So Now What, Anything Constructive?

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The patch on the left breast pocket is the one you get for completion of one of the MDT wilderness survival courses, the patch on the left sleeve is what you get for completion of an MDT tactical course.

I did a post on May 6th that pointed out how ridiculous some of the “Moolisha” claims on both sides (antifa and the “Right”) were, and how they’ve shown there is very little in the “Responsible Power” category that is being put out on social media. The bottom line to my “power” comment is due to my modification of an old quote by Mao that says “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”. My modification is “True domestic power comes from the barrel of a TRAINED GUN”, although quantity has a quality all its own, and that’s what belt fed machine guns are for.

A comment was made by jbryan314 at WRSA’s repost that said this,

  “Thanks, so… Now what? There wasn’t really anything constructive about it. Nothing on what we CAN do, or what we SHOULD do… Just a bunch of “you’re an idiot” type stuff, which is what about 75% of the FreeFor blogs espouse these days.

And before any fools come in here and talk about the article hurting my feelings or me being butthurt or whatever… Let me say I can’t really disagree with much of what the article says. What I can say is that after reading it, as a “member” of whatever it is we call ‘FreeFor’… I didn’t really gain anything. No new knowledge or ideas. Just drop that article into the heavier and heavier bucket of articles hat basically say nothing more than ‘you suck’.”

My response,

“Start here,
https://www.google.com/amp/s/masondixontactical.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/common-tasks-testing-the-armys-everybody-requirement/amp/
Quietly train, quietly recruit, and shut up about it on social media. There are tons of guys out there doing that, and this post was not directed at them. I’ve written plenty about it, look it up.”

OK, so even though I’ve talked about this plenty of times before, I will try and consolidate some of my previous thoughts into one post.

1. Start doing PT to the level that you are initially capable, and constantly seek to improve on it.

Physical fitness is the solid base or foundation upon which you build your ability to fight and survive. Although you can get by without being physically fit, you chances of fighting off bad guys or even the common cold are diminished if you are not as fit as you can possibly make yourself. When it comes to combat training, whether it’s hand to hand combatives, firearms training, or actual tactical training that involves maneuvering on the bad guys while carrying your support gear, your need for fitness can not be downplayed.

My advice is to start with cardio exercises and expand from there. Walking is great exercise, and if you start a walking program and then start adding weight during that exercise, you will not only be performing a good exercise, but it will be practical as well (ruckmarch anyone?). You will have to be able to perform with your support equipment (rifle/pistol mags, first aid gear, water at a minimum), so walking or even short sprints with you gear on is going to be necessary eventually.

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Next I’d recommend calisthenics. Calisthenics basically use your own body weight and gravity as the tool for muscle growth and endurance. Pull Ups (palms out), Chin Ups (palms in), different types of push ups (diamond, shoulder width, wide arm), sit ups (palms on thighs not behind your neck), ab crunches, leg lifts, and calf raises are all just body weight exercises that you can do anywhere. The reason I recommend calisthenics before free weight training is because you can do them anywhere, and you don’t have to figure out how to make something heavy (although a ruck can do acceptably well for some exercises) to work for you if you don’t have free weights available (you’ll continue working out as much as you can post SHTF, right?).

2. Acquire basic defensive gear.

Basic means just that, and I’m mentioning gear before training, because you need the gear to train with.

A good, reliable, semi automatic rifle in an easily available and capable caliber. AR’s, AK’s, M1A’s, FAL’s, PTR 91’s (HK91) all have good reps and the ammo, parts and accessories for them are readily available.

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A good reliable semi auto pistol in a capable and readily available caliber. Although most soldiers (Infantrymen) do not carry a pistol, you are in a civilian situation that may require concealment of your firearm (something Grunts do not need) before things go completely sideways. Glocks, S&W M&P’s, Sig’s, HK’s, Keltec, Ruger all offer a large selection of pistols to choose from. Again, like the rifles listed above, most have ammo, parts and accessories readily available.

Quality Kit that will comfortably (that’s said somewhat sarcastically) carry at a minimum, the basic load for your rifle (usually 6 extra mags), your pistol (usually 2 extra mags), an IFAK/blowout kit (individual first aid kit for traumatic injuries like gunshot), water, and basic survival gear (shelter and things to keep you warm, dry and fed). I’m a big fan of Tactical Tailor, UW Gear who also sells Tactical Tailor (a review of some of his gear is coming up), and a few things from Condor. Bottom line is you usually get what you pay for.

Unless you hunt, you have no reason to get more than basic combat firearms related gear initially. For that matter, some of the gear you acquire can do double duty for hunting if need be.

MDT Class 16-3-7-1

3. Acquire some basic defensive training.

You should get training in a number of areas. First, get to a basic pistol class. second, start learning some empty hand combatives. Third, find someone that will teach you how to run your defensive rifle. Last but not least, get some training on armed two man maneuver combatives (the most basic of small unit tactics). The basic element of this is the Buddy Team.

The Buddy Team class that I teach is the Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course (RBTEC). It is by far my most popular class, and besides the Wilderness Survival courses, RBTEC is the tactical class most asked about because there aren’t very many out there who teach down to the Buddy Team level (usually it’s fire team or above in size for most trainers).

As I said earlier, your PT will help determine how well you can perform a number defensive tasks, especially under stress. I’m not saying you can’t survive if you’re overweight (quite the contrary if you are able to stay out of trouble and in your house, you’ll probably outlast those being “eaten” by the “zombies”, right?) , because that modular food storage unit will probably last you at least a week or two even if you’re on minimal rations, and the fit people will have to constantly eat to maintain their strength. If you actually get into a fight, that’s where the fitness and prior PT will come into it’s own and save your bacon.

4. Acquire as much first aid training as you can.

You can never have too much first aid training. Start out with basic First Aid and CPR from the Red Cross, and if possible either pay for an EMT-B (basic) course or get it for free by joining the Fire Department or Ambulance Squad. We mentioned IFAK’s earlier, and the one you have on you should be geared towards what is needed for basic trauma by the most trained individual in your group. Your IFAK is what will be used on you, not what you’ll be using on someone else. NOTE: Of all the items in your kit, this is the one that everyone needs to carry in the same spot, no matter what side their dominant hand is on. This is because finding your IFAK in the dark is very important for the person treating you.

5. If possible, find some people of like mind who you can coordinate and train with for when times get rough.

Some people act like this is easy, but it is usually the exact opposite. Finding someone who is of like mind, is close enough to coordinate with, has the funds to acquire what they need which is listed above, and above all else, can be trusted, is a tall order. Although OpSec (Operational Security) is a military term, it applies equally to any Survivalist, Prepper, or NPT (neighborhood protection team) group.

One of the reasons I give so many of the groups out there claiming to be “Constitutional Militias” the crap they deserve, is because they can’t keep their mouths/keyboards shut for 30 seconds, let alone not tell everyone under the sun what their security measures are so as to show how “competent” their Doomsday plans are. Anyone who continually promotes himself on social media as a militiaman, militia commander, etc. (with “selfies”, badass callsign and cool gear to prove it), should make you think long and hard about whether you would ever want them in your group (or want your group associated with theirs), or be able to trust their discretion about keeping your group’s security protocols private.

You generally don’t see too many Survivalists “Showing off” on social media, because most tend to be more private about their preps. As an example, I can’t tell you how many dumbass moolisha members and “leaders” post what their security protocols were for meeting new “recruits”. They usually say their social media presence is all about recruiting, but in reality, it’s a “Look at me/us” fest.

Why would or should you ever need to recruit (this is not about making contact with other groups. That’s a good idea if for no other reason than receiving info after SHTF via HAM radio) outside of your local area for new members to join your group, when the reality of a SHTF scenario is that anyone outside of 25 miles (being generous) would never realistically answer your call? There are plenty of ways to recruit in “meatspace” (in person), whether it’s talking to people or putting up a flyer at the VFW or Range, or talking to the local gunshop owner and asking him to quietly spread the word to those he thinks would be a good fit.

By the way, another note about training. As I have said before, you don’t need to go to a training school to get the things mentioned above (it’s usually easier to do it at a class, and it will take less time having the info “downloaded” because we’ve already put it into instruction geared towards civilians). There are plenty of Vets out there that can help with some of these skills (that I mentioned in my response at WRSA),  and Combat Arms (Infantry, Cavalry, etc.) can help with the SUT portion of training. If you’re lucky and they are a former senior NCO or Officer, they can help with organization as well.

Well, that’s what I consider the “Basics” for you “FreeFor” guys and girls who need constant guidance and reassurances. While I can give guidance (and I have numerous times), I can give you no assurances accept one. If you put your time. sweat and money into training and acquisition of the things you need to defend yourself and your loved ones, you will become the “Trained Gun” I mentioned in the adaptation I made to Mao’s quote. “True domestic power comes from the barrel of a TRAINED GUN”. A trained individual might not always prevail over an aggressor, but they will always have the confidence that they can. Confidence can win a battle that everyone else assumes is lost.

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Bottom line. If you’re not training…START! If you are already training, double down and train harder!

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

 

 

 

Aesop Nails It

Only a fool would escalate a situation when they can’t realistically envision the logical outcome. We know something is up, and we know there is nefarious intent by not only the Soros crowd who is openly supporting Antifa, but by our own deep state players who are disguised as benevolent politicians.

Obviously they will use what ever outcome manifests itself to expand their power. The only choice now is to determine which outcome is less numerically tragic for our side, since attrition is probably the form of victory they truly desire the most. Any way you look at it, we are about “To be boarded”. Plan accordingly.

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 Saturday, May 6, 2017

And Then…?

“At some point they will be bringing bike locks to a gun fight.”

Yes. Yes, they will. And then…?

I’ve pointed the same thing out several times.
But in most contexts, as a bug, not a feature.

The point of things is to dissuade them from going that far, if such is possible.

“Stop, or I’ll shoot!” only works until someone is brave enough to call that bluff (or, in Antifa’s case, like many home invaders, stupid enough to think it is just a bluff), and then it’s time to switch from conflict de-escalation to sight placement and trigger squeeze.

Generally nifty, in net terms, for you in your own living room. In the public square, not so much.

Because once you start shooting people in the streets, that’s not the end, it’s the beginning.
The minute you go to guns, TPTB jump in with both gorilla feet.
You win your battle with the pawns – the Bike Lock Guys, Moldylocks, and poisoned little dwarves like Yvette Felarca, et al.
But unless you’re ready to march on the nation’s capitol, you lose the war with the state, both the one you live in, and the State you live under.

So, on a bare satisfaction level, their like will die, as they always do, with a surprised look on their faces, and an extra anus or three. That outcome hasn’t really been factored into the cake, for them.

But what about at the level of those who’re funding their escapades (outside of taxpayer subsidies for student loans, and public institution tenure for faculty Reds, I mean)?
D’ya think George Soros hasn’t been pushing for exactly that response from Day One, as an excuse to push his agenda?
Do you figure that Chuck You “Blood In The Streets” Schumer won’t dance in the blood while it’s still warm, with a “SEE? I TOLD YOU SO!” moment, which will be simulcast on ABCNNBCBS 24/7/forever? That it won’t become the reason to roll back the last 35 years of CCW and Constitutional Carry progress? Anti-gunners were cheerfully willing to sacrifice MLK and RFK to pass the Gun Control Act of 1968. They roistered and capered in the blood of schoolchildren to get the Assault Weapons Ban(s) passed. Think they’ll bat an eye over sacrificing a few mouthy teachers and porn stars to roll back Heller and McDonald?? Srsly???

They’re waiting for that moment. Most of them are probably salivating at the prospects, and all it’s going to take is a few thoughtless amped-up assholes to hand it to them on a silver platter, with an apple in its mouth. If rabid shiftless gender studies students get shot within a country mile of any campus, “school shooters” is the nicest thing they’ll call you and anyone like you, for years.

And the nutless, gutless RINO Congress and Senate (ptui!) will shit themselves passing it. And Pres. Trump will sign it, because it’ll pass with a veto-proof majority (if not unanimously in both houses), and no sense fighting a battle you’ve already lost. And John Roberts will cry about it, but then Pelosi or Schumer or whomever will wave around the midget/clown/donkey porn pictures they have of the Chief Justice, and it’ll lose in SCOTUS by 5-4 or worse. Game. Over.

Leaving you right back in the fight of your lives for civilization itself, against everything.
You ready for that fight, now? Or next month?

Then throttle back, boys and girls. It’ll come, soon enough. No need to rush it.

In the meantime, no one’s saying you need to take it in the liver if the public anarcho-communists want to get sporty.

But nota bene, you can’t retaliate in public, on YouTube, and 57 cable channels, and then spike the ball in the end zone, unless you like everything I laid out above, in spades.

Everyone knows who Bike Lock is. His entire pathetic life is now on the Internetz, to the 97th degree. Everyone knows Yvette Felarca. And Moldylocks. And with about 7 seconds, the entire Phoenix John Brown Gun Club. These @$$tards have a flippin’FaceSpace page, fer cripes sake. This is how you can tell you’re dealing with Useful Idiot pawns, and not players. MS-13 is gonna whack ’em any minute, just to get their shooting hardware without a waiting period or background check.

For the rest, who can say?
In the event of foul play, the police would only have 100,000,000 suspects with a motive.

And just for informational purposes, imagine the hijinks that would ensue if one or more of them were found one morning not only whacked, but beheaded, with an ISIS flag nailed to their doors. Or their headless torso(s). Just saying.

Everybody thinks they want to poke the bear. Think it over.
If you don’t want to end up playing the bitch in a bear porno, like Leo DiCaprio in the godawful @$$load waste of celluloid The Revenant,

then you’d damned sure better have some marshmallows to throw down to keep his attention focused on not eating you.

And then your own side, and the reasonable but undecided middle, are going to start to wonder aloud whether you did everything reasonable, prudent, and goddamed possible to thwart the other side six ways to Sunday before resorting to night letters, and midnight calls.

War is a continuation of politics by other means.” taught von Clausewitz to the ages. So you sure as hell had better have tried and exhausted every political solution in the attic, garage, and basement before you go all John Brown at Harper’s Ferry, and try to hatch the next war all by your ownself.

You can’t grow crops by pulling on them, and a noose is a tough necktie for anyone to wear.
Especially out of season.

Thus endeth the lesson.

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JCD
American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

 

Selco Talks “Training”

Selco gives some of his real world input into an important topic.

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Skills And Training

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I have just finished delivering another ‘Mile In My Shoes’ (MIMS) down here in the Balkans. As always it was a great event with many insights both for the students and me. Having finished the course I got to thinking more about training in the survival and preparedness community.

Learning real survival skills in the field is something that cannot be substituted with anything, but I see people often try to do that.

Another mistake in learning skills is because they are often (almost always) taken out of the context, or even more often, there is no context at all.

Somehow as a result, there is a whole bunch of people learning skills without mindset where and when to use it, or not to use it. (I agree it is better to have skills even without context than not to have them at all, but that sounds more like an excuse than a justification…)

Prepping is a BIG industry, and for lot of people it just needs to be “sugar coated” in order to be consumed.

 

Levels…

Two examples here:

When you say to me “SHTF” my first thought is partial or complete collapse of the system and its services, so my second thought is about (lack of) resources, and other people realizing that fact, my third thought is about fight with other people for the resources still left.

It is my thought when you say SHTF.

For some people when they heard “SHTF”  their first thought is let’s say ‘power shortage’ that’s going to last for about 12 hours, their second thought is that they need to be comfortable for those 12 hours (only) because after that government (system, services) will jump in and fix things.

For them SHTF is 12 hours without electricity…

Now what is clear here, I firmly believe that there will be event of complete (prolonged) missing of the system (law, medical services, food distribution chain…) and some of the reasons could be new pandemics, economic problems, ethnic race (religious) reasons, chaos, or simply some wide world event.

Important thing is that people believing in any of these two levels have a lot to learn, but the starting point should be different.

For example for the folks who think that it is impossible to meet anything more complicated then short disturbances in electrical supply there is no too much use in throwing to them war scenarios and tactical shooting course, because for them it is maybe going to be fun, but there is no context there for them, no understanding.

It is more use for them to read history books, speak with war veterans-to try to understand that shit (will) happens, even in most modern societies where similar things did not happen for generations.

That is start for them.

 

Skills and Using Skills In Context

 

Real danger here is not about learning skills (which is again great thing to do), it is about not understanding how to put it in correct context and real life situation.

If you putting skills learning into good, practical multi day courses of “basic primitive skills learning course” or “wilderness skills course” and play it like that it is perfectly good and useful.

But again there are courses (or books, publications, media, you tube videos) of “how to survive end of the days”, “austere medicine course” or simply “buy this and you will survive and thrive when SHTF” and inside are skills, and list of items to learn or buy without connection to real situations, it is not only scam (more or less) – it is quite dangerous.

What I am trying to explain is best to show through the example.

Let s say there is “where there is no doctor” or “austere medicine course”, and it is like “advanced” too.

In short part of the course goes like this:

-Students start with drinking coffee, and getting know each other

-It is nice, weather is fine, there are snacks and food available, all students feel really comfortable

-They are injuring a pig (or other good sized live animal) and then trying to stitch the pig, or stop the bleeding in different ways

– The pig does not survive and they learned something about stopping the bleeding, and they feel stronger (and disgusted) because of the amount of blood and screams and how ‘real’ the training was.

Good things here that students get some feeling about blood, and they learned something about bleeding and ways to stop it.

But bad thing here is that they been told that now they are ready for SHTF in terms of the bleeding and stopping it.

In reality they are not even close to be ready.

Preferable this is  how this part of the course should look:

-No coffee on the course

-No food that day

-Bad weather is preffered

-Students are divided in two groups

-Preferable one at least one student in each group should be slowed down (let say evil instructor will “somehow” cause one of the student to have serious case of diarrhea)

-Students (each group separately) are instructed to carry the pig 5 kilometers to a near mountain or a specified place using compass and map only

-Half way to the mountain they have been (each group) instructed to stab the pig, stop the bleeding and carry the pig to the mountain again (while pig is screaming)

-Groups should hide one from another

-Group who get first to the mountain top with alive pig is winner

 

Now this is very banal example, and it is here only to in terms of an example, but point here is to understand – there is no sense only from learning skills without putting (and testing) those skills in scenarios that need to be as close to real life as possible.

I mean, if we are learning about stopping bleeding on someone when serious SHTF do you really believe  that you ll be well fed, healthy, in good mental state, perfectly capable for that?

There is the huge probability that you’ll be in poor condition while you trying to stop someones bleeding, remember it is SHTF? Actually you may be in condition where you may not be able to stop someone s bleeding at all.

What is the point of testing yourself if you do not push yourself at least close to the limits while testing ?

It is much more important  after the some  course, book, or you tube clip to understand and realize that you are not yet ready, and to know your current limits than to be sure “you are ready for full SHTF” because your instructor told you that, or simply book saying you that, while clearly you are not.

If you know your current  limits you know what more to learn or practice or achieve, and that is good, I learn almost every day something, and in many fields there are unknown stuff for me and there is nothing wrong in that…

Remember “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” – Archilochus

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JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

Trapping Food When You’re On The Go

Re-posted from MDSA

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Some traps bought as a teenager for my first trapline at 15. Victory No.2 double coil spring on the left, 110 Conibear, center, and a Victory No.1 single leaf spring, right. 

Over the years I’ve had a number of people ask me what I suggested for trapping in an “On the move, supplies on my back” survival scenario. My usual suggestions are snares if you are travelling very light (example, in the smock kit), and at least four 110 Conibears body hold traps (one for each of the cardinal directions) along with snares if you are carrying a rucksack. Although snares will do their job well if you set them correctly, they also are “one time use” if the animal tears them up. The 110 Conibear will work again and again and again for decades if taken care of.

One of the best ways I’ve found to carry my Conibear traps is by using a mil issue SAW pouch. The SAW pouch was originally designed to carry a 200 round squad automatic weapon (SAW) plastic drum/box, and I have found that it will conveniently carry four 110 Conibear traps, some snares, trap building gear (wood screws, nails, wire, twine and heavy staples) and even a bottle of lure if you want.

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Four brand new Conibear traps placed in a SAW pouch for a new ruck kit. Note how they fit perfectly in the SAW pouch with some room to spare.

My Buddy Bergmann normally uses a British bergan ruck, and at 3:45 in this video, he shows where/how he carries his Conibears in his bergan. One of the advantages I see in carrying your traps in it’s own specific pouch (like the SAW pouch), is your ability to take that pouch off of your ruck, attach it to your LBE/LBV, belt, etc., and go out to run your small trapline while leaving your ruck stashed and camouflaged.

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I’ve had the top trap for 32 years, the bottom one is brand new. 

My trapping experiences and targets as a kid were primarily raccoon, fox and muskrat. We didn’t have much in the way of mink in our area at the time, and there weren’t any coyotes here (DNR imported them from out West in the mid 90’s) yet. Squirrels (one of your primary target animals for food) are harder to trap than muskrat, but easier to trap than coons (in my experience). Learning the art of trapping is a great survival skill that could serve you well if you end up in a post SHTF scenario.

One of the most important things about trapping is the need to actually get out and do it. Watching a youtube video to learn the theory and basic techniques is great, but it’s only about a third (I’m being very generous) of the “successful trapping” equation. A good place for the novice to start is Dave Canterbury’s “Modern Trapping Series“. Below is one of Canterbury’s videos on prepping and use of the 110 Conibear trap, and here is another.

The last dozen 110’s I bought, I purchased through Amazon (convenient), here’s the link. Now is the time to get your trapping kit squared away then go out and learn how to use it. As far as I know, trapping is legal in all 50 states. The requirement might be to buy a $5 trappers permit with your hunting license, or it might require that you take a “Trapper’s” course which is similar to the “Hunter Safety Course”. Check your state requirements, get squared away, and get out and practice.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

Another SHTF Reality From Selco

Reposted from MDSA

Selco gives us some reality about a typical “Tacticool” SHTF day. Reality is a bitch, and being able to trade is an important survival skill.

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Ordinary Day’

ordinary

 

A lot of people wonder what an ‘ordinary day’ was like during the SHTF. I was thinking on this and remembered this day. I think it is a good illustration and answers this question… It’s odd to say but we were often glad of ‘ordinary days’ when not to bad things happened…

 

Rain was falling down for days, and we all felt wet and soaked with it.

Moisture was in our pores, our clothes, and kinda in our heads too.

It was kind of weather that pushes down and back the smoke from your stove, back to your room instead of through the chimney.

Holes in our roof were plugged, more or less, in the way that we managed to “channel” leaks  into numerous pots and canisters, in order to keep ourselves dry and also to collect water.

Being dirty is bad, but being dirty and smelly during several days of rainy weather is simply awful.

We dried our clothes above the stove, evaporation of dirty clothes together with smell of dirty bodies, bad “tobacco” (we “discover” some new tree leaves which we used as a substitute for tobacco), handmade oil lamps  and tea boiling on stove (we called it sometimes ‘soup’, other times ‘tea’)  made a mixture of smells which simply added to the depression of the whole situation.

In days like that alcohol intake would go up high.

When weather was fine I liked to go on second floor, remove tarp and plywood “setup” from roof hole that was made with mortar shell few months before, sit under it, watch the blue sky and drink.

Other folks would say “he is up there again waiting for mortar shell to land on his head” but it was nice and peaceful to do it, and sometimes I just did not care.

Even that weird relaxation was out of the option because of the endless rain.

In days like that we were closest to animals as we could be.

We ate potatoes for days, we managed to get it through one UN convoy that somehow entered city month ago, and it was mess to get those bags of potatoes because while UN forces tried to organized some kind of delivery system- like small bag of potatoes to each family that show up-folks simply overrun them and started to fight each other over it.

Several people get killed then, but we managed to bring home quite a stash of it.

We were happy because of the potatoes, but few days later rumors exploded that potatoes that we get were poisoned, actually it was not for human use, it was meant for seed only, or something like that and apparently they were treated with very hard chemicals.

We continued to eat it, only difference was that we were not so happy anymore about it…

And then a trade chance came to us.

It was my turn to go to visit the guy who “had some stuff for sell-trade” or at least it was information that we get it.

Good thing about this guy was the fact that I knew him little bit prior SHTF, when SHTF he had strong connections and simply had interesting stuff from time to time. He was something like “trustful” trader, he kept his stuff in his house and did trades there, which usually meant either he is stupid or very protected, and he was not stupid.

“Gogo” was his nickname, and we felt good because we are going to trade with him, because his reputation was pretty big and he (we thought) could not afford too many bad stories about trading with him.

It was as safe a trade as it could be in those days.

My relative show me our possession for trade while we were preparing for trip-it was 10 packs of Kent cigarettes, and when I saw that, it was like I saw UFO landing in backyard, with aliens bringing to us food, water, candies, and safety, and flying me then to a rock concert.

In that period cigarettes were rare, sometimes impossible to find and we were even lucky to have tobacco-which was not actually tobacco but grinded “tree” of tobacco plant, or simply all kind of tree leafs that we experimented with.

White filters Kent cigarettes in that moment were something like wet dream of every smoker.

It was pleasure to even see them, to smoke them meant pure happiness.

On my question where he get it? He answered “from some mercenaries”, and I did not want to ask more, I did not care.

We started our way to Gogo’s house around midnight, because plan was to be at the most dangerous place around 0100hrs.

On our way back we would choose a different way.

That dangerous place was big opening between houses, some 100-150 meters of space where we are completely open to the near hill where Anti Aircraft gun and few m84 machine guns were located.

Those machine gun was nicknamed “sijac smrti” which translates from my language to English as a  “death seeder” or “death bringer” or similar, and when I first time heard that nickname my thoughts were:”oh c’mon-somebody is watching too many movies, it is bombastic nickname for ordinary weapon”

Later when I was targeted first time from that weapon, when they shoot at me, I correct myself and I thought something like” death seeder? It is more, much more, it is Satan, it is hell, it is pure horror…”

And much later I also realized it is more or less common nickname for some other similar weapons.

So I built pretty fast my respect for “sijac smrti”, that shit was way too fast and deadly. It sounded like whole bunch of small deaths flying directly to you while they screaming.

 

(years later, after my SHTF ended and all things go back to some kind of let s say normal, I was watching member of Serbian elite parachute unit, while he was trying to explain his battle experience to another guy.

He and his small unit were holding position in dense woods on some hill during NATO bombing of Serbia, it was on Kosovo, and they were attacked by Albanians, Albanians were much stronger by numbers, but poorly trained, as he said, and he and his comrades did pretty well, morale was high, they were tough guys.

And then he said airplanes came. He said planes were firing from cannons destroying the hundreds years old trees like simple matches and obliterating his unit.

But he said that was not scariest thing-pure horror was sounds of that planes and cannons while they firing down on them, while he was trying to explain that he opened his eyes wide and said” it was sound like there are 10 big cows is in the air flying to you and they are screaming because they are being slaughtered”

Other guy was watching him probably not understanding what is so scary about that sound to terrified big strong elite dude.

And I said to myself “Oh man, I know that horror”)

 

Anyway we came to that open space without too much problems.

Nobody know what kind of view they had there on the hill, but during the night they fired often, without real cause, on that opening, so it was matter of luck sometimes are you going to be shot.

And somehow it was a myth that it is safest to cross it around 0100hrs.

In that time it was many openings like that in the city with different weapon and different tactics for crossing it and different myths about it how to cross it safely.

Lot of folks find God and faith on openings like that while they run or crawl over it.

Of course lot of folks end up dead there too.

I have seen guys being shot dead there while they run as fast as they could, I saw some crazy dudes walking slowly there and nothing happened, some guys were wounded and screamed there for hours with their guts hanging out until they died…

No rules.

We sat down behind the wall next to the opening and I told my relative “ok give me the cigarettes”

He said “it is not smart, it is for trade”

I did not care, so he gave me one pack, I opened it and smoked a cigarette.

It was cool to smoke it, white paper cigarette with white filter, after long time of smoking trash tobacco in any kind of paper that we could get.

It smelled like perfume to me in that moment.

I finished it and told to him “ok I can die now if I need”

He answered to me “fuck you man”

We run across that space while rain was pouring down, nothing happens, not a single shot on us.

Gogo’s house was close by after that, and nothing dangerous happened until we came to his home.

After some guy show up to us at the yard, we were allowed to enter the house with weapon, which was good feeling but not necessary good sign, but when we saw Gogo he recognizes us, and after some casual conversation which includes people that we together know we started to feel better.

We entered small room, two of us and two of them, sat down and had a drink.

 

Rakija (A strong, locally brewed spirit) was available then, so it was not a surprise when he gave us two glasses with that drink.

Numerous different kinds of that drink were circulating around, most often it was pure poison, simple not finished product from destroyed distillery diluted with water, but his was soft and nice.

Room where we sat was something like weird version of display room for customers, so we could see all kind of different stuff around in bags or open cabinets.

I saw pack of beer, even couple bottles of coke, and room strangely smelled of coffee which was high luxury in that time, everything there was set up for turning your senses “to want stuff”.

Bags full of something were lying everywhere and steel cabinet from army barracks was locked in one corner.

After some chatting he put down his hand under the table and put “Zolja” (“wasp”) single use RPG on table and said to us “this is good stuff for you folks, and it is cheap”.

I take it and said to him” it is empty man, fired, useless”

He open his mouth laugh with joy and said” ok man ok, you know that and I know that, but how many idiots outside know that? You could paint water pipe in green and state it is RPG and 90 percent of folks would trust you in dark, this looks real man.  Just fill it with something, point that thing on someone and ask right question”

“Yea, and then I can be killed from the guy who know that weapon is fired long time ago, he could choke me slowly with his bare hands, no thanks”

He said “ok ok, I agree, but here is right one” and then he pull out brand new one, same type, not used.

We said no man, we do not need weapons right now.

He said “ok ok, I have this too, I sell a lot of these and everyone is satisfied man”

Than his buddy opened wood cabinet behind his head and gave him wooden box, size of shoes box, bit smaller.

I look at my relative and look back at me with short surprised expressions.

It was wooden engraved box, pretty common in households in this region prior the war, something that you would put as a display in your living room, and when you opened it there was small wooden bird with mechanism inside, mechanism was activated by opening box, and melody would start, like birds singing…

Is he trying to sell us wooden singing bird in middle of the civil war?

Then he opened the box and push it to me.

Wooden bird was not inside, box was full-maybe some 25 bottles-vials of Penicillin. It was pretty expensive stuff.

I took one bottle and check it, expiration dates were good, Serbian manufacturer, labels looked originally “glued” on bottles.

But on the top of the bottles some of those were missing small thin metal “cap” that is covering rubber sealed “plug”(trough that rubber Penicillin powder is being diluted and aspirated into syringe)

First thought was that some those of the bottles could be used and then filled with flour.

He noticed what I am checking and said “ yeah, some of the caps are missing man, it is being transported through some rough situations before they came to me, but they are good”

I said” cool stuff man, but we do not need it” It was bit suspicious stuff and way to expensive for us at that moment.

He asked finally what we want.

And I said” Meat man!”

He leave the room and get back with one can, and I know he finally meant business because he brought only one can, without showing how much he actually has of it.

He put it on table and said” I have it, it is “Konj“(horse).

In that time different kind of canned food was circulating around, lot of expired stuff, broken, spoiled…

But popular was “horse”.

Horse had good and bad sides, but more good then bad sides.

It was canned meat, stamped label on tin was saying only something like “help from EU” or “help from UNHCR” I do not remember exactly.

Funny thing was that under the marking “type of meat” was written “meat”. Just that: “meat”.

It was kind of partially cooked meat with huge amount of grease inside that looked like snow.

If we ate grease alone it induced bad cases of diarrhea, but you could use it for cooking, melt it and use like oil for lamp, or simply folks stated that it is good to put it in places where you have pain, like an ointment (“bad knees pain – horse grease, rifle butt to the head-horse grease…  😉 )

Meat alone did not had any particular taste, it was unrecognizable, and people simply after some time said it is horse meat because nobody had clue what exactly it is.

So that can was nicknamed “horse”.

There were attempts to call it “kangaroo” but “horse” just stuck to it.

Simply it was usable.

He asked what we have, and I take out one pack of “Kent” he said “nice” without too much enthusiasm but his buddy stand up and said “where you get these man? Cool”

And that moment I knew we gonna get good deal because they are interested, they just kinda “blinked”.

He said to his buddy ”sit down man and shut up, you smoked too much pot” (Use of cannabis was rampant during the war)

And he asked how much of these we have, I answered it depends how much horse he have and bargain started.

At the end, we agree that we gonna gave him 9 packs for 15 cans.

It was great deal for us, and probably cool deal for him, because he knew folks who will appreciate those cigarettes a lot I guess.

After setting up a deal, and after we exchanged stuff we chatted for a bit and he offered me a hand made cigarette.

He gave me a small tin box with hand rolled cigarettes.

And I looked into the box, it used to be small box for cigarillos I think and I looked at the box, I liked it very much.

We carried our tobacco in all kinds of different bags, boxes, foils or whatever, but that tin box simply was “laying” down in my hand so cool. It was foreign stuff clearly.

It somehow “clicked” and perfectly lay down in my hand when I took it.

I gave it back to him asked where he got that, and he clearly saw that I “blinked” this time.

He said ”offer something, it is nice box man”

I only had that one more pack of Kent, with missing cigarette inside (which I wanted originally to keep for myself)

I pull it out from my pocket, gave it to him, he said” ok, I’ll give the cigarette box for this pack”

It was outrageous price, and I could almost feel my relative sending thoughts to me like “you fucking idiot, pack of cigarettes for tin box? We could get more meat for that…”

But I liked the box.

Then Gogo said” wait the second, cigarettes are missing from the pack, it is opened”

I said” yes, but still man, only one is missing and this is Kent real cigarettes”

Then he open drawer from the desk and pull hammer from it, we almost jumped ready for fight, but he took hammer and hit the tin box.

Then he said “ ok, one cigarette is missing in your pack, box is little bit damaged on one end now, but still working, now it is fair deal, we need to keep our business in some rules, it is reputation man!”

I was looking at him, realizing that he kinda lost it, just like most of us did in that time.

But we make the deal done, and all went good.

We get home in one piece, we ate those cans mixed with herbs and potatoes. Older member of family was happy with grease on his knees for some time…

I had a lot of bitching because of that tin box trade, but I survived.

War ended and years go by, I lost tin cigarette box, Gogo moved to Canada, and I heard he is doing apartment decorating business, and sometimes play guitar in some clubs, and have drugs issues…

Then one year, me and my wife were doing big renovation in my old house, and in some box with all kind of mess she pull out that tin box and said to me” oh it is some box for cigarettes, we gonna throw it away or you need it?”

Then she opened it, and inside she read small words that I wrote long time ago “GOGO” and date of trade.

She asked me “what is it, who is Gogo? Is it man or woman”?

From all of the explanation that I could gave her somehow words that came from my mouth were “ Yep, I could have got maybe two horses instead of that box during the war if I were smart”

“you had horses during the war? You rode it? I thought this was city siege! Where in the world you got horses?” she said looking suspiciously at me. (she spent war years in Germany without too much clue how was it here in reality)

I said smartly” no no, I didn’t ride horses, we ate it, it was good stuff”

Then she look at me with horror stating “you killed and ate horses, how could you, they are beautiful animals”

And then finally I said” you know what, forget it, it is long story, just throw away that box, it is useless”

Still, for a week or so she had suspicious looks at me from time to time.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE