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We at the SHTFSchool are launching our new „Bug out“ course. The first one will be running in Sweden (More details here) so it is perfect time to consider again some things about bugging out.
I written before about it, but it is never ending topic, simply because there is too many variables and small change in your particular scenario can push you toward the plan and action that would not work at all in someone else’s case (and scenario).
Over the years of writing articles and reading other folk articles and comments, and having my own SHTF experience there is clear that people „fixate“ on more or less same topics concerning the bugging out, so I’ll comment some of those topics.
Do I Need to Bug Out, When and How?
I wrote before about timing during the SHTF event when it makes sense to bug out, but what kind of event do you need to experience in order to bug out and how you are you going to do that?
If you expecting that you’re just going to jump in your car and drive to your BOL without problems then you are missing something or you are really good.
There are countless details that may be thrown in equation of bugging out but lets stick to the most important:
- Is event that is happening (or will happen very soon) a serious physical threat you and your family? (dirty bomb attack, serious weather event, civil unrest…)
- Is staying at your home mean more danger to you than to go out and travel to desired location (bug out) considering all known factors of risk during the trip? (you are expecting that things going to be better out of your current area)
- Your current resources at your home are clearly going to „run out“ much earlier than at your BOL (you have preps at your home but clearly you have much more in your BOL)
As advice, in a case of some serious event I would choose to move away from the area where there are more people (urban) to the area where there are less people.
It is general rule, but that does not mean that I would blindly run from my home out to the unknown just because I am in the city.
Sometimes bugging in make more sense even if you are preparing your whole life for bugging out, just check factors from above.
Getting to your BOL location can be simple like driving 100 miles to your location, but that 100 miles may turn out to be 10 days trip on foot.
You never know how it will turns out, but on some things you can be prepared.
I am big advocate of being „grey“, and that is very important especially while you bugging out.
What actually that means?
- Your decision about using weapon needs to be made based on circumstances in that moment and for that particular situation. Sometimes it make sense to carry weapon openly, sometimes not.
Use common sense, if there are bunch of scared and confused people outside, trying to understand what kind of event is happening do you really want to go outside in full camouflage gear with rifle in your hand? What is the point of that?
If there is obstacle on your route (check point, armed people for example) can you avoid it and take other route?
If you really need to use weapon then use it to completely terminate threat, usually it will not be time to just „show the muscle“ it will rather be time to quickly and efficiently „use the muscle“.
- Expect that lot of problems on your way you will have to solve by „bargaining“ , for example sometimes you ll be in situation to give money (alcohol, marijuana, bullets, medicine,clothes…) on some check points in order to go through maybe,-as a general rule for that there is this: do not ever give good reason to people to take the chance of attacking and killing you.
What that means?
If you are passing some local militia (neighborhood watch for example) check point (if you can not avoid it) you may offer your wife wedding ring, or your kid’s golden necklace, or your last 50 dollars, or last 25 liters of fuel… but you never offer 10 silver coins from your stash of silver coins, or your 1 pack of antibiotic out of box of 25 packs, or 50 dollars from the pile of 500 dollars.
Use common sense, usually people will avoid trouble if there is no gain from it, if they see good opportunity they might take chance, even if that means some of them might end up dead, it simply worth the risk in that times.
You need to look like ordinary guy, not like experienced prepper with lot of fancy stuff. You need to be grey.
Today,in normal times, people often see something in other people possession and they think „I wish I could have that“, when SHTF lot of people will think „ oh, I can take that“.
Being grey means a lot, and it means different things for different situations, but there is general rule here, and it is very simple: look and act like everybody else around you – do not stick out.
It goes for your vehicle, your equipment, clothes, way how you act, talk…
Examples are numerous, let say it is SHTF and you are bugging out with your pick up truck with 5 steel military canister of fuel clearly visible (among the other equipment) on the back of pick up.
It is great that you thought about extra fuel that you had stored in your garage for bugging out when SHTF.
It is not smart to show that to whole bunch of other people who are also trying to run away from chaos in the city in the middle of fuel shortage.
They were not smart to store that fuel for bugging out like you, but they will kill you for that fuel, because they like their kids more then they hate feeling of killing someone.
After fact that you need to be grey, let’s mention few more basics here:
- you need to have at least basic knowledge about your vehicle. For example „fixing“ flat tires, radiator leaks, changing belts, ways to unblock cars from compromised roads and you need to have parts and means for that.
- Your car might be your home for prolonged period of time, maybe your trip is few hours driving, but you do not know on what problems you might stumble and how long it is going to be.
- You need to be ready to leave (forever) your car in a matter of minutes or even seconds, and continue on foot, so try to organize it on that way that you do not in hurry leave something with your car that is of life importance (for example water, or ammo, or weapon) Load the car with small packages, small containers, things easy to ‘grab and go’ (We DO NOT advocate the use of ‘totes’ in vehicles, unless you have a clear plan and means to empty that tote FAST into an easy to carry bag or similar method of easy to carry equipment.)
- And in worst case scenario-no matter how good vehicle you have, maybe you’ll be forced to bug out on foot from the start, so have a plan for that too
That means you have to have equipment for long walk, plans for resources on your way, means to spend more nights in the field…
Few more things about planning and mapping your bugging out:
- Have at least two alternate routes to your BOL
- Try to understand- recognize, mark on map and avoid possible danger spots on your route (for example gas stations, police stations, malls, bridges,“choking points“…
- Try to have either secret stashes (fuel, food, water, medicine, ammo…) or help (safe friendly houses, safe places…) on your route
- Be ready to change plan, change routes, be ready to improvise and adapt, your traveling may look weird (not straight forward) on map, but it is more important to come alive then to stick to the original plan or to come there to fast.
- Remember when SHTF that means new rules, so you may pose as a policeman, you may have uniform of city services, you may be reporter… all old rules are dead and your task is to get there. Improvise and adapt
- Check map of your area for natural obstacles (and weather too) but have open mind. That means if for example there are rivers in your area of traveling then no matter that you are planning to drive the car still you need to be prepared for the situation that you gonna swim over the river (what kind of river is, how fast and cold, do you have right bag to put your most valuable items in for that river crossing…) if there is a mountain and winter be ready to spend night outside (have clothes and equipment for that) no matter again that you plan to travel with car
Good exercise would be that you go once per year and travel your „bugging out“ route by foot. It would give you some sense of few things. It would be without re-routes, real dangers and problems but still you would notice lot of things and you would get a few good ideas…
These are just a few thoughts on the matter. Those joining us on the physical bug out course, will learn and practice this and much much more…!
This new article is actually a re-post of one of the my old articles that I wrote almost 3 years ago.
The guy that I wrote about in that article died few days ago, and that is the reason why I am re posting this.
I use to knew him very well, the man that he became at the end was almost a stranger to me.
He did not die shooting an AK47 at the politicians who once “pushed” him to war with their “infinite honor” and “our cause” stories, he did not wrote book about his experiences, he did not become hero.
At his funeral there were 9 people, including guys who are paid to finish the job with shovels.
This man was “eaten” by cancer, and I am sure that cancer started in his soul first.
I drunk few gins for his soul and decide to re-post this.
Message of this is same. Stay out of the trouble and simply do not believe everything, especially if the message is coming “packaged” and in “big words” (Students in USA should take special note of this now…)
Looking for goods and usable items during the war often meant I got myself in some weird situations and scenarios. I knew lots of guys who risked their lives just to go to some destroyed places because they knew they could find some items that meant a lot for them personally, but actually those items were useless in given situation around us at that time.
But people often act like fools and if you find yourself in a survival situation it is the perfect time to lose your life if you act like fool.
Like a friend who lost his eye, just because he went to his house and searched through a closet full of audio tapes in order to collect some of his favourite punk band titles. Not to mention that electricity in that time was something like faint memory, and he could not do anything with those tapes even if he did find them.
Anyway booby trap exploded, luckily he survived, but he lost one of his eyes.
When you have young people or in general, inexperienced people and fighting around you, it is the perfect combination for some people to act like fools.
There is something in dangerous (and new) situations that makes you want to act like fool, and to do stupid things, young folks do that mostly, but it can happen to anyone, it happened to me too.
Good old „stay out of the trouble“ advice is one of the best survival lessons one can learn.
Whenever I read on survival forums, threads about gangs and how during SHTF people should get organized and simply defeat them, I remember how young and enthusiastic I was about that too, but luckily enthusiasm went away quickly and I survived.
The problem here is holding onto old concepts and not accepting change. One day you have law and order and you can call someone when you see trouble because it is not right, next day suddenly there is no one to call and you might feel you have to jump in to make things right.
You may find it cowardly that man wants to stay put when bad things happen around him but in reality in most of the situations you can not do anything without huge organisation that helps you and a big personal risk.
My relative was outside the country when the war started, he was working for an electrical company in the middle east. Contract was good, and he had a monthly salary there equal to 6 months salaries here at that time.
On first news about fighting and war, he returned to the country to join the army and fight. Blockades and battles already started and his trip back to his town took lot of time and troubles.
He was 26 year old back then and he told me that when he entered the country at a small city where he and few other guys wanted to join the fighting forces, he saw that war is not like in books and movies…
Military unit that welcomed them asked who they are and what they wanted, they said that they wanted to join the fighting forces. He said he expected some kind of questions about their military experience or similar, but instead of that the small unit commander asked them : „Do you want some women?“
They starred at him like idiots so he explained „We have some enemy women in prison close here, so go there first if you want“.
My relative was raised by his grandmother, he was nice kid, no cursing, not too much drinking, he said to me that shock was so big that he could not open his mouth to even say „No man!“
He told me that later he find out that fighting includes doing lots of things in order to win fight and stay alive. He went through lots of fighting, earned the reputation of a tough guy, and one day they got caught up in ambush and he was one of the few who survived.
Machine gun from close distance destroyed his legs and belly. He was removed from the country for rehabilitation, his legs are still there, but only for „pictures“.
He is „glued“ to wheelchair forever, and no kids, no wife either.
He lives today in small apartment that looks at big chimney of a disused factory, elevator is usually not working, and nobody cares to lift him up and down.
Nobody visits him too much, he is no hero, he fought for something that is now considered „ wrong and not needed war“ as they say.
Now and then I visit him in his city and that apartment, and every time I conclude two things:
First how lucky I am. Even with all my issues and traumas from the war compared to him, and second is that every time when I left him in his misery and bitterness I am expecting to see in few days in news something like „old war veteran in wheelchair went crazy and start to shoot from AK47 at people in street from his apartment at 6th floor.“
I asked him once why he returned to the country at the beggining of the war while at the same time thousands fled? I expected to hear something patriotic or similar, but he said „Man, at that time it was something so exciting and new!“
So just listen to first survival and most important survival lesson: Stay out of the trouble. Life is very real and it is easy to forget how brutal “real life” can be. With real life I mean life without our civilized society or just life without all support and help we take for granted.
I hope I will never have to use everything I trained for or any lesson I share with you here ever again.
Do you have examples when staying out of trouble was hard and about consequences of this? Share in the comments below.
My great uncle was a drinking man, he would drink heavily from the moment when he woke up until the moment he went to bed, but I do not remember ever seeing him stumbling, walking funny or having problems with his speech.
When he was at home his favorite spot was on the couch in the corner of the room, just next to the wood stove which was running always except on really hot days.
He drank from very small glasses (shot glasses), bottle was never visible (he kept bottle behind the couch) on the table there was silver box for cigarettes, with tobacco and papers for cigarette rolling inside, and his shot glass.
Table was old type table with a glass plate on top of it, and under that glass he kept paper that says that government and state recognizes him as a member and organizer of the early resistance movement against the German and Italian occupation (WW2).
Table, his cigarette box, his rakija and everything else in his room was off limits for us kids. He lived with my grand parents, he never married, no kids.
Actually now when I remember he himself was pretty much off limits for us kids, only person who ever had some influence over him was my grandmother-his sister, she was the only one who could tell him sometimes that he need to do something.
He was one tough and dangerous old dude, sitting in the room. Drinking and staring in the spot where the wall connects with ceiling.
Sometimes we kids sneak in the room, seeking for stories, or money from him, in return we would bring firewood from shed for his never-ending stove fire.
He would gave us money often from his big “veteran warrior” pension, stories were rare.
Often kids just sat there, talking something, he would occasionally say “uhm” or “ahm” and stare in empty.
He did not go out very much, except his regular chess meetings in the local community hall.
It was something like community hall, war veteran organization and heavy drinking joint place in one.
People call it “half leg” because several handicapped folks who were there all the time.
And I was a kid who often went with him there, my grandmother often would tell me “go with him there and wait for him”, I guess she simply was worried for him.
Place was big hall with old tables with games like chess and checkers on them, great uncle would sat down usually with same folks there, his old war comrades.
They would play chess, drink heavy booze and over the time they would usually forgot that I am even there.
In that time I was taught in the school that we are living in great socialistic and communistic society, where all people are equal, and that we got to that point through the heroic and noble fighting of working class in WW2.
War and fights were something noble, heroic and full of sacrifice. Our war vets were ‘clean’; they were people who sacrifice themselves for our motherland – for socialistic society.
I was taught like that, in my young mind all was black and white.
Over the time I realized that folks on that table together with my great uncle had a bit different picture about war and fighting and honor.
They talked about everything, but with heavy slang and in what looked to me in that time in ‘codes’, and lot of “remember the Mora(mountain) and how we eat shoes”? and answer would be “yeah, fuck it, and how many bodies there”
Lot of that was not understandable for me, lot of head nodding,
One of those chess games stayed in my mind over several decades of the time since I heard it on that table:
Man who played chess with my great uncle had a pieces of shell in his body, I think it was not option to remove it so he grow old with that in his body, he had couple of pieces in his arm and fingers, and while he was thinking about his next chess move he would squeeze his fist and fingers and pieces of shell in his fingers were producing the sound like something is chewing inside his hand.
It was fascinating for me in that time.
What I understand from their story was this:
He and my great uncle were find themselves in some heavy fighting during the ww2 .
Their unit was carrying a lot of heavily wounded together with lot of civilians who were running from German forces.
Sudden attack of Germans made chaos and they together with couple of guys got separated from the unit.
They manage to break out from the encirclement, then they hide inside some cave for couple of days.
They ate tree bark.
Days later they went out and wandered through woods trying to go to the safe territory.
And then they stumble members of their unit.
Actually a pile of it.
On one small clear place in the woods, there were hundreds of bodies in a big pile, and man with the “chewing” in his fist said he never before or later saw anything like that.
Soldiers and civilians were shot and put on big pile of bodies in the middle of nowhere, and he said that lot of them were heavily wounded but still alive actually, they were put there intentionally still alive, to suffer more before they die.
They found couple of woman tied to the trees… Dead.
They quickly move away from there, scared.
Later that night while they were resting they heard noises, quietly went to check and find out German soldier sitting down and bandaging wound on his leg, probably lost and separated from his unit.
They killed him with bayonet, and as I understand they killed him slowly.
That story terrified me to the bones, and I think I heard it only because they were pretty drunk and not even realized I was with them.
My great uncle died long time ago, he was heavy drinker too to the last breath.
On his funeral there were flags, and speech about honor and sacrifice, even his medals.
We never found his wartime machine gun “smajser” (mp 40) that he hid somewhere after the war never giving up to no one where it is, and as I am older I feel sorry I did not hear more about his experiences.
I am sure he cared a lot more for that machine gun than for speeches flags and medals.
I do not remember him as an war hero, and I am sure he did not think about himself as an war hero.
He was scared often while he was in survival situation, he often did things that he did not like, he was not invincible, and he was ready for trouble again all the time.
He was a survivalist.
Point of this article is (just like lot of my article) is memory of something, in this case memory of my great uncle.
And there is one more point, for you more important:
Talk with old folks, with veterans, old or young, there is nothing like real life experience.
Be patient, best (or worst) stories are hardest to get, but it is precious knowledge.
It is better prepper investment to hear how (and what) tree bark to eat then to buy 10 MREs.
Many years after my great uncle experiences and events I experienced similar things, hunger, fightings, piles of bodies…
It is in human nature, things like this are happening and will happen again…