By Dr. John J. Woods, a contributing author to SHTFBlog
A Bug Out is not going to be the equivalent of a vaca to summer camp. Forget the white sands, the water slides, the picnic BBQs, golf, snow skiing, bonfire marshmallow roasts, shopping antiques in the quaint downtown area with a quiche lunch at the Bistro, or whatever else comprises your idea of a getaway vacation. This “ain’t” it.
Escape from your relatively safe and comfortable home to any kind of a secondary domicile be it a farmhouse out in the country or a pup tent a mile from roads in a federal forest is not going to be time off to rest and relax. Now is the time to work on the mindset of just how serious and difficult living under such conditions is going to be if the SHTF lasts any length of time at all. It only gets harder as the days bear on.
If you want any idea of how tough this could be, then watch the television series Mountain Men. In particular watch the profiled life of one Marty Meierotto who flies his Piper Super Cub bush plane into the dire wilds of Alaska to trap fur for family income. Talk about living on the rough side.
Now, your SHTF might not be this tough, but just consider living without electricity, running water, a flushing commode, central heat and air, on demand stove and oven, plush bed mattresses, and living room furniture with flat screen television and TiVo®. The fully stocked local grocery store is just a mile away with fresh bread and cold milk everyday not to mention fresh cut meat ready to cook, and frozen foods of all kinds, cheese, snacks, and well you get the point.
Opportunities to Practice
You know the cliché. But it just happens to be true. Although in one exception I know of, I never, ever got better at golf no matter how many times I circled the 18 holes. But in prep for a Bug Out nothing will ever beat being able to practice everything in advance. Call it a practice run or whatever, but if you are not accomplished at the mission of an on-call pack up and escape, then you need to schedule trying it several times before you have to do it.
If you are not seriously ready to execute a Bug Out, then I can only think your best position is to stick it out at home or work. At least you know that environment. If you think you’re going to just throw a couple sleeping bags in the car with a box of pastry tarts, then you might as well give up before you go.
Reality is as well, you really can’t even be expected to practice any realistic Bugging Out skills until you have everything ready to go. Sure, you can slump off on a few things during these practice sessions, but not much. You need the time in the field to be as realistic as it can get. You are testing not only all your gear and its use under real conditions (will I eat tonight?) but you’re also equally testing the skills you and your family have to be successful.
These practice events can be fun. It can be planned as an adventure away for a weekend from the hum-drum aspects of life, but stage it as if it could be the real Bug Out scenario. First trips could be to locate or try out some remote sites, or to set up and live out a weekend in an acceptable area. At least you get to make some dry runs.
Ready to Pack Out
As mentioned and to be redundant, you can’t Bug Out if you don’t have everything ready to Bug Out with. Many of you preppers will obviously be way beyond this stage, but others may not be. For some including me initially it can be difficult to get your mind and body around everything that needs to be done to prepare for an exit strategy.
As a friend of mine says, “It’s all part of the experience.” I would add that it’s all part of the process, too. There is no need to break out in a sweat over all this, but having said that it is still time to get engaged if you are the least bit prepper serious.
You can study SHTFblog to garner all the prep information and advice you could possibly want to digest. Articles and blogs here will guide you through the whole process or help you hone skills and prep you have already accomplished. It’s an on-going never ending process. It may be a long path, but you have to take the first step.
Trails and Trials
The whole purpose here is to encourage all preppers who are not already fully engaged in the execution of their plans to initiate moving forward. These Bug Out practice trips are the ideal time to test skills, equipment, gear, and to honestly assess the whole process. This can be done solo, with a family unit, or an entire SHTF team. Practice the way your plan is established.
If you are camping, then test your camping equipment. How fast can you get a camp site cleared out set up, tent assembled, cooking arrangements set, water set up, firewood gathered (if you have one), a meal started, kids settled, older adults settled, job tasks assigned, gas lanterns working, security established, defense weapons ready to go and everything else?
Test your personal gear. How did that new pair of hunting/hiking boots feel on the walk in? Ditto for the backpack, weapons sling, machete, knife, compass, and such. Now that you’ve worn those new socks, cargo shorts, boonie hat, work gloves, etc., is everything working right. What might you change? Ask others similar evaluations of their gear and stuff. Take notes if you have to.
How did that first night away from home work out? Did a piece of equipment fail or not work as you had hoped? Was there enough to eat, enough to occupy your mind, did you enjoy the experience? How did the wife and kids do, or the husband. Face it, some people are just not cut out to be in the wilds. No shame in that for sure, but now is the time to find out how compatible you are with a SHTF Bug Out.
No, it is definitely not like going to summer camp, the Holiday Inn, or even those rustic cabins at the state park. After a couple trips, maybe you will need to reassess some aspects of your plan. If camping out did not work for you and your family, then start thinking other options such as a camping trailer or leasing a rural place with a small house or cabin. Maybe there is a generator and a water well. These are possibilities. As they say though, get with the program.
All photos by Dr. John J. Woods