Survival Basics

Why Living Off the Land isn’t a Good Idea

The average bug out bag only includes enough food for three days. That idea actually came from FEMA, the government’s disaster relief agency. The idea is supposed to be that FEMA will have shelters set up and operating within three days, so all you need food for is those three days, while you are traveling to their shelter. 

The problems!

It’s a nice theory, but it has a lot of holes in it. To start with, I doubt that FEMA has ever succeeded in getting shelters set up in three days. Secondly, even if they did, how are they going to get the word out, telling people where to go? Without electric power, all our normal means of communications will be down. Finally, who wants to go to a FEMA shelter anyway? At a minimum you’d have to leave your guns behind, leaving you defenseless. 

All this leads every prepper I know to ignore the idea of going to a FEMA shelter, choosing to take care of themselves. But just how are they going to do that, with just three days worth of food? 

Living Off the Land

If you’ve got a shelter all set up and stocked, within three days walk of your home, then you’re all set. But I don’t know too many preppers in that situation. They either don’t have a survival shelter, don’t have a realistic bug out plan or their survival shelter is much farther than a three day walk from their home. I hope they don’t run out of gas. 

Don’t plan living off the land

By and large, these people are planning on living off the land. Worse, there are also preppers whose entire bug out plan is to live off the land. If you can do so, more power to you; but I seriously doubt you can, unless you live in a very remote part of the country, like Northeast Montana

While many of our ancestors lived off the land, even up until the time of the westward expansion of this nation, it hasn’t really been done any time in the last 100 years or more. Mankind switched over from being hunter-gatherers to raising our own food several millennia ago. It was simple economics. Growing food, rather than hunting and gathering, ensured that there was enough to eat. 

While those early farmers might have augmented their harvests with hunting, they did so in a time when there was much more game available, with much fewer people hunting it. Ask any hunter, and they’ll be able to tell you about all the times they came back from a hunt, without anything to show for their efforts. What makes anyone think they’ll do better in a survival situation? 

On top of that, there will be thousands of other people who will be trying to hunt for food. Not only will preppers be out there hunting, but every one of the 90 million hunters in the United States, as well as some people who have never been hunting before. Chances are, whatever game there is, will be thinned out considerably in very little time. 

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That leaves gathering. Unless you’re an expert on edible plants, that’s going to be hard to do. Even if you can find edible plants to eat, it’s unlikely you’ll find enough to feed you. Plants, like vegetables, are low in calories. Unless you find some sort of wild tubors you can eat, there won’t be enough calories to survive on.

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