Practical Preppers founder Scott Hunt lives freely
At first glance, Scott Hunt’s Pickens County farm seems like any other Upstate homestead. There’s a comfortable ranch-style home, one corner of which steadies a long, sagging clothesline that stretches over an above-ground pool. There’s a metal-roofed barn, overflowing with equipment and clutter. There’s a vegetable garden waiting for spring and a woodshed crammed full of kindling and scraps. There’s a root cellar, an American flag, and a hint of smoke in the air. And there’s an old hound named Baxter, hot on the trail of a scratch behind the ears.
But tour this property with Hunt, who is the founder of Practical Preppers and consultant to the National Geographic show Doomsday Preppers, and you quickly realize everything here has a sustainable purpose.
Let’s start with the pool. “I don’t look at that as a luxury,” says Hunt. “I see it as 18,000 gallons of water we can use to flush toilets, shower, and drink through a filter.” What about the cuttings in the woodshed? “That’s from a local cabinet shop. They throw that stuff away,” says Hunt, who uses a wood-fired pressure canner to put up vegetables. “That’s probably a three-year supply of fuel I can use to can every vegetable I grow on this property.” The hint of smoke comes from Hunt’s outdoor wood furnace, which heats his water, home, and pool. “Your heating, cooling, hot water, and clothes dryer are your biggies,” says Hunt, referring to utility expenses and explaining the long, sagging clothesline. And the metal roof of the barn? Well that slopes to a gutter system that collects, filters, and stores more than 300 gallons of rainwater.
Over the past two years, Hunt has become somewhat of a guru to the preparedness, or “prepper,” movement. Preparing for what (economic meltdown, nuclear war, bad weather, zombie apocalypse) varies by individual, but Hunt, a self-described “tinkerer” and former product engineer with Michelin, says it’s really just about living independently, sustainably, and preparing for when modern conveniences fail, such as with Hurricane Sandy. “It’s not fear-based,” says Hunt. “Living this way is empowering. Even if you live in Manhattan, you can store food, you can store water.”
Through Practical Preppers, Hunt has helped customers all over the country become less dependent on “the grid,” from installing a $50 hand pump to designing a $250,000 “bug out” location. “We come up with a plan based on their location, resources, and budget,” says Hunt. “We design the systems and put them in place.” Hunt also works with Upstate soil conservation districts designing and installing solar and gravity feed water systems to bring fresh water to pastures and protect watersheds. And he now has his own line of products including the “CRANK-A-WATT,” a hand-cranked, toolbox-sized generator. “It’s for people in an apartment who can’t do solar and can’t do a generator but want to produce their own electricity,” he says. “You’re not going to run major appliances with this, but you can power your laptop and your cell phone.”
Despite being able to live “off the grid,” Hunt doesn’t shun the conveniences of modern life. His cell phone chirps constantly and a large flat-screen TV hangs in the living room. The hum of a coffee machine can be heard in the kitchen as Hunt sips from a steaming mug. “It’s not a survivalist thing,” he says. “Just about everything I’m doing here people did 60 years ago. It was lifestyle before we got spoiled by our instant, on-demand, Keurig-cup world.”