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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Successful Retreats

The dream of many preppers is to buy a piece of property way out in the boonies and just be left alone.  Let this messed up state and country self-destruct from their own excesses.  I'll be happy to fiddle while Rome burns!

I'll admit to having those types of dreams!

As I've been looking for property, I've been thinking more and more about safety.  In the latest issue of Backwoodsman Magazine (not to be confused with Backwoods Home Magazine), there was an article on how difficult it can be to do a realistic Backpack Bug Out.  The author gave some recent examples of people with lifetimes of outdoors experience that had, "taken to the hills."  They were mostly criminals of one sort or another that were being pursued by the law, and they all ended up losing.

The article got around to talking about how difficult it can be to adequately protect a rural piece of land all on your own.  He noted a post on that I had to take a look at.  It was titled, "Retreat Survival:  I am your worst nightmare."

Quite the eye-opener.

It needs to be put into perspective, though.  The "nightmare" scenario is along the lines of a total break-down in society, ala The Road, The Book of Eli, or One Second After.  It could absolutely happen, but it is on the bottom of my list of likely scenarios (knock on wood).

Still, it contained some tips and suggestions that I think would be prudent for anyone that is considering a rural, off-the-beaten-path piece of land.  In such a location, you are "the law" - calling 9-1-1 just isn't an option to save your bacon if someone is intent on taking your possessions or life.

The article spawned a bit of research on my part.  The majority of the research had a number of consistent themes -

Perimeter Defense - Use site design maximize your ability to protect your property.  Have plenty of open ground between you and your potential foes.  The further away from you that they are required to expose themselves, the more time you have to mount a defense.  Don't build your home right next to the woods you love so much.

Design the property with "choke points" that require people to follow certain paths to reach you.  Use natural barriers such as blackberry patches or creeks to keep the bad guys confined.

Occupy the highest ground possible that gives you the best "lines of fire".   This is generally the most preferred location on a property anyways, but if things get ugly, it can provide you with improved defensive capabilities.

Use technology to extend your ability to protect your property.  Items such as night vision, rifles with powerful scopes and inexpensive waterproof, battery operated perimeter alarms.

More OpSec - Keep your mouth shut!  Even in the best of times, there are people that just love to take the possessions of other people.  Chatting up how much gold, silver, guns, ammo and expensive liquor you keep at your home is fairly begging for trouble.

Unless you can gain a benefit from disclosing what items you possess, don't feel the need to brag about you've got.  You simply move yourself up on the "to do" list of the bad guys.

Along those line is you should actively gather information.  This can be done at events in town or while buying provisions.  Are there any new folks that have moved into the area?  Any recent break-ins?

It can be observing nature around you and looking for out-of-pattern signals it is giving you.  Do you see birds suddenly taking flight?  Do you see a group of deer suddenly bolting from an area?  These can all be innocent circumstances, or it can indicate someone is creeping around your homestead.

Pay attention.

Establish a Community -Don't isolate yourself to the extreme.  You may not have rotating dinner parties with your widely-disbursed neighbors, but get to know them.

Offer to help fix fences, can food, or help with whatever skills you might possess.  At the worst, you've shown some neighborliness.  It could help you to identify folks you want nothing to do with.  At best, you might find kindred spirits with a similar outlook on life.

If things get truly bad, you have at least started a relationship that could be mutually beneficial.  You will not be able to defend your property by yourself in such a situation.  Groups of people will have to band together for mutual defense.  It's best to establish those relationships well in advance of needing them for survival.

Have a GOOD Plan - Regardless of your intentions or your planning, you may need to GOOD - Get Out Of Dodge.  It could be the result of a natural disaster or your retreat being over-run because of a societal collapse.

Too many people set up their retreat, and that's the end of it.  That can be a deadly mistake.  You have to plan for failure somewhere down the line - the whole, "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket" philosophy.

Being flexible and able to adapt is a habit we need to constantly work on.  Circumstances change, and to be successful, we must be able to adapt to that change.

Accept The Challenge

These four items are just a portion of what needs to be considered for occupying a successful retreat.  I think it's important that they be included in the up-front decision-making process (particularly the physical attributes of the property when considering defensibility).

It would be horrible to buy a rural property from which you couldn't defend yourself.  It's kind of a dark perspective on life, perhaps, but it really isn't any different than buying a property in an urban environment.  You certainly don't ask to buy or rent a property that is located in a high crime area.  You educate yourself on the good and bad areas of town.

Out in a rural property, you're the Sheriff, SWAT team, paramedics, border patrol and National Guard all rolled into one!  Don't make your job any more difficult than need be.

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Copyright 2010 Bison Risk Management Associates. All rights reserved. You are encouraged to repost this information so long as it is credited to Bison Risk Management Associates.


theotherryan said...

Did you follow that thread about "retreats" over at Surviving in Argentina? It was interesting to me.

I think the biggest issue for the quite unlikely Mad Max scenario would be getting enough people to have a decent guard schedule and defend the place while still being able to feed them.

Dustin Tarditi said...

Patriots (JW Rawles) gives a very good example of what a functional, operational co-op retreat would look like.

The book Everybody's Outdoor Survival Guide (Don Paul) outlines the separation of work, organizational planning and list of basic needs/skills required to do this as well.

Chief Instructor said...

TOR, I think that's a huge issue. The places we've been looking at properties, the smallest piece of land is 20 acres, with most of them being a couple of hundred acres. Not a lot of people in the area!

Dustin, I'll take a look at that book. Thanks for the heads up.

MikeH. said...

What If... one half of the population of the U.S. (150,000,000 give or take) had the mindset and financial means to buy a retreat spot in a secluded area? I would imagine that any time of the day or night in (let's say) Idaho, would look like downtown L.A. during a Friday afternoon rush hour.

In reality though, I thinks it's fair to say; the majority of us do not have the financial means to just pack up and pack out to a retreat location or, take on the additional financial burden of supporting two mortgages. (ie. the home near towns and jobs and the "once a year vacation location" for that "if or when" day the SHTF, making it time to GOOD.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda, good, bad, right, wrong or indifferent; IF there is some soon to come societal malady of biblical proportions that's going to befall us, most of us will be SIP (stuck in place) with NWTH (no where to hide).

I guess what I'm trying to get at here is; if "IT" happens, the masses will have been better off having access to information regarding how to attempt a SIP survival plan rather than be left feeling SIP is a death sentence, simply because they can't afford to pay the freight on an old missile silo in Kotzebue, Alaska... much like it were receiving passage on one of the arks, as in the movie "2012".

SIP isn't necessarily a choice... it's another fact of life.


Chief Instructor said...

Mike, one of the reasons I like Ferfal's blog so much (Surviving In Argentina) is because I think it is the most likely outcome for America. Understanding how to survive in an urban environment will likely be the most valuable skill.

As I noted at the start of my post, a rural property for me is a dream, but it's one I'm personally getting closer to. I think it's the best over-all option, but I can't just check-out from life right now and head for the hills!

And your point is well taken that each of us will be "stuck" with what we've got if/when it gets truly ugly. Knowledge, flexibility and adaptability will be key.

Suburban Survivalist said...

Very good advice.

I'm very lucky to have a place to bug out to should TSHTF. It's l00 acres in Nebraska that my parents live on, and where several family members would head to if real trouble. It's not perfect, but we're slowly improving it. Biggest problem is that it's 1,300 miles away...

Chief Instructor said...

Suburban, I'm assuming you have some sort of plan in place where, if/when the balloon goes up, you are leaving your home for NE.

I would love to see a post on that subject. Most of us have very loose plans because we don't (yet) have a specific site to which we can bug out.

Anonymous said...

Those of you who believe you can form a workable group of friends and associates to protect your retreat should think this through. I believe a close family, say three generations with a strong matriarchal or patriarchal leader could funtion well over time. I do not believe 6-12 men, 4-8 women and a handful of children who are not all releated can. If YOU own the land and have your wife and children to protect and feed, but one of the single men is a alpha male how long will it take before you have a deadly accident and he takes over as the new leader replacing you even in the bedroom? If it ever reaches the same situation as in Argentina your "retreat" will probably become your final resting spot. It is impossible to protect yourselves 24/7. A urban nieghborhood in a small town will probably be a better choice. Each "alpha" male has his own problems but also has a vested interest in seeing his nieghbors survive. One last point: I am too old (66) to win through strength and physical prowess. But make no mistake I intend to win if some scumbag shows up at my door or window. I will make up for my lack of strength by having multiple plans and a willingness to be sneaky and unfair. Like anyone I could catch a bullet with my name on it but unlike most young folks with far more testosterone flowing through their system I intend to keep my head down and counter-attack. No fight was ever won by absorbing the enemies attacks; you must outfight/outwit and outlast your foe.

Chief Instructor said...

Anon, please explain your reasoning about, "If it ever reaches the same situation as in Argentina your "retreat" will probably become your final resting spot."

I think that's precisely where we're headed - down the Argentinian road. I would think that being off the beaten path would be the preferable location. The urban areas haven't totally collapsed, and the rural areas are too far away to trouble with.

I would seriously like to hear your thoughts.

I, too, have more years behind me than ahead of me. I plan on making it with experience and guile! Someone "invading my space" should not expect The Marquis of Queensboro rules...

Anonymous said...

I will eventually, maybe sooner than later. In a nutshell, bug out at the first sign of real trouble. I have plenty of leave and will use it; if a false alarm, then I got to visit the family for awhile.

Keeping the bug out vehicle(s) in good condition is a priority-regular maint., never less than half full tank, etc. Also a few full cans of gas in the garage.

Plenty of food/water, firearms/ammo, and misc. equipment on hand and ready to pack quickly. Also a good bit of cash on hand at home in-case ATMs are down.

Since there are so many varied routes to get from A to B, my navigation plan is having two GPS units, a lensatic compass for backup, good maps, and general familiarity of the main route.

If the BoV has to be abandoned for whatever reason, I've invested a lot of time and a good bit of money in a bug out bag customized for the needs of my family. Also if the BoV is out, we have a nice jogging stroller/bike trailer (double) that is excellent for moving kids/gear, even off the beaten path.

And a good dose of prayer for balance.

In an EMP scenario, however, I know are chances are very low of making it - but better bugging out than staying in the DC area, no question there.

Anonymous said...

My point regarding "If it ever reaches the same situation as in Argentina your "retreat" will probably become your final resting spot." is:

I simply do not think a couple or even 3, 4 or a few more adults can effectively protect a retreat and also do all the things you must do to stay alive. Sooner or later the bad guys will exploit your weakness and ambush or overrun you. In a nieghborhood my back is protected by my nieghbor behind me as the two sides are. And I can do the same for them. I honestly don't have a good solution to the problem but some choices appear better then others.

One really great idea: A friend had a country place and he had 6 or 7 yappy dogs and one big quiet dog. You couldn't get within 100 yards of his property without all those yappy dogs barking and raising hell. You never saw the big dog he hug back until you were actually on the property. Dogs are great protectors. One can easily be dealt with but six or seven are a problem. Easier to move on.

Chief Instructor said...

Suburban, great - I hope you'll do a piece on your plans, obviously without giving away too much sensitive information.

I love the idea of the jogging stroller/bike trailer thing. Time to set up an RSS feed search on Craigslist...

Anon, OK, I see what you're saying. I think it will have a LOT to do with how far off the path you've located. I think the likelihood of being "visited" would eventually be higher in a TEOTWAWKI than in an Argentina scenario. The big cities and suburbs would have more resources that are regularly re-supplied. I don't think it would be worth the expense and risk to venture out into the country.

Who knows? It's all supposition right now.

Your point about the dogs is very well taken. In fact, it was supposed to be included in the original post! Trained, loyal dogs are worth their weight in gold.

Anonymous said...

One of the ideas I came up with to protect a retreat/country home is: Clean up the property so there are no hiding places (or few, I wouldn't cut down all the trees for example. Then create landscaping of somewhat natural features that "seem" to offer a place to hide or take cover in a gunfight. Then run low voltage wire to each spot with a bank of switches so each circuit could be controlled individually. Set up an in ground 12 volt light, perhaps shining up at the trees or maybe your flagpole. Make sure the landscape or natural feature is such that you would have to literally lay down on top of the light to make use of the cover. Then (this is all fictional of course I would never advise anyone to build a destructive device) when the SHTF replace the lights with a device made up of a 12 gauge shotgun shell in a pipe sitting on a small 12 volt heater wire with a 1 quart mason jar of gasoline sitting on top. All of this covered by bark mulch or some such cover. Obviously you would never do this (unless TSHTF) but if you did and you were under attack you would simply need to identify which of the convenient hiding spots your attackers were taking advantage of and "light them up". Make sure you had at least one assistant (preferably 2 or more) aiming a rifle at any other occupied spots so that when the fire works started you could "tag" the paniced attackers. I'm guessing I could build dozens of these "greeting cards" with just what I could buy at Walmart. Test it (not with a loaded shell, just the primer) because the weak link would be the little wire heater used to set off the primer. A piece of the nichrome wire used inside a toaster should get red hot. The big question is will a 100' length of low voltage wiring cary enough amps to get it to red hot temperature. Maybe for longer runs you might have to double up the wire to carry more amps. The action won't be instantaneous, the nichrome wire has to heat up the primer hot enough to ignite it. This would work with any shell including a .22. I just thought the impact of a 12 gauge would be so much more satisfying.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the dogs. My friend with the country place just kind of fell into the best combination of dogs. He would pick up strays or take unwanted dogs. They were just little mutts, little yappy pains in the A**. Alone, anyone of these dogs probably would have befriended you or any stranger for a doggy treat or if threatened cower back under the house (thats where they lived, 24/7 all year round). But with 6-8 of these little pests (I actually like dogs but these guys wouldn't warm up to me) each of them fed off the others and they wouldn't get near you just run around ten feet or so away from you and some would come up behind you and all the time they are trying to out-yap each other. What a pain for any would-be robber (or worse). The big dog was a malamute, and something else big, cross and for some reason didn't bark. He would just appear when the little dogs seemed to be sufficiently excited. When I drove into the yard I would just wait until my friend or his wife came out before getting out of the car. I'm not afraid of dogs but this one was a little spooky.
Another thought I had would be to have two or more dogs and keep them (or at least two of them) in the house or garage all day. Feed them a big meal in the morning and let them sleep. Then turn them out into the yard each night to hang out. A perfect situation would be four dogs with two awake at night and two awake during the day so the yard was always guarded. The big drawback is the amount of dog food you would go through. At least the little yappy dogs didn't eat much.

Chief Instructor said...

Anon 7:05, depending upon the circumstances, you must adapt. In a scenario like One Second After, preparations such as you describe might make perfect sense.

Anon 7:27, Interesting observation. Dogs are pack animals by nature - the whole, Strength In Numbers mentality. That would be a lot of extra mouths to feed, though.