Plan and Prepared: Interview with a Survival Blogger and Deputy Sheriff

Introducing James of Plan and Prepared

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James is the real deal. As a former survival instructor and current deputy sheriff, James knows a thing or two about managing threats. James shares his wisdom in his posts on Plan and Prepared, a prepping and survival website. With years of survival experience under his belt, I knew James had a brain I needed to pick. James was kind enough to take a break from commanding his task force in order to speak with me. Below is our interview transcript:

James’ Early Exposure to Survival Techniques

Bob: I understand that early on in your life, you were a Boy Scout and attended an outdoor survival school. How has that early development of survival techniques influenced who you are today? What skills that you learned in your formative years do you find the most helpful today?

James: Hi Bob. I learned a great deal while a Boy Scout, and that fostered my love of the outdoors. I learned things such as basic camping skills, fire building, etc. Also, I learned things like basic land navigation, rope tying and knots, basic first aid, so on and so forth.

In my late teens, I attended an outdoor survival course. Upon graduation, I stayed on as an instructor. There I further honed the skills I had already learned as a scout, and then learned and developed new skills. We focused on more primitive living skills, and efforts to be rescued, should you become lost in the wilderness.

The skills we taught were things such as primitive fire making, i.e., bow drill fire making, more land navigation techniques, water procurement and treatment, primitive cooking skills, etc. I do not use these skills on a daily basis, but having them gives me more confidence should I find myself in emergency situations.

Bob: After learning how to survive in the outdoors, you ultimately became an instructor. Has that experience teaching others survival skills motivated you to publish your knowledge through your own website? Have you found that Plan and Prepared has helped you reach a broader audience?

James: I grew up in a “Prepper” family, although at the time it was not called prepping. We just stored extra food and water in case of emergencies. And we raised rabbits and later chickens for meat and eggs. At the time, I didn’t view my outdoor survival skills in the same category as prepping. It wasn’t until several years ago, when I first started writing on prepping, that I began to incorporate some of what I learned as a scout and instructor into my prepping.

My site focused more on being prepared as opposed to outdoor survival. I view outdoor survival skills as something you have to develop first hand. Reading about or watching a video on building a bow drill fire for example, isn’t the same as actually doing it. But I certainly encourage everyone to learn those types of skills. You never know when you might need them some day.

As for a broader audience, I think recent events have opened up a lot of eyes to the need to be prepared. So a lot of new visitors have reached out to my site.

Unfortunately, big tech and social media has really hurt my reach, and has shut down some of my groups, shadow banned my posts, etc. I’m assuming this is because I am a major 2nd Amendment advocate. Many of my articles talk about firearms, self defense, etc. This goes against the mainstream media narrative. I preach that YOU are responsible for YOUR personal safety and security. Unfortunately, being self sufficient and independent is not viewed popularly by the mainstream.

Lessons Learned from Time Spent in Law Enforcement and a Military Family

Bob: I imagine that while you’re on the job as as the operational commander of a multi-jurisdictional, multi-agency warrant task force, you’ve encountered some dangerous characters. With the potential exposure to high-risk situations, what do you do to best ensure your safety and the safety of your team? Do you find that these preps translate to your life while you’re off duty?

James: We go after the worst of the worst. Criminals wanted for murder, armed robbery, rape, etc. The team is highly trained. We practice and train regularly, and I feel extremely confident in the guys I work with.

Dealing with these dangerous felons day in and day out has made me acutely aware of just how dangerous this world can be. This goes back to what I was saying earlier that ultimately you are your own first line of defense. I don’t think people today realize just how much crime is out there. My website has some articles on situational awareness, getting out of mass shootings, OpSec, etc. I do not go anywhere unarmed, and I encourage all of my readers to do the same, while following the laws of their city and state.

Bob: I’ve found that many within the prepper and survival community are current or ex-military. Do you think that coming from a military family inspired your early interest in survival?

James: My father was “career military” and retired from the Navy. My brother served in the Marine Corp. Currently, my son is stationed in Afghanistan in the Air Force. I was not able to serve due to medical issues stemming from my childhood. So I went into law enforcement instead. I know coming from a military family made me appreciate this country and what all it has to offer. Yes, the U.S. has its problems. But this is my home, and I’m DAMN proud to be an American!

I know for many, some unforeseen event is usually what propels them into prepping. But for me, it has always been there. As I mentioned before, I grew up as a prepper. My family had several months worth of supplies stored away specifically for SHTF type events. So I understood the importance of being prepared from a very early age. As a teen, I began to develop some of the skills I mentioned earlier. Things like small animal husbandry, fire building, etc. At the time, my skill development had more to do with my interest in things such as camping and hiking.

It wasn’t until several years ago that I began putting it all together. It was then that I realized I needed more than just stored food and water. I might someday have to rely on those skills I learned as a teen/young adult to help me survive. And now over the course of my career, I have developed skills in law enforcement which I rely on as well. All of these are now tied into my prepping plans and gear.

Prepping in the Midst of a Pandemic and Fractured Society

Bob: The coronavirus pandemic has impacted every citizen across the globe. While those in the prepper community may have been more prepared than the average citizen, I think that most preppers found themselves surprised nonetheless. You mention in an article you posted on Plan and Prepared that you learned a few things from the pandemic. Can you share some of your biggest takeaways?

James: Something I think almost all preppers are guilty of (myself included) is thinking we know how a situation might play out. I don’t think anyone would have guessed this time last year what would end up happening in 2020 due to the pandemic and the social unrest.

For me, one takeaway was just how bad “Fake news” had become. At times I think we were not given the truth, and I think we were deliberately given false or inaccurate information. So I began looking for alternate sources of news and information. I know the events of 2020 taught me just how important it is NOT to rely on just one or two sources for news and confirmed my belief to not always trust the narrative.

Last spring I don’t think anyone expected a run on toilet paper, for example. I expected a run on dry food. And yet I’d go to the store and see dried beans and rice on the shelves, but no toilet paper or hand sanitizer. This goes back to us as preppers not knowing what all might happen during SHTF. So while I stress having emergency plans in place, we have to be flexible because emergency situations will be fluid and evolving. Even now, I don’t know what the future holds. All I can do is remain flexible with my plans, and continue to prepare.

Bob: Putting the pandemic aside, I feel like there’s more reason now than ever before to start prepping. Society seems to be more divided than ever and the economy is in tatters. What are you and your readers most concerned about? What are you prepping for?

James: Unfortunately, I fear that the current social unrest will continue and grow. There is a deep division within not just our nation, but in western civilization. So I think being prepared for more riots and unrest is something we certainly look at. I also worry about the state of our economy. Shutting everything down for as long as we have due to the pandemic has really impacted small businesses. Add in the fact that the Federal Reserve has been printing billions of dollars over the past few months and years, and I think a recession or even full blown economic depression is a strong possibility.

Of course I preach about not focusing on only one or two possibilities. I talk about this in my article 3 Types of Preppers you Don’t Want to be. So my plans and preps will continue to look at a wide range of possibilities. But the 2 scenarios I listed above are areas I’m currently concerned about.

The Importance of Community

Bob: A few years ago, you published an article about the benefits of building a neighborhood watch program. I love the idea of making prepping and security a community effort, as well as getting an opportunity to learn more about your neighbors. What tips would you give to those thinking about building a neighborhood watch in their community? What have you learned having been part of one?

James: Developing friendships with your neighbors is a great idea, even if you aren’t a prepper. Typically, neighbors have a vested interest in watching out for their neighborhood. My neighbors and I keep an eye out for suspicious people and vehicles in our area. A few months ago, some of my neighbors raised a concern that we had not seen an elderly neighbor in several weeks, and we were worried about him. Fortunately, he was fine. Just in self quarantine. But knowing that there are people around you who will look out for you is a good feeling. And developing that trust now will go a long way should your situation deteriorate in an emergency setting.

In addition, in the article on building a neighborhood watch, I mention that getting to know your neighbors could give you some insight as to how they might react should you experience a SHTF event. Francis Bacon is credited with saying that “Knowledge is Power.” And knowing what your neighbors will and won’t bring to the table in a SHTF scenario will give you a leg up when making your emergency plans.

Bob: On the topic of community, I’ve found that preppers are incredibly willing to help one another. The open exchange of information between those within the prepper community is second to none. Do you have any major influences, mentors, or collaborators you’ve engaged with over the years? I know you had written for Graywolf Survival in the past. Was that partnership impactful?

James: Absolutely. At one point in time, a large percentage of prepper content providers had a Facebook group where we kept in contact with each other. We shared articles, ideas, and also offered each other advice. In addition, we helped each other track websites that would steal and plagiarize the work from our sites. (It was pretty bad.) We were a pretty tight knit community for several years.

I tend to think that most of us were more conservative and/or libertarian leaning in our views. And as a result, the main social media platforms began to crack down on our groups. I still keep in contact with a few, and I hope that those people and groups will eventually make their way to the alt tech sites.

Keeping Up to Date with James

Bob: Aside from Plan and Prepared, how can people follow your advice? Do you have any social media accounts or newsletters people should follow?

James: At one point in time, I had a strong presence on social media platforms like Facebook. But over the past year, I have moved away from them. I do have a small presence on the independent platforms. You can follow us on Minds at @planandprepared, on Locals, and on Gab.

Bob: Well James, this was incredibly informative. Thanks for your time and everything that you’ve done for your town and the prepper community at large.

James: I appreciate this opportunity Bob. Thanks for having me on. Stay safe out there!

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