Private Property: Control and Patrol

Private lands left uncontrolled and not patrolled will soon fall victim to trespassers, poachers, thieves, and no goods.  Every year landowners, hunters, and others roll into their recreational camps, retreats or Bug Out locations only to find evidence of vandalism, theft, and outright meanness.

James Wesley Rawles recommends to live in your survival retreat.  For a lot of people that is not an option or at least an option they are willing to consider.  Are there ways to protect your private holdings from prying eyes, fence jumpers, and road riders?  In practice, even a little preventative action can go a long way toward securing your family’s survival retreat.

When I pulled up over the hill on my ATV to look across the long harvested soybean field I knew something was wrong immediately.  A family survival retreatquick glance through my binoculars gave confirmation.  Someone was sitting on hunting stand at the far end of the field who did not belong there.

I sat for a minute or two observing the guy hustling down the ladder, turning back to look, then scampering off into the woods behind the stand.  He had either slipped in from a hunting club west of our lease, or else he got dropped off on the highway.  He was long gone, but hopefully just the off chance of catching the trespasser on the property may deter him from coming back.  Either way, I reported it to the landowner.

Private Property Security Basics

Mississippi has a law on the books that automatically posts all private land as off limits to trespassers or others without permission to family survival retreatbe on someone’s property.  We also have laws on the books against robbing banks and speeding down the highway.  Such laws are only enforced if the offender is caught in the act or a report turns up the guilty party later on.  Therefore, it is incumbent on landowners to control and patrol their own land as a deterrent to lawless behaviors.

A security assessment is a good way to determine the strengths and weaknesses of your property security efforts.  You may discover gaps in the “firewall” that may allow uninvited guests access to your property.  If there is a law enforcement officer in the county sheriff’s department that you can trust, pay him a few bucks to check out your property for security recommendations.

Fix the obvious things first like entry points.  Are there good, solid gates blocking every entrance to your place from surrounding Bugging Outhighways or county roads?  Are these gates well maintained, chain locked, and posted?  Do you check them regularly?  Be sure to add highly visible “posted” signs along stretches beside roadways and borders to other properties not under your control.

If you don’t know your neighbors on all sides, get out there and meet them.  They may make excellent friends, or they may the source of intrusions.  Know which it is.  Post other areas of easy access.  It might be a power line or gas pipe right-of-way which is still your land not owned by the power company as some trespassers we caught declared.  People often do not understand this or they just choose to ignore it.

Another is access is via a railroad track.  We have had Louisiana hunters ride down the side of the tracks to our open power line right-of-way and sit there in their truck with rifles out the window.  Other points include weak areas in barbed wire fences.  Since our hunting land is a short walk from town, city folks have created crossing spots by cutting the wire fence or riding it down so they can cross over, even on ATVs.  We have even caught them in the process of throwing rabbit dogs over the fence.

Once gates are locked and all the visible points to the property are blanketed with visible “No Trespassing” signs, then you can concentrate on out buildings, camp houses, or other infrastructure.

Dwelling Security

The old saying about it being impossible to keep out the highly motivated thief is unfortunately true.  If they want to get into your survival retreat protectioncamp house, trailer, or equipment shed, they will.  Our camp house has been broken into twice in the last 15 years, each time over the Fourth of July weekend.  We figured it was somebody from out of town on a visit.  Each time they took a cheap microwave oven and an electric can opener.  That is about all we leave behind.

The camp house next to ours was less fortunate.  They left all their hunting clothes, boots, and gear.  It was all taken.  They left boxes of ammunition, flashlights, and knives.  All gone.  For some reason in this case they loaded up all the kitchen flat wear, pots, pans, and small appliances.  Basically they were cleaned out.  Take home stuff of value or get a good safe that you can mount securely to your wall.

Now it has been well over ten years since we have had any problems.  Why?  For one thing we killed the bright florescent night light outside on the power pole.  It was a beacon from the highway that residences were there back in the woods.  We figured that light was actually helping them see their way out with our stuff.

We also let the entry road into camp grow up on the sides so the houses could not be seen from the highway.  Now it just looks like a Survival Bug Out Locationsgate going into farming land.  The main entry gate is always locked even when we are there.   It is amazing, but if we leave that gate open somebody is going to drive in there while we are there just to see where the road goes.  This happens nearly every hunting season.  Once they see people, they either scat or have some lame excuse about looking for somebody’s house.  Three doctors wanted to duck hunt once, and another guy wanted access to the river to fish.  Repel all such inquiries and requests.  Tell them there is a resident living there all year long and they may not come back.

Certainly all dwellings should be securely locked.  One member owner of our group postulated that it was better to just leave camp houses unlocked, but I have never been comfortable with that idea.  I recommend leaving no lights on either unless you are on the property.  Lock any parked vehicles and chain up ATVs before departing for even a short time.

It is terrible to have to live this way in America, but most folks who have been victimized have come to realize the realities of the Bugging Outsociety we deal with now.  Some folks just do not respect private property or what you have worked so hard to obtain.  Here is one other piece of advice for you to consider.  I leave a loaded pistol on my camp house bedroom nightstand over night and with me during the day, just in case I am there when the unwanted come back.

Please share your ideas below for keeping your retreat safe.

Photos by:
Franco Folini
Madison Corbin

John J. Woods
Written by John J. Woods

John J. Woods, PhD, has been outdoor writing for over 35 years with over 3000 articles, and columns published on firearms, gun history, collecting, appraising, product reviews and hunting. Dr. Woods is currently the Vice President of Economic Development at a College in the Southern United States. Read his full interview here. Read more of John J.'s articles.

86 thoughts on “Private Property: Control and Patrol”

  1. Dr. Woods,
    Excellent post. Thank you for the ideas. My small parcel of land is close to a high school ag farm. Due to an injury I hadn't been there for a year. What a MESS! This is a real problem for those who can't live on their BOL. I am trying to come up with some ideas for protecting my site that can't be hidden.

  2. Obviously , in most of the country , you cant do this , but I have seen some VERY effective natural barriers planted by land owners in the form of ocotillo ( living) fences with densely planted prickly pear and teddy bear cholla directly in front of it . Once established , the cactus continue to spread .

    People are hesitant to try a drive through for fear of a punctured side wall and most foot traffic doesn’t want to mess with teddy bear cholla . You could try bramble in the mid west . Layered barbed wire could also be a deterrent depending on the size of the property . This would be impractical and expensive for large properties . Also a ditch in front of the fence may be of some use against vehicles . As mentioned above , very rural places wont get a lot of attention and the trespasser wont worry too much about being spotted taking a long time to get past your protection . Good luck .

    • Always a good idea – the 'living barrier' can be as effective as razor wire, doesn't advertise a high value target like wire, is much less likely to be called a 'booby trap'; no real down side. Long thorns are a very good deterrent indeed.

    • Hmm… I wonder what natural, native plants there are in the various parts of Kansas that would work. I have a second cousin in north central Kansas that currently has title to most of the family holdings on my mom's side. I am wondering if he would be open to have someone look after the old farmstead that's a blood relation. If so I am now thinking what sort of thorny and spiny plants grow and live north of I-70 and west of US-81.

  3. looking back through history regarding SHTF situations and economic collapses, i.e. Argentina and others, it is clear that there has to be an enormous effort to properly protect a rural property from gangs that would fan out from the cities. In Argentina, many people who thought they were "prepared because they lived on a farm in a rural area" found themselves extremely vulnerable, and indeed many people were killed on farms, where once their house was targeted by gangs and scouted out by them, would first neutralise any security measures that the homesteaders had (e.g. poison dogs so to get rid of any early warning systems of attacks, etc…).

    Next they would simply barge through and overrun any resistance, and hence take whatever they wanted and if the homesteaders were lucky, they might survive.
    However, looking back it seems that the areas that were able to survive were in the suburbs where people got together and teamed up to protect the land from gangs.

    What i am trying to say is that i agree with the article in trying to promote security of a rural property which is great.
    however there is an underlying theme, which is the fact that there will ALWAYS be a constant disadvantage of security and vulnerability of living on a rural homestead compared with the suburbs that should probably be addressed further, and that in a potential shtf situation in the US which is similar to Argentina (which i think is not unlikely at all), it is important to be aware that the old saying of "bugging out in a rural area for security" might not necessarily be true.

    PS another situation that could support my argument would be what has happened in South Africa where whole families on farms have been gunned down, and i strongly urge people to research that as well.
    Thanks for letting me have have my say 🙂

    • Alex,
      Part of the problem is that some of the MZB's In SA and Argentina were actually government troops. That is a nightmare that is not impossible here in the US. Check out this story:
      It is a real nightmare scenario for many of us. Here in Houston, the HPD has average more than 1 shooting a week for the last 2 years. No officer has been disciplined or retrained because of the shootings. I know big cities have problems but this seems dangerous. Most public case recently is the ex-LEO who was shot once in the chest and 5 times in the back. No action taken on the officer involved. It might have been a righteous shoot but more than one a week? Really?
      The oh-dark-thirty door kick will result in a fire fight – just pray it isn't the police kicking in your door. Even a bad address could be fatal for you.

  4. This is where your relationship with a neighbor in your recreation lands location is a big plus. Nurturing those relationships could save you a lot of money and heart ache. Planning trips to the land is also something that should be looked at too. Don't just go there on weekends and holidays to check on the land. Plan trips in the middle of the week. A lot of people know that most land owners on visit their land on weekends. Great post.

  5. Another thing to consider is a camouflaged BOL. I am currently working on mine. I am digging into a hillside in a forest. It is near fresh water, wildlife, and is nearly impossible to see from the path. The stream it is near to makes seeing it head on very difficult. And the cat tails and other large plants obscure it from the other bank. Once completed it will be camouflaged from every spot. Unless the person is standing AT the entrance way. Or in the middle of the river directly in front of the entrance. Remember It does not matter how determined a thief is, if he does not know that a target exists.

    • Not a bad idea as long as you have a 'back door'. There are a host of reasons, including fire or an entrance blocked by storm damage, that might make you want a second way out of your retreat. cul-de-sac locations are a trap if TSHTF at your location.

    • It is also not a bad idea if you have title to the very land you're building this essentially dugout bunker in. One thing to remember if you're doing as you've stated, don't dig too close to the water source especially if it is a stream. One must think what the place is like during the rainy season or after snow melt. Mother nature can be just as bad at destroying your property as humanity. In the pioneer days many a settler family lost all they had because they build their dugouts on the banks of rivers or on their flood plains. I was told by a State of Kansas Geologist that the only thing that owns a flood plain is the river or creek that crosses it.

      • while your location may be hard to see from a distance, the path to get there is probably obvious to anyone whose walked in the woods.

  6. Good point .

    Thats what I do for a living is making and duplicating nature for zoos, visitors centers and themed exhibits . If you can get a piece of land that has what you need to make it and it has large rock formations around . Then make your stead out of cinderblocks (88s)

    , structure and shape some re-bar and lath , get a small cement mixer up there and I GUARANTEE after I’m done with it they wont know its not a natural rock formation even if their standing on it !

    Complete with ventilation , hidden entrance and rifle ports . Plant a few things that are growing there around it to finish off the illusion .

    • Good ideas – unfortunately, around Houston the land is flat as a griddle and a large rock would be suspicious. For us the 'living fences' pose the best concealment. That and looking deserted as discussed below.

      • Thats unfortunate that your BOL isn’t around such features . When I said that I guarantee the place to be gone from the naked eye even if they were on top of it , I meant it . If its in a more remote location with those features , after you get done with the shaping , texture and paint . Nature takes it from there with leaf litter , mold , debris , moss grows on it just like if it was on the real thing . And if your not foolish enough to make a dirt road up to it or trample a path to the entrance , after a years time , you will not be able to tell it wasn’t always there as part of the land . After being in the business for over 15 years , I would be able to spot it , but nobody else would , and even then it would only be in the place where they grafted on to the real thing if they are good . If its a stand alone , forget it .

        • T.Rapier,
          unfortunately, the closest area that would support such a scheme of camouflage for me is about an 8 hour drive away on highways in good travel conditions. Until I can move out of the Texas Gulf Coastal plain, you are right; it isn't an option for me.

    • The other option, especially in urban settings, is to make it appear already 'picked clean'. Can't really do that while the Home Owners Association (HOA) still has a say in things, but being prepared to "junk up" the area around the house might cause looters to give it a pass. A delicate deception that – but it might work. Things like a 'Plague' sign on the property perimeter to discourage the curious might also be useful. Of course you might also discourage any would be help so it is a balancing act.

  7. Interesting article, I personally don't have land of my own out in the country but I do have several friends who own large parcels which we all hunt. Over the last 5 years or so it seems like more and more often we find burned out fire-pits, garbage strewn across a field (mostly beer cans) and even some places where someone completely took down sections of fencing and barbed wire (the fencing was used in the campfire!). We are working up a plan to bolster the defenses around the property; since they used a vehicle to take out the fence, we are building smaller versions of WWI-WWII tank/vehicle traps (ditches 2.5'w x 2"d, lined with sharpened re-bar set in concrete), already have a deep line of briers behind the fence, which we plan to add razor-wire to (spray-painted flat brown). I think it was Jarhead_Survivor at SHTFblog. com who wrote a good article about using natural defenses… here is the link if anyone is interested.. .
    Good topi, I have to say the key to any plans I have seen/considered, relies on trusted friends/neighbors!

    • Chefbear58,
      Good idea but there is a caveat. In our modern society, a 'tank trap' might be considered a 'booby trap'. You and your friends could be liable, civilly and/or criminally, for any damages or harm caused. If you put in the traps, you probably have to fence them and post them. That still might not be enough to keep you out of court. Since you have a history of intruders, count on somebody hitting those traps – it would be a good idea to consult a lawyer (yeah, I know, it is stupid to have to worry about legal ramifications to defending yourself or your property but in this age …..) before taking any 'trap' measures.
      In Texas, if I put in punji sticks, for example, and someone gets hurt, it is a felony on my part, even if they got into the trap through illegal action on their part. Your re-bar could seriously harm an individual or animal that got into them. I'd strongly recommend getting legal advice before doing so. After TEOTWAWKI, things change, but until then I think you would be at grave risk of an unpleasant encounter with the local LEO. Hedges of thorny plants, visible fences, walls are all OK. Razor-wire might be OK if easily seen so that it doesn't constitute a 'trap'. Even just a deep hole that might be hard to see at night can get you into legal trouble.

    • Chefbear58,
      there is a problem with the address – there is a period in front of the http that makes the address invalid. I copied from the 'www' on and it loaded fine. You might wish to correct the link if you have time. Good data there, by the way. Thanks.

  8. Well if your not opposed to getting hard nose after TSHTF , there are a very wide range of booby traps you can place on land VC style as well impoverished land mines from powder in reloading storage caches .

    • There is a very interesting book, written by a Vietnamese man (I can't remember his name) centuries ago which would be a good one to get hold of for these types of ideas. It's called the "White Book " or "Vietnam National Defense Book", the original was written WAY back, hundreds of years ago (if memory serves me), and the ideas in the original was distributed and implemented to defend the nation (mostly farmers and separate prefectures at the time) against a massive Mongol invasion force, which included an immense naval force. It worked back then, and had devastating effects on the Mongol's, who according to what I have read, lost hundreds of ships (some sources claim from 1/3-2/3 of the fleet), and tens of thousands of soldiers. It was printed again by the North Vietnamese Army, and Viet Cong, which both applied the techniques for defense (including booby-traps of all different shapes and sizes along with battlefield tactics) to repel/slow/stop the French and then the American Armies. They printed an updated version a few years ago (2008?), and included sections on making traps using explosives (improvised and conventional), and even use of firearms (including maintenance and training tips). Some of the information would only be relevant in Vietnam, but from what I understand there is information which would be relevant almost anywhere.

      Another good choice is the old US Army training manuals. Personally I really enjoy these manuals, and I used to get weird looks in high school because I would read manuals like "counter guerrilla warfare" and "Improvised Munitions" while everyone else was reading the typical fictional books like "Lord of the Rings". I took a few survival courses when I was younger, some were for SAR (search and rescue) and others were proctored by special ops soldiers who were teaching small groups (9-12 total students) of Boy Scouts who wanted to go on to join the military. In one of these classes I put what I read in the old Army manual "Booby Traps" into action to help feed myself and my 2 partners… most folks who took the class lost weight, but not us!

      Another option for learning good defensive, offensive, evasion, booby trap and even covert intelligence gathering techniques, is the USAF Survival Handbook. I found the defensive tactics section particularly interesting.

      Anyway, the idea of placing booby traps to help bolster your defenses in a situation where you will possibly need to defend your family/friends, yourself or property/preps utilizing deadly force in order to ensure your survival is a good idea. Booby traps can be an effective way to compensate for a lack of man/fire power. However, I would advise making maps, or learning landmarks to remember where they are… because it would suck pretty bad if you/a loved one got injured/killed by your own traps, especially when a doc/medical supplies might not be so easy to come by! One should also be careful if you are going to practice the techniques, because in most states that I am familiar with, they are illegal and implementation can carry STEEP fines and even jail time, not to mention potential harm to you/your friends/your family!

      • First see my post higher up about traps. Remember, even if TSHTF, if it isn't TEOTWAWKI, you may face trial over a booby trap.
        Second, in reading the manuals, remember that no trap is an absolute 'denial' device. The purpose of mines and traps is to channel the enemy into your designed kill zone. Put them where you want them to be when you open fire. They can also be used in an attrition campaign. Each wounded soldier requires at least two more to evacuate him. As an area denial device they can slow access but can never absolutely prevent it. In addition, besides the legal quagmire they can cause, they advertise that HERE is something worth getting into or it would not be so well protected. Traps are a two edge sword and can hurt the user more than the intended victim. Some things we might not consider 'booby traps' could well be considered a trap by a jury so take care.

        • I agree with captbart, you can never deny entry without someone there to oversee it. And booby traps usually point to something. I, for one, would not utilize booby traps unless I were setting in an ambush, and then, only against a known threat, coming from a known direction. Even the U.S. military has rules against the utilization of victim actuated devices (another word for booby traps). Claymores, and hand grenades can be set up to be used that way, but it is against the rules. Mines (both anti tank, and anti personnel, which are set off by the victim) are frowned upon. And with regards to the legal ramifications, in any situation where law and order deteriorates, the idea is not to weather the storm, but to return to normalcy, which means an eventual return of law and order. So doing things by the book, and staying within the legal limits even after the fall of society would still be a good thing to do, so you are not used to doing those things which are in fact questionable. Running patrols to thwart violent acts against you and yours are one thing, em-placing uncaring and indiscriminate traps is another.

          • T.Rapier,
            Unfortunately, not always true. Mine fields can be navigated or cleared. Our military always maps the field so it can be pulled up when it has served its purpose. The field can reduce the force required to cover that area from a defensive force to a guard force (making sure it isn't swept) but it must still be watch. Remember that the Marquis de Montcalm KNEW that the area behind Quebec was safe because the cliffs protected it. British Major General James Wolfe DIDN'T know they could not be scaled so his troops did it. Montcalm left sentries at the cliffs but since they knew they were wasting their time they didn't pay attention and were surprised by the Red Coats. The French lost the 'French and Indian War' and Canada.
            The other down side of mines that is that the other home owners will get testy if 'poochie' gets blown into hamburger. Mines are an excellent device to channel an attack but unless they are command detonated they carry a heavy burden of moral responsibility. The killing and maiming continues in the Bosnia area (from all the worlds battle fields actually) from left over mines years after the wars are over.
            Mines and traps can be justified by military necessity, but care must be used and you'd better be victorious. Being branded a war criminal is bad, standing trial as a war criminal is often fatal.
            If you retreat from your mined area and the advancing force doesn't sweep them up, they are still there and waiting for anyone (even you) to come along later. Useful devices but dangerous as a rattlesnake to everyone.

          • true , but im talking about a teotwawki situation . obviously things at present are not that bad and hopefully will never be , but knowledge in such devices is never a bad thing . as for the neighbors dog , thats why they make leashes and fences , after the 3rd time I have to ask him to keep his mutt off my land , the shotgun will turn him into hamburger . He may get upset , but after that , he knows Im serious .

  9. Besides his trailer on his land, a friend has a seriously locked shipping container to keep tools, Jeep, and ATV out of sight from the "honest people". Country neighbors call him if anyone shows up when he's not around.

    • JimBob,
      A good plan. The shipping container is a delaying device. The real deterrent is concerned neighbors. A good plan for your friend.

  10. I was just wondering if anyone knows whether or not a shipping container, as mentioned by JimBob, would work as a Faraday Cage? I have been trying to work up plans for turning part of my garage into one, but if the shipping container would work I know where I can get a couple smaller ones (big enough for my JEEP Wrangler) for relatively cheap.

    • Chefbear,
      The answer is a definite maybe! If you take the container and electrically bond all the sides (all six sides and any doors) together (don't trust the attachment points to do that – corrosion or anti-corrosive paint can prevent bonding) using high current grounding straps then, yes, you have a basic Faraday cage. Ground the container to a good, solid (copper rod at least 6 feet deep in good earth) earth ground and it is pretty good. Inspect it and wire mesh over any holes (making sure the mesh is also grounded to the container) and it should be solid. Remember, EMP is like water, it will get through holes and cause damage. The better sealed the container, the stronger the EMP induced effects would have to be to cause damage. A container as I've described it should withstand anything that would not also simply melt the container from induced current. I think it goes without saying we are taking about a ferrous metal container. I don't THINK they make them of plastic but I don't know that. The cage must either conduct the EMP away (ferrous metal) or block it entirely (lead).

      • The only thing I would add to this is drive ground rods (at least 8') at each corner. Connect all doors and walls with "low impedance" ground straps. You want them to be low impedance (low resistance) at RF frequencies. That takes WIDE straps NOT round wire. Big wide battery cables, or copper flashing cut in two inch (at least) wide strips. Bond it to the doors and walls by scraping all paint down to bare metal and put a conductive grease at all contact points.

        • TexasScout,
          you are correct about the straps – the whole idea is to give as low an impedance (resistance) path as possible to ground. Any resistance equals heat in a high current (EMP is HIGH current) situation. Your scheme is better explained than mine and for a Carrington Event it is required. Your explanation is more detailed and better than what I was trying to say and while I was taught 6 feet is good enough in good ground, 8 is better – in good ground. I keep saying good ground because I ran a portable radar set in Hawaii. We were set up on the side of a volcano and at 15 feet down we still did not have a good ground. We finally had to build a ground plane out of mesh and then do the best we could with our floating ground. The ground rods at each corner is the best as the shorter the run to ground, the less likelihood you will generate heat in the cage or a 'leak' to the interior. A final comment is to periodically check the grounding with a volt-ohm meter. If you get a measurable resistance between the cage and the ground rod you don't have a good connection. Corrosion is an enemy to be fought at all times.

  11. I forgot to mention in my previous posts, Remember that the basic idea of camouflage is to break up the outline of an object/person against the background, thus making it difficult to notice/recognize. That being said, I have seen some VERY poor attempts a camouflage in my day… like using a temperate forest camo tarp to cover something in the middle of a field of dead grass… the color/pattern stuck out like a sore freakin' thumb against that background!

    It's usually a good idea to use items found around the area to help in the camouflaging efforts, simple things like sticks, clumps of grass, even garbage can help to complete the illusion. Light and noise discipline are also important to complete the camo, especially at night. I have seen first hand how something as dim as a cigarette can be seen from miles away under the right conditions! Sound can also travel incredibly long distances under the right conditions, and cold air seems to almost amplify sound in my experience, I have been told that it's due to the air being slightly more dense than when it is warmer, but I am no scientist!

    • Cold, dense (you are right, the speed of sound is dependent on the density of the material it is passing through) does transmit sound better. Colder is denser, sound travels faster and farther.
      You are correct about using local material for the camouflage effort. One thing to consider is whether or not you are concerned with aerial detection. I learned in Germany that things that look good from the ground stand out like a sore thumb if airborne.
      (175 mm artillery tubes look like trees if raised to 'high angle'. Unfortunately, from a helicopter the difference between the angle of the tubes and the lean of the trees in the forest is a red flag that says 'something here'. Sort of like ||||||////||||||||. It isn't hard to spot.) If you are worried about being seen from the air, hire a local pilot to fly over your compound and see what it looks like. You could learn a lot about how hidden you actually are.

  12. Had my cabin robbed once. Took the TV and left all the good hunting stuff. Probably a crackhead.

    Anyway, they kicked the door in and busted the jam just to take a $50 TV.

    If your cabin is empty I might recommend leaving it unlocked or easy to break in b/c fixing doors and windows is more expensive then letting them in with nothing to steal.

    • Empty or supplies well hidden – in either case, there is always the risk of destructive vandalism just for the h–l of it. Senseless destruction is hard to predict and harder to defend against but I think you are correct. If not locked, it isn't worth the time and trouble. Of course, you might find it previously occupied by the time you get there should TSHTF. I guess that is a risk with any location.

    • I was thinking about this, maybe the best thing to do is buy one of those Nanny Cameras – it doesn't get your stuff back but a lot of times the people that break into your cabin are your neighbors or people from the area. When you break into vacant houses, you don't put a mask on your face or use false names when you talk. The nanny cam records color video and audio whenever there is motion in your house.… – Take that video down to the local Sheriff and I am sure he will know these dirt bags or show it to all of your neighbors to see if they know the person.

      • Joel,
        Thanks for the link. Some clown who's IQ can probably be rolled on a pair of dice ripped off the side view mirror on my Suburban Sunday night. All the clown took was the mirror, left the mount fully functional so it ONLY cost me $650 to fix it! I'm now shopping for motion activated lights and cameras.
        The car was parked in my drive way, for crying out loud. If I can't keep this crap from happening in my suburban home, keeping it from happening at a BOL almost seems hopeless. I suspect we can mitigate but never completely prevent.

    • My Uncle had a hunting cabin. It was constructed of 2" oilfield pipe and heave corrugated tin walls and roof. The "Mojados" (wetbacks) would break in all the time so, he took 1/4" steel plate and covered the doors and windows with shutters. They tore the tin off the walls, even the roof to get in for a place to sleep and a can of beans. He finally just cleared everything out and left it open all the time.

    • I agree. I live in a nicer community in SoCal. I drive an old suburban which has a nice stereo and not much else. I really like it, but it is worth $3-4000. I always leave it unlocked. So, some kid might steal $2 in quarters or whatever. They don't want the old stereo and might be high or drunk and need a place to crash. I really do not want them crashing or making babies in my vehicle, I would rather not have it broken into, that cost much more.

  13. We just found a local we trust to live on our property as a caretaker of sorts. We all agreed on a very small rent just enough to cover the yearly property taxes as we own the land out right. In exchange he keeps the propery up and discourages tresspassers. As he is a local he kept his job in town and we are able to keep our supplies at the retreat without worry. Never a probblem in five years. He lives in the double wide trailor on the property set back from the main house along the tree line. Seems to be the best arrangement I’ve found. It’s actually an arrangement I was in as a young man my mom had found me the position as caretaker of a friends retreat. Which why I decided in this for my property

    • A great arrangement and I am envious. That is probably the best solution, especially if he is on board with your prepping. He could be a security risk if he is not included but otherwise, a great idea. Still isn't 100% (see my comment immediately above) but about the best idea around.

      • He is deffinately a on board with prepping and has new ideas everytime we’re in town. Deffinately a member of the team we would not want to be without. At this point he knows my property better than I do.

  14. Obviously, any roads into your place will be the weakest points in your defense plan. Gates can always get opened.

    An old friend had a very inexpensive and productive way to reinforce his existing barbed-wire fencing. He planted blackberries and raspberries along his fence lines, and only pruned minimally – 'free' food and the proverbial "3 miles o' briar patch" to climb through to get in.

    Where the soil was too bad for berries, he (very carefully!!) transplanted wild poison oak and poison ivy. ( I sorely miss Harry since his unfortunate passing, but he COULD be an SOB)

    • I think I would have liked your friend; my kind of guy. If you can make the road/gate the best/convenient way to get into your area then you can focus your defensive efforts in that area. That is the main role for 'area denial' devices and there is nothing on God's green earth quite as good as blackberry cobbler and ice cream made by 'she who must be obeyed'. For the suburb, those beautiful rose bushes by EVERY window won't annoy the Home Owners Association but it will channel a break in attempt to the doors. That makes your defensive concerns easier to deal with.

      • My wife and I just finished planted roses by the last few windows a couple of weeks ago. Ouch. I am also looking into decorative iron for each window. They can still break the glass but will have trouble with the bars. I also still need to upgrade my three doors.

        • Wolfie,
          I am sure you know but I'll just mention it any way – make sure you have a way to dump them and get out if you have to. From the outside, I can use my 4 wheel drive and a chain to pop them off if I have to do so but from the inside, you don't have that much force available. Most bars have an emergency exit feature but I'd be sure of it before I put them in.

          • Great ideas for denial and deterrant.

            Another possibility would be a ditch just outside the fence along the property line. Most roads in eastern to central Texas already utilize something akin to this for runoff and flood control during hurricane season, so most work may be done already and you’d have decent alibi in court. Not to mention the defense that the ditch is clearly marked by the fence and neccesary for flood control. The ditch would also be a force multiplier, forcing anyone attempting to circumvent the fence to attack it from a disadvantageous position either on foot or by vehicle.

            another thought would be cementing posts into the ground, with the defense that you don’t want them becoming missle hazards during a hurricane.

            Good to hear from a fellow Houstonian, Capt Bart. Ex-navy machinist from Spring here. Love the site and frequent it often. always great info for green and seasoned preppers alike.

  15. LOL.. from past experience, if the hardware-store "climbing roses" have not yet been declared an 'invasive pest species" in your area, a few wire loops and zip ties will turn those suburban 'fake shutters' into (decorative) hand-ripping hell that rivals razor-tape. Lilac bushes, while not 'sharp' can also be good sunshades for windows and access-blockers.

  16. The number one deterrent for a burglar is being observed (according to an intensive study done in the '90s) anything that adds to the difficulty of breaking into a house is secondary. Unfortunately retreat homes have the natural tendency to be located in areas were observation is slim to none, and with that a burglars patience for the deterrents goes up significantly.

    The only two cents worth of advice I can pitch in for this conversation is that you might want to consider some low budget surveillance system on your property (even if they get in they'll be on camera and increase the likelihood of catching them) or better yet if your neighbors are close by and reliable have them watch your property. Make sure your cabin is visible from your neighbors home, thieves will take this into account and think twice about trying to break in or give them less confidence in hanging around long enough to get past the locks.

    • That's exactly what I was thinking of for our property, which is beyond the reach of any cell phone or similar communications. I was actually thinking of installing… of those game scouting cameras near our hunting shed and scanning it from time to time.. for both hunting AND miscreants.

      • I probably mentioned it before, but years ago a friend who is better than I am with a soldering iron than I am turned an RC "pan and tilt camera mount", a motion sensor, some "BEAM Robotics" circuitry, a red laser pointer and an electric P-90 replica into a "softair sentry gun" (a la' "Aliens" movie) for softair scenario games. Adding a solar panel to charge batteries , and replacing the gun with a cheap camera shouldn't be TOO difficult. That red dot on center of mass tends to make miscreants suddenly remember that their mom is calling them.

        Finding a 'circuithead survivor' has just increased priority on the list 🙂

        • "That red dot on center of mass tends to make miscreants suddenly remember that their mom is calling them. "

          Epic win tagline of the day my friend!

          • *bad Elvis impersonation" "Thank you, thank you very much.." 🙂

            Back during the early 1990's, one of the more repressive South American regimes managed to (illegally) purchase some old full-auto M-16's, retrofitted for .22 LR and fitted w/red laser sighting and huge drum mags as police riot weapons. Surprisingly to everyone involved, the laser sights alone tended to break up riots without firing a shot. Everyone just realized they wanted to be elsewhere..

            I have long-ago lost the original link, but will look for it.

            If it's proven to work, and still cheap, go with it .

    • Even a bunch of the fake video cameras would work well. They are cheap and all you need is a small solar panel to keep the red led blinking.

  17. i found it was my neighbors doing all the stealing around here. two metal deer stands, tools, and nearly 300 rounds of ammo in a lockbox. i was paying a visit when the neighbors kid rode up with one of my deerstands in his atv trailer . the kid called to his daddy. hay daddy see what i got off of so and so's place. then the kid saw me and i saw the stand, and i was reaching for my nine mm to deal with the problem once and for all. kid nearly messed his pants. i told the boys father i was not gonna abide with this stealing bunch any more and i was going to shoot someone . the one stand is still missing, and i have to put an alarm system in, but this kid knows now he's on my to do list

  18. One thing that should be noted. While the the sign might be cute, it will get you in trouble with the law. By saying the dog will bite your butt, your admitting its a bitter and will land you in court if the dog ever bites anyone,

    Same as the old sign that said "trespassers will be shot, survivors shot again" . A DA, somewhere, used this as evidence that the homeowner was just out to kill someone.

  19. my uncle owns 40 some acres in a rural area, surrounded by farms and heavily wooded areas. his cabin (weekend retreat) was burglarized and more than once. with such things as tools, firearms, and kitchen appliances stolen or vandalized- his nice gun safe was smashed with a sledgehammer to open it. this shows a bit of over-confidence on his part to perhaps think that it wouldnt happen to him, but also shows the prying eyes of local low lifes who took a shot at a definite target of opportunity and had lots of time to vandalize it.

    i certainly would hesitate to leave anything of value in a place that was not tenanted continuously.

  20. When I have a cabin I plan on building a cement shed in a hillside or in a concealed place with a steel door. It may be nearly impossible to camouflage your house while your not there, but you can lock up your valuables nearby.

    I was thinking the same idea of a tack strip not far from the gate. If the gate itself says "private property", then its fair game.

  21. I have made easy to read keep out signs that also shows the new state laws and utah ordnances that shows I have the right use [ force of habitation] that means I can use what ever force needed to stop the threat.. please check your state laws,then place them on your signs and let them know you will use deadly force or what ever force you must use. most state has changed the laws so you can defend what is yours. STAND YOUR GROUND. SINLOI

  22. Another point for camouflaging your building and/or ensuring that the view is obscured from the road: Visible buildings, even obviously empty ones, attract thieves who are looking for copper wiring. We have a family campground right off Hwy 101 that is not suitable for a BOL but is certainly fun for holiday weekends with the whole tribe, and we've had a fair number of unwelcome visitors over the 3+ decades we've owned the place. The worst was a few years ago, when someone came in and tore out hundreds of feet of electrical wiring that had been used to create RV hook-ups. My great-uncle actually had enough replacement wire on hand to fix it (he'd been buying it at garage sales for some reason), but he and my uncle made sure that every point of entrance/exit from the ground was completely sealed with cement so that nobody could dig out the wiring again.

    One thing that the property DOES have going for it – and something I'd recommend as a consideration prior to purchase of BOL property – is that there really is only one way in via vehicle. There's a steep embankment that runs along the E/SE sides of the property that would be a struggle to get over even on foot. To the S of the entrance is a deep and narrow ditch (the narrow works because there's no way you'd be able to drive THROUGH it and it's too deep to allow you to try it at an angle without rolling a vehicle). The N/NW sides of the property are deep forest, one that empties into a farm that is occupied year-round, the other that is a good two-mile hike in dense woods before landing on a seasonally occupied property. You could probably navigate in an ATV, but there is no way a full-size vehicle could get through the woods, and most people – even motivated thieves – aren't all that interested in such a long hike in a dark forest.

    Now if only I could convince everyone we need a better gate (one that you can't simply walk around, and one that is secured by more than a simple and easy-to-cut chain)…!

  23. I think that our society is so screwed up where it is the thieves and burglars that are justified and not the home/landowner. Every now and then you hear on the news about a thieves family suing the homeowner for shooting the thief coming into their home to steal and the home owner has seen murder charges and prison time. Whatever happened to the constitutional right to protect life and property? I for one am not wasting taxpayer money in a trial if someone comes into my home that I can't identify or is brandishing any kind of weapon or just has one on them, that tells me they had the possible intent to harm or kill me and they will get a two-keyhole shot to the chest and be the end of them that day. I recently had a guy sitting out in front of my house in our neighborhood at 3 am. I just happened to come home from work and drive into my driveway and he was still sitting there with everything off. I got my 9mm and tactical flashlight and went out to "greet" him to see what his intent or reason for being there at that time and once he saw my gun (which my flashlight is over my wrist behind the gun) he then turned his key and sped out of there. I called the police, they came and did a report. One of the sheriffs said I was stupid for handling myself and should have called them first, the other said "good job Airborne" ( I told him I served). He said "then you know how to use a weapon". But he told me to also post signs of no trespassing and something that tells others I have weapons on the premises. I feel I need to read something on laws on protecting life and property first so I am not staying at a motel bubba! And like you all said earlier, you can't boobytrap anything and legally get away with it like wiring a stungun with an on/off switch under the handles of your car door to prevent breakins to a degree.

  24. This was a good article and got me to thinking about the preppers that don't live on site at the BOL. If you have unemployed or underemployed members of your band of preppers how about hiring the person or persons as in group private security to protect your property or properties.

  25. Speaking of using an unemployed or underemployed member of your family or prepper group to provide an internal security force if anyone needs such I know someone that is looking for a situation that would work to the mutual benefit of all parties and isn't all that worried about moving from her place of residence. She also has fiften years six months military experience, though it was all in the Army National Guard. She also has five years six months private security experience.

  26. I think I have this area covered. The main place that I would go in a SHTF situation is actually a hidden room UNDER my shed. I built it when I made the shed and it has several weeks of food, and other supplies. It may seem a little extreme (but then, all preppers seem extreme to the general public) but I doubt any thief would find it, unless they wanted to climb over some boxes of junk, into a gap between an old grand piano and the wall, and happen to look under an old rubber mat where the trapdoor is.
    If for some reason I couldn't stay there or my supplies ran out, I would pack my trailer with all my preps, take my rottweiler, and head out to my good friends rural home. He is also a prepper (he got me into prepping) we could share supplies and get fish from the creek near his house or hunt game that lives in the area. Also we have several hidden supply points, some are hidden shacks stocked with supplies and some are MREs that we buried underground. We even have tree houses full of food and preps.
    I would strongly suggest other people find friends that are also preppers, you have a better chance of survival if you band together.

  27. In Canada, there are laws referred to as The Blue Laws as set down by Kings and Queens, French or English. My family came to Canada in the 1700's from the US when they could get land for about 160 acres per family. The perimeter of the 160 acres did NOT belong to the landowner nor the waterways…this was considered public property or the King's Highway. The original 160 would have a loss of about 100 feet or so for roads. Some people feel that tresspassers cannot walk the outer rims and they are totally wrong. Railroads are also considered pubic and the land on both sides is public.

  28. My wife and I are going to get a ranch in East Texas, and we are going to aloud four other prepping familys to live on our land. So we can all help eachother. I have came up with some idea to protect my land. T.Rapier if you truely know how to do what you said, then might call you up to camo my house in the woods.

  29. nice write up. I have been looking for ways to lessen the trespassers on our farm land. We allow hunters that ask, but the problem is the ones that do not. It is really a safety issue now, as the allowed hunters are constently walk up on by a trespasser or three. I swear they want to get shot some times, and I fear some tricky person will find a way to take legal actions, sortof like a home burgler slipping on your kitchen floor while robbing you and suing for the hospital bill. We also have rivers and ponds on our really quite large property, we are dairy farmers. We cannot how ever stop the duck hunter or fisherman, like your doctor story in the writing. In the state or Vermont you cannot own any natural body of water or the animals in it. If there is a stream or river anyone can walk it and the bank as it is state land to fish or hunt it. So we cannot watch everyone walking the river or streams as we work 14 hour day 27/7. we have been using trail cams a lot recently though as they are our only real defense anymore.

  30. I like the idea of having someone living on your BOL land full-time (assuming you don't already), perhaps someone physically handicapped, living on a small fixed budget would be a good candidate. Maybe agreeing to sell/trade a section of that land in exchange for say 5-10 years of occupancy would be a good incentive. Good neighbors are great but do you really know what kind of people they are when you don't have much contact with them. No BOL or for that matter no location period can be made 100% SAFE; natural disasters, man-made disasters, deliberate or otherwise can always mess up your day (or life). Two approaches occur to me; ONE: make your basic structure out of nearby materials and leave a minimal amount of supplies there (buried nearby), nothing you can't replace or live without. Give any intruder little or nothing worth stealing and/or even a few basic items like bottled water and food, not much but enough to help them on their way! TWO: build a hardened structure that looks like and is a fortress, probably made mostly of concrete/cement blocks and re-bar, both above and below the earth's surface (air vents for below ground structures are too easy to block or sent smoke down), a pyramid-style structure works well, with a moat (with water or dry) to make ramming your structure with a vehicle difficult. With an entrance 12+ feet above ground between walls that is basically a 'kill zone' to anyone trying to force an entrance, perhaps with a portcullis (vertical iron gate) to trap them in then a small fire bomb to ruin what's left of their lives! Of course, built-in gun ports/windows too small to be used as an entrance will be needed all around the structure. Always manned and containing at least a year's worth of basic needs like water, food, etc., perhaps at least a small group would be needed to build and maintain. Short of a VERY determined group of intruders with time on their hands or one that possessed heavy weapons, i.e. tank, artillery and the will to use them, you should be good for the immediate future! Good Luck!

  31. I have posted on the forum where using ankle breakers and blocks of scrap wood full of nails bricks and rocks
    the size of a softball will deter fence jumpers zig zag barbed wire and sharp sticks.
    treble hooks on fishing line in hedges and in tree limbs.

    My favorite a piece of plywood with screws nails and other nasties on the door face and threshold and like a draw bridge a way to lift it away to get out.

    all the prank stuff with more effective consequences like buckets of urine or amonia or worse.

  32. I did want to add the Turk solution in Korea the soldiers knew better than to go near a turk camp their heads were displayed on poles around the camp
    In TEOTWAWKI everything you have is a bank of survival anyone stealing from that is a bank robber that is why our forefathers took a dim view on thieves as you can see being easy on them has consequences, they multiply like rats.

    in a emergency or disaster looters were shot on sight no trial no explanations there can be no quarter given to people without conscience or respect for their fellow man as they will rape plunder and burn, they are wasters and lazy slugs.
    This is why we are in such a fix our country is loaded with leaches many not our own and being bled to death.

    In a world WROL your obliged to make your own as long as they are from common law but the have to have real teeth.
    no trespassing with skull & crossbones should say it all I always though the suicide forest of japan signs were an idea.
    if you were a certain Senator in the 1960's you could get away with it saying the man committed suicide by shooting himself in the back 4 times with a single shot 22 rife —– I love the 60's

  33. Seeing the picture of people crawling over the fence reminded me of ankle breakers – all they are is blocks of wood
    with nails broken bricks and punji sticks in small pits, ankle traps basically a double wedge staked down.
    treble hooks in bushes and hanging from tree limbs.

    Never forget that fire is the best denial of access bottles of flammables or other things like powdered pepper
    and other unsavory elements in unseen specific areas busted over the heads of looters, trespassers or armed insurgents will get them moving.

    a piece of plywood with screws and nails as a welcome mat and on your door is imposing a hitching post in front of windows full of nails tangle foot coiled barbed wire speed bumps from dirt even old food cans filled with dirt .
    having things that look like cover and are not like empty barrels that have damage.

    a car battery and auto or LED"S and resistors with mouse traps and some wire and you have a silent alarm if you build a panel / board you can know exactly where the penetration /s occurred.

    All your trying to do is make it where they do not have quick entry or egress from the property your attempting to defend.

    mouse or rat traps and rimfire blanks { now you know what to do with those anchor shots} & wire trip and you have a long distance warning system
    In the past tin cans on wire with pebbles in them the fix was to fill them with water so punch a hole in them
    Old double edge razor blades embedded in wood.
    a thin wire insulators and a high powered capacitor only imagination and supplies are a barrier to defensive measures.

    I have only listed defensive elements not offensive ones Unless WROL or TEOTWAWKI DO NOT USE THOSE.
    Not only s it illegal it is as dangerous on your own friends and family as any intruder unless your in dire straights
    there are trip flares and poppers not dangerous and legal as long as there is not a burn ban or fire hazard.
    you do not want to burn your bugout or place some common sense and checks on a schedule to insure someone has not disabled them or turned them to their own advantage.
    that is another thing to watch for when doing a perimeter check the approach to your defense measures are in essence your funnel so now it may now be your the victim.

  34. Door access control systems and magnetic card door lock systems give you "point of entry" security that is almost endlessly customizable — very easily. Proximity access control systems These give you access to a single door or a series of doors without a lot of expense.


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