I have always been of the mindset that people should bug in at their homes as long as they can safely stay during a SHTF scenario. However, so many of us have bug out bags for a reason. For every survivalist or prepper, there is a point at which you would have to leave your home. That being said, bugging out without a plan is suicide. Very few people could survive a bug out long term without a path or location chosen in advance. I completed a long distance survival challenge last fall during which I hiked 34 miles through mountainous terrain over the course of three and a half days. I cannot possibly imagine traveling through the wilderness like that with my wife and four-year-old son if I did not have a destination planned. In this article we will cover how to select a bugout destination, how to prep that area, and how to protect that area.
To pick your bug out location there are a few characteristics that you are looking for. First, I should mention that it is okay to have more than one option and it is okay to select a general area without selecting a specific spot. For example, our family has a short distance bug out area. It consists of dense forests south of our location and puts us about 20 miles from the nearest city. Our family could hike to this location in two days with full packs, or we could drive there in about 15 minutes. In addition, my family owns a large plot of land in the Ozark Mountains. It would take us several weeks to hike there, but only about three hours to drive there. We could stay completely hidden in the woods while hiking to either location.
There are several variables you should consider when selecting a bug out location:
To review the two bug out locations I mentioned above, let us check our list. Our short distance location is easier to reach but closer to cities. The long distance location is further away but in one of the most remote areas in the country. Both locations have mild weather and are not prone to natural disasters other than the occasional tornado or flash flood. It is easy to disappear in both areas, and there are natural features that make them easy to defend. Both locations have fish, deer, turkeys, squirrels, rabbits, quail, lumber, and spring water.
Once you select a bug out location, you should take a few steps to make sure you are prepared for a bug out. The first is to have at least two different plans to get there. One should be a route to get there on foot, and another should be a route to get there by vehicle. If you have the resources, you can also have ATV or horseback plans. Maps should be printed for each person in your family with the routes drawn on the maps. The next step should be to put together bug out packs with plenty of supplies to get your family to the location. If possible, you also want to have supplies to use at your bug out location. Specifically having additional food, ammo, and water in your packs or vehicle could increase how long you can stay at your bug out location by weeks or even months.
The other step that you can take would be to move some of the supplies to your bug out location in advance. You have to be cautious to store your supplies in a way that animals or other people will not have access to them. For example, bottled water, cordage, tarps, and ammunition are good things to bury at your site if you do not have a secure building. These are items that are heavy or bulky, but they can stand up to some moisture. In addition, there is really no reason that other people or animals would be motivated to dig up these supplies.
Once you get to your bug out location, you need to create several layers of protection for you and your family. The first is a shelter. If you do not already have a secure building at the site, you should be prepared to build a shelter. This could start as a tent or tarp shelter, and then over time, you can use lumber to build secure walls. The shelter will protect against predators, weather, and other people. The second layer of protection is a weapons arsenal, but it is almost as important as a shelter. You should have firearms, bows, and blades to help protect against predators and intruders. Every member of your family should know how to use these weapons. The third layer is a perimeter obstacle. There are several ways to accomplish this. Eventually, a wooden wall or a barbed wire fence is ideal. Initially, you can use obstacles that are more active. You can set up a perimeter warning with fishing line and bells or with motion detectors. You can use dogs to patrol the area, or even have armed people patrol the perimeter on a rotation. As stated before, using natural barriers like bodies of water or steep terrain can help with this as well.
Any bug out location is better than not having one, but you can greatly increase your odds of success with a little planning. I suggest you practice driving to your location, hiking to your location, and camping at your location. This will give you a really good feel for any strengths and weaknesses your plan might have. Will a little preparation, you can survive just about anything.