One of the issues that I get frequent questions about relates to gathering supplies after rule of law has collapsed and how that is done. There is no easy answer, but we can look to history and common law to guide us.
First, I want to point out that your first responsibility is to PREPARE by learning to produce food, not rely on foraging or gathering abandoned things. But, we have to be honest with ourselves and admit that at some point, we might run out of food or other supplies and may need to gather. Another point is that if something is truly abandoned, it never hurts to gather more if you happen across it.
Under common law, property is considered abandoned if it is left unattended by the owner with no apparent attempt to reclaim it. Now, in our current environment, that’s a bit of a gray area. For example, police generally tag a vehicle on the side of the road, and if it’s not removed within 24 hours, it’s considered abandoned. In a WROL environment, there will be abandoned cars and property everywhere, and the case could be made that in that situation, the owner would have to know that anything left in it would be considered abandoned and therefore subject to being taken for others to use.
For our purposes, we also need to look to the practices of Louisiana police departments in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The area was in a true WROL environment, with looting and burglary rampant. There are documented cases of police chiefs telling their officers that if a business had already been broken into or looted, and the owner had not secured it, that they could enter and take what was needed for community use, OR THE OFFICER’S FAMILY USE. Let that be your guide.
Interestingly, that is the same position I outlined in TW-03 Defensive Operations, in relation to gathering fire extinguishers, axes, ladders, and first aid supplies. The use of abandoned property for community defense is firmly established throughout history.
Interestingly, the National Guard, post-Katrina, forced their way into a Church and used it as an operating base, when they couldn’t reach the Pastor to get permission. This violates the 3rd Amendment, but they said the magic word “emergency”, right? They confiscated guns, too, because “emergency”.
Let me say this again: We are NOT actively seeking out these situations or creating them. We would only do this if the situation arose on it’s own. Your first responsibility is to prepare for yourself and your family,
Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5:8
There it is…right from the ultimate tactical handbook.
Some people might consider picking up abandoned property as stealing. If I did not create the situation, I am not stealing. Even if our group engaged a group of robbers and then found other food and supplies that the robbers had taken from others, it is not stealing. The bad guys stole it. From a Biblical perspective, there are verses in Leviticus and Deuteronomy that say that it is right for a “sojourner or needy person” (that’s YOU, post-WROL) to take produce and food from alongside the road, even if it’s a farmer’s crop. Farmers are specifically told to leave that area for those traveling the road. Let that guide you if you find abandoned supplies.
Additionally, leaving food and supplies that have been abandoned but still good is wasteful, and in a WROL situation, waste kills. If you don’t want to use it yourself, take it and keep it as charity supplies, to give out to others.
My final note on abandoned property: Make it your group SOP to never leave operable weapons or ammunition any time you find them. You don’t know who else will pick them up and what they will do with them. As I point out in TW-03, you may need to arm your neighbors to help you defend or you could use them for barter.
Foraging refers to having the ability to find food. Most often, we are referring to developing the skills and knowledge to identify and collect edible food sources like roots, berries, plants, and mushrooms.
Get out and learn what edible wild foods exist in your area. While you are used to getting all your food in neat little packages from the store, man survived for tens of thousands of years gathering what grew wild. Even agriculture and harvested crops is a relatively new concept when you consider the entire history of Man.
Books, like the SAS Survival Guide or Survival Mindset, are great resources for this.
One of the problems with this becomes our ability to carry things. If we’re following my guidance from TW-01, the Baseline Training Manual, we’re wearing our belt kit, and carrying our Patrol/EDC bag, so where would I put anything we found while patrolling? Collapsible duffel bags are a great option for this. They take up very little space.
I recently found another option, the SOG Mission Medium Duffel. It’s a collapsible duffel bag that fits inside it’s own MOLLE pouch. This actually gives you two bags that you can fill with anything you’ve found, the duffel and the pouch. This bag being MOLLE Compatible allows you to attach it to your Patrol/EDC bag or Full Ruck for carrying without it removing key gear.
In current world operations, I have Gray Man Tactical MOLLE panels in my car, and I keep the Mission Bag mounted there. That’s certainly also an option for post-WROL vehicle operations.
I hope this article spurs some thinking for you on gathering abandoned items or foraging and how your team can prepare for it.
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