The Reality of Aging and Prepping – Part 1, by Muscadine Hunter

To one extent or another I have been a prepper since I was in junior high school, 50 years ago. My dad was an avid outdoorsman who taught me to fish when I was old enough to hold a pole and taught me to shoot when I was 6 years old. By age 15 I was shooting skeet in state competition and began learning the art of reloading. I started bowhunting with a recurve bow when I was about 13 and had learned to make my own arrows, using blank shafts, by the time I was 15. Also, during my early teen years my best friend, who was a full-blooded Cherokee Native American, began teaching me about edible plants.

Now, 50 years later, I’m still learning. But age has taken its toll on my body. Two bad knees make it extremely painful to get around and impossible to escape and evade, run, or traverse rough terrain. Also, open-heart surgery two years ago forced me on to a daily regimen of medication which could be a problem when the SHTF. But, my lack of mobility does not mean I am unable to do my part in our survival group. In fact, I have a standing offer from two other groups to join up with them should the group I chose to link up with becomes unsatisfactory. I’m am not saying this to brag because all of my skills and knowledge come from God, without Him I can do nothing on my own.

I tell you this because the majority of articles I read on SurvivalBlog and most other preparedness web sites seem to focus more on a person’s tactical ability. I think many “groups” have the belief that unless you are physically fit enough to pass a Marine Corp PT test, then you are a liability. I should mention that I found SurvivalBlog just three months after Mr. Rawles started it, 15 years ago, and I read it daily.

What I have lost in physical ability I have made up for with other skills and knowledge. I believe make this ‘old timer’ worth having around. With this article, I hope to inspire other ‘old timers’ to make yourself valuable so that any group you choose to link up with will see you as a valuable asset and will welcome you into their fold. I also hope to cause groups made up of strictly fighting-age men and women to consider the benefits of having an ‘old timer’ or two in their midst. I will, hopefully, give you some basic information about each skill I think will make you valuable and give you a starting point to begin learning each skill or expand on skills you may already have.

Life is a continual learning experience so never think you know everything there is to know about any subject or skill. As I previously mentioned, some of the skills I have date back 50 years or slightly more but I still don’t know everything there is to know, so I keep my mind open to new concepts and ideas. There’s always a way to build a better mousetrap!

A lot of armchair preppers believe that when the SHTF they’ll just head to the mountains and live off the land hunting and fishing. That’s not going to happen. Wild game and even fish will become scarce or almost extinct within a few weeks to a few months. Because of that I’m not going to spend any time discussing how to master those skills. There are a lot of other skills that are more valuable and needed than being able to hunt of fish. Let’s start with communications.

Communications

I first became interested in radios and electronics when I was about 12 or 13. My dad bought me an 8 channel crystal controlled Hallicrafters CB back in the day when you had to have an FCC license. I still remember my call letters. (But due to OPSEC I won’t disclose that information.) In addition, my dad’s best friend got me interested in short wave listening and my dad bought me a Hallicrafters shortwave receiver and taught me how to make a long wire antenna. My love of radio resulted in me working through high school for an electronics and communications company, then going to college I majored in radio and television broadcasting. I had a very successful 30 plus year career both on-air and as a broadcast electronic technician. I got my General Class ham radio license more than 20 years ago when you still had to pass a Morse code test.

Communications skills will be essential once the balloon goes up and simply having the toys does not guarantee effective communications. It takes “an ear” to sort out and keep track of multiple communication streams at one time. That “ear” can be developed but like any skill, it takes practice. As a spot news reporter for our local ABC TV affiliate, it was my duty to keep up with what was happening with fire and police departments across a 13-county area. I had 9 scanning transceiver mobile two-way radios mounted in my truck plus kept four programmable scanners on my belt at all times. I even slept with the 4 scanners by my bed, when I slept. I literally was on call 24/7 for more than 14 years. In a SHTF situation, having just one or two scanners is not going to give you all of the monitoring capability you will need to ensure your group’s intel gathering capability and safety.

In my radio room, I have two ham radio HF transceivers. One is a set of Drake Twins, older tube-type technology. The other an all-transistor Yaesu. If I ever have time to dig into them and get them going again, I also have two old R-390/URR military surplus receivers but they both need tubes and possibly a power supply. In addition, I still have all 9 scanning transceivers and 4 handheld programable scanners I used in my news gathering days and a slightly more modern programmable scanner with ”close call” technology. Any transmission within the frequency range capability of the scanner within about a half-mile of my location, this scanner will automatically lock in on that frequency even if I didn’t have it pre-programmed into the radio. This could alert you to activity in your area you might otherwise be unaware of. I hope to acquire another scanner with “close call” technology but other priorities have been getting my financial attention lately.

Why so many radios? Program them so you spread the most important frequencies to monitor across the different radios. For example, When I was running news, I had one radio with the “Priority Channel” set to monitor our local ambulance service. Another had our county fire dispatch frequency as the “Priority Channel” three other radios. These were Trunk Trackers — dedicated to our local police and fire department who had begun using the trunking technology. The priority channel function would not work with the trunk tracking technology. Another was set up with a neighboring city’s police dispatch frequency as the “Priority” channel. All of the radios, except for the truck trackers had all of the frequencies from the 13 county area I needed to listen to programmed into them so the chances of missing something because of the radio being locked on a busy frequency was lessened. And regardless if there was any traffic on any of the “Priority Channels” that radio would shift to that frequency immediately upon detecting a transmission, so I was guaranteed to get the most important intelligence. These radios did not include my 2-meter ham radio which I used for storm chasing as a NWS Certified Storm Spotter.

Okay, but we are not in the newsgathering business when the SHTF, you say. Well, in a way you are. Whty?  Because you need all of the current, up-to-the-minute intelligence you can get in a SHTF situation. And I’ll guarantee you won’t be getting it from the nightly news or local broadcast stations. By listening to the right frequencies for your area you can obtain valuable intel and make potentially life-saving decisions based on the correct analysis of that information. And, as I have mentioned, careful listening with “close call” technology just might alert you to a patrol operating near your home base and give you time to prepare an ambush if they are a hostile force.

I strongly suggest that you research frequencies in your area that are used by the authorities as well as other potentially useful frequencies and compile a list of those frequencies. (I have a spiral ring notebook for that purpose). A lot of police and fire departments have shifted to digital encryption which makes it impossible to monitor without some very sophisticated and expensive gear. But a wealth of intel can still potentially be gained from monitoring FRS (Family Radio Service) and GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service) frequencies. Here is a link to a chart of those frequencies.

The 2-meter band ham frequencies for your area will also be a potentially valuable source of info and you can legally listen to those frequencies even if you are not a ham operator. In addition, having a CB radio would be very beneficial and programming CB frequencies into a scanner would also make it easier to keep an ear on all of the CB channels.

(To be concluded tomorrow, in Part 2.)




32 Comments

  1. “I’m am not saying this to brag because all of my skills and knowledge come from God, without Him I can do nothing on my own.”

    “A lot of armchair preppers believe that when the SHTF they’ll just head to the mountains and live off the land hunting and fishing. That’s not going to happen.”

    Great article – the two quotes above struck me, the first being the most important thing to remember. Thank you for making that very true and humble statement. The second is good to remember as well. Maybe it’s my mediocre hunting and fishing skills, or where I go hunting and fishing, but I am lucky to make a meal right now after spending a day in the woods or on the water. Things would be very different if everyone was hunting everyday for survival with no regulated seasons or method of taking fish and game.

  2. I turn 62 in 10 days, and like most of us, I have concerns with this. Thank you for your great first part. I look forward to the rest of it. (My first CB required also required a license. Four letters and four numbers. I barely missed the smaller call signs.)

  3. Mid 50s. As we age it is natural to move away from the tactical side and into the logistics. My goal is no longer long term survival but long enough to assist my kids, grandkids and team into a place where they are solid.
    I’ve had a ton of people try and convince me that we need full time comms just sitting around monitoring but have yet to see the true need. If it’s nuclear EMP SHTF in Podunk Oklahoma then it’s SHTF in Podunk Nebraska too. Yes you might hear an incoming patrol with bad com management but you gotta be in a OP too. I just can’t see you sitting on your duff all day while I’m hoeing, hauling water and cutting wood then wanting the same rations.
    What I often see is age is often used as an excuse To be a shape instead of in shape.

    1. Hello Matt. I agree with you. Im 63 and and ate up with arthritic pain but I know if I stop moving Im done. Whats really sad is Im in better fitness shape than most 20 somethings I meet. America got soft with all the conveniences and technology.

      1. Yes, keep moving, brother. About ten years ago, I read a book titled: Sitting Kills, Moving Heals. The message of the book was that simple.

        When I am in motion, I will think of you, Joe.

        Carry on in grace

    2. Hello Matt, let me clarify my position. The point I was hoping to make was because I’m not agile or fast anymore doesn’t mean I’m useless. I still work a half acre garden with a tiller and hoe, tend chickens in two separate coops and runs and am building an additional 16X30 cabin at our retreat site. If the balloon goes up I’ll still do a lot of that work as a break from the radios once I have someone in our group trained to do it ( been working on that already) but my background makes me the most experienced in that field. And, I encourage you to rethink your position on full time com’s. Would you only man your LP/OP part time?

  4. Advice on Redoubt areas where senior requirements such as good hospitals and medical care would be very helpful. I agree, I would like to see more articles for seniors.
    CW Academy Advisor

    1. There are wonderful hospitals and doctors throughout the Redoubt. The key is, how far do you want to be from them. My oncologist is a several hour drive away, so we just did a video conference after I had blood work done at a nearby lab. The main hospital is a 30 minute drive. I was warned when I decided to move to Idaho “There aren’t any good hospitals and doctors out there!!” That is hogwash. Also, once the snow melts, I make sure that I, along with my car/home/property get “maintenance”. Medications easily come through the mail. If hospitals and medical care are important, identify where they’re at in your search, then plan accordingly. For general care, I see a local “country doctor” who does everything from deliver babies to elder care. My personal opinion is, don’t let that stop you but definitely consider that winter driving can be an obstacle.

  5. Great article. It reminds me of the movie The Postman where the old guy is trying to raise the Space Station on the radio and Keven Costner asks him “What do you do around here” and he answers “I know stuff”. If you think about it it’s like the Indian tribes. The wise old chiefs used their brains while the young bucks did all the heavy lifting.

  6. I hope every body reads and rereads this article. I am 52 and suffer from High blood pressure and diabetes. Not every one is Capt America or The Hulk. And I am a general class ham as well. Some seem to think they will be able to hear every thing with a Baofeng radio. They don’t seem to understand you need different radios for different jobs. Just like guns.

  7. I keep hearing that Ham radio is a dying hobby, which I disagree with. I am an Extra Class Ham and also a VE Team Leader and yes due to the virus some testing has been put on hold. I had a testing session in June which 14 came and all passed their tests. Three of the 14 we upgrades and 11 were new Technician’s. Next weekend we will be having another testing session (yes certain rules will apply such as wearing masks, social distancing, etc. mandated by the state) and I have 22 confirmed coming including 5 teenagers. I feel communications in all forms are a very important part of preps.

    1. Police (and sometimes Fire) are frequently encrypted, but many calls of a serious public safety nature will involve your local public works and/or highway departments. Have them on your scanner.

  8. It is important for everyone to remember that for every one combat soldier there are 8 soldiers in support (that was the number I learned years ago, I suspect it may be higher now). However regardless of age and abilities, I think everyone has a role in security.

    1. Actually the rule of thumb now is for every man fighting on the front lines (women are barred from ground combat currently), there are ten personnel backing him up.

  9. Admonishment Incoming:
    This isn’t directed at anyone in particular, but when I hear people say things like “nobody needs that much sleep”, or make remarks about physical health should not be a “stumbling block” and people should “get in shape”, etc… they have no idea what they’re talking about when it comes to serious health problems that people have through no fault of their own. They have no idea what chronic pain & fatigue is and how debilitating it can be. No knowledge that if a diabetic gets a small cut on a leg or arm, it can inflame into a full blown emergency situation in 24 hours. No knowledge about what elevated blood pressure can do to someone with heart disease. While I agree that exercise, healthy eating, and a balanced lifestyle is critical in managing disease, and happiness, it’s not the be all, end all, in being “prepared”. “Knowing stuff” is incredibly valuable.

    Suggestion: Be welcoming, extend grace, and value everyone, without criticism (which shows your arrogance, and we all know that pride goeth before a fall – I know because I was formerly guilty of great pride in my own abilities).

    1. Hi SaraSue

      It’s a mixed bag in my opinion. I totally agree that “knowing stuff”, maturity and having lived for a while gives one a perspective that the young don’t have. The skills one acquires from decades of doing things are valuable and should be respected. And yes, often illness or accident strikes seemingly out-of-the -blue and even those of us who are currently fit and healthy could one day have to face this. I do get this. I can only do what I do given my current level of health and fitness and am thankful for it.

      That said, I think we all need to do our best to stay healthy, keep our weight under control, get adequate exercise, eat well and all the rest. There are so many people out there who have physical ailments that are preventable. Obesity leads to so many problems, from diabetes Type 2 to the need for joint replacement, back problems, high blood pressure etc. If just obesity were eliminated we’d be a much healthier country. And for aware preppers, needing to depend on the medical system to stay up and fully functional should be something to be avoided if at all possible. And yes, I understand that for some such as yourself, that is no longer a possibility. But whatever our age, doing our best to stay fit and healthy should be part of prepping.

      1. Hi Ani. SO true. Im a retired home health nurse. Most (not all) of my patients health problems were self inflicted. Obesity and/or cigarettes. Life is short enough even with good health habits.

    2. SaraSue…
      From your post: “Be welcoming, extend grace, and value everyone, without criticism…”

      This is a great message. Encouragement is always the best path. …and you are right. Each person has an individual life experience. We may share some common ground, but every life and person is unique. Among us are people who have struggled mightily due to no fault of their own.

      We should remember that each of us is made in the image of God. That includes EVERY ONE including — and perhaps most especially — the suffering and the infirmed.

      Thank you for such a thoughtful post and reminder.

  10. Time is coming when all of us will need to bring what we have to the table. America belittles its elders, which is one of its biggest mistakes. Some even say us “oldtimers” have “a duty to die.” In “Alas, Babylon,” the kids weren’t catching any fish. They ended up asking an old black guy, who was sitting on his porch watching everything, what the issue was. When he told the kids that the fish were going deep because of the summer heat, the kids asked “Why didn’t you say anything?” The old guy said “Because no one asked.” Face it, folks; we didn’t get this far without learning something along the way, neither did we get this far by being stupid. We have intrinsic value, but it’s only good ’till we stop breathing. Don’t be afraid to ask…

    1. From your post, Tom MacGyver…
      “Time is coming when all of us will need to bring what we have to the table. America belittles its elders, which is one of its biggest mistakes.”

      AGREE WITH YOU!

  11. Brains over Brawn?

    Old age means having any number of ailments and issues that must be managed and overcome. Old age is not for sissies! Raw determination is a requirement. There are ways to compensate and adapt, and we must strive to keep moving and to be productive as survival of others depends upon it.

    Younger or older persons who lack knowledge and experience, who know little in comparison to an aging ‘prepper’, simply will not appreciate the value of ‘knowing stuff’. If they already do, then we are indeed fortunate. Generally, they do not know what they do not know, and they do not care about what we presumably know, as they have no way to gauge the value. This can be a problem as persons who are not dedicated survivalists (a matured hardcore ‘prepper’ striving for long terms self-sufficiency.), regardless of education or age. And the less educated have less regard for knowledge, and skills. They may, or may not have an epiphany at some point, at least not until it is too late. Even with experienced fellow survivalists who are also licensed Hams, I found the topic of radio is not well understood, and therefore my knowledge and experience is of less value. For example, I programmed a radio for someone with what I will call ‘advanced programming’ that was too advanced, far beyond their comprehension, and ability to appreciate it. But for a few channels, their favorite repeater and a simplex frequency, the rest of the programming was totally useless to them. Most Hams do not know how to operate their radio fully either. A license to drive does mean they know how to drive. Attempts to bring them up to speed are slow and painful, and they will probably have little discipline on-air as well. Comsec will be pathetic, equipment potentially damaged, and intelligence gathering nonexistent, and my advice on other radio topics ignored as well. Because of their arrogance and ignorance, my knowledge and skills are not highly valued. This not only a problem with the topic of radio, but also with any critical topic, from gardening to tactics. I cannot share information with an audience is not ready to assimilate. It is therefore it is better to keep it rudimentary, or simply put, ‘stupid simple’, or is that ‘simply stupid’. I’ll just say KISS, (keep it simple stupid).

    Simply knowing stuff ain’t, or is that aren’t, I can never decide, good enough for the ignorant. The people one is involved with must have an appreciation of the knowledge and skills the aging survivalist may process. Most of the ignorant will value mostly physical stamina, or the ability to perform physical labor over knowledge and skills. An old guy, for example, a one-eyed fat man like myself (just kidding), who can stand guard for long hours would be of more value than the old guy who simply knows stuff. And old guy with a Phd. in Survivalism (whatever that is), will not necessarily be regarded as valuable by the ignorant, be they of the youthful uneducated sort, or those of similar age with a high level of education, say in medicine, or engineering. The audience may be either ignorant, or arrogant, and usually both. Yes, a crass estimate, but more often than not, frustratingly true.

    This is the harsh reality we may face as old persons who lack the physical stamina to lead in any area, if we were so inclined. As a ‘jack of all trades’ survivalist, the need for anyone my specialties will likely be fleeting. And although I may believe my vast experience and knowledge far outclasses the person who will assume a leadership role, I will not necessarily be seen as an authority, but at best, a consultant who can be ignored. The group will according suffer, but that is how it will be. That is why we need to educate other members now, and begin the process of working closely, and plant the seeds of success. Come ‘go time’, we need to be headed in the right direction. Only the experienced and wise will not simply assume they will be appreciated in the future, but will seize the day, and apply their knowledge and leadership now, while the ground is yet fertile and there is time to disseminate it. There are many different kinds and styles of leadership. Lead where you can, how you can, or with whatever content, and style fits the moment. If my body can no longer move as it once did, at least my mouth will continue to move.

    1. Well-spoken, Tunnel Rabbit,– We learned years ago to turn frustration into capital gain, and entertainment. Watching young engineers and project managers with big egos insist on their work plan, initially dismissing a little advice, then [later] getting into a bind in meeting contract, policy, and safety requirements,–“Then” they really wanted a little advice, while we were drawing big money on standby and overtime.—Recently one of my buddy’s construction company was having a little trouble with his group of young, upstart contract welders. They had collectively convinced themselves that they were top young hands, deserving large raises and threatening to drag up if they didn’t get what they wanted. My buddy had me come in with my rig, set up beside them for a couple of days and fabricate 6″ and 10″ gas meter run headers. With my tools and a few tricks of the trade I covered them up almost two to one on weld count. My buddy then stepped in and told them: “When you get to where you can keep up with this old man, then we’ll talk raises.” The results? A couple puffed up and would no longer associate, but the rest were coming over to see the tools I was using, and how to use them.–Helped them with their tools, skills and production, helped my buddy with production on his contract, and got myself a week’s wages for two days of schooling.—-Thru the years, some of my best friends were the managers, engineers, and VP’s that would associate with us and kick new ideas around. They were the most fun, and the most profitable to work with.

  12. Great article! “Youth and exuberance can never beat out Old Age & Treachery”… Just sayin…. Getting old only has one drawback, it’s the aching creaky old carcass that goes along with it that’s the drawback, cause the knowledge gain over the years is sure a blessing. As is common knowledge, those old geezers know stuff.
    Ever wonder if your kid will ever get a clue, or “get it”, no matter how much and in myriad different ways you try and tell them, they still “don’t get it”. Then all of a sudden, out of the blue, he/she comes home and splains to you about something you’ve been telling them for years to no avail. And you smile to yourself and think, praise the Lord, they finally get it. Come to find out he/she was talking to a neighbor, someone they met somewhere, or whatever, 95% of the time and “old Geezer, saying just the right words in the right order and all of a sudden the bulb lit up. That’s the value of “Geezerhood”. It ain’t all the teachers in all the schools that give out the lessons of life, it’s the crowd that “Been there, Done that, Got that T-shirt”….. Thanks JWR & Ms. Lily for the great blog we can all learn from. You’re a blessing to all. Long Live Our Republic

  13. For old folks, this economic lock-down is a disaster!

    I often visit shut-ins at a >55 manufactured-home park.
    Their insatiable urge to socialize is incredibly destructive during this economic lock-down ‘quarantine’ of healthy individuals and couples.
    Why?
    They learned early-on the value of cooperation and exchanging information.
    They understand this economic lock-down leads to the destruction of everything they hold dear.

    By-the-by, look up ‘quarantine’ in a paper dictionary.
    I’m pretty sure it will say something about ‘isolation of a sick individual or group’.
    Is TheMainStreamMedia mis-use of ‘quarantine’ an example of Orwell’s new-speak?

    *****

    I’ll be 69 in a few weeks.
    Over two decades ago, I abandoned everybody and everything I knew in ‘marxifornia’, partly because I thought the effort to change the place back to my idealistic memories of my carefree childhood days wasn’t worth the investment.
    Now, I unequivocally say:
    * Sacramento is not California,
    * frisco/Berkeley/Oakland is not California,
    * that hollywood crowd is not California.

    I don’t have all the answers, but I’m sure if we get enough old folks together, we could come up with a non-nuclear option…

  14. “groups made up of strictly fighting-age men and women to consider the benefits of having an ‘old timer’ or two in their midst”

    isn’t the age ratio more likely to be the other way around?

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