Brushbeater On Mountain Men And Survivalist

Brushbeater spells out the winning combination of the skills and mindset which made the mountain man a world class Survivalist.

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The Mountain Man as a Rifleman: An Analysis of a Better Survivalist Strategy

mtn-menWhen it comes to survivalism, prepping and general self reliance, an overtone of a militant nature flows through the veins of many. Rightfully so. The ability to skillfully protect what is near and dear to a community is the backbone of why one would prepare. Often enough this necessitates a high focus on military weapons and tactics in an effort to mirror that same capability. Its not that such a focus is wrong- it is not, entirely- but rather a modification of Light Infantry method, or a rejection of such in lieu of a better approach, may be far more effective while keeping you and yours alive.

Take the historical Mountain Man from the fur trapper era. Rarely were they the lone wilderness dweller types as romanticized, but rather were usually private contractors that served dual roles as both trappers and scouts for the US Army. While hunting or scouting in small groups, these men were constantly on guard for everything from combat with hostile native tribes and predators to natural disaster to flat out bad luck. By necessity they had to be a jack of all trades, and a master of quite a few just to survive. This should sound familiar to many. Their requirement to live is your goal, whether you realize this or not.

mtn-men2Another glaring fact to coincide with this reality is that the furtrappers of yore were not Infantrymen of any type; in many cases the men of those groups had served in various uniforms during wars of their respective eras, some were criminals running from a rough past, and others just misfits or all of the above, but at this point they were hunters and most importantly, scouts. There existed no support for them in any immediate sense. Outposts were usually days away at best, with material usually being sparse as-is even when it arrived. Their only assets were their wit, their marksmanship, their teamwork, and their ability to remain hidden and sustained through healthy knowledge of their terrain. They were Survivalists of the strongest type. It is necessary then that their experiences serve as a lesson and guidelines to how a mutual assistance group or militia would work in a grid-down world versus attempting to mirror a disciplined and predictable Light Infantry model with limited or no required assets.

Haweye.jpgFollowing a man’s best asset, his wit, skill as a marksman often was the measure of quality and made their  reputation. James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo (also known as Hawkeye) was the perfect illustration of this, being a mixture of many of the legendary frontiersmen of the day.  In every case be it fiction, woodslore, or real, the ability to streamline and perfect practical marksmanship is the most critical skill a man at arms can have and in a practical sense should be one of the benchmarks of your own training. You should be able to estimate range, know the approximate trajectory of your own rifle, and be competent enough to know at what range you can make a clean kill- and more importantly- when you can’t.

In stating this, it must be recognized that merely shooting from a bench or under controlled conditions cannot equate skill in the field. Shooting fast at stationary targets, alone, cannot achieve such skills either. The former does not push the shooter beyond a comfort zone, the latter only wastes resources and assumes a reactionary stance, reflective of police and military tactics during peacekeeping occupations. Having done the later overseas, it is no model anyone should adopt as their own on these shores. Neither work for any sort of effective defensive plan. The mountain man, knowing that every round must count, and every round will give you away, worked diligently to know where those rounds were going before they were sent. Marksmanship was every bit as much about making a clean kill with that one shot as it was conserving their own resources.

mountain man horsesIn the small unit sense, mountain men were team hunters. Each man in the team knew how to move quickly and quietly while assessing terrain. All the skills of team movement, such as knowing where each man in the group is in the hunting party, having an experienced pathfinder and tracker taking lead, and the others watching for any and all signs of danger, all being well versed in land navigation, were exactly the model of small unit prowess that many seek today. Further, they knew when and where to make an effective ambush, whether it was to kill game or getting the better of a team of hostiles.  The ability to see the game first meant the difference between them living another day or dying a very, very miserable death. In that sense their hunting party is synonymous to a type of Light Infantry, where one is hunting and only concerned with winning and withdrawing versus taking and holding terrain for follow on forces.

mountain man blanketWhere this leaves you, the soul concerned only with protecting his own God-given liberty and posterity, is to view your skills, training, and equipment in a different way than some in the contemporary sense may. The mountain man of yore had no illusion of their place in the world- they were not Infantrymen of any standing army and had no desire to be, had no supply line aside from what was on their backs or could be procured, and above all else, knew wholeheartedly the very fine line they tread between life and death. For some, perhaps that was all part of the thrill of living. But all of the above was and is predicated upon their skill with a rifle; the ability to make the shot under any condition while tired and cold. Simple and effective kit, a good rifle, and the skills to make it all work was, and remains, the most effective model of survival and personal defense versus training to be exactly the opposite. The traditional mountain man scout, both individually and as a team, serves as an effective example of what the survivalist should strive to be. The jack of all trades and master of quite a few, including expert proficiency with his chosen weapon. They were not Infantrymen nor troops of any real kind; simply hard, stubborn, self reliant and skilled men. And you should be also.

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Go study, practice and do likewise.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

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Revisiting The Smock, And Stocking It For Survival, A Part 1 And 2 Compilation

As many who know me can tell you, I think the SAS style combat smock is one of the most utilitarian pieces of kit a Survivalist can have when it comes to clothing selection. In the following post, you will see why.
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Revisiting The Smock, And Stocking It For Survival PT. 1

 

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I have been using the SAS type smock for a couple decades, and although I haven’t changed much in the way it is stocked, there have been changes over the years. What is in the smock changes, but what that gear is supposed to do has not. A piece of clothing such as a smock will carry A LOT of gear, and the key is to have enough to survive, but don’t load it down.

First let’s talk about the smock I now use and recommend. I used to recommend the smock made by Begadi, but unfortunately it is no longer made, and was extremely expensive (about $150). The smock I’ve been using is not only cheaper (about $80 and that includes shipping from Germany), I like some of the features better. It is sold by ASMC, and the smock link is here.

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The smock is made out of 65/35 Poly/cotton ripstop, which means it dries pretty fast, but does not have some of the drawbacks of all nylon clothing (human torch anyone). The shoulders and elbows have a heavier, cordura like, water repellent fabric covering them, and the elbows come with removable elbow pads.

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The hood has a few feature which I really like. One id the adjustment in the back which will keep the front of the hood from obstructing your peripheral vision. The second is the wire that can be shaped to keep the sides back, also helping with your peripheral vision, and the hood doesn’t hanging down in your face.

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If you buy one of these smocks, be careful how what size you get. If you are getting it as an everyday coat, do as the company suggests, and get a size smaller than you normally do. If you are getting it as a field smock, with the possibility of wearing insulating layers under it, get the size you normally would. A friend recently found that out, as he ordered one size smaller, and found out wearing a field jacket liner of heavy fleece significantly inhibited his freedom of movement.

 

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The liner in the smock (where there is one), is not the heavy liner you would expect and nothing like a US Army field jacket has. The smock is lightweight enough to be worn in warmer weather, and has large “Pit zips” to help vent, as well as only buttoning the front (instead of zipping it up) of the smock helps with the airflow issues you might have. The “Canadian style” buttons are great when you are trying to button or unbutton with gloves on.

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One of the only things I do not like on this smock is the right sleeve pocket. I believe it is designed for some type of first aid dressing, but is ridiculously large, and I’ve dealt with it in two ways. On my OD smock, I removed it and covered the area with a velcro panel. On my flectarn smock (it is my regular hunting jacket), I sewed the sides of the pocket down. This allows me to still used the pocket, but it has less volume, and sticks out a lot less.

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Cuff adjustments are velcro, waist adjustments are of the string type (ala army field jacket), and it also has a skirt tie for when the wind is really bad. You’ll notice in some of the pics that their are fabric tabs all over the smock. This is a way to secure camouflage (natural or man made) to the smock for obvious reasons.

Overall, it is a great lightweight, multi purpose jacket, and except for the things mentioned, I have nothing but good to say about this as all around field apparel.In part two, we’ll talk about the survival kit I carry in it.

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Revisiting The Smock, And Stocking It For Survival PT. 2

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In Part 1 we discussed the smock that I recommend, and why I recommend it. In this post we’ll cover what survival items I carry in it, the “why” and the “how” of it. My smock carries items that are geared towards survival if I have lost all my gear. They cover these basic categories: Shelter, Water procurement and purification, food in a basic short term sustainment pack, tools for shelter building and food procurement, and fire making.

In the “Shelter” section I have one main item, which is supported by the length of 550 cord which will be shown in an inner pocket. I use a military “casualty” blanket. This is another way of saying heavy duty space blanket. This is a heavy duty tart that is 5’x7′, with grommet holes on the sides and corners. One side is OD green, and one side is silver. These make excellent lean to shelters, and can also be rolled up inside to keep ones body heat in as much as possible. I carry the Space blanket in the back pocket on the smock.

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This looks like it would be bulky, but it is far from it. It lies flat and if any gear sits on top of the pocket, it does not dig into your back or your ass. Next, since we already started with the back pocket, we will just go through the pockets and see what they hold.

Up front you have six pockets, two bottom cargo pockets, two top cargo pockets, and two zip up napoleon pockets behind the top cargo pockets. On the side you have two lower cargo pockets, and one sleeve pocket on the left sleeve. As I said in part 1, I removed the right sleeve pocket that this smock comes with.

First we’ll start with the left sleeve pocket. Three items are in this pocket. First is a small fixed blade knife. I use the CRKT Ritter RSK MK5 because it is small, sturdy, and can be used for a spear point if needed. Next is a military type magnesium fire starter block, as a last ditch fire starting implement. Third is a old style military field dressing for serious bleeder/wound issues.

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Next up we’ll go to the top left side pocket. I carry a Minimag LED with lithium batteries. Why a minimag? Because they’ve been around a long time, and they work. Why LED? Because it doesn’t have the bulb breakage problems that the standard does, it’s brighter, and lasts longer. Why lithium batteries. They last longer in storage and don’t leak. There is plenty of room in that pocket for other things that might need carried (you can’t fill up every space, first it would be too bulky, second it’s a back up, not your primary gear conveyance, right?).

Napoleon pocket, top left. I carry a neck gaiter for cold, and a pair of aviator flight gloves. The gloves are good for cold down to about 20 degrees if you’re moving around, about 30 degrees if you’re sedentary. The neck gaiter is one of the best cold weather items you can have, and makes a huge difference in your heat retention. ‘Nough said.

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Top right cargo pocket. This is the LandNav pocket. Their is a good baseplate compass, with a magnifying lens on it (back up fire starter also). There is also a small button compass inside the top flap of the pocket as a back up. Once again, extra room is there for other items later.

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Top right napoleon pocket. The only thing in this pocket is a stormsafe notebook, a pen and a mechanical pencil. They are stored in a heavy duty waterproof bag that can be used to carry other items of water if needed.

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The bottom left cargo pocket contains three items. First is a pair of cold weather aviator gloves (both types of aviator gloves are fire resistant). These are for cold down to about 5 degrees (what I’ve used them too, but I run “Hot” so YMMV). The other items are a roll over black electrical tape and a bic lighter that is in a metal case with scissors and a small blade (never have enough blades, right?).

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Bottom right cargo pocket contains three items. An old German army pocket knife which has a knife blade, saw, screwdriver, corkscrew and awl. There is two types of headwear in this pocket. One is the old standby OD green wool watchcap, the other is a coyote brown goretex boonie hat. This covers shelter building, and repair, keeping the head and shoulders dry, and along with the cold weather gloves, and neck gaiter, staying somewhat warm.

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The left side cargo pocket contains a a collapsible water bottle, and that is it. The left side is where I wear a holster, so this side needs to remain relatively flat. It can be used with the water purification tablets I will mention later.

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Right side cargo pocket. In this pocket is a Spec ops Cargo pocket organizer that holds a number of survival items. The items are as follows: Bic Lighter, Bottle of ibuprofen and antacids, bottle of water purification tablets, a piece of contractor grad aluminum foil 3’x12″ (used for heating up the water for the ramen seasoning packets), MRE Chocolate milkshake packet, ziplock bag of ramen flavor packets (like boullion cubes but flat), three Datrex bars (600 calories), and one small sealable waterproof bag.IMG_20160321_153528-1

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Note: All six cargo pockets have D-rings inside the pocket, and all items  are “Dummy corded” when possible to reduce loss. Also, everything is “Jump” tested to make sure  they make no noise when moving.

IMG_20160321_155014  Inside right pocket contains a map in a ziplock gallon size freezer bag with a protractor.

 

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Inside left contains 50 feet of 550 cord for shelter building and other tasks, and another bic lighter wrapped with 2 feet of 100mph tape (repairs and fire tinder). Below is a Buddy of mine, Bergmann in Alaska, with his idea of some additions to a survival smock. We have talked about this a good bit, and as you can see, some of the ideas we both had, and some I poached.

Well, that’s about it, any questions or ideas, pleas let me know.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

Purpose Driven SHTF Planning

So what are you planning for? Are you planning to “bugout” to the hills at the first sign of societal trouble? Are you planning to stand fast, and defend hearth and home against the entitlement zombie hordes? Are you planning to thwart the evil empire’s designs on your community, as a member of the militia? Are you basing your preps on some fiction or non fiction book you read that gave you an idea for what might happen? There are plenty of scenarios out there, some plausible, some, not so much, but the important things are these. 1) Do you have general. realistic preps in place. 2) Do you have a solid, well thought out and realistic plan to deal with the general and specific concerns you’ve identified. 3) Are you physically and/or logistically equipped and able to carry out the planned responses to these threats. We’ll talk about these three things in order.

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1). Do you have general, realistic preps in place? Obviously, it doesn’t do any good to be armed to the teeth, if you don’t have plenty of food and other goods stored away. As I’ve told plenty of people in the past. If you know someone whose only preps are weapons and ammo, STAY THE HELL AWAY FROM THEM!, and for God’s sake, don’t tell them about your preps. Where do you think they’ll come first?  General preps would be items that would be stored specifically for use in any emergency, whether it’s a localized natural disaster, or WW3. Storable food, first aid supplies, shelter (environmental and defense) building material, firearms and other weapons and tools for defense/hunting chores, etc are just some of the general items you will need to cover a wide range of emergencies. By “realistic” I will use food as an example. Although we’d all love to have multiple years worth of MRE’s, or freeze dried food put back. The reality for most of us is this. Those types of meals are specialty items for specific instance like bugging out, or any other time weight and/or space is at a premium. Canned goods, whether they are done by you or bought at the store, are not only more economically viable, but in the case of the store bought canned goods, are more durably package, and the home canned items are healthier.

2) Do you have a solid, well thought out and realistic plan to deal with the general and specific concerns you’ve identified? What is your fear? The government becoming tyrannical, and making Matt Bracken’s “Enemies Foreign And Domestic” series come true? The same government destroying the economy and causing a depression like event which spirals into a“Patriots: Surivive the Coming Collapse” situation? How’s about the natural disaster scenario in “Lucifer’s Hammer” , or the nuclear war in “Alas Babylon” (2 personal favorites of mine)? No matter what the scenario, as long as you are being realistic (I know the last two election proved the existence of zombies, but the actual “Walking Dead” version is not realistic) as to the possibility of it happening, you need to make a plan for dealing with that eventuality, and your mindset is one of the most important things to assess and keep “real”, regarding how you prioritize the threats.

One of the reasons I’ve decided to teach a number of my courses from a Neighborhood Protection Team (NPT in A Failure Of Civility) standpoint is due to my belief that the approach to defending your community should be as a civilian member/defender of that community, not as a paramilitary squad rifleman (“tip of the spear” and all that). Mindset goes a long way in how you are viewed by those you protect. You want them to feel you are a competent, motivated peer, not a “Call of Duty” wannabe.

Communication, or the lack thereof, can make all the difference in your awareness of the developing situation, and how you can effectively deal with it during the event. Sparks31 does this kind of training in his “Grid Down Commo class”. Having redundancy in all your planning is a prerequisite for success (no where more than commo), and falls under the “well thought out” part of the “2” header above.

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Using the acronym PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency, Emergency), will help you prioritize your redundancy. For instance, using commo as an example Primary could be land line telephone or Skype, Alternate could be cell phone or a payphone (rare, I know), Contingency could be texting or social media (Facebook), and Emergency could be a Ham or CB radio,  or a “Dead Drop”. Plan redundancy into your preps, and even if you don’t need to resort to using them, you’ll have items available to help friends who might show up with nothing. An example of that would be this; You use an AR 15 as your “Go to” weapon. You have one other rifle of the same caliber, and magazine type (Keltec SU-16C fills a great lightweight, compact bugout/backup rifle niche), in case there’s a major problem with your primary, and you have a single shot NEF Handi Rifle in .223 as an extra. You can now arm two others with a rifle that uses the same ammo you have stockpiled for your rifle.

 3) Are you physically and/or logistically equipped and able to carry out the planned responses to these threats. I know, I know, a number of us constantly harp on the whole “PT” thing. Guess what, If you don’t do PT, or haven’t figured out a way to mitigate your inability to do it, it will be a noisy version of suicide for you and probably yours. Defending and sustaining (day in and day out hard physical labor in a non permissive environment) your life is a physically demanding event. First choice for those who can’t physically stand toe to toe with the bad guys, would be to figure out how to keep the “wolves” from knowing you exist (by being very well concealed, or having the ability to move out within a very short period of time), or by keeping them at distance. If you can do this, you might have a chance even if you’re not up to a demanding physical challenge due to age or an infirmity.

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There are ways around the “Leather shod mobility” (Rucking) requirements (we’re talking about this from a Survivalist “bugout” load perspective, not a “35 lb ruck and your load bearing gear” EIB/Infantry perspective). Although I plan on using “Shanks Mare under load” (and practice all the time), I have tested out other methods, so if the need is there, I can move even more supplies. Whether you have a plan to use ATV’s, horses, sleds, or game carts on a “Bugout”, you need to make sure it is logistically realistic (where will you get fuel for the ATV’s or horses, cache maybe?), and you are capable of the minimum performance standards needed to complete the task (can you even load and pull a sled, or game cart with your gear?).

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   This is not an “If you can’t PT you ain’t shit and will die post!  I completely understand that there are plenty out there that have the desire and intestinal fortitude to compete in the TEOTWAWKISTAN OLYMPICS, but as a good friend likes to say, “Hell, I’m already a mobility kill.”. My desire is to make you look at this from the realistic perspective of the Survivalist, (not some mental masturbatory “I wanna live “Call Of Duty- The Later Years’.” exercise), and help you develop a plan that will actually work FOR YOU!. I will not just placate you with pleasantries such as “If you have this insert name rifle (God’s own laser don’tcha know) you will stave off the entitlement horde for days.”.

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There are plenty of self evident solutions out there, you just have to do your research, and more importantly, test them out, to make sure they work FOR YOU. Don’t get me wrong here. PT is very important, but you do what you can do (you know if your bullshitting yourself or not), and plan to fill the physical preparedness gaps you’ve found with common sense solutions that don’t rely too heavily on unreliable technological advances. Be honest with yourself on what you face, and how you’ll face it.

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There are plenty of folks out there that will tell you that I have no problem spending hours on the phone giving suggestions to prep problems. I will not BS you with a “What you need is to attend this class I teach.” line. If I think it’s appropriate, and if you ask about them, I will tell you. I feel my responsibility is to help you figure out the best solution for you, and if that means recommending you take a course or buy gear from someone else, I will. The coming unpleasantness WILL discriminate! If you’ve planned, prepared, and trained ahead of time, your survival will not be just a “Dumb Luck” proposition, but a “Luck With Benefits” insurance policy.

JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE