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Bugging Out To The Woods When The SHTF: Probably Not The Best Idea

I’m not sure who the first person was who proclaimed that they were “just going to bug-out to the woods when the SHTF,” but whoever he was, we are assuming he also coined the phrase, “Good initiative, bad judgment.”

The truth is that most people can’t survive for long durations in the wilderness, and that’s why 21-day challenges on the Discovery Channel tend to be difficult for most people to complete. (And that’s with a camera crew and medics nearby, mind you.) Even on the shows alone, contestants can bring 10 items with them and there is like a half a million-dollar prize for the person who can survive the longest. Why such a large prize? You guessed it—it is because it’s freaking hard to do. 

Yet, the idea of a bug-out to the woods seems to have caught on like wildfire with a lot of people. Why? Because they are overconfident hunters or capable outdoorsmen? Who knows? But here at Skillset, we decided to compose a short list of the pros and cons of choosing the woods as a bug-out destination. 

Pros And Cons Of A Forest Bug-Out

  1. Finding Food: “I’m an armed hunter gatherer, blah, blah, blah.”

Pros: Maybe there is a water source filled with an endless supply of fish. Or a lot of game in the area. Or even beautiful Granny Smith apple trees calling your name. You, your wife, her mother and your three kids will feast like royals!

Cons: Clearly you and your family are already beyond stressed out; otherwise, you wouldn’t be in this situation to begin with. If you do bug-out to the woods,you better pick a location where there aren’t 100 other heavily armed hunters and gatherers in those same woods. In a SHTF situation, people tend to become less civil and may just outgun you and take your supplies. Doomsday preppers in the woods may want to barter for your wife. Remember, screams tend to be silent in the woods.

  1. Finding Drinkable Water: “A true survivalist will never have to drink his own pee.”

Pros: You have binged-watched enough episodes of Dual Survival and YouTube instructional videos to be able to locate a sustainable water source anywhere. You have taught yourself how to make a solar still like a champ. Or you can just fill a pot, boil the water, and you are good. And don’t worry about that other pesky group that may have called dibs on the water spot before you got there. 

Cons: Not every wooded area has a stream or lake. Dehydration is not a game. You seriously have three days without water, and after two days it will be hard to function and think. I personally would bug-out to a local health club with a 250,000-gallon swimming pool and filter that water. Water can be found in your home’s water tank or even the tank in the back bathroom toilet. Competing for life resources under stress is a horrible idea.

  1. Finding Shelter: “I’ll just live in a cave like John Rambo and eat snakes.”

Pros: You are going total Bear Grylls style. You have built tons of A-frames, lean-tos, and debris shelters. You can get your wife off the ground and build her a platform shelter in a tree, so she won’t get cold at night, and she will forever love you as her hero. 

Cons: Seriously, take your head out of your ass and head west to a suburban area. Find a concrete structure, preferably an empty one with beds in it. Whatever caused you to bug-out is bad enough, and you don’t need to find yourself in a dire life-or-death survival situation because of ego and too many scripted reality television shows.

  1. Traveling With A Group: “We will be safe; we will have numbers.”

Pros: You got yourself a community of like-minded folks, and the producers of The Walking Dead would be proud of how heavily armed you are. You have medics, cooks, gardeners and a seamstress all in your group. You will have a base camp set up in no time, and all will be good.

Cons: Again, you are not the first-bug out group to have this idea. Take my advice of commandeering a concrete facility with a swimming pool, showers, beds and a kitchen. Concrete trumps an A-frame built out of sticks 10 out of 10 times. Have a large group for security and find a larger structure that can be managed. Want to hunt in the woods? Make teams and take trips. You will have better chances of finding the supplies that you need in an urban area, guaranteed. Practicing survival skills in the woods is always fun, but making it actually work out long term is an entirely different story.

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