Escape and Evasion, not just for the Military

Hector Santana
6 min readJun 22, 2023
This is an unforgiving environment, learn how to make it your ally.

You may never eject from a fighter jet over enemy territory or get separated from a reconnaissance patrol behind enemy lines but knowing something about escape and evasion may help you get away from a crazed person in the woods.

Knowing how to escape from danger is a useful skill, wouldn’t you say? Well, some people think it's not all that important. The military trains for the moments following a downed aircraft behind enemy lines or a firefight that ended with the pursuit of friendly forces. Shouldn't you take similar precautions.

More and more crimes are committed against complete strangers in the woods. Knowing how and what to do are critically important and can save your life. Let's begin with the obvious, always research criminal activity where you are going, so you know what to look for and are prepared. A sort of risk analysis if you will. Of course, you should avoid those places with the most risks. Talk to park rangers, seek out avid users of the areas that interest you and always have a map of the area you are traversing.

Relying on cell phone maps is a dangerous proposition. It's better to carry a map and compass just in case.

When hiking, never do so on your own especially if you are new to the area. There is strength in numbers but know who you invite. Always be prepared for inclement weather and for anything else. Remember being prepared is a choice. Going camping in a remote area? Same rules apply. Be wary of approaching strangers that strike up conversation. Examine their behavior, are they trying too hard? Are they guarded and are they alone? Lone strangers are the number one factor to look for since killers often work alone. Do not show fear or behave rudely, be courteous but keep your distance. If you feel something is off, trust your gut, strike camp and head out of the area. Better safe than sorry.

But if you stay and you are alone when things go wrong, are you ready? Remember never turn your back to a stranger. Stay out of reach and in a tactical position to attack or escape. Keep axes, knives and tools stored and not out in the open. Know the terrain and how to get out quickly. Invest in an emergency beacon that sends your location to authorities, many have texting capabilities and can be helpful if you need it. Thats what they were designed for. That bear spray you were hoping you never have to use, yep keep it handy. You never know when you may need it. He seems like a good neighbor, great but don’t expect every nice-looking person to be that way or you will let your guard down.

If you have not already done so, take a class in self-defense. Close quarters fighting tactics are preferred. Skills like Krav Maga or Whan Chun are excellent choices. Practice everything but focus on defending against and disabling attackers. Have your weapons on you or within reach but not visible to others. Going it alone at that remote camp? Place string bells along your camp at night or a portable motion detector light along a path to your tent. Place it high enough to avoid animals but low enough not to be seen. Always use a two-entrance tent giving you the option of escaping through the rear exit. Some folks even place a second tent to give the appearance that there are more people in the camp.

Learning self-defense is an excellent way to be prepared for an encounter in the woods.

Camping in an area that allows firearms? keep it close at all times. But if all of this fails to prevent an attack and you find yourself escaping and evading a hunter-killer, know your craft. Remember what you learned. Use it to stay alive. In SERE training, soldiers are taught to escape and survive off the land. There is an acronym (SURVIVAL) they use to describe what to do to stay alive. In their case it involves staying undetected for long periods of time until they can be rescued. Let's take a look at how that can help you.

S- SIZE UP THE SITUATION

Sizing up the situation will allow to focus on what you need to do to survive. Take into account your surroundings, the terrain, and weather along with the condition of your health and equipment. These factors will give you an instant assessment of your chances, how fast you can react to things, and what you need to do to improve the odds. Don't fret over a bad assessment. Take it as a call to action to improve your situation.

U- USE YOUR SENSES/UNDUE HASTE MAKES WASTE

Use your senses. The use of sight, touch, sound, and smell can help you to survive. Stop and listen for pursuers, or to look for a better way out of your situation. Remember to stay away from clear open areas. They may be using their senses as well. Undue haste can lead to bad decisions. Move with purpose but know when to stop to assess and correct your actions and path. Do not run through the woods frantically and without purpose.

R- REMEMBER WHERE YOU ARE

Knowing where you are can help you get to where you want to be. A ranger station, a campsite, a local road or town can save your life. Having a map and compass at all times will help if your cell phone has no signal. Invest in a mapping app that works without a signal. But rely on the map as a solid backup. Remember, if your battery goes down your out of luck.

V- VANQUISH FEAR

Believe it or not your biggest threat is you. Fear and panic cause you to make bad decisions. Replace fear with purpose. In this case your purpose is to survive. You cannot do that if you are running frantically through the woods. Move and stop with purpose, constantly assessing the situation and adjusting after using all your senses.

I- IMPROVISE

Knowing how to make a water filter, build a shelter, start a friction fire or make a float platform to carry you down a river are all important skills. Study the art of improvisation in the wild and you will be ready if and when the time comes. These skills also make you more of a critical thinker when the shit hits the fan. Obviously, a good skill to have when in the thick of things.

V- VALUE LIVING

The desire to live is the driving force behind survival techniques. Do everything with the aim of living. Understand that when you need to make sacrifices. “I am doing this to live, to survive”- you must say to yourself. Never give up and never let doubt get the best of you. Picture yourself overcoming this temporary situation and you will survive.

A- ACT LIKE THE NATIVES

Studying the local native population will tell you a lot about how to survive in that region. Is it cold, are there shelter methods common to the area? Does the local population use native plants for medicinal purposes? The culture and techniques of the local inhabitants will give you an edge when facing an inexperienced pursuer. Act like the natives and you will survive.

L- LIVE BY YOUR WITS

Learn basic skills and they will be there when you need them. Many folks perish in the woods or mountain environment because of their lack of skills. Don’t let that happen to you. Develop the right mindset. The more you know about the environment, survival skills, and self-defense, the higher your chances of surviving. Practice your craft and develop your skills and you will live to see another day.

The S.U.R.V.I.V.A.L. acronym is a great guide to help you in your time of need. Acting upon these suggestions is the only way to be prepared. Don’t just read this article. Get out there and learn, train, and prepare for the unknown. Chances are an attacker will not pursue you into the woods, especially if they themselves are not prepared. But if they do, be ready for a harrowing incursion that could last for days. Safe trails out there…

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Hector Santana

*Top Writer-Camping and Survival. I love to write about the great outdoors, survival and foreign policy. An avid outdoorsman and survival instructor.