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FOOD PROCUREMENT

ANIMALS FOR FOOD
When forced to live off of the land you first thoughts with regard to food should not be directed at large game. Large game is harder to kill and usually more wary of people. Small animals will provide you with a more consistent source of protein.

Relatively few animals are poisonous so learning which ones to avoid is fairly simple. You can, with relatively few exceptions, eat anything that crawls, swims, walks, or flies. The first obstacle is overcoming your natural aversion to a particular food source. You wouldn't want to starve while surrounded by food.

Insectsinsects
The most abundant food source on earth is the lowly insect. They are easily caught. Insects are actually higher in protein than beef by a factor of more than three. So insects can be an extremely important survival food. Insects to avoid include all adults that sting or bite, hairy or brightly colored insects, and caterpillars and insects that have a pungent odor. Also avoid spiders and common disease carriers such as ticks, flies, and mosquitoes.

Rotting logs are great places to look for a insects including ants, termites, beetles, and grubs. Grassy areas, such as fields, are good areas to search because the insects are plentiful and easily seen. Stones, boards, or other materials lying on the ground provide the insects with good nesting sites. Check these sites for insect larvae. Insects such as beetles and grasshoppers that have a hard outer shell will have parasites. Cook them before eating. Remove any wings and barbed legs also. Mix insects with plant material is a good way to overcome aversion to eating such distasteful food.

Wormsworm
Worms (Annelidea) are an excellent protein source. Dig for them in damp rich soil. After capturing them, drop them into clean, potable water for a few minutes so that they will first purge themselves. Then you can eat them either cooked or raw.

Crustaceanscrustacean
Freshwater shrimp can be collected from ponds with a dipnet (grass shrimp) larger river shrimp can be pulled from rivers such as the Mississippi River by putting out dense Christmas tree like bushes into the water and then pulling them out quickly after they have had a long sit. Many of the shrimp will fall off but if the bush is dense enough and you pull it out quickly enough you can manage to catch some shrimp as they fall onto the ground when you shake them out of the bush.

Crayfish (crawfish) are basically small lobsters. Crayfish love meat and if they are present you can catch them with a piece of rotting meat and a string. Don't waste good meat as bait. Use discarded pieces that aren't suitable to eat.

Crabs will come to bait placed at the edge of the surf, where you can trap or net them. Crabs are nocturnal and caught best at night but that daytime can be productive for them as well. Again meat on a string slowly lifted will allow you to scoop them up in a net or something before they let go. Boil them before eating.

Mollusks
This class includes octopuses and freshwater and saltwater shellfish such as snails, clams, mussels, bivalves, barnacles, periwinkles, chitons, and sea urchins. All of these make excellent food.

River snails or freshwater periwinkles are plentiful in rivers, streams, and lakes up north.

In fresh water, look for mollusks in the shallows, especially in water with a sandy or muddy bottom. Look for the narrow trails they leave in the mud or for the dark elliptical slit of their open valves.

Near the ocean, search in the tidal pools and the wet sand. Rocks along beaches or extending as reefs into deeper water often bear clinging shellfish. Snails and limpets cling to rocks and seaweed from the low water mark upward. Large snails, called chitons, adhere tightly to rocks above the surf line.

CAUTION
Mussels may be poisonous in tropical zones during the summer! Steam, boil, or bake mollusks in the shell. They make excellent stews.

CAUTION
Do not eat shellfish that are not covered by water at high tide!

Fish
Fish represent a good source of protein and fat. They offer some distinct advantages to the survivor. They are usually more abundant than mammal wildlife. To be successful at catching fish, you must know their habits. For instance, fish tend to feed heavily before a storm. Fish are not likely to feed after a storm when the water is muddy and swollen. Light often attracts fish at night. Fish will also gather where there are deep pools, under overhanging brush, and in and around submerged foliage, logs, or other objects that offer them shelter.

It is impossible to tell you how to successfully fish when the skill is hard enough without trying to generalize all the different species and places to fish. Keep in mind that fish doesn't necessarily mean big fish. If you don't have proper equipment it will probably serve you best to simply grab a long club like stick and bash it down on top of any minnows you see at the waters edge. The concusion will stun or kill the fish and although small it is a lot better than nothing.

There are no poisonous freshwater fish. However, the catfish species has sharp, needle-like protrusions on its dorsal fins and barbels. These can inflict painful puncture wounds that quickly become infected.

Cook all fish to kill parasites when possible but saltwater species a generally safe to eat raw. Only saltwater fish can be poisonous. Avoid eating anything other than the meat. Intestines and eggs should be avoided as they might be poisonous.



Amphibiansfrog
Frogs and salamanders are found around water. There are few poisonous species of frogs so avoid any brightly colored frogs. Do not however eat toads. Toads should be avoided at all cost.

Reptilesreptiles
Reptiles are a good protein source and relatively easy to catch. You should cook them first. Box turtles can be toxic avoid them completely. Cooking does not destroy this toxins. Poisonous snakes, alligators are not poisonous but obviously present a different sort of hazard. Proceed with caution.

Birdsbirds
All species of birds are edible. You can take pigeons from their roost at night by hand. During the spring you might be able to pluck some birds straight off of a nest they are protecting.

Other than that the best way to catch birds for food is through the use of traps. Traps allow you to work on other things while the trap works silently and patiently for you. Nesting birds present another opportunity... eggs.

Mammalsfish
Mammals are excellent protein source. Traps whether modern or primitive are the best way to go about catching them. A swift hit on the back of the head will kill any animals you catch instantly.

TRAPS AND SNARES
There are many different kinds of traps. Which one or ones you use will depend on your location and circumstances.
Look for the following:
Runs and trails.
Tracks.
Droppings.
Chewed or rubbed vegetation.
Nesting or roosting sites.
Feeding and watering areas.

Link to how to make various traps! Traps

Trap and Snare Construction
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.

Position your traps and snares where there is proof that animals pass through. Placing non-baited traps randomly will almost never catch any food.

You must remove or mask the human scent on and around the trap you set.

Concentrate your trapping efforts on birds as they are more mobile and can't smell so your scent won't scare them away from the trap like it will with most mammals.

Actually removing the scent from a trap is difficult but masking it is relatively easy. Use the fluid from the gall and urine bladders of previous kills. Mud, particularly from an area with also helps. Also use it to coat your hands when handling the trap and to coat the trap when setting it.

Traps or snares placed on a trail or run should use sticks to guide the animal to move where you want it to. A line of sticks stuck in the ground can serve this purpose. Although it stands out to you and me but to a raccoon or mink etc it doesn't really throw up any red flags in their minds.

Use of Bait
Baiting a trap greatly increases your chances of success. 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 will actually draw animals to it. When using bait scatter bits of it around the trap to give the prey a chance to sample it.

KILLING DEVICES
There are several killing devices that you can construct to help you obtain small game to help you survive. The rabbit stick, the spear, the bow and arrow, and the sling are such devices.

Rabbit Stick
One of the simplest and most effective killing devices is a stout stick as long as your arm, from fingertip to shoulder, called a "rabbit stick." You can throw it either overhand or sidearm and with considerable force. It is very effective against small game that stops and freezes as a defense.

Spear
You can make a spear to kill small game and to fish. Jab with the spear, do not throw it.

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.

Sling
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. Practice to gain proficiency. The sling is very effective against small game.

FISHING DEVICES
You can make your own fishhooks, nets and traps and use several methods to obtain fish in a survival situation.

Improvised Fishhooks
You can make field-expedient fishhooks from pins, needles, wire, small nails, or any piece of metal. You can also use wood, bone, coconut shell, thorns, flint, seashell, or tortoise shell. You can also make fishhooks from any combination of these items.

To make a wooden hook, cut a piece of hardwood about 1 inch (2.5cm) long and about 1/4 inch (6mm) in diameter to form the shank. Cut a notch in one end in which to place the point. Place the point (piece of bone, wire, nail) in the notch. Hold the point in the notch and tie securely so that it does not move out of position. This is a fairly large hook. To make smaller hooks, use smaller material.

A gorge is a small shaft of wood, bone, metal, or other material. It is sharp on both ends and notched in the middle where you tie cordage. Bait the gorge by placing a piece of bait on it lengthwise. When the fish swallows the bait, it also swallows the gorge.

Stakeout
A stakeout is a fishing device you can use in a hostile environment. To construct a stakeout, drive two supple saplings into the bottom of the lake, pond, or stream with their tops just below the water surface. Tie a cord between them and slightly below the surface. Tie two short cords with hooks or gorges to this cord, ensuring that they cannot wrap around the poles or each other. They should also not slip along the long cord. Bait the hooks or gorges.

Gill Net
If a gill net is not available, you can make one small diameter line, preferably mono fishing line or similar material. Tie the line between two trees. Attach several core lines to the easing by doubling them over and tying them with prusik knots or girth hitches. The length of the desired net and the size of the mesh determine the number of core lines used and the space between them. Starting at one end of the easing, tie the second and the third core lines together using an overhand knot. Then tie the fourth and fifth, sixth and seventh, and so on, until you reach the last core line. You should now have all core lines tied in pairs with a single core line hanging at each end. Start the second row with the first core line, tie it to the second, the third to the fourth, and so on.

To keep the rows even and to regulate the size of the mesh, tie a guideline to the trees. Position the guideline on the opposite side of the net you are working on. Move the guideline down after completing each row. The lines will always hang in pairs and you always tie a cord from one pair to a cord from an adjoining pair. Continue tying rows until the net is the desired width. Thread a suspension line easing along the bottom of the net to strengthen it.

Fish Traps
You may trap fish using several methods. Fish baskets are one method. You construct them by lashing several sticks together with vines into a funnel shape. You close the top, leaving a hole large enough for the fish to swim through.

You can also use traps to catch saltwater fish, as schools regularly approach the shore with the incoming tide and often move parallel to the shore. Pick a location at high tide and build the trap at low tide. On rocky shores, use natural rock pools. On coral islands, use natural pools on the surface of reefs by blocking the openings as the tide recedes. On sandy shores, use sandbars and the ditches they enclose. Build the trap as a low stone wall extending outward into the water and forming an angle with the shore.

Spearfishing
If you are near shallow water (about waist deep) where the fish are large and plentiful, you can spear them. To make a spear, cut a long, straight sapling. Sharpen the end to a point or attach a knife, jagged piece of bone, or sharpened metal. You can also make a spear by splitting the shaft a few inches down from the end and inserting a piece of wood to act as a spreader. You then sharpen the two separated halves to points. To spear fish, find an area where fish either gather or where there is a fish run. Place the spear point into the water and slowly move it toward the fish. Then, with a sudden push, impale the fish on the stream bottom. Do not try to lift the fish with the spear, as it with probably slip off and you will lose it; hold the spear with one hand and grab and hold the fish with the other. Do not throw the spear, especially if the point is a knife. You cannot afford to lose a knife in a survival situation. Be alert to the problems caused by light refraction when looking at objects in the water.

Chop Fishing
At night, in an area with a good fish density, you can use a light to attract fish. Then, armed with a machete or similar weapon, you can gather fish using the back side of the blade to strike them. Do not use the sharp side as you will cut them in two pieces and end up losing some of the fish.

PREPARATION OF FISH AND GAME FOR COOKING AND STORAGE
You must know how to prepare fish and game for cooking and storage in a survival situation. Improper cleaning or storage can result in inedible fish or game.

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

Eating spoiled or rotten fish may cause diarrhea, nausea, cramps, vomiting, itching, paralysis, or a metallic taste in the mouth. These symptoms appear suddenly, one to six hours after eating. Induce vomiting if symptoms appear.

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 is more than 10 centimeters long. Scale or skin the fish.

You can impale a whole fish on a stick and cook it over an open fire. However, boiling the fish with the skin on is the best way to get the most food value. The fats and oil are under the skin and, by boiling, you can save the juices for broth. You can use any of the methods used to cook plant food to cook fish. Pack fish into a ball of clay and bury it in the coals of a fire until the clay hardens. Break open the clay ball to get to the cooked fish. Fish is done when the meat flakes off. If you plan to keep the fish for later, smoke or fry it. To prepare fish for smoking, cut off the head and remove the backbone.

Snakes
To skin a snake, first cut off its head and bury it. Then cut the skin down the body 6 to 8 inches (15-20cm). Peel the skin back, then grasp the skin in one hand and the body in the other and pull apart. On large, bulky snakes it may be necessary to slit the belly skin. Cook snakes in the same manner as small game. Remove the entrails and discard. Cut the snake into small sections and boil or roast it.

Birds
After killing the bird, remove its feathers by either plucking or skinning. Remember, skinning removes some of the food value. Open up the body cavity and remove its entrails, saving the craw (in seed-eating birds), heart, and liver. Cut off the feet. Cook by boiling or roasting over a spit. Before cooking scavenger birds, boil them at least 20 minutes to kill parasites.

Skinning and Butchering Game
Bleed the animal by cutting its throat. If possible, clean the carcass near a stream. Place the carcass belly up and split the hide from throat to tail, cutting around all sexual organs. Remove the musk glands at points A and B to avoid tainting the meat. For smaller mammals, cut the hide around the body and insert two fingers under the hide on both sides of the cut and pull both pieces off.

Note: When cutting the hide, insert the knife blade under the skin and turn the blade up so that only the hide gets cut. This will also prevent cutting hair and getting it on the meat.

Remove the entrails from smaller game by splitting the body open and pulling them out with the fingers. Do not forget the chest cavity. For larger game, cut the gullet away from the diaphragm. Roll the entrails out of the body. Cut around the anus, then reach into the lower abdominal cavity, grasp the lower intestine, and pull to remove. Remove the urine bladder by pinching it off and cutting it below the fingers. If you spill urine on the meat, wash it to avoid tainting the meat. Save the heart and liver. Cut these open and inspect for signs of worms or other parasites. Also inspect the liver's color; it could indicate a diseased animal. The liver's surface should be smooth and wet and its color deep red or purple. If the liver appears diseased, discard it. However, a diseased liver does not indicate you cannot eat the muscle tissue. Cut along each leg from above the foot to the previously made body cut. Remove the hide by pulling it away from the carcass, cutting the connective tissue where necessary. Cut off the head and feet.

Cut larger game into manageable pieces. First, slice the muscle tissue connecting the front legs to the body. There are no bones or joints connecting the front legs to the body on four-legged animals. Cut the hindquarters off where they join the body. You must cut around a large bone at the top of the leg and cut to the ball and socket hip joint. Cut the ligaments around the joint and bend it back to separate it. Remove the large muscles (the tenderloin) that lie on either side of the spine.

Separate the ribs from the backbone. There is less work and less wear on your knife if you break the ribs first, then cut through the breaks. Cook large meat pieces over a spit or boil them. You can stew or boil smaller pieces, particularly those that remain attached to bone after the initial butchering, as soup or broth. You can cook body organs such as the heart, liver, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys using the same methods as for muscle meat. You can also cook and eat the brain. Cut the tongue out, skin it, boil it until tender, and eat it.

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