Suburban and Rural Preppers, Your Thoughts on SHTF & City People?

I currently live in a modest sized city of ≈500K. One of my plans involves BO-ing beyond my metropolitan area (≈1M, total). I have some questions for the suburban and rural preppers here:

It goes without saying that I don’t expect any answers here to be definitive or even representative of subjective thoughts. I’m merely attempting to gain a baseline understanding of what might be encountered and how successful those encounters might be.

What are some thoughts/tips/advice you might have for preppers that are bugging out who simply want to pass through your town or village?

Knowing that an event just took place, how might you handle someone travelling by foot through your back property (perhaps at the far edge) who appears to just be passing through and is showing no signs of threat or interest?

If you and I met in your small community, what might be the best way to communicate to you that I have no interest in your, your supplies, or gear?

What might be the best way for me to maintain my ability to defend myself while not being threatening to you?

What is the best way, as a traveler passing through, to approach you and initiate a conversation about bartering?

Thanks in advance for all your input and advice. I look forward to it.


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  • Comments (13)

    • 10

      Keep your hands where people can see them. Walk confidently and in the open. Don’t act like a predator. State your intentions, and be polite and friendly. If you are carrying a firearm secured to a pack or on your hip, you will probably be okay.  When it comes to bartering, just tell the world what you need/want. 

      • 8

        This seems to be good, sound advice. I agree that the key is to be non-predatory/non-threatening.

    • 7

      If you need to approach me/my house, do so in the least threatening manner possible – in daylight, up the driveway, in full view. You will be more exposed this way, but the tradeoff is that you will be far less likely to arouse unnecessary suspicion. It is far less threatening for me to look out my window and see you walking up my driveway than to see someone creeping in the forest behind my house.

      Consider other public routes that might be safer than the roads, but less suspicious than cutting through locals’ yards. Rural areas often have off-road connective routes where off-road traffic like dog walkers, ATVs, and snowmobiles use to cut through sections of town. Think hiking trails, access roads in farm fields, river banks, and even the cleared pathways under powerlines. These might be useful paths to take where possible and less likely to scare someone if they see you on it.

      • 8

        Absolutely agreed. Being non-threatening is really critical.

        I personally think seeking kind permission is important. After all, without some form of trust, society breaks down. The problem is, in times of crisis one might not have the luxury of stowing their non-threatening gear (to keep it safe) just for a civilized walk up the driveway of an unknown person (who might themselves be a threat) to have a polite chin wag about, “If you don’t mind, I’d like to just pass over your property.”

        The is especially complex when there’s a shift in perspective. If one were egressing a volitile or combative situation and wasn’t aware of property boundaries, how might you perceive it? Is your response more likely to be one of confrontational or just observational vigilance?

        I’ve always thought in terms of trails – off-road, hiking, snowmobiling, etc. I think these are relatively good ideas, though, some urban dwellers may perceive them as unknown (at best) and potential threats (at worst).

    • 5

      One thing I have done is record in my phone contact list the physical addresses of people with whom I have a legitimate connection (colleagues, not friends). These are people whose addresses I have as a member of a civic group, a hobby group, and a religious group. If I didn’t have a prepping mindset, I wouldn’t bother recording their addresses. They don’t know that I’ve recorded their address, though I legitimately received their address.

      If I’m in a town or part of town and need an emergency place to shelter or a reasonable explanation for being there, I can say I’m looking for so and so or such and such block of some street. So you might consider having a few people, places, or addresses as interim destinations along the way. They could be bookstores, coffee shops, liberal religious institutions, etc. You could link your interim destination with what you have to barter if you’re in a conversation with a stranger where you think the stranger might be interested / helpful.

      Don’t travel with a dog. In a tense civil situation, I wouldn’t want to be dealing with someone with a dog.

      This might evolve to be like hobo days, where safe / friendly sites were indicated with cryptic messages scrawled for others to find.

      Good for you for thinking along these lines. You’ve given me things to think about. Best regards.

      • 8

        Hi, everyone. I’m Matt. And I am a contact horder, too. 😉
        I’ve done the same thing for years. It’s a just-in-case sort of thing. And I’m really happy to know I’m not the only one! 🙂

        Quite a few years ago, I had looked into hobo/tramp markings. It’s pretty fascinating stuff. 

    • 7

      Good ? If you are bugging out of town because it is getting bad you won’t be alone. No one will know the good guys from the bad one. Approaching any home will be a big deal. Once you see what folks have you could become a risk keep that in mind. Keeping to back roads would be a better plan than going cross country trespassing . It would be better to meet locals out on the road than going to their home uninvited. As for barter just offer what you have and ask if they have what you want to trade. 

      Now it will be better to travel with others. If you meet folks out on the road one of you can hide and over watch .

      • 7

        Attribution is hard, even in the best of times. It goes without saying that everyone will be an unknown. My original point (and strategy) isn’t at all about approaching someone’s home; although, if I need to, it’ll be up-front and obvious -just as others have suggested. However, there may be reason or cause to avoid open roads. I think we can all imagine scenarios in which one might avoid a main road and follow a hiking trail or whatever.

        My question is more… if I’m passing through your back 40 because I’m avoiding shit on a road and I am unaware of it, are there going to be issues if I’m just passing through, minding my own, and not lingering? Or, are you going to go out of your way to slow me down just to tell me I’m on your turf and making you nervous?

      • 5

        Well, it’s really hard to know who’s just passing by and who’s on a scouting mission. You’d be way more likely to raise my hackles if you’re back in the rarely traveled woods than out on the road.

        It also kind of matters what density of rural you’re talking about — if it’s a town with an established “main street” or whatever, people probably won’t think twice about you avoiding the heavily traveled road. If you’re talking TRULY rural with no town site, you’d be better off walking down that farm road than through the woods, IMO.

      • 6

        I live in a rural county, and it skews chronologically nearly twice the average age of the state as a whole. I assume that many of the property owners are of an older generation. What I notice is that there are “no trespassing” signs on maybe half of the undeveloped acreage. I’m guessing that owners who put up a “no trespassing” sign pre-pandemic will REALLY mean it if things get worse. If it’s necessary to go cross country down the road, maybe it’s simplistic, but I’d avoid the properties that are posted.

    • 2

      There are internet and FB groups for folks like us, most have a political affiliation but if you have a network you will have some contacts as you go.

      • 6

        This is a good idea. It doesn’t work for me personally, but it may work for others. Thank you.

    • 7

      As others have said, a non threatening manner is definitely required. Here in Central Tx, everyone is pretty much armed. Private property is the rule, and most people are very protective of their property. I’d try to stick to the back roads and try not to cross anyone’s property. 
      As a rural resident my entire life, who commuted to Austin for work, most rural folks are already suspicious of crazy city people 😃Having said that, regarding bartering, myself and most of my neighbors would probably offer help without expecting anything in return. Again, how you present yourself and act towards them will determine how you are treated. It certainly is respectful to offer something in return for a kind deed, you’ll typically get a lot of return on a simple Yes sir, No Sir, Thank you Ma’am.