Skip to comments.Bugging Out vs. Hunkering Down
Posted on 01/19/2013 3:23:13 PM PST by blam
Bugging Out vs. Hunkering Down
January 19th, 2013
The Survivalist Blog
This article has been contributed by M.D. Creekmore of The Survivalist Blog.
The very idea of leaving the security of your home to bug out to the woods has never sat well with me In nearly every instance its better to hunker down or bug in than to bug out. I mean, why leave the safety and familiar surroundings of your home, for the open and unforgiving wilderness.
For many people this is their first line of preparation against disaster, unfortunately, most will end up joining the multitude of other refugees freezing in a cave and eventually end up dead or wards of whatever government is still functioning.
I live in a fairly safe area and have prepared to survive at home and can conceive of only a few scenarios that would force me to leave. Even then, I would go to an out-of-state relatives house with whom, I have a pre-arranged agreement, where if need be he can come to my place or I to his after a disaster.
I know what youre thinking what about an end of the world as we know it type event, well if such an event were to take place, there would be no 100% safe place for most of us, and really do you think you would be better of making a go of it in the open wilderness as opposed to hunkering down at home.
Dont get me wrong, Im not saying we should never bug out to the wilderness; we should indeed keep all our options open, what I am saying is that there are better ways to survive most disasters than heading into the bush.
You need to weigh the risks of bugging out vs. hunkering down and make your final decision based on logic and type of threat. Thats the way decisions should be made, unfortunately many people when making plans for survival side with emotion (that emotion being to run and hide) instead of the more tried and true form of decision-making known as logic.
Relying on emotion instead of logic can make for some interesting adventures; however without sound planning beforehand those adventures are likely to be sort lived. For example, I recently asked a fellow in his late 30s what he would do if disaster struck his area.
He thought for a moment and said he would gather his family and all the food, guns and ammunition he could find and head for the mountains that lay some seventy-five miles to the north of his home.
Depending on the type of disaster, his plan might work short term for a lone survivor or a small group of individuals in good physical condition with proper gear and mind-set. But he is a new father and his wife is one of those that think missing an appointment at the nail-salon is the end of the world as she knows it.
Making matters worse he has no outdoor survival training or skills other than watching reruns of Less Strouds Survivorman and camping at a national park campground with all the utilities and hookups. Why he thinks he can survive off the wilderness while dragging his family along, I dont know. He isnt thinking logically.
His decision was based on emotion and as a result if he ever has to put his plan to the test in the real world his family will likely suffer or die because of his decision and Red Dawn thinking. Unfortunately, this batman in the boondocks mentality is and will continue to be the chosen survival plan for many who havent thought it through.
When making survival plans for your family you have to honestly weigh the risks of your decision based on logic. In almost every disaster scenario, it is better to stay put (bugging in) or head to a pre-arranged safe place at an out-of-town relatives or friends house than it is to head to the woods to eat twigs and pine bark.
For most people an evacuation bag is a better choice than a bug out bag. An evacuation bag should contain the gear necessary to get you from point A to point B, whereas a bug out bag (in most cases) is geared more toward wilderness survival. I have both, but admittedly my bug out bag is an option of last resort.
Knowing when to go is much more important than the contents of your survival pack or even where you will go. You dont want to jump and run before you need too, but you dont want to wait too long or you may never reach your destination.
If you wait for the authorities to give the order to evacuate it may already be too late. The roads leading to safety could be blocked and impassable by motor vehicle and walking to your destination may be impossible or too dangerous to attempt.
On the other hand if you jump and run in response to every potential disaster youll soon deplete your resources and the patience of your family, school and employers.For example, say you live in an area prone to tornadoes like Texas and you evacuate to Arkansas every time the clouds turn dark or the wind shakes the leaves. You would literally stay on the road. But waiting until the twister is at your door will put you at an unnecessary risk.
There are no easy answers; all you can do is weigh the dangers of bugging out vs. hunkering down depending on the situation and logic. You have to consider the nature of the threat and ask yourself which gives the best chance of survival with regards to the type of disaster you are facing.
Then, there are times when evacuation is a no brainer, say you live on the Florida coast and a category 5 hurricane has been predicted to hit that coast within twenty-four hours, in that case you would be stupid not to go now, even if you have no prearranged bug out location
On the other hand lets say there is snow storm heading your way and you have food, water, heat and a way to cook even if the power goes out for an extended amount of time then you are probably better off to hunker down where you are.
In my opinion the bugging out vs. hunkering down debate is moot because it all comes down to the type of threat, your personal situation and preparedness level in the end youll have to make that decision based on that knowledge and common sense.
A Wal-Mart store might be a good bug-in place if a person were well enough “prepared”.
You want to do whatever puts the most distance between you and the cops.
to me, bugging-out means getting away from the population centers and get to your bug-in prepared location
Dear Lord, it sucks, though. A lot.
I'd rather be home with my tools, my stuff, my neighbors, etc...
If a tornado flattens the house, I'll put up a tarp and still stay here and go through the remains to rebuild.
Well, if that’s the case, my son is dead. Hell, I’m dead. And so is my mother.
May as well pack it all in now.
In a government-controlled disaster, the highways will be closed and guarded, while media messages will all be “stay calm and stay at home”.
A great propaganda film is “Our Cities Must Fight”, although it’s a 60’s film, it shows the current policy of keeping roads clear for emergency responders. That means National Guard at intersections and entrance ramps. It’s on archive.org
If you are going to bug out, you are going to have to do it well before the hurricane (easy) or tornado (not so easy) or chlorine tank rupture.
Another good strange video is “Shelter in place”, designed for folk who live near chemical weapons repositories.
How is that different than the SOP?
Do not bug out unless you have a retreat to go to. You will just die out in the woods.
My plan was always to hunker-down. If I need to bug-out, it’ll be to my dad’s. He’s close, but remote enough to be unbothered, and he has the woodstove and plenty of land for gardening, plus beef cattle. We’ve talked about it in a what-if sort of way, but it’s funny that even though he doesn’t buy into the prepper thing and doomsday scenarios, he’s certainly more prepared than I am.
It wasn’t mentioned as the SOP in the article. It needs to be said for those who are young and/or still learning.
I've always "Hunkered Down", but the day isn't over.
"Bugging Out" might be a viable option.
This sounds smart, but I'm not sure about the naked part. Seems kind of vulnerable.
And study your maps for alternate routes, like dust road alternatives.
Be sure to have the routes planned in place for whichever direction the bad stuff is coming from.
Me too. I've told the wife that whatever disaster strikes the home - even fire - there are still going to be things we can salvage from the wreckage to survive. And I think we'd do better in familiar surroundings.
In a city during a total collapse, some of a prepper’s neighbors would thin themselves out by moving to join family or by moving to government camps.
A prepper would have his own supplies, plus be able to supplement them with whatever the government distributes, also, there is just incredible amounts of salvageable goods and materials in a city, and in abandoned homes, for instance I have access to filthy water, and with a few boards, some caulking, and a couple of window panes and some pvc pipe, I would have all of the pure water I need from my permanent solar stills.
Depending on the lay of the land, and slope, and where the manhole covers are, I might even have a flush toilet.
Fruit trees are abundant, car batteries, rummaged batteries and bullets, all kinds of goodies are in city dwellings and abandoned second cars, depending on how road warrior things got.
I like the idea of being in my regular living space, that is one reason that I am prepared. Those who can afford retreats or who live on one already, well, that is also their home.
Ideally I would have a special fort in the woods somewhere, but in real life I’m fine where I am, something that everyone (rural and city) needs to consider though, is how vulnerable are they to out of control fires if the system breaks down?
Washington, DC, East of the Anacostia? :-)
I view a SHTF situation not as a catastrophe but rather as a reset. Most preppers along with many conservatives with just a basic work ethic will survive. However, the government dependency crowd will be gone in a month and the FEDS will not lift a finger to protect them. They want them gone as well(but would never say it publicly).
You will not find people who will welcome you or share their food with you. You will be made to keep moving with the rest of the refugees by what ever local law enforcement still exists. They do not want you to stay they will push you through their area so you become someone else’s problem. The folks who live out in the country will be forted up, dug in, and well prepared for hungry and thirsty thieves.
Living off the land is not going to happen, period. As stated in other places here it will be survival of the fittest, the meanest, and the one that will pull the trigger first.
In the western states most of the deer and elk herds migrate seasonally so if you are going to depend on them for food you are going to have to know where they are and how to get to them. Their migrations range from 60 to 100 miles twice a year. Good luck with that.
Prepare, fort up, keep you head down, your mouth shut and stay home. Do not tell everyone you know how prepared you are or they will be knocking down your door when they get hungry. One thing that everyone needs to understand is that you will have only what you are willing to protect so make up your mind that your safety and ability to survive are your responsibility. Even if you do all of theses things there are no guarantees that you will make it through all the crap but you stand a lot better chance of staying alive and protecting your family.
When I lived in WY I did a lot of hiking/hunting and minimalist camping. Living in the woods can be done, but you need practice.
Try camping with a tarp, some cord, a wool blanket, a decent knife and a light firearm for a few days first. You might be miserable, but you’ll learn more about what to do with less and making do.
As far as food, it depends where you are. I camped minimalist for most of the summer in 1998? 99? in the Tetons, took a salami and tortillas and lived in the Granite Peaks area for about three months. There were so many of these grouse type birds to be had, I never needed other game except for a change. They were also eating some ground berries I couldn’t identify, I figured, good for the grouse...and added them to my diet.
I didn’t lose much weight, but the nights were cold above 9.000ft and whetever I went I stopped early to get plenty of firewood because even in summer nights were frosty. I would try to find either fallen poles to wrap my tarp around or living young trees I could trim some branches and bend together to make a 2/3 tipi with a fire in front. I brought a crank radio, and the funny thing was the only station that came in clear was one on the Crow (I believe) reservation nearby, so it was quite an atmosphere when they were playing traditional music.
I could probably have survived quite a while, except winter was coming. I did a lot of experiments building shelters and I suppose surviving up there was possible. I would rather have had more food, flour, oil, coffee, etc. ...and the thing I missed most was hot water. If there had been a hot springs to soak my bod in, then I could very well have said “screw civilization” for a year or more. Bathing in a creek that was melting snow five minutes ago is doable but it ain’t fun.
Anyway, go ahead and go camping “survivalist” style for a few days. You’ll learn something, regardless. Or, you could do like I did. I bought a fixer-upper cruising sailboat and moved aboard...live in a tropical climate...and when I “bug out” my home is my escape shuttle. Best survival platform I know of for the few thousand I invested in it, and the cheap living served me well in this economy.
But if the ocean’s not for you, I’ve lived in ID, MT, CO, and WY and while there are similar attributes I think Wyoming has certain advantages for either a home redoubt, or, if you truly want to disappear, and you can survive in the mountains, if you stay on the move you can pretty much stay ahead of any govt. agency that tries to find you. There are fugitives living in the Rockies that the FBI has been after for decades, and tbey know they’re alive, because they pop up in mountain towns here or there for supplies and then disappear again.
Anyway...I like the sailboat platform. I’m in a river now where wild pigs show up on the shoreline, ducks come right up to the boat and dizzy geese have actually collided with my mast stays flying at night. And there’s always the “escape to the South Pacific” fantasy lurking in the back of my mind. Keeps me buying extra beans and rice at the store and stashing it away, just in case.
Yep, the book 'One Second After' did a good job of describing that, communities and towns will be ushering you on to something farther down the road, something past their own struggling community, a place that isn't "here", or now.
However, if the next hurricane takes the roof off my house or throws one or two big trees into the house and I can't stay here, I'll take my two bug out bags, other things I have prepared and go to the nearest place I can stay.
Tornados come here and there is no place to go to miss one as no one knows when one will come to your particular location. I have a safe bathroom to wait out a tornado warning - which means one on the ground. If the house falls down around me, I've got the two bug out bags in that bathroom. That is everything one would need for six days.
I am safer in this house than anywhere else because I made it this way. But, I can leave if my individual house is destroyed but in that case all of humanity won't be on the roads. As long as my house is standing, I'm not leaving and I'm fine.
From your keyboard to God’s ear/eye.
Well written....well said. Thank you.
“...but I’m not sure about the naked part. Seems kind of vulnerable.”
We don’t discuss “naked” around JRandom - he normally can’t find his pants.
What you are forgetting are the urban feral youths and inner city tribal parasites that will form gangs in order to rape, murder and pillage the cities.
I’m staying put. In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny (A Hare Grows in Brooklyn) “Their victory will be costly”.
I could probably have survived quite a while, except winter was coming. I did a lot of experiments building shelters and I suppose surviving up there was possible. I would rather have had more food, flour, oil, coffee, etc. ...and the thing I missed most was hot water. If there had been a hot springs to soak my bod in, then I could very well have said screw civilization for a year or more. Bathing in a creek that was melting snow five minutes ago is doable but it aint fun.
If anything nasty happens here like an attack from the outside or CWII I expect it will happen in winter for the greatest casualties.
I didn't forget them at all.
I thought that was what we were talking about on this thread, the reason for the question in the first place, am I wrong?
“You want to do whatever puts the most distance between you and the cops”
Really not too much of a problem in many types of events. The cops will be protecting the city, county people, banks, hospitals, and the refugee centers.
After hurricanes here in Florida you’ll see looters but you wont see cops in the neighborhoods.
You are an example.
(That was a comprehensive compliment: I’m tired and short of Quality Adjectives right now.)
Here in America too many people are buggering out. That’s even worse.
You might be surprised at how well I can do. I have urban and mountain survival skill sets. I sure wouldn't want to get married again, though. ;)
IMO they won’t be a big problem. Organizing isn’t a strong suit for the uneducated and they’ll wait for govt handouts until its too late. Now if you live downtown there could be trouble. But 10-15 miles is more than any of them will walk.
IMO the greater danger is the small group of 4-10 ‘professionals’ who start early and take advantage of others.
Every federal agency had directed their employees to get out of the downtown area and go home ~ which is what everybody was doing.
So there we were refugees on our way to our homes.
It took hours but that's where there was food, water, our stuff ~
I understand that AF plane was being piloted by an Air Reserve lady pilot who took it up not knowing what it might be armed with ~ and she found out quickly enough there was nothing on the plane but her ~ and if she had to stop something, she'd have to do it with the aircraft itself. She kept on flying. We kept on fleeing.
Actually we were all pretty cool headed that day ~ things need to be done so you do them.
BTW, before leaving work I downloaded a complete copy of 100% of everything we needed to work with if we needed to set up our shop again after any further disaster. Our counterparts in New York saw the two planes crash into the WTC ~ so that wasn't out of the picture, and there was that burning Pentagon just over the way.
Once home we prepared for further action ~ still, after 12 years of history, I can conjure up every every feeling that day right down to the texture of the seat in that car ~ and the taste of the pastries I'd grabbed from a table in the top end executive meeting room ~ they weren't going to be eating them that day and I had no idea when my next meal would be. They were a rather plain sweet bun studded with big, ripe Bing cherries then glazed lightly with sugar. Couple of my buddies had taken a crate of orange juice bottles with them to a conference room and had tape and plastic sheet ready to seal off a large room should there be a gas attack.
i have more than 2 years living on Portland street.
You were talking about scavenging supplies in the city after TEOTWAWKI and I was merely point out the dangers of actually being in the city, i.e., gangs of thugs.
I figure in a societal collapse, the main highways will be barricaded by armed gangs. Getting through those will be impossible unless you have an armed gang of your own and some excellent tactics to flank and destroy them. Wouldn't count on that happening, honestly.
Oh, I knew what you meant, but I’m pretty sure that this question of fleeing the home or staying in it, is primarily based on the problem of security and raiders in the places where most of us live.
I know that I thought that this was a discussion based on the common assumption of greater security risks of staying in place, or city versus rural, or whatever form it takes.
I want to do whatever puts the most distance between me and any "authorities" that may hamper my ability to defend myself and my family and I want to get away from the "urbanites" who, once they realize food doesn't really magically appear in a grocery store, may come looking for MY supplies.
I think the reality is, in most settings where one isn't 80 - 100 acres or more away from their neighbors, most homes are in fact, indefensible. Large patio doors/glass entryways mean it's relatively easy for anyone to brute-force enter any home.
Unless one lives in a cement bunker with one small window and one defensible door (one way in/out) I think most homes are indefensible.
“Well, if that’s the case...may as well pack it all in.”
If what’s the case, Marie? What part of the posting are you referring to?
Rthe feral gangs won’t last long. I suspect that there are more guns in the gun free cities than you think.
We have talked about this. Bugging out will only happen in the most dire of circumstances. Mostly because we don’t really have anywhere to go.
We have made our home here. This is where we will stay unless our entire town is somehow wiped off the map. Anyone attempting to dislodge us will find that to be a very, very expensive proposition.
"I wash born here, an I wash raished here, and dad gum it, I am gonna die here, an no sidewindin' bushwackin', hornswagglin' cracker croaker is gonna rouin me bishen cutter." - Gabby Johnson
I'm like Gabby in that I'm not interested in leaving.
We all die eventually. I expect I'll die here on this land I was born on.
Lucky man, to still own the land you were born on. Wish I could say the same. Decisions were made for me, long before I was of age. Now that spot of dirt is hopelessly expensive.
I miss it terribly.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/illinois-man-2-sons-die-in-cold-rain-after-becoming-lost-on-ozarks-hiking-trail-in-missouri/2013/01/14/7b979fe2-5e69-11e2-8acb-ab5cb77e95c8_singlePage.html?tid=obinsite ~ cities can be much better than the wilderness.