HuntingHunt­ing in the for­est or field for meat is a com­mon theme in survival/prep­ping. Many prep­pers are already active sport hunters. Either as a sup­ple­ment to lim­it­ed com­mer­cial meat sup­plies or as the main or sole source of meat, the expec­ta­tion to be able to hunt ani­mals is a cor­ner stone of many sur­vival plans.

But I think too many peo­ple, prep­pers or not, have an unre­al­is­tic view of being able to hunt for meat in a post-SHTF world. This is espe­cial­ly so if in that world soci­ety has is at least some­what bro­ken down into anarchy/WROL.

There are sev­er­al rea­sons for my view.

Accord­ing to Cor­nell University’s Wild Life infor­ma­tion web­site there are 20 mil­lion white­tail deer in Amer­i­ca today. That doesn’t include oth­er species of deer and deer-like ani­mals such as elk. So let’s pre­sume anoth­er 10 mil­lion of those ani­mals for a grand total of approx­i­mate­ly 30 mil­lion deer/deer-likes wild in the U.S. today. (I’m not includ­ing any­thing farm raised.)

Accord­ing the last U.S. cen­sus we are a nation of 310 mil­lion peo­ple. So 310 mil­lion peo­ple divid­ed by 30 mil­lion deer comes to 10 peo­ple per deer. To put it anoth­er way, if all the deer in Amer­i­ca were tak­en in a sin­gle day for food each deer would have to feed 10 peo­ple. Or, pre­sum­ing the “aver­age” fam­i­ly size of 3.19 peo­ple (2009 U.S. Cen­sus fig­ures), that means each deer has to feed 3 fam­i­lies. (all fig­ures round­ed)

To con­tin­ue, let’s pre­sume there is 200 pounds of deer meat after butcher­ing. At 1 deer per 10 peo­ple that comes out to 20 pounds of meat per per­son or 64 pounds per fam­i­ly

How long do you think that can last??

And that of course would be that as it is a one-time source when har­vest­ed in such a way. Which leads to my next point: Unsus­tain­able hunt­ing.

If food, espe­cial­ly meat, is scarce in a post-SHTF event any con­cept of con­ser­va­tion, sus­tain­able hunt­ing, wildlife man­age­ment, in/out sea­sons, even male/female and juve­nile culling goes out the win­dow right away! Even in good times there are nev­er enough game war­dens and park police to catch all the poach­ers and wan­na-be hunters. So imag­ine tens of thou­sands, per­haps hun­dreds of thou­sands, of peo­ple spread­ing out across the forests and hills of wild Amer­i­ca des­per­ate to find meat for the table.

In a fic­tion­al SHTF sce­nario video I recent­ly watched on Youtube the pre­sen­ter gave a sce­nario of post-SHTF where large (and well secured) farmer’s mar­kets were now the norm for food shop­ping. He not­ed that meat in the form of deer was becom­ing hard­er to find and more expen­sive as hunters were return­ing more often emp­ty hand­ed as hun­gry pop­u­la­tions demand more meat and the local deer pop­u­la­tion can’t sup­port that lev­el of tak­ing.

Which leads to anoth­er point: The for­est will be a search-and-destroy zone!

It won’t just be the “pro­fes­sion­al” hunters out there. Any Joe Shmoe with a gun will be march­ing through the trees look­ing for deer, rab­bit, squir­rel and any­thing else that moves. He (and she) will be armed with every­thing from a 30–30 down to a 10/22! And don’t leave the hand­gun own­ers out of things too. Any­one with a Glock or S&W etc of all cal­ibers will be out there as well.

This itself leads to two impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tions:

  1. Safe­ty – Hunt­ing acci­dents hap­pen already with sup­pos­ed­ly expe­ri­enced and licensed hunters. Just imag­ine thou­sands of peo­ple roam­ing the woods hun­gry. They’ll shoot any­thing that moves!
  2. Waste – A licensed, hope­ful­ly expe­ri­enced, hunter will bet­ter know how to take down a deer and oth­er ani­mals. Where to aim, how to shoot, etc. But an inex­pe­ri­enced hunter doesn’t. And a des­per­ate one won’t care at all! Add in the wide range of guns and cal­ibers that will be field­ed — a very skilled hunter may be able to take down a 400 pound deer with a .22 but most peo­ple can only wound it, per­haps mor­tal­ly – and the prob­lem inten­si­fies. Many ani­mals will be shot and wound­ed but not imme­di­ate­ly die. They won’t know how to track the wound­ed ani­mal. Instead it will go off and cir­cum to its wounds by itself. While the scav­engers will enjoy the meal it will be wast­ed from a human per­spec­tive. I sus­pect a great many deer and oth­er ani­mals will fall fate to this end there­by reduc­ing an already lim­it­ed food sup­ply.

And even when a good kill is made most peo­ple don’t have any idea how field dress the ani­mal. Much valu­able meat will be wast­ed, or per­haps worse, con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed due to improp­er butcher­ing.

Final­ly, there is the real­i­ty that most peo­ple don’t live near areas that hold large game with­in a rea­son­able dis­tance. Trav­el may be dif­fi­cult or impos­si­ble (and unsafe). While there may be the will to go hunt­ing, the tools and knowl­edge to do it, you sim­ply may not be able to due to cir­cum­stances.

Hunt­ing for food is a roman­tic idea. But if cir­cum­stances are that bad you won’t be the only one think­ing it. Nat­ur­al resources like game are very eas­i­ly deplet­ed and slow to recov­er if at all.

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