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Canning and Home Prep Class

Well the class went very well and we delved into a ton of different food preservation subjects. The class covered a ton of different subjects including: canning, caching, jerky, drying foods, pemmican, jelly, modern food storage methods, etc.  We also did an in depth lecture and some field exercises in preserving food primitively. Robert made a quick smoking tripod with primitive cordage made of roots, yucca leaves, and cedar bark cordage. After we constructed the tripod we made a primitive food cache in the ground and discussed how to bury food and keep it fresh without the animals getting into it! After making some canned vegetables, banana jam, dehydrated fruit, jerky, etc; we then jumped into making pemmican! Pemmican is one of the best wilderness foods you can get your hands on. Ancient northern tribes would live on pemmican for upwards of 6 months out of the year because it is a complete food. One could live off of it indefinitely and not be malnourished as long as they got some other vitamins and minerals from teas. Pemmican can last an extremely long time because the fat in mixture acts as a waterproofing agent to protect the ground jerky from absorbing moisture. They have found caches of pemmican that were hundreds of years old that were still good! We also go into how to make modern caches and what type of products can be used to bury food and supplies in case of a disaster! These are just some of the many topics we cover in our courses! We plan to host many more home preparedness and primitive food preservation courses in the future! Hope to see you at one of our future events.

Have you ever watched the wise animals of the woods? Have you ever noticed that the smarter an animal is, the slower they usually move in there everyday activities? A wise ol buck is usually the last to enter a danger zone and the first one to leave. We should all take lessons from the sages of the woods. An old animal has to be incredibly diligent and mindful to survive many years in the wilderness. You will notice that other than moments when animals are playing that they are always conserving energy. Animals do not concern themselves with petty endeavors, only those that will sustain their life longer. Survival is all about expending less calories than you consume and as survivalists we should try to mimic the masters of the wilderness by following there example.

All creatures in the animal kingdom understand that for every extra movement or exertion of energy means they will have to find and consume more food. The old wise buck moves slowly and we should take our model from God’s creations when I say that we should slow down and be like the Ole Buck. Most animals you see killed are as percentages go, mostly from the very youngest of the harvest. The old Buck lives to be old because he moves slow and is prudent before he takes action. He thinks before he moves and is always aware of his surroundings.

As survivalists we must surrender to that code when we are immersed in the bush. Slow down and absorb your surroundings! Read the landscape so that you know what bounties it holds. That is why we practice the skills we teach heavily because when the time comes to survive then you must have mastered the technique in order the keep the Law of conservation of energy. The scout is deliberate and does all things with forethought. When you look at the woods open your eyes wider and don’t let yourself focus too much on one thing. By focusing, you cause your mind to be tunneled. If your vision is always tunneled then you will miss much of your environment. Focusing your mind on one thing is fruitful in modern endeavors but can be a liability in the woods. You should practice absorbing all the things in your environment like a computer, seeing all and hearing all but not focusing your attention to one specific thing. When you focus your thoughts to much on one thing you will miss other things happening in your area. See as the owl does and move as the wise ole buck.

My advice to all survivalists is to remember to watch the animals more in their daily pursuits. Notice how efficient each species is at surviving in their environment! Most people forget that the animals live in the wilderness all the time, and that they should be our true teachers on how to survive!

Sigma just completed our first shelter building class and we got rave reviews from the guys who participated. They seemed to enjoy the experience and I was even told by a guy that he learned more about survival in that one weekend then he had learned in his entire life. And this was not a rookie in the woods. We really do strive to go the extra mile to teach you as much as we possible can in each course. I believe in coyote mentoring to a degree but I also want people to feel they learned a hell of a lot when they come out! So, I find a happy medium!

Anyways, now that I’ve plugged the school, lets get down to the brass tacks of what went down at this survival course. The first and most important shelter to learn for any survivalist to learn is the debris hut. If you don’t know how to build this shelter then you haven’t even scratched the surface of wilderness survival. This is the shelter that will save your life if you become stranded in a cold weather enviroment. The insulation on a well built debris shelter is so thick that you can sleep in below zero conditions with no sleeping bag! We added a little something different to this debris hut. The number one complaint in debris huts is that you don’t get much sleep because you are completely cocooned in leaves and aren’t very comfortable.

Comfort is a relative statement depending on who it comes from in my opinion. But I wanted to teach people how to build an internal heating system in their shelter that was not only efficient but extremely warm in the coldest of conditions. The shelter temperature can be controlled by the amount of heated rock, insulation, and air opening you leave in the shelter. You can always raise or lower the temperature by adding more or less hot rocks to the rock pit. At the front of the shelter is a rock pit that is roughly a foot deep and completely encased with stacked rocks around it. When you put the heated rocks into the pit and close the door behind you, it will radiate heat into the space and get it cookin in a real hurry! The rocks will stay heated for a very long time, usually till morning and into the next day.

Comfort is king in survival! Discomfort decreases your chance of thriving and that increases your chances of not surviving. A comfortable survivor is a happy survivor and a happy survivor is one with a positive attitude. It is absolutely essential to retain a positive state of mind in a survival situation. The brain is like a computer and if you continually program it with negative thinking then you will create a self fulfilling prophecy in your survival scenario! So freakin stay positive no matter what and use your head!

Just remember that shelter is numero uno! Then you need to worry about water, but you always build your shelter within reasonable distance of water. The two go hand in hand! Fire is the next key variable in the equations and one of the more difficult to master. Food is the final element that you must be concerned with, but of least importance in the short term. Master the sacred order of survival and you will be fine anywhere you go.

I’m not going to talk about the jungle hooch construction to much but I want to tell everyone a little bit about. Its based on an A-frame design that keeps you off the ground in a platform debris bed. This is bar none the most comfortable survival shelter I have ever constructed and I think people even with the worst of backs could sleep comfortably in one of these. It is a foot thick leaf bed and the debris conforms to your body. I call it primitive survival memory foam and its patent pending :)! I personally like it better than my mattress at home but I am a survival school instructor, so you might take that with a grain of salt! But to back up my claims we have had others sleep in it and they gave me great reviews. So I’m self proclaiming it worlds most comfortable Sigma Survival Shelter!

We all had a lot of fun that weekend and all the students said they were definitely coming for the next course. I want to thank everybody for coming out and it was a pleasure to host something that’s been a dream of mine for many years now. My hope is that we can create an unsurpassed training environment for those interested in survival-ism in all its forms. Whether you are worried about being lost in the woods, or handling an altercation in an urban environment; Sigma III Survival was designed to meet that need. If you have a desire to train the skills necessary to survive in a hostile world, then come join us today! Please help support Sigma so we can create something for everyone to enjoy!

Andrew McIntosh said on 11/3/10 – 02:01PM

Comment: The shelter class was great. As a former member of the SWAT team I can say that all my survival skills were very short term and mostly tactical. In this class I learned how to think about turning a short term survival situation into a long term prospect. Another words plan for long term and hope for short term. Also Robert instructed us in some tactial shelters that could be used by anyone ( Hunters or Combat ). The point is that I learned more in this class about surviving than I have any where else.

Recommended Shelter Gear:

Warbonnet Shelter System

Aqua Quest Tarp Kit

ENO Eagles Double Nest Hammock

Hey Everyone,

This is gonna be another round of ‘As the World Turns’, starring Robert in the woods. Well we went out this last weekend from Friday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. Got to do a lot of things, so I’ll just start from the beginning. It was a hot night this last Friday and the bugs/humidity were out in full force. We made a fire and got our beds ready. After prepping camp we decided to go forage a bit before dark. The wild edibles were quite scarce and there weren’t many real quick tasty bites to be had. Found some wild plums that I harvested to stuff our roast chicken with for later that night. Also found some Sumac seeds and collected a pocket full so that I could make some of my famous sumac lemonade later. Sumac lemonade is really tasty even without sugar!

The sun fell over the ridge and we stopped foraging to head back to camp! We all pitched in to get the fire cranking and I threw the chicken in the dutch oven to roast up for us. Cooked it for around two hours with fire from below and coals on the lid. We ate dinner and turned in for the night.

The next morning we awoke to start working on the camp but decided that it was miserably hot and that we should go fishing instead. I made some mouthwash from oak bark and sassafras to clean my mouth out and we went to the pond. My wisdom teeth began acting up so the mouth-wash was a great medicinal remedy to keep my mouth clean and to help any soreness from infection.

When we got down to the pond I hooked up a little fishing rig that has always worked well for me in the past. I tied a trot line to the end of a long stick and used a small stick as a bobber. From that stick I tied the bait on to the bobber and used the stick as a way to throw my bait out there. I had killed a copperhead last night and I chopped it up in small pieces and used it as bait. Snake is personally my favorite bait to use because of its ability to stay on the hook for a very long time and the fact that the fish love eating them. Last year I caught ten fish on one tiny baby water moccasin that was not longer than my pointer finger! They really do work great! I put a few fish sets out and then we went to my favorite fishing spot for me to personally watch. As soon as I threw it in we had a hit within less than a minute and a fish on shore. After that we hooked a medium sized turtle that we let go. All in all, it wasn’t a killin but we had caught enough to get some much needed protein. Also made a minnow trap that was highly effective. I caught 5 minnows within the first minute and had a sushi meal in minutes from nothing but a water bottle! The school will be posting a video later on how to make this little trap. I also whittled a primitive gorge hook and showed how to make line out of willow to show the guys how you could catch fish if you had no equipment at all.

The next day a friend and I went up to the cliffs that overlook the whole valley up behind camp. You could literally see for 20 miles up there. With a set of binoculars it felt like there wasn’t anything that we couldn’t see. I whittled a trap while we contemplated the cosmos and enjoyed the cool northerly breeze. The two of us had taken the hard route up the cliff face and needed a little of God’s air conditioning to cool us off. After an hour or so we called it a day and headed back. As we walked we started playing a tracking game that I like to play. One person turns away while the other person walks about 50 yards to a spot of their choosing. When the person tells you they are done, you turn around and track each one of their tracks until you walk up to them. It is a good little drill for training to be able to see tracks quickly in debris and other substrates. You should always be trying to read the pressure releases because they will tell you exactly where the next track should be. After a short game of it we reached camp and I began crafting some trap triggers. Such as the modified figure 4 deadfall and the twitch up snare trigger. We walked down to an area I knew to be filled with game and did some tracking right before dark. We went to a spot I knew was full of raccoon dens. We trained on setting up the snare in high probability locations. After setting the snare we removed them and went back to the road.

I got a feeling that we should go down to the open field by the pond we fished in earlier to check for wildlife. I suspected that we might run into some deer. We rolled up into the field and sure enough their was a small herd of deer just north of us a couple hundred yards away. Then I looked to the east and a doe and fawn had popped out to forage on the field. Adam and I watched them for awhile and then headed back to camp before it got completely dark.

When we got back to camp I stoked the fire to make a smudge to fumigate my tick infested clothing. We had been through some dense bush and I had picked up a slug of seed ticks on my pants. So I took off my pants and hung them over a tripod in order to fumigate the ticks. After that it was time to crash!

We spent the rest of the next morning tracking and looking at different flora around the property. After that we decided it was time to roll it up for the weekend, so we cleaned up camp and headed back for the weekend. This is just a short rundown of our first Sigma III survival weekend to let you know a little bit about what kind of things we are going to be doing. As we progress the weekends will get more intense and will be more training oriented. This was just a little meet and greet weekend with members I have been chatting with for sometime. I just want to take a moment and say that I appreciate everyone coming out and that I hope you had as enjoyable time as I did. Thanks and look forward to seeing everyone in our upcoming classes.

Josh said on 9/17/10 – 01:21AM

Comment: I had an awesome time! I wish I could have stayed longer, but duty calls. Actually ended up getting a call from the fire department as soon as I got back in town…a little girl went missing in Barling so we did a big ground search. Bummer evening. I’m really looking forward to more weekends at the camp!

As some of you know, I have recently been up in Montana for the last couple of months and I didn’t get to go on near as many adventures as I would have like, but still got some time in the bush. And let me tell you that Montana definitely has some wilderness. It is such a wonderful state for the explorer. There is one memorable expedition in particular that I would like to share with everyone.

One weekend I decided that the tourist trap destinations around Bozeman were not cutting it and I decided to step things up a little. The first thing I did was talk to the locals and ask them how I could find some remote locations that I would not run into a soul. Talked to an old fella that had lived there most of his life and he told me I should take a lil trip up to the Absaroka mountains! Well I took him up on that idea and planned a trip to go see em’. It would be a solo trip and didn’t really have an exact plan laid out, I just kind of turned the wheel where the spirit took me and went with the flow. After traveling down a backcountry road for around half an hour it started to turn uphill very quickly. Before I knew it I found myself as far as the road would take me. It took me to this absolutely gorgeous box canyon surrounded by mountains on all sides. At the end of this canyon was a huge peak with snow still on the peak; keep in mind this was in August at the hottest time of the year.

The ridges are so high on both sides of the canyon that you cannot see the surrounding skyline. I grabbed my ruck out of the truck and took to hiking. Before I knew it I had found a suitable campsite and my senses began to tell me that I should prepare a shelter quickly. I listened to my intuition and began building a temporary survival shelter and wouldn’t you know it; a storm front started rolling over the mountain. I knew I should prepare quickly because this was a new environment and I could not afford to be complacent. I found an overturned burned out tree that had a hollow spot under the trunk just big enough for me to sleep comfortably, so I made camp under it. As soon as I got my shelter suitable, wouldn’t you know it started raining and then it began hailing. As the storm tore through the canyon, I felt invincible in my lil tree shelter because I knew that it would completely protect me from the storm!

The rain was sporadic and somewhat irritating. I would get out to begin gathering and it would start raining. Now I normally wouldn’t mind a little rain, but my go pack got stolen a few weeks prior and I had no rain gear! If it was warm, no problem! But the nights were getting down in the 30’s at night in August, so I decided to stay dry in my shelter. After many hours of this, I started to get a bad feeling again like maybe I should head back. Since it was going to be miserable camping with no rain gear in a thunderstorm in the mountains, I decided to just pack it up and say maybe I’ll come back next weekend. As I packed up I started to feel a sense of urgency come over me and I began to move a little quicker. Not knowing why I was feeling this, I just hoofed it back to the truck. Fired up the truck and started to head down the mountain! Got around the first corner and that is when I knew why I had that bad feeling. The storm had turned the road I came in on into a slip and slide. Let me tell you folks, this was the first time in a long time I have been scared in a survival situation. The cliffs were tall enough that a person could drop a thousand feet without having a single thing to stop them on the way down. This road was lined with cliffs along the whole way and the clay substrate had become as slippery as oil. I started sliding down the incline sideways towards a drop and began to prepare to dump the truck over the side and jump out the other door when I got control again. When I came to a stop I said a little prayer to the creator and told him I’d like to get home in one piece if he could manage it. After that I maneuvered all obstacles out of my way in the truck in case God decided I didn’t need my truck to get home.

Now, I consider myself a pretty good off-road driver. I have taken numerous driving courses in the military including a no holds barred off road humvee class. My truck is no humvee I can assure you, but I knew with a little concentration and God’s helping hand I could get back. I took my seatbelt off and super-charged my awareness!

As I traveled down the mountain I had to carefully slide the truck through narrow corridors in some pretty nasty mud. The problem wasn’t just the cliffs I could go off, I also had to contend with the fact that if I didn’t maneuver correctly I would get the truck stuck. That would be a long hike back to civilization, but it wasn’t the walk back I worried about; I was worried about the astronomical tow bill! Needless to say, after some white knuckle moments I finally made it back down the mountain. If I had not left when I did and had kept riding out the concentric ring of storms blowing through, I don’t think I would have been able to drive off that mountain.

I guess the lesson behind the whole adventure would be. Don’t freakin go into deep bush with bald tires and a crappy two wheel drive truck if you can’t afford the tow trip back. And to get some dang rain gear before you head to the hills. Unless you just want to miserable without it! Because regardless of how good you are at survival there is always a need for human beings to have technology and tools. Whether that technology is primitively made or the most space age modern material, you need to have something or yah just not gonna enjoy yourself! Man is superior to all other animals because of his prowess for making tools. So, don’t leave home without those basic necessities unless you plan to spend long enough in the bush to make them all. And always listen to the spirit that guides you. Some would refer to that as your intuition. Simply put; Go with your gut!

About a month ago I decided to go do some storm work in OKC, since the Fort Smith area seems to be dead for construction right now. I decided to camp out instead of getting a hotel room and save some money. So for the last 3-4 weeks I have been camping out by the lake and going to work in the morning. But I have an interesting survival story to tell about some of the things that went down while we were camping. The location isn’t exactly remote in fact it was within city limits on a little spot called lake arcadia. We found a somewhat secluded spot to set up camp and basically just slept out on the ground with nothing but a small pad and sleeping bag. No shelter, no tent! It was great except when there was a lot of condensation on the ground from overnight dew. But I thought it would be a great idea to get some survival training in while I’m out of town. So, I went traveling around the lake looking for food and found some delightfully ripe mulberries. They are so tasty! Their were many wild edibles, to many to mention, but needless to say someone could feed themselves quite easily with just a little gathering.

But what I really wanted to talk about in this story is the crazy fish! Their are more carp on this lake than any other I have ever seen in my life. At dusk and dawn the fish are just everywhere, not to mention all the snakes that like to swim by 4 feet from my bed to say hey at night time. But the fish were nuts! The water was up into the woodline around the lake so you could wade up in the shallows and see them moving everywhere. So needless to say I grabbed my survival walking stick which converts into a spear, fish gig, or blowgun. I screwed on the fish gig around 3 in the mornin and went out in the full moon and started stalking the fish. It was quite amazing to see them in the moonlight and you could stalk up to within a few feet without them seeing you. Before the little hunt was over I had speared two carp around 4-6 pounds and called it quits after that. Don’t like to kill more than neccessary. But I could have easily killed 20-30 fish if I wanted. It was like spearing fish in a barrel. For those of you who have never spear fished before, it is very difficult and this was a rare situation where it was relatively easy. It takes extreme patience and stealth to spear fish in less than the most optimum of conditions, so this was quite a treat to say the least. Seems I learn something new every time I go out! I love survivalism, it truly is the ultimate sense of freedom to know that no matter what happens that you will be able to provide for yourself and others.

I think survivalism is very much like martial arts in a lot of ways. For those of you who have trained in any kind of fight sport, then you know that sense of confidence that training installs in your mind. Survivalism gives you that exact same confidence, but on a whole other level. It not only gives you a sense of confidence, but also teaches you an entirely new way of living that will bring about a higher state of health for the body and the mind!

Well, I figured I would sit down and write my first blog on what I did today? Well, I went down to work on the camp and got an awesome hammock installed between two hickory trees today. I know, I know; its not exactly primitive but it was made in China, so I bet you a lil sweat factory worker in some lil primitive village made it, so I thought what the heck. What would be nicer then a big comfy hammock for the camp? Yall are gonna really think I’m not doing it primitive after I get my camp kitchen and bar fully stocked. Yes Yes, I can do everything the hard way but I have come to the philosophy that if you have done the basic survival techniques numerous times that you can let modern technology jump in and help you focus on other things for mastery. Because doing things the old way all the time can become very time consuming.

On the way to the camp (2/3 of a mile from camp) I have to go up the hill and there is a gate where who knows how many snakes live, I’m always real careful around this gate because you never know when one is going to be out of his hole. Well sure enough, I start looking around and there was a 3′ water moccassin sitting there sunning himself, so I decided to go introduce myself to him and see if he was friendly. I think he was a little cold from the last few days because he didn’t move too much, but I introduced myself by grabbing a stick and poking him a little to see if I could get an opportunity to pick him up. Now, I’m not a snake tamer or anything, I don’t play with em like the croc hunter, but every once in awhile I’ll pick one up. But this one decided not to be friendly and go back down his hole. So I went on about my day.

After that I went to camp got the hammock hung up and decided to clean up camp a bit and call it a day (only short afternoon trip to camp) so I could do some exploring for some wild edibles and sure enough I found some tasty treats! Ran onto some Sumac trees (the non poisonous versions of course), and they are pretty tasty if you haven’t had them! You take the ends off the new growth branches, peel the outside coating off, and eat the center; its very much like asparagus with a fruity flavor.

If you have never had sumac lemonade then buddy you are missing out! You take seeds in the summer after they turn dark red and make them like you would sun tea (or boil them) and they make this very wonderful tasting lemonade that the indians use to drink all the time. Add sugar and I think it tastes better than store bought lemonade!

Ran into some other tasty wild edibles but nothin to write home about. After got done feeding my face with the tasty nibbles I headed back to the truck and headed home. On the way back to the house not far from camp; I saw 4 separate groups of deer in sporadic spots along the road. They were moving quite a bit before sundown today! Two weeks ago I had stalked some Turkeys through a field and as I was trying to get behind them, I low crawled up through some brush and saw one of these deer about 25 yards away in some dense cover. She turned around and headed another direction, but it was fun nonetheless sneaking that close to a couple of turkey and deer at the same time. Thats it for todays field log keep tuned in for entry logs, I am going to try and report back on things that happen to me in the field and the new stuff I learn.

Survival Chick said on 4/30/10 – 12:38PM

Comment: Any suggestions on a book for wild edibles?

Founder said on 5/1/10 – 06:58AM

Comment: Well, I use Peterson’s Field Guide for Wild Edibles. It is okay and gets the job done, but it is lacking a lot. I’m actually writing my own book on the subject right now! The book will contain pics of the plant in its different stages, it will be color pics, each plant will have two pages devoted to it, one for info and one just for pics. The basic info will tell you where to collect the plant, how to prepare it, its medicinal uses, etc. And it will be field worthy as well, small/compact, water resistant, lightweight and will contain the top two hundred tastiest wild edibles. I will be selling the book on the website probably by the end of the year and hope to get it published. The market is really lacking any useful field guides on the subject. I’m also going to make an Iphone app, because there isn’t a single app on the subject that I’ve found. Thanks for the comment!

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