Surviving off the land…fact or fiction?…do you believe, that in the event of an emergency situation that you could simply go out into the woods and survive? Or that in order to get food on the table that you will take that old .22 and go kill some meat in the woods or that simply dropping a fishing hook in the water everyday that you and yours could live? That foraging alone in the woods and fields will get you what you need on a daily basis? That all you have to do is throw some seeds out there and presto, within weeks you will have an abundant selection of veggies to eat daily? This is a myth…and the golden hordes (read that city dwellers) that may or may not come out if and when the supply chain or money dries up don’t know it is a myth.

Dream on and don’t come knocking on my door when you figure out that its all a lot harder than you thought it would be and you are starving because you failed to ‘get’ the fact that subsistence living or living ‘survival’ style in the woods just won’t get it no matter what the ‘professionals’ say. Remember that word ‘professional’ and what that means, it means THEY DO WHAT THEY DO FOR A LIVING AND DO IT WELL AND REGULARLY!!! And they always have back up…which you don’t see…just in case (hmm, 3 is 2, 2 is 1 and 1 is none).

Fact is that hunting, fishing, gardening and foraging are all SKILLS that must be developed and even then, it is HARD WORK that takes a lot time. And even if you have the skills do any hunting, fishing, foraging or gardening, there are no promises at the beginning or end of the day that you will get what you need for that day, let alone for future days when you get nothing on a particular day.

Case in point, I have for a few years tried my hand at gardening. All the knowledge in the world doesn’t mean diddly when it doesn’t ran or rains too much…or frost comes early or you get an attack of bugs (or critters!) that kills your plants or eats your hard won fruits and veggies before you can get to them. Have had it all happen plus other interesting things…such as some veggies and fruits just won’t grow on my property despite how much work I put into them. Some methods of gardening just don’t work in my area. It is has been and is still a process of learning my own land and area that has led to some successes and a lot of failures that teach me what not to do and sends me back to the drawing board to try something else/different the following year.

Another case in point that I have recently learned….hunting and fishing are hard work and frankly, start up costs are EXPENSIVE. Now you could argue that you don’t ‘need’ a lot to get going with either and I would agree with you, but you need the basics…A fishing pole, bait and that’s all right? Hmm, well, if you think so…depends on what you are after and if you are innately talented at fishing to get by with just any old fishing pole and bait. How are you gonna clean it? Do you know how to use that pole? Or even tie a fishing hook onto the pole? Yeah…are you getting the idea now? And by the way, there is skill involved, tricks to the trade if you will…last time I went fishing (see the bluegill video) my friend caught 5 in minutes and me, well, lets just say that once I could get a cast off those little suckers ATE THE BAIT and I got nothing.

Now we can go onto hunting…where do I start there. I was kinda one of those persons until recently that thought all you did was get the rifle and go out. First off, you better be able to hit what you are aiming at…so do you know your ‘weapon’? are you good with it? Because the last thing you want to do is take a shot and spook dinner down the hill or forbid this from happening, you don’t make a clean kill and the thing runs off and dies somewhere and you either don’t find it or have to go miles trying to track it (do you know how to do that?). Did you know that an animals senses are super sensitive? The can, in general see us, hear us and smell us long before we see or hear them. So can you sit still? Walk quietly in the woods? Do you know how to blend in smell wise or better yet, NOT SMELL? (try that one when you haven’t had a bath in days and its 90 degrees outside). Okay, now, do you know how to get up in a tree? Trust me when I tell you that if you think a climbing tree stand is EASY to use you got another thing coming and from what I am told, hunting from the ground is iffy at best, though doable if you can hide yourself well enough. Good luck sneaking up on a deer or rabbit or even a squirrel. Can you find a trail or the signs that an animal is a frequent visitor? If you can’t then you are relying on luck and stupidity of an animal that is used to being hunted one way or another. And lets not forget that there are most certainly others out there looking for the samething as you are.

I have spent the time, effort and energy to get my self set with gear for hunting and fishing. Archery season just started last weekend…I got the bruises and weary muscles to prove that I now know how to use a climbing tree stand. So up I went last Saturday after getting up at 4:30 am to get to a spot that my friend, who has hunted for years picked out for me beforehand. And I will tell you that just GETTING to that tree that I had to climb was interesting (lesson learned: make sure all gear is secure on the body otherwise you will be chasing it in the dark). Then up the tree I went right around dawn, get settled, get the gear up to me (do you know how to safely do that???) and there I sat, watching, waiting, just sure a deer or turkey would come through…okay, next thing is this, its hard to stay alert when you can’t move. Think I nodded off a couple of times. Then after a few hours of sitting in my ‘perfect’ spot I hear some people further down the trail yelling and then a dog barking, not to mention it was getting hot. (Did I forget to mention did you think about what you were going to do when nature called?? Haha! Yeah…) I sat there so long and still enough that the squirrels were paying me absolutely no mind. And those things are sensitive suckers (never did get one earlier in the season, but there they were this time, lots of them!). I could go on and on and on, but long and short of this story is that hunting IS NOT WHAT YOU READ ABOUT OR SEE ON TV. Its hard and iffy in good times, now imagine that if a good hunter can’t get a kill during the good times (such as my friends that I went with last weekend) then what will it be like when you are hungry, tired and stressed out to the max? Back to the drawing board and practice more and cross my fingers that next time providence is on my side. Oh, by the way, do you know how to clean that animal and field dress it? I think you get my point…And I will tell you this, when it hits the fan I am NOT stepping out into the woods for a few weeks, I want to live and with a lot of people thinking they will just go out and kill to eat all I can foresee is a lot of accidents happening and none of them ending well. Every year people are killed and maimed hunting by accident and this happens in the ‘good times’.

Lastly, foraging…forget depending upon it for long term survival. It’s a good fill in IF you know what you are looking for (and you had better be good at plant identification unless you want to get sick or die) and can then find it…but it is what it is…foraging for survival and again, it is a skill and takes time, practice and knowledge…if you think that just having a few books on hand will get you what and need without actually going out there and doing it…good luck…And did I mention that you will be out there with the critters competing for the same food?

There is a reason why humans gathered into groups and began establishing formalized agriculture and animal husbandry (raising animals). It created conditions in which civilization could be established and more reliable food sources. But even then, things happen and fail (look at the hippies for confirmation of this). Can you imagine the hundreds of people who ‘think they can’ only to finally conclude that they can’t? Then what? Failure happens more often that success, remember that.

I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer, but what I am doing is trying to point out some basic facts, that IF YOU FAIL to do something now, learn how to do something NOW and PRACTICE that NOW you will not just be able to go out and ‘do it’ and in fact, you may just get yourself killed in the process since you will be under stress and most likely tired and low on energy and most likely there will ALOT of others ‘trying’ to do the same thing, in the same place, at the same time as you are (and I won’t tell you the stories about idiots who will shoot at a noise in bushes…hmm…is that the bush you are picking berries from?)

And that brings up one last skill that we as a collective have laid by the wayside…situational awareness…basically that means you know what is going on around you and are alert to potential dangers and CONSCIOUS enough to identify them and take the appropriate action, at the appropriate time.

Instead of playing video games or going to the mall, start to practice growing a garden…go find someone who can hunt or fish and partner up with them to learn how to do this NOW. Do you really need that new iPhone? Or a ‘new’ car? Or that extra night out eating? Invest your money in the best equipment you can afford now or trade for it. Take the time to go out and actually do what you think will help you in the future to get by during the hard times. The learning curve is steep people, because trust me, its not as easy as you think and even those with the can do, do or die attitude will fail at some point in time. Learn skills now while you can, when it doesn’t count so much and when the time comes, you will have the advantage.

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