Notes from JWR:

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I’m put up the blog posts for December 30 and 31 early, to allow time for my son to start assembling our updated Archive DVD. This new edition will cover 2005 to 2012, and have even more bonus material than the previous edition (Which was on a CD-ROM). It will first be available as a digital download, and then in about two weeks as a DVD. (This will allow us time to test prototypes.) You can look for an announcement around January 5th. Thanks for your patience.

Beat the price increase! “Appleseed Gift Certificates for men on sale for only fifty dollars! (Until midnight, December 31, 2012.) Appleseed fees for men will increase to $80 in January, 2013. So here’s your chance to get that friend or family member out to an Appleseed event and save $30 before the price increase.”

Pat’s Product Review: Emberlit Camp Stove

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I’d like to believe that after Earth for more than 61 years, that I’m getting a little bit smarter in my old age. Well, maybe not smarter, but a bit wiser, might be a better description. There was a time, not too many years ago, when I could hump 50-pounds around the boonies, with a full-set of A.L.I.C.E. gear and a full combat load of ammo and some manner of AR-15. Those days are long gone! However, I’m actually in better shape physically these days, than I was 10 years ago, but that doesn’t mean that I want to pack more gear than needed in my BOB. To this end, is why I believe I’m getting a little bit wiser. I still want to be able to survive – as best I can – with the smallest amount of gear that I can carry. If you believe you can haul all the gear and equipment on your back that you’ll need for long-term survival in the wilderness, you are only kidding yourself. However, we can pack smarter, and make wilderness survival a bit easier.
 
Like many folks, I enjoy a good camp fire, however that isn’t always needed, especially when cooking a meal. If you’ve ever had to gather wood out on a camping trip, or a survival training weekend, you know it can be a lot of work to gather enough wood to keep you going for several days. Consider the Emberlit Camp Stove that can making camping and wilderness survival a lot easier in many respects. With the Emberlit Camp Stove, you don’t need to build a big camp fire to cook your meals, all your cooking can be done with this small camp stove, and a very small amount of wood, or other products that you can burn in this neat little stove.
 
The full specs on the Emberlit Camp Stove are available at their web site, so we’ll only touch on a couple of them: First off all, the stove is only 1/8th of a inch thick when folded flat. And, the stainless steel model only weighs in at 11.3-ounces and is 100% Made In America. There is also an Emberlit Camp Stove made out of Titanium, and it weighs a mere 5.45-ounces. I tested both stoves, and for my money, I’d pay a little bit more and get the Titanium model – remember, I talked about saving weight in a BOB – this saves a few more ounces.
 
I’ve tried quite a few small camp or cook stoves over the years, and while they all worked to one degree or another, they all required that I carry fuel with me – some required small tablets that when lit produced a heat source. Others required Butane gas, and some required white gas or propane, or even a gel – all a pain to have to carry in the boonies, and you are adding a lot of weight by having to carry these sources of fuel – plus some of the stoves were just too big to carry in a pack. I want to accomplish the same tasks with less weight and less bulk these days – again, I’m getting wiser and thinking smarter these days.
 
The Emberlit Camp Stove assembles in a minute or less, and your don’t even need to read the directions that come with it – I like simple, and simple usually equates to stronger and better in my book – less things to go wrong. You can also get an optional carrying case for the Emberlit Camp Stove – although I believe in my humble opinion that, the carry case should be included with the stove, instead of being sold at $6.95 – but the carrying case does fit nicely on a belt, if you don’t want to carry it in your pack. Still, I believe the carrying case should be included with each stove – just my take on it.
 
We were still in the burn ban part of Fall when I tested the Emberlit Camp Stove, so I had to do my testing in my covered carport, instead of out in the woods. Still, I believe I gave the Emberlit a good work-out several times – cooking several meals without any problems. And, believe it or not, this little stove would really get good and hot with just some small twigs. I did have to add some twigs during the cooking process because the stove is so small, you can only fit so many twigs in the stove at any given time. Still, I had no problem cooking over the stove, with my camp cook gear – read: military pan/tray. I even tried doing some cooking with wadded-up newspaper (without colored ink, of course), and I could cook with that – although I did have to constantly feed the fuel into the stove – still, it worked just fine.
 
I spoke of “simple” and this is about as simple as it comes for a camp stove – again, simple means stronger and with less things to break. Emberlit does offer extra cross bar members for their stoves, and it’s probably a good idea to have a spare set on-hand, just in case. When the power grids go down, and you’ve run out of propane or natural gas doesn’t flow to your kitchen stove any longer, the Emberlit Camp Stove can be a real life saver. And, with the small amount of wood it takes to cook a meal, a person can easy scavenge enough wood to keep the stove cooking for a good long time – just about anything that can burn can be used as a fuel. You could even burn some old tax code books if you had to. A face cord of wood, split into small pieces and cut-to-fit the Emberlit Camp Stove would probably last you a couple years of daily use. I’ve also written about  having a source of safe water to drink, and one way to have safe water is to bring it to near a boil – and you can easily do this with the Emberlit Camp Stove, too.
 
The Emberlit Camp Stove is the brain-child of Mikhail Merkurieff, and he categorically states on his web site that he wants all his customers be happy with their purchase, period! How many times have you read that you have a one-year warranty, or a limited lifetime warranty on a product, and there are always “ifs ands and buts” when it comes to placing a claim. Merkurieff doesn’t put limits on his promise: If you aren’t happy with his products, for any reason, he wants to make it right. That is very refreshing in this day and age.
 
The basic stainless steel stove cost $39.95, and the Titanium model is on-sale right now for $64.95 and a mini Ti model is on sale for $59.95 – for my money, the Titanium version is worth the added cost. Remember what I said about packing smarter? Well, if you can shave off a couple ounces here and there, it adds-up in short order, and any more, I don’t want to pack one more ounce of gear than I need to carry. I really believe I’m getting wiser in my old age.- SurvivalBlog Field Gear Editor Pat Cascio

Harry’s Book Review: Last of the Breed

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Author: Louis L’Amour
Copyright Date: 1987
Publisher: Bantam
ISBN: 978-055
Audio, e-book or foreign translation available? Yes, Audio, Kindle & Nook
Suitable for children? Teens and up, yes, particularly males.

I did not pick up the novel Last of the Breed thinking it would be for a SurvivalBlog review topic. Louis L’Amour is one of the authors I read as “mind candy”, an easy read just for the fun of it. However, I quickly realized that this book is one of L’Amour’s exceptional works and an excellent read for anyone who lives or is thinking of living in the American Redoubt.

Unlike most of Louis L’Amour’s books, this novel is set in Siberia, and set in relatively modern times. There are airplanes and automobiles. Perhaps the best clue as to the date is the construction of the railroad in the Amur region which would put the time right about the late 1950s. This would help explain why certain technologies were not a factor in this novel.

Although there are no cowboys, horses or dusty saloons, there is an Indian. Major Joe Makatozi is part Cheyenne and Sioux Indian, and in the author’s words “an unreconstructed savage.” And while Siberia may be unfamiliar territory to many folks, it is deliberately compared to the American Redoubt, particularly the Snake River territory in Idaho. This is where Joe Mak grew up and where he developed the skill set which makes all the difference in this novel.

Joe Mak was raised in a home which would be the dream home of many preppers. Built by an ancestral Scotsman, the home was in an area without roads and entirely off grid. Trips to town were accomplished in avoidance of all roads. It would be regarded as a primitive home in the eyes of many, but it was excellent preparation for the circumstances with which Joe Mak had to contend.

Spoilers Ahead!

Colonel Arkady Zamatev of the Russian army had a plan to advance his career by acquiring military intelligence for the USSR. His plan was to kidnap fairly low profile individuals who had knowledge of key, cutting edge foreign military and scientific technology. His first several captures went perfectly, and with the confidence of those successes he decided to pursue and capture Joe Makatozi, a pilot with knowledge of the developments of experimental aircraft. And indeed, Zamatev was successful in capturing Joe Mak and bringing him to the specially dedicated prison near Lake Baikal in Siberia. This prison was purpose built, and in fact, still under construction. Set in the midst of one of the harshest climates on earth, surrounded by ten foot tall electrified fences with machine gun towers every one hundred yards it was inconceivable that anyone would even think of trying to escape, yet Joe Mak did just that. Under cover of a brief electrical service interruption Joe Mak pole vaulted the fence and sprinted into the forest, setting into motion a manhunt involving competing political interests and a hostile natural environment.

It was initially thought that it would not be at all difficult to recapture Joe. In fact, it was considered that he would probably be eager to turn himself in if the cold didn’t get him first. However, these were the thoughts of men who could not conceive of an individual of the type they were actually dealing with.

The one person who had a sense of what they were up against was a Yakut tracker by the name of Alekhin. The Yakut were Siberia’s natives and compared fairly well to the American Indian. Alekhin was a legendary tracker, known for always finding his man, but also for always bringing him back dead. Zamatev made it clear that at least this time Alekhin’s quarry had to come back alive and at least able to speak.

From a survival perspective things don’t get much more bleak. Joe Makatozi is in a foreign country where he doesn’t even speak the language. He is on his own in a deadly cold environment with nothing more than the clothes on his back. He has the army and a skilled tracker on his trail. And there is no one he can call on for help.

It must be admitted that Joe has to resort to theft at several points. Just to make it through the first week he steals a few cans of food, a sweatshirt and a knife. But these are all he needs to get himself into a position in which he can sustain himself. From there he was able to fashion himself a spear and a sling for hunting. Able to hunt he was then able to procure skins for warmth, and once able to kill an animal large enough he was able to obtain sinews for a bow string. Making a bow and knapping his own arrowheads he was able to kill at a distance and bring down even larger game. This allowed him to make his own moccasins to replace the boots he was wearing out. This also made him even harder to track.

Lacking knowledge of the area he was traveling posed a real challenge. It was very much his desire to avoid all human contact. This meant avoiding population centers and transportation corridors. Crossing rivers and mountain ranges posed a challenge. Eventually Joe managed to steal a map, but even then it was difficult to pinpoint precisely where he was. Much of the time he simply had to rely on his own knowledge of the general geography of the area.

One factor which Joe had in his favor is the fact that Siberia is a climate which tends to harbor only those who are of a self-sufficient nature. These folks tend to be inherently distrustful of the government. As a result, most of those who Joe did encounter were in no hurry to turn him in to the authorities, but rather were inclined to let him go on his way and let things work themselves out.

Eventually Joe even finds himself among others who are fugitives in one sense or another. Because Joe is a skillful hunter and can provide food for those who are otherwise on the verge of starvation his presence is tolerated in spite of the high profile search for him which is underway. In this setting Joe is able to learn some of the language and how best to proceed on his course. This situation does not last long, but it provides Joe with better shelter through some of the worst of the Siberian winter.

Overall, this novel covers most of a year. Joe’s rate of travel is necessarily slow, and there are times when he must remain in shelter for extended periods of time. His demeanor throughout the ordeal ranges the gamut from being at the point of laying down to die all the way to hunting those who hunt him. At no point is this a slow read. Louis L’Amour keeps the reader on the edge of their seat all the way through this one. There is simply no point in which Joe’s life is not in immediate danger. Be it from man, nature or self, Joe’s future is constantly in jeopardy.

I will not spoil the ending as to do so would seriously detract from the crafting of this novel, and it is an excellently crafted work. This book was published towards the end of Louis L’Amour’s career, and it is one of his most refined. The novel opens with a preview of a scene which will take place later in the story. No clues are given as to how much later, and thus a sense of mystery is added to the story. That mystery is very well resolved by the end and in a manner which a warrior will find quite satisfactory. Those of a tender heart and a peace loving nature may not enjoy this novel, but a fighter will relate to it quite well.

This novel does not go to the level of detail to teach the skills required for survival, but it does give the reader a sense of what they must know in order to keep themselves alive in this setting. It should also be noted that the level of physical fitness required is that of a near olympic level decathlete. A substantial part of Joe’s success is the fact that his enemies cannot conceive of his level of skill and his degree of physical ability. It is not that average person who can manage this, the author makes that clear. It should also be noted that a modern manhunt would involve modern technologies which would make Joe’s flight much more difficult. I still found it a great read and an instructive one.

Letter Re: AR-15 Rifle and Pistol Legality in the U.S.

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Mr Rawles,

In the Odds ‘n Sods section on Saturday 29 December, a reader indicates that, regarding AR pistols: “Most people don’t realize they exist, and that they can be legally converted to rifles, and back”. Anyone considering this route to acquiring an AR rifle should be very aware of the relevant laws about assembling an AR rifle from the pistol configuration. As the rule has been explained to me, any rifle with a barrel less than 16″ in length would be considered a ‘short-barelled rifle’ and would fall under the regulation of the National Firearms Act (NFA), i.e., would become a ‘Class 3′ weapon. As most AR pistols are sold with barrels ranging in length from 7.5″ to perhaps 13.5″‘ a rifle assembled from such a pistol may indeed fall under the NFA. ATF Ruling 2011-4 and related information may help clarify the rules for anyone considering such a conversion. 

I wouldn’t want to see any of your otherwise law-abiding readers get caught out on this issue. Please check the laws before converting an AR pistol to a rifle, and back!

God Bless, and keep up the good work. – NMShooter

Letter Re: Internet Service in The American Redoubt

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Hello, 
I just read your article The American Redoubt — Move to the Mountain States.  I am confused about something.  On one hand you said to not expect high speed Internet then scrolling down further you refer to using the Internet.  There must be some sort of Internet service where you are. 
 
My income is acquired using my computer and high speed Internet.  So does that leave me out?
 
Thanks for your time. – Deborah T. in California

JWR Replies: There is dial-up Internet available in most towns in the Redoubt, but high speed (DSL, or better) is available in just a few towns and cities.  The good news, however, is that high speed Internet service is available everywhere if you are willing to pay more for satellite Internet service.  (Such as Direct PC or WildBlue.)

Check with your realtor, and include DSL on your wish list, if that is a priority.

Recipe of the Week:

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S.A.’s Killer Potato Soup

I was given this hand-written, hearty recipe 20 years ago by an Air Force wife. It’s super nutritious including several vegetables, potatoes for carbs, and bacon for protein.

When planning meals, I like to think of how to incorporate small amounts of protein (a la Dan Fong in Patriots) for nutrition and flavoring from stored foods such as canned meats and either commercial dehydrated foods or my own stores. This soup features root vegetables and is a great starter or can be the meal along with some good bread. It’s easy to make as nothing needs to be pre-cooked or sauteed.

4 large potatoes
2 stalks celery 
2 T beef bouillon granules
2 strips canned bacon (or use fresh)
4 carrots 
1 large onion
1/2 t. pepper

Peel vegetables, dice everything.  Combine ingredients, add water, about 2 inches to cover all. If using dried veggies, adjust water for rehydration. Cook everything until soft.  Allow to cool.  Puree in blender.  Heat to serve.

Chef’s Notes:

Sprinkle a little paprika or cheese or chopped herbs on top, if desired. A real crowd pleaser. Who doesn’t like bacon and potatoes and tons of flavor?

Useful Recipe and Cooking Links:

Reader Louise B. recommended The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 6,500 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment and Techniques by David Joachim

liked this: Homemade Meals In A Jar

Currently Available as Free Kindle e-Books:

Cavelady Cooking: 50 Fun Recipes for Paleo, Low-Carb and Gluten-Free Diets

The Man Cave Cookbook: More Than 150 Fast and Easy Recipes for Dining In The Man Cave

Do you have a favorite recipe that would be of interest to SurvivalBlog readers? Please send it via e-mail. Thanks!

Economics and Investing:

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What Happens When the Bond Markets Turn Against the US?

A Brief 2,000-Year History of Silver Prices (Thanks to Terry F. for the link.)

C.D.V. sent: Kyle Bass: “This Ends in War; The Government’s Never Going to Tell You That It’s Going To Happen.”

Items from The Economatrix:

Fiscal Cliff Could Put Your Tax Refund On Hold

Fewer Banks Fail As Industry Strengthens

Fiscal Cliff:  What To Expect If There Is No Deal

Odds ‘n Sods:

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First Detailed National Map of Land-Cover Vegetation in U.S. (Thanks to Timothy B. for the link.)

   o o o

Sale ends December 31st! Ready Made Resources has extended their special pricing on genuine full mil-spec AN/PVS-14 Gen 3+ night vision scopes. They are offering these “grade A” autogated scopes with a free Picatinny rail weapons mount, free shutter eyepiece and free shipping. As usual, these include a head mount and carry case. These have a five year warranty and free annual maintenance for five years. Normally $3,895, these are on sale for $2,795 with free shipping. FWIW, I recently bought a second one of these monoculars for our use here at the Rawles Ranch. (After all, “Two is one and one is none.”)

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Nearly 200 Utah Teachers, School Workers Attend Free Concealed Weapons Class

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K.A.F. sent this news from Nanny State Britannia: British Medical Journal: Ban Long Knives

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How to Zero your AR15 / M4. (Thanks to F.G. for the link.)

Jim’s Quote of the Day:

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“Health, love and peace be all here in this place
By your leave we shall sing, concerning our King.
Our King is well-dressed in silks of the best
In ribbons so rare no king can compare.
We have travelled many miles over hedges and stiles,
In search of our King unto you we bring.
We have powder and shot to conquer the lot,
We have cannon and ball to conquer them all.
Old Christmas is past, twelve tide is the last
And we bid you adieu, great joy to the new.” – Lyrics to The King (as sung by Steeleye Span and later popularized by Loreena McKennitt)

Notes from JWR:

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December 30th is the birthday of Rudyard Kipling, in 1865.

Today we present another entry for Round 44 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The prizes for this round include:

First Prize: A.) A gift certificate worth $1,000, courtesy of Spec Ops Brand, B.) A course certificate from onPoint Tactical. This certificate will be for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses. (Excluding those restricted for military or government teams.) Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795, and C.) Two cases of Mountain House freeze dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources. (A $350 value.) D.) a $300 gift certificate from CJL Enterprize, for any of their military surplus gear, E.) A 9-Tray Excalibur Food Dehydrator from Safecastle.com (a $300 value), and F.) A $250 gift certificate from Sunflower Ammo. and G.) A $200 gift certificate, donated by Shelf Reliance.

Second Prize: A.) A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training. Together, these have a retail value of $589. B.) A FloJak FP-50 stainless steel hand well pump (a $600 value), courtesy of FloJak.com. C.) A “grab bag” of preparedness gear and books from Jim’s Amazing Secret Bunker of Redundant Redundancy (JASBORR) with a retail value of at least $300, D.) A $250 gift card from Emergency Essentials, E.) Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value) and F.) A Tactical Trauma Bag #3 from JRH Enterprises (a $200 value).

Third Prize: A.) A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21. (This filter system is a $275 value.), B.) A large handmade clothes drying rack, a washboard and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206, C.) Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners, donated by Naturally Cozy. This is a $185 retail value, D.) A Commence Fire! emergency stove with three tinder refill kits. (A $160 value.), and E.) Two Super Survival Pack seed collections, a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security.

Round 44 ends on January 31st, 2013, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

Letter Re: Observations on Bugging Out By Foot

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Dear Captain Rawles,
Thank you for your fascinating web site!

I found the article entitled, “Observations on Bugging Out By Foot, by J. Smith” to be generally interesting and useful with his shared experiences.  Three items within the article bothered me somewhat and you had an editor’s note on at least one of them.

I think that using a plastic fake gun and some M-80s to simulate firing will get you killed or at least arrested.  If you are stealthy enough in your travels, you shouldn’t need to brandish a weapon.  Perhaps carrying a take down .22 rifle in your pack would be a better idea.  At least you can hunt some with it.

That takes me to my second point.  Scrounging in some farmer’s field could get you shot or arrested for trespassing.  I feel it would be better to try to speak with the property owner first and get permission.  Heck, who knows, he might give you temporary housing and job that pays money of some kind, plus feed you too!

Having a fishing/hunting license for the state your in will save you some questions from a game warden.  Here in Texas, both a fishing license and hunting license combo is fairly inexpensive.  You’ll need the hunting license to gig frogs along with snaring rabbits (no seasonal limits) and squirrels (sporadic seasonal limits).  Fishing with a pole and line is just about legal anywhere and using trot lines and bank lines is generally acceptable but not everywhere.  Fishing gear can double as snare gear too!  Also, a book on your state’s edible plants would be a good addition to your kit.

Lastly, drinking wild water could be a major health issue.  I’m glad J. Smith didn’t get sick from doing that and also glad that he recommends against that.

However, all in all, I did enjoy the article.  I found it useful with my thinking process on the subject.  

Cordially, – Steve H.