Rats have a horrible reputation throughout history and for good reason. They are incredible survivors that can live off of feces and carrion. They are one of nature’s ultimate survivors but it comes with a price. Rats are massive vectors for disease and are responsible for millions of deaths throughout history.
The “Black Death” or bubonic plague is probably one of the most horrific examples of how rats can spread massive disease and cause the death of millions of people. It is for good reason that rats are vilified and calling someone a “rat” was, at one time in history, a deep insult.
Later explorers and traders transported those same rodents to the shores of the New World where they have continued to spread their disease. Norway rats are a common vermin that we here in the mountain states have to deal with, and just like the age-old adage they do “breed like rats” and if you do not get to work they can cause plenty of damage to your crops and food producing animals.
How do rats cause that damage and spread disease? Rats can and do live off feces, this bacteria infested “poop”, then clings to their feet and fur that later gets spread to other places that they travel to, like your food storage. They also carry fleas that themselves are vectors of disease, those fleas are what are credited for the cause of the plague in medieval Europe, and rats gave them the ride.
Rats also have veracious appetites and will eat you out of house and home, and the more they eat the more they breed. They also “sh#t where they eat” which means they will contaminate your food and water, opening you up to any number of diseases which in an emergency situation with limited supplies is a killer.
In a long-term emergency situation, disease will kill far more people than marauding zombies or starvation. It is imperative that when you are preparing for an emergency situation, you also gain knowledge on how to eradicate vermin that will make you and your family sick. Killing these pests will also protect your stored food from getting eaten and contaminated, as well as protecting your food producing gardens and livestock.
Wait! It's that easy?
There are a few moments when people's jaws drop during Jeff Kirkham's Hostage Escape course. The friction zip tie escape is always one of those moments.
If your hands were to be zip tied with a smaller zip tie you would break out of the bounds the same way that you would break out of duct tape. (video at end of article)
Breaking out of heavy zip ties, or ones with multiple cinching devices requires a bit more innovation.
Step 1: Find some string (your shoelaces will do) and tie an overhand knot on both ends of the string.
Step 2: Make slipknot and insert through zip ties.
Step 3: Attach loops around your feet
Step 4: Lay on your back and move your feet in a bicycle motion until the string heats up the plastic. Abracadabra! you're out.
Handcuffs, locks, zip ties, duct tape, we'll teach you how to pick or escape all of these in our classes. Email email@example.com for more information.
Bonus video on how to escape duct tape.
Everyone deserves the right to defend themselves and their family. If you are a paraplegic that involves completely relearning (or learning) a whole new way to shoot.
For the ReadyMan cadre that took on a whole new skill set of instructing. And it took some trial and error.
Jeff Kirkham and Evan Hafer have trained thousands of people on the proper way to shoot, from indigenous Afghans to Global Response Staff (GRS) but they've never trained someone in a wheelchair, until now.
Cliff was paralyzed while working construction when a piece of rebar fell from 3 stories above, penetrating his spine. 2 years later he had a stroke. After a series of bad events Cliff met the ReadyMan team to get one-on-one training in the art of pistol marksmanship.
It took 4 or 5 different methods until Cliff and Evan settled on the "lean-back" method to properly stabilize Cliff's shots.
The fundamentals of shooting begin with body positioning, feet in an athletic stance, torso forward, so that you can properly manage recoil. Obviously Cliff can't do that so we had modify his stability.
The solution was to have Cliff lean back into his chair.
This gave Cliff the enough stability to be just as accurate as if he were standing.
"It's a fruitful and fulfilling endeavor to work with someone like Cliff," Evan says, "He can't run so what do you do? After a day of shooting Cliff was dead on with his accuracy and we both came away with an incredible learning experience."
by Jason Ross
Think of your garden plants like machines. You input sun, water and minerals and you reap squash, potatoes, corn and tomatoes. Pretty cool machine, right?
When you see just how MUCH food comes out of the ground, you’ve gotta stand back and wonder; how much of that plant mass is being pulled from the soil (compared to sun and water?)
The answer: a LOT. A ton of the plant mass comes from the soil, especially when you’re growing big plants like squash, corn, potatoes and tomatoes. Big stuff leaches more mineral from the soil, as you’d suspect.
The primary mineral pulled from the soil is Nitrogen. But, it takes a number of other minerals, such as calcium, iron and sulfur for your plants to access that nitrogen.
It’s relatively easy to get nitrogen into your soil. Amending with compost or spraying fertilizer will accomplish that. Our organic fertilizer of choice is Turboganic. It comes in a liquid form and stores indefinitely. We spray Turboganic around our plants once a week during the grow season.
But many plants deplete calcium quickly, leaving your plants starving for nitrogen, even though it’s still in the soil. Turboganic doesn’t deliver enough calcium to off-set the consumption of many plants (though it does deliver plenty of nitrogen.) My squash and tomatoes usually exhaust the calcium in the soil about three-quarters of the way through their big growth push. It’s obvious when that happens because we start seeing tomato blossom end rot and the leaves on our squash start getting a “burned” edge.
You might never experience low calcium, depending on your local soil. However, it’s the most-common deficiency, so I’d plan for it.
One might think: I can just add more egg shells to my compost and then I’ll have calcium! Alas, egg shells, even when ground up, take over seven years to break down sufficiently that your plant can up-take them as calcium.
About a month into our grow season, we start adding TurboCal once a month to the soil around our plants (liquid calcium from the same guys that make Turboganic) and that eliminates calcium deficiency. Whatever kind of calcium you use, make sure it’s in a form that can be immediately taken up by your plants.
At least once in our gardening experience, we’ve seen signs of low iron. When the green on the leaves begins to retreat toward the veins, there’s a problem with nitrogen up-take — which might be iron deficiency.
This all sound like guesswork, but it needn’t be. You can have your soil analyzed, before growing, to find out exactly what your deficiencies will be. Even though you will always need to add nitrogen and probably calcium during the season, at least then you’ll know where you’re starting. Just send a soil sample to a local university that offers soil analysis.
Bottom line: you will deplete your soil. Your second and third years will probably be worse, unless you amend your soil generously with compost and fertilizers.
Again, like always, this is not shit you’re going to want to learn after the SHTF, because the process of learning drastically reduces your garden yield. Grow now. Learn now. That’s the survival garden motto.
ReadyMan Challenge Escape & Evasion: Grand Finale
by Evan Hafer
The boys of ReadyMan Challenge 6 — Escape & Evasion — tore into their junked cars and their ReadyMan Wilderness Survival Cards. The guys came up with a number of tools and weapons without actually testing them against Mother Nature.
Having spent a fair bit of time “surviving” in the wild, there are a number of hard-and-fast rules of survival that are only obvious to those who’ve attempted it.
So, continuing from where the boys of RMC 6 left off, here’s what you should know:
With that said, it’s a fantastic exercise to throw yourself into a starvation outing. You’ll learn volumes about the environment and you’ll begin to pattern the animals and plants. While every environment is surprisingly different from every other, learning patterns in one area lead to possible solutions in other areas.
More importantly, when you test yourself and put yourself through pain and travail, you harden. Hardening yourself, in almost any way, leads to a building of your survival mind. No matter how well you prepare, your survival mind will become your greatest asset or scariest liability.
Watching the boys come up with their survival tools, you should then ask yourself: which tools would help and which are dead weight? Get some Wilderness Survival Cards yourself, head into the wilderness this spring and give them a try. If you’ve never done it before, you’ll be amazed.
And, you’ll be ten times the survivor you are today.
ReadyMan cadre Evan, Jeff & Brandon will be teaching a free Concealed Weapons Permit course.
You do NOT need to have a gun or any other special training to attend.
Location: Salt Lake City, UT (I-15 and 3300 South) after you have registered we will send you the address.
Date: Thursday, March 10, 2016
IF YOU'RE BRINGING A FRIEND OR SPOUSE - THEY MUST REGISTER ALSO
By Logan Stark
Survival is a thinking man's game. Think of it as a chess match, in order to win (survive) you have to be numerous moves ahead of your opponent (death.) That means taking the opportunity to expand your skill base whenever possible. Or, as our resident tactics masters like to say, "Eliminate the statistical probability of threat."
You've been taken hostage and escaped, shot at, pounded by bad weather and forced to make critical decisions. At this point, like our contestants, your probability pretty tapped, both mentally and physically. But that doesn't mean it's time to take a break.
Eliminate the statistical probability of threat quite simply means, attack, or solve, the greatest threat that is in front of you at all times. Tiredness is threat, hunger is a threat, pneumonia is a threat, outside attackers are a threat. Even though you're exhausted you must be able to maintain the ability to constantly improve your situation.
We had a saying in the Marine Corps that was absolutely impossible to avoid. "Complacency Kills." From the time I joined up until I left Afghanistan, those two words were echoing in my ears.
Yes, contrary to popular belief, laziness can kill you. One of the greatest benefits that you can allow yourself in this world is to embrace suffering. When you put yourself in miserable/challenging conditions you up the bar for what you can mentally withstand, constantly pushing your breaking point further and further in the distance.
After hours of taxing events do you think that we would allow our contestants to take a break? No.
The brilliance of the ReadyMan Wilderness Survival Card is it's adaptability. It is a tool that is only as useful as you allow it to be. Tom Hanks could have made a million tools on that deserted island with this thing and it would have saved his life countless times.
In essence, that is the point of this episode is to give the boys an opportunity to adapt and hone their skills before the final test.
Ego is the Devil, and your mind can be your worst enemy or your best friend. If your ever find yourself wondering which voice to listen to, just remember, "complacency kills."
By Jeff Kirkham
The Robinson Arms XCR-M .308
I first heard about Robinson Armament a couple of years ago through a work associate of my brothers. He mentioned that a local Salt Lake City company had a rifle that was a mix between an AK and M4. Since I had heard this same claim several times in the gun industry, I was skeptical to say the least, but, any time that I can talk to a firearms manufacturer is a good day; no matter the gun.
As any one that knows me will attest, I do not like the AR platform. I think that it's horribly engineered and only held together by years of band-aids and political influence. Ask anyone and they will tell you that I am an AK guy. I love the simplicity of the AK rifle and will defend it to even the biggest AR enthusiasts becasue it is the single best rifle on the battlefield. All the hype about how the AR’s gas rods have somehow made them reliable is, in my opinion, a gross over simplification of the genius of the AK platform.
So when I did some research on the Robinson Arms rifle I was intrigued to say the least. It was genuinely (at least from the pictures on the internet) the first AR looking rifle I had found that actually had been inspired by the AK.
It was actually the bolt face that did it for me. There it was! Three big locking lugs on the face of the bolt. Wow! Here was a guy who had thought outside the box (an increasingly rare trait in the gun world). You see, I detest the star-chamber…It is THE worst design for a battle rifle ever conceived. Ask anyone- “What is the hardest part of an AR to clean and arguably the most important?” They will tell you the star-chamber ... where is the sense in that?
I met Alex Robinson not long after looking at the pictures of his XCR (X-change caliber rifle) on-line. In my excitement to get to the bottom of this unique design, I immediately began peppering him with questions about his rifle. How had he thought of the designs? What was the angle of the hammer? Why a two piece carrier design? How did he use three locking lugs? Looking back now he must have thought I was trying to ambush him, and he was giving me this kind of funny suspicious look like “who the hell is this guy asking me a bunch of questions about the internals of my rifle?”
At some point I realized I was bordering on suspect and I stopped, looked at him and said, “Alex I think the AR is a tragedy of engineering and why we ignore the genius of the AK is a complete failure of the logical thought process.”
Alex blinked a couple of times and then he said, “let me show you something,” and he took me to his gun vault where his library of AKs is kept. I quickly realized that I had met a kindred spirit and learned more about the first and only truly well thought out rifle of our modern times; the Robinson Arms XCR. It truly is an AR outside and AK inside.
I tested and shot his 5.56 XCR (X-change caliber rifle) with impressive results. So, when Alex approached me a couple of years later and asked me to evaluate his new 7.62x51 XCR-M, I jumped at the chance to give it a go.
One word to describe the XCR-M – Impressive. The super narrow profile of the rifle combined with its highly adjustable stock make it easy to manipulate and shoot. It had the 17” barrel and I right out of the box was hitting steel at 300 meters with iron sights. The rifle has the same adjustable gas system that ensures reliable function no matter the quality of ammo or use of suppressors.
The main thing that I noticed with the XCR-M was the recoil, or more specifically the lack of recoil. The rifle only kicked just more than an old M-16 A2, which for a 7.62x51 blew me away. Watch the video we made. The lack of muzzle rise and light kick made the XCR a blast to shoot and everyone that tested it voiced the same thing. They loved it.
Overall we give the XCR-M 7.62x51 a “two thumbs up.” It worked without malfunction, kicked like a baby, and was a tack driver right out of the box. If you are looking for the ease of use of an AR platform with the guts of an AK, then the Robinson Arms is the rifle for you.
100 Things Your Forgot: Tire Repair Gear
Without ‘em, Your Car & OHVs are Paper Weights
by Jason Ross
Ain’t none of us ever experienced an Apocalypse, so it’s really hard to imagine being without an auto parts store.
Vehicles can be devilishly hard to keep running, especially when the world’s devolved into poking each other with sharp sticks. If you want running cars and OHVs (off-highway vehicles), you’re going to have to get imaginative.
What will kill your beloved gas-guzzler?
The first thing to remember is that your car or OHV don’t need to out-last your gas supply. If you’re not storing gas, then don’t even worry about tires. If you’re prepper-enough to store gas, then you should think of all the things your car or ATV may need in a two-year period. If you’ve remembered to stock up on Sta-bil, and if you’re responsible about rotating your gas, then you may be able to keep your cars running for eighteen months to two years.
One of the most vulnerable systems on your cars and OHVs are the tires, so they deserve special attention.
If you lose a tire while bugging out, you need a fast repair. Green Slime can get you out of a life-or-death jam and should be part of your go-bag in the car. You need a DC compressor that can plug into your cigarette lighter in order to get the tire pumped back up, or the Green Slime doesn’t buy you much.
Tire Repair Kits
For all your at-home or at-BOL vehicles, you should keep abundant tire repair kits. These will allow you to easily repair many punctures — enough to get you through Armageddon. Again, you need a compressor, and it’ll probably need to run off your generator or solar. So, you may want to figure out a DC compressor for home as well.
If you’re like me, fresh tires make the difference between making it up the hill in mud and snow or getting stuck. When my OHV tires wear down, the OHV becomes borderline useless. For deep preparedness, you need to figure out how to change a tire at your Bugout Location. That probably means having plenty of extra tires and a tire machine which runs off a compressor too, by the way.
There are several other things that your vehicle will need to keep rolling, but we’ll keep today’s lesson to just tires. They’re difficult enough — probably forcing you to spend several grand just to ensure you’ve got wheels.
Also, you might want to think a bit about EMP (electro-magnetic pulse.) On the off-chance that someone nukes us high in the ionosphere, your computer-reliant vehicles, unless shielded, might turn into paperweights anyway.
The moral of the story: ensuring the function of vehicles is one hell of a rabbit hole.
Whole Foods? You’re Not Even Close…
Busting Down an Elk — Organic Meat Bonanza
by Jason Ross
If your wife’s like mine, she’s all about the free range, organic, non-GMO, hormone-free, artsy-fartsy blessed-by-naked-hippies food. It took a coupla years, but I finally convinced her of the obvious: you can’t get more “free range” than animals you hunt yourself. Plus, almost anywhere except for Southern California and the deep desert, hunting your own meat is ultra-cheap (especially if you do it right.)
Whitetail deer, mule deer, hogs, moose, elk and bear abound in this great country and if you’re a resident, the tags are almost always dirt cheap. Here in the Rocky Mountains, mule deer and elk grace our mountains and our tables. Especially if you can get depredation, cow or doe tags, you can rack up a considerable freezer. Chad Wade and I pounded two cow elk a few weeks ago and they made it into the freezer costing about 25 cents per pound, bullets included.
You might be saying, like so many do, that your family “doesn’t like game meat.” In all likelihood, the game meat’s not the problem. Mostly, people over-cook game meat, wrongly thinking that since it comes from the “dirty” outdoors, that it might have special bacteria or parasites. The exact opposite is true — wild game hits the turf cleaner than farm-raised, every day of the week. When you over-cook game meat, because it’s so lean, it comes out tasting a bit like liver. And, if you like liver, there’s something wrong with you. Therefore, the “trick” to cooking delicious game meat is DON’T OVERCOOK. Move your meat temperature preference two clicks toward raw and your game meat will come out savory, juicy and oh-so succulent. Nothing beats properly cooked elk or deer. Moose is even better. Wild hog tastes fantastic (don’t undercook) and bear makes outstanding sausage (also, don’t undercook.)
There’s a learning curve to hunting, dressing and butchering game meats, but DAMN is it a fun learning curve. Hunting with an experienced buddy makes all the difference, and you can shorten the learning curve to a couple of seasons.
When it comes to handling a dead animal, you can easily find yourself staring down at a confusing mess. For almost any animal, you need to make a choice. Pack it or drag it.
Option No. 1: Drag It
If you’re within an easy drag to the car, you can grab a rear leg or two and get hauling. Generally, this is a lot harder than it seems. Animals are heavier than they appear, and hooves, antlers and heads get stuck on any/every thing.
But, dragging presents advantages. First and foremost, you’ll end up with more meat. An animal that’s hung and seasoned whole doesn’t leave as much meat exposed to air — so you don’t have to trim away as much waste when you go to butcher. If you’re dragging, you’re going to leave the hide intact, and that’s easier too. Removing the hide at home, when the animal’s hung, is tons easier than removing it in the field, on the ground. Also, it’s easier to hang a whole animal, since you have positive hang points just above the rear knees.
If you’re going to drag, you probably want to gut (“field dress”) the animal right where it fell. The makes it lighter and gets it cooling down quickly, which is important. By leaving the hide intact, cooling will become paramount.
Once the animal’s gutted out, then you can drag it back to your car and get it home for hanging and seasoning.
Option No. 2: Quarter It
If you’re too far in to drag the animal, you’re going to have to pack it out or take it out on a sled. Another packing option might be a deer cart.
In any case, it probably makes sense to quarter the animal, since virtually nobody can carry a full-grown deer or elk on their back.
Assuming that the animal is belly-down, carefully peel back the hide right down the spine, revealing the back straps. Follow the instructions on both videos to carefully cut the back straps off the spine and the ribs, riding the bone with your knife to preserve every nibble of the cut.
Then, turn the animal over on its back. Cut under the hide from the knees toward the center of the belly. Lay back all the hide around each leg, being careful not to let the raw meat touch the ground.
On the hind legs, carve against the body, being careful not to penetrate the gut bag. You are going to completely avoid the guts, leaving them sitting right there in the carcass. Carve along until you find the ball and socket. Cut at the socket until the labrum releases it. Then, keep working until the rear quarter comes free. Set it somewhere cool and clean.
The front quarters are far easier. There’s no socket and you can see the natural dividing line between the front shoulder and the body just by pulling the leg away from the body.
When you’re done, bag the the fronts, rears and back straps in a cloth bag, like a game bag or an old pillowcase. For short hikes, you can use trash bags. The bags are just to keep your pack from getting nasty.
Once you get to your car, or home, try to store the quarters and back straps with as much airflow around them as possible. If it’s hot outside (above about 60 degrees F), you may want to forego hanging and just butcher the animal right away.
Generally, I do my best to butcher and vacuum seal my game meat as neatly as possible. It’s a subtle nod to the grocery store, but as long as my family’s eating this cheap, ultra-healthy meat, then I’m fulling justified in hunting my brains out, every year. And in buying a lot of rifles and hunting gear…