I will be adding articles covering different aspects of hunting and fishing for survival/ self sufficiency each day for the next several days. I hope this information will be useful in helping you to improve your personal State of Readiness… “Higgy“
I was inspired to write this in part while getting ready for deer season this year and also by a “spirited” debate on my personal Facebook page with a vegan friend of mine that feels very strongly that hunting is barbaric. Let me begin with my thoughts on hunting… I hunt for several reasons; my primary objective is to obtain meat, plain and simple. I am not a trophy hunter, but I have no issue with it from the standpoint of controlling the health and balance of animal herds. While that aspect of hunting may be distasteful to some, it is far more humane than having animals die of starvation, disease and predation. My second objective is to partake in the whole process from field to table as my ancestors did. While many non-hunters tell me that it is “cruel” to kill an animal for food or that they find it objectionable to do so; they feel it is acceptable to have someone else kill an animal and package it for them to eat. How is that morally superior to handling those responsibilities yourself? I think it is important to understand what our survival entails at a personal level. I’m of the opinion that we have become too far removed from where our food comes from. We depend almost entirely on others (mostly corporations) to provide us with the most basic essentials of our survival (food and water). I’ve made the decision in my life to lessen my dependence on others for my basic necessities as much as I possibly can. I previously went a period of 3 years without purchasing beef and relied solely on venison that I hunted. The naysayers hit me with everything from “It’s unnecessary in this day and age” to “It ends up costing you more to hunt”. While both of those arguments have some truth to them, they are far from the “whole story”.
Is hunting unnecessary these days? Well, you can purchase meat at any grocery store in this country, that is a fact. So, “No”, it is not necessary to hunt for your food these days. HOWEVER, you have no idea where that meat came from or what kind of health the animal was in. You are also most likely eating animals that were raised in horrible conditions, fed GMO corn, pumped full of antibiotics and slaughtered in a less than humane manner. The animals that I harvest (animals raised for food will be addressed in a later article), live a natural life, they eat a natural diet, have never been given medicines or steroids, are nutritionally superior and are harvested humanely and with great respect. To me and mine, that IS necessary.
Does it cost more to hunt/ fish than to buy meat at the store? It definitely can and does for many hunters and fishermen. Some states make it very expensive to provide a lot of meat through hunting and fishing. If you have to pay exorbitant fees to hunt/ fish on private land, pay premium prices for hunting and fishing licenses and feel the need to buy all the “latest and greatest” hunting/ fishing gear… Your wild game meat may end up costing you hundreds of dollars per pound! In choosing my current home (Mississippi), the cost of hunting/ fishing and availability of game animals was a large factor on my decision. We have the highest deer density in the U.S., the state is approximately 60% forest with lots of access to public land to hunt as well as very reasonable licensing costs (for both hunting and fishing, our license is $32.00 which includes 3 antlered bucks and 5 antlerless deer). So for me, I can beat grocery store prices. Most people aren’t that fortunate, but that doesn’t mean that hunting is a “rich man’s sport” or that you can’t realize a positive expectation (financially speaking here). So basically, the answer to the questions of “Is it unnecessary?” and “Does it cost more than buying it at the store?” is, like with a lot of things in life: “It depends on your perspective and how you approach things”.
Another consideration that I feel compelled to address regarding hunting and fishing for food, is how many people say, “If something were to happen, or I was in a survival situation, I would hunt. Other than that it’s unnecessary”. If you think along those lines you really need to understand what I’m about to say… “You’re going to fail yourself and anyone that depends on you”. The only people that I have heard this perspective from are people that have never actually hunted. There seems to be this belief that you just walk out into the woods and animals will walk around in front of you waiting to be harvested. That is not the reality. I’ve spent weeks in the woods in prime deer habitat, in the state with the highest deer density, without seeing a deer or having one come within range so that it could be ethically harvested… and I have many years of hunting experience. If you don’t understand the animal you intend to hunt, or it’s habits and habitat, you have a very low probability of success. If you don’t (or won’t) gain experience when your life doesn’t depend on it, what makes you think that in a stressful situation (where your life DOES depend on it) you will just magically know what you’re doing? Would you approach other areas of your life this way? A lot of folks tend to think that the hunter has a huge and unfair advantage over the animals they hunt. They cite the weapons, intelligence and technology available to hunters. When you enter the woods, the animal has far more in it’s favor. First of all, they are in their own environment and know it better than you ever will. Second, they have far superior senses and instincts than we do and are constantly on the alert for predators. Overcoming the advantages that they have is no easy task. Believe me, there are far more animals that are aware of my presence in the woods than I am of their’s. I’ve had deer “bust” me, that I never laid eyes on! (If you don’t know how I know that, it is a prime example of something that non-hunters aren’t aware that they don’t know. Every hunter that reads this knows exactly what I mean and has experienced it themselves.)
My intent here isn’t to slam non-hunters. I just want to give some perspective and knowledge from the other side. I believe that an important part of maintaining your personal “State of Readiness” includes being able to provide food should your “normal” way of doing so cease to exist for whatever reason. In the following articles in this series I will address some basics on “how” to hunt and fish as well as “where” to find fish/ game and “what” to do with fish/ game once you harvest it. I will also cover some skills that you will need to be successful and ways to make these activities more cost effective. I’ll also give some tips on how you can “practice” these skills to make you more effective and some “methods” that may become necessary in a survival scenario that ordinarily be considered “unethical” or “unfair”.