Inside the World of Wisconsin Preppers - WBAY

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Inside the World of Wisconsin Preppers


It's a world of stockpiling food, water and even ammunition.

They're called preppers and are self-described people who prepare for the worst.

Believing something could be imminent, like a natural disaster, financial or government collapse, preppers have found a community in Wisconsin.

"The word 'prepper' I think is kind of tied to the doomsday prepper - foiled hat, crazy guy with a bunch of guns," Curt La Haise said, a prepper living just outside of Madison.

He's referring to the popular Doomsday Preppers show on the National Geographic channel.

La Haise, who's a former police officer in California, says he's not a "crazy doomsday prepper" as he shows off his "award-winning bug-out-bag" with a laugh.

"I'm not prepping for the apocalypse, the zombie apocalypse or anything like that," LaHaise said. "Could it happen? Maybe. Will it? Probably not. Makes a good story line, but I'll be prepared if it does."

He assembled a small sampling for our visit.

He's got a binder with every contact under the sun.

"Lawyers, like I said gas companies, electric companies, insurance companies," La Haise said.

There's what preppers call their bug-out-bags, enough to survive on for 72 hours.

"Firearms?" he said. "Yea, it's definitely a part."

Then there's the food -- enough to last days, months, some even years.

"If a wide-scale incident happened, you only have so many police," La Haise said. "We only have so many firefighters. We only have so many resources."

Initially we thought we'd find Wisconsin preppers alone in the countryside.

But what we quickly discovered, many of them live in cities and neighborhoods.

And you may not know it since many of them don't talk about it.

Where many do talk, though, is online - a forum providing anonymity and opportunity.

The Fox Valley Preppers group has 83 members, nearly 150 in Madison's group.

There's moms, people prepping because of politics or a simple love of the outdoors.

But the common threads are an economic collapse and mistrust in the government.

In a rare look, Target 2 was invited inside a preppers meeting in Madison.

About 40 people showed up, some driving more than an hour.

Their backgrounds are as diverse as their demographics.

"When I was in the military, my first term, I was on an abrams tank," Chad Caso said, a Wisconsin prepper.

La Haise created the group nearly a year ago.

They meet twice a month and share tips.

"I started looking for other people who share similar interests," Andrew Stuckey said, a prepper living in Madison.

Every month, group leaders say their numbers seem to grow.

"If you don't have some kind of preps in your car or in your home, it's just too easy to become a victim," Harold Coltharp said, another prepper who helped lead a seminar on food.

The preppers we met probably aren't made for TV, like the ones on National Geographic.

In fact they sometimes joke about the doomsday ones.

But like La Haise told and showed us, if something did happen, they'd be prepared.

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