HOW TO FIND FOOD AND FORAGE
Contrary to popular opinion, food is not the most important priority to be concerned with if/when an emergency occurs. Historically speaking, food is the first item to disappear from grocery store shelves when a disaster strikes. Those people living in the affected area either run to the closest store and buy everything they can in bulk, or it becomes stolen during the looting process. It is therefore extremely important to ensure you have a stockpile of survival food in your emergency kits, as well as the knowledge and ability to forage for wild edibles when necessary.
HOW MUCH FOOD DOES IT TAKE TO KEEP YOU ALIVE?
Food is an important ingredient in the quest for survival. Unlike oxygen and water, which are required in abundance, food is something the human body can do without for a period of up to 3 weeks, after which it will perish. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stock and store food, it simply means that you do not have to overload your GO bag with bulky food that will weigh you down and complicate the process. The survival diet consists of eating as much as needed to replenish nutrition levels and critical energy reserves. How accessible food is in the wilderness will depend on several factors; native flora and fauna, seasonal conditions, current weather conditions, topographical terrain features, as well as your individual skills as a hunter, trapper, forager and fishermen.
HOW MANY CALORIES SHOULD BE CONSUMED DAILY?
Under normal everyday circumstances the human body requires somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000-3,000 calories for adult males. For women and small children that amount drops to 1,500-2,000 calories per day, and for adolescents the average varies between 2,000-2,500 calories per day. There are factors that will affect these averages as well, such as physical exercise, or lack thereof, illness, prescription medications administered, height, weight, and bone structure, social economic class, etc. All of these factors will weigh in exponentially under stressful situations such as a disaster, and/or the survival of it. Under those conditions the human body will require quite a bit more in the form of caloric intake due to the increase in physical activity. You may think you are in peak physical shape, and you may very well be, under normal circumstances. Regardless of how physically fit you are the added burden of stress will make a survival situation much more difficult to get through than your weekly 10-mile hike through the nearby National Park. During a survival situation in a warm weather region, the average adult male will need to consume in the neighborhood of 3,000-5,000 calories per day. If the same scenario occurs in a cold weather climate, the average adult male will need to consume somewhere in the vicinity of 4,000-6,000 calories per day. You have to bear in mind that the stress of the situation will increase the amount of strenuous activity you must endure. In the winter you will be foraging for food, water, and fuel to keep a fire going.
WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS CATEGORIES OF CALORIES?
Carbohydrates provide the primary source of energy supply for the human body. They are easy to digest, and when included in a survival diet, they should occupy close to half of the calories recommended per day. You can locate carbohydrates in food such as vegetables, fruit, cereal grains, milk, and chocolate.
Fats provide the most compact and concentrated sources of energy for the human body. Fats can be found and consumed by eating such foods as nuts, animal fats, egg yolks, cheese, margarine, and/or real butter.
Proteins provide a supplementary energy source when there is a lack of carbohydrates and fats in the survival diet. They are also providing the body with the capability to repair tissue and promote growth. Proteins can be found in foods such as fish, meat, poultry, cheese, cereal grains and milk.
Vitamins are essential ingredients that assist in regulating and maintaining the vital functions within the human body. There are a wide variety of vitamins that are essential to human life, most of which can be obtained by eating a well-rounded diet. This may not always be possible given the circumstances, but every attempt should be made to maintain a balanced survival diet.
Minerals also assist in regulating and maintaining the vital functions within the human body. They also assist the body in maintaining health bones and teeth. As with vitamins, there are several minerals that are deemed essential to the health of the human body, all of which can be obtained through consumption of a balanced survival diet.
HOW TO FORAGE FOR FOLIAGE AND USE IT FOR FOOD
There are literally thousands, if not tens, or even hundreds of thousands, of edible plants found in the wilderness all over the world. Believe it or not, long before you and I graced this planet with our presence, earlier civilizations foraged for food as a means of survival. They had no idea how to cultivate crops, as we do today. Each and every day on earth was a testament to survival and what it took to be successful at it. They also had to hunt for food, taking wild game where and when it could be found. They did not have the luxury of grocery stores and fast food chains. That being said, early man also discovered that not all plants were safe for eating. In fact, certain plants were determined to be highly toxic, and in many cases lethal. They didn’t have the medicinal knowledge to revert the adverse effects. They also discovered that many of the plants which were edible, also had medicinal qualities, which could come in handy for treating illnesses and disease. We say all of that to tell you this; if at any time you are in the wilderness and either unsure, or unfamiliar, with native flora, you must perform an edibility test on the plant prior to considering it safe to consume.
In addition to the wide variety of edible plant life that is all around us, there are also an enormous amount of edible animal life that lurks in the forests where the edible plants exist. We can also take full advantage of our skills as a hunter, and/or trapper, if we have minimal amounts of gear, the proper depth of skill, and the time and patience to see it through. In other words, there is no shortage of food to be found out in the wilderness, you simply have to develop the skills to find it, identify it, and harvest/sacrifice it. There are also an extremely immense amount of insects literally crawling over almost every square inch of this planet, many of which are edible in a pinch.
It bears stating that we cannot possibly cover all species and sub species of plant life on the planet in the space and time permitted. Therefore, we strongly urge readers to conduct further research of an individual and personal nature, considering the region you live in and those you may be traveling through.
HOW TO PROPERLY TEST FOREST FOOD FOR EDIBILITY
The following guidelines have been established for use by various branches of the United States Armed Forces. The U.S. military is unlike any other organized militia on Earth in that it has bases and outposts all over the planet and in various countries, whereas most others do not have nearly half the global reach and/or capability. Because of this intense expansion, the U.S. military had to design these edibility tests for infantry personnel and downed pilots during the war. These tests have proven to hold true in the majority of cases; however, it would be wise of you to purchase native flora guidebooks with concise color pictures for clarity, of all the places you plan to venture. Edibility tests are not foolproof mechanisms for establishing a survival diet. These edibility tests do not work with fungi.
- Disassemble plant into its various parts; leaves, roots, stems, etc.
- Conduct a smell test first, attempt to determine if any part of the plant has an unpleasant aroma.
- Select one part of the plant to test first.
- Place selected portion of plant on the inside of your wrist, in the crevice of your elbow, or at the bend of your knee. Leave in place for a bare minimum of 15 minutes. Observe the location for signs of reaction.
- Wait a period of 8 hours without consuming any other edibles, before attempting the tasting portion of the test. You may drink water.
- Take the selected portion of plant and place on the outer surface of one or both lips. Leave in place for at least 3 minutes to determine if there is any negative reaction, such as burning or itching.
- Upon verification of no negative reaction transfer the selected portion of plant to the top of your tongue. Leave in this location for at least 15 minutes, again observing any negative reaction.
- Upon verification of no negative reaction, thoroughly chew a piece into a pasty like substance and hold in the mouth for at least 15 minutes. Do not swallow during this 15-minute waiting period, you are still observing any negative reactions.
- If after the 15-minute waiting period there has been no adverse or otherwise negative reaction, then you may swallow that initial piece. This does not conclude the test however.
- Once you’ve swallowed the initial piece of plant matter you need to wait for a period of at least 8 hours, during which time you may consume water, but no other food or plant matter.
- In the event that you feel ill during the 8 hour waiting period, it is highly recommended you consume as much water as possible and induce vomiting. You may even consume small quantities of charcoal to assist with neutralizing and removing the toxins present.
- On the other hand, if there are no ill side effects, or otherwise adverse conditions to be concerned with, then you may proceed by consuming up to, but no more than, ½ a cup of the same exact plant, prepared the same exact way.
- Wait an additional 8 hours after consuming this ½ cup of plant matter. If you do not experience any ill side effects, or otherwise have conditions of concern, then the plant may be considered safe to consume, provided it remains prepared the same way.
In the event a negative reaction is observed, begin conducting the same tests on a different plant. If the negative reactions occurred before you conducted the swallowing portion of the test, then wait for the reaction to disappear before beginning a new test. When conducting edibility tests on plants, make sure there are an abundance of similar plants in the region. It does not make sense to exhaust the time and energy to conduct an edibility test on plants that are not plentiful enough to make a meal out of.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION FOR IDENTIFYING PLANTS
The testing procedures detailed here are more visibility tests than they are actual edibility tests. These are observations you can make when in the wilderness that will assist you with determining whether or not to proceed with an edibility test, and/or consumption of a plant.
- Plants that have umbrella shaped flowers should be avoided. There are exceptions to this rule such as wild carrots, parsley and celery, which are all edible.
- Beans and peas should be excluded from consideration if found in an unknown/untrusted location. These will absorb any and all minerals from the surrounding soil. In a wilderness environment this could result in problems within the digestive tract.
- All bulb bearing plants should be avoided, unless you have firsthand knowledge indicating otherwise.
- Any and all plants that bear white, and/or yellow berries, should be avoided as they are toxic and poisonous. The same may be said for nearly half of all plants bearing red berries. Any plant bearing blue, and/or black berries, are generally considered safe to consume.
- Fruits and berries that grow in an aggregated fashion, such as raspberries, are generally considered safe for consumption.
- Single fruits that form on a stem of their own, are also considered safe for consumption.
- Plants that flourish in water, or around water, and/or in consistently moist soil, are generally much tastier than those found in drier conditions and climates.
- Any plant that is irritable to your flesh, should be avoided at all costs.
- Any and all plants that exhibit a milky sap like substance, are deemed poisonous.
These testing procedures should be followed for any wild flora found along the way, especially if you do not have complimentary literature with easily identifiable color photographs to assist and guide you. Again, you must be aware that the majority of plants we will come across have at least one, and in some cases several, edible segments to them. You must therefore test each and every part individually, as discussed above. In the event you have any doubt about the results of a testing procedure, discontinue use of the plant and proceed to find other suitable flora to examine. Coming down with a food borne illness, especially if it stems from a wild plant, while enduring a survival situation, is not a recipe for success. Remember, regardless of what your body is telling you, it can survive for lengthy periods of time without very much sustenance. Common sense and sound judgment are tools at your disposal too, employ them in this process.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T BRING FOOD WITH YOU?
While it is always a good idea to pack a few protein bars and a couple of carbohydrate rich edibles in your GO bag, eventually you may have to resort to scrounging around for wild edibles, and in those instances where all other options have been exhausted, you need to know what you are dealing with.
There are thousands of varieties of edible plants growing in the wilderness. In fact, unbeknownst to you, there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, or possibly even thousands of varieties of edible flora growing just outside your front door, depending of course on where you live. Were you aware that many species of lawn grass are edible? If they’ve been grown from trusted seed, and NEVER endure an interaction with chemical lawn care contaminants, such as weed and insect repellents/killers, then there is a fairly good chance they can be juiced and used as a source of emergency nutrition. In other words, you’re never far from a food source, if you just know what you’re looking for, or at. Number #1 recommendation for preppers and survivalists; get familiar with all forms of native flora and fauna. These are your meals when the S hits the F.
- Tubers are an underground edible similar to root vegetables. They are high in starch content and when found and used in the survival diet, they should be boiled, or roasted. A few of the plants that produce edible tubers are; cattail, yam, sweet potato, chufa, and arrowhead.
- Root vegetables & rootstalks provide another starch rich source of food. Root vegetables are normally found underground, provided you know what the surface structure of the plant looks like. Edible rootstalks can be found on plants such as cow parsnip, cattail, wild calla, chicory, canna lily, horseradish, water plantain, water lily, and lotus lily, to name a few. Remember, many of the bulbs here may be poisonous, so refrain from eating anything you are unsure of.
- Edible shoots, which grow in similar fashion to asparagus, can be consumed raw if necessary; however, it is highly recommended they be boiled if possible. Not only will boiling improve the texture of the plant, it will also remove any contaminants in the form of aphids, or other small insects. Bamboo, papaya, sugar cane, cattail, rattan, wild rhubarb and water lily are all plants with edible shoots.
- Edible leaves can be found on an enormous amount of native flora. Native flora refers to uncultivated plants that continue to grow in the wilderness without the assistance, or intervention of man. This class of wild edible boasts the greatest number of plants in the kingdom. Quite a few of the plants we come across in the wilderness have edible leaves, even if they do not appear so, or happen to have a protective composition that emits a chemical intended to entice a reaction. For instance, young nettle leaves need to be boiled in water before they may be comfortably consumed, otherwise they tend to exhibit the potential to sting sensitive flesh, such as the mouth, upon contact, most times with an immediate effect. Some of the more common plants that have edible leaves are; mountain sorrel, dandelion, nettle, and dock. The tender leaves of young plants, which have been identified as non-poisonous, are also edible. If you are unfamiliar with them, run them through a visibility and edibility test prior to consumption. You may also live in a region that has plants with an edible pith available, such as coconut, rattan, sago and sugar cane. Additionally, you may find that some of the flowers in your region, such as wild rose, papaya, banana, luffa sponge and horseradish, are all edible as well. Most pollen, the dusty looking yellow colored material, also has a significantly high value from a nutritional standpoint.
- Fruits are always among the most valuable types of fruit. They are generally easy to access, and provide essential vitamins and minerals, not to mention some have high concentrations of carbohydrates, such as raisins and dates. Wild cherries, wild strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, wild caper, and breadfruit are all edible fruits found in the wilderness.
- Cereal grains from all species of plants are not only edible, they are an excellent source of protein. Some of the common grains found in the wilderness include, bamboo, rice, millet, water lily, tamarind and nipa palm.
- Nuts are perhaps one of the best source of protein in the wild. The vast majority of nuts can be consumed raw, although some may taste better boiled. Acorns, almonds, beechnuts, cashews, walnuts, water chestnuts, and hazelnuts, are all excellent sources of survival protein.
TYPES OF POISONOUS PLANTS
We aren’t going to go into great detail in this section as poisonous plants vary from region to region. That being said, there are several common varieties of plants which are known to be poisonous and should be avoided at all costs. Hemlock and water hemlock are two of the most common and widespread plants that are poisonous. Learn to identify them and avoid them. Poison ivy, poison sumac, nightshade & nightshade berries, larkspur, thorn-apple, Monk’s hood, foxglove and buttercups are all known to be poisonous. Get a guidebook with clearly identifiable and color photographs depicting the poisonous flora in and around your region, as well as any you may be traveling to.
Fungi, commonly referred to as mushrooms, are also edible in some cases, and lethally poisonous in others. This is a short list of edible fungi; giant puffball, chanterelle, horse mushroom, slippery jack, horn of plenty and morel. You may also find edible fungi growing on the sides of a tree near the base, such as beefsteak, Dryad’s saddle, oyster, and honey.
Poisonous Fungi include, but are not limited to; death cap, destroying angel, leaden entoloma, panther cap and fly agaric. Another identifier of poisonous content in fungi, especially among ground cover mushrooms, is the ability to stain yellow. If you cut a mushroom open and it exhibits a yellowish stain, discard immediately and thoroughly wash the knife you used to cut open the fungus in the first place, as it will be contaminated with the toxin and may spread it to other food sources, complicating the ability to determine edible from poisonous food sources when conducting further testing of plants. Avoid any and all fungus that exhibits the following characteristics; white gills, an appendage near the base of the stem that appears similar to a cup from which the rest of the plant is growing. Avoid any decomposing fungus as well as any type you are unable to accurately identify. Do NOT, under any circumstances, consider submitting an unknown fungus to an edibility test, there isn’t an acceptable edibility test in place, as some can be extremely lethal regardless of how much is eaten.
WHAT ARE THE 4 RULES OF HUNTING FOR FOOD?
The first rule of acquiring animals as a food source is; do not waste more energy than can be replaced by harvesting the target animal. For instance, do not chase a wild rabbit for an hour and a half around a wooded forest before driving it into a trap, the amount of energy exerted in catching the rabbit cannot be replaced by the nutrition and protein available once you’ve cleaned, cooked, and eaten the rabbit, therefore it is a wasted effort. Yes, you may get to eat, but you will not be able to replenish the lost energy reserves, which will result in the necessity of consuming more food.
The second rule of acquiring animals as a food source is; know everything there possibly is to know about the animals you will be targeting. To obtain this information you will have to conduct individual research regarding the native fauna present in the areas you will be visiting as well as the regions in which you currently live. You need to focus on the various habits of the creatures within that portion of the animal kingdom; their mating habits and rituals, what types of game tracks they leave behind, identifying various forms of scat, what their eating, sleeping, and daily routines are, etc.
The third rule of acquiring animals as a food source is; have firearms available. This isn’t so much a rule as a logical suggestion. If you venture into the unknown without a firearm, you exponentially increase the odds against you, should you encounter a survival situation. Hunting animals with firearms is much easier, much quicker, and more humane than snaring, and or trapping them, both of which can entail finishing the kill by hand. If you do take firearms with you, be sure to follow and obey all firearms safety protocols; being alone in the woods does not exclude you from potential mishaps. In the event you are hunting with firearms, there are a few hunting tips to follow; always hunt upwind, or at least cross wind, (in other words, the wind should always be blowing in your face, if the wind is hitting your back, it is pushing your scent out in front of you and alerting any and all game animals of your presence.), maintain silence, employ slow methodical movements to improve noise reduction, rest frequently, look and listen when taking a break, observe the surroundings, try to blend in with the natural flora in order to provide camouflage. Be prepared and alert at all times. Quite often game animals will catch you off guard, especially small ones, as they try to hunker down when a predator is in the vicinity, reserving their energy to make one final sprint for safety at the last possible second, startling the hunter in the process.
The fourth rule of acquiring animals as a food source is; never take more than you can consume, and/or store appropriately and adequately. Waste not, want not. The amount of food you should consider harvesting from animals will depend largely on a number of factors; how many people are in the survival party, how long has it been since everyone has eaten, how long will you be staying in the current location, what means you have of storing any excess. Bear in mind that if you take more than you can use, the remains will attract larger, potentially lethal, predatory animals. Depending on where you happen to be that can include mountain lions, bears, wolves, etc. While we are on the subject of harvesting just enough food from game animals to survive, perhaps we should also mention knowing where to place a kill shot. Do your research, and learn where to place a kill shot on various sizes and types of animals; you may also want to do the research on types of firearms to consider taking along. Rifles, handguns and shotguns all have advantages and disadvantages to a survival scenario as they pertain to hunting.
TRACKING ANIMALS IN THE WILDERNESS
In order to improve the odds of a successful hunt, it is imperative that you know what to look for. Animals leave all types of signs in the wilderness. If you know what these signs are, as well as what they mean, you will have a better chance of being successful in your quest for food.
- Game Trails—follow them downhill to find a watering hole; follow them uphill to find feeding locations, and/or bedding locations.
- Scat—animals eat in the wilderness, so they leave waste in the wilderness. Scat can help you identify the type of animal that left it, as well as the size of the animal in question.
- Game Tracks—this refers to the tracks left behind by the animal; this can include paw prints, as well as impressions left behind by snakes, and/or lizards which may be dragging their tail in the dust behind them. Get a field guide of these tracks to use for reference. These signs can tell you what type of animal you are stalking, how big it is, which direction it is traveling in, how many are traveling together, etc.
- Environmental Impact—this refers to signs of an animal’s presence. Several animals in the wilderness will “mark” their territory. They do this through a number of methods, such as rubs, scrapes and gnawing. With rubs and scrapes you may recognize trees that appear to have been clawed, or rubbed raw near the base of the trunk extending to about waist high. You may also notice large patches of foliage that have been upended, clearing an area to bare earth. In the case of beavers, you may recognize gnawed tree trunks, or trees currently being worked on. Learn what these signs are and what they mean, as they can assist you in achieving a successful hunt.
If you find game trails, along with fresh game tracks, and/or scat, use these to locate a feeding/bedding area, and/or a watering hole. Maximize your potential by setting snares and traps in strategic locations, as well as finding a strategic location to set up your hunting blind. Hunt the feeding/bedding grounds and/or the watering hole, in the early morning or early evening for best results. Set traps and snares along game trails and near dens. Check traps and snares every morning and evening. If you harvest an animal that is too large for you to consume, and you have no means of storing the excess, it is recommended that you clean and prepare the animal a significant distance from your base camp. This way the excess can be discarded for predators to find, hopefully without compromising the safety of the entire camp.
HOW TO HUNT FOR FOOD WITHOUT FIREARMS
It goes without saying that hunting for food, especially in a survival situation, may require the use of materials found in nature, such as deadfall traps and small snares. While there are several methods of constructing these helpful hunting devices, we will focus on a few of the more important things to be aware of when using these instruments to supplement your food reserves. For more specific information on how to set traps and snares, we recommend conducting research on the proper construction of traps and snares suitable for the environment and situation you might find yourself in.
THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SETTING TRAPS & SNARES
When it comes to using traps and snares to secure food in the wilderness, you need to be aware of a wide variety of options. The style of trap being used, as well as the size of trap required, should focus on the animal being targeted. Snares are made using a length of wire, or string, which is fashioned into a loop. Snares should be strategically positioned in such a manner as to force an animal to place their head through the loop. Once activated the snare will tighten around the neck of the animal and induce death, although it may not be very rapid, or humane. It is for this reason that snares, and traps, should be monitored on a regular basis. Check them at least once a day, twice if possible, in the morning and again towards dusk. This provides you with several opportunities to retrieve any animals captured, as well as reset snares, and/or ensure they are still functioning. Use extreme caution when approaching snares to check them, there may be other predatory animals in the vicinity, possibly lured in by the sound or smell of an animal in despair. You can use commercial snares, many of them are self-locking; however, homemade snares can be just as lethal and effective provided they are constructed out of a material suitable for holding the animal(s) being targeted.
A few things to remember when setting snares;
- The loop of the snare should remain unrestricted and open, allowing it to tighten on an animal when activated.
- The loop of the snare should be kept up off the ground, preferably at the height of the target animal’s head.
- Refrain from traversing, or interfering, with game trails when setting snares. The scent of a human will discourage the animal from using the path.
- Site snares on well-worn game trails that display an abundance of activity, near an animal’s den, and/or near a feeding ground.
- Camouflage the snare with foliage from the surrounding area. This camouflage should be situated in such a manner as to assist directing an animal to the actual snare.
Although not often considered to be a snaring target, birds can also be caught and harvested through the use of snares. A simple fishing net strung between trees where birds are often seen gathering may net you just enough for a survival dinner while making your way back to safety. In fact, the fishing net is a snare of sorts itself and can be used to harvest fish from a stream, creek, or river, in the absence of having pole and reel type fishing gear.
DEADFALL TRAPS AND THEIR HIDDEN DANGERS
These are very simple traps to improvise in the wilderness. Deadfall traps normally consist of a bait/trip line, a trigger, and a weight. These items are strategically arranged in such a manner as to disable/kill an animal when the bait/trip line is taken, trigger activated, and weight released. There are several deadfall trap designs you should become familiar with, as well as various trigger mechanisms and objects to consider using as the weight. Word of caution; Depending on the size of deadfall trap being built, always ensure you do NOT position yourself beneath the object being used as a weight. Accidents can and do happen; you do not want to become your deadfall trap’s first victim!
You can establish deadfall traps to use a single object as the kill weight, or multiple objects as the kill weights, thereby increasing your odds of a successful hit. The trigger mechanism is by far the most essential piece of the deadfall trap puzzle. This critical piece must incorporate both sturdiness and sensitivity. The trigger must be sturdy enough to withstand wind gusts, yet sensitive enough to activate when interacted with by an animal. This can be very tricky to accomplish if the trap utilizes a bait rather than a trip line. Bait(s) normally need to be placed on the trigger mechanism itself, whereas a trip line can be established anywhere along a game trail, relying on the animal’s natural activities to bring it through the target area.
WHAT ELSE CAN WE EAT BESIDES PLANTS & GAME ANIMALS?
Catching and eating snakes and insects is not something many of us ever give much consideration to. However, in a survival situation, these types of meals may be all we can come across. Under those circumstances we will need to harvest what we can from where we can.
- Use a sturdy forked stick to pin the snake’s head to the ground, from behind preferably. Make sure the fork of the stick isn’t wide enough to allow the snake to wriggle free.
- Using a separate stick of larger diameter, club the snake until dead.
- Using a sharp knife, remove the head of the snake from the body.
- Using the same sharp knife, slit open the belly side of the body, and remove all innards.
- Use the knife to assist with removing the skin from the remainder of the snake’s body.
- Rinse meat thoroughly with clean water.
- Roast over an open fire.
- Use extreme caution when foraging for insects; they often live in the same locations as snakes, potentially poisonous spiders, and the occasional scorpion, all of which can cause severe pain, and/or death!
- Avoid consuming insects known to meddle or feed on excrement; these will be carriers of infection.
- Avoid consuming insects that have a brightly colored exterior; these are often poisonous.
- Avoid grubs if they are found beneath leaves; these may be secreting a toxic fluid.
- Ants should be boiled or cooked for approximately 6 minutes prior to consumption; this will remove any toxins present.
- Remove the heads, wings, and legs of insects such as locust and crickets prior to consuming them.
FISH AS A FOOD SOURCE
One of the more abundant sources of food on the planet is fish. Fish can be found all over the world. In fact, over 75% of the surface of this planet is covered in water, which means there are plenty more fish in the sea than people on land. In the modern era, the citizens of the United States consume an average of 4.8 billion pounds of seafood annually. We can find fish in a number of locations; ponds, streams, creeks, rivers, lakes, and in the ocean(s). That being said, it may be easier for us to find and harvest fish during a survival situation than actual game in the form of land based wildlife. Another advantage to fishing for your food is that the fish cannot smell you from their location, so you do not have to concern yourself with that aspect of the hunt.
This style of fishing consists of casting a baited, and/or weighted, line into a body of water, preferably where fish are either known to exist, or expectations of such are high. Once the baited/weighted line has been introduced to the water it is allowed to rest on the bottom of the bed, or at the lowest suspended point of line beneath a floating bobber, until such a time as a strike is felt. When a fish strikes the bait, the line is given a quick and sudden jerk to set the hook, and then the line is reeled in and the fish retrieved.
One of the more difficult methods of fishing, even when all of the proper gear is available and accompanied by talent/skill. This type of fishing in a survival situation is probably going to be extremely tricky to pull off successfully, but it can be tried. This process consists of using a floatable object that has the appearance of an insect as the bait. The bait is introduced by casting the object upstream, allowing it to settle on the surface of the water, where it then floats downstream past you. With any luck a fish will bite, at which time the hook is set, and the fish retrieved. Bear in mind that this type of fishing can only be conducted with any hope of success during the warmer months of the year when actual insects are present around a viable water source. Attempting to fly fish in the winter will be an exercise in futility.
This is commonly referred to as “running trotlines.” Trotlines are established by “running” a length of fishing line from one bank of the river to the other. This main line rests either on the surface of the water, or slightly below. Off of this main line are several secondary trotlines extending to various depths from the main line. The trotlines are baited and left to float at the established depth. The main line and all trotlines are checked periodically, at which time fish are removed, trotlines are baited again and reset to catch more fish.
TIPS & TRICKS FOR CATCHING MORE FISH
- Whenever possible attempt to use some form of natural bait; insects, minnows, etc.
- Hook selection; better to use a small hook than one that is too big. Small hooks can catch large fish; large hooks cannot catch small fish.
- When you catch a fish, remember what method, and/or bait you were using; repeat these methods to improve opportunities of success.
- If the fish are not biting, attempt a different method of fishing, and/or change your lure.
- Bear in mind that fish tend to become more active during changes in the weather. Fishing at these times should improve your odds of landing a catch.
- If near the ocean foraging for shellfish, avoid consuming any that remain exposed to the elements during high tide. They should be completely submerged in water and remain that way until harvested, otherwise they should be discarded and avoided!
- If a fish is caught, salvage the excess material, eyes and innards, to be used as bait the following day. Most fish are carnivorous; they eat other fish, so they should be attracted to portions of fish entrails as bait.
PROPERLY PREPARING & COOKING FISH
One of the easiest methods of preparing fish for consumption involves the process of filleting. Most meal fish can be filleted right off the backbone, without ever touching the innards. Begin by cutting vertically up the side of the fish, just behind the gill to the spine; be careful not to slice through the spine, it won’t damage the meat but it will make removing the fillet a little more difficult. Once you have made this incision, you simply remove the fillet knife and reinsert in parallel to the spine of the fish and begin making a horizontal incision along the spine on that side of the fish, from point of first vertical incision down and next to the tail. Continue peeling open the fish and making additional cuts along the spine until reaching the rib cage. At this point carve along the rib cage leaving the bone structure of the entire fish intact. Flip the fillet over and cut off near the demarcation line of the fish belly where it transitions to a white/yellow color. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the fish. Once you have removed both fillets, pin the tail sections down to an immovable object, think cutting board, and use the fillet knife to gently remove the fillet from the skin. The skin side of the fish should be in contact with the hard surface when performing this maneuver.
In a survival situation, where a fire is the only suitable surface for cooking, and no other utensils are available, such as a pan, or baking sheet, take a look around your location. You need to find a flat firm object, preferably a dry, non-porous stone. Use this as your cooking surface by placing it in, or very near, the fire. Allow the flat stone to heat properly, then place the fish on the stone to cook. If you do not have utensils at your disposal, then attempt to position the stone near, or over the fire, place fish on stone when properly heated, and allow to cook until the flesh becomes white and flaky. Remove from fire and eat.
You may also have to invent new methods of cooking fish over a fire. The primary concern here is the flakiness of the fish. As fish cooks and becomes flaky, it begins to fall apart. If there is nothing for it to rest on while cooking, it will eventually fall into the fire, wasting the effort expended to obtain the meal in the first place, which is a recipe for disaster in a survival situation. Always remember, never expend more energy catching the food than it can replenish!
STASHING & STOCKPILING SURVIVAL FOOD
Now that we have covered just about everything there is to know about foraging for wild edibles, hunting wild game animals, trapping and snaring small game, and fishing for survival food sources, perhaps we should take a few moments to discuss survival food kits which are sold by a wide variety of manufacturers throughout the preparedness industry.
First things first, you should have at least a 3-day supply of food for every member of your household on hand at all times. The 72-hour supply recommendation comes from emergency preparedness planners around the world. The majority of natural disaster scenarios are over within a 72-hour period. This doesn’t mean that everything has returned to normal after that initial 72-hour window, it simply means that emergency responders have arrived on scene and are attempting to manage the situation to the best of their abilities. That being said, history has shown that emergency response units are incapable of addressing the vast majority of large scale disaster situations. It is for this reason that we recommend expanding your survival food stash to ensure it can accommodate a much lengthier time frame than the initial 72-hours.
Depending on the level of preparedness you want to achieve, you can obtain survival food kits suitable for a single person for a period of 72-hours, or you can consider obtaining survival food kits capable of sustaining an entire family for several months or even years; the decision is entirely up to you. Below is a condensed list of survival food kits for your consideration. This is not a complete list, but it will point you in the right direction. You can expand upon this list by conducting your own research at your convenience.
This wraps up what you need to know about establishing a survival food plan. We always recommend that you begin small and work your way towards the ultimate goal of becoming fully prepared. If/when the day arrives that we need to begin foraging for food to provide us with enough sustenance to survive, it will be wise to be very well rounded. Knowing how to hunt, fish, and forage for wild edibles may be the difference between surviving and dying. Having this knowledge is only part of the bigger picture; now you need to get out there and practice these skills and techniques. Because here’s the thing, if you can’t hunt or fish successfully when it isn’t necessary to support and sustain life, then you have very little chance of being successful in a real life or death scenario. If you are still unsure about hunting or fishing, then ask around, somebody you know does these things on a regular basis, get in touch with them and have them teach you firsthand how to conduct the various tasks attributed to each of these endeavors!