Winter is coming. It's one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite television shows but as I watched the snow fall again today I wanted to touch on a serious topic. How to keep your family fed once winter hits.
Perhaps it's an unexpected snowstorm you get stuck in, or an emergency that forces you from your home during the most inopportune time. Winter.
The good news is there's still plenty of food to find, if you know where to look.
Hunt some game
One of the easiest ways to find nourishment is to hunt the wild game in your area. Squirrels and rabbits are usually all over, and of course you can go for larger deer, elk and hogs too. Land something big and you'll be set for a little while at least.
But that's not the best part. Snow makes it very easy to track and stalk your prey, as you can simply follow an animal's footsteps in the snow to see where they've been going, where they're bedding down, and even learn what they're eating now the grass has gone.
If you've got a rifle, shotgun or even a bow, all you need to do is follow the trail and wait. Eventually whatever you've been following will come back through, as animals like to use the same trails each time.
But if you don't have a firearm you can still chase smaller prey. With our survival grenade you'll have enough cordage to setup a few snares for rabbits and other prey. Just bait them with a little green grass you've dug out from under the snow, and you've got a good chance of catching a rabbit. I usually set around four or five along any fresh animal trails I've found and come back to check them a couple of times a day.
Just like in the springtime you'll still be able to catch fish, the trick is getting to them. If you've got a stream with running water you'll be fine, but when it's a lake or pond that's frozen over you've got to be careful.
I don't like walking out on anything that's less than 6 inches of ice thick, and at a bare minimum make sure there's at least 4 inches of ice before you even think about walking on it. Then just use an auger to cut a hole in the ice (in a pinch you can also do it with a hatchet and a shovel), and start fishing away. You only need a small hole about 12 inches across.
Chase the birds
Winter is one of the best times to hunt birds, so go out chasing pheasant, quail, ducks and geese. Even turkey. But one thing many survivalists won't tell you about are the crows. They're not the tastiest bird by far, but in a pinch they'll keep you full. I like to soak them overnight in salt water as they're a tad gamy, and be generous with the spices when you cook them.
Squirrels collect nuts for the winter, and acorns are a good source of protein if you've got any oak trees around. There's a couple of Black Walnut tree's not too far from my bug out location which is great because their bitter husk means most small animals leave the nuts alone. So I get a good haul each time I go down there.
But back to the acorns. You've got to get rid of the strong tannins before you can eat them, which is a process of soaking them and removing the shells, then boiling them again and again until the water is no longer turning brown. Then just roast them in your oven and add a little salt and you're good to go.
You should also keep an eye out for pine trees. The needles make a great tea that's loaded with vitamin C, and inside the pine cones you'll find pine nuts. In a pinch you can also take the inner bark, the stuff that feels a little like cork, dry it out over a fire and grind it into flour. Just don't cut the bark from around the entire circumference of the tree or you'll kill it.
How to store your stash
One of the benefits of winter is that everything's cold, and you can use the sub zero temperatures as a natural freezer. All I do is let the meat hang a little to dry, then wrap it in plastic and let it freeze. It's so simple.
But if you're somewhere that's a little too warm during the day you've got a couple of options. Smoking your meat for a couple of days will preserve it, and it'll last for 3 or 4 weeks. All you need to do is slice it into slices about a quarter of an inch thick, and hang it in your smoker. It also works with fish if you get a good haul.
If you've not got a smoker you can make one in a pit. Take a shovel and dig a hole about a foot in diameter, about three feet deep. Start your fire inside, and once it's reduced down to coals just cover these with some green hardwood. About a foot from the top build a rack with some horizontal sticks wedged into the dirt on either side, and cover with some brush. It's not pretty but it'll work. The goal is just to keep the smoke in surrounding the meat for as long as possible. You may need to check it every couple of hours at first until you get a good idea of how long the green hardwood is lasting, then let it do its thing. Smoking is my favorite way of preserving the meat from a successful hunt.
No matter what comes your way you've now got an idea of where to find protein during winter. Your family will not be going hungry if a disaster strikes because you know exactly where to look. If you've got any questions on this we'd love to help, just let us know. Otherwise, until next time fellow patriots. Stay warm, stay dry and stay ready.