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Home Defense in the Boonies: Keeping Safe in Remote Areas

Alien Gear Holsters Rapid Force Duty front
We walk you through how to stay safe when you're away from the city -- whether you're vacationing in the woods or just live in the boonies.
We review products independently. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a commission to help support our testing. Learn more.

    It’s finally time for a vacation. You’ve been working your butt off and finally booked that AirBnB secluded cabin you’ve had your eyes on for months.

    Used Gun Sites
    Anybody else do a little gun shopping while they book vacations? No, just me?

    But as the trip approaches, you begin to question some of the intricacies of staying in such a place that you’d never really considered before.

    Will you be able to cook in the cabin? Will you need to bring your own sheets? And are there tips for staying safe in such an area?

    It’s this last point that we’re going to focus on today.

    That quick walk down to the lake can start looking real sketchy once the fog rolls in. (Photo: Setapp)

    What are the particulars of self-defense in the boonies that you’re going to want to know?

    Let’s take a look.

    Table of Contents


    It’s Not Just People

    The boonies can be really nice, but you are still in the middle of nowhere. (Photo: Timberframe1)

    A few years ago, a relative who lives in the sticks was carrying her toddler into their house late at night. A rabid raccoon attacked them.

    She held her toddler up high as she kicked the raccoon repeatedly until they could get inside the house.

    The kid was okay, but the mom had to get a series of rabies shots.

    You might not have it as bad as Leo did in The Revenant, but it’s always good to be prepared.

    While urban environments typically have people as the main threat, in the boonies, you also have to realize you’re sharing space with the animals around you.

    Whether we’re talking about bears, skunks, mountain lions, or rabid dogs, you have to be aware that you may not be as alone as you think — and you aren’t always at the top of the food chain.

    While not all attacks are as cute as this one, they can still be unsettling.

    Case in point, check out my prior article, The Night of the Grizzlies.

    But…It’s also People

    My intentions here aren’t to terrify you away from such places, they’re awesome, but I have to say that many of the murder stories you hear come out of the sticks are truly bizarre. We’re talking horror movie caliber stuff.

    By all means, book your vacation — just maybe not to Camp Crystal.

    Rural folk are good people. Should they hear that you’re in trouble, they will come running to help.

    The problem is that, in many cases, they won’t ever hear you until it’s too late. In my region, it’s not uncommon for it to take 30 minutes before cops can arrive.

    Do you have what it takes to keep yourself and your family safe in the interim? Here are a few tips that I believe will help you to do so.

    Tips to Stay Safe

    Keep Your Weapon on Your Person Outside

    You might be working your 55-acre farm when a black bear pops out of the blackberry bushes to your left. Perhaps you’re walking around the property of a secluded AirBnB cabin in the afternoon when a random car pulls up.

    Maybe you are on a nearby trail when a mountain lion decides you’re on his lawn.

    Mountain lions are no joke, and no, you can’t outrun them.

    Any of these situations can happen, and they can happen fast. The fact of the matter is you don’t know what could happen next.

    In such an event, you likely won’t have time to retreat to the cabin bedroom, pull your pistol out of the nightstand, and ready yourself.

    Alien Gear Holsters Rapid Force Duty front
    Whether you carry IWB or OWB, a pistol is a lot easier to tote around in the woods than a rifle.

    Should it end up being a nasty situation, do you have what you would need on hand?

    (Psst..check out our article on the Best Handguns for Beginners & Home Defense for some guidance.)

    Semi-Auto Pistols Are Where It’s At

    I’m definitely a revolver fan, and I personally prefer the way they look and feel to a semi-auto. However, semi-auto pistols are your best platform for defense when traveling or staying in the sticks.

    Crimson Trace RAD Pro Gunsite Glock G19
    A Glock 19 fitted with a red dot and weapon-mounted light. With the right holster, a setup like this would cover most of your bases.

    You could pack up a truck full of AR-15s, a bag full of mags to your vacation spot — but I’d argue most don’t do that.

    Pistols are relatively easy to pack away, conceal, and take with you in the woods.

    I admit it, Inceptor’s 10mm 90 grain ARX is a favorite of mine. It’s a favorite of the Ruger SR1911s, too.
    Side note: 10mm makes for a great “in the woods” cartridge.

    Additionally, semi-autos offer some distinct advantages.

    Need some help picking one? Check out our guide to the Best Concealed Carry Pistols.

    Mount a Flashlight to Your Pistol

    If you’re going to be out in the sticks, you will be in a lower-light environment compared to the city. There are no streetlights, no cars, and no surrounding apartment buildings. Your surroundings can be incredibly dark.

    This is one of the main reasons I think you want a semi-auto rather than a revolver.

    Streamlight TLR-8 on Glock
    Any pistol with a standard Picatinny accessory rail makes adding a weapon-mounted light a breeze.

    It is much more convenient to have a flashlight mounted to your pistol rather than to have to hold a light in one hand and a gun in the other.

    An under-barrel mounted light will help to ensure that you always have the means of shedding some light on the situation as well.

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    By doing such, there’s no separation from your light source; if you have your pistol, you’re good to go. There’s no fiddling in your purse/pockets for a flashlight, and there’s more control over the weapon.

    We have the low-down on pistol lights here!

    Look Into Red Dots

    Red dots make target acquisition much faster, something that’s of particular benefit in low-light shoots.  

    at Amazon

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Prices accurate at time of writing

    Available Coupons

    If you are considering adding an optic to your pistol, you don’t need to spend a crazy amount of money; just make sure it has the battery life and durability to sustain itself during some outdoor use.

    We walk you through our top picks in the 11 Best Pistol Red Dots article.

    Consider Installing Night Sights

    I like extra layers of insurance when it comes to this kind of stuff. Stuff happens; batteries run dry, and gear malfunctions. When such is the case, I still want to be able to see the sights on my weapon.

    trijicon night sights
    Having redundancy and backup plans when you are in the sticks is never a bad idea. Night sights require no external power, and will last for years before the tritium becomes dim.

    While the majority of engagements are simply point-and-shoot situations, I don’t think anybody would argue with me that it’s comforting to know there are useable sights on your handgun.

    In a low-light situation, night sights help to ensure just that.

    Be Proficient In Clearing Malfunctions

    Should your weapon malfunction, do you have the capability of clearing the jam as you hide behind a woodpile in deep darkness?

    Malfunctions happen. Knowing how to clear them in compromised situations is essential

    This is something I’ve been practicing myself lately, with the aim of becoming more proficient in field stripping and such.

    While I personally don’t think the odds of your needing to field strip are high, I do think the ability to clear a malfunction quickly and safely is a necessity — particularly in low-light settings.

    Stovepipe on G44

    For more info, check out our article on common handgun malfunctions and how to clear them.

    Lock Your Doors and Windows

    This isn’t the 1950s anymore, y’all!

    I’ve read a lot of true crime stories, and you’d be surprised at how many cabin murders happen because people had poor security practices. The harder you make it for somebody to break into your boondock residence, the less likely the bad guy is going to stick around.

    It may seem obvious to lock your doors, but it may be easy to forget when you are in a cabin with keys that aren’t yours and you are coming home after a long hike. (Photo: Blog.co.pierce)

    Returning home to intruders in the living room isn’t fun. Being asleep when intruders walk through the front door isn’t fun, either. So, please, lock all entrances to the house.

    At the very least, you’ll buy yourself some time to lock and load, barricade, and call for backup.

    We have more tips on better securing your home in 12 Easy Ways to Secure Your Home from Bad Guys.

    Final Thoughts

    The point is that things happen, even in the boonies, and you need to be prepared to defend yourself.

    A good woodsy vacation can be quiet and relaxing, but things can still happen fast. (Photo: Ventana Big Sur)

    Boonie defense is largely the same as home defense, but should I be at home, I’m more liable to reach for an AR-15 than a pistol.

    But if you are in a traveling situation, as mentioned above, some of these tips might be useful.

    Have you had any strange defense stories? Let us know in the comments below! Vacationing in bear country? Take a look at our article on the Best Bear Defense Guns for Hikers and Backpackers.

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    1 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Stone Slinger

      Hahaha......no semi has the power of a full house .357 (10mm falls just short) much less a .44 mag. What a crock!!!
      And the stoppages of striker fired semis are too numerous to count....and you WILL need all 20 rounds (if not more if 9mm) to stop even a little black bear.

      October 8, 2022 6:30 pm
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