There is a YouTube clip from Saturday night live that stars Chris Farley, David Spade and Adam Sandler dressed as women at a cafe; Chris Farley starts eating Davids french fries. Adam makes a comment; “save some for us”; and Chris growls back, “LAY OFF ME I’M STARVING!!” The skit is very funny and gives a humorous yet somewhat accurate portrayal of how we view food.
The problem is that I believe the majority of us in America have no realistic idea of what it feels like to starve. Starvation is a very slow and painful process and I guarantee that in a survival situation you are more likely to die from hypothermia and dehydration long before your body starves.
Now that being said, food gives us energy and energy gives us hope and hope helps us push forward even when we are scared, uncomfortable, and forced out of our comfort zones. So yes food is important, probably more to our morale though than it is to our actual survival efforts.
The one question that keeps coming back to me from people after reading my Basic Wilderness Survival Course is; “What should we do about food?” I’ve given this a lot of thought, discussion, study and practice and the following are my thoughts and opinions on food in a Wilderness Survival Situation.
To be totally honest with you I’m not a hunter. Most of my friends are, but I just never got into it. I have learned how and have made primitive traps and have attempted hunting small game with primitive weapons both with very unreliable results. I have spoken with a lot of outdoorsman and the high majority of them have never had much luck with dead falls, handmade snares, homemade weapons, etc.
Now it may be because of may experience or lack thereof, but I believe you can expend way too much time hunting or trapping and end up wasting far too many calories attempting but never producing. Therefore I believe that you should consider throwing in some high calorie, high protein energy bars or gel packs in your survival kit to get you by. These will provide guaranteed calories with no effort expended to get them. If you built your survival kit with the items I recommended in the Survival Course than you should have fishing line and hooks. Fishing is easy, low energy and usually has a better than 50% success rate assuming you can find a body of water that has fish in it! The strongest argument I have for fishing is that it seems a Ranger always shows up to check my license every time I stick a line in the water!!
As far as wild edibles are concerned I always advise not to touch them unless you are 100% sure of what you are eating, even then I would caution you. There are too many poisonous plants out there that could kill you and even if they don’t they can surely make you sick enough that you will wish you were dead.
Remember we are talking wilderness survival and the goal is staying alive long enough to be found, not to live off the land. If you’re wanting to prepare for long term survival then you need to approach that in a completely different way with a different attitude; but that’s for a different discussion.
In closing and to sum up my thoughts, I believe you can prepare yourself and take some simple steps that will help you get out alive, I believe you should educate yourself on making snares and dead falls because given the right conditions it could prove very valuable and productive. We will tackle some of these methods and techniques in a later article. However I believe you would be far better off if you spend your time preparing and learning how to build a shelter, make fire and how to find water.