If you have spent any time at all in the on-line Prepper community, you have no doubt seen discussion from people who have plans for bugging out into the woods and living off the land in the event of a crisis. These discussions lay out optimistic projections of grabbing a BOB and hoofing it into the woods. There, the authors will hunt and forage in order to survive whatever crisis they are escaping. The reality of bugging out into the woods will most likely be considerably different than those author’s fantasies. We’ve been discussing these wilderness fantasies recently and have come up with 5 tips on bugging out into the woods. Bugging Out Into The Woods
1) Have A Plan, Otherwise You Are Just A Refugee.
Having a vague plan of bugging out “into the woods;” essentially taking an extended camping trip, is not a real plan. We were all raised on movies where the city slicker was dropped unexpectedly into the wilderness and through some difficulties learned to live off the land but there are very few people who have the necessary skills to survive this kind of life long term. Even Dick Proenneke had a plan that included regular resupply from civilization. Being part of some mass exodus with no prepared location waiting for you makes you a refugee, no matter how well equipped you are. If you own the property you are bugging out to a plan might include building shelter ahead of time and laying in an extensive collection of prepositioned caches. If you don’t own your property your choices are retreating to public lands with every other mountain-man wannabe or trespassing on other people’s lands. With resources running thin either situation can get you in legal trouble if there’s still some rule of law or worse. If your plan includes unnecessary trespass and theft then you aren’t a prepper…and may not even be a survivor…you’re a criminal.
2) Be prepared to be hungry
There are a couple of T.V. shows on currently that show exactly how hard it is to procure adequate food for yourself while in the woods even if you’re a ‘survival expert’ or have one advising you. On both “Fat Guys In The Woods“, and “Naked And Afraid“, after just a couple of days the common thread is extreme hunger. These types of shows inevitably end up focusing more on human endurance than survival skills because that’s the best you can hope for without a plan…to endure temporarily. Remember also that these experts have an idea of where they will be filming and have time to prepare for local conditions and study up on seasonally appropriate foraging targets. In a long-term crisis, you can pack in only so much food so eventually, you will run out and have to rely on foraging. Also, you had best be prepared to open your mind to a whole new level of food options; many of them less than palatable and unless foraging for food is a skill that you practice daily you will quickly find yourself in an endurance situation. How long can you go without adequate food before you get hurt or sick and then things are likely to get worse.
3) Be prepared to be miserable.
Have you ever been on an extended camping/back-packing trip? As enjoyable as it is, remember how good it felt to go home. This is especially true after trips which it rained buckets or was extremely cold or hot. There may be no going home when bugging out into the woods during a long-term crisis. While effective, primitive fire making techniques truly stink in all but the most ideal circumstances. When you are tired, wet, cold, have low morale, and have not been eating well fires are very difficult to get going. Living in a primitive shelter for extended periods isn’t comfortable, either. Shelter building, hygiene, water purification, protection from the elements, bug repellant, fuel collection and every other facet of life is harder in primitive conditions.
4) Be prepared to fight for resources.
If you live near a major population center, be prepared for hundreds, if not thousands of people having the same idea as you. There may be masses of uninformed people heading in to the woods just like you and they will be scared, hungry, desperate and dangerous. They will be competing for the very same resources that you are. One of the sad repercussions of the Great Depression was that across the entire country wildlife populations were decimated from over hunting and this wasn’t even a WROL situation. The deer herd in my state was down to less than 5,000 (est. 2.5M now, with modern management) in the mid 30s. Think about that for a moment…an entire state’s deer herd hunted to near extinction and the U.S population was 41% of what it is today. You had better be prepared to face people in the woods who are willing to kill to take what they need to survive.
5) Be prepared to die.
Unless you already practice a primitive lifestyle, be prepared to die in your bug out location in the woods and if you are a lone wolf survivalist then be prepared to die alone. Even those well versed in primitive living will face a multitude of dangers in the wilderness and if your bug out location is a ‘wilderness area’ surrounded by sizeable population…heaven help you. Under normal circumstances transitioning rapidly to a primitive lifestyle is difficult…in the midst of a crisis the challenges are likely insurmountable. In a long-term crisis situation, without the support a modern infrastructure, they can be life threatening. A simple medical condition can turn into a mortal danger. There was a reason why many pioneers died at a reasonably young age.
Don’t take this article as a condemnation of bugging out into the woods. It has its place in any survival plan…but the key word there is PLAN. Plan ahead to provide yourself the tools, supplies, skills, knowledge and elbowroom you’ll need to survive. We are simply trying to point out that it is not the best course of action, under most circumstances. If you must take that course, make sure that you have exhausted all other options.