Scouting For a Survival Bug-Out in the Wilderness or the Desert

Welcome to this week’s newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham’s 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program–Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE<

If you’re not familiar with the 7 P’s and you plan on bugging out in a disaster, you should be.

The 7 P’s are, in order:

and Preparation

Many people plan on bugging out when “it” happens to a wilderness location of one sort or another, but that’s a sketchy plan, at best.

The following is a primer to get you thinking in the right direction on identifying bug-out locations in wilderness and desert areas.

Keep in mind that when “it” happens, there are going to be tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people with the same general idea as you do your planning and use that fact to spur you to finding multiple alternate and contingent locations.  With that, I’ll turn things over to Barbara.  David Out:

Scouting for a bug-out location in the wilderness or the desert  is important for several reasons.  If an escape plan only consists of “I’m getting out of dodge if things get get dangerous,” you will find yourself in trouble when you find yourself competing with hundreds, if not thousands of equally unprepared people trying to bug out.

Assessing your circumstances well before circumstances force you to bug out improves your chances of survival.  For instance,  would you and the rest of your family or group be able to handle climbing hills, mountainsides, or crossing difficult terrain with the gear that you plan to bug out with?  Are there small children involved?  Is there a back-up location within hiking distance with water?

(Ox’s note:  The answer to this may vary greatly throughout your life.  I had an injury late last year that caused most of my muscles to atrophy and took me from being incredibly fit to only being able to do curls with 25 pound weights and my endurance to crater.  I’m recovering quickly now, but I could not carry out my bug-out plan from last fall right now and I’ll be in WAY better shape at the end of the year than I am now.  The point I want to make is that your plans need to be realistic and based on the realities of what your abilities are TODAY…not what they were, and not what you hope they will be in the future.)

In some cases, standing your ground may be your best option.  Weighing the pros and cons of surviving in place versus bugging out should be decided upon now, while times are relatively good.  As a family or a group, there should be a consensus about where that line in the sand lies; when is it tactically prudent to stand your ground, and when it’s time to go.

If You Must Flee To The Wilderness 

Taking off for the woods isn’t a long-term plan if it doesn’t include a water source like a stream, or a natural spring, or a lake or creek.

If you haven’t scouted for a safe location within striking distance from your home, it’s time to do some discovering while asking yourself the following:

  • Is it far enough from a dense population for relative safety?
  • Is there a nearby water source?
  • Is fishing an option?
  • Even in remote areas, you’ll have company– riots and looting will drive people to take shelter where they feel they can hide.  Is the area large enough to keep a reasonable distance from others who may want what you have?
  • Is there more than one way in and out to escape if it becomes necessary and can you absolutely, positively control it if not?
  • Are there places where you can build a shelter without drawing attention to yourself?  (You can build an improvised shelter with a chainsaw and a couple gallons of gas/oil that will GREATLY multiply the effectiveness of any tent(s) that you may have.  Think of it as a layered system…the logs provide the primary and the tent is nested inside providing the secondary.)
  • Is there wild game (including fish)?  Especially SMALL wild game that you can harvest on a daily basis?  Are there edible worms, slugs, ants, and other edibles?
  • Do wild edible plants grow in the area?  Are there edible (and easily identifiable) mushrooms?

In a wilderness setting, all of the above are important to survival.  You must have shelter, you must have water, and you must have a food source that can come from fishing,  or gathering wild edible plants, or hunting or snaring animals should your supplies outlast what you pack in.

It’s optimal if you can bury a cache of critical supplies at your chosen location, well before the need arises.

(David’s note:  In fact, caches are kind of central to the 7 P’s.  Caches are often the proof that a bug-out location has matured beyond the “dream” stage to the “plan” stage.  Put another way, if you don’t have one or more caches set up, you don’t have a plan…you just have a dream.  That’s neither good nor bad.  It is what it is and it’s an honest reflection.  Either decide to be content with it for now or change it, but don’t get upset with the reflection.)

* * *

Desert Regions Come with Higher Risks

Unfortunately, MANY people live in areas that have no chance of supporting the number of bodies that are living there, like Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, El Paso, and more.  We can’t know ahead of time what may occur that would force us to flee our home.  What we can do is have a good grasp of the pros and cons of where we flee to. The desert is one of the harshest environments to survive in because of sweltering summer temperatures, the lack of water (which, as drought continues its stranglehold on desert areas, will likely grow worse), and the venomous creatures that make the desert their home.

When scouting for a bug-out location, your best bet may be to search out abandoned buildings, or buildings that are likely to become abandoned soon after SHTF.  If there is a water source nearby, and wild edible foods (refer to Wild Edible Plants Can Save Your Life ) you may discover that remaining in civilization, rather than trying to survive in the desert, is the best choice.

Finding Water In The Desert 

Scouting for a location that has water, before a crisis, is an absolute necessity, no matter your location.  If you must flee to the desert, even for a short time, packing water in is only a temporary solution.  Especially in the summer when temperatures can climb to a blistering 118 degrees or higher.

However, if you’re caught unprepared, the following are ways to find small amounts of water in the desert:

  • Look for plants and trees as they grow near water.  Birds, swarming insects and mosquitoes are an indication that water is nearby.
  • Collect dew by capturing it in clothing that be wrung out for drinking.
  • Follow a wash where water has run in the past.  Where there is protruding rock, or the beginning of a cliff or mountain, that is where water tends to gather as it acts as a natural dam.  Dig down around 2 feet.  If the dirt is moist, continue digging until water pools and collect it through a plastic tube or straw, or by sopping up the water with a bandanna or fabric, which can be squeezed out for drinking.
  • Boulders sometimes have indentations from wear.  These divots may hold water after a rain.
  • The barrel cactus and prickly pear cactus store liquid in their pulp which can be chewed for the moisture, but the pulp should not be eaten.  Although the saguaro cactus can store up to 200 gallons of water, the water it holds can be toxic to humans.

Staying Cool & Clothing

  • It is possible for sand to be 30 degrees hotter than air temperature! Find a shaded area, make your own shaded area with a tarp that includes protection from the hot sand, or find a cave–but watch where you tread if you are lucky enough to locate one!
  • (Ox’s note:  Dig!  In the desert, digging as little as a foot or two into the ground and covering the hole with a tarp or something else to block the sun will keep you comfortably cool in most desert conditions.)
  • Don’t remove clothing, thinking it will help you stay cooler. Clothing will help to prevent sweat from evaporating and lessening the body’s ability to cool down. Long sleeves, hats, and long pants will help to avoid excessive sun exposure.  The best desert gear is wicking fabrics made with a UPF of at least 30 for a base layer. You should also include a warming layer of wool or fleece for chilly evening temperatures and a windbreaker.  Light colors are best, as they reflect heat in the daylight hours.
  • If you must travel, do it at night and early morning, but be aware that desert temperatures can drop dramatically, and in winter time in certain locations, temperatures can dive below freezing–another argument for packing layered clothing if heading for the desert.  A Pair of goggles and a dust mask will protect you from a sandstorms that desert areas are known for.

Watch Where You Step! 

In the desert there is a higher likelihood of encountering a venomous snake or the Bark Scorpion and Gila Monster, the only scorpion and lizard in the U.S. with the potential to cause death (specifically victims with a compromised immune system, the very young and the elderly)–both are desert dwellers.

The Bark Scorpion’s  range is Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah.  Their habitat is varied: they can be found in trees (thus the name Bark Scorpion), in woodpiles or fallen trees, on steep rock walls, under rocks, and in rock crevices.  There have been cases where they have crawled into tents, shoes, clothing and bedding.

The Bark Scorpion is yellow or gray in color and small–about 2 to 3 inches from head to stinger.  Their sting can be fatal for about 1% of adults and 25% of children under the age of 5.   Serious symptoms from the Bark Scorpion include increased salivation, blurred vision and trouble focusing, slurred speech, mussel twitches, abdominal cramps, seizures and trouble breathing. Although anti-venom is available where the Bark Scorpion is prevalent, in a SHTF scenario where medical treatment is unavailable, treatment should include placing an ice pack on the sting ASAP to decrease the poison’s spread.  If the person is having difficulty breathing, assist their breathing by rolling them on their side, or by putting in an airway if you have the medical experience to do so. Rest and fluids will help the victim and IV fluids are optimal until the symptoms subside within 24 to 48 hours.

The Gila Monster is the only venomous lizard in the U.S.  Although their venom is as toxic as a the western diamondback, they release only a small amount of venom     They are desert dwellers and are often found in rocky foothills–sometimes at elevations as high as 5,000 feet.  There is no anti-venom for the bite of a Gila Monster, therefore the best cure is to give them a wide berth.  Gila Monsters bite down on the victim, latching on and making it difficult to detach them.  Experts advise immersing a determined Gila Monster in cool or cold water as the most effective way to get them to detach from the  victim.  Treat the bite to avoid infection and the victim hydrated with plenty of water.

The good news here is that Gila Monsters are slow and relatively shy.  There hasn’t been a reported death related to a Gila Monster bite since the late1930′s.  But if you’re new to the desert and even think they’d make a good addition at mealtime…think again!

The following are poisonous snakes you could encounter in the desert:  The Great Basin Rattlesnake, Mojave Rattlesnake, Sidewinder, Western Diamondback,  Prairie Rattlesnake, Southern Pacific, Black-tailed Rattlesnakes, Arizona Coral Snake.

It is important to know what venomous snakes are native to your region and how to identify them.  Here are a few guidelines to follow to avoid snakebite;

  • Avoid walking through tall grass and brush.
  • Never put your hand in a crevasse before checking first.
  • Snakes climb.  Be watchful when walking under low-lying branches.
  • Wear leg protection like boots and long pants.
  • Don’t set up camp near a fallen tree, a rocky area, or tall grass.
  • If you pitch a tent, keep it zipped and keep shoes inside.
  • When fishing, bathing,or gathering water survey the area for snakes before nearing or entering water.

Flash Floods–Beware!

Sandstorms can hail a one-two punch–rains that if sufficient enough can bring flash flooding. Flooding can happen quickly because sand doesn’t absorb great amounts of water quickly.  Stay clear of camping in dry channels, lake beds and ditches, because flood conditions can create a wall of water 10 to 30 feet high. Never make camp in  a dry creek, a dry lake bed or near a ditch.  Rather, find higher ground to rest.

(Ox’s note:  What’s it all come down to?  The 7 P’s.  Get to know your intended bug-out location/AO (area of operations) as intimately as possible now and you won’t be dealing with unknowns in addition to having your world turned upside down in a real bug-out scenario.  Set caches.  Have alternate and contingent plans in case some knucklehead is in your primary bug-out location when you show up, and prepare yourself mentally to be able to survive anywhere.  If possible, plan to hunt big game on public lands this fall.  You’ll QUICKLY find out that lots of people think they already have “dibs” on public lands…not only for hunting, but for future bug-out locations.

Also, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to “strategically relocate” to your ideal location, like we have, there are STILL reasons to bug out.  Personally, our family faces the annual threat of the forest that we live in catching fire and having to evacuate, in an instant.  In other words, everyone needs a “Plan B”.  What’s yours?)

Do you plan to bug out to a wilderness or desert location if you’re forced to flee?  Or have you decided to survive in place, come what may?  Have any tips or survival-related stories to share?  It could save a life!  Please post your comments below. 

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva



Victims of Home Invasion Are Fighting Back!

Welcome to this week’s newsletter, brought to you by former Force Recon Marine, Chris Graham’s 30-10 At-Home Pistol Training Program–Guaranteed to put you in the top 10% of all shooters in the next 30 days.  Learn more now by going >HERE<

Law enforcement officials in small towns and urban areas alike are calling for stricter penalties against home invasions due to the brutal nature of these crimes. Many times, instead of taking valuables and moving on, there’s now an element of violence against the homeowner. Even so, it is difficult to get statistics on home invasion statistics.  F.B.I statistics reported that between 2000 to 2004, home robberies rose 29 percent. 2005 saw another 9.7 percent increase, and the numbers jumped another 8 percent in 2006.   Since 2006, the F.B.I. no longer reports on the statistics of home robberies.

(David’s note:  Interestingly enough, there are reports that I’ve referenced before that “home invasions” occur 8x more often than home fires [8,000 per day vs. 1,000 per day], but there is no FBI Uniform Crime Report or NIJ category for “home invasions” and dependable definitions, as well as accurate statistics, are hard to come by.  This is definitely an area where personal experience and local stats mean everything and national stats mean nothing.  Stats may spur you to action, (that’s good) but if you happen to be the victim of crime, then it doesn’t matter whether local or national stats say that crime is on the rise or on the decline–the only thing that matters is what happened to you.  All of that to say, don’t get tied up on statistics…just take action and be prepared.)

We Preppers can learn from victim reports of home invasions.  During a crisis that lasts more than a week, most of us would agree that looters will be a huge problem for most of us who don’t live so far out in  the sticks that it takes a compass to find our way home.  I don’t think it’s a stretch assume that a portion of looters will not be satisfied with walking off with whatever they can grab.

In addition, in a slow crash, prolonged recession, prolonged depression, or a prolonged period of high unemployment, simple robberies and home invasions will increase in frequency if history repeats itself.

Here’s a look at how some home invaders gained entry into a home, so you’ll be able to spot the warning signs should this ever happen to you . . .

In the most brazen home invasions, the criminal enters through the front door.  If the door is locked, they proceed to kick it in. Often, one kick is all it takes.  (This is why David stresses simple, inexpensive, and proven ways to harden your doors in the Survive In Place and Fastest Way To Prepare courses.)

Some home invaders prefer to use social engineering to gain the homeowners trust by doing one of the following:

  • They may knock on the door claiming to be a survey taker
  • They may pretend to be delivering pizza, but happened to get the “wrong” address
  • In more than one case, the home intruder posed as a UPS driver
  • Victims of home invasion are sometimes fooled by the criminal posing as a maintenance worker or a municipal worker
  • Some home intruders claim they were in an accident–in some cases, claiming to have hit the homeowner’s car–and ask to speak with the owner or use their phone
  • Others claim their car broke down and request to use the phone
  • The criminal may pose as a police officer or some other authority figure to establish the trust of the homeowner and gain entrance

But, it doesn’t always require that the homeowner’s door be broken in or that a home invader feel the need to fool the homeowner to get through the front door.  Sometimes it simply takes the homeowner’s opening the door to let the family dog out.  In areas where home invasions are the heaviest, authorities are advising residents to switch on a porch light before going outdoors and to always ask to see I.D. before opening the door.  (PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE install motion lights on your house.)

Homeowners Have Started To Fight Back

As more and more accounts of home invasions hit the news, a number of homeowners have chosen to take matters into their own hands and the criminals don’t always come out the winner.

The following are home invasions that did not go as planned . . .

On June 11, 2014, the St. Louis Dispatch reports in the article Husband and Wife shoot gunmen who try to enter their St, Louis home, killing 1, police say

One man was killed and a second taken to a hospital in the incident, which happened about 11 p.m. in the 4600 block of Newport Avenue.

Police say a 17-year-old girl who lived at the home was outside retrieving something from her car when she was approached by two masked and armed men who forced her into her house, using her as a shield.

The teen’s father, 34, saw the men walking up with his daughter, got his firearm and fired several shots at them, striking both of the men as they entered his home. The teen’s mother, 34, also retrieved a gun and fired once at the men but did not hit either, police said.

One of the men, Terrell Johnson, 31, of the 4500 block of Natural Bridge Road, collapsed on the living room floor and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The second man, Cortez McClinton, 33, was standing behind Johnson when Johnson was shot. McClinton pointed a gun inside the doorway and also was shot. McClinton then ran away and got his brother to transport him to a hospital, police said. He was treated for gunshot wounds to the chest and both thighs.

* * *

On April, 20 2014, Click 2 Houston Mila Radford reports in the article and video, Homeowner shoots, kills man during home invasion that a 20-year-old man kicked in the door to a home on Glenheath and Ruby around 4:59 a.m.  Houston police say the husband feared for his life and shot the intruder twice in the abdomen.  The assailant was rushed to Ben Taub General Hospital where he later died.

* * *

Q13Fox reported in an article/video reported by James Lynch on May 13, 2014 titled It’s him or us! Husband, wife fight intruder to the deathbut considering how petite this young mother is, the story appears to be more a miracle of sheer will power!

(David’s note:  I’ve got to ADAMANTLY disagree with Diva’s statement about the woman’s “petiteness” making her ineffective.  Readers of the Journal of  Tactics And Preparedness know that it takes less than 20 psi to rupture the ear, eye, or testicles and 15 pounds (applied correctly) to break the knee joint–all of which can EASILY be done by a petite woman.  For more on this–especially if you’re weaker, older, or more petite and want a scientific and proven way to defend yourself–check out  Target Focus Training.)

Police report that this incident that occurred in North Bend, Washington, a small, rural town east of Seattle  was a two phase attack that first happened Mothers Day afternoon when the intruder robbed and physically attacked the young mother while her 7-month-old baby and mother were in the home.  The man returned 12 hours later and entered through an open window just before 2:00 a.m.   The husband, Kyle Jacobson, was alerted to the intruder by the barking of his dogs and a life-and-death struggle ensued.  His wife, Tennyson,  tried to help her husband fight the assailant, but when that didn’t work,  she went to the kitchen and grabbed a steak knife, which she used to stab him,  saving her husband’s life in the process.   The intruder died of his injuries.

* * *

Although not all home defense turns lethal, some are effective nonetheless. Here are a few stories of homeowner’s using what was available to stop a home invasion.

Detroit WXYZ reports on an 82-year-old man who wielded a mean hammer on a home intruder in this March 10, 2014 article and video titled:  82-year-old protects family, attacks home intruder with hammer to head

“Detroit Police say an 82-year-old man struck an intruder in the head with a hammer at a home on Whitfield on Sunday, March 9.

Officers from the 10th precinct responded to the scene and found a 52-year-old woman running from her home screaming for assistance.

The woman told police there was an intruder in her home.

Officers found the 33-year-old male suspect in the living room with blood dripping from his head.

The 82-year-old victim, George Bradford, who was inside the home, struck the suspect with the hammer in an effort to protect his family. George says his mother was in an upstairs unit and that he’s owned the duplex on Whitfield since 1968.

The suspect was treated for injuries at the scene and was arrested for home invasion.”

*  *  *

November 29, 2012 KFOR News Channel 4 Adam Mertz report and video:  Burglar picks wrong house, boxer fights back

OKLAHOMA CITY – A suspected house burglar was left bloodied and beaten after a fist-fight with the homeowner.

Oklahoma City Police arrested Jonathan Wise, 19, for burglary.

When officers took him into custody, Wise had two black eyes and needed stitches.

Norm Houston, the homeowner, told police he found Wise inside his garage.

I heard a thumbing noise on my garage door,” Houston said. “I swung open my backdoor and somebody was standing there.”

Houston was face to face with Wise.

According to Oklahoma City Police, that’s when Wise attacked Houston.

The burglar started out by apologizing to him for getting into the garage and said he had fixed the damage only to follow that up by punching him in the face,”OKC Police Master Sgt. Gary Knight said.

Although he didn’t throw the first punch, Houston beat up Wise.

Houston works as a personal trainer and specializes in boxing and kickboxing.

You know I ain’t the toughest but I can hold my own,” Houston said.

Houston held Wise down on the ground until police arrived.

Before he was taken to jail, police took Wise to the hospital for treatment.

* * *

Sometimes people get lucky when a home invasion happens, but I strongly encourage you to get solid empty hands and weapons training AND PRACTICE OFTEN.  Going to a 2, 3, or 7 day class is great, and it will get you to where you can perform on command during the class, but it takes practice, practice, and more perfect practice to develop the muscle memory that you can depend on under extreme stress without having to consciously think about all of the micro-movements involved.

Have you ever had to defend yourself or another from a robber or a home invasion?  Have any tips on how to best handle a would-be thug?  Please sound off by commenting below!

God bless and stay safe,

David Morris and Survival Diva


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