Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Road Trip, Survival Buckets and The Great Three Year Experiment, part 1

We've all read the survival forums, AR15 fiction apocalypse pieces where the our action hero has the foresight to sally forth and prepositions survival supplies in his five gallon bucket. He studies his escape routes, finds just the right bridge, or cattle pasture, perhaps an abandoned farm and digs himself a hole and seals his treasure into mother earth's bosom.

Several years ago my friends and I did the same. It's important to understand, as we're all formal (and at times current) military, we don't talk - we do. I suppose it's necessary for me to give some background information on my group, without giving out too many details risking security.
Ready, here goes....several years ago I had an idea. I asked men I knew on an informal basis if they'd like to join me, as we all seemed to have the same world view, and form a support group. We had all taken the oath. We loved our country, and each of us lived our lives in a current state of preparedness (due to that military training) it seemed the intelligent course of action. We did. We drafted bylaws, formed a voting counsel of the senior members with military backgrounds, and offered auxiliary memberships to others without military training. It worked. 'Nuff said.

Like I said, we do, we don't talk. Our group trains. We preposition those supplies others dream of, we train with firearms monthly (you do not want these men shooting at you, trust me.) We are currently building our retreat, have been for over a year. Which brings me back to those five gallon buckets. Before we'd chosen our retreat we thought it prudent to stash a few supplies along our escape route just in case we were caught flatfooted. A bucket of items which might just come in handy filled with what each member thought important  to facilitate their efforts to reach safety.

Three years ago we did our planning and executed our plan. Early on a predawn morning our trucks formed a caravan and drove far out into the boonies. We had selected our sight based on several variables, the most important being the ground should be undisturbed for at least ten to twenty years. We dug. Marked our grave on paper and set a GPS, and got the hell out of dodge.

Years passed and we decide it's time to unearth our graveyard. It wasn't needed we decided and last month went out to recover our buckets. We just could not abandoned them since a few held handguns and other important and expensive equipment. Again, here we were before dawn's light, fighting our way through three years of brush growth (some pine trees then were only knee high, when we returned, the trees had grown six feet) stumbling and fighting and cussing in a vain attempt to find the proverbial X that marked the spot. We failed.   
Even with the precautions and pains we had taken to map our exact location, we failed. Our GPS had been taken with a cell phone long since replaced. Our landmarks seemed to have shifted. We gave up and regrouped. Metal detectors were placed on our list. We returned last Saturday. It took about thirty minutes of hard searching but our friend Duke found the grave with his detector....I just about kissed him on the lips, but he's just too damn ugly. Man hugs were freely given.

For those of you out there new to the world of survivalism, take notes. These buckets were placed on high sandy soil. We dug the hole about four foot deep, just deep enough to bury the tops of the buckets about a foot beneath the soil and we placed all six buckets in the same grave. Each was sealed using rubber ringed lids and all items inside had been either vacuum sealed or placed in ziplock bags with as much air removed as possible. Then all items were placed within a heavy trash bag and tied securely. Many of us even went so far as to seal our buckets inside heavy three mil contractor bags, but our test proved this unnecessary, as other buckets came through this test in remarkably good condition.

Now, the evidence. Caution, picture heavy.

Above, our location. Its dense and located on the boundary of a great swamp.

A failed dig. Notice the heavy duty pro-hedge trimmers.The feet of retired Senior Chief Joey and ShooterSteve. Nicknames are used to protect the guilty.

Here's a beauty shot of Senior Chief proving we are ALWAYS ready for action. This next shot is yours truly, taken by Senior. It's as much of me as you'll ever see...

Duke strikes gold above.

The light of day after three years underground.

After the dig. Here we find Senior Chief flipping one of his hand signals...don't know, he's 'hip.'

Above, Rebel takes a break on his bumper...notice the flag, we all fly one on our membership pride.

We left the dig site and drove to a small town for breakfast. Even though the anticipation of discovery was killing us we held off opening our buckets until a long drive to our retreat. The picture above is of my bucket just after opening. So far so good. Next, bag open.

Remarkable. The contents of the bag smelled as fresh as the day it was buried, actually it smelled of pipe tobacco that I had inside. No moisture, so I began to remove items. The following pictures are items as removed in order.

This is an older German made .22 caliber handgun. Nowadays, this pistol is sold under the Heritage brand name. Years ago it was manufactured for Herters. No rust, she was as nice as the day I planted her.

Here is my only damage...mold from the moisture of the leather. Later that evening she cleaned up well using Mink Oil. She's an old Hunter brand holster.

Above, ammunition, two hundred rounds both in the boxes and pill bottle which held one hundred. This is the secret of stashing .22 caliber. Never underestimate the ability and utility of a .22 for survival purposes. As you can see, with smaller calibers you can stock a large amount of protection. Remember, you'll be humping the contents on your back. Think about it.

End of part one. In parts two and (maybe) three we'll continue our exploration of the rest of the buckets and take you to our retreat. Until then.

I hope I'm able on this busy business morning to get around to reading all my friends blogs...hope, hope.



  1. Debrief, don't bury without multiple backup measures to find your stash. GPS is good but may go down. Always have at least 3 hard distance measurments and/or good sight line-ups. Natural markers can be overgrown or removed.

  2. This is why we have you, Duke. To find the impossible. Very good points, so all of you rookies take notes.

  3. Might I recommend survey markers? If you have an engineer or surveyor friend, these benchmarkers or property markers go over a 2 foot section of rebar. You can mark fake bearings or "forest boundry" or "ROW" on it to throw people off. I've never met anyone that had the inclination to dig up one of these markers, no matter how odd the location. "Traverse point" caps will work well. Even if you put your stash 10 feet to the west of the pin.

  4. So very cool. I'd love to know just what you put in there. Did you do anything special to the handgun? I think I'll have my hubs check out your blog now...except he'll see your new safe in your previous post and start getting ideas that we need a new one - stocked like yours, of course. Little does he know I'd probably agree. Wish we had buddies that dependable and like-minded. We are currently looking for some land in the boonies. But we're going it alone - except for the idea that my folks may move with us when they are older. Great post!

  5. MudBug, any physical markers would give away your 'hidden' stash of goodies. Duke and Rebel, are engineers. Not fake ones, real engineers. The physical geography changed and we made one or two mistakes in our physical landmarks. We knew where we'd dug our hole just had a hard damn time finding it again. Thanks.

    Mermaid, thank you for the kind comments. I did lubricate the revolver well before sealing it, otherwise nothing special. It's a cheap but effective weapon. I would not have cried if it had been lost. My safe is indeed stocked well. My only problem is I could stock another like it tomorrow; dadgum safes are expensive and I don't use credit. Takes time to save that kind of cash. Thanks, again. Nice to have you on board, and tell your husband I'd like to me him, just reach up and touch the 'follower' button.

  6. Safes are expensive. We got our nice one at Sam's years ago. We've since seen them at both Costco and Sam's online for a good price. They seem quality.

  7. Mermaid, I forgot to answer one of your other will find out what was in the bucket in a later post, or part 2.
    Yes, safes are expensive. The placement of the safes are difficult too. They take a great deal of space. Quality is relative, not all are made to the best standards; like bolts in the door. Are there one or two bolts on the top of the door, and check the fire rating, which to me isn't all that important, but the higher the rating the better the safe. I also do not care for electronic locks, they fail. I want an old fashioned combination lock. Period. And, remember, delivery charges are awful. I cut a deal at the store (a metrosexual sporting goods emporium) with the manager for an under the table (underground economy) delivery cash deal. The store wanted $259.00 to truck it to my home and place it inside, with an extra $50.00 to bolt it to my floor and wall. I cut a deal with the manager for him and a friend to deliver it for $100.00. Details make the difference.

  8. As Mudbug pointed out survey markers could be used provided they disguised or hidden however they could be "lost" as well. The point of the bury was test how it would hold up as well as provide tactical support if needed. The location turned out to be a challenge however. If this route is taken exact distances to trees with blaze marks cut in them, fence corners, edge of pavement, building corners, grave stones etc would be best. Also bearings to radio, forestry or water towers is an added bonus. Another idea, bury a large chunk of scrap iron over your stash this will enable it to be found easy with a metal detector and if someone happened to stumble across it with a metal detector they may stop digging if they dug up the scrap iron however I would only do this if the stash actually contained metal. Another idea if the stash was burried next to a old rusty car body or farm implement it would throw off treasure hunters with metal detectors. Nothing is "fool proof" of course it goes without saying make SURE no one sees you plant you garden.

  9. Duke, very good points and I shall add your comments in part 2. To everyone else, Duke is a member of our group, an engineer, and you should now understand why we have him...that and he's just so damn intelligent, even if he did think of these great ideas post dig...

  10. Nice post Stephen. Very informational and entertaining.

  11. PioneerPreppy, thank you kind sir.

  12. Very interesting and informative. Can't wait for your next post. Hope everything survived the burial dig! And the weather was good. Sounds like good trip all around!

  13. TeresaK, thank 2 and 3 are posted.