Cache Points Part III
The next phase is going to take you to the area, so plan a few days to conduct this reconnaissance. This will not be the time when you actually bury your cache, as you do not want to be hasty in your mission execution. Use your reconnaissance for just what it is, recon of the area and an opportunity for you to physically walk the area to identify your cache point. And, you should return at different times of the day and night to ensure activity doesn’t change at your selected point. It’s fine to use a GPS at this stage, but you may not be able to rely on that later in the SHTF situation. So make sure you are prepared to take pictures and do sketches of the site. Consider the ground composition as well, for digging in rural Connecticut will be met with many rocks, decidedly a difficult time for the digger. Look for alternative areas, even structures or high points in trees that can be concealed. Also, a location under water is always a real consideration if you’ve got the proper storage containers that keep out moisture. Of course, waterproof everything inside your cache point, too.
Now’s the time to ramp up your covert brain machinations as you want to have a reason for being where you’re going. Come up with an easy, believable story about why you’re in the area you’re in. Assume a cop finds you walking around your possible cache area, what are you going to tell him? Remember, he’s trained to read people, so keep it simple. It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong, you just don’t need anyone knowing your business. Make sure your story goes with what you look like. A bird watcher is going to have notebook and binos, so you should have these things if that’s your story. Binos are good for surveying areas anyway so work those into your cover story. In peacetime, you really don’t have to worry so much about being stopped and questioned, but consider you’re doing this after a major event and someone has occupied areas of the region. Also, consider doing your recon in phases, depending on your time and resources.
► Rule out areas that won’t work first and you may need to revisit sites that may work to get a better feel for them. Remember what I mentioned; check all times, day and night. Check after school hours, many kids may run off in the woods to do certain covert activities, we don’t want them stumbling on us at any phase of the operation, but better to identify this before site selection.
► Consider others with a similar mindset that may be thinking as you are, if it’s a great location just keep in mind others may be using it for their secret place. Look for signs of disturbed vegetation and other telltale signs of people being there. If you think it’s a good place for a cache, someone else may as well. Digging a hole may be fairly safe but it takes time and is easy to lose if you’re not thorough. Placing things up high in trees or in abandoned buildings may work pretty well but it’s risky. Also, consider putting things under water if you’ve got an appropriate airtight container.
► Once you have completed your reconnaissance, return to your hotel and get back to your maps and google earth. Now, do your detained analysis and select the best location with all known intelligence you’ve gathered.
► Next, as you narrow your list you’ll need to return to the site to get a feel for it, remember it may be years from this time when you need to get to it. Seasons change the appearance of natural locations so prepare for that as well. Trying to commit a trail to memory is extremely difficult; don’t rely on your trail recall to get you to the point. Again, use key terrain features, items that’ll always be there no matter the season or conditions. Now, take pictures from all angles, sketch the site, pace count or use a measuring tape to know distance from certain terrain features. Also, have a compass in hand to shoot an azimuth from your known key terrain feature; however, this can’t be as reliable as it sounds for a novice compass user. Finally, remember that you may need to send someone else to this site, so keep it simple and make it so that anyone with the proper coaching can get to it.
► Finally, take your time and do a good job, your cache point depends on it. You may need to get there at night so think about this as well. Be sure to cover your tracks, even during this phase of the operation.
Selecting your Cache:
It’s important to remember the items I am being redundant with, as they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Your hidden cache point relies on these concepts. Of course, remain tactical in your approach to the cache but you should be able to find the site when needed, so before you get into digging or stashing the cache you have considered this. You need to have a couple of good reference points. The first requirement is that you have a solid reference point that should get you within site of the cache location. The final phase of the location should be a natural physical mark of the site or a system that allows you or someone else to easily pace off or measure from a known point direction to exactly where your cache is located. This point should be:
► Easy to locate and identify from your route
► Identifiable regardless of season or time of day
► Simple to explain what it is and how to find it. The last thing you want is to document some hill and then see a hill that fits the exact same description but it’s the wrong one.
► A location that you can use to easily find the final reference point. If you use the top of a mountain for example, you may need some intermediate reference points to narrow down the area.
► Preferably, a location you can actually stand at and head out from to get to your cache site.
Once you’ve determined a cache site, find the exact spot of the cache. You do this by identifying a final reference point that your first point directed you to. This point should be:
► Easy to identify that you’re on target. Find something at the precise location that’s easy to identify when you’re standing in the cache site.
► Marked by something that doesn’t change or move. The bend in a river is a good location to mark a general area but flooding and seasonal change can move it so it’s not good for this.
► Directed from your other reference point(s) easily with a simple description.
► Close enough to the cache to measure easily. The final reference point may be directly at the cache to make it simple but that may not be possible.
► Something permanent. If you mark a location with a tree branch, the first windstorm that comes by will hide your stuff forever.
You don’t have to have just one thing as your final reference point. You could use something like the halfway point between the corner of a fence and a large tree or site along two trees to give you a line and measure out 30 feet to a row of bushes where you bury it. In any case, take an azimuth with your compass as a backup. Remember, if you rely on a compass only to mark the direction, you may not have a compass when you come back to get your stuff; that goes double for a GPS.
Stay alert, stay alive!