Now that we know what areas we are likely to find critters in, it is time to cover some of the methods for taking game/ fish. Just about everyone I’ve hunted with has different ideas about and techniques for hunting and fishing. My purpose here is to introduce you to some of them and share my thoughts regarding what has worked for me. Keep in mind that this whole series is intended for folks that have never or have done very little hunting/ fishing and are looking for a starting point. We are also discussing hunting/ fishing for food, not trophy or sport.
We’ll start with hunting; the most common methods for hunting are still/ stand hunting, spot and stalk and hunting with dogs. There are also different choices on how to actually harvest the animals using the above methods such as firearm, archery or primitive weapons (For our purposes here A black powder rifle is still a firearm, rather than a “primitive weapon”. Spears, slings, gigs, sticks and rocks are what I will refer to as “primitive weapons”). Each method has it’s own advantages and disadvantages as does each tool you choose to use to accomplish your hunt. Let’s go a little deeper into each and hopefully you can decide which might suit your individual situation better. By experiencing the different methods, it can also help you to decide in a particular survival scenario which method best suits your situation.
Still/ Stand Hunting: This method entails locating a food source (or creating your own, which will be discussed later), water source or a game trail leading to/ from such an area and setting yourself up for an opportunity to harvest an animal. It can be as simple as sitting on a stump and waiting for an animal to walk by or as elaborate as building a shooting house over an established food/ water source. Stands/ blinds can be primitive or luxurious depending on your budget and the amount of time and energy you have to put into them. The pros to stand/ still hunting is that it expends the least amount of calories than the other methods and if you read your terrain right offers a high percentage chance of seeing/ taking an animal. Some of the cons are that you have to have access to an area where animals live and tons of patience. Still/ stand hunting is mostly a passive activity that easily frustrates and discourages new hunters that aren’t properly informed and prepared for the long periods of inactivity. Believe it or not, being still for long periods takes a great amount of mental discipline and movement will give you away to wildlife faster than any other factor.
Here’s an example of a commercially available ground blind:
Here’s aan example of a simple ground blind: A store bought tree stand: A simple homemade tree stand:
Spot and Stalk Hunting: This method entails actively looking for game and then stalking them so you can get close enough to take them. More than any other method, spot and stalk hunting takes the most amount of skill and is arguably the most labor intensive. You must thoroughly grasp the concepts of noise discipline, scent control and cover/ concealment. I would recommend starting out with squirrel hunting to learn to perfect this skill. They are very sensitive to movement and sound, plus they are extremely fast forcing a hunter to be very accurate as well. You learn to move through the woods quietly, take advantage of cover/ concealment and be effective with whatever weapon you choose to hunt with. Plus, you learn the basic skills of skinning and butchering an animal for the table (Note: all four legged animals are basically butchered the same and all birds can be butchered the same as any other bird). The pros to this method are that it is proactive, while you will likely take less game this way you will also see more than still/ stand hunting. It also heightens your sense of sitational awareness. The cons to this method are that you can expend more calories than you stand to gain and the level of difficulty.
Hunting with Dogs: This method utilizes man’s best friend and all of his superior senses and instincts. Different types of hunting dog breeds perform different tasks for the hunter. Some such as pointers and hounds (my favorites) locate game, some trail it, some flush the animals out of hiding and some will even hold it (in the brush, up a tree or simply corner it somewhere) and wait for the hunter to take care of the rest. You also have the retrievers that will go get the downed animal and bring it back to the hunter. I’ve hunted everything from birds to raccoon and deer with dogs and let me tell you, nothing is more amazing than watching these dogs do what they were bred for. The pros to hunting with dogs are their ability to smell and hear game that you will never see and their ability to locate a wounded animal quickly and efficiently. Let’s not forget the companionship aspect that a dog offers either! He’s a hunting partner that is ALWAYS ready to enthusiastically join you EVERY time you’re ready to hunt. The cons to this method would have to be the expense (good hunting dogs do not come cheap and they need to be fed and have medical expenses), and it is extremely labor intensive (Not just with the training of the dogs, but you can walk miles to catch up with the dogs on any given hunt). Yes, these animals are bred with the instinct to hunt, but they take a great deal of training to get them to do so in a way that benefits you (which takes a great deal of time, money and commitment). While this is one of my absolute favorite things in the world to do, it is not practical for everyone.
Fishing also can be done through different methods such as live bait, artificial lures, fly fishing, netting, trapping, jugging and (for my Southern brethren) Ma’Bell, just to name some that I’m personally familiar with. All of these methods can be used while bank fishing, wading or fishing from a boat. I’ve fished with everything from a simple cane pole in a farm pond, with spinning and bait casting reels to big deep sea trolling rods. Like hunting, the primary skills to be successful are being able to locate where fish are likely to be, what they’re eating, patience, noise discipline and the ability to be still when necessary for long periods of time. Another similarity between the two are the fact that they can be as inexpensive or expensive as you decide. Since more people are familiar with fishing than hunting, I’m not going to go into as much detail on it. A lot of fishing methods boil down to personal preference, the only way you will know what you prefer is to get out there, wet a hook and decide for yourself. My preferred methods depend mostly on the species that I’m fishing for. For Panfish or sunfish, I have been very successful with artificial jigs. For trout, I prefer lures. For Bass, it’s all types of artificial lures from spinner baits and plugs to plastic worms. For Catfish, I’m all about nightcrawlers and cut baits (the stinkier the better). When it comes to deep sea or large bodies of open water It’s live baits.
Now for some “survival’ methods. These methods may or may not be legal (most likely not) where you live and I don’t recommend them outside of an extreme survival or WROL (Without Rule Of Law) type scenario. So don’t be an asshole and utilize these methods unless it is a matter of life and death.
The most common way to Poach is “spotlighting”, which is most commonly done from a vehicle (The light tends to “hypnotize” the animal; combine that with the fact that wildlife are fairly accustomed to vehicles and you have a pretty reliable (while highly unethical) method of getting some meat. Baiting animals (also combined with spotlighting sometimes) with corn, fruit, grain, salt, mineral or molasses licks will also prove to consistently bring meat to the table. Here are some examples of homemade feeders that may be used to bait or lure animals:
Another effective method is the use of snares. The snare can be especially effective for deer when you can funnel them through an opening in a fence. While a deer is capable of jumping over a six foot fence, by simply tying the strands of a barbed wire fence together near where deer cross to access a food/ water source; the deer will go under the fence (path of least resistance) every time, which creates an ideal spot for a snare.
Another trapping method that might be better than the above methods (depending on your situation) are live “box type” traps. My Grandfather and I used to make them from materials we scrounged up from old projects such as hardware cloth and chicken wire and caught all types of birds, rabbits, chipmunks, etc. The benefit to a live trap is that you don’t have to preserve the meat right away as it’s “stored on the hoof” so to speak, and you can process it as needed. If the right materials are on hand, you might want to search the internet and see how the companies that eradicate feral hogs build their traps. In an area with these animals, a person could procure a great deal of meat in one good evening!
Netting can be used effectively to catch birds as well as fish. By observing their travel patterns and placing a net between two trees or other such objects can produce good results. Some effective methods for getting fish, I’d say that traps, trot lines, jugs/ yo yo’s and sienes would be the easiest. Some people use poison or electricity as well, but having those things on hand during bad times is probably a long shot.
What I would recommend (If you live in the country) is that you expand your garden to include turnips, rape and clover. These, in addition to your regular vegetables will attract wildlife that you can harvest, making your garden sort of a “one stop shop”. Just set up a simple ground blind or tree stand near the garden and you will be able to meet all of your food needs in one place. When times aren’t bad, you are feeding the wildlife with some of your excess garden, so that they remain healthy and nearby in the event that you do need them (Without taking up all of your freezer space if you don’t need them). This alone goes a long way towards improving your “State of Readiness”. It also helps you to be more self sufficient and less reliant on others in the event of an emergency situation.