Friday, March 11, 2011

After the Bugout: The Foot Sloggers Lament

If you are wondering how the bugout went, take a look at my boots. They are caked in mud up to the rim, motherfucker. That's a sign of a good bugout-when you don't know what color your boots started out as by the time it is over.

In terms of my personal gear-the new boots held up well, actually-one of my biggest problems on the last bugout was a catastrophic boot failure, and I took a pair of spare boots just in case, but my new yardsale specials worked out just fine and my feet were dry the entire time, thank god. My new sleeping bag also worked well (thanks Mom) and I was mighty damn impressed with my Woodsman's pal-that thing chops like something three times its size. I wore a shoulder holster the entire time, and though the internet pundits all say that a shoulder holster is uncomfortable in the field, when it was over all my shit I barely noticed it. So my personal gear was well in order, and I didn't have to fuck with my bag to get it ready nearly as much as some of my compatriots did.

I was distressed by the amount of work it took for everyone to get their shit ready, although I was not immune from it-my batteries had rusted out in my headlamp and I had to rush to get a new one. Folks, we should be checking and maintaining our gear, not just buying it. So I am going to issue a challenge here-get your shit back in order sooner rather than later. Remember, you may not have 2-4 business days to get your shit together and bug out. You may have 2-4 seconds, business or otherwise. So don't let your gear fall apart this time-get it repacked, batteries replaced, in a place where you can find it and grab it in a hurry. I want to see improvement in this area, because it should not be hard-but we all fell into that trap after the last bugout and it cost us money & time when we could scarcely spare it. If you think I'm being harsh here, fuck you, it could have cost us a lot more.

It was a bigger bugout than I expected; we ended up having ten people there instead of six, so that was good, and we still had plenty of food to feed everyone. The improvements to the kitchen kit were definitely noticable; food preperation was much easier than last year, when we were wiping down dirty dishes with do rags in the pouring rain. We got one of those little portable sink things that collapses down right into the kitchen tote; it worked wonderfully and we had plenty of utensils this time. As usual, the food turned out well, and since no one was leaving to go to Mcdonalds this time (an issue we had last year) I am now confident we can feed 10 motherfuckers in the field for 3 days. Amanda is finally settling into her command role and has learned to start bossing lazy motherfuckers around while they are waiting to eat; we were never short on labor. We actually ate some wild game besides frogs for once; Jared caught a nice five pound catfish that we fried up on the third night, and it turned out delicious.

The biggest obstacle was the weather; besides all the other problems with constant driving rain, the weather was a crushing morale issue pretty much the whole time. Nothing scrambles a man's brains like being rained on for three days straight, so we had a lot more personal drama and snarking than we usually do. This, too, was something we could deal with, though I would rather not have. Between those two issues and wrangling them out, we ended up doing about half the stuff we had wanted to do.

The first night, our shelter collapsed; we ended up sleeping in the abandoned house on the property instead of in our shelter. There was no way we were going to make repairs on that shelter after dark in the rain in any reasonable amount of time. So we were only actually bugged out on the second night, after we had made some improvements on the group shelter. We always try a big group shelter and I am beginning to think it is inefficient; it takes forever to get everybody and all their shit in and out of that thing. We also ended up humping in two loads of dry firewood in rubbermaid totes, as nothing we found out there was going to light after being soaked through for several days. Once these two obstacles (shelter instability and lack of firewood) were sorted out, we actually got some decent sleep the second day and remained warm and dry. Well, too warm in some cases; one of our people did in fact catch fire once.

We had to cut out the land nav entirely and the herbalism got reduced to a small, 20 minute demo and lecture. Our trauma medical portion went well, although I would have liked to get in another ten repetitions on each part. Stealth mode we only did two rounds of, and that was a more limited exercise than we had planned because the woods had a lot of new deadfall and we didn't want to risk a night op. The CQB was cut short as well, but we did get some of it in-it took awhile to do any sparring because we only had six pugils. And we cut live fire out entirely and just practiced our group movement drills instead. The rationale is that ammo is limited anyway, and shooting practice is a constant effort that cannot really be worked on over a weekend, so any rounds we would be banging off would just be for funsies. There was some fun shooting done, most of it .22lr, but we didn't do any serious shooting because we had to use that time to practice moving in a group without shooting one another.

And as usual, all the criteria for a successful bugout were met-no accidental discharges, unsightly rashes or police raids occured. I did have to lay down some discipline this time, and frankly I don't like doing it, but there were occasions where it was required. I'm beginning to think there are going to be some changes in the way we do the events. Byoing the actual bugout, as in the rough camping survival part, along with the FTX events like the pugil stick sparring and the medical training, meant that we had to carry a lot of extra shit and use a lot of extra energy and I am thinking we might go to two short FTX events and one yearly survival event. It is still being decided and we have a few options we are exploring.

All in all, it was an educational bugout, if not always a pleasant one, and I am glad that we learned as much as we did. I have a million ideas for improvements that I can implement, so there is definitely still room to grow and I hope to keep doing so. So far, every bugout has been an improvement on the last in some way, and I intend to keep the trend going.

Good work, maggots. I'm glad you could make it.


  1. Just the fact you actually practice with and debug your equipment and knowledge puts you a couple of parsecs ahead of 90%+ of the "preppers" out there.

  2. We have a standard response to gear failure: "Better to find out now." I had an epic fail on my boots one year. Gheesh, what an item to fail. And my 2nd once had his cheap water bladder rupture in his bag.

    I think not enough preppers get out there and practice as a group; they talk about it endlessly but have never so much as worn all that shit they are posting endless pictures of. You look at them posting a "Look at my gear" thread and the shit isn't even dirty, not even a smudge.

    It doesn't do you any good if your knowledge of it is all theoretical.

  3. I still recall the fiasco with my water on the first one.... at least #2 had NEARLY enough water before his gear crapped out. My dumb ass brought no containers NEARLY adequate to carrying a load in the heat.

    Or the knife I lost 'cause the sheath had no way to retain it...

    To say NOTHING of that business with R's wife hauling the cookware around, even though making that walk unencumbered would have been a bit much for her...


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