March 26, 2014

Prepping in Upstate NY

For those of you who are new to The Cyberpunk Technical Journal, I'm Natty Bumpo, aka The Omega Man. It's my CB handle, and those of you who used to hang out on Channel 14 in upstate NY during the 1974 Oil Crisis might remember me. I started writing a column, “The Day After”, for Thomas Icom's 'zine Cybertek in the 1990 after having read his book Secret & Survival Radio, published by Consumertronics.
I've been into survivalist stuff since I got out of the Army in the 1970s and came across this really great newsletter called The Survivor that this guy named Kurt Saxon used to put out. Saxon printed a lot of good stuff, shitloads better than what some of the “preppers” are doing today.

So what's a survivalist? It's a guy, or gal who does things in the course of their day to day life to make sure they are prepared just in case those surprise things happen that make life difficult for a while. We make sure we have a little extra food on hand, have some tools to keep things working, maybe own some guns to hunt and protect ourselves with, and learn things that might come in handy. Most of us life in rural areas as that's the best place to be if something happens. Most of us think that some interesting times are ahead. Some of us think the interesting times are already here. Other than that we go about our business like any other person, and unless you knew us, you probably wouldn't think we're survivalists. A lot of us think all these Doomsday Preppers running around advertising themselves and buying thousands of dollars of “survival gear” are a bunch of fools. In my future articles for this magazine, I'm gonna tell you about how my friends and I do the survivalist thing. None of us have a lot of money, and none of us are into that modern prepper thing. It should be fun, and I hope you learn something.

Storing Food

I ate C-Rations in the Army, and while not horrible they weren't anything to write home about. One of younger guys who hangs out at the local gun store is in the National Guard, and he brought in some of those MREs once. I thought they tasted like shit. The gun store used to sell those dehydrated meals in a pouch that they market to backpackers. They were expensive, and the C-Rats tasted better. I see Wal-Mart has those camping meals now.

My survivalist buddies and I don't buy any of that survival or camping food. We don't have the money to buy something that tastes like cardboard and sit on it for 20 years waiting for a disaster so we can eat it. We all keep a garden of some sort, and hunt. That means canning produce and making a lot of venison jerky. Every now and then one of us goes out west on an Elk hunt and brings back plenty of meat. One family has chickens. Another has a couple of goats. Guy down the road has a farm with cows. We're not gonna starve with stuff like that.

The other thing we do is when we go grocery shopping we pick up an extra can or two of something to put in the pantry. Keep doing this, and soon enough you'll have a one year store of canned goods to keep you fed during lean times. If you have a few extra bucks at the time, you can even make a food investment and buy a case of something. A lot of survivalists I know do their grocery shopping at places like Sams and Costco so they can get a good price on cases of canned food. Around here, ShopRite has their Can-Can Sale where you can get a good deal and stock up. I remember my parents driving the hour to the nearest ShopRite so they could take advantage of the sale. They were gone from this area for a long time, but now I can drive down to Niskayuna when they have their sale to take advantage of it.

Now here is a can of one of my favorite soups that I just pulled off the shelf of the local supermarket. The “best by” date is a year and a half in the future. Other Campbell's soups had similar dates on them. I might add that the stuff inside the can is still good for some time past that date. As long as the can isn't bulging, and it doesn't smell bad when you open it, you're good to go.

I like all flavors of baked beans, but the Missus likes the Vegetarian ones the best so we get those. Like the soup, I just pulled this off the shelf of the local supermarket, and we can see that the “best by” date on this can is 2016. That's almost three years into the future! I don't know anyone who doesn't like baked beans, although I have heard some heated arguments over what flavor is best.

Those were just two examples of a whole bunch of common foods that most people like, and just about everyone will tolerate that have a pretty decent storage life. Best of all they're familiar to everyone, and don't taste like shit or cardboard like those survival foods. That's important because in a disaster people aren't going to eat strange foods, or they'll get the runs if they do.

When you combine some stockpiled canned goods along with the stuff you get out of the garden and hunt, you don't have to worry about starving, even if times get lean. And since food prices are always going up, buying extra ahead of time is always a good investment. Now let's say you get laid off. I would hope you find some work sooner than later, but if you have a year's worth of food put up you don't have to worry about going hungry for the next year. At the very least you wouldn't have to buy as much food while you're collecting unemployment or working a part-time temp job.


Most of us up here hunt. White-tail deer is the big game of choice up here, and between deer and small game if you're decent at hunting you don't have to buy much meat at the supermarket. While we do have a lot of bow-hunters most of us use a rifle or shotgun. A few of us even hunt with handguns.

Although things are pretty mellow up here for the most part, we also have guns for self-defense. Every once in a while we get some asshole downstater who comes up this way and gets stupid. That's a bad idea because at least half the county has a pistol permit and is packing.

I carried an M16 in the Army, and thought it was a piece of junk. Can't own one in this state now anyway. The .45 pistol was a different story. Liked it ever since I first picked one up and shot it. Liked it so much that at my first duty station I bought the civilian version, a Colt Mk. IV Series 70. Still have it to this day. My other handgun is a Colt Trooper in .357 Magnum that I bought used when the police departments were switching to automatics.

Around here, the two rifle calibers that see the most use around here are the .30-06 and .30-30 Winchester. A lot of people use .30-30 lever guns for hunting. My favorite rifle is an M1 Garand that I got from Uncle Sam's Civilian Marksmanship Program (CMP). I usually hunt with a Winchester .30-30 that I bought at Barkers after I got out of the Army. Lot of people around here bought those SKSes in the Early 1990s. They were cheap, the ammo was cheap, and they are like a poor man's .30-30 Winchester. Now a lot of the poor hunters are buying those Mosin Nagant rifles and sporterizing them like they did with the Mausers from World War 2. That 7.62x54R Russian round is like a .30-06.

This is rifle country for big-game hunting, but there's also a lot of shotgun hunting for small game and birds. Most people I know like the Remington 870 or the Mossberg 500. If they can't afford that, they get one of those single shot NEF shotguns. For a while you could buy the Mossberg with two barrels. A long one with a choke for bird hunting, and a shorter one with sights for using slugs when deer hunting. Downstate you can only use shotguns for hunting, so they are more popular down there. The deer hunters use these scoped rifled barrels and sabot slugs for better accuracy. The shotgun is also what most folks around here use for home protection.

Everyone, and I mean everyone has a .22 rifle. I'd say the popularity contest is between the Ruger 10/22 and the Marlin Model 60. I've got an old Mossberg .22 bolt gun that's a family heirloom of sorts. Until the politicians started with the latest gun control stuff, you could buy bricks of .22 ammo anywhere real cheap. Even Wal-Mart sold 50 round boxes for a little more than a dollar apiece.

NY State just passed an assault weapons law. A few of the younger prepper types who I don't think ever served a day of their life in the military complained how they couldn't own their AR-15s any more. None of us like any gun control laws, but also none of us owned anything that was made illegal by it. A few of us own SKSes and Garands, but those have fixed magazines so they're fine. This county is still well armed so if the Taliban or the North Koreans ever invade they're gonna have a lot of pissed-off citizens taking pot-shots at them with things that shoot bigger bullets than an M-16.

Storing Stuff

A lot of us cache items on our property and in nearby public lands this way in case something happens to our house we have something left. We find all sorts of containers that work pretty well, or make our own out of PVC pipe.

I was at the local pet supply store, and saw this airtight container for pet food. It was on the expensive side, but stuff like this goes on sale when it doesn't sell. You can sometimes then get it for a decent price. I thought it might be good for a small cache if the price went down some. One guy I know has been experimenting with those large cat litter buckets that hold 40 pounds of litter. You can get them for free, and a lot of us use them for storage at home. He's been sealing the lids with different types of tape and seeing how well they stand up to being buried. I'm sure once he figures out what works best he'll tell me, and I'll pass the word along to you.

Keeping In Touch

We all have CB Radios in our cars and houses. I don't get on as much as I used to in the 1970s, but if you're in upstate NY you can always send out a break for The Omega Man on Channel 14 – AM mode. We mostly use the CB for talking during storms when the phone and electricity is out. Our local Sheriff's Office monitors Channel 9 during these times.

My buddies and I have upgraded to SSB CB radios. Most of us like the Cobra 148, and picked them up when there was still a nearby CB shop. Now you have to drive down to the TA in Fultonville to get good CB stuff. I found an old President Grant at a flea market. The guy had already did the mod to give it the extra uppers and lowers, but I stick to the legal CB channels for now.

A couple guys around here have their ham radio license, and got the big stations that talk around the world. I never had any interest in that, but they have emergency power for their radios. If I need to send a message far away, I can talk to them on the CB and they'll relay it, or just go visit them. Every survival group should have one guy or gal who is into radio, and electronics, and all that geeky stuff. We have a few.

A few guys tried to use those FRS handheld radios for hunting, and found out they don't work good in the mountains up here. They mail-ordered a few of those MURS radios, and they worked a lot better.

We all own battery-operated shortwave radios we bought from Radio Shack. Many of us strung up longwire antennas for better reception. I like the Grundig radio with the hand crank. With it, I can listen to AM broadcasts from across the Great Lakes, into New England, and down South, and listen to shortwave broadcasts from around the world. It's great for keeping up with what's going on.

That's all I'm gonna say for now. In the next issue I'll write a little more about how us survivalists up in the Adirondacks do things. If you want to write me, and I'd like to hear from you, you can do so in care of the magazine, either with email or with old-fashioned Post Office mail.

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