Most adventurers don’t expect to find themselves in need of a way to hunt for survival when they go out on a hiking or camping trip, however, it does happen. The best way to be prepared for the worst in the event that something happens to your gear or you find yourself lost and far from help is to make sure you know as much as you can about how to catch food that is easily available in most types of environments. It’s an essential skill for campers and hikers or all levels.
The weather and conditions can be different in many survival situations, but one thing that remains the same is the need to consume animal fats and get enough protein into the body in order to the strength you need to keep going. The stress of being lost in the woods is enough of a drain on a person by itself regardless of what you might need to do to get through your predicament, so finding good sources of food are your best bet, even if they might not be the tastiest. Your body still needs to stay warm and metabolize calories to produce energy after all.
To be practical, it wouldn’t be wise to try to set your sights on any large game like deer or wild boars, they will be far too difficult for you to catch and kill without supplies, but there are usually all kinds of smaller animals around. Your best bet will be in finding fish, reptiles, amphibians, and invertebrates. First off, if you are near water then you are probably near fish. And even if there are no fish that you can easily catch, there is a very good chance there will be other critters nearby. Though they may be small, there will probably be more of them in an area to make up for what they lack in size and be easy to catch, like frogs for example. Plus, you really don’t need anything but patience and a few stealth skills to catch some frogs.
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Hunt Carefully and Know Your Target
When you get a good lay of the land and have a good idea of what you are going to be looking for, it is good to know what you can and can’t eat safely. Generally speaking, all mammals and birds can be eaten provided they are cooked and cleaned properly in order to kill off any microorganisms in their meat(You can check this great book for techniques required for proper cooking in wild). Things like raccoons, rabbits, and geese also happen to have a whole lot of fat and flesh on their bodies which can make for a great meal, however, they may be a little harder to catch. However, if you have some knowledge about the daily and seasonal movements of different animals and their diets it will be a lot easier for you to figure out where you need to hunt them and what kind of makeshift traps you could build that would be effective to catch them.
Knowledge is power, and if you don’t know where to look and what will work to catch certain animals, you will probably find yourself wasting time and energy on nothing. That being said, keep it simple. One of the best ways to catch and kill something is the most straight forward method that’s been used since the dawn of time. Whip a rock at it hard enough to knock it out or injure it or kill it if it’s small enough. Simple tools like rocks and sticks that you can throw are going to be the most readily available. If you’ve got a good knife on you then you can sharpen a stick and make a spear which can be great for spearing fish or frogs. This survival knife is best for hunting, according to the best knives reviews for different purposes.
The Best Thing About Fish…
If you are lucky enough to be in an area where there are water and a source of fish then you can probably bet where there is one fish, there will probably be more fish. Plus, you only have to find bait for the first fish. Once you’ve got one you can use parts like tails, fins, skin, and eyes as bait for your next catch. They can be caught in many ways such as with nets, hooks, traps, spears and for those with some skill they can even be caught with your bare hands. But that requires a good amount of practice, or if you’re lucky, the perfect set of conditions and areas where fish might congregate in a small pool that is shallow and close to the riverbanks.
If you’re in a bind and you find yourself without any kind of fishing gear, hooks can be made relatively easily with a good nice and materials you can most likely find around you like wood, born or sturdy thorns. To make yourself some line you can use nettle, dogbane, milkweed or yucca plants as they have nice long sinew that is tough enough to handle the current and a pretty good-sized fish. Don’t expect to be catching any sturgeon, but some sunfish or perch will definitely not be able to break the line if you can get it nice and secured to your makeshift hook.
Naturally, if you take a look at your options and know that you are near water, it’s pretty safe to say that where there is water, there will be something you can catch, cook and eat. Whether it be fish, frogs or small animals that use the water source for their drinking needs. If you are really lucky you might find that the water is clear, and you can easily see your targets. In those cases, fashioning yourself a spear might be a good idea. Again, all you really need for this is a good knife. However, that isn’t always the case and sometimes it will be easier and less demanding on your energy to build a simple trap.
Building a simple and passive trap for fishing is an excellent tactic for finding food in a survival situation. Not only are you going to be able to keep a steady source of food coming, but you can also use the time that you don’t have to spend actively hunting for a meal to focus on the other important things you are going to need. Shelter, fire, water and of course, signaling for assistance.
There are two parts to a funnel basket trap, the body where the fish are going to go into when they smell the bait, and the inverted cone that will keep them from figuring out how to swim back out once they are stuck in there. These traps are great because not only will they catch fish, you can also find that crayfish, crabs, turtles, and shrimp will get stuck in there too. Bonus, right?
You’ll need to find about 7-11 small saplings that are 4-5 feet long, and another 7 to make up the ribs of the trap. Once you’ve gathered these materials you can start stripping the bark off of some of them which you will use as a rope to bind everything together once you are ready. The best way to go about building the trap is to spear the ends of your 7 rib saplings into the ground in a cone shape to hold them in place, then you just start weaving. Imagine you are making a basket, we’ve all seen a basket before, so all you need to do it take your thin saplings and start wrapping them around the top of the first rib, then under the next, then on top again and so on. Keep the branches close together, not leaving gaps in between for any fish to escape through.
If you need more saplings, then you can always add more as you see fit until you end up with a sturdy woven trap. Repeat the process on a smaller scale for the funnel that will be the entrance for the fish. It needs to be big enough to fit in the bigger cone, but shorter so that there is room in there for the fish to be inclined to swim in.
If the river bed is muddy then you can also build a trap by simply gathering enough branches and saplings and jamming them into the river bed to create the same kind of funnel effect as seen in the picture above. The goal is to create a funnel-shaped entrance in the mud with sticks so that fish can swim in to find the bait you have tossed in and they can’t swim out. These kinds of traps are called weirs.
Reptiles and Amphibians Have Many Benefits
There are many reasons why setting your sights on catching reptiles and amphibians can be a fantastic idea in a survival hunting situation. First is the fact that you can likely catch them by being sneaky and creeping up on them and either catching them with your hands or a good hard whack with a stick. They can also be speared or hooked as they aren’t too fast and they’re not the smartest. Plus, they don’t pose much of a risk to you by means of attacking back.
If you have happened to have a flashlight on you, you can use it at night to stalk up on frogs and lizards even easier than you might during the day. The blinding light allowing you to get closer to them. Amphibians and reptiles are also usually found in abundance in certain areas which means you will likely be able to find enough of them to sustain yourself when you are close to water. Turtles, lizards, and snakes are also pretty tasty, so that’s just an added bonus of choosing to hunt for them when in need of sustenance.
You do, however, need to make sure that you clean and skin them properly as their skins can have toxins in them that could be harmful to you. All amphibians and reptiles need to be skinned and cooked.
Invertebrates Make Great Food Too!
Generally speaking, people aren’t likely to think of hunting bugs or crustaceans first when in dire straights. It’s more of a last resort to decide to find some bugs to eat just to stay alive. But the thing is, bugs are usually a great source of protein, as well as mollusks and crustaceans, and can usually just be scooped up off the ground or a riverbed. A little digging in soft earth can reveal worms and grubs that can also be found along with other insects in rotting logs. Snails are an excellent example of an easy meal that requires very little effort and can simply be tossed upon the coals of a fire and then be eaten too!
Anybody of water, whether it be an ocean, pond or a river, can provide all kinds of edible invertebrates that might save your life. Just be sure to properly cook anything you catch to make sure any dangerous microorganisms and parasites are cooked off before you eat them. It doesn’t take a genius or a person with years of crafting skills to be able to create some handmade tools that can help you hunt in the woods. As long as you always make sure to carry a good pocketknife on you at all times then you should be fine. And if in the event that you don’t have one then you can usually find a rock that is thin enough to use as a blade if there are no other options available to you. Knowing about the area you plan to go exploring in is very important before setting off on an adventure as you can never be sure exactly what could happen. If you have a bit of knowledge of the environment, such as where a water source is approximately, or where certain wildlife tends to travel, it can be the things that will save your life. And always remember that no matter what happens, we all need food to survive. It doesn’t matter how many legs a creature has, or if it has wings, or lives in the water, all that matters is that you get enough calories to keep up your energy and keep going until you can get out of the situation. Happy trails!