Survival Skills: How to Scout a Bug Out Site

A bug-out site is a home away from home. Ideally, the location should be chosen ahead of time and be included in your general emergency preparedness plans. Trusted friends and family should know about the site, too. But it's a bit more complicated than just pitching a tent in the woods somewhere.

You'll probably want a site that is not too far from your home or work. You may want a second, more remote site in addition to the first. If you can find the time, you should camp out at your prospective bug-out sites as a test run, to determine if they're really as good as you thought.

Where should you go? Consider one or two of these options.

BLM and Forestry Lands: These lands may or may not be wooded, depending on your locality. Find a piece of land that has potential, then contact the management to find out about camping on in, permits, etc. If camping is not allowed, keep that site in mind as a back-up plan.

Private Property: If you own some land, or have permission to camp on private land, this can be the best choice for your site.

State Land: Many state parks and properties are immense, full of resources, and available for camping. Look on state and county maps to find the ones near you, or in your desired areas.

National Parks: Most of these are camping friendly and well suited for this purpose. Larger in size than most state and private parks, National Parks may require more scouting to find a good spot. But this land can often provide you with everything you need.

And speaking of needs from the land, look for these qualities when you're walking the site.

Water: The liquid that sustains us is very heavy. You won't be carrying much with you if you are bugging out. Select a site that has some kind of fresh water nearby. An actual spring would very valuable.

Seclusion: A remote site will greatly limit the number of people wandering by looking for a handout in a bug-out-necessary scenario. But a word of warning, the secluded location can make you more vulnerable in some ways, which brings us to the next point...

Defensibility: The camp should be surrounded by natural obstacles, making access limited. High ground is preferable, for visibility. However, visibility works both ways: Keep your campfire minimal and don't let it smoke, unless you want your camp to be a beacon on a hilltop.

Food resources: Abundant wild edible plants, wild game, and a fishing hole would be welcome features of a bug-out site, but consider them as a back-up. Bring food with you and cache some on site.