There may be no zombie apocalypse in our future, but no matter what comes our way, Placerville resident Doug Huffman, 54, is ready for it.
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More than ready for it.
The owner of a business called Sierra School for Survival, the Placerville resident models what he preaches by living a self-sufficient lifestyle and teaching others how they can as well. Part of the prepper movement, he is one of those who believes there will be a societal collapse in the not too distant future.
Huffman was even featured in the National Geographic series on Doomsday Preppers. Huffman claims the episode he is in was the most popular because, “literally I was the only sane one on the show.”
Huffman operates his survival training business from a 300-acre ranch in Placerville. He owns part of the ranch property and is caretaker of the family trust fund on the other 260 acres. He said at one time the ranch was the site of the largest producing gold mine in the county.
But the property’s real value may be as refuge of sorts from what Huffman says is coming. And to prepare for it, he is making it as self-sustaining as many homesteads were hundreds of years ago. “For me, it’s the perfect lifestyle,” he said. “I love it. Is there going to be an economic collapse? Absolutely. There will be a reset of the dollar within the next two years along with food shortages.”
To that end, Huffman grows his own food with a wide variety of meat sources to choose from, including rabbits, sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks and geese. In addition, the 16-acre lake on the property is stocked with bass, catfish and crappie. “They are all organic,” he said, adding that he also makes his own MRE’s (ready to eat meals). “I don’t eat processed food because of this lifestyle. The worst thing for people is processed food and sugar.”
Eliminating waste and repurposing everything seems designed into the ranch. Rabbits are grown for their meat with leftovers ground up with the bones and fed to his two dogs, both of whom appear to have a job. The Anatolian Pyrenees guards the livestock and the Queensland Heeler seems to be Huffman’s personable but no-nonsense bodyguard. Below the rabbit hutches are bins to collect their droppings. Those plus worm castings make up the compost he uses to grow vegetables.
Down the path from the hutch is his 52-by-26 foot Quonset hut-style greenhouse. Currently he is growing 16 different vegetables plus an assortment of herbs for eating and medicinal use. He’s also in the process of setting up an aquaponics system that will combine fish farming with vegetable growing. “I don’t buy meat or vegetables anymore,” he said.
And no survival compound would be complete without a food storage building that originally was an old root cellar. He said it holds a two-year supply of food and others items needed in an emergency. “Preppers often stock up on food but fail to consider hygiene,” he said. “The No. 1 killer in the world is lack of clean water and sanitation. Preppers have lots of guns and ammo but spend nothing on sanitation. You need a lot of soap, shampoo, and water purifiers. And the water purifier needs to be one that is one micron absolute.”
Huffman said he doesn’t worry about water because he has three wells plus a lake on the property. And he said he’s generating energy using solar, wind, hydro and earth magnetic generators. With the goal of being 100 percent off the grid by next year, he’s now adding to his energy store by building a small hydro plant near the lake that will generate electricity off a six-foot waterfall. He said when operational, it will generate enough electricity to run six banks of batteries that will run any 110 outlet.
“We lost power three times this year,” he said, “but we just hit the generator and it was on again. Most people can’t get their car out of their garages without power.”
The professional soldier
Huffman seems to be at this place in his life after a career that took some unexpected directions. He said he started out as an indoor volleyball player from the eighth grade through college and then played pro for 10 years.
At 28 he became a technical consultant on the U.S. national volleyball team and traveled around the world studying how other countries trained their athletes. He also cross-trained with teams from other countries.
In 1991 he retired and became what he called a “professional soldier” or “defense contractor.” He said the government frequently recruits triathletes for positions with elite forces.
“Warriors are built. They tear you down and build you so you can accomplish whatever the job is,” he said. “The limits I push myself through are much different and are way past what other people do, like hiking 20 miles a day with an 80-pound pack or going three days without food or water.”
Later he worked as a construction contractor and then went back to being an overseas contractor. During his career he said he’s been a consultant to the Navy Seals, the Navy, Army, Marine Corps, FBI, CIA, and Sheriff’s Department. “I did tactical and combat tracking and the termination of people,” he claims.
He said he only teaches now and it’s been six years since he’s been one of those kind of contractors. Now he teaches hand-to-hand combat and works with military and law enforcement units on tactical and combat tracking. These are important right now, he said, because of all the drug growers and people on the run who have committed crimes.
Training in self-reliance
Huffman said very little of his business is local. Instead he travels extensively to other states to conduct training and does the rest online, teaching what he does to others. “Everything I do on the ranch, I film. I teach online to a worldwide audience.”
His Website sierrasurvival.com features hundreds of short videos for his members, instructing them on everything from tactical/combat tracking and yoga to ditch medicine and food storage and preparation. “Nothing we’ve done has ever been produced elsewhere. It would take 20 different schools to do what I do.”
On a local basis, he holds monthly survival club meetings with several dozen families who come and study with him for four hours. Huffman said the people in the classes are, on average, living on 5 acres with their families. Both parents are working professionals and want a self-reliant lifestyle. “That’s what I see nationally,” he said.
Huffman also offers camps and a Jr. Ranger program to teach youngsters a variety of life skills to survive both in the wilderness and in urban settings.
Returning to one’s roots
Huffman said what he is doing is appealing to many people. “This is now the romantic lifestyle. People are returning to their roots.”
Saying he’s not anti-government, the prepper says he just doesn’t want to be dependent on the government to supply his needs. He said for three days after a major disaster, people will cooperate. But after that, all hell will break out as people fight for food, water and whatever else they need. “You have to make decisions beforehand of what you will do.”
As examples he cited what happened after Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. “If the government can’t handle a small geographic area event like Katrina and Sandy, they can’t handle a national one,” he said. “They interviewed the EMS workers who showed up to help after the Katrina Hurricane and 95 percent said they wouldn’t show up if it happened in their region. They would save themselves and their families first.
“I don’t think I want my security and that of my family at risk. That’s why I lead this lifestyle.”
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.