What is "caching"? Simply, it is hiding a quantity of supplies that you might need in the future. Do you have a spare set of keys kept somewhere you can get to them in case you lock yourself out of the house or car? Then you know the principle behind a cache.
The following article recently appeared on the misc.survivalism newsgroup. I thought the information was sound and worth passing on. Geoffrey kindly gave me his consent to post it here. I took the liberty of deleting a few lines of other messages that he was replying to, as his words stand well on their own.
Speaking as a person who has placed numerous caches under many different circumstances, this last method is the best.
To simplify, and risk repeating Nick's information : by taking a tarp, carefuly cutting away four, one foot by one foot squares of the top soil/sod and placing it directly on the tarp, one can dig the necessary hole and recover in such a way as to make it difficult to recognize where a cache is located.
Some things to be aware of : My caches are made of either 6" or 8" SDR35 PVC pipe (it is a bit thinner than schedule 40 and less expensive, but provides more than enough protection to the supplies inside). Length tends to be bout 42" to as long as 60" (usually when storing a longarm). My caches tend to be located under heavy cover (i.e., not out in the open) usually in wooded areas where surveillance/accidental discovery is minimized. Landmarks are very easily recognized and are permanent. Exact location of the cache is a consistent method (i.e., always 10 meters from a specific marker). Caches are made during late spring and into the summer. Other times of the year increase the possibility of hunters, etc. being in the area.
I tried emplacing caches at night, but that didn't work too well. You need light to work and properly cover your equipment. My caching technique requires a minimum of 2 people to be effective. One digs, one watches/listens. Our best method uses 4 people : 2 to emplace and two other s as security. Everyone has radios. Basically what happens is we perform a long-term surveillance of the area (if we don't already know the area). This long-term surveillance may take place over an entire year. We go there on weekends, drive by on weekdays, possibly even hunt the area during specific seasons to get a feel as to what goes on there.
Once we've decided to use the place for a cache. A cache tube is created and sealed BEFORE we get to the site. The topcap is sealed on with grease, unlike the bottomcap which is glued on. Equipment carried with us is a radio, water, the prepared cachetube, hand-auger (no gas-powered), poncho, backpack, long-handled shovels, and sandbags.
When doing the 4-man cache technique. Everyone loads up into a truck. We do a very early morning drive-by (just before sunrise) and drop off one person for security. We wait for his signal that everything is quiet. Then we drop off the two diggers who have everything ready to go. They move immediately to the cache site and sit down to watch listen. The vehicle driver moves to a quiet overwatch position, usually far enough away to see the entire area and avenues of approach. The diggers then go to work, maintaining constant radio contact with everyone. The topsoil is removed and placed on the ponchoes, the hole is dug with all the dirt going into the sandbags. Once the hole is dug, the tube is dropped in and extra dirt tamped down around the tube. Extra water is poured along the tube sides to help settle the dirt. The topsoil is placed back on exactly as it was removed. Extra dirt (already in the sandbags) is loaded into the backpack (with a trashbag liner) and is carried out. With two people digging, it only takes about an hour to an hour and a half to do everything, depending upon soil conditions. The one person on security meets up with the two diggers who all then move to a pick up point (not the same location as the drop-off point) and the driver picks them up.
Other tips : Don't place your caches out in the open, even in the woods. Place them at the corner of a bush or something. Don't cache in tall grass, doing the dig and getting to the site will make it obvious that someone was there. "Mound" the dirt a little over the cache site before replacing topsoil (after the dirt settles, a depression will form if you don't do this).
I hope this helps!
Please send a copy of any responses to my email address as well as posting them to the group.
Geoffrey L. Hardin,