OK… Here’s what happened on my bug out gut check.
I was off early Saturday afternoon. Came home, took a nap and woke to a strange urge to re-think my Emergency Preparedness System. I went to the closet and grabbed my Bug Out Bag. I emptied the entire bag onto my living room floor. Then I got the bright idea of going down stairs to get my Get Home Bag from my car, which I did. I then proceeded to empty that bag’s contents onto the living room floor. As I stood there, once again, scratching my head trying to figure out why it was so easy to just go camping for 3 or 4 days when I lived in California compared to having a complete Bug Out System and thinking do I do this, or do I do that. And so, I thought to myself… Why don’t I give this a test run.
I packed up both bags as they were before. Put the GHB back in the car and the BOB back in the closet. I thought to myself, I’ll set the alarm for 9:00PM and when it goes off, I’ll give myself 30 minutes to gather what I think I would need and go.
So 9:00 came, alarm goes off. I grab my BOB, my rifle case and run, not realizing that I did give myself 30 minutes to gather things before I ran, you’ll see why this was my first mistake down below. I get to the car, throw it all in and go!!
First, I drive to my intel spot about 10 minutes from home. I get the BOB and I hike the mile or so up the hill and to the ridge where I can see the entire Las Vegas Valley. Not sure what disaster I was trying to simulate so I just took out a multi-band radio that I have and cranked it up, literally. Since there was no real emergency to listen to on the news stations I decided to listen to the truck drivers all rant and complain about the construction on the freeways. If you’ve been to Vegas lately then you know that you can’t get too far on any highway here without getting caught up in some kind of construction mayhem. So in doing this, I pulled out the maps and plotted a course around the construction areas. Went back to my car and drove off.
I did have about 3/4 of a tank of gas and do get great gas milage in my car but thought I should top off before I get into the long stretches of the desert, so I topped off the tank. As I got out of the valley and into the darkness of the desert I started to really think this through. The reality of this kinda hit me as I was driving the highway, alone, not being able to see very far. Cars would pass in the opposite direction but they were few and far between. But the very real possibility of this being something I may actually have to do one day soon really got to me. All sorts of questions began running through my head.
So I make it to where I was planning to go a couple of hours later. Now, this is not one of my Bug Out Locations however, it is a mid point for me to stop at on the way to my BOL. It is a very secluded area just outside of a small city with plenty of water in the form of a small river, lots of game (or so I’m told) and pretty easy for me to navigate. It’s about 1AM and I’m driving my little 4 door sedan through some dirt roads in absolute darkness. I come to a small canyon cove sorta place I had seen many times on Google Earth. It’s not very big but big enough for me to park my car for the night with plenty of brush, trees and bush to be somewhat hidden from any passersby, if any were to come. It’s time to get some shut eye.
Now… I’m only wearing some tactical pants and a t-shirt with my hiking shoes. After all, I was in my car with a heater running. Well, now that I’m parked with my car off, no heater. Well, I’m a prepper right? I’m “prepared” for this. So I hit the trunk and grab some cold weather thermals I had thrown in there about a year ago. No dice. I thought they were cotton/wool thermals. Nope! They were nylon compression under shirts. Yes… Shirts. I had two packages of compression shirts, not even the pants I thought I had in there. Well, something is better than nothing so I threw on the compression shirt. I do however, have a sweater I always keep in my trunk so I grabbed that and threw it on as well. Jumped in the back seat and laid down for some shut eye.
Enter 4:15AM. Frost on my car, windows all completely fogged up and I’m freezing my ass off. I thought to myself, why don’t get my sleeping bag out of the trunk and use it as a blanket. Great idea! Why didn’t I think about this earlier when I was in the trunk? Probably because it wasn’t there. Yep… forgot the sleeping bag. CRAP!!! It’s COLD! Oh well, I thought. Suck it up. Sunrise will be here soon. Realizing that I had to take a piss, I turned to pee near a bush. Checking the area first with my flashlight, good thing I remembered that, I saw several pairs of eyes watching me. Pretty cool I thought. There is game here. But it kinda creeped me out at the same time. I’ve seen glowing eyes in the dark before but not several pairs of them ALL staring at me. Probably just a pack of Coyotes or something, if they even run in packs. So I finished my business, went back into my car and fell back asleep, for 20 minutes at a time. I would wake up, look around to make sure Big Foot wasn’t eying me for dinner then look towards the East hoping to see sunlight soon. Go back to sleep for another 20 minutes, then repeat.
Well daylight finally came. Time for me to assess what I have and what I have going on. I need to find somewhere to setup camp, but FIRST!!!! Turn the car on and get the heater going. I finally warmed up and began to find myself on the maps I brought. Figured out where I was and where I wanted to go and started down the dirt road.
After driving for several miles down this dirt road I finally came to a bridge I was not expecting. I’ve studied this area quite well on the maps, wasn’t expecting to cross a bridge. Well turns out it was a maintenance bridge for the RR tracks I was driving along. Oops… Went down the wrong trail. Stopped again, figured out where I was, again… I noticed on the map that I could drive about 300 yards and take another trail to get back to the main dirt road I started on. YES, I seemed to have somehow taken a wrong turn or something and was no where near where I thought I was. That taught me to stop from time to time and check on where I’m at. So I get to my dirt road I thought I was on this whole time and continued down this path only to be stopped by a very heavy looking gate. Strange, I don’t recall having to come to a gate. Then I thought to myself, “wow! That’s a pretty heavy duty gate. It’s got itself what looks like concrete anchored gate posts, a big ol’ NO TRESPASSING sign and it’s very own heavy duty pad lock.” The only problem is that the fence it was connected to was only a 4 wire fence. Anyway, I’m not going to argue with any gate with a lock and a posted no trespassing sign. So I turn around and start heading back the way I came. Not sure where I thought I was going but I sure wasn’t going to where I thought I was. So, I improvised… Drove up and down a few trails, the ones I could drive on with my car, and came to a spot I thought perfect for camp.
So I pulled out my tent & set it up. Gathered some large rocks for a fire pit and set off to gather firewood. Can’t remember where I heard it but I do recall someone saying that once you think you have enough firewood, gather 10 times more. This has proven true time and again while I’ve camped over the years so gathering tons of firewood is what I always do. It’s still about 2 in the afternoon so I didn’t need a fire just yet but I was still thinking about being so cold the night before. And since I would be sleeping outside this night, I knew I needed plenty of firewood to keep warm throughout the night.
While gathering firewood I saw lots of jack rabbits. So as soon as I was set up in camp I wanted to set out for some food. I was starting to get a bit hungry. I had only been nibbling on some MRE snacks. I pulled out my rifle case to get my .22 rifle well, not only did I have my Marlin .22 rifle but my M4 rifle as well. Uhm… I could swear up and down that I had my TC .308 in there with my Marlin but I guess not. I wasn’t going to be doing any big game hunting but what I thought I had in my case and what I actually had in my case were two different things. Mistakes are piling up.
So I set off to do some rabbit hunting but honestly I was set on gettin’ me a rattler. I’m quite sure it was far too cold for Rattle Snakes to be out but I was hoping to get me one or two. Well, after about 3 hours the sun was rapidly dropping and the cold was starting to come in so I headed back to camp empty handed. I did get my fire going, and let me say… Dryer lint IS THE WAY TO GO! I have a magnesium flint stick but didn’t shave off any magnesium. Just sparked the flint right onto the dryer lint… Lit up like a Christmas tree. Well, by now I had realized how sweaty I was and that I hadn’t been drinking anything the entire day. I got the fire going pretty well and headed down to the river, which was about 50 yards or so from camp. I loaded up my canteen and my nalgene water bottle and headed back to camp. Now the river seems pretty clean and clear, it is running but I wasn’t “dying” of thirst so I waited to boil the water first before I drank it. Here’s another lesson for me, wash the canteen cup before drinking from it. There was a strange metallic taste to the water. Not sure if that was due to me boiling the water in it or what but, I’ve never tasted that before. YUK!
Now, I was pretty warm from the fire, which dried out my clothes pretty quick. Even with me wearing them. I did change from my cotton socks to my wool socks when I returned from the river so my feet were nice n dry. It wasn’t very late, 8 or so maybe, but I was getting quite sleepy. I tried to make my way into my tent but now I’m realizing that it is a small, one man pup tent. NOT the way to go for someone my size. To top that off, I didn’t do ANYTHING to cushion the bottom of the tent and well, remember… I forgot my sleeping bag? I was OK at first but as I lay there trying to keep my mind off of the cold I had lumps of dirt or something that just seemed to follow my body in every which position I would get into. And with half of my head sticking out the end of the tent, comfort was not going to be with me this night. Oh, and remember my M4 came along for the ride? Well guess what..? It lay next to me ALL night long. Guess it wasn’t such a bad thing after all that it was in my rifle case. So just like the night before, I would only sleep about 20 or 30 minutes at a time. Mainly because I would wake up to stoke the fire but also to watch out for Big Foot. Or anything else that wanted to check up on me unwanted. One other thing I would wake up to…. Burning socks. I hung them on a stick near the fire to dry out. I didn’t think I had put them so close to the fire that they would burn but apparently I did.
Well, morning came FINALLY. Today I had to head back home but I was determined to at least get me something to eat from the wild. So I wrapped up my camp and put everything away. While doing so, I started to think to myself, I haven’t used 60% of what I brought with me. All those times of unpacking and repacking my BOB… Gawd, I wonder how much stuff that I have, I don’t’ need. So I spent every hour of daylight Monday fishing and hunting. I’ve seen fish in the river, small Bass I think not sure, but nevertheless… Fish. So I set up a trot line. I haven’t done that since I was a teenager back in Tennessee so just try to imagine how long that took me. With all my hooks baited and in the water I set off again with my Marlin. Now the day before I probably stirred up about 4 or 5 jack rabbits while gathering firewood. Now, it seems, I can’t even locate ONE! Typical. But that’s how hunting goes. Some days, you can’t load fast enough, others… The day can’t pass fast enough. So I return to my trot line… Nothing. Old, soggy beef jerkey on the end of my hooks. Well, fishing is hunting. And that’s how fishing goes… You know the rest.
I cleaned up my line, put my rifle away and jumped in my car. Head hung low with disappointment, I drove home.
But not all was lost. I learned a few things about what I have in place and what I think is ready and workable and what is not. I am surely going to need to do this a few times. So many mistakes were made, luckily they were made during practice and not during reality.
I’ll unpack my BOB tomorrow night when I get home from work and go through what I took and what I actually used, then post it here.
I was really only out for about 50 hours or so. And though I did put my Bug Out System to test, with relative success, I’d really like to get in a true 72 hour test. Perhaps I’ll do that soon.
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