If you’re an outdoorsman, you know that if something happens while you are out hunting, fishing, hiking or camping in the woods, you can quickly find yourself in a survival situation. Being in a true survival situation is a sobering thought. While most outdoor adventurers never have to encounter circumstances where food, water and rescue are uncertainties, there are a great deal of myths and mistruths surrounding what one should do if put in a life and death scenario. This is particularly the case when it comes to gathering food in the woods. Contrary to popular belief, living off the forest when you have very little to work with in terms of tools, weaponry or water is not as simple as it seems. Things like the amount of energy expended per task, camp or crash site proximity, and animal populations all factor in to how you will be able to acquire enough food to keep you alive during whatever has befallen you. The notion of making a spear and hunting down big game, while romantic, is not pragmatic. Foraging is your best bet. Here are three food sources that are easily foraged and high in nutritional value.
Birds, snakes, turtles and alligators all have two particular things in common, eggs. Chances are, if you live in the continental United States, and you’re lost in the woods, one or more of these critters are present in the environment. So are their nests. Locating a nest full of eggs is a great way to provide yourself with a solid source of protein. Eggs are high in food energy, and although not the tastiest when eaten raw, can be slurped down as is.
During rainy seasons, mushrooms like this Chanterelle are a great source of food energy. Forraging under logs, under fallen bark and in dark wet areas can provide enough sustainance for a person to get by for quite a while. Mushrooms are also a gift that keeps on giving. If you happen upon a mushroom patch, harvest the mushrooms by cutting only the tops off. If you leave the stem, the mushroom will grow back relatively quickly in a very rainy environment. This will provide a somewhat long terms food source if you happen upon a large bed of mushrooms like the above pictured chanty.
NOTE: It is wise to spend some time reviewing edible mushroom field books to aquiant yourself with the kind of mushrooms that exist in your neck of the woods. This will also help you guard against picking a mushroom that could have unwanted consequences of any kind.
While big game animals offer an abundance of meat and fat that is much needed in survival situations, hunting big game is not very realistic in a worst-case scenario because of how much energy is expended to hunt them, and how difficult it is to preserve their meat after the kill. Small game is far more preferable, but fish are an even better choice. If you are near a water body, finding a way to catch fish (even if they are minnows) is an excellent way to ensure your survival.
Though not the most visibly delicious of creatures the forest has to offer, grubs are high in nutritional value and easily foraged. Full of protein, fat, Vitamin C, and calories, grubs provide a great deal of what is needed to rough it until rescue. Grubs can be eaten raw, however they have a slime factor to them that can cause a gag reflex. Try swallowing them without chewing, or mashing them into a paste and cooking them.