This topic has been discussed on several sites recently,and in comments on other posts on several other sites.
Those who have been responding that yes,you can “easily” live off the land are missing the point.
***The subject/topic /point is…
Can you walk into the woods with just a rifle,whatever ammo you’re carrying with you,and whatever gear you have in your “bug out bag”-and live off the land?***
The answer is-for well over 95%-more like over 98%-99% of people the answer is no.
You would have only what you brought with you in your pack,only the ammo you carried,only the food,gear,and supplies in your pack.
No cabin in the woods,no endless number of caches,no supply of traps,snare wire,snares,fishing gear,tools,medical supplies,etc. just the shit in your pack.
Caches are great-you should have a lot of them,and have at least two that have the same supplies in them-in case something happens to one.I have three of each.
Caches get dug up by animals,washed away in rainstorms,found by other people,weren’t sealed properly and the contents get ruined,lots of things can and do happen to caches. If you think every cache you hide away is going to be exactly as you left it-you are misinformed. Even when “properly sealed”,shit happens-rodents chew through whatever you buried your stuff in,and it gets eaten or ruined,once a hole is in the cache-insects get in,water gets in,and your stash of gear/supplies is gone-no good.
That would be reality-should you be forced to “bug out” it ain’t gonna happen at a time when you’re already home and ready to go,you ain’t gonna have advance warning,and you probably wouldn’t be going to where your caches of supplies are anyhow. Any number of things could prevent that-snow storms,forest fires,roadblocks,floods,landslides,tornadoes,ice storms that take down so many trees you can’t get through the woods-saw that happen in Tucker county W.Va back in the late ’70’s. There were so many trees down,we could not get to the areas we usually hunt deer. Five of us spent 6 weeks the next summer with chainsaws,axes and machetes clearing a trail. Had to go back in Sept. for another 2 weeks,because part of the trail is national forest land,and we had to get permission and a permit to clear the dead trees.
Lots of things can make it impossible to get to your caches.
There are a very,very few who have the knowledge and skills to live off the land,even fewer who could do so with only what they have in their pack.
Yes,it is possible,yes it can be done -if you have the gear,if you have food cached,if you know the native plant and animal life in the area,if you know how to use traps and snares,if you know how to butcher wild game,if you know how to preserve wild game and fish,if you have more than basic first aid skills…
You would also require access to a wide variety of tools-your latest greatest survival multitool or your 245 tool Swiss Army knife just ain’t gonna cut it,you must have a means to purify/filter water,you would need sewing needles,thread,a Quick Stitch,Awl for All or similar tool for making repairs to packs,tents,leather belts,etc., medical supplies,ammo,spare firearms parts,shelter from rain/snow/sleet/freezing rain/wind/cold/heat/hot sun.
Quick stitch etc…
In cold climates-you need a way to keep warm.
You need soap,toothbrushes,tweezers,nail clippers,etc. for personal hygiene,you need clean clothes-especially socks and underwear.
People have commented that you could just tan animal hides and make your own clothes…
You are not going to just start tanning animal hides and making clothing out of them if you’ve never done it before-it will take a whole lot of trial and error,and a whole lot of wasted animal hides.
Then there’s the fact that several different types of knives will be needed-
Think you’re going to butcher rabbits and squirrels with your “survival knife”? Or filet fish with it?
You might be able to hack up a squirrel,rabbit,or fish,and get yourself a meal out of it with your 12″ “survival knife”, but you’ll waste more meat than you use if you’re processing fish and game with your “survival knife”.
Brain tanning ain’t gonna cut it-try it for yourself if you think that’s how you’re going to tan hides to make your fringed buckskins so you look like you’re a mountain man-or whatever-if you have never tried the method,you have no clue the amount of time,labor-and skill- involved.
The fact is that no,it’s not going to happen for north of 98% of the guys-and ladies out there-there are many reasons why bugging out to the woods and living off the land is not a viable plan.
Not many people have the skills or knowledge to be able to get enough food by hunting ,fishing and trapping to survive.
Then there’s all the vitamin and mineral deficiencies you will develop in a very short time without access to fresh fruits and veggies.
A few people have made the claim that wild plants contain more nutrients-this is not the case. The plants you find growing wild are often found growing in poor soil,with poor sunlight,inadequate rainfall,and there are many other plants competing for the limited nutrients available.
If you grow your own veggies in your own garden-then those veggies have far more nutritional value than any wild plant. That’s a big part of why us humans starting growing our own plants,rather than foraging for wild plants.
A lot of the veggies and fruits you buy at the grocery store have been bred for looks-not nutritional content-which is why the veggies you grow taste so much better,and have way more nutritional value.
Despite the plethora of claims to the contrary-there are currently zero veggies or fruits grown for human consumption that are “GMO” foods. The only “approved for human consumption GM food is a type of apple-this apple is not currently being produced by any orchard in the U.S.-or Canada.
The genetically modified crops that are grown in the U.S.are only used as animal feed,or making ethanol,no vegetable you buy in the grocery store is “GMO”,no packet of seeds you buy to plant in your garden contains genetically modified seeds.
Some facts from unbiased sources on “GMO’s”
1) Why foraging for wild plants to provide the nutrients needed from veggies ain’t gonna work.
Growing enough food to survive is very difficult to do now-when we have access to chemical fertilizers-(or if you’re like me,lots and lots of compost and composted manure)-mechanical means of soil preparation,and pressurized water for irrigation.
Go to Kenny’s site-(Knuckledraggin my Life Away)-look at the right of the page,and click on the “Foodgrower” tab. The guy has been growing his own food for his family for a whole lot of years-not just fruits and veggies-all of it-and he was kind enough to share the knowledge he has acquired by growing his own food.
That’s what it takes to grow enough food to feed yourself-and you think you’re going to be just fine by foraging for wild plants?
2) Why you’re not going to be able to harvest enough game to survive by hunting.
Hunting means hunting-not trapping,not using snares-it means shooting critters to eat – for the sake of this discussion.
Please read ALL of the following about game before trying to tell me I’m wrong-and I’m not wrong-think about what I wrote.
The sudden influx of people into the woods will immediately disrupt game patterns-big game like elk,moose and bear will be spooked and skittish,and be seen very rarely. The harvest of these animals will drop to below current hunting season harvests. (Those who have local populations of big game animals are likely far enough away from “civilization” that few people will be in the woods in their areas anyhow,so little will change in those areas.)
Medium sized game like whitetail deer and feral hogs will be spooked as well,both will turn into primarily nocturnal animals. Unless you have night vision,or lights,very few of these critters will be taken. You may be able to snare a few hogs-problem is they’re very intelligent critters-and will learn to avoid snares as soon as they see one of their fellow hogs get caught in a snare.
As with the big game animals-those who live far enough away from the big cities will not see much change,and would still be able to take deer and feral hogs as needed-at first. It would only be a matter of weeks before people started making their way to those areas.
Small game-squirrels will be least affected by people moving around in the woods,the people moving around will cause rabbits to move,leading to a plentiful harvest of rabbits-and a sudden and drastic reduction in the rabbit population.
Animals like raccoons often carry diseases,and the meat can be unsafe to eat. Same with ‘possums,same with armadillos. Woodchucks/groundhogs would still be semi- plentiful as a lot of people simply refuse to eat them. They aren’t bad,I’ve eaten them,a little greasy,kind of a gamey flavor,but edible-even moreso when you’re starving. Only a matter of time until others figure that out-then there goes the groundhog population.
So,for most of the population,in most of the U.S.,there will simply be very few big and medium sized game animals around to shoot,small game like rabbit numbers will quickly plummet,before long so will squirrels-and birds like grouse,pheasant,doves,quail,and eventually waterfowl.
What will happen in a matter of weeks is that there will be more and more people competing for fewer and fewer game animals.
The only reason big game,medium sized game,small game,and waterfowl are somewhat plentiful now-even overpopulated in many areas-is due to the populations being managed by wildlife biologists from state fish and game agencies,along with the efforts of sportsmans/wildlife conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited,Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation,Pheasants Forever,National Wild Turkey Federation,QDMA,Trout Unlimited,and many,many more national,state,and local sportsman’s/wildlife conservation groups.
For most people,in most of the U.S. people will simply not be able to just head for the hills with a rifle and whatever gear is in the “bug out bag”and live off the land. In a matter of weeks,there won’t be enough game,and there is no longer enough undeveloped land to be able to forage for wild plants successfully-with a very few exceptions.
There’s a reason there are hunting seasons,and limits on how many animals you can legally harvest-it’s to insure that a stable,healthy population of animals exists that allows a sustainable harvest of animals each season by hunters.
Prior to game laws/hunting seasons/bag limits being introduced-initiated by hunters-NOT by government-we were well on the way to having zero bison-(buffalo),Canada geese,ducks,wild turkeys,whitetailed deer,bighorn sheep,antelope,mule deer,elk,moose…
Once these season dates and bag limits are gone-so are a large part of the animals populations-I’m old enough to remember when almost no one got a deer during the Ohio,Pa and W.Va deer gun seasons,and to remember when seeing a Canada goose or a wild turkey was very rare in Ohio,W.Va,Pa.
The same thing would be the case after a single year-or less – of unregulated hunting. How many people know what the maximum number of deer is that can be harvested from your local deer herd without affecting the population for the next year?
I’ve seen with my own eyes what happens when over 50% of a deer herd is wiped out-it was closer to 75% in one Ohio county due to an outbreak of EHD-(epizootic hemmoragic disease)-we counted 30 dead deer along a 1 mile stretch of riverbank in late summer/early fall of that year. (Deer dying of EHD seek out water just before they die.)
I discussed the outbreak and the effect on the deer population with 2 wildlife biologists,and our local game warden. For the next 3 years,no does were allowed to be harvested in the areas affected. In theory,that would allow more fawns to be born the next 3 years,and the population to recover quickly. The problem was they didn’t consider the coyote problem-more fawns= more ‘yotes trying to eat them.
Even with that no does restriction-5 years later,and the population of deer is still not fully recovered-it’s getting close to where it was,we hunted that area for a few days this deer season.
Take that example,and use it as a reasonable equivalent for the number of deer taken when a bunch of guys who think they’re gonna live off the land hit the woods.
Will the deer population recover? no,unless no one is killing them for food. Since people would still shoot every deer they could-it would only be a matter of months before the numbers were so low,they would never recover.
So-once all the live off the land guys head for the woods-there won’t be anyone living off of deer,or elk,or moose,or bear meat the following year-because there won’t be enough fawns/calves/cubs born to replace the ones that were killed for food.
Fishing is a great way to get food,it’s like game though,it won’t be long before all the accessible places have no fish left. Unless you live on the coast somewhere and have an ocean to fish in nearby. The great lakes will have fish for quite a while,but anyplace easy to get to will have few fish left in a very short time.
The bigger river systems will have fish for a while,but areas near cities/towns will be fished out quickly.
It’s simple-too many people-not enough fish and game to feed them.
There’s a reason many native American tribes didn’t have permanent settlements and moved around. They followed the fish and game-they fished or hunted for certain things in certain areas-but they didn’t stay until the fish were gone,or there was no game left. They left for another area. Some tribes fished for steelhead in the great lakes-and other fish-at certain times of the year. They stayed until they had caught and preserved enough to last them for a while,then moved on to hunt deer,or bison,or whatever animal.
The people currently planning on bugging out to the woods have no plans to insure that there will be deer for them to eat the next year,or rabbits,or squirrels,or fish for them to catch,they will decimate the fish and game populations very quickly. Same thing with edible plants-there won’t be any the following year,because those eating them picked all of whatever plant and left none for the next growing season.
Quite a few people stated that people lived off the land in the past-which is true-there were also a hell of a lot less people,and a hell of a lot more game animals. There was a lot more forest/woodlands,and very little land cleared for cities and agriculture.
It ain’t the 1800’s,it ain’t the 1920’s,it ain’t the same as when you grew up-there’s a lot more people,and there is not enough wild game to support a large number of people.
So-the hit the woods and live off the land plan-it simply ain’t gonna happen-all the people who have bugging out to the woods to live off the land as their primary bug out plan are in for a very rude awakening.
The only way “bugging out” to the woods make any sense is if you have a house or cabin,or enough property to set up a long term camp on.
What does make sense is to stay put when things go sideways. If you live somewhere where roving gangs of thugs and gang-bangers will be an issue-move. Do whatever it takes-but get out of any area like that ASAP. If you live in a shitty area and have another place to go in case things go sideways-have multiple plans on how to get here-because chances are you aren’t going to just be able to drive out. If you’ll be walking out-plan your route-and actually walk it-with your family/friends,whoever is going with you-so you’ll know if it’s a good route. If it’s not-pick another way to go.
Stay where your food storage is,stay where you have heat-(if you live where it gets cold)-shelter, a source of drinking water,your first aid/medical supplies,your personal hygiene stuff,your tools,all of your firearms,your ammo supply,seeds for a garden,your canning equipment-and you even get to sleep in your own bed.
In any long term SHTF situation,the first few weeks are the worst-we don’t plan on going anywhere for at least a month to six weeks.
It makes a whole lot more sense to stay put for those first few weeks,because as someone else said-once you’re out of supplies-and a place to live-you’re a refugee.
Heading for the woods and trying to live off the land is still going to make you a refugee-probably a lot sooner than you think.
Living off the land is a whole lot harder than most people think it is,and it would be even harder with more people in the woods trying to do the same thing.
Bugging out to the woods to live off the land is a fantasy-it’s as removed from reality as all the guys who think they’ll instantly turn into some kind of high speed low drag elite forces ninja sniper when SHTF when the only “training” they do is go to an indoor range once a month and shoot a couple boxes of ammo at no more than 100 yards,then go eat pizza and drink beer afterwards while talking about what a great shot they are.