Monday, October 28, 2013

Survive Peak Oil North of 49

I hardly ever use my car during the week, because from home to the library (my no-rent office) is only about a half-hour's walk (my no-fee fitness program). But when walking home recently I stopped at the Canadian Tire hardware store for ten minutes of assembling a shopping list. I already have good boots, sleeping bag, parka, knife, compass, backpacks, tarpaulin, rope, etc. (and I usually don't leave home without at least a small knife and matches), so they weren't on the list. I still need a gun -- maybe start with a single-shot .22, though I'm trying to avoid spending money, having had almost no income for three years. But two items I liked at the store were:

* A medium-sized ax with two-and-a-half pound head. Small enough to carry, but big enough to be useful. (That weight is recommended in Ellsworth Jaeger's Wildwood Wisdom, which looks like a book for teenagers but is actually far more than that.) About $30.

* A Rappala all-in-one fishing kit, the whole thing in a plastic package. The rod is take-apart, so it's easy to carry in a car or knapsack. I'd go for a spinning (open) reel, not any other kind. Also looks like kid stuff, but might do better than a stick, a string, and a bent nail. Also about $30.

All of the above, including the fishing kit and the ax, would fit in (or on) my best backpack, from Mountain Equipment Co-op (well over $100 when I bought it many years ago). I might stop at Canadian Tire some other day also. But I must avoid the common myth that a true "survivalist" is the one who has thousands of dollars of high-tech gear but no real knowledge to go with it.

-- After the initial day of Peter's Ten-Minute Survival Window Shopping Program (PTMSWSP), I realized that all the things I have, plus the two things from Canadian Tire, might fit in, on, or under my knapsack, but my knees would buckle after walking two steps. Interesting.

So that leads to the question of the famous bug-out kit everyone talks about. Seems to me that in summer a great deal could be left behind, but then what do you do as winter approaches and you have no winter sleeping bag and so on?

In any case, it also seems that a bug-out kit that takes the form of a box or bag is only of use if you're planning to build a log cabin or something right where you've parked the car. Then why not put up a sign saying "Please Rob Me"? Whereas if you intend to leave the car behind and head off on a less-traveled path, you'll have to rely on a very good backpack and the (relatively) little that it would hold. I know the old story of the Indian woman who escaped from enemies and spent the winter making a shelter, traps, etc. with only a knife, but I personally don't think I'd last more than five minutes in a snowstorm, without a good deal of modern equipment. Well, OK, in a snowstorm I'd start by getting under the snow, not over it -- I've built some nice snow shelters over the years. So maybe I'd survive.

Moral of the story? Instead of focusing so much on a bug-out kit, maybe build a cache, storing what you need in some way that everything would be hidden and protected from human and animal thieves, for years if necessary.

In my near-north days I bought some old crosscut saws, all of them well over four or five feet long, cleaned off the rust as much as possible, and tried sawing. I was defeated to some extent because I couldn't get rid of the pitting. I finally learned that Lehman's (on-line) sells brand-new timber saws, and that they're said to cut much faster than a bow (Swede) saw, at least if they're oiled before use. I meant to order one, but then I ended up in Oman for three years (from which I am still recovering, mentally and otherwise). But I hope one day I can get one of those new crosscut saws.

Somebody mentioned that, instead of thinking so much in terms of backpacks or bug-out kits, using a canoe might be a good idea, because canoes can go where cars cannot, and because they can be paddled, carried, or dragged. I've always liked canoes myself. Good thinking. And I agree that canoes can go where other things can't. In fact there are many rivers or streams where canoes can go but a motorboat wouldn't have room, in terms of either depth or width. Certainly you're not likely to be followed.

One dilemma I have at the moment, though, is that the cheap land is all on the East Coast (more like latitude 45 than 49), and the land there is also good farming land. There are a few catches. One is that it's a fair distance from my present neck of the woods (in Ontario), so not suitable for weekend visits. The other is that the East Coast has terrible poverty (not mentioned on TV), which in turn means a high crime rate. In Nova Scotia, when I was there, it seemed people made a living largely from marijuana-growing and from deer-poaching. (Been following some other people who also moved out there recently.) Most of Ontario is just rock, on the other hand, but hunting and fishing would be possibilities, at least north of Kapuskasing, Cochrane, and Cobalt, which are OK if you like eight months of winter. So there are pros and cons of everywhere.

I've heard that the high prices of property in Canada are due to the high immigration rate, causing competition for whatever is available. So there's a curious bit of tension likely to build up for that reason. In addition, if the Energy East pipeline goes through to New Brunswick, that might create jobs and reduce poverty there, but also increase the price of land. Some big unknowns. Of course, that leads to the bigger question of whether in an Apocalyptic moment it would be worth the bother to be buying or owning land. Maybe the smart ones would be squatting, to use a good UK English word.

Someone questioned my mention of a .22 that's merely single-shot. Such a gun is lightweight, and simple enough not to go wrong. For hunting it's fine -- if you can't hit something with the first shot, you're doing something wrong. But for self-defense, I admit, a single-shot .22 is questionable, especially if the bad guys have something more advanced.

Peter Goodchild

Author of Tumbling Tide: Population, Petroleum, and Systemic Collapse (London, Ontario: Insomniac Press, 2014)

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Boy and His Gun

Although handguns are quite restricted here in Canada, "long guns" are available for anyone who has a firearms license, although getting such a thing involves taking a course and passing a fairly difficult test. I've owned guns at various times here over the years, and lately I've been thinking of buying land again and feeding myself partly by hunting. I suppose if all hell broke lose -- which I suspect will be the case -- then a hunting rifle might end up being used also as an instrument of self-defense.

I went looking at bolt-action deer rifles in Canadian Tire, Canada's biggest hardware-store chain, basically the only gun supplier in this town. I discovered that it's impossible to buy any gun made by Winchester, including .308 (perhaps the most desirable caliber) at least until 2015. Winchester guns are made in Japan, and the earthquake put them about two years behind in production -- one more piece of information about Fukushima.

Bolt action is the most reliable, especially for a future world where gunsmiths will not be found so easily, and the two of the best brands have always been Remington and Winchester. The Remington 700 in .308 is still available here in Canada. With no extras, the price is over $500. The Savage 110 in .270 (not .308) caliber is available in .270 caliber, but that caliber of ammunition is less readily available than .308. Canadian Tire doesn't sell any Rugers.

There's also a Chinese gun in .308 caliber, much cheaper than Remington and Winchester. That's the JW 15 model made by Norinco. A trustworthy military friend of mine (US Army, retired) says the gun is actually a very good one. It's sold at Canadian Tire.

Canadian Tire sells no single-shot .22 rifles, at least at the moment, even though such things have always been popular as "survival guns." (The Winchester Cooey was very popular in Canada, and I owned one myself for many years.) They sell the Savage bolt-action (not single shot) .22 for about $200 or $300.

A 12-gauge shotgun is hard to beat, especially in terms of power. But the ammo is heavy and bulky, and I wouldn't try to hit anything more than 50 meters away. But for self-defense, a 12-gauge shotgun would be a good choice, as any police officer can tell you. For either hunting or self-defense, I wouldn't bother with anything smaller than 12-gauge, it's pointless -- a 12 gauge can do anything a smaller gauge can do, using a variety of ammunition, so any other gauge has no advantages. For the totally uninitiated: shotguns not only fire shells containing shot (each shell has many little balls of lead) but also slugs (shells containing a big hemispherical projectile). Slugs can be useful for deer, moose, or bear, at fairly short distances.

Police officers seem to prefer shotguns, especially pump action (for getting a second or third shot off quickly) with short barrels. I saw police car in Toronto once, with a trunk-load of such things. Don't ask me what they were doing. Times have changed. Toronto used to be the sort of place where you could drop a five-dollar bill on the sidewalk and come back the next day and pick it up.

My military friend recommends a .308 or thereabouts as a self-defense weapon, besides as a deer rifle. There's a good deal of difference between a .308 and a .22, though. A .308 cartridge is about the size of a finger, whereas a .22 cartridge is about the size of the filter of a cigarette. Also, there's the .22 short ammunition (mainly for target practice) and the .22 long rifle (.22 LR), which is suitable for various kinds of small game.

I've heard that a .22 handgun is popular with professional killers, partly because it's so quiet, and partly because one or two in the temple have the effect of rattling around and doing a lot of damage. How much of that is folklore is something I can't say.

I don't own any guns these days, but if I bought land again perhaps my first gun would be the same as the first one I had as a teenager -- a single-shot .22. It's cheap, it's lightweight, and it has almost no parts to go wrong. It would certainly be suitable for hunting rabbits and similar game. Because I don't have a gun right now, though, I worry somewhat about the possibility that prices will get too high, or that laws will suddenly change. Still, I must be sure never to lose my license to own a gun -- at least as long as there are such things as laws. Not too far north of the US border, gardening wouldn't be so easy, and most people who live there rely on hunting to supplement the food supply.

Never mind. At the End of the World as We Know It, maybe we can just sit in the drive-in lane at the nearest hamburger franchise, and hope something comes along. I guess if God had wanted us to use our feet and go on long hikes through the woods, he wouldn't have made us with car seats stuck to our asses.

Peter Goodchild

Author of Tumbling Tide: Population, Petroleum, and Systemic Collapse (London, Ontario: Insomniac Press, 2014)