This past weekend I asked on Twitter for questions that people would like me to blog about. Several good questions came up, but this one from Frank Borelli (@frankborelli) really intrigued me. “What’s more practical for meat supply; Firearm, Archery, Fishing kit?” As with most answers this one is a bit subjective, but it is also very dependent on your geographic location and your ability to utilize any or all of the mentioned methods, and it is also a situational issue as I will explain shortly.
Firearms are excellent for hunting as they allow the hunter to remain stationary and reach out to long distances to take down game. The raw power of a large bore rifle allows the hunter to kill larger animals regularly, which can quickly add to your meat stocks if you have proper preservation or storage means. Although most hunters will make their kills at a distance of less than 150 yards, the opportunity is there to take down game at much larger distances, increasing the hunter’s ranging capabilities and his odds of getting more meat. Aside from their increased range, firearms provide a lot of killing power. A Remington Model 700 firing a .300 winmag round can take down a large bear, which means that using it for hunting potentially puts Deer, Elk, Moose, Bison or just about any other North American land mammal on the menu. Firearms, specifically large bore rifles, are not very difficult to keep clean and are extremely durable when handled and maintained properly. Ammunition is not cheap, but is readily available for most rifles that would be used in common hunting situations. Hunting with a firearm is an all-season option. Obviously if you are in survival mode you aren’t worried about bag limits and licenses, so we’re talking strictly when you can hunt based on weather and animal population. Small bore rifles can also be used for hunting smaller game or varmints. You might not always be able to land a big deer but if you have a small bore backup you can probably knock down a few squirrels or rabbits for your stew.
The obvious CONS for firearms right now is the price and availability of ammunition. Stocking up is a great idea, but you can’t really load down your BoB with 60 pounds of ammo if you plan on carrying anything else useful. If you have a “PSS” (Primary Shelter Site) for bugging out, then you can stockpile ammo there and that solves the issue of transporting it. The cost of ammo as an issue is relative. Your financial situation will determine the depth of that issue for you. Another CON for firearms is Operational Security (amazingly this is also a PRO as the firearm provides additional security). The report of a rifle in the still morning air is going to be heard for miles. If you have to fire more than once, your position very well may be compromised and you may be rushed to get your meat supply out of there quickly. If your firearm fails or breaks, you most likely won’t be able to fix it. Obviously if you can it’s a huge advantage, but since most people can’t, we are going to leave it in the “CON” section. Once you run out of ammunition you are done unless or until you can get more, (assuming you don’t do your own reloads here). If you are bugged out because of a major issue and it isn’t safe to go back to a store, well, you are just SOL. You could always hit the animal with the rifle, but that’s going to take some nifty skills in and of itself.
The hunting bow is an awesome device. Unfortunately, out of our three options in discussion, it is also the most difficult to master in my opinion. For discussion purposes we will be talking about compound bows and long bows, we will not be discussing crossbows. The common compound bow provides an excellent hunting platform and the ability if properly trained to take down just about any land mammal in North America. Utilizing various arrowhead styles you can pretty much hunt anything you want. The long bow is a bit less powerful and the skill set needed to use this weapon effectively is even more difficult (I have been told, I am not a bow expert). Hunting via bow is a year round experience, so no worries about starving half the year. Arrows for most compound bows are relatively easy to find in the event of a miss, with their brightly colored tail feathers. Most arrows can be utilized multiple times unless they suffer structural damage, so ammunition is not a “one and done” type of situation. Hunting via bow is also a silent affair for the most part. There is noise involved, but nothing that is going to travel further than 50 yards or so. Anyone that can’t see you most likely will not hear you. Lastly, you can actually fish with a bow. With the proper gear you can use your bow to snag fish, opening up a whole new world of options.
Okay, so some of the CONS of the hunting bows are subjective. Primarily the skill needed to master this platform is more difficult than a firearm in my opinion. The need to place the arrow in a very specific spot on the target in order to make a fast kill is something that does not come naturally in my opinion and is therefore a con. With the compound bow, once you run out of arrows (and yes, they can be used more than once) you are done. Contrary to popular belief and Hollywood magic, you aren’t going to be sitting around making little wooden arrows for your compound bow. If you disagree, please wear eye protection when you create the YouTube videos proving me wrong. Another issue with the compound bow is that you get wear and tear on multiple parts when utilizing it. Although this is really not a “con” as all devices will suffer wear and tear, make sure you have additional bowstrings for your long bow as well as all maintenance materials for your compound bow.
Ah, the good ole fishing kit. Suffice it to say that we are going to assume if you are considering a fishing kit that you are not located in the desert and will have access to some form of water habitat where fish may actually live. I will discuss fishing in regards to freshwater rivers, ponds and small lakes.The ubiquitous “fishing kit” could be a rod and reel with hooks and lures, or a fully fledged “Holy shit, let’s go fishin!” extravaganza. When I consider the term fishing KIT I assume this means that you have the basic needs for fishing, plus extras of each thing, and some netting and such. Fishing is good year round, although more difficult in colder months if your specific water source tends to feeze over. If this happens you can still cut a hole in the ice and continue fishing, if the ice is strong enough to hold you of course. If the ice is not strong enough to hold you, you can try breaking the ise and removing it or letting the current (if there is one) carry it away.Fishing also allows you to multiply your odds by using multiple lines or traps. For rivers if you have a large section of netting you can string it up and snag the fish as they swim by if pulling them one at a time is not fast enough. On ponds and small lakes you can utilize traps such as trot lines. Simply string some floating materials (plastic bottles perhaps) together with a long strong string or twine. Attach anchors to the two ends to hold the line in place in the water and drop multiple hook lines off the main line. I have seen trot lines strung out over distances as long as 50-100 yards. You could pull a bunch of fish off a trot line. One of the main advantages that fishing has over firearms and bows is that the equipment can be utilized for extremely long periods of time without being replaced. Other factors in regards to the equipment are cost and availability, all PROS for the fishing kit. You can also use items not traditionally used for fishing with your kit, MacGyvering them into usefulness. A seldom utilized PRO of the fishing kit is it’s ability to double and and be used for trapping small land animals as well. Using netting for traps or fishing line to make snares, you could add red meat to your fish diet without the use of anything other than your fishing kit.
Fishing Cons? If your water source is an enclosed system such as a pond or small lake there is a risk of over fishing it. During a SHTF type of event it may not be possible to restock your water sources, so make sure to do the mental math and try not to eat yourself into starvation. A fishing kit is not going to double as a source of protection. If you are attacked by people or an animal, toss the kit and get the hell out of there or pull out a more useful item.
In a perfect world I would say to utilize all three methods based on need and environment. Hunting large game, small game and fish would allow for a very diverse diet and would limit the possibility of your area being overhunted or overfished. Unfortunately this is NOT a perfect world and the question was about “PRACTICALITY”. That being the case, I would have to say that the fishing kit would be the most practical source for food meat as it can be utilized with a high level of effectiveness and a low level of training. I could teach my 9 year old son in one afternoon how to use a fishing kit to catch land and water animals and be relatively comfortable letting him handle it alone the next day. I cannot however say the same thing about firearms or bows. Utility wise, the fishing kits would allow for many more uses outside of food gathering. I know that wasn’t part of the question, but it must be a consideration in my mind. I would be glad to hear from others about their choice.
Failing to Plan is Planning to FAIL!