Scouting Around the Bug Out Location

Let’s say the reader has a bug out location for you and your family in the event of a complete collapse of society.  This might be a secluded place on a river, somewhere deep in the national forest, or maybe a friends farm who lives in a rural area.

You have taken the time to look around the area, maybe walk around your buddies farm, help with running fence, helped plant fruit trees,,,, just your typical stuff.  But what is the lay of the land like around the bug out location?  How often would you go scouting around the bug out location?

What does the land around the bug out location look like?  Where are the water sources?  Where does wild game move?  Are there any good camping areas?  If you not able to make it back to home one evening, where could you spend the night and feel safe?  Are there any old logging roads, railroad tracks, pipelines, or power lines that run through the area?

Do you know where roads, railroads, utility right of ways, power lines, creeks, streams, ponds and lakes are near the bug out location?

Roads At The Bug Out Location

When the word “road” is used, people usually think about paved roads or dirt roads.  Let’s move past that definition and use the word “road” as a pathway from one location to another, but let’s exclude pipelines and powerlines from the road definition.

  • Public roads – maintained by the county.
  • Private roads – maintained by the land owner.
  • Logging roads – Roads used by loggers to gain access to timber.  These roads are usually on land owned by the timber company, which makes them private roads.  Some logging roads are maintained to some degree, then temporary roads created off the main road.
  • Abandoned logging roads – these are temporary roads once used by the timer companies.  After the timber in a given area has been harvested the road is abandoned and left for nature to take back.  Usually on land owned by the timber company, which makes them private roads.  These abandoned logging roads will be in various levels of decay.  Some might be barely visible, which some might still have tire tracks on them.
  • 4-wheeler / ATV trails – used by offroaders and hunters.  Some of these may take you to a hunting stand, hunting camp or wildlife feeder.

Pipelines Around the Bug Out Location

This is where buried pipes run through the wilderness. Oil might be drilled in Oklahoma then piped to Houston Texas to be refined. There might be a single pipeline running through this right of way, or there might be several pipelines side-by-side. These pipelines can run for hundreds of miles. Maintenance crews keep the pipeline right-of-way cleared of trees and brush. Pipelines might look overgrown, but crews will be along during the summer to clear them.

Pipeline running through wilderness.
Pipeline running through wilderness.

Pipeline right of ways can be used for directions, scouting points, surveillance areas,,, etc. Someone placed on the edge of the pipeline with a radio and binoculars could act as a lookout.  Someone bugging out will probably be walking down the inside of the pipeline rather than inside the treeline (aka woodline).  But then again, a lone wolf might have security in mind and stay inside the treeline and be traveling parallel with the pipeline.

Powerlines Around Bug Out Location

Powerlines, also known as “highlines” are similar to a pipeline right of way but will have poles and towers that hold the powerlines up off the ground.  If someone was brave enough they could climb the powerline tower and get a look at the lay of the land.  Some of the towers could be 200 feet tall, while some are regular poles one might see running along the road, also known as telephone poles

Like the pipeline right of way, powerlines can be used like a road.  However, powerlines and pipelines are not going to have bridges at creeks and streams.  When following a pipeline or powerline in an all terrain vehicle, SUV, truck,,, if you run into a creek or stream it will be up to you to get across as there probably will not be a bridge.  These right of ways are not meant for people to drive on.  There are no stop signs, there are no traffic lights, there are paved areas, there are no bridges.

How do work crews keep the right of ways cleared?

They use heavy duty tractors and brush hogs.  The crews clear up to the creek or stream, then use a road to get around to the other side.

Water sources At The Bug Out Location

When I am scouting or on a nature hike I try to make a mental note of where to find the reliable water sources.  It also helps to have a USGS topo map when hiking.   While on a hot weather hiking trip my knowledge of the area and my topo map helped a great deal.  From previous experience I knew what streams had a chance of being dry and which ones had a good chance of having water in them.  I also knew which was going to be the last water source before I hit the home stretch.

Water sources near bug out location
Water sources near bug out location.

During these hot weather hiking trips access to water sources is an absolute most.  Yes I bring water, but when the heat index is close to 110 degrees a canteen or 32 ounce water bottle is gone in no time.

Knowing where water sources are allows for comfortable overnight trips.  Setting up camp, cooking, cleaning, personal hygiene is a lot better when there is a source of clean water.  I have been on camping trips where the risk of running out of water was always in the back of my head.

Bug Out Location Security

Knowing where people may be traveling to bug out of the urban areas after a complete collapse can be of great importance when it comes to security.  People by our nature are lazy.  Given the choice to hump a pack through the woods, or along a nice cleared path such as a pipeline, which would you take?  There are people who would never risk being caught out in the open and becoming road kill.  For the most part people are lazy and will take the easy route.

Bug Out Location in a rural area

Placing a lookout just inside the woodline on a pipeline, powerline, railroad,,, etc could provide a great vantage point.  Depending on terrain, a lookout might be able to see for miles up and down the right of ways.  Lookout spots a group of people, radio call back to the farm, we have a dozen people traveling east to west on the pipeline north of the farm, looks like a couple of families with children.  Or, the people might be armed to the teeth.  Either way, wouldn’t it be nice to know ahead of time?