Food is not just a source of energy and sustenance, but comfort item as well. When you are hungry, morale goes down and chances of survival dwindle. There will be several opportunities to find food after the supermarkets have closed down and emptied, you just need to know where to look and the tools to have.
is the most feasible option to maintain a steady supply of fresh meat for the pot. Many people have trapped animals, even if it was just setting a mouse trap. The most important thing to prepare for using traps to supply food is to learn the habits and lifestyles of the animals in your area.
If you must travel, remember to research and study the areas for the areas you will need to travel through. Tracks can be the obvious footprints in the sand or mud but can also be as subtle as the scratches on a tree trunk or small holes dug into the ground where your prey was hunting their own meal.
There are several books available for studying the footprints of the animals so you can know what animal you are targeting. Time and energy spent on setting traps for the wrong animal are time and energy you will not get back.
There are several different brands and sizes of store bought traps available on the market. The 3 major types are:
1) Foothold traps– These come in a variety of sizes and even styles. There are single jaws (most common) and double jaws; toothed (think of the old bear traps) or smooth jaw; long spring or coil spring. The long spring has single or double long springs which are made by “folding” a piece of spring metal over and then pinching it to allow the trap to be set. Tension is supplied by the animal stepping on the “pan” and releasing the lock, which allows the long spring to expand back to its “U” shape and thus applies pressure holding the trapped animal. Coil spring traps use coil springs either in a double or 4 coil set up. The more coils, the stronger the traps strength to hold an animal.
2) Body grip (commonly referred to as connibear)- These traps are square in shape and they normally kill the prey upon capture. They utilize 1 or 2 springs and a single trigger/lock mechanism. They come in 3 common sizes, 110, 220, 330, size grows with the number. Some manufacturers have “middle sizes as well, but they are not as common. When selecting these traps, read the description and choose the trap by the opening size (110 = 7inch by 7 inch opening; normally) and what you will need for the animals in your area for planning purposes.
3) Snares– These handy items can be bought already made or obtained by buying the different components and making custom sized snares for game not normally trapped in today’s normal living conditions. Snares are designed to catch an animal as it walks through the hoop of the snare and then being strangled. You can fix these to small saplings or branches being bent and anchored to a stake with a trigger device to spring back to their original position and creating a very fast choke or even breaking the neck of the prey. You can also use heavier gauge wire as long as it is pliable and you customise the hardware for the thicker cable. Snares can also be improvised from a variety of materials, fishing line being a natural choice. Braided line with 60# test or higher for such purposes and also to use for limb lines. Regular sewing thread or light weight (2-4#) fishing line is useful for securing the snare to brush or fencing to keep its shape and stay in place once set. Snares made from 6-10# fishing line works well for birds.
are probably the best known and easiest to construct improvised trap. These are created by using an object or objects that weigh enough to kill the intended target by crushing it. Rocks, trees, branches, cast off equipment or materials (bricks, sandbags, vehicle parts, etc) can all be used for the weight. You balance the weight and attach the bait to a trigger, a type 4 trigger is the most common but takes practice to make, and when the animal pulls on the bait, it causes the weight to fall and crush it. You can also use a manual trigger by attaching a string or rope to the brace and pulling the brace out manually once the target enters the “kill zone.” This can be practiced by using a laundry basket and catching birds in the back yard, great training and practice and it will teach patience and the need to be quiet and still. The basket or a bucket can also be used in a survival situation to catch small animals in the same manner, just know that the target will still be alive and will need to be approached with care.
Pits can also be used. These are simple in design but require a lot of work to make. By digging a hole deep enough and covering it so the target does not see it, they can be lured to the pit or dig it along a trail they travel. The pit must be deep enough and/or lined so the target cannot climb or jump out.
Are also a valuable commodity to use for gathering food. These are normally constructed on site, using natural materials combined with brought items. By placing obstacles, sticks, rocks, boards, etc, in the waterway, you funnel the fish swimming through at a certain point. At this point, place a net and anything swimming through will be captured. You can also use (chicken wire works best for its pliability and small mesh size). Form the fencing into a cylindrical shape and fasten it together with cable ties, rope, ties, wire, etc. After gauging the opening size, cut more of the fencing used to form a “funnel” to fit into the opening(s); if only 1 funnel is used, you must form a “wall” on the opposite end to secure the trap. The funnel needs to extend into the trap about 1/8 – ¼ the length of the cylinder and reduce in size down to an opening that will allow the fish to swim in but not so big they can swim out extremely easy.
If possible and legal to do so, practice trapping animals before the need arises and learning curve increases, means whether you and your family will eat or not. Carry lighter weight fishing line for snares for birds or to use as sewing thread to repair clothes or gear. Remember to get repair parts for any traps you have and acquire the skill to repair them.
In a survival situation its recommend using limb lines. You use a heavy weight line and attach this to a very sturdy branch overhanging or very near the water source. Use one with a little flexibility to allow for the fish to fight without breaking or ripping the hook from its mouth. Limb lines can be utilised using normal store bought hooks or improvising natural materials into something to hold the fish.
“Skewer hooks” can be made easily and very quickly. You take a piece of wood and sharpen both ends to a dull point. You can rough up the “barrel” of the wood to help hold the bait or even tie the bait on with string. You attach the line by tying it around the barrel in the centre of the piece of wood. When the fish swallows the bait and the skewer, it will lodge in its throat or guts, depending on size of fish. When you pull the line, it will cause the skewer to turn sideways and thus make an extremely strong hold on the fish allowing you to haul it in.
Treble hooks work extremely well, safety pins and needles can also be used to adapt something from its intended purpose to use as a makeshift hook. These will not be barbed, so extra care is needed to maintain control over your fish once caught. Throw nets or casting nets are also valuable in obtaining fish. These do require practice, but the return can be very rewarding and the difference between a full belly and an empty one.
Several articles have been written and posted on hunting. This is the method most people plan on obtaining their meat in a survival situation. Study the animals in your chosen area and learn all you can about their habits, food sources, activity cycles (nocturnal or diurnal), and home (burrows, nests, meadow, water, lodge (muskrat and beaver), etc). Choose a weapon that will easily take the game animal but not ruin the meat; A bolt action would be fine or even a pump. A good survival rifle will have open iron sights as a backup, as scopes get broken, optics allow for more accurate shot placement.
Archery equipment and the knowledge of how to build bows would be a great asset. They are quiet, can take a multitude of game, can be replaced (if capable of making them) and arrows can be made also. Their use will save ammunition for self defence and extremely dangerous game (bears, mountain lions, wolves, feral dogs, etc).
Do not underestimate the power and ability of a slingshot to put dinner on the table. Ammunition easy to find; any rock will do. They are quiet and capable hunters, especially when using steel/lead balls. They are modestly priced and found at almost every discount and department store. You can “store” vast amounts of ammo for it and nobody be the wiser.
Regardless of equipment and tactics, make sure you get as close as possible and take the sure shot. Other tools for hunting include, spears, air guns, boomerangs/throwing sticks, and even a bolo. Always practice with whatever method(s) you choose so as to be an expert in their use as there is NO substitution for knowledge about your intended animal.
Gathering will greatly enhance your meals and chance of survival. Sassafras root makes a good tea and even chewing the leaves will cause saliva to be generated to help reduce thirst or just give you peace of mind from food, similar to chewing gum. Pine cones for pine nuts place a “closed” pine cone near a fire and they will “open” to obtain the nuts/seeds inside, birch sap can be made into a great syrup for your acorn pancakes, wild mint, fish eggs, mushrooms, etc. These items are edible in whole or in part and will provide extra flavour and much needed calories in an emergency. Remember, all bird eggs are edible; many are small but they will provide calories and much needed nutrients. Eggs dipped in wax can be held up to a month without refrigeration or spoilage.
Everyone’s location and access to land and other resources will dictate how we personalise our ideas to meet our needs, abilities, and resources; not all can afford to dig ditches and a pond or have the land to do so.