Posts Tagged With: Survival

Introducing the Survival Sherpa School

Survival Sherpa School Logo - Black

Retirement (June 2022) has me reflecting on my lifework. The dust-covered rocking chair overlooking the pond tells me that it ain’t over. In between working on my new log cabin, I’ve been building my next adventure, the Survival Sherpa School!

Often when you think you’re at the end of something, you’re at the beginning of something else.

~ Fred Rogers

December 2022 marks the 11th birthday of this blog. While writing over 600 articles here, I’ve never made a dime from the blog. I’m not more virtuous than others by offer all this free information over the years. I don’t hate money, it’s just the model I chose from the beginning.

However, the Survival Sherpa School is a separate site with a mission to offer hands-on classes to help you learn, prepare, and survive. With the help of my good friend, Melonie of Mel of the Mountains, we now offer a variety of classes on many primitive and traditional skills from bark baskets to hide tanning. I’ll be adding more class content in the near future.

Do me a favor and go check out the site to see what may interest you or someone you know.

While you’re visiting the Survival Sherpa School, hit that Subscribe button to join our community. You’ll be the first to be notified of upcoming classes, events, and exclusive content you won’t see on this blog, YouTube channel, or social media.

Some of our followers have been here from the very start and I can’t thank you enough for all your faithful support! We’ve learned a lot together through the magic of the internet. I’ll continue to post value-added content here, don’t worry.

After our Appalachian Bark Basket class at Little Rose Nature Adventures, we’ve taught three more classes in two states (GA and NC)! Below are some highlights of the experiential learning going on.

Appalachian Bark Baskets


More than an arts and crafts class, these eager students learned the context of making natural containers which their ancestors used many years ago.


Firecraft Essentials


Fire is life and learning many methods to achieve a sustainable fire is essential.  IMG_1525

Modern ferrocerium rod in action.


Although we teach primitive and modern techniques, we stress that your fire kit should be simple enough that a five-year-old can use it.

Homeschool Co-op Demo in North Carolina


Melonie demonstrating the utility of turning raw animal hides into useful material for clothing and gear.



Axmanship 101



Students discovered and practiced hands-on techniques to safely fell, limb, buck, and split wood with their ax only. Thanks to Georgia Bushcraft, LLC for hosting this class.

Georgia Bushcraft Fall Gathering

A few of the classes we taught at this years fall gathering. Mel of the Mountains showing students how to make their own buckskin medicine pouches.



Two ladies getting their hands dirty practicing the Flip-Flop Winch.


As you can see, we’ve had a busy schedule recently! If you’d like to stay up to date on future classes and content, be sure to subscribe to our email list here. By the way, we will travel to you or your group’s location for classes and personal instruction.

I’d also like to thank my long-time blogging friend, Patrick Blair of NinjaWolf Studios, for his expert work in building the new Survival Sherpa School website! Be sure to check out Southern Dreams Homestead where he and Jessie are building a self-reliant urban homestead right here in Georgia.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,

~ Todd

P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestYouTubeInstagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in the blog, I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Homesteading, Lost Skills, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival, Survival Education, Survival Skills | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

The Top 7 Survival Sherpa Articles of 2016

by Todd Walker

The Top 7 Survival Sherpa Articles of 2016 ~

This question haunts my mind with each passing year…

Is it possible, at my age, to write my first book?

This week marks 5 years since starting this little blog. Writing for me has been a series of absurd events. C-minuses in all my college english classes, all of which I was super proud to earn, is a poor indicator for a future book-writer. Still, I write words and sentences but couldn’t diagram one if a gun were held to my head.

My English professors would be shocked, almost as much as I am, to find 550 articles penned here. There’s gotta be a book floating in this ocean of words somewhere! Mustering the grit to organize them will be my challenge.

Until then, I’ve listed our 7 best articles from 2016. I’m always interested in which articles add value on your journey of self-reliance (as well as the ones I should have canned).

Our Top 7 Articles of 2016

A) The Number One Knife Skill for Wilderness Survival and Self-Reliance

Dial back to the golden age of camping and woodcraft and you’ll find that the knives of Nessmuk, Kephart, Seton, and Miller played an essential role in all their tramping and wilderness adventures. This simple machine (wedge) was a value-adding tool for, not only survival, but for camp comforts and wilderness living skills.

B) Off-Grid Winch: Incredible Power from Two Logs and a Rope

In an emergency vehicle kit, weight and space are not an issue – unless you scoot around in a Smart Car. For this winch, all you need are two logs and some rope.

C) How Cherokees Used Trees of Southern Appalachia for Food, Medicine, and Craft

In this article, we will explore 3 of my favorite trees in my woods and how the Cherokee and settlers used them for food, medicine, and craft resources.

D) How to Estimate Distance in the Woods with Right Triangles

What if you needed to ford a river, build a fence, or erect a foot bridge over a creek in the woods? I’ve never seen any of my woodsmen friends pull out a 100 foot measuring tape from their pack. But you can get an accurate estimation of width without a measuring device. We use this method with our 8th grade math students as a hands-on learning opportunity.

E) How to Build a Carving Bench from a Log (Rope Vise Plans Included)

One tool my semi-permanent base camp shelter was missing is a dedicated carving bench. Add this to my Paring Ladder, and a future pole lathe, and my non-electric shop in the woods will be fully functional.

F) A Beginner’s Guide to Avoiding Bloated Bushcraft

Bushcraft encompasses a deep and wide field of knowledge. For the beginner, information overload has the real possibility of stopping you before you can even start this new hobby. To avoid bloated bushcraft, build a firm foundation by developing these two core skills outlined in this article.

G) Backcountry Belt Kit: Essential Tools to Carry Around Your Waist

There are many scenarios where you may be separated from your backpack and gear. Tipping a canoe or tumbling down a ravine come to mind. These types of accidents can quickly relieve you of the gear which makes for a comfortable wilderness outing. Having essential gear in your pockets and attached to your belt could turn your luck around, and, not being overly dramatic here, could literally save your life.

The Top 7 Survival Sherpa Articles of 2016 ~

The best snow globe ever!

Thanks for taking the time to read the stuff! Dirt Road Girl and I would like to wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and healthy and productive new year!

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube, Instagram, and Facebook… and over at our Doing the Stuff Network.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright © by Survival Sherpa: In light of the recent theft of all my content by a pirate site, my sharing policy has changed. I do not permit the re-posting of entire articles from my site without express written consent by me. My content on this site may be shared in digital form (200 words or less) for non-commercial use with a link back (without no-follow attribute) to the original article crediting the author. All photos, drawings, and articles are copyrighted by and the property of Survival Sherpa. You are more than welcome to share our photos and articles on social media for educational purposes as long as you link back to the original article/photo with credit to the author.


Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Doing the Stuff, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

How Busy People Extend the Shelf Life of Survival Skills

by Todd Walker

[Personal Note: I want to thank our online family for the prayers, love, and support after the recent loss of my brother. We appreciate you more than you can know!]

How Busy People Extend the Shelf Life of Survival Skills -

The most able are the most free.
~Wendell Berry

On the journey to self-reliance, we all start with different skill levels, locales, and motives. Some are even convinced of an inevitable zombie apocalypse. As we say in the south, “Bless their hearts.”

The Doing the Stuff Skills we promote here aren’t very flashy or of the “sky is falling” variety. They are, however, practical and useful for common sense living… a cross-fertilization of old and new paths of emergency preparedness, urban and wilderness survival, natural health, homesteading, energy independence, and making stuff to decrease dependence on others.

Skills require action beyond stocking and storing stuff because of these two little words…

Shelf Life

For instance, that extra pair of boots in storage will eventually dry rot without ever touching feet. Like food, leather and rubber have an expiration date. So do your skills.

The problem with skills is that there is no “out of date” label like the one you found on that dusty can of beans in the back of your pantry. But you already know which skill sets you’ve allowed to rust around the edges.

But here’s the good news…

Unlike food, skills are renewable!

Here’s a self-directed strategy to help busy people take survival skills from average to awesome.

Doing the Stuff on the Fly

Your busy. I know. Aren’t we all! Dedicated time for skills training is a luxury for most of us. We have bills to pay, families to feed, and routine responsibilities to fulfill. However, these three strategies keep my skills fresh – even during what seems to be a shrinking 24 hour period. Try them out. Hope they help you, too!

Take Mini-breaks

The skill you’re developing may take hours to learn. And the answer to the proverbial question, “How do you eat an elephant?” is… One bite at a time. Leverage your break times to practice a specific aspect of the skill. I’ve learned to tie several new knots with a short piece of cordage I keep in my Get Home Bag while standing at my desk on break.

Imagine what you’d accomplish if you find five of these 10-minute breaks in your day.

With today’s technology, watch an instructional video and take notes to ensure accuracy in the skill. Caution: YouTube can be a time sink. So be sure to find value adding channels to follow. I regret not watching more instructional videos over the years.

Take Mini-lessons

At times, all you need is a short lesson to keep moving forward. You probably don’t have time to read an entire book or take a full course. Find sources who summarize or curate content from value-adders in the niche skill your pursuing (self-reliance, wilderness survival, wildcrafting, self-defense, homesteading, food preservation, camping, etc.).

Prepper Website is an excellent curator of self-reliance stuff! Also, be sure to check out our Doing the Stuff Trusted Resources Page for a list of virtual hotspots to connect with and learn skills.

Find Mini-mentors

Questions are easily answered when you find a mentor. Local is best. But don’t discount online learning groups. Avoid groups that only post articles without real discussion of skills. I’ve found a couple of online groups where members, of varying skill level, actually engage and learn from one another.

Like I mentioned earlier, a local mentor is ideal. I’ve been fortunate to find knowledgeable local instructors and online teachers.

When time and money permit, take a class or workshop from a teacher who practices the E.D.I. method of instruction… (Educate: teach the skill, Demonstrate: doing the stuff with the skill, Imitate: allow you to imitate the skill). Two things happen with quality instruction: (A) your learning curve is shortened, and, (B) you build micro-communities and connections. These students of self-reliance share your passion and can be your best mini-mentors.

There is always more to learn on our journey to self-reliance. Finding the time to practice and learn skills is the challenge. Hopefully these tips will help.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


P.S. – You can also keep up with the Stuff we’re Doing on TwitterPinterestGoogle +, YouTube and our Facebook page… and over at the Doing the Stuff Network on PinterestGoogle +, and Facebook.

P.P.S – If you find value in our blog, Dirt Road Girl and I would appreciate your vote on Top Prepper Sites! You can vote daily by clicking here or on the image below. Check out all the other value-adding sites while you’re there…

Thanks for Sharing the Stuff!

Copyright: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form, in part or whole, for non-commercial use with a link back to this site crediting the author. All links in articles must remain intact as originally posted in order to be republished. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Doing the Stuff, Survival Skills | Tags: , , , , , , | 6 Comments

5 Ways to be the Luckiest Survivor in the World

by Todd Walker

With only the clothes on his back and a lighter in his pocket, William LaFever survived over three weeks in the Utah desert. His predicament was not part of some ‘reality’ TV show. There wasn’t a host describing the next reward challenge. No immunity necklace. No cameras or medics standing by.


Image source

He was lucky to be found alive.

This story is full of teachable moments. Here are some take-aways from LeFever’s brush with death.

1.) Recognize survival situations

Anytime your basic needs go unmet, you’re in a survival scenario – whether you admit it or not.

Seasoned woodsmen, survivalists, and preppers are familiar with the Rule of 3’s: 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water, 3 weeks without food. Unless you find a way to meet these needs, you’re likelihood of dying grows exponentially.

2.) Ask yourself, “Do I feel lucky?” Well, do you, punk?

Luck is Unreliable in Any Survival Situation

The question must be asked…

Image source

Dirty Harry’s classic line makes you re-think dependence on luck. With a 44 Magnum pointed at the perps head, he had to decide if Clint had fired 6 rounds, or only 5.

Don’t roll the dice with Mother Nature!

Your luck increases by applying the 7 P’s (Prior Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance). It’s smart to leave a detailed itinerary with at least one or two trusted friends about your trip plans. Do it even if you’re taking a short day hike, fishing, hunting, or camping.

These safe mini-adventures land many outdoor enthusiast in trouble. Mother nature is not fair and she finds creative ways to toss the unexpected into the mix.

Your itinerary should include these three W’s as a bare minimum:

  • Where and when you’re headed out. Including a map of the trails and area would be useful in affecting a rescue if necessary.
  • When you plan on returning. Your family should know where you’re headed and when to expect your return. If your overnight excursion takes a turn for the worse, they will know you’re in trouble and begin the process of locating and rescuing you.
  • Who and how many are in your group. Are there any special needs in the group (age, special needs, health conditions, male/female, etc.). LeFever’s family described him as having autism. While that might seem trivial to most, it turned out to be very helpful in locating the lost hiker. All humans need water to survive but people with autism seem to be drawn to water. Search-and-rescue focused on following the river. It paid off.

3.) Know your limits

Before being lost, the son called his dad to ask for money.

LaFever said he had run out of money and someone had stolen some of his hiking gear. Authorities said they assumed he was given a ride to Boulder, as he did not have his own vehicle.

“He didn’t want me to come out there,” said LaFever’s father, John LaFever. “He wanted me to send him some money to get him to Page.”

The wise move after someone had stolen his gear and he had daddy on the phone would have been to accept the money and fly or ride home. His decision to go-it-alone with no gear almost cost him his life.

“He made the mistake ‘I know what I am doing and I will be OK,”’ Bronson told CNN. “There are many who have done that and paid the price.” [Emphasis mine]

Could you survive on your wits and a lighter? Forage wild foods? Everything is edible once.

4.) D0n’t leave home without a kit

William was found about 30 miles further along the river than most casual hikers traveled. Even though he had camping/hiking experience, this was not the time to attempt this long journey with nothing but his clothes on his back and a lighter in his pocket.

To his credit, he survived by foraging roots, eating frogs, and possessing one of the most important pieces of survival gear – FIRE.

It can happen to any of us outdoors. Taking a wrong turn or slipping on a root and tumbling down a ravine on a short day hike can turn into a serious situation – especially when you’re close to home.

The I’m-close-to-home mentality turns our preparedness mentality into mush. Spending the night in the woods unprepared can have dire consequences.

For short outdoor outings, a basic kit should include:

  • Water, filter, metal container
  • Fire making material and equipment
  • Cutting tool
  • First aid supplies
  • Cordage and duct tape
  • Signal mirror and whistle (your best chance of surviving is being found)
  • Snack/food
  • Shelter – tarp and/or contractor garbage bag
  • Security – sidearm and extra magazines/ammo

There’s no such thing as basic emergencies. Plan accordingly.

5.) Doing the Stuff makes you the luckiest Survivor out there

Knowledge, gear, and skills are survival aids. When your hands are wet and freezing in a 30 mph wind, that’s not the time to attempt your first friction fire. Have redundant backups.

Practicing your skills with your gear builds knowledge and confidence. Doing the Stuff closes the gap on sloppy skills making you the luckiest survivor in the world.

Do you feel lucky? Luck is unreliable.

What makes you the ‘luckiest’ survivor in the backcountry? Do tell!

Keep Doing the Stuff!


P.S. ~ Thanks for sharing the stuff! If anything from our site adds value to your life, please pass it on. You can also connect with us on TwitterPinterest, and our new Facebook page

Copyright Information: Content on this site (unless the work of a third-party) may be shared freely in digital form for non-commercial purposes, in part or whole, with a link back to this site crediting the author. All embedded links in our posts must stay intact if you wish to repost our material. If you are interested a third-party article, please contact the author directly for republishing information.

Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, Doing the Stuff, Preparedness, Real Life Survival Success Stories, Survival | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

Applying the 7 Characteristics of Living Things to Your Survival Plan

by Todd Walker


Change is inevitable. Survival is optional.

One of the most liberating days in your life is when you come to realize you are responsible for your own success. No more excuses. No more blame game. You’ve entered the no-victim zone.

The concept of survival distills down to pain management and increasing pleasure. Bingo! You start planning. You spent long hours studying, reading, buying, and mining data to build the perfect system. You attend preparedness expos, interact on discussion forums, devour books, and maybe even start a blog.

Congrats! Your hard work has finally paid off.

Just as you finalize your sacred plan, even before the laminating film cools, some world event or local elected thug makes it a non-perfect plan. An unexpected health issue, job loss, or simply ignoring that nagging gut feeling about your family’s future can blow your plan to nothingness.

The beauty of pressure and time is its ability expose weaknesses. Ignoring science and history, you find yourself driving down the road to your fatal dead-mans curve clinging to your laminated preparedness plan.

I apologize up front to anyone reading this who happens to be “set in their ways” or downright rigid. You’re not going to enjoy what follows.

Adaptability and agility are two key elements you must develop to increase your chance of staying alive. Unplug your laminating machine, grab a pencil, paper, and several erasers because creating a living Individual Preparedness Plan gets messy.

First, let’s go back to your middle school (junior high in my case) science class for a refresher course on the 7 Characteristics of Living Things. And please, no spit-wads hurled at the teacher.

Learning Goal: The student (you) will identify and apply the characteristics of living things to your Individual Preparedness Plan for survival and resilient living.

1. Living things are highly organized, from the smallest part to the largest.

  • Cells are organized into tissue (muscle)
  • Tissue into organs (liver)
  • Organs come together to form organ systems (nervous system)
  • Organ systems work together to form an individual living thing
  • More than one living thing makes a population of these particular things (the population of wild turkeys on your back 40)
  • The population becomes part of a community composed of different kinds of living things (species). It’s were living things live, work, play, etc.
  • An ecosystem is then formed when all the living things, non-living things, environment, and energy come together in their happy place

2. Living things have the ability to get and use energy.

  • Without a constant supply of energy (food) living things die and become food (energy) for much smaller living things
  • For humans, we use energy (food and fuel) to maintain the our core body temperature around 98.6 degrees F – our happy place

3. Living things have the ability to respond (movement) to their environment.

  • Sensitive to changes and responds (movement) to the stimuli in the environment
  • For example, the ability to move your hand off a hot stove (pain), or marry a hot wife (pleasure)

4. Living things have the ability to remove waste

  • Living things use different methods to excrete waste
  • For humans, the simple act of breathing removes waste
  • If a living thing is unable to excrete waste, it quickly becomes an organism formerly known as a living thing

5. Living things grow

  • Living cells grow to a certain size and then divide
  • A living thing turns stuff unlike itself into more stuff like itself – eat kale (plant) and it chemically turns into more of the eater (human)

6. Living things have the ability to reproduce and pass on genetic information to baby living things

  • Reproduction is essential for the survival of the species 
  • All living things reproduce by either asexual or sexual reproduction

7. All living things have the ability to adapt to their environment

  • Adaptation is a trait that helps living things survive in its environment
  • Living things that are better at adaptation increase their survival and reproduction rates, thus strengthening their species
  • Important note: only individual living things have the ability to adapt – species do not adapt, they evolve
  • Variations of individual living things makes the species stronger (individualism)

Now, let’s discuss the application of this mini-lesson to your Individual Preparedness Plan.

When evaluating your IPP to determine if it is living or non-living, all 7 of these characteristics must be present.

If your plan follows just a few on the list, it’s a non-living IPP. To stay in the living category, your plan must show all 7 characteristics. Granted, we are all individuals at different stages of development. Our progress in certain areas may be strong while other areas need immediate attention. A humble analysis will be required, as will ongoing monitoring to ensure you and your IPP maintain living thing status.

1.a. Applying “Living things are highly organized” requires, um, organization. Lists are popular with most preppers. Simply having a list of lists doesn’t mean your organized. Lists will get you pointed in the right direction, but energy and focus are required to fill the list. SurvivalBlog offers the best lists I’ve seen to help organize, acquire skills, and stay on the living things list. You can find the “List of Lists” link on the left side bar near the top of his blog.

Organization applies to more than just stuff. Your living IPP should include finding other prepper populations and building community. Lone-wolf living organisms rarely survive.

Now, if I could only remember where I put my list?

2.a. What’s your plan for “Living things have the ability to get and use energy”? To avoid becoming room-temperature, pay close attention to these basics: food and water. Plan now to secure the knowledge and skills for sustainable food and water – to be converted into energy for your body. We all need energy to push, pull, and move.

Also, since we don’t hibernate, alternative, sustainable methods of energy production keeps us in our happy place, warm and dry. Consider passive solar, geothermal, hydroelectricity, and wood heating. There’s more. Any suggestions?

3.a. Think movement when applying “Living things have the ability to respond to their environment.” Your IPP should include a plan for Getting Out Of Dodge if you sense or see that your present environment will soon be hosting a bunch of non-living things. Keeping a 72-hour emergency kit ready is for smart living things. Or, if you know your environment will be full of non-livers, avoid the rush, make the necessary sacrifices, and move already.

Physical movement takes energy (see 2.a.). Natural selection favors those living things that are able to move efficiently. Stop neglecting your fitness. Nuff said.

4.a. “Living things have the ability to remove waste” must be applied if you plan on being a living thing. Applied to your physical body, elimination is essential. For the purpose of your IPP, the same holds true. Apply the Sherpa Simple philosophy to your stuff. Cleaning out that colon you call a storage closet brightens your day and makes room for useful stuff. Today’s society of consumers collect shiny stuff that, unless eliminated, turns toxic. Eliminate and flush.

5.a. Applying “Living things grow” to your plan. Your paradigm of preparedness should grow exponentially. Your IPP should include specific skills that need to be developed for you to be a well-rounded living thing. This is not meant to be applied to your waist line. What you thought you knew was the best today, changes tomorrow. Stay informed on practical ways to grow physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Remember, to grow, we need energy.

6.a. Applying “Living things have the ability to reproduce and pass on genetic information to baby living things” to your IPP. Is your plan reproducible? Could your neighbor, neighborhood, or community reproduce what you, the individual living thing, are doing? The genetic information of preparedness and building resilience needs to spread to audiences outside the present prepper population. When each newbie living thing begins taking personal responsibility, the community and entire “ecosystem” becomes stronger.

7.a. How you apply “Living things adapt to their environment” is the cornerstone to all living Individual Preparedness Plans. When living things are involved, expect monkey wrenching. Mother Nature keeps a tool box full of monkeys and wrenches. Bouncing back is easier if you have flexibility and redundancy built into your systems. A rigid tree won’t last long in the coming storms.

The problem with life is it changes. Well, it’s not a problem, it’s just reality. As a matter of fact, change is what keeps us out of that state of atrophy. Avoid pain and increase pleasure by applying these middle school science lessons to your Individualized Preparedness Plan.

Change is inevitable. Survival is optional.

If you found this helpful, maybe you could help get the word out by sharing it with your social network, family, and friends. We certainly appreciate all the support we get from you!


Also, please follow me on Twitter for updates on our journey: @SurvivalSherpa




Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, IPP: Individual Preparedness Plan, Preparedness, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 5 Comments

DiY Cigar Survival Fishing Kit

by Todd Walker

Every year I get older and my backpack gets heavier. To trim some weight, I began downsizing items in my bag. Here’s a great stove that weighs less than 6 ounces and runs on twigs.

I humped my backpack the other day through the woods with DRG. I immediately noticed the extra strain on my hips. Not overbearing, but noticeable. As I age, I look for ways to lighten my load on stuff I carry – body weight included 🙂 Here’s a great way to shave a few ounces off any fishing kits you pack for your bug out bag, walk-about bag, or hunting bag. It fits in a glove box in your vehicle nicely too.

The idea for my last fishing kit for my bug out bag came from Dave Canterbury. It was made of PVC, which was very sturdy, but weighed more than I liked. This summer I wanted to trim the weight on my BOB. It’s not going to be ultralight, but every pound I trim only makes humping that thing easier. The first piece I tackle is my…well…my fishing tackle.

First, assemble materials. I looked for a lightweight tube for a couple of weeks. I didn’t want glass. Plastic would work. Aluminum would be even better. I found a plastic tube that held a watch on a shopping trip with my wife. I bought it for $5.oo and ditched the cheap watch. The problem with the plastic tube is that I would not be able to use it for boiling water in a survival situation.

Then we stopped by the adult beverage store for some wine. This place also has a nice humidor with a great selection of cigars.

*Aha Moment*

We spent the next five minutes rummaging through stogies looking for the perfect candidate. I needed it to be long enough and with sufficient diameter to hold the necessary fish-catching supplies. I found a cigar, which I enjoy from time to time, with a great tube. It measures 1 inch in diameter by 6 1/4 inches long tube. Being aluminum, I can use it to boil water in a pinch. The picture below shows the difference in sizes of the old PVC kit (bottom) and the new one completed.

Here’s what I used to assemble my kit: Cigar sleeve, duct tape, bank line, electrical tape, 10# fishing line, strike anywhere matches, fire starter, dry flies, artificial lizard, non-lead weights, 3 types of fishing hooks, metal leader, swivels, 2 floats/bobbers, and a snack size zip-lock baggie.

Assembly Process

Step A: Wrap the screw end (or non-rounded end) with about 3 or 4 feet of duct tape. Do I even have to tell you about all the uses for this miracle survival material?  I keep strips of it in my cars, wallet, desk, almost every where I go. Duct tape may not help you catch fish, but I’m sure it’s possible with a little creativity. It’s a utility player that should be on and in every preppers gear and bags.

Step B: Tie a slip knot on the end of your bank line (don’t forget to burn the nylon end to prevent unraveling) and tighten it around the tube next to the duct tape. Wind about 50 to 100 feet of line onto the tube. I used closer to 50 feet to keep the profile of the tube even. Bank line can be used for limb hooks and trot lines in a true survival situation. This allows for passive fishing while you attend to other tasks. [NOTE: Check your local fishing and game laws during rule of law times before using these methods.]

The bank line can also be used for a makeshift fly rod (and other cordage needs). Simply cut a sapling about 8 feet, attach 10 feet of bank line to the end, add a piece of mono filament line to the bank line with one of the dry flies in the kit and you have a hillbilly fly rod rig. When no bait is available for your hooks, use this rig to catch smaller pan fish to use for bait on limb hooks. This is very enticing for larger fish and turtles.

Bank line being wrapped

Step C: Secure the bank line to the tube with a couple of wraps of electrical tape. Again, more tape to use as needed.

Electrical tape wrapped around bank line

Step D: Now you’re ready to add the mono filament fishing line. I used 10# line. I wouldn’t recommend anything below 6# line. (Update: I used 50 lb spider wire for our son’s Christmas stocking). In a survival situation, the last thing you want to see is a decent sized fish run with 4# line and snap it off.

An old technique I’ve used for years is to lay the line inside a book and feed the line onto the tackle. I did this for the cigar tube as well. Tie a slip knot on the end of the fishing line and secure it to the tube where you taped off the bank line. Start rotating the tube to add line. I guess you could wind the line on the tube with you free hand. I prefer to roll the line on by rotating the tube with my finger tips from both ends of the tube. I’m a little OCD. I think the line might accumulate more kinks if you wind it with you free hand.

Add line until you get within one inch of the rounded end of the tube, then double back over the existing line. I added about 50 feet of line to my rig. Next, add a layer of electrical tape to secure the line to the kit. A wide rubber band might work, but I like the tape.

Below is the finished exterior of the kit. By the way, if you haven’t purchased and read “Boston’s Gun Bible“, do so now. I read it yearly.

Step E: Place the strike-anywhere matches, fire starter (more details about this item later), dry flies, artificial lizard, non-lead weights, 3 types of fishing hooks, and swivels in a snack size zip-lock baggie. Squeeze the air out by rolling it toward the top of the bag. Seal the bag and slide into the tube.

Step F: Screw end-cap onto tube and wrap with electrical tape for a water-tight seal.

Fire Starter Note: I made the fire starter a few years ago. It’s jute twin that was saturated with paraffin wax. It literally only takes a spark to get a flame going. Just cut a one inch piece, unravel, and “fluff” to create more surface area for your spark. Another added bonus is that it even lights in wet conditions. I have bundles in all my bags. You never know when you’ll need to cook up those fish you just caught with your new Cigar Survival Fishing Kit!

The only modification I’d add is to make a paracord loop extending from the end of the cap. I’ll add pics when that happens.

Your turn. Got any suggestions to make this better? Please add them in the comment section.

Keep Doing the Stuff of Self-Reliance,


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Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Preparedness, Self-reliance, SHTF, Survival | Tags: , , , , , | 6 Comments

I’m Digging on Rules of Three for Hiding a Gun

For any “when it’s time to bury my guns, its past time to use them” patriots, I would recommend reading Claire’s practical guide on why, how, what, and where to hide guns. Plus some cool bonus material at the end. If you’re digging on this article, check out more of her work over at Backwoods Home Living Freedom blog

by Claire Wolfe

Source: Backwoods Home Magazine 

My friend Jack pulled the car into a grassy clearing. We donned rubber boots, fetched a metal detector and digging tools from the trunk, and headed off along a game trail. Our mission: To dig up and test fire a pistol Jack had buried years ago.

The trail disappeared into a wetland, which Jack crossed with confidence. The muddy water was only about six inches deep where he walked, but I couldn’t see the bottom so I waded gingerly after him. It was at this point I discovered that my borrowed waterproof boots — weren’t. I squished along after Jack. By the time I emerged onto dry land, he was standing well ahead of me, next to the stump of an old cedar that had been logged a hundred years ago.

“It’s buried right here,” Jack told me confidently. “Between this stump and that sapling.”

I was dubious. The “sapling” wasn’t exactly a sapling anymore. It had grown into a mid-sized alder tree. Besides, Jack had history with not being able to relocate a buried firearm. Back in 2004, I had mocked him in one of my Backwoods Home Hardyville columns for that very thing, an SKS he couldn’t relocate.

Nevertheless, he set to breaking up roots. I followed with a shovel.

“I didn’t bury it very deep,” he said. “We shouldn’t have too much trouble.”

They’re at it again. The politicians in Washington, DC, and their media mouthpieces everywhere are in full cry, threatening more restrictions on our right to own guns.

In response, Americans are rushing to buy firearms, particularly those that might be targets of the next ban. Without a doubt, many guns are going underground or into other hiding places. When Draconian restrictions take effect, millions more firearms will get tucked into walls, haylofts, hollow trees, and waterproof containers buried in the woods.

There are people who say, “When it’s time to bury the guns, it’s actually time to dig them up and use them.” They have a point. But in fact, there are plenty of good reasons to hide guns, now or at any other time. And we’re not talking about simply concealing a gun to have it handy in home, office, or hotel room. We’re talking about hardcore, long-term hiding — stashing guns against some urgent future need.

My friend Jack, carrying a metal detector and digging implements, heads toward a game trail that leads to the site where he buried a pistol many years ago. The game trail is right in front of him but strangers would be unlikely to spot it because of the quick-growing blackberry bramble that’s obscured it.

Three reasons to hide a gun

You might want to hide a firearm just to have a spare if your others get stolen or damaged in a disaster.

You might want to hide a firearm if you are a peaceable person who is nevertheless forbidden to own a gun because of some misdeed in your past or some arbitrary state law.

And of course, you might want to hide a firearm if you fear nationwide bans and confiscations but realize that you can’t stand alone against the gun banners.

Read the rest here


Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

DiY Fire Starter in a Drinking Straw

Hank over at Sensible Survival is at it again. Check out his DiY fire straw and make this your next project.


This is one of the best and most convenient fire starters that I’ve come across in a long time.  Many of us know that cotton balls rubbed with petroleum jelly make great fire starters, but they are messy and not real convenient to carry.  This method makes it easy to carry these little fire balls and they won’t leak and get on your clothing or other gear.  All you need to make these is some cotton balls, petroleum jelly, a plastic drinking straw, a pair of scissors, and a small stick.

Start off by taking a cotton ball or two and rubbing them thoroughly with petroleum jells.  While you’re at it go ahead and pull apart the cotton into thin shreds.  Pictured below: top, Rubbing petroleum jelly into cotton balls: bottom, shredded up cotton.
Now take the drinking straw and cut it into two 3 inch tubes, and four ½ inch tubes.  Pictured below: Cut up drinking straw
The next part is a little hard to describe, but the pictures should make it easier to understand.
1. Use your thumbnail to crimp across the straw about ¼ inch from one end, then fold that end down.
2. Now use your thumbnail to make a length-wise crease in the part that you folded down. Then pinch the end together.
3. Now take one of the ½ inch pieces of straw and slip it down over the end to hold it closed.
4. Turn up the open end of the straw and start stuffing it with the soaked cotton.  I find that it is easier if I kind of roll the cotton between thumb and fingers to make a string out of it.
5.  Use the stick to tamp the cotton down tight in the straw.
6. Fill the straw to about ½ inch from the top, then fold the top end down the same way you did the bottom.  Crimp it, put a ½” collar on it, and you’re finished.
Wipe off any petroleum jelly that you got on the outside, and you now have a leak proof, waterproof, convenient fire starter that you can add to a survival kit, put in your glove box, or drop in your pocket.  To use the fire starter just cut it open, fluff up the cotton and light it up.  This stuff will ignite easily using a metal match type fire striker.
Categories: Bushcraft, Camping, DIY Preparedness Projects, Frugal Preps | Tags: , , , , , | 20 Comments


by Todd Walker

Photo credit

It’s always interesting to see lists of Top Prepper/Survivalist Websites. Some have defined ways of actually ranking these sites, which lends credibility to the list.

When I started this blog in April of last year, I began to discover so many websites that focus on the vast and deep subject of preparedness and self-reliance. If I add a link to my ever-growing Blogroll and Resources page, it’s because I’ve found the author(s) to be helpful to my personal journey in preparedness. Some of these fine folks I actually network with via email, comments, and occasional guest posts. It’s building community online – virtually.

The blogs I’m about to highlight are not going to be found on the Top Ten Lists making their rounds through the preppersphere…. Yet. However, I find their content original and outside the box at times – which is a good thing. Here’s my Top-Ten-List-Of-Not-Famous-Yet-Preparedness-Sites in no particular order.

The Backyard Provider (A Journal of Honest Food, Freedom, and The Natural World by Michael Patrick McCarty. Just found Mike. Excellent stuff.)

Resilient News (True resilience isn’t any single thing you do. It’s the cumulative impact of the many things you’ve done and the systems you’ve put in motion.)

SchemaByte (Preparedness against job loss, natural disaster, and grid down. Really enjoy his style of writing.)

The Organic Prepper (Daisy Luther – It’s prepping with a different mindset – we stockpile our food with an eye towards avoiding the GMOs, the processed foods, the chemicals and the drugs that are such a part of the North American food supply) Note: If Daisy isn’t on the normal top ten lists, she’ll show up soon. Her excellent posts are showing up all over the net.

Bug Out Nutrition (Applying the science of nutrition to survivor scenarios. JP Martin spends his time slaying the conventional wisdom of foods we eat and store.)

Survival Punk (James Burnette – A Primal/Paleo approved prepper website. His punk attitude isn’t what you might think.)

Prepared Christian (Chris Ray blogs about preparedness from a Christian world-view. Get to know him better here.)

Prepography (The Art & Study of Self-Reliance)

My Family Survival Plan (A survival website/ alternative news dedicated on keeping the American public aware of the daily and future dangers. This blog is growing rapidly.)

Sensible Survival (This is a blog about common sense preparedness for sensible individuals. I’ve posted several of Hank’s articles and ideas here. Sensible stuff indeed.)

I realize there are many more fine blogs and websites out there quietly growing and adding value to the online community. If you’d like to recommend any additional links, please leave a comment and I’ll do a scouting report.

Blogging and writing original value-adding content takes thought, effort, and creativity… and coffee. If you find any of these of value to you, please consider following and supporting their work.


Categories: Preparedness, Self-reliance, Survival | Tags: , , , | 32 Comments

Welcome to Hunger Games Lite

by Todd Walker

I stopped one of my bright, well-read students in the hall last year to talk about a book he was carrying. I hadn’t read it and I wanted a quick review. I was sold when he said it’s like the world as we know it has ended and tyrants control everything.

Katniss Everdeen Jennifer Lawrence Archer HD Wallpaper

Photo credit

“Do you believe it could happen here?” I asked.

“Oh yeah!” he said.

He’s wise beyond his years. Here’s why.

  • He thinks for himself, making him a target of the collective.
  • He’s contumacious. con·tu·ma·cious – adj. Obstinately disobedient to authority or rebellious; insubordinate

After reading the book on my Kindle, I had to agree with his “Oh yeah!” statement. The similarities between Panem (what’s left of our continent) in The Hunger Games, and our pre-apocalyptic America are noticeable, if you’re paying attention.

Hunger Games (Panem) Hunger Games Lite (America 2013)
Big Brother sees all Big Sis sees all – or wants to
Totalitarian Regime “Soft Tyranny” – trading Liberty for safety
Total Dependence on Regime: Food, Water, Shelter, “Safety” from boogiemen Our Gradual slide into the State of Tyranny: Patriot Act, NDAA, Domestic Spy Drones, 100 years of the Federal Reserve cabal,
Regime Controlled Propaganda Machine Regime Controlled Propaganda Machine
Monopoly on Violence/Force: Resist and face brutal force With the help of the Regime’s Propaganda Machine, dumbing down the masses via government schooling, and our addiction to “free” stuff, Americans are in the Hunger Games Lite. What if we resist?

“A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude.” – Aldous Huxley

Katniss Everdeen, the heroine of The Hunger Games, and all people of Panem lived under the boot of a tyrannical regime that promised prosperity and peace but couldn’t deliver. Everyday folk of Panem realized they were only useful tools for the Capitol and staged a rebellion. The Powers That Be crushed the uprising and completely destroyed District 13. As punishment for the masses un-gratefulness and rebellion, the Capitol institutes the Hunger Games to keep the subjects in line. Each of the 12 surviving districts were forced to offer two Tributes (a girl and boy between the age of 12 and 18) to compete – fight to the death. The winner would bring home honor and essential rations (crumbs from the elite’s bountiful table) for their district.

Are we that far from this scenario in America? Do we love our servitude so much that we sacrifice essential liberties for State provided temporary safety?

We are indeed experiencing Hunger Games Lite. We are the most spied upon people in the world. The long and gradual line of abuses have a way of dulling the herd’s awareness of the despots goal. How much information does our benevolent government want to collect to keep us “safe” from terrorism? Big Brother wants it all. Phone calls, emails, social website exchanges, traffic habits, spending habits, and even your thoughts are fair game in our surveillance state. Natural law and Bill of Rights be damned. Inquiring mind-controllers want to know.

Public school students think it normal to be constantly watched and searched without probable cause. They’re trained to leave their rights at the school-house doors. Cameras filming every move is not enough for some school districts. Some schools are turning kids into lab rats in a scientific school maze by forcing them to wear “smart” I.D. cards. These embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) chips enable anyone with the right technology to track whether the student is using the urinal or toilet. All in the name of reducing truancy. Schools loose state and federal money when students get fed up with the one-size-fits-all meat grinding of schooling and take a mental health day. Remember: Power is for power’s sake. Refusing to wear these badges results in privileges being withdrawn. A tactic all school teachers are familiar with.


Speaking of rats. Panem was full of theses nasty human vermin. Our “District 12” is no different. We are encouraged by those who supposedly know more than us commoners to snitch on fellow slaves. “See something, say something.” Many formerly free people have felt the heat of false accusations turn into lengthy prison sentences. Guilty until proven innocent. Claire Wolfe has written a Free Ebook called Rats! If you own guns, speak or write non-PC opinions, are a political activist, a prepper, belong to a non-mainstream religion, and/or want to protect your privacy, you should read this book. “But I’ve got nothing to hide.” Don’t be naive. Read the book. It’s free!Rats! Book by Claire Wolfe with the Living Freedom Commentariat; cover art by Keith Perkins

In 1735, my ancestors landed on these shores. They fought in the American War of Independence and the War of Northern Aggression (Civil War for the “Honest Abe” worshippers). Research and family stories portray us as a patriotic, individualist, self-reliant, and contumacious bunch. Those qualities haven’t been lost on me. Through thick and thin, my ancestors pasted the “liberty” gene on to me. It’s getting harder and harder these days to practice freedom in our Hunger Games Lite. So here is my short list of tips to help you fight back smarter.

Decrease Dependence

  • Adopt a theme of self-reliance and preparedness.
  • Fight the temptation of petty consumerism. Learn new skills for sustainable living.
  • Read Starving The Monkeys for practical ways to Fight Back Smarter.
  • Focus on natural health, real food, and functional fitness.
  • Build tribe and community

I Prefer Not To

Say, “I prefer not to.” When questioned again as to why not, repeat, “I prefer not to.” This bold, polite, non-violent statement was used repeatedly in Herman Melville’s short story “Bartleby, the Scrivener“.  John Taylor Gatto suggests, and I agree, that if enough freedom loving people would withdraw consent and refuse to jump through all the government mandated hoops, we could slam the door on tyranny in our time. Mr. Gatto used Bartleby’s refusal to comply as a model for stopping the rigged system of state standardized testing. Read more on the Bartleby Project here.

The “I prefer not to” strategy can be deployed in areas other than schools. The hot topic today, following the Sandy Hook tragedy, is gun control. The Regime in Panem, like all totalitarian regimes throughout history, wielded power over the masses by disarming its subjects. Clubs and bows are no match for guns. If the progressives get their legislative way and enact a gun ban, will “law-abiding citizens” comply?

History says we won’t. Just like the days of prohibition and the failed war on drugs, banning guns that look evil will only increase demand – and supply – via the black market. Actually, the war on drugs is not a failure at all. It’s quite a financial windfall for the State. “I prefer not to” give up my guns, full capacity magazines, and ammo. Help spread Bartleby’s spirit of resistance and say, “I prefer not to ___________.”

What happens when “I prefer not to” isn’t enough? Each of us will have a decision to make when that line crossed. The key will be seeing the line and responding accordingly.

“Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other.” – John Locke

Categories: 180 Mind Set Training, Big Brother, Firearms, Preparedness, Self-reliance, Tyranny | Tags: , , , , | 7 Comments

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