Thursday, April 15, 2010

Prepare: The fallacy of living off the land

There is a common thread among many survivalists and that is the concept of  "living off the land" once the poop hits the fan. The idea being that the survivor can get along hunting, fishing, trapping and foraging from nature. This is a futile methodology and should be avoided.

Living off the land conjures up images of Daniel Boon or Davy Crockett stomping through the woods with their trusty muzzle loader, sitting around a camp fire roasting a large piece of unknown meat and wearing buckskin fringe and a dead raccoon on their head. In the post-SHTF world, this sounds like a pretty novel idea.

After the nukes go up and the cities explode, head for the national forest with a pack and rifle. Find a little clearing in the glen and put up a shelter which will later be expanded into a cozy little cabin. Take down a deer every so often for food. Or walk over to the mountain stream and pull up a couple of trout for breakfast. Study the local fauna and gather nuts, berries and medicinal herbs. Stockpile wood for the winter and hole up in peace and comfort while avoiding Mad Max and Snake Pliskin in the far away dystopian world.

Right. You and every other Jerimiah Johnson Jr.

Living off the land is nearly impossible. Even the early mountain men returned to civilization from time to time to sell pelts and restock supplies they could not fabricate or find in the wilderness. Things like salt, gun powder, shot, etc. The Native Americans lived off the land, but did so in communities where multiple people took care of multiple tasks; hunting, food preparation and storage, processing of game and hides, etc.

Here's another take on it. If the SHTF, what do you think everyone else will be doing? Not just hunters like yourself, but Joe Suburban with his never used Remington? Now imagine 5000 Joes and you get the picture. Not only will they be stomping around every national and state park scaring away the game, they will be shooting anything that looks like a deer including you!

Then there's the game. Game management is a full time job. Once that goes out the window, along with hunting season, quotas and bag limits, the game will be wiped out to disastrously low levels in short order. Forget about deer. Next will be squirrels, rabbits, dove, quail, beavers, woodchucks, etc. What happens when you finally take down that deer and it turns out it is sick? Do you take a chance because you have nothing left to eat but grubs and roots or walk away? No thanks, not for me.

If it were me, I would live off the land, but my land. Not some open piece of woods far away. You are better off in semi suburbia with 400lbs of rice, a good sized garden and the option of plinking squirrels and an occasional stray dog for stew meat. Add some chickens, a few goats and maybe a hutch of rabbits and you are in good shape. Better than Grizzly Adams some would say.

Living off the land is dangerous and no matter how many guns you have nor how much woodcraft you posses, the odds are against anyone starving to death in less than a month. If Joe Suburban doesn't get you first.


myundiary said...

I couldn't imagine living off the land. I have never been much of a girl scout. Living off land is dangerous and violent. Good post

JD said...

Myundiary, Thank you. I think there are a few who could live off the land in certain places with little human contact. I think I should be fair about that.
However, after a catastophic event, most wilderness places will be over run with refugees and Elmer Fuds who think there's a deer around every corner waiting to be dinner.

Michael said...

Yep, there will be bands of the have-nots just looking for the single or very small group to rob or kill. I live in the desert and have enough gear to run off and live for maybe two weeks alone. I have books on what wild plants are edible in my area and have researched the seasonal and year round water sources. However, the single man or family is at a disadvantage in this situation. Cannot watch your back forever. Then there are the risks from wild animals. We have killer bees here along with more than our share of rabid animals and Bark scorpions which can climb. I could not even imagine what my chances would be if bitten by a Mohave rattler miles from any sort of help. But I felt I had to be prepared in case the situation forced me to leave home for a short period of time. I feel the safest situation is to band together with friends and family in a secure, defendable place and ride it out. Things such as moral values and law must be observed in the group or it won't hold together. Just my thoughts...

JD said...

Michael, Fantastic comments as always. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Jennifer said...

yes, but what about other people? Don't you agree that if TSHF, and you are anywhere people can find you, they will be showing up on your doorstep begging for food, help, all the things that they did not think to put aside just in case TSHF. And if you don't share, which, lets face it, you can't really do if you expect to survive yourself, they may resort to stealing or TAKING what you have by whatever means necessary. I am sure you would not be amazed at what people will stoop to when the food and water run out.
I think that this is a big part of the reason why all the wanna be grizzly adams types out there think of escaping into the wilderness. Especially in my area, where I am semi suburbia, but very close to suburbia and major cities - I'm on the edge of the NJ pine barrens, but less than an hour from Philadelphia,even closer to atlantic city, and only a little over an hour from NYC. If the SHTF in my neck of the woods, and I am not 100% willing to shoot and ask questions later, I am fucked. To put it mildly.

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