At the age of eight years old I had made-up my mind that I wanted to be a Mountain Man.
By the time I was Ten, I had read nearly everything published about survival. At the tender age of 11; I ran away from home to chase those dreams…
Over the course of the next year, (I didn’t know it at the time) but I executed a Tactical Bug Out from the deadly swamps of Florida, along a route that took me through backwoods of Georgia and Tennessee. I eventually settled myself down in the Daniel Boone National Forest—Koomer Ridge Kentucky. I was twelve years old at the time.
Along the way I managed to elude a boatload of police, truant officers, and nefarious people that were out to either capture me, or hurt me. The world was a different place back then, but it was nonetheless as dangerous place for a skinny eleven year old kid. Sexual predators, druggies, modern-day slave traders, and a host of others roamed the streets and countryside looking to take advantage of children. Gangs of every description plied their violence wherever they could; and farmers were likely to “shoot first” when confronted with a “chicken Stealing” runaway kid.
I learned hard, and I learned real quick the ways and manners of becoming a young survivalist. I grew up in the woods, and later migrated to the streets of America’s biggest cities. Cities that offered food, shelter, and a new lifestyle. A life of running with the violent street gangs—most of whom were runaway’s themselves. They were the outcast that society didn’t talk about, and the media only mentioned when one of their dead body was found in some ditch or garbage dumpster.
Many of these runaway kids ended-up in “Snuff Films” that were widely circulated at the time. Some stranger would offer food, money, shelter, and friendship. Only to later drug the kid, and film them being sexually abused—and then murder them by slitting their throat on camera. Many young boys and girls lost their lives to these “snuffers” as they were called in those days.
But I never forgot my “survivalist country-boy” roots; as often I would grab my backpack and start walking out of the city to reacquaint myself with the forest dwellers. For months I would play in the woods; hunting, trapping, fishing, stealing grub where I could, and doing my very best to keep the law from capturing me.
Twice I was cornered and caught by Park Rangers and Police that were just a little smarter than I was. Twice they locked me up in a Juvenile Detention Center. A prison for little kids; a finishing school for young career criminals. Bellevue Kentucky along the Ohio river was a very bad place at the time. Louisville's Juvenile Detention Center was the pits. Once the guards closed those steel doors at night; it was every kid for himself. You learned how to fight, how to quickly incapacitate, and how to be a Man at 14 years old. It was one of those “Do or Die!” experiences that came with the territory, and came with the time.
Each time that they locked me up—I would plan, and later execute my escape. Sometimes it took weeks or months, other times just a matter of days. Give me one single chance to “rabbit”—and then color me GONE. Twice I made my escape back into the forests of Kentucky and Tennessee. They never caught me again. I’d had enough of that crap to suit me the rest of my life.
Life in the woods was severe. The nights were cold, the hunger pangs omnipresent, the thought of being captured never out of my mind. When it rained I got wet. When it snowed I was cold. Bathing was done in the creek or ponds. Drinking water was boiled in an old tomato can. Wild edible plants were plentiful, but toilet paper was the Grand Prize. A steady diet of fish and greens will quickly convince you of this…
I stole what I could, when I could, and where I could. Nothing was safe around me. My first .22 rifle was acquired from a broke-down pickup truck on a rainy backwoods Kentucky dirt road. I learned how to shoot for meat, how to dry it out, and it helped to ease the constant hunger.
Fishing for catfish became a “hunger easing” passion. Bank lines, spear fishing, netting, and bow fishing were added to the survival skill-set. Snares and traps that I learned from reading the US Army Survival Manual kept me busy running the trap line. Some days would be good, others days were real bad. You took the bad with the good. There was no place to fall back to, and no choice but to put the left foot in front of the right.
Wild onions, potatoes, carrots, and a host of other veggies and fruits added to the (sometimes) daily meal. Supplemented with rabbit, squirrel, coon and possum; the meat helped to add protein to vitamin-deficient diet. The hides were used for many things—but mostly I traded them for cigarettes and .22 ammunition.
Other people lived out there in the forest. Most were criminals hiding out from the law, others were operating moonshine stills, or growing marijuana crops. All were dangerous people when surprised or confronted, but I learned how to barter with them; once that they understood that I was a run-away kid.
The “Bush Hippies” and “Back To Nature” crowd flooded the woods in the late 1970’s. They built earth-shelters houses, cute little cabins, and got themselves back to nature. But on the side they dealt in drugs, illegal guns, and often times formed their own little gangs. Gangs reminiscent of the Charles Manson’s “Helter Skelter” crowd. Being around these devil worshipping freaks brought another level of a dangerous element to the survival mix. A few people ended-up as human sacrifices to this crowd.
My home was a small earthen cave—a former bear den. I could barley stand up in it, but it was small, and easy to heat in the winter months. I learned how to keep the fires small, how to NOT draw attention to myself, and that no matter how nice that fire feels—I was still cold to the bones.
These days I look back onto those primitive days of my youth with resignation that I could have perished. But I am thankful that GOD allowed me to survive through those times, and grow into the Man that I have become today. I have been blessed in many ways; and I am humbled by the experiences.
I’ve watched some of the YouTube survival videos being posted out there. I have learned a few things here and there. It surprises me that there are so many people out there waning to live the life that I lived at a young age. Yet; I think that they don’t realize what they are wishing for. What Mother Nature has in store for them.
It’s pretty easy to fantasize about living off the land—but the stark reality isn’t as simple as what one would expect. The elements necessary to live off the land require more than gear and equipment. It requires skills and patience. It also requires a reality based survival plan—not the bullshit that I’ve seen on the internet.
Forget all that “Dual Survival” crap and come back to reality. Bear Gillis and Survivor Man have nothing in common with real survival. Their shows are teaching people to take unnecessary risks, and that it’s possible to live off the land anywhere. That’s why very few of their shows are done during the winter months. The few that I have watched, always end up with them “finding” what they need at “exactly” the right time. In real life it doesn’t work that way.
Here in Alaska—seven experienced mountain climbers have perished on Mount McKinley. These are the people that climb mountains for a living, and as a serious hobby. In some parts of Alaska, people walk out into the woods, and are never heard from again--EVER!
Executing a Bug Out should be the last thing on a survivalist's mind. Bugging Out should be a last option when everything else fails. But then the real world of survivalism actually begins. Here’s what I think about bugging out:
- You will not be alone out there.
- Shooting a gun will get people’s attention that will do you harm.
- Camp fires will give away your position.
- Flashlights a night are signals to “Come Steal My Shtuff” cuz’ I’m stupid.
- Food should replace battery operated gear.
- Night Vision devices are a waste of time in the field.
- Over-reliance on technology will get you in trouble, or dead.
- You cannot live out of your Bug Out Bag forever.
- If you have no Safe Area to bug-out towards—you are already a victim.
- Wild edible plants are hard to find under three feet of snow.
- You gotta’ sleep sometime, that's when people like me “ghost” into your camp and take you stuff and life!
In a real survival situation, you have to understand that you will not be able to just head out into the woods and set-up a clandestine survival camp. The longer that you remain in one area, the more of the area’s resources you will use, and thus you will have to travel farther away from camp to get meat and veggies. That’s when you are most exposed, because your camp is a stationary area that will be easy to ambush. Never stay in one area more than 48-hours. Even then, you have to change sleeping areas several times, or set-up a decoy camp to draw the “bushwhackers’ into your own ambush site.
For those survival crisis that has you feeling government or UN troops—I got some real bad news for you: If you head into the woods you have already lost!
Make no mistake about it; the technology is on their side. They have all the cool toys and sophisticated weapons. Forward Looking Infrared Radar, Thermal Imaging, Satellite Movement Detection, Satellite Movement Tracking, Ambient Temperature Tracking, Chlorophyll Based Tracking Sensors, Sound Sensors, Movement Sensors, Heat & Light Sensors—most of these platforms are both airborne and space based devices. You will never even know that you are being watched and tracked. It would be better if you stayed in the cities and melted into the framework of what’s going on. When the Soviets invaded Poland in 1968, that’s what the Polish resistance did. They stayed hidden in plain sight, and caused the Russian Bear much grief.
If you think that you have what it takes to survive out there by yourself when being hunted by seasoned and experienced troops. Think Again! You have absolutely no chance against the military special forces, I don’t care what country their from. Rambo was a fictional Hollywood character—and you ain’t him!
Your days will be filled with fright and fear. If you don’t believe that—then you have never been exposed to bullets screaming by your right ear. Your night will be cold because if you build a campfire to stay warm—you will probably never awaken.
And finally; for those off you that are heading out into the bush at the first signs of SHTF—what is your wife gonna’ say about that? Do you think that she’s gonna’ want to drag herself and the kids out into the cold dark countryside where Bad People with guns are waiting? Better think about that little scenario, before you head off into your Bug Out Experience.
Like anything else that I have written; these are my own ideas, and the way that I work things out. They work for me, they might work for you—or not. It was written from the heart, and not to proclaim that anyone is doing things wrong, or that I’m right. It is what it is, and if you take exception to it—Tough Shit--Deal With It!