Aug 28, 2012 at 12:59 pm #1293450
I suspect this may devolve into a flamewar … which I don't want to happen. I'm trying to tread lightly here :-P
I've never hunted before. I don't have any problem eating meat especially if done sustainably, ethically, within regulation/season.
I was thinking about doing a long trek in Denali and was thinking about hunting during the trek.
I want to target smaller game which are sustainable. Food for 1-2 days.
I'm an avid fisherman and always practice sustainable fish harvesting.
Has anyone done this before? How did it work out?Aug 28, 2012 at 1:16 pm #1906916
@flriderLocale: The Southeast
That being said, expect your daily mileage to drop. If you're spending time hunting, you're not spending time hiking. As long as that's okay with you (and you follow local regulations regarding small game), have at it! I'd love to hear how it works out.
However, it might be worth fishing instead of hunting. Since you already know where to look for fish and have the skill set associated with catching them, you won't be trying to find protein using unfamiliar skills. You might see a larger return on that versus hunting. On the other hand, that's very dependent upon your route choices, seeing as how fish aren't commonly found on dry trails…Aug 28, 2012 at 1:24 pm #1906921
I don't think hunting is legal in Denali but it could be done in other areas of Alaska. I think combining hunting/fishing with backpacking could be a very interesting trip but it would be different.
If you were planning a trip you'd have to somehow balance time and energy spent hunting with time spent hiking. To much hunting and you won't hike far, not enough hunting and you'd be better off swapping the gun for a couple extra meals.
Ultimately I don't think hunting or fishing for food would help you hike longer but it might be a very interesting experience.Aug 28, 2012 at 1:36 pm #1906927
spelt with a tParticipant
@speltLocale: SW/C PA
Hunting takes considerable time and skill, and small animals have less meat on them than you think. If you want your trip to be a hunting experience like an old-timey trapper expedition, that may be what you want (I'm not knocking it; that could be a very interesting premise for a trip). However, if you want your hike to be about sightseeing, covering long distances, or photography, the time it would take to successfully provide a portion of your diet by hunting would severely curtail those other aspects of your trip.Aug 28, 2012 at 1:48 pm #1906935
If the typical UL backpacker is carrying roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per day (that's my standard) and a rifle, ammo, and whatever you need to dress game weighs 7 pounds (which is pretty light for a full kit), you could carry an extra 3-5 days worth of food for the same weight, save yourself the trouble and mess of killing, gutting, and skinning/plucking things, and spend more time on your back watching clouds.Aug 28, 2012 at 2:18 pm #1906946
@eagleriverdeeLocale: Eagle River, Alaska
Check first to make sure you're eligible for hunting in Denali – http://www.nps.gov/dena/parkmgmt/hunting.htm
Even if you are, frankly I recommend against it. As a lifelong Alaskan, I've learned that hunting/fishing is a hit and miss affair and that's fine so long as I've got a grocery store to run to when I strike out. Not so good if you are depending on animals for food.Aug 28, 2012 at 2:52 pm #1906961
If you really wanted to give hiking and hunting a try take a look at the Pack Rifle. Its basically a one pound .22 rifle that can be taken down and put in a pack. That and some ammo would be light enough for what we might call "Oppurtunistic Lightweight Hunting" i.e. hiking and hunting if you see something.
With a more traditional gun I think it makes more sense to pick one or the other. Either go hunting or go backpacking.Aug 30, 2012 at 3:13 pm #1907689
The time spent hunting will probably consume more food than it provides, or at the very least, be unbelievably time inefficient.
I don't know what sort of tools you're imagining that will be lighter than another 2 days worth of food. Even if you go with something like snares, you're going to spend a day setting up 10+ snares, wait the night, check them all, find possibly 0-2 catches, clean and cook them?
Game hunting isn't exactly something you can just start doing out of the blue. It takes significant skill like anything else.Aug 30, 2012 at 7:01 pm #1907776
@m-lLocale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
"If the typical UL backpacker is carrying roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per day (that's my standard) "
Thats fine if your taking that but iv'e found manys UL to be packing slightly less at 1.25 – 1.75
+1 on fishing, I would imagine its pretty hard to catch a squirell. And catching a chicken or something just seems like too much work IF you are on the move.Aug 30, 2012 at 9:10 pm #1907819
"If the typical UL backpacker is carrying roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per day (that's my standard) "
"Thats fine if your taking that but iv'e found manys UL to be packing slightly less at 1.25 – 1.75"
That does seem to emphasize slightly. Isn't the difference between 1.75 and 2.0 a 14% increase? If you have a hiker at say 150 lbs and 175 lbs, that would seem to be about the same thing to me. Let alone a hiker at 130 vs a hiker at 190 lbs.
I don't think you'll ever lighten your load by hunting. Maybe if you really like squirrel. Fishing, maybe.Aug 30, 2012 at 9:24 pm #1907826
As a 5-generation Urban Northern California now in my 14th year in Alaska, I've transtitioned from being expert at foraging in grocery store + wild plants to being an ever more competent hunter-gatherer. My path included:
Friends and strangers giving me tips on fishing, reading a few books and trying different places at different times.
Participating in the Personal-use Fishery (for Alaskan residents only) for my 30+ salmon each year.
Having a friend with boat, a motor and local knowledge who takes my family along on fishing trips (I bring a great lunch, happily pay for all the gas, and bait more hooks and fillet more fish than anyone else (i.e. I'm the kind of guy you want on the boat).
More recently, I've been drafted on hunting trips because of my stunningly gorgeous legs. Or rather, that I can hike a lot and be a cheerful companion. After one has shot an elk, a few bears or a mess of caribou, the work really starts. Capable sherpas are very desireable and, in my experience, get the same share of fillets, burger and sausage as any hunter along.
But, to save weight?
From worst to best:
Big game. Just don't. State law and my ethics dictate that if you take any animal you use all of it and that means getting from the hunting ground to a truck and on to freeze/packing house. Shoot something? End of trip.
Waterfowl. Seems to involve sitting in cold water in cold weather with a shotgun, blind, and decoys. It would be a lot easier and lighter to bring a frozen chicken.
Small game – ground squirrels, grouse, ptarmagin, marmot(?), and ESPECIALLY "low-bush moose". A .22 pack rifle as suggested above. But have a bail out plan if unsuccessful.
*"low-bush moose" are what you bring home when unsuccessful at getting 900-pound "high-bush moose". low-bush moose are 2-3 pounds and better known as "rabbits". Alas, they are now coming off a population peak, but should peak again in 7-9 years.
Fishing, especialy if well off the road system. Char, Grayling, and of course salmon during the summer / early fall runs. I'll go for grayling and ptarmagin on Adak (1100 miles off the road system) in October, I'll let you know how it goes. The reports are anyone with a pulse should limit any day they want to. Mostly I'll be on sherpa duty for friends going for caribou (they introduced the caribou for the 6,000-airmen base and then closed the base leaving 300 people on the island. With no predators, they get shot or starve.
Wild plants – My wife and I mostly hiked yesterday on a trail (!) on the popular Kenai Peninsula (!) and were mostly hiking (!) and gathered 2 quarts of high-bush cranberries and 2 quarts of low-bush cranberries in 2 hours of hiking. 3 pounds of fresh fruit in maybe an extra 25-30 minutes. For eating fresh above (elevation or lattitude) above treeline, I like crowberries and they are on the plant for much longer.Aug 30, 2012 at 10:23 pm #1907840
@justin_bakerLocale: Santa Rosa, CA
A rifle does not need to weigh 7 pounds. He mentioned small game, you can get a marlin papoose (.22) that weighs 3 lbs. The ammo is very light, much lighter than shotgun rounds.
You can get some hunting opportunities just walking down the trail at a reasonable pace. Look around and you will eventually see a few squirrels you can shoot at. Hunting is a good thing to do while hiking, but when you stop going to your intended destination to hunt, you are loosing the advantage. Carry a whistle. If you spook a rabbit you can blow the whistle and they will stop moving for a few seconds. At least, they do that around here.
Trapping could be an option. Snares would be very light.
You can also gather plants. There is no reason that all of this can't happen while you are hiking to your destination, provided that you are on an underused trail or going off trail.Aug 31, 2012 at 5:53 am #1907873
it can certainly be fun (just like fishing), but the chances of lowering overall pack weight is very (very) slim
I used to carry a .44 mag handgun when working the backcountry for the FS, I carried .44 snake shot shells in my pocket and found that load to very effective for mountain grouse (blue, spruce, ruffed) you'd find along the trail. It was nice to get a little fresh meat on a 10 day hitch, but it certainly wasn't anything I counted on.
there are some very light .22 rifles out there (tigoat used to make a really neat one) that might be worth looking atAug 31, 2012 at 6:35 am #1907881
This option is light weight and almost certain to catch small game along established trails/campsites.Aug 31, 2012 at 7:12 am #1907887
@flriderLocale: The Southeast
"…part of any AT thru-hiker's essential kit…"?
That's one of the funniest (and, possibly, most useful) suggestions for ~4 oz of gear I've seen for a thru yet!Aug 31, 2012 at 7:16 am #1907888
Roasted chicken is about 50 calories per ounce.
Any wild game you get will be about that lean, or less. Add skin, bones, and guts, and you're down to 25 calories per ounce of harvested meat.
Not only do you expend a lot of energy and time harvesting, you have to eat a Lot to meet your needs.
There is an earlier post by someone fishing the JMT to "supplement" his rations. He lost a considerable amount of weight in a short amount of time.
If you are camping to hunt, that's one thing. If you are hiking to hike, that's another.Aug 31, 2012 at 7:51 am #1907901
There was an AT nobo named Mousetrap this year.. for that reason.Aug 31, 2012 at 5:04 pm #1908064
To celebrate the first day of Spring I thought of posting something useful for a change :
Sorry I forgot about the taste.
Nothing like chicken, for a change, but a bit like young wombat (12 months or so)Aug 31, 2012 at 10:21 pm #1908130
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
At least for rats, you don't need a hunting license, something that can be extremely expensive if you're not a resident of the state in which you're hunting! That's especially true in states where non-resident hunters are required to have a licensed guide with them!Aug 31, 2012 at 10:29 pm #1908131
Why did Scott die but Amundsen succeed at the South Pole?
Many reasons, but a significant one was that ponies need hay (Scott). Whereas dogs can eat dog (Amundsen).
Self-propelled food. There are a large number of Chinese recipes.
And then there's the Donner Party method.Sep 18, 2012 at 2:29 pm #1913400
@moxfordLocale: Silicon Valley, CA
Couple more thoughts…
Spot-and-stalk hunting means you "move differently" than when you're just hiking along. You move a lot slower, you stop and listen a lot more.
You'd want to take a very lightweight .22 with "short" hollowpoint rounds. Take only the ammo you need (eg, you don't need a whole brick of 50.) Depending on how long you're out, you may want a small cleaning kit, at least for the barrel. You'll want something that "breaks down" so its easier to carry – something like the Ruger 10/22 or the Marlin Papoose. Another option is a small .22 pistol or airgun (.177 or .22) that you can pump up. Smaller, lighter, lighter ammo, quieter. You'll have to get closer, so make your call wisely. Skip scopes; too much maintenance and you shoudn't be taking long shots anyways, especially with the .22-shorts. Iron sights work fine and they won't get knocked around at all.
Using a whistle or predator call will cause many animals to "freeze."
Be sure you have license, season regs and you know your zone boundaries.
Some places allow you to shoot fish, but watch your angle because, like a rock, you can "skip" a bullet. Better to just take a few feet of line, a couple small hooks and just use grasshoppers and worms. (Did this with the girls recently, they had a more fun with the improv gear than with their real poles. Bonus points for the fun of an hour out catching grasshoppers, too.)
Take notes and a small laminated card of edible bugs. You can spit-roast or flat-rock-roast them next to the fire.
You can eat snakes. They're pretty tasty and have quite a bit of meat. Make sure you know how to field-dress them, especially the poisonous ones where you want to cut the head off and bury it (the head) because it'll stay 'active' and move for hours after it's dead.
Practice beforehand. If you cannot get out there with real arms, go out and get close enough you think you could hit it with a thrown rock. Don't actually do it, but get close enough you can. Squirrels are easier than rabbits. Much easier. You have to hunch over and go really really slow, patiently, to get close enough to a rabbit. :)
As mentioned previously, don't shoot anything big. You want small things you can skin with a swiss-army knife and stick on a spit (or pan-fry if you're carrying a pan. Take a little oil, too, because wild-game is much less fatty than farm-raised. Not all game has enough natural fat.)
Take a pair of thin gloves, like a doctor uses. Watch for latex allergies. They'll keep your hands clean and help with fleas/mites/ticks/pathogens in the animal. Skinning and cooking will be required. Make sure your gloves are textured, and you knife is sharp … preferably with a finger-guard-tang. Fluids can make knife handles slippery. Not required but they're stupid-lightweight so why not. Besides, multi-use for carrying water, cutting them up for making pressure dressings, and putting on your head to look like a chicken.
On your next hike, split your food. For every "animal you bag" by getting close enough, you're allowed to take one thing out of the "goodie bag." Challenge your friends, too, because then you get bragging rights (and memories) as well. Learn from watching them. Watch the animals and how they act/react.
-moxSep 18, 2012 at 4:47 pm #1913438
Mike: Good points. Expanding on:
>"Squirrels are easier than rabbits. Much easier."
Up here, I've heard ptarmagin referred to as "stupid chicken" and it's true. Practice your aim with a rock and you could really feed yourself. A "wrist rocket" slingshot and you'd be golden. Or read Clan of the Cave Bear about how expert Ayla got with a traditional sling. A friend saw a local in Asia whack an eagle from over a hundred yards, but that takes thousands of hours of practice.
Multi-purposing a bit, I've played with a aluminum tent pole as a blowgun for a small dart (wooden dowel from Home Depot with the tiniest bit of fletching on the back end). My strong sense was that, per hour of practice, it could be more effective that rock throwing.
Only after 9-11 did Alaska remove the REQUIREMENT that small planes fly with a firearm aboard. Fishing gear always made more sense to me, especially up here. Or snares for the yield per weight.Sep 20, 2012 at 8:34 pm #1914228
As an example of this check out the show "Out of the Wild: Alaska" on Amazon.com. The party in that show had to hunt/gather food and had a pretty rough time of it (although a real pro could probably have done much better). They had their best luck hunting small game with a .22/.410 shotgun combo. Hunting small game wasn't as much of an "All or nothing" affair as bigger game.Sep 23, 2012 at 6:28 pm #1914997
Those sub 1 to 2lb rifles you mention are not very accurate and require setup, takendown, must be held when walking etc…
If you want to hunt, take a good .22LR pistol with you that you can wear on your side, which allows for the opportunistic shot should it present itself. The pistol weighs 2lbs and is much more portable, and just as accurate (or more so) as any of the takedown survival style .22 rifles.
I prefer a Ruger MKII Government Target (no longer in production). You'll want a longer barrel for hunting purposes. That said, unless you enjoy hunting just take food. Easier, and cheaper (unless you already have the license.)Sep 25, 2012 at 6:47 pm #1915599
I saw an interesting presentation by some guys who foraged over a 5 or 6 day hike, and how it went. First they spent some time with a guy who is expert on edible plants and berries, and learned how to use some berries in cooking. Then the undertook their hike in late August, when a lot of berries would be ripe. They too no food except what they could forage on the way.
They also carried flour, like 5 pounds each, and mixed up batter to cook a "pan bread" and mixed in currents, gooseberries, and whatever berries they could find. In other words, they lived on pan bread and snacked on berries all day.
When their route got to a river they fished a lot, and ate fish big time. They really didn't have that far to go, and some of them finished the trip, but they were hungry as hell. They concluded you could forage, or you could hike, but its hard to forage and hike.
Now if they were really emulating the Indians, they would gather a lot of berries, dry them and make pemmican and have dried berries and dried jerky, and they could do pretty well.
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