The Art of Deer Camp

The Art of Deer Camp

 

A cold, wet day in Deer Camp is still better than a day at work.

Training. Preparedness. What do these words mean to you? Are they a lifestyle, or just terms you use to pigeonhole your attempt at sounding “ready” for the calamity that many believe is coming? Have you lived in the woods for more than just an overnight camping trip? Have you used ALL THE GEAR you’ve collected for your survival if that calamity occurs. What about that dutch oven you bought on sale, but have never actually used?

Some of the best “Survivalist” oriented training I’ve ever done was during my weeks in “Deer Camp”. I hear from many people who tell me they don’t have an area to train in, and that they can’t carry a firearm in their State parks unless it’s hunting season. Then they ask how they should go about getting the experience needed for bad times. If they’ve mentioned the “hunting season” comment, I tell them they’ve answered their own question to a large degree. If they haven’t mentioned it, I advise them that they should go do the “Deer Camp” thing for 4-8 days every year.

“Why Deer Camp?” you ask. It’s simple really. First, Deer season in most States is during the colder part of the year, hence, harsher living conditions. Second, You get to go out and use you wilderness living gear in conditions that usually aren’t stellar in terms of comfort or convenience. Third, You get to actually experience carrying a weapon through the woods with support gear, all while trying to maintain a low profile. The low profile is necessary if you plan on actually seeing and killing a deer.

A very wet day, but the gear did as advertised and we bagged a few.

Yeah, if you’re rifle hunting for deer, you probably have to wear blaze orange. So what? You’re not hiding from people in this instance. You’re hiding from something that is infinitely harder to pic out and hide from in certain aspects. Adding a blaze orange vest, a hat or both over your gear is not a big deal, and honestly, a vest that covers up you ammo vest from prying eyes is not a bad thing in this era of PC BS. I had to download my semi auto mag to the allowable round count, but even that wasn’t a big deal. The main thing was getting out with your gear and using it.

It used to be an annual event with a number of my preparedness Buddies that we would go to a State forest an hour away and set up “Deer Camp” for anywhere from 4-8 days. Some guys would filter in or out during that week, due to work schedules. Even that had a commo schedule and SOP to let us know they were nearby and coming in to base camp. Everybody loaded their vehicles with the gear they would bug out with. Everybody had a list of what that consisted of, and brought it along for practice, even if they knew it wasn’t gonna be used that particular week.

Sleet and snow for 2 days straight will help you figure out how well your tent and waterproof storage gear works.

Takeaways from those many years of activity showed us what worked and what didn’t. Tents were a big thing. If your tent couldn’t survive a week of cold, crappy weather in “Deer Camp”, you could not plan on it surviving weeks in the woods after the apocalypse. Heat for the tents all the way from Propane IR and ceramic heaters, up to packable “Outfitter” or Army “potbelly” tent stoves were used. Some worked great, some were a pain till we figured out the sequence needed to make them run efficiently.

Deer camp doesn’t need to be elaborate. A tarp and sleeping gear is good to practice with to figure out what works and what doesn’t.

Sleeping gear was put through it’s paces. Some failed, some thrived. Cooking gear durability and techniques of use were experimented with, with plenty of success. Clothing, especially cold weather clothing was tried and shown to be “Good to go” or complete crap and not brought back the next year. Finding gear and food storage methods that were weather and water proof, especially in extremely cold weather was an eye opener.

You had better practice with that cooking gear before relying on it. or your abilities with it.

Hunting in and of itself is good training. Combining that with living in the woods for a bit just increases the training value. If you ever have to Bug Out of your home, your best bet is to act as if you are hunting, but the difference is EVERYBODY out there is the quarry that you need to see first to be successful (staying hidden from). Success in this case is surviving. Whether it’s turkey hunting, predator hunting or deer hunting, seeing your quarry first is prerequisite to being successful.

If you don’t hunt, you are missing some good training opportunities. If you do, but have never done the “Deer Camp” thing, you are also missing on some good training opportunities. I’ve been hunting for over 40 years, and I still learn things in the woods every year. Besides being able to add to the larder in my freezer, being in the woods hunting is one of the most relaxing activities I can do. Communing with nature is it’s own reward, regardless of whether I get what I’m going for that particular day.

At the end of the day, learning to enjoy the little things and those around you that make life enjoyable is what it’s all about. Training doesn’t have to be hard or miserable to be valuable.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.

 

Blackpowder Flintlocks For The Survivalist

Blackpowder Flintlocks For The Survivalist

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Anyone know the significance of this rifle

While growing up, I was fascinated with the era between the French and Indian War, and the Civil War. I’m a fan of all types of historic blackpowder firearms, but at that time, I was enamored with the breechloading 1859 Sharps Berdan rifle. In comparison to today’s rifles, it was the M14 DMR of it’s era.

 

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1859 .54 caliber Sharps Berdan Rifle

OK, enough of the childhood nostalgia. So JC, why is a flintlock blackpowder firearm important in your survivalist preps? Well, I’m glad you asked. First, we know that your ammo storage for your cartridge firearms is not limitless, right? Second, if you’re going to be hunting for your food as well as trapping it (you do have your supply of conibear traps and snares acquired, right?), which would you rather use for that hunting firearm?  One that uses ammo that will eventually run out, or one that has the ability to scrounge all the items needed to reload it?

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I’m a big fan of carbines, but this just isn”t practical for a SHTF hunting scenario

In this post we are going to talk about flintlock firearms. What about percussion firearms JC? Well, considering that the only difference between the needed items for percussion and cartridge firearms is a percussion cap or a primer (the original cartridge firearms used black powder, that’s what the last number in 30/30, 45/70, 44/40, etc. means, That’s the blackpowder charge weight in grains), and the addition or subtraction of a brass cartridge, it doesn’t have the versatility of a flintlock.

Flints (the ignition source) are able to be found in nature, something that can’t be said about percussion caps or primers. Blackpowder (and substitutes) can be made at home if you do your homework. Yes, I know you can reactivate primers (percussion caps usually blow apart), but the process is too much to put effort into for a hunting gun, considering that flintlock firearms are available.

 

First, let’s look at how the flintlock system works, and what the major parts do in that system. The primary parts are the hammer with flint attached, the frizzen that the flint/hammer combination strikes to create the shower of sparks, and the pan which holds the blackpowder that is ignited by the sparks created by contact between the flint and frizzen. That spark goes through a flash hole touching off the charge in the barrel behind the ball. I’m not going to get into minute details about the ignition system, but suffice it to say that it works well.

Blackpowder post Flintlock_ignition_animation

Next, we’ll talk about the system that holds the bullet. There are two types of of barrels, smoothbore and rifled. The flintlock rifles at the top of the post are a .69 caliber smoothbore along with the .66 caliber Paget carbine. Along with being a breech loading system, the Sharps Berdan rifle pictured is a rifle .54 caliber percussion system. The flintlock firearms I use are rifled, but I have a friend who uses a 62. caliber (20 gauge) Trade Gun to hunt everything from squirrel to deer.

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The advantage of smoothbores is the same as modern shotguns. The variety of loads that can be fired from a shotgun is hard to beat. In this case, you can load shot (small, medium game), Ball (big game, and defense if needed), or buck and ball (generally for defense). As I said, they are like a shotgun in their versatility, but the downside to a smoothbore shotgun is accuracy at range, and it applies in this case as well. Smoothbores also take longer to foul than rifled barrels, which in turn fouling makes it harder to load  (this is one of the reasons most military arms were muskets back then)

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Note the muzzle end of this guys rifle in “Jeremiah Johnson”. It is a combo gun, which has a rifled barrel on the left and a smoothbore shotgun on the right.

When it comes to rifled barrel flintlocks, your long range accuracy is only limited by your mastery of the system (they call it a “flinchlock” for a reason), shooting capability, the type of bullet/load you use (patch thickness, the ball or conical bullet’s  concentricity, etc.), the type of action (set trigger or not), and the sights (buckhorn or peep) you use. The primary benefit of a rifled flintlock is placing a bullet accurately on target at distance.

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Lyman .50 caliber Plains Rifle (left handed), and a Pedersoli .50 caliber Kentucky pistol.

On to the point of this post. I have used flintlock firearms for well over 25 years now, and although they have their quirks, if you take the time to learn the “in’s and out’s”, I believe they will do what you need them to do in a SHTF survival situation. I’m a big fan of .50 calibers. First, I like the Fifty cal. because it is big enough to get the job done on large game (round ball is 188 grains in weight), when smaller calibers start to fizzle out (it’s like comparing a 12 and 20 gauge). Second, when it comes to cleaning supplies, you can use a number of the brushes, patches, etc. that you will find as surplus for military .50 cal weapons.

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Here are the different blackpowder granule sizes. Note that the .50 caliber is the only caliber where it is recommended to use FFg or FFFg

Third, the .50 caliber is what I call the “transitional” blackpowder caliber when it comes to what size powder you use in a given caliber (I also use FFFg in the pan). This gives you more versatility with what you can use after SHTF. I have used Conical type (aka Maxi balls) bullets through my muzzleloaders that had the correct rifling twist for it, and I wasn’t all that impressed. I also don’t want to plan on using conicals because they usually weigh double and use twice as much lead as a round ball does (not as efficient). I have and have used conicals from this mould.  

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These are some basic load guidelines

When considering twist rates, generally there are three that I’ve used in rifles. 1-66″ is for roundball, and does very well with them, but sucks with anything else. 1-48″, which does acceptably with both round ball and conicals. and 1-32″, which is designed for modern bullets and higher velocities (1-18″ is a rifling twist for pistols). I personally use the 1-66″ twist. Although the 1-48″ seems to be the best for versatility, I don’t plan on using conicals, and if I had gotten hold of some, I’d recast one conical into two round balls. 

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I will briefly discuss sights for the flintlock. I am a huge fan of the peep sight, but on both of my flintlocks, I have open sights. The Lyman Plains Rifle has an adjustable buckhorn rear/blade front sights, and the pistol has standard fixed notch/blade type sights. I use these guns for hunting and have found that open sights do much better for low light (seems like the majority of my shots are at dusk) than peep sight, it’s that simple, but your mileage may vary.

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One of the best things to have on a rifle of this type is a set trigger. Shooting at 50 to 100 meters with the standard trigger is do-able, but using the set trigger makes that offhand shot (when you have the time) a lot more accurate, and what’s not to love about accuracy. I recommend that if the rifle you are looking at getting is available with a set trigger, it is a “no brainer”. The last thing I will say about something that you need in a flintlock rifle is a subdued finish. If you look at the rifle above, you will notice that it blends in. This is one of the reason I’m a big fan of Lyman products.

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This is a Pedersoli Kentucky Flintlock in .50 caliber. The patch knife is home made from a file, deer antler and fake sinew.

Anything a pistol can do, a rifle can do better except for two things, be concealable, or in this case, be convenient to carry. Is this pistol a deer killer? No, this one is not, at least not yet anyway, but I have a friend that has taken deer with his (all he hunts with are pistols). it is relatively accurate up to 50 meters (off a good rest, hits minute of deer vitals), and has the most comfortable grip ever designed.

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“Possibles Bag” Left to Right: Tin cup, flint and steel fire starter (bottom), .50 cal ball mould, 25x monocular, Tin has extra flints, and an extra rifle frizzen. Deer antler with extra fake sinew thread and needle, magnifying glass, scissors, patch knife (bottom), ball starter, and large fixed blade knife.

Next, let’s talk about accessories. What do you need for your flintlock firearm? I use to be into re-enacting, and going to “Rendezvous”, so I have more than what is absolutely necessary of the “Old style” gear. You will need something to carry your roundballs and patches, something to carry your black powder, and something to carry maintenance equipment.

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Belt pouch has another flint and steel fire starter (redundancy), pre cut rifle patches, and a round ball holder.

For the roundballs and patches, my old style kit has them in a belt pouch so the are on you even if your “possibles” bag isn’t. For the black powder, my old style kit uses a powder horn with horn measure (remember, I use FFFg powder for the pan and the barrel).

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Last but not least is the powder horn with matching powder measure. The coyote pelt is actually a hat from my “rendezvous” days.

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The powder measure is just dremeled out till it hold the quantity of powder you need for a load.

When I talk about maintenance equipment, there are a number of thing you will need. Tools for taking your firearm apart (either a multi-tool, or something specific for the task). You will need a cleaning jag, a patch puller and a ball puller. Most ram rods will have a threaded end to accept these accessories, and if they don’t, get a military cleaning rod, and a 10/32 adapter. You will need a pick for your flash hole I have an old style one, but I usually use a big safety pin, and I can just pin it in the bag.

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When it comes to modern era kit, this is it. A military surplus canvas buttpack with shoulder strap for the “Possibles” bag, and an East German 4 mag AK pouch for my belt pouch.

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I keep my accessory kit handy in case i have a bad charge and have to pull a bullet. The powder flask with measure is behind that. and the balls (and percussion caps if using an In-Line) are in the left side pouches.

For my modern blackpowder kit (whether In-Line or Flintlock), I use a US surplus buttpack for the “Possibles” bag. The advantage to this instead of the old version gas mask bag I showed in this post is the buttpack will conveniently carry a poncho underneath for easy access in inclement weather. The leather “Old style” belt pouch is replaced with a East German surplus 4 AK mag pouch. This pouch has four inside divided compartments to hold different things, and keep them separate.

I replace the powder horn with a brass powder flask which has a powder measure attached to the end that is sized to my load. My accessories kit is kept in a US surplus cleaning kit pouch, and I have the adapters to use the cleaning and maintenance equipment with a GI issue cleaning rod.

There are some things you need to square away regarding your blackpowder guns. First, you need to practice a lot to get the steps down pat, so when you need to perform them, it is second nature. This site shows the basics of loading your flintlock. Second, know your firearm’s specs and understand it. Here is the Lyman guide for using blackpowder guns. Third, PRACTICE!

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Some disadvantages to blackpowder firearms. First, they let everyone know exactly where you are due to a huge smoke cloud. Second, due to that smoke cloud, it makes it hard to see after you’ve fired. Third, they are slow to reload (especially if you haven’t practiced!). Fourth, THEY ARE UNFORGIVING IF YOU DO NOT CLEAN THEM AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Blackpowder is hygroscopic, and will bugger up your barrel in no time if you don’t clean it. You should already be fastidious in cleaning weapons and tools. Blackpowder guns require that in spades.

These are just my thoughts on the use of the blackpowder flintlock firearms system in a SHTF scenario. There are a number of good resources out there to get you on you way in that hobby, and if you’ll note, I didn’t give you my load data. That’s for a reason.  Blackpowder guns are picky, and what works in mine won’t necessarily work in yours. Do you research, and have fun. It’s a cool hobby to get into. This guy has some good advice on using flintlocks, that will get you on you way. Hell, even Ex-Felons can own one of these because it’s not considered a firearm, and is legal for them to own.

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By the way, the rifle at the beginning of the post was a 1795 Springfield. Anyone know the significance of that rifle to an Infantryman?

JCD

"Parata Vivere"-Live Prepared.

Carrying Essential Weapons Parts (and other items) For Your Firearm

FAL with gear

Having the appropriate support gear for your weapon is a priority for the Survivalist.

My good friend Bergmann and I were talkin’ about parts/survival gear storage locations on the weapons we both use, and I told him that because my Para FAL’s use the M-4 style stock and have no buffer spring, the whole tube was empty, and I use it to carry among other things, spare essential weapons parts. He immediately told me I needed to post something about it, considering how great it is to be able to carry essentials on your weapon, without it having a ton of pouches or extra parts hanging off of it.

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Both of these Para FAL rifles use the M-4 style, hollow tube stock. No buffer spring in it means lots of storage area.

Here it is short and sweet. and in pics.

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The space available in the M-4 style stock buffer tube on the Para FAL. Keep in mind, those of you with other rifles which use the M-4 style stock, but require no buffer spring (Example: AK’s) can do the same thing with your rifles.

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The original style FAL pistol grip also has some storage space that I put to good use.

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Remove the Phillips head screw with your multi tool, there is no tension ring like on a regular AR/M-4 style stock needing a special wrench.

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There is a hole (red arrow) drilled through the stock tube that the Phillips head screw hole (yellow arrow) lines up with when you’ve screwed the stock in as far as needed, and keeps the stock at the correct position/attitude.

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Various essential springs and parts (firing pin w/ spring and complete extractor) on the left side column go into the stock tube. The spare tritium front sight with allen key and a sight adjustment tool go into the pistol grip (bag on right side).

 

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The stock filled with parts and ready to be reattached to the folding mechanism.

Here’s the video my Buddy Bergmann did on how he outfitted his M-4 with survival gear. below is the first of the four part series he did on “Total Utilization” of your gear.

Hopefully this post will give you some ideas of how to better utilize the storage space you might have on your weapons to carry extra essential parts you might need. As I said, this one was short and sweet, have a great 4th of July.

JCD

"Parata Vivere"- Live Prepared.