Despite what the movies tell you, living off the land is much harder than it looks. You won't be able to wing it when you're miles away from civilization. Before bugging out, learn everything you can about your BOL. Look up the local flora and fauna, terrain, hiking trails, and weather, so that you know what to expect and what you need to bring. Pack all the necessary supplies for food, water, clothing, shelter, and first aid. Have contingency plans in place, in case you run out of supplies. If you need to forage for supplies, take only what you need.
Familiarize yourself with the local wilderness guidelines regarding group size, fires, proper waste disposal, use of special equipment vehicles, and basic conduct. This isn't simply to ensure that you don't break any rules, but also to help protect the land and maintain its quality. See if there are any special permits you must first obtain before bugging out.
You won't be the only one using known hiking trails, so it is important to minimize trail erosion. Wear moccasins or well-cushioned running shoes to help absorb the impact of your steps. Avoid wearing heavy, lug-soled boots. Cover your tracks, if you can. If you can't, then avoid trampling on vegetation. Pick up any litter you see on the trail and leave none of your own.
Your BOL or campsite should be at least 100 feet away from any natural water sources. Ideally, you should find a campsite that has already been used before. Place a waterproof ground cloth underneath your tent before setting it up. You can remove small rocks and pebbles, but leave any soil and vegetation where you found them. Make sure that your tent blends in with the surrounding area.
If you need to start a fire, the first thing you should do is to obtain the necessary permits. Next, collect your firewood by snapping off dry twigs from different areas, instead of from a single tree. Try to keep your fire small and contained within pre-existing fire rings. You can also dig a smokeless fire pit to minimize the amount of fuel you need. (Related: Conceal your raging campfire with the ancient Dakota fire hole technique.)
Under no circumstances should you bury your food or garbage. Instead, you should burn what can be burned and carry the rest back home in large plastic trash bags. Try to leave your campsite cleaner than when you first found it.
Proper waste sanitation should be a priority, so be sure to use only established latrines or outhouses that are far away from any sources of water. In case of emergencies where there are no latrines or outhouses nearby, use a garden trowel to dig a small hole in an area with biologically active soil for quick decomposition. The hole should be at least 100 feet away from water sources, potential runoffs, trails, and campsites.
Instead of washing your dishes in streams or rivers, you should wipe off any remaining food from them using paper towels. Next, use biodegradable soap to scrub off any residue and rinse the dishes clean with boiling water.
Whether you are washing dishes or bathing, always use biodegradable soap that will not harm the environment.
Loud noises may frighten birds and other animals. Keep your voice low when speaking and avoid doing anything that may create loud noises.
When bugging out, it is important to always preserve the natural beauty of the great outdoors.