all use fear to create a sense of separation among us and to dip into our wallets. Fixating and focusing on “what could happen” and trying to prepare for every scenario can drain your energy and cash reserves and is an impossible goal to accomplish. Thinking your neighbor is going to rape and pillage your supplies, creates a sense of distrust and isolation.

In nature and society, predators prey on scared animals that are separated from the herd, but strong herds always defend themselves against those with predatory intent.

Is it a good plan to have water and food stored for tough times? Absolutely…

Is it good to plan for local, regional, and national disasters? You bet…

Is it a good plan to grow a garden, raise livestock, hunt, fish, and trap for food? Damn straight!!

But do all that because you want to be a self-reliant, healthy human, and not get sucked into a culture of “fear”. My grandparents on my mother’s side canned, raised sheep, chickens, cattle, and horses. They grew a garden, trapped, hunted, and fished, and so did all their neighbors. If you trace your lineage back, you won’t have to go far to find members of your family that were living more independently than we do nowadays.

Were they preppers or survivalists? No. Those words did not even exist because they were just humans living a normal life. I have been called a “Survivalist” and a “Prepper”, but you know what I am?

I am just a human, doing what humans are naturally supposed to do. A hundred years ago the “weirdos” would be the people who didn’t provide for themselves. Modern society and fundamental consumerism has conditioned us to suck the teat of society, making all of us vulnerable if the milk stops flowing.

In all my years, the most “prepared” guy I have met, is a friend who doesn’t even know it. The “Hillbilly Trapper”, as we like to call him, has been a lifelong trapper, runs a damage control business, a produce farm, and raises cattle. He went to business school and has outstanding financial acumen. If everything went to hell in a handbasket tomorrow, he would keep on trucking. His hard work ethic and resourcefulness would allow him to adapt and overcome any obstacles.

So my challenge to all that may read these ramblings is to look at the problem in a different light. If you strive to be a healthy, happy, independent human, then invariably you will end up networking, gardening, storing food, keeping fit, homesteading, and saving money.

Do it because it is fun, healthy, and how you are supposed to live. Don’t let fear pull you into a shadowy world of “what if’s”. Develop the skills, networks, and the independence if something happens to say “so what?”.

BigPig Outdoor’s Fear Busting Research and Tips in case SHTF, Doomsday, Armageddon, and TEOTWAKI all team up and come to your neighborhood looking for a fight:

1. History repeats itself and we can use it do make realistic choices in our disaster preparedness plans. Years ago I found a document that detailed all the disasters in Tennessee from the 1688 to 1998. The book can be found here http://utpress.org/bookdetail-2/?jobno=T01447 I threw the data into Excel and spit out the following table:

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As you can see, flooding was a major problem back in the day, but a lot of that occurred pre-TVA. Choosing not to live in a floodplain is a wise move as well.

When my brain boils all this data down I come up with a three fold plan depending on the situation:

  1. I need to be able to provide for myself and family in case of long term utility outages and the inability to go to the store due to significant weather events. I think 30 days is a great goal, even though most events are resolved in shorter periods. Storing extra to share is great if you are able and I will address that in the community section below.
  2. Since I have no basement, a storm shelter or root cellar is a good plan for the threat of tornadoes
  3.  I need to be able to evacuate to a safer locale in case of industrial disaster (Watts Bar or Oak Ridge) or chemical spill (Rohm and Hass, railroad or interstate)

Okay, but there is no financial collapse, EMP, nuclear/bio/chem war, terrorists, zombies, etc. in your chart BigPig?

Well if you do the above three steps, you are setting yourself up pretty well to handle those as well. If you research the financial collapse in Argentina (1998-2002), you will realize it didn’t turn into Mad Max’s Thunderdome. http://ferfal.blogspot.com/2013/06/what-really-happened-during-argentine.html

Researching nuclear targets tells me I am in a potential fallout zone, but most likely not in the blast radius so root cellars and storm shelters could be modified, if I thought that was needed  http://www.ki4u.com/nuclearsurvival/states/tn.htm

Zombies? If they are the slow ones like in Walking Dead, then I will be a hero converting all my trapping and hunting experience to a sloth-like, mush brained animal. If you are talking about “real” zombies, which is a desperate tweaker that wants to rob my family, well I have plans for that too.

With all the possible threats, at some point, you just have to say “I will deal with it“. Provide for your needs of security, shelter, water, food, and health, and then trust in your abilities and those of your community to improvise and adapt for the outlying needs.

2. People often talk about bugging out to the mountains because of the abundant resources. Well, I “bug out” to the mountains every day for work. I grab my backpack, my rifle, and hike into the mountains to work in a job that mimics “living off the land”. I do this both on a daily basis in the winter months and camping for my work week in the spring. Based upon my 14 years experience trapping and hunting in the mountains, as a full time job, and 4 years trapping the suburbs of Knoxville as a damage control trapper, also a full time job, I can assure you that there are way more critters around town. The “edge effect” of the suburbs and abundant food of agricultural areas are great for wildlife compared to the deep woods. Coons, deer, possums, beavers, squirrels, groundhogs, and turkeys abound in the suburbs, but hunting, trapping, fishing and foraging should not be your primary plan.

If you have shelter, can protect yourself, and have a clean, reliable water supply, then calories will move to the top of the list. Living off the land requires skill, hard work, and a good area. Every time you head out to check a trap line, hunt, or forage, you expose yourself to risk of injury, dreaded “marauders” and burn vital calories. It just makes sense to store a reliable source of food that has a long shelf life. Scarce game, mast failures, crop failures, and the like, do not effect 100 pounds of staples stored in the closet.

A trip to Costco can get you 50 pounds of beans and 50 pounds of rice providing 160,000+ calories for around $75. Another $25 for mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, and a couple five gallon buckets will allow you to safely store it for years. 160,000 calories would be 2 1/2 months of food insurance for one person (2000 calories/day) or a month’s supply for two adults and one child, for less than $100. Not that you would want to eat that for every meal or have to as most scenarios resolve quickly, but it is a start of a good food storage program. I can’t think of any good arguments not to spend that $100 and can only imagine if that was the “norm” in this country.

My wife can cook a mean dish of beans and rice, but supplementing it with vegetables from our garden, eggs from our chickens, fruit from our bushes, or catfish from our pond, is not only healthier and better tasting, but also extends those staple calories out if we had to tap into them.

Protein from fish and game, either trapped, hunted, or fished, and nutritious foraged wild edibles are at the pinnacle of my caloric pyramid. Those skills require more time and energy to develop, so build the solid base first.

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 Give me my pack, rifle, and some ammo and I could live like a king in the mountains. Add my wife, my step-daughter, and my soon to be born son into the mix and now we have a problem. A chain is only as strong as the weakest link and while I know a lot of guys that may be able to hump 20 miles per day and eat things that would make a billy goat puke, none of their wives or little kids are up for that challenge.

I like M4’s, plate carriers, bugout bags, and the idea of running into the hills as much as anyone, but let’s face it those are pipe dreams because nobody worth a crap is going to leave their family behind and to go play Red Dawn. Networking with neighbors and planning to stay in your community or get to a safer one is a better plan for the family man.

3. The best thing to stockpile is knowledge, skills, and abilities. You could take away my house, my land, my food, my traps, and my guns, but just don’t steal my brain. Experiential knowledge, hard work ethic, and the ability to communicate would allow me to start over and build anew.

Having followed a multi-disciplined training plan for years, one “not-so-sexy” skill that I believe is under rated is the ability to inter-relate and communicate, both fundamentally important skills of living in a community. Even though Hollywood and the media would have you believe that we all would turn on each other and carnage would reign, I don’t buy it.

Yes, there was looting during Katrina and some bad apples in the bunch, but if you compare that with the amount of cooperation and help from neighboring communities and states and it is pretty damn insignificant, and most likely sensationalized.

During all the local disasters that I have been involved in, (windstorms, ice storms, and a tornado), people come out of the woodwork to help at their own expense. I believe that this is the “real” human nature as anything else would be contradictory to the survival of our species. Statistics and any law enforcement officer will tell you that the majority of people are good folks and there is only a small percentage of bad apples. I like to think that bad apples would get sorted out pretty quickly.

In a disaster, after taking care of my immediate family, my plan is to extend my help to my neighbors, friends, and then my community. I would share what I could, be it skills, food, or a helping hand and I know that they in turn would do the same. Networking and building a strong local community breeds independence through interdependence.

4. Guns, government, and authority. I have a lot of buddies that worry about gun confiscation, so here is my take.

For five years I worked as federal law enforcement officer for the National Park Service. I was trained at the same academy as the ATF, the Mashals, and 80+ other agencies. Whether it is the legal division, tactics, firearms, or defensive tactics, the instructors are the same for each agency. There was never any mention of gun confiscation during the house clearing and searches block and large portion of the instructors are former local and state cops. The legal division there does an outstanding job, and all officers leave having a thorough understanding of constitutional law and search and seizure.

Since then, I have worked, trained, and befriended multiple law enforcement officers from different agencies in multiple states and a majority of them would refuse orders for confiscation as it would be unconstitutional. If you live in a state where the climate is different, then relocating may be in your future.

Every department has officers that would follow those unconstitutional orders, but considering the culture that courses through America, I would say it would not end well for them. My experience has been that officers that are not pro- 2nd Amendment, don’t have a door busting or shooting skillset anyway.

So that leads to the often quoted “When it is time to start burying guns, it’s time to start using them” Paul Howe, a former LE officer, SF veteran and all-around badass has a great article that addresses this topic. His comments on the resources and talents of federal agencies is spot on. There are a lot of outstanding shooters and officers, but like I said, I doubt they would be the ones following those orders   http://www.combatshootingandtactics.com/published/2nd_amen.pdf

The real threat lies in legislating away ammo, guns, and magazines and that battle right now is fought with money, time, and participation. Time spent burying guns and ammo could be better spent teaching someone to shoot and about their rights. Whether you are pro or anti-gun, firearms are an inseparable part of this country’s fabric and rounding them up would rip this country apart at the seams.

Cops and soldiers are really only a tool wielded by legislators and politicians. It is the belief in them and the crap they pass down that is the real danger. Great philosophical arguments center around the belief in authority can be found starting at 1:11  http://peacerevolution.podomatic.com/entry/2012-02-12T18_42_43-08_00

So on this Memorial Day when we give tribute to those who fight or have fought for our freedom, honor them by choosing to fight for yourself.

Fight to be free of the conditioning and controls that society has forced upon you.

Fight to be free from the fear of scarcity and separation among us.

And fight to return to the independence that our forefathers enjoyed and would want for all of us…

On hunting and trapping..

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The most valuable hunting and trapping tool that I own is my mind. What’s that you say? How about your .308? Your .22 rifle? Or your conibear traps? Those are great, but without the first tool, the latter are useless. I cannot hunt or trap effectively without knowledge and skill, both hard wired into my brain.

Today, my mind has recognized that some viewers of my blog do not like dead animal pictures, so I will try to articulate why I hunt/trap in the hope that they set aside their disdain and can take a glimpse into the “natural” world. With trapping season only days away and hunting season already upon us, the volume of dead animal pictures on this blog will soon be on the rise. I would say this post is not for the hunters and trappers, but in reality it is for both sides of the argument. To the hunter I say “why not more?” and to the non-hunter I say “why not?”.

And with that prelude I give you the “Top 7 Reasons” why I hunt and trap.

1. I enjoy it – Plain and simple. All the reasons below are ancillary to the fact that when I am in the woods hunting, trapping, or foraging it feels right, almost spiritual in a way. I do not view myself apart from nature, but part of it. When I take the life of an animal, respectfully and humanely, I am just participating in the “circle of life”. Whether I am uprooting a plant or shooting an animal, to me they are one in the same.

Like many, I have felt that I was born centuries too late, but that is a cop out. Participating in the absurdity of modern society is a choice. If you want a simpler lifestyle, then do it. Hunt, trap, fish, forage, and grow your own garden. I promise you, the satisfaction of self-reliant hobbies is highly rewarding.

2. Subsistence – I am a meat hunter and trapper. At our house, we only cook wild game that I hunt, trap, or catch. If we go out to dinner or eat at a friend’s, I will eat what is available, but that’s it. I am able to pack my freezer with deer, hogs, coons, squirrels, turtles, frogs, fish, and a few other critters that keep me fed year round.

3. Health –  Organic, free range meat. I am not into hormones, anti-biotics, and all the other crap associated with factory farming. Since I butcher and process everything myself, I have direct control over the sanitary conditions and handling of my food. A big plus in my book.

4. Cost –  Debatable. One could argue that I save money by having no grocery bill for organic meat, expensive if you haven’t looked lately. The counter argument would be the opportunity cost of not working during those hunting hours and all the meat that could be purchased by my wages. I would then argue that my happiness while living off the land needs to be factored in, greatly increasing my stance and making it a win in my book.

5. Ethics – “Bunny-hugger” vs. “Bambi-killer”. “Meat-eater” vs. “Vegetarian” What is ethical when it comes to taking the life of any living creature, plant or animal? We cannot exist without taking energy from another source, but we can choose how we do it. My wife is a vegetarian, both for health and moral reasons, and I can respect that. However, if you oppose hunting and trapping for meat, and are not a vegetarian, then I will politely challenge your integrity and point you towards the garden.

Personally, I do not like the unnatural conditions animals are subjected to under factory farming conditions, so I choose to reduce my support of “Big Farma”. That leaves three options for meat: hunt & trap, raise livestock myself, or buy free range, organic meat. All good options, but hunting and trapping edge out the others in my situation, i.e. plenty of hunting opportunities, a “bunny-hugger” wife that would protest me killing the family hog, etc.

But how can hunting and trapping be “humane”? Sometimes it is not, but neither is nature. Pain and death are an ever present force in nature, just ask any prey species. I would like to say that all the animals I kill have a swift, painless death, but that is not always true. Modern trapping has come a long way in the area of animal welfare, but there is still the Murphy factor that sometimes comes out to play.  Have I lost game over the years? A few, but I continually work on my tracking skills and have to point out that nothing in nature goes to waste. My take is that the brief pain that I cause a creature is part of nature and better than living a cramped existence for months in a cage or pen. “Humane” in my book is the intent to make the kill quickly and efficiently.

6. Conservation –  Carrying capacity, over-population, tradition, economics, etc. I learned all the arguments in my wildlife college classes, but the big fact remains that wildlife management and conservation efforts in your state are funded by hunters, trappers, and fishermen. If you like seeing songbirds, turkeys, river otters, deer, elk, etc. then thank a sportsman, because their license purchases paid the bill for the wildlife management programs that either reintroduced those species or are protecting them.

Some of the species I hunt and trap are either non-native or cause damage to property. Want land to hunt or trap? Just offer to take care of a landowners feral hog, beaver, or coyote problem. Those three species have opened the door to some of the best hunting spots I have.

7. Self-reliance – Like gardening, homesteading, and the like, hunting and trapping promotes self-reliance. Coupled with gardening, raising livestock, and a food storage program, putting meat on the table from hunting and trapping is just one more skill that keeps the real “Spirit” of this country alive.

Resources for non-hunters/trappers: This blog. Keep reading it. You will learn some stuff about hunting, trapping, butchering, and cooking a variety of game. Check out your States DNR site for hunter’s education classes and other info: http://www.huntfishsport.com/web.aspx?cmd=dnr

Resources for hunters/trappers: Realize that you are an ambassador for our lifestyle. Question yourself why you do what you do and don’t act like a fool. Be able to express it to non-hunters in a logical way. We live in different times and the future of hunting and trapping is in our hands. Since you have the skills, unplug from the system and feed yourself. Teach someone to hunt. Watch a video on factory farming and see if you want to support that industry.

**Disclaimer – This post is in reference to the role of hunting and trapping in my personal life. Professionally, I hunt and trap as part of a damage control program focused on feral hogs, which has it’s own controversies. That said, past and future pictures of feral hogs are from legal hunting on private land and are not associated in any way with my employer.