Although various animals have been used to aid the hunter, none has been as important as the dog.
Dogs today are used to find, chase, and retrieve game, and sometimes to kill it. Hunting dogs allow humans to pursue and kill prey that would otherwise be very difficult or dangerous to hunt.
|Persistence Hunting Spotlighting Tracking|
One of man's most urgent requirements is food. In contemplating virtually any hypothetical survival situation, the mind immediately turns to thoughts of food. Unless the situation occurs in an arid environment, even water, which is more important to maintaining body functions, will usually follow food in our initial thoughts. The survivor must remember that the three essentials of survival—water, food, and shelter—are prioritized according to the estimate of the actual situation. This estimate must not only be timely but accurate as well. We can live for weeks without food but it may take days or weeks to determine what is safe to eat and to trap animals in the area. Therefore, you need to begin food gathering in the earliest stages of survival as your endurance will decrease daily. Some situations may well dictate that shelter precede both food and water.
Animals For Food
8-1. Unless you have the chance to take large game, concentrate your efforts on the smaller animals. They are more abundant and easier to prepare. You need not know all the animal species that are suitable as food; relatively few are poisonous, and they make a smaller list to remember. However, it is important to learn the habits and behavioral patterns of classes of animals. For example, animals that are excellent choices for trapping, those that inhabit a particular range and occupy a den or nest, those that have somewhat fixed feeding areas, and those that have trails leading from one area to another. Larger, herding animals, such as elk or caribou, roam vast areas and are somewhat more difficult to trap. Also, you must understand the food choices of a particular species to select the proper bait.
8-2. You can, with relatively few exceptions, eat anything that crawls, swims, walks, or flies. You must first overcome your natural aversion to a particular food source. Historically, people in starvation situations have resorted to eating everything imaginable for nourishment. A person who ignores an otherwise healthy food source due to a personal bias, or because he feels it is unappetizing, is risking his own survival. Although it may prove difficult at first, you must eat what is available to maintain your health. Some classes of animals and insects may be eaten raw if necessary, but you should, if possible, thoroughly cook all food sources whenever possible to avoid illness.
8-3. The most abundant and easily caught life-form on earth are insects. Many insects provide 65 to 80 percent protein compared to 20 percent for beef. This fact makes insects an important, if not overly appetizing, food source. Insects to avoid include all adults that sting or bite, hairy or brightly colored insects, and caterpillars and insects that have a pungent odor. Also avoid spiders and common disease carriers such as ticks, flies, and mosquitoes.
8-4. Rotting logs lying on the ground are excellent places to look for a variety of insects including ants, termites, beetles, and grubs, which are beetle larvae. Do not overlook insect nests on or in the ground. Grassy areas, such as fields, are good areas to search because the insects are easily seen. Stones, boards, or other materials lying on the ground provide the insects with good nesting sites. Check these sites. Insect larvae are also edible. Insects that have a hard outer shell such as beetles and grasshoppers will have parasites. Cook them before eating. Remove any wings and barbed legs also. You can eat most soft-shelled insects raw. The taste varies from one species to another. Wood grubs are bland, but some species of ants store honey in their bodies, giving them a sweet taste. You can grind a collection of insects into a paste. You can mix them with edible vegetation. You can cook them to improve their taste.
8-5. Worms (Annelidea) are an excellent protein source. Dig for them in damp humus soil and in the rootball of grass clumps, or watch for them on the ground after a rain. After capturing them, drop them into clean, potable water for about 15 minutes. The worms will naturally purge or wash themselves out, after which you can eat them raw.
8-19. Frogs are easily found around bodies of fresh water. Frogs seldom move from the safety of the water's edge. At the first sign of danger, they plunge into the water and bury themselves in the mud and debris. Frogs are characterized by smooth, moist skin. There are few poisonous species of frogs. Avoid any brightly colored frog or one that has a distinct "X" mark on its back as well as all tree frogs. Do not confuse toads with frogs. Toads may be recognized by their dry, "warty" or bumpy skin. They are usually found on land in drier environments. Several species of toads secrete a poisonous substance through their skin as a defense against attack. Therefore, to avoid poisoning, do not handle or eat toads.
8-20. Do not eat salamanders; only about 25 percent of all salamanders are edible, so it is not worth the risk of selecting a poisonous variety. Salamanders are found around the water. They are characterized by smooth, moist skin and have only four toes on each foot.
8-21. Reptiles are a good protein source and relatively easy to catch. Thorough cooking and hand washing is imperative with reptiles. All reptiles are considered to be carriers of salmonella, which exists naturally on their skin. Turtles and snakes are especially known to infect man. If you are in an undernourished state and your immune system is weak, salmonella can be deadly. Cook food thoroughly and be especially fastidious washing your hands after handling any reptile. Lizards are plentiful in most parts of the world. They may be recognized by their dry, scaly skin. They have five toes on each foot. The only poisonous ones are the Gila monster and the Mexican beaded lizard. Care must be taken when handling and preparing the iguana and the monitor lizard, as they commonly harbor the salmonellal virus in their mouth and teeth. The tail meat is the best tasting and easiest to prepare.
8-22. Turtles are a very good source of meat. There are actually seven different flavors of meat in each snapping turtle. Most of the meat will come from the front and rear shoulder area, although a large turtle may have some on its neck. The box turtle (Figure 8-3) is a commonly encountered turtle that you should not eat. It feeds on poisonous mushrooms and may build up a highly toxic poison in its flesh. Cooking does not destroy this toxin. Also avoid the hawksbill turtle (Figure 8-3), found in the Atlantic Ocean, because of its poisonous thorax gland. Poisonous snakes, alligators, crocodiles, and large sea turtles present obvious hazards to the survivor.
Figure 8-3. Turtles With Poisonous Flesh
8-23. All species of birds are edible, although the flavor will vary considerably. The only poisonous bird is the Pitohui, native only to New Guinea. You may skin fish-eating birds to improve their taste. As with any wild animal, you must understand birds' common habits to have a realistic chance of capturing them. You can take pigeons, as well as some other species, from their roost at night by hand. During the nesting season, some species will not leave the nest even when approached. Knowing where and when the birds nest makes catching them easier (Figure 8-4). Birds tend to have regular flyways going from the roost to a feeding area, to water, and so forth. Careful observation should reveal where these flyways are and indicate good areas for catching birds in nets stretched across the flyways (Figure 8-5). Roosting sites and waterholes are some of the most promising areas for trapping or snaring.
Figure 8-4. Birds' Nesting Places
Figure 8-5. Catching Birds in a Net
8-24. Nesting birds present another food source—eggs. Remove all but two or three eggs from the clutch, marking the ones that you leave. The bird will continue to lay more eggs to fill the clutch. Continue removing the fresh eggs, leaving the ones you marked.
8-25. Mammals are excellent protein sources and, for Americans, the tastiest food source. There are some drawbacks to obtaining mammals. In a hostile environment, the enemy may detect any traps or snares placed on land. The amount of injury an animal can inflict is in direct proportion to its size. All mammals have teeth and nearly all will bite in self-defense. Even a squirrel can inflict a serious wound and any bite presents a serious risk of infection. Also, any mother can be extremely aggressive in defense of her young. Any animal with no route of escape will fight when cornered.
8-26. All mammals are edible; however, the polar bear and bearded seal have toxic levels of vitamin A in their livers. The platypus, native to Australia and Tasmania, is an egg-laying, semiaquatic mammal that has poisonous claws on its hind legs. Scavenging mammals, such as the opossum, may carry diseases.
8-50. There are several killing devices that you can construct to help you obtain small game to help you survive. The rabbit stick, the spear, the bow and arrow, and the sling are such devices.
8-51. One of the simplest and most effective killing devices is a stout stick as long as your arm, from fingertip to shoulder, called a "rabbit stick." You can throw it either overhand or sidearm and with considerable force. It is best thrown so that it flies sideways, increasing the chance of hitting the target. It is very effective against small game that stops and freezes as a defense.
8-52. You can make a spear to kill small game and to fish. Jab with the spear—do not throw it.
Bow and Arrow
8-53. A good bow is the result of many hours of work. You can construct a suitable short-term bow fairly easily. When it loses its spring or breaks, you can replace it. Select a hardwood stick about 1 meter (3 feet) long that is free of knots or limbs. Carefully scrape the large end down until it has the same pull as the small end. Careful examination will show the natural curve of the stick. Always scrape from the side that faces you, or the bow will break the first time you pull it. Dead, dry wood is preferable to green wood. To increase the pull, lash a second bow to the first, front to front, forming an "X" when viewed from the side. Attach the tips of the bows with cordage and only use a bowstring on one bow.
8-54. Select arrows from the straightest dry sticks available. The arrows should be about half as long as the bow. Scrape each shaft smooth all around. You will probably have to straighten the shaft. You can bend an arrow straight by heating the shaft over hot coals. Do not allow the shaft to scorch or burn. Hold the shaft straight until it cools.
8-55. You can make arrowheads from bone, glass, metal, or pieces of rock. You can also sharpen and fire-harden the end of the shaft. Fire hardening is actually a misnomer. To fire-harden wood, hold it over hot coals or plunge it deep under the coals in the ashes, being careful not to burn or scorch the wood. The purpose of fire hardening is to harden the wood by drying the moisture out of it.
8-56. You must notch the ends of the arrows for the bowstring. Cut or file the notch; do not split it. Fletching (adding feathers to the notched end of an arrow) improves the arrow's flight characteristics. Fletching is recommended but not necessary on a field-expedient arrow.
8-57. You can make a sling by tying two pieces of cordage, each about 60 centimeters (24 inches) long, at opposite ends of a palm-sized piece of leather or cloth. Place a rock in the cloth and wrap one cord around your middle finger and hold in your palm. Hold the other cord between your forefinger and thumb. To throw the rock, spin the sling several times in a circle and release the cord between your thumb and forefinger. Practice to gain proficiency. The sling is very effective against small game.
8-75. To skin a snake, first cut off its head, to include 10 to 15 centimeters (4 to 6 inches) behind the head. This will ensure you remove the venom sac, which is located at the base of the head. Bury the sac to prevent further contact. Then cut the skin down the body 2 to 4 centimeters (1 to 1 1/2 inches). Peel the skin back, then grasp the skin in one hand and the body in the other and pull apart (Figure 8-25). On large, bulky snakes it may be necessary to slit the belly skin. Cook snakes in the same manner as small game. Remove the entrails and discard. Cut the snake into small sections and boil or roast it.
Figure 8-25. Cleaning a Snake
8-76. After killing the bird, remove its feathers by either plucking or skinning. Remember, skinning removes some of the food value. Open up the body cavity and remove the entrails, saving the craw (in seed-eating birds), heart, and liver. Cut off the feet. Cook by boiling or roasting over a spit. Before cooking scavenger birds, boil them at least 20 minutes to kill parasites.
Skinning and Butchering Game
8-77. Bleed the animal by cutting its throat. If possible, clean the carcass near a stream. Place the carcass belly up and split the hide from throat to tail, cutting around all sexual organs (Figure 8-26). Remove the musk glands at points A and B to avoid tainting the meat. For smaller mammals, cut the hide around the body and insert two fingers under the hide on both sides of the cut and pull both pieces off (Figure 8-27).
NOTE: When cutting the hide, insert the knife blade under the skin and turn the blade up so that only the hide gets cut. This will also prevent cutting hair and getting it on the meat.
Figure 8-26. Skinning and Butchering Large Game
Figure 8-27. Skinning Small Game
8-78. Remove the entrails from smaller game by splitting the body open and pulling them out with the fingers. Do not forget the chest cavity. For larger game, cut the gullet away from the diaphragm. Roll the entrails out of the body. Cut around the anus, then reach into the lower abdominal cavity, grasp the lower intestine, and pull to remove. Remove the urine bladder by pinching it off and cutting it below the fingers. If you spill urine on the meat, wash it to avoid tainting the meat. Save the heart and liver. Cut these open and inspect for signs of worms or other parasites. Also inspect the liver's color; it could indicate a diseased animal. The liver's surface should be smooth and wet and its color deep red or purple. If the liver appears diseased, discard it. However, a diseased liver does not indicate you cannot eat the muscle tissue.
8-79. Cut along each leg from above the foot to the previously made body cut. Remove the hide by pulling it away from the carcass, cutting the connective tissue where necessary. Cut off the head and feet.
8-80. Cut larger game into manageable pieces. First, slice the muscle tissue connecting the front legs to the body. There are no bones or joints connecting the front legs to the body on four-legged animals. Cut the hindquarters off where they join the body. You must cut around a large bone at the top of the leg and cut to the ball-and-socket hip joint. Cut the ligaments around the joint and bend it back to separate it. Remove the large muscles (the tenderloin or "backstrap") that lie on either side of the spine. Separate the ribs from the backbone. There is less work and less wear on your knife if you break the ribs first, then cut through the breaks.
8-81. Boil large meat pieces or cook them over a spit. You can stew or boil smaller pieces, particularly those that remain attached to bone after the initial butchering, as soup or broth. You can cook body organs such as the heart, liver, pancreas, spleen, and kidneys using the same methods as for muscle meat. You can also cook and eat the brain. Cut the tongue out, skin it, boil it until tender, and eat it.
8-82. To smoke meat, prepare an enclosure around a fire Figure 8-28). Two ponchos snapped together will work. The fire does not need to be big or hot. The intent is to produce smoke and heat, not flame. Do not use resinous wood because its smoke will ruin the meat. Use hardwoods to produce good smoke. The wood should be somewhat green. If it is too dry, soak it. Cut the meat into thin slices, no more than 6 millimeters (about 1/4 inch) thick, and drape them over a framework. Make sure none of the meat touches another piece. Keep the poncho enclosure around the meat to hold the smoke and keep a close watch on the fire. Do not let the fire get too hot. Meat smoked overnight in this manner will last about 1 week. Two days of continuous smoking will preserve the meat for 2 to 4 weeks. Properly smoked meat will look like a dark, curled, brittle stick and you can eat it without further cooking. You can also use a pit to smoke meat (Figure 8-29).
Figure 8-28. Tepee Smoker
Figure 8-29. Smoking Meat Over a Pit
8-83. To preserve meat by drying, cut it into 6-millimeter (1/4-inch) strips with the grain. Hang the meat strips on a rack in a sunny location with good airflow. Keep the strips out of the reach of animals. Cover the strips to keep off blowflies. Allow the meat to dry thoroughly before eating. Properly dried meat will have a dry, crisp texture and will not feel cool to the touch.
Other Preservation Methods
8-84. You can also preserve meats using the freezing or brine and salt methods. In cold climates, you can freeze and keep meat indefinitely. Freezing is not a means of preparing meat. You must still cook it before eating. You can also preserve meat by soaking it thoroughly in a saltwater solution. The solution must cover the meat. You can use salt by itself but make sure you wash off the salt before cooking.