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Friday, April 23, 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.