Bug-out locations are a popular topic for discussion in prepping circles, and the most desirable locations for a safe-haven according to most is a wilderness environment. Escape the city or urban environment and other people is the advice, because therein lies the biggest threat after disaster strikes, which is other humans. While everyone agrees Mother Nature can be deadly, it is no match for human nature when it comes to deadly acts.
Urban areas are targets, because of the number of people crowded into a small geographical area. Terrorist groups or nations that seek our destruction will of course target cities because they can achieve higher body counts, and create greater damage to the country’s infrastructure, and above all to create panic across the country, so people will make bad decisions that will kill them.
What are the dangers after the attack has occurred assuming you survive the attack. Is it more dangerous to stay and shelter in place, or to head off into what would likely be the great unknown?
Given all this then logic would dictate you do not live in an urban area to begin with. Leave now before something does happen would be sound advice, you cannot lock the barn door after the horse gets out, so act now, but none of this is practical. People live within cities for a reason, and many will not leave even during a major catastrophe.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, urban areas of the United States contain 249,253,271 people, representing 80.7% of the population, while rural areas contain 59,492,276 people or 19.3% of the population this according to the 2010 census (United States Census Bureau, 2014).
How much will the population shift during a major crisis? Will the cities empty out while the rural areas see a surge in population? If this were to happen then bugging-out to a wilderness environment means the dangers you are trying to leave behind will follow you, or already be there when you arrive.
It is not likely however, that the population would shift dramatically, because a catastrophe of the magnitude it would take to force this shift would also likely decrease the overall population significantly.
If the population does shift, then you will have small communities popping up in what once was your intended wilderness area. Unorganized, populated areas created from such a shift will be a magnet for criminal gangs, looters and the authorities, federal and state, and no matter what happens there will always be the authorities trying to exert influence.
However, despite the obstacles and dangers you have decided that bugging-out is the best course of action. You may very well have to leave the city because of a nuclear strike, chemical or biological attack or any number of other reasons.
Leave the city but for how long, and how far do you go. Are all of the cities in the United States being attacked now and will they be attacked later. You probably will not know the answers at the time, so leaving could be as deadly as staying.
Bugging out may be the best thing for you in your mind, but what about your older parents across town, your brother or sister and their families that live 50 miles way and what about ailing grandparents or even adult children that have just settled on their own nearby. Do you leave for your wilderness safe-haven, and leave family behind, because you will not likely be able to take them all, if any with you.
Reality versus Reality TV Shows
You may have watched the reality series Mountain Men and have decided you can do that. However, before running off to the wilderness consider how long the people depicted on the show have been established in their locations. Years, they have been doing it for years and everyday is still a struggle to survive, where one mistake can be a life-altering one.
What else do you notice about the show? There are others around them that can be called upon for help. They all have vehicles, horses and mules, snowmobiles and even a plane to get around in and their shelters are not made of sticks and mud. You will not have any of this at your bug-out location unless you have spent years maybe even decades working on it.
One other major factor is the weather. Your bug-out location in a wilderness environment may have the four seasons. This means cold winters, wet springs and possibly hot and dry summers. Disasters are not convenient, so you may have to escape to the wilderness in the dead of winter, so unless you have a snug cabin with a stockpile of wood and food you will probably not survive until spring.
This article has not even talked about how you plan to get to your wilderness safe haven. Think about this while continuing to read.
Of course, there are bug-out locations where you will not have to contend with cold winters but no place will be Utopia. In the swamp regions for example, you will have deadly snakes, insects and food and clean water will always be a concern, as well as, being able to travel especially in swamp regions. Coastal areas will be out of the question because of the population density. Can you survive in a desert environment?
Any bug-out location will have its problems, so you have to prepare for the areas you would expect to end up at, and this can be problematic if your plans have to change.
Essentially, you are left with areas that are difficult to survive in, or they would already be populated. Remote areas are remote for a reason, and unless you are highly skilled and have been planning this for years, you will have a very difficult time surviving without any infrastructure, a solid shelter and resources that can be tapped immediately upon your arrival.
What Are Your Options Then
If your city is attacked or otherwise uninhabitable for the time being, there will be other urban areas to settle into for short periods or even areas set up with temporary shelters. However, if the entire country collapses, and all cities are shut down because of attacks then bugging-out is not a good idea in this case either. You probably would not make it to the city limits during a major attack upon the United States.
There are of course people, a small majority however, that could escape the city, survive, and even thrive in a wilderness environment. You have to decide if you are one of them. The most likely candidate for survival is a single person, well trained in wilderness bushcraft, firearm use, is well supplied, in good physical shape and has the mental fortitude to do what is needed.
Families as a group would have a difficult time bugging-out. You have to assume that at some point, you would be traveling on foot, and this would be a near impossibility with small children.
You see mass migrations of people on the news fleeing war torn areas, fleeing famine and diseases, and most are fleeing with their families, with their children in tow. What you do not see often times on the news however is the number of mothers and fathers weeping over their dead or dying children, weeping over their dead wives or husbands alongside the paths and roadways along the so-called pathway to safety and salvation. You do not always see the conditions of the refugee camps awaiting them, where thousands more will die in the hours, days and weeks ahead.
Bugging-out is not for the feint hearted. You may be fleeing one crisis only to find yourself thrust into the grasp of another, maybe even more deadly situation.
One of the biggest problems you will have when planning for something that has never happened before is history. You do not have a template in which to work from, because you have no prior experience, and most of those giving you advice do not have any real life experience either to call upon, so it is all conjecture on everyone’s part.
If your city is attacked, you may flee the downtown areas into the suburbs to find many homes abandoned, this is a possibility. You now have shelter, albeit it temporary but an option nonetheless. The point is, because you do not know, you have to be prepared to adapt as the situation unfolds. You may have to flee a few miles or several hundred.
Unless you are well trained and this means you have done it before, you will not find any more food in a wilderness environment than in an urban one. People starve to death in the woods, they die from exposure, lack of water and from injuries. While sunny meadows with their colorful wildflowers and fluttering butterflies paint a picturesque scene, it can also be a deadly scene as well for the inexperienced.
United States Census Bureau. (2014). Retrieved 2014, from https://ask.census.gov/faq.php?id=5000&faqId=5971