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Thoughts on Hunting for Survival, by Ohio Country Man

Hunting for survival is a topic on my mind. I ran into an old coworker and his wife while volunteering at the local food bank the day before Thanksgiving. While exchanging pleasantries, his wife mentioned that she had heard we lived on a farm well outside the city. It’s not really a working farm, I explained, but more like a hobby farm on a lot of acreage.

Our Acres Down the Road in the Country

My wife and I have plans to use most of our 15 acres down the road, but with two small children we have neither the time nor the money to realize most of them currently. Still, we have our big garden, our wood heat, and our chickens. We’re not completely off the grid, but we’re as far out into the country as we can get while still maintaining employment and family obligations. We love the clean air, the privacy, and living closer to nature. We regularly see all kinds of wildlife you would never see in the city or the ‘burbs.

Conversation About My Shooting Holiday Turkey

The conversation turned to our plans for the holiday weekend. I took out my phone and proudly showed her the wild turkey I had shot, which would be the centerpiece of our Thanksgiving feast. (Several weeks prior, fortuitously, I had noticed the local flock of wild turkey hens walking through the woods behind my house on a Saturday afternoon. It was Fall turkey season here in Ohio, and hens are fair game, so I grabbed my Remington 870 with the 28” barrel and screw-in full choke, already loaded with #7 shot. As I tried to quietly open the sliding glass door onto my deck, several of the hens noticed me and the flock began to break apart.

Time seemed to slow down, and I calmly shouldered my weapon and put the sights on the head of a large hen on the far right of the group that had frozen momentarily. Clicking off the button safety with my index finger, I dropped her with a single shot. In the moment, my adrenaline kicked in, and I hardly noticed the loud report from the 12 gauge that set my ears ringing. I set my gun down on the deck and walked down into the dry creek bed where she had flopped in her death throes, and I wrung her neck to stop the thrashing. The distance was about 40 yards—well beyond my farthest archery target bag in the woods. (That’s not bad for a 25-cent cell from Walmart, but I think it was the full choke that made the difference.)

The Result

After plucking all the feathers, gutting, removing the crop, and cutting off the head, wings, and feet, our Thanksgiving turkey was 6.6 pounds when we placed her, whole and wrapped in freezer paper, into our deep freezer. It’s quite a bit smaller than a Butterball, but for our small family gathering it would more than suffice. The small size was more than made up for by the novelty factor of having an honest-to-God wild turkey for dinner, and being able to tell the story of how it came to be there.

Coworker’s Wife Mentions Hunting To Survive At My Place

My coworker’s wife, after feigning outrage that I had “killed” my own turkey (they lived in a gentrified neighborhood in the city), was nevertheless impressed and mentioned that if the world goes to hell in a hand basket, they were coming to my place. I smiled and said in that case we would all just starve together, before trying to briefly explain how there weren’t that many turkeys and certainly not enough to go around. “Oh, we can just shoot squirrels or something and eat them. My husband is from a third-world country, so he is probably used to it.” My coworker, a Vietnamese-American, just looked at me with mild amusement. That was basically the end of our conversation. We had work to do after all. I waved goodbye and extended the invitation for them to come shoot guns at “the farm” sometime.

Thinking About Terrible Plan to Survive On Hunted Food

After that innocuous exchange, I began thinking about food procurement in a survival situation. It was particularly top-of-mind since I was spending the next several hours handing out bags of groceries to needy folks in the inner city. I think there’s a grave misconception among a large part of the population that they will somehow “shoot deer” or whatever if something really bad happens and they can no longer buy food at the supermarket. This is a terrible plan, primarily for two reasons:

  1. In the vast majority of the U.S., even in suburbia where deer are considered overpopulated and a nuisance, there simply isn’t enough wild game to go around, and
  2. Wild game simply doesn’t offer enough calories.

Dear Hunting in Ohio

As a deer hunter, I think a lot about deer hunting around this time of year. Ohio’s deer hunting season (deer is the primary game animal in the state) lasts roughly from the end of September until the beginning of February. Ohio is one of the top states in the country for licensed hunters and has relatively liberal bag limits (up to four does per county), yet the success rate in a typical year is only around 0.4 deer harvested per hunter. This, with each hunter already having the advantage of modern equipment (tree stands, compound bows, firearms, camouflage clothing, trail cameras, ATVs, deer feeders, scent lures, GPS tracking– the list goes on and on).

Hunters also hunt for recreation rather than survival, and they are well rested, well fed, and relatively pampered by our modern existence. They can pick and choose when to “roll the dice” on a hunt without being burdened by other tasks, such as perimeter security, survival gardening, carrying buckets of water, doing laundry by hand, or other chores, which would suddenly materialize in a grid down environment. The stores are still open, the lights are still on. They don’t have to worry about a sniper killing them outside their front door for the meager contents of their pantry or kitchen cupboards. Taking a deer is not a “do or die” proposition, and I believe that increases rather than decreases the odds of success.

Feels a Lot Like Gambling

I use terms like “roll the dice” and “odds” because a lot of times hunting feels like gambling. Not only that, it can be an emotional rollercoaster. It is a game where “the house” almost always wins and there is an extremely low probability of success. The vast majority of the time I go out I am unsuccessful. Most times I don’t even see a deer, much less get a chance to shoot at one. I would say a 5% success rate for any given sit of several hours would be absolutely fantastic, to put things in perspective. That means going home empty-handed 19 times out of 20, if you are doing really well. And these crummy odds are for people who ostensibly understand what they are doing.

Modern Hunting Odds

Hunters know where deer will generally be (varies), and when (first and last hour of daylight). They know what part of the body to shoot at (generally heart and lungs), how to track them after the shot, how to field dress properly, and either how to butcher the deer or where a processor can handle the task for a fee. When this is all done, hunters have access to grid electricity and modern refrigeration to preserve the venison for a meal possibly years in the future.

Hunters have experience, gear, skills, and information that non-hunters in a pre-collapse environment simply do not possess, nor will have time to acquire when the lights go out for good. With all of those advantages, their success rate is still a paltry 0.4 animals, per year. Simply put, a non-hunter with visions of hunting deer in the woods for food is engaging in pure fantasy.

Even If Successful, It Doesn’t Sustain Someone Long

But even if the non-hunter was somehow able to rise to the occasion and harvest, field dress, and successfully process a deer and do so without getting his kill stolen or being shot himself by bandits or starving members of The Golden Horde, even if that non-hunter for some reason possesses a generator or a solar array to power a deep freezer so the meat doesn’t spoil, or perhaps knows how to safely pressure can the meat in mason jars, even then he is at a disadvantage for this simple reason: Venison doesn’t contain enough calories to sustain someone for very long. Depending on your Google search and which website you believe, venison has about 600 calories per pound. That seems like a lot, right? Well, actually it’s not.

That 150-pound doe you just shot actually only has about 50 pounds of usable meat. The rest is teeth, skin, bones, hooves, tendons, blood, offal, and hide. Sure, in a survival situation, you could cook the bones for marrow or soup and eat the organs to stretch it a bit, but fundamentally that animal only has about 30,000 calories in it (50 x 600). The meat has a lot of protein, vitamins, and minerals in it, and is very healthy, but 30,000 calories will only feed one person for about two weeks on a 2,000 calorie a day diet. That becomes one week if you have a hunting partner or a spouse, and it’s mere days if you have more hungry mouths to feed.

Grid Down Calorie Intake

You can count on eating a lot more than 2,000 calories a day if the grid is down and you’re doing a lot of manual labor (like hauling a 150-pound dead weight out of a ravine, then hanging it up and cutting it apart). That turkey I shot? Maybe 4 or 5 pounds of useable meat was enough to feed one person for a day or two. And if you figure a quarter pound of meat on average for a single squirrel, you would quickly decimate the local squirrel population in short order, assuming they didn’t all go into hiding after seeing you kill and eat the first couple. So there would be no cute squirrels left to see frolicking in the woods, and you would still starve to death.

We Are Blessed In Current Civilization

Mulling over this dismal math on the way out to my tree stand the other night, I reflected on how blessed we currently are to live in a civilization and how much we take for granted. There are plenty of problems in the world to be sure, but water still comes out of the tap, electricity comes out of the wall, and food still comes from the grocery store!

Corn Versus Deer

As I was pouring a 50-pound bag of feed corn [1] on the ground, I realized in a survival situation I would not be using this corn to bait deer; I would be eating it! The feed corn has significantly more calories than the deer I was pursuing. Corn has approximately 1600 calories per pound. That’s 80,000 calories for the whole bag. Nutritional value aside, the corn has nearly three time the calories of an average sized deer. And in our modern society it’s available at the feed store for only $7. That’s quite a bargain! Under current conditions, it makes sense for me to trade this corn for the deer. But if corn suddenly was unavailable at the feed store (i.e. the delivery truck didn’t come to restock the inventory every Monday), I definitely wouldn’t be dumping it in the woods like I do now.

Hunting For Food in Grid Down Situation Not Realistic

To summarize, it’s not realistic for anyone, hunters and non-hunters alike, to expect to feed themselves in a grid down situation by hunting. It is just not a reliable food source. The calorie yield is simply too low, and even if you are lucky once, you will probably starve before you are able to harvest another animal. In a rural area there are fewer people, but there are still too many people and not enough wild critters to go around. This is why humans invented agriculture. Hunting is a hard way to make a living! I read somewhere that the space needed to support a hunter-gatherer lifestyle is approximately 10 square miles per person.

That probably varies based on terrain, but if it’s even remotely accurate, everyone outside of the Redoubt area (and probably there as well) needs to be learning to grow and store as much food as they think they will need. It is essential to keep a deep larder; buy, store, and rotate shelf-stable foods. Buy them at the store while they are inexpensive and abundant, and put them back. Someday they may not be as easy to come by.

Hunting More Difficult in Grid Down Situation

In a grid down situation, hunting game will be much more difficult, due to increased competition/security concerns, at least for a while, as people who did not heed this advice learn the hard way. We need only look to Venezuela for how this turns out, with people eating their pets or even zoo animals to survive. Pictures of malnourished infants are particularly heartbreaking to me as a parent. Did I mention the importance of food storage? A bird in hand is worth two in the bush, as the saying goes. In a dire situation, a can of tuna is a lot more valuable than “maybe” being able to go out and harvest a game animal. As a serious minded prepper, hunting should be viewed much as it is today during these relatively good times– a nice to have/extra bonus on the dinner table but definitely not something to rely on.

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 74 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest [2]. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator [3] from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses [4], excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper [5]. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees [6] in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product [7] from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. Two cases of Meals, Ready to Eat (MREs), courtesy of CampingSurvival.com (a $180 value), and
  8. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses [8].

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator [9] provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
  2. A Glock form factor SIRT laser training pistol and a SIRT AR-15/M4 [10] Laser Training Bolt, courtesy of Next Level Training, which have a combined retail value of $589,
  3. A gift certificate for any two or three-day class from Max Velocity Tactical (a $600 value),
  4. A transferable certificate for a two-day Ultimate Bug Out Course from Florida Firearms Training (a $400 value),
  5. A Trekker IV™ Four-Person Emergency Kit from Emergency Essentials (a $250 value),
  6. A $200 gift certificate good towards any books published by PrepperPress.com,
  7. RepackBox is providing a $300 gift certificate to their site.

Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of [11] Directive 21 (a $275 value),
  2. A large handmade clothes drying rack [12], a washboard, and a Homesteading for Beginners DVD, all courtesy of The Homestead Store, with a combined value of $206,
  3. Expanded sets of both washable feminine pads and liners [13], donated by Naturally Cozy (a $185 retail value),
  4. Two Super Survival Pack seed collections [14], a $150 value, courtesy of Seed for Security, LLC,
  5. Mayflower Trading is donating a $200 gift certificate for homesteading appliances [15], and
  6. Two 1,000-foot spools of full mil-spec U.S.-made 750 paracord [16] (in-stock colors only) from www.TOUGHGRID.com (a $240 value).

Round 74 ends on January 31st, so get busy writing and e-mail [17] us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.

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Comments Disabled To "Thoughts on Hunting for Survival, by Ohio Country Man"

#1 Comment By Paul from Tennessee On December 15, 2017 @ 6:41 am

Well experienced and thought out understanding of the reality of providing all of ones food following true SHTF.

#2 Comment By Traveler On December 15, 2017 @ 8:42 am

A very good article.. Thank you for sharing. I totally agree, wild game is always a great bonus. prepare and deal with the out come. In a long term, situation a well planned garden or some other crop will travel. Family first
love you

#3 Comment By Mountain Trekker On December 15, 2017 @ 8:49 am

Modern man has had it easy way to long, if the Schumer Hits The Fan we will have to do what poor people the world over have had to do to for centuries to survive, I’m an outdoor person and live in a rather remote area so I think I could survive. That being said, just look around and see what poor people have had to do to get buy, slaves were not give the choice cuts of meat so they had to eat Chitlins, I saw on TV the other night where Josh was eating goats head, I have a neighbor who as a child lived in Cuba and she makes Ox Tail Soup as well as White Bone Soup, I’m sure all of these thing came out of necessity. So I expect we’ll be eating more than 50 pound out of that 150 pound doe. Trekker Out

#4 Comment By cook On December 15, 2017 @ 9:17 am

Yep,opening day of rifle deer season,you can’t walk 50 feet on public land without encountering another hunter.

#5 Comment By D.D. On December 15, 2017 @ 2:42 pm

Now imagine that same group of hunters with starving families during TEOTWAWKI. Perhaps unknowingly, you have shone the light of reality upon one of the greatest of prepper fallacies: the belief that holing up on a small, isolated farm guarantees survival. Even the cheapest, modern hunting rifle outfitted with optics is capable of putting rounds on a human-sized target from 300 to 600 yards away with only a minimal amount of skill and training. There are multiple real-world accounts of supposedly secluded outposts being the worst of kill zones. Read “The Farmers War” that describes the horrors of 1970’s Rhodesia.
Plan accordingly…

#6 Comment By Montana Rancher On December 16, 2017 @ 6:17 am

a human-sized target from 300 to 600 yards away with only a minimal amount of skill and training.

Not so much, under field conditions a 300 yard shot is difficult and at 600 yards where a 30-06 is dropping 11 to 14 feet from point of aim, is a very difficult shot

#7 Comment By D.D. On December 16, 2017 @ 1:19 pm

The wallpaper on my cell phone is a photo of a target shot by my 13 year old daughter. It represents the first 5 shots at 400 yards from a Remington Model 700 in .243 using a 3×9-40 Leupold that she ever took. 4 out of 5 rounds struck between neck and pelvis on a man-sized target. This from a 13 year old child using one the most popular deer rifles in the world. The belief that isolation guarantees safety is a delusion born of survival fiction and is refuted by history in almost every example of conflict in the past 60 years. The horrendous ballistics of the .30-06 round is precisely why mine stays in the safe next to Granddaddy’s old Iver Johnson 12-gauge and why God made 6.5 Creedmoor.

#8 Comment By Dave Whitney On December 15, 2017 @ 10:32 am

3 million people in Iowa and about 1.5 million deer; yep, do the math.

#9 Comment By Jason On December 15, 2017 @ 10:40 am

What a great and accurate article! Even on my own little mini farm, I’ve been skunked so far this year, with about another month left of firearm season. 3 weeks in, and I’ve probably devoted 35-40 hours to it already. I’ve been doing it for years, and like to think I know what I’m doing, and I’m still empty handed this year (so far). It’s not always easy, and in a grid down situation, with everything else that will need to be done, folks will be able to afford neither the time nor the calories required in the effort of even still-hunting. Anyone who thinks otherwise is delusional. Hunting for survival is absolutely a losing proposition.

#10 Comment By anonymous On December 15, 2017 @ 11:56 am

People who don’t know anything about firearms think that being handed one makes you safe and protected, a talisman against the Evil and Unclean. It doesn’t work that way.

Nor does having a rural location a guarantee that hunting is productive. Like wild game will always be there to feed the person who goes out and slays it.

Game populations fluctuate, and I’m pretty sure that when / if society and the grid goes down, its going to get really hungry. And the hungry will go out and kill ANYTHING that is half way edible to bring home. Game populations will be quickly decimated, as will livestock that aren’t protected from predators, both two and four legged.

#11 Comment By Randy On December 15, 2017 @ 11:57 am

Hunting will be made all the more difficult in a teotwawki situation by thousands of the walking dead traipsing through the woods looking for any morsel of food they can find. This will obviously spook any game in the area…

If meat is needed, better to breed rats-they will reproduce in abundance and can provide much needed protein once you can get past the disgust of having to eat them…which you will, once you are hungry enough.

#12 Comment By Bobcat Prepper On December 15, 2017 @ 3:22 pm

Breeding rats in captivity seems hygienic enough, but woe to anyone who hopes to hunt them in the wild.

The deserve their reputation as dirty, since they are carriers of the plague, Hanta virus, and other deadly diseases.

#13 Comment By Montana Rancher On December 16, 2017 @ 6:19 am

Actually rabbits are far more cost effective and tasty

#14 Comment By Mart On December 17, 2017 @ 7:26 pm

The only thing is that you will die if you eat only rabbits as they lack necessary protein.

#15 Comment By templedog On December 18, 2017 @ 11:58 pm

Rabbits have protein! It is called meat!
What they lack is Fat! And we need Fat to live.

#16 Comment By Brooksy On December 15, 2017 @ 1:36 pm

Started hunting.fishing when I was nine all by my self. I regularly put squirrels and rabbits on the table plus a lot of fish. Walked or rode my bike with my trusty M1906 Winchester everywhere I hunted or fished. Still have that gun 51 years later! We were poor and the meat was a great addition to our family food supply. If we would have had to depend only on what I could kill, even though I was quite successful, we would have starved to death in short order. Hunting/fishing is only a supplement at best.

#17 Comment By benjammin On December 15, 2017 @ 1:50 pm

This is why trapping is recommended for survival over hunting. Traps are quiet, more discreet, require less attention, and a force multiplier. Where hunting may be risky and impractical, trapping tends to be less so. You do need to understand what it takes to be effective.

I would prefer nutria over rats. More bang for the buck.

#18 Comment By Steven R On December 15, 2017 @ 2:23 pm

If one looks at hunting post TEOTWAWKI as flavor source as opposed to a calorie source, one might be happier with the results. If we store a multiple year supply of beans, rice and other grains for survival and then hunt to add variety and flavor to the stew, it would be less life and death and more fun.

#19 Comment By OneGuy On December 15, 2017 @ 3:19 pm

There is a documentary “The Big Lonely” about a guy who goes out to live in the woods. Short and fairly well done. But it takes place not far from me and I can vouch that there is a lot of game animals on the ground but this movie will illustrate the day to day problems getting enough food. Obviously it would be much worse if everyone was trying to hunt for their food. An interesting side note, he grinds up COB (a mix of corn, oats and barley sold in feed stores) to make a bread to supplement his meager supplies.

#20 Comment By Bobcat Prepper On December 15, 2017 @ 3:25 pm

It’s easier and cheaper to store and grow carbs than protein, so perhaps a “corn for deer” trade isn’t so bad, even in hard times.

#21 Comment By Camper On December 15, 2017 @ 3:28 pm

I have felt that wild game would be hunted out in my area in less than one year, fishing would last longer. Canning will last only as long as you can get lids, have a supply.
Salting, drying and smoking are the best fall back options. Buying 40-50# bags of water softener salt is important for preserving meat. Buying, bartering livestock from a feed lot, will give more meat for the buck. They may be happy to get rid of them in a grid down situation, as they will be unable to feed them. Salt is cheap, having several thousand pounds on hand, will keep you going for years, also good for trade. If you like bacon, save and can the grease, it will add flavor and calories to your food. By running bacon grease through a pressure canner, it will keep for years. You need fat in your diet to survive.

#22 Comment By JBH On December 15, 2017 @ 3:51 pm

I read somewhere that white tail deer almost went extinct during the Great Depression. Have know idea if it is true.

#23 Comment By Brooksy On December 15, 2017 @ 8:04 pm

I shot my first deer in Illinois where I grew up in 1980, I was 23 years old. I had been hunting these woods since I was 9 years old, it was the first deer I had ever seen on the hoof in all those years. Yes, it was a big deal to see ANY deer in Illinois even back in the 70’s and 80’s. It is the biggest deer I have shot yet to this day, 227 lbs field dressed and a large 8 point rack. The head mount is on the wall as a write.

#24 Comment By lineman On December 15, 2017 @ 9:24 pm

Yea it’s true and a lot more people died than they want you to know…

#25 Comment By Robert On December 15, 2017 @ 4:46 pm

Things are a little different in the rural Redoubt. My county is big and has 7k people. It will be hard for the horde to reach us. In a normal year, with all the visiting hunters, the deer harvest is over 3k and elk over 1.5k. My guess is that rate can be sustained for a long time, especially when we kill off all the wolves. Eventually over hunting will reduce yields, but the human population will also decline.

#26 Comment By Mart On December 17, 2017 @ 7:34 pm

OK, a little math: 7k people, 1 deer for 2weeks per person, elk maybe 4 to be generous, so you will need like 25 deer and 12 elk per person per year. That is 175k deer and 84k elk. If you keep sustainable rates, it means that only 120!!! people can live from hunting in your county.

#27 Comment By Rev On December 15, 2017 @ 5:06 pm

a) Hunting:
We expect game will be decimated (remove 10-percent) the first few days of a disaster.

Then, we decimate the remaining 90-percent again the next few days.

Humans will continue to decimate game until all the easy game is ate (or wasted), leaving the smart game to outfox us.

Naturally, by that point, dumb and passive humans will be decimated, too. In a couple weeks, prevailing thrivers will be multi-decimated to the point of holding our noses at all the reeking corpses.

Then, diseases get to vote. Weakened immune systems will throw out the welcome mat. And we get another few rounds of decimating… and more decimating.

We anticipate the removal of human competition at a rate of 20-percent a week… but that’s in nice rural weather. Mix heat/freezing with urbanites, and the ‘learning curve’ will be steep.

The rotting corpses issue means cities are non-sustainable by the second week of a disaster.

Starving sick city-folk stumbling stupid into the rural regions? This might not be the problem some writers predict… until the urbanites die, leaving diseased corpses strewn hither and yon by the millions. OK, we could see that as a problem.

b) The Whole Carcass:
We make bone broth with our electric pressure cookers, a nutrient-dense base for delicious stews.

For breakfast, simmer bone broth in a skillet, add leftovers from supper, then poach a couple-three eggs. Zowie!

Grains? They stress the body during quiet times. Adding them during a disaster increases terrible stress in an over-worked immune system. Bad idea?

c) Stepping Outside:
‘Whacked by a sniper’? Count on it.

#28 Comment By BobW On December 16, 2017 @ 3:46 am

Ok, you are really going to have to explain the comment about grains being dangerous. Big rock, small pond.

#29 Comment By El Duderino On December 15, 2017 @ 5:28 pm

While my area is probably more remote than the author’s, it pretty much mirrors my experiences and thoughts.

Excerpt of a book I’ve been working on came to mind while reading this, why even remote areas aren’t always great survival locales:

“It was the height of absurdity to believe that Joe Sixpack, his wife, and 2.5 kids could leave the city, plop down a trailer in one of those remote parts of the country, and just start living off the land. People that pushed pencils all day for a living, made regular visits to a fast food drive-thru, and depended on all the conveniences that a modern consumerist culture could provide would be dead within a month during an average Eastern Montana or Wyoming winter.”

#30 Comment By BobW On December 16, 2017 @ 4:05 am

You assume a lot Dude.

Your quote speaks to the gross underestimation of those who choose to make a living with their fingers, and not their backs.

Just like the foolhardy assumption that the left will rise up with dildo and vagina hats.

The idea of the vacant secluded cabin retreat is also about as foolhardy. A place, where you know some neighbors, know which ones are busy bodies, which ones tend gardens, etc…

Isolated and unknown is a fools errand.

#31 Comment By Mart On December 17, 2017 @ 7:42 pm

Community doesn’t have to be much better, that nice helpful neighbor will know that you have still some food left…

#32 Comment By GWH On December 15, 2017 @ 5:50 pm

Good article…but for those of you who live in the Redoubt think it will be different are living in a dream world. Talk to anyone who was old enough in the depression to know what the hunting was like. West of the divide, seeing a deer track made headlines in the local newspaper. I visited (about 10 years ago) with a 101 year old wonderfully sharp lady who lived in eastern Montana. She had nine brothers, all died during the depression. The rest of her family lived on canned gophers (ground squirrels) for meat. There were no deer. Do not rely on hunting. Aside from the fact that you will not dare leave home. Even here in the Redoubt you can not and should not trust anyone around you.

#33 Comment By CM Dutch On December 15, 2017 @ 6:43 pm

About like my Grandpa showing me how to build and trap sparrows. Dumb kid that I was asked, “Why are you showing me this?”
Someday you might have to eat them.
Oh Grandpa, why would you want to eat that little thing?
When you get hungry enough…

And they lived on a working farm at the time early 1900’s

#34 Comment By Wojo On December 15, 2017 @ 7:20 pm

Living in CA about a year ago we had a lot of liberal friends. They knew of my hunting and fishing abilities and knew I was a prepare. On conversation went “well if things ever get bad we will just come to your house”. My comment back was that your not invited. If you can’t bring a skill, or food to the table your not invited. I spend a portion of my income on preparedness, we don’t go on lavish vacations, we go out once a month for a nice dinner, I invest in precious metals, and other skill activities. These people blow their money on two week long vacations to Europe/Asia, and buy expensive wine, and eat out 4 to 5 times a week. Yes, they are going to die long before I do in SHTF situation. God Bless them.

#35 Comment By oly On December 15, 2017 @ 10:19 pm

My prepping brothers. I am all for preparing for the worst which is wise to do. The things that I read in Daniel and Revelation that are coming on all of mankind will take more than location, beans and bullets to survive. I hope that we are not collectively missing the obvious elephant in the proverbial room. We should probably take heed to the numerous admonishments in Revelation chapters 1, 2, and 3. We probably need to pay more attention to the spiritual aspect of preparations may I very humbly suggest, myself included. The current religious relativism we are engaged in is woefully inadequate for the coming crisis. What we are doing in the name of church looks nothing like what Paul and the boys did turning the inhabited world on its ear the first 100 years A.D.

#36 Comment By Jeff Syme On December 15, 2017 @ 10:44 pm

Two points: Deer are dumb and Rabbits are awesome.

1. Historically, deep snow in the Rocky Mountains can decimate deer populations. Don’t count on deer.
10 years ago: [18]
On top of that deer meet is nasty. It tastes just like nasty venison and no one needs that. Mule Deer mind you.

2. Rabbits. No one has said anything about rabbits yet. I semi-abandoned my deer and elk hunting efforts here in Colorado to grow meat-rabbits.
The number one reason that I did so was because my biggest challenge hunting elk was simply finding Elk.
I’ve determined it’s much easier to find and chat up Colorado Department of Wildlife Officers who know where the elk are.

I know exactly where my rabbits are: in my rabbit hutch(es). Not running over the next ridge 10 miles away.
The parents are all named and are not food, but the offspring have a 100-day life-span and dress out at about 1.8 to 2 lbs each.
The biggest challenge I have with rabbits is in the winter keeping their water wet. Stupid ice.

The old phrase “breeding like rabbits” earned its reputation well, because frankly, they breed like rabbits. Driven hard, they can produce 5-8 litters a year from 5-12 kits per litter. And when driven hard don’t expect more than 2-3 year of life span from each great momma doe, out of an expected 10 year life span as an indoor pet.
One can almost pick the hour they give birth, to make it convenient for your planning of course.
With proper husbandry skills you might have a different doe give birth every week, and essentially you’ve secured your family meal 100 days into the future for a week.
You decide how many weeks you want to eat by how many does you keep.

I’m told statistically that rabbits can produce more than 3x three! times! more meat than a cow on the same acre of land.
It’s not as yummy as beef but they come in meal-size packages. Just think of the convenience of pre-portioned fresh meet.
It’s not a bad life when in an hour you can harvest 2 fresh rabbits for your family BBQ.

It’s the United States only that treats rabbits like pets. Every other country in the world eats them; and for good reason. They are very tasty.
Now before you go all-in for rabbits. Find a good recipe and buy a few processed rabbits from a local meat market. Pay them whatever they want for it. Try it out.

You can choose to opt for breeds that are very low maintenance or high maintenance.
You decide your level of interaction. Ask your selling breeder what’s best for your circumstance.
Do yourself a favor a buy a bunch of water bottles now. (you’ll need twice as many water bottles in the winter as half of them are thawing)
You can sprout all that wheat, corn, barley or wild grass seed you’re storing for rabbit food.
You just weeded your garden so give those proceeds to the rabbit babies.
They really don’t care for carrots. They do very much like whole dandelion plants.

Bad:
Bucks pee on everything… all the time. The only source of bad smells is from the urine.
HEAT is BAD BAD. Anything over 85F and your bucks lose sperm, and over 94F everything is going to die.
Cleaning cages sucks, but clean cages are much easier to clean and healthy for all the animals.
There is no milk available from rabbits compared to that aforementioned acre of land hosting a cow
Rabbit fur is not at all water proof, nothing like duck’s waterproof back. Wind and cold are enemies, but wet windy and cold is lethal.
Get some husbandry skills now when you have the time to make mistakes and you need to know how to “harvest”. Whatever that looks like for you.

Good
Easy to feed from local grasses, but risk of fungus if you choose poorly
The pellets are great for your garden and are not hot compared to some chicken breeds
Cold weather is much better than alternative. I’ve had kits born in 0 degree F and lost none of them.
If you have pelt skills, you get amazing soft leather and in great colors
Lots of different ways to cook rabbit (think a dry version of chicken) Very lean.
You can quickly grow a herd. My ceiling was 55 animals including 8 parents.

Start with 3 does and 1 buck all from different blood lines and just play with it. Beautiful animals.

Think
Yes: New Zealand, California, REX, Satin, American Chinchilla, and Palominos. (Flemish/New Zealand & Flemish/California mix really ideal)
Maybe: silver fox (too much loose hair for my tastes) Dutch
NOT : lop eared, pure Flemish giants, mini-REX or toy REX, Champagne D Argent (too expensive but an old bloodline),

Traits I pay extra for:
Resistance to disease / heat
People family kids handling temperament
and good doe mother skills, nest building
aggressive mating skills in the bucks. (usually this is just a larger buck than the doe.)

Oh, and deer are dumb and bambi is nasty. Walk away.

#37 Comment By OldTrooper On December 16, 2017 @ 4:58 am

My thoughts exactly, Jeff. Rabbits and chickens for meat and eggs. I like eggs and the powdered stuff is just not the same. Also, you just don’t hear about someone being gored, trampled or kicked by a rabbit (outside of Monte Python movies). You should consider an article, or series of articles, on rabbit husbandry.

#38 Comment By Skip On December 16, 2017 @ 2:59 am

To add a bit of levity, grow potatoes and tomatoes,( one needs ketchup)

It worked for Mark Watney in The Martian.

#39 Comment By TWB On December 16, 2017 @ 3:32 am

Very interesting and well written article, and the comments are a bonus. This is an enjoyable read and thanks to all who contributed!

I live in a medium size community in southwest Michigan. I don’t own a “retreat” property up north or anywhere else. If things go south my plan is to hunker down at home. I will defend my property as long as I can, and I am convinced my plan is the best I can do. Over the past few years I’ve purchased #10 cans of freeze-dried food whenever I have extra cash, and think this may be the best option for feeding my family in a bad situation. I love the concept of hunting and living off the land, but this article pretty much states the facts so all can understand, it won’t work!

Thanks SurvivalBlog, good job!

#40 Comment By lonewolf. On December 16, 2017 @ 8:19 am

this is why as preppers and survivalists we don’t just rely on one thing to survive, its just one part of the tripod.

#41 Comment By Murkan Mike On December 16, 2017 @ 8:20 am

Great perspective! When the occaisional person gets through my OPSEC and accidentally sees some of my preps, they always say the same thing “When the SHTF, I’m coming here!” To which I reply “Please don’t, i like you too much and shooting you in the face will make me sad.”

“Ha ha ha, that’s really funny.”

“Ha ha ha, yes it was wasn’t it”

“Ha ha ha, er…. you’re not serious about all that shooting in the face part, it was a joke right?”

“Ha ha ha, yeah, just like you’re joking about really thinking that in a tough situation I’m going to let a useless freeloader like you show up after years of not planning, and mooch off of me, placing my survival at risk, and there will be no consequences.”

“Ha ha.”

“Ha ha”

“Ha”

“Ha”

Then commences a staredown.

I really need to start seriously thinking about how i am really going to deal with the freeloader after a grid down situation.

#42 Comment By Greg Barnes On December 16, 2017 @ 9:52 am

I have to admit, I always get a big chuckle when ever I see one of these hunting wild animals is not an option after TEOTWAIKI.

Qualifier, I fully understand that there are many areas of the continental US where animals aren’t overly abundant. Also, I’ve read many reports where wild animals were hunted to extinction in specific areas of the country.

The qualifier out of the way, I strongly suspect that many of the authors of these comments have yet to spend any time in the deep south (no, I don’t mean the east coast). Animals, including deer and wild hogs are well beyond being termed “nuisance animals”. Man alone will not put a dent in their number. It will take an act of God to make any meaningful impact.

Certainly I appreciate the story, but more often than not, anyone who speaks in absolutes is only making a fool of themselves.

#43 Comment By Joe On December 18, 2017 @ 3:53 am

Who knows what SHTF will mean. Maybe when IT happens many of the animals die too. I would rather have the rabbits and chickens and hunt as plus, than rely on or think hunting will be all I need. The animal population in your area now may not be that way if SHTF.

#44 Comment By Susan On December 16, 2017 @ 9:53 am

I’m looking at cavies (guinea pigs). They seem to require less maintenace than rabbits. They know where home is, can roam to feed themselves and return, a good feature when stores can’t sell rabbit food. And they multiply like rabbits.

#45 Comment By Missouri Mule On December 18, 2017 @ 4:24 am

Having visited Peru a number of times where one can buy roasted guinea pig on the street, I can tell you that you will have to eat a least a dozen in one meal to get enough protein to make any difference.

#46 Comment By Ohio guy On December 16, 2017 @ 1:29 pm

Gotta love it!

#47 Comment By Ron On December 16, 2017 @ 4:13 pm

Everyone who doesn’t hunt thinks it is really easy!
I would recommend Quail and Pigeons as an idea for something to raise and eat.of course Chickens are great.Growing food for them is something to consider.Mealworms are easy and chickens and their eggs are as good as what you feed them.They sure like veggies.

#48 Comment By lineman On December 16, 2017 @ 9:03 pm

Some will use this article as an excuse and some will use it as motivation…You can tell which ones are what by the way they comment;)

#49 Comment By Joe On December 18, 2017 @ 3:54 am

Great article and some great comments and some excellent thoughts and ideas. Thanks everyone for participating, sharing your expertise, etc.

#50 Comment By DT On January 3, 2018 @ 2:00 am

I am still amazed at the number of people that believe they will be able to hunt and live off the land during a crisis.

They are delusional.

I live in an extremely game-rich county in Montana. In nearly 2,000 square miles there are only about 6,000 people.

I see deer and antelope daily, elk, moose and bear occasionally.

During the Great Depression, there were a few hundred residents in this county. When I spoke with old timers that were here during the depression, they all said the same thing – they rarely saw any game animals. Any deer or antelope were quickly shot for free meat.

When you factor in disregard for seasons or bag limits along with market hunters, there will be very little big game left.

Add in forest fires set by all these Jeremiah Johnson wanna-be’s and you have a complete disaster.

Read the memoirs of depression-era farmers or others. It was not an adventure.