Editor’s Note: Another guest post from Bernas (Ben) Leonavicius who recently contributed an article titled “How to Use an Analog Watch as a Compass”. As always, if you have information for Preppers that you would like to share and possibly receive a $25 cash award as well as be entered into the Prepper Writing Contest with a chance to win one of three Amazon Gift Cards with the top prize being a $300 card to purchase your own prepping supplies, enter today.
Man (kind) has practiced hunting since prehistory and until just a couple of hundred years ago this activity has been one of the major sources of our food supply. Nowadays, hunting is mostly practiced for recreational purposes rather than for food, though the food provided is a major bonus effect and, in extreme circumstances, you might face the decision of having to hunt to survive. In Alaska hunting is still the major source of meat, as it is in many parts of Africa and Asia. In Alaska people are even allowed to hunt for others who are not able but need the meat to get through the winter. It is a win win as hunters get to provide a humane service while getting to harvest more than their personal limit.
Assuming you were taken by surprise by circumstances and/or events, just what do you do if you ended up lost in the wilderness? FIRST, remember the first rules of survival – avoid making unnecessary efforts. Try to preserve your energy as much as you can and when it comes to hunting, try to expend less energy than you would regain from eating your prey.
Also understand that hunting is a true art and you have to prepare for it, like any emergency situation. The first questions a rescue party asks are to access the physical condition and skill level of the person they are searching for in the wilderness. Hunting “by necessity” as opposed to by plan requires the use of all your senses and abilities to surprise and capture a prey that is often more alert than you. Prey that can hear, see and smell you long before you are even aware of their presence. And since emergency situations may arise in the most unexpected moments, you should learn how to survive in the wilderness by hunting.
Practice makes better (I think perfect is impossible to achieve.)
Identifying The Prey
One of the most difficult parts of hunting is identifying the prey. Wild animals will not just sit there waiting for you to kill and eat them, they will feel your presence and move away.
The best way to identify your prey is to observe the traces, such as paw prints, eggs, and dejections. All these elements can be used to point you in the right direction.
Another way of identifying your prey is by recognizing the noises and by understanding the habits of your prey. For this reason, before starting your next adventure in the wilderness, try to find out as much as you can about the local fauna, the local wildlife, identifying the eventual potential preys and their resting or feeding places. This can not be over-stressed. Berries bring bees, bears, birds, small mammals and deer, pick wisely the one you want to engage. Knowing that is what will “inhabit” the area you should also know that their predators – coyotes, mountain cats, birds of prey and snakes will also be competing for these animals “locally”. Find fresh water, not just for your survival but because most of the prey you seek will do the same. This is where you will see the scat and the tracks and be able to plan your course of action.
Once you know these things you will be able to use the methods below to secure your future meal.
What are your options?
Once you identified your prey, the next step is to hunt it. There are various methods you can use depending on your abilities. The most common ways of hunting in the wilderness are:
- Building traps
- Using firearms
- Using alternative weapons
- Using your bare hands
Hunting with Traps
One of the easiest and least demanding ways of hunting is by building traps. To do this, you will usually need basic gear such as hiking rope or laces and eventually some sticks you can easily find in the wild. There are many types of traps that can be built with these elements, but probably the simplest and easiest to achieve is making a loop that you can use to capture your prey as soon as it sets head or foot inside the trap.
Obviously, to make the trap function for capturing food you will have to attract the prey to the loop by placing a bait or by blocking other surrounding paths.
If you don’t have either rope or shoe laces, you can use any piece of garment you might dispose of to tear apart and create an improvised string.
If you choose this hunting method, remember that:
- The more traps you trigger the more chances you have to catch your prey
- Hide the traps by camouflaging them into the surrounding environment
- Put soil on laces or ropes to remove your smell, put local debris all over the trap if feasible
- Block the surrounding paths with branches, trunks, or anything else you might use to divert game to the trap
- Test the trap before setting it and make sure it works
Hunting with Firearms
Without a doubt, the easiest ways to spot, target, and capture game is with the help of a firearm. They can vary from handguns to rifles and their action range will change depending on the model you use.
Do everything you can to NOT be caught in a wilderness “situation” without a firearm , a thing to keep in mind as well is to invest in a high-quality set of sights for a handgun and in an excellent rifle scope if you are taking the rifle with you. And PRACTICE.
Apart from being valuable possessions if you will find yourself in a life or death situation, these optical instruments will also help you to survey more terrain while conserving energy. Practice and you will be able to aim and target with more precision. Valuable always because ammo is always finite.
Hunting with Alternative Weapons
If the use of traps failed and you have no firearm with you, then you could try building alternative weapons from what you can find in the wilderness.
The options are truly endless and the only advice to give in this situation is to avoid falling to the victim of desperation. Keeping ones head is the single best advantage you have over nature.
Take a look at the environment and identify all the branches, sharp rocks and other pointy or sharp elements you could use as weapons, then use them wisely and preferably on small preys. Have two at the ready as the first may only wound and you need to be able to finish the kill as efficiently as possible.
Hunting with Your Bare Hands
In the most extreme situations, you might have to use your bare hands to catch the prey. In this case, you have to identify any potential prey that is harmless, such as small game, lizards, fish, snails, small birds, snakes and even insects.
Remember that animals, like us, become aggressive when attacked, therefore avoid chasing large mammals even if the prey you identified is harmless in normal circumstances, cornered, it is life or death to them.
Tips & Tricks
Regardless of which method of hunting you either choose or are left with, there are a few common sense rules you should follow to increase your chances of success:
- Remove your scent: animals have a good sense of smell (humans have 5 million olfactory sensory neurons in their noses, dogs have 200 million; a bear’s sense of smell is so acute that they can detect animal carcasses upwind and from a distance of 20 miles away) and will easily identify your scent. For this reason, try to remove your scent by washing away your sweat and preferably by covering yourself with soil or mud
- Know the wind: it changes direction so always hunt with the wind in your face and not on your back
- Walk with the sun behind you: when following a prey, try to make sure that the sun is behind you. This “may” prevent the animal from turning around to avoid the glare or not see you withing the glare
- Stop if the animal is fixing you: staying completely still until the animal resumes its normal activity increases your chances of catching the prey
- Always try to have a survival kit at your disposal: in this way, in case of necessity, you will at least have with you all the essential gear needed to build a simple trap as well as some rudimentary weapons.