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Scott Huntington

How to Take Your Dog Hunting

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Dogs are the ideal hunting partner. But you don’t want to bring home a new puppy and immediately expect them to be the perfect hunting dog. They say that proper preparation prevents poor performance, and that goes double for dogs and hunting.

What do you need to know before you take your dog hunting for the first time to keep both you and your furry family member safe?

Don’t Skip Your Training

While some people will swear by a specific breed for hunting, the truth is that nearly any breed can be taught to hunt, retrieve or simply be a companion during those long days. What you don’t want to do when you’re choosing a hunting partner is to skip your training.

Start with basic obedience. Once they’ve mastered those skills, start adding in hunting-specific things that you want them to learn, from flushing to retrieving and everything in between.

Eventually, you’ll want to be able to trust your dog to sit by your side, retrieve your kills or flush birds from the underbrush without the need for a leash or cord, knowing that they’ll do their assigned task and then return to your side.

Bring Plenty of Dog Supplies

If you’re heading out for a weekend hunt, you’ve probably already stocked your truck with food and water for the duration for yourself. Make sure you’ve got plenty of supplies for your hunting partner as well, including food, water, treats and other dog supplies. If you’re going to be hunting during the warm summer months, make sure you bring extra water to prevent heatstroke. Bring more than you think you’ll need.

Get your dog a well-fitted harness and they can often carry their own supplies. Just ensure that their pack doesn’t weigh more than one-third their body weight.

Get Them Used to the Hunt

Even if they’ve passed their hunter training classes, it will still take some time to get them used to the hunt — including getting them used to the sound of gunfire. Don’t start by shooting a gun around your young hunting dog. That will likely just end up making them gun-shy, which makes it more challenging to turn them into successful hunting dogs.

Start by carrying an unloaded gun around with you on walks so they can get used to the idea of the gun as a part of their world. Then, as they start flushing birds or chasing game, you can add gunshots to get them used to the sound.

Safety First!

Safety should be your first priority with your dogs when you take them hunting, regardless of their responsibilities on the trip. Make sure your dog has a well-fitted and brightly colored vest to alert other hunters that they are not prey. It doesn’t need to be fancy. It just needs to be bright and fit well enough that it won’t fall off in the brush.

You may also want to take a trip to the vet before you head out into the woods to ensure your pup is up-to-date on all of their vaccines so they don’t come back from your excursion with Lyme disease or rabies.

Enjoy Yourself

Training a dog to be your hunting partner is a lifelong exercise, and one that might be frustrating at times. Be patient with your furry friend as they learn these skills that will help both of you throughout your lives.

10 Dishes to Make Using Food From Your Garden

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Home-grown food just tastes better. It’s not hard to see why, either. The lack of processing, chemical treatment and, in some cases, genetic modification results in rich, authentic flavors that some people have never even experienced because we’ve become so accustomed to getting food at the market.

If you’ve put the time and effort into growing your own food in a garden, it only makes sense to find recipes that take advantage of the wonderful fresh ingredients you have. We’ve gathered 10 recipes to showcase popular garden vegetables and help put your best garden fruits and veggies front-and-center.

Roasted Carrots

Home-grown carrots remind us how sweet and flavorful these simple root vegetables can really be. Plus, you get to indulge in a variety of different colors depending on what you planted. Carrots are easy to prepare in the oven. This recipe uses the timeless combination of butter, salt and pepper. The whole thing takes about 30 minutes if you peel the carrots. It’s an easy dish that showcases fresh veggies and doesn’t overcomplicate things.

Greek Orzo Salad

Supermarket tomatoes have been phoning it in compared to their home-grown cousins for decades now. Add in the flavor of fresh basil and olives combined with lemon, orzo and feta, and you’ve got an island-inspired dish that’s packed with savory goodness. Best of all, it’s easy to make. The dressing will need at least two hours to chill, but the rest of the cold ingredients can be broken down and mixed together in about 20 minutes.

Zucchini Pesto With Crudites

Have some fresh zucchini, tomatoes and peppers that you want to showcase? Here’s a creative take on classic pesto that delivers the vibrant green color we all know and love, but adds a twist when it comes to flavor.

Fresh tomato, pepper, slivered almonds and a host of aromatics are added to the squash to create a rich, vibrant pesto variation that is equal parts new, classic and fun. Of course, good pesto deserves bread and cheese, and those two items are precisely what this is paired with. Chianti, anyone?

Trail Pizza

Here’s a great recipe that can be a vehicle for any number of homegrown goodies. This pizza recipe is intended to be made on the trail, but it’s equally delicious if you just make it in your own backyard.

Kneading and stretching the dough adds a little activity to the meal in case you’ve got some young trail companions who need to keep busy. Top with your freshly picked garden veggies and cook over a hot plate until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden brown. It’s better than any frozen pie!

Strawberry Kale Salad

This super-fresh and flavorful salad really shines when made with homegrown strawberries and kale.

Complement the main attractions here by adding feta cheese, fresh mint, toasted almonds and bacon. The dressing is simple but adds to the zesty flavor by combining honey, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. This is a great side to a summer barbeque, so throw it together in just a few minutes to bring to a block party or serve it as a side next to a grilled steak, chicken or fish dish.

Goat Cheese Crostini With Watermelon-Beet Salsa

If you have watermelons, beets or both, here’s a fun summery appetizer that you can bring to your next gathering to celebrate the season. The combination of savory and sweet works along with the refreshing kick from the watermelon to make these fun and interesting and the colors look really nice together.

Place atop a slice of toasted baguette topped with goat cheese and garnish with chopped red onion. Extra points if you make the goat cheese yourself!

Easy Stuffed Poblano Peppers

If you grow peppers, you know how versatile they are to cook with. Homegrown poblanos serve as the base for this simple but hearty dish that combines nutritious members of four different food groups. The peppers are stuffed with rice, beans and a ground beef and turkey mixture that won’t leave you hungry, but is also healthy and delicious. Top it off with melted Mexican cheese and perhaps a little sour cream.

Honey-Lemon Spritz

This is more of a sip than a dish. But if you’ve got a lemon tree and perhaps some verbena, you’re well on your way to making this fun summer cocktail. The honey and verbena are boiled to create a simple syrup, to which you then add fresh-squeezed lemon juice and vodka.

If you’ve never enjoyed a cocktail with fresh lemon juice before, you’ll soon see that these trees are nature’s bar cart. This is a crafty but simple cocktail that’ll hit the spot on a warm summer day.

Balsamic Blackberry Ice Cream

What’s better after a cocktail than a little dessert? Fresh blackberries are good enough by themselves, let alone on top of some vanilla ice cream, but this recipe kicks it up a notch. By heating balsamic vinegar to make a blackberry reduction, you create a tart and tangy topping that moves this out of “ice cream with berries on top” and into the realm of restaurant-quality dessert. There’s an option to add honey to the mix as well, which we recommend.

Peachy Keen Crumbler

A ripe peach is one of the high points of the summer season, and peach dessert is made infinitely better when you use fruit that was grown fresh in your own garden. The dough for this recipe is made using flour, sugar, oats, wheat germ, butter and salt. You can put the whole thing together then top with sliced peaches and bake in the oven for about forty minutes for a delicious home-made dessert. And, of course, it goes well with ice cream, just like the previous dish.

You’re Ready to Get Cooking!

Fresh ingredients are always best, and showing off what you’ve grown by putting it into a dish for friends and family is always a good feeling. Try these dishes out with what you’ve grown at home, and share your suggestions for how to combine garden-grown ingredients with our readers in the comments below!

How to Sell Scrap Metal

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Preppers use just about everything they can and never let anything go to waste. But there’s only so much you can do, and sometimes it best use is to trade it for cash.

You may have collected aluminum cans to turn in for money as a youth, or maybe you’ve gathered all of your coinage for processing at a bank or coin-sorting machine in exchange for spending money. If your home construction projects produce leftover metal, you can use the same approach to recoup some of your costs. Building material is valuable, and people will pay for it!

People often let their scrap metal go to waste, which is both a storage issue and an eyesore. Instead, learn how to put it back on the market, and you’ll no longer have to worry about stashing it. Plus, you’ll be that much richer!

Know Your Metal

Unlike your can-collecting experience, not all scrap metal is of the same value. To determine whether it’s worth your effort, consult a guide to the value of scrap metal to see if your project has generated enough loose material to warrant loading it up and taking it to a scrapyard. Prices might vary a small amount between yards.

Plan to Move Your Scrap

Transporting a massive load of scrap will require the right vehicle. A pickup truck is usually the best choice because it can be unloaded via a crane or forklift once you arrive at the yard. For the biggest loads, it might be a good idea to use a trailer. If you don’t own one, a cost-effective rental can make a fantastic investment.

You can also use a smaller vehicle. However, you’re less likely to receive help when you get to the yard. Also, smaller cars can be overwhelmed if you load them with too much heavy material.

Find Your Local Scrapyard

Get online and locate the nearest yard that takes the metal you’ve got to sell. Depending on how close you are to an urban setting, you may need to travel a small way to drop off your metal. Once you arrive, check into the yard’s database and weigh your vehicle coming in. The process is similar to visiting the dump — and you’ll actually get paid for it!

Once your vehicle and information are in the system, move on to the unloading. If you’re selling a ferrous (iron-derived) material and have the recommended pickup truck or trailer, you might get to watch the yard put a giant mag crane — a crane with a huge electromagnet at one end — into action. Just be careful — they can lift your entire vehicle if the magnet gets too close.

Get Paid!

After making the drop, you’ll roll your vehicle back through the scale and receive payment, either as cash or a voucher from the scrap yard. In many places, it’s not legal for the yard to pay you directly, but you may find a conveniently located ATM that accepts the vouchers the yard gives out.

You’re all set. Now you can re-invest the hard-earned dollars that went into your project — rather than stare at a pile of rusty metal for the next several years. Definitely a good call.

How to Make Your Own Survival Gear

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Whether you’re an expert mountaineer, an experienced veteran or an amateur enthusiast, creating your own survival gear is a great way to enrich your outdoor experience and advance skillset.

The thought of exploring DIY gear options may seem intimidating to some. However, while making your own equipment may seem like a challenge, a bit of advice can help you navigate this foreign territory with ease.


Why Making Your Own Survival Gear Matters


Whether you’re planning a weekend excursion at a local camping site or prepping for a physically-intensive trip through the mountains, you should always prepare. When voyaging, you’re likely to carry a limited supply or key necessities with you. It’s vital to know how to make the most out of the supplies that find their way into your backpack.

For others, DIY survival gear is a cost-effective alternative to products you’ll find at your local camping supply stores. Recycling products is eco-conscious and ensures you get as much use as possible out of your current supplies without requiring a last-second shopping trip.

The skills and know-how required to make your own survival gear on the go can mean the difference between a comfortable and a potentially hazardous trip. Research studies show many people in today’s society lack basic survival skills, primarily due to our increasing reliance on technology. Creating your own gear can be the first step in channeling your inner survivalist.

If you decide to trek through the woods or across the Appalachian Mountains, you’re unlikely to run into a hardware store along the way. However, you can take your skills and knowledge with you wherever you go — granting you the assurance you need to ensure your outdoor adventures will always be fun, effective and safe.


How to Create Your Own Survival Gear


When it comes to creating your own gear, you’ll need to go beyond the basics. Delving into a DIY project requires a few pointers that will help guide you to successfully complete your survival gear projects.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind before you start:


1. Define Your Survival Gears Purpose

Survival equipment is a pretty broad category. What may be deemed necessary for survival during one trip may not be handy for another. Plus, everyone possesses a varied and unique set of skills.

If you’re a master at starting a fire with bare necessities, it may not be helpful to create survival gear with the sole purpose of creating flames. If you know you won’t have access to clean water sources during your trip, though, a DIY water-purifying device will help you survive.

Before you get to work on a project, remember to tailor your gear to your needs. Key points to keep in mind when creating survival gear include:


  • Your weaknesses: What do you struggle to obtain during your explorations that are required for safety? Some have difficulty starting fires. Others find it challenging to build shelter. Think about your weaknesses and create your gear accordingly.

  • Number of people in your party: Will you be journeying alone, or will you have a large team with you? It’s important to consider the number of people involved, as this will influence the amount of gear and supplies required during your journey. You’ll only need one fire starter regardless of how many people you take with you, for instance. On the flip-side, more shelter options are required for larger groups.

  • Your intended excursions: Where will your journey take place? If you have a tendency to hike cold and snowy mountains, create gear that stimulates warmth. In areas with high mosquito populations, nets are a necessity. Evaluate the conditions that define where you’ll go and create gear that will help you thrive.


2. Don’t Rush the Process

You have to learn to walk before you can run, as the old expression goes. The same mentality applies when creating survival gear.

Countless others just like you research the Internet daily for DIY survival gear projects. This means that, over time, nature enthusiasts have curated an extensive list of camping gear projects that range in difficulty. You’ll have no trouble finding projects for amateurs that serve as the perfect starting spot for your DIY experience.

Start small until you gradually work your way up. Begin by making simpler items until you perfect your skills and move onto more challenging projects. A great idea for beginners is a DIY compass made with a cork, sewing needle and magnet.

After you complete a few beginner-friendly survival gear projects, you’ll find it easier to move into making fire-starters, stoves and more complex accessories.


3. Be Thorough With Your Work


When it comes to creating survival gear, it’s best not to just wing it. While the process of creating your own equipment is enriching and fun, it’s not the same as splattering a bunch of paint on a canvas and calling it a day.

Whenever you’re beginning a new project, carefully outline what tools you’ll need, measurements and other key details. Be prepared and always have a slight excess of what’s required to begin your project. For example, experts advise that you buy 25% more yardage than you anticipate needing. It’s better to have too much of a material, rather than too little, when you’re crafting your survival gear.


4. Think Outside the Box


You may find that the survival gear currently available on the market comes up short in one way or another. Perhaps you have a favorite tent that would benefit from better ventilation or air-holes. Perhaps you think a light-weight fire-starter would be more advantageous for your travels.

Get creative and think outside of the box when crafting your gear. The greatest perk of being your own designer is that you can alter, adjust and personalize as you see fit. Expanding your creativity can enhance your survival skills — so it’s a win-win all around!


6. Use Available Resources


Nobody is born with the ability to make their own clothes or capture their food. While these skills are feasible, they require the use of practice, knowledge and valuable resources.

Don’t forget that people make up one of the greatest available resources when it comes to creating survival gear. Ask for help when you need it and don’t be afraid to ask other campers, outdoor enthusiasts and nature-lovers how they create their gear.

You’re bound to run into problems or confront challenges along the way. If you ask a knowledgeable friend for advice, you’ll not only expand your skillset, but you’ll find it easier to create useful and effective gear.


What Survival Gear Should You Make?


When you think of survival, what comes to mind? For many, it’s access to potable water, food and shelter. Your survival supplies should consist of a plethora of different necessities that range in purpose from lighting to medical support.

If you’re not quite sure where to start, here’s a list of potential DIY projects that will become a must-have for your survival gear collection:


  • Fire starters: Every adventurer should have access to fire, whether to cook their food or stay warm. You can craft fire starters from empty toilet paper rolls, sticks, wax and many other easy-to-find products.
  • Camping stoves: Whether your outdoor trip will only last the day or will span an entire week, you’ll need access to food. DIY, portable camping stoves can cook your meat and any food you catch during your outdoor excursion. Camping stoves are easy to make out of spare materials such as soda cans or wood.
  • Medical kits: When you’re venturing outdoors and into foreign terrains, you should always come equipped with the necessary medical supplies to stay safe. Consider making a DIY emergency kit to bring with you during your next voyage.
  • Shelter: When you’re outside, it’s not likely you’ll encounter a super cozy area that’s readily-available to rest. DIY survival gear for shelter can consist of hangers and support for setting up, the tents themselves and any makeshift blankets or pillows to aid you in your sleep.
  • Lighting: Electricity is a luxury you won’t find in the wild. Consider a DIY lamp or candle you can use at night to navigate through darker areas. Whether you convert a peeled fruit into a candle holder or add rechargeable solar lights to a mason jar, a simple DIY light will be a staple accessory when enhancing your adventures.
  • Hoop Snare Trap: If you’re out in the woods and need to survive, you might not have much to work with. As long as you have some twigs and rope, you can easily make a DIY hoop snare trap. You can make these with smaller or larger branches, depending on what kind of animal you’re hunting. The last thing you’ll need is a little bit of bait and you’ll be all set.
  • Spring Fishing Pole: Speaking of rope and branches, why not fish while you’re at it? The best part of this easy-to-make pole is that you can go work on other tasks while it’s out there, and then come back when it’s time to check your catch.
  • Survival Knife: Chances are you already have a knife, but you can still make one in a pinch. Find a somewhat sharp piece of metal and then file it down to be as sharp as possible. Then simple wrap a handle in rope or something else that’s easy to hold onto.
  • Bow and Arrow: At this point you’re starting to realize just how essential a little bit of rope can be to your survival. Grab yourself some of it and a long flexible tree branch and you can easily have yourself a DIY bow and arrow in just a few minutes. PVC pie works even better if you have it.

Getting Started


There’s a lot of camping gear available on the market. Yet there’s an even greater array of projects that let you create your favorite survival accessories yourself. Why buy gear when you can fashion a product designed to meet your specific needs?

Whether you want to cut costs, customize your gear or get in touch with your inner survivalist, you’ll find crafting your own gear is a fun and creative way to prepare you for your next outdoor trip. What are you waiting for?

Before you embark on your next adventure, what DIY project will you begin?

How to Pick a Hunting Crossbow

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Hunting season is fast approaching, and it’s time to choose your weapon. If you’d rather get away from firearms but don’t have the strength or the skill to hunt with a compound bow, there’s a middle ground you can enjoy in the form of a crossbow. Here are some tips and tricks to help you choose a hunting crossbow that will serve you well for seasons to come.

Benefits of Crossbows vs. Longbows

If you’re thinking about bow-hunting, a longbow might be the first thing that comes to mind. The problem with longbows is that they require a high level of skill to hit your target every time. You have to be able to maintain perfect shooting form when you draw the bow, regardless of how tired or sore you are after a day of tracking game or hiding in a tree blind.

A crossbow, on the other hand, is simpler to use, even for beginners. If you can handle a .22 rifle, you can handle a crossbow.

Crossbows are also deadlier than longbows, at least when you’re looking at the speed the bolts or arrow can travel. A compound bow can shoot a 364-grain arrow at 289 feet per second. A crossbow, on the other hand, can fire a 400-grain bolt at 385 feet per second, with many topping 400 feet per second.

Choose the Highest Draw Weight You Can Manage

The higher the draw weight of a hunting crossbow, the faster and more accurately you can fire a bolt. Make sure you check your state regulations when it comes to crossbow hunting to determine the maximum draw weight you’re allowed to use. Depending on the state, you can expect to find crossbows that range from 75-125 pounds, while most hunting crossbows tend to top 150-175 pounds. You may find some with more than 200 pounds.

Try out different draw weights and choose the highest you can manage safely. The higher the draw weight, the faster your bolts will fly and the easier your crossbow will be to use.

Recurve or Compound Crossbows?

When you’re choosing a hunting crossbow, you’ve got two options — recurve or compound. Recurve crossbows are more traditional and don’t have any pulleys. They’re easier to maintain, but they’re harder to cock and louder when you fire them. The chances are high that if you miss your aim on the first shot, the sound of your recurve crossbow will scare away your game.

Compound crossbows are faster to load, quieter to fire and are easier to draw at a higher draw weight. Compound and recurve crossbows may have similar draw weight, but compounds will usually be smaller, lighter and easier to manage. The downside of a compound is that if something breaks or fails, you’ll need to take it to a specialist for repairs.

Choose the Best Bow in Your Budget

Ideally, you’ll want to choose the best bow that you can afford. You can get a decent hunting bow for $300-$1,000, or as a kit with arrows, a cocking device and a quiver for $1,500. Remember, as with most things, you get what you pay for. If you’re going to use this crossbow regularly for hunting or practice, invest in something that will serve you well for seasons to come.

Practice, Practice, Practice

The best thing that you can do when choosing a hunting crossbow is to practice with it, both before you take it out into the field and while you’re out hunting. A crossbow will tend to be more accurate than a longbow and require less practice, making it perfect for beginners.

How to Stock Your Survival Bunker

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The end of the world has been a concern since the beginning of time. Whether it’s a natural disaster, a disease outbreak or a different type of apocalyptic event, your survival bunker can keep you safe in most SHTF scenarios. Of course, once you finish building your bunker, you’ll need to stock it with things to keep you and your loved ones safe.

So how can you differentiate between necessities and luxuries? Make sure you stock your survival bunker the right way by reading about these survival essentials. After you have your bunker stocked, you can think about adding a few more items for your own personal enjoyment.

1. Save Tons of Water

Everyone knows that hydration is key to healthy living. But that’s easy to forget about when you live with constant access to water. There’s no urgent need to drink it when it’s available because it’s always there.

When you’re living in your survival bunker, your water supply will quickly diminish. Unless you’ve managed to hook up your bunker to some kind of underground well or natural water source, it could disappear quickly.

The first thing you should do is stock up on water. Water bottles, pitchers and even filtration systems are high-priority items when stocking your bunker.

2. Store Nutritional Food

The next thing you should think about is food. You’ll obviously have to eat when you’re waiting out the storm, and you may not know when you’ll be able to leave the bunker to scavenge. That’s why you should read a survival food list and get non-perishable foods that cover every part of the food pyramid.

Some examples of these foods are:

  • Beans (dried or canned)
  • Grains
  • Flour
  • Canned fruits and vegetables
  • Canned or dried meat
  • Powdered milk

It may be challenging to find your favorite foods on that list, but you should think simple, like stocking up on beef jerky. It comes in a variety of flavors and lasts a long time in its packaging, no refrigeration necessary.

Don’t forget to designate a place in your bunker to prepare the food. Even if you just need a surface to open a can of beans on, it’ll help you decide where your kitchen will be.

3. Prepare a First Aid Kit

You never know what could happen when you’re adjusting to your new lifestyle, so it’s a good idea to prepare a first aid kit. A basic kit will contain things like bandages, antibiotic cream, gauze and gauze tape.

You’ll also want to have medicine on hand. Over the counter medicine like acetaminophen, ibuprofen and allergy medicine are all smart to include. Just be sure to stay aware of their expiration date and replace them as needed every few years.

4. Consider the Temperature

Spending time underground will make you safer, but it will also make you colder. The ground has a tendency to trap the colder temperatures at night, holding onto them even through hot days. The deeper your bunker is, the colder you’ll be.

Consider this important detail when you stock your bunker. Store jackets, socks, blankets and even winter supplies like gloves and hats so you’re comfortable when you’re down there.

5. Fill Up Your Toolkit

What happens if your portable stove breaks or a handheld lantern falls apart? You’ll need a basic toolkit to handle situations like that, along with extra batteries. Keep both of these somewhere safe in your bunker. You may not use your toolkit during a natural disaster, but you’ll be glad you prepped it when you need to reassemble something that aids in your survival.

6. Designate a Document Bag

When you’re listing out items you’ll need to survive, your personal documents may not seem relevant. However, if the disaster destroys or damages your home, you would need the relevant paperwork to rebuild.

Keep important documents in an emergency document bag so you can grab it and go if you ever need to evacuate. The emergency document bag includes these items.

  • Photo IDs
  • Birth certificates
  • Insurance forms
  • Passports
  • Wills and titles

It’s always smart to have these with you to manage an unexpected situation. Sealing them in a waterproof bag or fireproof safe will keep them secure until you need them.

7. Create a Bedroom

Most bunkers end up being a safe place with one room, but you’ll still end up needing many of the same supplies you use every day. Create a makeshift bedroom by saving things like a bedspread, pillows and extra sheets and blankets. Double what you save if you’ll be in the bunker with a family member or friend.

8. Install a Bathroom

Every bunker has a space where you can go to the bathroom, like a two in one combined shower and toilet. Along with installing a compost toilet, you’ll need sanitary supplies like toilet paper, hand soap and shower supplies. You should also have a way to clean your bathroom area that isn’t so pungent that you need to air it out.

9. Arrange a Defense room

If you’re prepping your bunker for the end of the world, you’ll need a defense room. It’ll help you to hunt your own food after you get back above ground. There’s also the need for self-defense in case the people you came across outside your bunker were desperate or crazed.

To that end, think about what your abilities and skill sets are to determine which methods of defense are right for you. You may already have weapons in your home you could store in your bunker.

Just like it’d be unwise to enter your bunker without a means of self-defense, it would also be unwise to enter without any means of cleaning your guns. Remember to store things like a gun cleaning kit, depending on which weapons you’d bring along.

Think About Your Routine

If you feel like you’re still missing something, think about your routine. What do you use every day and how could you stock it in your bunker? Essentials like food, water and extra blankets are just a few of the things you’ll be grateful for if you ever need to go down there. Once you’ve stocked the important stuff, you can throw in fun things like board games and other inessential items to pass the time.

How to Catch More Fish This Summer

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It’s summertime, and that means it’s time to head out into the wilderness with your fishing gear and catch as many fish as possible. Hot weather can make it challenging to reel in anything bigger than the palm of your hand. If you’re on a dry streak and haven’t been catching much lately, here’s what you can do to increase your haul.

Look for Cover

Fish are cold-blooded, so during the warm summer months, they tend to be lethargic and don’t seek bait like they do in colder weather. Shallow water will get uncomfortably warm, even for cold-blooded creatures, so those that continue to live in the shallows will look for shade and cover where the water is cooler.

They won’t come out of their shady spots easily, but if you can cast your line into these places, you’ve got a better chance of catching a big shallow-water fish. They’ll also retreat to these grass beds at night, so if you’re spending some time on the water once the sun goes down, fishing in vegetation is your best option.

Fish Deep in Hot Weather

Swimming in warm water might be nice for humans, but it can get uncomfortable for fish — especially big ones. Even if your preferred catch normally lives in shallow water, start fishing deeper once the temperature starts climbing. You might have better luck casting a weighted line in deep water, where the temperatures are lower and the fish are more comfortable.

Explore Vegetation Patches

In natural water features, vegetation acts as a home for fish. Once they’ve fed, they’ll return to water-rooted plants for the cover they provide. It also increases localized oxygen levels, making the area a comfortable home for the fish. Fishing in vegetation is a tricky skill to learn, but once you master it, it can be a fantastic way to follow the fish when the water temperature is climbing and they’re not inclined to bite.

Watch the Weather

You’ll want to pay close attention to the weather if you’re going out fishing, but not just so you don’t get caught in the rain. Storms change the ambient barometric pressure of the area, and fish are very sensitive to these changes. They often feed more right before a storm hits, making it the perfect time to get out on the water. This is especially true if you live in an area that’s prone to frequent afternoon thunderstorms.

Take a Boat

You can catch plenty of fish by the shore, but sometimes the ones you really want are going to be in deeper water. There are plenty of ways to get to the good spots. You could take a simple kayak and paddle, which is fine if you’re catching fish in the 12 to 24 inch range. Anything bigger and you’re going to need a bigger boat. Of course, you could always go extreme and get a yacht with a 1600hp engine, but then you might end up just cursing around and not actually fishing. Not that that’s always a bad thing!

Stay Hydrated and Have Fun

This last tip might not help you catch more fish, but it’s important if you’re going to be out on the water during the hot summer months. Make sure you’re drinking plenty of water and staying hydrated. No one wants to get dehydrated while they’re trying to catch a few fish for dinner.

Other than that, all you need to do is be patient, pick the right locations to cast your line and have fun. The fish will bite eventually — you just might have to follow them around a bit before they do.

How to Clear a Section of Woods for Farming

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Farming on property you own can be a great decision because it’s sustainable and profitable, but it’s also a very involved project. Before you can begin, you need a plot of land to use — and that can mean clearing brush, trees and other items.

There are several ways to clear an area for farming and remove the vegetation there to allow you to plant new crops. The method you choose will be decided by how dense the current vegetation is, how much time you have and how much money you want to spend. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular methods, along with their pros and cons.

Cheap and Dirty

If the plot of land you’re trying to clear is not particularly large, you have access to cheap labor and there’s no rush involved, there’s no need to use heavy equipment. The chainsaw will be your weapon of choice, and you might be surprised at how quickly a few workers can knock down a small thicket. The more time-consuming tasks will be stacking and disposing of green waste and leveling the ground once the cutting is done.

For a DIY stump removal solution, use a brush grubber attached to your pickup truck.

Tractors Necessary

When trees exceed 5 inches in diameter, it might be time to bring out the big guns. In this scenario, you’ll still be able to fell trees using a chainsaw. However, if a bulldozer is available, it might do a better job of clearing out mature trees quickly. The leftover stumps won’t all be removable using a brush grubber, and a stump grinder will likely be necessary. Grinders can be rented for jobs such as this, and will make it easy to clear stumps from your new homesteading plot.

Bring in the Professionals

If you’ve got the money, teams of landscapers can be assigned to clear a plot for you in a very short time. They will bring a combination of heavy equipment, chainsaws and other hand tools. Because the service is being carried out professionally, you can expect to have a well-manicured flat plot of land available to you at the end of the project. Your wallet will be flatter too, so think carefully about how badly you need to employ this type of service.

Disposing of Green Waste

You must treat green waste responsibly when clearing land for a new homestead. While burning is a popular option and arguably the simplest way to eliminate things, it requires a permit in most areas and can damage your air quality. Consult your local authorities to learn how you can get a permit before you choose to burn your cleared green waste.

Many landfills have dedicated areas for green waste, and if you can gather all your removed brush in a trailer, you’ll have the option to dump it. Some facilities charge for this, so call ahead and learn what to expect before you get hosed on a dumping fee. Ultimately the waste has to go somewhere for you to begin farming the land, so it’s a necessary evil if burning or processing the wood isn’t an option.

You’re Cleared for Farming

Have you got some advice to share after a recent homesteading project? Are there methods we neglected to touch on here? If so, drop us a line in the comments below. Remember to always work safe and use the proper protective equipment when handling chainsaws, tractors and other items involved in the clearing process. Before you know it, your land will be ready for anything.

What to Do With Food That’s About to Expire

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Food is essential for our survival, providing us with the nutritional support necessary to sustain life.

Despite its clear importance, food tends to be neglected and treated with a blithe disregard for preservation from consumers who merely view it as an expendable resource.

While it can be challenging to eat all the food we purchase before the expiration date arrives, it’s on us to exercise proper storage care, responsible shopping practices and sensible food conservation. When prepped and stored correctly, the freshness of food can be maintained long past its shelf life. In fact, even without an attentive understanding of acceptable storage, expired foods may remain perfectly fine past their listed dates.

If certain foods are reasonable past their expiration dates, then what do these labels mean?

What Is an Expiration Date?

An expiration date denotes the final day that food should be eaten or used for guaranteed freshness, so consumers ingesting it should proceed at their own risk.

However, that doesn’t always mean that food has gone rotten by a particular date, given that various labels are more of a reflection on food quality than food safety. Some foods might be safe to consume nearly 18 months after their expiration date.

Even though expiration dates provide a solid indicator for when food should likely be thrown out, there’s typically a window of time after those dates until food goes bad and becomes unusable. By relying on your senses of sight and smell, you should tell if food has truly reached the point of needing tossed.

When stored correctly, the quality of certain foods can extend longer.

How to Preserve Food Through Proper Storage

As reported in a global initiative on food loss and waste reduction, roughly one-third of the food produced for human consumption in the world — nearly 2.9 trillion pounds — is lost or wasted every year.

However, Paul VanLandingham, EdD, a senior faculty member at the Center for Food and Beverage Management of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rhode Island, claims that air-tight packaging can “double shelf life” for products, allowing food to be as “good as the day it was packaged.”

Packaging that can keep out light, oxygen and pests works best for food preservation. For example, unless compromised, canned food can retain its nutrients and safety for decades, allowing for safe consumption up to four years past its expiration date.

Mylar bags also serve as an ideal solution for storing various foods, with the longest lasting foods having low moisture and fat levels. Dried foods — such as beans and grains — last 20 to 30 years when correctly stored.

Proper storage could be particularly valuable in the event of an emergency, where having access to sustainable food may ultimately save your life.

Poorly stored food that goes past its expiration date, but still isn’t rotten, hosts a number of ways to utilize in an effort to minimize waste.

Edible Uses for Expired Food

  1. Bake with expired milk: If your carton of milk is starting to sour, it can be used for baking as a substitute for buttermilk in baked goods.
  2. Make bread crumbs or croutons from stale bread: Stale bread can be pulsed in your blender or food processor for homemade bread crumbs. It can also be sliced into cubes, sprinkled with seasonings and baked to produce croutons.
  3. Store wilted herbs and veggies for stock: Save wilted herbs and veggies by storing them in your freezer to make homemade vegetable broth later on.
  4. Toast stale snacks in the oven: Whether its cereal, crackers, chips or popcorn, snacks can be toasted in the oven on a baking sheet for a few minutes to freshen them up.

Additional Uses for Expired Food

  1. Exfoliate your skin with coffee ground or Greek yogurt: The lactic acid in Greek yogurt helps exfoliate dead skin cells. Two tablespoons of Greek yogurt with one tablespoon of honey creates a moisturizing cream you can apply as a face mask. Similarly, you can add coffee grounds to body or facial scrubs to nourish and tone your skin.
  2. Moisturize your hair with overly-ripe avocados: Apply smashed up avocados to wet or dry hair for an hour, at which point you can wash it out, leaving you with moisturized hair.
  3. Shine surfaces with mayonnaise: The oil content in mayonnaise can restore moisture and remove stains, allowing surfaces to glisten.
  4. Sprinkle eggshells around plants: Eggshells are rich in calcium and other minerals, making them great for your garden when crushed and sprinkled around your plants.

Practice Food Conservation

Even if food nears its expiration date or passes it, there may be alternate uses for it or ways to prolong its shelf life. Take steps to practice proper storage care, responsible shopping practices and sensible food conservation to make the most of your food.

How to Explore Yosemite

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Natural beauty doesn’t get much better than Yosemite National Park in California. As the gateway to the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Yosemite Valley is famous for its striking peaks and idyllic waterfalls. Visitors can enjoy a wide variety of activities, but keep in mind, the timing of your visit is essential. For instance, winter weather can close off portions of the park, but also presents the opportunity to take in the splendor of Yosemite in the snow.

There’s enough to keep you busy in Yosemite for weeks, but this guide will focus on the highlights and more accessible perks the park has to offer for new visitors.

Getting to Yosemite

The countryside in and around Yosemite is spectacular. Getting the most out of your visit should include a scenic drive along California’s Highway 140, which starts in El Portal and winds through the quaint town of Mariposa. You’ll enjoy redwood-lined highways and views of the Merced River. In Mariposa, you can breathe in a tiny village that has resisted change for many years and visit local historical museums. If you love exploring dirt trails, this area offers superb off-roading, but not in Yosemite itself.

Top Sights and Experiences

Depending on how long you’ve got to spend, there are so many impressive sights and things to do in Yosemite National Park. Guided tours, hikes, climbs and camping are some of the most popular ways to spend your time in the expansive Yosemite Valley. A word to the wise: If you’re planning to visit during the summer, you’ll be fighting crowds and will not be able to do as much, so consider visiting during the “shoulder season” in spring or early winter. If you enjoy the snow, go for a full-on winter trip, but be aware parts of the park may be off-limits.

Waterfalls are some of Yosemite’s primary attractions. Highway 41, which runs through the park, will take you past one of the most majestic of them all, Bridalveil Falls, as well as Half-Dome, the rounded granite peak that is Yosemite’s most recognizable feature. Ribbon and Horsetail Falls are equally impressive, though they can be seasonal. Many of the hiking trails around the park will take you to scenic vantage points where you can watch the falls and take pictures.

Yosemite’s wildflowers make for wonderful viewing in the springtime, and if you’re lucky, you can see the natural phenomenon of a moonbow, which happens when light reflects off the mist from the waterfalls. The valley’s many simple campsites and cabins offer you the opportunity to spend a night in Yosemite Valley and experience these special moments. In the morning, you can rise and if the timing is right, possibly catch Yosemite’s famous Firefall, an effect created when the light on Horsetail Falls makes it look bright orange like liquid magma.

With so much to do, you owe it to yourself to spend at least a few days in this place of natural splendor. But even if you don’t have time to do that, you can experience a glut of once-in-a-lifetime scenery at the Ansel Adams Gallery. There, you can purchase pieces by the legendary wilderness photographer, whose name is honored with a section of land that spreads through the park. It’s a place everyone should see, so plan your trip today!