Time to hide some initial stuff at the property. Yup, the time has finally come. But, rather than calling it “hiding stuff” let’s refer to it as caching supplies, that sounds a whole lot better…and far more accurate. Here’s the trick…how you hide it predicts how useful your gear will be when it comes time to actually use it again.
We bought our retirement property that can also serve as a very suitable BOL (BugOut Location). Hence we call it our RHBOL.
However, a problem exists in that the property is a five-hour drive away from our current home. If the time ever comes that we need to actually bugout to it…will we be able to have the right supplies there? How about any supplies? And exactly what would be considered the right supplies to have waiting on us?
Prepare for What –
Naturally, following my Seven Survival Priorities you want the right supplies to help mitigate those top seven threat/risks. Let me review what those risks are for just a minute –
- Threat of violence
- Threat of injury or sickness
- Lack of or poor communications
- Lack of or poor organization
If you haven’t read my “Proper Preparedness Principles” article it would be worth your time and help you better understand this article.
OK, so we have our priorities in proper perspective and proper order. Doing that simple exercise of prioritization can give us a clear, practical, and logical way to decide what to store. But, knowing how to store it is the focus of this article. Well, that may not be entirely true, I will go into detail on what I stored which is very useful and helpful as well. Now remember, my situation is different than yours, you may want to vary the list to meet your specific needs. But the Seven Survival Priorities remain constant, how you meet those threats/risks is up to you. I will share how I am doing it, I hope it gives you some ideas.
Top Priority –
The #1 threat or risk in any emergency, disaster, or grid-down is the threat of violence. It can strike anyone, anytime, and without warning. You or your family could end up badly injured or dead as a result…and in a split second. So we must mitigate this risk first or the other preparations might be for naught.
How did I do this? A 5.56 carbine for my wife and I. No, not a shared carbine, we will each have one. And that brings me to the next point. However, before that I want to lay out the worst case scenario…complete grid-down and virtual martial law. What I am getting at is the possibility that we can minimally move around (i.e. travel) and with almost no supplies to speak of and absolutely no weapons. Meaning, if you are found with a weapon you get incarcerated on the spot (or worse), so we have to leave weapons behind as we travel to the property.
What In –
Since I am assuming that both my wife and I would be arriving at the property, the items that get cached at the property are “times two”, one for her, the other for me. That means two storage containers. And since it is never wise to “put all your eggs in one basket” not only are there two storage containers, there are two separate locations for these containers. That is redundancy…and redundancy is a good thing. Bad guys might find one location, maybe even by pure chance, but you don’t want to lose all your cached items by having them all in the same location. Think Pearl Harbor during WWII…all the ships were docked together and they were easy pickings for the Japs.
Before I get into the list of items that are being cached let’s talk about the storage container itself. I did a lot of research a few years back and found one specialized storage container that met all my requirements. Actually, it exceeded my requirements and truly shined as the right option for this task. It is called a MonoVault.
The MonoVault is essentially a long sturdy plastic tube with a screw-on lid with a gasket. Then there is a cover that goes over the lid that overlaps about 4” of the tube itself. The thickness of the plastic is plenty sufficient, probably thicker than it needs to be, so it will hold up well. The gasket ensures that water will not enter the tube. Actually, from my testing I believe the tube to be completely airtight as well. The cap cover the top of the tube, including over the lid/gasket, helps ensure that any water migrating down will move over and past the lid…a shedding affect, kinda like a tight fitting umbrella.
For the two that I used, the MonoVault’s exterior measurements are 30.5” tall. The interior measurements are 28.5” tall by 8.75” diameter. I wasn’t real sure that this was going to be large enough for the mission…I was wrong. This thing is plenty large enough for everything I wanted to store in it and then some. So, here is what I wanted to store in the MonoVault –
- 5.56cal carbine < see this article for more info >
- 7 Magpul magazines (30-round)
- 100 rounds of 5.56 ammunition
- 40cal. semi-auto pistol < see this article for more info >
- 3 magazines
- 50 rounds of 40cal
- Tactical vest < see this article for more info >
- Gerber StrongArm knife < see this article for more info >
- Gerber multitool
- nDur water filter < see this article for more info >
- Spyderco Paramilitary2 knife < see this article for more info >
- Blowout Kit (BOK) < see this article for more info >
- Individual first aid kit (IFAK) < see this article for more info >
- .22 cal bore snake (soaked with EWL2000)
- Hoppes Silcone Cloth moderately soaked in EWL2000
All of that went into the MonoVault with ease. But, I did prep some of the gear first and I want, actually need, to share that with you because it is so important. Yes, the MonoVault is billed as waterproof. But, I never take anything for granted. And yes, our place is in Arizona which is known for being very dry compared to other most other areas of the country. But…there is still that residual moisture that might migrate into the storage vault and I don’t want that to ruin my day…or either of my weapons in the vaults.
Weapons Preparation –
Preparing each weapon was not complicated nor difficult but should be done…in my opinion. First thing I did was strip the carbine down, pulled the bolt carrier group out, etc. I used a bore snake and soaked it very liberally with EWL2000. < click here to read more about EWL2000 > I ran that snake a couple of times making sure the barrel was spotless and well coated with EWL2000. I made that all the other internals of the weapon were spotless and well coated with EWL2000. Notice I have said “coated” not saturated, not dripping, just coated.
I reassembled the carbine but left the upper and lower detached. I placed both in a ProTecht gun storage bag, sealed the bag with masking tape, then placed the bag in the MonoVault. I did the same with the pistol.
As far as the ammo is concerned I placed them in separate Ziploc bags, double bagged actually. In each bag with the ammo I placed a silica absorbent for any stray moisture that might enter the double bag. Prior to putting the ammo in the bag I rubbed the ammo with a silicone cloth…no oil on the cloth. That placed a micro-thin coat of silicone on each round of ammo. Doing so will inhibit corrosion but absolutely not interfere with feeding in your weapon.
For the Gerber Strong Arm and Spyderco knives I essentially did the same process as I did for the ammo. I wiped the knives down with the silicone cloth, bagged the knife, dropped in silica moisture absorbent, and then bagged it again. All the weaponry went into the vault.
I put in all the remaining “hardware” in the vault first. Then came the tactical vest. < read more about tactical vest here > Then I topped off the MonoVault with the BOK & IFAK. < read more about IFAKs here >
When it came to sealing the unit I did not add anything to the gasket, threads, or apply anything after-the-fact. The instructions didn’t say too and I was trusting the manufacturer to be accurate. The manufacturer wouldn’t last a year if this product didn’t work. So I figured I would do as they instructed.
I had fully prepared both MonoVault’s contents, placed them in the MonoVault, and then it was time to bury the whole thing for safe keeping. Boy, now it got interesting.
First off…there is virtually no way to truly hide the MonoVault from all attempts to find it. Ground penetrating radar can easily find it or anything else you try to hide. A metal detector wouldn’t struggle too much to find it. But you have to ask yourself the question, “Who are you hiding this stuff from?” Actually, you can ask, “Are you really hiding it, or just storing it in the ground to keep it safe by keeping it out of sight?”
If you think you are going to hide this from any of the government alphabet agencies think again. They have sufficient technology that they could find it regardless of your best efforts. But, are they going to be looking for it? Would they have a reason to look for it? We aren’t going to go too far down that rabbit hole. We will just assume you want to conceal your stuff from everyone. If someone has the Star Wars gear to find it and they are looking on your property…well, you have much bigger problems to worry about.
OK, let’s get something out of the way right off…you are going to disturb the area around the hiding spot. There is no getting around it. But, there are some things you can do to offset that. And, more than likely a trained eye could see where you tried to hide the area you disturbed. So you might as well get it into your head now that you can only make a best effort, and that just might be good enough.
In my experience there are two basic philosophies of trying to hide your cache; 1) deep cover, 2) in plain sight.
I refer to deep cover as a place that you wouldn’t come across unless you were specifically looking for it. Such as 1.5 miles off a trail in the middle of the Carson National Forest, in a rock slide, under a cliff. No one would ever likely be walking in the exact spot so no one would ever discover your hiding place. However, the drawback is trying to remember exactly where you buried it. And then the amount of time and effort required to get to it, let alone dig it up. Then there is the drawback of trying to tell someone else where the spot is. So while this concept -deep cover- can be very effective, it can also be burdensome in the best of cases. Although…it might be worth it.
The alternative is hiding in plain sight. This essentially means you hide it in an area where a person could see or find it IF they knew what they were looking for AND they could see past your camouflage. In other words the average person could walk right over it, or past it, and never know what was there. Hidden in plain sight.
I am not going to get into all of the details of exactly what I mean and how it works…I will just show you my examples and you can take it from there. You are smart people, you will get what I am talking about, and you will be able to figure out what will work best for you.
Example #1 –
I want to have fairly easy access to the spot where I have hidden my first MonoVault cache. But, the other side to it has a couple considerations as well. I don’t want people to easily observe me burying it, or digging it back up. So, I picked a spot that wasn’t in anyone’s line of sight from any direction, especially a road.
The ground where I am digging the hole has some topsoil but not much. Topsoil is fairly easy to dig through with little effort. But I quickly hit hard packed sand and small gravel, but not as bad it might sound. At first I tried a pick but that proved to be unworkable so I broke out my pry bar. Nice thing about my pry bar…a nice sharp tip that is about 2” wide. That worked very nicely to break up the subsoil without much more effort than picking up the bar to a height of about 2’ and letting it drop. I found out pretty fast that after it hit, it penetrated the subsoil just enough to let me twist the pry bad about 90 – 180 degrees. That action broke up the subsoil even more. I would do about 5 – 6 of these drops and then shovel out the hole.
Why not a post hole digger? I tried that. However, the sand and gravel would fall out of the tool before I could get the soil out of the hole. Fortunately the hole had to be large enough for the MonoVault so it was large enough for me to use a shovel.
Note: When you bring the dirt out of the hole on the shovel, place the dirt in a mound maybe 3 – 4’ away from the hole. You don’t want it right on top of the area immediately surrounding the hole. The area will look too disturbed when you are all done. Better yet, place the removed soil on a sheet of plywood or heavy tarp. The soil you are digging up is different than the soil on the ground’s surface around the hole. So you want all of the soil you dig up to go back in the hole or moved to another location.
Remember the outside of the diameter of the MonoVault is about 10”, your hole must be a larger diameter than that. I did about a 12” diameter hole and shoveling out the loosened soil was pretty easy, even at the greater depths. I also used the shovel handle to gauge the depth of the hole compared to the height of the MonoVault. I wanted about 4” of soil covering the MonoVault. Can you have more topsoil covering it? Sure you can, just remember though…you must then dig more to retrieve the container when time may be of the essence.
I got to the needed depth and simply set the MonoVault into the hole. I then centered it and started pushing dirt into the hole keeping the MonoVault upright. As I was filling the hole I would occasionally use the shovel blade to help pack the dirt about the container. Once I had enough soil to cover the container I packed the dirt around the sides of the container then replaced the soil to bring it level with the surface of the ground once again. Resist the urge to “mound” the dirt thinking it will settle.
So now I have the container in the ground, the soil packed around the container and about 4” of soil covering the top of the container but not mounded. Now comes the artistic part of the process. The trick is to return the soil that you just disturbed to a “natural looking state” which is impossible. You can try all you want, you can think you are the sharpest operator out there…but truth be told…you can’t get it to look the same as it did in its natural state. So, don’t try.
Any dirt from the hole that you have left over in your pile needs to be moved away from the area and spread out far and wide. It will be easier if you used a tarp or plywood. When away from the area take a shovelful and vigorously sling it sideways parallel to the ground. Do this well away from the hole and not all of it in the same place. Don’t sling it on leaves, or anything else that is naturally occurring on the surface.
Maybe create a “false” hide to distract people if they are looking. But don’t get too cute…you are the smartest tool in the box.
Back at the hole use a piece of bush to lightly brush away any footprints, tracks, etc. Now comes the interesting part. Does the hole area now look exactly like the surrounding area? Probably not. If is just a matter of the dirt drying out to blend in then you are good to go. But, remember I talked about hiding it in plain sight.
What I did on this hole was find some metal trash to put over the hole. That way if someone happens to be using a metal detector they will for sure pick up the container because of all the metal of the ammo, guns, knife, etc. What I want to do is throw them a little bit of a distraction…the metal trash. It won’t fool a seasoned professional, but maybe it will fool the amateur next door neighbor, or someone in a big hurry. So I’ve made my cache locations look just like any other area of trash.
Example #2 –
I walked away about 100’ and found another suitable location. I dug that hole the same as the first hole. Then came time to “hide it” and that is where I did it slightly different.
Once the hole was filled, the excess dirt flung away, the tracks brushed, I was ready to finish of the camouflage. This time I put some metal over it, not much, not as much as the first hole. But, I piled up a little more of the naturally occurring trash over the hole and surrounding area. Once again, the hole appears to be just another lump of trash in a trashy abandoned mobile home location of an abandoned piece of property.
Example #3 –
This is not a MonoVault and I am not hiding weapons this time. For the box itself I used a military surplus ammo box. It is plenty big enough, sturdy enough, and a tight rubber gasket on it. Yes, it is metal and yes, it will rust. But, by the time it would rust out enough to ruin the contents not only would I be long dead, so would my kids. This box will last sufficiently long enough for its intended purpose.
This ammo container can also be buried either standing up or laying down flat. I thought I would do an example of a flat lay. However, as always, finding the right area was a priority. I wanted this location to be more of the “deep cover” site that people wouldn’t be walking by or have any other reason to be there. I chose a location under some mature PJ trees that you have to make your way into to ever find it. By default I figured that this would deter any metal detector person and even ground penetrating radar folks since it would inconvenient for them to even get to the ground where the goodies were stashed.
I chose a location that had a slight uphill slope to it. I wanted to give any water a natural runoff effect to help protect the container from water impingement. Then to add a little extra protection I used a contractor grade plastic bag to cover the top of the container. The bag went well down the sides to help shed water. I purposely didn’t tape it to the box. I didn’t want any water to be held between the bag and the metal box if water somehow got inside the bag, I wanted it to be able to flow out and past the box.
Once again, when digging out the hole, place the removed dirt in an area well away from the hole. If you notice the ground here has a natural cover of tree droppings. If you pile up dirt on top of those it will stick out like a sore thumb.
And again, I brushed away any tracks. Be careful to not sweep too hard, don’t leave “tracks” from the bush you are using to brush away the tracks. Tracks are tracks and if they are unnatural looking the eye can pick it up pretty easily. Take your time, work gently, make it look natural.
Once I swept the area free from tracks it was still obvious that the ground was disturbed. That can only be remedied one way…return the natural ground cover to where it was removed. I retrieved the ground cover from other tree areas well away from my tree. I would then fling it over the ground parallel to the ground. The trick is to not just dump the ground cover or get it too thick…just work slowly and let it cover the ground evenly a little at a time.
Now that the liter ground cover was in place you could still see that the area was disturbed and it really didn’t look like most of the other area under the other trees. The solution? I went and collected the right kind of limbs, twigs, etc. and spread them around.
Here’s a thought…don’t look at your area close up. At first walk away 50’ and then look over your area. Does it look natural? No, then use some more ground cover material. Don’t go overboard and make it look more covered than the other areas. Once you are satisfied with the 50’ look, then go to 100’ and then 150’. At 150’ you really shouldn’t be able to tell anything took place at your hide location. And that should be true even immediately after your camouflage session.
Given time, the area will continue to look more and more natural because the ground cover you used will age and blend in with the surroundings.
Food For Thought –
Let’s war game this for a minute. Let’s say that it was a total grid-down, the SHTF, and we did make it to the property and we did bring our supplies with us, including weapons, etc. What value are the caches now?
I say they are extremely valuable…in the ground. Yup, leave them in the ground. Why? Oh, a whole host of reasons why. Let’s try –
- One of your existing weapons becomes non-functional. You can tap the cache for a replacement.
- You have more folks show up that need supplies and weapons. You can tap the cache to outfit them.
- And another…for whatever reasons someone, or some government agency, does a gun confiscation. Yup, you can turn over your guns without them killing you. Then go dig up the cached weapons and supplies and be good to go.
- And another…times get horrible and you are forced to flee with nothing. You can later sneak back and retrieve the cached supplies.
And the whole time the supplies, especially the weapons, are safely stored in the ground just waiting for the time when you might need them. Yes, I am saying leave them in the ground…one of the best gun safes you have.
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