Living Off The Land
October 13, 2011 by Bob Livingston
To prepare for a long-term situation in which your emergency stores are going to run out, you need to know how to hunt, gather and forage in your area.
For hunting you should have a .22-caliber rifle for shooting small game, a shotgun and a large caliber rifle like a .308 or a .30-06.
Ideal ammunition for the .22 would be both .22 longs and .22 shorts. The shorts are sufficient for killing small game like squirrels and small rodents, and they make a soft report when fired. This often gives you the opportunity to take multiple shots, if you miss, before the prey is frightened off. The .22 longs would be better suited for shooting larger game like opossums and raccoons.
The shotgun can be loaded with bird shot for shooting birds, larger shot like #4 for squirrels or rabbits or buck shot for shooting deer or, if necessary, to ward off predators. The large rifle will also kill deer, and it can be used for protection as well.
Of course, squirrels, rabbits and deer readily come to mind when considering what to bag for edible game. But the truth is, almost any mammal, bird or reptile is nutritional; and any qualms about eating things like opossum, raccoons, snakes, frogs and turtles — or even cats, dogs or horses — can be overcome when the belly is empty and the need is great. Here’s a word of caution, however: Avoid box turtles and toads, as they can contain toxins that can make your sick.
Fish is an excellent source of protein and is easily caught with right equipment. Again, preparation is the key. A rod and reel with a supply of lures, hooks, lead weights and floats will make your fishing trip more productive.
When you need live bait, you can dig earthworms or catch crickets, grasshoppers or caterpillars. These are easy to find in the warm months, but become more difficult to find when the weather turns cold.
You can also set up trot lines, which will probably be a more productive use of your time. Trot lines can consist of nothing more than a long cord that runs across a stream, river or slough in a lake. The line can contain a number of hooks on separate lines dangling from the main cord. Just bait each hook, leave it for several hours and return. You will catch a lot of catfish, some turtles and a few other species of fish, depending on your location.
If you are fishing a large body of water, tie one end to a tree or other structure and anchor the other end in the water with a brick or something else heavy to weigh it down.
Jug fishing is another great way to catch catfish in large bodies of water. Simply tie a line to a jug (a plastic milk jug is ideal) with a weight at the other end. Attach a small line with a hook about a foot above the weight and another line with hook one to two feet above that. Bait the hooks and drop the jugs in the water.
If you set out several with different line lengths and different baits, you can determine which combination produces the best results and increase your catch.
In a future article, we will discuss foraging for plants.