Edibles from the Wild

Knowing which botanical plants can be eaten is handy knowledge for everyone. Believe it or not, there are so many edible plants that are incredibly abundant.

Some of the most common edibles from the wild include dandelions, plantains, cattails, and wild game. Wild game includes small animals like rabbit, squirrels, and pigeons. Large game includes deer.

Before you set out to the wild, it helps to have some practice with identifying edible plants and hunting small animals for food.

Dandelion

The dandelion is a member of the sunflower family. It is a flowering plant that is very abundant and seen all over the globe. Some even describe dandelions as stubborn weeds that are difficult to get rid of.

Dandelions have been used as herbal medicine for centuries. It was used to treat cancer, liver disease, digestive disorders, and acne. Botanists deem the dandelion plant as one of the most nutrient-rich plants in the wild. It contains iron, sodium, phosphorus, potassium, and vitamins A, B, C, and D.

All parts of a dandelion plant are edible, from the roots to the petals. It is advisable to eat the smaller and younger dandelions as they develop a bitter taste as they grow older. You can mix in the smaller, greener leaves in salads. The flowers can be consumed raw. Even the roots can be cooked in a number of ways: roasted, ground, or brewed to create a healthy drink.

Brewing dandelion roots is also known as making dandelion coffee. It offers a mild stimulating effect because dandelion also contains caffeine.

Plantains

There are nineteen different kinds of plantains scattered all over the globe. The ribgrass strain is the most common type. Other types include seaside plantain, English plantain and goosetongue plantains. They serve as food for many wild animals and can also be eaten by human beings.

Like the dandelion plants, it is advisable to consume plantains while they are young so that they will be soft and tasty. They can be mixed in salads or cooked like different greens.

There are plenty of health benefits from eating plantains. Research revealed their astringent properties, which cause the contraction of skin cells and tissues in order to speed up healing and stop bleeding. Historically, it was used to treat all sorts of wounds and animal bites. It can also be used to treat sores and reduce inflammation.

Cattails

Cattails are very abundant, easy to spot, dense with nutrition, and grows all year round, regardless of the season. All of its parts can be consumed. During the spring, you can collect the pollen from the flower heads of the plant. The pollen can be mixed in with flour to make bread. You can use the pollen as a flour substitute of up to fifty percent.

Another part you can collect is the green flower buds which you can cook as a vegetable. Don’t eat the flower buds or heads once they have turned brown. You can also collect the new shoots and cook them in the same way you’d cook asparagus. These shoots are rich in potassium, phosphorus, and vitamins A, B, and C.

Even the roots are completely edible. Simply dig them up and clean them thoroughly. Cook them through steaming and boiling. Make sure they are thinly sliced so that they will be cooked thoroughly. The roots are sweet and are rich in starchy carbohydrates.

Wild Game

Wild game, both big and small, is staple food for survivalists. These animals are an excellent source of protein, which is very filling and packed with healthy fats. It greatly helps if you are a hunter or an angler as you’ll get the basics of hunting for wild game. It’s very difficult to capture game with your bare hands because unlike edible plants, these organisms are motile.

Some of the most common wild game you can go for includes squirrels, pigeons, and rabbits. These are small and easy enough to catch using traps. These animals are good enough for a meal while the leftovers must be preserved or refrigerated.

Larger game includes deer which you can capture with a crossbow or a hunting gun. This may require a hunting license to accomplish. One deer will obviously provide you with a lot of meat so be sure to have some space in your refrigerator for its storage. The meat can also be preserved by pressure canning in mason jars. You can also transform it into smoked meat or meat jerky.

If there are nearby bodies of water, you can also try capturing some fish to eat. Remember that capturing wild game requires a certain skill level so be sure to attain some practice or training. If you’re a beginner, you can go for passive hunting methods like setting up traps for small game or leaving a fishing line with bait until some fish latches on the hook. These also allow you to go about your day and simply go back to your setups from time to time.

How To Trap Small Game

The easiest way to trap small game is to purchase commercially-made traps and use them. There are plenty of options available on the market and they come in different sizes with different features.

Another option is to create these traps yourself. You can make homemade snares using fishing lines or wires. The simplest snare is created by making a loop using the wire. Use the slip knot method as this will make the loop tighten around the animal’s neck as it tries to escape. Make sure to attach the loop to something stable and stationary, like a tree or a bush. Place the snare in the path that animals take. The loop must be large enough for the head but small enough ffor the body.

These traps may be designed for small game, but you can accidentally harm small children and pets, too. To avoid these types of accidents, make sure to take note of the following “trapper’s rules”:

  1. Once you killed the animal, you must eat it in order to give value to its life.
  2. Be careful as to where you will install the traps. Don’t place them in the path of children and small pets. The deeper they are into the wild, the better.
  3. Always check your traps. Go back to the site every few hours or so. This ensures that there are no trapped children or small pets in them. This also allows you to check on the trap and make sure it is still functional.
  4. Remove any trap that you no longer need.
  5. Be careful of the animal you’ve trapped. Wounded and agitated animals can harm you by lashing out as it fights to escape.
  6. Keep an eye out for diseased animals and do not eat them. Check if they have unpleasant odors or weird discolorations on their bodies.

Fishing

As aforementioned, another excellent source of food in the wilderness is any healthy body of water. Fishes, frogs, crayfish, water fouls, and turtles are relatively easier to catch compared to small game on land.

If you intend to have seafood as your meals, pack up some basic fishing gear with your survival kit. The basic fishing equipment includes a portable rod, some hooks, fishing line, and bait (fresh or artificial). Some survivalists recommend setting up fishing lines or traps so that you no longer have to waste a lot of time waiting for fish. You can just circle back to these traps when it’s time to eat.

Fishing Traps

The most common fish trap is cylindrical. It is a basket made of wire mesh or bamboo with a conical opening on one or both ends. These baskets come in different sizes, depending on the type of fish you wish to catch. This is submerged in water and contains some live bait in the middle. The fish will enter through the funnels and will be unable to go out.

A fish trap can also be made by using hardware cloth or chicken wire. For the bait, you can use road kill or you can punch numerous holes into an unopened can of cat or dog food.

Preparing The Animals

There’s a very high chance that the game you’ve captured is still alive in the trap. You need to kill it first before you can proceed to skinning, cleaning, and butchering it. To kill a rabbit, hold up its hind legs using your left hand. Use your right hand to forcefully snap back the head, at the neck. Another option is to hit the head really hard with a rock or a hammer.

Once the animal is fully dead, cut off  its head using a sharp knife. You can now proceed to skinning and chopping the animal into sections. You can learn more about this and other wildlife survival techniques on http://www.survival.com/suburban.htm.