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Ask Tess: Can we survive a SHTF event by hunting only?


I need some words of wisdom from the Ready Nutrition community. My husband and I were talking tonight about the shut down, and the impending default. Because of finances, we have been slowly prepping over the past year or so. We have 72 hour bags and probably a week worth of food and supplies. We live in winter-rapidly-approaching New England and my husband is currently using a cane because of an injury he is slowly bouncing back from. He is under the impression that if something happened and we couldn’t go into town for groceries/supplies because of chaos or whatnot, that he would be able to go out and get enough food for us by hunting/gathering. He deer hunts every couple of years, so I’m sure he could get SOMETHING. But my side of the debate is that we need to have nonperishable food items to sustain us in case he has no luck hunting. Or if we had no power, the meat would go bad pretty quickly. I’m sure he could bring home some wild game, but I don’t think we should rely just on that. HELP!



First of all, I want to applaud you and your husband for taking steps to get prepared. Even if we are slowly gathering supplies, we’re still getting ready. Best of all, we’re not going into debt to do so.

The government shut downs are concerning many Americans and now that we are two weeks in, nothing seems to be improving.

A major concern that I have during a long term shtf event is the fact that many people believe all they need to prepare for food is to hunt wild game. Those that have this mindset do not realize that if everyone has this thought, then the readily available game is going to think out and you may not be able to find game as easily. One aspect of preparedness that I like to emphasize is not to “put all your eggs in one basket.” You want to diversify and layer your supplies [1] with non perishables to ensure that you can sustain yourself for short and long-term events when and if wild game isn’t readily available. Look into foods that can last a lifetime [2]. Your husband has the right idea about finding ways to live self-sufficiently, but in the event of a long-term or extended emergency, many will have the same idea about going out to the forests and foraging for wild edibles and game. These resources could be depleted quickly.

Here is some advice from other community members:

If you don’t can your own food, just grab some canned meat when you do your weekly grocery shopping. I buy chicken chunks, turkey, ham, roast beef w/ gravy, Spam, tuna, salmon etc.. bags of Pasta, rice & beans are cheap, pasta sauce in a can is cheap, generic veggies etc..

If there is a disaster, everyone else will be thinking they can hunt, too. Game will not be plentiful. You need supplies. You should learn to pressure can meat if he brings home game. There are great recipes out there for home canned meats. (Ball BlueBook) If you learn to can, you can add to your stockpile weekly by buying a bit extra and canning it. You could can ground beef to be used later in recipes, or beef stew that just needs heating up. These are really handy to have. We had an ice storm in 2008 that knocked out power for more than ten days. I was glad that I could can all of the meat in my freezer as it defrosted. I lost nothing. I also cooked roasts in m Dutch oven in the fireplace and had the neighbors in. YOu need more than a week’s worth….and don’t forget to store water, too.

Canning meat is very easy, dry canning for beans, flour, oats, pasta, rice, and Canning fruits and veggies that are on sale, or what you raise. We live at 8000 ft and planning for snow storms and bad weather is a must, don’t wait for bad times to happen, get prepared , stay prepared, it is hard to hunt game in the middle of winter, but if you have meat canned and other things canned up, it is less worry. We run drills at our home, it may be a week of no power, week of cooking with very limited supplies, or walking out of the house into the forest and living off the land. As a retired grocery store mang, and having lived through many a disaster, 12 weeks snowed in, Hugo and earthquakes I can tell you the stores will be stripped clean in less than a day and at the very least it takes 3 to 7 days to get stock back in……. Food for thought for every elk, deer, wild turkey or bear brought into this house at least half is canned so even if the power goes out, we still have food. Set up your pantry so you have. 72 hour to go bags, 3,6 and 12 mo , I also have 5 and 10 year plan. And no I am not Mormon but there is a lot to learn from them. I have a binder with inventory of all items with dates, if I use something I put it on my shopping list to replace, and watch dates on food items. Buy what your family will eat, we have many food related health issues in our family, so there are no pre-packed meals in my pantry, we only stock what we know we can eat and what we like.

 Be “on his side”, tell him that you don’t want him to have to worry if he goes out and can’t get something. Not all hunts are successful. If you put up some extra non-perishable food then there will be less worry on him. Also, buy a little extra each time you go to the store, so you will have it. My problem is that my husband doesn’t like store canned meat (chicken, hamburger, ham). My solution is that I buy the freeze dried meat – it’s more expensive but he likes it just fine, and I can buy it online and have it delivered by the mailman.
While we relish the idea of self sufficiency and hunting to provide for our families so will most people. Expect more hunters than game. Read the book Undaunted Courage by Stephen Ambrose. This will help you understand how hard it was to survive off the land when it was still unpopulated. You will also get a better understanding of physical hardships involved. Next I would explore the world of Marco Polo and see how important spices are and how they were more valuable than gold. Bank up on spices to keep your staples flavored. You will soon be able to trade spices for most anything, just give it 30 days in a collapse. Best wishes and good luck.
Make a deal with him. Have him provide all that you need for an agreed upon amount of time. Just for practice. After his test period, then re-evaluate how much you need to purchase. Do you live where snow falls? It is difficult to find greens/veggies/fruit at that time of year. We eat the weeds in our yard, but it in no way would sustain us year-around.
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