A remote retreat location out in the lush wilderness where one could escape to for safety and vacation is a dream for many people. But a retreat has many of the same needs as a primary residence. The catch is that your retreat might spend a lot of time alone and unsupervised. I’ve heard many stories of animals clawing their way into a remote cabin, neighbors breaking in and stealing hard-earned survival supplies, tools, even appliances, and furniture.
Having proper retreat security can save you time, money, and both mental and physical anguish. The goal is to deter intruders before they can begin to cause you harm or damage your property. The items listed in this article are based on hard lessons learned, because I’ve had both human and animal trespassers, including run-ins with bears. The best approach is to use multiple layers of security, protection, and surveillance, especially for a property that isn’t your primary residence.
In my experience, there are quite a few options you can use to build your retreat security plan. Some are more geared toward animal intruders like bears, but most can be effective against humans as well. Some of these suggestions are obvious and more for warning and attention-getting, such as a simple fence or a no trespassing sign. Those measures fall into the deterrence category. They say that good fences make good neighbors, so we may as well use that to offer the benefit of the doubt and remove all confusion about who is allowed on the property. When deterrence has failed, we add the detection, delay, and defend layers of our plan. Take a look at the list and see what combination of ideas you can employ for your situation.
- Neighborhood Cooperation – Get to know your immediate neighbors. You can form a neighborhood watch, but at a minimum, try to be on friendly terms. If you’re going to be away from your location for an extended period, let them know who should be on your property and if there is anyone to beware of specifically. If they know what to look for, they’ll be able to alert you if something seems amiss. You’ll be counting on them to be your eyes and ears, but be careful not to give away too much information about your property.
- Fences – You’ll want multiple types, as they limit pedestrian and vehicle traffic around the gate and can deter trespassers from driving up to your retreat. Garden fences need to be tall enough to protect against animals jumping over or pushing them over, and small enough to prevent even small livestock predators like weasels. Protect your garden and poultry from avian predators via upside-down crows and ravens and bird fencing. Electric fencing can protect your retreat and livestock from two-legged and four-legged predators. You’ll also want to make sure you have adequate gates on your fences. There are multiple options when it comes to types of gates, just make sure to make it hard for anyone to remove the hardware of the gate with JB welds and bolts, or welding a protective covering over hinges. You can also put a steel box over the lock(s) to avoid bolt cutters.
- Locks – Make sure to use both door and window locks. In a pinch, you can also use pieces of wood cut to size to prevent windows and doors from opening. Also, you can use window and door shutters with locks to prevent large predators from smashing windows. Plus, this protects windows and doors from potential burglars or damage from natural disasters.
- Home Security System– Having a home security system is an obvious suggestion, but to create a thoughtful list, I included it. A security system allows you to put together several security options all at once. You can usually get a combination of door and window alarms, lights, cameras, and motion sensors. There’s the added bonus that the alarm company will usually provide lots of signage, making it clear to anyone looking at your property that you have an eye on things. Motion lights can frighten human and animal intruders and give you a clearer view of the trespasser. If you are worried about power issues, a lot of motion and floodlights can be found using solar power. Try to get a combination of audible alarms, as well as silent alarms that alert you if there’s trouble. For cameras, place some at eye level, some at low levels, and some above eye level, so you have multiple vantage points. You can also purchase trail cameras to add to your overall security setup. You can use cameras that take live video, record motion, or even just ones that take still photos. All of these camera options give you different types of information that you can monitor from a distance, it’s all based on your time, distance, and budget. Motion sensors can be placed in multiple places, and you can create various zones. Some kits come with as many as 16 sensors and have up to a 1/4-mile range. These can also be matched with strobe lights or sirens.
- Drones – Drones are another good tactic to employ for active perimeter control, but depending on the model, it may require you to be actively flying in order to get video/photos. They are also limited by weather and dense terrain.
- Visual Clues – Use signs to make it clear to anyone coming near the property that you take security seriously. Just check your state and local laws to ensure sign wording is legal in your state. Even something as simple as having a sign from a local alarm company can be a deterrent, regardless of whether you actually have an active security system. Place shoes in front of the door to look like you are inside of the house. Scarecrows can deter animals outside, especially with fresh clothing you have worn that day. You can also use mannequins in windows.
- Animals – While dogs are the most commonly recommended, animals like alpacas, ostriches, and llamas can protect livestock. Ducks and guinea fowl are excellent alarm systems, and even chickens will sound an alert when disrupted or spooked.
- Caches – keep food away from your retreat to keep bears and other animal intruders by using food caches. Food caches need to be built on stilts secure enough for a bear not to be able to tear down. Brown bears, and polar bears can’t climb, so wooden posts will work, but if you have black bears, they are excellent climbers, so you’ll need metal posts or cement-filled PVC pipes. Food Caches can be underground, as well—i.e., a secure root cellar or an underground shipping container.
- Interior – Keep valuables out of sight and hidden in secure areas. You can also bury your treasures.
- Nail boards on driveways, trails, steps, decks, and windows can be a decent bear deterrent if legal in your area. Be sure not to forget to pull the trail boards when you drive your own vehicle on your drive. You could harm your own tires or shoes or feet. Devices like these could get you in trouble with the law if they injure someone, so be sure to know the law.
You’ve spent a lot of time and treasure to set up a remote cabin retreat, and it would be heartbreaking to have is damaged or pilfered when you aren’t there. Take some time and use the attack/defend mindset to come up with strategies to fortify your place. All this means is, you look at your place as if you are the attacker. Wherever you see a weakness or opportunity, think of a way to add a security layer to protect that spot.
With careful planning and preparation, you can keep your retreat safe and ready at all times.