Bugging Out Without Leaving A Trail

Bugging Out Without Leaving A TrailIt finally happened! The s*** has hit the fan and now there is mass rioting and looting everywhere. It seems that the violence it’s heading your way. Waiting to face the impending doom is not smart and bugging out is your safest bet. However, you need to make sure that no one can follow you.

While some preppers will decide to bug in and will try holding down the fort for as long as possible, this option is not viable for most of the people out there. Regardless of how well prepared you are, at some point, you will be outnumbered or outgunned. You will regret not moving out when you had the chance.

Sure there are those who have their personal bunker and they will hide deep underground, waiting for the storm to pass. If you don’t have a bunker, well… deep down inside, you know that bugging out is your only option.

The art of bugging out

Bugging out the right way is a drill that anyone can practice, but bugging out without leaving a trail is a skill that only a few masters The suggestions in this article will help you to bug out without leaving breadcrumbs that can lead hostiles to your bug out location.

When the moment comes and bugging out is no longer a decision to consider but an ongoing reality, you will need to calculate your every move since time will be of the essence. You need to rally up your party, in case you need to bug out with other people. Here, we have two types of “friendlies”: the primary ones who are your family members and the secondary ones who are your friends and neighbors. You can communicate with your loved ones via text message or you can leave a secret visual marker at the front of your residence.

Related reading: The bug out vehicle – what to pick when in need?

The marker you leave should be known by all those who were taken into account when the bugging out plan was made. It can be something simple, you can tie a red piece of cloth to your mailbox or you can spray pent an X on your door or some graffiti so that it looks like the action of vandals.

Once the bugging out operation has been triggered, the bug out timeline begins and no matter what happens you have to respect it if you want to reach your bug out location.

The maximum time allocated for gathering your supplies and leaving your house should be one hour at max. Most survival experts agree that it is more than enough time to contact your loved ones, to gather your supplies and leave without putting yourself at risk. It is also true that the closer you are to the event, the less time you will have to act. In general, the time needed for leaving the premises should be halved.

When bugging out, you should consider different modes of travel.

I suggest the following:

  • 2 wheel vehicle for roads
  • ATV for backcountry trail
  • On foot through sole-busting brush and off-road trails

If the SHTF event has triggered near complete lawlessness, the path that provides the least human interaction is the safest one. Going off-road is crucial and you need to get there as soon as possible. You will probably need your ATV to get there, or your dirt motorbike.

Regardless of what you picked, your weight, the weight of your gear and the weight of your vehicle will leave tracks behind. And these tracks will show those gun-toting opportunists where you are going, making it a matter of time until they track you down. Leaving tracks behind will compromise your camp’s position and the safety of your loved ones.

Escape and evasion when bugging out

Since the dawn of time, humans had to use tactics to escape their pursuers. Regardless if they were chased by predators or fellow humans, they had to find ways to survive. Anti-tracking methods are used to confuse, delay and dissuade any threat that might come after you.

Some things will apply to any situation in which your trail could lead to your base camp. The three factors that one should prioritize when bugging out are the following:

  1. What you are taking with you
  2. Where you are going
  3. How you are moving

If you pay attention to these factors, you will minimize your signature on the ground upon bugging out. Chances are you will reach your bug out location in time without facing any dangers.

1. What one takes when bugging out

Emergency evacuation requires you to be fast and light. If you have all your supplies organized and your bug out bag in reach, you shouldn’t have any problems respecting the timeline. If someone is tracking you, you need to estimate how far you can move within a given time-frame and the average speed you can maintain. The weight of your bug-out bag is crucial when traveling on foot.

As I’ve written in a previous article, choosing the right items for your survival bag will let you move light and it affords you agility.

Having agility will allow you to take the route of most resistance. Something that many will avoid when planning a bug out scenario. If the weight of your bug out bag allows it, you should take the route that is difficult for the average traveler.

By doing so, you will hamper a pursuer’s ability to predict where you are heading. Not to mention that you will force the tracker to go through the same terrain and chances are, he may not be prepared for it. He might have to go around and try to pick up your trail further ahead. This will cause him to lose time and even lose your track.

Related reading: Items that should be in your 72-hour bug out bag

Make sure you have as many versatile items as possible in your bug out bag and always test your gear. Don’t just buy the things, fill your bug out bag and leave it be. Take it with you on the field and check how well you can handle its weight. Take note of how fast can you travel while carrying that weight.

2. Where one is going when bugging out

When making a bugging out plan, you should first make sure you have somewhere to go. Going for the woods and hoping for the best will not work for everyone. During preparation, you must analyze the terrain along your bug out route.

You can do this by going there in advance, before disaster strikes, to hike your chosen path by foot. When doing this leisure hike, you must take notes of the key terrain features you find: you should spot locations that can be used for rest, observation, communication, ambush or even to cache supplies.

You also have to think about the unexpected because chances are, you won’t be the only one choosing that bug out route. Think about how a hostile prepper might use the key terrain features against you if you’re the second party, trying to bug out. Check how much concealment your route provides while moving during the day and what the significant obstacles you have to face are. Will these barriers work for or against you?

Suggested article: How to travel when SHTF

Learning about the nocturnal and diurnal habits of the creatures along your bug out route will display behavior that a tracker can read. You can anticipate danger by understanding the signs the wildlife makes. Using the terrain to your advantage is equally essential when bugging out.

Try to walk to the side of trails instead of on them. Always walk on the rocky ground instead of soft soil. If you have a river, you can walk in the water along the stream. You should always pay attention to your every step to avoid leaving tracks.

Knowing your environment is also important when choosing your gear and clothes. You want to be camouflaged as best as possible and picking a red backpack will most certainly give away your position. Your clothes will make sure you blend in with the environment. It is best to have in mind how the changing of the seasons will influence your background and your camouflage techniques.

How to make your home invisible during a SHTF event

3. How one moves when bugging out

To reach the off-road trail, you will probably need a vehicle to get there. As said earlier using an ATV or dirt motorbike is an option preferred by many. These types of vehicles will leave a visible trail and you will need to make sure you can cover your trails.

Most survival experts recommend doing a button hook (moving into a position from a 90-degree angle and then back out from the direction you came) and cache the vehicle, in the thickest and most inaccessible terrain you can find. After you hide your vehicle, you will have to brush out the vehicle tracks for a considerable amount of distance. Wearing foot coverings while brushing the tracks will help significantly and it will reduce your movement signature.

Related reading: How to improve your night vision for survival

When moving out on foot, you have to keep in mind two factors: speed and security. You need to move as rapidly as you can to clear every covered or concealed position in front of you. A wise prepper will stop and assess the situation if he feels that something’s not right. You shouldn’t advance further if you think your next step isn’t safe. As said earlier, you must have a bug out timeline that you must respect and every step you make and the time it takes to make it should be included in that timeline.

When bugging out, you must use all your senses in order to make sure you can bring everyone to safety. You must look, listen and smell before you move. Most trackers are trained to use their sense of vision, scent, sound, touch and even taste according to the environment they’re part of. Aligning these senses with personal intuition and past experiences is what makes a tracker find his prey.

Another thing we need to pay attention is how we deal with human waste and the trash we leave behind.

This article will provide some useful suggestions for waste management when bugging out, but also for when bugging in.

Recommended reading: Tracking techniques learned from our ancestors.

There is also the anti or counter tracking issue that one may raise, but here things are not that simple. If you want to catch a tracker, you first have to learn how to track. Opting for a survival school that teaches you how to track both man and beast will provide you with all the tracking knowledge you can assimilate. After learning how to track, you can develop all sorts of anti-tracking techniques. What you could do with the proper know-how, is limited only by your own imagination. Reading the article above may help you to learn a thing or two about tracking.

I’ve said it before and I will repeat it: you can’t bug out successfully without having a plan and a timeline, and without testing them.

Here is my bug out timeline:

Prepper's Will - Bugging out timelineLegend

  1. The event that triggers the bugging out signal
  2. Initial movement
  3. Cache point (I have some supplies there, will go there only if needed)
  4. Common route observation point (this is a common route point, everyone that gets through here should leave a sign)
  5. Rally point (30 minutes to 1-hour wait)
  6. Observation point (I can check from here if my bug out location is safe)
  7. Bug out location

You can design your own bug out timeline according to your environment, family members or any other friendly joining the bug out party, road obstacles, etc.

Bugging out successfully is a matter of training, there is no such thing as luck or being tough. If you know what to do and if you stick to your bug out timeline, you will reach your bug out location safely.

Other Useful Resources:

The LOST WAYS (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Drought USA (Secure unlimited fresh, clean water)

8 thoughts on “Bugging Out Without Leaving A Trail”

  1. I’d like to know your thoughts on household pets during a shtf senerio. I have 3 small dogs that bark at everything that makes a sound, and one medium size dog the is VERY protective of me. He also barks at anything and anybody that comes on our property. Is there any way to reach train him not to bark at people that let’s them know where he’s at? He would be a great protector but not an asset during a bug in situation.

    • Hello Karen,
      The problem with owning multiple dogs is that some will always be more spoiled than others and they will act accordingly. Even so, they should obey the leader of the pack, it may be you or your husband. You can seek for professional help or you can try to train them yourself, although I suspect it would be hard dealing with four dogs. Bugging in with multiple pets is a real challenge and it will do more harm than good. You have to plan 4 times the food stocks, you have to make sure they can go out (at night) to do their business and you have to make sure you can keep them under control if you want to stay under the radar. Bugging out with dogs that are used to have it their way it’s impossible. They will make such a ruckus, that everyone from miles away will be able to hear it. You can try searching for dog training schools that are specialized in dealing with “spoiled” dogs. To be honest, I really understand what you are going through because in my teen years I had two German shepherds that were everything for me. I used to spoil them and let them do whatever they wanted, but in my case I had help. My father who wasn’t much of an animal lover used to keep them under control and they listened to everything he said. When he entered the room, they were becoming obedient like it was the end of the world and they were begging for some attention from his part. This is why I said that every pack needs a leader, an alpha.
      I hope this helps.
      Best regards,

  2. This is a decent article. Although I do believe that in the initial part of an emergency that would require a bug out you will not need this type of maneuvering. The chaos that will be prevalent during that time will preclude anybody from attempting to follow just your tracks. Not to mention that very few people in the US would even know the first thing about tracking anything. That is a lost and dying skill. I would not suggest going to ground if you have a vehicle. I would also not suggest going it alone. You will also want to establish a pace count so that you can keep track of your distance. The easiest way to do get a pace count is to walk 100 meters, or yards, with and without your pack on. Count every time your left or right foot hits the ground. The military uses meters because it takes about 1600 meters to make a mile. Then right that number in your hat or other item that you will be using/carrying during the bug out.

    • Thank you for your comment Scott.
      You are right about counting steps when traveling with your bug out bag and this is why I always tell people to test their gear and see how far they can carry it.
      Indeed most people don’t have a clue about tracking, but the desperate ones will figure out that vehicle tracks means there are others alive (and they must have something of value). Also, the most will not be a problem because they will not make it past a few weeks if a disaster happens. The problem is with the ones that are prepared and that know a thing or two about tracking (usually military). I’ve seen enough posts and comments on various survival forums about people saying that they will come after the ones who are prepared.

  3. How to cook with out (smell of food in the air) giving your bug out location away? What is your advice? When it is Low wind, windy and air is still?

    • Hello Jerry and thank you for your question. Sorry about the late reply, but time is never on my side. Cooking without dispersing the smell of food is rather tricky and there are various approaches to this situation. If I want to keep a low profile, I would start by cooking during the hours when most people are sleeping (late at night or early in the morning). The fuel you cook with also plays an important role and you need to choose the type of fuel that does not produce smoke (such as propane, alcohol, butane or natural gas). Even solar overs may be an option and it all depends on what you cook. You should use cooking methods that minimize odor, specifically boiling or simmering. I would avoid frying, baking, roasting or grilling. Use cooking bags or aluminum foil if possible when cooking as it will lock in the smell (not completely, but it will still make a difference). Another option would be to eat foods that do not require cooking (like freeze dried or MREs).

  4. Don’t assume ANYTHING about your adversary. Not all survivalists are honest decent people with good will in their hearts. Assuming someone doesnt have a certain skill set or won’t be as or more motivated than you is a fatal mistake. I learn man tracking skills not only to track but to learn how not to be tracked. I learn land nav WITHOUT GPS because it is more difficult. Do that which is most difficult because a good portion of those you may face wont.. Go outside and practice skills when the weather is crappy or you are sick. WHY? Because Murphy is always waiting to mess with you.

  5. I live in a rural area of the Mojave Desert. I won’t bug out unless I see the area being overrun. The reason is there is not a lot of resources here that would attract people to come out here looking for supplies. They would have to walk 15 to 20 miles from the nearest town across the desert to get to my location. Most people have the mindset of an empty barren desert. A lot of locals would also just leave. Don’t get me wrong, there are home grown threats, but I feel they will be leaving for greener pastures once a lot of their friends end up not breathing any more. There are enough people here that won’t put up with the local druggies. Having said all that, I have preplanned some possible places to bug out to. The number of locations are very limited because the only place to go are natural springs and frankly, there are not a whole lot of them. We just don’t have flowing creeks and rivers like most of the nation has.

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