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The Fallacy of Bugging Out

Joined
Feb 19, 2013
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3,216
Here are some interesting articles about the implications of bugging out. It should be an interesting read.

http://survivalacres.com/blog/the-fallacy-of-bugging-out/
http://survivalacres.com/blog/the-fallacy-of-bugging-out-part-ii/

I tend to agree with the author that bugging out to live in the woods is a very bad idea. By doing so you are replicating hunter gatherer culture in an industrialized world. Worse most guys would be doing it "cold" without the benefit of having grown up in a hunter gatherer environment, in settings that could not support a many hunter gatherers anyway. The fact is that nature has been depleted to support our way of life. Population density has gone up and natural diversity has gone down. A lot.

Living the life of a hunter gatherer could be done for a day, maybe a week, at most until others caught on. The first guys out would leverage modern technology (think large scale fishing, firearms, traps, nets) and grab all the available game. It happened with the buffalo. The rest would be forced to fight over the scraps. To me it's a completely unsustainable survival strategy and I don't understand why so many people are drawn to it. To plan to put yourself in that situation, where there is no plan for where the next meal will come from...

Bugging out to me is about relocating to another location where the prospects are better, but still staying within society. Like getting out of the way of a hurricane, fire, or the in-laws. :D

Thoughts?
 
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There are many good reasons why people banded together into villages, societies and towns to begin with, the primary one being that everyone's possibility of survival tended to benefit. There is strength in numbers, at least until a stronger group comes along and wants what you have.

The notion of grabbing your bug-out pack and "going it alone" in the wilderness for anything more than a short period of time, given the skill base of 99% of the population, has always seemed a bit delusional to me (though of course we all tend to think that we are the other 1%....). People tend to focus a lot on individual skills and self-reliance (which are not bad things), but what tends to get ignored are group skills and group survival strategies. How often do you hear conversations about what unique skills you may bring to a group survival setting?

Most people are simply not going to survive alone, for very long, in the sorts of scenarios that truly require 'bugging out.' Most will die, one way or another, simply put.

That said, if, God forbid, a situation that requires 'bugging out' ever truly arises, I would much rather be close to a large area of wilderness than a large population center. Not that any of this is stuff that really preoccupies me anyway.
 

sgi

Joined
Oct 10, 2007
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93
My philosophy leans towards shelter in place under most circumstances, especially during short term disruptions and I would have to be pretty desperate to take off with just a backpack unless I was heading to another retreat.

What puts me off the the article is this :

"job (income), perhaps your family (wife, kids), your home (shelter), your friends (support network), your contacts (other people you know), your bank accounts (money), your credit (ruined), your retirement (pension), your property and everything you own (everything you cannot carry with you), your vehicles (except perhaps one, at least until the gas tank is empty), your future (prospects, employment, credibility, integrity). Don’t forget things also left behind, such as electricity, running water, Internet access, news and information, communications, telephone and even cell service, a warm, dry bed and other ‘essentials’, some more then others."

If I have all these things why the heck would I be bugging out? Sounds like a pretty stable situation if all that infrastructure and those creature comforts are still in place.
 
Joined
Jan 26, 2011
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When I was much younger I was under the mistaken notion that I could rely on my strengths and skills to weather any storm. That notion didn't really last very long. Now days at much older, I don't think I could survive much longer than my daily prescriptions held out.
 
Joined
Feb 3, 2006
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There are many good reasons why people banded together into villages, societies and towns to begin with, the primary one being that everyone's possibility of survival tended to benefit. There is strength in numbers, at least until a stronger group comes along and wants what you have.

The notion of grabbing your bug-out pack and "going it alone" in the wilderness for anything more than a short period of time, given the skill base of 99% of the population, has always seemed a bit delusional to me (though of course we all tend to think that we are the other 1%....). People tend to focus a lot on individual skills and self-reliance (which are not bad things), but what tends to get ignored are group skills and group survival strategies. How often do you hear conversations about what unique skills you may bring to a group survival setting?

Most people are simply not going to survive alone, for very long, in the sorts of scenarios that truly require 'bugging out.' Most will die, one way or another, simply put.

That said, if, God forbid, a situation that requires 'bugging out' ever truly arises, I would much rather be close to a large area of wilderness than a large population center. Not that any of this is stuff that really preoccupies me anyway.

This has always been my thoughts. Working together will carry you a lot farther than holing up in a bunker with a stash of supplies. It's a good idea to be prepared to move if you have to but going all "lone wolf" is a very poor strategy no matter how much ammo you have.
 
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This:

When I was much younger I was under the mistaken notion that I could rely on my strengths and skills to weather any storm. That notion didn't really last very long. Now days at much older, I don't think I could survive much longer than my daily prescriptions held out.
 
Joined
Feb 19, 2013
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Thoughtful replies so far, thanks! :)

Most times I go out into the woods, I learn something new or I notice deficiencies in kit. Things run out, break or just get forgotten. With everything working in the background no harm done. When they aren't those learning experiences could have serious consequences.

@Smithhammer you bring up a very good point about looking at the individuals strengths and weaknesses in the context of group survival strategies. I can get behind that, it's a much more level headed way to look at survival than individuals roaming the woods. Our economy relies largely on specialization and extremely efficient division of labor. Many jobs can only exist within the social logistical support structure, in that sense having less specialized skills could be beneficial. Skills that keep lots of people fed, hydrated, dry, warm, clean, and, generally happy would probably be a good place to start. That and keeping all the systems we rely on running. Growing stuff, learning to purify water, maintain equipment, do repairs, manufacture stuff etc.

@SGI yeah if all those are in place I don't see why you would need to bug out either. I assume the author means that to bug out means that you are walking away from the responsibility of rebuilding those things. For example the electrician who does not show up for work after a power outage leaving everyone else high and dry would not be well looked on in the community. Or the doctor who does not show up to renew prescriptions.
 

james terrio

Sharpest Knife in the Light Socket
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I love going into the boondocks for brief periods! I have a fair amount of skills and experience, that allows me to be pretty confident that I could survive a week or maybe more in the wild with minimal gear (warm clothes, some kind of sturdy knife, and something to gather water in and make fire). I was brought up by folks who taught me stuff like that, and I've studied it more-or-less my entire adult life. It's big fun, when you don't have to do it.

I can just about guarantee that by the end of a month in that situation, I would be weak, tired, undernourished, bored, scared and exceedingly grumpy. Luckily for me, I don't need meds to keep me going day-to-day; that's a whole other kettle of fish that's seldom mentioned in the books/TV shows about "survival"

Catching a few ZZZ's in a leaky lean-to for one night is not the same as having to do that for a week or a month. Food? Fuggitaboutit. They call it "fishing" and "trapping" and "hunting" instead of "catching" for a reason ;) There is an extremely important, and largely ignored lesson to be learned from the "primitive" peoples whose hunting/gathering techniques we love to study... they didn't do it by themselves. They had a lot of people working together.

All those skills are important and worthwhile to pursue, no doubt about it. But given a choice, I'm buggin' in.
 
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sgi

Joined
Oct 10, 2007
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@SGI yeah if all those are in place I don't see why you would need to bug out either. I assume the author means that to bug out means that you are walking away from the responsibility of rebuilding those things. For example the electrician who does not show up for work after a power outage leaving everyone else high and dry would not be well looked on in the community. Or the doctor who does not show up to renew prescriptions.

Ok, if that's what he meant then I get it. Taking off at the first sign of trouble might make sense if you have somewhere to go and adequate vacation time to cover yourself at work. Realistically I think that in most scenarios (economic collapse, pandemic) we would be looking at a slow slide and hopefully have some time to ascertain the risk of just up and leaving it all behind vs. waiting a while to see how long a period things could be dicey for.

Realistically I am most concerned with surviving short term disruptions of a week or so in duration. Thinking ice or snow storm that knocks out power, and issue with water contamination, etc. (Lost water for about 12 hours last year in a good size town and I will tell you not being ready for that was an inconvenience even for such a short period of time, luckily I was on the way to Costco just as the pressure dropped and I bought a few extra jugs of water for the cooler. A habit I maintain to this day.)

So long as I have food, heat, water, light, dog food, first aid to get the family through a week I am pretty content. If business as usual is not restored by then I am looking at a much bigger problem than my logistics and budget (and I assume that of most other people) can handle. Ideally I'd like to be able to provide the basics for the family for up to a month but regardless of how much TP, bottled water and Mountain House I have in the basement I am going to be dealing with some unhappy kids and a cranky wife. Still, better in my home than in a stadium sleeping on cots with tens of thousands of others.

Beyond a month...well, that's something I don't want to have to deal with. We are talking MAJOR collapse here. If I had a ranch out in the boonies with animals and a garden and a well and the skill to live the homesteading life then great, but in the suburbs with no running water for a month.....I can't say how well that would go.

Lots to consider. I really enjoy these kinds of discussions.
 
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Mar 23, 2000
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Thanks for the articles. I arrived at the same conclusion - I'm bugging in! I now have bug-back-home / survival bags in my cars. Not quite sure how this fantasy of living off the land got started. Too many Rambo movies, end of the world stories, and what not I suppose. I'm too old and seen too much to believe such stuff. Surviving a cascadia quake is my goal, sheltering in place my plan. Trying to survive long term in wet cold western Oregon forests in not an option. From a risk management stand point , I don't worry about economic collapse, tyrant governmant, foreign attackers, etc.. Bad weather, temporarily stuck out of doors, and natural disaster much more likely events I'll have to contend with.
 
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Dec 21, 2006
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There is a big difference in "wilderness survival" and "survivalism." Having some basic wilderness survival gear & emergency skills is exceptionally prudent, for those of us who spend significant time outdoors. But to think that is translated into making you a one-man army is hubris. To me, bugging-out to live in the "woods, wilderness, etc" is just a non-starter. Too many issues to address, for one how am I going to carry gear & food for 2 children on my back & be ready to deal with situations, and provide physical security? It's an absolute non-starter. This is why humans formed tribes in hunter-gatherer societies ( and they were raised that way.) Help divide chores, raise children, provide security --- one man, even a couple can't do it all. Even spec-war small units have a huge logistical, training, and command & control support network that allows a small, specialized team to "survive" in similar stressful combat-type situations are usually for short mission durations. And these are the best of the best, where every team member is highly trained, through a rigouros selection process & relies on each other...not a bunch of of out-of-shape, mentally unprepared, untested, frightened suburban men, women & children.

Don't get me wrong, I have an emergency preparedness plan & gear (hurricane Ike knocked out my power for 7 days and taught me what worked & what didn't in my gear & plan.) Anything beyond a local disaster and it is just unrealistic to plan for, there are way too many variables. Maybe you'll have to relocate to a relative's house, who knows.

A total societal breakdown? Even if you live out in the boonies & are independently wealthy enough to afford 'a survival retreat' whats to stop a local 'tribe' from forming and taking everything away. I love these internet commandos who think they can fight off hordes of starving desperate people intent on getting their prepper gear. Not that there isn't a lot of useful nuggets of info on the prepper sites Like John Wesley Rawles, etc and the whole "survivalblog" sub-culture. Their gloomy world view seems at odds with a lot of recorded history, but it's a nice hobby & it doesn't hurt anybody --- nobody has a crystal ball.
 

22-rimfire

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Nov 20, 2005
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Bugging out is a fantasy. Some would do it. But these are the people who would likely be shot as soon as they're caught trying to steal from people holed up in their homes Anything longer than a month, and most people are going to be in serious trouble because of lack of medicine, physical disabilities, age, food resources, safe drinking water, fuel, or simply "crime". Most of us have some sort of weakness that may prove to be a fatal where long term survival was the only option.

Things that would force a substantial portion of the population to "bug out" are nuclear radiation, infectious disease, military action (aka war), and regional natural disasters such as big earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions, and perhaps an astroid/meteor impact. Other than being forced to leave, I'm staying put.
 
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Bugging out is a fantasy Some would do it. But these are the people who would likely be shot as soon as they're caught trying to steal from people holed up in their homes. Anything longer than a month, and most people are going to be in serious trouble because of lack of medicine, physical disabilities, age, food resources, safe drinking water, fuel, or simply "crime". Most of us have some sort of weakness that may prove to be a fatal where long term survival was the only option.

Things that would force a substantial portion of the population to "bug out" are nuclear radiation, infectious disease, military action (aka war)

You should research Shoichi Yokoi.
 

BOSS1

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I've commented on related topics of this before...by and large, it is a fantasy for just about anyone beyond the unattached bachelor/ette who's had very specific training and the proper gear. If you're a family person with younger kid(s) or elderly relatives, particularly more than 1, do really think you're going to lug/move them very far in the wilderness, along with your gear? Live off the land with them? Not for very long. I'm not talking a short term scenario here, a couple three days where you could possibly get by if the weather wasn't too extreme, particularly cold. But truly heading-for-the-hills 'bugging out.' And if we're talking a large scale disaster level event, its probably gonna get ugly and peoples' true natures will reveal themselves...

So if you have family your choice is abandon them or come up with a plan B.

As others said, shelter in place is probably going to be your best bet, unless its something like a forrest fire, gas leak, tsunami, etc. that is going to lay waste to what's in its path. If I couldn't shelter in place, it would probably be whatever I could toss in the 4x4 SUV with the family in whatever time I had and try and relocate closer to other assets or get out of the area of impact. Abandoning shelter and resources is most likely the last choice unless absolutely necessary.

But it does keep forums alive and sell lots of 'bug out' supplies...

BOSS
 
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Join Date: Nov 2005Location: TennesseePosts: 1,981




Bugging out is a fantasy. Some would do it. But these are the people who would likely be shot as soon as they're caught trying to steal from people holed up in their homes Anything longer than a month, and most people are going to be in serious trouble because of lack of medicine, physical disabilities, age, food resources, safe drinking water, fuel, or simply "crime". Most of us have some sort of weakness that may prove to be a fatal where long term survival was the only option.
Agreed.
It appears to me that most people that buy into this have very little experience in the wilderness. There is a big difference between learning a "survival skill" in your backyard vs growing up doing these thing for fun.
Can it be done? Maybe, for a while by people that have a wealth of skills and good health.
But as others said, the natural resources simply aren't what they used to been.
 

22-rimfire

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Shoichi Yokoi survived for many years but he was not competing with thousands of other survivalists. The world had returned to "normal" but he didn't realize it or wouldn't accept the change. I guess I would have to say... anything is possible. I wonder what he thought of those B-52's landing and taking off in Guam?
 
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I have a firm belief in bugging in. I am also of the school of wanting a good source to procure my medication. Not much else to contribute to the thought of bugging out other than a long weekend of camping.
 
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