There are people we meet on our journey through this life that we never forget. For me Jacob Nowland is one of those people. He is a mountain man, buck skinner, horseman, singer and poet. Jacob, like me, is getting along in years and he sent me this poem he wrote that puts meaningful words to his autumn of life. – J. Wayne Fears

MY Autumn Ride
by Jacob M. Nowland

The night makes way for mornin’ light

The day has just begun

At the pasture’s gate I anticipate

Some warmth from the rising sun

The breeze is cool, there ain’t no dew

There’s autumn in the air 

My favorite time of year is here

As I whistle for the mare.

She comes to me as if she knows

 And she knows a thing or two

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“This is not a home built for survival!” a disappointed friend in the survival writing community exclaimed as we drove into the front yard of my new home. “It’s a nice modern home in a beautiful rural area”, he continued, “but no bunker, no solar panels, no cistern barrels, and it’s not hidden away in the woods.” I could sense his disappointment that I didn’t live in a fort miles from the nearest pavement.

Far too many people new to living the preparedness lifestyle think that the modern home designed for survival has to be a remote fortified mountain man’s lair that looks like a junk yard. When my wife, Sofee, and I decided to build our new home in a rural area with the design being weighted towards surviving our local threats – long hot summers, winter ice storms, tornadoes, long power outages, and possible long periods without going to the super market – we also wanted comfort and modern conveniences when they were available. We wanted a secure homestead with room to grow our own food, have a small private shooting range and entertain outdoors. Sofee was the chief designer and she designed a home that accomplished all this and more.

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Those who go into the outdoors prepared rarely need rescuing, but when they do it is usually not a disaster story. Most that are lost or stranded in the backcountry of the lower 48 states in the U.S. are found within the first 72 hours, provided they do a few things correctly.

Several years ago I was on a search for a lost hunter who had been missing two days. We found him the third day. It was pouring rain when the smoke from his fire was spotted. Arriving at his survival camp we found him to be very comfortable and, while totally lost, we found him in good spirits and in good condition. He used his survival kit to build a comfortable camp and wait for rescue.

Go on outdoor adventures prepared to spend three extra, unexpected, days in the backcountry. To do this, you need to take with you items that will give you quick protection from inclement weather, retain body heat, enable you to start a fire, provide you with safe drinking water, keep you safe from biting insects and give you at least two methods of signaling for help beyond a cell phone or two-way radio. These items make up your personal survival kit. When combined with your belt knife they give you the edge you need to survive.

The survival kit is important not only for its life-saving merits, but for comfort on those outings when a night must be spent in the woods or streamside, unexpectedly. I have been forced on many occasions to spend an unexpected night or two in the woods, I didn’t plan on, because an outfitter was late picking me up, climbing down a mountain in the dark was too dangerous, a motor conked on my boat, a rain swollen creek blocked my return, etc. Each time, my two-pound survival kit provided me with a comfortable camp. Without it the wait would have been cold and dangerous.

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Survival was the furthermost thing from Ray's mind when he decided to take an afternoon rabbit hunt. Taking along his three beagles, he began venturing into the woods. He didn't give any thought to the possibility of getting lost. So he had no survival gear with him-not even a pack of matches.

For the next few hours, Ray became completely involved in the hunt and forgot, as hunters often do, about time and keeping his bearings. Then suddenly, the sun set and Ray realized he was lost. On an ordinary night in Kentucky, he would have spent a few uncomfortable hours alone in the woods. Then at first light he would find his way back home.

But an unusually severe cold front set in with a sudden downpour that turned to sleet, plunging temperatures into the single digits. Ray suddenly found himself in a serious survival situation, but he stayed calm and took the necessary steps to stay alive.

Because Ray had no matches with him, his most immediate problem was sustaining body heat throughout the night. He knew if he could do that, he would probably be around to tell his friends this adventure. Seeking shelter, he discovered a small cave where he and his dogs took refuge. Ray then gathered leaves and positioned the dogs around him to absorb their warmth. This simple idea probably saved his life.

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