A Proud “Prepper”

Editorial-Opinion July 2022

Daryl Kirby | June 29, 2022

If someone called you a prepper, would you take offense? I do believe the intent was derogatory, so when I responded with a simple “Thank You,” I got a curious look. I wasn’t offended.

Preppers are getting ready for something. The ones on the TV shows are flat-out preparing for the worst. We’re talking nuclear wasteland, Zombie apocalypse bad. Or a power-grid collapse… now that one is starting to sound dang near plausible these days. Or likely, even. 

Yet most of those preppers I see on TV live in a big-city suburb in a house with neighbors so close you could read each other’s text messages through the kitchen window. They practice for the end-of-the-world scenario by grabbing a backpack they call a “bug-out bag,” hopping in the SUV, and hurrying out of the city to the nearest “wilderness area.”

I got called a prepper because I think a lot about food, firewood and ammo. We already live out in the woods on a nugget of land—it’s not grand by any stretch, but I see wild game out the kitchen window instead of neighbors. We can put up meat—the freezer gets piled high with ground venison and too few precious packages of backstrap and tenderloin. 

We put up firewood… is it just me or is there some innate gratification when there’s fuel for a fire? A crackling fire on a cold, winter night provides a level of comfort, a feeling that life is good. When the wood box is full of seasoned logs from a tree that we bucked and split… it’s a feeling that reminds us we are not that far removed from a time when having a fire meant life wasn’t just good—fire meant you would probably survive through the night.

When it comes to ammo, I’m not buying thousands of rounds and burying it in giant plastic bins. But I do tend to buy a box of shells when I stop by Franklin’s or Social Circle Ace, or when I’m ordering something from Adventure Outdoors. Ammo doesn’t go bad.

And more and more I’m feeling a deep down-in-the-bones desire to add to the food we’re growing around the house. I think I’m going to plant more blueberry bushes. Anyone can grow blueberries, and I think everyone should. Amongst the venison in the freezer there are gallon bags filled with little snack baggies of blueberries. A free bag of frozen blueberries sure beats a bag of $5 potato chips on a hot summer afternoon, at least in my book.

“Did you get your moose?”

Ever watched one of the Alaskan wilderness reality shows on TV? Skip the one that features the singer Jewel’s family, the Kilchers live on an Alaskan farm with cows, and they have neighbors. I’m talking about the Alaskan shows that feature some super-resourceful dude and his heroic wife who live a float plane flight away from the nearest human. For these people, every waking hour of every day is real-life prepping. 

To survive the Alaskan winter, they need food and they need heat. Everyone needs food and heat, but unlike most everyone else in the modern world these days, these Alaskans can’t rely on daily trips to the Walmart and adjusting the thermostat. They’re not calling Billy up the road to come deliver a cord of firewood or ordering up some dinner with an app on their phone. They are putting up meat and they are putting up firewood like their lives depend on it. 

Because their lives depend on it.

And best I can tell, the key to putting up meat is killing a moose. They don’t always get their moose, and that’s a serious issue. Getting a moose is such a dominant theme on these shows that even my wife, who doesn’t watch these shows with me, but she hears enough about what’s going on while passing through the room, that she now greets me when I come in from hunting…

“Did you get your moose?”

I’ve given up shamefully trying to explain that deer hunting isn’t easy or throwing out excuses like the wind blowing out of the southeast or a full moon. No, hunting is not always easy, but I’m blessed enough times each season that I can smile and say, “Yep, got one.” 

For a while, our freezer is full. The last package of backstrap is gone—mental note to add one or two more “moose” next deer season. But we’re putting up gallon bags of blueberries. The in-laws’ garden is raging. And autumn will be here soon—I know this because there’s a deer on the cover of GON.

Anyone know how to make homemade solar panels? It’s not the lights I’d like to prepare to keep powered, it’s the freezer.

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