Selco’s Questions And Guidance For SHTF

 

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In SHTF, will you have this option?

Question #1, Can you survive for a few days with what you have on your person and with what you know?

Question #2. Do you have survival supplies and resources stashed in a place that cannot be accessed by anyone but you and maybe a trusted friend or family member?

Question #3. If you had to, could you take wild game with the concealed carry gun that you carry every day (you do carry it every day…. right)?

Question #4. What defines your ability to survive? Is it your accumulation of gear and supplies, your accumulated skills and training, or a combination of both?

Question #5. How long can you survive in the city or the woods without interacting with others, and where are you better off?

Common dress MDT Class 16-3-2-2

When SHTF (whatever that may be), which will you more than likely be dressed like?

Here’s some of Selco’s thoughts,

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Full Circle…?

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I wrote my first survival article-comment some 7 years ago, and I still remember why I wrote it, what “pushed” me to sit down and write it so people who read/discuss survival over the internet for years can read my opinion.

I was checking the survival forums to learn something about wilderness survival because I found I missing lot of knowledge there, and then I stumbled upon discussion about what real SHTF looks like and will look like in the future.

And simply there I realize how whole survival movement foundation is messed up, or built on the wrong perception.

It is like digging through a whole bunch of other people good skills and opinions (together with wrong ones of course) but completely misplaced and misguided.

After writing that first article years ago, I am still writing and trying to point out my view of things, and my way is learned through the experience of 4 years of civil war in a destroyed society.

I still do not know lot of things, I do not know how to operate 20 different weapons, I am not ex special forces member, I do not know how to survive in prolonged period in wilderness, and I am still learning lot of things from different kind of people, on internet and forums and in physical courses too.

But I know how I survived SHTF and how real SHTF looks like, and the real problem is that it definitely does not look like majority of preppers imagine it.

Over time, a lot of my articles are telling the story about same thing on different ways, and it might look like I am telling same story over and over, but again, I am writing from real experience and there are good reasons why I am pointing out the same things often.

So please allow me to address again some common misconception about SHTF.

Changing From “Before to Now”

Starting problem about SHTF misconception is that people have problems to imagine something that they are not experienced in, so if you have not experienced collapse of society you will “build” your opinion about it based on many things: other people experiences, books, movies, documentaries…

When you add to this a whole survival industry of selling things for “doomsday” you going to end up forming your opinion about how life in collapse will look like based on some weird things, and as an result your prepping and expectation may be completely wrong.

For example, you have been bombarded with information from internet that if you buy some product you’ll be not only safe when SHTF but also you’ll thrive and you gonna have something like best time of your life in the middle of collapse.

Now when you multiply this with many numbers (products) you end up buying peace of mind for yourself built on fact that someone wants to earn money from your fears.

And it is not biggest problem, real problem waking up one morning in the collapse realizing that you have whole bunch of things that simply do not work for your situation.

I like to use example that I have read long time ago, about transportation in city when SHTF. One guy offer idea of using skateboard in urban SHTF as transport, and lot of other folks commented that is good idea.

On first look it is great idea, no fuel, no cars or buses, so skateboard as a transport means looks good.

Only problem here is that probably man who mentioned it never experienced real urban SHTF so he can not know how useless idea it is.

Or to put it really short:

When SHTF city services will collapse, street are pretty soon simply full of everything, there are other people in the city too, because services are gone there are not enough resources and because of that other people will simply almost always mean possible danger, so point is to avoid people, or to be quiet when moving, so…

You need to stop to think in terms of normal times, you need change your priorities when SHTF, it is a different time.

For example moving fastest (or most comfortable) stops to be priority, new priority is to move safest (or quiet) or you need to stop to think about having coolest things but new priority is to have things that will work for your situation best.

Value Of The Things

Again it is about thinking in new terms, in the terms when SHTF, and those terms are completely different then in normal times.

I have kind of survival philosophy where my goal is to be ready to survive with as least things as possible, and it is like everything else based on my experienced SHTF.

What that means?

By developing and learning skills and techniques I am trying to be less depended on physical things.

In reality that does not mean that when SHTF I will immediately  bug out to the wilderness with knife only, no, I too have preps and things, stashes and plans, weapons, meds etc.

It means when times come I am READY  to leave all of that, EVERYTHING – all my possessions, and move away in split second if that means I will save my life.

Are you ready for that?

Are you gonna be able to leave all your preps that you were buying for years, all your fancy weapons, stashes of cans etc and run with what you have on you?

Or you gonna die in “blaze of glory” defending simple physical things?

Survival is about resilience, to move on and on, to overcome difficult situations and come back again.

Do not get attached on physical things, no matter how expensive they are, or how fancy they are, or even if people promised that you’ll “survive and thrive” if you own that things when SHTF.

Life is precious, things are just things.

Problem here is that survival movement today is built on the way that preppers are “forced” to believe that they can not survive if the do not own particular survival product, so as an result there is gonna be bunch of preppers get shot because they defending physical things that someone told them they really need to have when SHTF.

I was refugee more then once, I still remember the moment when all my possessions were an old Browning pistol with three rounds, T- shirt, boots (with wet socks inside) and pants that could stand on its own because of how dirty they were…

I have lost all my other physical possessions, everything was torched or taken away, If I stayed my life would be taken away too in a very painful way.

I run, and survived, and fought again for survival.

And you know what? I bought all the things again.

Things can be obtained again, life can not.

Sometimes you just have to move on and forget on physical things that are dear to you.

Faith

One of the topics that I’m most reluctant to discuss about because I find it really personal, but it is there, it is important, so some things need to be considered.

And I’ll be short here, because it is personal for me, and every one of you should think about it for itself.

Yes, there were times when I simply had to reach deep in myself and connect to something higher, to find some sense, to have faith in order to not lost my mind or kill myself because everything was falling apart around me.

So faith is important, or spirituality, or some kind of moral values-call it as you like.

You need to have something!

But problem here is that people often think if they are good folks by the nature, everybody else is good by default (until proven otherwise?).

Through my experience I adopt opinion that everybody is bad until proven different (even if I am good guy)

Or let me put it like this, in really bad times, when everything going to s…t you ll see more bad folks then good folks, so be prepared for that…

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Will you be fortunate enough to have some basic gear, and maybe even a dog who can help with camp security?

Selco mentions his experience of having everything taken from him, and only surviving with what he had on his person (pistol, t-shirt, pants, wet socks, boots). The reason for not having all your eggs in one basket is clearly illustrated here. This is an obvious reason for having a multiple “bucket cache” system in place in a number of areas that will be accessible in a time of need. A smock kit like the one illustrated in this post would also be awesome to have in a pinch.

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While a Kel Tec P3AT .380ACP pistol is a great little lightweight carry pistol, it’s abilities don’t really extend beyond self defense. Not much bigger, but definitely better than the P3AT for small game is the Kel Tec PF-9 9mm on the right.

The reason I asked about your ability with your concealed carry pistol is simple. Although a .32ACP or a .380 is as convenient as it gets in the concealed carry category, accuracy and range are two things they are not known for (the .380 PPK is the exception in my experience in the accuracy department). Except for my Kel Tec .380, I know all the pistols I carry will accurately take small game because I have done just that with them. While having an understanding that what you carry for self defense will take game is good, the primary purpose of your concealed carry pistol is to defend ones self, and the model and caliber you select should be picked primarily for that attribute.

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Great, you’ve got a battery of weapons for SHTF, but what if you can’t get back to them. If you have to take off, one long gun and two handguns is about the limit you’ll be able to carry.

What would be some of the bucket cache items you would want to secret away? Three things I can think of right off the bat would be traps some fishing gear, and a compact survival rifle like an AR-7. Those items along with a few types of fire starters, some freeze dried meals, a stainless steel canteen and cup set for collecting and purifying water, a few first aid supplies, and a good poncho and space/casualty blanket with some 550 cord and your bucket cache would make a huge difference in your survival if you only had the clothes on your back when you recovered it. Below is shown the Henry AR-7 .22LR Survival Rifle in it’s stored form on the left, and ready for use on the right.

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The traps talked about in this post

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Yo-Yo “set and forget” fishing reel

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You can’t just have theoretical knowledge of survival skills and expect to survive in the wilds. You have to get out and practice them.

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There is no excuse to not get out and start learning and practicing some basic survival skills. The hunting and butchering of big and small game is a good place to start.

These are just some thoughts on what Selco had to say. Practice and preparation is what Survivalists do. If you don’t, you definitely can’t call yourself a Survivalist.

JCD

So Now What, Anything Constructive?

Re-Post from MDT

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The patch on the left breast pocket is the one you get for completion of one of the MDT wilderness survival courses, the patch on the left sleeve is what you get for completion of an MDT tactical course.

I did a post on May 6th that pointed out how ridiculous some of the “Moolisha” claims on both sides (antifa and the “Right”) were, and how they’ve shown there is very little in the “Responsible Power” category that is being put out on social media. The bottom line to my “power” comment is due to my modification of an old quote by Mao that says “Political power comes from the barrel of a gun.”. My modification is “True domestic power comes from the barrel of a TRAINED GUN”, although quantity has a quality all its own, and that’s what belt fed machine guns are for.

A comment was made by jbryan314 at WRSA’s repost that said this,

  “Thanks, so… Now what? There wasn’t really anything constructive about it. Nothing on what we CAN do, or what we SHOULD do… Just a bunch of “you’re an idiot” type stuff, which is what about 75% of the FreeFor blogs espouse these days.

And before any fools come in here and talk about the article hurting my feelings or me being butthurt or whatever… Let me say I can’t really disagree with much of what the article says. What I can say is that after reading it, as a “member” of whatever it is we call ‘FreeFor’… I didn’t really gain anything. No new knowledge or ideas. Just drop that article into the heavier and heavier bucket of articles hat basically say nothing more than ‘you suck’.”

My response,

“Start here,
https://www.google.com/amp/s/masondixontactical.wordpress.com/2016/02/29/common-tasks-testing-the-armys-everybody-requirement/amp/
Quietly train, quietly recruit, and shut up about it on social media. There are tons of guys out there doing that, and this post was not directed at them. I’ve written plenty about it, look it up.”

OK, so even though I’ve talked about this plenty of times before, I will try and consolidate some of my previous thoughts into one post.

1. Start doing PT to the level that you are initially capable, and constantly seek to improve on it.

Physical fitness is the solid base or foundation upon which you build your ability to fight and survive. Although you can get by without being physically fit, you chances of fighting off bad guys or even the common cold are diminished if you are not as fit as you can possibly make yourself. When it comes to combat training, whether it’s hand to hand combatives, firearms training, or actual tactical training that involves maneuvering on the bad guys while carrying your support gear, your need for fitness can not be downplayed.

My advice is to start with cardio exercises and expand from there. Walking is great exercise, and if you start a walking program and then start adding weight during that exercise, you will not only be performing a good exercise, but it will be practical as well (ruckmarch anyone?). You will have to be able to perform with your support equipment (rifle/pistol mags, first aid gear, water at a minimum), so walking or even short sprints with you gear on is going to be necessary eventually.

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Next I’d recommend calisthenics. Calisthenics basically use your own body weight and gravity as the tool for muscle growth and endurance. Pull Ups (palms out), Chin Ups (palms in), different types of push ups (diamond, shoulder width, wide arm), sit ups (palms on thighs not behind your neck), ab crunches, leg lifts, and calf raises are all just body weight exercises that you can do anywhere. The reason I recommend calisthenics before free weight training is because you can do them anywhere, and you don’t have to figure out how to make something heavy (although a ruck can do acceptably well for some exercises) to work for you if you don’t have free weights available (you’ll continue working out as much as you can post SHTF, right?).

2. Acquire basic defensive gear.

Basic means just that, and I’m mentioning gear before training, because you need the gear to train with.

A good, reliable, semi automatic rifle in an easily available and capable caliber. AR’s, AK’s, M1A’s, FAL’s, PTR 91’s (HK91) all have good reps and the ammo, parts and accessories for them are readily available.

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A good reliable semi auto pistol in a capable and readily available caliber. Although most soldiers (Infantrymen) do not carry a pistol, you are in a civilian situation that may require concealment of your firearm (something Grunts do not need) before things go completely sideways. Glocks, S&W M&P’s, Sig’s, HK’s, Keltec, Ruger all offer a large selection of pistols to choose from. Again, like the rifles listed above, most have ammo, parts and accessories readily available.

Quality Kit that will comfortably (that’s said somewhat sarcastically) carry at a minimum, the basic load for your rifle (usually 6 extra mags), your pistol (usually 2 extra mags), an IFAK/blowout kit (individual first aid kit for traumatic injuries like gunshot), water, and basic survival gear (shelter and things to keep you warm, dry and fed). I’m a big fan of Tactical Tailor, UW Gear who also sells Tactical Tailor (a review of some of his gear is coming up), and a few things from Condor. Bottom line is you usually get what you pay for.

Unless you hunt, you have no reason to get more than basic combat firearms related gear initially. For that matter, some of the gear you acquire can do double duty for hunting if need be.

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3. Acquire some basic defensive training.

You should get training in a number of areas. First, get to a basic pistol class. second, start learning some empty hand combatives. Third, find someone that will teach you how to run your defensive rifle. Last but not least, get some training on armed two man maneuver combatives (the most basic of small unit tactics). The basic element of this is the Buddy Team.

The Buddy Team class that I teach is the Rural Buddy Team Essentials Course (RBTEC). It is by far my most popular class, and besides the Wilderness Survival courses, RBTEC is the tactical class most asked about because there aren’t very many out there who teach down to the Buddy Team level (usually it’s fire team or above in size for most trainers).

As I said earlier, your PT will help determine how well you can perform a number defensive tasks, especially under stress. I’m not saying you can’t survive if you’re overweight (quite the contrary if you are able to stay out of trouble and in your house, you’ll probably outlast those being “eaten” by the “zombies”, right?) , because that modular food storage unit will probably last you at least a week or two even if you’re on minimal rations, and the fit people will have to constantly eat to maintain their strength. If you actually get into a fight, that’s where the fitness and prior PT will come into it’s own and save your bacon.

4. Acquire as much first aid training as you can.

You can never have too much first aid training. Start out with basic First Aid and CPR from the Red Cross, and if possible either pay for an EMT-B (basic) course or get it for free by joining the Fire Department or Ambulance Squad. We mentioned IFAK’s earlier, and the one you have on you should be geared towards what is needed for basic trauma by the most trained individual in your group. Your IFAK is what will be used on you, not what you’ll be using on someone else. NOTE: Of all the items in your kit, this is the one that everyone needs to carry in the same spot, no matter what side their dominant hand is on. This is because finding your IFAK in the dark is very important for the person treating you.

5. If possible, find some people of like mind who you can coordinate and train with for when times get rough.

Some people act like this is easy, but it is usually the exact opposite. Finding someone who is of like mind, is close enough to coordinate with, has the funds to acquire what they need which is listed above, and above all else, can be trusted, is a tall order. Although OpSec (Operational Security) is a military term, it applies equally to any Survivalist, Prepper, or NPT (neighborhood protection team) group.

One of the reasons I give so many of the groups out there claiming to be “Constitutional Militias” the crap they deserve, is because they can’t keep their mouths/keyboards shut for 30 seconds, let alone not tell everyone under the sun what their security measures are so as to show how “competent” their Doomsday plans are. Anyone who continually promotes himself on social media as a militiaman, militia commander, etc. (with “selfies”, badass callsign and cool gear to prove it), should make you think long and hard about whether you would ever want them in your group (or want your group associated with theirs), or be able to trust their discretion about keeping your group’s security protocols private.

You generally don’t see too many Survivalists “Showing off” on social media, because most tend to be more private about their preps. As an example, I can’t tell you how many dumbass moolisha members and “leaders” post what their security protocols were for meeting new “recruits”. They usually say their social media presence is all about recruiting, but in reality, it’s a “Look at me/us” fest.

Why would or should you ever need to recruit (this is not about making contact with other groups. That’s a good idea if for no other reason than receiving info after SHTF via HAM radio) outside of your local area for new members to join your group, when the reality of a SHTF scenario is that anyone outside of 25 miles (being generous) would never realistically answer your call? There are plenty of ways to recruit in “meatspace” (in person), whether it’s talking to people or putting up a flyer at the VFW or Range, or talking to the local gunshop owner and asking him to quietly spread the word to those he thinks would be a good fit.

By the way, another note about training. As I have said before, you don’t need to go to a training school to get the things mentioned above (it’s usually easier to do it at a class, and it will take less time having the info “downloaded” because we’ve already put it into instruction geared towards civilians). There are plenty of Vets out there that can help with some of these skills (that I mentioned in my response at WRSA),  and Combat Arms (Infantry, Cavalry, etc.) can help with the SUT portion of training. If you’re lucky and they are a former senior NCO or Officer, they can help with organization as well.

Well, that’s what I consider the “Basics” for you “FreeFor” guys and girls who need constant guidance and reassurances. While I can give guidance (and I have numerous times), I can give you no assurances accept one. If you put your time. sweat and money into training and acquisition of the things you need to defend yourself and your loved ones, you will become the “Trained Gun” I mentioned in the adaptation I made to Mao’s quote. “True domestic power comes from the barrel of a TRAINED GUN”. A trained individual might not always prevail over an aggressor, but they will always have the confidence that they can. Confidence can win a battle that everyone else assumes is lost.

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Bottom line. If you’re not training…START! If you are already training, double down and train harder!

JCD

Trapping Food When You’re On The Go

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Some traps bought as a teenager for my first trapline at 15. Victory No.2 double coil spring on the left, 110 Conibear, center, and a Victory No.1 single leaf spring, right. 

Over the years I’ve had a number of people ask me what I suggested for trapping in an “On the move, supplies on my back” survival scenario. My usual suggestions are snares if you are travelling very light (example, in the smock kit), and at least four 110 Conibears body hold traps (one for each of the cardinal directions) along with snares if you are carrying a rucksack. Although snares will do their job well if you set them correctly, they also are “one time use” if the animal tears them up. The 110 Conibear will work again and again and again for decades if taken care of.

One of the best ways I’ve found to carry my Conibear traps is by using a mil issue SAW pouch. The SAW pouch was originally designed to carry a 200 round squad automatic weapon (SAW) plastic drum/box, and I have found that it will conveniently carry four 110 Conibear traps, some snares, trap building gear (wood screws, nails, wire, twine and heavy staples) and even a bottle of lure if you want.

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Four brand new Conibear traps placed in a SAW pouch for a new ruck kit. Note how they fit perfectly in the SAW pouch with some room to spare.

My Buddy Bergmann normally uses a British bergan ruck, and at 3:45 in this video, he shows where/how he carries his Conibears in his bergan. One of the advantages I see in carrying your traps in it’s own specific pouch (like the SAW pouch), is your ability to take that pouch off of your ruck, attach it to your LBE/LBV, belt, etc., and go out to run your small trapline while leaving your ruck stashed and camouflaged.

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I’ve had the top trap for 32 years, the bottom one is brand new. 

My trapping experiences and targets as a kid were primarily raccoon, fox and muskrat. We didn’t have much in the way of mink in our area at the time, and there weren’t any coyotes here (DNR imported them from out West in the mid 90’s) yet. Squirrels (one of your primary target animals for food) are harder to trap than muskrat, but easier to trap than coons (in my experience). Learning the art of trapping is a great survival skill that could serve you well if you end up in a post SHTF scenario.

One of the most important things about trapping is the need to actually get out and do it. Watching a youtube video to learn the theory and basic techniques is great, but it’s only about a third (I’m being very generous) of the “successful trapping” equation. A good place for the novice to start is Dave Canterbury’s “Modern Trapping Series“. Below is one of Canterbury’s videos on prepping and use of the 110 Conibear trap, and here is another.

The last dozen 110’s I bought, I purchased through Amazon (convenient), here’s the link. Now is the time to get your trapping kit squared away then go out and learn how to use it. As far as I know, trapping is legal in all 50 states. The requirement might be to buy a $5 trappers permit with your hunting license, or it might require that you take a “Trapper’s” course which is similar to the “Hunter Safety Course”. Check your state requirements, get squared away, and get out and practice.

JCD

 

 

Another SHTF Reality From Selco

Selco gives us some reality about a typical “Tacticool” SHTF day. Reality is a bitch, and being able to trade is an important survival skill.

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Ordinary Day’

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A lot of people wonder what an ‘ordinary day’ was like during the SHTF. I was thinking on this and remembered this day. I think it is a good illustration and answers this question… It’s odd to say but we were often glad of ‘ordinary days’ when not to bad things happened…

Rain was falling down for days, and we all felt wet and soaked with it.

Moisture was in our pores, our clothes, and kinda in our heads too.

It was kind of weather that pushes down and back the smoke from your stove, back to your room instead of through the chimney.

Holes in our roof were plugged, more or less, in the way that we managed to “channel” leaks  into numerous pots and canisters, in order to keep ourselves dry and also to collect water.

Being dirty is bad, but being dirty and smelly during several days of rainy weather is simply awful.

We dried our clothes above the stove, evaporation of dirty clothes together with smell of dirty bodies, bad “tobacco” (we “discover” some new tree leaves which we used as a substitute for tobacco), handmade oil lamps  and tea boiling on stove (we called it sometimes ‘soup’, other times ‘tea’)  made a mixture of smells which simply added to the depression of the whole situation.

In days like that alcohol intake would go up high.

When weather was fine I liked to go on second floor, remove tarp and plywood “setup” from roof hole that was made with mortar shell few months before, sit under it, watch the blue sky and drink.

Other folks would say “he is up there again waiting for mortar shell to land on his head” but it was nice and peaceful to do it, and sometimes I just did not care.

Even that weird relaxation was out of the option because of the endless rain.

In days like that we were closest to animals as we could be.

We ate potatoes for days, we managed to get it through one UN convoy that somehow entered city month ago, and it was mess to get those bags of potatoes because while UN forces tried to organized some kind of delivery system- like small bag of potatoes to each family that show up-folks simply overrun them and started to fight each other over it.

Several people get killed then, but we managed to bring home quite a stash of it.

We were happy because of the potatoes, but few days later rumors exploded that potatoes that we get were poisoned, actually it was not for human use, it was meant for seed only, or something like that and apparently they were treated with very hard chemicals.

We continued to eat it, only difference was that we were not so happy anymore about it…

And then a trade chance came to us.

It was my turn to go to visit the guy who “had some stuff for sell-trade” or at least it was information that we get it.

Good thing about this guy was the fact that I knew him little bit prior SHTF, when SHTF he had strong connections and simply had interesting stuff from time to time. He was something like “trustful” trader, he kept his stuff in his house and did trades there, which usually meant either he is stupid or very protected, and he was not stupid.

“Gogo” was his nickname, and we felt good because we are going to trade with him, because his reputation was pretty big and he (we thought) could not afford too many bad stories about trading with him.

It was as safe a trade as it could be in those days.

My relative show me our possession for trade while we were preparing for trip-it was 10 packs of Kent cigarettes, and when I saw that, it was like I saw UFO landing in backyard, with aliens bringing to us food, water, candies, and safety, and flying me then to a rock concert.

In that period cigarettes were rare, sometimes impossible to find and we were even lucky to have tobacco-which was not actually tobacco but grinded “tree” of tobacco plant, or simply all kind of tree leafs that we experimented with.

White filters Kent cigarettes in that moment were something like wet dream of every smoker.

It was pleasure to even see them, to smoke them meant pure happiness.

On my question where he get it? He answered “from some mercenaries”, and I did not want to ask more, I did not care.

We started our way to Gogo’s house around midnight, because plan was to be at the most dangerous place around 0100hrs.

On our way back we would choose a different way.

That dangerous place was big opening between houses, some 100-150 meters of space where we are completely open to the near hill where Anti Aircraft gun and few m84 machine guns were located.

Those machine gun was nicknamed “sijac smrti” which translates from my language to English as a  “death seeder” or “death bringer” or similar, and when I first time heard that nickname my thoughts were:”oh c’mon-somebody is watching too many movies, it is bombastic nickname for ordinary weapon”

Later when I was targeted first time from that weapon, when they shoot at me, I correct myself and I thought something like” death seeder? It is more, much more, it is Satan, it is hell, it is pure horror…”

And much later I also realized it is more or less common nickname for some other similar weapons.

So I built pretty fast my respect for “sijac smrti”, that shit was way too fast and deadly. It sounded like whole bunch of small deaths flying directly to you while they screaming.

(years later, after my SHTF ended and all things go back to some kind of let s say normal, I was watching member of Serbian elite parachute unit, while he was trying to explain his battle experience to another guy.

He and his small unit were holding position in dense woods on some hill during NATO bombing of Serbia, it was on Kosovo, and they were attacked by Albanians, Albanians were much stronger by numbers, but poorly trained, as he said, and he and his comrades did pretty well, morale was high, they were tough guys.

And then he said airplanes came. He said planes were firing from cannons destroying the hundreds years old trees like simple matches and obliterating his unit.

But he said that was not scariest thing-pure horror was sounds of that planes and cannons while they firing down on them, while he was trying to explain that he opened his eyes wide and said” it was sound like there are 10 big cows is in the air flying to you and they are screaming because they are being slaughtered”

Other guy was watching him probably not understanding what is so scary about that sound to terrified big strong elite dude.

And I said to myself “Oh man, I know that horror”)

Anyway we came to that open space without too much problems.

Nobody know what kind of view they had there on the hill, but during the night they fired often, without real cause, on that opening, so it was matter of luck sometimes are you going to be shot.

And somehow it was a myth that it is safest to cross it around 0100hrs.

In that time it was many openings like that in the city with different weapon and different tactics for crossing it and different myths about it how to cross it safely.

Lot of folks find God and faith on openings like that while they run or crawl over it.

Of course lot of folks end up dead there too.

I have seen guys being shot dead there while they run as fast as they could, I saw some crazy dudes walking slowly there and nothing happened, some guys were wounded and screamed there for hours with their guts hanging out until they died…

No rules.

We sat down behind the wall next to the opening and I told my relative “ok give me the cigarettes”

He said “it is not smart, it is for trade”

I did not care, so he gave me one pack, I opened it and smoked a cigarette.

It was cool to smoke it, white paper cigarette with white filter, after long time of smoking trash tobacco in any kind of paper that we could get.

It smelled like perfume to me in that moment.

I finished it and told to him “ok I can die now if I need”

He answered to me “fuck you man”

We run across that space while rain was pouring down, nothing happens, not a single shot on us.

Gogo’s house was close by after that, and nothing dangerous happened until we came to his home.

After some guy show up to us at the yard, we were allowed to enter the house with weapon, which was good feeling but not necessary good sign, but when we saw Gogo he recognizes us, and after some casual conversation which includes people that we together know we started to feel better.

We entered small room, two of us and two of them, sat down and had a drink.

Rakija (A strong, locally brewed spirit) was available then, so it was not a surprise when he gave us two glasses with that drink.

Numerous different kinds of that drink were circulating around, most often it was pure poison, simple not finished product from destroyed distillery diluted with water, but his was soft and nice.

Room where we sat was something like weird version of display room for customers, so we could see all kind of different stuff around in bags or open cabinets.

I saw pack of beer, even couple bottles of coke, and room strangely smelled of coffee which was high luxury in that time, everything there was set up for turning your senses “to want stuff”.

Bags full of something were lying everywhere and steel cabinet from army barracks was locked in one corner.

After some chatting he put down his hand under the table and put “Zolja” (“wasp”) single use RPG on table and said to us “this is good stuff for you folks, and it is cheap”.

I take it and said to him” it is empty man, fired, useless”

He open his mouth laugh with joy and said” ok man ok, you know that and I know that, but how many idiots outside know that? You could paint water pipe in green and state it is RPG and 90 percent of folks would trust you in dark, this looks real man.  Just fill it with something, point that thing on someone and ask right question”

“Yea, and then I can be killed from the guy who know that weapon is fired long time ago, he could choke me slowly with his bare hands, no thanks”

He said “ok ok, I agree, but here is right one” and then he pull out brand new one, same type, not used.

We said no man, we do not need weapons right now.

He said “ok ok, I have this too, I sell a lot of these and everyone is satisfied man”

Than his buddy opened wood cabinet behind his head and gave him wooden box, size of shoes box, bit smaller.

I look at my relative and look back at me with short surprised expressions.

It was wooden engraved box, pretty common in households in this region prior the war, something that you would put as a display in your living room, and when you opened it there was small wooden bird with mechanism inside, mechanism was activated by opening box, and melody would start, like birds singing…

Is he trying to sell us wooden singing bird in middle of the civil war?

Then he opened the box and push it to me.

Wooden bird was not inside, box was full-maybe some 25 bottles-vials of Penicillin. It was pretty expensive stuff.

I took one bottle and check it, expiration dates were good, Serbian manufacturer, labels looked originally “glued” on bottles.

But on the top of the bottles some of those were missing small thin metal “cap” that is covering rubber sealed “plug”(trough that rubber Penicillin powder is being diluted and aspirated into syringe)

First thought was that some those of the bottles could be used and then filled with flour.

He noticed what I am checking and said “ yeah, some of the caps are missing man, it is being transported through some rough situations before they came to me, but they are good”

I said” cool stuff man, but we do not need it” It was bit suspicious stuff and way to expensive for us at that moment.

He asked finally what we want.

And I said” Meat man!”

He leave the room and get back with one can, and I know he finally meant business because he brought only one can, without showing how much he actually has of it.

He put it on table and said” I have it, it is “Konj“(horse).

In that time different kind of canned food was circulating around, lot of expired stuff, broken, spoiled…

But popular was “horse”.

Horse had good and bad sides, but more good then bad sides.

It was canned meat, stamped label on tin was saying only something like “help from EU” or “help from UNHCR” I do not remember exactly.

Funny thing was that under the marking “type of meat” was written “meat”. Just that: “meat”.

It was kind of partially cooked meat with huge amount of grease inside that looked like snow.

If we ate grease alone it induced bad cases of diarrhea, but you could use it for cooking, melt it and use like oil for lamp, or simply folks stated that it is good to put it in places where you have pain, like an ointment (“bad knees pain – horse grease, rifle butt to the head-horse grease…  😉 )

Meat alone did not had any particular taste, it was unrecognizable, and people simply after some time said it is horse meat because nobody had clue what exactly it is.

So that can was nicknamed “horse”.

There were attempts to call it “kangaroo” but “horse” just stuck to it.

Simply it was usable.

He asked what we have, and I take out one pack of “Kent” he said “nice” without too much enthusiasm but his buddy stand up and said “where you get these man? Cool”

And that moment I knew we gonna get good deal because they are interested, they just kinda “blinked”.

He said to his buddy ”sit down man and shut up, you smoked too much pot” (Use of cannabis was rampant during the war)

And he asked how much of these we have, I answered it depends how much horse he have and bargain started.

At the end, we agree that we gonna gave him 9 packs for 15 cans.

It was great deal for us, and probably cool deal for him, because he knew folks who will appreciate those cigarettes a lot I guess.

After setting up a deal, and after we exchanged stuff we chatted for a bit and he offered me a hand made cigarette.

He gave me a small tin box with hand rolled cigarettes.

And I looked into the box, it used to be small box for cigarillos I think and I looked at the box, I liked it very much.

We carried our tobacco in all kinds of different bags, boxes, foils or whatever, but that tin box simply was “laying” down in my hand so cool. It was foreign stuff clearly.

It somehow “clicked” and perfectly lay down in my hand when I took it.

I gave it back to him asked where he got that, and he clearly saw that I “blinked” this time.

He said ”offer something, it is nice box man”

I only had that one more pack of Kent, with missing cigarette inside (which I wanted originally to keep for myself)

I pull it out from my pocket, gave it to him, he said” ok, I’ll give the cigarette box for this pack”

It was outrageous price, and I could almost feel my relative sending thoughts to me like “you fucking idiot, pack of cigarettes for tin box? We could get more meat for that…”

But I liked the box.

Then Gogo said” wait the second, cigarettes are missing from the pack, it is opened”

I said” yes, but still man, only one is missing and this is Kent real cigarettes”

Then he open drawer from the desk and pull hammer from it, we almost jumped ready for fight, but he took hammer and hit the tin box.

Then he said “ ok, one cigarette is missing in your pack, box is little bit damaged on one end now, but still working, now it is fair deal, we need to keep our business in some rules, it is reputation man!”

I was looking at him, realizing that he kinda lost it, just like most of us did in that time.

But we make the deal done, and all went good.

We get home in one piece, we ate those cans mixed with herbs and potatoes. Older member of family was happy with grease on his knees for some time…

I had a lot of bitching because of that tin box trade, but I survived.

War ended and years go by, I lost tin cigarette box, Gogo moved to Canada, and I heard he is doing apartment decorating business, and sometimes play guitar in some clubs, and have drugs issues…

Then one year, me and my wife were doing big renovation in my old house, and in some box with all kind of mess she pull out that tin box and said to me” oh it is some box for cigarettes, we gonna throw it away or you need it?”

Then she opened it, and inside she read small words that I wrote long time ago “GOGO” and date of trade.

She asked me “what is it, who is Gogo? Is it man or woman”?

From all of the explanation that I could gave her somehow words that came from my mouth were “ Yep, I could have got maybe two horses instead of that box during the war if I were smart”

“you had horses during the war? You rode it? I thought this was city siege! Where in the world you got horses?” she said looking suspiciously at me. (she spent war years in Germany without too much clue how was it here in reality)

I said smartly” no no, I didn’t ride horses, we ate it, it was good stuff”

Then she look at me with horror stating “you killed and ate horses, how could you, they are beautiful animals”

And then finally I said” you know what, forget it, it is long story, just throw away that box, it is useless”

Still, for a week or so she had suspicious looks at me from time to time.

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JCD