Preppers: Okay You Made It to Your Bug Out Retreat Now What?

Bug out retreat

The country is in chaos, the financial markets have collapsed because of turmoil in the world, energy shortages and because of government policies, mismanagement and corruption. Cities are experiencing riots and demonstrations.

Store shelves are empty and gas stations are either boarded up or burned to the ground. Delivery trucks are sitting idle in warehouse shipping yards, and it will not be long before all utilities in your city are cut off.

Many municipalities have collapsed and their concrete jungles are now hunting grounds for criminals and other miscreants. Federal troops patrol many of the larger cities, and in some, they are gathering up people on the streets.

Anyone on the streets is now considered part of the problem and not part of the solution. Gather them all up and sort them out later is the current mindset of anyone in authority. Hospitals and doctor’s offices are closed, and for the first time in your life, you see bodies lying about the streets.

Your retreat is 150 miles from your permanent home and the nearest metropolitan area is over 70 miles away. It seemed the ideal retreat several years ago. It had a romantic feel to it, the sun was always shining when you arrived to work on it, the birds chirped, the squirrels chattered and you always saw white tails bounding off through the woods. Perfect always came to mind when you arrived to bury supplies and to work on the cabin.

Reality Sets In

It took you much longer than you had prepared for to get to the retreat and it was nearly dark as you pulled up to the cabin. Even though your vehicle was well stocked, and you had a bug-out-bags for everyone, the food and water supply that you packed was nearly depleted.
It took so long because there were disabled cars on the roadways, there were people walking and blocking the roads and some criminals had cobbled together barriers along some highways leading out of the city demanding money or supplies before you could pass.

Backtracking and going off road was the only way to avoid the demanding thieves and abandoned cars and people. You and the family spent two nights huddled in the vehicle hidden well off in the brush. You laid there wide-eyed clutching a firearm the entire time while parked in the dark. The vehicle’s gas tank was nearly empty when you arrived, but you had fuel cached a few hundred yards away along with other supplies.

Your nerves are frayed from the trip and now reality is setting in. The cabin seems so much smaller than you remember and the cold rain at dusk makes the entire scene look like something out of a Charles Dickens novel.

Cold, dreary and a heavy mist hung over the cabin like a shroud. All anyone could do was collapse into his or her sleeping bags after you grabbed some chunks of wood lying in a basket and built a small fire in the stove.

The First Day At The Retreat

A restless night was spent in sleeping bags on the hard wooden floor of the cabin. The cold rain had stopped overnight. You went to check the rainwater catchment barrels at sunrise only to find the barrels gone, and a large portion of your wood supply was gone as well.

Thieves had struck and hauled off what they could, but thankfully, they had not vandalized the inside of the cabin. There was water on the property but it meant hauling water in buckets up from the small stream. A hot meal and a hot bath was what everyone needed, but it meant more work now. You began hauling in the collapsible sleeping cots and other supplies packed in the Suburban.

The Problem With Not Living At Your Retreat is That Others Will Abuse It

Many cannot afford to have a cabin in the woods as well as a home in the suburbs let alone live at their retreat full time or even a significant part of the time. People have jobs and they have to live relatively close to their place of employment.

The reality is that most bug-out-retreats will be very rustic, and it will require considerable work by everyone just to maintain a very low standard of living while there. It will not even come close to how you are used to living in most cases. Survival is not easy but either is living in a city that has collapsed where criminal gangs are roaming at will creating death and destruction.

Even though you think your retreat is remote, someone else will know it is there as well, after all, you found it. There is not piece of land anywhere in the country that is not noted on a map somewhere.

Some people may make the mistake of leaving supplies where they can be stolen. Rain barrels obviously can be stolen and cut firewood is an invitation for anyone too lazy to cut their own. Thieves will literally take anything, so anything left in plain sight can be taken. People have gone to their retreat in the woods to find it completely ransacked of any valuables and vandals can also set it afire or simply destroy what they cannot take.

Leave nothing behind that can be taken, and bury all supplies nearby without making it apparent you have buried anything. You cannot carry enough with you for any extended period as you evacuate, so you do need the means to resupply at your location. Even if the cabin had been burned to the ground, you would still have supplies cached and you can survive if you have shelter and other essentials. Tents, tarps and the tools to build a shelter are items that should be in any supply cache.

You should always assume you would arrive at any cache site with nothing, so each cache must be such that it can sustain you and that means you need shelter, water and food at the minimum in every cache.

That is why most experts recommend that you have considerable knowledge and training in bush craft. What would have happened if the family had pulled up to the cabin only to find a pile of burnt timbers? The family had supply caches buried, but to survive they would need an adequate shelter almost immediately if theirs was destroyed when they arrived. Shelter is always something you have to consider, because assuming the shelter in place at your retreat is still standing may mean you are literally left out in the cold when you arrive.

The retreat was 150 miles from their home, but it took over 72 hours to get there by vehicle. This must be planned for, because you cannot assume you will just jump in your car and have clear sailing during a crisis.

Once There And Then Being Able To Stay There

The cabin did not have electricity, which was fine for weekend getaways while the family worked on the cabin. The outhouse was adequate for short periods, but now what happens. You had thought about solar panels, refrigerators and solar electric water pumps, but you rightfully feared they would be taken or vandalized.

Your family had a roof over their heads, some food, medical supplies, clothing and other essentials and a stream for water. There was a wood stove and a supply of cut wood, but still it was going to be very difficult.

Every noise now made you jump because you knew it was just a matter of time before someone showed up at the cabin. You realized that others like you would be fleeing the cities, and many would have nothing more than the clothes on their back.

You had spent an untold number hours over the last two years burying supplies in and around the small cabin and now it was time to dig up a few of the caches. Surprisingly you did not have any trouble finding them, because fortunately your GPS worked way out here (never rely on a GPS), cell phones did not work nor did the two-way radios you carried. Static was all you heard when you switched the radios on.
Now you realize a large number of emergency essentials are all in one place, inside your cabin. Security was now a major factor.

Your family was well trained in the use of firearms, but none of you had ever fired a gun at another human being. You and your spouse each had a handgun holstered on your bodies at all times now and two pump action shotguns stood sentry on either side of the door.

The children were of an age where having a firearm present was not a threat to them and each one of your children knew how to use one. You also had two AR-15’s, but wondered at your ability to fire from long range at a person, because how do you know, they are a threat at 100 yards, but yet if they get any closer, and you find they are a threat you have lost your advantage. A dilemma for sure that until now you had never given much thought about.

Even though you had plenty of water from the stream, it was close to 100 yards away, and the water needed to be filtered and boiled before drinking. You also wondered what would happen if you had to take refuge inside the cabin because of aggressors attacking the cabin. You needed water close. You needed a well and a hand pump inside the cabin. You contemplated digging a well now and wondered why this was the first time you had considered it.

There Is Always More Than Meets The Eye

Nothing is as simple as it seems, and if you do not realize that now, you may find yourself in peril virtually of your own making. Any safe-haven must be ready to move into at a moment’s notice. Natural water sources are fine for short periods, but you really need a private well no matter where you are to ensure you have a water source. Streams can be dammed up or their course altered.

What you think is a fast flowing stream today could be a trickle or a dried up river bed tomorrow, because someone up stream decided to alter the waterway. Ponds and lakes can and will become gathering places for all manner of people during a crisis. A shelter and a private well should be your first priority when developing your survival retreat.

Energy is important, but if you only visit your retreat in warm weather, and when the sun is shining it may not seem like a priority. Cut firewood wood can be stolen. Cords of it can be taken away in a matter of hours if the thieves want it bad enough.

It is not practical for most people to have a few acres to escape to, because of economics and the time needed to develop it. However, if you do have land somewhere remember you are escaping to a new home and it needs to be developed as such. You are leaving your current home for another home.

So-called experts everywhere are talking about bug-out retreats and many make them sound relatively simple, when in fact they require extensive planning, resources and the will to do it. Land cost money, building a shelter cost money, and it takes time and having an energy source installed is expensive, but it all can be done, but not overnight.

You may think you and your family can live very primitively, but when you have to do it and do it for an extended period, you and your family will have a different perspective. To make sure you can do it start planning now, and do it right, never assume anything and know exactly what it takes for you and your family to live comfortably at your bug-out retreat for an extended period.