The “Bug Out” Problem

Are you planning to be a refugee or a looter?

That’s the question posed by our Harry Dexter White.  And, I think it’s well worth considering. 

To quote him directly:

“People talk about guns too much.  People talk about bugging out too much. There are two words for people who plan to “bug out”:  “Refugee” and “Looter” …Some people pack and repack their BOB so they can GOOD when the SHTF at TEOTWAKI.  Some wise guy* said, “Don’t run. You’ll just die tired.”  Carrying an AR-10 on your walk to the superdome is just going to make you tired faster….How many days of food do they recommend carrying in their BOB?  After that, what? Foraging isn’t that easy now, let alone when the woods are crawling with competition.  If you are foraging with 300 million other people, you are starving to death.  The successful foragers will starve a little more slowly, but that seems like cold comfort. The whole premise is that there would not be food to buy and precious little to steal.  Bugging out always comes back to looting in the end.

(*That would be me, yours truly, HT)

These comments, by the way, were made in response to this article at and this one at  Both address the “problem” of choosing a single survival firearm for the purpose of “bugging out”.  Thankfully, we can count on our HDW to help re-orient the question to first priorities.

Not that it isn’t useful to ponder “optimum solutions”, either for the sake of simplicity or as simple mental exercise.  But, Mr. White is right about this:  If your first plan of action in a worst case scenario is to “bug out”, you’re already in deep poop.  If all you’re planning for is a “small crisis”….such as a flood, hurricane or earthquake, for instance, well, having a “72-hour” emergency kit (or Bugout Bag) makes good sense, doesn’t it?  That’s just prudent.

But, on the other hand, if you truly believe that there’s a reasonable chance that the world as you know it will go to hell in a handbasket and you’re sitting there in middle of urban/suburban disneyland (errr, “the superdome”), then Mr. White is quite correct.   Assuming you make it out of the city at all, is it then your plan to camp out in my pasture?  Is that really all you’re thinking?

No, of course not…’re planning on an extended survival excursion into the city park, right?  Oh, you’ve got a national forest nearby?  (As it happens, so do we.) That’s dandy, so how’s your taste for grubs and foot fungus?  Your wife up to speed on this plan?  Your five-year old daughter?  Oh, you’ll let them go the superdome without you?  Good thinking.

This is just a guess, but I’d have to estimate that 90% or better of those purporting to be engaged in some manner of “preparedness” are (as HDW has also said) only engaged in some sort of “fantasy football”.  Why?  Simply because you live somewhere that you know is untenable and your “retreat” doesn’t exist. 

But, hopefully this is the sort of mental exercise that will lead to a somewhat more practical approach to the problem. 

James Wesley Rawles on the subject:     “Live at Your Retreat Year-Round. If your financial and family circumstances allow it, I strongly recommend that you relocate to a safe area and live there year-round. This has several advantages, most notably that will prevent burglary of your retreat logistics and allow you to regularly tend to gardens, orchards, and livestock. It will also remove the stress of timing a “Get Out of Dodge” trip at the 11th hour. If circumstances dictate that you can’t live at your retreat year round, then at least have a caretaker and stock the vast majority of your logistics in advance, since you may only have one trip there before roads are impassable.”

Check out the rest of Rawles’ “Precepts”.

As I stated at the beginning, however, it’s still useful to consider simplifying your defensive logistics and (as even Rawles notes) having some kind of Plan B (and Plan C), even if you’re well situated for a disaster.  On that score, planning some kind of B.O.B or G.O.O.D. kit may be worth your while.  As for an “optimum” firearm solution, see “Beware of the Man With One Gun” here at ARL.

Harry Tuttle


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