Editor’s Note: This post is another entry in the Prepper Writing Contest from Stu Stone. If you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly win a $300 Amazon Gift Card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.


Some background. I’m a retired US Army Counterintelligence Agent/Officer. In my 20’s I was a heavy weapons Marine. I have a background in technical risks – risk management, information security, computer forensics… Lots of skills and experiences in bad places (Crapistan, Iraq, Africa, Asia…). Took a job in Las Vegas and we lived there for over 4 years. Got so concerned about crime, inept government, potential/probable disasters/catastrophes that we relocated. Did the “math” and looked for “the” safe community that met or exceeded my criteria.

  1. Moral, hard-working folks with a sense of community.
  2. Community with a good skill mix (medical, technical, construction, law enforcement/emergency response, livestock production, farming, forestry…)
  3. Low risk of earthquake, hurricane, flood, wildfire, epidemic, economic upheaval…

So, we bought a farm/ranch on 100 acres in a “greener” part of Southern Utah (nope, not anywhere near fallout from NV above-ground-testing).

This is where the “lessons learned” at my bug out location come in. My wife and kids went through more cultural shock than I thought they would. The distance to good restaurants, the distance to friends and kid’s playmates… the stress this caused was significant. Plus, I never get a day off now. I have animals to feed/water. Yeah, I know… I’ve worked at a dairy, an enormous commercial farm, had horses and a garden most of my life… I knew what I was getting into… but reality and theory are different. So I feed animals twice a day… everyday. I hate to harvest them, though I know that’s what they here are for. It’s a good life… but it is a big change from what we had. And, that’s the major point… post-TSHTF, it’ll be an even bigger change. We (my family) still have Internet, vehicles, gasoline, washing machine… for now.

If you think it’s bad now…

We have our own well, thousands of gallons of stored water, gardens, fruit trees, raised beds, greenhouse, vine/shrub fruit, chickens, rabbits, goats, long-term food, fuel, ammo, weapons, tools, parts, materials, perimeter security (our own training range)… but, most of all, we have a small “mutual aid” or prepper group. I thought we all had the same goal(s) – share resources, share the load and share in the rewards. Well, we have one member that turns out to be the whining, divisive type, one that sits on the fence and you never know where his loyalties/efforts are, a third that is too “busy” to do his share… so this leaves me with animosities I didn’t know I could have. All this in the current “normal” conditions. I hate to think about what happens when I need our group to function as a tactical team and cooperate as ranch-hands. And, what happens when we add the complexities of spouses and kids?

Read More: What to look for in a Survival Retreat

What’s our readiness like?

Significant terrain analysis (following OCOKA and IPB… and if you don’t know what these are thoroughly, you really need to) by map, imagery, recon and time-distance analysis on Avenues of Approach. We have an AI -Area of Interest, AO -Area of Operations, maps (hard and digital), TRPs and typical graphic control measures. Ops -Observation Posts, CPs (manning depends on Threat Level) Check Points, IRF -Immediate Reaction Force, QRF -Quick Reaction Force (trained/equipped to support IRF and patrols with light and heavy weapons, mounted and dismounted, fire/HAZMAT suppression/control and obstacle emplacement). Perimeter security (fenced, cross-fenced and anti-vehicle obstacles on High Speed AAs. One entrance (I’ll keep the number of “exits” confidential) that is gated and monitored. Logs next to gate and ready for movement backstopping the gate if/when threat level rises. Numerous tractor tire (2-3 high) raised beds that double as vehicle barriers and emergency fighting positions. Oh, and we have hundreds of caltrops (I can never have too many) in various sizes (infantry, vehicle, quad…). The Daymak Electric Beast is a terrific way to get around on the ranch. Quiet, 20-mile range on a charge, solar charger built-in, some rack space… Dune Buggies for the QRF.

You can never have too much plywood, railroad ties, telephone poles or sand bags (we recycle 50 pound feed bags into sandbags too). I collect heirloom seeds for my zone every chance I get. We are prepared to close the only two High Speed AAs into our AI if TSHTF. We would close each AA at choke points in two places (more if the threat warrants) and observe the AAs and obstacles (an unobserved obstacle is pretty worthless). Our Commo Shack is in the monitor mode, but has the ability to broadcast long-range and manages the three types of tactical comms we use. Everyone is trained in our SOP hand/arm signals and Commo SOP. Prepping doesn’t have a destination… what I mean is I can’t say “OK, we are done and can take it easy now”. Prepping is a process. As the military says, the final phase is “Continue to Improve”.

Read More: Is it realistic to expect your retreat will not be found?

Individually, we are pretty skilled. Everyone is proficient with firearms, is CERT trained, most are Combat Vets and we have a diverse set of construction, agriculture, engineering, animal production, food preservation, hunting/gathering, scrounging/recycling, mechanical, medical, communications skills. A significant challenge is rehearsing our drills and SOPs together. We are still in the “walk” phase for daylight tactical movement and “crawling” in night and inclement weather tactical movement. As a group, we are good at whining when our backs hurt and when we have blisters from digging.

So, what’s the bottom line?

Well, I had a plan. Did a lot of research. Refined the plan(s). But reality hits… things break you thought would last a few more years (the submersible pump died, got a new one), members show up for the first few meetings, attendance/effort declines, and I’m left feeling used. Worst part is the wife asking “… is it all worth it?” it is if TSHTF, and I’m convinced this life and community are a better place to raise the kids. So, is it (bugging out) now worth it? Absolutely. It’s a better quality of life. And, if TS never HTF, then I’m alright with that, but more importantly, so is my family.

See you on the Objective, Stu Stone