Survival Food: Wild Game

Right now in New York we are in the midst of spring Turkey hunting season and walleye fishing season. I absolutely love this time of year. New life is springing forth and the air seems so fresh. The weather is consistently getting nicer and the warmth of the sun feels so wonderful and energizing. I find myself wishing I could spend every waking moment, this time of year, in the wilderness instead of keeping a regular work schedule.

Anyway the reason I’m bringing up the fact that we are in the midst of hunting and fishing season (in New York) is that this is the perfect time to learn skills for gathering wild game or to teach your young children how to catch wild game. When it comes to survival, knowing how to provide food for yourself and anyone with you could mean the difference between life and death.

Since the weather is nicer and generally warmer at this time of year it is easier on younger children to be out hunting now instead of in late fall (not very warm in New York usually by then). Teaching them how to hunt and fish well they are young will give them the time to fine tune their skills and will give them an appreciation for nature. Teach them to hunt or fish with the bare minimum instead of outfitting them with every gadget known to man. This will make them rely on skill instead of technology. Use homemade lures to catch fish. Try fishing with just a stick, some fishing line, a hook and a worm or homemade lure. This can be fun and challenging all at the same time. Adults should be practicing these skills as well. In a real survival situation you will most likely not have any professional fishing or hunting equipment. Now is the time to learn and practice these skills. Not when your life depends on it.

Test your skills when hunting. If you’re a bow hunter, try hunting with a recurve or long bow instead of a compound bow. If you already bow hunt with a recurve or long bow try making your own bow and hunting with that. For gun hunters, try bow hunting or get rid of the scope and use sights. If you have an area where you are able to, you can learn how to trap. No matter how skilled we are at hunting and fishing or trapping, we can all challenge ourselves more and fine tune our skills. The older I get the more I want to hunt or fish with gear that is as basic as possible. Someday if I get the chance I am going to make my own recurve bow and hunt with it.

The point of all this is to say that you need to practice the skill of catching wild game and this is the perfect time of year to do that. If you have children you can get them involved and have fun learning together. They will never forget the time you spend in the wilderness together and these skills may someday save their life or your own. I know many people that live off and provide for their families with the wild game they catch each year. My family included. We only eat wild fish and venison. We raise our own chickens and vegetables. You can save a lot of money by living off the land instead of relying on the grocery store to provide for your family but you need to gain the necessary skills first.

Enjoy this time of year and if you have children let them enjoy it with you. Make sure you obey all hunting and fishing laws in your area and don’t be reckless. Incorporate fishing with your camping trips. This way you’ll have some great tasting free food and your kids will taste the fruit of their labors. There’s nothing more satisfying than providing your own food well out backpacking and camping. Enjoy each moment and continue to learn and teach along the way.

 

(The picture is of my brother and the turkey he shot last weekend).

My Lightweight Fishing Kit

I like to be able to go fishing whenever it is at all possible while I’m out hiking/backpacking or anytime as a matter of fact. There is nothing better than freshly caught fish cooked over a fire well out in the wilderness. It is very satisfying! I tend to like to scale things down as much as possible and not carry all kinds of needless weight. My fishing kit is no exception. I wanted to put together as small and light a kit as possible without losing a lot of functionality. So I scoured the internet and stores for products that would help in this endeavor and boy are there a lot of great products out there these days to help put together a small fishing kit.

First off, I was not going to restrict myself to a small emergency fishing kit where I had to tie fishing line on a stick. Well those are great for emergencies (I do carry one on me almost always) I couldn’t see myself pulling the kit out to use every time I got a chance to do some fishing. So I definitely wanted a real usable fishing rod and reel. Well after much time and effort looking around I found the perfect rod and reel combo for my kit.

I stumbled upon the pen fishing rod and boy did I want one. I read a lot of reviews before I bought one but sure enough after all the reading was done I bought my very own pen fishing rod goliath with front drag reel. Here is the link for the one I bought: http://penfishingrods.com/shop/product_details.php?category_id=13&item_id=165

Here is the link for the main page:

http://penfishingrods.com/shop/index.php

These Rod and reels are made very well and they are very easy to cast. You do have to learn to be more careful about how you cast and catch fish. It’s an easy learning process. The big thing is not to use the rod to pull fish out of the water. Always reach down with your free hand and pick the fish up out of the water no matter how small the fish may be. This will save a lot of wear and tear on the rod and save you money from having to replace a broken rod. I chose the front drag reel because that is generally what I always fish with. They do make a bait casting reel and a fly rod and reel combo as well. At some point in the near future I’ll be getting my hands on and testing one of the fly combos. I love the idea of a small fly fishing setup.

As far as the rest of my kit, it contains a small Plano tackle box that is 1”x3”x4 ¾ “. I generally carry a bunch of different types of small spinners, different size hooks, some weights and some swivels. I adjust what is in the tackle box according to the time of year and where I’m going to be possibly fishing. You must also check all local fishing laws for the area you’ll be fishing in. Please save yourself some trouble and follow all fishing laws. It’s not worth ruining a beautiful day fishing because you are using the wrong lures or in an area where you shouldn’t be fishing.

I keep the rod, reel and tackle box in a small ditty bag. The whole kit, bag and all, only weights 11.6 oz. I can definitely legitimize carrying that on any backpacking trip. Having this kit can also supply some extra meals for me as well, which only adds to it being worth carrying. I know there are other small fishing pole companies out there and their products may be great but this is the one I chose and I love it. You can carry a kit like this anywhere you go or leave it in the glove box for that last minute fishing adventure. This is also a perfect fishing kit for a bug out bag. I hope this was a help and gives you some ideas about how to put together your very own lightweight fishing kit. Let me know what you put in your kits and please feel free to ask me any questions you may have. One final thought, keep it simple. Spring is coming so get your fishing kit ready.

Cheap Healthy Trail Meals

Like most hikers/backpackers I’ve tried using expensive freeze dried food (Mountain House is the best I’ve ever tasted) or cheap prepackaged foods like ramen noodles or some form of pasta and cheese dish. Neither of these are a very healthy option so I decided to make my own prepackaged meals without all the preservatives and without tons of sodium.  If you have a vacuum sealer you can seal each of your meals individually. I usually just put my meals together a few days in advance so I don’t have to bother vacuum sealing each of them. I just place each individual meal in a sandwich size Ziploc bag and then place all the meals in a larger size Ziploc bag. If it’s a longer trip you will have to use a couple larger Ziploc bags. I place all my meals in order so that my next meal is at the top of the larger bag. I also place my prepackaged snacks in with the meals as well. Everything is in order so that I won’t have to unload the larger bag every time I want to eat. I like everything to be in order and this makes it a much quicker process at meal time.

For breakfast I generally fill a small Ziploc bag with homemade granola, fruit that I dehydrated and some powdered milk. That’s it! Just add cold water when you’re ready to eat. It tastes great and you know what’s actually in what you’re eating as well as saving a ton of money making your own dried food. If it’s colder I like to make up a bag with oatmeal and some of my dehydrated fruit. Sometimes I will add a little powdered milk as well. By making your own bag of oatmeal instead of using the prepackaged bags you’ll save a ton of money, be able to give yourself a bigger portion size and be able to add whatever you want, like fruits and nuts.

For lunches and dinners I’ll make either some form of pasta dish, rice dish or soup with rice or pasta in it. That way I’m getting some carbs for energy. I place all the dry ingredients as well as any spices in the bag and seal it up. This way when it comes time to eat all I have to do is add water and heat it up. For meat I either add dehydrated chicken, venison or a pouch of tuna fish. Tuna fish is the one thing I do buy prepackaged. It is easy to carry and they have a lot of flavors available now. I like to have some form of protein at every meal for sustained energy. You can also take homemade bread products that were just made fresh. You would be surprised how long they will last on the trail, if you don’t eat them first. I like to take homemade tortilla shells. They are awesome!  Just add a package of peanut butter and a package of honey or jelly and you’ve got a sandwich.

Obviously nuts and raisins make a great snack but I also like to take homemade granola bars and homemade graham crackers. Once you have homemade graham crackers you’ll never want another prepackaged one again. I also make my own jerky, which is great for snacking on well on the trail and easy to carry as well.

I hope this gets you thinking about having more control over what you’re eating on the trail as well as enjoying what you’re eating. You can actually enjoy your food, well saving money and being imaginative with what you’re eating. What things do you like to eat on the trail?