Camping Survival Skills

8 Survival Skills You Can Practice While Camping

We have stated in previous articles that survival training should be conducted in a controlled environment where mistakes become a learning tool and not a death sentence. You can learn from your mistakes, but you must first survive those mistakes.

Training is important, and the only way to become proficient in anything is through hours of training. Then you apply the knowledge, and skills learned in practice sessions, and what better place to practice survival skills than while on a camping expedition.

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The Best Way to Store Seeds for When The SHTF

Seed Storage SHTF

First, decide what seeds you want to store based on your personal preference, in other words, what do you and your family like to eat. Secondly, consider seeds that can be stored and used for bartering. Even though you may not care for beets and carrots, for example, others would, and thus, you have currency for trade during a crisis. Lastly, look at nutritional value, the biggest nutritional bang for your buck in other words.

Seed Sources

The Internet is full of retailers and others that will get you started on your seed bank, at a cost of course, or you can simply buy seed packets at your local retailer You can even purchase a “seed bank” that can be stored for years as insurance against a calamity.

You can begin harvesting your own seeds, as well, from heirloom plants right now. However, the variety is limited to just what you have grown, so you may have to purchase seeds to expand your variety, and again think about bartering and nutritional value.

Heirloom, open pollinated seeds are ideal because once mature, the seeds can be harvested, dried and stored for future seasons. You cannot harvest seeds from hybrid plants, because generally the first generation of seeds from a hybrid plant is sterile. You need a renewable food source and so need plants that can provide you with seeds for years to come.

Storing Seeds

Moisture, sunlight, artificial light, temperature swings, and oxygen are the enemy of seeds. Glass containers are ideal for storage containers if kept in a relatively temperature controlled area in a dark place, because there is no chance of permeation through the glass. Seeds you harvest yourself must be processed properly before storing.

How long you can store seeds depends on the moisture content when stored, the temperature, the amount of light, and the seeds themselves. If you purchase seeds from a retailer, you really have no way of knowing whether the seeds were stored properly, and for how long, so before buying do some research on the company and ask questions.

You may not know how long the retailer has stored them so look for expiration dates on the packets, and some packets will not have expiration dates, but instead may have harvest or package dates.

The following is an estimate only on the viability of seeds, and remember much depends on how they are stored.

  • Beans up to  3 Years
  • Beets up to 2 Years
  • Carrots  3 Years
  • Corn Is 2 Years
  • Cucumbers up to 5 Years
  • Lettuce Is 3 Years
  • Peas – 3 Years
  • Peppers  up to 2 Years
  • Pumpkins  4 Years
  • Radishes  up to 5 Years
  • Spinach – 5 Years
  • Tomato up to 4 Years
  • Watermelon  4 Years

Refrigerated between 40 and 50° F is a good place to start. You can freeze seeds, but if they have high moisture content this can kill the seeds. Seeds with 50 percent moisture content, for example, would die if frozen, while seeds at 10 percent can be frozen for years. Seeds need a certain amount of moisture content to stay viable, however. Too dry is just as deadly.

Store in glass jars, Mylar bags, metal cans, or vacuum seal your seeds and place in a rodent and insect proof container if stored out of refrigeration. Add an oxygen absorber to each glass container. Store in a dark place where you do not expect temperature swings, hot in the summer and cold in the winter. The containers must be such that insect infestations are not possible, so cloth sacks, cardboard, paper, and even some plastic containers will not prevent infestation.

Metal cans, for example, provide an absolute barrier against rodents, insects, light, and if properly sealed against oxygen, gas, and moisture as well. Glass and vacuumed sealed bags will not provide a barrier against light, so consider storage areas before deciding on containers. Mylar will provide a barrier against gases, oxygen, and moisture in the short-term, but over time the material will allow a certain amount of moisture and gases to permeate through the material.

Test Your Seeds for Germination

Not every seed will germinate so if you want, or need 10 tomato plants, for example, you would have to plant more than 10 seeds. To determine the germination rate randomly choose 10 seeds, and then wrap in a very damp piece of paper towel and place in a baggie leaving a portion open for air.

Place in a warm place and wait for germination. If eight out of the ten have germinated then your rate is 80 percent. From this non-scientific method, you would have a better idea of what your harvest volume would be. If you consistently find your rate of germination is low, consider the source of the seeds, soil temperature, watering practices, storage, and the process to harvest and dry the seeds.

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Collecting Rain Water Runoff Legal or Not

Rain Water Collection

The following is for informational purposes only. The advice and opinions are just that, and in no way should be seen as conclusive. Laws and regulations are continually changing, and it is up to you to stay informed as much as possible on your local and state laws as well as any applicable federal laws.

Currently Colorado prohibits the collection of water runoff, except in certain cases where permission is granted, and how you get permission is still a mystery. Otherwise you cannot collect rainwater runoff even in small amounts for personal use.

Nevada has some very vague language in their regulations that leads many, if not most, to believe it is illegal.

A spokesperson for the Nevada Department of Conservation and Natural Resources states however, that water collection is subject to existing water rights per NRS 533.030. The interpretation is that you cannot collect water in rain barrels without the benefit of a “water right”. However, the spokesperson goes on to say that the Division of Water Resources does not police nor will they police rain barrels. You have to decide what this means if you live in Nevada (Robison, 2015).

Some states like Minnesota have restrictions on the amounts, but for the normal household you would never exceed the amount you can collect without a permit.

You would need a permit called a “water appropriation permit” for use that exceeds 10,000 gallons in any one day or 1,000,000 in one year with the exception for domestic use if less than 25 people are being serviced. Again you have to decide how this affects you.

{See Minnesota Statutes, Section 103A.201, and Section 103G.271, subd. 1, and Minnesota Rules, Part 6115.0600.}” ( State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources, n.d.)

As for the rest of the country no state specifically prohibits the collection of water runoff from your roof, but the wording is again vague in some cases, and there are certain regulations in place. You can collect in barrels in most instances for your own use, and in some states people are encouraged to do so.

In most jurisdictions you cannot divert the flow of so-called public rivers or streams or dam such waterways or collect water in a containment pond/receptacle that may overflow onto public lands or contaminate public use waterways.

The headlines came out and the hue and cry went out as well, people being jailed and fined for water collection on their own property. In one particular case a landowner diverted flowing surface water and created a containment problem. He was in clear violation and was given numerous warnings to cease without penalty but he refused.

Some states heavily regulate water collection and it takes some reading to figure it all out, as is the case in California. However, in 2012 the state legislature made it legal to collect rainwater from your own roof in barrels. Assembly Bill number 1750.

(https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120AB1750)

The problem many face is the wording in most laws. What does water containment mean to you and what does it mean to regulators.

Unless it specifically states you cannot collect runoff such as in Colorado, you can collect rain water off your own roof in barrels.

What you cannot do is dam up rivers or streams, build ponds, and let them overflow and do certain other things to contain runoff from other than your roof. Some of the regulations do protect you and the rest of us. Suppose your neighbor dug a containment pond and let rain runoff fill it. You may have a private well on your land, and if your neighbor were careless about his or her farm equipment and let oils and fuels run into the pond what would this do to your private well. You really do not know what might be leaching into the ground water when there are large containment ponds that are not regulated close to your well.

Read the laws carefully, but the bottom line it is unlikely that if you have a few or even a dozen barrels under your gutter spout that anyone is going to jail or fine you. This of course is an opinion based on research, and it is up to you to do your due diligence before moving forward.

Anything you do has to be tempered with some common sense. There are regulations and there always will be. You can accomplish a lot as a Prepper if you do not draw attention to yourself and keep your plans to yourself. Neighbors and others with too much time on their hands always seem to want to have their nose stuck in everyone else’s business at times. Do not give anyone a reason to look to closely at what you are doing by keeping your plans a secret.

State of Minnesota, Department of Natural Resources. (n.d.). Retrieved 2015, from http://files.dnr.state.mn.us/publications/waters/water_law_questions_and_answers.pdf

Orpheus. (2015). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.enlight-inc.com/blog/?p=1036

Robison, M. (2015, May). Retrieved 2015, from http://www.rgj.com/story/news/2015/05/26/ask-rgj-can-nevadans-collect-rain-barrels/27983037/

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Water Bath Canning VS Pressure Canning

Water Bath Canning Versus Pressure Canning: There is a Deadly Difference

The botulinum bacteria if left to grow will produce spores and create a deadly toxin that can result in food borne botulism. The bacterium, “C. botulinum” is present in soil and in marine sediment. The spores can be found on many fruits and vegetables, but the spores are harmless at this stage, because to grow and to create toxins, they need a low oxygen, low acid environment.

The perfect low oxygen low acid environment would be in low acidic foods canned without sufficient heat to destroy the bacteria/spores. Hot water bath canning at 212° F removes the oxygen from the jars for example, but the heat is not adequate to destroy the bacteria thus, creating the perfect environment.

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How to Seal Food in Mylar Bags

Mylar Bags

Nearly every living creature on earth requires oxygen to survive. This includes bacteria and other little creatures that like to feast on your stored food. If you can remove the oxygen from the environment, then these little bugs can’t be present to munch on your preps. One way to do this is with Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers, so check out this excellent how to article by backdoor survival.com:

How to Seal Food in Mylar Bags

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Home Food Storage

Home Food Storage: Everything You Need to Know

If you have any questions about home food storage than this article should be able to answer them, it covers everything from the types of food to store down to developing and maintaining a deep pantry. It doesn’t matter if you only have a closet or a full basement to store your emergency food, this article will help you make the best of what space you have.

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Home Defense

 Home Defense

Part of prepping is also about protecting your family and all that you have accomplished. You simply cannot stockpile much needed supplies only to have them taken by force before, during or after a crisis strikes.

Naturally, you would turn to firearms for protection. Do you have the skills and the mental fortitude however needed to protect your family and possessions by using force, in some cases deadly force.

Do your hands, fingers and eyes automatically know what to do without hesitation when handling a firearm? Can you operate in low light and high stress situations and still maintain target acquisition.

Do you know where all non-combatants are at all times, even if you are suddenly awakened at 4am? Do you know the range from your front door to the end of the driveway, have you memorized all areas outside your front door that can be used for cover and for concealment?

If you have answered no to any of the questions then you have not trained enough.

You can take advantage of a quality firing range to gain familiarity with your weapons and bring along everyone else in the group or home that would be expected to fire the weapons. You always have to work as a team and if you become incapacitated during a firefight, you need someone there that can carry on the fight. All persons in the home that are old enough must be trained to operate any firearm that is in the home.

Training

Use snap caps when doing firearm drills at home. You should never practice with live ammunition unless you are on an approved firing range set up for combat drills and only after you have practiced sufficiently with your weapon. Some firing ranges allow tactical training drills where you can actively engage moving targets and allow you to practice handling various combat scenarios.

Snap caps are not blanks but are shaped just like live ammunition and they allow you to dry fire without damaging the firing pin and they are good for practicing combat reloading. Load up your shotgun saddle or belt loops with snap caps so you can begin practicing loading your weapons. You must get to the point where you can load using your hands only and not your eyes. The last person standing after the smoke clears is often times the one who could load the quickest.

Keep in mind the closer the ammunition is to your hands the faster you can reload

In years past the military and certain law enforcement units trained shooters to fire dry and then reload under cover but today however, they teach shooters to reload on the fly, fire one, and load one in many cases.

Many call it a combat reload and it takes hours of practice to become proficient. There are not any shortcuts, but there are certain techniques and speed loaders for revolvers for example but remember there is not any substitute for hours of training.

Simply dragging a weapon home, taking it out of the case, and showing it off to friends and family is not training. Too many people get lulled into a sense of security simply because they have a firearm somewhere in the home.

If the weapon is not in your hands, “in your well-trained hands” when it is needed then you have failed. There are no do over’s, there are no directors standing by to reshoot the scene you only get one chance in most cases during a firefight to get it right. Failure is not an option.

Keep in mind not only are you defending your family and possessions you are defending yourself. Practice seeking cover and concealment and do not confuse the two. Cover is protection from rounds whereas concealment means a shooter does not know where you are but this does not mean you have protection from direct or indirect fire. Practice allows you to maintain the target visually while your hands do what is needed. Practice firing and reloading from cover.

Practice and then practice some more. Keep in mind however, during practice the targets do not shoot back. This is where your mental fortitude is important. It is one thing to fire at stationary targets or even at live animals in the forest but when the targets fire back the game changes and how you react is what determines who is left standing when the smoke clears. One thing is certain, if you have not trained enough when the time comes, you may not be the one left standing.

Know your field of fire. You are responsible for every round that exits the muzzle. If you have a high-powered rifle and you are, firing at fleeing intruders your rounds could easily strike anyone walking or driving in the area and rounds can penetrate the walls of other homes, or penetrate the walls of your own home and cause injury and death. Additionally you may not be able to claim self-defense because your life was not in immediate danger if you fire at a fleeing subject, so know where your muzzle is pointed at all, times when the trigger is pulled.

People not trained properly in the use of a firearm can cause death and injury in a firefight to family members and neighbors while still not being able to get a round into the intruder that has kicked in the front door.

Field of fire must be established before you are forced to use your firearm to defend your home. Know what the distance is to all fixed objects outside your home. How far it is to the mailbox from your front door and is you weapon zeroed for that distance. How far is it to the barn or shed and so on?

If engaging inside your home range is not an issue but round penetration is if there are others in your home or if you have shared walls with other families and even neighbors across the street. Choose your firearms carefully for home defense and know your field of fire and always remember you will likely be engaged in close quarters combat.

High-powered rifles may be ideal for combat outside the home but do not always make ideal close combat weapons. Shotguns, called room organizers, by some units in the military are ideal weapons for close combat as are handguns.

Shotguns can be maneuvered relatively easily around corners and the rounds can be chosen to reduce wall or door penetration to prevent injuries to others in the home or area. Handguns in various calibers make ideal home defense weapons. You should consider having a shotgun and a handgun as backup. Shotguns fired dry are merely clubs but if you have a handgun holstered on your belt, you can transition if the need arises.

However, if you have an automatic shotgun you must be careful about using “light loads” or non-lethal ammunition to reduce recoil or to reduce penetration. Automatic shotguns cycle using the energy from the cartridge propellant and reducing the energy in the loads can cause “short strokes”.

Pump actions can fire any round regardless of propellant load because the cycling is done by the shooter using the pump action. Jams can be cleared easier with a pump action and a little dirt and grime is not likely to cause a jam whereas short strokes that cause jams are more frequent with automatics.

There is no right or wrong weapon and essentially any weapon or firearm you have when the door is kicked is a good one. Whatever one you choose though must become your close friend and you need to know every detail about your new friend and the only way to become acquainted is by practicing with your friend, a friend that may very well save your life one day.

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101 Camping Tips: For Campers, Preppers and Hikers

Camping under the stars

Camping knowledge is vital for survival in a shtf situation, so whether you’re a camper, prepper or a hiker I think you will find these camping tips very useful. So check out this excellent article below by CampingLife.com listing 101 tips that you can use the next time you find yourself spending a night or two under the stars. If you have never been camping then I highly suggest you give it a try, not only is it relaxing but it is also important to practice these skills.

101 Camping Tips: For Campers, Preppers and Hikers

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How To Hand Sew A Button

Hand sew button

Knowing how to hand sew is a great skill to have should you have to repair your own clothing. In fact, how many of you have a piece of clothing sitting in your closet that you haven’t worn because it has lost a button and you didn’t know how to repair it? Well here is a quick video by Jenny T. that will show you how to sew on a button, so give it a watch and and if you have any garments with missing buttons nows your chance to fix them.

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