Friday, June 1, 2012

Living Off The Land

There is a myth taught by countless survival manuals and well meaning educators that it only takes a few hours of hunting and gathering each day to find and prepare enough food for long term survival. Except in maybe a few ideal locations around the planet this couldn't be farther from the truth, especially for the vast majority  of people that are, at best, weekend survivalists. Finding  enough  food , animals and plants, to provide one's daily nutritional  requirements for long-term subsistence is vastly underestimated by most people. By nutritional requirements I mean having enough food that one is not in a constant state of losing body mass and slowly starving.

Just to put this into some kind of perspective that can be more easily grasped,  consider this: around 3000 calories per day are required to maintain one's health and weight. A common red squirrel weighs 5  to 9 ounces and dressed out, ready to eat, gives you about 3 ounces of food. This means you'd need to eat about 25 squirrels per day to meet your caloric requirements. That's a lot of squirrels  folks.  Even if you managed to catch larger animals, say rabbits, turtles, snakes etc., one a day is not going to hack it. For short term survival  this will keep you going much longer of course but for several months of living off the land you are going to have to step it up by several notches.

There's an essay in Samuel Thayer's book "Nature's Garden" that goes into details about what one needs for long term survival and I consider it to be the best information that I've ever read on the subject. Even if you aren't all that much interested in edible plants (maybe you should be) that section of the book alone is worth the price. That article also gives the definitive explanation of why Chris McCandless died ("Into the Wild" book and movie) and completely debunks the theory that his death was due to eating poisonous  plants. ( actually this was done by several researchers but most people still tend to believe the Hollywood version) )
The gist of it is simple. Just like Chris McCandless , most people underestimate how much knowledge - and food- that  it takes to survive long-term living off the land and also overestimate their own skills and knowledge. If you are going to live off the land in a long-term subsistence situation, food must be a major priority. How skilled you are at getting that food will determine your success.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Air Guns

Air Guns for Survival

Air guns for hunting small game?  Absolutely. To my simple way of thinking it's a very efficient and practical weapon to consider. Can you kill a wild boar or a deer.  No, not with the rifles I'm discussing although there are high powered rifles very capable of taking even the largest of game. I'm talking about the ones they sell in WalMart for under 200 bucks.

Here's  a couple of reasons to consider these as a survival type weapon. First - they are quiet. You can shoot these in your backyard and never raise an eyebrow. That alone is a feature that greatly appeals to me. Secondly, there are very potent on small game. A well placed shot, i.e.,  in the kill zone, will dispatch a squirrel, rabbit, armadillo ( great eating by the way) doves, quail etc. as effectively at short ranges as a 22. What are short ranges?  I'm saying  under  50 yards.  Under  25 is even better if your stalking skills are up to par.

I have a Gamo Whisper .177 caliber.  It's a Break Barrel, single cocking system, spring piston type - which BTW, is the most common type available. Velocity is 1200 feet per second with PBA and  1000 feet per second with lead pellets.  I had a 3-9 x 40 scope mounted on it for a while and you can  drive a tack at 20 yds with that combo. I've just switched to a red dot scope and initial sighting in looks very accurate. BTW - I'm doing that sighting in by shooting  at a target with suitable back stop- in my garage. Try that with a standard rifle. You'd have a SWAT team beating down your door.

I'm not going into a long technical discussion here. I don't know all that stuff and it's readily available online for those that are interested. But I do want to mention one other very attractive feature about air guns. You can buy a box of 500 pellets for about 6 bucks. That's a lot of shots folks. At those prices you can afford to practice a little, maybe even bust a few beer bottles and cans.  Empties of course.

For you technical types  Dr. Robert Beeman has a handy little graph that gives one an idea of what level of power is needed for dispatching the game you are hunting. According to Dr. Beeman, 3 fpe is all that is needed to dispatch a squirrel, provided you have placed the pellet in the kill zone. With a pellet weighing roughly 8 grains, that translates to about 415 feet per second at the point of impact. In a .22 caliber airgun, an average weight pellet only has to be going about 300 fps to achieve the same level of energy needed to accomplish the deed. Here's the link to that graph.

Because  the kill zone on small game is rather tiny, I do recommend the use of a scope. Not only does it increase accuracy, but it is also a great aid in locating game hiding in brush or, in the case of squirrels, up in the top of trees. I find a 3-9x variable scope with an adjustable objective (AO) to be adequate for most hunting situations. One  thing about scopes. Don't mount that old 3-9x you picked up at a garage sale. The vibrations from a spring-piston type will shake that scope to pieces post haste. Get a scope designed for use with a air gun.

I have yet to field test the difference in pointed and hollow point pellets on small game but from my research and hunting experience with that old standby - the 22 caliber bullet, I'm quite sure hollow points will be my choice.

Think about it. Do a little research on those babies and I think you'll agree with me.