Bugging out–the eternal question

Bug out.  Shelter in place.  Bug in.  Preemptive bug out.  It’s an argument that has went on in prepping circles almost as long as 9mm vs. .45 ACP has went on in gun circles, and like that one, it hasn’t really reached a conclusion.

Some, like SurvivalBlog founder James Wesley, Rawles take the position of “bug out before the rush” and have preemptively moved out into the hinterboonies and established their base of operations from which they plan on riding our whatever comes our way.  Hell of a plan if you can make it work from an economic standpoint, but most of us have to earn a living, which means we’re tied to some sort of population center.

Some have a place “in the country” that serves in quiet times as a vacation get-away, but where they plan on hunkering down if things get bad.  This plan is predicated on the assumption that they will recognize the impending disaster early enough to be able to beat the crowds trying to flee the population centers as the impending disaster unfolds.

Then there are folks like me, who are tied to jobs near metro areas and who do not have the luxury of a place in the country (or family who happen to live in the country who would take me in).  We plan on standing our ground where we are.  I have done the best I can in selecting a home that offers some ballistic protection, that is defensibly located, near open water, is as far away from the large metro area as possible, is not on a main travel route the the greatest extent possible and so on and so forth.  Life is full of little compromises.

However, even the most prepped prepper might find themselves in a situation where they are forced to bug out.  Mr. Rawles might find himself facing a roaring wildfire, for example.  I might face the same.  I suspect Mr Rawles doesn’t a hot shot crew or a water bomber on the shelf; I know I don’t.  You’re going to have to beat feet, like it or not.

Other situations could come up that would leave even the best prepared of us in a situation where we were forced to abandon our castle.  The Prepper Journal has recently ran a two part series, Hard Choices:  Knowing When To Bug Out. (link is to Part One, Part One links to Part Two.  As usual, I don’t completely agree with the author, but he has done a very thoughtful job on the subject, and it’s far more complete than any I’ve seen before.  He looks at 30 different points you might want to consider when considering that age old question, “Is it time to bug out?”  He doesn’t try to give you some BS formula, “Well, if numbers 1,2,3 and 8,12,16,20-22 and a 30 are all true, you must bug out NOW!  Instead, he is putting tools in your toolbox, giving you items to consider if you find yourself in this unhappy situation.

Worthy of reading, probably worthy of printing out and stashing in that Shit Just Hit The Fan binder you ought to be keeping.

2 thoughts on “Bugging out–the eternal question

  1. Even folks with good plans for sheltering in place can be forced to bug out.

    Maybe if you have 1000 acres in Oklahoma or something…

    The disaster may be to local to ignore. In the NW, you have to worry about things like volcanoes. If you are anywhere near a highway, there could be a tanker full of toxic waste. Or train derailment.

    How fortified are you? What if Uncle Sam comes calling? No plan is perfect. The best plan is redundant plans.

  2. Wheelgun, it all depends. If Uncle comes calling, my opinion is that it doesn't matter. Stay where you are, run like hell–it won't matter. They will find you eventually. The world has gotten a lot smaller in the last 25 years. There are no secrets any more, at least not for us little folks.

    Things like volcanoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters are temporary. You will get to return home if you wish. Your home may well be a pile of rubble, but you'll be able to return.

    What I'm addressing is the long-term, Mad Max has come a' callin' and it's time to bail. For some folks, it's a doable plan. For some, not so much. For me, not so much. 200 miles in any direction and I'm in as much if not more trouble than I would be in if I just stayed put. At least here I know my neighbors, I know the area, to some extent I know what problems will occur and possibly when and I know what resources are available. 200 miles and I don't have those advantages. I'll find myself in an unfamiliar metro area, an unfamiliar suburban sprawl or an unfamiliar semi-rural environment. There are a very few truly rural areas within 200 miles, and in those a stranger will not be welcome if things have gone sideways.

    If I had the financial wherewithal to buy a place in one of those areas and the years to not be a stranger when trouble comes to call, plus I was lucky enough to forecast the need to leave before everyone else reached the same conclusion, it might work out for me. But I don't, I haven't, I doubt that I will be, and I suspect I'm not that smart.

    So I have planned on bugging in. Besides, I don't think a total collapse that occurs in a big hurry is in the cards. I think we'll simply sink slowly into the muck instead. There will be plenty of time for crime, riots, famine and disease to attrit the population, which should serve to stave off a Mad Max scenario.

    I figure that we may well sink to a mid-1800s level of technology with some 20th and 21st Century bits here and there, and stay there for some time before we begin to claw our way back up. "Boy what fun!" he wrote, sarcasm dripping from his pen.

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