Suppose you got word a major catastrophe was about to strike and you had an hour to get ready and head to the hills. What would you take? Where would you go? And what would you do when you got there?
Scott B. Williams addresses these issues in his new book, “Bug Out: The Complete Plan for Escaping a Catastrophic Disaster Before It’s Too Late” (Ulysses Press, softcover, $14.95).
As examples, the cover lists “firestorm, flood, hurricane, tsunami, pandemic, earthquake, terror attack.”
Scott, of Prentiss, is my longtime camping buddy, and this is his fifth book. He’s written a guidebook to the Mississippi Gulf Coast (“Exploring Coastal Mississippi”), a first-person account of his sea kayak trip across the Caribbean (“On Island Time”), a book outlining his maverick philosophy (“Astray of the Herd”) and a book he and I coauthored (“Paddling the Pascagoula”).
As I delved into “Bug Out,” I found myself contemplating the many experiences that led Scott to write a book on survival.
Scott, 47, grew up in Prentiss and roamed, hunted and fished in the woods of Jeff-Davis County, where his grandmother owned a farm on Bowie Creek.
After we became friends in the 1980s, we wound up canoeing hundreds of miles of rivers in the Southeastern United States and later Central America.
Scott got into sea kayaking and paddled solo 2,500 miles across the Caribbean over a two-year period. Then he kayaked down the Mississippi River.
A carpenter and house-painter by profession, he took up boat-building and sailing. He built several boats, from kayak to catamaran. He sailed coastal waters and made bluewater trips across the Gulf to Florida. That’s not to mention countless mountain-biking, road-biking and backpacking trips all over the United States. He’s also a scuba diver, black belt in karate and gun enthusiast.
Scott picked up all kinds of outdoor techniques on his travels. For instance, he learned how to make a Caribbean tripod cooking fire from fishermen in the Dominican Republic.
To cook, they cut three staves from saplings and drove them into the ground facing inward to form a base for a pot. Under the pot they built a quick, hot fire of twigs and grass, which brings water to a boil as quick as any campstove.
Scott demonstrated the method for me when we canoed the Patuca River of Honduras. It turned out my so-called multi-fuel campstove couldn’t use airplane fuel (which I got from a missionary pilot), and it konked out on us early in the journey.
From then on Scott used a machete to build tripods and made those cooking fires, which worked great.
He shares that and countless other skills with readers in “Bug Out.”
The premise is that something happens that makes you need to head for the woods in a hurry, or “bug out.”
Scott devotes the first third of the book detailing what to take and how to prepare. The rest is a description of places to go throughout the lower 48 states — national forests, swamps, mountain ranges, river basins, islands.
Here Scott calls into play his ample experience camping in places ranging from the River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho to Everglades National Park, Florida.
The book also addresses how to survive when you get to your wilderness hideout. Again, Scott calls on ample experience.
I recall trips when he would tramp through the swamp, hack the pith out of palmetto plants and cook it up as “heart of palm.”
He gathered wild pawpaws on the Buffalo River in Arkansas, learned to cook fish on a fire with no utensils on Black Creek in Mississippi, hunted wildfowl with Miskito Indians in the jungles of Nicaragua and speared seafood in the Bahamas.
Scott is now working on a sequel entitled “Would You Survive?: The 13 Deadliest Scenarios and How Others Got Out Alive.”
For rural dwellers like myself, it’s hard to imagine a circumstance that would make me bug out. In the event of a catastrophe I’d be more likely to “bug in,” or hunker down.
Still, there’s always that thought: What if enemy troops came marching down the road? What if an out-of-control wildfire raged across the county?