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  • Finding Food In A Survival Situation

    If you're going to survive a long term survival situation, you're going to need energy, to get energy, you need to intake nutrients by eating. Now, if you have a prepared survival kit or BOB, you probably have MRE's and other sources of short term food supplies, or maybe you have a location that you have stocked with emergency food. So, what happens when that food runs out? I'll tell you what I would do, I'd hunker down and go get it myself. In this article I'll be talking about survival hunting,trapping, and scavenging for food.

    It is essential to understand where to find survival food, even though food is the least pressing wilderness survival need. With plenty of water and a comfortable resting place, most of us can live approximately three weeks without food. However, food is important for your mental and emotional state, as well as a source of energy and to maintain a normal body temperature.

    Natural Foods

    In a survival situation, you have to take advantage of everything available to eat. Most wilderness areas are full of natural food, ranging from plants to insects. The food sources you can exploit are determined by the habitat you are in. Vary your diet to make sure you get the appropriate proportions of fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.

    Meat and fish are good sources of protein and fat and provide virtually everything a long-term survivor would need. However, at the first stage of a survival situation, plants are the most appropriate diet as plants are easily accessible and contain the necessary carbohydrates.

    Wild Edible Plants

    Cat Tail plants

    Depending of the season you will almost always find edible plants, unless you're in the arid desert. Recognizing only a few wild edible plants can be of great help in your search for survival food. Nuts, berries,fruit, mushrooms are also valuable survival foods. There are simply too many edible plants for me to list here. One of my personal favorites is the Cat Tail , Cat O' Nine Tails, or Bullrushes, they can be found in most wetlands or marshy areas. Many parts of it are edible and nutritious. Now a dire warning: Never, Never, Never eat anything your not sure about, especially toadstools ,mushrooms, and berries, ingesting certain types could mean sickness and AGONIZING DEATH! Click these links for excellent resources about wild edible plants, study them, learn to recognize edible plants, survive!

    Universal Plant Edibility Test

    There are many plants throughout the world. Tasting or swallowing even a small portion of some can cause severe discomfort, extreme internal disorders, and even death. Therefore, if you have the slightest doubt about a plant's edibility, apply the Universal Edibility Test (Figure 9-5) before eating any portion of it.

    Edible Insects

    Mealworms, Mmmmm!

    Some insects contain protein and fat. Most insects are rich in both. You may think this is gross, but in a true life or death situation, you'll have to eat them, so get over it. Edible insects are great survival food and don't taste that bad, some are down right delicious!

    "Most insects are edible. Unfortunately, there isn't a dead giveaway to tell if a bug is edible unless you know what you're doing. However, there are some general guidelines you can use to help you decide. One rule of thumb that survival experts endorse is to steer clear of brightly colored insects. Like on amphibians, bright colors are usually an insect's way of saying, "Avoid me, please." You should heed their advice. Insects that are extremely pungent are also good to keep off your plate. Some wilderness experts will caution against hairy critters as well as bugs that bite or sting. Disease carriers like flies, ticks and mosquitoes are also on the no list.
    But for every rule, there are exceptions. The tomato worm is bright green and perfectly safe to eat. Caterpillars are edible for the most part, but maybe you should stay away from the hairy, colorful ones. Tarantulas are hairy too, but are roasted and eaten in some countries. Black ants are edible, but their fiery cousins aren't. Stinging bugs like bees and wasps are edible and known for being quite tasty. The same can be said for scorpions. People eat venomous snakes, so why not?

    Some Edible Insects:
    grasshoppers and crickets
    cicadas and tree-hoppers
    bees, ants and wasps
    butterflies and moths
    caddis flies
    stone flies
    lacewings and ant lions

    The trick to eating any insect is to cook it. Even if a bug has harmful toxins or venom, a good boiling will usually negate the effect. Insects with hard shells like beetles can contain parasites, but if cooked are safe to eat. Even if you're in a survival situation, you should be able to get a fire going. This means you can boil, roast or smoke the insects you eat. Aside from making them safe to ingest, cooking them also improves the taste. Ants, for example, have a distinct vinegar taste until they're boiled. Another way to improve your dining experience is by removing the wings and legs from your meal. They don't contain much nutritional value anyway. You can also remove the head.
    Many times the insects themselves are edible, but what they've been eating isn't. It takes a little while for insects to digest, so if they recently ate some leafy greens that were sprayed with pesticide, those chemicals are now inside their body. Locusts that have been doused with insecticide often have saliva at the corners of their mouths. Cook these insects or purge them by feeding them fresh greens -- 24 hours should do it. You should also stick to live insects because you can never be sure what killed the dead ones. You can take care of the killing part yourself by cooking them.
    So if you're in a survival situation, play it safe. There are plenty of worms, grubs, termites, crickets and beetles in any wilderness area. Stick with these and you'll be fine."

    Survival Fishing

    Fish are a valuable food source. Therefore, if you are near ariver or stream, fishing is an important alternative to obtain food. Once again, if you have a survival kit, you probably have a fishing kit, if so, you're set. If not, you'll have to improvise.

    Improvised Fishhooks


    Gill Net

    Fish Traps


    Do not eat fish that appears spoiled. Cooking does not ensure that spoiled fish will be edible. Signs of spoilage are--

    * Sunken, cloudy eyes.

    * Peculiar odor.

    * Suspicious color. (Gills should be red to pink. Scales should be a pronounced
    shade of gray, not faded.)

    * Dents stay in the fish's flesh after pressing it with your thumb.

    * Slimy, rather than moist or wet body.

    * Sharp or peppery taste.

    Fish spoils quickly after death, especially on a hot day. Prepare fish for eating as soon as possible after catching it. Cut out the gills and large blood vessels that lie near the spine. Gut fish that are more than 10 centimeters long. Scale or skin the fish. is one of my favorite survival websites, to learn more about the above methods of survival fishing and more, check it out.


    Crayfish are akin to marine lobsters and crabs. You can distinguish them by their hard exoskeleton and five pairs of legs, the front pair having over sized pincers. Crayfish are active at night, but you can locate them in the daytime by looking under and around stones in streams. You can also find them by looking in the soft mud near the chimney-like breathing holes of their nests. You can catch crayfish by tying bits of worm or other bait to a string. When the crayfish grabs the bait, pull it to shore before it has a chance to release the bait.


    Frogs and salamanders are easily found around bodies of fresh water. Frogs seldom move from the safety of the water's edge. At the first sign of danger, they plunge into the water and bury themselves in the mud and debris. Therefore, find a long stick to stun or kill them with, or fashion a spear to "gig" them. There are few poisonous species of frogs. Avoid any brightly colored frog or one that has a distinct "X" mark on it's back. Do not confuse toads with frogs. You normally find toads in drier environments. Several species of toads secrete a poisonous substance through their skin as a defense against attack. Therefore, to avoid poisoning, do not handle or eat toads.

    Salamanders are nocturnal. The best time to catch them is at night using a light. They can range in size from a few centimeters to well over 60 centimeters in length. Look in water around rocks and mud banks for salamanders. Like frogs, it's best to avoid brightly colored salamanders.


    Reptiles are a good protein source and relatively easy to catch. You should cook them, but in an emergency, you can eat them raw. Their raw flesh may transmit parasites, but because reptiles are cold-blooded, they do not carry the blood diseases of the warm-blooded animals.

    The box turtle is a commonly encountered turtle that you should not eat. It feeds on poisonous mushrooms and may build up a highly toxic poison in its flesh. Cooking does not destroy this toxin. Avoid the hawks-bill turtle, found in the Atlantic Ocean, because of its poisonous thorax gland. Poisonous snakes, alligators, crocodiles, and large sea turtles present obvious hazards to the survivor.


    All species of birds are edible, although the flavor will vary considerably. You may skin fish-eating birds to improve their taste. As with any wild animal, you must understand birds' common habits to have a realistic chance of capturing them. You can take pigeons, as well as some other species, from their roost at night by hand. During the nesting season, some species will not leave the nest even when approached. Knowing where and when the birds nest makes catching them easier. Roosting sites and waterholes are some of the most promising areas for trapping or snaring.

    Bird Eggs

    Nesting birds present another food source--eggs. Remove all but two or three eggs from the clutch, marking the ones that you leave. The bird will continue to lay more eggs to fill the clutch. Continue removing the fresh eggs, leaving the ones you marked.
    Eggs offer high nutritional value, are convenient and safe. They can be boiled, baked or fried. The first obvious place to look for them is a bird nest. However, not all birds build a nest, but instead lay their eggs directly on the ground or in a hole.

    Trapping and Hunting

    Unless you have the chance to take large game, concentrate your efforts on the smaller animals, due to their abundance. The smaller animal species are also easier to prepare. You must not know all the animal species that are suitable as food. Relatively few are poisonous, and they make a smaller list to remember. What is important is to learn the habits and behavioral patterns animals. For example, animals that are excellent choices for trapping, those that inhabit a particular range and occupy a den or nest, those that have somewhat fixed feeding areas, and those that have trails leading from one area to another. Larger, herding animals, such as elk or caribou, roam vast areas and are somewhat more difficult to trap. Also, you must understand the food choices of a particular species.

    Unless you are an experienced hunter, hunting animals for meat is inadvisable in a survival situation. Hunting is difficult and you will expend a lot of energy to get your food. Instead of hunting consider trapping. Trapping requires less skill and leaves you free to spend time searching for other food sources. The wilderness survivor needs simple traps that are easy to remember and easy to construct.


    (Disclaimer: Primitive traps and snares are illegal in most areas and should only be used in a true survival situation.)

    If you have put together a survival kit, it'd good to have a snare kit in it. A snare kit is basically all the stuff you need to set snares like: snare wire (I use guitar string), pre-made triggers, para cord..etc. But some traps and snares you can make in the wild, without these things.

    There are no catchall traps you can set for all animals. You must determine what species are in a given area and set your traps specifically with those animals in mind. Look for the following:

    * Runs and trails.
    * Tracks.
    * Droppings.
    * Chewed or rubbed vegetation.
    * Nesting or roosting sites.
    * Feeding and watering areas.

    Position your traps and snares where there is proof that animals pass through. You must determine if it is a "run" or a "trail." A trail will show signs of use by several species and will be rather distinct. A run is usually smaller and less distinct and will only contain signs of one species. You may construct a perfect snare, but it will not catch anything if haphazardly placed in the woods. Animals have bedding areas, waterholes, and feeding areas with trails leading from one to another. You must place snares and traps around these areas to be effective.

    Baiting a trap or snare increases your chances of catching an animal. When catching fish, you must bait nearly all the devices. Success with an unbaited trap depends on its placement in a good location. A baited trap can actually draw animals to it. The bait should be something the animal knows. This bait, however, should not be so readily available in the immediate area that the animal can get it close by. For example, baiting a trap with corn in the middle of a corn field would not be likely to work. Likewise, if corn is not grown in the region, a corn-baited trap may arouse an animal's curiosity and keep it alerted while it ponders the strange food. Under such circumstances it may not go for the bait. One bait that works well on small mammals is the peanut butter from a meal, ready-to-eat (MRE) ration. Salt is also a good bait. When using such baits, scatter bits of it around the trap to give the prey a chance to sample it and develop a craving for it. The animal will then overcome some of its caution before it gets to the trap.

    Traps and snares crush, choke, hang, or entangle the prey. A single trap or snare will commonly incorporate two or more of these principles. The mechanisms that provide power to the trap are almost always very simple. The struggling victim, the force of gravity, or a bent sapling's tension provides the power.

    The heart of any trap or snare is the trigger. When planning a trap or snare, ask yourself how it should affect the prey, what is the source of power, and what will be the most efficient trigger. Your answers will help you devise a specific trap for a specific species. Traps are designed to catch and hold or to catch and kill. Snares are traps that incorporate a noose to accomplish either function.

    Two-piece snare trigger

    This is the two-piece snare trigger, it's mainly used for twitch up snares. Part "b" is notched and stuck firmly into the ground, while part "a" is notched , tied to the bent limb or sapling and noose. When prey gets entangled in the snare's noose, it disengages "a" from "b" and springs the trap. Note: Do not use green sticks for the trigger. The sap that oozes out could glue them together.

    Simple Snare

    A simple snare (Figure 8-5) consists of a noose placed over a trail or den hole and attached to a firmly planted stake. If the noose is some type of cordage placed upright on a game trail, use small twigs or blades of grass to hold it up. Filaments from spider webs are excellent for holding nooses open. Make sure the noose is large enough to pass freely over the animal's head. As the animal continues to move, the noose tightens around its neck. The more the animal struggles, the tighter the noose gets. This type of snare usually does not kill the animal. If you use cordage, it may loosen enough to slip off the animal's neck. Wire is therefore the best choice for a simple snare.

    Drag Noose

    Use a drag noose on an animal run (Figure 8-6). Place forked sticks on either side of the run and lay a sturdy cross-member across them. Tie the noose to the cross-member and hang it at a height above the animal's head. (Nooses designed to catch by the head should never be low enough for the prey to step into with a foot.) As the noose tightens around the animal's neck, the animal pulls the cross-member from the forked sticks and drags it along. The surrounding vegetation quickly catches the cross-member and the animal becomes entangled.

    Twitch-Up Snare

    A simple twitch-up snare uses two forked sticks, each with a long and short leg (Figure 8-7). Bend the twitch-up and mark the trail below it. Drive the long leg of one forked stick firmly into the ground at that point. Ensure the cut on the short leg of this stick is parallel to the ground. Tie the long leg of the remaining forked stick to a piece of cordage secured to the twitch-up. Cut the short leg so that it catches on the short leg of the other forked stick. Extend a noose over the trail. Set the trap by bending the twitch-up and engaging the short legs of the forked sticks. When an animal catches its head in the noose, it pulls the forked sticks apart, allowing the twitch-up to spring up and hang the prey.

    Figure 4 Dead-Fall

    The figure 4 is a trigger used to drop a weight onto a prey and crush it (Figure 8-12). The type of weight used may vary, but it should be heavy enough to kill or incapacitate the prey immediately. Construct the figure 4 using three notched sticks. These notches hold the sticks together in a figure 4 pattern when under tension. Practice making this trigger before-hand; it requires close tolerances and precise angles in its construction.

    If you set and bait a trap for one species but another species takes the bait without being caught, try to determine what the animal was. Then set a proper trap for that animal, using the same bait.

    These are only a few snares and traps you can construct.
    For more info visit:

    Survival Hunting

    As said before, hunting should be used as a last resort in survival nutrition, you will burn more calories pursuing game, then you'll be taking in, unless you are extremely skilled. Although, if you have a good supply of other food stuffs gathered already, then you may want to try your hand at getting some fresh meat.

    Throwing Sticks

    Throwing Sticks are used to kill small game, such as rabbits and birds. Therefore, they are also commonly called "Rabbit Sticks", or "Bird Sticks." To use them, one simply hurls it at the intended target. Of course, there is a technique involved in order to remain undetected by the target animal!

    Bow and Arrow

    A good bow is the result of many hours of work. You can construct a suitable short-term bow fairly easily. When it loses its spring or breaks, you can replace it. Select a hardwood stick about one meter long that is free of knots or limbs.

    Carefully scrape the large end down until it has the same pull as the small end. Careful examination will show the natural curve of the stick. Always scrape from the side that faces you, or the bow will break the first time you pull it. Dead, dry wood is preferable to green wood. To increase the pull, lash a second bow to the first, front to front, forming an "X" when viewed from the side. Attach the tips of the bows with cordage and only use a bowstring on one bow.

    Select arrows from the straightest dry sticks available. The arrows should be about half as long as the bow. Scrape each shaft smooth all around. You will probably have to straighten the shaft. You can bend an arrow straight by heating the shaft over hot coals. Do not allow the shaft to scorch or burn. Hold the shaft straight until it cools.

    You can make arrowheads from bone, glass, metal, or pieces of rock. You can also sharpen and fire harden the end of the shaft. To fire harden wood, hold it over hot coals, being careful not to burn or scorch the wood.

    You must notch the ends of the arrows for the bowstring. Cut or file the notch; do not split it. Fletching (adding feathers to the notched end of an arrow) improves the arrow's flight characteristics, but is not necessary on a field-expedient arrow.


    You can make a sling by tying two pieces of cordage, about sixty centimeters long, at opposite ends of a palm-sized piece of leather or cloth. Place a rock in the cloth and wrap one cord around the middle finger and hold in your palm. Hold the other cord between the forefinger and thumb. To throw the rock, spin the sling several times in a circle and release the cord between the thumb and forefinger. The sling is very effective against small game.

    There are other "primitive" hunting tools you could also make.

    Make a spear by lashing a knife to a long, strait piece of wood or make a sharpened stick.

    Make a bolo by tying two rocks together with a piece of rope or cloth.

    Whether it's making or using any of these hunting tools, practice makes perfect!

    Methods of Processing and Cooking

    Cooking is a skill of great importance for all wilderness travelers. Cooking not only makes many foods more appetizing to taste, but also ensure that parasites and bacteria are killed. You don’t want to get sick from food poisoning.

    A compact camping stove is very convenient in the wilderness. However, in many situations, a cooking fire is more practical and allows a wider variety of cooking opportunities. As a survival skill, you should also be able to prepare your food without any cooking utensils.

    It's always better to cook your food until it's well or over done, than it is to eat it half cooked.

    An easy way to cook food is to skewer it with a stick and roast it over a fire.

    Flat, smooth rocks placed in the fire can be used to cook on.

    If you've read up on edible leaves, you can wrap food in them and set them in the coals of your fire to cook.

    For more excellent info on cooking ,processing, and preserving meat, click here:

    There's a lot of stuff out there in the wild to provide nutrition. Hopefully the information and links provided in this article will set you on the path to being able to survive and thrive in a survival situation. Stay safe out there.

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