March 27, 2013
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SEE OTHER PEOPLE IN A COLLAPSED SOCIETY
Everyone who is in the prepping mentality seems to have plans on how they will deal with others. Most are armed and will fight others if necessary. Others are not willing to take the violent route. But on a practical level, how will it all work out? Will you fight everybody? Will you cooperate with everybody or anybody? How should we diagnose each meeting, or sighting of others in a world where society has already collapsed? They could be dangerous or they could be friendly, so how do you navigate those complexities?
In this article, I am generally assuming the setting is in very rural bugout areas, but some of this applies to urban areas as well.
Here are some crucial questions to determine exactly what the situation is. Once we have answered these questions, appropriate action can be taken.
Are they on your property, near your property, in a neutral zone, or on their property?
You see them, but have they seen you?
Have they seen your property?
How many of them are there?
How many of you are there?
How many of them are able bodies wielding guns?
How many of your group are able bodies wielding guns?
Is it men, women, children, elderly?
These are the crucial questions for before contact is actually made. Knowing the answers to these questions will determine your course of action. Here's roughly how I would go about the situations:
If I see them before they see me, and they are not coming towards my property, I want to know more about them, so I will follow and spy on them if possible. This is why ghillie suits and spotting scopes or binoculars are valuable for after the shtf. It is extremely helpful to know who the good guys and who the bad guys are in your general area, also how many people seem to be just wandering through. So take the time to spy on them to learn about your neighbors, but don't get caught. Find out how many of them there are. Find out if they are surviving ok, and how they are surviving--the legitimate self-sufficient way or are they looting/stealing. See if they have any skills or valuable items to trade. Take note of how they treat their women and children, because that can be very telling. Mark on the map where you saw them and where they are living. Take pictures of them if you can to show the rest of your group. It's like being a sniper, but without shooting anybody.
If I see somebody in a neutral zone and they see me as well, I will likely make cordial, hesitant contact with them. The only situation where I would leave right away is if they have me outnumbered and they have guns. I would probably say something like, "Oh, I'm sorry I didn't see you there. I mean you no harm. I'm just out hunting." (and maybe add, "It's too dangerous to talk to strangers these days, so I gotta go.") And then hurry away, but don't run. Leave in a direction that is not toward your camp, so they don't try to follow or track you). Even if you are a grown man with pride, I would still do something like this. It's not worth the risk. If you get killed, who's going to provide for your family? But if they don't outnumber me like that, I would say, "Hi. How's it going?" with a half smile. Depending on how they react, my next move would probably be to say, "I mean you no harm. I'm just out trying to hunt and forage...struggling to survive ya know?" I would get within talking distance, but not too close in case it gets violent, and I would be near a tree or boulder for cover. I wouldn't point my gun at them. It might seem like a natural reaction to point your gun at them, but doing so can escalate a situation quicker than pee freezes at the south pole. I would ask if they want to do an 'info exchange' and share news. I want to know their story and I would tell them a semi-true story of myself. Never tell them how awesome you are at surviving and how much supplies you have or where you live. Make some stuff up and tell them there are more men in your group than there really are if you need to. At the same time, you might want to help them a little. Show them what is edible in the area and explain to them how they can filter their water. Maybe even give them a 'go away kit'. It helps to make friends, because over time, you want to build an alliance and a militia if need be (to fight warlords and gangsters). You might also be on the lookout for potential people to adopt into your group. For more on forming alliances, read this blog article. If it doesn't end up being a cordial meeting, or you didn't get the impression that they were telling you the truth, you can try and follow them and spy, but only if you're good at it, because if you get caught, that wouldn't look good.
If I happen to stumble upon someone else's camp, I would throw up my hands immediately and say, "I'm sorry. I'm here by mistake. I mean you no harm. I was just out hunting and foraging. My apologies." Then I'd leave. Best case scenario, they are super nice and you can talk to them at a distance for a while, but keep an eye around your back, so that nobody sneaks behind you. Continue in a similar fashion as the neutral zone meeting. Good scenario, they let you leave. Take notes of what you saw, mark them down on a map, and maybe spy on them in a couple weeks. Bad scenario, they get real angry and it possibly gets violent. Do your best to get out alive. Don't leave in the direction of your camp.
If others approach your camp, go into battle stations mode. Put out fires, children inside, hide valuable stuff, grab guns and armor. If they are coming your way and they will see your camp, try to intercept them before they see your camp. Treat it as a neutral zone meeting, but DO NOT let them get any closer to your camp. Always have your partners in a hidden location with crosshairs on the strangers just in case. If they already see your camp, greet them with a firm, yet cordial greeting. If they just saw your camp, like 2 seconds ago, you might be able to direct their attention away and meet with them off in the woods a little further before they get a chance to fully scope out your living situation. If it's too late for that, you can do 1 of 2 things: 1) Let them know that this is private property and you would like for them to leave and never come back as this land barely has enough game to keep you alive. 2) Start asking them questions on the spot quickly. Ex. "You're on private property. What are you doing here? What's your names? Where do you live? How many are in your party?" etc. Depending on their responses, you might be able to soften up to them and treat it as a neutral zone meeting. If the meeting isn't friendly, finish it by letting them know they are not welcome and if they come back, they will be shot. If it ends up being a really bad meeting and you get the impression they will be back in force and in greater numbers, like the Sand People of Star Wars, do a risk-cost-benefit analysis if you need to bug out to another location or just be on the lookout 24-7. No matter how the meeting goes, you can try to follow and spy.
In any meeting, always be on the lookout for ambushes.
One final thought, if it is a meeting with women or children, consider having one of your own women meet with them, following all the strategies outlined above. Men will be more intimidating and there will be an ever present fear of rape.
Also, read my blog article about Thinking Like a Sniper Behind Enemy Lines After Society Collapses.