No doubt many readers of this blog are avid outdoorsmen and women. Perhaps you have been hunting and or fishing for decades, or maybe just a few years. If in fact you are a hunter or angler then you are probably accustomed to harvesting game by your own preferred methods. For me it is without a doubt been with a firearm of some sort, be it rifle, shotgun or handgun.
Have you ever stopped to consider the possibility of harvesting game via alternative methods you are not accustomed to or have never even tried? In a survival situation you could find yourself without your favorite rifle or shotgun. Or maybe you just want to enhance your outdoor skills. Trying other methods to take game outside of your comfort level will make you a better survivalist and outdoorsman should the need ever arise.
To be clear you should stay within the confines of your state game and fish laws, but in most states, I find that you can use many of the methods suggested below so long as you have proper licenses. Some states have no specific regulations or licensing requirements for small game such as rabbits or certain bird species.
Obviously, in the case of a true survival need the worry over rules is not a concern.
Below are some alternative methods other than a firearm I have personally used to collect and harvest game and fish over the years. There is little doubt that each one of them will require lots of practice and perhaps a good mentor to guide you along the way.
Many years ago, I spent countless hours in the field running a trapline. Without question and with some basic knowledge and know-how, use of traps is a surefire method of harvesting game.
Most of my experience was centered around the use of leg hold traps for furbearers during the heyday of the fur market. However, a wide variety of traps may be used in a survival situation to procure food, to include steel leghold traps, snares (neck or foot), conibear, Havahart and a variety of others.
All of these traps and the skills to go along with can be mastered via trial and error or better yet, getting someone who knows the ropes to teach you. As a point of interest, several small wire snares can be coiled up and carried in a day pack very easily and weigh almost nothing, making the snare and ideal survival tool.
Nothing new here, except to say that the world of air guns and related equipment has changed drastically over the years. I do not have the hands-on experience in the hunting realm with the air rifle as much as say the bow, but I have taken small game on many occasions, especially in my youth, with a pellet gun. It is without a doubt a great survival hunting tool.
Easy to transport, not highly regulated, pellets/BBs are easy to obtain, and perhaps the biggest advantage, it’s silent but deadly. I have never owned a high-quality air gun but have nevertheless taken much small game with a standard everyday Daisy BB gun.
Today’s air rifles are more than capable of firing a projectile well over 1000 feet per second, making it a contender for not just small game but medium or even large game with a well-placed shot. GAMO air rifles are a good place to start.
Bow and Arrow
Like the air gun the bow has changed drastically over the last several decades especially when it comes to compound bows. As we all know the gear available today is light years ahead of the gear used in say the 1960s or 1970s. My personal experience in this category has been with a recurve or straight bow, but the compound bows of today are truly exceptional.
Past icons like Fred Bear leave little doubt that the bow is a very lethal weapon in the hands of someone who’s put in the time and effort to master it. A bow is a great hunting tool and I have personally taken much game and fish over the years with a recurve bow. Today’s compound bows are without a doubt more lethal than ever making archery an excellent choice for bring home some game.
Most, if not all states offer separate hunting seasons or even multiple seasons for just archery hunters.
What a great tool to have in a survival kit for hunting. It’s lightweight, portable, and you can pick up ammo off the ground if all else fails. The slingshot is more than capable of taking small game and even larger with a hit to the head. As with any weapon, practice makes perfect and slingshot ammo is cheap so practice is always doable.
There are high-quality models such as the Scout XT out there if you want to get serious and one should consider having extra replacement bands in a survival kit. Worse case, you can make a slingshot out of materials around the house with just a little effort and creativity.
Limb Line/Trot Lines
Here I am really referring to any method of catching fish that does not require a great deal of attentiveness, such as your everyday rod and reel. Those I have used the most include trotlines and limb lines to include the automatic yo-yo reel type devices. The yo-yo (pictured below) is another item much like the snare that is easily thrown into a pack.
The idea being I can set several of these devices, leave them overnight, and come back the next day to collect the harvest. Some folks may believe you need a boat to deploy these fish catching methods, but that’s not true. I have set many trot lines across the mouth of a small cove, or parallel to the bank close to deeper water.
Bait can include any number of enticing delicacies, to include: cut bait from the small game you harvested earlier in the day, minnows you have trapped in the shallows, or insects like grasshoppers or earthworms you have gathered. The most targeted species are catfish, but I have caught bass, carp and panfish by these methods as well.
The above list of game producing alternatives to the firearm is not all inclusive by any means, but rather reflect experiences from my past that I know will provide results. Pick one or two and learn to master it. There could come a time when you wish to expand your outdoor skill set and could even prove to be the edge you need if you’re looking to put some meat on the table in trying times.
Read up on one of my recent hunts: