My thoughts on obtaining a piece of property for a BOL (bug out location).

Jerry D Young

Well-Known Member
Trusted Member
Here are some of my thoughts on the subject, plus the full article about my ideas pertaining to prepper homes and facilities.

Everything is just my opinion.

I am not sure why the formatting is messed up.

My thoughts on obtaining a piece of property for a BOL (bug out location). This is what I’m looking for when I get rich and infamous:

This would be for a primary home, a second home/BOL/retreat, or a location for a minimal BOL (described in other posts)(My preference is a very secure home, with a series of these small, minimal, 'hunting cabin' plus cache BOLs.)

As to reasons to bug out, my philosophy is to only bug out if staying is more dangerous, or will likely become more dangerous, than going. That covers many possibilities, but it is a decision that is very situational, dependent on many factors. And it will also vary with the capabilities of each of the places.

Remember, that even if you live at what could be considered an ideal BOL, things can still occur that could require you to abandon the place temporarily or permanently. So, though you might be set up for just about anything, you might still need to have an alternative location where you can at least stay for a while, regroup, and either set up permanent residence or get ready to go back to your original location, or move on.

The site should be:

Minimum of 100 miles away from any SAC base, missile site, naval base, military staging & training area, and major cities

Minimum of 50 miles away from large cities, nuclear power plants, research centers, dams up stream from the proposed location, concentrations of potentially dangerous businesses (refineries, bulk fuel plants, industries using chemicals in bulk quantities, airports, rail interchanges, etc). Some people recommend being at least the average distance that most vehicles can travel on one tank of fuel. This is in the neighborhood of 250 to 350 miles. This makes some sense, but may not be practical in many areas. Major cities can often be closer than that. But more is better, though, up to the point where you can still have reasonable access to the city for those resources a city does provide during normal times.

Near a small city or town of twenty-five thousand population or less, with a diversified economic base is best. Agriculture does not have to be the primary industry, but there should be at least some types of food production locally. Small truck farms are better than a huge single crop plantation.

Preferably, the town will own and operate its own power generation plant as well as the water supply and sewer disposal facility. In some smaller towns, this is not possible, or even likely, but check anyway. You might get lucky.

Make sure you have absolute right of way to the property. Some realtors will sell land in the middle of a tract that has no access. Beware.

The lay of the land should lend itself to easy defense, or be easy to make it defensible with the least amount of work, though significant work is justifiable to improve the defenses if the property is otherwise eminently suitable. This could involve fencing, landscaping, etc.

Climate/micro climate: The area should allow production of food crops with reasonable effort, and not have extremes of temperatures summer or winter. Green houses can off-set somewhat marginal garden conditions.

At least some of the property should be arable. The more the better, and the better the ground is for growing a wide variety of crops the better. If one has access to the means to greatly improve the long term growing ability of at least a large garden, and there will be stock animals, then more marginal property can be considered, but one must be able to grow plenty of vegetable foods, with meat available in some way.

Good southern exposure on at least part of the property, not only for growing food and other crops, but for solar energy use, be it solar electric production, solar heat, solar hot water, solar mechanical motion production, or a combination, is almost mandatory.

Buildings and anything needing security should not be in the bottom of a tight valley/canyon since you do not want people to be able to be above you to observe and be able to attack the property from the high ground.

Not on the top of a ridge, either. This makes you too visible and exposes you to observation and the worst of the weather as it crests the ridgeline.

Near perfect is to have the housing and outbuildings on the south side slope, a bit below a ridgeline, so you can see people coming, be protected from the north winds, and have plenty of sun for solar heating and for growing crops.

In any case, you want to be able to see anyone coming, so whether forested, or down lower on a slope, be sure that there are ways to see at distance, but not be seen well yourself. This may require the use of cameras, lookout towers, light pipes (see-through fiber optics or mirrored tubes), periscopes, etc.

Hopefully a wooded/forested area to the north of the property

Flowing water is nice, a good potable water source is mandatory. Check out the depth, quality, flow rate, and expense of water wells in the area

The ideal water situation would be a reliable city or rural water district supply of high quality untreated water, backed up by a twenty-five to fifty foot shallow well with a static water level of seven to fifteen feet and a flow rate of fifteen hundred gallons per hour or more of soft, uncontaminated water with a three-quarter horsepower to two horsepower shallow well pump with a forty-two to one-hundred-twenty gallon pre-pressurized storage tank. Finally, with a hand pump kept in good repair on the well you are ready for any emergency.

The sewer disposal situation is a little different. Very few areas permit installing a septic system if a city sewer line is within two hundred to five hundred feet of the property line. You have either city sewer or a septic system. You cannot have both of them. An exception is where a new sewer line is installed in an area not formerly served by city sewers. There is usually a period of two to five years to allow everyone time to make hookups before the septic systems are declared illegal to use.

If you must hook to the city sewer, be sure that the system is reliable. If it is not reliable during normal times you really have problems in a disaster. If reports indicate poor sewer service either find another place in the same town with better service, if possible, or find another area.

Check on the availability of telephone, cell phone service, natural gas, and electric service before purchasing the land. If any of the services are not available, you must consider what alternatives you will choose.

Besides room for a garden, there should also be space available for burying small amounts of human waste and garbage for a short time if it ever becomes necessary.

Space provisions for dogs, cats, rabbits, and chickens, bees, etc., should be made if you ordinarily have them or plan to keep these animals. Space should also be allocated for any other special reasons you may have.

Total acreage depends on how much elbow room you want, garden space needed, animal space needed, farm support crop area needed, firewood requirements, among any other needs you may have. I don’t think you can have too much land. Five acres if you aren’t going to burn your own wood for heat. Ten acres is better. Twenty-five should do. More at your discretion and bank account balance. If you are going for a high degree of self-sufficiency (producing your own firewood, cotton and wool for fabric, cooking oil, sugar, biodiesel, fuel alcohol, other power sources, and a few other things) of 85% - 95% you are going to need at least 2 acres per person, with a base minimum of 6 acres. And that is with high quality, well drained ground, with the ability to irrigate. The lower the quality of the ground, and dependence on natural irrigation ups the amount of land needed significantly. Keep that in mind.

If you are going to use wood for fuel, most forested lands can produce one cord of firewood per acre per year continuously by using coppicing techniques. Try to get double the amount of woodlot you need and set it up to coppice as you harvest the wood.

What to do first after you find the property. (These apply to any BOL, whether a full residence, ‘vacation home’, ‘hunting cabin’, or minimal shelter with a set of caches):

1. Decide how you are going to lay out the property and make a detailed, large scale plot plan, and hopefully make a good model of the place.

2. Clear any areas that need it for building purposes, including roads, trails, areas for ponds/lakes, etc.

3. Clear and sell any of the wood/lumber that has to be cleared, and take out any timber that needs clearing due to damage, disease, overcrowding, etc.

4. Set up controlled access to the property with gates and entry prevention barriers at access points until the final fencing is done.

5. Plant living barrier fences consisting of thorny blackberry brambles, rosa Ragusa roses, and close spaced honey locust trees (or the equivalent suitable for your area). This includes fences delineating various areas of the property such as crop fields, and especially animal pastures/grazing areas, crop fields, etc. Living barrier fences take a while to be fully effective. If at all possible install some type of fencings, such as welded wire, barbed wire, electrical fence line, split rail, or similar to delineate the area, and at least give the image of controlled access until the living barrier fence grows in and becomes effective. Other than the electric fence, which can be removed as the living barrier fence grows, the fencing can be left to eventually rust away within the living barrier fence.

6. Start the defensive landscaping, if needed.

7. Plant the fruit and nut orchard(s), blueberry patches, asparagus strips, strawberry towers, and other perennial crops.

8. If there is a firewood lot that is good. Get it set up for harvesting and coppicing. If not, plant the best coppicing trees for the area for firewood in one, and preferably two or three areas.

9. Have any services lines dug and terminated for future use for any commercial services available. Commercial electric, natural gas, telephone, cable, internet, etc. Do this even if you plan to be fully off grid. You never know what might occur.

10. Dig in any piping/wiring for out buildings, OP/LP positions, security and monitoring systems, etc. Install any underground items such as cameras, sensors, microphones, etc. and cover the trenches.

11. Drill and prove out any wells in that are required. Include an independent one for the living areas, preferably an independent one for the out buildings and fire protection, and any irrigation wells with the garden and orchards taking precedence after the living area well.

12. Get an electrical power drop installed in a convenient spot to provide power for one of the wells, and for the construction phase.

13. Dig any basements, building foundations, underground shelters/bunkers, underground LP/Ops, tunnel routes, fence foundations, pools, ponds/lakes, bridge abutments, low water bridges, driveways, parking areas, etc. Try to do it all at one time so you only pay one mobilization/demobilization fee for the heavy earthmoving equipment.

14. Pour/install these underground and surface items and get them covered back up where required.

15. Install any bridges and paved/graveled/dirt roads. Make sure you have a very good road base for all the roads, and be generous with the concrete/gravel where used. There will still be some heavy trucks travelling the paths for building materials, even if you do not plan to have heavy equipment on the property later. (Unless you are remote and bring everything in by helicopter/dirigible.)

16. Install any non-living barrier security fences. (Sometimes these will be in addition to a living barrier fence that makes getting to the security fence more difficult. Make them thick and strong, tall where required, or very tall, heavy duty industrial chain link with V top barbed wire or razor wire, and a strong bottom wire. It is best to have a solid wide concrete foundation, at least a foot or more deep, for chain link fences, or they can often be easily dug under. The same goes for any security fence, including wrought iron. (A note on concrete/block/rock fences. If they are to be as climb-proof as possible, make the tops semi-circular and smooth. This makes it more difficult to grab to climb over, or catch a grappling hook. Some people recommend spikes or glass shards on a wall top, but this is not always as good as a smooth round top.)

17. Install any remote elevated items such as cameras, microphones, sensors, etc.

18. Install any ground level items such as cameras, microphones, sensors, etc.

19. Do the finish landscaping on the property, except for the building areas.

20. Begin the building construction phase any buildings needed first.

21. Once the building(s) are complete do the final landscaping. (BOL structures are covered in another post.)

22. The BOL is ready for use.

A couple of tips. If you do not want everyone, their brother, and sister, to know about some things, either do them yourself, or hire work crews for a town or two over, bring them in, and take them home. It might even pay to have some temporary housing on site so they are there from start to finish and do not have any contact with the locals.

Just my opinion.

1. Make an accurate drawing of your BOL area of the property or get a good satellite/airborne photograph of the area.

2. Decide what you want in the way of a BOL.

3. Once you know what you want, lay all the physical aspects out on the map/photo.

4. Once you know where everything will go, start doing long lead time processes.

a. Put together a budget and time table

b. Plant your orchards, vineyard, berry batches, perennial foods patches, and barrier fencing.

c. Start saving for expensive items

5. Install necessary utilities.

a. Install a septic system suitable for the ultimate needs of the entire BOL.

b. Install the water system, be it a well, or tapping the surface water sources. Buy any cisterns or storage tanks needed.

c. Build the utilities shed to contain the water pumps and off-grid electrical system components.

d. Install the first generator, a portion of the solar PV panels, the first battery bank, and associated controls that can be expanded.

e. If you will not be hauling trash off-site, get a trench started for trash in the location set aside for it that will not flood and contaminate the water table.

f. Install a 1,000 gallon propane tank, buried if possible, bermed if not. Install a second 1,000 gallon propane tank from another supplier, also buried if possible, bermed if not.

6. If it is at all possible to build your main living structure into the bluff, start digging and shoring the excavation. (If this is possible, the utilities shed should be done the same way, with the mounts for the solar PV panels and future solar hot water and solar heat collectors set against the bluff.) If digging the place into the bluff is not a viable option, but a basement is, get it dug and installed. If a basement is not possible either, build up the ground where the above ground structure will be at least three feet above the surrounding ground.

7. If there will be any other excavations or concrete slab work, such as for an in ground pool, driveways, patios, defensive landscaping, etc., do it now.

8. Start building the primary structure, with the primary shelter space the first priority. Second priority is a hidden escape route from the primary shelter. Then begin to add features as the excavation continues, or the above ground structure goes up.

Just my opinion.

Starting a BOL/homestead sequence

Make an accurate drawing of the BOL area of the property of the entire homestead; or get a good satellite/airborne photograph of the area.

Decide what you want in the way of a BOL, such as how secure from discovery, how defensible, degree of self-sufficiency (50% - 98%), number of possible occupants, etc.

Do a plat plan to lay out where certain items need to be (well, septic, antenna farm, orchard, house, barn, power house w/wind & solar, vineyard, berry patches, perennial patches, garden plots, driveway, fencing, defensive landscaping elements, site drainage) with North/South/East/West orientation taken into account, best location for the well as doused, distance between well (uphill) and septic (downhill), etc.

Put together a budget and time table

Get a reliable renewable water source installed first

Get an oversize, well-engineered septic system suitable for future needs installed

Install a bathroom/outhouse connected to the septic system for use during future phases

Plant the fruit and nut orchard and install the irrigation system for it.

Plant the vineyard and install the irrigation system for it.

Plant the berry patches and the irrigation systems for them.

Plant the perennial patches and the irrigation systems for them.

Begin planting the living barrier perimeter fence

Build the power/well house and install a minimum electrical system (generator) to run the water pump for irrigation and to provide power for construction

Do the rough landscaping, dig any basements, underground shelters, cisterns, buried tanks, footings that will be needed, trenches for wiring/plumbing & tunnels, and rough grade the driveway

Install the underground elements, with appropriate water proofing and drainage

Fill at least 1/4 full all underground tanks and cisterns

Backfill everything needed

Begin construction of the most important buildings be it the home, the barn, other outbuildings, etc.

Pour/install any concrete, gravel, or paving stone ground features

Install the towers and antennas for the communications, entertainment, camera, sensor, and weather systems.

Install he solar/wind power system, in stages if necessary

Do the finish landscaping

Complete the buildings

Just my opinion.

I do like the ideas of being able to drive someone from a BOL or even just a good prepper home. I would not use the propane inside, especially ignite it, but I have used propane routed to yard sprinklers as an effective tool to eliminate attackers, among many other tools, in my stories.

But I would do the overall system somewhat differently. I have used several types of systems in my various stories, but any of them or all of them could be incorporated in most types of structures.

Some of the systems:

1. The escape tunnel as re-entry point:

It is best if the re-entry point is in a spot that is concealed from anyone inside. Next best is to have a way to view the area before entry. And in either case, make sure the point of entry, on both sides of the 'door' are constructed in ways to make sure sound discipline can be maintained before and after the entry is made.

2. Have a 3" to 6" pipe running from somewhere inside the house, probably the fire place if there is one, or into the duct work if the place has ducted heating/cooling, a dummy vent, baseboard vent, or anything that will not be obvious.

At the far end, beyond visible range or behind cover that can be approached without being seen, have a lined pit with camouflaged cover in a somewhat difficult to get to spot, as under a bush.

There are a couple of options on what to use to drive the people out. If set up properly, one can just use any type of smoke device, and natural ventilation will draw the smoke inside. I would not trust this myself. By having a lithium battery power supply in the pit, and a decent battery operated fan, the fan can be turned on, the smoke device activated, and the smoke will be forced inside rapidly, concealing the point of entry quickly.

To make it even more difficult for those inside to stay inside, one can use a small battery operated fogger and also inject gagging gas into the smoke stream. It is almost impossible for people to stay in an area with some of the more potent gagging gasses. They will leave.

Of course, being ready to take on those leaving is a given. Lethal or non-lethal means to handle them should be in place.

3. Having a home interior sprinkler system for fire protection can be used if it has an external connection and a pressure pump cached. If no natural water source is available, having a pool with a drain connection point run to the point where the pressure pump is cached will work nicely. The line from the pump to the sprinkler system should by-pass the regular supply shut offs, and be connected in a spot that is not visible. There is a very good chance that the sprinklers dumping water inside will run people out.

If possible, have an injection system attached to the pump so various chemicals can be added to the water to make it more imperative for the people to leave.

There need to be discrete drains installed so water does not accumulate too deep inside, or go places you might not want it to go.

4. A relatively simple system can be a remote controlled chimney cap to cap off a fire place or wood stove to force smoke into the structure. This can have a limited effect, especially in the summer when there might not be a fire, or if they manage to put out the fire quickly. Much more effective in cold months as some heat is probably being used, most likely with alternative fuel.

5. A remote kill switch on the generator, if there is one, as well as any other electrical power system. Make sure the connections are well hidden, and in unlikely places to be traced. This would not be an immediate reaction device, but in concert with others, will enhance their effects, especially at night.

6. If a tunnel (or similar approach) is not feasible, but approaching the structure is, have a camouflaged entry point that is not visible from either inside or outside, again preferably into a place that the intruders cannot see. Same advice as for the tunnel.

It can be a full size door in the side of the house, a hidden basement emergency exit window, a trick window frame, a hidden roof hatch if possible. There a number of methods. But all are predicated on being able to approach them without being seen or otherwise detected.

7. Either keep the security systems deactivated when not in use, or have a remote kill switch on them so they cannot be used against you.

8. Always have a fallback/staging position with enough supplies and gear, including shelter, so you have a place to retreat to if run out, or to stage a re-entry if arriving to intruders.

9. There are cases where withdrawing will be the wisest choice, especially if it is not possible to call on outside help. Having fighting positions away from the structure, beyond the area where attackers would likely be, connected to the structure with tunnels can allow an inhabited structure to be defended from attackers when fighting from inside is simply not going to be effective.

10. For some structures, primarily smaller ones, if they are not going to be occupied, build them from fire-resistant materials, and have only a few sacrificial items inside. Pull all the doors and windows, and anything else that makes the place more inhabitable, and cache them nearby. If the place is difficult to use, it will be less likely for anyone to hang around for very long. Resourceful people (and sometimes desperate ones) will put up makeshift doors and windows.

Having a busted toilet and sink, and no water faucets will also discourage people. Of course, moving the broken items out of the way and setting up your chemical toilet, shower bag, and hand washing station takes care of the problems when you take up residence.

11. Although somewhat risky, having a couple of pieces of salted firewood handy that you know not to use, but they will not, can drive people out even if you are not around. Firewood salted whit things that will put off noxious fumes, smoke, and such. Can even incorporate flare devices, though that is a really huge risk and probably does not add all that much effect.

12. Similar things can be done to sacrificial consumables. Water barrels, buckets, totes, or bottles can be doctored up with disgusting elements so the water has to be treated in some way, or somethings that even treatment will not take out, but are not lethal.

I would not use lethal methods, but there are plenty of things that will make people sick, or make them think they are sick. Ex-lax laced chocolate items are one that come to mind.

13. The outside sprinkler system mentioned, with propane injected into it can be used as a defensive weapon.

14. Bentonite powder spread around the place with a fertilizer spreader, if an attack is expected, and then wetted with the sprinklers when the attack starts will make it very difficult for attackers to approach, especially up even a slight slope.

15. In the winter, running the sprinklers during freezing weather to create an ice sheet is also effective.

16. Either the ice or wetted bentonite can be used for down slopes if the bottom of the slope has entanglements. Especially if they in a trench that has been flooded.

I am about to fall asleep on the keyboard so I have to wrap this up.

There are many more ways to make a place much less attractive for squatters to use for more than a few hours or days. And many more ways to drive them out, if they do squat and are not amenable to leaving when you ask, then order, them too, from a safe distance.

Just my opinion.


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