In times that seem perilous indeed, many Americans are making plans for the worst. Look on any Prepper site or discussion board and you’ll see potential scenarios ranging from Nuclear War to total Martial Law. Perhaps not the most pleasant subject for conversation, but useful at the very least in that it forces people to think about possibilities.
I find one of the more disturbing facets of this dialog to be the large number of “Bug Out” enthusiasts. Generally men with some sort of military training, these folks strongly, and loudly, support cutting and running at the first sign of real trouble, heading to some uninhabited wilderness and living off the land. I realize while this rather romantic notion tends to conjure up visions of Daniel Boone and mountain men testing their metal against the lawless wilderness, there are some serious (and possibly deadly) flaws in the logic here.
- It Makes a Lot of Assumptions – The efficacy of Bugging Out is founded on several assumptions.
- The crisis you are running from won’t exist or is better in the location you are traveling to. This could be a big mistake. One of the first things to go down in an emergency is our regular communications network. How do you really know that things aren’t even worse where you are planning to go? You will be basically traveling blind.
- You are the ONLY one with this particular plan. I hear so much about going in the wilderness and “living off the land”, but WHERE exactly is that going to happen? The word wilderness suggests a place with no people, but if enough people have the same plan and choose the same spot, it may be more crowded when you get there than the place you risked so much to leave.
- There are enough resources in your chosen spot. Most of the Bug Out enthusiasts speak of hunting as their primary source of food. I’d like to point out that the first hunting laws were enacted in Pennsylvania in 1777 to protect the already diminishing deer population. This was when the human population of the US was a mere 2.6 million. With nearly 320 million people today, how long do you think that game is going to last?
- It is Inherently Selfish – I often hear proponents of Bugging Out talking about “weaklings” or “lazy people dependent on the government”. As I said earlier, in general Bug Out fans are able-bodied men. I find this attitude of “only the strong should survive” and “might makes right” highly disturbing. It seems to me that this is exactly the viewpoint that has led our beautiful country into dire straights to begin with. Living off the land is perilous and physically harsh. Many people, through no fault of their own, could not do it. Does that mean their life is not valuable or that they deserve whatever happens to them? What about your Grandma or the single mother with 2 young children?
- It Makes No Plans for the Rebuilding the Future – Okay, so you manage to get to your wilderness, fight for your little spot, and live off the land. You’ve proven you’re one of the strong that survived. Now what? It takes a community to build a civilization and the Bug Out mindset of “every man for himself” certainly doesn’t foster working together, an essential skill for anything greater than mere subsistence. No one stays young and strong forever. Who will take care of you when you are no longer one of the “fittest”?
I confess…. I’m pretty sure that this article is unlikely to change the mind of any true Bug Out enthusiast. I didn’t write it for them anyway. I wrote this article for those who are worried or feel hopeless because they know they don’t have what it takes to survive off the land with 10 pounds of brown rice and a Bowie knife. That’s okay! Don’t let someone’s insistence that Bugging Out, guns blazing, is the only way to survive keep you from making your own sensible preparations. Are there circumstances where leaving is the best option? Definitely! But those are going to be the exception rather than the rule. Get to know your area and your neighbors, think about how you would supply yourself if the trucks stopped running, consider how you would survive if the grid went down, and think of the best place to go if you absolutely have to leave. Then rest easy knowing you’ve done your best. The rest is in God’s hands.