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Old 11-11-2019, 08:34 PM   #1
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Boondocking: Is it safe?

Do people who boondock have safety concerns? Are there places where professional boondockers would not camp? We are not a gun family (please - no 2nd amendment comments), but would appreciate remarks about safety concerns (or lack thereof) from those who have boondocked for years. Do all boondockers carry firearms? Are there any who don't? Thanks.
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Old 11-11-2019, 09:14 PM   #2
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We haven't drug our campers into remote places, but I have backpacked and kayak camped for years. I've never carried a firearm.

Overall, I think its a matter of using common sense. Avoid areas that seem a bit shaky, let friends or family members know where you're going to be and when you will be back, if you happen upon sketchy people and it makes you uncomfortable, leave, as long as its safely possible - but do so without looking like a victim. Bring your bear spray, even if you are someplace with no bears - its an excellent weapon that attackers don't really expect.

When I think of "safety", I'm actually more focused on making sure I have first aid and emergency supplies, ample safe drinking water and food, signaling devices, shelter and warmth. While it is good to be aware of other people, its not good to obsess about it to the point where you're not going to enjoy yourself. And honestly, in this day and age, even camping in developed areas has its risks!
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Old 11-11-2019, 11:30 PM   #3
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We boondocks most of the time in some very remote places. We do bring several guns with us, mostly for fun, but we bring the bear spray for defense.

Oldbears has the best advice, worry about first aid, etc and have fun.
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:24 AM   #4
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I'm retired law enforcement, so I carry both a gun pretty much any time I'm outside the house. 43 years on the job and you just feel naked without one.

That being said, I have never actually needed one while camping/boondocking. Just use some common sense when selecting a site. If it feels sketchy, that is a clue to keep looking. Remoteness is not the issue, it is the lack of remoteness and people who might be less than honorable in intention I would worry about. If I were a criminal, I would be more concerned about a boondocker in the middle of nowhere with no one else around being armed and a problem for me than someone in a group in a sketchy area where I would be safer and have somewhere to flee to or hide. Most criminals are not going to search the middle of no where on the chance they might find a victim in miles upon miles of open space. They are lazy, they will go for the easy pickings and look for victims where they concentrate. Just my take.
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Old 11-12-2019, 12:57 AM   #5
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I'd be careful. A couple camping for free on South Padre Island Texas just lost their lives in a free camping area. https://www.unionleader.com/news/cri...f7faeb4b5.html
Of course, there have been others that have lost their lives in paid camping areas.
That being said... we've only seen people willing to help and watch over their neighbors no matter where we've camped. I feel safer camping than I do going to the local mall. And we don't carry a gun because of personal preference.
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Old 11-12-2019, 01:12 AM   #6
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We travel as much as possible. Sometimes far, sometimes close. We boondock frequently in the Gila National Forest at very remote sites. But we are very familiar with the area and feel safe as we know most of the ranchers and rangers in the area. If there is strange activity in a certain area, we hear about it.
If we go somewhere unfamiliar, we either boondock with friends who know the area, or stay at recommended RV parks and take day trips to more remote areas.
We don't take chances and are always aware of our surroundings. We research new areas thoroughly.
Mainly we just pay attention, and if one of us ever feels uncomfortable, we move on. That's why RVs have wheels
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Old 11-12-2019, 04:34 AM   #7
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Also, don't advertise that you don't carry firearms. If you end up in a conversation with someone who makes you a little uncomfortable, never hurts to bring up some time spent hunting or target shooting. Even if it's a lie, at least it's put in their head that you may be armed. Evil tends to prey on the weakest target. As was said, when you have wheels, buy yourself enough time and move on if a place doesn't feel right.
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Old 11-12-2019, 06:52 AM   #8
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"Also, don't advertise that you don't carry firearms."


An NRA bumper sticker might be good.
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Old 11-12-2019, 07:57 AM   #9
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All great advice given here. I also carry a personal beacon. Seems every-time someone notices it they tell me they know someone it helped.
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Old 11-12-2019, 01:06 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oldbears View Post
We haven't drug our campers into remote places, but I have backpacked and kayak camped for years. I've never carried a firearm.

Overall, I think its a matter of using common sense. Avoid areas that seem a bit shaky, let friends or family members know where you're going to be and when you will be back, if you happen upon sketchy people and it makes you uncomfortable, leave, as long as its safely possible - but do so without looking like a victim. Bring your bear spray, even if you are someplace with no bears - its an excellent weapon that attackers don't really expect.

When I think of "safety", I'm actually more focused on making sure I have first aid and emergency supplies, ample safe drinking water and food, signaling devices, shelter and warmth. While it is good to be aware of other people, its not good to obsess about it to the point where you're not going to enjoy yourself. And honestly, in this day and age, even camping in developed areas has its risks!
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Old 11-12-2019, 01:48 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by NMWildcat View Post
We travel as much as possible. Sometimes far, sometimes close. We boondock frequently in the Gila National Forest at very remote sites. But we are very familiar with the area and feel safe as we know most of the ranchers and rangers in the area. If there is strange activity in a certain area, we hear about it.
If we go somewhere unfamiliar, we either boondock with friends who know the area, or stay at recommended RV parks and take day trips to more remote areas.
We don't take chances and are always aware of our surroundings. We research new areas thoroughly.
Mainly we just pay attention, and if one of us ever feels uncomfortable, we move on. That's why RVs have wheels
X2. The name of the game is "situational awareness", anywhere you go!
As far as personal protection goes, I'm not going to mention the F or G words because the speech police will arrive shortly and start handing out citations.
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:04 PM   #12
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Boondocking is the best

We do both state park and boondocking. The nice thing about boondocking is you don't have neighbors breathing your BBQ smoke. No light poles so the stars are incredible.

An RV in a park without a tow vehicle = nobody is home. Most RVs use only one of about 10 keys so they are easy to break into. We hunt, fish, and camp and I have never been afraid of guns even during hunting season when everybody has a gun.

Two critical resources when boondocking: battery and fresh water. Run out of either and the trip is over. Many times we are 20+ miles off the pavement so make sure your tow vehicle is reliable and if possible point the trailer headed downhill in case it rains and the dirt turns to mud.

Have fun.
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:26 PM   #13
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An RV in a park without a tow vehicle = nobody is home.
No necessarily for families. Lot of folks have one spouse go out and the other stay home.

Anyway... for the OP:

I can definitely say there are many who boondock without a firearm (or even anything specifically designed to be a weapon).

Boondocking is generally safe, but like others said- if it gives you the heebie-jeebies, it's time to look for alternatives. Bad things can and do happen while boondocking and anywhere else (including in RV parks/campgrounds). Be aware of your surroundings and keep that little voice in mind.
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:35 PM   #14
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I'm retired law enforcement, so I carry both a gun pretty much any time I'm outside the house. 43 years on the job and you just feel naked without one.

That being said, I have never actually needed one while camping/boondocking. Just use some common sense when selecting a site. If it feels sketchy, that is a clue to keep looking. Remoteness is not the issue, it is the lack of remoteness and people who might be less than honorable in intention I would worry about. If I were a criminal, I would be more concerned about a boondocker in the middle of nowhere with no one else around being armed and a problem for me than someone in a group in a sketchy area where I would be safer and have somewhere to flee to or hide. Most criminals are not going to search the middle of no where on the chance they might find a victim in miles upon miles of open space. They are lazy, they will go for the easy pickings and look for victims where they concentrate. Just my take.
Same situation with me. I choose not to be a victim and a cop is too heavy to carry around full time.
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Old 11-12-2019, 02:50 PM   #15
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I don't usually reply to these as others reply so well. However, here's a thought - regardless of whether you carry a gun, I believe hornet spray is one of the most effective defenses you can carry. It's legal, has a 20 foot range and causes temporary problems for a recipient of the spray. We have a can right next door of the camper, as well as at home.
Various states and Canadian provinces have differing laws regarding guns, pepper sprays, tasers, etc. No one will complain about you protecting yourself against a fatal bee sting.
We've camped for over 50 years and frequently boondock. As others said: "when in doubt, use the wheels and leave".
One last thought - what campgrounds have cameras like Walmart?
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Old 11-12-2019, 03:39 PM   #16
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Our experience

I have boondocked for years with only two minor problems in quite a few years. I have had more problems in day to day life but, thankfully, not a lot of those, either.

By and large, I have enjoyed boondocking immensely and treasure the experience. People are people and some are not good and some are opportunistic. Bottom line, you just never know for sure but I doubt problems booddocking are as common as problems in daily living.

Always be alert and observant, attempting to avoid uncomfortable situations and leaving as soon as possible when you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation. Just observe and think. Do not be mind-numbed and oblivious and you should be fine. We always were.

Besides, once in a while you will meet some very nice, compatible strangers who share your interests in boondocking.

However, I have always subscribed to the old Boy Scouts motto of "Be prepared." Just as in my day to day activities, I never expected a cop to be around if I needed one while boondocking. Cops exist to investigate what happened after the fact and they can be very good at that. If it were otherwise, most crime would never happen in the first place.

But, cops, no matter how good, cannot be everywhere or even nearby when you need one badly. But, how many times in daily life have you ever needed one badly?

As to our two minor instances, one ended when we left as soon as we could. The second ended when I got out a 12 gauge shotgun and told our visitors that they might want to leave as I was going to teach my grandson how to shoot a shotgun and I couldn't guarantee his expertise or level of safety. Our two visitors decided to go elsewhere and after they left, so did we.

People with law enforcement experience have told me that when potential perpetrators leave initially, sometimes they come back after fortifying their courage. That's why we try to leave whenever the situation is uncomfortable, even if the potential threats have already left. Boondocking is, by definition, in remote and uninhabited areas.
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Old 11-12-2019, 03:52 PM   #17
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Do people who boondock have safety concerns? Are there places where professional boondockers would not camp? We are not a gun family (please - no 2nd amendment comments), but would appreciate remarks about safety concerns (or lack thereof) from those who have boondocked for years. Do all boondockers carry firearms? Are there any who don't? Thanks.
It's about as safe as can be . you could get robbed and shot getting gas , walking to your car from a shopping mall etc . don't worry about what might happen just enjoy life . Even a gun won't keep you safe it may help protect you and it may not . I know of a person that stopped for gas and got rolled and beat up and he had guns . So live life with out fear enjoy and be smart . Also get some bear spray if it deters grizzly it will for sure deter anyone stupid enough to try anything
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Old 11-12-2019, 04:46 PM   #18
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My weapons are bear spray and a decent knife...essentially for bears.

We boondock exclusively in places like this, or this. (pix 1 and 2)

We have two small dogs that are no protection, but they are loudmouths if someone is around...critter or human...so surprises are unlikely.

The first spot is a popular place for shooting...skeet and target practice. We aren't naive that a bad actor might show up bearing arms and do us in, but if you're anticipating a shootout with someone who arrives prepared, I suspect that's more likely to get you killed that to just handover whatever they are looking for and submit an insurance claim.

The extraordinarily rare case of a senseless murder is the one where you have the greatest chance of dying if you're armed...unless you see them coming. And what are the chances of that?

The worst scare we ever had was in a National Forest Service campground - not really boondocking - when a family was target shooting with a 38 cal revolver and allowing a kid to shoot it in the direction of the "main road" (dirt) that passed the campground. (3rd photo) There was no staff at the campground and no cell service. Fortunately rangers were patrolling the area, and they intervened and sent the morons packing....after issuing citations.

You may read our obits one day, but so far so good.

Telltales that things could get nasty:
~ Lots of party residue...broken bottles, trash, tire tracks where they shouldn't be, and so on. There's a 4WD trail near us called Slaughterhouse. The first mile or so is accessible by smaller campers. But between the heavy 4WD traffic, and the evidence that the campsites are venues for lots of heavy alcohol and drug consumption, we won't go near the place.
~ Too close to a "high traffic" road. It's one thing to hear road traffic 100 yards away, but the drivers should need to slow and make a turn to get to your site...a clear warning that would probably wake you (or your dogs) as they pull up.
That's not much to go on, but I avoid spots like those. If it doesn't feel right, we move on.
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Old 11-12-2019, 05:37 PM   #19
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The vast majority of our 50 yrs plus has been boondocking. Canada, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Wyoming, we have never felt unsafe. However. we were fishing from shore in Miami parked along the intercoastal with the family in our MH. I overheard a couple of guys in proximity talking about robbing us. I told DW not to panic, but to be aware I was going to arm myself. We packed up and left without further incident.

Having been in law enforcement, we have always been careful of our surroundings. For the most part, I carried a weapon within reach, but never felt the need to depend on it except Miami. After retirement, for the most part, I have not carried. But, as others have said, don't advertise that you do/don't have a weapon.
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Old 11-12-2019, 05:50 PM   #20
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We boondock almost exclusively. Places I wouldn't boondock, certain areas of Compton or the south side of Chicago.

You have to remember, in general, bad guys don't camp. Too much work, too uncomfortable, and too far to drive. Sure, there are individual stories of things that happen now and then out in the wilds, but, if you look at your daily news these kinds of things happen every day sometimes multiple times a day in your cities. You are way more likely to be a victim of crime at home than camping. Especially out in the nowhere.

The best I can equate it too is boondocking is like flying. You are way more likely to be injured or killed in a car wreck yet more people are afraid of flying and think nothing about getting in a car.

Go enjoy the outdoors.
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