Skip to comments.The Fallacy Of Bugging Out – Are You Prepared To Be A Refugee?
Posted on 04/19/2012 4:44:54 PM PDT by blam
The Fallacy Of Bugging Out Are You Prepared To Be A Refugee?
April 19th, 2012
This article has been generously contributed by Survival Acres Sustainable Living & Common Sense.
Many websites, blogs and forums have covered the topic of bugging out in excruciating detail, all under the assumption that this will be a necessary escape plan for many of us when the proverbial shit hits the fan. This notion is predicated upon the belief that escape and evasion, necessary for your immediate survival will be a (likely) event that you must plan and prepare for now.
However, nothing could be further from the real and actual truth. This cherished myth is a deceptive and dangerous notion that has little place in reality. Ive long held a stanceagainst this notion because in nearly all cases and all situations, this is a very bad idea with oftentimes fatal consequences. Bugging out is embracing the refugee lifestyle a very bad idea. Refugees throughout history have fared very badly, suffered extreme hardship and deprivation, with many not surviving the experience. There is a far better alternative to this.
The rejection of the bug out mythology flies in the face of the so-called expert advice and theory being proposed by many websites and authors, who are also very active in selling products and gear specifically oriented around this concept. You could say quite rightly, that there is indeed a agenda at work here, but it is not one in your best interests. Hold onto your pockets and read on.
Bugging out entails leaving everything you are, and everything you own, and everything you use, day in and day out, and everything you cannot carry or transport with you, behind. Not only behind, but inaccessible, unusable and abandoned.Potentially forever.
How much of our lives, and the things within our lives, do we truly want to abandon? You will also leaving behind all rules of normalcy, the concept of plenty and abundance (which also means replacements and repair), all laws, rules, behavior andexpectations that we have come to expect from each other and within our society, both good and bad.
Lets make a list of these things to put this reality into perspective:
You will be leaving behind your job (income), perhaps your family (wife, kids), your home (shelter), your friends (support network), your contacts (other people you know), your bank accounts (money), your credit (ruined), your retirement (pension), your property and everything you own (everything you cannot carry with you), your vehicles (except perhaps one, at least until the gas tank is empty), your future (prospects, employment, credibility, integrity). Dont forget things also left behind, such as electricity, running water, Internet access, news and information, communications, telephone and even cell service, a warm, dry bed and other essentials, some more then others.
You will also leave behind all expectations of normalcy, decency, morality and expectations, i.e., a normal life,forever more on that below.
If you were dependent upon a job, it will be gone. You will have either been fired or laid off with a ruined reference for any future employment. You would not be able to pay your rent or your mortgage, your utility bills or any of your monthly obligations. If theyve lapsed far enough, then you would be facing bankruptcy and / or forfeiture of your (remaining) assets, or at the very least, their liquidation (if you still have them) in order to survive a few more weeks.
Its possible your kids or your wife could be gone, having abandoned you for abandoning them or sucked up into the system by the welfare state or child protective services. Your marriage could be in ruins, your family and friends could disown you, but in any case, what would be left of your relationships could potentially be in complete tatters. Worthwhile? You decide.
Your connections to society and civilization would also be destroyed, or certainly damaged, perhaps beyond repair. In effect, youd be cashing out completely and perhaps forever, of the life youve lived and starting over. Worthwhile? You decide.
But youd be alive! (supposedly).
In effect, bugging out will mean you will be totally abandoning your present life in exchange for huddling under a tree in the woods, trying to avoid hypothermia and starvation, wondering where you next meal will come from, and how long you can hold out in your new reality. And whatever it was that you chose to run away from will still be there. This is perhaps the most overlooked point of all.
How long could you hold out? Not long. The reasons are many, but they are sound.
The need to bug out is an exceedingly tiny reality a future event that will probably never happen. But it is not a zeropossibility (nothing is, not even an alien invasion). Yet this topic still receives a ridiculous amount of attention despite its extremely low probability, which makes no sense at all. The reason is because escapism is thought to be a solution versus contributing to the problem. Its not, as the points above demonstrate.
Running from whatever the problem is, usually ensures that you are taking your problems with you. Only if your life is inimmediate danger does running offer a better opportunity then staying put and dealing with the problem. Running does not make problems go away, it will very often make them much worse.
Running is also thought of as being romantic, adventurous and even brave in some circles. Taking on the world all by yourself while youre on the run is a common theme in movies and books, but has nothing to do with real life. Running means youre in full-blown survival mode and all bets are off, including all notions of morality, right and wrong, doing the right thing and what you can even reasonably expect to happen. Anythingcan happen if you run, and often does, because you are replacing all of your security for a whole series of things unknown (and insecure).
Did you know that if you abandon the system, then the system will also abandon you? Nobody much talks about this point, but it is true. You will find yourself outside of society, unhelped and unhelpable, unknown, disconnected and even hated for being what you have now become. With no address, connections, no references, no family or friends, nothing with which to help connect you back into society, society will turn its back upon you in fear, and you will be outside of all normal channels of help and assistance, effectively cut off. This is a huge issue, but nobody ever mentions it.
To The Woods
Bugging out is usually assumed to mean to the woods where survivors, patriots, militia, end-timers and others will be making their last stand (apparently together, whether they like it or not) while roasting hotdogs and marshmallows. Instead, it will be the last man standing over a pile of rotted and half-eatencorpses, since the food and supplies and the notions of living off the land will have died out with the last slaughtered deer to be found. And every survivor will have been hoping all along that nobody has turned them in for poaching.
Campsites, caves and hidey-holes will have become armed, dirty and infested encampments of hungry and desperate men (the surviving women would have long since been forced into prostitution and slavery), all fighting over the remaining scraps to be found (and newcomers showing up) necessary for their survival. Informants, traitors, thieves, murderers, rapists and thugs will quickly become the defining characteristic, with the strongest ruling (or eating) the weak. Those who arrive first will potentially be better prepared to prey upon the late-comers or the weak, so if you are still planning on trying this, get your seat at the table early.
Think not? This is exactly what happens during civil wars and internal conflicts when a country turns against itself. The war in Bosnia saw tens of thousands of murders, rapes and thefts as the people turned on each other. It was a fight for survival, for food, for weapons, for money, for women.
It has happened all over the world, and it will happen again. Whenever there is not enough to go around, and whenever there is strife, secrecy and conflict, those involved will resort to whatever methods of survival that they have to in order that they might live another day by whatever means possible. It will be no picnic, no romantic retreat into the woods where faith, truth, righteousness or rebellion will flourish and grow. Instead, it will be a bloodbath where the young, old and the weak succumb the quickest. I suggest you bring lots of Tabasco sauce, as it does make the meat taste better.
Bugging out also means you are leaving the norms of society behind. These are the rules, laws, restrictions and expectations that you have come to expect (and largely appreciate) that govern human behavior. Would-be dictators and gang leaders will spring forth from unlikely sources. Since there is nothing to hinder them, then they will allow themselves to be unhindered. Unrestrained, you will find the true nature of what your friends can really be. Youll soon regret not locking up the mad caps among you and taking away their weapons. If food or medical supplies are in short supply, then expect gang on gang, tribe on tribe warfare to begin. Expect slavery, torture, imprisonment and rape. Also expect the nearby communities (cities, towns, villages) to become their prey, as theft, robbery and murder to go hand in hand with their (daily) need for food and other things like fuel and medical supplies.
Inversely, you could also expect smart and prepared communities to expel, exterminate and hunt down these refugees if things get way out of hand, exacerbating an already bad situation. Forget for a moment the military or law enforcement going after these woodland refugees (a topic unto itself), the locals themselves will not be the helping hand that you may have naively come to expect, especially if you or your gang have already trod upon their welcome mat. Theyre trying to survive too, and live normal, unfettered lives as best they can. They dont need nor appreciate you coming along and messing things up. Camping out in their back yard or nearby forests will often pit you against them in violent and lethal ways. And they will be far more adept then you are outlasting you because they will have the infrastructure and support network to do so.
Survivalism is only rarely about surviving in the woods. Rather, survivalism is about living, and staying alive, and how you might do that while experiencing as few hardships as you can. Bugging out to the woods to survive your end-time fantasies is going to be a quick path to death for the majority of people that try this route. There is a better alternative to this.
Bugging out is never quite what everyone seems to think it is, where living off the land and finding adequate nutrition and staying healthy is grossly overlooked. Many people claim that they can do it, yet return year after year from hunting season empty handed. When the beer runs out, they head home. Or when the food is bland or gone, theyre beating tracks as fast as they can to the nearest restaurant. These survivalists and outdoorsman will not survive their voluntary refugee status by bugging out, but they will (if they show up, far from home) be a serious problem for the locals.
You will burn up a tremendous amount of calories (as much as 3 4 times as normal) while trying to live off the land. Finding and building shelter, hunting and gathering for food and water, providing heat, establishing security and working and waking / walking for long hours at a time, will cause you to expend far more calories then you will be taking in. Even if you are very well supplied, you wont be for long (you cannot carry enough). Foraging for food will very rarely provide enough calories versus what you are expending while looking. You will quickly go into a calorie deficit, burning off fats and muscles as your body adapts to your new environment and demands.
Ive seen lot of ill-informed discussion of nomadic lifestyle whereas the individual or group is roaming about, living off the land. This notion is pure b.s., as it is calorie-deficient, ill-advised for security reasons and will increase the risk of injury and health issues. You will need to preserve calories not expend them (if you can).
Calorie deficiency cannot last very long (mere days in most cases) before your health diminishes and your strength drops. You risk hypothermia, vitamin deficiencies and a higher risk of contracting illness and injury due to your weakened condition. Unless your nutritional needs are met and you are able to also stay warm and dry, avoiding hypothermia (core temperature drop) and frostbite / exposure, then it is just a matter of time before you become incapacitated, unable to effectively help yourself.
There are countless examples of modern day survivalists who have found this out, believing that they too could live off the land and survive, but lacking the skills and experience to do so. Additionaly, our forests are not the cornucopia of food waiting to be plucked many seem to think, theyre vastly depleted monocultures of trees, lacking sufficient edible foods and wildlife. Some of these people wound up dead, others were found or rescued. All of them learned that foraging for sufficient nutrition and calories is why we have modern farms it is the most efficient way of meeting our nutritional needs. Even growing your own food at home in a controlled environment (garden) with a plentiful supply of soils, seeds, water, tools and time is extremely difficult, if not nearly impossible for most of us (really) to meet all your daily nutritional needs, all while leading a far less demanding lifestyle then living off in the woods in survival mode. Ive long been advocating sustainable living and raising your own food, but here in the woods where I live, I cannot even grow half of the food I need to stay alive and healthy, let alone expect to hunt it down. Nor can I grow enough to feed my family, compounding the nutritional needs required.
Bugging out is in nearly all cases, a very bad idea, fraught with danger and pitfalls, destined for failure and doom for those that believe that this will be their answer to whatever theyre running away from. It would only be necessary in the most extreme circumstances (extremely rare) and for very extremely short periods of time and for extremely few (skilled) people. This rules out almost everyone else. You would need to return to civilization far sooner then many seem to be planning for. If you did run off into the woods, youd soon be back (as many Y2K refugees found out). Wouldnt it then be a better solution to avoid this unnecessary step altogether if you could?
Ultimately, this then is the far better solution bugging in, back to safety, food, heat, clothing, medical attention and survival. If you truly think that you foresee a need to bug out then revise your plans to bug in to a new location within civilization where you can find (or work for) food, clothing, shelter, safety and security (including an income) where your survival is a far more sure thing. This is the only long-term answer there really is. You will also be in a much better situation to deal with whatever the problem was in the first place that caused you to leave.
I do not have a bug out bag anymore, since it no longer makes any sense to me to have one. I do have cash, toys, tools, vehicles and other things of interest at my disposal. Disappearing off into the woods is a dead end and it will not work for the vast majority of people that would try this. You would have to come out sooner then you think (if you survive) and return to life within civilization somewhere. Youre not going to live off the land indefinitely, and not even as long as you may think, so it makes far more sense in your escape plan to prepare for living someplace else instead.
The entire concept of bugging out truly needs to be redefinedto fit within the parameters of reality and how this would really work for the vast majority of people. Leaving for reasons of safety, security, natural disasters or some other valid reason is perfectly acceptable but where you go and how you will plan on surviving while you are there seems to be where this theory falls flat on its face against reality. Having the means to leave, but having some place to go, where you can find safety, food, shelter and sustainability is key to a true bug out plan. Planning on disappearing into the woods is in all probability one of the worst ideas you could attempt. You would have to come out sooner or later, weakened, possibly sick or injured, broke, destitute and impoverished a true self-made refugee. Basically, a dumb idea all around, one that should only be tried in the most extreme circumstances and only for the adept.
I’d rather stand my ground than hide or flee if the so called SHTF ever. Should we be cowards or Americans?
Case in point:
The Los Angeles Fire Department is on record as saying that after the inevitable mega-quake in SoCal, it expects the resulting fires in urban areas to rage out of control for weeks.
Anyone in the way of the fires will have to bug-out or burn in their homes.
Same here. Sticking close to trusted friends, neighbors and relatives in Hooterville.
I pretty much agree. My primary bug out plan is to bug in. We’re in a semi-rural area, our home has almost everything we need for a year, and we have enough neighbors that we know and like that we feel secure. Our secondary plan is to bug out to a neighbor’s home. He’s a farmer with a fair amount of land, I’ve shot with him, helped him with home and tractor repairs, and known him for a couple decades. His secondary plan is to come to my home. That’s as far as I’m planning on going - 1/2 mile in my backup plan.
Note: I know that the situation is different in an urban area, but even then I would want to be aiming for a specific address where I know the people, not a hypothetical mountain with my rifle and a plan to go hunting.
I go hunting every year, and see lot of meals on the hoof; but my license only permits a buck with certain antler dimensions, so I take nothing. Were I in a survival mode, there would be many meals. I hunt for the joy of being out in nature, not for the joy of killing.
Aren't all Americans descended from people that bugged out?
(American Indians excluded)
Bugging out can also mean leaving your suburban home and going to your shelter that is much more defensible and better prepared.
I’m looking for an excuse to trade around for a good sailboat that can be brought up to shape for circumnavigation.
I first became aware of a possible economic collapse during the Carter administration. I had a wife and young child.
I had thought about what to do and decided I would take my family and move to my parents farm. They no longer farmed except for a large garden but both my parents had grown up in a time when they literally existed with very little dependence on the outside world.
My Mother had grown up on a 1000 plus acre farm so in a way that was way different from making a living on a small acreage. Still both of them knew how to grow their own produce, slaughter and preserve their own meat etc. I can actually remember when we had a smokehouse and how great it smelled inside it.
Now, my wife is deceased and my Daughter and her family live a thousand miles away. I am too old to live in the woods etc. I simply would stay home and do the best I can. I do have plenty of everything except food. Water is no problem here. I guess I really do need to stock up on at least a few months supply of staple groceries which store well.
I have persuaded my Daughter and SIL to stock up on groceries. They are moderately well to do and can afford to get about anything they want. I think telling her to do so to protect their children was the deciding factor.
Will you take us in if we make it to Petticoat Junction?
Rent “Waterworld” and get a look at that plan.
I’ve already come to the realization that if this were come into being, I would most likely not survive. At the very least, I’d lose all of my possessions and financial well-being.
But I’ve had a good life, and I recall our founders were in even greater peril, yet stood for their convictions. I’ve been preparing for this day since the second plane hit the towers. Why? In that moment, I flashed forward 10 years, and knew this country might disintegrate. Besides, what better place would there be to go too??
I’m staying, and if necessary, fighting. And my extended family feels the same way.
I’ll talk it over with uncle Joe.
Plenty of food/water in my pantry. Enough for me to go about 30 - 40 days. Well-stocked and diverse collection of defensive “tools and toys”. If the SHTF event requires more than that...
“Aren’t all Americans descended from people that bugged out? “
If you go South you will get deported to either Guatemala or California. If you go North you’ll run into people who almost chose a man to be Miss Canada.
Is that land bridge across the Bering straight still open?
Hold until relieved
Yippy Chi Alpha! :)
actually, if I were convinced the society would collapse, I’d go back and live in Mormon country, where the tight society would survive by helping each other...Orson Scott Card has a few sci fi stories that give a realistic scenerios of the future that posit just this.
They remember their history...
when they were on their own in a hostile land.
There could be a time to “bug out”, that wouldn’t be when society was still functioning, when you still had a job, utilities, phone service, could go down the street and buy groceries, or if you had a tight neighborhood and area of strong willed, armed and prepared neighbors. In the event of collapse and invasion of your area, and would depend on the enemy, it would be prudent to “bug out” especially if you had a secure area to go to. In the kind of situation we are discussing most of the population would either end up as casulties or refugees anyway. Predicted natural disasters such as hurricanes or fires would of course be an exception and in certain areas you should “bug out” but should have an advance plan about where to.
We will shelter in place. Live in the forest. Lots of deer, elk, wild turkeys. Deep well, natural spring nearby and a salt lick. Long time storage food to last at least a year. Our very few trusted neighbors have the same thing.
In the worst case,there will be no relief.Just hold as long as possible.
Good article that goes a long way in de-romanticizing the notion that bugging out will be like in the movies. Selco’s articles on SHTFschool.com also brought reality to the survival romantics ideas that they could go it alone during a shtf scenario. Glad this info is available because we all know that it’s all going to crash... sooner or later.
Avoid planning to “bug out” to government-owned park/camping areas in the West in the event of large disaster. Those would be forcibly evacuated and kept off limits due to the problems that would develop with overcrowding (lack of local resources for so many, lack of preparations by campers, likely conflicts, hygiene, winter conditions, etc.).
If you own vacant land free and clear, at least have a water well drilled and septic system built before planning to flee to it. Costs of water and waste disposal are complicated by fuel costs to fetch and dispose—very high costs per, say, month. There are also energy (brutal, long winters in parts of the West, with propane prices and other items for camping hugely high), food, and so on.
Refugees are inevitably provided for in camps or damaged cities by their relatives in the Guard (rations and entertainment given by polite, tired young men and women, oh, boy).
IMO, if I were in a suburb, I’d plan and prepare for staying at home. ...or staying with relatives, friends or the like, elsewhere, if staying at home were not possible (hurricane destruction, etc.). Stock-up, and provide for alternative energy, etc.
And many others hunters, also in survival mode, going after those meals.
I live in a rural area of the Florida panhandle so staying at home which is what I would do, may not be a realistic choice for people in cities.
Actually, I don’t think there is a good option for urban dwellers. Get out of Dodge but where to go? just moving into the country with no preparation sounds like a disaster in waiting but still probably better than staying in the city.
Kart - Check it out
But bug out time arrives after most if not all of that has already been lost.
The idea that bugging out is wrong and should not be prepared for or considered is ludicrous. It should be considered, it should be planed for and if the time comes that it is necessary then you don't have to try to do it under the worst of conditions.
And yes, those who plan to "bug in" should still be prepared to bug out. Your fellow humans are not the only thing you have to fear. Rising water doesn't care if you live in the boondocks. Neither does fire or wind or earth quake or any of the other delightful little gifts nature sends our way.
You should have bags ready and you should have at minimum four places where you know you can go.
Or you can wait until the water is rising and end up in a shelter with a bag of oatmeal, five mismatched socks and a bottle of sunscreen.
A bit exaggerated for effect but you should get the point.
If SHTF you will lose all of your financial well-being simply because the almighty USD will not be very valuable when items being traded are essential for survival. Most of country's money is recorded (not even stored!) in banks, and with collapse of communications you can't get to your money even if you wanted to. Where would banks get the cash for you?
Some of your property will also lose value. Widescreen TVs aren't very useful if the TV stations are offline. Sports cars aren't practical if you can't get high octane fuel for them, or if roads are flooded, damaged or blocked. A multi-million dollar mansion is not much better than a hut when you are all alone against an armed gang.
Your survival, of course, depends on the severity - and proximity - of the event. No need to bury yourself yet. And in the end none of us will survive anyway.
With regard to bugout, for most people the only viable bugout plan is the vehicle on the road toward the nearest border. I personally would go to Canada if I'm forced to leave. But even Mexico might be a reasonable choice if the alternative is worse.
The article is somewhat correct saying that bugging out won't work for most people. Indeed, even most [fair weather] hunters will not survive winter in most of the US territory. A hoplophobic lawyer or an accountant has no chance (wolves were released there for a reason, I guess.) Skills that are necessary to build a cabin, prepare basic food (not just meat) and indefinitely survive in wilderness are largely lost. A single individual may be unable to even cut enough trees - assuming that he has the tools. Trees are heavy.
However as other posters pointed out, there may be reasons to leave that do not depend on your choice. Fire, flood, disease, nuclear contamination - you only can stay and die. Other group of bugout cases involves indefensible positions - which most city houses are. Cardboard walls, glass doors, no basement, no fence, no water, no power - you can't defend such a home, especially if it is too close to the "inner city." Perhaps defense of the entire block can be organized, but that depends on who your neighbors are. I know that all my neighbors are armed, but I don't live in the city. Most city dwellers are not armed; so even if you want to set up some defense you have no tools to do it with. An occasional 9mm H&K is not sufficient. If that's the case then your best option is to move elsewhere. This will buy you time right away - and perhaps a few weeks will be sufficient for the riots to die down, along with many rioters. If the troubles persist you will still have one big advantage over many of those who stayed - you will be alive.
I am sure you have all heard of BOB (Bug Out Bag) we have Bags Sorta Like that but they are for Getting Too a specific point be it Home or designated Rural Sites apart from our own.
I’m too old and decrepit to go out stomping through the woods with a rifle and backpack (that’s so 1st CAV mid-seventies).
I’m stocking up on everything and will make my stand in my own home, if required.
Que sera, sera.
Right, bugging was always supposed to be a *last resort* but recent TV shows imply its an option if you don’t like what’s going on., go somewhere else.
Welcome to Texas.
Waiting until the last chance for a bug out, may not be the safest move in certain areas. Can tell you stories I heard from actual native Kalifornians about their SHTF plans. One guy said he would come out of his house, armed to the teeth shooting everyone he could see just to clear a path. Anyone that got close to him when bugging out would be shoot. He had enough weapons to take down police helicopters and was planning to use them. Then of course there was also the other native Kalifornian who stated he would have no problem stealing to support his family. No problem at all. Clearly if you know its coming, best to bug out whilst it is still relatively easy to accomplish. That is the conclusion I came to. And if the bug-out is caused by nuclear radiation or biological contamination, your area might end up under quarantine.
I have also made underground caches of supplies within walking distance to my house. These caches contain 3-4days worth of food, medical supplies, a gun and supplies of ammo.
If I'm driven from my home I have a 'retreat' spot or two where I can survive and gather my wits for a possible retake of my house. These cached supplies will afford me that opportunity. Those caches are my 'bug-out bags.'
Perhaps we need a new term - bugging to. Many who bug out are in reality bugging TO a safe place rather than playing Rambo in the piney woods.
The article is a bit wonky on the paying the mortgage and such. Excuse me, but if enough hits the fan there won’t be anyone to collect the mortgage. And who leaves their family behind?
But, yes, in certain circumstances one may have to pull up stakes but that would be my last choice. My first choice is staying put beside my water well.
My plan is to get to know my neighbors and organize.
Depending on the scale of the crisis I would organize my nearest neighbors, then the block, then the surrounding 100 or so blocks, and so on. I would call community meetings to elect emergency reps/leaders, organize security, provide food for the hungry, send trucks out to trade for food in the country if needed, etc. Business owners would rapidly organize to protect their property. I’m sure employees of those businesses have a stake in their futures as well.
We are Americans! We will not hide in our homes as one neighbor after another is attacked by mobs. Law and order would be restored pretty quickly (well, maybe not in NOLA).
OMG, I am turning into a Community Organizer.
The bug out bag makes sense for short emergencies, amounting to going camping up to 3 days on a minute’s notice. The whole point is sometimes you just are on your own: home evacuation, bad weather, medical emergencies, sudden travel, impromptu vacation, whatever. Also is nice to just have the basics on hand. Best use for mine was my first child’s birth: I was so focused on them I forgot to prep for my own well being for those 3 days, and was nice to just grab the bag from the car.
For long term survival though, you’d best be living it as the norm.
if you live in an apt in downtown Philly or Baltimore or Detroit for example...YES by all means if the economy stops functioning then head for the hills....
Now is the time.
It’d be difficult to secure a boat.
If that were to happen deer would be extinct Rabbits, squirrel and any other small rodent wouldn’t be far behind.
I'll give that some thought. Thanks!
You are right. During the depression, Deer, wild hogs, alligator, and turkey and the gopher tortoise were all but wiped out in this area. Squirrels and rabbits did a bit better.