I spend a lot of time on forums and social media discussing about bugging out with other preppers. It’s a topic that should be covered by everyone since one day you might be forced to leave everything behind in order to survive. Bugging out into the woods is a common plan for a lot of people, but there are a few things that shouldn’t be ignored if you plan to follow the same path.
No matter how much we prepare and how well we have everything covered, there are a few things that always get underestimated. Bugging out into the woods will eventually force you to live off the land, and you will pay greatly if you’re not prepared for such change. This topic often attracts a lot of information since it’s one of the most popular ones. However, not everything shared out there could be classified as good information.
Most folks say that once it hits the fan, they will grab their bug out bag and head for the hills. They are certain that bugging out into the woods is their only chance of survival. Even more, they say that they will live in the wilderness for the rest of their lives or until things get back to normal.
Things are much more complicated than most people assume and there are a few things you should really consider before bugging out into the woods. If you do not follow a precise plan and pay attention to the rules, your extended camping trip may end sooner than expected.
Considerations before bugging out into the woods
It’s not like in the movies
There is an increasing survival-themed trend promoted by Hollywood and general media and they usually paint an idyllic picture of living off the land. The heroes of such productions are often depicted as experts and they all manage to provide all the necessities without a struggle. They always prevail in the end and they make everything seem easy. This is why most people believe that could pull it off as well as long as they have the needed gear and knowledge.
The reality is completely different and anyone who managed to live off the land will tell you it’s better to avoid such scenario if possible. There are even survival instructors that recommend against it. They can teach you all sorts of tricks to start a fire, but even they have a lighter in the pocket. After all, while struggle to light a fire using primitive methods and to waste energy when you have alternatives?
Related article: Eight Survival Myths That Will Get You Killed
You should never rely only on primitive skills when bugging out into the woods. Why take any chances where there are all sorts of items you could use? Even the native people always had to improvise when it came to day to day survival. Some still live off the land, but that’s a lifestyle and not a choice.
It’s all about action and energy
Survival has basic rules that should be applied in any type of scenario, regardless if you’re bugging out into the woods or if you hunker down. All the benefits you obtain following a certain action should be greater than the energy spent for completing the activity.
This is a rather simple concept and it goes like this. If you spend more calories hunting for food than you’ll get by eating the prey, you will not survive for long. It’s like an extreme survival diet, you burn more calories than you eat. However, since the goal here is to stay alive and not to prepare your body for the beach season, you should rethink your strategy.
Expert survivalists know that if you’re planning to rely on wild sources of meat when bugging out into the woods, it’s better to concentrate on fishing and trapping. This are far better options than trucking and hunting game. You should concentrate on conserving energy and at the same time maximize your caches of getting wild meat.
Recommended article: Ten Survival Hunting Essentials
Talk with experienced hunters or fishermen and they will tell you that even they have an off day. While this may not seem a big deal during common scenarios, during a life-threatening event, this is a critical aspect. If you have one or more off days when you’re bugging out into the woods, chances are you may never see another sunrise.
Timing and season, your worst enemies
If you’re bugging out into the woods during summer, things may not look as bad as they are and you can make it for months without struggling. If you know what you’re doing, you can find a lot of wild edibles ready to be harvested. Even more, wild game is much more accessible during the warm season.
How about if you are bugging out into the woods during the winter months? In many parts of the United States, these months will make it extremely difficult to survive. You won’t find anything growing during those times and trapping or fishing becomes much more challenging. At most, you will find some roots, but digging them up requires a lot of energy. You can, however, track active animals since the tracks are visible on the snow.
The thing is that the more time you spend outside during the cold months, the more energy you will spend. You need proper clothing (more than one change of clothes) and tools to survive during these months. Even ice fishing becomes a difficult activity although it seems fun and easy when seen on TV.
You are not alone
Don’t fool yourself, there will be a lot of competition out there. Most often, these bugging out into the woods scenario are planned by many in the event of a catastrophe. The main goal here is to get away as far as possible from other people, which is a clever plan for most scenarios. If you survive the initial impact of the disaster, the aftermath will become problematic since the human factor comes into play. Other people may be the biggest threat to you and your family, and you should avoid confrontations at all costs.
However, you’ll be far from the only person who does the same thing. Everyone will head for the hills, and they plan to use the countryside as their safe heaven when it hits the fan. The problem is that most of these people don’t have a plan like a survivalist or a prepper. They will scavenge their way from one point to the other, cannibalizing and stealing resources with every chance they get.
Even though they might encounter hostile reception from the rural residents, you cannot fend off wave after wave of desperate people. I remember my first hunting trips with my wife and seeing her stumping her way through the forest and complaining about everything was a strange experience. She went through all sorts of emotions, from desperation to resentment and joy when we made camp.
I can only imagine what hundreds of people doing the same thing will look like making their way through the forest. Most of them are not hunters and they will battle for resources. Chances are they will kill each other and everyone caught in between them.
The isolation syndrome
Since there are a lot of preppers that love the lone-wolf scenario when bugging out into the woods, there are a few things we must specify. First of all, survival may seem easier if you have to take care of only one person and that might be true. However, what about if you get ill or injure yourself during a hunting trip? Will you be able to still do the simple chores like gathering wood and water? How about if you need to build complex shelter structures to survive the winter? Having a couple of helping hands during a survival scenario is priceless. Trust-worthy humans are irreplaceable resources when bugging out into the woods.
Suggested article: The Importance Of Sleep When Bugging Out Into The Woods
And second, the human mind can quickly turn on you after even the smallest defeats. Desperation and panic attacks will set in if you fail to provide the basics. Not being able to talk with someone or get even a single advice (no matter if wrong or right) can lower your morale faster than you expect. We are social creatures and we managed to survive by sticking together. You cannot pull someone from his regular environment and expect him to survive and keep his sanity in an unknown environment, deprived of the things he knows and loves.
A final word about bugging out into the woods
When you’re bugging out, one rule states that you should assume you won’t be able to return to your former life and plan accordingly. Growing a garden may provide you with a long-term solution, but you will still depend on your foraging, hunting or trapping, and fishing skills to acquire a meal. You should always plan for ways to prolong your stay into the wild. Caching tools and provisions is a good idea for such scenario. Learning everything there is to know about a specific area and concentrating on that region should become mandatory. If you’re going for the hills, plan in advance and make sure you always have a backup plan.
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4 thoughts on “A Few Considerations Before Bugging Out Into The Woods”
In the beginning folks all thought they’d be able to pack a medium sized pack and head for the hills at the first signs of impending doom or catastrophe and proclaim themselves ready to survive the worst mankind or mother nature could throw at them bar NONE!
Innumerable words have been written and proclaimed on the subject and I scratched my head just contemplating the folly of such bravado and braggadocio by those claiming they’d be able to “tough it out” with just the contents of their one pack, a hank of rope, one single canteen of water and a handkerchief or two with which to filter water from the imprints of some wild beast in the forest! And they’d also claim they’d make fire whenever and wherever needed with just the sticks and twigs at their feet!! Bwhahahahahahaha!
I cut off my cable TV because I get all the entertainment I need reading such whimsical and non-reality based “thinking” from those types, Yessiree!
Folks, the reality is much as the OP writes above. Life as we (you?) know it will cease to exist within short order if you HONESTLY believe that life will be so much simpler when the SHTF and you are relegated to heading for the hills (and I’m NOT talking heading for a well-stocked cabin in the woods surrounded by an eight foot (8′) chain link fence topped with concertina razor wire and encompassing a moat filled with burning oil AND crocodiles or alligators [your pick, since it IS YOUR dream after all. HAH!] as well as a never-to-go-dry well and the BEST and most FERTILE land this side of the Mississippi river basin. Oh, and an inexhaustible supply of non-hybrid, non-gmo seeds of every edible plant your heart and soul could desire, from which you’ll gingerly and greatfully pick the cornucopia of nature’s bounty from which you will nourish the weary bones of family, friends and self!).
Ah, YES!! Utopia we HAVE ARRIVED!!
Ok, ok, ok. Enough of my Ball-Bustin’ for the moment and on to reality, shall we?
First off, you DO know that your paradise in the woods is WELL KNOWN to untold strangers, Right?!? Everyone from the architect who designed your cabin with enormous fortified basement to the person who pulled yoir permits at the county Hall of Records, to the cement truck driver who brought his truck to the scene to pour the reinforced flooring, walls and ceiling, as well as your water cistern and septic tank and all the reinforced out-buildings, RIGHT?!? Well, him and HIS Foreman PLUS the concrete company owner. Oh, and lets not forget the crew that joined in to set up the initial foundations and forms, umkay??
Alrighty, then. This is getting out of hand so I’ll assume you get my point. And that point is: your little hideaway is NOT unknown to all but a tiny few trusted souls and to believe otherwise would be foolish, foolhardy AND a waste of brain power, Boys and Girls.
If you set up your Little Slice Of Heaven In The Woods where wild game lives in abundance, or at least to enable your group to harvest them with relative ease in times of trouble as well as normal hunting season, you can bet your last Gold Krugerrand that Billy Joe Hunter knows about the area, too. And your be silly to think otherwise.
So, unless you have a compound set up for year ’round living AND actually have someone (probably a plural at that out of necessity, right?) then the REALISTIC expectation of making it to your anticipated Survival Sanctuary only to find it totally unmolested, if not ALREADY occupied by others, isn’t particularly realistic in thinking.
Just THINK about it for a moment without screaming at the computer screen (and ME by extension) without emotion and spittle splashing the monitor screen. IF you CAN!! LMAO
I’m NOT trying to rain on your parade nor am I suggesting that your desire to have the TEOTWAWKI Bunker/Homestead that will put ALL others to shame, BAR NONE isn’t a good idea. Nope. That isn’t/wasn’t my intention at all! I am merely trying to point out that what YOU think is a “SECRET” operation and that NOBODY outside of a VERY FEW select and trusted souls could possibly keep secret is NOT very realistic when you think about it in the cold, hard, light of day.
IF (and that’s a BIG “IF”!) you live in an apartment building setting or even in an unattached house on a small lot but within the confines of the city limits (or even nearby suburbia), your chances of survival aren’t terribly good I’m sorry to say. But THINK about it and the light will come on and you’ll see the truth in that statement.
With the world the way it is now, and the path we are presently taking (and I’m referring to that crazy SOB dictator in NK) things seem pretty scary right now.
IF you can afford to, I’d HIGHLY recommend you uproot yourself after finding a modest (and older and, preferably, BRICK) house to rent a few miles outside of town but within sight of some (hopefully) kind and helpful neighbors and move there. Without going into all the strategic planning and rationale for making the move, you’d be safer to some extent. Especially if you have family or TRUSTED friends and better yet if they own firearms and KNOW how-to use them when or if the time comes.
THEN you should buy the things you feel necessary for holding out without undue hardship for at LEAST several months but preferably LONGER. Like as in several YEARS??
But that is a topic for another time and I’m quite sure that you are tired of reading this drivel, RIGHT? LOL
In closing, realize that strapping on a well-stocked backpack and heading for the hills is a GREAT way to set yourself up for failure in SPECTACULAR fashion, Ladies and Gentlemen.
You’ll stand a FAR better chance of surviving for a LEAST a little while IF you stick close to your current home (assuming it is defensible), keep a REALLY Low Profile (as in NOT going outside for ANY reason besides defending yourself and/or property within reason), keeping yoir mouth shut and not drawing attention to your situation if at all possible.
Bugging In is FAR better, keeping in mind the loose parameters I’ve noted above, than Bugging Out, again for the reasons I’ve mentioned above.
But, most importantly, keep your head screwed on STRAIGHT and refrain from making some Hair Brained decision(s) based on some Dime Store Novel or, worse yet, modeling your plans on an episode of Doomsday Preppers on tv.
That damned show is NOTHING but Hillybilly Kardashian eye candy for the weak minded. With FEW exceptions, using much, if ANY, of their plans or ideas are nothing more than a Blueprint to a slow and painful death IMO.
But you are a grownup and can do as you choose. I suggest you choose WISELY.
Now, Sally Forth and Good Luck!
Many people have told me of their plan to bug-out to the woods. I live in those woods already. I grew up in them, cleared land, built roads and bridges, built a house and barns, dug wells, created ponds which I have stocked with fish and most important of all, I own these woods and I have been paying a lot of taxes on them.The improvements I have made are for the benefit of whom I decide to allow there. Many will say: ” I’ve got a gun and I’ll go there if I want and you will just have to shoot me!”
I accept those conditions. I grew up with death and firearms as has anyone who grew up on a farm. Beside that, “‘Possums got to eat too!”.
My advice to anyone with a plan to bug-out is to research an area within a reasonable distance from your home. Make an arrangement with a farmer or other land holder to use his woods for camping. Prove yourself worthy of his trust and friendship.(You may be able to rent or purchase a site which can be improved and permanent facilities constructed upon with the understanding that you will be moving there in an extreme emergency. Farms operate on man-power. A farmer would need a lot of trust-worthy and loyal people to help him after an EMP/Nuclear exchange/Monetary collapse/Insurrection.)
I think that this is important for people to realize. It isn’t an easy transition from living at home with every comfort that we have grown accustomed to– to suddenly living amongst the animals, insects and dealing with inclement weather. Thank you for the great advice and for giving us a realistic picture of what bugging out really entails!
I agree with Bob and H. Anyone who has lived without electric and running water over the winter will understand just how accustomed we are to our conveniences. Struggling to stay dry, dirty, cold hands, influenza, shivering at night waiting for daylight/learning what false dawn means, roasting your front while freezing your rear, feet numb from the cold, dirty water and diarrhea. Fun, fun, fun. And I bet you thought putting camo on your face and roasting a pig you killed with your knife was gonna be the bomb.