State By State – Colorado

Population: 4.3 million.
Population Density: 41.3 per square mile (Rank 8 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 104,000 square miles (rank 8 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $881/yr. (rank 11 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $571/yr. (rank 12 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 26 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 74%.
Per capita income: $32,434 (rank 7 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 15 of 50.
Plusses: A low “total tax burden” of 8.4%. Has a high rating in “education freedom” for home schooling (ranked #8 of 50).
Minuses: Fairly high population density (by western U.S. standards.) The emerging Nanny State mentality is also troubling.
Parts of the state are recommended.
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 10 of 19.

Letter From “Buckshot” Bruce Re: Feral Dogs, Post-TEOTWAWKI

I started writing about this topic after reading that there are 100 millions dogs in America, back in the fall of 1998. Every year people e-mail with more true dog attack stories. Since that time I have put them in my newsletter. The first three articles are still posted here:

Now, in today’s climate of terrorist attacks, hurricanes that could cause an economy collapse changing America into chaos I think it might be something interesting to share. The premise is the majority of the people in bad times would let their pets go to fend for themselves. These pets would soon revert back to becoming predators. [JWR Comments: I portrayed precisely that in my screenplay Pulling Through–available for free download.] Once the chaos hit the cities and people start killing each other the dogs would start feeding on the dead bodies. These packs will then have a taste for human flesh and you will be considered food.

Canines like fresh kills the best. Something about the blood letting turn it into a frenzy like in a shark attack. If you want to see for yourself next time you’ve unthawed some meat save the bloody water in the foam tray. Carry this outside and spread it across your lawn. Let your dog out and watch what happens. To really open your eyes have two dogs checking it out at the same time. But I’d better let you know up front I am not responsible for the vet bills or human injuries–so be careful if you do this. In other words you’ll do so AT YOUR OWN RISK.

To get a glimpse into what an attack would sound like read this. This was posted to a forum and later e-mailed to me. Pretty graphic bone chilling descriptions. I am sorry I don’t know who the author is to give him/her credit.
“That is true primal fear ….”I don´t know what it is about dogs but there is a built in something inside of me that when I hear a pack of dogs attacking …..especially attacking another lone helpless dog (lets just stay with dogs for now)….there is something that goes click in me and every fiber of my being is set on the highest tension a person can experience….all hairs standing on end….stomach churning, panic/fear/tears/screams…..everything reactive instantly and at once. There are some folks alive who have never actually heard this except on t.v. and let me tell you it does not do justice to hearing these sounds for real and seeing the fangs/blood, flying flesh, gouged out eyes and horrific screams…yes screams of bloody murder coming from the dog being attacked….well, if you ever have this experience it will stay with you forever….most assuredly if in that experience you were totally helpless to stop/control/defend/run-from/drive off the pack and those long horrific minutes became unending video stuck on reply….forever. I guess it brings back a deep deep species memory of long ago when the nights were terrifying and not made for sleeping but rather for surviving until the dawn/daylight…. I guess that is why dogs still sleep so soundly during the day though they don´t remember why and I don´t sleep during the night….though I can´t forget. Keeps one alive when civilization is long dead and gone.”

I would like to add a few things every time this posted someone will always say “no way dogs will become food” or “coyotes will kill the dogs.” While it is true that coyotes do kill dogs mostly smaller ones or loners. Now you take a pack of 15 dogs against a normal coyote pack of 2 to 6 and the coyotes will become the food. Even though there is a number of coyotes in almost every state last time I heard the population average for coyotes in the Lower 48 was 10 million. That is a far cry from 100 million dogs.

The key point most people miss in this is what I call the rule of 50. At any given time the normal city person has about 50 miles worth of gas in their vehicle, less then $50 cash, less then 50 hours of food in the house, and less then 50 rounds of ammunition. If you research into what happen after 9-11. ATM shut down most people didn’t have any money, how many gas station were sold out within hours? How many rounds of ammunition were bought that day? How many could not buy any food? The funny ones are the people that think a club will be all they need against a pack of attacking dogs. Ever hit a Rottweiler in the head with baseball bat? Nope, me neither, but I saw it once and all it did was make the dog really mad. Now try it against a pack of 15 dogs attacking you… They will find your bat next to your torn up body.

Here is part of story in one of my Newsletters. Note this was after fighting and killing off most of a feral dog pack:

“The whole walk home I had the feeling I was being watched. I didn’t know by who until I went out to my jeep later that night. The last dog followed me home and attacked me as I was walking to my jeep. I think that was the alpha male because he was a ballsy and got me to the ground on his own. I ended up stabbing him about 25 times with my pocket knife before he quit biting me. I found him in an old rusted out car that was in a field about 2 days later.”

There are some really important points to be made here. One this is after killing off most of the pack, the Alpha had no fear of humans, the dog thought this human was trying to be the new Alpha and he was not going to let that happen until the two fought it out. What is very startling is the number of wounds from the pocket knife; 25 times. I’m just guessing it was small pocket knife with a 3 inch blade. Still it was a “to the death” fight in the dog’s mind. Also, even after all of those knife wounds the dog still got away and died out of sight.

These dog packs will range in size from 6-to-50 dogs. I don’t care how good a shot you are–if 20-to-50 dogs are attacking you are deep do-do. Have you ever tried to shoot a running coyote or deer? How many times did you miss? Now imagine trying to hit running dogs coming from all directions? A simple effective solution is to have 10 dozen coyote snares on hand. This is for a homestead-retreat. With some basic snare knowledge you can have 120 guards watching every animal path into your homestead. This will also be a great deterrent for coyotes and other vermin coming to feed on your livestock. Now I am NOT talking about homemade wire snares. Once a 20-to-70 pound feral dog hits one of these he will break it right off. Just like hot knife through butter. This is very bad for a couple of reasons. You just taught the dog to avoid snares making him warily and 10 times harder to catch the next time. No I am talking about real professional grade self locking snares made out aircraft cable rated up to 1,080 pounds of strength. But the large dog is only 100 pounds why so strong? Well the first thing you learn trapping is animal fight the trap or snare. They roll, twist bite, chew and used their strength to escape. Wild coyote have showed they could put 5 times their weight into breaking free. Simple math a 100 pound animal can put 500 pounds of breaking strength on a snare. Next rolling and twisting our snares come with a swivel to help prevent kinking or twisting. Biting ,coyotes can chew through the cable if you are not diligent in checking the snare every day. But this cable is perfect for a 24 hour check. Even with all it’s strength a coyote can still [eventually] chew through it. That is pretty amazing to me. – “Buckshot”

JWR’s Comment: I’ve known “Buckshot” Bruce Hemming for about eight years. I highly recommend his traps, snares, scents, and videos. (I have quite a few that I’ve bought from him over the years.) Buckshot will sell you 10 dozen professionally made coyote snares and a video for around $200. In a real long term grid-down TEOTWAWKI situation, traps and snares will be worth their weight in gold. You’ll be glad you have them for both the food and the protection that they will provide. To learn more, visit Buckshot’s Camp at:, or call (in the U.S. or Canada) for a free catalog: 1(888) 600-6869. If nothing else, at least sign up for Buckshot’s free newsletter at his web site. Disclaimer: I haven’t been paid or given any merchandise to write this. I’m in awe of the depth of his knowledge on trapping. (If you’ve seen any of his videos, then you know what I mean!) Lastly, I should mention that Buckshot is a new SurvivalBlog advertiser. But I would have run his letter, regardless!

Letter from The Army Aviator Re: Katadyn Versus Berkefeld Filters

Here are some useful specifications:
Katadyn Drip Filter
0.2 micron ceramic depth filter (Note: This is the ABSOLUTE filtration specification, NOT the Nominal filtration rating.)
British Berkefeld Big Berkey

With filtration rating efficiencies of >98% down to 0.2 microns >99.9% at 0.5 microns >99.99% at 0.9 microns (Spectrum Labs).
Note: Berkefeld’s ABSOLUTE filtration specification is 0.9 microns. (See the above line.)

I ‘ve watched the PR advertisements regarding Berkefeld and just sat there shaking my head. I was sent some Berkefeld filter replacements which were touted as equal to Katadyn’s but a much better price. NOT! When I read the spec’s on the filter, I sent them back and bought Katadyn’s. (Actually, it’s just as cheap to buy a new complete drip unit as to buy replacement filters. Well, within $15 bucks anyway.) Don’t get me wrong, Berkey’s do filter …..but Katadyn does it a lot better.

Oh, I tried the Gravidyn filter element by Katadyn, which has the carbon filter built in but they are to be changed every six months. Not worth the cost for me unless I lived in a city. With the Ceradyn filters, you use them until they are worn out. That’s a lot better for a long run need and mine generally last 6 years.

I should mention that when you buy a complete new Katadyn replacement unit, you still have the old one which wasn’t totally useless. Eventually you end up with ones you could give to the needy neighbors who could get by on it. Just a pet peeve where I think the American consumer is being misled. Gosh, like that’s uncommon, huh? I hope that Berkefeld isn’t supporting your blog 😉 – The Army Aviator

Note from JWR:

Today, I cover California–the third of 19 states in my rankings of retreat potential.

I would appreciate your help finding more advertisers for SurvivalBlog. If you know of someone that offers goods or services related to preparedness (such as tools, water purifiers, guns, gunsmithing, custom knives, first aid kits, photovoltaics, communications equipment, food storage, web gear, et cetera) please let them know about Currently, small ads are just $40 per month!

State By State – California

Population: 34 million+.
Population Density: 214 per square mile (Rank 1 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 158,706 square miles (rank 3 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $765/yr. (rank 23 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $592/yr. (rank 9 of 50),
Crime Safety Ranking: 39 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 30%.
Per capita income: $32,149 (rank 8 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 37 of 50.
Plusses: Mild climate and a long growing seasons in most parts of the state. High wages.
Minuses: Excessive population density, high crime rate, copious smog, high cost of living, aggravating traffic, earthquake prone, over-inflated real estate prices, expensive building permits, restrictive zoning, high sales tax (as much as 8.5% in some counties!), draconian gun control laws, MTBE-tainted municipal and well water, high income and property taxes, multiple terrorist and WWIII targets, mediocre public schools, a cluttered radio spectrum, a state budget crisis that has reduced the state’s bonds to junk bond status, a proliferation of anti-small business and environmental regulations, exploding illegal immigration, anti-home schooling legislators, expensive car registration, high car insurance rates, the highest worker’s compensation insurance cost in the nation ($5.23 per $100 in payroll!), high health insurance rates, a very litigious and biased court system, and an ever-expanding socialistic Nanny State. California K-to-12 students ranks 48th of the 50 states in academics. California is definitely not recommended, except perhaps for those committed to the anti-gun pacifist school of survivalism and willing to home school their kids, and then only in the most remote portions of the state–far northern California. (Such as Humboldt, Modoc, or Trinity County) or perhaps the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.(Such as the Bishop or Lone Pine areas.)
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 19 of 19.

JWR adds: I included California in my rankings of 19 states partly to show some contrasts to the other states listed. Because so many SurvivalBlog readers live in California, I hope that this serves as encouragement for them to "vote with their feet."

Letter Re: Missouri’s Retreat Potential

I see that Missouri is not on your list.  There are a lot of good things to say about the Ozarks of Southern Missouri (and Northern Arkansas).  Self reliant culture which is pro gun and private property and which respects people’s privacy.  There is very low population density in many counties (such as Shannon population 8,300, Reynolds 6,700, Oregon 10,300, and Carter 5,900). Very low cost of living and a very homogeneous population (mostly Scotch-Irish). You find people from California moving to Missouri since they can live on just their Social Security there. Regards, – “Nearnorth”

JWR Replies: Your point is well taken. however, as a whole, Missouri is too populous to be recommended. It has a population of over 6 million which equates to 1448.4 per square mile. That is more than four times the population density of California, which just barely made my list. Take another look at the “Lights of the U.S.” photo maps at:

Missouri also has an increasingly intrusive government. Even if you live in a lightly populated county, you still have to contend with the state regulations. (This, BTW, is the same predicament faced by people who live in the rural counties of Colorado, eastern Oregon, eastern Washington, and northern California.) Also, consider the number of nuclear targets in the state (The following list is courtesy of Richard Fleetwood at
Primary Targets: Whiteman AFB complex (Minuteman missiles, area within a line connecting Freeman, Richmond, Arrow Rock, California, Gravois Mills, Osceola, Stockton, Sheldon, Rich Hill, west to state line to Freeman again).
Secondary Targets: St. Louis, Kansas City, Fort Leonard Wood.
Tertiary Targets: Columbia, Springfield, St. Joseph.

Letter Re: Large Volume Liquid Fuel Storage

Mr. Rawles,
Many thanks for an excellent web site!  I read it daily with much anticipation.  Your book Patriots is a first-class work as well. 
Storing fuel is a must for a survival retreat.  Having said that, how do you get delivered several hundred gallons of diesel (or gas) without raising eyebrows?  I live in the rural Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina on a mountain top.  Very private and quiet, but not a farm.  Maybe it is easier than I presume and nothing would raise flags to delivery folks filling a couple of above ground tanks.  Is there an approach that has worked for you or your readers?

OBTW, your Retreat Owner Profiles are super–keep up the good work! – S.P.

JWR Replies: As mentioned in previous blog posts, I recommend getting the largest underground fuel tanks that you can afford, but of course no larger than the maximum allowable under your local law. I also recommend that you purchase the tanks from a company that is a long distance away, and that you have workmen from that same company handle the delivery and installation. That will keep local rumors to a minimum. For example, one of my good friends in Clearwater County, Idaho ordered his gas and diesel tanks from a company in Missoula, Montana, more than 100 miles away. The shipping was expensive, but this was offset by the fact that Montana has no state sales tax. OBTW, the fiberglass fake basalt rocks covering the filler necks and hose stands are a nice touch.

As for the local companies that fill your tanks, there are a couple of obfuscatory statements that might prove helpful: “I only got this big tank because I want to be able to ride out large price fluctuations.” Or, “I need to keep this much diesel on hand because I’m co-owner of a (fill in the blank) company.” (Trucking, logging, et cetera)

The most expensive but most discreet approach is available for “Secret Squirrels” with a big budget: As I just described, have your large underground tanks installed by a company from at least 50 miles away. Then order your fuel in small increments (200 gallons or less) from several different vendors, preferably from 30+ miles away. There is no way for them to know the capacity of your underground tank just by looking at the exposed filler neck–unless of course the curvature of the tank also shows. Shelling out for multiple delivery charges is a high price to pay for privacy, but TANSTAAFL. Parenthetically, I have one acquaintance in Wyoming that has an 80 gallon diesel “L” shaped tank (the under tool box type) in the bed of his his dualie F350 diesel pickup. He buys diesel 90+ gallons at a time on his weekly trips to Cheyenne. Once he gets home, he pumps it into his 3,000 gallon diesel tank at home. It is a slow process, by very discreet.

Hurricane Katrina Update:

The situation on the Gulf Coast is still fairly grim. The evacuation is nearly complete, and much needed supplies are now pouring in. But the communities that are still hurting the most are the small inland towns that were cut off from communications and that still don’t have power restored. The power utilities are making Herculean efforts to get power restored, but is is a slow process. Their crews are working around the clock. These are good men doing a commendable job.

The bureaucrats at FEMA are getting mostly bad reviews for their performance in coordinating the disaster relief effort. Who ever dreamed up the concept of managing an emergency? Methinks that in the long run it will be religious charities and small private charity organizations that will do the most good for the most folks, using funds with the greatest efficiency. Large charity organizations and government bureaucracies always tend toward high overhead costs, misdirected efforts, and gross inefficiency.

There have been some interesting exchanges about the implications of Hurricane Katrina over on The Claire Files (The discussion forums at Claire Wolfe’s blog.)

Over at Keep and Bear Arms there are some tidbits about firearm used for self defense, post-Katrina. I’m sure that it is just a matter of time before that hopeless Hopolophobe Josh Sugarman and the rest of the civilian disarmament crowd get around to claiming that privately owned guns somehow caused the looting problem. I have news for them: Guns aren’t the cause of looting. They are the solution.

And don’t miss the 20 Most Stupid Quotes About Hurricane Katrina

State By State – Arkansas

Population: 2.67 million.
Population Density: 50.2 per square mile (Rank 5 of JWR’s top 19 states).
Area: 53,187 square miles (rank 27 of 50).
Average car insurance cost: $721/yr. (rank 30 of 50).
Average home insurance cost: $494/yr. (rank 19 of 50).
Crime Safety Ranking: 8 of 50.
Boston T. Party’s State Firearms Laws Ranking: 66%.
Per capita income: $21,995 (rank 49 of 50).
ACT & SAT Scores Ranking: 23 of 50.
Plusses: Low property taxes.
Minuses: High population density (by western states standards.) Tornado prone (ranked #5 out of top 20 States). Poverty. The Arkansas economy barely scrapes by, even in good times. The state has a fairly large welfare dependent under class. This could prove problematic in the event of TEOTWAWKI. Poorly educated populace. For example: High school graduates, percent of persons age 25+, (2000 stats): 75.3%, versus 80.4% nationwide. Bachelor’s degree or higher, percentage of persons age 25+, (2000 stats): 16.7%, versus 24.4% nationwide. Note: Look for natural gas producing areas so that you can run your pickup on “drip” oil. (See my posts in the Archives on alternate fuels.)
JWR’s Combined Retreat Potential Ranking: 16 of 19.

A Recent Relocatee to Arkansas (and Regular SurvivalBlog Contributor) Comments:

I researched for several years and made five trips to Arkansas in 18 months or so and as a “retreat” area North Central Arkansas wins on many levels for my needs. The statistics you quote, I’m sure, are valid as an overall state average, BUT most of the population seems to be in the Southern and West/East portions of the state and that seems to be where most of the tornados occur, and also where welfare recipients live. [JWR adds: This adds credence to my theory that tornadoes are mysteriously guided by some unseen force toward single-wide trailer parks.] There is a very homogenous population in this area with lots of well-attended churches and close family ties. One does not need a Bachelor’s to take over Dad’s logging or sawmill business or river/fishing guide business. Up here in the North Central area in the Ozarks things are really not fitting your averages. My criteria on a new AO was an sparsely populated area, a longer growing season than the maybe 90 days I had [in northern Nevada] for the last 16 years, better/shorter winter season, water availability, less expensive cost of living for basics, and lack of bureaucratic interference. The northern counties of Arkansas seem to fit the criteria perfectly. So far my propane, building supplies, fencing, food costs, and car insurance/license/tags are far less than I had been paying. Yes, the education system is poor and conventional jobs are scarce. However, the folks are friendly to newcomers without being nosey, one does not seem to need a permit for doing any improvements to property, and self-employment (under the table income) is rampant here and the work provided to customers is excellent. Land is, in my opinion, very cheap here to buy compared to lots of other areas in the U.S. – averaging $500-to-$1000 per acre with the higher pricing on lakeside properties. Good fishing, good hunting, good weather, good friends – just what I was looking for. Cities are cities anywhere one goes and that seems to be where the “problems” or potential problems congregate. Rural is rural, by the same token. I know your focus is/has been communities of like-minded folks banded together for safety and survival. I, personally, think that will happen much more shortly after a SHTF scenario than before such an event(s). I, like many others I know, have been laying the groundwork for that latter scenario, but it’s not that comfortable to do it now, in advance. The plans are there, ready to put into action, but in the meantime, we are all working on our own plans for now and in the future and we stay in communication regarding such plans while still maintaining our privacy and property, if that makes sense to you. We, amongst my friends, know who will/can do what and provide what in most any disaster and we keep those plans in mind while we develop our individual projects.

Letter Re: U.S. Population Density, Nuclear Reactors, and Primitive Skills

JWR,  It may be of some assistance for you to check out  It will support your position on locating west of the Mississippi by showing Nuclear Power Reactors in the United States in map form. It also is an eye opener!

One of your “Bloggers” recently suggested that more information on primitive subjects should be looked into.  Since I have been taking so much information from your Blog,  I felt that I must contribute! See: – G.C.P.

Letter Re: Product Review of Rite in The Rain Waterproof Paper

Hello All,
I have two of the size that fits in your shirt pocket. That’s where this little product endorsement starts. I was out in the bush one weekend and used my note pad extensively. As usual I got really dirty and forgot to retrieve my Rite in the Rain note book from my shirt pocket. Well, I washed it in the washing machine and dried it in the dryer as well. Upon discovering this I felt really silly, however, to my surprise the note book and all my hen scratching was still intact and readable. I could still write on the paper and it is still water proof.  So, this stuff really works in my “book”. Regards, Larry

Letter From The Goat Lady Re: Free Survival Medicine Reference

In your spare time (LOL) you might want to check out this book, downloadable free at or hard copy at
Survival and Austere medicine would be a REALLY handy thing to have in a SHTF situation as it’s practical info, field tested, and doable by a non-medical person.  All the authors are in the medical field either as MDs, EMTs, RNs, etc.  They knoweth what they are doing and talking about.  Chapter 8 is really good on herbs, preps, uses, and the content is approved by the above listed medical personal.  I think Chapter 8 is really good for beginner or experienced herb users (I should think it’s great – I wrote it). 
Anyway, try to find time to give it a peruse – it may be helpful to lots of your readers – the authors do not get any kickback or anything – this was a labor of love and caring, and is a free download for anyone.  Best, Norma aka Goatlady