The Wave: Bugging Out? Some Things To Think About

This is going to be the first entry in sort of a parallel topic series I’ll be covering about people from outside the tribe moving into and through your area.  I had intended to do it separately later on however after having breakfast with some young’uns this morning I want to capture some of my thoughts before I forget them.   This isn’t necessarily intended for the rural folks but those urban types planning to hit the road when it gets bad.  Face it – over the last year or two prepping has become semi-mainstream.  With even big box stores like Wally-World and Costco selling premade kits and buckets of preps it’s a become kind of a legitimate thing to do.  Yeah the majority of the sleeping still scoff at it and spend their money on golf clubs and iPhones and other tchotckys but more and more people are waking up and that’s a good thing.  I had the pleasure this morning of sitting down with #3 son and a few of his friends over breakfast and the subject of prepping and bugging out came up.  And where it went really got me thinking.  Hopefully some of the points I’m going to make will get your gears turning as well if you prep or plan to bug out or know someone similar to the twenty-something’s I describe in this entry.

I’ll tell you straight up front:  If SHTF I already have a plan and the resources in place to support my immediate family returning with a little extra and they already have their bug out plan to get home.  The ranch is our rallying point.  My youngest son is pretty proud of his planning and his skills (He’s a kick ass kid for 21) and during the conversation one of his friends (we’ll call him Jeffy) asked if he could come along with him and his fiance.  I looked him in the eye and asked him if he was serious.  “Yeah – I got no other plans and my parents live overseas now” was what his answer boiled down to.  So I thought for a second and asked him a few questions.  I’ll present those questions and the basic answers I got:

Q: Do you own a rifle, know how to use it, and have any experience with it? A: No.

Q: Do you own any kind of weapons? A: A Samurai Katana (ohhh-kay).

Q: Any military experience at all?  Stand guard, etc..? A: No nothing beyond video games (more ohhh-kay).

Q: Do you have any kind of medical training? A: No.

Q: Have you ever had a garden or raised any kind of livestock or poultry? A: No.

Q: Can you run two miles nonstop? A: I don’t know (I take that as a no).

Q: What are you studying in college? A: Liberal Arts.

Q: Have you ever seen a dead person or torn up person really close – like within 3 feet? A: Yes (Finally!), at a funeral (welp so much for that).

So I had to break it down to one big question – “What do you have to offer?”  The answer I got was a rather roundabout explanation of how he has a funny personality, plays guitar, is a computer genius, etc.  It all boils down to this – he has absolutely jack in the way of skills or resources to contribute so he would be a burden.  And once I broke that news to him and told him he wouldn’t have a meal card at the ranch he was kind of shocked.  Keep reading.

One of the gals (call her Betty) in the group really seemed to have her stuff together.  She went in depth into what she has in a ready backpack along with some skills she’s picked up.  Her plan is to grab her gear and shag out of the dorms.  I was pretty impressed as she described her gear and the skills she was actually learning and practicing (real down and dirty survival skills like making fire, purifying water, foraging, etc).   What she wasn’t talking about was what happens when she gets where she’s going.  Here’s the gist of it:

Q: So without going into detail you’ve got a bug out location?  A: No just a direction – South.

Q: What’s South?  A: Farms and stuff.

Q: Do you have any of those skills I asked Jeffy about? A: No.

At that point I didn’t need to go into further detail as everyone sort of came to the same conclusion themselves of what she has to offer- and it wasn’t a pretty conclusion for her.

I asked one of my sons other friends (call him Fred) what he planned to do.  No plan.  No preps.  Any skills or experience?  Four years as a combat medic in the 101st  and now he’s going to school to study nursing on the GI Bill.  Bingo!  I told Fred he was more than welcome if he wanted but needed to figure it out and start getting his gear together and let me know ASAP.  And so the bitching, whining, crying, calls of “No Fair”, “You’re prejudiced because he was in the Army” began.  And once I got these twenty-something’s quiet I broke it down to them – nothing is fair when it comes to life and death and especially post SHTF.  If you have nothing to offer in the way of skills or materials you’re a burden until you can be taught something useful (and doing the laundry and cleaning the house isn’t all that useful when you’re scraping by).  The time for teaching may not be available.  If you show up at someone’s farm or ranch looking for a handout you may get some charity…or you may get a load of buckshot.

Now I’m not one to leave a problem without a solution.  I broke it down to these young people and left them thinking about what and how they could have an insurance policy.  The facts are based on some simple truths:

  • If you have no skills or resources you’ll be a burden on whoever you wind up staying with.  Get a skill.
  • You can get robbed of everything you have but if you have a critical skill that can’t be taken away unless they kill you.
  • Think about what skills you need to learn.  Some skills will be in serious demand in rural areas- medical skills, labor skills (welders, electricians, carpenters, plumbers, good mechanics) and anything dealing with agriculture or animal husbandry.  Others will be probably be utterly useless (things like X-Box champions, rappers, computer gurus, the assorted flavors of liberal artists, political science majors, and lawyers).
  • It’s a good idea to pre-stash stuff at wherever you’re going if you trust the people you’re going to stay with.  If you don’t trust them why are you going there in the first place?
  • If you plan to leave where you are you need to have a destination – and you don’t need to show up uninvited.  Failing to coordinate your arrival/return may buy you a one-way ticket down the road. If you’re a burden (see above) you’ll probably be asked then told to leave.
  • Fail to have a destination and you have planned to fail.  “I’m going to go hang out in the national forest” sounds good at first but hanging out in the woods for a couple of years like Bear Grilles isn’t a good insurance policy unless you plan on not getting seriously hurt, not freezing to death, or accidentally being shot by a hunter.  Which brings me to a final point.
  • If you plan on hanging out in somebody’s woods and stealing from gardens and poaching livestock plan on dying.  You may not even be doing those things but if it’s been going on and you’re there you’re guilty.  You’ll see signs that say things like “Posted”.  That means stay the hell out.

There were two young people in the group that kind of concerned me.  The first was a young girl who nonchalantly said she’d just screw for survival.  I’ll reserve my judgment of the effectiveness of that plan.  The other was a rather smart kid who said he’d go back to his parents.  His parents happen to live in an affluent neighborhood in Chicago.  IMHO he might ought to go ahead and just buy a bus ticket to Baghdad.  Hell less people are dying there than Chicago nowadays anyway.

Some people may wonder if the “Patriot movement folks” or the “III%” would be welcome.  They bring something very tangible to the table.  A lot like those “Brightstars” in Rhodesia they offer security when they are around and can even be helpful taking care of “problems”.  Think about a band of dirtbags coming in to raid your homestead and ending up facing a group of five or six guys trained and armed.  So before you tell them to take a hike consider the benefit of allowing them to lager, stage, cache, hide, or E&E in your area. With some careful thinking and basic steps you can minimize the physical evidence of their presence in your immediate area. IMHO it’s more of an advantage to have them around even if it’s just temporary.

Now I have no illusions that all of these young people I mentioned above will think and act.  Some will, some won’t.  And if STHF some will survive, and some will die.  But the old saying still applies:  Fail to plan plan to fail.  Or in this case fail to plan plan to die.

About Treaded

Semi-retired career and contract troop. I own and maintain my own small ranch out here in beautiful rural America.
This entry was posted in Building and Developing Tribe, General Info. Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to The Wave: Bugging Out? Some Things To Think About

  1. 55six says:

    Reblogged this on liberty and lead.

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  4. Stone-cold awesome, sir. Have three younguns in tribe that will get this column and this interrogation. Outstanding.

    — ca

  5. drjim says:

    Excellent post. You managed to condense all the BS down into a few practical questions that people should ask themselves.

  6. Rich T says:

    That’s what I have been drilling into my kids. Have all the fun you want, but bring something to the table when the need arises. If not, it’s going to be cold, dark and hungry for awhile.

  7. Prairie Fire says:

    Nice post, you engaged the young-uns well and got your needed answers. Some of them might learn from your quiz of them.

  8. Randall Stevens says:

    Guess I fall in the “III” then, because I don’t have all those other very practical skills yet, but I am working on them all, medical, mechanical, gun smithing, ect.

  9. Cassandra (of Troy) says:


    Absent from your criteria of people w/ useful skills is the person who doesn’t have degrees in engineering but can rapidly come up w/ a practical solution to a problem that uses a minimum of tools/resources, a.k.a. the handyman, in the old sense of the term. Like the farmers/ranchers of old who made do w/ what they had & did so quite well because there was no other choice. Having a hydrological engineer on tap is great, but w/o the tools of his trade his expertise is useless compared to the guy who’s skilled at old school well spotting/construction because he doesn’t need all of the toys to get water from A to B efficiently & reliably. And that same old school well digger’s likely to be a better liquid/solid waste disposal expert for the same reason. I’d much rather have a Roman engineer available to help get things up/running post-collapse than a gaggle of ‘Smart Guys’. The Amish/similar groups should be mined for such knowledge/skills as they epitomise the type of people I’m referring to. The security personnel should also have skills other than their main MOS so as to better integrate them into a community & thereby (hopefully) help prevent the ‘special/entitled’ mindset currently evident in that group & the problems such an attitude causes.

    About ‘Betty’ & her more honest “I’ll trade my bod for security” counterpart. To be blunt, they’re dead unless they get shed of that “I’m a Princess & therefore desirable to everyone” mentality yesterday. The value of their charms has a surprisingly short shelf life despite what most females believe, & in genuinely hard times such as those being discussed here/elsewhere that expiration date gets real close REALLY fast & those who doubt that contention need only look at the lives of biker chicks for proof. Another factor making such a strategy very iffy is the large number of deeply twisted individuals whose urges are currently barely restrained, what’d happen when the lid’s off for the foreseeable future should cause gals in general to reassess (& readjust) their attitudes if they intend to avoid a horrifically lengthy & ultimately fatal shock.

    And the fellas had best think about their attitudes as well, as Daddy/other male relatives will react QUITE harshly to ‘studs’ making moves on the womenfolk.

    Cassandra (of Troy)

  10. Kevibn J. Kehoe says:

    Eh there is nothing wrong with a Katana, especially one made my Howard Clark from MV Forge.
    Having said that it is not my First Choice, That is the MK43 Mod 1, unfortunately I live IN close proximity to the Asshole Bloomberg.

    So I have to stick with my Other Toys, HEHEHE. 10mm, 45-70 44-40 7.62, 6.8mm last but not least 5.56.

    Still ever real man should own a real sword. Someday the primers might be hard to find and them damn zombies look sweet with out a HEAD.

    And as for Betty BOOP, After Porking the Princess they would really eat her fer sure.

    Well if you can get me my MK 43 I have much stuff we can trade.

  11. fabbersmith says:

    Don’t forget the kind of medical treatments were available. Unless you’re up for trying colloidal silver or something, main body infection means dead, severe one on limb means no more limb. Unless you have a good bonesetter, breaking something means it won’t work quite right ever again.

    Also realize that alot of the old farmers and such already have a lot of these skills, and so you’d better be able to do a good job convincing you’ll be worth your food.

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  13. possumhollow says:

    I am so so happy that I raised my daughters the way I was raised. They’ve learned how to raise their own meat, how to butcher and then preserve that meat, how to raise a garden and preserve what they harvest, how to sew, basic vet skills which translates to human med skills if need be, how to start and maintain a fire, how to shoot accurately, how to hunt, how to build shelters (barns, shed, chicken house all of which can be lived in), how to make something useful out of what they find dumpster diving and the list goes on.

    We might be hillbillies, but dammit, we are hillbillies that will survive come hell or high water.

  14. Grim says:

    Thank you, Treaded, for all you’re doing.
    Very good post, as are they all. However, there’s something that scratches just a bit here, and I offer this for consideration: the nerdy computer genius has nothing to offer. Perhaps he/she doesn’t, not in the dirt, anyway. But on the other hand, the new landscape is more and more in cyberspace, where there’s no such thing as ‘rural’. The right Stickboy could be extremely valuable. Think in terms of digital tanglefoot, kitchen table seed drones, etc. Endless possibilities. Maybe that nerdy kid with a laptop (or whatever) could be just as valuable as any hardened operator in securing the perimeter. Joystick as virtual Ma Deuce, so to speak. As with everything else, it’s about mindset. Just a thought.


    • Treaded says:

      Grim in reality he has nothing to offer us. We’re on satellite internet out here (much like the rest of really rural America – and we don’t even get cell reception). In reality as soon as the grid goes down or those guys at the NOSC quit coming to work our internet goes dead and that “cyberspace landscape” disappears from our lives for the duration – at least until an alternative presents itself. His efforts and the time to come up with gee-whiz answers would consume electricity, food, and probably a few other precious resources that IMHO might be used elsewhere. I’ve learned from experience gee whiz gadgets most often fail when needed most (I’ve had everything from PEWS to Ravens crap out on me over the decades) and simple mechanical and chemical answers that rely neither on electricity nor electronics are the most reliable ones. Sure people would like to think of guys like this in the context of “One Second After” but in reality their electronic skillset is so narrow it’s laughable. My son related he told “Jeffy” later on to get his Amateur Radio License and get some gear – it’s something up his alley and that with his equipment would make him a lot more useful than he is now.

      • Grim says:

        Good points well made and taken. Thx.
        ARRL was a sort of ‘proto-net’, and I do see how useful it will be.
        (Somewhere in the back of my old, grey brain I still have some bits of rusty Morse. Mite be time to salvage it, if anyone still uses it?)

      • drjim says:

        Yes, Morse code is still extremely popular. I don’t use it too often, as most of the guys that use it blaze along at 25~30 words-per-minute, and I stumble along at about 10~15. Amateur Radio etiquette dictates that you reply to a person NO FASTER than they are sending, so I suppose most “real” CW operators just ignore my CQ calls.

        And I’m about 65% finished with that “Expedient HF Antennas” series of articles I’ve been writing for the past year!

        The technical information is a no-brainer for me, but writing it for an audience that might not have much experience with antennas, radios, or even electricity is a bit daunting for me!

  15. Treaded says:

    Just a quick update one of young fella in the entry: #3 son has managed to get the fella I refer to as “Jeffy” sold on buying a rig and getting an Amateur Radio license.

  16. Dannielle says:

    My husband and I think about what steps we may take every day to better prepare for what may be to come. In all my research it is listed as find somewhere to go and that is where I am stumped as we live in Alaska and we have no family here on the same page. I guess we are left to try and make it in the woods or a cave, we have even labored the ideal of heading south but that would require a boat, as younger folk we don’t posess the financial freedom most older couples have to prepare. Is all we can do as a family is train our kids and ourselfs to survive with what we have.

    • Treaded says:

      Danielle all is not lost – just do the best with what you have. I recently have been in communication with a young guy that was robbed and almost beaten to death in NYC and robbed again later on. He related to me how he scrimped and saved for four years until he had enough money to move to a better clime after he had done tons of research and studying. In your situation I’d seek out like minded families and start build tribe if you are absolutely rooted in place. One couple may not be able to afford a few acres but three or four working together makes it more attainable. Where there’s a will and some creative thinking a way can be found.

  17. kletzenklueffer says:

    I have one comment that came to mind when reading this postm, and maybve it’s preaching to the choir.

    I live in rural north GA. It’s not rural by midwest standards, but it is by GA standards. I live about 5 miles from the national forest and have favorite haunts. in a SHTF scenario, the urban folks that planned to bug out to the forest will be in for a harsh reality. The woods they would occasionally venture to for camping have been the hunting grounds of the locals for years. When property rights aren’t enforced, territorial claims will be enforced. The guy that is planning to shoot a deer or pig to feed the family for the next week will protect that same territory to the death. So those city folks need to understand this before they plan on pitching a tent to wait out the troubles. They will be tresspassing, maybe not on the land , but on the stomachs of those that wre already there.

  18. Smccabe says:

    What about family members that are not useful? I am not referring to the elderly who hopefully still have the sharp mind, but others who are only good at doing nothing?

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