Friday, June 11, 2010

Dealing with Potential Aggressors in a Bug Out Situation

I just read a couple of very interesting posts by RG Padgett on his blog: Survive the Worst.  The author and his family ran into trouble when their living environment in an urban apartment quickly deteriorated because of a sudden influx of troublemakers into the complex, brought on by the manager's desire to fill a large number of vacant units.  He describes how this situation developed in his post Vote With Your Feet, and then offers some great advice on security and diffusing potential attacks in the follow up: Lessons Learned From a Real World Bug Out.  Padgett makes some good points here that are not often discussed when the subject of bugging out comes up. 

In particular, he stresses awareness of your surroundings and those who live around you, as well as awareness of warning signs such as symbols, graffiti, dress and habits of gang members and other potential criminals who might pose a threat.  He also recommends maintaining a low profile by blending in and not doing anything to stand out, yet also remaining careful not to show any signs of weakness, which is easily detected by human predators who might do you harm just as it is in the predator-prey relationship in the wild. 

These two posts bring back vivid memories to me of my experiences in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, in 2005.  At the time, I owned a small cruising sailboat that I was docking in a real backwater marina in a bayou near the western edge of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.  My brother and his family lived in a house located just a few blocks off the beach in Gulfport.  In the last 24-hours of this monster storm's approach, when it became apparent that we were gonna get nailed by this one, I secured the boat as best I could with every anchor and mooring line I had on board, and my brother and his family took as many of their possesions as they could and left their home as well.  We all waited it out in Jackson, far from the worst of it, but two days later, as soon as enough downed trees were cut off of one lane of U.S. Highway 49 to make it somewhat passable, we were anxious to get back to find out if my brother still had a home, and if I still had a boat.

As far as getting there, we were better off than most, in that I had taken five 6-gallon jerry cans off the boat and had filled them all with gasoline while it was still available.  With my four-cylinder Mazda truck, we had enough range to get there and back with ease, as well and deal with potential contingencies.  We also had plenty of food and drinking water, as well as tools, weapons and ammunition.  I covered the jerry cans that were lashed in the bed of the pickup with a tarp, for concealment.  We had already heard reports filtering in on the news of looting, car-jacking and other craziness, and it made us nervous to be toting so much in the way of supplies when there were people who would do anything to get enough gas to leave the area.  At this stage of the game, a few National Guard troops were just moving into the area, but it would be much longer before security was restored. 

We made it to the slab that was all that remained of my brother's house, after having to park several blocks away and hike through the rubble of his devastated neighborhood.  The we made our way to the  closest point we could drive to the marina where I had kept the boat, and I off-loaded the rowing dinghy I had in the back of the truck and left my brother there to guard our stuff while I made my way down the bayou to see if there was anything left.  The entire area was an apocalyptic scene of 70-foot steel hulled shrimp boats thrown high and dry far into the woods, tangled up with cruising sailboats, vehicles and parts of houses.  I didn't expect much, and sure enough, when I reached the marina, there was no sign of my boat.  It would take much longer than a short foray down the bayou to find out where it had come to rest, but for now, I was nervous about leaving the truck for too long.

As it turned out, it was a good thing there were two of us and that my brother was armed.  While he was waiting, two men approached out of the woods and began asking questions, one trying to circle around behind him while the first attempted to distract him with small talk.  They were from one of the fishing vessels, and had obviously lost everything, but they weren't asking for help, just appraising the truck and looking at the tarp-covered goods in the back.  He had some nervous moments as they sized him up, deterred only by the .45 on his hip that he thought he was going to have to draw.  By the time I got back, they had disappeared into the woods again and we weren't sure if they were watching or not as we quickly  loaded the dinghy and got out of there.  This was certainly one case where a show of strength saved the day, and my brother's cool response diffused a situation that could have gotten ugly fast. 


  1. What was that line from Neil Strauss's book EMERGENCY - "Its not looting if you leave a note", or something like that. Good advice.

    I worry about this scenario as well. I still haven't figured a hard and fast rule, but have concluded I'll just have to rely on instinct and body language to determine if I'm faced with true looter BG, or just someone who is trying to scavenge something for himself or his family. Being armed is a forgone conclusion though.

  2. Excellent post. Thanks for the link. Your scenario probably would have ended up with a completely different ending had it not been for that .45. I'm afraid that most people still don't have a firm understanding of how fast a situation can deteriorate. I will also post a link directing my readers to read your post. Thanks again.

  3. Being a retired police officer you have to treat a situation like this as if you were a police officer..never let anyone distract you and have the other get around in back of you..NEVER..always have a show of force..if someone sees the gun on your hip..there next move might be to take it away from you..if your going to show it..get it out..get yourself where they cannot get behind you..then..GOOD LUCK

  4. Great post. And great re-post from the Ret. Police officer, NEVER let anyone try to distract you! If you feel someone is trying to get behind you or "check out" your gear, tell them to get closer together and if they won't comply draw your gun, and retreat untill you have them both in your line of sight. They will probably say that you're "unpolite", but do not be distracted! It's a common tactic of thugs to play on your civilized conduct to get you to comply with their wishes... Don't let them coerce you into doing as they wish! Simply tell them, since they wouldn't comply to your wishes (staying together and keeping their distance) that THEY are the un-polite ones, and if they wish to keep up the "pleasent" conversation than they should comply to your wishes...

  5. ever think the guys that came walking up to you were checking out your stuff to see if you had stolen it from them. not saying you shouldnt be on your toes in a situation like that, but more than likely they were trying to see if you were a looter.

  6. To Anon about the guys not being looters, I never considered that. Could be. Frankly I wouldn't care. As far as the .45? Better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it. As far as I'm concerned, everyone is a " bad guy" until disproven as such. The .45 more than likely saved them.

    My family lives in New Orleans and Katrina was Truly, truly awful. They always told us it would happen when we were kids, but most of the time we just bought supplies I'm thankful that I moved away before Katrina but a few of my family members lost everything. Ive been in pirogues down Veteran's Hwy, taken boats home from work after being stuck there for two days, flooded in. Walked down the street in flood waters, hoping I wouldn't step in an uncovered manhole. But NOTHING compared to what Katrina did.

    When I go back to visit, it's still not the same. :(


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