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Largest source of calories while surviving in wilderness  RSS feed

 
John Saltveit
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My kids and I watch a lot of the survival shows. One of the questions that intrigues me is how we could get the largest, easiest source of calories in say, a temperate forest. I know an elk or deer is a lot of calories, but I'm thinking you need to be a trained, licensed hunter to have a good chance to get one. Berries are super nutritious, but they are a lot of work and tiny. I wonder if roots would be the largest source of large calories? Fruit tends not to occur in a forest. They are largely bred for modern farms, and occur more often in savannahs and subtropical areas for large fruit. Grains tend to not occur, and the vast majority of mushrooms aren't edible. Vegetables seem to be largely leafy or needing preparation except for roots, and therefore, not so many easy calories. Maggots or fish may be a good option. Any ideas?
Thanks,
John S
PDX OR
 
Dan Boone
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Nuts are a concentrated form of calories common in temperate forests. Even well outside their season, you may be able to find squirrel caches.

But I think you overlook the caloric value and ease of harvest of small game. A porcupine, for example, can be taken with a stick and a lot of caution, and has plenty of good eating. I don't think armadillos are much more difficult. A short length of flexible wire (braided picture wire is best) is all you need to snare rabbits and hares and possibly many other small varmints. The caloric density of small game will repay quite a bit of hunting/trapping effort. If you have a .22, you can take anything you can find from coyotes all the way down to small birds.
 
Jeff Reiland
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I second the nut suggestion. Acorns are a plentiful nut in many woods, high in tannins they need to be treated first. One way is intensive with boiling and flushing but you can also place the flesh from inside the hard coat in a bag, and place this in a flowing stream where the cool flowing water will leach out the tannins. What's left is a great source of calories.
And small game is not terribly difficult. My brother ran down a rabbit, it takes some time but a rabbit doesn't have very much stamina. I don't know what the calorie return on investment would be for this though.
 
Peter Ellis
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Think in terms of multiple sources rather than looking for one biggy. Unless it's basically a game of what would be the most calories.

In practical terms the best answer is to know how to recognize loads and loads of different foods. That way when you started foraging, you would not pass by many edibles looking for the ones you knew. Also, depending upon season, different things might be available.cattail roots are supposed to be a pretty high calorie forageable food.

 
Alder Burns
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In certain ecosystems, like mine....ACORNS!! I eat something with them twice a day, and my ten chickens eat them as the main part of their diet. And that from the production of only 1 1/2 acres! See my blog at udanwest.com about how I prep them for myself and the birds.
Animal protein from the wild is often poor in fat, to the extent that one can become malnourished on a steady diet of it. Some critters (possum, feral hogs) have more fat than others, and every bit should be saved for use.
 
Bill Bradbury
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Think small easy to get critters.
In our forests, the best source of calories are forest grouse; they will sit in a tree like you can't see them until you are close enough to take one with a slingshot. I carve my slingshots from leftover maple boards and use Therabands as the elastic which gives you power options.
Down in the foothills it is our newest arrival the European Collared Dove. These guys are everywhere now! They don't have the sense of danger that our native Mourning Dove has and the DWR has deemed them invasive, so there is a year round, no license required open season on them. A dove breast or 2, Glacier Lily bulbs and some dock or nettles for greens= gourmet meal.
That said; most people will have their best luck with a rodent deadfall trap.
 
Maura Will
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Response to John's question about calories in a survival situation:

Sadly, animal-based fats and meat are the major source of calories in most environments. Fruits could be the major source of calories in the tropics, but not in the north lands. Cultures in the north ate meat and fish. In some places, such as midwestern US and Appalachia, nut cultures existed. I think that nuts are the only protein alternative to meat in the northern hemisphere. Of course, most nut trees take decades to reach nut-bearing age. (Time to get planting!) Fruit in the northern hemisphere can provide a lot of calories, IF you have preservation systems. In a sense, squirrels that eat apricot nuts become a stored source of calories from the apricot tree.

Some root crops like camus and Jerusalem artichoke also have significant potential for versatile sources of calories on a community basis. These need to be community managed resources. For example, the purple camus (poisonous) but be found and dug up in the spring so that the camus patch can be safely and responsibly harvested in the fall. Check out salsify and Indian potato.

Many wild foods, like berries, are very nutrient dense, but not very calorie dense. Greens abound, in season.
 
Dan Boone
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Bill Bradbury wrote:That said; most people will have their best luck with a rodent deadfall trap.


That triggered a memory from my childhood. I wouldn't know how to rig an effective deadfall (which to me means a triggered weight dropping from above) but rodents are extremely easy to catch in simple pit traps. A traditional "number 10 can" (aka "three pound coffee can") buried in the ground where rodents run can collect several fat field mice in a night. Any vertical-sided container will do if the sides are too tall for the rodent to jump out and the sides too hard for them to get claw purchase for climbing out. If you've got flexible sheet plastic hard enough to stop rodent claws from catching and climbing, you could probably line your pit with that.

Nobody is going get fat eating field mice, but if you're trying to survive on greens, the calorie boost will be welcome. I would dice finely and boil in a stew. Singe the fur off first in the campfire if you're feeling fancy, but keep the skin, since that's going to have in it or stuck to it an appreciable fraction of total available fat and calories.
 
Dan Boone
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John Saltveit wrote:Fruit tends not to occur in a forest. They are largely bred for modern farms, and occur more often in savannahs and subtropical areas for large fruit.


I would agree that most temperate forests are barren of large fruits for most of the year, but in a survival situation I would still not rule them out completely. Feral fruit trees and fruit trees growing at abandoned homesites abound. And some wild fruits (like the American persimmon) persist on the trees for many months or even throughout much of the winter. I am reminded of this anecdote from the Civil War:

In November 1864, Confederate Gen. John B. Hood led the Army of Tennessee out of Alabama toward Nashville. One of Hood’s men, Milton Cox, told his son, John, about the grueling march from Atlanta. His son told a WPA interviewer in Texas what his father told him:

“After the fall of Atlanta, we marched northward into Tennessee over frozen ground and how cold it was! Our shoes were worn out and our feet were torn and bleeding … the snow was on the ground and there was no food. Our rations were a few grains of parched corn. When we reached the vicinity of Nashville we were very hungry and we began to search for food. Over in a valley stood a tree which seemed to be loaded with fruit. It was a frost bitten persimmon tree, but as I look back over my whole life, never have I tasted any food which would compare with these persimmons.”


Poorly-supplied units on the Union side, too, were often notorious for neglecting their military duties in favor of foraging for persimmons; it was so common that they were derisively called persimmon regiments.
 
John Wolfram
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John Saltveit wrote:My kids and I watch a lot of the survival shows. One of the questions that intrigues me is how we could get the largest, easiest source of calories in say, a temperate forest. I know an elk or deer is a lot of calories, but I'm thinking you need to be a trained, licensed hunter to have a good chance to get one.


I'm not understanding the scenario. If you are going into the woods for a weekend, the easiest source of calories is the food you brought with you. If you've been lost in the woods long enough for food to become an issue, then licenses and regulations are basically irrelevant.
 
John Saltveit
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Great responses! Really good ideas and "food" for thought.

John W: It's about preparation. The idea is, once you're in a crisis, that's the worst time to gradually start building skills. Part of the allure of the shows is that we might need to do this. Or it might be fun. They're not making anymore dinosaurs, so I don't imagine traveling by car will always be this easy and produce prices don't seem to be going down. My wages haven't gone up in many years. I live in a cold temperate area. I'm thinking they won't be able to ship in large fruit from Chile, Australia, and South Africa soon. Maybe not even California, or it could become prohibitively expensive. Massive government sponsored corn, sugar, soy subsidies will have to end. We will have to feed ourselves.
I've heard it say that in a recession, you can't find a deer. People shoot them without licenses rather than starving. You don't see deer in Mexico.

Maura: The purple flowered camas is the one that was a staple. The white flowered one is poisonous.
John S
PDX OR
 
Peter Ellis
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Presumptions drawn from the OP: We are looking at a short term crisis scenario, say they were out on the atv miles from anywhere when it broke down and the walk out is likely to take a week.
Shades of Les Stroud's Survivorman (which I love).

So now what? First issue is inventory what you have and evaluate the situation. I have my cell phone, I will just call for help that way! No signal. Next plan, but do not forget to try the cell phone every so often to see if you have signal yet. are people expecting us back at a certain time and did we leave an itinerary and stay with it? In other words, if we sit tight will they be here to get us tomorrow? If not, then where are we and what is our best way out? what navigational tools do we have? Should we just walk back on the atv trails we rode in on? Or can we reliably cut cross country and shorten the trek withou getting lost?

How far do we need to travel? In this terrain, how far can we expect to go in a day? With an estimate of how long it will take to get out, you can figure whether you will really need to worry about food, or can just hoof it out on fat reserves.

Water is the highest order problem since we need it long before we have to have food, and we don't store it to any meaningful degree. In the given environment, where do you find it? With what you have on hand, how do you carry it with you?

If it is a self extraction scenario and you will walk out, then food should be something you watch for as you walk along. Berries, fruits, nuts, leaves, roots, flowers, mushrooms only if you are really confident about proper identification. Know enough about the biome to be able to recognize a number of edible plants and, season dependent, you may be good for a multi day trek without worrying about taking any animals for food.

But what if you have no idea which direction to go and you cannot expect help for at least a week? Then staying put and doing some things to make yourselves easy to find would make the most sense. Water remains a first priority, but now it makes sense to consider hunting, trapping and fishing as food collecting options.
Water bodies large enough to have food in them? Crayfish are ubiquitous, pretty easy to catch and very yummy. Fin fish may be present as well and various sorts of fish traps can be made with minimal tools and natural materials. Snares, deadfall traps and pit traps are all reasonable options, pick and choose based on what you have to work with and what you expect to find in the area.

Staying put raises two additional questions that are smaller issues when you are walking out: shelter, potential predators. Are you going to require shelter to avoid hypothermia? Get started on that before you worry about food. You need to get it done while you have energy to do it. Are you likely to have large predators, or pack predators, that will see you as easy food? Fire will help with that, as will planning your shelter with them in mind. Building your shelter against a rock outcropping can close off one direction from attack, and both store and reflect back heat from your fire. The fire can close the other angle of attack.

Loads of things to think about in such a situation. Knowledge is the single greatest tool. Keeping calm and working things through is probably the single most important key to survival. Knowledge makes that much, much easier.
 
John Saltveit
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Excellent post, Peter. The happiest and healthiest people in the world barely survive off of nature, according to the books Blue Zones and Healthy at 95 by John Robbins. They scrap together weeds, their farm goods and small animals into wonderful cuisine, living usually at the edge of wilderness and using the bounty of the earth to be connected to nature.

I have read letters written by my ancestors 100 years ago who were living on ranches in Eastern ORegon, when it was really primitive. The only time they got to socialize was on Saturday night and Sunday morning at church. They would often walk a few miles over mountains to get to a dance or to church, where there often were no roads, only paths. We may be returning to these types of scenarios. A flash flood happens, or someone breaks their leg? Who knows what could happen.
John S
PDX OR
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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(apologies to anyone that reads this and takes it as condescending...it is not meant that way...)

Loads of things to think about in such a situation. Knowledge is the single greatest tool. Keeping calm and working things through is probably the single most important key to survival. Knowledge makes that much, much easier.


I really could just stop there, as the quote from Peter pretty much boils it all down...but I can't help myself...I have to add a little.

First, are you thinking like a "survivalist type with the world is going to end and/or the zombies are coming." IF SO, I really can't help and having nothing to add...

If you are thinking like a Native...then there is no "survival." It does not exist, nor does "lost," or "get out" or "I can't" or "....."

For one thing...please stop watching those "survival shows" for anything other than pure 100% entertainment. Watch them and think "Gilligan's Island," as that is about how valuable most of what they share is.

I love that you are thinking about all of this...that is excellent. As for your question...let me put it into context a little better..."Largest source of calories for the least amount of effort"...that is an easy one for most biomes..."buggies, worms, and most of the smaller furries and scallies."

Peter...I don't have a cell phone though I am looking at my first one ever this year...maybe...I think...I am not sure...wait...why do I need one?

j



 
Jay Grace
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In a short term survival situation (less than 3 months). If you are able to forage/ harvest the most meager of rations you're not going to starve.

Yes, you might lose that gut you can't seem to get rid of and it might be a little uncomfortable going to bed with an empty stomach occasionally but as long as you have good clean water you'll make it.


IMO. Food is way down on the list in a short term survival situation.
Water
Shelter
Fire
Those are the 3 that share the number one spot to me.
All are interchangeable depending on the situation/ season.

Most of these are points that other people have touched on already.

~~~~~~~~~

Calories in a survival situation would be in terms of net calories.

Calories in - calories used to obtain them

Wadeing in a shallow creek here in the southeast (in all but the dead of winter) is about as easy as calories come. Turtles, frogs, crawfish, and snakes are all easy pickings.
Acorns are good. But require processing. Hickory nuts ( to me) trump acorns in the short term instant calorie category.
A good rock and a shirt full of hickory nuts have kept me occupied many afternoons.





 
Miles Flansburg
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This is one of the reasons that I am planting all sorts of seeds in Wyoming, and slowly identifying what is there naturally. Just in case I need to eat. I have hunted and fished all of my life, not to hard just need to practice.
 
Maura Will
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Thank you John S. for noticing my mistake, mixing up the poisonous camus (the white one) with the edible staple root camus (purple)!!! Oops! I was trying to make the point about managing plant resources on a community basis, planning, etc. If you came across a camus patch and there were no flowers, you wouldn't know if they were safe to eat. Also, as with so many resources, over-harvesting could wipe the resource in one year. Too bad the native Americans' sophisticated concepts of land ownership and land management were not appreciated for what they were.

About rodent dead falls, yes, this technique has saved many a soldier, concentration camp internee, etc. everywhere from the jungles of Viet Nam to the Siberian tundra, to desert environments. Cody Lundin illustrates how to make one in: "When All Hell Breaks Loose: Stuff You Need To Survive When Disaster Strikes " This survival only scores a 4 out of 5 on Amazon, but after reviewing a stack of survival books several years ago, I concluded this book was the single best one. It covers a wide range of subjects with amazing honesty and a sense of realism and humor. Many people felt the illustrations were juvenile or crass, but I disagree. They are just descriptive. I've seen rodent dead fall illustrations before but not really understood. The other essential wilderness survival book would be a primer on wild edible plants. There are lots of good ones now, such as Sergei Boutenko's 'wild edibles', Thomas Elpel and Nature's Garden, etc. Depends on where you live, too.
 
Shawn Harper
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3 hours - In the cold before you get hypothermia
3 days - without water
3 weeks - without food
 
Dan Boone
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There's a widespread meme about survival and food that appears a couple of times in this thread and much more widely in survivor training and prepper culture. The notion is that food really isn't a high priority compared to water and shelter, that you will survive for weeks without it.

My own upbringing in the subarctic Boreal forests of Alaska, the practical survival training I got as a child, and my own survival experiences have all combined to convince me that this notion is dangerously likely to prove untrue in practice.

The notion originates, I think, in the true fact that nobody starves "to death" in less than weeks. But lack of calories can kill you almost as fast as lack of shelter, and certainly as fast as lack of water, under real-world conditions when things have gone to heck. Many of the catastrophes that may have deprived you of your normal living circumstances will also conspire to ramp up the urgency of your caloric deficit. So the weeks you might have if you are resting at your ease in your excellent shelter near a clear brook in the faint autumn sunshine become just days or hours if you are an organism under severe environmental stress. Which -- if you've just lost your home or become detached from civilized amenities -- you are likely to be.

Is it brutally cold and windy? Are you wet? Is there a lot of snow? Are you wounded? Are you sick? Has any of your clothing been damaged or lost? Are you trying to hike back to civilization over rough or unknown terrain? Are you being chased by zombies? Is there a brown bear or a pack of hyenas following you? Are people shooting at you, or hunting you with murderous intent? Are you -- and if so, citizen, I am so deeply sorry to hear it -- contending with many of these problems simultaneously? Because the truth is, it's a rare survival scenario in which your only problem is lack of food, water, and shelter. And lack of food dramatically accelerates the pace at which your other survival challenges are likely to kill you.

If you're cold and hungry, hypothermia will take you away very fast. You don't "die of starvation" but you're still dead of something food could have prevented. If your body is struggling with wounds or disease, lack of calories will very quickly turn something survivable into something fatal, especially if shelter isn't top notch. If you're under extreme physical exertion (climbing up out of the canyon, trying to get over the mountains to the road) lack of calories will sap your stamina and ability to proceed, which may kill you -- because you wouldn't be undertaking that physical exertion if you had an alternative survivable option, would you?

Having said all that, my opinion is that your best bet in a survival situation is to have prepared for it in advance. A case of MREs in the trunk of your car or stuffed under the bow of your boat buys you a lot of time, as does a pound of stale almonds in that zippered compartment of your backpack. Even a Snickers bar buys you another hypothermic half-hour to get dry and under cover. Adequate nutrition for a few days buys you time to evade the zombies or the guys with machetes, get your wounds bound up, get your shelter found or built, get your water situation sorted, and get your foraging plan figured out. In these rough situations you need lots of carbs and fats, which are the hardest things to forage in bulk. In harsh environments (which is most of my experience) you'll be doing well to spend less calories hunting and foraging than you take in. Opportunities for wild bounty (spawning salmon, berry picking, tuber digging) are likely to be concentrated in short seasonal windows and you will be in calorie deficit while waiting for one of those windows to open up. It's then that the "you have weeks" wisdom kicks in -- when your survival situation is otherwise under control. But while you're still on the wild sleigh ride of fear and stress and adrenaline and catastrophe and shivering? Nope. You don't have weeks. You don't even have days.

 
Aaron Festa
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Ive seen this question come up multiple times. I would like to offer a thought. There have been many within the various religions to have been extreme in their fasting and have gone on to live long lives. I myself fast ever so often. And while I understand the reality of starvation and the need for calories I think fear and worry of daily calories can be your enemy as well.
 
Keira Oakley
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CHESTNUTS.... are calorie dense, easy to harvest, and can be very plentiful. In Europe, before the cultivation of wheat, there where areas relying primarily on chestnuts. There was this area where Switzerland is today, called a "chestnut civilisation"... Many culture actually lived on chestnuts before grains took over. In Japan and China, in big parts of Europe, in North America. And also, chestnut can be planted on hilly areas where grains aren't suitable.
We need to start planting "gardens" in the wild, a bit here and there, to come back later when the trees start to give their fruits, nuts, chestnuts.
 
Keira Oakley
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And it's also about the effort required versus the calories you get. Digging hard for some roots with few calories, or picking/gathering chestnuts...
 
allen lumley
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- My answer goes just a little deeper than other answers that assume a 'shit hit the fan' scenario ! As such I ask that you take the time to read this New York Times article!

http://www.nytimes.com/1995/02/17/us/4-army-ranger-candidates-die-in-chilly-florida-swamp.html

The Idea behind this type of training is to force each and every soldier to reach down a little deeper to find the will-power to 'drive on' and 'finish the mission', as such this

is not a story of Sadistic or ignorant Trainers ! Physiologists tell us this triggered response is part of the bodies ''Fight or Flight' Response!

As clearly stated in the article Hypothermia becomes apparent when the continued Loss of the individuals Body Heat is greater than the KiloCalories of food energy available

to Him/Her !

In any situation that causes the body to trigger a 'fight or flight' Response the adrenalin produced acts on many organs of the body AND squeezes out additional amounts of

simple sugars stored in the liver ! Eventually the tank is empty and no amount of additional Adrenalin Will produce any more simple sugars to fight Hypothermia !

This is when a cascade of events conspires to kill the individual exposed to Profound Hypothermia ! While many cells in the body can breakdown fats and protein for energy -


Our Brains can only survive when adequately supplied with this Simple sugar ! It can not 'run on' fats or protein !


While it sometimes happens that a strong and healthy individual can sustain an injury like broken leg that immobilizes them- if the environment they are in is temperate

enough for their survival, And they stay warm and dry, They can then feed off of its energy stories (fat) and an adequate supply of 'sugar' is supplied to the brain again via

the blood stream from the liver.

In extreme cases, again with an inactive person who may be profoundly cold and uncomfortable - the body will start to 'harvest' the Muscle cells of the body- There have been

stories of individual climbers and spelunkers who have been immobilized by Falls and survived well beyond the often quoted 3-week window !

It all works out like your checking account at the bank ! More going in than leaving your O.K. More leaving than coming in can not be sustained for a long time !


Your account will be closed !!!

Hope this is timely and helps ! For the crafts ! Big AL
 
Joe Ruben
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Depends on where you are!

I live in the PJ forest... pinon / juniper. Typical southwest dry land. Here the fastest calorie intake would almost always be from pinon nuts. They are high in fat. They taste good (holy-camoly! the prices are high if you buy). October is roughly the time to gather them, but in a pinch they are still there. They may get old and tasteless, you might have to scrape the ground under a tree to get the little brown nuggets, you may find that the pinecones have dropped all but a few nuts, but they are there somewhere. All you have to do is pop them in your mouth, crunch up the brown shell (looks like a coffee bean), spit out the shell and eat the nut.

I saw some people out gathering them today. They are free or expensive, depending on how you get them.
 
Chris Badgett
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Indegenous cultures of a bioregion are a great place to look for survival ideas.

For example in the Amazon you could look to the Yanomami:



In Austrailia, look to the Aborigines:



In the Pacific Northwest, check out what the history on how Southeast Alaskan Natives hunted and gathered: http://www.alaskanative.net/en/main-nav/education-and-programs/cultures-of-alaska/eyak-tlingit-haida-and-tsimshian/
 
Cj Sloane
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Shawn Harper wrote:3 hours - In the cold before you get hypothermia
3 days - without water
3 weeks - without food


This is really good except the last line is wrong. Almost every single American could easily survive 40 days without food. Most could go much longer. There are many benefits to a yearly week long fast. Supposed to be a great prophalctic against cancer via Autophagy.

So, your own body is the largest source of calories while surviving in the wilderness.

Next up is an animals body. I recently read/heard that an average hunter gather could forage a couple hundred to maybe a few thousand calories in a day with pretty dense forage like acorns but that's completely dwarfed by the 60,000+ calories you could gather in the same amount of time killing a wild boar, let's say.
 
Judith McDonald
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It depends on the wilderness. As an experienced wilderness backpacker and rider I would say that no one does these journeys without preparation Take some provisions and go out into the wilderness and then you will know what grows there. Here we have lots of berries throughout the accessible season. Many edible roots, tubers and nuts. It really depends on the biome. In some you can survive without killing, in some you cannot. there are plenty of fish and game in my part of the country and if you are skilled in killing them, you will have plenty. Knowledge is the most important item to carry with you on your journey, next is a compass and map. If you go cross country learn to use a compass. the sun does not always shine nor can you see it in dense forest. You need a map to know where you might expect to find water. There's a lot of preparation that goes into back country trips and it's not just food. This isn't really an answer to your question, but calories might be the least of your problems if you are not totally prepared for the area you enter.
 
Devin Lavign
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Shawn Harper wrote:3 hours - In the cold before you get hypothermia
3 days - without water
3 weeks - without food


I really dislike this rule of 3's thing. Let me explain why.

It is the 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food.

Yes sure you might not die for that amount of time, but in a much shorter time you will start experiencing serious effects of not having either of these necessities. Try going 1 day without water and see how your doing. 2 days with no water and metal processes, movement, eye sight, and more are problems. Similarly with food, after 3-4 days you are weak and dizzy and your thinking is slow. Without food for a week you have no energy to move around, even crawling is difficult. Your thinking is seriously impaired with lapses in memory, sense of time, accessing knowledge you know you know, oh and the real fun of hallucinations.

Another thing often forgotten with the rule of 3's. Is that it is rarely just your eating and drinking just fine, then suddenly have none. It is usually a slow decrease in water and/or food. So by the time you have none, your already in bad shape being partially dehydrated or already malnourished.

Start to see why the rule of 3's is troublesome. It gives people a false sense of how long they can do without. But the reality is your body will be effected and in danger zones much sooner than is suggested by the rule of 3's.

As for suggestions of food.

Bugs my friends. In a temperate forest you will likely find lots of wood louse. Not only are they edible, but they actually taste good. Sort of a shrimp or scallop flavor. Crickets, grasshoppers, ants, termites, grubs, all very edible. Most beetles are edible as well. While it might sound yucky, insects are a staple food source around the world. Insects would be your best bet for easy energy in a temperate forest.
 
Cj Sloane
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Devin Lavign wrote:Similarly with food, after 3-4 days you are weak and dizzy and your thinking is slow. Without food for a week you have no energy to move around, even crawling is difficult. Your thinking is seriously impaired with lapses in memory, sense of time, accessing knowledge you know you know, oh and the real fun of hallucinations.


This is really not true. With the exception of a underweight person, everyone can physically handle a week or 2 without food. The 2nd or 3rd day can be tough to push thru but beyond that is no problem if you have access to water. You are running on ketones and your own body fat.

I did a 6 day fast last year and as most people report, mental capacity gets better not worse. If our brains shut down after a few days without food we would have died out as a species hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Most Americans could easily survive a 40 day fast. So I still say your largest source of calories in the wilderness is, YOU.

This 450 Pound Man Fasted For Over A Year And He Lost More Than Half His Weight
Staff note (John Saltveit):

This is a pretty feisty post which some people have already responded to. JohN S

 
Roberto pokachinni
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Stress, anxiety, and panic are the things to avoid in a survival situation; they can kill you in no time.  Food, is almost always not the first concern; the only thing that food does for you in a survival situation is help psychologically.  The concerns should be listed by observing the environment/situation and assessing priorities.  Often, for instance, shelter is the key concern.  Shelter from sun, from rain, from wind, from cold.  These conditions will bring your body temperature down or up to uncomfortable temperatures which can kill you in a day.  Learning how to find water, particularly good water, or how to purify water, is also very important.  Water issues can kill you in a very painful way.  Learn how to make fire in a bunch of different ways.  Learn how to make a vessel from a chunk of wood, a sharp rock, and a fire... put a coal from the fire on the wood, blow on the coal so that it burns the wood and produces coals in the wood, scrape the charred surface with the sharp stone, repeat until you have a bowl shape.  Gather small stones.  Heat them in the fire.  Take two sticks like chop sticks and pick up small stones and put them in the bowl which you have filled with water.  This can and will heat the water to boiling/purifying eventually. 

I do like Devin's response about insects.  When I was on a 28 day survival course, I was very grateful to come across a rotten log teeming with ants and especially ant eggs!  The same day I came upon a large grouping of bolete mushrooms, and a patch of stinging nettles, so I was pretty set up... except that my shelter leaked and the rain at 9000 feet elevation in Utah was not fun, even in June. 

Also, as Dan Boon mentioned, small rodents are the next best thing after insects for cheap calories.  When I say cheap, I mean calories expended for calories gained... Grab a stick and break it for a point, or a sharp rock (If you have only round rocks, smash a large one down on another while sheltering your eyes... you should get a sharp flake/knife)dig a hole in the center of a forest meadow down a foot and a half or so as narrow as you can make it, but at the bottom open it up so that it is much larger... that way the rodents can't climb out. Next, go out into the outer edges of the meadow and walk a spiral going into the center.  This should scare the rodents into the hole.  If not, wait overnight.  The trap is bound to catch some cheap food

Keeping your mind busy in a survival situation allows time to pass.  Developing a routine is great for the mind.  Fill the time up with building a camp, and with building a few figure 4 dead fall triggers.  These take some skill to get down, but... you have some time to develop the skill now before you need it, and really you should be able to figure it out and make an effective one in a short time if you really want to. Here's some images: figure 4 deadfall trigger trap        

Here's a youtube video of figure 4.
 
Devin Lavign
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Cj Sloane wrote:
Devin Lavign wrote:Similarly with food, after 3-4 days you are weak and dizzy and your thinking is slow. Without food for a week you have no energy to move around, even crawling is difficult. Your thinking is seriously impaired with lapses in memory, sense of time, accessing knowledge you know you know, oh and the real fun of hallucinations.


**Censored**. With the exception of a underweight person, everyone can physically handle a week or 2 without food. The 2nd or 3rd day can be tough to push thru but beyond that is no problem if you have access to water. You are running on ketones and your own body fat.

I did a 6 day fast last year and as most people report, mental capacity gets better not worse. If our brains shut down after a few days without food we would have died out as a species hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Most Americans could easily survive a 40 day fast. So I still say your largest source of calories in the wilderness is, YOU.

This 450 Pound Man Fasted For Over A Year And He Lost More Than Half His Weight


You seemed to have missed, "Another thing often forgotten with the rule of 3's. Is that it is rarely just your eating and drinking just fine, then suddenly have none. It is usually a slow decrease in water and/or food. So by the time you have none, your already in bad shape being partially dehydrated or already malnourished."

As for your fasting experiences. I have had fasting experiences too.

I have gone camping with roommates, who thought it would be a great idea to fast during the trip. I didn't want to, but since they all were planning to do it, ok I didn't bring food. It was only going to be a weekend. They could not last more than 1 1/2 days out of the planned 2 1/2 days. They couldn't get a fire started, they couldn't function to do camp chores, they had trouble thinking, they became quite clumsy and fell over often. It was ridiculous watching them fumble about.

I have also been truly without food myself. Not fasting. But actually malnourished and starving. I have gotten to the point where I could not move to go get food even though my money finally came in so I could buy it. I do know first hand the actual effects of starvation.

You might also want to try watching some of the reality shows like Alone, or Naked and Afraid, and see what happens to people trying to survive in the wilderness without much food.
 
Devin Lavign
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Stress, anxiety, and panic are the things to avoid in a survival situation; they can kill you in no time.  Food, is almost always not the first concern; the only thing that food does for you in a survival situation is help psychologically.  The concerns should be listed by observing the environment/situation and assessing priorities.  Often, for instance, shelter is the key concern.  Shelter from sun, from rain, from wind, from cold.  These conditions will bring your body temperature down or up to uncomfortable temperatures which can kill you in a day.  Learning how to find water, particularly good water, or how to purify water, is also very important.  Water issues can kill you in a very painful way.  Learn how to make fire in a bunch of different ways.  Learn how to make a vessel from a chunk of wood, a sharp rock, and a fire... put a coal from the fire on the wood, blow on the coal so that it burns the wood and produces coals in the wood, scrape the charred surface with the sharp stone, repeat until you have a bowl shape.  Gather small stones.  Heat them in the fire.  Take two sticks like chop sticks and pick up small stones and put them in the bowl which you have filled with water.  This can and will heat the water to boiling/purifying eventually. 

I do like Devin's response about insects.  When I was on a 28 day survival course, I was very grateful to come across a rotten log teeming with ants and especially ant eggs!  The same day I came upon a large grouping of bolete mushrooms, and a patch of stinging nettles, so I was pretty set up... except that my shelter leaked and the rain at 9000 feet elevation in Utah was not fun, even in June. 

Also, as Dan Boon mentioned, small rodents are the next best thing after insects for cheap calories.  When I say cheap, I mean calories expended for calories gained... Grab a stick and break it for a point, or a sharp rock (If you have only round rocks, smash a large one down on another while sheltering your eyes... you should get a sharp flake/knife)dig a hole in the center of a forest meadow down a foot and a half or so as narrow as you can make it, but at the bottom open it up so that it is much larger... that way the rodents can't climb out. Next, go out into the outer edges of the meadow and walk a spiral going into the center.  This should scare the rodents into the hole.  If not, wait overnight.  The trap is bound to catch some cheap food

Keeping your mind busy in a survival situation allows time to pass.  Developing a routine is great for the mind.  Fill the time up with building a camp, and with building a few figure 4 dead fall triggers.  These take some skill to get down, but... you have some time to develop the skill now before you need it, and really you should be able to figure it out and make an effective one in a short time if you really want to. Here's some images: figure 4 deadfall trigger trap        

Here's a youtube video of figure 4.


Some very good points, there.

Your very right about cheap calories. This is Cody Lundin's philosophy. Spend as little as you can while getting the most you can.

And yes the mental aspect of survival is the big one. The "reality" show Alone really shows how what knocks the most people out is the mental aspect. Especially oddly once you have gotten the basic necessities cover, the just empty aloneness can get to many people if you don't occupy yourself. But you can't just waste a lot of energy, you have to figure out busy work that will still be beneficial, like figure 4 traps, or making cordage, or other crafts.
 
Cj Sloane
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Roberto pokachinni wrote:Stress, anxiety, and panic are the things to avoid in a survival situation; they can kill you in no time.  Food, is almost always not the first concern; the only thing that food does for you in a survival situation is help psychologically.


I agree completely. The OP really didn't lay out a specific scenario so I really just addressed the main question of calories.
 
Cj Sloane
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Devin Lavign wrote:
You might also want to try watching some of the reality shows like Alone, or Naked and Afraid, and see what happens to people trying to survive in the wilderness without much food.


Well, I can imagine many scenarios where a person needs to go without food. There are so many variables. Is the person heathy? Is the person actually in the wilderness? Do they know what they are doing? Certainly Paleolithic man could fast many days on a hunt but they knew how to survive under such conditions.

The best example I can think of is Hurricane Irene from a few years back. Parts of Vermont were completely isolated for a week. A friend called who was in that situation. She had no power and after a few days her food had gone bad, it was August/September I think. I asked her about food in her pantry. She said she didn't really keep food in her pantry, it was all in her fridge/freezer.

So, she had shelter, water, was warm, but no power, no food. She was not malnourished. Was she in the wilderness? That's a matter of opinion but she was not in town and without power and food it felt like wilderness to her!

Her two choices were to bug in or bug out.

If she really knew that she could easily go 2 weeks without food she might make different choices than if she panicked because she literally thought she would die if she didn't eat for three days. And that was my main point, people really think they will die without a few days worth of food  and it can become a self fulfilling prophecy. For that reason alone a multi-day fast is not a bad idea. Another good reason to fast, an annual 7 day fast has been used to prevent cancer due to autophagy.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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Well, I can imagine many scenarios where a person needs to go without food. There are so many variables. Is the person healthy?
  It should be noted that in many cultures, and in the nature of many animals, if an individual is sick they withhold food, drinking only broth, tea, or water.  This enables the body to expend it's energy on healing the illness rather than using it for digestion and assimilation.

I have done several different fasts.

It is most difficult during the first 3 days, as R. Ranson indicated.  During that time, the metabolic systems are in chaos.  But like in most chaotic patterns, order eventually prevails/restores, although it is a different order than normal.  In this case, the body is processing simpler foods or metabolizing excesses within the body.  

I personally prefer nutritive fasts:  For instance I did a brown rice fast, which consisted of eating a handful of cooked brown rice three times daily.  Now that is not a lot of food, but there is a huge difference in how it is done, and how your body processes it. 

So the technique is to take a tiny teaspoon and put enough rice on it to half fill it.  Put this in your mouth.  Chew it until the entire amount is liquefied (which basically fills your mouth with liquid).  Swallow.  Repeat until the handful of rice (a quarter cup or so) is eaten.  The result is that your stomach is actually quite full of very easy to digest (in fact mostly predigested by the enzymes in the saliva) high quality calories and proteins with very little expended energy, while giving your jaws a proper workout, making your saliva do it's proper job, and increasing your mindfulness of eating.  Doing this for a few days or longer, will increase your metabolism, your mindfulness, and clean your system, while at the same time, because so little energy is being used in the digestion and assimilation, a lot of healing can manifest throughout the body.  It's also quite good for the wallet/budget.

Other favorite fasts of mine are stinging nettles and Chaga.  Consuming super foods that have no toxicity at high levels can do wonders for the body, mind and spirit. 

Fasting prepares the body for times of shortage/survival, and allows the body to better understand and remember not to panic and to enjoy the ride.    
 
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Banana slugs and grubs are easily the most available, nutrient/calorie dense and relatively safe to eat food in the Pacific NW in the winter. I remember being told this by a Clallam guide on a hike at Olympic National Park in 5th grade. I have spent literally years in the NW backcountry since, and have never gotten to that point. Of course one would have to slice off the outer skin of the banana slug to prevent its mouth numbing slime causing you to choke it up, just like raccoons know to do, but they are almost pure fat and protein. Basically you have to decide that you are either going to starve or rejoin your fellow OMNIvores like bears and pigs and dig in.
 
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I was listening to an audio book today and they mentioned the 5 key factors of survival.

1. Positive Mental Attitude
2. Shelter
3. Fire
4. Water
5. Food.

So food is by most accounts these last thing to worry about.

Since food is last of the rule of 3’s, it is last on my list of factors for survival. Generally a person can go 3 weeks without eating anything. Now this doesn’t mean that you are going to be fine in the last week and a half of those 3. Starvation will have already set in and you will be very weak, but the fact remains you will still be alive.

But once you have the first 4 factors taken care of, you can start to look for, hunt or gather some form of nourishment to quell the rumbling in your tummy. While food procurement comes last on the list of survival factors in can often be first on the list of most difficult factors to accomplish.

Eating plants is a HUGE gamble unless you really know what you are eating and can lead to disastrous, even fatal, results. Hunting for your own food is extremely hard without a modern firearm or bow and arrow, and even then its no easy task, go ask a regular hunter about the years that may have gone by in-between them bagging a deer to fill their tag.

Traps and snares are probably your most effective and sure bet at procuring protein to feed those tired muscles and it is a really good idea to know how to make at least a couple of different snares or traps from natural materials. Another skill that will serve you well is the ability to identify animal tracks and game trails. Having or being able to make a weapon, snare or trap is all well and good but if you don’t know where the game is none of it is going to do you any good. Apart from some form of emergency food rations your survival kit should always include some snare wire, and a basic fishing kit as these are some of the more effective ways of procuring food in the wild. Much like other skills though, most forms of food procurement are diminishing skills and should be practiced periodically if not regularly so that you can be confident in your ability to get sustenance when you really need it.


From here
 
Ben Zumeta
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That is definitely the right order of priority. I have spent over a week backpacking alone in the snow with some pretty bad conditions and getting wet is your first concern. That can be hard to avoid when 7ft of snow turn to slush with rain and you are left atop fir boughs and your thermarest in a sea of ice water. It is a huge help at that point to be able to pump in calories, and if fire or good shelter is not feasible then food is the next best thing. Feed the furnace in your belly and you can bear cold a lot longer. I will say that bear naked granola stands up as still a desirable food even after 4days as the only thing I had after my fuel died (frostbite, snowblindness, a pulled groin and snow held me up and the trail was dry except snow). The things we do to finish the PCT
 
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Other favorite fasts of mine are stinging nettles and Chaga.  Consuming super foods that have no toxicity at high levels can do wonders for the body, mind and spirit. 

Fasting prepares the body for times of shortage/survival, and allows the body to better understand and remember not to panic and to enjoy the ride.    

I'm intrigued with the idea of both chaga and stinging nettles being used this way. I'm learning slowly but steadily through this site,, I tried to quote part of this post but it came up as my message, no plagiarizing intended.
 
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