Tag Archives: SHTF

SHTF School Blog Entry

by Woodsbum

Although I spend a lot of time reading about woodsman related subjects, I do include a lot of the SHTF and prepper sources. Some of these sources actually touch upon more than just the “survival” aspect of woodsmanship. Many really push old school skills and natural remedies. The amount of knowledge that these corporate “survivalists” push out there is truly amazing and can be adapted to many different situations.

This article that I ran across really struck me as more than just a doomsday rant. It showed the parallels between the USA and what took place in the Balkans. For those of you who do not do much research beyond new restaurants and what new shows are coming on the TV, this might be a surprise. The Balkans had a very nasty war take place back in the 1990’s. I actually know a few people that lived through this horror and 1 that was lucky enough to get out right before it got bad. This guy Selco, from SHTF School, actually lived through the nastiness and became a “survival expert” due to his experiences. The blog/site is worth a read just to let you know how bad things can get when the infrastructure breaks.

In this article, Selco talks about how the polarization of once unified people really was one of the many indicators of the upcoming violence. He draws some pretty interesting lines between what took place there and what is taking place here in the States. No matter what political leanings you have, this article is really worth a look.

Selco also talks about how the removal of what are commonly considered a right that cannot be taken away, can and will be removed from the general population. Here in the USA we believe that the rights in the Bill of Rights are set in stone. Selco says that the same type rights that they thought were set in stone were taken away by the government in a single day. Since the US has been living a certain lifestyle for so long, he believes that any fall in the US will be very devastating. His perspective is quite the departure from what the US media is pushing down our throats.

It doesn’t matter if you are a prepper, conspiracty theorist, lifelong liberal Democrat or anarchist. Your “label” doesn’t really matter. It would behove you to take the time to read this article just so you can see how an entire nation’s world changed almost overnight and their media sources were covering it up.

Sound familiar?

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Sheriff Says to Fight Back

by Woodsbum

For those that don’t watch the news, there have been some really nasty things going on as of late. Terrorist islamic asshats have been killing people on American soil more and more now. There was a piece of shit that walked into a bar frequented by homosexuals and opened fire. He killed 49 and wounded 53. Now our own government is playing down the islamic connection between this jackass during his 911 call where he claimed responsibility.

Can you believe we are now living in a country where the Department of Justice and the White House downplay terrorist actions to make it easier to shift blame?

Here is an interesting video from a Sheriff where he basically tells people that it is time to start fighting back instead of constantly being victims.

I try really hard to be as unbiased as possible when I post things, unlike the media and White House. We are getting to the point in our country’s history where the tipping point between government control is going to overthrow citizen’s rights. There has got to be an end to this progressive, oppressive agenda. I just want to be left alone to spend time with my family, do things outdoors and live my life in a quiet and LEFT THE HELL ALONE manner.

Hopefully, something will shift the power away from these greedy bastards in office and allow Americans to no longer be slaves to politicians’ personal agendas.

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EMP and HAM Radios

by Woodsbum

This forum post was sent to me the other day. It covers the science behind EMP and Ham radios. The way that it is presented and all the science behind it are actually quite well presented.

This link is from a post on AR15.com.


So a whole lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth has occurred lately over in prepper land about EMP. I attribute this mainly due to survivalist authors looking for some easy national/global catastrophe scenario to hook into without really having much if any understanding of it. I won’t criticize specific books as some are more accurate than others, but the net result is there is a TON of disinformation out there on EMP IMO.

I am not an expert, but I am literate and do have a few letters after my name and I am an amateur radio operator with a basic understanding of physics and electronics. There are likely people on this very forum that know a shitload more about this than I do, but since no one has stepped forward to do this I’ll take a stab at it, and if those knowledgeable individuals want to correct anything I post along the way please do so. My main source of information is the following document prepared at ORNL which I will reference, since they are the experts, not me.

Big long detailed report by actual experts

So to start with:

We are talking about a very specific phenomenon known as E1 HEMP which is generated in the first few nano-seconds of a nuclear blast. This will generate a large electromagnetic field over a wide frequency range, but the worst from about 1mhz or less to about 1ghz where it really starts to drop off (Page 2-7). It is also very similar to a what happens during a lightning strike (which is actually more powerful) so a lot of measures that help with lightning strikes can also help with E1 HEMP.

One thing to clear up E1 HEMP is mostly yield independent. You don’t need a huge nuclear device to generate it, the examples in the book are 500kt (2-11).

What determines the coverage of an EMP is its height above ground, obviously the higher it is the more it affects. However the higher it is the weaker it is. The “optimal” height above ground is typically less than 100km, in their example 75km is optimal. Total coverage at that height is about 800-1000km (2-14). So it’s a fairly large are, but not the whole US by any stretch of the imagination. Also, what isn’t covered by any of the models used in the study are local terrain effects, like shadowing or reflection. These will be important locally however. So if you are in a valley and “can’t” see the nuke at 75km high, you will have some protection.

The next thing to get an idea of is how “strong” the E1 HEMP is. As with any sort of electromagnetic phenomenon it follows the inverse square law. So that means it gets weaker the further you are away from it very quickly. For comparison they use an EM field generated by a FM radio station for comparison. At 1 mile from 10KW transmitter, the peak field is .68V/m, a peak field at ground zero (directly below the nuke) will be 50,000 kV/m (its a lot), however since this falls off very rapidly with distance, average exposure will be 6.21 Kv/m (still a lot, but its not 50,000 Kv). The example states that a 10cm conductor at ground zero (50,000kV) will have an induced current of 5kV. So using the 6.21 kV average field that same conductor will have an induced charge of 621 Volts (2-35).
You can see this effect on their charts 2-29. If you have the nuke over Omaha, it F’s up Omaha, but the effects near Chicago, Denver, or Dallas are fairly minimal only .5% of the energy in the 10-100mhz range makes it out that far.

I mentioned frequencies earlier and that is both significant and important. The highest energy range is 1-10mhz. So as HAMS you should understand that means it covers the 160-30m bands the most and then drops off as it approaches UHF frequencies. It’s the wavelength that’s the concern. So most of the energy in the E1 HEMP will want to couple to things of a similar wavelength just like a radio antenna. So its typically things like cabling attached to devices (antennas, power cables etc.) that is the major concern (2-35) So unplugging your radio from the antenna is a very good idea if you are worried about this (2-38). If the device is powered chances of damage are higher (2-36), there are also other post nuclear blast effects, TREE effects (radiation) that can also damage electronics but these aren’t E1 HEMP.
When it comes to shielding against EMP, there are a lot of things discussed, but how E1 HEMP couples to things is very important and more importantly difficult to predict (2-37).

So things that EMP will couple very well to are going to be metallic things that are 30 meters long (10mhz) and longer. So power lines, telephone lines, railroad tracks and the like. Most of the report is focused on what exactly is going to happen to the electrical grid and telecommunications, because that’s where the largest vulnerability is (2-45). And ironically enough high voltage power lines aren’t actually super problematic since they are designed to withstand lightning strikes, and EMP coupling doesn’t really scale past 1km or so.

Peak current on a power line.

Peak currents on a 5M long vertical antenna (below)

EMP and HAMs
What about the stuff you as HAM care about, a radio for example… First of all many devices, and especially radios are shielded against EMI already (2-44), which isn’t exactly the same as E1 HEMP, but it can help, there are often RF shielded modules in most radios. As I mentioned earlier, the best thing to do is not have the radio connected to the antenna when not in use, and I would argue have the antenna feedline grounded. In fact there is a huge amount of similarity between E1 HEMP and lightning strikes, so all that stuff the AARL tells you to do when constructing a shack is pretty useful when it comes to E1 HEMP.
There is a lot written about faraday cages Wiki, but I think this must be placed in the context of the frequency range you are talking about (look, they have big ass holes sometimes). The principle of waveguide cutoffs is a good one to consider (2-42), your faraday cage, and lets use the example of a metal trashcan, is probably a good and cheap EMP defense, first off its much smaller than 30m, so that big pulse isn’t going to couple to it too well, but some of the energy will be at the 1m wavelength, but that’s pretty far down the slope of the energy curve so there will be some coupling. Well what about holes or small gaps in the trashcan, yes it helps not to have them, but looking at the frequencies that will get through a 1mm gap is a 300GHZ, well above the energy generated by E1 HEMP which mostly drops to zero by 1GHZ or 300mm or about 11 inches. Also the trashcan is made of relatively (thick) metal which it needs to not be permeable i.e. skin depth (2-40) and why I would seriously doubt that ESD bags marketed for the purpose would actually be effective (no skin depth).

Finally there is a “myths” section in the very last appendix that will likely be helpful.
Cars dying: small fraction is possible (turns out your car will act as faraday cage if its made of metal) and cars are EMI shielded
Wristwatch dying: Too small to be affected by E1 HEMP.
Electronic devices that are turned off will likely fare better (true)
Conductors. Shorter is better since it will couple less with the EMP.

So, is EMP a viable existential threat? And the answer I think, is that its really hard to say. I think the idea of a 1 bomb EMP taking out the US is pretty non-sensical. However a 1 bomb scenario could still do significant damage to localized areas i.e. a large metro area, or for example the northeast united states. And as is mentioned in the report, EMP is largely yield independent, so even a fairly reasonable 500kt weapon could do a lot of damage. A bomb detonated above say NYC would likely take out Boston, NJ, DC etc. and the associated infrastructure. That being said, a coordinated strike involving several warheads detonated roughly around the same time could in fact take out most of the US power grid. As mentioned in the report the primary vulnerability is the power grid and telecom systems, since of course antennas will be connected to radios when the bombs go off. Smaller electronic devices are primarily vulnerable if they are plugged in at the time since the power cords can couple to the EMP and produce high voltage. Protection against EMP is a faraday cage, and probably the cheapest and best option IMO would be the famous metal trashcan example. Alternately if you need something smaller an Ammo Can would probably work just as well.


This guy really does do a great job explaining how EMPs will affect electronics and HAM radios. It actually makes me do some thinking about how I should plan for possible EMPs for such equipment as my motorcycles and my truck. Since EMPs are not just isolated to high altitude nuke blasts, preparing for such phenomenon is probably not the worst idea. Considering how bad my luck is I should be planning for a lightening strike that melts the ECM in my old Dodge. I could probably get enough parts from the junk yard to cover me for less than $200.

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Overcoming Normalcy Bias

by Woodsbum

Gunguy sent me this article the day it came out. I am still having issues with how I feel about it. There are some really good points, but there are definitely spots that I am completely uncomfortable with and feel like the guy missed his own point.

Take a look and reach your own conclusions: Is this guy full of himself or do you have a new mantra?

Here is the article and the link:


TEOTWAWKI is NOW! Overcoming Normalcy Bias: Critical Thinking for Survival

August 10, 2015

One of the most important skills for survival that must be mastered, or at least practiced at a journeyman level, by the prepared individual, family, and tribe, is critical thinking. Of all the practical, tactical training and preparedness you can can do, the single most important, most often overlooked, is basic critical thinking skills. As I write, travel and teach, and interact with contemporary people, I regularly witness the lack of this in the broad majority of people. I’ve even been known to suffer from it myself.

People, even in the “firearms,” “tactical training,” “preparedness,” and “militia” communities, suffer from a pronounced lack of critical thinking skills, all too often.

An example of this can be seen in the recent frenzy within the preparedness and liberty-minded communities, over the Jade Helm 2015 UW exercise. For months prior to the beginning of the exercise, we saw unfounded, unsourced reports by sensationalist outlets in the preparedness and militia communities repeated across the preparedness “media” and social media as “fact.” Here we are, a full month into the exercise, nearing the stated end of the exercise, and most of the original source reporters have either stopped talking about it completely, or have taken a 180 degree course shift from their original stance, of “it’s an imposition of martial law,” to “well, it’s still an attempt to normalize seeing military personnel operating on US soil!”

This is despite the fact that COUNTLESS recent Special Forces veterans within our own virtual communities (yes, myself included), have spent an inordinate amount of bandwidth trying to explain to people the concept of a “theater-level” exercise, and pointing out the recent historical precedents for this exact type of exercise.

It’s funner, and far more entertaining however, to imagine resisting against martial law, in some form of masturbatory Red Dawn scenario, than to use critical thinking to recognize, “Hey, maybe we SHOULD at least listen to what the guys with actual experience in THIS EXACT TYPE OF TRAINING EXERCISE have to say, before we jump to conclusions. You know what happened as a result of the hyper-paranoia induced within the preparedness and militia communities by these Harbingers of Doom? The virtual community lost even more credence with the average Joe and Jane Citizen, who saw the community represented as a bunch of farcical, paranoid lunatics. Seriously.

That was a lack of critical thinking. It’s easier to blindly repost scary memes on Facebook though.

A similar example can be seen in the oversimplification of “use-of-force” scenarios among the preparedness and survivalists. Too often, discussions of use-of-force end up being artificially simplified to, “I’ve got mah .45! Ah’ll jest shoot that there sumbitch in the eye!” Or, “I’m going to use my gutterfighting, dirty tricks to gouge his eye out and skull-fuck him to death!” While those may work as standard responses to dangerous encounters in a TEOTWAWKI “Zombie Apocalypse,” the simple reality of life is, we’re not dealing with a Zombie Fucking Apocalypse. We’re dealing with an entirely different TEOTWAWKI situation. In the real TEOTWAWKI life we’re living, right now, today, those responses as standardized responses, will only end up in one result: getting buggered in the ass by your cellmate. Oversimplification of any scenario is, in itself, a failure of critical thinking, in recognizing that the world is NOT black-and-white, and there are always shades of gray involved. Maybe not fifty shades, but damned sure more than two.

The above example of the REAL TEOTWAWKI leads directly into the one failure of critical thinking that is currently, and will continue to be, the leading killer of otherwise solid, prepared individuals. This ranges from armed citizens, to soldiers, to armed police officers on the street. That is “normalcy bias.”

What is “normalcy bias?”

Wikipedia, that paragon of journalistic objectivism, defines normalcy bias as “a mental state people enter when facing a disaster. It causes people to undestimate both the possibility of a disaster and its possible effects….The assumption that is made in the case of the normalcy bias is that since a disaster never has occurred then it never will occur….People with normalcy bias have difficulties reacting to something they have not experienced before…”

That’s actually—surprisingly for Wikipedia—a pretty accurate description. So, how do armed citizens, who have actually, apparently overcome their normalcy bias at least enough to recognize that something bad enough to warrant needing a gun MIGHT occur, suffer from normalcy bias? How do soldiers and police officers suffer from normalcy bias? How can I say that preppers, who obviously recognize the potential for a disaster to occur—that’s why their preppers, for fuck’s sake—suffer from normalcy bias?

Well, let’s back up for a few minutes first, and look at WHY normalcy bias occurs.

The Why and How Behind Normalcy Bias
Humans as a rule, in any given scenario or situation, generally “see” exactly what we expect to see. An example of this regularly occurs in the shoot house during the decision-making drills when I teach CQB. As the shooter moves around the angles of the door, he “pies” quickly, to see as much of the interior as possible, before actually effecting entry. Many times, they’ll “see” a role-player inside “pointing a gun” at them, because they do, in fact, see the role-player’s hands up and to the front, and they do, in fact, see a gun. What they don’t recognize, because it’s not what they expect to see, is that the gun is actually laying on the ground at the role-player’s feet, and the outstretched hands are palms-out, in a placating or pleading gesture. For the first several iterations, almost invariably (certainly in more than 90% of cases) the shooter engages the role-player with simulated gunfire, because they “saw” a “gun pointed at them,” because that’s what they expected to see, and that was processed faster than their brain could piece together what was actually seen.

The same thing often happens in what later turn out to be apparently unjustified shootings by both armed citizens and sworn police officers. In dealing with an aggressive, combative subject, something appears in the hands, and the good guy, conditioned by sub-par training, to “expect” a combative subject to have a weapon, engages with lethal force, only to discover after the fact, it was a cellphone or some other innocuous implement that was not really a weapon at all (it’s important to note, I’m not criticizing the individual in this case, but their training. There’s no point in criticizing someone for following their human nature).

Besides seeing what we expect to see, the second why behind normalcy bias is the human tendency to ignore and/or deny those things that make us uncomfortable. Someone who is uncomfortable with physical violence may be in denial, even as they find themselves on the pavement, getting a boot stomp party across their forehead. This happens with police officers and armed citizens with a frightening frequency, and there is ample surveillance and dash camera footage to validate it. Even a half-hearted search of YouTube, coupled with some minor objectivism when watching the videos, makes this abundantly obvious.

Finally, if something cannot be “ignored” or “denied,” we dismiss it as unrealistic. I witnessed one major example of this on my buddy Greg Ellifritz’s Active Response Training Facebook page recently, when he posted a link to an article discussing the relationship, or lack thereof, between what “gun guys” wear in tactical shooting classes, and what is actually needed for personal protection, based off the recorded use-of-force experiences of armed citizens and police officers. The argument was made that, since the chances of a private citizen getting involved in a shooting that involved them using their rifle was slim to none, that training with a full load-out, and practicing things like speed reloads and related esoteria, was largely unnecessary and irrelevant.

There’s a lot of apparent value to that argument. While I do drive around with a loaded M4 on the backseat floorboard of my vehicle, and carry a Glock 17 or 19 concealed on my person religiously, I don’t drive around with a plate carrier and warbelt or RACK on. If we look at regular use-of-force incidents by armed citizens in public, and at home, most are successfully ended with far less than one magazine out of a Glock, let alone out of a rifle. One commenter noted that if an armed citizen fired an entire magazine out of an AR15, in a defensive shooting scenario, he or she would be the lead story on the national news. If they used TWO magazines, they’d probably go in the history books.

The problem is, THAT is normalcy bias, and it leads us directly into the crux of this article: We don’t live in what most of us recognize as “normal” times anymore. I would argue that we are, in fact, in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, and most people, including “preppers” are in a normalcy bias-driven denial of that reality.

For most of us, of a, shall I say, “certain age,” normal is defined as the America we recognize from our youth and young adulthood. That America is gone, as most of us recognize. The denial in question isn’t that. The denial is expecting that “normal” as we define it is going to return.

The core of this article clicked with me several nights ago, as my wife and I watched the Republican presidential candidate debates on television. No one of the candidates was arguing for a return, or even a conservation, of “normal” America. From Donald Trump acknowledging that he had—and would continue—to buy politicians, and that it was “no big deal,” because “everybody does it,” to Chris Christie arguing that there was nothing wrong with shredding the Constitution, in the pursuit of “security,” to Ben Carson arguing that taxes are a moral equivalent of tithing, there was really none of the candidates—with the arguable exception of Rand Paul, who made any argument that even hinted at a desire to return America to “normal.”

We face constant, and increasing foreign invasion across the southern border. We face increasing socialization of our society and government, and beyond calls for electing a “Republican” to roll back the socialist policies of the Obama administration, including his “unconstitutional executive orders” (no mention was made of those of his predecessor, I noted), no one really expects any changes to that either. We see calls from Mohammedan subcultures within our country to be allowed to deal with things under Sharia Law. Rather than laugh at the absurdity of it, too often, we give it credence by even taking it seriously.

Sure, they’re serious, but the only sane response to that is a resounding, “Go fuck yourself, or go home and fuck a goat,” by the political leadership of any community that finds itself confronted with such pleas. Even giving them the appearance of legitimate consideration is admission that “normal” is no longer “normal,” and is admission that it really us TEOTWAWKI.

Normalcy bias, in this instance, is the belief that TEOTWAWKI will be heralded by some obvious, major catalyst, like an EMP or the declaration of martial law by the government. Ignoring the absolute, absurd impossibility of effective martial law in the United States, as a whole, think about the actual definition of TEOTWAWKI. It’s HERE, NOW, and denying it is normalcy bias.

Yes, use of force by armed citizens are generally solved by 2-3 rounds in 2-3 seconds at 2-3 yards. Accepting that, and determining that, because this is “normal,” then that’s all you need to prepare for, even as we argue and discuss the infiltration of jihadi terrorists, and WITNESS the radicalization of home-grown jihadi sympathizers, is a textbook example of normalcy bias.

Stockpiling beans, bullets, and band-aids, in the interest of being prepared for TEOTWAWKI, without recognition that you are in the midst of TEOTWAWKI, is normalcy bias.

Overcoming The Bias
We see media pundits every day, telling us we have to move past our biases, and accept all people as the same. While that’s absurd, on the face of it, there are biases we do need to overcome, if we’re to survive long enough to ensure that our children and grandchildren will survive. How do we do so?

1) Accept that “normal” is no longer “normal.” This requires more than simply telling yourself. It requires internalizing it as reality and truth. It’s great for patriotic, conservative, Americans to long for yesteryear, and the greatness of the Pax Americana. It’s also completely fucking delusional. America is only a superpower now, among nation-state actors. The transnational terrorist groups do not recognize American sovereignty and superiority. If they did, they would never have started fighting, or would have yielded by now. A wall along the Mexican border is great…except we already know there are more tunnels than an goddamned ant farm, traversing the border. So, sure, let’s drop several billion dollars building a wall that won’t be any more useful than the locks on your car door are (remember, as my grandfather told me when I was a kid, “car locks only keep honest people honest.”). Illegal aliens are going to continue crossing the border, and there’s not a damned thing you can do about it, outside of genocide, or the total collapse of our economy.

2) Recognize what the “new normal” implies for you and yours. This may range from reduced police presence in your neighborhood or community, especially for dealing with property crimes and other “minor” issues. Think about what happened in NYC last year after two officers were assassinated, sitting in their cruiser. If you live in a really shitty neighborhood, where people are as likely to assault cops as help them, you should—justifiably–expect the same thing. As my wife pointed out yesterday, when she heard that people were “acting out” in Ferguson, on the anniversary of the Wilson-Brown shooting, “if I was a cop, I wouldn’t even respond to calls in their neighborhood. Fuck them. If they hate me, why help them?”

Recognize that, as the elevation of “special groups” of people, of whom you are not a member, for whatever reason, continues, if you find yourself engaged in a legal or political struggle with them, you will lose, because they are “special,” and you are not. You don’t have to like it. You don’t have to approve of it, but if you deny it, you’ll find yourself “married” to a cellmate, and the relationship WILL be consummated.

Recognize that, ultimately, you have to rely on yourself, and those with whom you’ve built trusted relationships. That may range from dealing with community problems in an “extrajudicial” manner, to helping those who’ve lost their employment and income, by either providing employment for them, or using some gray market type of exchange with them, to allow them to procure the necessary items of life, ranging from food to shelter and clothing.

Experience Is Only A Start
Experience is a great advantage when dealing with bad situations. Experience in violence is a great advantage when overcoming the normalcy bias necessary to self-defense situations, whether that’s getting caught in traffic in the midst of a “flash mob” and recognizing that escape means driving OVER people, or it’s recognizing—and accepting—the reality that the dude coming at you in the middle of the alley, with a knife in his hand is not curious if you could spare a pat of butter for his crackers.

When we’ve faced violence before, it becomes significantly easier to acknowledge its occurrence. This is why the criminal gangbanger with a Saturday Night Special has a far better chance of survival than a white-bread suburban stockbroker with a basement full of bunker supplies, but no experience with interpersonal violence, regardless of how many AK47 and AR15 rifles he has stockpiled in his safe.

Ultimately though, experience can be as much a hindrance as a help. If you expect all future engagements with people to reflect what you experienced as a neighborhood bully when you were a kid, or what you saw in Vietnam, Afghanistan, or Iraq, you may find yourself unpleasantly surprised when it takes a different face. Experience is useful, only when it is used as a springboard metric for improvement through further training.

“Hey, I recognize that trouble can occur. It will probably NOT look like what I’ve experienced, so let me look around, do some serious studying, and see what it probably IS going to look like.”

I’m a historian. I see and recognize the parallels between the TEOTWAWKI we are experiencing, and the TEOTWAWKI other empires have faced in the past. Expecting the Vandals to come through the gates, on horseback, swinging swords and lances, behind war banners and a single leader though, would be a hindrance. I recognize that the Vandals, this time around, are already here, and more are en route daily, not under one leader, but with a common shared cause, that includes marginalization and disenfranchisement of people like me. They’re not armed with swords and lances. They’re armed with computers, reporters in their pockets, guns, and IED.

Experience is a teacher, but we have to let it teach us.

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Wyoming In the 1980’s Oil Bust – Part 2

by Woodsbum

My last post talked about what Wyoming was like when I was there in the early 80’s. It was a very difficult time and it caused us to live through what some would consider a SHTF type scenario. I know it really forced me to make changes in my life to cover my family if something like this ever happens again to us. Luckily, we were able to make it through by simply adapting and overcoming things as best we could. Eventually we did have to move to Texas with whatever we could salvage, but lasted for about 5 years before we lost our home. Considering how bad it was, we did pretty well.

This is how our family ended up making it through the ordeal.

Many of our friends were Mormon, which really saved our rear ends. My father would get me from school and take me out to go shoot wild game. I would bag a deer, antelope, rabbits, grouse, or some other wild meat, clean it, bone it, and bring out the meat in garbage bags and a backpack. We would use much of that meat, but would trade what we could to our Morman friends for canned items and other food stuffs. The one year I know I had to have harvested a couple dozen large game animals just myself. This was when I was in my later years of grade school (5th and 6th grade).

We were literally so poor, but still holding on, that I had to make and wear moccasins because we didn’t have the money to buy me new shoes. They were double hide buck skin that I had shot previously and ugly as sin. To this day I have a weird thing where I have to keep several pairs of shoes around me, even in my truck and under my desk at work. It just really messed with me and I still freak out when my kids (now grown) don’t have several pair as backups in case something happens.

At that time there was a bounty on coyotes. My father would get me from school and we would head out during the week to go get enough to make the difference in our house payment or electricity bills. I remember that the bounty was up to $75 per set of ears at one point. We would go out early in the morning and harvest a few rabbits that we would “fillet and release” back into the wild. In another words, we shot them and then spread their entrails around the fields after we cooked up the meat for breakfast. We would then call in the predators and shoot whatever had a bounty. Every once in a while we would get a fox. Those didn’t have a bounty, but we could sell the fur for over $100 if we didn’t mess it up too badly with the rifle.

My father and I would also hire out on farms and ranches to repair different equipment. I was only a kid, but I was very capable and proficient with driving different types of heavy equipment. Since my dad could fix almost anything and was an excellent welder, I would get a few extra dollars for us by running a tractor for such things as haying crews, mowers, etc or crane for scrappers pulling old oil gear. It was bad enough at times that I actually missed a few months of school here and there to help my father out on the road while he did mechanical work or welding.

Now what all did I learn from this 5 years of hell? That is a good question. I can tell you what some of the skills I know possess are and what changes in my life are a direct cause of this time growing up:

  • I know that I can hunt and fish efficiently enough to feed myself. This includes processing, preserving, and even smoking the meat to ensure the supply will last. Many may scoff, but that is how we ate and lived for 3 of those 5 years in Wyoming.
  • It is necessary to buy items that will be eventually used when you have the money. This includes ammunition, food, equipment, etc.
  • Learn from everyone even if you don’t agree with their religion or philosophy. The LDS church is huge on food preps and saving things for a rainy day. Many Asian cultures are also of this mindset. Interestingly enough, they all have their skills that many people “poo-poo” because of whatever reason.
  • Don’t be afraid to trade skills for items you need. I remember helping to process and butcher a moose in exchange for a portion of the animal. We ate on that for several weeks.
  • No situation is cut and dry. It will also change at least daily if not several times over the course of the day. After our family got set up with trading wild game for other food items, many other people started joining in. This also happened with the bounties on coyotes. It went from $75 per set of ears to $5 if I remember correctly. We ended up having to adapt and change how we made extra money several times and as quickly as possible.
  • Don’t be afaid to learn new skills. I can hunt, fish, trap, sew, cook, mechanic, weld, carpentry, lay cement, do flower arranging, pick out formal outfits and help fit women’s clothes, match perfume to skin type, clean jewelry, electrical, shoe horses, plumbing, break horses, train dogs, hydrolics, run heavy equipment, basic logging and land clearing, built structures from logs, auto body work…. The list goes on and on all because I realized that I have to be completely self sufficient to cover areas where others people are not and possibly turn a buck when needed.
  • Lastly, I no longer assume that I will be able to depend on anything or anyone. My only assumption is that I will have to be the one to do soemthing if it needs to be done. If I don’t know how to do something then I figure it out and learn. This has been one of my best traits as an adult. From rebuilding engines to replacing the roof on my house, I just research and do it. It saves money and allows me to know exactly where things stand after the fact. Plus, I have made money when needed by pimping my skills.

This really felt like a long post and I hope that this fulfilled my friend’s request that I put down some of the crap I had to deal with during that time and some of the lessons I learned from it. If not, I might be adding things here and there until it seems as complete as possible without giving away too much personal information…..

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