Phoenix Bird


By: Merlin Thrasher Hawk, III Esquire

My work takes me from northern mountains, to southern swamps, onto boats, planes, and cars, from corporate headquarters to coal miner taverns, loggers camps, and crabbing boats; packing a portable survival system to meet my needs requires special care. Mine is uniquely developed as a result of a lifetime of preparation philosophy, and years of full time travel.

Some of what I carry goes in my trouser pockets, some is carried in a cloth business bag with a wide and padded shoulder strap. The bag is a modern version of the one strap bag carried by travelers over the last three thousand years. American Mountain Men called it a musette bag.

As parts of our country become more politically correct, a survival kit with a KaBar and Colt won't always pass muster. At times I go from wild back country, endless swamps, unpopulated inland bays and lakes, to a commercial airline with no time or place to re-pack. Machetes and carbines don't go well on commercial airlines; on the other hand I often need them.

My Swiss Army Knife is acceptable anywhere. I carry a red (red is easier to find when put down) Swiss Champ by Victorinox, the biggest pocket tool chest of all. I carry it in the optional Victorinox two section SOS belt pouch. In the pouch are a compass, thermometer, map scale, electrical tape, surgical tape, clear duct tape, solid copper and braided stainless steel wire, graph paper, ear plugs, orange and white survey ribbon, Band-Aids, magnifying glass, a tiny mirror, string poppers, two 1/2 gallon plastic vegetable bags from the grocer, waxed dental floss, dacron heavy carpet thread in black and white, braided SpiderWire, Cordora line, sewing needles, a three foot long paper measuring tape as used by seamstresses, a small bastard file, 100 feet of 200 lb. braided dacron line, Mini-Mag flashlight, tiny lighter, six wooden matches sealed with clear nail polish, four tiny 8-hour chemical lights sold as bait lights, in blue, green and red, six wooden tooth picks, three large and five small safety pins, four paper clips, four stiff bobby pins, Swisstech pocket pliers, the little Victorinox mechanical pencil, a 3" by 1/8" sliver of magnesium fire starter, and Fisher's write anywhere space pen in bullet style. And most importantly in some situations -- nine one hundred dollar bills, and a prepaid telephone calling card, which can be used to slip a Kwickset door lock if needed. All this and the Swiss Champ Victorinox knife, fits in the SOS pouch which is 2 1/2" wide x 2 1/2" high and 1 1/4" thick, weight is about five ounces. This package including a modified Victorinox Swiss Army knife, is accepted on the airlines, and will handle most situations in the field.

Several modifications have been made on my Swiss Champ pocket tool chest. First, each tool is more than razor sharp, the tiny knife blade is taken to an edge that is too delicate to use for anything but cutting through skin to get a splinter painlessly, the large blade is sharpened to a modified chisel edge for cutting cans, wire, paper, etc. The combination fingernail file, hacksaw, metal file, is exceptional as it is -- so is the wood saw. The can opener is one of the best ever made, especially when re-ground to a better edge. Each screwdriver has the end re-ground to professional standards. The inside of the cord hook is opened up, polished, and rounded so it won't cut string while you're pulling on it. The sewing/reaming awl is precision re-ground, the hole enlarged and deburred inside. The stupidly silly fish scaler is sharpened into a serrated blade (fish scaling is for restaurants and fish scales in a Swiss knife are nearly impossible to remove, the scissors and tweezers are filed to needle points, and pliers are ground to a perfect needle nose.

In my left front pocket I carry my business and charge cards, a small thin metal signal mirror which is the only one I've found that works, card size magnifier, Brunton's life card set, extra car and house key, and my cash, wrapped in four heavy rubber bands. I also carry a professional quality badge in gold U. S. Secret Service style with my name and U. S. Citizen engraved on it. Even police seldom read a badge and it's come in handy a lot. I don't overtly display it, I just let it be briefly seen as I go for my money, license, or credit card. The package is far smaller than a wallet and with the rubber bands and being in the front pocket is hard to pickpocket by even the big city pro's.

My keys and a tiny powerful whistle are on a small split steel ring with 6" of braided steel cable attached to a powerful little light are in my right front pocket with the light hanging outside for quick access. A handcuff key is bound to another key at the top edge with rubber cement to make it less conspicuous. In the same pocket are a small butane lighter, a sharp cheap lock blade, and a small sharper than a razor flat pocket knife for use in the city where a real knife is fearsome to the natives.

In my right rear pocket, when traveling outdoors, is a small zip lock pouch with very thin leather runners gloves, two pair surgical gloves, three more folded zip lock bags, 200' of 60 lb. camouflage color monofilament fishing line, a few hooks, six un-lubricated Trojan prophylactics for use as water carriers, a four foot by six foot piece of ultra-thin gill-netting fish net made of SpiderWire by a local net maker (this is more to support the rubbers for carrying water but it is useful for quick and certain fishing).

In a small belt pouch which detaches by releasing the Velcroed bottom of the wide belt loop is: several film canisters, one of Rotenone (from the garden store) to stun fish, one of sugar, one of Kosher salt, one of aluminum powder, one of potassium permanganate (which is a medicine, poison, water purifier, etc. which can be detonated with the string poppers). In the pouch are also six tea-bag style coffee bags. There are also two sticks of pure charcoal from the art store to be used for marking, purifying, and when ground up, as an inflammable or to absorb ingested poisons.

Clipped inside my right rear pocket is a large serrated Cold Steel folding knife for heavy work, and a flattened roll of thick clear poly tape.

When going on a commercial airplane, everything from my pockets and my heavy silver belt buckle goes into the shoulder bag. It takes about three minutes of me standing at the beginning of the x-ray conveyer unloading my pockets into a large clear zip-lock bag and placing that into my shoulder bag. The time I spend cleaning out everything seems to calm all the guards and it puts all my valuables into the shoulder bag where I can watch them and I've insured that I won't set off the metal detector alarms. When my shoulder bag goes through the x-ray machine, there is so much stuff in there that they have never even looked in it.

On about six occasions security guards have asked me to turn on my minicomputer. I always have a document that pops up saying the name of a government agency at the top and showing a line drawing of my face at the top. With MEMO written largely below the letterhead line and then a large title, REGARDING [GOVT] SECURITY. Several paragraphs are written below it in official sounding language in large print so any inspector can read it easily. As soon as I turn on my computer the letterhead pops up showing my picture and the agency notation. They don't ask -- and get very polite.

To the left of my left rear pocket, in another quick disconnect Velcro- attached pouch, for outdoors use, is a travel style tooth brush, a tube of Amway LOC, super all purpose soap, two thin space blankets made into a sleeping bag with packing tape, two 2 gallon plastic grocery bags, two heavyweight trash bags, a twelve foot square of very thin clear mylar plastic for use as a rain shelter or solar still, two thin folded squares of aluminum foil and an oversize bandanna. In my left rear pocket is another oversize bandana and a 1/8 inch thin, flat, pocket hair brush.

My belt is a two inch wide nylon zippered money belt, with a heavy, 6 oz. buckle of solid .999 investment grade silver, complete with proof marks and sculpted with the Statue of Liberty head. Inside the zippered belt is 40 feet of 650 pound test braided climbers accessory rope and a small folding grappling hook, three woven tungsten wire, nylon covered carabiners, two waterproofed bank checks, and six feet of 3/8" thin-walled clear neoprene plastic tubing to be used to make a solar still or to siphon gasoline if need be.

In the left shirt pocket is my note pad, pencil, pen style long bladed Executive Edge knife, indelible marker, ball point pen and my pocket computer loaded with hundreds of pages of data for all occasions.

In the right shirt pocket on occasion are my micro flare pistol if appropriate and at times the .32 caliber Berretta semi-auto pistol with MagSafe ammo. The MagSafe gives the accurate little pistol similar power to a .380! Berretta is planning to make these again soon but they have not been imported here since 1968.

My shoulder bag is the Eagle Creek ballistic cloth business bag, with an optional very wide strap and non-slip shoulder pad. The wide strap and pad make a huge difference in the apparent weight. When I have more time to prepare for special conditions there are some additions: for some situations, there is a superbly accurate Makarov pistol, loaded with MagSafe, and with extra Corbon hunting ammo, a very light weight 13" machete with a Spiderco style serrated edge added. Inside the hidden all around zipper pocket is 200 feet of 550 black paracord, two tubes of Goop adhesive and shoe sole builder, several heavy nylon cinch ties, and twenty feet of woven nylon strapping. For long trips into the woods I add to my bag a pocket hammock, water-filter straw, and my pocket colloidal silver generator for making the miraculous anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-microbial, that can be used on ears, eyes, or taken internally. In cold weather I add several chemical heaters for pockets and shoes that at $.99 each give ten hours of 130 degree heat. There is also a thin black silk balaklava and black silk neckerchief, to keep the head and neck warm if needed. I always include the ultra bright Laser Products tactical flashlight, and two extra lithium batteries, a four ounce blaster of 10% pepper spray (mostly to get rid of dog problems, as humans are not much affected by small sprays), a very small Sony tape recorder for notes, a three ounce Sony all wave radio and tiny reeled up wire antenna.

My bag also carries my little three pound laptop computer by Hewlett-Packard, with an extra battery, and a light little printer by Cannon; both are battery-powered for my writing. There is some paper and three sheets of perforated card stock for making on-the-spot business cards. Included in the bag are a Gerber pocket tool with several added specialty tools and a flat wrench that goes to 7/8" SAE, or metric equivalent in the pouch. A high quality mylar pocket raincoat from a luggage store is superb; I bought a dozen for a buck each, but they are worth much more. There are toilet seat covers, a squeeze bottle of alcohol, and glycerine for disinfecting toilet seats and hands, a partial roll of toilet paper with the tube removed, and a squeeze tube of waterless camping soap. There is a full but flattened roll of extra heavy clear plastic tape, 5 mill thick, clear poly, twelve feet square, folded to the inside dimensions of my bag, to use as a tent. Also, extra AAA and AA batteries, sunglasses, folding reading glasses, a plastic pouch of super vitamin, mineral, nutrient powder, and six pouches of Knox Gelatin protein powder. There is a pocket copy of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, all Amendments, a pocket first aid book, field guide to edible plants, and the now out of print but superb micro-printed survival cards, a telephone area code directory sheet, a miniature road map of the U.S. with coordinates and sheet magnifier, and a copy of the huge AAA complete US travel map that has been reduced to one sheet of very thin paper, waterproofed, and folded. There is also a data sheet I printed out in nearly microscopic type then had reduced further onto very thin paper and water proofed. It contains the distillations of my entire survival library and with the sheet magnifier takes hours to read as it represents many, many pages of regular size type. There is a tiny cell phone with a super long pre-cut extension wire antenna taped to the back, which can be pulled up into a tree with a piece of string that has been thrown over a limb and hangs down to tie to the end of the wire. With the wire the cell phone will reach out many times farther than normal, although illegally.

With all this stuff, and the know-how to use it there is seldom a situation that defies handling. Every person can evolve a carry-always survival kit, one or two pieces at a time. It is fun accumulating, and increasing the quality and utility of the items while finding ways to decrease weight and size. My bag weighs about eleven pounds and the entire contents of my pockets and belt is about two more pounds.

The gun and ammo add another pound when I carry them. Blazer aluminum case ammo is very light Recently I began to carry a sling, like the David and Goliath thing; as I practice more it becomes more useful, but it takes a LOT of practice. The ancient Jews were able to kill with a head shot at over a hundred yards, ammo is free, those that are proficient hunt deer, birds, and more successfully, and the sling is nearly invisible and certainly not alarming on x-ray.

The pocket survival system is a fun system to use and there is considerable challenge and entertainment value in accumulating the equipment. The fun part is using it. I have many friends who just ask for the most outlandish things and expect with certainty that I'll have what they need in my pockets or bag. I do.

by Merlin Thrasher Hawk, III Esquire
P.O. Box 511 Libby Montana 59923