Hunting for food is a thrill like nothing else. Something that people who don’t hunt can’t fully process.
But more than that, in a time when we’re receiving increasingly stark warnings about the health of our planet, hunting is better for the environment. It allows you to live off the land and reduce your carbon footprint.
Of course, if you’re new to living off the grid, you have to learn how to hunt. Keep reading for a quick guide to hunting like a master.
Reasons to Hunt for Your Food
First, let’s talk about why you should hunt for your food.
Many people who have never hunted before (or intentionally killed anything larger than an insect) have a hard time wrapping their heads around the idea. But when you think about it, hunting is often more humane than purchasing meat raised for slaughter.
When cows are slaughtered commercially, they’re in a crowded pen with other cows and they can smell blood. They may not know exactly what’s going to happen, but they know it’s bad. When they die, they’re stressed and afraid.
When you hunt a deer, that deer is minding his own business, completely unaware that he’s about to die. Almost all hunters make a perfect kill shot for fear of losing the animal, which means the deer dies immediately. One moment he was munching grass, the next minute he’s not.
Plus, hunting is better for the environment. Deer live off the land, which means you’re not dealing with the environmental impact of cattle ranches and commercial meat farming. And since the deer hasn’t spent its whole life exposed to hormones and antibiotics, your family won’t ingest them either.
How to Start Hunting for Food
Of course, knowing that hunting is a good environmental choice and knowing how to hunt are two different matters.
So, let’s take a closer look at how to start hunting for your own food.
Know Your Yield for Given Animals
First, you should know the meat yield you get from a given animal.
You see, while you can certainly use the whole animal (you should – it reduces waste products from a hunt) you can’t actually eat the whole animal.
So, an animal’s weight doesn’t directly translate to the amount of meat you’ll get from the animal. You have to remove bones, skin, and internal organs.
All animals are built differently, which also changes the amount of meat you’ll get from them. With a pig, it’s easy to use almost everything. A deer has long legs without much meat on them. Similarly, you can get meat from a rabbit’s haunches but not the full length of the leg.
In addition, the condition of the animal plays a role in how much usable meat you’ll get for your trouble. This page can help you calculate your meat yield for venison.
Establish a Food Plot
If you intend to hunt as a food source for your family (rather than recreationally) you have to approach hunting strategically.
If you’re hunting for fun, you can afford to follow your gut. If you’re hunting for sustenance, you should be able to guarantee you can attract a certain amount of animals (or, at least, have a reliable location you can return to).
For that, you’ll need a food plot.
A food plot is a field designed to attract animals to a specific site so that you can hunt them. Remember, however, that animals are smart – you have to rotate use, or else animals will learn not to eat there.
You need to find a plot that’s the right size. Too small and your crops will never reach maturity. Too large and you could have bucks out of your range. You should also keep hunting pressure to a minimum – if deer can smell humans, they won’t set foot in the plot.
Play Angles and Be Aware of Treestand Locations
Part of selecting the right plot is playing your angles (and choosing your treestand locations).
A plot is only as good as the treestand locations near it. Look for locations that give you a good vantage point on your acreage and in good enough proximity to be in the range of an animal wandering by.
Playing the angles can mean a number of things, but in the most basic terms, it means considering the shooting angles. You should have a good vantage point on the plot, but if animals can see you, they won’t come to the plot.
Invest in the Right Gear
You also need to invest in the right gear.
You’ll always encounter some macho hunter who goes out with nothing but the brass tacks – bow, some rope, a release, a tree stand, and a hunting license. There’s no arguing with hunters like this.
If you plan on hunting smartly, drop the macho act. Invest in the right gear.
At a minimum, you’ll need:
- Lighting (flashlight, matches, lighter)
- Energy bars
- 25-ounce water bottle
- 35-ounce pee bottle
- Safety belt and harness
- Arrows and bow (if you’re a bow hunter)
- Hunting rifle and ammunition (if you’re a rifle hunter)
- A hunting knife
- A compass
- A map
- Elbow-length plastic gloves
- Surveyor’s flagging tape
- Binoculars and rangefinder
You also need to take care of your equipment. Knowing how to properly sharpen a hunting knife will make cutting up your kill much more efficient.
Hunt for Food Responsibly
But the most important thing to know about hunting for food? You have to hunt responsibly.
Remember, the goal of living off the grid is to take better care of the world around you and to be conscious of your family’s role in it. If you hunt recklessly, you’re doing more harm than good.
Have you just started hunting? Have you been hunting for years? Tell us your experiences with living off the grid in the comments section!