Category Archives: survival

Paintball this weekend – THP Quarry – May 19, 2012

We are playing this Saturday, May 19th at The Human Path Quarry. This will be a late afternoon/evening game, as we will be play OPFOR for Sam’s Combat Medic Test. It should be sunny in the high 80s. If you don’t know how to get to the THP location, plan on rendezvousing at my place at 4:00pm. We can load-up, brief and caravan to the location.

Primary scenario: OPFOR
We will be running force on force drills against the THP Combat Medic candidates. Sam will brief us on the scenarios and plan when we arrive at the Quarry location. We will be able to stage with the vehicles and then will be patrolling from staging.

Special requirements: Bring your standard kit with an emphasis on movement. If you need an LBE/LBV, please let me know in advance. Bring a ruck and what you need to sustain while playing (water, camelback, etc.). If you have airsoft equipment, please bring that out as well.

Due to the nature of this scenario, this will be a no guests game.

Please note, if you need directions they are posted in the forums, under the “Orion Raiders Paintball” section. There will also be a games discussion for this weekend listed there as well.

Look forward to seeing everyone there!

Going to Your First Rendezvous

Kind of an odd post for Orion, but this is an email I threw together explaining what kind of kit you really need when going to your first WFT (Western Fur Trade) event.

Just some basic info, piggybacking off of my articles on, but a good summary of how to not overdo it at your first Voo.

Rendezvous are more or less reenacting events where people come out and portray the American Fur Trade, generally about 1800-1840. It’s the time of Jim Bridger, Mariano Modena, Liver Eatin’ Johnson, and a host of other characters who opened up the west and lived on their own in the trackless wilderness of the pre-old west.

But, . . . I don’t have a full set of buckskins!

You’re damn right ya don’t, ya flatlander, but don’t let that stop you from coming out. Though period dress is required for these events (and you can go wild with options), you don’t really need a whole lot to blend in. And honestly, after doing this hobby for ten years (sheesh) there is not a lot of my original gear that I still use . . . so you don’t want to run out and buy a bunch of crap, only to have to sell it to some sucker later, but I digress.

Here are some simple things I recommend to “blend in” to your first event:

Period shirt – this is one of the easiest things to acquire and the good news is if you don’t like it later, you can always wear it under your other clothes. I have a few spare shirts, but picking a good one up shouldn’t be a big deal. What you are looking for is a work shirt-style cut that is in a simple pattern (they were hand painted back then, so no one would sit around and paisley up some linen). Here are some examples on eBay –, but Crazy Crow and Panther Primitives also have some that are inexpensive and perfect for rendezvous. RenFest-style shirts are usually ok, too – provided that they are not too shiny.

Pants/trousers – for your lower half, the best thing to wear is modern pants (the untucked shirt will hang over the top of the pants, covering up the modern stuff like pockets, belt loops, etc), as long as they are not cargo pants. Jean material is ok – as long as it is not blue jeans (not invented until 1849), and tan, brown or even white jeans (remember the 80s?) are great. Tan, brown, or white chinos are good, too (just don’t have the pleats in the front). No OD green.

Footwear – Academy sells some cheap, moccasin-style house shoes that are perfect rendezvous starter shoes. They are usually around $5. Just make sure you get the ones without rubber soles. For the more ambitious, Tandy Leather sells a moccasin kit that is inexpensive and easy to assemble.

Staying warm – the best, simplest and most period way to stay warm is with a wool blanket. You don’t need to run out and get a Hudson’s Bay or anything like that, but a regular surplus military one will be great (just not OD green). Sportsman’s Guide always has a ton of these. The wool-blend “red cross” blankets are generally crappy, but one’s like this are great – (100% wool and only $15!). Buy two of these and you’ll be set for years. When you upgrade to a better blanket, you can cut these up to make leggings, a shooting pouch, or a rain poncho. For the true woodsman, there is no better multi-use material than wool!

Eating materials – this is the most important category, since you can’t drink out of an aluminum can or beer bottle at a period event, you must have a tin cup. If you have one and it’s legit, you are great (ask me if you need to), if not, this is probably your most important piece of kit. You can drink from it, eat out of it and most importantly – it holds your beer. The quart size is better than the pint (you can fit more in it), but either is fine. You can buy these at most events, or order one here:

You will also need a spoon (or a fork, if you are gentrified), but a regular wood spoon is all you really need.

Sleeping – if you are camping out, you can sleep in one of my lodges or a friend’s lodge, so your sleeping bag is ok, as long as it’s out of sight. Better yet, wrap yourself up in a wool blanket or two and sleep period style!

Other stuff – if you wanna shoot, we’ll have spare guns. Same for knives, tomahawks, firestarting kits, bows and arrows and all the rest of it. Don’t go out an buy a black powder gun until you have an event or two under your belt, or we have spent any time in the field with them. A leather belt is great, you can tie your tin cup to it, etc. Just make sure it has a simple buckle (brass preferred). There are generally one or two traders at an event, so you can pick-up some plunder there, too.

What do I eat? – most of the time when you are new, you “camp dog,” which basically means eating off of other people’s viddles. We do use coolers, but they are covered up and out of sight to keep the scene working. Jerky is great, but you can really bring whatever, provided the packaging is put away until ready for use (stored in your lodge or whatever). If you are coming out, just bring whatever you are comfortable eating and/or throwing on the fire. I’ll have plenty of pots, pans and related devices. Don’t worry about picking one up for your first event . . .

For more details, check out my website where I discuss a lot of these topics in even more detail:

See you down the trail!

The Human Path shout-out on WOAI

For those who played last weekend at the THP Quarry game . . . Sam Coffman, who runs The Human Path survival school, got a mention this morning on WOAI radio, as well as their website:

Mad Max” World On The Way? Helotes Man Teaches Survival Skills
Local survivalist course even teaches how to forage for food

From corrency collapse to revolution there is more and more talk of civilization unraveling, and a Dystopian “Mad Max’ world taking it’s place. And a Helotes man can help.

Well, now you can take a survivalist course that will pit you against the elements. It’s run by a former military medic Sam Coffman. Called The Human Path, you can learn all about how to survive in the wild.

“Learning how to work with pretty much nothing in the woods; so learning fire from friction, shelter, water purification and hunting and snares, tracking and things like that,” says Coffman of what he teaches in his core course.

“The course can connect us on a level that is quite a bit more deeply ‘connected’ and less urbanized. Our maxim is: to be the best possible person under the worst possible circumstances. “

You can read the full story here (complete with Mad Max and dog image!).

For more details on The Human Path, check out their website.

Swine Flu – Some Perspective

This article was written by Dr. Larry Miller (former head of Emergency Medicine at the Baptist Health System in San Antonio and Medical Director for several EMS Systems). I think it provides some great perspective on the current situation and gives an alternative viewpoint to all of the media hype.

Swine Flu – The Journalistic Scaredemic
April 28, 2009

Swine Flu is a new strain of influenza that has yet to cause a death in the USA. That being the case, why are Americans in a state of panic over the Swine flu?

The answer is that the media (CNN, ABC, NBC, USA Today, along with other publications) have stirred the public into a virtual frenzy. They are bombarding us with hysteria. They love it. Nothing turns them on more than to sensationalize mountains out of molehills. In the case of the Swine Flu, the media is guilty of causing an epidemic of panic. They are guilty because they relentlessly hype this dubious threat into a certain deadly pandemic.

Let’s look at the facts:
Seasonal influenza causes thousands of deaths every week during flu season in the USA. The CDC estimates that seasonal flu causes over 36,000 deaths per year (200,000 hospital admissions) and over 500,000 deaths per year in the world. Does the media discuss these statistics? No. Why? Because these are boring facts – not sensational news that bolsters their ratings and increases their revenue.

How is Swine Flu different than regular seasonal flu?
It has become the “boogie man”, used by the media to terrorize the public. And they are getting away with it. Yes, the Swine Flu will eventually kill people in the US, but the chance of it becoming more dangerous than seasonal flu is unlikely. Unfortunately, the media is even scaring medical and public officials into irrational behavior. Why are they closing schools for Swine flu (that has yet to kill anyone) but not for seasonal flu (that kills thousands every week)?

What other biological threats do we encounter every day?
Tuberculosis, Streptococcus (flesh eating bacteria), AIDS, Hepatitis, Pneumonia, Influenza, Staphylococcus, E Coli, Salmonella, Shegella, and the list goes on and on. Thousands die every week from these infections; some are incurable and untreatable. I would much rather be infected with Swine Flu which is susceptible to several antiviral agents, than to have MRSA that often cannot be cured.

As EMS leaders what should we do?
We already have protocols that address exposure to dangerous biological threats. As long as we practice our usual and customary universal precautions we will not contract Swine Flu or any of the far more dangerous biologics we encounter every day. We do not have to change any policy, protocol or procedure. We do have to use common sense and notify supervisors or medical control if we are concerned about a particular incident.

We live in an environment of danger from infectious diseases. Swine Flu is only one of them. How do we stay healthy? Most folks have a strong immune system that protects them. In medicine we work in the midst of such infections, but rarely contract them because we use universal precautions (gloves, masks, and gowns) to keep us safe.

What we in the medical field need to do, more than anything else is to remain calm and reassure our patients that the sky is not falling in. Be understanding and prepared, but do not get caught up in the hype and hysteria. We need to be a voice of sanity in an insane world.

During the last great war, Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” That has not changed.

As a rational scientific community, we should reprimand the media for their irresponsible behavior. Force them to develop a balanced approach to a potential problem. As it stands today, they have inadvertently become the problem. They are the Epidemic (Scaredemic).

Larry J Miller MD
miller ‘at’

Now that’s bananas!

Just when you thought the deadliest thing in a Whole Foods Market was some yuppie’s ability to self-aggrandize:

World’s deadliest spider found in Tulsa store

TULSA, Okla. – One of the most deadly spiders in the world has been found in the produce section of a Tulsa grocery store. An employee of Whole Foods Market found the Brazilian Wandering Spider Sunday in bananas from Honduras and managed to catch it in a container.

The spider was given to University of Tulsa Animal Facilities director Terry Childs who said this type of spider kills more people than any other.

Childs said a bite will kill a person in about 25 minutes and while there is an antidote he doesn’t know of any in the Tulsa area.

Spiders often are found in imported produce, and a manager at Whole Foods says the store regularly checks its goods and that’s how the spider was found.


Could be worse, I suppose.

There could have been a rogue orangutan hiding out in those bananas!

10 Things to Scratch From Your Worry List

Ok – apologies for snarfing this whole article from the NY Times, but this is just too good not to post. 10-6 Redz sent me this over as an email, but at least I had the common decency to get online and source.

Several times. 🙂

For most of the year, it is the duty of the press to scour the known universe looking for ways to ruin your day. The more fear, guilt or angst a news story induces, the better. But with August upon us, perhaps you’re in the mood for a break, so I’ve rounded up a list of 10 things not to worry about on your vacation.

Now, I can’t guarantee you that any of these worries is groundless, because I can’t guarantee you that anything is absolutely safe, including the act of reading a newspaper. With enough money, an enterprising researcher could surely identify a chemical in newsprint or keyboards that is dangerously carcinogenic for any rat that reads a trillion science columns every day.

What I can guarantee is that I wouldn’t spend a nanosecond of my vacation worrying about any of these 10 things:

1. Killer hot dogs. What is it about frankfurters? There was the nitrite scare. Then the grilling-creates-carcinogens alarm. And then, when those menaces ebbed, the weenie warriors fell back on that old reliable villain: saturated fat.

But now even saturated fat isn’t looking so bad, thanks to a rigorous experiment in Israel reported this month. The people on a low-carb, unrestricted-calorie diet consumed more saturated fat than another group forced to cut back on both fat and calories, but those fatophiles lost more weight and ended up with a better cholesterol profile. And this was just the latest in a series of studies contradicting the medical establishment’s predictions about saturated fat.

If you must worry, focus on the carbs in the bun. But when it comes to the fatty frank — or the fatty anything else on vacation — I’d relax.

2. Your car’s planet-destroying A/C. No matter how guilty you feel about your carbon footprint, you don’t have to swelter on the highway to the beach. After doing tests at 65 miles per hour, the mileage experts at report that the aerodynamic drag from opening the windows cancels out any fuel savings from turning off the air-conditioner.

3. Forbidden fruits from afar. Do you dare to eat a kiwi? Sure, because more “food miles” do not equal more greenhouse emissions. Food from other countries is often produced and shipped much more efficiently than domestic food, particularly if the local producers are hauling their wares around in small trucks. One study showed that apples shipped from New Zealand to Britain had a smaller carbon footprint than apples grown and sold in Britain.

4. Carcinogenic cellphones. Some prominent brain surgeons made news on Larry King’s show this year with their fears of cellphones, thereby establishing once and for all that epidemiology is not brain surgery — it’s more complicated.

As my colleague Tara Parker-Pope has noted, there is no known biological mechanism for the phones’ non-ionizing radiation to cause cancer, and epidemiological studies have failed to find consistent links between cancer and cellphones.

It’s always possible today’s worried doctors will be vindicated, but I’d bet they’ll be remembered more like the promoters of the old cancer-from-power-lines menace — or like James Thurber’s grandmother, who covered up her wall outlets to stop electricity from leaking.

Driving while talking on a phone is a definite risk, but you’re better off worrying about other cars rather than cancer.

5. Evil plastic bags. Take it from the Environmental Protection Agency : paper bags are not better for the environment than plastic bags. If anything, the evidence from life-cycle analyses favors plastic bags. They require much less energy — and greenhouse emissions — to manufacture, ship and recycle. They generate less air and water pollution. And they take up much less space in landfills.

6. Toxic plastic bottles. For years panels of experts repeatedly approved the use of bisphenol-a, or BPA, which is used in polycarbonate bottles and many other plastic products. Yes, it could be harmful if given in huge doses to rodents, but so can the natural chemicals in countless foods we eat every day. Dose makes the poison.

But this year, after a campaign by a few researchers and activists, one federal panel expressed some concern about BPA in baby bottles. Panic ensued. Even though there was zero evidence of harm to humans, Wal-Mart pulled BPA-containing products from its shelves, and politicians began talking about BPA bans. Some experts fear product recalls that could make this the most expensive health scare in history.

Nalgene has already announced that it will take BPA out of its wonderfully sturdy water bottles. Given the publicity, the company probably had no choice. But my old blue-capped Nalgene bottle, the one with BPA that survived glaciers, jungles and deserts, is still sitting right next to me, filled with drinking water. If they ever try recalling it, they’ll have to pry it from my cold dead fingers.

7. Deadly sharks. Throughout the world last year, there was a grand total of one fatal shark attack (in the South Pacific), according to the International Shark Attack File at the University of Florida.

8. The Arctic’s missing ice. The meltdown in the Arctic last summer was bad enough, but this spring there was worse news. A majority of experts expected even more melting this year, and some scientists created a media sensation by predicting that even the North Pole would be ice-free by the end of summer.

So far, though, there’s more ice than at this time last summer, and most experts are no longer expecting a new record. You can still fret about long-term trends in the Arctic, but you can set aside one worry: This summer it looks as if Santa can still have his drinks on the rocks.

9. The universe’s missing mass. Even if the fate of the universe — steady expansion or cataclysmic collapse — depends on the amount of dark matter that is out there somewhere, you can rest assured that no one blames you for losing it. And most experts doubt this collapse will occur during your vacation.

10. Unmarked wormholes. Could your vacation be interrupted by a sudden plunge into a wormhole? From my limited analysis of space-time theory and the movie “Jumper,” I would have to say that the possibility cannot be eliminated. I would also concede that if the wormhole led to an alternate universe, there’s a good chance your luggage would be lost in transit.
But I still wouldn’t worry about it, In an alternate universe, you might not have to spend the rest of the year fretting about either dark matter or sickly rodents. You might even be able to buy one of those Nalgene bottles.

Original posting.

Ok – I am going to get all kinda crap for number 6. My wife, my baby, and most of the crew are all now onto Kleen Kanteens.

I was even able to get Cheese to get away from his famous red Nalgene bottle – and every time I see him he reminds me that I owe him new stickers for all of the technical climbing and adventure stickers he had to lose when he ditched his old standby.

But remember – the Klean Kanteens can be heated directly in fire and used as a make-shift club.

Take that, Nalgene!

“Russian Rambo” Action

Regardless of their politics, I love to read stories about odd folks living off the grid and avoiding all “imperial entanglements.” I remember a story years ago about how some dude avoided paying alimony by living in a system of caves and bunkers he had built out on his property. Seems like paying the alimony would have been a less-complicated affair, but maybe he was a hell of a digger.

There was a recent story published about how a “Russian Rambo” was living all Swiss-Family-Robinson style in the woods outside Moscow and wreaking havoc on vacationers and other folks who ventured too close to his lair.

‘Russian Rambo’ dies in forest shootout

A MAN dubbed the “Russian Rambo” was killed in a shootout after terrorising the elite police taskforce which tried to flush him out of his forest home.

Alexander Bichkov – known only as “Rambo” until police discovered his real name after his death – had spent 20 years living in a nature reserve while terrifying locals and authorities who dared enter his wilderness, the Daily Mail reported.

According to the Mail, the 200cm tall Russian was hunted down by a team of six specialist police officers after government officials in Moscow became fed up with local police.

But after the crack team discovered Bichkov’s shack on March 14 in the Kostrama region (about 725km east of Moscow) and called in an additional four armed forestry officials to help with his capture, “Rambo” lept into action.

Armed with two shotguns and a pistol, Bichkov shot three of his hunters in an ambush before starting a series of fires around the forest to confuse those hunting him as to his whereabouts.

He then began tracking the team and police believed he was preparing to launch another offensive before a police sniper shot him in the head.


Since I am American – and don’t know crap about the metric system – I have provided a handy graphic to show what exactly 200 centimeters looks like . . . I guess.

Once again driving home the old adage that it isn’t the size of the man in the fight, but the number of Russians who are pursuing him that makes all of the difference.

Survival Tip of the Week –ANIMALS FOR FOOD


8-1. Unless you have the chance to take large game, concentrate your efforts on the smaller animals. They are more abundant and easier to prepare. You need not know all the animal species that are suitable as food; relatively few are poisonous, and they make a smaller list to remember. However, it is important to learn the habits and behavioral patterns of classes of animals. For example, animals that are excellent choices for trapping, those that inhabit a particular range and occupy a den or nest, those that have somewhat fixed feeding areas, and those that have trails leading from one area to another. Larger, herding animals, such as elk or caribou, roam vast areas and are somewhat more difficult to trap. Also, you must understand the food choices of a particular species to select the proper bait.

8-2. You can, with relatively few exceptions, eat anything that crawls, swims, walks, or flies. You must first overcome your natural aversion to a particular food source. Historically, people in starvation situations have resorted to eating everything imaginable for nourishment. A person who ignores an otherwise healthy food source due to a personal bias, or because he feels it is unappetizing, is risking his own survival. Although it may prove difficult at first, you must eat what is available to maintain your health. Some classes of animals and insects may be eaten raw if necessary, but you should, if possible, thoroughly cook all food sources whenever possible to avoid illness.


8-25. Mammals are excellent protein sources and, for Americans, the tastiest food source. There are some drawbacks to obtaining mammals. In a hostile environment, the enemy may detect any traps or snares placed on land. The amount of injury an animal can inflict is in direct proportion to its size. All mammals have teeth and nearly all will bite in self-defense. Even a squirrel can inflict a serious wound and any bite presents a serious risk of infection. Also, any mother can be extremely aggressive in defense of her young. Any animal with no route of escape will fight when cornered.

Saucy coyote, no means no!

8-26. All mammals are edible; however, the polar bear and bearded seal have toxic levels of vitamin A in their livers. The platypus, native to Australia and Tasmania, is an egg-laying, semiaquatic mammal that has poisonous claws on its hind legs. Scavenging mammals, such as the opossum, may carry diseases.

From – U.S Army Field Manual 3-05.70 – Survival

Survival Tip of the Week – The Survival Kit

A few weeks ago we hosted a primitive skills event for some of the team to get out into the woods and hack around with axes, throw knives, make fires, etc. I had mentioned in the email to bring out a BOB if you wanted to test it out.

I got a few blank stares and realized it may be worthwhile to post the below as a sort of prereq to the concept of a survival kit.


3-5. The environment is the key to the types of items you will need in your survival kit. How much equipment you put in your kit depends on how you will carry the kit. A kit carried on your body will have to be smaller than one carried in a vehicle. Always layer your survival kit—body, load-bearing vest or equipment, and platform (rucksack, vehicle, or aircraft). Keep the most important items on your body. For example, your map and compass should always be on your body, as should your basic life-sustaining items (knife, lighter). Carry less important items on your LBE. Place bulky items in the rucksack.

3-6. In preparing your survival kit, select items that are multipurpose, compact, lightweight, durable, and most importantly, functional. An item is not good if it looks great but doesn’t do what it was designed for. Items should complement each other from layer to layer. A signal mirror in your pocket can be backed up by pen flares in your LBE and a signal panel in your rucksack. A lighter in your uniform can be augmented by a magnesium bar in your LBE and additional dry tinder in your rucksack.

3-7. Your survival kit need not be elaborate. You need only functional items that will meet your needs and a case to hold the items. For the case, you might want to use a bandage box, soap dish, tobacco tin, first-aid case, ammunition pouch, or another suitable case. This case should be—

  • Water-repellent or waterproof.

  • Easy to carry or attach to your body.

  • Suitable to accept various-sized components.

  • Durable.

3-8. Your survival kit should be broken down into the following categories:

  • Water.

  • Fire.

  • Shelter.

  • Food.

  • Medical.

  • Signal.

  • Miscellaneous.

3-9. Each category should contain items that allow you to sustain your basic needs. For example, water—you should have items that allow you to scoop up, draw up, soak up, or suck up water; something to gather rainwater, condensation, or perspiration; something to transport water; and something to purify or filter water. Some examples of each category are as follows:

  • Water—purification tablets, non-lubricated condoms for carrying water, bleach, povidone-iodine drops, cravats, sponges, small plastic or rubber tubing, collapsible canteens or water bags.

  • Fire—lighter, metal match, waterproof matches, magnesium bar, candle, magnifying lens.

  • Shelter—550 parachute cord, large knife, machete or hatchet, poncho, space blanket, hammock, mosquito net, wire saw.

  • Food—knife, snare wire, fishhooks, fish and snare line, bouillon cubes or soup packets, high-energy food bars, granola bars, gill or yeti net, aluminum foil, freezer bags.

  • Medical—oxytetracycline tablets (to treat diarrhea or infection), surgical blades or surgical preparation knife, butterfly sutures, lip balm, safety pins, sutures, antidiarrheal medication (imodium), antimalarial medication (doxycycline), broad-spectrum antibiotics (rocephin and zithromax) and broad spectrum topical ophthalmic (eye) antibiotic, antifungal, anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen), petrolatum gauze, and soap. Medical items may make up approximately 50 percent of your survival kit.

  • Signal—signaling mirror, strobe, pen flares, whistle, U.S. flag, pilot scarf or other bright orange silk scarf, glint tape, flashlight, laser pointer, solar blanket.

  • Miscellaneous—wrist compass, needle and thread, money, extra eyeglasses, knife sharpener, cork, camouflage stick, and survival manual.

3-10. Include a weapon only if the situation so dictates. Ambassadors and theater commanders may prohibit weapons even in extreme circumstances. Read and practice the survival techniques in this manual and apply these basic concepts to those you read about in other civilian publications. Consider your mission and the environment in which you will operate. Then prepare your survival kit with items that are durable, multipurpose, and lightweight. Imagination may be the largest part of your kit. It can replace many of the items in a kit. Combined with the will to live, it can mean the difference between surviving to return home with honor or not returning at all.

From – U.S Army Field Manual 3-05.70 – Survival

Regardless of your location, I would always advocate carrying some kind of knife. It may just have to be really small, depending on planned location and political climate.