Survival Guru

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Q: What's the best way to learn to live off the land?

Do you have to grow up hunting and fishing in order to live off of the land? Tmy Boise, Idaho

By: Question from: ,

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Outside GOOur hottest adventure-travel tips and trips. Sent occasionally.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Subscribe
to Outside
Save Over
70%

Magazine Cover

iPad Outside+ App Access Now Included!

Advertisement

Four-Star Camp Food

$ad.smallDesc

$ad.smallDesc

$ad.smallDesc

A:

Ah, my favorite area of study. A lifetime study actually, but one that we modern humans can learn regardless of whether we grew up in the city or the country. Living off the land is the single most challenging area of wilderness study in my opinion. Native peoples throughout the world spend their entire lives perfecting the skills of tracking, hunting, fishing, trapping and procuring wild plants.

There have been times when I've gone out foraging and fishing and come home with my catch within a few hours and other times when I've spent days out and seen nothing. Rather than looking to the land to provide all of your needs, seek to supplement your diet at home with wild foods. This will decrease your dependency on "the system," as well as provide you with a much healthier diet.

If you want to venture off into the bush, Jeremiah Johnson style, then you will need to learn from someone versed in the subject and ease yourself into it. Start nearby with someone in your family who hunts or goes fishing regularly. They can show you the basics of safety and gear use. Acquire these as your baseline skills and then expand on them by learning a half-dozen edible plants each summer.

Research the archeological record to see what native cultures used for wild foods in your home state. No need to reinvent the wheel- the blueprint for hunting and gathering has already been worked out for you by countless generations of indigenous hunters.

Consider also taking a class in long-term wilderness living with a survival school (not an endurance hiking expedition) that focuses on the skills beyond simple survival.

Hunting, foraging, and food procurement are aimed at one thing: feeding yourself to stay alive. In my opinion, there is no justification in killing for sport. Hunt because you need to feed your family, for survival, or to supplement your diet with healthy food.

More at Outside

Next in Adventure (80 of 101)

Is it better to buy or make a survival kit?

Read More »
Current Issue Outside Magazine

Subscribe and get a great deal! Two free Buyer's Guides plus a free GoLite Sport Bottle. Monthly delivery of Outside—your ultimate resource for today's active lifestyle. All that and big savings!

Free Newsletters

Dispatch This week's featured articles, reviews, and videos. Sent twice weekly.
News From the Field The most important breaking news from around the Web. Sent daily.
Gear of the Day The latest products, reviews, and editors' picks. Coming soon.
Outside Partners Outside-approved deals and special offers from select partners. Sent occasionally.

Ask a Question

Our gear experts await your outdoor-gear-related questions. Go ahead, ask them anything.

* We might edit your question for length or clarity. If it's not about gear, we'll just ignore it.