Editor’s Note: Ever since the terms “Prepper and Survivalist” have been used, there has been a deafening argument of what “SHTF” will look like, what scenario it will be, and how you need to prepare.  

Honestly, I felt pretty prepared, until I read this article from our best selling author, Jonathan Hollerman.  I have continued to hone my Survival Skills, and have done extensive planning for an EMP.  In my opinion, if you’re ready to survive an EMP, you’re probably ready for almost anything. Recently, we produced a great DVD with The Prepper Project on hardening your structures against the very serious threat of an EMP attack, which I highly suggest you check out.  However, beyond that, I was shocked to discover that even with all those preparations, I may be missing even more… Read on to see for yourself just exactly what I mean…


So the SHTF… Now What?!

Lots of “experts” have covered this subject and depending on which survival forum you frequent the most, it will result in completely different and sometimes opposite advice.  In my opinion, some of the advice will prove deadly to most preppers.  So if the SHTF, the easy answer for what to do and where to go is….  there is no easy answer and there are too many variables to give you a definite, “hey, go do this!”  What I am going to try to do is to get you thinking and to show you what NOT to do.  You will have to come up with your own game plan for your family depending on where you live.  I am also going to address some ideas for those of you with minimal preparations.  Now remember, every family’s situation is different and there is no one size fits all advice or recommendation.

The first thing that you need to realize is that your plan of action will be different depending on what type of SHTF scenario you encounter.  As preppers, we know that things in this country are not as they seem.  We know that the stock market hitting all time highs while at the same time having a record percentage of Americans not in the work force spells trouble.  Fairly soon we will have a nuclear Iran and combined with the threat of North Korea, we face a realistic and imminent threat of an EMP attack.  The Pharmaceutical companies are no longer developing antibiotics and with the over-prescription of them by doctors, a nationwide or global pandemic could certainly be in our future.  With a porous southern border and verified terrorists entering our country at an alarming rate, a physical attack on the electric grid could be in the works.  We can see the writing on the wall.  In my last article I recommended that you prepare for the worst and hope for the best.  Same theory goes here as well.  The worst case scenario, would be a long-term loss of the electric grid.

Lone Wolf

So what should you do and where should you go if there is a long-term SHTF scenario?  First off I’m going to tell you what not to do.  The #1, absolutely, positively, you’re going to die mistake, is to take the “Lone Wolf” approach.  You know who I’m talking about.  The guy on the prepping forum that plans to move out to the national forest and “live off the land” like the Legend of Mick Dodge.  I would estimate that only 30% of those individuals actually believe they have the necessary skills to pull it off, while the other 70% are too lazy to actually make long term preparations and they’ve just convinced themselves that if Rambo can do it, then they can too.  Either way, none of them have ever stopped to actually consider what surviving in the wild looks like AFTER YOU FACTOR IN A SHTF SCENARIO.  While a small percentage of the 30% might make it through the winter in normal times, only a small fraction could do it during a SHTF scenario.

First off, I’m speaking from experience.  I’ve actually done it.  I’ve spent an entire month in the mountains of Washington State during January with six feet of snow, almost no food, and very limited supplies during my training to become a SERE Instructor.  During that month I lost over fifteen pounds of muscle (for a 6′ 4″, 190lb, 19 year old in peak physical shape, that is a lot!).  I can make a solid prediction that 99% of people that go this route will not make it through the first winter.  I can already see those of you who disagree.  You  are your sharpening your hypothetical knives and getting ready to crucify me in the comments section telling me about your amazing prowess as a half-man and half wildling creature that was raised by a pack of wolves in the forest.  Please read through my rational before you keyboard commandos comment.

To begin with, living in the wild during peak conditions is hard enough.  Very few Lone Wolf types have actually done it during the dead of winter for any extended period of time.  Hiking-in your Mountain House freeze-dried food doesn’t count and won’t get you far.  I’m talking about actually foraging for your food when there’s two feet of snow on the ground.  There are no berries to save the day and no dandelion salads to be scavenged.  During my training to become a SERE Instructor, we literally spent as much time during the day chopping and splitting firewood as we did training and instruction.  It takes an incredible amount of time, energy, and calories to maintain a fire in the winter.  It’s not like you can take a chainsaw with you.  Where are you going to get more gas?  Besides, using a chainsaw will bring in other hungry Lone Wolfs from miles around.  Even an axe will bring in unwanted guests from long distances.  Okay, so you’re going to use a handsaw… good luck with that, you’ll never be able to maintain the calories needed to use it long term.  So you have a magic supply of firewood stashed in the woods somewhere, pre-planned for this scenario…good for you.  It will run out faster than you think.

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Fire

All this talk of procuring firewood doesn’t really matter anyways, because the second you light a fire, you are attracting attention from a long way off.  All the other thousands of Lone Wolfs and the locals who are hunting the big forests will be drawn to your camp like moths to the flame.  And the locals probably won’t take too kindly to you infringing on their favorite hunting spot.  How do you plan to warm yourself, dry your sleeping bag, boil your water, or cook your meat without a fire?  Some will try to convince me about using a Dakota fire hole or a rock ledge overhang etc. to hide their smoke and flame, but that doesn’t work either.  Those methods only minimize a fire’s signature not eliminate it.  When we train pilots who might get shot down behind enemy lines, we teach them that a fire is only acceptable in a life and death situation (i.e. you fall in a frozen lake).  I vividly remember during one of my trips to the mountains noticing a strange, slow pulsing orange glow about a half mile away on the next mountain over.  I asked the instructor what I was seeing and I learned that another element of trainees was on that hillside.  One of them was breaking the rules of evasion, and smoking!  In the dark cloudless night, the entire forest around him lit up faintly each time he pulled in a puff.  Don’t try to convince me how you’re going to hide a campsite, your fire, let alone the smoke and the smell of fresh meat from the thousands of other people wandering around the woods.

Meat! 

That is the number one thing I hear from the Lone Wolf’s on how they will survive: by hunting.  What they don’t understand is that with thousands of other Lone Wolf’s roaming the forests combined with all the other locals who are also going to be hunting for their family’s sustenance, THERE WON’T BE A SINGLE DEER OR OTHER BIG GAME ALIVE within a month of the SHTF.  You might be able to survive off game during normal times, but not during a SHTF scenario.  You’ll be lucky to shoot a squirrel or a rabbit a month.  There are hunting seasons for a reason: to maintain the big game populations.  You figure in 350 million starving Americans and no game wardens; you’re going to find a hunter behind every tree and in every small patch of woods throughout this country during the first couple months following the collapse.  Let’s say you get lucky and shoot a deer.  Guess what, you’re more than likely to have a dozen starving hunters that heard your shot and show up while you’re gutting it out.  I hope you intend to share your prize or be ready to kill a fellow human being to keep what’s yours.  

Desperation

I could go on for ten more pages on the reasons why you don’t want to Lone Wolf your way through a SHTF scenario.  But for now, I will add one more reason, and it’s the biggest one… desperate, starving people!  A very small percentage of you reading this MIGHT be able to convince me of your wilderness scavenging skills.  However, what you will never convince me of is the other 99% of Lone Wolfs who don’t have our skill sets.  Even though you might be able to survive the cold, the hunger, and the depression, you’ll never convince me that you’ll survive the desperate and hungry Lone Wolf’s who are not making it: the ones who have decided they’d rather kill you for your food then die of starvation on their own.  It only takes one starving Lone Wolf to creep up on you at night (don’t forget you are a Lone Wolf so nighttime security details don’t exist) and shoot you from 100 yards away with their Pappy’s 30-06.  I don’t care about your security measures or your hidden trip lines… it’s just a matter of time till someone pops you off from distance on the hope you “might” have something in your pack that they can eat.  Every second of every day in the forest, you run the risk of being shot from a distance.  All the tactical training in the world won’t save you from stumbling upon a hunter who is in a tree-stand or hidden in some brush.  If you Lone Wolf it through the SHTF, you will almost assuredly die!

Looter

The next type of survival strategy I would shy away from would be the “Taker” or “Looter” theology.  These are the types of survivalists I hate the most.  They are too lazy to prepare ahead of time and they plan to just take what they need from those of us planning for hard times.  Do not under-estimate these types of people.  This is another reason why it is so critical to keep your preparations private.  Even when sharing information with your closest friend, you can’t be sure who he is talking to about your plans.  Even in an innocent conversation, it only takes one looter to hear your name and the fact that you have plans laid out.  They will eventually show up to take your food when the SHTF.  These types of survival scum will become ruthless, and with no moral compass and no police to stop them, they will be the ones committing some of the greatest atrocities.  If you are a prepper, steer clear of these types on the forums and message boards and especially in real life.  Don’t engage them or try to change their thinking.  You want them to know as little about yourself and your plans as possible.  Matthew 26:52 (the Voice) clearly spells out a warning to these types, “People who live by the sword will die by the sword.”  Even if you aren’t into “religion” there’s still karma that is going to catch up to you.  Again, don’t under-estimate these types.  The “looters” who survive the first couple months without getting shot, will have figured out a pretty good game plan on how to assault a retreat.

Roamer

The next segment of preppers would be what I call the “Roamers”.  These are the people who plan to pack up their RV and hit the open road headed for some campsite or trying to drive to some remote area of Canada hundreds of miles away.  First off, if we are hit by a Super EMP, there is a good chance your RV may not even run.  Assuming it does, there are going to be traffic jams of people running out of gas all over this country you are going to have to bypass.  Unless you have a custom built 4WD rig with a winch and reinforced bumper, you may be driving hundreds of extra miles out of your way which takes extra gas (which you have to haul) and extra time (which you don’t have).  Again, during a grid down scenario, it is vital that you leave town immediately and you’ll only have two to three days before total panic develops in the bigger cities and four to five days before things fall apart in the small towns.  The last place you want to be is out on the open road with tens of millions of people fleeing the big cities.  If you are driving around in a big vehicle laden with food and supplies, you are a target.  I hope your vehicle is protected with AR500 steel panels because you are now a bullet magnet.

Suburban Bunkers

Another bad idea is typically by rich people who want to build bunkers in their back yards in suburbia.  Now, I am not against bunkers in general, just the ones in town.  Let me be clear here:  cabin fever is a real thing.  While it may not be as crazy as “Here’s Johnny!” from The Shining, it will still make you go crazy.  This is compounded if you have multiple family members and small children cooped up in a small space underground.  Humans were never meant to live underground.  While a good bunker is a great short-term fall back plan or storage location for your supplies, don’t plan to live there long-term.  You will get claustrophobic and start coming up more and more often for sunshine, fresh air and to grow your garden.  Eventually you’ll get caught.  Living in a bunker isn’t living, it’s marinating.

Pacifists

The next group I want to discuss is what I call the “Pacifists”.  These are the Mother Earth News types (don’t get me wrong, I love that magazine).  These are the preppers you often see on Doomsday Preppers who are building a sustainable off grid homestead in conjunction with the small town they live in.  They are the ones who actually have the skills in place beforehand and you would think they would have the best chance of survival.  Similar to the Amish, they grow their own food and operate a small farm stand in town selling and trading free-range eggs and grass fed beef.  The problem is, MOST of these types suffer from two fatal flaws. 

  1. They operate out in the open and the typically the entire town knows where they operate from.  Unfortunately, once those townspeople who absolutely loved you beforehand start to starve to death, THEY ARE COMING FOR YOUR FOOD.  You can’t keep everyone fed no matter how large your homestead is and how badly you want to help people.  They will either consume all your winter stores from your charity or eventually they will take them by force.  Either way, you don’t make it through the first winter. 
  2. “Pacifists” are typically the hippie types who don’t believe in guns and believe in the overall goodness of man’s human nature.  They are the ones you see on Doomsday Preppers running around with Super Soakers filled with pepper spray… clown shoes!  If you are faced with a starving and desperate mob of locals or transients and you bust out your Super Soaker, you are going to get shot and killed at some point in time.  You can’t bring a knife to a gunfight and expect to live.  You can have all the skills and preparations in place, but if you are unwilling or unable to defend them with force when necessary, you will lose everything… guaranteed!  The “everyone works together attitude” ONLY WORKS if everyone has enough food to eat.  Once people start to starve to death, there is no such thing as sharing.  

Survive in Place

Okay, I’m taking a big breath here and exhaling slowly.  For all those Lone Wolfs who are going to react negatively to what I’ve said, there are going to be ten times more people that disagree with my next section.  I am probably speaking to the largest segment of preppers out there… the “Bug-in” or “Survive in Place” preppers.  These are the honorable middle class people who live in cities and small towns across the country and can’t afford to build a remote off grid retreat to bug out to.  I get it!  I was actually one of you at one point myself.  Most of the people that fall into this category are there because they don’t see another reasonable way out.  You know the city around you is going to explode, but what else can you do and where else can you go?  This is the most frustrating part for most preppers, and to some, it makes the point of prepping almost hopeless.  I know there are a lot of people who are storing up hundreds of gallons of water and hundreds, if not thousands, of pounds of survival gear and food in their basement in downtown suburbia.  Now, I am going to throw you “Survive in Placers” a bone here.  If your only fear is a short term disaster, hurricane, or small financial collapse then you will likely be okay.  For anything long-term where we lose the electric grid or there is a total collapse and mass panic for a long period of time, you are screwed.  

Unfortunately, instead of thinking and planning your way through it, there are tons of “experts” out there that stroke your hopelessness and write books and articles explaining how to take the easy road and “hide in plain sight”.  They teach you things like “build a tall fence around your backyard”.  Yeah… like your next door neighbor isn’t going to hear you hoeing and digging up your backyard for a garden.  Also, the looters and raiders roaming around are going to notice a high fence right off the bat.  You might as well hang a sign on your fence that reads “Garden Full of Food”.  They teach you how to turn your suburban home into a “fortress”.  Please, catch me while I fall over laughing.  Your average home CAN NOT be made into a fortress.  Regardless of the action movies you’ve seen, walls do not stop bullets!  Your house is not fire-proof!  You are not Rambo!  And boarding up your windows or installing steel grates or shutters over them will only draw attention to your home.  These groups of looters and raiders are going to become really proficient, really fast at assaulting homes.  If they can’t force you out because every family member in the house was prior Seal Team 6, then they’ll wait you out with superior numbers.  How do you plan on stepping outside to maintain your garden?  You have just become a prisoner in your own home.  If you do go through the enormous expense to turn your home into a fortress, then you should have just bought a few remote acres and built a small off grid cabin!  The other thing you need to be aware of are “firestorms”.  A lot of the big cities are going to burn down to the ground, especially the older ones and city centers where houses are built close together.  It only takes one idiot trying to warm their home with a charcoal grill to set fire to entire city blocks.  If its a windy day, and with no firefighters to stop the blaze, the fires could grow enormous and spread to the suburbs.  These so called “Bug-In Experts” are going to be responsible for the deaths of millions of Americans because they don’t know what they are talking about and don’t understand the concept that a desperate and starving neighbor will eventually kill you for a can of peaches.  They have never been to a third world country and have never done any research or studied human desperation.  

Fortify My Street

The same philosophy of the “Survive in Place” crowd also spills in to what I call the “Fortify My Street” preppers similar to the book Lights Out by David Crawford.  While it is an entertaining read with a few hidden gems of wisdom, for the most part, they never realistically explain how they feed all those people on a daily basis.  This is an area where a lot of preppers aren’t prepared at all.  Most preppers buy a years worth of freeze dried food not realizing that they are actually getting about seven to eight months of actual food (barely enough to make it through a single winter).  Very few preppers, aside from those that homestead already and are currently living off grid, have a clue how much food is actually needed to make it through a winter.  And I don’t mean make it until spring, but until your actual crops start producing a harvest where you can replenish your food stuffs.  If you plan to fortify your suburban cul-de-sac, you better be 100% sure that EVERY SINGLE PERSON on your block has the same amount of food, ammo, and seeds as you do.  What is most likely going to happen is everyone is going to talk the talk but very few of them are going to actually put their money where their mouth is and buy long term food.  At the end of the day, YOUR FAMILY’S FOOD is going to be distributed among the group once they figure out that you aren’t starving like everyone else.  The group WILL confiscate your food eventually… guaranteed!  Now granted, as a group you have some strength in numbers, but if your cul-de-sac is on the outskirts of town, I can assure you that eventually there are going to be raiding parties much bigger than your band of merry men.  The moral of the story here is: If you stay in the city, you will be overrun… eventually.

The overwhelming truth in all these scenarios, once again, comes down to a single focus.  It’s not the EMP, the cyber attack, or the solar flare that is going to kill you.  Your plans MUST include staying as far away from the starving masses as possible.  Aside from the resurgence of long forgotten diseases like cholera and dysentery from poor sanitation and hygiene, the starving and desperate masses (even the everyday Joes) are going to be the real killers.  So maybe I’ve convinced you to second guess some of your plans.  Now what?  Back to square one?  Not quite.  All the supplies and food you’ve already attained is still needed.  You just need to stage them far away from the population centers and you can actually do this on a budget.  Don’t bank on the fact that you are going to have a running vehicle or clear roads to load up all your gear and bug out of town.  Regardless, you must get out of town which means bugging out.  To do so requires a pre-organized plan of action though.  Here are my recommendations.

Some would say to find an existing survival group on a prepping forum, especially if you have some sort of skill or expertise to bring to the table.  That may work out for you if you’re a doctor or surgeon and I am not discounting the idea.  Just be careful.  The TV show Doomsday Preppers is a perfect example of how bats**t crazy some preppers are.  By the way, if you are getting the bulk of your prepping advice from the aforementioned TV show… you are doing it wrong! 

     If you can’t afford a bug out retreat location, I would first point you to family members (even extended family) that live well away from the city.  If you think discussing the whole prepping idea with them will make you the “crazy nephew” at family get-togethers, then just rent a storage unit close to where they live and cache your supplies there.  Once the SHTF is in full effect and you show up at their doorstep with food, your former preparations will make you out to be a genius and a forward thinker.  If you don’t have rural relatives, then I would suggest you take up renting cabins in the mountains for weekend getaways pre-SHTF.  Do your research and make sure the cabins fit within the retreat location parameters.  Also, try to find rentals that are corporate owned and not a cabin that some family rents when they are not using it.  A carefully worded casual conversation with the management company or the person renting you the cabin can go a long way to getting an answer to that question.  Don’t get me wrong, this is a time-consuming process and it may take you multiple weekends to find the right cabin, but it is a lot better option than staying in town.   Again, cache your supplies in a storage unit near that cabin.  On a side note, you are not taking that cabin from someone else, you are hoping it will stay abandoned.  If the owners do show up, please realize that YOU are the intruder, not them.  If you have any savvy whatsoever, you should be able to explain the SHTF scenario to the owners and explain the benefits of joining forces with them for security purposes and extra manpower growing a large garden.  

Last bit of advice     

Lastly, if you procrastinated your prepping and the SHTF before you are ready, follow the advice I lay out to my co-workers in chapter 3 of my first book.  It is risky, but it is still realistic and far better than hanging out in town waiting to get over-run.  Knowledge is power, and if you can articulate well what the future holds after a grid down situation, you WILL EVENTUALLY be able to find a rural farmer to take you in.  The key here is having something to trade for room and board, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot.  You need to have a pre-planned bug-out strategy with paper maps of the rural area you are headed for.   Your area should be away from a major city by at least 100 miles.  If you live in New Jersey or Washington DC, you may have to travel much further to get away from the sprawling cities and population centers.  Locate a rural, preferably elderly farmer or couple.  Explain to him what is going on in the world and persuade him that he needs you and your family’s help to survive the coming apocalypse.  The best way to get room and board from him is to have something he needs in trade. This goes back to your basic survival gear, having weapons and ammo to help protect his farm and hunt, offering you and your family’s younger muscles to plant and harvest (this will need to be done by hand, because a tractor will attract too much attention after the SHTF), offering to help keep 24-hour surveillance over the farm and crops, and most importantly having seed to plant the next harvest.  I grew up on a small farm and every farmer I know buys his seed two days before planting.  If you did have a stash of food in a storage unit down the road, it will make this conversation MUCH easier (but keep this information as a last resort, your ace card).  Also, this recommendation is ideally for the first week after the SHTF.  After that, people will be really on edge and approaching multiple farms and knocking on doors will be a far more dangerous of a preposition.  I realize that this is a scary scenario, and the perceived “safety” and “comfort” of staying in your own home is hard to let go of especially when you have lots of “experts” telling you you’ll be just fine.  You won’t!  Please head my advice and get out of the cities IMMEDIATELY while you still can!  The uncomfortable nature of this plan is sure better than figuring out three weeks into the SHTF that your decision to board up the windows in your duplex was a very bad decision, and by then it has become far too dangerous to travel on the open road.

All the recommendations I have laid out in this article are still SITUATIONAL dependent.  Every person’s location and circumstances are different.  If you live in Las Vegas and you’re surrounded by desert for hundreds of miles, Bugging-out by foot would be extremely difficult: almost impossible without caches of water and supplies along your route (hint hint).  Having a classic 4WD pickup to get of the city in this scenario would be almost vital and at the top of the list for your survival needs.  Maybe you do have an old RV that will get you where you need to go… great, than utilize it.  Maybe you’re a “Pacifist Homesteader” but at the same time, you’ve negotiated with a “security team” to come help you protect your farm after the SHTF… well that may work for you (make sure they’re trustworthy people).  What I’m saying is to stay adaptable and flexible, but at the same time, never underestimate the starving masses or what your next door neighbor is capable of once his children start starving to death.  Regardless of your circumstances, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can “hide in plain sight” in a big city.  You can’t!  It’s just a matter of time till they find you and your food!  Good Luck!


Jonathan Hollerman is a former USAF SERE Instructor and an expert on prepping and survival.  Working as an Emergency Preparedness Consultant through his website GridDownConsulting.com, Jonathan helps his clients prepare for the hard times ahead.  Jonathan is the Author of the Amazon Top Ten Bestselling prepping book EMP: Equipping Modern Patriots, A Story of Survival, and recently released the sequel to it called EMP: The Aftermath.  Jonathan will also be releasing a full-length prepping on a budget manual this Christmas.


The Survival Summit produced a film with Jonathan Hollerman , check that out below along with his books on Amazon. 

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41 Responses

  1. Be closed, be prepared, be quiet, be armed, be ready to do what you need to do to stay alive which might include removing first those who want to remove you.

  2. Great Article Jon ( Did I use Jon?)
    I also am former USAF SAR/SERE and would have went PJ if I re-upped in 1978 when I got out.
    You are spot on man. I live in a very rural part of the south just for that reason. I have managed to build a small 12-15 group of former military (all different branches including SOF) and LE. We all have been meeting and training over the last few years. I have a good deal of confidence in my abilities and my groups, but make no bones about it, we all know that things can go fubar real quick. I have told many other family and friends that ask what they should do and keeping my OPSEC give them the best advice I can. You MUST PLAN and then FOLLOW YOUR PLAN to prepare. I also tell them one Very Important thing that I have yet to hear from many of the "so called survival experts" … You MUST keep your mind about you while all others around you are losing theirs. Mental Prep, knowing how and when to execute a plan is something that will certainly go a long way in times and situations that we will face in the near future.
    Stay Safe Brother and Stay Frosty ! God Bless and Protect us all.

    1. Not Logged In 3 minutes ago Awaiting Moderation
      1st time here…what i got out of this most was to look at my strategy again…from the point of an intruder…how would i exploit
      my plan?.how could i gain if i came up against myself?…instead of looking to strengthen what i have,where are my holes?..where are my weaknesses?whats my weak link,fix it,then whats my next weak link..etc…thanks for making me think again and not be so complacent…

  3. Thank you for this article and for your honesty. I believe that most of us in urban areas know that "surviving in place" is a no win scenario but many of us feel that we have no other option. Your suggestions have given me plenty to think about and I look forward to reading your book. Thank you again.

  4. I’m living on my homestead quite a distance from any major city, but I still think about needing to protect it and realize that could mean doing bodily harm to a human at some time. (Not a warm, fuzzy thought.) I just hope that in a SHTF scenario, my family can all make it here and help me grow our food and protect the property.

  5. Very thought provoking. I live in rural Maine, suburbs of a town of 2500 – and I still feel like we live in an overpopulated place. Our growing season is fairly short, which is a disadvantage, but the ocean, clam flats, river, lake, and woods meat is plentiful. Problem is, many know.

  6. Besides the basic wisdom of this article, the most important take away I harvested was, do this, "caches of water and supplies along your route (hint hint)". At all egress paths from your locality a "Mountain Man" cache of a couple five gallon jugs of water and other supplies at say 20 mile intervals to the depth of 5 caches per egress path is so smart and with historical precendence that it might cause retardation to do otherwise. Not only for your own use but it has value in that that information can be passed along to some one else if the situation warrants.

    There is a phrase that is important in hardscrabble situations, "The Equilibrium Necessary for Survival". And that is not easy thing to keep in mind. I have lived in the mountains in Utah and after eating nothing but deer meat for five days my guts were so drawn up against my spine I felt like a wild animal, I did not hurt or feel discomfort, but I was lean to the point of noticing a change in myself…then, as I came over a narrow pass in some cliffs heading into a verdant small mountain valley I came across a field of ripe Thimbleberries…at the point I reached the berries I heard what sounded like a 2,500 psi valve being opened in the cliffs above me about 40 yards away. I am sure it was a Mountain Lion…but my mind was so unconsciously focused on the berries I had my 30-30 cocked with one hand and scarfing berries with the other. I never saw that cat nor heard anything else. I had a Labrador Retriever with me but he was famous over ignoring Mountain Lion spore in the past…so keeping my eye on him since he would react to movement at the least…I ate berries to the disregard of a very serious threat nearby.

    The desire for food, let along starving masses hungrily prowling, is not to be underestimated, not at all. It will change everything you know. If you have grown up with these experiences or live to have 100 of them you will be good with it. But the learning curve is unforgiving for most; it will warp your "Equilibrium Necessary for Survival".

    The one recommendation I would make which is seldom talked about and does not weigh much at all is a good set of leather working tools. Augment that with a very liberal amount of stitching thread which won’t be available after the SHTF. And needles do break; have liberal amounts of them. If you don’t have access to cloth in 3 to 5 years you will be working leather.

    I have one more very important thing to say, but like the author recommends, "…This is another reason why it is so critical to keep your preparations private." So, bon fortune, my friends.

  7. About the lone wolf thing. Been there done that, for months at a time, in all climates and weather types. Don’t EVER want to do that again. To say that I am well trained would be an understatement. I still don’t ever want to do it again. Community is essential however small or large, however it must be beneficial for all involved. All must work or all will starve. I can survive alone yes, but don’t want to. However I now have a family and a large extended family to deal with and care for. As much as I have tried to train many of them, going off and living off the land just ain’t gonna happen. Relocating to the mountains as a large extended family, with a few trusted friends, was a plan for a long time hoping we could get out of town in time with as much of our gear as possible. We have prepositioned stuff along 7 different routes and stuff (gear, weapons, tools, food, seeds etc. – enough for several years) at our intended location with a back up for that as well with the plan to drive out of town but also walk if necessary.

    Now throw in a huge monkey wrench. Several years ago I rolled my truck and broke my back in several locations. Not only is walking out not going to happen but anything more than. 25 lb. pack also won’t work. As much as my family and friends are willing to carry me out, I also know, that is not a reality. If that wasn’t enough; diabetes, secondary immunodeficiency, plantar faciitis, fibromyalgia and a host of other medical problems have come into play. Life has taken a major turn. I won’t say for the worse although to some it may seem so. I will say life is different . . . . not over.

    So, with all this how do you still prepare to survive a SHTF scenario(s). As I look at, it already has for me and I am still alive. This has all been a learning experience for when other SHTF scenarios come along. We don’t give up, we just do things differently. I won’t go into al the detail of how because that is a book in and of itself. I will just say it is possible to still survive.

    We CAN do this!!!!

  8. Thank you very much for this thought-provoking article. It has really helped me to think of things in a new light. Why is _ a good plan? Why may it not work? Thank you so much for re-igniting my creative thought process. Best wishes!

  9. I live in a rural area where most people are more prepped than I am. However, there are those "townies" who are not. My biggest concern, which you emphasized here, is that I DON’T have a group to rely on – it’s just me and my 2 teenage sons who may or may not still be around when It happens. I have tried making friends among the neighbors, but that didn’t work out. Not really sure what to do.

  10. Thank you for this article that reminds us that we need other people to survive, but we also need to be careful what people we keep around us. Doubt that humans can get ugly fast? Just look at Walmart on Black Friday…. Make sure your group is as well-informed and well-prepared as you are.

  11. Great comments regarding the coming crisis. Everyone of us need all the information we can amass in order to survive. Very few people younger than sixty even have a clue about what it takes to grow a garden, hunt, exist with primitive shills, or defend themselves. When it happens, not if, there will be total chaos and only the informed and prepared will make it.

    Tom

    Tom Hayes

    1. Very few people over 60 are physically capable of anything you mentioned. Do you see how stupid that generalization sounds? You are seriously limiting your options because of a very close-minded outlook.

      Gardening has exploded in recent year across all demographics. Do you know how many kids in the south hunt with their parents? I want to see you fight a 25 yr old obsessed with MMA. Think before you just dismiss a ridiculous amount of people that could actually save your life. Good luck.

  12. DP
    Great article for those that are just starting to wake up. I am wanting to find definitive info on how a EMP/CMP will effect solar panels. I know that the charge controllers and the inverters need to be protected with a faraday cage, but are the panels themselves going to effected?

  13. Dan;
    I have the same question regarding Solar Panels. I believe the actual silicon wafers themselves and wires will not be affected. Where MY concern and question lies is what about the small box of circuitry at the top of the panel that collects the electrons for distribution out to the controller or the batteries?

    As for the article itself, it is a very gloomy piece, but he did us all a tremendous service by writing it! He commented about the porous, read NONEXISTENT Southern border wherein he postulates terrorists attacking power stations. I personally think THAT is more likely than an EMP attack, though I give that much credence as well. Assuming our grid is messed up by physical attacks rather than an EMP, having a Solar setup is indeed a most viable course of action. I’m sure you’re aware of faraday cages. If you have not done so already, buy additional controllers and place them in faraday cages just like your communications devices, inverters, etc. Another concern I have is our modern batteries, especially the smaller ones-Many of them have control circuitry of their own, which would probably be friend in an EMP, thereby rendering those batteries useless. I would look for some conventional Lead Acid batteries in the smaller sizes that do not have any additional circuitry. I do not KNOW this, but it seems to me they might survive an EMP and still be useable. Of course you can build more or larger faraday cages to protect those as well.

  14. There is another key piece of philosophy from our enemies that demonstrates what dire straits the nihilistic mismanagement of USA’s big cities will lead to: "Communist Plank #9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country. "

    If there were more emphasis on local agriculture and an equal distribution of the population over the country that would mitigate the zombie apocalypse to come.

    You know we are in dire straits when Communist doctrine starts to make sense. Damn those who have perverted our scales.

  15. What do you do when you live in a valley 12-15 miles wide 60 miles long on one end there is the pacific and on the other end it is less than 1/2 mile wide. On the pacific end live 2.5- 3 million people? And just one hwy on the narrow end. I know, I know move 500 miles passed the bottle neck and try to talk 30 family members to do the same.

    1. Or, do like the author suggests and identify the easiest yet nondescript path out of the valley via a side route and stage/cache water and supplies along that route up and out to somewhere safe. A rabbit has two holes for a reason…if the bottleneck becomes congested….you will have another preplanned and resource invested option.

  16. Even thou I have thought on a lot of these points from a elementary level, the true reality of substained and secure survival really came into view…I am so thankful for this wisdom and true understanding!!!!

    1. Great comment. I think the important thing is that this article makes people think. There’s a lot that’s overlooked by most people, especially if they fall into "one" category that they’re preparing for. ~Dave

  17. "You didn’t build that." I really hate to quote Obama but that is the gist of not being a Lone Wolf. Taking an honest inventory of the Lone Wolf’s gear would reveal that there is very very little they could create on their own. And to peal the onion back one layer more since Obama was taught by the Communist Frank Marshall Davis to what degree does this quote from Friedrich Engels "Socialism: Utopian and Scientific" parallel Obama’s "You did not build that":

    "The spinning-wheel, the handloom, the blacksmith’s hammer, were replaced by the spinning-machine, the power-loom, the steam-hammer; the individual workshop, by the factory implying the co-operation of hundreds and thousands of workmen. In like manner, production itself changed from a series of individual into a series of social acts, and the products from individual to social products. The yarn, the cloth, the metal articles that now came out of the factory were the joint product of many workers through whose hands they had successively to pass before they were ready. No one person could say of them: ‘I made that; this is my product.’"

    How much of the Lone Wolf’s gear could they say "I made that"? Very very little. But seriously, this idea is so infantile and based on the extreme arrogance of an individual who takes the Lone Wolf stance it is not funny at all. If we go back 12,000 years the archeologists find sea shells far inland and conclude that there was a robust and active trading system back then. Why, those people did not get those sea shells themselves. Duh!

    Trading is about getting something you don’t have…something you didn’t "build". Who would be so inane to trade five apples for five apples. Or five chickens for five comparable chickens. Of course you trade for something you don’t have.

    The practice of trading takes precedence over Lone Wolf philosophies. The salient point of trading is whether it is honest and secure. And if you are a Lone Wolf and want to trade for something…you have ceased to be a Lone Wolf; unless you trade five apples for five apples, then, you are just stupid or really really bored.

    1. There is one counter argument in favor of Lone Wolves and that is when you ARE forced to build something. When you are forced to do something entirely stupid. You should divorce yourself from the stupidity no matter what it takes. William Blackstone in his "Commentaries on the Laws of England" made one of the most spectacularly convoluted paragraphs to ever grace the annals of philosophy. It has three parts to it: 1) The first part is one of the best descriptions of what liberty means ever provided, 2) The second part he stands up for queers with pikes on their shoes since they really are not hurting anyone, and then the grand finale, Blackstone does a triple back flip to kiss royal arse by saying the making a law that dead people have to be buried in wool to increase the wool trade is good for the public trade. Unfreaking believable. Here is the paragraph:
      "The absolute rights of man, considered as a free agent, endowed with discernment to know good from evil, and with power of choosing those measures which appear to him to be most desirable, are usually summed up in one general appellation, and denominated the natural liberty of mankind. This natural liberty consists properly in a power of acting as one thinks fit, without any restraint or control, unless by the law of nature; being a right inherent in us by birth, and one of the gifts of God to man at his creation, when he endued him with the faculty of free will. But every man, when he enters into society, gives up a part of his natural liberty, as the price of so valuable a purchase; and, in consideration of receiving the advantages of mutual commerce, obligos himself to conform to those laws, which the community has thought proper to establish. And this species of legal obedience and conformity is infinitely more desirable than that wild and savage liberty which is sacrificed to obtain it. For no man that considers a moment would wish to retain the absolute and uncontrolled power of doing whatever he pleases: the consequence of which is, that every other man would also have the same power, and then there would be no security to individuals in any of the enjoyments of life. Political, therefore, or civil liberty, which is that of a member of society, is no other than natural liberty so far restrained by human laws (and no farther) as is necessary and expedient for the general advantage of the public.(c) Hence we may collect that the law, which restrains a man from doing mischief to his fellow-citizens, though it diminishes the natural, increases the civil liberty of mankind; but that every wanton and causeless restraint of the will of the subject, whether practised by a monarch, a nobility, or a popular assembly, is a degree of tyranny: nay, that even laws themselves, whether made with or without our consent, if they regulate and constrain our conduct in matters of more indifference, without any good end in view, are regulations destructive of liberty: whereas, if any public advantage can arise from observing such precepts, the control of our private inclinations, in one or two particular points, will conduce to preserve our general freedom in others of more importance; by supporting that state of society, which alone can secure our independence. Thus the statute of king Edward IV.,(d) which forbade the fine gentlemen of those times (under the degree of a lord) to wear pikes upon their shoes or boots of more than two inches in length, was a law that savoured of oppression; because, however ridiculous the fashion then in use might appear, the restraining it by pecuniary penalties could serve no purpose of common utility. <b>But the statute of king Charles II.,(e)4 which prescribes a thing seemingly as indifferent, (<.i>a dress for the dead, who are all ordered to be buried in woollen</i>,) <u>is a law consistent with public liberty</u>; for it encourages the staple trade, on which in great measure depends the universal good of the nation. So that laws, when prudently framed, are by no means subversive, but rather introductive, of liberty; for, as Mr. Locke has well observed,(f) where there is no law there is no freedom. But then, on the other hand, that constitution or frame of government, that system of laws, is alone calculated to maintain civil liberty, which leaves the subject entire master of his own conduct, except in those points wherein the public good requires some direction or restraint.</b>" – Book the First. of the Rights of Persons: CHAPTER I. – OF THE ABSOLUTE RIGHTS OF INDIVIDUALS.

  18. Very "eye-opening" article. We still have a lot of work to do, but then I don’t think these preps ever end. The one thing that came to mind while reading this was that there are no storage units to rent out where our rural friends and relatives live. Thank you for sharing your expertise.

  19. Some good info, some so-so.
    Best thing to remember, every SHTF scenario has one thing in common, life or death, and your preparedness is the same for all of them: ONE Survival Bag, always with you. That way you are never without the means for immediate survival; that means life.
    On the other hand, you MUST be prepared to end another human life, (or two or five or twenty), in order to save your life, and your families lives.
    Not too many people can do that, certainly not the "more civilized" people, like your average college/university edumacated, book- learned people with liberal arts backgrounds.
    Learn to hunt, and do it. Kill for food BEFORE the necessity to do so happens. And get into shape, since you may need to carry that Survival Bag a very long way for a very long time, in very bad conditions.
    Dying is easy.
    Survival is hard.
    Living with what you did to survive can be even harder.

  20. Oh, yea, you did not go far enough with your estimation of "Doomsday Preppers":
    Those guys are IDIOTS and are going to get a LOT of people KILLED.
    But, maybe, that has been their plan al along.
    Anyone who banks on MREs’ to keep them alive beter remember two things-
    1) Short shelf life- they might be bad before you get around to needing them
    2) Very bulky- how many can you carry, along with water, weapon(s), and shelter?
    Think it out: Freeze dried lasts 25+ years, less than 1/4 the weight abd bulk of an equal amount of MRE, and can be eaten dry, like trail mix.

  21. To those who say this article has info we’ve seen before and is all "doom and gloom":
    Yes, this may be true. This article does, however get you thinking about all of these issues all together in relation to your individual plans and is a real reality check that I think everyone could benefit from. Even though I already know that living just outside Washington D.C. puts me and my family more at risk, this article offers some areas of hope. I may be straddled with too much student debt to put much towards Preps right now, but now I have a few ideas of how to develop "marketable" post SHTF skills to network with the "old farmers". Furthermore, the cabin renting idea may be a long shot but one definitely worth pursuing.

    Something that this article (and many other preparedness articles) makes me personally consider is WHEN to leave my excruciatingly populated area when SHTF. I am in a service field caring for elderly individuals, so this is something that I continue to struggle with on an ethical and human level. Could I really leave those I work with when I know that they would most likely literally die without help? I don’t know, to be honest. Guess I need to do some more soul searching!

  22. we all wont know exactly how we will respond until we have to..i always say people dont care about issues until it hits them in the wallet..same thing applies.wont how how we will respond, will we leave those elderly people when we have to make the choice NOW?..best of luck to you, tough situation

  23. Surviving as a long wolf would be hard. Surviving with a family with younger or old family members is gonna be next to impossible long term. Thousands of others in the same boat,
    Teaming up with people you trust is the only way to get started and pray you can all get alone to maintain. Long term? I do not have the answer.

  24. Thanks for this article. It really makes you think. We are all in unique situations and because of that none of us are 100 % prepared. Just some more prepared than others. I sadly am nowhere near being prepared enough. I just don’t have the funds to do it. I have a younger brother that has all kinds of medical conditions. He’s paralyzed and basically depends on me for everything. So I’m pretty much stuck where I am…..which is in a town of about 13,000 that’s 30 min northeast of Atlanta. I don’t know what to do. I by nature am a loner and don’t trust others for the most part, don’t know the neighbors, I have a few preps in the way of food and water but nowhere near enough and I need like 10 times the water because of my brother and his supplies that have to be sanitized daily. Because of his condition there is a whole house propane generator in the backyard which you think would be good except that it sounds like a plane taking off while it’s running so in a grid down scenario I basically have a flashing neon yellow sign on my house that says "food and supplies here". I honestly am at a lost. I feel like everything I’m doing is pointless. How do you prepare for this ? I i I have a lot of tools and some electrical skills, woodworking, bushcraft , survival knowledge but like i was saying my brother can’t go anywhere he depends on machines and ventilators to live which all require electricity. The generator will only last until the propane runs out. I thought about stocking up on deep cycle batteries wiring them up to an inverter so I could power his equitment and then converting a old bicycle to a small generator to recharge them but I don’t know if that’s even practical. I’m trying to build a small garden but like the guy said it’s like I’m prepping for other people. How can I protect it all. I believe in God, I’ve read the bible and I understand what’s happening but I feel like I’m not doing enough fast enough. It’s like laying in the road with both your legs broken watching a big mack truck from miles away racing towards you but there’s nothing you can do except wait for it and think what its going to feel like when it smashes into you. It feels like that to me. Any advice or comments I would appreciate.

  25. Lone wolf here.30 yr old woman.have spent 3 yrs living off grid. Out of a tent.off the land.in the mountains .no problem! Piece of cake.and I never got sick.was happy and where I wanted to be.and plain on returning there next yr ! Yea I ate a lot of fish.I was buy a great creek/river? Good cold clean water at all times. I never saw a person in all that time! Perfect life for someone like me

  26. This is a great article. They only thing is you say every situation is wrong then say go lone wolf. People are going to survive many different ways. Lone wolves are going to hunt each other out of existence. Millions of people chopping trees down for winter will only barely cover one winter. Billions of people will be dead within 6 months to a year. Honestly its going to be the large groups that make it. Tribes. There will be good and bad. There will be tribal wars for food and area just like there has been for millenia. All you can do is hope you can survive long enough.

  27. No such thing as a expert or so called expert, we have never had a massive grid down in the United States in modern times.So forget these alleged experts,i think most people who take a grid down seriously generally know what to expect.If your city or suburbs know things that are bad are going to happen.Until(if)it happens there are no experts.

  28. Most interesting. The more layers I peel back the less I seem to know. So many prepper sites and experts. I like the more down to earth common sense approach here. I believe the more difficult parts are going to be finding the "right" community to partner with, be it one I build or join. I am much more inclined to build it from scratch so I know it inside and out. It is a bit intimidating with everything you may need or should I say want. I would really rather that I never have to go down this road, but I would much rather be prepared to go down this road than be forced down the road. It is like the old saying, I don’t know what I don’t know. Just need to take these major categories and break them down to more easily manage them. Will be giving you a call to set the major pieces in motion.

  29. The US Government believes that this country would fall apart into different groups led by warchiefs. So this article isn’t entirely right or wrong. Lone wolfs won’t survive, but you will have to join a tribe. I think the most people will die in the first 6 months, the strongest will emerge and still struggle. If we have a nuclear war, then you might as well just give up because everyone will die. Unless you have a plan to survive 100 nuclear winters and huge amounts of radiation.

  30. Having food to bring to the table will help to make you welcome to an older farmer, but having a trailer/motorhome/tent to have over your head would be almost as important – older farmers may not be ok with you and your family moving in to their home – I know I wouldn’t. You are a help, maybe a tenant farmer or farm hand status. If they have no heirs, they could leave it up to you, but heirs – even those estranged from their parents will come out of the woodwork to take possession of the farm and run you off, with the blessings of the locals.

  31. I would really enjoy helping and educating other people. I’d like to open my relatives eyes and motivate them to prepare, so that we can all survive and nobody has to beg or to turn away others. And this state or condition is one every family and individual should strive to reach. We can all use or offer help at times, but to be either a beggar or a hoarder means somebody suffers and another survives while not being able to help another.

    I have not reached out to family since we don’t all communicate, so I have not really talked to anybody except one or two people (Closest people) and only surface concerns like mentioning headlines or talking about emergency preparedness for bad weather. I fear making my family the people that everybody will come running to for help after failing to prepare. I am not one who rambles on about operational security (OpSec) as I am not a government agent, like to talk like I was military or am paranoid. I am not going to create a problem either.

    This is a rather long article and I wish I could speak with the author about what many might perceive as unpalatable advice or opinions. Even though I believe he is speaking from real world experience, I still find some points possibly arguable, confusing and some worth more inspection or analyzation.
    I "get" that he is trying to make a point and burn into the reader’s brain that if one does everything wrong that life would be hell and your chances for survival are reduced to eventually starving or being killed.

    My one thought is that one can be killed, robbed or approached by strangers n regardless of where you are. I don’t believe there is really a perfect scenario and those will fair best will be the ones with the most secure locations, plenty of supplies, food gardens, water harvesting, medical services and people to do the work and protect everything and everyone at their location. Not everyone will be able to live in the country or wilderness isolated from others. And those who come to kill will be at the same risk as their targets. Who is going to change their lives or lifestyle to prepare and not be ready to shoot or kill those come to take it or harm their families? The killings won’t be one sided.

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