Always take lots of water along, and never depend on being able to find it! But it’s a really good idea to know where to look for water in the event of an emergency. Here are some desert water tips from survival expert Peter Kummerfeldt.
Dead Reckoning is a method used to determine one’s estimated present and future position. Dead Reckoning can be done during periods of darkness, bad weather, in featureless terrain (e.g., the desert, whiteout conditions) or equipment failure (e.g., dead GPS batteries.)
Tarp shelters can make a rainy campout much more bearable. In some emergencies, a tarp might save your life. Here are a few tips for making your tarp shelter more secure.
by Leon Pantenburg
I hiked the 225-mile John Muir trail and completed a two-week southern loop of Yellowstone using the same piece of plastic visqueen as my only shelter. At the time, I was in my early-20s, just out of college, broke and trying to backpack long distances. My gear choices were directly related to my financial resources!
Today, even though I have several backpacking tents, I still frequently use a tarp. In some cases, such as making certain snow shelters, or when you need to go light, a tarp may be the best shelter choice.
Tarp shelters are only limited by your imagination. Regardless of how you’re rigging yours, here are a few proven tips I’ve learned that can help make your shelter more secure.
1 – Start by learning a few simple knots, and practice tying them until you can produce an effective knot in the dark or in bad weather. Chances are, that’s when you’ll most desperately need a quick emergency shelter, and you don’t want to be fumbling around.
A very simple, effective shelter is the A Frame. Basically, the A Frame is a line set up between two anchor points, with a tarp draped over it. An A Frame looks like a pup tent without ends.
These two knots will help you quickly set up a line between two anchor points.
Use a timber hitch first to secure one end of your line. This friction knot is simple to tie, and the more pressure is put on the knot, the tighter it gets.
Use a trucker hitch at the other end. This hitch allows you to tighten the centerline effectively by pulling on the tag, or loose, end of the cord. This hitch allows you to stretch a rope as tight as a banjo string. View the video.
2 – Choose your campsite with an eye toward pitching a tarp. Try to have at least one solid object to secure one end. Always check for dead or fallen branches above and around any potential tarp site! Ideally, the ground should be slightly slanted so rain will drain easily. You may have to dig trenches around the sides to aid drainage.
3 – Insert a small stick in a rope loop in the grommet.
The concept is simple. The line is threaded, double, through a grommet, and a stick is placed in the loop. This anchors the tarp at a particular point on the line, while at the same time allowing the rope to move and be tightened. The tarp can be evenly tightened and the stick/rope combination protects the grommets from being torn in heavy winds.
During one windy, rainy campout, we used this technique (I learned it at a PeterKummerfeldt survival seminar) to secure a tarp over the
cooking area and gear. The rain continued for two days, and the sticks and paracord kept the tarp taut and effective so the water drained off easily. In another instance, during a two-week campout, I left a tarp set up in this manner for 14 days. Other than the paracord stretching some, there were no problems at all.
4 – Take along aluminum tent stakes. They weigh hardly anything, and can be used to stake down the corners and sides of the tarp. While I typically use rocks to anchor the corner of a tarp, sometimes there aren’t any handy.
6 – Keep your corner grommets from tearing out. This tip came from my friend Bob Patterson, of Mankato, MN. Bob is a retired firefighter, and knots, ropes and lashings are his thing.
The idea here is to disperse the stress and strain, so the corner grommet doesn’t get torn out by a blast of wind or prolonged gusts. Basically, you thread a piece of paracord between the three grommets on a corner. The loops that result are threaded through a carabiner. With the stress dispersed between three grommets, there is not an instance when the full brunt of a gust can be focused on one grommet. Check out the video.
All these tips can contribute to an efficient shelter that can get you out of the nasty weather quickly. That hasty tarp shelter may be what tips the scales in favor of your survival.
One of the great things about traveling to speaking engagements all over the country is meeting old and new friends who have made contributions to the welfare of those in the preparedness community. In this special road edition of the Doom and Bloom ™ Survival Medicine Hour, Joe Alton, MD (aka Dr. Bones) and Amy Alton, ARNP (aka Nurse Amy) are in the great state of Oregon, and meet Leon Pantenburg, one of the first writers on preparedness topics in the modern, post-Y2K era at his website survivalcommonsense.com. Leon has been putting out great educational information for those interested in self-reliance for a very long time. It’s a pleasure to have a few minutes with Leon to discuss his journey, both in the past and in the future.
Also, we are pleased to interview Annie Tuttle, editor of the new print edition of Self-Reliance Magazine, an important new publication about which Annie talks in detail with Nurse Amy. Get a perspective of what the future holds for Self-Reliance magazine, self-reliance in general and Annie, Dave and Lenie Duffy, and the rest of the great folks at backwoodshome.com.
Plus, the third edition of the Survival Medicine Handbook is almost ready to hit Amazon. The third edition will be 670 (whew!) pages of medical information written in the mindset of the medically self-reliant, meant to help, in plain English, the average person become a medical asset to their loved ones in times of trouble. Dr. Alton talks about the upcoming third edition, his brand new Zika Virus Handbook, and more in this episode of the Survival Medicine Hour.
To Listen in, click below:
Wishing you the best of health in good times or bad,
Joe and Amy Alton, aka Dr. Bones and Nurse Amy
Baking great-tasting biscuits is not rocket science. Here are a few simple tips that can help turn that mundane biscuit into a taste treat.
by Leon Pantenburg
Biscuits and gravy are comfort food for me, and a good biscuit is generally the sign of a good place to eat breakfast.
But some of the best biscuits I’ve ever eaten were from the late Jean Jennings’ kitchen in Mountain View, Arkansas. Jean was legendary for her delicious breakfasts, and her biscuits were tall as a tea cup and light as a feather.
The recipe wasn’t important, she said, and any simple biscuit recipe will do, with any kind of flour you prefer.
Jean’s secret was in how the biscuits were cooked.
Jean used a cast iron skillet, with tall sides, heating it to be very, very hot with bacon drippings covering the bottom. Each biscuit placed in the skillet was immediately turned over, so it had bacon grease on both sides.
The heat of the tall skillet helped the biscuits to rise. Butter, gravy or some kind of jam made a breakfast at her house memorable.
My friend Gordon A. Cotton, of Vicksburg, MS published this technique in his historical cookbook “The Past…and Repast, Recipes, Old Photographs and Bits of Vicksburg’s History.”
And here is a great biscuit recipe from that book.
1 cup sifted flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp butter
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup grated cheese
3/8 cup milk or water
Sift flour once, add baking powder and salt, and sift again. Cut in butter and cheese, add liquid gradually until soft dough is formed. Roll 1/3-inch thick on slightly floured board. Cut with small floured biscuit cutter. Bake in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes.
This recipe appeared in a cookbook published in Vicksburg in 1937 by the home demonstration agent, Mrs. Judson Purvis, with recipes contributed by Home Demonstration Club members.
Leon Pantenburg is an avid Dutch oven cook, judge, teacher and a charter member of the Central Oregon Dutch Oven Society. Along with team mates Linda Stephenson and Michael Pantenburg, he has been a two-time finalist in the International Dutch Oven Society’s World Championships.
Thinking about investing in a new tent for camping season? Here are some things to consider.
by Leon Pantenburg
Only a fool sleeps in a backpacking tent in July in Louisiana, I told myself, while listening to swarms of mosquitoes struggling to get past the netting. It was about 95 degrees, with humidity in the high 90s and I lay on my sleeping bag, sweating the night away.
But I also recall winter camping on an Iowa night where the temperatures got to -10 below, with a wind chill of about -30. In both cases, that same tent was not particularly comfortable, but served its purpose.
Summer camping season starts soon. If you’re a new tent camper, you may be wondering what to look for. Here are 10 things to consider before buying a tent.
Setup: Make sure the tent is easy to set up, and that you can do it by yourself if necessary. Practice setting it up in the backyard before going out. We’ve all seen people at campgrounds setting up new tents by flashlight. Not a good way to start the camping experience.
Size: Always remove one person of the allowance of people that the tent recommends. This gives you room for gear. A two-man tent, for example is just about right for me and my stuff. My wife and I fit nicely in a three-man, with plenty of room.
Also, most state parks allow a 12′ x 12′ space for a tent. Anything more could overlap that allotted area. Just something to think about.
My friend (and Eagle Scout) Sean Jacox is six-foot-seven-inches tall and he doesn’t fit just anywhere. (We had to dig out an additional foot in the igloo we slept in last January.) Plan accordingly.
Longterm or overnight camping: If you’re planning a several-day stay, such as a hunting or fishing camp, you probably want a larger, possibly heated tent. This is where a canvas wall tent comes into its own.
Otherwise, a wall tent will probably be overkill. The extra time required to set one up could also get to be a pain if you’re moving every day or so.
Season: Decide which season you will most likely be camping in. I prefer snow camping to any other type, so I require a four-season tent with complete coverage of the fly. (Here’s how to choose a four-season tent.)
But a two-season is typically spring and summer, and it will be a lot lighter, cheaper and not so warm. It will also have more mesh and ventilation for coolness. A winter tent can be miserable in summer, and vice versa.
Ventilation: Because of lawsuits, manufacturers have done their best to fireproof tents by improving the fire resistance of the fabric.
What has really happened is that the material doesn’t breathe anymore, and without adequate ventilation, some of these tents are like sleeping in a plastic bag. This has resulted in a lot more mesh, and more doors put in for air flow. In the winter, that air flow can be frigid.
Take a look at the design, and see if the air flow is going to be a problem in colder temperatures. If it is, keep looking.
Bathtub floor: This is a floor that doesn’t have long seams, but wraps the bottom of the tent. If you get standing water, or water running through the camp, a well-designed floor will keep the moisture from seeping in.
Backpacking: If you anticipate backpacking, get a lightweight, three-season tent that can take wind well. It won’t be as comfortable to long term camp in, but you must sacrifice some comfort for lighter weight.
To stake or not: Just about any tent has stakes of some sort. But this could become a problem if you’re going to a commercial campsite with established tent pads. The ground may be so hard that staking a tent down is difficult. Many lightweight mountain tents need stakes to be set up. If you’re on rock, this could be a problem. Make sure to think about the possible extreme situations the tent might be used for.
Wind resistance: The taller the tent, the more kite-like it will become in high winds. More headroom = more wind resistance.
Do you like to stand up inside? Then this will require some planning. A tall center height tent may also act like a sail in heavy wind or rain. It will be cooler, it that is a consideration.
Fly: The rain fly keeps the tent dry. It also regulates ventilation, and subsequently, the warmth. A four-season tent should have a fly that covers the tent completely, and effectively seals out most of the wind.
A two-season car camping tent may have a partial fly and a lot of mesh for ventilation. In the summer heat, you’re probably more interested in dissipating heat than in staying warm.
Buying a tent is very personal decision, and what works for me may not work for you. But this list may help you make a good choice.
The best way to show honor and respect for a big game animal is to use every part after you’ve killed it. Here’s an easy way to make dog treats from meat scraps that would otherwise get thrown away.
by Leon Pantenburg
Inevitably, there will be scraps of meat, gristle and fat when you’re done butchering that elk, deer, bear or other big game animal. While you may not want to eat certain parts, your dog will thank you for keeping it.
With two Labs in my house, there is never any waste, so I just make the scraps into dog treat jerky. Obviously, you could use other types of meat if you found a good sale at the grocery store.
While cutting and trimming the meat, just save any part or trimming you don’t want. If you don’t eat the organs, you can slice, boil and dry the heart, liver and kidneys.
Here’s what you do.
- While you’re butchering, put all the trimmings into a large plastic bag. I generally just label what the trimmings are, and put it in the freezer until I have time later to work with it.
- Put the raw meat scraps in a pot with water, and boil until the meat is done. Let cool, and pour off the broth. This step in unnecessary if you’re planning on drying the meat. But I like to add another byproduct from those parts of the carcass that would otherwise be thrown away. This broth will become a nutritious – and to a dog – delicious addition to regular dry dog food. It can be frozen until needed, then re-heated in a microwave.
- Cut up the cooked meat into uniform chunks so it will dry uniformly. Think jerky strips.
- Heat up oven to 200 degrees. Place meat strips on a pizza rack or on a flat pan. I have racks for making people jerky, so I just use those. If you’re using racks, put aluminum foil or a cake pan underneath to catch any drippings.
- Place a folded towel at the top of the oven door so it doesn’t seal, and the door is left open a crack. This is an important step, because it assures the jerky will dry, instead of being baked.
- Dry the jerky in the oven for about an hour or two, or until the meat is hard and dark brown.
- Label: I freeze the jerky treats, even though they probably don’t need it. Always put a label on the package that says something to the effect of “Dog Treats” or “Dog Food.” If you want to freak out somebody, just label the package “dog” and be prepared to do some explaining.
I don’t know about you, but I want to know what is in my family’s food, and that includes the four-legged members. My Labs love the treats, and I appreciate that I can more fully use the harvest.
Every outdoorsman should know the symptoms of a heart attack. Here’s the story of my wake-up call that happened three years ago.
by Leon Pantenburg
I felt fine on the morning of Dec. 13, 2012. But the night before, during my daily 1.4-mile powerwalk with the dog, I felt an unusual shortness of breath, and a tightness in the middle of my chest. That tightness vanished as soon as I stopped.
That was it, as far as symptoms went. Typically, I powerwalk uphill every night, with the intent getting my cardiovascular system going, and elevating my heart rate. A few times the weeks previous, I noticed what appeared to be mild heartburn after eating dinner and I did seem to be getting winded sooner. In retrospect, I should have figured something was going on. But this night, I only made about 100 yards up the usual hill before getting winded.
Luckily, I had taken an extensive Wilderness First Aid class required for Boy Scout leaders in June, and knew that many heart attacks don’t have real dramatic signs.
Long story short, I went into the Bend (OR) Medical Center Urgent Care Center the next morning. After a quick exam, I was taken across the street to St. Charles Hospital by ambulance. The next day, I had quadruple bypass open heart surgery. If I hadn’t gone to the clinic when I did, my cardiologist says I would have had a massive stroke or heart attack “very soon.”
Here is the point: If this happened to me, it could happen to you.
For the sake of yourself and a loved one, you must know the symptoms of a heart attack (See the list below). According to the American Heart Association, about a million people have heart attacks in the United States every year.
The scary part is that some people have a heart attack without having any symptoms (a “silent” myocardial infarction). A silent MI can occur in anyone, but it is more common among diabetics.
When the word got out about my heart situation, the overwhelming response among friends, co-workers and family was something to the effect of: “We thought you were in good shape!”
I thought so, too. On my 60th birthday in July, I did 62 pushups in 60 seconds, 12 pullups and powerwalked two miles. Three days prior to the dog walking incident, I did my usual gym workout of 15 minutes of weight training, 15 minutes on the elliptical machine and 30 minutes on a recumbent bicycle. On the day of surgery, I was five-foot, 10-inches tall, and weighed 192 pounds.
I try to eat a healthy diet, take a nutritious lunch to work and frequently walk during my lunch hour. I’ve always been in good physical shape. I
started running in high school, and by the time my knees finally wore out, at age 55, had logged about 40,000 miles. I was active in Taekwondo for 30 years, backpacked and bicycled. I thought I was doing everything right.
But that apparently doesn’t mean much when your family has a history of heart disease. My mom died of a massive coronary when she was 60 years old. Her brother, Vincent Wirth, died of the same thing when he was 54. Mom’s sister, Alina Lynch had massive bypass heart surgery. My grandfather, Leo Wirth, died of heart problems when he was 62.
Everybody is different. Genetically, all of us are dealt a different hand, and we have to play the cards we draw.
But let me urge you: No matter what your family’s medical history is, learn the symptoms of a heart attack. Most importantly, if you suspect ANYTHING is going amiss, call 911 and have it checked out.
Check out the radio interview about heart health on Real-Get Prepared with Vickilynn Haycraft.
Here are some symptoms of a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association:
- Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. (Chest discomfort can be described in many ways. The discomfort can occur in the chest or in the arms, back, or jaw. If you have symptoms, take notice.)
- Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other symptoms may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
At the first signs of a heart attack, call for emergency treatment (usually 911). The best time to treat a heart attack is within one to two hours of the first onset of symptoms. Waiting longer increases the damage to your heart and reduces your chance of survival.
A common complaint is that wild game meat tastes “gamey” or that fish tastes “fishy.” A good marinade can change that.
by Leon Pantenburg
Great tasting game meat or fish starts as soon as the animal is killed or the fish is caught.
The carcass needs to be field dressed ASAP, and the meat cooled. Same thing with fish – the sooner the fish is killed, dressed and put on ice, the better it will taste.
So why use a marinade?
With the addition of an acidic liquid, such as vinegar, fruit juice, wine or soured milk products, the marinade tenderizes and causes the seasonings to penetrate the cut of meat.
This can be important to great taste, depending on the animal that the meat came from, and the circumstances related to the harvest.
A buck that was stressed before being killed during the rut, on a hot summer day, is going to taste stronger than a doe shot dead in late November. Likewise, a fish that was caught, and dragged behind the boat on a stringer for several hours is bound to taste more fishy than one caught, killed and placed on ice.
My standard marinade recipe for fish, fowl or venison is really simple: milk, an egg, your favorite seasonings and some garlic. Combine all these ingredients in a big plastic bag or in a bowl, and place the meat or fish in it. Let it soak for awhile in the refrigerator, then drain and cook. This recipe works particularly well on fish, and all you need to do is roll the fish in flour and fry.
Here are some marinade recipes from “Linda Stephenson’s Wild Game Dutch Oven Cooking” cook book that will work well on a variety of meats.
1 c pineapple juice
1/2 c honey
1/2 tsp allspice
Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl; mix well. Brush on meat to fried or roasted. The longer the meat is left to marinate, the better it will taste. Marinate in refrigerator for one or two days.
3/4 c apple juice
1/3 c canola oil
1/4 c sage cider vinegar
2 TBS fresh sage, minced
1 tsp salt
In a medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.
This marinade is excellent for bear, elk, moose and deer venison.
1 c strong coffee
1/2 c garlic red wine vinegar
1/4 c unsulfured molasses
1/4 c Dijon mustard
1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
Combine all ingredients in a heavy, nonreactive sauce pan, bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for five minutes. Cool. This is an excellent marinade for bear.