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“The psychological effects of being able to start a fire should not be underestimated; neither should the effects of not being able to start one.”

In any survival situation maintaining your core body temperature is critical.  It could be the difference between life and death. Beyond Shelter (See part 1 CBT Shelter Blog post) fire is crucial.  It has the ability to form a micro climate to protect you from the elements, treat water, cook food, sterilize for first aid, and provide comfort and security.  It cannot be underestimated.

I could write several blog post on the fundamentals of fire alone, but I will stick to just a few key principles.

Four Stages of Fire: By most standards there are 4 stages of a fire. These stages are incipient, growth, fully developed, and decay.

  • Incipient/Ignition – This first stage begins with the Fire Triangle

The Fire Triangle: Too often we think of fire as an object, and fail to understand the reaction that takes place.  Fire is an event.  When the elements of Fuel, Oxygen, and Heat are combined they create combustion which results in FIRE!

  • Growth –  This is where the combustibles and oxygen are used as fuel for the fire. Usually consist of isolated flames.   There are numerous factors affecting the growth stage.       Factors that affect fire development
    1. Fuel type
    2. Availability of air supply
    3. Availability and proximity of additional fuel
    4. Ventilation and changes in ventilation
    5. Ambient conditions (e.g. wind, temperature, humidity, etc.)
  • Fully Developed – When all combustible materials have been ignited, a fire is considered fully developed.  This is the hottest phase of a fire and the point where it produces the most heat.
  • Decay – Usually the longest stage of a fire, the decay stage is characterized a significant decrease in one or more of the elements found in the triangle of fire, putting an end to the fire.

Now that you have a simple overview of the stages of fire, let us look at several different methods for starting a fire.

5 Primary Fire Methods/Ignitions

Friction – Ferro Rod / Bow Drill / Hand Drill / Fire Saw / Fire Plow

Solar – Magnifying Lens (position, angle, and sturdiness is key) (char-cloth, fungus, ball)

Percussion – Flint and Steel

Electrical – Battery & Steel Wool

Chemical – Potassium Permanganate & Glycerin

Be sure to lay down a proper fire platform (ground barrier), and a well prepped tinder bundle before starting a fire.  We have several videos on many of these fire methods.  Having an adequate amount kindling will also greatly impact the effectiveness of your fire.

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Extinguish 

Always properly extinguish your fires.  Fire Control Theory – fire is controlled and extinguished by limiting or interrupting one or more of the essential elements in the fire triangle.  Before you leave make ash soup.  If you cant place your hands in the coals/ash without burning yourself then you have not properly extinguished your fire.

 

Be sure to check out the corresponding YouTube Video, and be sure to show your support – Like, Share, Subscribe!

 

 

 

 

 

 

A lot of people look at Armadillo as some kind of taboo food for consumption unless it’s under extreme survival circumstances. Well I’m here to tell you that not only is it safe but it also tastes great. If you like pork then you’ll like Armadillo as well! They are basically just armored pigs that live in the ground and they are super easy to catch. For fun a lot of people try to sneak up on them and pick them up, which is very easy to do. These animals have such poor eye sight that you can usually sneak up on them with relative ease if the wind is in your favor. I’ve literally snuck up and pet them without them even knowing I was there. While they do have terrible eye sight remember that their great noses is what will give you away the quickest.

What is the best way to catch them?
Since they are typically nocturnal animals, you will most likely see them roaming around in the woods at night time. In fact, most small game animals are nocturnal and that is simply the best time to catch them. Don’t forget that hunting at night for most things is illegal and these techniques should only be used for survival purposes.

Just like you would go gigging frogs or spotlighting a deer, you can use a flashlight to distract your game while you walk up to them and dispatch them with a big stick or other weapon. Simply shine the light in the eyes of Armadilllo then walk over and pick him up to dispatch them. Sound is of the utmost importance when stalking them so you must not make a sound when approaching them. The light will blind them from seeing you but it won’t stop them from hearing you so walk softly. You can also stalk up to them in the daytime as well but your chances of success are much lower.

These animals are hard to trap without a live game box trap of some type because they just aren’t as likely to walk into a trap. You can also quickly construct a quickie bow to shoot them with if you can’t get close enough. It is much easier to catch them or hunt them actively during the best times though. The best time to get them are always during night or during low light. When looking for places to hunt them you need to look for places that have an abundance of food for them. They primarily root up bugs and eat underground tubers so you will want to look in areas that have an abundance of good soil. They will roam almost anywhere but your highest likelihood of catching them is near their feeding areas. They also tend to shelter underground by digging elaborate tunnels where they hole up as a group. These holes they dig can also be snared or trapped to catch them coming and going.

How to Clean & Butcher Armadillo
The Armadillo is just like every other animal except that it has a shell around it that makes it very convenient for cooking. The animal should first be gutted and all the entrails removed and set aside for other survival uses. Once the animal is gutted and well cleaned then we are going to stoke the fire up and use the flames to singe all the hair off it’s body. Once the flames have burnt the hair off then you need to scrape off some coals to one side to create a cooking fire. Then set the armadillo in the coals with the shell facing down into the coals. This shell will help us cook it without losing any of it’s fat to fire. It is really essential is survival that you don’t allow fat to drip into your fire being wasted. So by keeping the shell on this will preserve all the calories in the meat. You need to slowly turn the animal so that it cooks evenly all over the shell and make sure that the stomach area meat is well cooked. This is not an animal you can afford to eat medium rare because just like pigs they have parasites and diseases we must be mindful of. Make sure you cook it well done and that all the meat is cooked evenly over the whole carcass. If one section of the meat is not done then don’t eat it and re-cook that area for safety. You can also slice the excess fat off the animal and render the fat for later use. This will provide you with lard that can be saved for other cooking projects later. This fat can also be used to burn as a bush candle if light is needed at your camp.

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Dangers of Eating Armadillo
A lot of people absolutely won’t eat an Armadillo because they have heard that you can get Leprecy from handling them. While some of the animals do carry the disease it is a very small percentage of the population and most people aren’t susceptible to the bacteria. The bacteria is easily killed by cooking it well done and as long as you don’t have any open cuts on your hand then you should be fine. You must remember that you should not clean animals with open cuts and if you do then you need to wear gloves. Don’t forget to clean up and sanitize your hands the best you can after you’re done cleaning the animal. Armadillo is no different than eating pork because swine can carry all kinds of nasty diseases/parasites as well so don’t be overly worried about this meat source. If you love eating bacon then you shouldn’t sherk away from some slab of Armored Pork! It is always best to eat the cleanest eating animal you can get but the best meat to eat is usually the hardest to get. So this is a good first start for meat procurement when in survival mode. You always start with small less desirable game and work your way up to better tasting animals in your survival priorities.

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What is leprosy? A bacterial disease, also known as Hansen’s disease, which causes lesions, growths and dryness on human skin. Your chances of getting leprosy are really, really low. Ninety-five percent of the population isn’t even susceptible to the disease, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. A 2008 study put to rest the belief that you can get leprosy from eating armadillo. Of some 2500 armadillos caught and tested in Florida, none had leprosy. And for many years researchers were hard pressed to find someone in the United States with leprosy who had actually been in physical contact with armadillos in the United States.

Nutrition Facts Breakdown
All in all, Armadillo meat is extremely high in fat and looks very much like a pig meat when you slaughter it. In fact, it is one of the highest calorie small game animals that you can catch. A pound of meat will bring between 700-1200 total calories depending on the fat content and time of year the animal is harvested. So if you catch a 10-15 lb Armadillo then you can be assured to get a minimum of 5,000 calories from it.

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Range & Species of Armadillos
The range of these animals is wide spread all over the south of United States, ranging all the way down to South America. Considering how spread out they are over North America to South America, this is a very good pick for survival hunting. There are numerous species of Armadillo ranging in all sizes from super small to extremely large. The giant species can grow in excess of 60 inches long and over a 100lbs in weight. What a meal that would be! While the smaller species can be a little as 6 inches and only a few pounds.

Common South American Dish

Conclusion:

While Armadillo doesn’t seem to be the most appetizing of survival foods, it is in fact very tasty and extremely high in calories. Combine that with the fact that they are very stupid and easy to catch makes them the perfect food choice for the primitive survivalist. On top of that they aren’t regulated by most state laws and have no seasons or regulations for taking them. What is there to lose with some proper precautions? We totally recommend that you get out there and try this food and see if it is a potential calorie source for your survival needs!

 

 

If you have any questions about this subject please post them in our Facebook Group “The SIGMA 3 Survival University”.

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By Robert Allen

President

SIGMA 3 Survival School

 

 

 

 

How to Dress for Cold Weather Survival in Winter Conditions

Winter dress is one of the most important factors when taking trips into the woods in cold conditions. If you don’t dress right you won’t enjoy your trip nearly as much, so in this article we are going to break down what do wear and how to layer it. The purpose of clothing is to keep your core temperature regulated and maintained and there are a few tips and tricks for doing that. Shelter is always the most important priority in survival and clothing is your first layer of shelter. Your core temperature only has to drop a few degrees before you can be in serious trouble and your body will start shutting down. You will lose dexterity and clarity of thought and it will be that much harder to complete even the most basic tasks. Hypothermia is a fast killer and has taken many lives and can happen to the best of us. There is a multitude of different ways that you can dress in order to combat the killer cold.

The rule of 3’s states:
3 mins without air
3 hours of exposure
3 days without water
3 weeks without food

Everyone is different and you may last longer than or not as long as the given rules of threes. The rule we are going to focus on is the rule of 3 hours of exposure in low temperatures and how to combat it. First rule of cold weather survival is to never let yourself get wet or you DIE! Now let’s go over how you can prevent from getting wet and stop damp clothing from potentially killing you.

The key to dress for cold weather is all about temperature regulation and what you wear can vary greatly for different conditions. This recommendation is for -10F to 32F, and if you find yourself in colder conditions then that will change your strategy slightly. The best way I have found to regulate temperature and control sweating is by simply layering materials properly according to the temperature conditions. It is important to stay at a comfortable cold, you never want to get hot enough to lead to sweating! By staying at a comfortable cold you will not sweat and if you do its minimal. So how do you do this? You must dress in layers and peel those layers off as your temp increases and by layering you give yourself modularity to tailor your warmth up or down based on your activity. It is all about staying dry in these cold environments, so staying dry means staying alive. By dressing in layers when you feel hot you take off an outer layer or even two, to allow your body to cool off. Then when you feel cold again you throw a layer back on or the two and you will warm up quickly. By constantly removing and adding layers when needed you combat getting wet. Always remember you get your clothes wet your first shelter is gone.

 

There are numerous materials that you can use for insulation but I’m going to cover what my favorite layering systems are and what works best for me in the coldest conditions. First we will talk about cotton, and why cotton kills. The problem with cotton is that it absorbs water and holds it, thus the insulation value drops to almost nothing when wet. As well to dry it, it takes a long time and that can be bad if you need your clothes dry in a hurry.

Second we will talk about polyester or synthetic products, which is also warm and can be added as a wicking layer. This means it absorbs the sweat and draws it away from your body and dries quickly. It can become soaked just like any other material, but the benefit to polyester based products is that they dry very quickly. Remember you can always speed up that drying process by placing it next to the fire.

Third you have wool, wool is a great choice for warmth but also holds moisture and is very slow to dry. The great thing about wools is that even when it is wet it can maintain up to 80% of its insulation value, thus still giving you warm and protection from the cold. Remember that if the wool freezes though it won’t really matter, so it is optimal to keep your insulation as dry as possible because if it freezes later that could put you in big trouble. That is why a water resistant layer such as goretex over the outside of your clothing is so important.

Lastly, lets talk about down insulation for a few seconds! Down is by far and away the most lightweight, warmest, and most packable product you can buy. It is also the most expensive and worst material for getting wet. For extremely cold conditions we recommend a mix of down and synthetic products. Never depend completely on down for all your insulation needs unless your alpine mountaineering and temps are extremely low and all water freezes quickly. Even then you need layers underneath down like under armour or wool merino long johns. I prefer a mixture of these products to make sure I have the most optimal system possible.

Outline of Optimal Layering Products for Cold Weather Survival:
Layer 1- Polyester or synthetic base layer. We recommend military poly pros for a budget item or Under Armor Cold Weather gear for something more expensive.
Layer 2- Wool sweater or material that will absorb moisture from your first layer. For budget items we recommend military wool surplus sweaters or for a really nice shirt the Columbia Gallatin line is fantastic!
Layer 3- Light Jacket of either wool or down. Your choice of materials will depend on how much moving your plan to do and how much you can pack. Remember wool is heavy and not very packable. Synthetic products and down are lightweight and packable, but typically not as bomb-proof.
• Layer 4- Lightweight goretex outer jacket and pants. This layer will block the wind and keep you from getting wet from dropping snow, walking, and when you sit down on wet material. Remember that goretex isn’t 100% waterproof, but it is great for snowy conditions.
• Socks- Layer of thin wool or polyester socks, and then a medium weight wool sock over them. The thick layer will draw the moisture from the think layer and keep your skin warm. Dry them out EVERY night though!
• Gloves- We recommend a wool glove liner with a goretex over glove. You want to have more than one glove. And dry out your wool glove every night and the goretex is too keep your hands dry when working with wet or snowy objects. It’s best to carry two sets of liners so that when the first ones get damp, you can dry them and wear your other pair. Leather mittens are also a very warm option but will protect less against wetness than goretex will. We prefer mittens and leather for extremely cold conditions and goretex for slightly warmer conditions.
• Headwear- Fleece or wool beanie is typically best and a balaclava or face protection as well. Just make sure there is a nose vent on the face protection you use, you don’t want your breathe moisture to compromise your face insulation. And your goretex jacket should have a hood as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*Items Listed: Columbia Gallatin Range Wool Jacket and Pants, Mont Bell Down Jacket, Tru-Spec Goretex ECWCS Gen 2 Jacket, Tru Spec Goretex Pants, fleece military beanie, Outdoor Research Goretex Multicam gloves, Under Armour Level 4 Cold Weather Gear

I like dress for cold weather in four layers rather than three. The reason being is that if you can stay somewhat warm with only the three layers while moving and the fourth layer keeps you warm during the down time, is the best method for me. Having three layers, say a poly shirt, sweater, and jacket, the problem is when you heat up and take off your jacket the clothing you have on is minimal and you cool very fast, so you are constantly removing and replacing your jacket, but it’s easy to leave it on too long because it’s so cold when you take it off. It is difficult to stay at a comfortable cold with only 3 layers. Wearing 4 layers to dress for cold weather is much easier to regulate in my opinion. If you get hot you take off your outer jacket and still have two sweaters and a poly shirt on so you can be at a comfortable cold and you’re more attuned to putting on and off the way you should, because it’s not a shock when you do.

 

As for the head a nice wool hat works great, something that fits your head and provides ear protection. A hat is the first way to regulate your temperature, take that off first when heating up then go from there. Boots and socks are another area and important. You want a thin pair of poly socks for first layer with wool socks over top of them for warmth and to absorb the sweat. As for boots I prefer water proof and insulating at the same time. Mukluks like the Camuk Extreme are great for super cold conditions and Muck Boots are fantastic for when waterproof is absolutely essential in slightly warmer temperatures.

 

When it comes to your hands, it is easier to work with gloves although mittens provide more warmth. Remember wool retains warmth even when wet, so choose wisely. Some people wear a small thin pair of gloves under a pair of heavy mittens.

 

So in closing, I hope this helps you to dress for cold weather and lets you see what you have to consider and how to combat the cold to keep your core temperature regulated. You can pick and choose; it’s your choice but remember the pros and cons of each material and stay at a comfortable cold!

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Elm Bark Quiver

Willow Basket Quiver

You’ve made yourself a workable bow. You fashioned some fine primitive arrows. You camouflaged yourself and you’re ready to go hunt some meat. You carefully stalk up on a deer. You knock an arrow and prepare to aim, but wait. You have a handful of arrows. What are you going to do with them? You can’t hold them while you shoot and if you drop them you will spook the game. You just discovered an age old problem experienced by ancient and modern hunters alike. Something to carry arrows in is essential to good hunting. A primitive arrow quiver is a must have if you going to be primitive bow hunting.

To solve this problem you are going to need primitive bow quiver. There are many different varieties of primitive bow quivers, the world over, but the quiver we are going to make today is a basket quiver. I prefer to use willow for this type of quiver, at least for the spokes, but you can use nearly any type of flexible twigs or vines. The reason I prefer willow is because you can bend it sharply without it breaking and it looks nice. Now you can make primitive arrow quivers out of a lot of primitive materials such as elm bark, birch bark, leather, vines, flexible twigs, or even roots. Almost anything flexible will work. Check out the Elm Quiver to the right!

The steps to making a primitive bow quiver are pretty simple. First you have to gather and process material. Now you choose your five thickest willows for your spokes. You make a cross alternating your willows from the thick to thin. Three spokes, north to south and two spokes east to west. You wrap the cross with your thinnest willows, over the north and south and under the east and west spokes several times, to hold it in shape. You remove one of the spokes to make an odd number of spokes. Then you wrap the spokes, over and under alternately, until you have a round base. Then you fold your spokes up and keep weaving until the basket is the height you want. You tuck your spokes in and make a rim. And finally you attach a carrying strap. Of course this is an overly simplified explanation but you can find the details in our attached video.

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Now when you take aim at your game and reach for your arrow it will be waiting patiently next to all of its brothers in its handy carrying case that you made with your own hands. And you will look amazing wearing it. Please share your successes and failures with us and feel free to ask us any questions.

Watch the video for exact details on how to build this nifty little bow quiver!

Good Luck and Good Hunting from us here at Sigma 3 Survival School
Joshua G. Hamlin

A Survival Crossbow
By Joshua G. Hamlin

We, at Sigma 3, recently posted a video on how to make a survival crossbow. I would love to take credit for inventing this crossbow, but I cannot. I looked at some early crossbows for ideas, and converted them into one I could make primitively. For one, I tie the bow to the stalk instead of nailing it. To do this, a hole must be cut through the sides of the stalk so that the cordage doesn’t pass over the area where the arrow rests. I also add a trigger cap which guides the string and holds the arrow (or bolt) in place. The trigger system itself is very simple. It’s a “T” shaped piece of wood that leans forward when you pull back on the trigger, releasing the string, and firing the arrow.

Now let’s talk about some of the pros and cons of this type of crossbow. One of the things that is so great about this crossbow is that you can sight down the arrow to aim. You still have to figure in gravity and wind resistance, but with a little practice you should be hitting your target every time. Another advantage is that your bow is ready to fire, instantly. You don’t have to draw back if you see game; you can just point and shoot. But the biggest advantage is that the crossbow can be set, with a tripwire or bait. Of course this type of trap is very dangerous and very illegal. The trigger does not discern between animals and humans and will gladly take down either one. For this reason, this type of trap should only be used in an emergency and should be clearly marked so that people can see it.

There are some other problems with this type of survival crossbow as well. First, the trigger is very sensitive and can go off accidentally, causing serious injury or death. Even a slight bump can set it off. Be careful to never point this towards anybody or towards anything that may cause the arrow to ricochet. Another problem with this crossbow is that it’s awkward. It’s heavy and cumbersome. You can’t crawl through the bush without setting it off. Also, the arrow is only being held by the cap over the trigger so it will sometimes fall off if it’s leaned to the side. Finally, that string will get you. If your fingers or thumb are in the path of the string when the bow is fired it’s going to hurt. Be sure to hold the crossbow like shown in figure 2.

These survival crossbows are very useful and a lot of fun, so make one. Be sure to show us your results and feel free to ask for advice, anytime. Have fun and be safe

 

 

The Shocking Truth About Survival TV Shows

Being someone who has dabbled in survival TV and had a lot of experience in dealing with Hollywood producers, I feel more than enlightened to the ways of the Reality TV world. And since I’m not under
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contract, like so many people on TV, I can actually tell you how it is behind the scenes. No confidentiality contracts here! So many people watch TV and see these so called survival shows and think they are learning realistic skills. When in reality almost everything on reality TV is faked and the people producers pick for the show are based on character content and not for their actual survival skills. There are a few exceptions to the rule, but not many! Producers couldn’t give two shits if you have real survival skills and experience. Their vetting process is ridiculous! For instance, a recent show that I was picked for had a recognized survival expert call me and ask me about 10 questions over the phone to determine if I could survive. None of those questions related to any technical skills, just really broad questions that wouldn’t really determine anything about what I could do at all. And then from those questions I would be touted as a top tier survival expert that you should listen too. Well, maybe they are right that I’m the best of the best, but they sure as hell don’t know that from proper vetting. They see me on camera and say “this guy will make good TV, lets pick him and pair him with his total opposite so that there is controversy.” That is how it works folks! Really, the only thing they care about is how you’re going to interact with other members and if are you going to do something crazy from time to time. Because if you do that, they are going to get the ratings no matter what your skills are. So that is why I tell people that there are only a few real deal guys on TV and they are few and far between. I am personal friends with a lot of the TV personalities that you have seen out there, and even many of them will admit openly that they don’t know a ton about survival. Just the broad strokes, their claim to fame is TV personality and not a survival expert.

Survivorman

Probably the most popular show among survival enthusiasts is Survivorman. While I consider Les Stroud to be one bad-ass mofo, I don’t think that even he would say he is a bushcraft expert. He has trouble with even the most basic of skills such as primitive bow drill fire. I have beginner students that are more proficient than he is at bow drill. But do you know what? Les Stroud has an amazing mental survival game and sometimes that is all you need. That guy can just about endure anything and many times that is all it takes, especially if you combine it with some very basic skills. But you won’t learn much in the way of bushcraft from his program, so I recommend that everyone take everything they learn on TV with a grain of salt. It might be good stuff, but it also might get you killed! So Caveat Emptor or buyer beware!

Man vs Wild

Man vs Wild is a great example of a show that is entertaining but will probably get you killed if you take it seriously. Just look at the name of the show and you will know that this isn’t about true survival. Hell, I’m not even sure that Bear would call it a survival training show if he wasn’t under confidentiality agreements. The show is about doing stunts related to survival skills to get awesome ratings and showcase Bear’s amazing physical skills that he demonstrates over and over. That is more the basis of the show; doing exciting stunts and not real world survival. That is why Discovery Channel is always looking for the next Bear Grylls, because his show lasted the longest and smashed the ratings. It is stunt based TV that gets viewers excited and keeps them entertained, while showing very little real world skills for survival. And its all done under the guise of being a documentary, when its really not. That’s a perfect blend in most Hollywood yuppy producer’s minds. Honestly, Bear is a bad-ass and one of the strongest guys on TV but even he will admit that he isn’t a bushcraft expert. He is a great TV personality with a skill for presenting things in a fashion that everyone wants to watch him. Remember the talent controls no aspects of how the show looks or really what is done. As a TV personality  you are a subcontractor of your production company and are required to perform the tasks asked of you.

Naked and Afraid

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I’d say the only real deal survival show out there right now is Naked and Afraid. It’s about the most hardcore show that has ever been on TV and there was no faking anything with the exception of some serious medical emergencies. You know you got a real survival show when the producer almost dies from a snake bite, another guy almost dies of dengue fever, one got extremely sick from food poisoning, and another almost most bites the bullet from infection. But even Naked and Afraid has its limitations on skill demonstration and many of the people on the show aren’t true experts. Or maybe they thought they were experts and found out differently under stressful survival conditions. Then again, some people on the show are amazing and you wouldn’t even know it because of editing. Many of the shows like this one actually down-play the success of the survivalists to make it look like they struggled a lot more than they did. Because suffering and problems is more interesting than winning and kicking ass in the bush. They pick and choose the winners based on how presentable they are on TV. You have to remember that every show has a story line and that the producers need to tell you a story filled with drama and then show a couple of skills on the side. That is the winning business model for survival TV. Drama, stunts, entertainment, and then education in that order of priority. Also, remember that even the best survivalist can get a bad edit. Many times when doing these shows I am asked what is my biggest fear. Every time I tell the producer my biggest fear for survival TV is getting a bad edit. I could literally go out there and live like a king and they can edit you to make you look like a total jackass! So when watching these shows you need to remember that some of the people that looked bad on the show actually did good, and some of the people that look fantastic actually sucked at the skills.

I have found a few exceptions to the rule about TV personalities, because I know some instructors on TV that are the best of the best. And guess what; I hired them! Laura Zerra and Eugene Runkis are the real deal and have the legitimate experience to tout their resume and what they have done. Not only on TV but their entire lives has been a journey of self reliance and testing yourself against the wild. That is the way real survivalists are forged! Laura completed 21 days naked in Panama under some of the worst conditions ever with the worst bug bites I have ever seen, and they didn’t even show the worst of it. Not only did she have amazing mental fortitude, she had the bushcraft skills to eat well while there on the island. They don’t show it, but the team actually ate really well and Laura only lost 12 lbs because she was eating crab/lobster, coconuts, and various other wild foods most of the time she was surviving! That is how you separate the winners from the losers on the show. I always tell my students what separates the men from the boys is the ability to eat well while in the bush and Laura lost the least weight of anyone of the show under some of the worst conditions. That is how you know she kicked ass!

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Now, I’ve been on more than one survival TV try-out and I was the only real survival expert there on the final cut. You get all types, but rarely do you get the true sage bushmen on a TV show. Most beginners don’t know how to tell the difference because you will only see it in the minor details of the skills demonstration because editing really is a magical art. I’m just telling you this from the perspective of a full time survival instructor; take what you see and hear on TV with a grain of salt because most of it is faked. The number one rule to remember when watching these shows is that they are for entertainment only! The only way to get real survival training is to get some instruction and then get out in the woods and get some dirt time. Dirt time is the only thing that will lead to a truly well rounded survivalist that can live off the land indefinitely. And that is our ultimate goal as instructors, to pass on the old school tribal knowledge that will enable you to live like a king in the bush. So if you want to learn survival, don’t do it on TV. Get training, get dirt time, and get in the woods!

Survival Training for Kids Series

Clothing, Shelter, Water, & Fire

 

So let me start this blog off by telling you a little bit about my daughter Shyloh. She is the spunkiest, most independent, hard-headed, little redhead that you have ever met. But she is as sharp as a tack and she knows it. She is about to turn 4 and I feel like it is time to start her training into the world of wilderness self-reliance. By the time she is 10 I will have her smoking most of the survival instructors in the country. Guaranteed. This little girl loves animals and she loves the jungle. She calls the woods, The Jungle, compliments of Dora the explorer. She tells everyone that her daddy lives in the jungle and eats snakes, LOL!

Anyway, I am going to start making a video and blog journal of my training endeavors with her and hopefully this will make you want to get your children involved in the outdoors. The only reason we have the beautiful wild resources that we have today is because we have motivated people like yourself that are willing to instruct the kids to love the land as much as you do!

So where do we start in training a kid in how to survive? Well I think you have to start at the most very basic level. Our first line of defense against mother nature is our clothing and we have to have the right clothes for our kids in the woods.

Clothing

A good pair or rubber boots, some camo cargo pants, t-shirt, and a light jacket is a great start. But don’t forget some wet weather gear like a poncho. Wouldn’t spend much on them, you know how these kids grow like weeds. Just get something that will last awhile. Once you get these items lined out for your little one, then you have to teach them how to wear it and why we wear the clothes we do. Teach them to tuck their pants into their boots, and their shirt into their pants and that will really help keep the bugs off them. But to really make sure they don’t get ate up by bugs, you should treat their outdoors clothes with Sawyer brand Permethrine from Wal-Mart. You can pick the treatment up for about $10 a bottle. Read our preventing bug bites article for more info.

Once we teach them about how to wear their clothing then we got to show our little ones what else we can do with our clothing to keep us safe from the elements. Let’s throw out a hypothetical and say the child is lost and cold front is coming in and they only have that lightweight jacket. Well anything we can use to create dead air space can provide us with warmth. So all we do is find some kind of debris like dry leaves or any kind of debris that will keep us warm. You stuff your clothes up with the debris and I promise it will keep you warm even if it’s wet. All you have done is created dead air space in your clothing and increased it insulation.

Survival Kit

You also have to teach them that it is very important to not get wet if you in a survival situation. So they should always have a poncho in their little survival kit with them. Without a doubt you have to get them a little survival kit to practice with. I have a little survival backpack that I put together for my daughter for only a few bucks.

 

My 4 year old daughter’s survival kit:

-small camo backpack

-stainless steel canteen

-flint and steel rod

-cotton balls

-butter knife

-brightly colored poncho

-whistle

 

These few little items don’t cost much at all and will give small kids a since of pride in doing what their parent does and having their own gear. The makeup of the kit should really be determined by age and skill level in the woods. But every kid needs their own tools and they must be taught how to use them safely. Knifes are the most dangerous thing you can give them and they will require a lot of instruction on using it. I am starting Shyloh with a butter knife and will work my way up over the next few years to letting her have her own Mora knife.

Once you have their gear lined out and you have given them some training on how to use it, then it is time to move on to the priorities of survival. And your first priority in any survival situation is to get shelter. More people die of exposure to the elements than anything else. So if you teach your kids nothing but how to dress and how to get shelter then you will have significantly improved your kid’s chances of surviving in the woods alone. If they can stay warm and dry then that is 90% of the survival battle.

Shelter

Shelter is far more important than people might think! Exposure to the elements in the number one reason people die in the wilderness. Not snakes and scary looking bugs!  But it’s probably best to teach them to first look for natural shelters and where to look for them in your area. Bluffs, overhangs, caves, and natural shelters like this will serve them best for short term survival. But if they can’t find natural shelter then they have to know how to build a good survival shelter. The best shelter to show them is the common lean to, but don’t teach them to build a lean to for your size. Make it kids size only! Small shelters are warmer, dryer, and simpler to build. Watch the video below to see how we make a great kids shelter with very little tools.

Once your kids have mastered the skills of staying warm and dry then you have given them the ability to survive most situations until they can be rescued. I can’t say it enough that your personal clothing and shelter from the weather are the two biggest priorities when training our young ones. If they get those two simple concepts, then they can surely stay alive until someone finds them. But we don’t just stop at teaching them the most basic concepts; we want to prepare our kids to the maximum so they are prepared to live in this harsh world.

Water

The next most important step after training them in shelter, then they must learn to safely procure water in the woods. There is literally a million techniques for doing this but my favorite has to be the sip well. It is not 100% full proof by any means. But the two greatest dangers we need to worry about in North America are giardia and cryptosporidium. By digging a sip well we can almost completely eliminate our chances of getting those two bugs. The water will still have bacteria, but it very unlikely that it will be in high enough concentrations to bother our immune system.

The number one thing we need to remember about water procurement is that it is all about reducing your overall risk. When we drink water out of the tap we are getting e-coli and many other well known bacteria in our water. And they don’t hurt us because they are in small concentrations. So our goal is to reduce concentrations of bacteria in any way possible. Now don’t get me wrong, if I have the time and means to boil the water then I will definitely do so. So keep in mind that this is a technique to use when you can’t boil water for whatever reason. Because boiling is the only fool proof technique for purifying water in the woods. Please watch the video below to see how to do it.

 

Fire

Fire is such an important skill that it can sometimes be the biggest priority even though its third on the list. This is probably one of the most difficult skills to master in the woods and can really frustrate some people. And friction fire is really difficult. So I always like to start kids out on the flint and steel. They a low tech, inexpensive, relatively easy to find, and will always work. Once you understand a few things about tinder then you will understand how to make fire every time. Your fine tinder must be light and airy, thoroughly dry (if not dry it before hand, after processed), and you must fluff the tinder before ignition. When I say that you have to fluff it, you have to physically lift the tinder and create lots of air pockets in yours birds nest. Just doing this will certainly get you fire every time! Watch this video below to see how Shyloh and I got fire with our flint steel and cotton in wet conditions.

MAKE SURE TO STAY TUNED FOR MORE ARTICLES AND VIDEOS ON THIS SUBJECT! IT IS AN ONGOING SERIES DOCUMENTING MY DAUGHTER’S SURVIVAL TRAINING.

FYI: All of our wilderness survival courses are open to children if you want to have the SIGMA 3 team train your family! Contact us to see what courses would be best for your family!

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Many of our readers have expressed an interest in learning how to keep bugs from biting them and what methods I use to prevent bites. This has always been a subject of great concern to me because I can legitimately say that the area I live in has the worst bug problem of any place that I have ever visited. I’ve seen people come to camp and get a 100 tick bites in only half a day and they didn’t even walk through the woods. Our ticks are literally like invading army ants and the chiggers are extremely bad too! These little ticks actually set ambushes and will wait on objects that you frequent and then attack at the first opportunity. We even have airborne paratrooper ticks that literally wait for you to pass under them and then they launch themselves from trees to get at you. Dealing with this and some of the other problems has made me a bit of an expert in living in the woods with the bugs. So in this article I am going to discuss the methods that have worked best for me and have prevented me from being eaten alive by the hoards of ticks that frequent our survival training grounds!

HERE IS YOUR ANSWER! BE SAFE, BUY THE BEST!
Sawyer Products SP649 Premium Permethrin Clothing Insect Repellent Trigger Spray, 12-Ounce

 

Now for some answers on dealing with BUGS!

Clothing, Boots, and Personal Gear-

I CAN’T SAY THIS ENOUGH! In order to prevent bug bites in the woods you must dress properly. Having the correct outfit for your area is liking dawning a suit of armor that makes you invincible to those devil bugs! Here are the rules to follow when dressing for the woods!

  1. Always tuck your pants into your boots! And if you’re not wearing boots then you should pull your socks over the top of your pants. This prevents the bugs from being able to even get in your clothing.
  2. Tuck your shirt into your pants! If you have tucked your pants and your shirt in, then you have pretty much won the battle already. Why? Because the only place they can get in is on your arms and if you wear long sleeves then they can only get in on your hands and neck area.
  3. Wear a long sleeve shirt. Some areas are so hot that this isn’t feasible, but if you can manage it then it is always best to wear a long sleeve shirt. This means the only place the bugs can get in is on your hands and neck area.
  4. Treat your clothing with permethrin. Permethrin is by far the best bug juice that you can get and much better for you than deet. It’s a great feeling to walk into a seed tick nest and have them all over your clothing and within seconds the ticks starting walking in circles and falling off as if they were drunk!
  5. Don’t wear bright colors or use any type of perfumes or things that smell different than the natural environment!

CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO ON TREATING CLOTHING!

Permethrin vs Deet

When I did my wilderness medic training I had the honor to train under Dr. Frank Hubble, who is one of the top wilderness doctors in the world. He has experience in dealing with killer jungle diseases and travels to areas that are full of killer diseases contracted from bugs. So needless to say, I trust his experience when it comes to dealing with bugs.

First he taught me about the effects of permethrin vs deet and after learning the negative effects of deet, I will never go back. When deet is applied to your skin it immediately starts soaking into your skin and quickly finds itself in your bloodstream and then moves to your spinal column.  Permethrin is less of a health risk, can’t be applied to the skin, and is far more effective with none of the risks of deet. Deet is only effective for a few hours before having to re-apply which makes it a no go in my book.

My choice is permethrin for dozens of reasons. The first reason being is that it lasts on your clothing for an extremely long time, as many as 40 washes if applied correctly. The second reason being is that it kills the bugs instead of just repelling them. The bugs will crawl up your clothing a foot or so and then fall off dead. Whereas with deet it will only repel the ticks and I’ve seen from experience that if a tick is determined enough the deet won’t stop them whereas the permethrin will. I could write a whole article just on the advantages of permethrin over deet but we have to move on. You can pick up bottles of permethrin in walmart for about 10 bucks a bottle in the sporting goods department.

Natural Repellants

There are tons of different products out there on the market that will help protect us from bug bites but they come with pros and cons just like everything else. What’s great about natural products is they are better for the environment and we eliminate the chance of having harmful carcinogens soak into our bloodstream like deet does. But how effective are they? In my experience, they are far less effective than using a product like permethrine. But they do work, especially if used in conjunction with proper clothing. Downside is that they are just like deet and wear off in a few hours so you have to keep re-applying.

I’ve had the opportunity to test many of these methods because we have an area I train at that is so overrun with mosquitoes that I have literally had my whole face swell up like an allergic reaction from all the bites. This type of training environment helps you figure out real quick what works and what doesn’t! You can make your own effective natural repellant by lightly simmering noxious herbs like yarrow or American beauty berry in a light olive oil and then adding the oil to a little spray bottle. The oil will allow the herbs to last much longer on the skin and clothing. Apply liberally as needed for your environment.

While I do on occasion use plants for a repellant by rubbing them on my skin, they don’t work for very long. If you wipe a plant like yarrow all over your exposed areas, it will help cut down on the number of bug bites but it won’t prevent all of them. But this method only lasts a short amount of time. This is why we have to mix these plants with oils to spray on our skin and clothing. For survival situations, you can rub mud all over your exposed areas but this method is only marginally effective also.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH A VIDEO on How to Make your own natural repellent!

Smudge Fires and Shelters

Lastly, how do we deal with bugs in our survival shelters and our camping area. The single best way to drive back the hordes is to make a smudge fire that will help ward them off. It’s the same thing as throwing a citronella candle out in your backyard. You can build a smudge fire with any kind of moist woods that will put out a lot of smoke. This can also be done with termite damaged wood as well as toxic tree smokes like pine or cedar. Just add the smudge woods on top of a fire that already has a good bed of coals and let it smolder and the bugs will run away.

How to Smudge Your Shelter? CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO.

Types of Bug Bites

Chiggers- Let’s talk first about the chigger, because they are my least favorite to deal with! But I bet some of you northerners are wonderin what the hell a chigger is! Well let me tell you that they are the worst of the bunch when it comes to makin yah itch like crazy. The problem with chiggers is that you can’t see them and once they bite you they leave an itch that usually lasts a couple of weeks. Contrary to popular belief they do not bury themselves in your skin. You can actually wash them off with your hands and a little water. Chiggers are usually around moist areas and I get them the most by walking through grassy areas.

Once the chigger has bitten you, then you the only thing you can do is treat the symptoms. The itch comes from an allergic reaction caused by the chigger ingecting his saliva into your skin. Most bites occur in areas that have thin skin because the chiggers mouth and feeding structure are very delicate. So you usually get bitten behind the knee, waist, ankles, and feet. And putting finger nail polish and other crazy remedies won’t help much other than temporarily relieving the itch. I find that using analgesic remedies that actually numb the skin by far and away work the best. Chigger X is a great product that works great on other types of bites also. But my favorite way to treat these bites is to make a salve from the yarrow plant because it numbs the skin and deals with any infection issue that might occur from the break in your skin. Check out our youtube video on making the perfect wilderness salve for my favorite treatment. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO!

Ticks- By far we have more ticks in our area then any other type of biting bug and they usually come in droves. So I have a ton of experience in dealing with these little critters. I can’t express enough to you how important it is to prevent tick bites. Ticks carry so many types of debilitating diseases it’s ridiculous. Lyme disease is probably the most well known of the different diseases ticks can cause, because lyme can cause major health problems if not dealt with correctly. I’ve known many friends that have contracted it in our area and have also rid themselves of it. My good friend Michael Patrick (Owner of Maine Primitive Skills School) has healed himself of lyme disease twice using medicinal plants. I won’t get into all the treatments possible for ticks but if you do get lyme disease or some other nasty disease they can be treated using medicinal plants as well as modern medical methods. Just watch out and try not to get bitten.

Mosquitoes- These little flying blood suckers cause the least amount of itching and discomfort but they also cause the greatest disease born threat. Contrary to popular myth, the mosquito is the most deadly bug on the planet and kills millions of people every year! Malaria is the most well known disease but mosquitoes have probably a 100 well known diseases worldwide that can cause massive health problems as well as death! The thing about malaria is that it never ever goes away, you have it for life. So if you travel then I highly recommend treating your clothing and being prepared for the areas you travel to. You don’t want to come home from vacation with a life threatening disease.

 

Conclusion-

Without a doubt in my mind the single best way to deal with bugs in the wilderness if to first dress properly and to treat those clothes with permethrine. If you dress properly, it is the equivalent of dawning bug armor with the highest level of protection. There are dozens of other methods out there to deal with the bugs but they all only last a short amount of time and only maintain a marginal degree of effectiveness against hungry bugs. So my choice is always to where the right kind of clothing treated with a good dose of permethrin. Try these methods on your next outdoor adventure and post your comments back here. We want to hear your feedback!

 

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MISSION 1- Survival Fishing Trip 3 Day

 

This fall 2012 we are starting an all new series of videos and we will attempt to create a completely new sport. Survival Sport! This game will challenge you to get out into the wilderness and test your skills against the wild. With each new episode we will have a new set of challenges for our team as well as our watchers. Each person who decides to take the challenge must also video their adventure and then post your video as a response. The best participant will win a free 5 day survival course!

 

Here’s the rules:

-All tactics and techniques must be legal within your area. If not then you must modify the requirements to fit your area.

-You must video tape all the accomplishments you make on your survival trip.

-To win you must post your video as a response and SIGMA 3’s staff will decide the winner!

-You must be at least 18 years old to participate in the contest.

-You must closely follow the gear requirements.

-The honor system is always in effect and we expect you to not fake your skills or accomplishments. If your suspected of cheating, your entry will be disqualified. No camera tricks!

 

PRIZES: Prizes will include free SIGMA 3 Survival School classes and possibly gear that is contributed by our sponsors!

RESPONSE MUST BE SUBMITTED BY DECEMBER 16, 2012. WINNERS WILL BE ANNOUNCED BEFORE CHRISTMAS!

YOUR MISSION: Survival Fishing Trip

-Survive for 3 days / 2 nights in your local wilderness

-Items Needed: Fishing kit w/ monofilament, trot line, hooks, and 2 yo yo’s (optional); stainless steel canteen; knife w/ flint and steel;  small saw or axe; small backpack

-Collect as many wild edible plants as you can safely identify and procure for eating

-Complete all the survival priorities with an emphasis on food. Anyone can get shelter, water, and fire but food is what separates the men from the boys. That is where skill comes in, so once you have completed the other 3, then focus on your food procurement.

 

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Have you ever wondered why it is that most so called survival schools don’t really post any kind of a real resume about their instructors?

They all seem to be so cookie cutter, saying all the same things or they don’t say anything at all! Here is the most common description, “I grew up in the woods as a boy and learned to love the outdoors from an early age”, blah blah etc. Now, I am not going to knock that experience in life because that is what rooted me in this industry to begin with, but that doesn’t make you an expert survival instructor. So how do you know if someone knows their stuff or is a total fraud? Whether they are an arm chair survivalist expert or the real freaking deal! Because there isn’t any regulating body or set of skill standards that instructors have to pass in order to be able to call themselves legit! You just have to take their word for it. I would say as many as 80% of survival school founders are students that attended The Tracker School owned by Tom Brown, Jr. But does taking a few of his thousand dollar survival courses that are half power point and half watching someone else demonstrate skills make you an expert. I think not!

True skill can only come from true grit and passion for what they do. If they don’t truly love every aspect of survival then they will never truly be great at it. Greatness can only be accomplished  with great determination and passion for what you do. And I think you will quickly find that the best instructors in the industry are the ones that give their knowledge away for free through blogs, youtube videos, and other forms of social media. According to Cody Lundin in a recent article, youtube videos don’t give a person any credibility whatsoever. But I would disagree and say that it is one of the only true ways to be able to really demonstrate what you are capable of doing to your customers to provide credibility for what you say your capable of. My advice is simply this, “Don’t take their word for it, and make sure in your mind that they are proving their skills through demonstration”. Survival instructors should have something that proves they can do what they do well and know their stuff, since we have no regulating body for this sort of thing. There is no government body or private institution saying, “hey this guy’s a badass, he can survive anywhere”. So here is some stuff you need to think about when picking a survival school for your personal preference because there is a ton of different styles of thought in this industry. Bush hippie and military mindsets pretty much dominate the industry so you will most likely have to pick between one of the two perspectives. (Or you can find one that blends the two, like SIGMA 3. We take the best from both worlds; shameless self promotion, lol) Okay so here it is:

 

Do your homework:

  1. LOOK OUT FOR SHORT NON DESCRIPTIVE RESUMES THAT DON’T LIST THEIR ACHIEVEMENTS! If they only say a few words about their past, then I wouldn’t trust them with your future survival.
  2. Look for people who do it full time and don’t have a second job. It should be there specialty!
  3. Do they own their own property or are they doing their courses in the national forest or somewhere else? If they don’t own property for their school, then they’re probably a fly by night company and might even get you in trouble with the forestry department practicing these skills on public lands. There are rules in the national forest about cutting trees, harvesting wild plants, etc. So Caveat Emptor! Buyer Beware!
  4. Check their resumes! If they only list a short paragraph of un-verifiable accomplishments then I would be leary. But honestly, you will find that most schools are exactly this way. I can’t say it enough, compare resumes and look for legitimate survival experience.
  5. Do they have lower prices but expect you to bring tons of different survival equipment? It’s a common hook in the industry to require students to purchase expensive gear for their courses. Because most students don’t show up prepared for these courses (and they know it), they are happy to provide you with the required equipment for the course and make exorbitant amounts of money off equipment you may not need. (SIGMA 3 requires almost no equipment and has some of the lowest prices in the industry)
  6. Do they have any unique survival stories that they actually had to employ their skills to save their life? Have they ever actually been in a survival situation?
  7. Is the school local or would you have extensive travel costs in attending their courses?
  8. How long has the school been around and do they employ top instructors in their specialties? Because no one has mastered every skill in the survival community. Instructors are usually great at a certain set of skills and lacking in others. So look to see if the school employs a diversity of instructors with varying backgrounds. If they don’t then move on!
  9. Do they only teach primitive survival or do they teach a mix of things that will appeal to the average person? It can take a lifetime to master primitive survival skills. So unless you want to spend forever learning this stuff, you should pick a school that teaches a wide range of modern and primitive skill sets.
  10. Do they offer certifications for their courses?
  11. Do they have any medical training in case someone gets hurt?
  12. Are they a bush hippie or military style school? Or both?

 

 

What to look out for:

  1. Ex military doesn’t mean they know survival! The military doesn’t emphasis high level survival training in almost any mainstream program they offer. Primarily only high level SOF and recon units get any kind of real survival training. And there is a huge difference between combat or tactical survival and true wilderness survival. Everything with tactical survival is always short term in nature and they don’t train longer term aspects of survival.
  2. SERE Instructors/ most SERE guys usually don’t have any more skills than a basic survival student. So look for other training outside of that!
  3. Look Out for Ridiculous prices! Don’t think you’re getting more because you’re paying more. This is a common misconception and many schools monopolize on it. Many guys in the construction industry use to say to me, “Bid all your jobs high, so that if you only get 1 in 10 jobs you make so much more off the one job, than you would off doing all ten jobs at marginal profits”. They were literally betting on the fact that a sucker is born every day! Don’t be a sucker. You shouldn’t be paying more than $100-200/day for normal survival instruction, even if they are the best in the world. Compare our resumes to the competition and see if you’re getting more experience for the money!
  4. Do they incorporate religious beliefs into their teachings? Surprisingly some of the biggest schools in the country do this heavily without the student knowing it upfront. Whether it is Christian or more pagan centered beliefs, all kinds of schools exist and they do try to preach their beliefs. The Tracker School is probably the best example of this style of school and they have a heavy emphasis on spiritual things in their teachings. The more advanced the course the greater the amount of spiritual teachings. So if getting a lesson in the spiritual aspects of life isn’t your bag, then make sure you do research on the core principles behind the school’s teachings.
  5. Look for legitimate reviews and see what people say about the reputation of the school and its individual instructors.

 

This article is not to promote what we do, but just to make buyers aware of the mindset and what to look out for when choosing a school for your preferences. Every school is different and has a different philosophy, so it’s pivotal that you decide what skill sets primarily interest you. I wrote this article not to promote our own business, but to bring up some important points about what you should look for in a legitimate survival school. Because many people struggle with finding a school that fits their personal needs. Thanks for your support and if you have any questions about us, other schools, or things relating to this article I would be happy to help. I’m not going to say bad things about my competitors but it is my business to know what they teach, how their courses run, and what they specialize in. And you may or may not be able to attend our school because of travel issue or philosophy differences but either way I can point you in the direction of a good school. So if you want my two cents then, Just Contact Us!

 

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