Suburban Fish and Game, by J.J. in Arizona

I am new to SurvivalBlog and I am an amateur prepper beginning my trek to becoming self sufficient. My family and I live in the suburbs of the southwest Sonoran Desert. I am by no means an expert in this field and hope that this topic has not been covered by others.  There are so many topics and pages of fish and game that it will take me months to catch up on everything.

My family and I are planning on “buggin in” if the SHTF or the TEOTWAWKI occurs. Unless an NBC attack or exposure occurs here, we plan to ride out the Golden Horde in our home. If we need to leave our home, we will try and do so when it is less chaotic. I am not saying these plans are the best or that they are perfect. For my area, this may be the best we can do with our limited funds and resources.

In making our plans for our home and area, I began noticing the abundance of game in my neighborhood. Our house is located in a suburb several miles from the Sonoran Desert. This desert is the home to many different game animals and other resources.

Our neighborhood has quite the diversity of wild and semi-tame game. My hope is to share some of my thoughts with you on how I may be able to supplement my family’s meals and protein sources, even if only for a short time.

Within several blocks from my house are five separate man-made lakes or ponds. Throughout the year, these lakes are the home to many different species of fowl, fish, reptiles, and mammals. My front yard, although small, is also the home to several different species of game birds and small mammals.

To begin with, there is a large community of quail and dove living in refuge from hunters in the city. There are so many of them, they are seen year round in almost every yard and park. Every morning, I see two pairs of quail that live in our Bougainvillea bushes. Although they are not tame, I can approach them fairly easy before they run off. They may make an easy catch some day. I keep several boxes of bird shot in my house that may come in handy if I need to go hunting the dove and quail here. If I were to need to, I could possibly catch and raise several quail for food and/or eggs.

Several miles south of my location are ranches with farm animals. Aside from the obvious bovine and venison choices that may be left at these locations, there may also be a good supple of poultry living off the land if their owners flee the city. [JWR Adds: As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, the chances are slim that farms and ranches will be abandoned in anything short of a massive pandemic die-off. So any deer hunting on private land would have to be arranged well in advance. Otherwise, you stand a good chance of being shot, as a trespasser.] It is a bit of a hike but may turn out to be a fruitful hunt. Some of these chickens may be able to be caught and raised for meat and eggs.

One of the many birds living here and in most cities around the world is pigeons. Once again, they are fairly tame and can be approached easily before they scatter. They may make an easy target. They may not be as appetizing, but may save your life and that of your family. These birds may even be caught using traps and kept alive until a later time.

Living in the lakes I mentioned above are numerous species of waterfowl. There are at least five different species of ducks that live full time at my local lakes. They are very tame as they have been hand fed for many years by numerous families. Again, very approachable and possibly an easy target as they are accustomed to humans. They may even be able to be caught and raised for their eggs and/or meat. Their nests are made inside the numerous bushes alongside the lakes. These nests can be raided for eggs.

Several species of ducks that spend part of the year here are migratory, including Canadian Geese. As I write this, there are two Goose pairs with 3-5 goslings. These geese and ducks return here every year and lay their eggs. Their young remain here until they can fly and then return north with their parents. Goose parents are very protective. They may attack humans if they try to approach their young. You could possibly kill the parents for food and capture the young to raise for eggs and or meat. This may take more work than the tame ducks but a Canadian goose has a lot of meat. [JWR Adds: As previously noted in SurvivalBlog,consult your state Fish and Game laws before hunting or trapping.]

These lakes have several species of cranes that visit them regularly. I have never eaten a crane or thought about doing so. However, when protein sources become scarce, they may make delectable meals for a hungry family. The cranes are wilder than any other birds at the lake and a small rim fire rifle may be needed to hunt them before they flee when you arrive at the lake.

The five lakes in the green belt are full of 24-36” koi carp. These fish are semi-tame and will come to the surface and sides of the lake when you approach. They have become accustomed to being fed by the numerous visitors. A good fishing pole and bait would probably land you one of them fairly quickly. With a large enough hand net, you could probably scoop up one or two. I have not seen any other fish species in the lakes and fishing is prohibited there. That does not mean there are not any other fish there.

About a mile from my house is a city park. This park has another manmade lake. This lake is part of the “urban fishing program” and is regularly stocked with various game fish. Eventually, the levels of fish may dwindle, but until then a good fishing trip may be had with some good tackle and a pole.

I have also seen several aquatic turtles living and swimming in the waters of these lakes. They are very skittish and flee when they are spotted. Making and setting traps or snares may help to catch them.  I hear turtle meat is excellent.

I saved this part for last as many may not be able to stomach or think of eating some of the mammals I list here. However, when times get tough and meals are scarce, they may be the only thing that keeps you alive.

Some of the easier ones to think of are the many rabbits that live in my yard and neighborhood. There are so many of them, they are hit by cars daily. The cats cannot even keep their numbers down. Remember though, their meat is lacking in some vitamins so don’t make them your sole protein source. Aside from a rim fire rifle and bird shot shotgun rounds, they may be trapped, snared, and possibly kept in cages for future meals.

Because of the many green belts and parks here, there is a large community of squirrels and gophers along with other different rodent species. Some of these species may need to be sniped from a distance with a good rimfire or small centerfire rifle. However, traps, pitfalls, snares, and other means may be used to catch and/or hunt them. [JWR Adds: As previously noted in SurvivalBlog, consult your local ordinances on firearms use!]

Several of the more elusive mammals may also provide your family with some excellent proteins. Coyote and the raccoon all live inside the suburbs and are seen daily here. They tend to be more nocturnal but may be hunted using game calls, attracted to salt licks, or other food sources. Skunks, ring tail cats, and javelina also fall into this section and will make great meals if properly prepared.

Lastly, Hurricane Katrina showed us that many people leave their pets behind when they flee the city. These pets generally cannot fend for themselves and will eventually starve. It may be hard for some of us to think about, but when times get bad and we are facing a TEOTWAWKI, we may need to take advantage of these additional sources of protein. Most of these animals are very tame and may welcome a human. The SAS Survival Handbook says if your pet cannot provide for himself and is an extra mouth to feed, you may need to free him to allow him to find his own food or make him your next meal. [JWR Adds: As I’ve noted in my writings previously, “freeing” pets is not only cruel, but it might also turn them feral, where they will be a threat to both livestock and humans.]

These are just some of the ideas I have thought of as I drive through my area. There are some things to ponder before beginning any suburban hunt. If the area is still inhabited by other families, you may need to be careful while hunting. Know your backdrop and what’s beyond it. If there are still emergency services in your area, you may need to hunt more covertly. The local police may not be so happy about seeing you walking the streets shooting and hunting. A powerful scoped BB or pellet gun may come in handy as they may be able to kill many of these species and not give off a loud report alerting others of your activities.

Many have written that you should “make the animals come to you”. Why not set up salt licks or other animal feed stations that attract these animals to your yard, for easy hunting. Work smarter not harder. As these animals live in the city and the desert, they may have different diseases that could be passed onto you and your family. Make sure you cook the meat thoroughly and use clean preparation practices. My dad always told me to check the liver of small mammals. If it is spotted, don’t eat it and bury the animal.

Eventually the area you are hunting may be thinned out and you may need to expand your hunting grounds. That may be the time our family leaves the suburbs for our retreat or other location. Your specific location will yield different sources and quantities of game and or possible protein sources for your family. I highly suggest you plan now and see where you can search out possible game. Know where they are living and where they find food. If you have migratory animals in your area, know the seasons they will be arriving and leaving.

I hope this gives you some ideas of where to look for sources of food, even in the big cities.