Whether you are stranded in the wilderness with limited resources or would just like to become more sell-sufficient, hunting, trapping, snaring, and fishing are four essentials. While all four of these activities yield you the same thing (food to eat in the form of an animal), they each have their own unique and distinctive features.
In the following few sections, the basics behind these key survival techniques will be discussed and elaborated upon.
For most people, the prospect of hunting means going out into the woods with some friends and shooting at deer or other animals with a gun. While this is one style of hunting, it is likely not the style you will be relying upon when/if you become stranded in the wilderness. If you have a gun with you, consider yourself lucky, but this piece is for those who are stranded with little more than the clothes on their back.
After a while of being stranded, finding food becomes somewhat of a necessity. Fashioning a spear is what typically first comes to mind, but there is a much more effective way for you to find food that requires only a bit of resourcefulness and a steady hand. Bow and arrows are a classic weapon that can be fashioned out of the things you will find readily available should you be stranded in the wilderness. A note that should be made before you attempt to shoot a large animal with your homemade bow and arrow is that it will in no way be strong enough to hurt something like a deer or moose (or animal of equivalent size). Instead, your homemade bow and arrow should only be used on small animals such as rabbits, squirrels, and birds (if you can get lucky).
In order to craft a bow and arrow in the wilderness you will need to search your immediate vicinity for the following items:
1 sapling (6’ long and 4” thick)
1 sapling (3’ long and about .5-1” thick) for an arrow
Coarse stone used for sanding the bow and arrow
Feathers for fletching (if you can locate them)
Sap used as an adhesive (solid balls of sap are preferred as they can be heated up and last longer than tiny amounts)
Long grass to be used as the bow’s drawstring
Sharp rocks to fashion the arrow
Once you have the aforementioned items in your possession, your next task is to make a fire. With the longer sapling, you must cut it as to create a small, yet noticeable curvature. If the sapling is already curved, cut it anyway, but be sure to cut against the curve as to add some resistance power (this will help propel your arrow).
If you cannot find any grass suitable enough to be the drawstring, you can more than likely use the fabric from either your shirt or pants. The fire you will need serves the purpose of straightening your arrow as the sapling you extracted will more than likely not be uniformly straight. By holding the sapling over the fire you can work out any imperfections in order to make the arrow as straight as possible. Be sure that you do not completely dry the sapling out as it will become brittle and break easily. The fire will then be used to help you burn a point into the arrow by turning the end into charcoal and scraping it off as to create a sharp point.
If you were able to locate feathers, simply attach them to the end opposite the arrow’s point by making use of the sap. The fletching will help your arrow maintain a straight line better than it would without fletching. Once you tie the string to the bow itself, then put a small slit in the back end of the arrow as to allow it to sit on the string more effectively. The same can be said about the part of the bow where the arrow rests. By carving out a small notch for the forward area of the arrow to rest upon you are taking yet another step to ensure that your arrow will fly straight.
If your homemade bow and arrow are fashioned correctly, you will be well on your way to securing a vital food source.
Trapping and Snaring
Trapping and snaring are two hunting techniques that are arguably more effective than fashioning your own bow and arrow, but they require more time and for you to stay in one location for a somewhat extended period of time. At their core, trapping and snaring work to strangle, choke, entrap, or entangle the animal in which you are attempting to capture.
A snare is nothing more than a small noose hung directly at the opening of a small den or hole in which animals live. The noose is attached to a firm stick which should be secured in the ground. Once the animal leaves its den it will inadvertently become entangled in the noose which will then tighten, and tighten, and tighten as the animal struggles to break free. Though you will more than likely not see the struggle that ensues, it will be over relatively quickly as most animals thrash about violently, causing their own death to set in faster than if they were to remain calm.
There are many different kinds of snares but this is the basic idea behind most every type and will work if you are in a pinch.
Another type of trap is most commonly referred to as a deadfall and essentially uses sticks to prop some heavy object (usually a larger rock or log) upright until an unwary animal comes along and triggers the heavy object to fall upon its head. All you will need in order to construct a dead fall is a few sticks and a larger, heavy object (how heavy the rock or log needs to be all depends on the size of the animal you would like to kill).
One stick will require a notch to be fashioned toward the bottom and it will be standing up straight. In this notch you can place your bait (if you have any) stick. By propping the rock or log up and drawing the animal in with bait, the animal will unknowingly walk under the rock, knock the supporting stick out, and more than likely cause the rock to fall on its head, killing it.
As is the case with snares, there are a number of different types of deadfalls and other similar traps.
If you are stranded and happen to find yourself near some body of water, fishing for food seems like the most obvious choice for accruing food. As you could have probably guessed, you are going to need one long stick, a good amount of string (from clothing), a small weight (to allow your line to cast out further), and some sort of hook.
Finding a stick and some string is the easiest part, but fashioning a hook is when things become tricky. Any small piece of metal will work so long as it is able to be bent and sharpened. If you have no small metal objects at your disposal, wood, thorns, and bones can also work quite well. Once you have fashioned a sharp hook your next step is to find some bait (small bugs will do just fine) and cast out into the water. At the end of the day, how successful your fishing endeavors are will depend wholly on the quality of your hook. If you think the hook will not stand up, don’t waste your time fruitlessly fishing, rather, continue working until you create an acceptable hook. When it comes down to it, how acceptable or unacceptable a hook is depends wholly on your opinion as you will likely have no one else to rely on out in the wilderness.