The Problem with Relying on Hunting and Gathering for Survival

Guest post today from Selkirk. Thanks Selkirk!

– Ranger Man


The man next to me at the range was teaching his wife, young son, and teenage daughter to shoot pictures of squirrels with an auto-loading, AR-styled, .22 caliber rimfire rifle. He seemed like a bearded Al Bundy from Married with Children, and had the same defeated look about him. During a break in the fire, I asked him with all sincerity if he ate a lot of squirrels. He almost seemed pleased with the question, and explained to me that you have to feed the family any way you can when the End Times come. At that point his daughter was embarrassed enough to case the rifle and hide out in the family van just to avoid the coming discussion of apocalypse. This was not an isolated incident. If I go to the range two or three times, I’m guaranteed to find someone who is banking on the local wildlife to bail him or her out of the amorphous SHTF scenario.

The idea of returning to a life independent of domesticated plants and animals is an appealing one, and nothing puts you off the grid like paring things down to just you and nature. The reality of making this kind of a transition, however, runs us into a troubling Malthusian catastrophe. If you read very much about people who survive on wild foods alone, true hunter-gatherers, you will find that the strategy can support population densities of roughly one or two people per square mile of territory. Given that the entire land area of the earth is somewhat less than 60 million square miles, the human population currently exceeds the carrying capacity of the planet by about 6.5 billion people, assuming that we all have to live on deer, squirrels, perch, and dandelion greens. If we suppose a disaster that wipes out 95% of the human population without damaging any of our wildlife, and the surviving people are evenly distributed across the land area of the planet, then we should be fine.

It’s true, of course, that the end of the world as we know it need not necessarily be so dramatic. A more survivor-friendly apocalypse might take the grid down, but leave our preparations intact. In such a case, hunting might well provide a valuable supplement to stored and cultivated foods. On the other hand, it certainly would not be part of a long term solution.  A quick look through the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife web site shows that Maine’s most palatable game animals were decimated during the poorly regulated 19th Century. Wild turkeys were the first to go, having been extirpated early in the 1800’s. A deer season was established within ten years of the 1820 founding of the state, and rules governing the taking of deer became progressively more restrictive until the season had to be closed entirely in the state’s most populous counties around the turn of the century. There were only about 2,000 moose left in Maine at the time, and there were approximately 0.7 million people in the state according to the 1900 census.

The situation has dramatically improved over the last 100 years. Careful wildlife management by the state government has allowed deer populations to rebound to an impressive 250,000, even as the number of people soared to more than 1.3 million. There are now about 30,000 moose, about 2,500 of which may be taken by permit each year. Wild turkeys have been reintroduced, and the population is healthy enough to again allow hunting. Given the natural history of our game species, the state of nature in Maine is an impressive success story. The protagonist in this story is the state itself, which has insulated our natural resources against an incidentally antagonistic public for longer than any living person can recall. In the absence of government, a condition much anticipated by my armed and downtrodden friend at the rifle range, I’m afraid that the squirrel stew may not hold out for long.

54 comments… add one
  • Prepared N.D. July 6, 2011, 8:22 am

    Excellent article. It wouldn’t take a mad max scenario for this to happen either. Some people in my area (low income/unemployed) are already hunting and fishing to meet their protein requirements. It hasn’t changed management policy yet, but I’m willing to bet a dollar we’re going to see stricter limits in the seasons to come. A lot of these people (some I know) take animals out of season, without permits and tags. I stick to the law, but if I were in their situation I would probably bend the rules also. You have to do what you have to do.

    Game depopulation would be inevitable I’m afraid. Especially in an area like mine where there are rural areas with 30-50p/sqmi population densities surrounded by larger metropolitan areas.

    Other than gardening, animal husbandry, and a stocked pantry, I think it would be wise to keep supplies on hand to process a large animal and store it without electricity. If you can’t afford food, you may not be able to afford electricity either. Another thing is efficiency of your homestead. I often hear stories of people who literally work all day (hard, manual labor) just to squeak by and keep the chores under control. My experience hasn’t been anything close to that. Maybe a few hours a day (when we’re totally off grid – due to storms or practice). This focus on efficiency and having the right tool for the job probably makes my efforts more expensive, but I see this as an investment. I have much more free time, and my protein/caloric demands are a fraction of what they would be without the conscious effort to make life easy off the grid. A pound of meat can last my family 1-1.5 days. Most people I know eat more than that in a single meal.

    • Odd Questioner July 7, 2011, 3:46 pm

      My recommendation (for storing meats?) Salt, and smoke. Learning how to cure meat w/o refrigeration is paramount, whatever type of meat you come across (fish, deer, whatever).

      This means stocking up (a lot) on salt, but well worth it IMHO.

  • gat31 July 6, 2011, 8:48 am

    I remember when l was in school they had pictures in our history books of hundreds of buffalo laying dead in a field with just the tongues cut out. Being Iroquois Indian, knowing how much we used every possible inch we could not to waste the animal, seeing those pictures made me very sad, and very angry. Those pictures pretty much shaped my views on guns, and hunting for sport, for the rest of my life. Fast forward 30 something years and l have matured enough to know that there are many programs out there that have strived to repopulate the buffalo and other animals that have been on the verge of extinction. (l now have Buffalo less than 10 miles from my house)
    I agree with you that hunting as a supplement to your preps is fine because we will then go back to using the meat for food as opposed to using the heads for decoration. Maybe next time you’re at the range, ask them what kind of backup plan do they have? Cause l can see all the hunters and non hunters here all trying to hit the woods at once being a disaster to be honest. Those of us in a position to keep our own animals for meat great! Those of us who can’t l say get the brightest darn jumpsuit you can so if you do have to hunt for food, hopefully the other yahoos don’t shoot you by mistake.
    Just a side note here, why would you shoot at squirrels anyways? Seems to me my neighbor has the best solution to this one. He uses rat traps placed in his garden. Catches the squirrels and doesn’t leave pellets and shrapnel in the meat. Just a suggestion.

    • GoneWithTheWind July 6, 2011, 1:11 pm

      I have seen those same pictures and what you describe was a sad commentary on a period in Western U.S. history. But you need to understand that these were not “hunters” anymore then Jack the ripper was a surgeon. The buffalo were killed by greedy people who happened to use guns to do it. I have also visited buffalo jump which is just one of those places where early Americans killed far more buffalo then they could ever use. Should cliffs be outlawed??

      • answerman July 6, 2011, 8:56 pm

        The buffalo hunters of the 1860’s to 1880’s were hunting for profit. The new factories that poped up after the Civil War used belting on their factory machines. (drive shafts had not been invented). It was found that the buffalo leather outlasted cow leather. Also, buffalo coats were popular and the bones were used for fertilizer, but…
        Trying to imagine thousands of city slickrs running around in the nearby woods looking for some type of animal to feed themselves or their families is going to be a major problem. You can bet that they will shoot at anything that moves! Sort of reminds me of the movie “The Road”, where the people kill other people to eat them!
        It’s best to have a survival retreat at least a gas tank away from a major metropoplation area.

    • Jarhead 03 July 6, 2011, 1:22 pm

      I feel you there having some Siuox blood running through my veins I was lucky enough to be stationed at Camp Pendleton, California and see buffalo roaming freely on the base and to even having to call off live fire training because the occasional buffalo wondered on our range. I was raised when you hunt, you use every part of the animal, the hide/fur, meat, the innards that you can’t eat for the scavenger animals, the bones I have made or given to others that make ceremonial items or weapons from them.

  • Leon July 6, 2011, 9:24 am

    Well written and thought out! I have had similar experiences at the local shooting range. Since I live in the west, the apocalypse folks here use elk or deer silhouettes in their target practice.
    For a reality check, all one has to do is look at their state’s harvest statistics of big game animals in any given year. Where I hunt elk here in Oregon, the success rate is 6 percent!
    Hunting and fishing may be a diet supplement, but won’t replace a well-thought out food storage plan!

    • Odd Questioner July 6, 2011, 10:39 am

      I can vouch for the Oregon stats. Only been going at it (elk) for three years up here, but the stats are about the same here as in Utah (I managed one cow elk and one spike over nearly a decade of hunting in Utah’s back country), and I suspect the same story is true in most western states.

      Personally, if you come across someone boasting about how they’re going to hunt to survive, tell him that maybe feral cats, rodents (mice, rats, opossum, etc), and birds (pigeon, robin, etc) will provide his family with a steadier supply of protein than deer ever will. The look on his face immediately afterwards will tell you instantly if he’s just yapping, or if he is serious about post-SHTF survival.

      As gross as it sounds, if you want protein post-SHTF and don’t raise livestock, that’s likely how you’re going to have to get it. On the plus side, hungry people aren’t generally picky people. ;)

  • WSC July 6, 2011, 9:32 am

    Well said. Also, shooting targets at the range is fine, but really is the easiest part of hunting anything. Oh, and squirrel will be uncommon on the sideboard, rats will be the most likely target.

  • Spook45 July 6, 2011, 10:07 am

    The problem with everyone planning to hunt fish and grow thier own food is that EVERYONE will hunting fishing and growing thier own food! I live in the styx and after the first great depression by the late 1970s, the deer were almost hunted out in my are to the point that there was no hunting season, and if there was you could only take one buck and no does. The presenting problem is that when every swingin dick in the country is trying to kill something to eat, conservation goes out the window out of desperation to feed the family. The only way this will ever work is if you live so far out that the population density is low enough to not impact the wildlife. Just remeber folks if you kill everything you see, there wont be any to eat tommorow. People where I live all want to kill a buck during deer season so the norm is that if the antlers are over 4″ long the ykill it, but then they complain that there are no big bucks to hunt. The point is, if you kill them while they are small, there will never be any big ones!! fish are far higher in population and much easier to catch than game is to hunt. They do not require ammunition to gather . rudimentory fish traps can be made with what you can find in nature and hooks can be made for fish bones picked up along the shoreline. Please remember your proper conservation even during survival situations. I understand that that letting a deer walk when there is only one is a bad idea it may be the only food you see that day, but if there is more than one, pick carefully and only take what you need. Dont waste anything, if it is eadible, use it! Save the sinue and the hyde and the antlers and anything you can use for tools, bait, food or cordage. Follow the American Indian tradition, and use everything you can.

    • Joe July 7, 2011, 9:32 am

      You’re absolutely right, Spook45. It’s nice to think “I’ll just hunt and gather my way through tough times.” but unfortunately there will be a LOT of people who are unprepared doing the same thing. I believe wildlife will be scarce very quickly after a collapse or disaster.

  • irishdutchuncle July 6, 2011, 10:31 am

    Pennsylvania is a similar story. most species have come back from the edge, but they’ll be sent right back to it, if chicken, beef and pork become unavailable. my cat gets all the duck, vennison and salmon she wants. (from the pet food store) i’m jealous.

    cooking small game is a bit more involved than getting food from the store. now is the time to collect instructions, and recipes. squirrel, possum, ground hog, “rat” and pigeon, seem pretty un-appetizing to me now, but that may be the alternative to starvation. (pigeons were originally brought here because the people thought they were very tasty)

    hunting to the verge of extinction isn’t always a bad idea. the “wolf at your door” is just an “expression” around here. the majority of mountain lions are in zoos. there are more than enough two legged predators here to worry about.

    • Jarhead Survivor July 6, 2011, 12:18 pm

      Hunger, as they say, is the best sauce. I was doing some survival training in Gitmo, Cuba years back and I remember finding some snails in the ocean. After a couple of days with not much food (it was very dry in that part of Cuba) I cooked those bad boys up in an ammo can I found and thought they were delicious!

      I have the feeling a lot of folks would be the same way with rat, squirrel or whatever once they get hungry enough.

      • Joe July 7, 2011, 9:33 am

        I like that saying, Jarhead. “Hunger is the best sauce.”

  • riverrider July 6, 2011, 11:36 am

    ditto here. one of the oldest hunt clubs in the country is in amelia, va. they have logs going back to the 1800’s. they log the highlight of the year. during the depression, the log says” saw a deer track, put dogs on it”…my grampa had 50 acres in the stix. we hunted every free moment and never even saw a deer. the most excited i ever saw him was one day he found a turky TRACK on the farm. ran all the way to the house to tell everbody. now, you can’t walk 10 feet without seeing game on the same 50 acres. when i got my first place, 8 acres in a state forest, i thought i was set for survival. two weeks later turkey season opened and i couldn’t even get out my driveway for all the city hunters lining every square foot of the road. i was scared to go outdoors. some were from 150 miles away. i realized i better make alternate food plans right then. my bet is those guys plan on bugging out to the state forest.

    • Odd Questioner July 6, 2011, 3:46 pm

      You actually bring up an excellent point.

      I get the feeling that in any such situation, folks who can will be showing up in droves to places where they have hunted before. I suspect that the dynamic will change a bit in a crisis, since getting home, insuring enough fuel to get home, and etc will start becoming factors. Also, it’s not just a bunch of buddies going out on a hunt, it’s daddy bringing the wife and kids, and *all* of them will be out there, likely trying to have a go at living out of their RV/trailer/whatever.

      Sadly, I’m thinking that it’ll take awhile to keep them off your land (well, at least away from your livestock and garden), and to wait for enough of them to die off (starvation, violence, accident, name it) to get things back to a calm state.

      OTOH, it all depends on where you live.

      Let me play out an example:

      The hunting area I played in back in Utah was 25 miles away from the nearest town (Salina, in Sevier County), on BLM land, and required 5-10 additional miles of hard back-country road before you could get anywhere. In spite of all that, on opening day of Elk season, you couldn’t take a leak anywhere in that area without another hunter seeing you do it. I’d lost count of the times when I’d hear a ricochet off a nearby tree (before I learned to chuck it and stay in camp on opening day.) The vast majority of folks would leave that Sunday afternoon, and you’d practically have the place to yourself by that Monday morning.

      Needless to say, getting to and from that area required a lot of fuel, water (there was a semi-hidden artesian well if you knew where to find it), and food.

      Now, in a SHTF situation, I could easily see half of those yokels trying to get out to the same spot. Out of that half, about 1/2 of them still would fail to get that far due to traffic, lack of fuel, or worse. That cuts down the total to around 1/4 of the crowd. Of that grand total of 1/4 left, you can eliminate all but a trickle if this happens during the winter (snow in Utah can get downright evil – moreso when yo ustart creeping towards 10,000′ above sea level.)

      OTOH, this is definitely something worth researching a bit – say, figure down the population centers, and where they would likely migrate, depending on time of year and etc.

  • Calamity Jane July 6, 2011, 1:05 pm

    Here in Iowa the game bird populations and fish populations are at dismal levels. Deer populations are doing ok.
    I expect to be getting protein from failing confinement lots more than hunting. At least at first.

  • Spook45 July 6, 2011, 1:10 pm

    Just went home for lunch and saw three turkeys in my back yard. They are a re-intro species here. When I was growing up, there were no turkeys in the wild in my part of the country.

  • Jarhead 03 July 6, 2011, 1:39 pm

    There are some communities here in California overran with rabbits and squirrels and like everyone else have heard people say they would hunt/trap them if something happened(doubt they can prep them). Even while on base visiting my old Marine unit since I’m out now, seen rabbits and squirrels galore but like this excellent post and like minded realists know the facts that human to critter ratio there is NOT ENOUGH to go around. I can’t have livestock where I live due to zoning laws so I stock up on food but if god forbid I had to hunt for rabbit/squirrel/frogs I know some areas I hike that I’ve never seen a soul in almost 2 years.

  • Anonymous July 6, 2011, 3:45 pm

    We live on more than 800 acres outside a town of just under 1000 people. Everyone in this area has a gun and hunts. Occasionally we have people on our land that were not invited. I can well imagine that the abundant game we have now won’t last long. Certainly we will be hunting but don’t use it as a food plan, just extra.

  • john July 6, 2011, 4:29 pm

    > population densities of roughly one or two people per square mile of territory.

    If you read the writings of people such as Maurice Strong and Cass Susstein, their “ideal” for planet earth is 2 billion people. So, I guess that would work out to about that.

    That being said, if a working man needs a minimum of 2,000 calories per day, how many are in a squirrel anyways? :-D

    • Selkirk July 6, 2011, 4:35 pm

      My rough numbers came in at less than a billion. I haven’t read Strong or Susstein, and so I can’t evaluate their calculations at the moment.

      One pound of boneless squirrel meat yields approximately 550 calories.

  • Briar Rabbit July 6, 2011, 5:22 pm

    HEY! … I was that guy! Today they’re known as, “Gun Preppers.”

    Guns are more fun than grain grinders! Meat is a too common food. But when you actually have to kill/clean it, you change. It’s NOT fun anymore!

    I can see that this will be a BIG security problem and all the “purple paint,” and “No Hunting/Tresspassing,” signs in the world won’t slow them down.

    But lack of transport will…
    Let your (near the) fence grass grow up and over some low tangle-foot barbwire and shoot at anyone stuck in it! Of course this will be a full time job…

    I can see livestock rustling and garden thieving being a huge problem… Worse than raiders! Instead of letting them steal it – or shooting them, hire them to protect it, for regular meals!

    I’ve ate crow, possum and coon. (Rat is next! I’ve read that it’s yummy!) It’s a great post-apoc survival food. It’s best cut fine (=2stringy) and dried/smoked. Plenty of greasy meat to keep you healthy.

    I can imagine the PROTECTING of your local varmints will become a needed task.

    Give your varmints a safe(r) zone to live in, manage them. Respect them. Sure, you’ll still need to eat them, but at least they will be around.

    • Selkirk July 6, 2011, 5:43 pm

      I suspected that you were a subscriber. Glad you’re well.

      • Briar Rabbit July 7, 2011, 2:46 am

        No, Selkirk, I’m not a subscriber. I’m just a lurker. I only comment when I have something to add. But thanks for the love!

        After becoming a varminter, I’ve found that it is NOT Fun. It’s not (that) yummy, and it’s not any kind of good time.

        It does however remind me of the fragility of our food systems. One could say my, “semi-professional” varminting has vastly increased my dry food storage!

        Varmints while not as good as livestock, are better in oil content. But I am currently being overun by grasshoppers! I read that they’re yummy.

        Now (since no one else conciders them food, I must invent a round, rope trap to drive them into a cooking/fire area.

        It used to be a group activity with Real (Original) Americans.

        Crunchy and good, unless your allergic to shellfish. (chitin = shellfish shells)

        Anyway, it’s an important topic, and one that should increase a smart readers dry food storage.

        Write on!

  • No ME Preppy July 6, 2011, 6:56 pm

    I always knew that hunting wasn’t a sustainable post-SHTF food fathering activity. My worry now is that the yahoos will start “hunting” livestock. That amounts to theft, and will be dealt with accordingly.

  • Ranger Man July 6, 2011, 6:57 pm

    Insects – that’s where the REAL food will be!

  • Michael July 6, 2011, 8:24 pm

    How are people going to go hunting out in the sticks when their cars are out of gas? Or it’s $20 a gallon, or there’s trees down and roads washed out and there’s no money to fix the roads?

    Come a big calamity no one’s going hunting unless they’re good with a bicycle.

    • Odd Questioner July 6, 2011, 9:29 pm

      You’d be amazed at how easy it’ll be (at first) to get gas.

      A half-tank of gas is good for anywhere from 100 miles to 250 miles. Plenty of fuel to pack the family and a tent and get out of dodge (not saying it’s a *good* idea, but I can see it happening). Folks with RVs will likely have enough gas (depending on season) to get the same distance.

      The downside is, once they run out, they’re stuck. If the place where they get stuck is in your backyard, you’re not going to be rid of them that easily.

      Personally, I’m liking the idea of living in a small community out deep in the Oregon Cascades. Far enough out of town to be a serious problem getting there post-SHTF, but close enough to still get a decent internet connection. Hopefully, it’ll have enough of a population to help convince the hordes to keep moving.

      • Michael July 7, 2011, 12:16 am

        I suppose it all depends on how things fall apart. I figure it’s going to be different in different places. A few big cities might blow up with riots. Parts of the SE might go from hurricanes. Power failures, lack of water, and lawlessness will probably be the end of Phoenix and Vegas. In all of those you’d see big chunks of people moving quickly.

        But, most places, I figure will fall apart more slowly. Lack of money means ditches wont get cleaned and pavement wont get repaired, so the roads start to crumble and flood. Trees don’t get trimmed so the power goes out more often and stays out longer when it does. People will have less money, worse credit, and there’s less money out there to lend these days. So, when peoples cars die (prematurely thanks to the bad roads) they wont get replaced. It’s really this slow collapse I had in mind when I posted above.

        Estacada, Oregon sounds like it might be right about your speed. I spent a lot of time on a farm near there as a kid. Great place.

        • Odd Questioner July 7, 2011, 9:27 am

          You’re right… things could certainly take their time dying off. OTOH, if it falls apart that slowly, then things may become more violent (via riots, etc), and folks will evacuate much more slowly, allowing traffic to actually become navigable.

          I think though, that as governments begin running out of money, they’ll keep certain core bits going (fire, police, utilities), but will start cutting back on entitlements and ‘frills’ (libraries, assisted/county housing, etc). Local governments will become more reliant on state money, and states will become ever more reliant on federal money -and has incidentally already begun…

          Been sniffing more towards the coast (Vernonia, etc) than southwards, because even though my new job allows telecommuting 2-3 days a week, I still have to drive in those other days. I figure a 1-hour commute is still somewhat doable at my (admittedly sizable) salary, even if gasoline goes to $10/gal (at which point I think the company would allow telecommuting 4-5 days/week, or I’d just rent a cheap-assed apartment closer to town for those days). A 1-hour commute allows me to live out as far as Tillamook, parts of Southern Washington, or a healthy distance South and East of Salem… a circle about that size.

  • john July 6, 2011, 8:31 pm

    I think the real problem with hunting big animals in this day and age if SHTF will be people with no morals hunting you and killing you to get your gun and whatever you have. Be it a truck, ammo, gun, etc. whatever is on your person and in your truck. Then using your wallet/registration to go to your house and finish the crimes. A person hidden 100 feet off the road lying in wait to ambush you, even in light brush, is nearly impossible to see while pulling up in a vehicle.

    People like the ones that killed the Petit family could just wait where they think a hunter would go, kill him as he gets out of the truck, then go visit the house.

    Unless you are hunting on your own rural property you know like the back of your hand, I don’t see hunting on any state/federal land as a life extender. Especially if you can’t walk to it. Eating rats running around your property might be a better option.

    I will kill as many squirrels and things I could with the BB guns and keep the cat inside during a “crisis”. But, if it turns into a real SHTF, I am not going out to hunt something or tend a garden and be a target.

    imho. People can eat all the squirrel, wild hogs, and rats they want. In a metro area such as Atlanta and the surrounding communities, once starvation hits, it will all be gone in a month or less. Including goldfish and their pet snakes. I don’t see much of any animal surviving, including family pets, once 5 million people in an area start looking at each other as a meal.

    > One pound of boneless squirrel meat yields approximately 550 calories.

    Thanks, didn’t know that. Probably not worth killing if I can’t kill it from the shade of a house or tree during summer. If I had a choice, I would probably let them fatten up on acorns and kill them right before they hibernate. Which they really don’t do around here.

    I have been thinking about learning how to eat acorns. I tried some white acorns and they were bitter enough. Unfortunately my property has black and red oaks mostly.

    I have been thinking in a crisis or SHTF, the best thing might be to decimate the local rodent population, and scoop up 1000+ pounds of acorns. I have literally thrown that much away in bags during a rainy year.

    • Selkirk July 6, 2011, 9:13 pm

      I heard that you have to leech the tannins out of most acorns, but I never tried it. Maybe Ranger or Jarhead knows.

      • Ranger Man July 6, 2011, 9:14 pm

        You can, though I’ve never tried it either.

      • Selkirk July 6, 2011, 9:19 pm

        Or Calamity…. sorry, Calamity.

        • Calamity Jane July 7, 2011, 9:24 am

          lol actually, I do know how to do it, but I’ve never had the motivation to do so.
          First off, know whether you’re dealing with a White Oak or a Red Oak. White Oak acorns have far less tannin in them.
          Leaching the white oak takes about an hour, the red oak may require all day.

          To leach the acorn, first remove the meat from the shell. You may boil the acorn for 10 to 15 minutes to soften the shell. Cut the cap off, and slice the acorn in half. Remove the meat. People used to place the meats into a wicker basket and let it soak in a running stream for a day or two. With modern bacteria occupying most of America’s waterways, this isn’t safe. Euell Gibbons described the following method: Put many holes in a coffee can. Fill the can with nut meat and place it under the tap in your sink. Allow the water to run just fast enough to keep the nutmeats covered. Allow this to run overnight.

          Once you have leached the nuts, dry them on a cookie sheet in a low oven (about 200°F) for 2 or 3 hours – till the nuts become brittle. Cool.

          As you can see, very time and water intensive. Let me know if you ever give it a try. :-)

          • Selkirk July 7, 2011, 10:50 am

            I will give it a try the next time I stumble across a pile of acorns. Good answer, thanks.

          • Odd Questioner July 7, 2011, 3:50 pm

            I live in the Pacific Northwest… water is definitely *not* a problem here.

            I was thinking that one could still use a stream, then boil the results before eating, no?

          • Jarhead Survivor July 7, 2011, 8:12 pm

            I’ve also heard that you can boil them a couple of times changing the water each time. Like OQ says, water isn’t a problem here in Maine so this is a viable way of doing it.

            My front yard holds over 35 oak trees, so this fall I’ll reap some of the nuts and process them. I’ll get back to ya’ll then and let you know how they come out.

  • Suburban Survivalist July 6, 2011, 9:28 pm

    Hunting will have it’s place post-TEOTWAWKI, for awhile. So will trapping, which will get you some critters harder to hunt. Hopefully they won’t be hunted to near extinction before the die-off. Later there will be hunting/trapping again.

    1-2 per square mile? Depends on where. Two often overlooked food resources; acorns and pine trees. Acorns need to be processed to remove tannic acid that can damage the kidneys (John has it right; acorns were a staple of American Indians and those who survive need to know how to eat them – black/red oak are find, just google about how to prepare them, easy). Pine trees also have multiple edible bits. If you have a lot of those trees, can plant, and some hunting/trapping/fishing, much better chances long term.

  • ChefBear58 July 7, 2011, 1:14 am

    Selkirk, I like your articel, I think it will really put some things into perspective for some folks who think that just because they might be able to shoot, that post SHTF/TEOTWAWKI they will be able to eat!

    I am REALLY tired tonight therefore I didn’t read the other posts, so please forgive me if someone already mentioned what I am gonna say…

    The problem, besides the lack of “furry woodland creatures” to go around, many species that are sought after for food/”sport” take quite a while to rebuid their populations. I will use the most popular freshwater game fish in America as an example… The Florida-Strain Largmouth Bass, only about 20-30% of the eggs laid by a female during the spawn will actually hatch, most of the eggs and fry are eaten by other fish, crustaceans or birds. Once they are hatched and have made it to the “fry” state, many more will succumb to the laws of nature, in about 6 months those “fry” will be about the size of large minnows and will be taking on the patters we all recognize on a bass. From there it will take the little fellah roughtly **3 YEARS** to obtain a weight of roughly 1-1.5lbs! Now imagine all the “eatin’ size” bass are harvested from a lake/river/pond, there are only “fry” and smaller “yearling” bass left; That site will likely not have any bass worth fishing for, for AT LEAST a few years!

    Luckily there are species which grow/mature MUCH faster, bream/panfish are a good example. Most species reach maturity (the ability to reproduce) within the first year, whereas the bass takes AT LEAST 3 years from hatching.

    When you talk about mamals, the likelyhood of having a population recover from being nearly whiped out looks even more bleak! Whitetail deer, take about 3-5 years to reach their breeding-age. Small game woul probably be able to recover losses to the population, but again it would still take time.

    Honestly, I think the best option for obtaining protein post SHTF/TEOTWAWKI will be insects (yeah I know, gross… they are very popular un other countries and if made right don’t taste to bad!). I was readfing about organic insect farming the other day, they actually showed how a 1lb pack of organic ground beef cost roughly 3000% more than raising your own organic insects. The insects also pack more protein, less fat, some have omega 3’s, and are supposedly easier for your body to digest and convert into usable BCAA’s, sugars, vitamins, minerals, etc.

    You could also consider the neighbors pets! (just kiddin’… anybody goes after the furry fellahs runnin’ round my place is gonna catch the ass-whoopin’ of a lifetime!)

    • Selkirk July 7, 2011, 11:02 am

      Thanks, Bear.

      Ranger is on board with you where the bug farming is concerned, by the way. People eat insects all over the world every day. Personally, I will continue to embrace my cultural prohibition until I run out of acorns.

      • ChefBear58 July 7, 2011, 10:52 pm

        Depending on the cooking method they aren’t bad, I have had
        “Bee brood”- an African delicasy, it is honeycomb with bee larva in it, lightly roasted over open coals. The wax melt off and whats left is a slightly crunchy, VERY sweet (because of the honey) treat that is remanicent of caramel corn, except ot’s a little squishy inside.
        Grubs- HORRIBLE!!!! There is NO way to cook them that I have come across that makes these things at all palatable… but if you are starving, then I would suggest gutting/roasting them.
        Grasshoppers- Lightly fried they are spectacular, just remove the legs (they can get stuck in your throat).
        Crickets- Kinda like grasshoppers, but if grasshoppers were compared to white-meat chicken, then crickets would be like wild duck- very gamey in comparison, and a bit bitter. Again don’t eat the legs.
        Meal worms- Not terrible, not very “buggy tasting”, they are a good “introductory” insect. Culinarily speaking they are probably the most versitile.
        Snails- If they are cooked properly they can be damn good, if they are overcooked it’s like meaty-bubblegum! If you have butter, this would be a good use for some of it!

        That’s about the extent of my personal insect eating experience. For the folks who turn their nose up at eating bugs I would like to share a bit of information… The closest relative to the lobster, is the cockroach… Food for thought, so to speak.

  • Brair Rabbit July 7, 2011, 4:11 am

    As a legal (placer) gemstone miner, I’ve learned a few claim jumper tactics. Trained bitch dogs can lead away (male) watch dogs! Leaving your work/tables/mines/gardens unprotected!

    Yet, a human response scares the stinky poop out of thieves!

    Hidden low barbed-tangle-wire and a kid with a “warning” bb gun (with a .22 as a serious backup gun) should turn away most trespassers.

    The kid will find it “fun” (= much better than any video game) and the trespasser will find it not worth the risk!

    They may lose an eye! Depending on the kid’s skill/justified anger.

    Make sure there are highly visible “signs” so the kid doesn’t actually have to speak! (And reveal their young voices.) Instruct them to shoot and, BE SILENT, about it!

    Be sure they, call in, any contacts! Via radio, so an adult(s) is ready to back them up, just in case it’s a real raid.

    Them dang varmints are on YOUR LAND and so, they are yours, to conserve/save, or to eat!

    Get yer kids to join in on the “fun” since they’re probably better at it than you could ever possibly be! (But be sure they have your back up!)

    Besides all the poaching, there WILL BE a need to RE-enforce fences.

    Tangle-foot wire will really mess up anyone! And a kid with a bb gun will freak out the casual poacher!

    Of course, only HITS count. So after a few non-lethal warning shots, it will be serious shooting time! Hope you can QUICKLY be there to provide some big-adult-gun backup!

    Or… have the BB gun warning shot. Then 22 foot/leg shots. And 30+cal body/head shots. All done by the kid-guard. But… it’s really too much to ask from a kid! It also requires 3 guns!

    Perhaps a sign saying, “If you get hit with anything, consider yourself warned! The next shot will kill you!”

    Of course the kid should know basic anatomy, and will actually know how to kill folks.

    It’s too easy. We are fragile. Folks will get the idea soon enough that you are serious about your fences.

  • FERAL Government July 7, 2011, 7:45 am

    Marshall Law & FERAL Government says…

    All poachers are going to get fused. Into our fusion centers. In fact all shooters will be fused.

    We eat maggots off dead children, and like it. Or starve.

    “We” (U.S.) have sonic detectors, and find ANY shots fired, anywhere! (Direction and .Cal) Poachers and patriots NOT tolerated! You starve to serve un/ag/creditor masters!

    Join Elite Guard today, and feed you children tomorrow! There no future without Elite Guard!

    Turn in a gun, get a loaf of bread! Turn in jewish/islamic neighbor, and get a ham! Turn in your wife, and a get a turn! Turn in your dad and get a gun! Turn in your grave and it’s too late! You’re in “heaven” (or just dead) but your kids are still in hell. sheol-earth-dirt…. LOL!

    Funny americn humor? Or too damned real? WGAS! You find soon…

    Join Elite Guard today, and feed children tomorrow! There no future without Elite Guard! LEO? US-MIL? or dip into the Blackwater of the MERC-Forces… Remember, ELITE better than us. ELITE deserve to live, we not! Join Elite Guard today, and feed off children tomorrow!

    And stinky “Oath Keepers” should called OAF keepers! Our feet are far up as that you kan’t even without asking! May I s-it? NO! Ok, yes, just eat it now! And smile too! What ever you do. NEVER, draw your sidearm and shoot us, as we enter the bunkers that you (and you family) will be left out!

    We have killed ALL you wild foods with spermicidal/sucide GMO. HA HA! We all die! HA HA! We all die! We all die! We all die! But you die first! We all die! We have good food stored, that you bought us. F-ck you! LOLOL! You are a mouse, we are cats! LOL, We all die! LOL!

    We better than you! Yeaha, eat some rats! HAHAHAHAHha! We will hide in the bunkers that you bought us! Damn fools! You are our wild meat! We will hunt you like rats when WE get hungry! We are the FERAL Government! F-ck you! LOL! ROTFL!

    …Something to think about, as real as bad ammo. I wouldn’t pee on your dinner, but hey, I’m a filthy rat. I kant help it. — The hungry rAT next door. Also known as, the rat. I will f-ck you over for a ration! A ration seems good to ME, A HUNGRY RAT!

    • Jarhead Survivor July 7, 2011, 8:16 pm

      I can’t tell if you’re a bot, a troll, or if your head just isn’t screwed on too tight, but we don’t care for this kind of craziness here Feral.

      • ChefBear58 July 7, 2011, 11:00 pm

        I don’t know what this fools deal is, but it sounds like somebody needs to walk over there and “calibrate” the hell out of him!

  • William Burgess Leavenworth July 7, 2011, 9:13 am

    I suspect that our wildlands contain about enough moving protein to feed the population for a week, maybe two weeks. Then our wildlife will be extinct, and Next? In sum, we are over-populated and under-farmed. A reasonable solution would be to curb excess child-bearing, say, require an expensive license to have more than three children, and to give tax breaks, not to big oil or big heirs, but to small farmers.
    Where I live, most people have guns and know how to use them, but respect owners’ restrictions on hunting their land. If armed urbanites or suburbanites showed up in a threatening mode, they’d lose more than their guns.

  • john July 8, 2011, 12:40 am

    > My front yard holds over 35 oak trees

    Enough oaks that you can just harvest fallen branches to have a wood fire to boil the acorns! I use to have a front yard like that. Even at only 200 pounds of acorns per tree, you could harvest enough acorns to feed yourself for a 1/2 a year.

    I tried a few years ago planting oaks, even sourced acorns out of state, all mine died or didn’t come up. The ones the squirrels buried under my sawdust piles grew. Go figure.

    I really can’t get my head around eating insects. I keep looking at a rabbit we are baby sitting and every time I look at it, I appreciate cows and steak a lot more.

    I found 10 pound cans of cubed beef at Sam’s, it is from Argentina, but, it tastes fairly good for canned beef if you want to check it out. Same with the 10# cans of tropical fruit. I like the fruit cans because drinking the syrup, even warm, is 1/2 way decent.

    I am going to start getting ready to try the acorns in the fall and have everything ready to go along with recipes.

    This coming week I am going to (hopefully) teach my kids and about 6 of the neighborhood kids how to walk into the woods (my back yard) and make a stone axe, stone saw, stone knife, and stone arrowheads from rocks and vines. Luckily, we have grape vines here (no grapes – they look like hemp ropes?) so we don’t have to use ivy or something else. Safety glasses for all though.

    • Jarhead Survivor July 8, 2011, 2:10 pm

      Yeah, and that’s just the oaks on my *front* yard. There are literally hundreds where I live. Not to mention spruce, pine, maple, cedar, birch etc etc. It’s awesome up here. I love Maine!

  • Jarhead Survivor July 8, 2011, 2:38 pm

    Here’s another thought – and sorry if it’s already been brought up. Let’s say the S does HTF and people start looking to do some hunting in the big woods.

    First of all, there’s a hell of a lot more to shooting a deer than just walking out in the woods and gunning down one of a hundred animals. Most animals are hard to kill because they’re used to being hunted and are currently alive because they’ve successfully avoided being caught up to that point. If some city slicker or townie thinks it’s easy to walk out in the woods and bag a deer it’s time to think again.

    • Joe July 8, 2011, 2:44 pm

      Good point. But that in itself presents two problems. The woods will be full of clueless hunters that will 1) scare off the animals, and 2) shoot first and identify their targets later.

      The first means it’ll be harder to find animals than ever before. The second means that it’ll be more dangerous since they may mistake you for a deer.


      • Jarhead Survivor July 8, 2011, 4:24 pm

        You ever seen someone in the woods who doesn’t know what they’re doing? I agree they might scare the animals away, but unless they’re sitting I doubt anybody would have a hard time hearing them coming!

        You do make a good point however. It would make sense to have that deep-woods hunting spot that nobody would ever find all scoped out and ready to go.

  • Texican July 30, 2011, 3:04 pm

    Nice Article. Wish everyone (especially the ‘Bubba’ contingent) would read it.

    Game populations here crashed to zero from the Depression till the early 50’s… no large game, and only a squirrel every year or two. Only till all the citizens agreed to not slaughter the game year round, and accept hunting seasons, did the State reintroduce deer and turkey.

    Wild game wouldn’t last weeks, if the end came… I know too many rednecks, bubbas, and other unprepared folks whose entire survival strategy is hunting and fishing. When I mention did they get a deer last year… and how easy it would be to jacklight and kill off even the hard to kill deer… their eyes get a little wider! Doubt if I’ve ‘converted’ any of them, but I did plant some doubts…


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