Doomsday Preppers Week 11: Farmers and Flyboys

John and Kelly Taylor are retired firefighters from Florida who have moved to the mountains of Virginia to live on a 41-acre homestead.

What led them to leave the Sunshine State?

Former emergency responders, they’ve been on duty during hurricanes and other natural disasters, and they’ve seen how thin the veneer of civilization can be when the infrastructure holding our society breaks down for even a little while. They’ve seen mankind go primal, and they want to insulate themselves from the social unrest that will follow what they feel is a coming economic collapse. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah.

From everyone.

They invested all of John’s retirement into prepping. The little income they do have of $4,000-$6,000 a year comes from their solar panel array, which not only provides all the power they can use, but generates enough energy that they sell the remainder to the power company.

Between their crops, animals, and honey bees, the Taylors have managed to “check out” of the normal monetary economy, rendering them largely immune to the direct impact of the financial collapse they fear must come.

Of course, what they can’t do is isolate themselves 100% from the sort of social unrest that would presumably follow such a collapse, and so they’re taking steps to defend what they’ve built.

In the event that they are forced from their homestead due to invaders, they have supply caches in the hills nearby, and have a desire to protect them. Their solution? Conibear traps. I don’t claim to be an expert on trapping, but I’ve heard the stories of body traps such as these designed for possums and beavers killing family pets, and I find it both unethical and possibly illegal to set such traps and leave them unattended as they seem intent on doing. It’s also incredibly stupid. Do they really think a trap designed for a small animal is going to stop even the blind man that doesn’t see the shiny metal traps, or it is just going to tip invaders off that something nearby is worth taking?

John’s plan in the event that they are forced to flee is to hole up on the nearby mountain, and then snipe at the invaders below from the high ground. It’s not a terrible theory, but he then bizarrely announces the horrible selection of a weapon to carry out his plan, an AR-15 carbine with an Eotech sight. Eotechs are excellent holographic weapon sights, but they are designed for close-range combat, not long-range shooting.

Compounding the strangeness of his selection, when they finally do go up the mountain in their camo ghillie suits with their firearms, the gun John talked about wasn’t what he was carrying; he took position carrying a long-barreled AR-15 varmint rifle with a large conventional rifle scope. They play at being sniper and spotter, but when John calls for a range-to-target from Kelly and can’t get any better than “300 to 350 yards” on their own property, and John fires from a poorly supported sitting position without using a sling or the bipod mounted in his rifle, it’s pretty obvious they have little idea what they are doing. Oh well. Nobody is perfect, and even near misses from the mountain might be enough to force invaders to flee.

The experts on the show give them 13 months of survival time, which isn’t bad since they don’t have the huge supply of a year’s worth of food set aside. In my opinion, John and Kelly may be some of the best-prepared preppers the show has seen. This isn’t something they do part time or prepare for; this is something they live, and frankly, I’m a little jealous of their “back to the land” approach to living a simple life.

Brian Brawdy is the Tony Robbins of prepping, with a web site selling motivational new-age mumbo-jumbo in addition to the podcasting they talk about during this episode of Doomsday Preppers. He is a former police investigator prepping to evade a series of coordinated terrorist attacks by being on the road 90% of the time. I guess an attack on the highway system isn’t on his list of concerns.

Brian’s truck-mounted camper is rigged with solar panels and a wind turbine to charge his electronics, and he’s stockpiled what he claims to be a year’s worth of food. He has buckets and water filters to extract water from roadside creeks and ponds, and has developed a powerful concern for where he’ll draw his next tank of diesel for his thirsty truck. Towards that end, the producers engineer a little scenario where a friend who preferred to remain anonymous showed Brian how to siphon fuel from a vehicle.

Let’s stop for a second and consider what Brian is doing. If things are desperate enough that Brian is going to need to siphon fuel to move, don’t you think the likelihood increases that people with fuel might take extra precautions to safeguard what they have? And don’t you think they’d take a very dim view of someone stealing their fuel? In short, Brian is learning how to get shot as a looter.

As the segment winds on, we learn Brian is what some folks might call “paranoid.” It’s one thing to prepare for a possible disaster; it’s another to hide your vehicle every night and cover it in camo netting.

Frankly, Brian is a crappy human being. While it is never mentioned in the broadcast as the producers frame him as a “lone wolf” alone against the world with his dog, Brian’s prepper bio reveals he is a husband and father of two young children who has seemingly abandoned them. I’m sure they enjoy the home and land that he provided for them. It’s too bad he doesn’t seem to give a damn about them being a family.

Now, where was I?

Oh, yes: in addition to hiding his vehicle under camo netting every night as far as he can reasonably get away from other people, he has also developed an computerized and sensor-drive security system to alert him to anyone moving up on him at night, so that he can presumably escape.

If he has to defend himself, he has made the interesting choice of a crossbow — a slow to load, short-range, and unwieldy single-shot weapon. It’s an odd choice for a former police investigator who is presumably comfortable with handguns. I’d suggest that Brian is either sandbagging and not showing his firearms, or in a worst-case, is prohibited from owning firearms for one reason or another.

Practical Preppers gave Brian nine months of survival time in the event of a disaster. I’m pretty sure the black helicopters or the nice orderlies with the giant butterfly nets will get him long before his food runs out.

Frank and Elaine Woodworth are preparing for a global economic collapse.

A builder and amateur pilot, Frank is a fitness junkie, which works out well since his wife Elaine is a former fitness instructor. He considers his physical shape as a key part of his prepping plans, which is something many preppers rather obviously don’t. Towards that end, 56-year-old Frank and Elaine train with mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter Marcus Davis for both fitness and self defense.

It’s commendable that Frank is seeking high-intensity training like MMA, and he is probably in very good shape for a man in his sixth decade. That said, I’d think that a sport with an emphasis on endurance would be a better option for preppers, whether that is kayaking or moderate-distance running. If he’s planning on MMA to be his primary defensive strategy, he’s setting himself up for failure. He cannot overcome the fact that he’s getting older, is of small frame, and is just one person.

Like several other preppers this season, Frank has become a professional prepper, and has gone into the business of building bunkers like the one he and Elaine have buried in a remote woodland island location accessible only by Frank’s seaplane.

While I feel Frank’s defensive preparations having no discernible weapons at all is a huge mistake, his choice of location is a good one. If it is really as isolated as is claimed, and there are no roads or even hiking trails through the land around the lake, then odds are relatively slight than the average person is going to push thorough undeveloped woodlands portaging a boat that would be needed to reach Frank’s island. Presumably, Frank would be able to see any such attempt to paddle across with enough time to escape in his seaplane. It seems a fairly solid plan, thought I’d probably prefer some cleared land for farming and at least a few small arms for defense.

If Frank can’t make it to his island bunker, he’s got another one he’s placing a lot closer to home.

The experts hammered Frank and Elaine pretty hard, despite their remote location. They have no long-term supplies to speak of, no way to grow food or raise animals, and no water filtration. They give Frank and Elaine three months. I think that might be a little generous.


Previously from Bob Owens:

The Nuts on Doomsday Preppers Wouldn’t Last a Week

Doomsday Preppers Week 2: How To Destroy Your Internet Marriage Without Even Trying

Doomsday Preppers Week 3: Child Abuse

Doomsday Preppers Week 4: Fish and Firepower

Doomsday Preppers Week 5: Hot Sauce and Helicopters

Doomsday Preppers Week 6: Escape From New York

Doomsday Preppers Week 7: Let’s Drown the Family

Doomsday Preppers Week 8: Of Castles and Kings

Doomsday Preppers Week 9: In the Hurt Locker

Doomsday Preppers Week 10: Survivors and Ghosts