Survivalism Meets Homesteading: The To-Do List


In my previous article, Why Every Survivalist Should Be Homesteading, I talked about why it is important that every survivalist should consider starting a homestead. As survivalists, we are prepared with our stocked bug out bags ready to go at a moment’s notice. We have first aid kits and other needed supplies in our homes, our vehicles, and at work. We carry that preparedness attitude and our mindset is “WE ARE READY!”… but, are we? For a 72 hour emergency? Yes, most of us are. But what do you do when an overnight emergency becomes long term?Read on for the to-do list when survivalism meets homesteading.

Read on for the ultimate to-do list that perfectly pairs survivalism with homesteading.

Survivalism Meets Homesteading: The To-Do List

In my previous article, I ran the scenario of being homebound during an emergency. No evacuation but, instead, the exact opposite. Roads shut down, which causes travel to become impossible, and our link to the outside world beyond our front lawns is cut off. You are in an entirely different situation. If you have stored food, water, and other supplies then that’s great! But, do you have enough of those necessities to sustain you and your family for possibly months or even years? What happens when your supplies (your lifeline) are gone?

Now, I realize that this scenario is a little extreme. You may be wondering “Why the heck would roads shut down? We would be evacuated before that happens! Our outside world cut off? Oh come on…that’s overdoing it a little!”.

Maybe. Maybe not…

Whether my scenario will ever become a reality, none of us can be sure. I don’t know about you, but, I want to be prepared just in case. This is where I introduce homesteading as a survival tool…a survival mindset if you will. A homestead is not accomplished overnight. It takes extreme dedication and hard work. The world of homesteading is a lifestyle and can be your biggest reward in life, your biggest ally. Survival begins at home.

“Where do I begin?” If you are now asking yourself this question then you have made that first step. You are considering it or have decided to give homesteading a go to ensure the long-term survival of every person in your household…your family!

Whether you live in an urban area or a rural area, it can be done. To give you an idea of what your homestead has the potential of becoming let’s go over your daily necessities and how those needs can be met based on where you are – a rural area or an urban area. For now, let’s call it your to-do list – a list of needed items and tasks to get you well on your way to having a homesteading lifestyle that can literally be life-saving!

The To-Do List

You’d be surprised how similar urban and rural homesteading can be. Of course, you can’t have cattle in your backyard or a corn crop on your apartment patio but there are ways to have your needs met no matter where you live.

Of course, we will not learn all there is to know about homesteading in this one article but, let’s go over the basic needs and your possible options.


Food | Survivalism Meets Homesteading: The To-Do List

Rural area options: You can raise cattle, chickens (and other fowl), pigs, or goats. You can grow vegetable crops and/or raise honey bees.

Urban area options: As far as raising animals for meat you can raise backyard chickens, quail, and rabbits.

Hunting is another great option for urban (and rural) homesteaders. If you have room for an extra freezer then, by all means, consider taking advantage of this extra space.

You can also have a garden, even if you live in an apartment! Check out my previous article on container gardening. This is the perfect solution if you are limited on space.


Water | Survivalism Meets Homesteading: The To-Do List

Rural area options: For a long-term water supply, a well is the best option. I’m not an expert on this so I would like to share this website. It’s a great resource of information for water well basics.

Also, for more tips and ideas, check out this great article on obtaining and storing water.

Urban area options: Unfortunately, for urban homesteaders, there aren’t too many options for an unlimited water supply. My suggestion here is every time you go shopping, just make it a habit of grabbing as many gallon jugs of water as you can. Your water supply will be built up in no time.

Collecting rainwater has been done in the past but, it actually has become prohibited in many states due to ongoing droughts. Click HERE for more detailed information regarding rainwater harvesting laws and legislation in your state.

Cleaning Products

Cleaning Products | Survivalism Meets Homesteading: The To-Do List

This section is for both rural and urban homesteaders. Handmade products such as soap can be made anywhere.

To make personal soap, check out this article on 23 DIY soap recipes you can make at home.

To make soap for cleaning purposes, check out this article on DIY liquid castile soap. It’s all natural and is easy on your skin.

For your laundry, check out this article on 9 DIY laundry detergent recipes.


Clothing | Survivalism Meets Homesteading: The To-Do List

This section is also for rural and urban homesteaders. Learning how to crochet and how to sew will greatly benefit your whole family. It is also a great way to involve the kids in the whole homesteading lifestyle. When children are involved in this way they feel like they’re a part of something…something important.

It’s a great idea to stock up on crocheting and sewing supplies whenever you can. Another great idea is investing in a decent sewing machine. I just bought one for myself and I love it. It’s a great way to make your own clothes, blankets, etc.

James Yeager shows us a video on what food he has stored for bugging in:

The things I’ve listed thus far are the basics of homesteading. Your basic needs can be met in a homebound situation with the things I’ve listed so far. As I go along with this series, I will go in more detail and do my best to bring you more valuable information on this part of your journey.

Remember, survival starts at home. Being a survivalist is more than bug out bags and first aid kits. Being a survivalist is a mindset that should carry you in every part of your life, especially on your own turf.

Stay tuned for my next article: “Survivalism Meets Homesteading: Money Saving Tips”

Do you have any more to-do-lists you might want to add? Please add them in the comments below!

Here are some easy to grow vegetables for beginner gardeners you might want to learn about!

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How to Get Prepared When Time Is NOT On Your Side


Get Prepared

There are a lot of factors that make preparing for a crisis difficult. While some have issues with budgeting for gear and products, others tend to forgo their physical preparedness. But if I were to pick the main culprit that prohibits readiness for those striving to be prepared, it would be time. The question that I get asked the most by my NTC Members goes something like this: How can I find time to get prepared when I barely have time to eat?

Multitasking: The True Secret of Emergency Preparedness

Time management is crucial in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world. Our jobs take up a big chunk of our day, and that doesn’t even count the commute. If you have children, there are continual tasks that need to be accounted for. When you add in a pet or two… Finding time for anything is at a premium.

We both realize the importance of preparing for ourselves and our families. If we choose to wait, it truly may be too late to get prepared. The stress in trying to find the time can be overwhelming. We all want to do the right thing, but there are only so many hours in a day. Alleviating something from your packed schedule may not be an option.

I have witnessed many would-be survivalists give up on their preparedness needs because they no longer had the time. Anytime they spoke about it, I could always tell that it ate them up inside. I began to think of how to multi-task in order to get prepared with other must-do’s still on the list. There’s always going to be a caveat or two, depending on your current situation. As with most things, what will work well for some may not work at all for others. But there are a few ideas that seem to work across the board.

Here Are a Few Tips for Getting Prepared When Time Is Not on Your Side:

Go Camping:

get prepared

Vacation time is factored into most hectic schedules. For your next holiday getaway….Go camping! Camping is a great way to de-stress and spend some quality time bonding with loved ones. It’s also an ideal environment to get some emergency preparedness training in. You can cook over an open fire. That way, you can practice your fire building skills. In addition, you can build a shelter and spend a night in there. When choosing a campsite, go with primitive. Avoid campgrounds that provide electrical and water hookups at the sites, which will help you get prepared subconsciously for longer survival situations.

On extended stays, you can test the requirements needed by your family for a 72 to 96 hour emergency. This will help you address your water needs, as well as food consumption. This is also a great opportunity to get familiar with the items in your go-bags. Live out there as if there were a crisis going on back in “civilization.” Perfect practice always makes perfect. 🙂

Watch Video Tutorials:

Get Prepared

Family time is usually scheduled into most agendas. Instead of watching your favorite movie for the 10th time, put on some skill-building tutorials. You want to try and keep it fun and entertaining, especially for those group members that may not be as interested in preparedness. So break out the popcorn and play the tutorials on your home entertainment center! The more that it still feels like “family night,” the more enjoyable that it will be. This will go a long way in getting the family to retain the knowledge being conveyed.

Along the same lines, you can also watch a movie that is focussed on survival. Brief your family before the movie and have them reflect on how they would react if this crisis were to happen to them. Would they know how to get prepared? You can pause the movie after any major focal point and make it a quick lesson. The more engaging that the experience becomes, the more that everyone involved will gain.

Go Off-Grid In Your Home:

Get Prepared

In many SHTF scenarios, bugging-in or hunkering down at home is your best bet. Getting as much real practice as possible is imperative for testing and even making your plan, so that you can get prepared. Since you don’t even have to leave your location, you save precious time. Once again, you can make this a fun, family event. Gather your supplies and make a weekend out of it.

Make all of your “on-grid” areas off limits. You can even go as far as shutting off the electrical breakers to the main area that you will be occupying in your home. Even bathrooms – and of course, the refrigerator -are off limits.

OK, maybe not the bathrooms…

The water coming from the home cannot be trusted, so it needs to be boiled. Do you have a propane stove that you can use? Is using a fire pit in your backyard an option? These are answers that need to be addressed. Going off-grid in your home for a weekend will give you valuable insight about your plan.

Add One Piece Of Gear Per Month:

Get Prepared

We both want to build up our go-bags with all of the coolest and most functional gear available. We also realize that there is a lot of equipment that will be required for our family or group. Finding time to not only gather but also research the right products can be impossible.

Hasty decisions get made and…

More often than not, This leads to either inferior gear being implemented or just the wrong gear. Period. Gathering all of your gear at once can also break your budget much quicker than you think.

Add one piece of gear, personal or group, to your supplies each month. This will give you ample time to research the item. You may even have a friend that has the item that you have been eyeing. Ask if you can test it out and go from there. You can then find the best price on that same item or find something better for your needs. With the remainder of your time, try and get as much practice as possible in with your new item, so that you can truly get prepared. A new piece of gear is useless if you don’t know how to use it!

The following month, you can move on to the next item on your list and repeat the process. In a few months you will have some quality gear that you know how to use. You will be ahead of most that have stuffed go-bags. They have the gadgets…but are genuinely clueless on what half of their packed gear list is even for.

Throw On A Pack For Family Walks:

Get Prepared

Another great way to utilize family time is to go for walks together. If you’re lucky enough to live in a neighborhood where it is feasible, great! If not, head to the local city, county or state park. On these walks, put on a pack or your go bag as you continue your hike. If possible, get your family members to do the same. During an emergency, you may have to leave your home and head out on foot. This is giving you and your family members good practice. The best part is that it’s disguised as a regular walk.

If you have a dog, you can follow the same idea. Our dogs need daily walks; I will argue that so do we. Throw on your pack or go bag during these walks with your best friend. If you have a pack for your dog, this is the time that you want to get them used to it. This gives both of you experience with your pack. And let’s not forget the valuable physical preparedness that you’re building.

Whether it’s with your family, dog or both… It easily fits into your schedule.

Volunteer At A Boy Scout Outing:

Get Prepared

I’m sure that you know someone who has a child who’s a boy scout. You may even have a boy scout in your own family. Most active boy scout troops go camping on a regular basis. If you speak to the scout’s guardian, they will tell you that they can always use some extra help at these outings. As long as they know and can vouch for you, you will be more than welcomed by the other adult leaders.

You will be wonderfully surprised by the proficiency of these scouts. They operate as one unit when needed and also break down into smaller patrols or groups. Their outdoor skill-sets rival many of the so-called experts that we see on reality TV. When you volunteer for an event, not only are you helping young scouts, but you’ll also gain some valuable knowledge.

If you do take my advice on this one, don’t be intimidated to ask the scouts to teach you. Not only will you be helping them to become leaders and teachers, but you’ll also make their day. On top of all that, you’ll get some real deal preparedness training under your belt in a relatively short period of time.

Get Involved With C.E.R.T. Events:

Get Prepared

Getting involved in our community gets factored into many of our schedules. After all, these may be the people that you need to work with in a crisis situation. You need to get some face-time with them even if it’s extremely limited. One way to achieve this while aiding your preparedness is to attend a local C.E.R.T. (Community Emergency Response Teams) event.

C.E.R.T. offers many opportunities to learn and even test your preparedness skills. It’s pretty much their mission. This is FEMA’s statement from their website:

“C.E.R.T. educates individuals about disaster preparedness for hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.”

Getting involved with C.E.R.T. allows you the opportunity to meet people that will be in charge during a local disaster. Being familiar with those in charge and their plan can enhance your chances of boding well during a crisis.

Practice Fire Building In Your Backyard:

Get Prepared

Many of us live in cities and aren’t able to build a fire ring on our property. But at the very least, if you have the ability to put a small fire pit in your backyard, take advantage of the opportunity and do it! Fire building is a crucial skill to possess in most emergency situations. Being able to start a fire, by various means, is not only advised….It’s a must! In order to develop as well as to maintain this skill-set, there needs to be practice.

With a busy schedule, getting away to the local camping ground isn’t going to be sustainable. Having access to a place in your home where you can practice fire building is ideal. You can cook a weekly dinner in your fire pit as an example. Feeding yourself and the family is a necessity, so you may as well get your fire building skill-building in.

It just doesn’t get any better than sitting around an open flame with your family toasting marshmallows. Use your scheduled family time sitting around your fire pit instead of on the couch. You can hone your fire building skills while the family enjoys some sweet, tasty treats!

Bottom Line:

Get Prepared

There will always be an excuse for not having enough time to prepare. Just like many facets in life, we need to actually want it in order to make time to achieve it. I gave a few simple tips for fitting-in the much needed time for preparedness. Hopefully these can get you started as you develop your own multi-tasking methods for preparedness.

The more fun that you can make the learning experience for both you and your family, the easier that all of you will adapt to an emergency scenario.

Up Next: 10 Must Have Items You Need When Hiking With Your Dog

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Have these tips inspired you to try and get prepared? Let us know in the comment section below! And be sure to leave any tips on how to get prepared too!

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DIY Suspension Training System: How To Stay Fit In The Field


If you’ve been honing your emergency preparedness skills, but neglecting your physical fitness, maybe it’s time to build a suspension training system.

Suspension Training System: The Perfect Way to Multi-Task

Working on emergency preparedness skills can get quite overwhelming at times. There’s a lot of new material to learn… And we still need to brush up and maintain current skills. The sense of urgency is also continually tapping on our shoulder. When we factor in family commitments and our jobs, time management becomes the prevalent task at hand.

One of the ways that I have learned to deal with time restraints is to multi-task. I look for ways and methods to compound multiple skill building components into one basic mission. Some examples would be going for a hike and combining map and compass skills along the way. Or… While out on a day trek, I bring my backpacking stove with me so that I can practice cooking and fire-building skills.

When it comes to my Natural Training Center (NTC) Members, I use the multi-tasking method to not only manage time more efficiently, but also as a source of motivation. Everyone has certain skill-sets that we find a chore when it’s time to practice them. For some, it may be cooking… While for others, it may be hiking. However, if we strive to be fully prepared, even the skills that we find monotonous need to be drilled.

It’s no secret that I spend a fair amount of time working on my physical preparedness. If I had to pull one skill-set that many in the preparedness community would rather avoid, it would be physical fitness. But the truth is that most, if not all, feel that a good physical fitness level is a must if we hope to bode well during a crisis. After decades of working with varied demographics on their preparedness, I found a way to:

Give Them What They Want, Mixed In With What They Need…

The ability to be able to pull one’s weight during a survival situation is not only a metaphor… In our case, it’s literal! Climbing a tree, navigating through an overhanging cliff or pulling a sled across a frozen body of water… The muscle groups involved in the “pull-up” movement are needed. Unfortunately, most of our population cannot perform even one correct pull-up. Luckily, there are many ways to build the body up in order to perform multiple pull ups.

But Those Fancy Suspension Training Systems Are Expensive!

There are many good exercises to build up your pull-up movement. But one of the best ways that I have found, especially for the beginner or beginning-again, is using suspension training systems and methodology. I’m sure that you’ve seen the fluorescent colored cables that can be strapped to a pull-up bar. This enables the user to keep part of their body connected to the floor while performing a pull-up. In turn, this makes the pull-up much easier, as the users won’t be pulling their full weight.

This enables more repetitions to be performed, which builds up the muscle groups needed for performing pull-ups. As the user progresses over time, less resistance will be applied with the aid of the suspension training system. Eventually, with continued practice, full un-assisted pull ups can be performed. The caveat here is not only the time required for the training, but also the price of these systems. The standard suspension training systems found in most homes and gyms cost well over $100. I’m certainly not stating that these contraptions do not warrant the price tag.  However, it’s a relatively hefty price for even a motivated fitness person. Just imagine the turn-off for the “unmotivated.”

Here Is Where My Multi-Tasking Comes Into Play…

My NTC Members tend to enjoy pioneering. At our basecamp, we build gateway entrances, tripods for dutch oven cooking, and hang our NTC and American Flags to tall, lashed poles. This certainly helps to build our team spirit and teamwork… But it also helps to solidify their pioneering skill-sets. Pioneering requires a versatile knowledge in knots and ropework (lashing). By building various projects, members need to think outside the box and decide on the best way to implement their ropework. Choosing the right lash or knot for the job is imperative. Much of it can only be learned through experience.

Now, when it comes to performing pull-ups, most of my members want to do well. They’re not as motivated about pull ups as they are about practicing their various lashings. So I decided to multi-task their mission and use their pioneering skills to build a suspension training system at our basecamp. It’s amazing how excited the participants get about their mission even though the end result is a “workout.” 🙂

The process for building a field expedient suspension training system is fairly simple. It requires very little material so you can build multiple stations, depending on the size of your group. It can also be used with minimal impact to the environment, which abides by the Leave No Trace principle.

These are the steps that I use in order to build a simple, field expedient suspension training system, for beginning to advanced pulling up movements:

Find Two Parallel Trees:

suspension training system

Generally, we have few issues finding two trees that are parallel to each other at basecamp. Ideally, they would be approximately 4-6’ apart from each other. Keep in mind that it’s always easier if the trees have a circumference that’s not too large. The wider the tree, the more rope that you will require.

Find A Cross Branch Or Tree Limb:

suspension training system

Find a branch that’s not rotted and would easily hold the heaviest person in your group’s body weight. Think about the two trees and one branch making a capital letter “H.” The two parallel trees are the left and right of the “H,” while the branch crosses the middle forming the letter “H.” Keep in mind that your cross branch will need to be a bit longer than the edge of your parallel trees. This will give you extra space for your ropework.

The cross branch needs to be placed at the height of the tallest persons’ head. This will ensure that everyone in your group can benefit from the suspension training system.

Lash The Left Side:

suspension training system

Depending on the size and weight of the cross branch being utilized, you may need two members on the project. One member is used just to stabilize the cross branch in place. Usually, one person holding while the other does the ropework is sufficient. If you are attempting this project solo, you can use another vertical piece of wood as a prop for the cross branch.

The person doing the ropework will need to to lash the cross branch to the left tree using square lashing. Once the lashing is done, you can wrap any extra rope around the cross branch. Cutting rope is something that we want to avoid unless it’s a must. Avoid cutting your rope by frapping the excess rope around the cross branch.

Lash The Right Side:

suspension training system

Perform the same sequence on the right side of the tree. This should be an easier task for whomever is assisting the person performing the lashing. Since the structure of the suspension training system is halfway done at this point, there’s much less weight that needs to be supported. Once the square lashing is finished on the right hand side, your base structure is done.

At this point, you have a great pull up bar that can be used for fitness or anything else that you can get use out of.

Making Your Grips:

suspension training system

In order to use your system for suspension training, you are going to need something to pull on. The contraption that you make will need to be adjusted depending on the exercise being performed. For this system, I am focussing on assisted pull-ups. So basically, we want to attach two hand holds to the cross branch. By utilizing them for support, the user can sit back at the waist and use the system to pull themselves up to a standing position.

suspension training system

In order to make these grips, we need to use some more of our rope. Once again, the length of rope will depend on the exercise and the user’s height. For a pull-up assisting setup, I use approximately three feet of rope for each grip. I tie a square knot which joins both ends of the rope. I then take the rope and place the center of it over the cross branch. This will form two bites, which gives a bit more surface room for gripping. Thicker rope is preferred so that you can get a good grip without the rope cutting into your hands. You can also use towels, clothing, gloves or anything else that will add padding and comfort to the exercise.

suspension training system

Performing The Exercise:

suspension training system

Now that the suspension system is complete, it’s time for physical training!

With this particular setup, I have our NTC Members perform various repetitions of the following movement:

  • Stand tall from top of your head to your tailbone
  • Place your hands in each handle and grip
  • Sit back at your hips, bending your knees
  • Extend your arms keeping your elbows tracking your ribs
  • Keep your shoulders rolled back and integrated into your body
  • Pull yourself back up to a tall position at approximately 45 degrees

You can perform multiple sets of 10 repetitions or any other protocol that you feel comfortable with.

Watch Coach Helder build a quick, easy, and cost effective suspension training system:

Bottom Line:

suspension training system

This is just one simple example of the use of a suspension training system. Really, there are countless exercises and applications for suspension training. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are amazing attributes that can be built utilizing suspension training. But just like most skills, when not performed correctly, injury can occur. Get a good coach and get your movement checked out before you begin a serious training regimen. This holds true whether you’re home, at the gym, or in the field.

Keep in mind that during a SHTF scenario, physical fitness will still be required. You and everyone in your group will want to maintain their health as well as their physical preparedness. Being able to build a suspension training system may be a viable choice for you, depending on your situation. Not only will you enhance your physical preparedness but you will also bring valuable pioneering skills into continual refinement.

What exercises have you done with your own homemade system? Leave a comment below and share!

Want to learn more do-it-yourself tricks? Check out this article on how to make a knife from an old wrench!

subscribe | knifemaking: how to make a knife from an old wrench

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Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness


When it comes to preparedness, there is a long list of gear and skills that need to be learned and implemented. The more skills that we become proficient in, the less gear that we need to hump around with us. Getting prepared can be overwhelming at times so a few things tend to slip by the wayside. However, one facet of preparedness that can not be substituted for is our physical preparedness. Unfortunately, in my opinion, it remains the most overlooked aspect of emergency preparedness. Personally, I use the kettlebell for optimal preparedness training.

Kettlebell As The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

I can completely understand the dilemma that most survivalists face when it comes to their physical fitness. Most think that they need to give up a couple of hours of their day to head to the gym and… that doesn’t even include the commute! With full time jobs, children, other responsibilities and even budget concerns… Who the hell really has time for PT? Let’s not forget the daily due-diligence of working on our other preparedness needs.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

But let’s get real for a minute here… We both realize that we may need to move out on foot when a crisis arises. After all, that is why we spend so much of our time putting tweaking our go-bags. We want to be prepared and have a great chance of surviving through any SHTF scenario. But if we do not have the physical ability to get to our destination… How can we possibly hope to accomplish our mission?

Even if the situation dictates that we hunker in or move out via our vehicles, our health will play a big role in our chances of boding well through the crisis. The more that our physical shape lacks, the more of a liability that we become to ourselves as well as our loved ones. The more physically fit that we are, the greater the amount of work that we can perform regardless of the situation. Our fitness readiness even has a direct correlation to our motivation level. If your body is not at it’s peak, your mind will also be misfiring when you need it the most.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

So you realize that your physical fitness level is not just a luxury… It’s a must in any emergency situation. But you still have time constraints from your busy life to deal with. It is nearly impossible for most to devote an hour to PT… Even a few times per week. I realize that you cannot fit any more hours into a single day, But…

What if there was a way to train smarter, not harder?

About a decade ago, I finally decided to get off my ass and get back into proper shape. I was one of those guilty of being a gear collector. Basically, I would forego anything that had to do with my physical fitness and just throw money at new, shiny gear as a form of compensation. As a former active-duty infantry Marine, I knew better… But after experiencing a serious injury in the Corps, let’s just say that I was a bit hesitant to reveal my physical limitations after being part of the elite.

One day I was searching the Internet and came across a couple of fellow disabled veterans that were performing impressive physical feats. It was a reality check because even as an active duty U.S. Marine in my 20’s, I couldn’t move the way that they were moving in these videos. The injuries that they had suffered were also much worse than mine.

At this point, I had no excuse but to delve further and figure out what their secret was. It wasn’t long before I came across this strange looking tool that they were using. It basically looked like a cannonball with a handle on it. This awkward looking tool was called a kettlebell.

As I delved further, I learned that the kettlebell was not only a great corrective exercise tool that can restore the body, but it also considerably shortened the time needed for an effective workout. There was plenty of science to back up these claims but watching these fellow vets move the way that they were… That’s what really sold me. I bought dvd’s, books, digital downloads and invested in a good kettlebell coach. In virtually no time, my body began to change.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

I Was Once Again Feeling Like One Of The Elite!

Unlike olympic free weights, the kettlebell has a displaced center of gravity. In order to properly move with the kettlebell, various muscle groups need to be utilized. Your core has to be continually activated while the kettlebell is in play. So even shorter workouts have better results than longer bouts of conventional training. The efficiency that this brings to our PT makes it ideal for those that focus on preparedness.

There are various ways and even styles of training when it comes to the kettlebell. There are countless protocols to plug into your workouts depending on what your goal is. Some utilize the kettlebell for strength training while others use it to maximize their “cardio & V02” levels. You basically have a whole gym worth of options, just by having access to 1 kettlebell.

One of my favorite and go-to exercises for conditioning is the kettlebell swing. When put into a proper protocol, it has helped my NTC Members lose weight, tone muscle and reach peak health levels. One of the more practical benefits of swinging a kettlebell is that is builds endurance. I have seen members go from falling out of a hike on mile 1, to completing 30 mile treks over a weekend! I personally have used the kettlebell swing as my main conditioning tool when training for marathons.

It saved me precious time, saved my feet and legs from extra countless miles… And enabled me to achieve my goal!

Hopefully you are starting to see why I feel that the kettlebell is the ultimate physical preparedness tool. It is basically catered to those focused on preparedness.

Another benefit is that training with a kettlebell requires very little space. You can find a small corner in any room or even bring your kettlebell outdoors which works perfectly with our lifestyles. There is no need to spend money on a expensive gym membership. Why be confined to a box and restrained by the hours that the gym is open?

Invest in a kettlebell of 2 and when it comes to your PT… You are set for life!

Just like any tool that I choose to add to my preparedness plan, I prefer that it has more than one purpose. Kettlebells come in various shapes, sizes and even construction. I have never met a kettlebell that I didn’t like but I am partial to the ones made of solid cast iron. Not only will they last a lifetime but also offer me diversified purposes when it comes to my emergency preparedness.

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I would like to go ahead and share my top 5 reasons that makes the kettlebell an ideal conditioning tool for the preparedness community.

Endurance & Strength:

I mentioned that time is a big factor when it comes to people forgoing their physical preparedness. When you implement proper protocols “workouts” with the kettlebell, you can work on your strength and endurance at the same time.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

This directly correlates to being able to move out of foot for great distances with heavy rucks. The kettlebell is not a replacement for getting your “legs” by hiking for distance. But you can cut down the time devoted to long hikes by adding kettlebell workouts into your PT.

Multi-Purpose Tool:

Since most of my kettlebells are 100% solid cast iron, I can use them to accomplish various tasks. We have already mentioned the PT aspect but you can also use it as an anchor, hammer, tie down, trap & snare tool, counterbalance, nutcracker, a weapon and whatever else your mind can conjure up in a SHTF situation.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

You Can Cook On it:

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

Yes, since some of our kettlebells are made of 100% solid cast iron with no coating, this makes the kettlebell a perfect platform to cook on in a pinch. If you like dutch oven cooking, or cooking on hot stones… then give the kettlebell a try.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

Durable & Portable:

The kettlebell will most likely outlast us due to it’s solid construction. You can drop it, throw it, burn it and even yell at it with very little damage being done. 😉 For someone preparedness-minded, knowing that your tool is always at the ready makes it a keeper!

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

Whether you are moving out via your vehicle or hunkering in… The kettlebell can remain a part of your plan since it takes up little space. You will have the ideal PT tool at your side ensuring that you maintain your health and fitness levels.

Develop Combatives Attributes:

My initial kettlebell teachers would always remind me that certain kettlebell exercises are the closest that we will ever get to a Combative situation without throwing a strike. Well, years later… I still agree with that statement.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

This idea rings true for survivalists because self-defense is a critical part of being prepared. I even named my kettlebell training method… Kettlebell Combatives.

The kettlebell can mimic movements that a training partner would deploy. The good thing about the kettlebell is that it becomes your ideal training partner.

  • It always wins… you can only hope to move with it, as opposed to defeating it.
  • It never gets sick; It always shows up for training.
  • It doesn’t lose motivation.
  • Doesn’t give you a false sense of security while training.

Bottom Line:

There are many great training methods that will get your physical preparedness where it needs to be. Your job is to find one, implement it and stick to it!

The kettlebell has worked wonders on my preparedness as well as countless members that I have personally coached. In 10 years I have seen people’s physical and even mental lives change… All because of the kettlebell.

Why The Kettlebell Is The Ultimate Tool For Physical Preparedness

Just like any skill, you need to remain safe when first learning the various exercises and drills. The kettlebell can be your best friend but it can also hurt you. Be smart and be sure to get proper instruction before attempting any form of PT, let alone kettlebell training.

If you are serious about taking your physical preparedness to the next level, take a very close look at kettlebell training… You too may consider it the ultimate conditioning tool.

Up Next: Bugout Bag Spring Cleaning | Revising Your Bug Out Bag Is A Must

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[Gear Review] Minimalist Footwear…an Ultralight Essential?


As a young United States Marine, training in combat and jungle boots wasn’t just routine, It was an order! When it came time for standard PT (Physical Training) we were able to slip on a more comfortable pair of go-fasters (standard running shoes) that had a padded heel and soles that incorporated shock-absorbing gel. With all of this new technology being implemented, why were so many of my fellow Marines experiencing knee issues that were taking them out of commission? …It wasn’t until many years later that I received the answer to that question: minimalist footwear.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit

Once I left active duty, my fitness level was certainly not a priority. I gained weight and spent most of my waking moments seated behind a computer screen. I became deconditioned due to the mental battle that I was experiencing as I tried to adjust back to civilian life. Things went on in this fashion for over a decade. One day, I woke up and stared at the mirror… A feeling of embarrassment overwhelmed me. I made a commitment to myself that from this point on, things were going to change.

I went out and got myself some new PT gear. Part of that gear was a high-speed, expensive, pair of running shoes. I started using a treadmill and lifting olympic weights. I began shedding some fat and was feeling pretty good about my decision. A couple months later, I was asked by my cousin to join him on the soccer field to practice with his team. I felt like I was up for the task and took him up on his offer.

Once I arrived at the arena, we started off with some warm-up drills. We began to pass the soccer ball around and on my first strike… I heard a loud POP in my right knee. I headed to the sideline in a bit of a daze, trying frantically to just- walk it off. My knee began to swell so I headed to the hospital. After some time and a battery of exams, the diagnosis was a full tear of my ACL and complete loss of my meniscus.

I was told by the various doctors that I needed surgery. Basically, they would take a ligament from a cadaver and place it in my right knee. I realized that this was a routine operation but something didn’t sit right with me. First off, I was no fan of having surgery… Secondly, there was the source of the ligament. My doctor’s all commented on my hesitation and warned me that without surgery, my active lifestyle would be non-existent.

But I knew that there had to be another way…

As I researched other options to surgery, I kept stumbling upon information on barefoot and minimalist footwear. Basically, people were “fixing” their knee and other issues by removing the technology from their footwear. This was counter-intuitive to what I had come to believe. However, I had been a lifelong martial artist and we were always barefoot in the dojo. I also reflected back on the knee issues that my fellow Marines were having while on active duty.

Things began to click…

What I came to learn from this experience was that we were allowing technology to do the work for us. By adding “high heels” and other technology to our footwear, we were masking the sensations from the activity that we were performing. Instead of strengthening our bodies with each workout, we were, in fact, becoming weaker. We are basically telling our running shoes to do the work while our muscles, tendons and ligaments take a back seat and rest.

I began training barefoot whenever possible and picked up a pair of minimalist shoes. These shoes resembled gloves for feet and certainly brought  a lot of attention while I was out in public. I had various friends tell me that I looked like a duck when I wore those shoes. My reply was that:

I will take function over fashion any day!

Once I made the switch to training in minimalist footwear, things began to change. There was certainly an adjustment period but I knew that I had very few choices if I wanted to avoid surgery. I began to feel stronger and had much more sensitivity throughout the activity that I was performing.  I was getting lots of feedback from my workouts that I had never gotten before. It was working wonders on my physical being but surprisingly, it was also increasing my awareness when I was out in the field.

I continued training in minimalist footwear and contrary to what the medical doctors had advised me… I completed the NYC Marathon in 2011 while wearing my duck shoes. 🙂

This experience changed a lot on how I address my training for emergency preparedness. In addition, there were some interesting by-products that I gained from incorporating minimalist footwear. I’d like to share a few of those insights with you now.

So let’s delve right into it…

Compact & Lightweight:

Since the footwear is designed to be minimalist, they are extremely convenient to stow away in your pack. You can easily roll them up in the palm of your hand. The fact that very little material goes into their construction makes them lightweight whether they are on your feet or stowed away in your kit.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

Keep in mind that the minimalist design does not mean that they are inferior in their construction. As a matter of fact, most of my minimalist shoes have outlasted other footwear that I own; even when the conventional shoes have gotten much less use.

Great For Water Activities:

Once again, less material means that they can dry much quicker than standard footwear. Whether you are wading through a pond, fishing from the shoreline or hiking through puddles… Minimalist shoes, on a whole, tend to perform much better than hiking boots in these instances. I wouldn’t exactly say that all minimalist shoes that I own are designed for water activities, but when compared to their non-minimalist counterparts, they tend to come out on top.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

Build Up Your Body:

Less material in your footwear allows your body to participate much more in the actual work being performed. Taking away the “high heels” that most running and trail shoes feature, enables your body to maintain proper alignment.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

In addition, your muscles, ligaments and tendons get more activation as you continue on with your task(s). Not only will this build your physical preparedness but also aids in keeping you injury and pain-free.


Wearing minimalist footwear allows your feet to move around freely. The lack of restriction brings a level of comfort that is not matched by standard footwear. Initially, the experience may actually feel like the opposite of what I am stating here. After all, we spent a lifetime wearing restrictive shoes so we need to take that into account. But if you take some time and implement minimalist shoes into your lifestyle, your natural movement will once again become prominent. You will experience a level of comfort that will bring you back to your childhood days.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?


Minimalist footwear allows you to feel the environment with each passing step. Twigs, rocks and other debris are easily felt as you continue on with your mission. Maintaining this awareness allows you to gauge the amount of pressure that you will place on these obstacles. This will directly correlate to the amount of disturbance and noise that you will cause as you interact with the trail. Traditional footwear allows you to barrel over obstacles, barely realizing that they are even there. This can easily give your position away whether you are stalking prey or just trying to remain under the radar.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

Long Lasting Soles:

Most of today’s minimalist shoes are designed with running and hiking in mind. A large number of manufacturers choose to use a sole made by Vibram. Vibram has been providing soles for the U.S. military for decades and are quite the trusted name. The soles of the boots that I wore in the Marine Corps were made by Vibram. Also, the duck shoes that I referenced earlier… Their soles are also made by Vibram.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

Other companies such as XERO Shoes offer a 5000 mile warranty on all of their footwear. That alone is a pretty good indication of the durability offered by minimalist shoes that are available in today’s market.

Let Your Feet Breathe:

Unlike most conventional shoes, minimalist footwear are designed to be worn with or without socks. This gives your feet the ability to breathe while you are performing work. I have the tendency to sweat and sweat a lot. Wearing conventional footwear usually results in me having to change my socks a few times while I’m on the trail. If I don’t, the annoying blisters and “hot spots” begin to form.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

Wearing minimalist shoes greatly reduces the sweating and need for frequent sock changes. This allows me to pack less gear and alleviates the need of carrying stinky, sweaty socks while I’m working on my current mission.

Shower Shoes:

In a recreational camping environment, there are usually shower facilities available to the public. However, they may not be the most sanitary place to clean up. Wearing shower shoes is recommended and some may say… A Must! Unfortunately, including shower shoes in your kit is either bypassed or just simply forgotten. But with most minimalist shoes, especially sandals, there is no need to pack additional gear.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

As we previously discussed, minimalist shoes tend to dry relatively fast. I shower with my minimalist shoes on which works for me two-fold. 1: I maintain a barrier between my feet and unwanted bacteria and 2: I also get to clean my shoes so that they are ready for the following day’s adventure. I can then place my shoes by the fire or other heat source and in no time, they are dry.

In Tune With Nature:

As I mentioned earlier, wearing minimalist footwear allows you to feel the environment around you. Each step provides valuable feedback to your nervous system about the terrain that you are operating in. This insight enables a much more positive experience with nature because you are paying attention. This will help to pull all of your senses together making your activity more enjoyable.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

Bottom Line:

Minimalist footwear is not for everyone. As I eluded to earlier, there is a bit of a break-in period that many do not have the patience for. Most of us have been wearing conventional shoes for the majority of our lives. We certainly cannot expect to snap our fingers and return to our natural movement overnight. Just like most things in life… If we try to force it, injury usually follows.

Is Minimalist Footwear Part Of Your Survival Kit?

If you are interested in giving minimalist footwear a try, Just remember… Baby-steps will always get you there the fastest.

What do you think of Coach Helder’s latest review of minimalist footwear? Let us know in the comment section below! 

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Survival Gardening Hacks To Achieve The Perfect Tomato Plant


In my opinion, no list of survival gardening hacks is complete without tomato tips! There are so many different ways to care for tomatoes – the all natural way. No chemicals required!

Survival Gardening Hacks| 6 Simple Tips To Top Tier Tomatoes

My article, 8 Baking Soda Uses For Your Survival Garden To Try, I listed a tomato plant hack using baking soda. Since that article’s publication, survival gardeners have been inquiring about additional gardening tips and hacks. The one plant that has been inquired about the most? You guessed it…the tomato plant! In this article, I will share with you additional and all natural hacks for your beautiful tomato plants. Let’s begin!

1. Plant Deep

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Due to the root system of a single tomato plant potentially becoming quite large, my suggestion is to give them plenty of space in between plants to allow for deep root systems to develop. To give you an idea of how deep their root systems can potentially be, the root system of a seed grown tomato plant can develop a taproot system of up to 5 feet deep! Starter plants can have root systems up to 3 feet deep and the roots are also more spread out than a taproot system. Planting deep and giving each tomato plant adequate space (from each other or from other plants) is key for a nice and healthy tomato plant. If you have limited space, please check out my previous article Container Gardening for Your Patio or Balcony for some great tips on how you can grow perfect tomatoes even in containers!

2. Cow Manure

Cow Manure | Survival Gardening Hacks To Achieve The Perfect Tomato Plant
image by Ian Barbour via flickr

Cow manure is magic to any garden! This hack is known to grow large tomatoes and has been used for years by farmers and gardeners alike. After you dig deep holes for your tomato plants, you cover the bottom of each hole with a layer of cow manure. Next, add about ¼ inch of sawdust on top of the cow manure, then add more soil on top of the sawdust. Finally, plant your tomato plant.

3. Epsom Salt

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Epsom salt is rich in magnesium and produces plentiful results for tomatoes, peppers, and other blooming plants. Add 1 teaspoon of epsom salt for every 1 gallon of water. Spray this mixture onto your tomato plants every 1-2 weeks. For this hack, I personally recommend spraying more towards the bottom of the stem and soil area and not directly on the leaves and the actual tomatoes.

4. Eggshells and Coffee

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This is what some gardeners call “direct composting” which means you will add composting materials directly to the plant instead of the composting bin. Coffee grounds will add nitrogen to the soil surrounding the tomato plant. Next time you have your morning coffee, save the coffee grounds. Sprinkle an adequate amount of cooled coffee grounds to the soil about once every 1-2 weeks. Eggshells give any plant a nice calcium boost.

Simply sprinkle a ⅛  – ¼ inch layer of crushed eggshells to the soil surrounding the plant. After the shells start to decompose into the soil, it is safe to repeat this process as often as you like. The combo of the coffee grounds and eggshells will give you a beautiful and healthy tomato plant! For more information on composting, check out my article Composting For Beginners | The Building Blocks To A Better Harvest.

5. Raw Cotton

Raw Cotton | Survival Gardening Hacks To Achieve The Perfect Tomato Plant
image by Erbs55 via pixabay

This is becoming quite popular with gardeners! The purpose of this technique is to hold the soil in place – a mulching technique of sorts. Gardeners swear by this and state that their tomato plants thrive! If you have access to a cotton gin or know someone with a cotton field, collect the cotton needed (after acquiring permission, of course) and simply place the cotton on the soil surrounding the plant.

6. Fish

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This an old Native American technique and is another great example of direct composting. Fish will provide calcium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and other vitamins and minerals for your tomato plants. Using this technique will make them flourish! Fish heads are most commonly used for this technique. After you dig the deep holes for each of your tomato plants you just simply drop the fish head in and cover with a good amount of soil. You then add your tomato plant.

Watch this vegetable gardening hacks by GrowVeg:

So there you have it! Simple yet effective survival gardening hacks for growing a perfect tomato plant. Since most are natural, you wouldn’t have to worry about chemicals getting into your tomato. Just remember to take care of your garden on a daily basis. You can even enjoy fresh tomato recipes from your harvest.

Do you have a tomato plant gardening hack you want to share with us? Let us know in the comment section below.

Here are some Survival Gardening Basic Hacks you might want to learn about!

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10 Survival Uses For A Contractor’s Trash Bag


About a month ago, I was received an email from Google. I subscribe to a few email alerts; one of the topics being Survival. I receive these emails daily and I always take the time to skim through them to see if I find anything of value. As I got to the third headline, something immediately caught my attention. It was a story written by a newspaper in New Hampshire about the survival uses of a trash bag. The title was:

Overdue hiker’s emergency preparedness praised (survives using a poncho & a contractor’s trash bag)

The part that obviously stood out was the fact that the survivor utilized a contractor’s trash bag to survive the harsh winter night. The article goes on to state that by adding extra dry clothing, a poncho, and a contractor’s trash bag… The hiker was able to survive the below freezing temperature. He was found the next morning hiking back to civilization.

This obviously got me thinking.

Survival Uses For A Contractor’s Trash Bag

I carry a lot of gear in my go bag. My equipment is quite diversified and can certainly save me in different climates. I have used trash bags in the past for various purposes while out in the field. What I didn’t give much thought to was making a contractor’s trash bag part of my standard gear. Would the space be better taken up by a more worthy piece of equipment?

As I deliberated in my mind, I thought about my current gear list. Even though the trash bag is light, inexpensive and compact, would it serve a purpose that my other gear could not? I began to compile a list of how I utilized the trash bag in the past. I then began to think of other uses, that would be well served by a quality trash bag. The more time that I spent thinking, the more the diversified applications began to flood my mind.

I then compared my list to the checklist of gear that I currently carry in my survival kit. I found that a few of my current items would perform the job better than the trash bag could. But once I was done with all the statistics, I realized that there were a significant number of really viable reasons to carry a contractor’s trash bag in my survival kit.

I want to share with you 10 reasons why I chose to add the contractor’s trash bags to my kit.

So Let’s Get Started…

Shelter/ Outer Garment:

The story about the hiker that survived the freezing night in White Mountain National Forest was convincing. It was enough proof to attest to the trash bags’ ability to protect against the stabbing wind. When a poncho and other dry clothes were added, it became a well insulated shelter.

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Keep in mind that this incident happened in very cold temperatures. In weather that is not so extreme, the trash bag has the ability to perform even better. The article does not go into the size of the hiker and how much of his body remained exposed to the elements. Luckily, he was well equipped with good gear and was skilled in the outdoors. Being prepared was a priority for him as it must to be for us, if we hope to bode well in survival situations.

Contractor's Trash Bag


I wasn’t the first person to wear a trash bag as a poncho and I certainly will not be the last. However, the one thing that my experience has taught me is that Not All Trash Bags Are Created Equal…

When I was a Scout leader, we always had a box of contractor bags staged in our trailer. Their main purpose was for trash but they also doubled for other uses that I am sharing with you in this article. Our patrol leaders would also have trash bags as part of their patrol kit. The difference was their bags were standard kitchen trash bags that weren’t comparable to the contractor’s bag’s construction.

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When a Scout would forget his poncho – there is always a couple – they would grab a trash bag from their patrol kit. Approximately 30 minutes later, there would be a rain-drenched Scout wrapped up in a white trash bag. Their patrol leader would then send them to one of the adult leaders in order to get one of our bags. It was always an embarrassing episode for the Scout, but I’m sure that they received a life-long lesson in return.

Ground Cloth:

The contractor’s trash bag makes an excellent ground cloth. The trash bag can be opened up, covering the area for 1-2 people. It can be used with a tent as well as with your sleeping bag or roll. The ground cloth can be used to protect your sleeping gear from rocks and sticks. It is also ideal as a moisture barrier to help stop your body heat from drawing up moisture from the ground.

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My body temperature seems to run high all the time. At times where I didn’t use a ground cloth, I would wake up with the bottom of my sleeping bag soaked. This would happen even in colder temperatures. I learned early in my Scouting career to carry a ground cloth as part of my sleeping gear.

Backup Carrying Equipment:

At times, even the most high-speed, expensive equipment fails. The failure could arise from a manufacturer’s defect or just nature being unforgiving in certain unexpected situations. When it comes to your backpack, we need to do what we can to keep it serviceable during our mission.

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After all, it contains all of our lifesaving gear. Without carrying equipment, you would be hard pressed to carry all the gear that it contains; in your pockets or even hands. Having a contractor’s trash bag gives you a quick-fix if your backpack becomes unserviceable. Granted, it won’t be the most efficient way to carry your gear… But it may be your only means to do so.

Rain Fly/ Sun Shade:

The contractor’s trash bag can easily be affixed as a fly to protect against rain. It also doubles for providing shade from the sun. It can be mounted as part of your shelter or just on it’s own with some guy lines. Once again, the trash bag can be cut and opened up, depending on the coverage needed, as well as your situation.

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Keep in mind this this application can be used for protecting your gear from the elements. Your sleeping setup can be good to go while your gear is still exposed to the weather. Using your trash bag as a layer of protection can go a long way in keeping your gear safe and dry.

Water Gathering:

The fact that a contractor’s bag is made of heavy-duty material, it can serve as a water container in a pinch. In a survival situation, you may come across a water source while on the move. You can purify some water and top off your canteens. If more water is needed, you can use the trash bag to gather a couple of gallons that you can bring with you to basecamp.

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You can use the water for cooking, drinking and even to do laundry. These contractor bags are not designed for these purposes so do not make this a common practice. The harsh chemicals from these bags can be diluted into your water. When consumed, it can wreak havoc on your nervous system with prolonged exposure. But in an emergency scenario… It can serve you quite well for your water gathering needs.

Bear Bag:

In a survival situation, you will have enough uncertainties to contend with. The animals, including bears, will be aware of you way before you become aware of them. Your food, deodorant and even toothpaste can be smelled by them from miles away. You want to do whatever you can to be proactive and reduce the chances of unwanted visitors.

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A bear bag can go a long way in curtailing animals and other critters from adding to your stress level. You can put all of your consumables and other items that have a sweet smell, in your bear bag. You can then hang that bear bag from a tree, at a distance from your campsite. This will not only protect your goods but it will also go a long way in keeping you a bit safer from the animals.

Floatation Device:

The contractor’s trash bag is, after all, an airtight bag. It can be filled with air to help you wade across a body of water with your gear. It can also aid you in a scenario where you have to tread water. In the United States Marines, we were taught to use our BDU pants as a floatation device. In a pinch, I feel that a contractor’s bag can perform the task more efficiently.

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If you need to spearfish during an emergency, the trash bag can make a good temporary float. It can let others in your group know where you are while spearfishing. You can also attach gear to the float, that can assist you on your fishing mission, while you are in the water.

Dry Bag/ Pack Liner:

Dry bags are a standard part of my survival kit. But even my biggest dry bag left a good deal of my equipment exposed due to it’s smaller size. The contractor’s trash bag is huge and can accommodate all of my gear… And then some!

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If I didn’t have access to a dry bag, the trash bag could protect my more critical gear. But if I need to move out during a downpour, I can line the interior of my pack with the trash bag. I can then place all of my gear inside the trash bag and seal it. This will keep all of the contents of my kit dry, ensuring its serviceability.

Bottom Line:

There are countless other applications for a contractor’s trash bag. Just like in most survival situations, we are only limited by our needs and imagination. As people focussed on emergency preparedness, we strive to find gear that can serve multiple purposes. When it comes to the trash bag, I certainly feel that it is right up there with duct tape when it comes to versatility in lifesaving situations.

I have since added a few contractor’s trash bags to all of my go bags. Hopefully by conveying some of its applications via this article, I have given you enough reasons for you to make them part of your survival kit.

Up Next: Bugout Bag Spring Cleaning | Revising Your Bug Out Bag Is A Must

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Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down


When it comes to emergency preparedness, every day is a new learning experience. At times, it feels like the more that I learn, the greater the realization of how much I truly don’t know. Educating myself in Survival Tech is an ever changing learning experience.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When SHTF

Luckily, there are vast resources that I can use to gain access to information that I am not well versed in. The Internet is packed with quality information from credible sources. When I am home, I have countless field manuals, textbooks and even video tutorials that I can utilize to gain answers to my questions. If I am able to bug in during a SHTF situation, I am good to go. The issue is that during an emergency scenario, I may have to leave all of that information behind in order to seek safety for me and my family.

In a crisis, having to move out of foot may be my only chance at survival. My go bag is staged with all sorts of gear that is catered to my needs as well as my training. I am very methodical when choosing the contents of my main go bag. Adding extra weight to my kit is not something that I take lightly. I never truly know how far I will need to move in order to get to safety. The length of time that I will be humping my go bag is also an unknown.

Realizing that I am ignorant in many subjects relating to preparedness (Dentistry, Plant ID, Advanced Wilderness First-Aid, etc.) I need access to this information in order to increase mine and my family’s chances of survival. I realize that I cannot physically carry the extra 100+ pounds of books, manuals and archived video tutorials… So I needed to find a viable solution.

In the past, I chose to add a tablet to my go bag. My tablet was packed with information that I was lacking. It also contained a lot of survival basics in case I was out of commission and my family needed access to that info. Keep in mind that I may be away from my family when SHTF – or the one in need of care. Having a tablet packed with easy to access survival information, seemed like a good solution for this dilemma.

As I continued to refine my emergency plan I realized that I was depending on one piece of proprietary gear, my tablet, for my informational needs. If something were to happen to my tablet, I would no longer have access to this crucial data. I realized that everyone in my family and preparedness group has a smart phone. If I were to replace my tablet with information that can be tapped into from any smartphone, I would greatly increase my chances of having access to my much needed information.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

There are a few other items that I carry with me to maintain access to my data. These supplemental items have additional purposes so it is easy for me to justify their inclusion in my go bag. I’d like to share a few of these ideas with you as well as the reasons why I feel that they are a necessity.

Let’s Get Started…

Backup Phone:

When I upgrade to a new smartphone, I tend to either trade in the old phone or donate it to a good cause. A couple of upgrades ago, I decided to keep my old phone to utilize as a backup device for accessing info while I was out in the field. I completely wiped the information that was clogging up the old phone which gave me nearly 25gb of free space. The older phone also accepts SD cards so it basically has it’s own built-in SD card reader.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

Not all emergency situations entail complete loss to the grid, including mobile and Internet service. In an emergency, I may need to use my primary smartphone for communication while using my backup phone to access the instructionals on my SD cards. Since my backup phone is small and lightweight, it makes the decision a no-brainer when choosing to add it to my go bag.

SD Card Reader For Smart Phones:

SD or SDHC card readers are readily available for phones. Luckily, they are also inexpensive so adding a few to your kit is a no brainer. They are available for both iPhones and Android devices. Some phones allow you to swap out the SD card saving you the need to add the additional card reader. But as I stated earlier… I do not want to rely on just one device when it comes to emergency preparedness.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

The benefit of the SD card reader is that it can be used on additional phones carried by other members of my group. If one phone fails, there is always another to fill the void. These card readers also have a USB connection so that you can access your data via any device that accepts USB.

SD/ SDHC Cards:

SD cards have been integrated into many devices over the past decade. My previous phones all contained SDHC cards. Once I upgraded to a new phone, I would keep the SD card to use in other devices. My GPS units and portable Ham radio devices also utilize SD cards. SD cards come in varied capacities and even speeds.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

What I began to do with these extra SD cards is to copy my field manuals, texts, PDF’s and even compressed video files onto these cards. I keep my SD cards labeled so that I know which subject matter each card contains. As examples, I have a card containing knowledge on First Aid and another that is for Field Medicine. Some cards contain various TOPO maps and Ham radio frequencies for areas that I may end up operating in.

By including various SD cards in my kit, I have a mini-library containing life saving information. A few of my cards even contain some of my favorite movies in order to help me and my family pass the time as well as to keep our morale up. Since the SD cards are incredibly lightweight and inexpensive, I am continually adding to my collection.

USB Cables:

I’m not sure about your experience but in my household, we go through USB cables like they’re free! 🙁 Someone is either stepping on them or one of my pets decides to take a bite, in case it tasted like chicken… Either way, my USB cables end up unserviceable. Luckily, when it comes to most Android devices, micro USB cables have become quite standard for many devices. Being able to find one in an emergency shouldn’t cause much of an issue.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

However, we do not want to be out and about looking for a USB cable when we are in the middle of a crisis. Including various USB cables for popular devices in your kit is certainly a good idea. Just like most of our gear, there are many choices when it comes to something as simple as a USB cable. I suggest spending the extra couple of dollars and get quality cables that feature good construction as well as fast transfer speeds.

Water & Crush Proof Container For SD Reader And SD Cards:

Having electronics out in the field is a bit different than having them staged in your home office. We need to think about weather damage as well as the rough treatment that our gear gets while we are on the move. I use a small container that is made to keep my components dry while simultaneously protecting them against drops and tumbles.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

The other great feature about these small containers is that they can be staged on the outside of my backpack. I can gain access to my SD cards and readers without having to dig through my kit, wasting valuable time. With these particular containers, I do not even need to take them off the external webbing on my ruck, to gain access to the contents.

Battery Power Banks:

While on the move, I may not be able to access power to charge up my phone. I spent all this time gathering information, converting it, copying it to my SD cards and now my phone runs out of juice when I need that info the most… Not a very well thought out plan.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

One of the ways that I combat this problem is by having a couple of battery banks that can charge my phones, and other USB devices, multiple times. These devices come in various capacities. The more power that they provide, the heavier and more expensive that they become. Your budget may not be an issue when it comes to these power banks, but the extra weight is always a concern. Choose wisely and get what works best for you.

Solar Charger Kit:

Having my devices with me out in the field is half the battle. The other consideration that I need to address is to keep my smartphone charged. I have a few different battery banks with me that may charge my smartphone 2-3 times but what about extended scenarios where the power grid goes down for a couple of weeks; possibly longer?

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

Solar chargers have grown in popularity over the past 2 years. Many new manufacturers have entered the market which has made a quality solar charger affordable. These chargers are designed for being on the move and are relatively lightweight for what you get. With my solar charger I can charge my smartphones as well as my power banks. They are also versatile enough to charge many of the USB devices that I require while I am on the move. Check out this solar battery charger, it’ll save a bunch of money by using FREE solar energy.

Small Dry Bag:

We both realize that electronics and water do not usually go well together. We may get caught in an unexpected downpour while on the move. Also, we may have to wade across a small body of water or just end up dropping our kit in a puddle. We need to make sure that all of our gear is protected against these situations. But when it comes to electronics, it is imperative that they remain dry.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

I carry a couple of dry bags in my kit. They are inexpensive, lightweight and multi-purpose. For my phones and cables, I have a small dry bag. This maintains the credibility of my phone but also aids in the organization of my gear. I know that when I need quick access to my phone and/or cables, I can reach in my pack and grab the small, red, dry bag and continue on with my mission.

Faraday Bag:

Many of us that are focused on preparedness, fear an EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) attack that can be brought on by a number of factors. If an EMP attack were to happen, most if not all of our electronic devices will be rendered useless. One way to help protect your electronics against the EMP attack, while on the move, is with a faraday bag.

Survival Tech: Accessing Crucial Information When The Grid Goes Down

I keep my backup phone off and placed inside of a Faraday bag. I then place that Faraday bag inside of my small dry bag. Nothing is 100% foolproof when it comes to the unknowns that an EMP or nuclear EMP may cast upon us. However, we need to prepare the best that we can. If adding an extra layer of protection helps the cause… Then I am in favor of incorporating it into my plan.

Bottom Line:

Getting the data that I required for this type of solution is certainly time consuming. Not only do I need to gather the digital information but I need to convert it to make it easily accessible for most devices. Keeping the file sizes down when it comes to video tutorials is also an easy but lengthy task.

Like most of the aspects that we focus on for emergency management… It’s never easy! But it makes up for it by providing me much needed confidence. I am well aware that I do not Know It All so adding this bit of digital insurance allows me to sleep a bit better at night.

My family as well as my preparedness group also maintain copies of this digital information. We are all versed on how to access theses files and are continually adding to our knowledge bank. Since most of what I discussed in this article is relatively inexpensive and lightweight, each member can have access to critical knowledge whether they are moving out with our group or on their own.

Just like with most aspects of life, knowledge is key. Prepare now so that you can to have that crucial information available for both you and your loved ones.

Up Next: 10 Must Have Items You Need When Hiking With Your Dog

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Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?


My first experience with a gas mask was on Parris Island, when I entered United States Marine Corps boot camp. We had gone through various classes on how to operate our gas masks and were properly fitted before we were issued our personal mask. We also received instruction on other issued gear in order to have better protection against various NBC (nuclear, biological, chemical) attacks.

-This post was originally published on Gun Carrier and has been shared with permission-

Do You Have A Gas Mask in Your Survival Kit?

Once we completed hours of instruction, as well as practice with our NBC gear, it was time to put our equipment to the test. I heard about the dreaded “gas chamber” well before I ever stepped off the bus that brought me to where U.S. Marines are made. None of us mentioned the gas chamber in detail, but we all held in that bit of fear from the tales that we were told about the infamous gas chamber.

We were taken to a location that looked like most of the other buildings on Parris Island. I remember lining up in formation with my gas mask, alongside my fellow recruits. One of my drill instructor’s began to brief us on what was expected, once we entered the gas chamber.

Nerves began to set in as I realized that… This Was It!

We were instructed to don our gas masks as we began to enter the building in a single file. At this point… We filled in the gaps as we faced the center of the room, with our backs against the wall. We could see clearly as the gas began to fill the room. Then, we were told by our instructors to begin performing side-straddle hops (jumping jacks.) As my heart rate began to climb, I was told to get on the ground and begin performing pushups.

Besides being nervous, I was able to breathe quite effectively and even wondered if the CS gas in this chamber was actually working correctly. I certainly didn’t have to wait much longer to find out how effective CS gas really was. The next command from my drill instructor was…

Remove your gas mask Now… MOVE!

As you can imagine, we were all quite reluctant to remove our masks… but let’s just say that we really didn’t have a choice. One by one we began removing our masks. It was probably the slowest movement that I had seen from my fellow recruits up to that point. I heard one recruit cough followed by a symphony of other coughs. Some recruits were doing their very best to hold in their breath, but it was just a matter of time until the exposure to the gas set in.

Our drill instructor was still wearing his mask when his next command was for us to begin singing The Marines’ Hymn. Some of us began to murmur the lyrics as our D.I., screamed, for us to Sound-Off or we would be repeating this process all over again. As we began belting out The Marines’ Hymn, at the top of our lungs… That’s when all HELL broke loose.

Some of us were coughing while others were vomiting. It felt as if there were streams of mucus coming from every orifice on my face. At this point, none of us could see due to the irritation the CS gas was causing our eyes. Everyone was having trouble breathing and the sounds of panic and pain drained out the further instruction from our D.I. We began pushing at the recruit in front of us, in shear panic, nudging them closer and closer to the exit.

Finally, the door to the gas chamber flung opened and we all came charging out. We were told not to rub our eyes with our hands but unfortunately… Some recruits did; Just out of mere anxiety. This made things worse because we were transferring the CS gas, that had landed on our hands, back onto our eyes. Some Marines were hunched over and gagging, while others were dousing their eyes with the water from their canteens.

I gained a lot of respect for the gas mask and it’s capabilities, within that training session. Once again, experience seems to have been the best teacher. I realized that if I were ever caught in a situation, where I needed to operate in an area where tear gas was being dispersed… Donning a gas mask, first, was a must!

There are a lot of falsehoods when it comes to gas masks. Learning the proper uses for the gas mask, as well as its limitations, is crucial if you plan on using your gas mask during an emergency. Your mask can easily become a liability and cause you serious harm if your understanding and experience with the mask is limited.

As I previously stated, there are countless options when it comes to choosing a gas mask. Prices range from inexpensive military surplus, to others that can cost you a small fortune. As always, there is never a one-size-fits-all. You need to find what works best for you and if adding a gas mask to your kit… Is even something that you should consider.

Everyone has an opinion on the subject. It is up to you to gather the information to make a proper decision for both you and your family.

Let’s get into a few considerations when adding a gas mask to your kit.

Fitting Your Gas Mask:

I have a gas mask as part of my survival kit. However… I currently have a beard. What that means to me is that if I don my mask while having a beard, there won’t be a proper seal formed between the mask and my face. This will render the mask useless during an emergency scenario. This is something that anyone with facial hair needs to be aware of. My current go-to mask is the MSA Millennium. MSA states that any beard, longer than ½ inch, is a no-go. Other manufacturers have even more stringent requirements.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

A mask needs to fit properly in order for it to be effective. Many of the SWAT police officers that I work with state that they have to get fitted (certified) twice per year when it comes to their gas masks. If this wasn’t such a great concern, I’m sure that allotted time and money would be invested in other, more pertinent, trainings.

Gas masks are generally useless when it comes to fitting well on children. I have come across various models that are designed for children but the more research that I did, the more that those claims became debunked.

What Will Your Gas Mask Protect Against?

Unfortunately, the protection offered by your gas mask is more limited than most are aware of. Depending on the filter that you use with your mask, not all types of attacks will be covered. Some filters only protect against tear gas while other, very expensive filters, can protect against nuclear, biological, radiological and chemical attacks. But you must keep in mind that even the expensive filters are only protecting your eyes and lungs. When nerve gas such as Sarin, leaches onto other parts of your body, you will still be exposed to it’s harmful effects.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

When it comes to biological concerns such as Anthrax, you can be exposed to it for days without even being aware of it’s presence. So unless you are donning your mask 24/7, you are still exposed to the threat.

There are plenty of reasons where I feel that my gas mask will serve me well. If you have followed the news in recent times and see how governments around the world are reacting to their citizens. Whether it’s a public demonstration or march, CS and other tear gas are utilized in order to control the public.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

Keeping that in mind, my gas mask will still allow me to operate effectively in those conditions. In addition, during a crisis others may try to get into my home in order to gain supplies. Attempting to clear my home by utilizing tear gas, which is easily gathered these days, may be a threat that my gas mask will protect me against.

Staying Hydrated:

You may not think much about hydration while donning a gas mask. But if you have spent extended time, wearing a gas mask, you will quickly realize that this is a concern. Not only does the labored breathing contribute to dehydration but it also causes me to sweat. If you are performing work while wearing your mask… Having access to water is something that has to be factored into your plan.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

Luckily, many of the quality masks available in today’s market come with a hydration hose. The hose is designed to be affixed to a canteen or other water container. The water containers need to be designed for this specific purpose but even my old, military issued canteens, can fill this niche. I can fasten the hose on my mask, to my water container, and drink through a water spout contained inside my mask. It is similar to the process used when drinking out of a hose from a hydration reservoir.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

Effective Communications:

Another facet of wearing a gas mask, that is often overlooked, is the ability to communicate effectively. If you have heard someone speak through a typical gas mask, it is a cross between listening to someone talk underwater and Darth Vader giving a speech.

In an emergency, there will be plenty of noise that will prevent your communication from being effectively understood. Add in the labored breathing caused from doing work as well as struggling to get air through your filter… And verbal communication may be impossible.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

Luckily, there are voice amplifiers that can be easily affixed to your gas mask. The downside is that these amplifiers cost as much, if not more than, the actual gas mask. Working with your team on hand signals as well as other body-language communications is something that needs to be addressed sooner than later.

Where To Stage Your Gas Mask:

As with any other piece of survival gear, if you do not have immediate access to your mask during an emergency, it is basically useless. Where we stage our gas masks is half the battle if we hope to bode well during the crisis. Many suggest that having multiple gas masks staged with your go bags is ideal. I would certainly agree with that if you have an endless budget.

Today’s quality gas masks are expensive. When we add in filters, amplifiers and other components, we can easily exceed our budget. If we need to replicate the process with additional masks… Well that may not be an option for most of us. You can also get a great deal on military surplus masks but please keep in mind that you will get what you pay for.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

I keep my gas mask attached to the molle webbing on my main go bag. If an emergency were to occur, I can easily gain access to my mask. If I have ample warning, I will keep my gas mask fastened to my leg, where it will be, At The Ready.

Practice Often With Your Mask:

There is a small percentage of people that will feel claustrophobic when donning a gas mask. The one way to best see how you will react when wearing a gas mask is to practice various emergency scenarios while wearing a gas mask. Just sitting on your couch and watching tv with your gas mask on will tell you a lot about your comfort level with your mask. Taking it up a notch by performing real work while donning your mask, will give you a better grasp on how you will operate during an emergency.

Should You Add a Gas Mask to Your Survival Kit?

Every task will become that much more difficult while wearing a gas mask. You need to train with your firearms as well as any other self defense tools that you plan on using in an emergency situation. If you wait until the actual crisis to experiment with your gas mask, or any other piece of survival gear for that matter… you are not only putting yourself at risk but also deterring from your family’s chances of surviving when SHTF.

Bottom Line:

The gas mask is a piece of gear that I feel will add to my chances of performing well during an emergency. It is not the answer for every type of NBCR attack that we have the potential of facing. But as the guy that my friends and family will look to for help during a crisis, I will take any advantage that I can possibly get. If it is an extra hour or even just an extra minute… The added benefit of having a quality gas mask is well worth the price and effort, at least for my needs.

Will you add a gas mask to your survival kit? Let us know in the comment section below.

Up Next: How To Skin A Deer Correctly

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Turkey Hunting Strategy For The Warm Weather Hunter


I have been looking forward to writing this article about turkey hunting for quite some time.  Growing up in the foothills of the Pocono Mountains in Pennsylvania and in the Ozark Mountain in Missouri, deer hunting is a bit of a given.  Once I got to be about 12, it was expected that me, my friends, and every man in the area climb a tree to hunt for deer.  However, turkey hunting is quite different.

Turkey Hunting Strategy In The Spring

A much smaller percentage of hunters go after turkeys each year, and the success rate seems to be much lower.  You also will not come home with nearly as much meat killing a turkey verses a deer.  However, there are a few major benefits to turkey hunting.  One is that hunting in April is much more pleasant than hunting in November.  While I feel that bagging a deer is a reward for enduring such horrid weather, I feel like the weather itself is the reward during turkey season.  Even if I do not get a bird, I still feel like I came out on top.

Spring Gobblers | Turkey Hunting For The Warm Weather Hunter

Another advantage of my style of turkey hunting is that it is mobile.  I am a very active person and have a hard time sitting in one spot for long periods of time.  With turkey hunting, I get the chance to set up in one spot and then pack up and move to another area if I feel there is a better opportunity.

The really magical part of turkey hunting is the sensory aspect of the process.  Imagine that the sun is rising over a ridge and you can smell the forest coming alive.  In the distance you hear a turkey gobble, and it instantly gets your heart pumping.  You call back to the bird, and it responds.  Now you know it is headed your way.  The bird silently pops over a hill and approaches your decoy.  He puffs out his chest and fans out his tail feathers making him double in size.  It is a very exciting experience.


Spring turkey hunting is much more strategic than most hunting.  Here are some tips that can help you be more successful:

  • Start by scouting your area before the season opens.  Go out at dusk with a crow or owl call and try to get a turkey to respond.  Listen for turkeys flying up to their roost tree.  They have huge wings and will make plenty of noise.  If you can find a roost tree, plan to set up around 100 yards from that tree on opening morning.  You do not want to be directly under the tree, but you want to have them close by when they fly down in the morning.
  • Be ready with your turkey call.  This is the unique part of turkey hunting.  With a good call, turkeys will respond and tell you where they are located.  They will also come to your location if the circumstances are right. If you have the time to perfect a mouth call, it will keep your hands free.  If you do not, then a box call or a slate call are fine.  When you call and get a response, wait a good 15 minutes before you call again. You want to leave the bird curious.  If you keep calling you make the gobbler think that you are coming to them.

Spring Gobblers | Turkey Hunting For The Warm Weather Hunter

  • Always try to set up your spot uphill from the bird.  Turkeys are fine coming up a steep ridge to find a hen, but they do not like to move downhill for some reason.
  • Stay completely still.  Turkeys have incredible eyesight.  In addition, their eyes are on the sides of their head so they can see in almost every direction.  When you see a bird, do not move under any circumstances.  Also, make sure you have good camouflage covering every inch of your body.
  • If you have been sitting in one spot for a while and are getting no action, do not be afraid to pack up and move.  I normally give it about 90 minutes of daylight before I get ready to move.  Also, if I hear a bird but I think it is a bit too far to call it in I will quietly move closer.
  • Another way to entice a bird in is to give it the impression you are mobile.  Turkeys have excellent hearing and can tell if you are calling from the same spot.  If you call in one spot and then call from 20 yards away from that spot, you sound more realistic to the gobbler.
  • If you see hens only, do not be discouraged.  Often the females will help call in the males as females tend to group up.

I am greatly looking forward to turkey season this year, despite the fact that I do not always come home with a bird.  I love turkey hunting so much that I bought my father and I matching turkey guns for his retirement present.  This type of hunting is not about meat.  While I love the taste of a roasted wild turkey, the experience is second to none.  So get out your lightweight camo, polish your 12 gauge, and go bag that bird!

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