Hunker Down Or Bug Out

Travel & LeisureOutdoors

  • Author John Stanlley
  • Published August 4, 2015
  • Word count 3,194

Hunkering Down is Urban Survival, but the minute you step outside your door, you have entered Wilderness Survival, which requires a whole different skill set. Now, a lot of you military guys will probably do fine with that change, but I don't think a lot of the civilian folks have given that the thought it deserves.

First and foremost, the packs that most people talk about carrying are so heavy that they won't make it for more than a mile before they are exhausted. If they pare away too much else, they won't survive. Most people are going to have to Hunker Down whether they want to or not.

If all the pooky hits the fan, there are going to be a lot of really bad, crazed people running around, so now along with having to add mobility and the weight of a heavy pack onto your outdoor adventure, you are going to have to evade all the bad people trying to kill you or steal anything they can get their hands on, and that doesn't include the military who are probably also going to be out looking for people to throw in the back of trucks for transport. And if you do get attacked, and have to fire a gun, everyone is going to know that you are there, so now the bad guys have enforcement's heading your way.

Additionally, if you are on foot, you are not going to be able to take much food with you due to weight, so how do you plan to eat? I read a study that was done, I believe by one of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries that said, if people had to survive on wild game, the state would be depleted in a matter of three or four weeks. Now what? And let's say that you make it to the wilderness, and you are safe, right? Except that if you are using a gun to hunt, then everyone for two or three miles around knows that someone has killed something, and if they are hungry, they know right where the sound came from, and they are going to be looking for you. Guess you are going to need a good bow and some arrows... oops, more to carry. Let's take it a step further... you take some game down with a bow... how do you plan to eat it? Do you know how far the smell of cooking food travels? And we are right back to uninvited visitors, unless you plan to eat it raw.

Okay so you have a get away vehicle, huh? How many other people do you think are going to have vehicles? If you are lucky and don't end up in a gauntlet set by the military to herd civilians to "other" locations, you are likely going to face thousands of other people, who also have vehicles, and who are also trying to get out of the containment area. Can you say massive traffic jams on choke points like bridges, on ramps, exit ramps, etc.? If you are stuck in your car in the middle of said traffic jam, you are more vulnerable than you would have been at home, and you still have to walk out.

Next, let's consider that most of us have family. My mom had a stroke this past November, and my dad is pushing 80. He is probably more fit than most 45 year olds I know, but still, he is diabetic, and on top of that, it would be terribly hard to try to carry my mom. That would mean that someone would have to leave their pack behind. My folks wouldn't make it. How many of you are willing to leave your parents or grandparents behind to fend for themselves? What about an old person who has been your neighbor for the past twenty years? Karma has an interesting way of bringing things back to you, so take care how you answer this question.

My point here, and I haven't even scratched the surface of likely problems, is that most of us talk about Bugging out, but in reality, for most people, there is very little chance of that being a successful venture. It might be time for a lot of folks to really think about this, and then rethink it. It might be time to start building up that group of like minded neighbors, who will be willing to stick together and protect each other.

Now from a different perspective:

Family who can barley take care of themselves makes it almost impossible to bug out.

As far as the weight issues and surviving, I know that most of the population would soon find out how much physical abuse a human body can take. Yes the packs are heavy but you also want to live, once you get moving it gets easier as you go on and you redefine the phrase pushing your limits for yourself.

Depending on what does happen to cause this change in our world. Staying in a populated area could mean inevitable death. You might survive for a wile, but in a lawless environment people create gangs and do terrible things, if your odds are not 3 to 1 you will more than likely die.

I believe in situations like these, the first ones out, will be the ones who rebuild over the ashes of those who stayed.

What I said may not be true for all, but I have come to this through a good amount of experience. I intend to stay put unless something occurs to make my ao uninhabitable. I know the land, the surrounding area, the available resources, the people, and what to expect from them, in short, home field advantage. The life of a refugee is seldom pleasant and often short.

As mentioned you should make initial plans, but make contingency plans as well. As things unfold in any situation you may find that you need to enact any combination of these plans.

There is no way to say what to do in each situation, but make a decision, any decision. No decision is still a decision albeit a very poor one. I guess my decision to Bug Out and abandon my ranch is when I hear that the 17 million people 2 hours southwest of me are bugging out.

Then based on the level of response you may want to up it one, if things are getting worse.

I have 4 levels of response with a few different plans for each.

  1. Bug In/hunker down. This is the most preferred. All your stuff is with you. You know the area. You might even have friends /family that can band together. You also maintain title to your house even if renting, a very important thing. This is where I have one years of preps, but I am willing to abandon it if my children's lives depend on it.

  2. Bug out by vehicle to a BOL [b]Bug Out Location[/b]. This is a whole range of discussion. My true BOL is 2100 miles away, not really feasible. But I have a temp BOL/Staging area 8 easy miles away. I have also setup a sanctuary on the other side of the desert. More on this some other day. Currently working on totes that are pre packed for this. I have a F350 and F150 and trailers for this. One of my threads just the other day on my former site was working out the logistics of living in the desert for 30 days. Campgrounds In my opinion could be a very dangerous place in a SHTF (crap hits the fan) scenario.

  3. Bug out by animal packing. I have 2 horses and 2 llamas (one is only 5 months old) plus packs for them. Currently between 3 people and 3 animals I can carry 650 pounds of gear. Currently working on fixing an old goat cart that I can use, also teaching one horse to pull this. That picks me up another net increase of 200 pounds. I have done extensive research as to where I could head. The advantages of living next to big canyons.

  4. Bug Out on foot. This is the least desirable but is also the most discrete and mobile. This will get into the whole Bug Out Bag thing which could be hundreds of posts. I keep mine down to 35 pounds. If it's a bug out for good I have another pack that I can hump on my front also weighing 35 pounds, containing survival gear.

So the point is have more than one level of response and be ready to enact any one at any time. Your gut will help you with knowing what is best. But prepare and train for all.

I also have a variety of plans for each.

  1. Staying put I can either fortify the house or hide everything and open my doors for inspection

  2. Bugging out by truck, as I've mentioned, I have different BOL's and Staging Spots. Right down to going straight into the desert. follow me if you dare. Not everybody will be carrying 30 days of food, 450 gals of water, 100 gallons of diesel, and 50 gallons gas. Thank god for an F350 with 24' foot enclosed car hauler, Plus my daughter's F150 and cargo trailer.

3 and 4. Bug out with animals or on foot. Also as mentioned, I have studied the back country around here extensively, since I live right next to huge canyons and the and miles and miles of desert. I have my secret map with secret decoder ring marking out these sites with numbers scaling different benefits or disadvantages. Water, concealment, etc.

Bugging out may be the only option for some. We now live on a five acre property in a rural area north of Dallas, so one may think we're in good shape. However, if you look at a Google image of our area, you see that although we live in a forested, low pop area consisting of maybe 7000 acres, we are surrounded by urban sprawl in all directions, and the fact that we, and most of our neighbors, have at least poultry, if not livestock, make our little piece of the world very inviting for a savvy raider, pilferer, or plunderer. Now, with six kids, all under 9, and another on the way, the "Bug In v. Bug Out" debate is one my wife and I have had, and continue to have often. No way our place is going to be ignored for long by refugees or raiders from Houston, and very few of our neighbors would really be reliable in a SHTF situation, as I believe at least some of them are involved in illegal activities on their property. I know for a fact that at least two of our neighbors are being watched by LE agencies of some sort (I pay more attention to whats going on in our neighborhood than they do, I guess). Plus, Uncle Sam just built a brand new military installation consisting of about 2.5 acres not far from us. It has obviously been built as a defensive structure, if I ever nut up enough to take some pics, I'll post them, and you'll see, it's pretty scary. So bugging in is only a short term solution for us. I always think in worst-case-scenario terms, so when I think of bugging out, it's on foot. but thats what horses are for. We have two horses, and have access to several others. There are two public stables in what we would consider our AO (within 1 mile). Not that I would steal someone elses horse, but I will definitely be riding over there to scout for any obviously abandoned horses before we leave the area. Having run a stable before, I know that most folks who own horses but no land usually put their horses pretty low on their priority list when money gets tight. I got one of the horses we have now because someone couldn't/wouldn't/didn't pay their stall fees. No point in letting a perfectly good horse starve to death while YOU ride Shanks Mare... Of course, our horses could be killed and eaten or stolen, so then-

When it comes to heavy pack- mine weighs about 65 lbs. But, since I take it to Spring Creek and hike with it pretty often, I'm confident that I'll be able to struggle along. Won't be fun, but with the kids, I can't afford to have a Bug Out Bag, it's an INCH bag for me, and a lot of that weight is ammo. I have rat traps, snares, snare wire, a small Victory steel trap, fishing gear, and I know how to rig some pretty savvy snares, I've got carbs, protein, and calories packed, enough for 9 days for the whole family at full rations. My wife has to carry our youngest in a front-facing chest carrier, plus she'll almost certainly be carrying our second youngest (who would actually ride inside her pack thanks to some old cloth diapers and ingenious sewing), so her pack is relatively light, mainly with survival gear in case something should happen to me and she lost my pack. The three oldest have their own packs, but there's nothing essential in there, extra clothing, a little food, nothing crucial or heavy, as theirs would be the first packs to be ditched if speed or stealth were required.

The big issue for us is "Where to Bug Out???" If we owned land suitable for bugging out, we'd already live there instead of renting in Dallas! I know ONE guy with land around here, and he's a bit of a d-bag. We really dislike each other, but he needs my knowledge, and I sometimes make some good money off him. Whether he would see me showing up at his place with my family as a good or bad thing would depend on his mood at that particular moment. I think the fact that his 100 acre farm is 300 yards off THE main East-West artery spanning this country would help convince him that he could use me. Plus, the small and unfortunately informal group we have put together includes one ex and one active duty Marine, an EMT who is currently working on his paramedics (plus both his parents are doctors and he and his wife work in his mothers medical clinic, yeah, I'm talking about YOU, JonSamuels lol), and another guy who's just pretty darn savvy, and shoots straight, figuratively as well as literally. Then there's my wife and I, who are purity expensive considering the "baggage" we bring in tow, but our knowledge and experience in different fields hopefully off-sets that.

So, our plans are by necessity are left malleable, they can be changed in minutes to compensate for unforeseen circumstances, but ultimately, as one person has already noted above, it's in Gods hands, if the whole world were to gather together to harm you, or to help you, it would be impossible without the consent of The Creator...

I think another thing that most people don't think realistically about is the distance that you can travel in one day, especially while on foot. I think some may believe they can make it from their current location to nearly any other location on the map with little to no delay; the reality is that if teotwawki occurs and you plan to remain nomadic or have a long distance goal in mind, you may only actually cover a few miles a day. Not dozens, or hundreds. It could takes weeks, even months to do what you can do now in hours or days.

I would prefer to be on the west slope of the Rockies as it is less populated, yet there is one big huge BUT to that - getting there. The roads (to call some of them roads is questionable in my humble opinion - I have an intense fear of mountain roads that drop off a 1000 feet) could quickly fill up as every hunter in the state as already mapped out every possible bug-out route possible using those "side" roads. No way am I going south - if you need to ask why, then you need to read more. That leaves north and east. North would be where many who have bug out locations in Montana and Idaho would be heading and traffic again would turn into a parking lot. Don't think all the back roads haven't be figured out by thousands of other preppers/survivalists? First sign of problems and those roads will ALL be full. So now that leaves me only east, which is a high possibility if an area can be found that is a ravine, gully, arroyo or something like that, as you would want to be hidden and not in a building. Yup, I have given this a great deal of thought.

Bugging In - is really our only possibility, at least at first. Some say if you can't get out in the beginning you are dead. Some say if you can't bug in until things calm down in a little (2-4 weeks), you are dead. Without a two day notice - ahead of the herd that is - bugging out is just not going to work for my little family. We would have to bug in and make it look like we are no longer there. There would have to be hidden areas we could get into if someone came into the house. The house would have to look like it had already been looted and nothing worth taking there. Trash the place, take every bit of food and hide it.

Where do you hid it? My aunt told me about what her close friends have done. Inside drywall. They made shelves and then put up old fashion wood paneling, made it fit well but not attached. They then put dressers, book shelves and other odd things up against the paneling to hold it in place. This was done along one very long wall in their basement. Because they made shelves inside the sub-wall, they also made the inside pocket deeper and a 5 gallon bucket fits in there fine. There is 3 years of food in that wall. There is 3 months worth of water in that wall. In the closets of are other buckets and kits within the walls. This friend of hers did this 30 years ago and rotate their long term storage every 10 years, water once ever year and a half to two years.

The other thing with bugging in, well even bugging out is FIRE. Fire will spread quickly. No matter what your plans are, fire will quickly change the whole game. Five years of LTS could go up in smoke and then, where will you be?

Surviving is a lot of hard work and a great deal of luck. If the good Lord means for me and mine to survive, he will make it so and if not, we are ready to meet our maker in a much better place than this old worn out world. Never lose touch with that fact. God is in change of all things, even when it doesn't look like it. Have faith and pray often.

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