Wilderness Survival Hunting
Survival hunting isn't about fancy weapons and trophy animals.
By Steve Gillman
The corn snake was still moving after the head was cut off,
the insides were taken out, and the skin was removed. I had strung
from a branch to clean it. Once it stopped moving, I put it in
a plastic bread bag and stuffed it in my knapsack. I split the
pound of meat into two pieces later - one for stew, and the other
for roasting over the fire.
That was when I was fourteen years old, and wanted to know
everything about wilderness survival. Though I am more interested
in backpacking now, the survival lessons have stayed with me,
and they make me feel more at home in the wilderness. It's safer
to be in the wilderness if you know how to survive. Of course,
for a lightweight backpacker, knowing things like which berries
you can eat also means you can go lighter.
However, I have found that very often people are interested
in how to make a bow and arrows, or traps for animals, or spears
and bolas. That's okay. They are interesting topics to me too.
However, it is a mistake to think that these are the skills most
likely to save the life of a lost hiker.
Wilderness Survival - Hunting Animals
Survival for a lost backpacker is rarely a matter of food.
Water, shelter, avoiding injuries and getting found all take
precedence over food. Still, when it is time to look for
food, animals are the surest source of calories and protein.
The surest way to obtain this food is to look for the easiest
animals to kill and the easiest ways to do this.
Forget the fancy weapons that take hours to fashion. You're
not trying to live out there, but only to stay alive long enough
to be found. Look for the easiest animals to hunt and the easiest
ways to kill them. Some suggestions follow:
Porcupines are one of the best survival foods out there. If
you can hold a stick, you can hunt a porcupine. because they
are so slow, they were traditionally left alone by mountain men,
in order to leave a ready supply of easy food in the woods for
anyone who was lost and hungry.
However, they don't die quickly. You'll have to club them
hard and repeatedly - and get to them before they head up a tree.
To clean a porcupine, cut it open from below, being careful of
the quills. You should be able to skin it and clean it from the
underside without getting stuck. Cook it over a fire (they taste
good, by the way).
When you can see fish in clear, shallow water, they are often
easier to spear with a sharpened stick than to catch with a hook
and bait. Another technique is to wait with your hand poised
over a spot they are regularly swimming by, and quickly pin them
to the bottom with your hand as they come into range. I've caught
30 small fish in an hour or two in this way.
Other Easy Animals
You can catch snakes by hand, or with the help of a stick
(preferable in the case of venomous ones). Crayfish are found
under rocks and logs in lakes and streams (boil them like miniature
lobsters). Birds that nest on the ground can sometimes be killed
with a well aimed rock, and will usually circle back to give
you another chance. Of course, bird eggs don't run away to fast
Don't forget clams, insects, grubs from rotten logs, and turtles.
These can all be caught by hand. Remember, this isn't about proving
your "skills" or being a mighty hunter. Always look
for the easiest ways. Whit food, wilderness survival is simply
about efficiently gathering calories.