Wilderness Survival 101: Location, Location, Location
You’ll remember from Wilderness Survival 101: Let’s get dirty that I recommend the first thing you need to do in a wilderness survival situation – for example, when you’re bugging out – is find a suitable location for your camp, semi-permanent or temporary. There are many factors to consider when searching for the perfect location to settle down.
First, you’ll want to ensure that the location you’ve chosen – for the purposes of a post-apocalypse survival situation – is sufficiently removed from civilization that it’s unlikely strangers will stumble across your camp unawares. How much time you spend traveling to the ideal location will depend on where you start. Those of you starting from an eastern city will likely have to travel twice as long as those starting in a western city. I recommend aiming for the nearest mountain range and never looking back.
Once you’re far enough away from what was once civilization you’ll need to focus on your particular surroundings. You want to settle in a location that isn’t too far from materials you’ll need for everyday survival. That means your new home should be heavily wooded, in easy walking distance of moving water of some kind (stream, spring, seep, river, etc), well populated with edible plants and wild animals, and have a plethora of stones available.
When I say easy walking distance from water I’m suggesting you make camp within about a quarter mile of your water source. You don’t want to be so far away that collecting enough water for the day takes all of your time and energy but you also don’t want to be too close to the water source. Being too close – within about 100 yards – puts you at risk of polluting your water source and your camp flooding in the spring. Air temperatures are also cooler near water sources and having your camp too close may make it more difficult to stay warm.
Once you’ve determined a decent area to consider settling in you’ll need to turn your attention to specific features of the land. Assuming you’ve bugged out and are intending to stay in the wilderness indefinitely you should insure there is a sizable clearing within eyesight of your proposed camp. The clearing will be used as a garden and possibly for keeping animals as you develop your new way of life.
You’ll also want to look for a flat, raised patch of land to build your primary shelter and fire on. This will both be more comfortable and ensure you aren’t in a divot where water may pool if it rains.
Finally, look around for any evidence of hazards near your new home. Pay special attention to:
- animal signs: are you on a game path? Is there a bear den behind you?
- landmarks: will your spot be easily identifiable should you leave camp? Are there any cliffs nearby you may run the risk of walking off in the dark?
- Forrest stability: Are there any dead or weak trees near by that may blow over in a strong wind? Any broken branches directly above the area you’ve chosen for your main shelter?
Congratulation! Once you’ve addressed all of those concerns you have a great spot to setup your new post-world home base. Don’t get too comfortable though – there’s a reason our ancestors were primarily nomads. Not only will moving your camp seasonally help you maintain a diverse diet and stay warm as season change it will make it more likely you will stay hidden from roaming bands of ne’er-do-wells. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place where all four seasons are bearable and you are certain you’ll never encounter another living soul however, then more power to you – make this your permanent homestead.