If you are a fan of old western movies, then you’ll remember the line in The Outlaw Josey Wales where one of the members of the cavalry unit, who is surrendering after the war, is told to turn in his rifle along with his two horse pistols. With a look of sheer unbelief he says to the Union officer: “I’ll be needin this… fer squirrels n such”.
Needless to say, beyond great scope and setting, there was a lot of wisdom in that narrative. Because the truth of the matter is that rodentia are a viable means of food across the world. The Rodentia includes beavers, muskrats, porcupines, woodchucks, chipmunks, squirrels, prairie dogs, marmots, chinchillas, voles, lemmings, and many others. What’s not included, (but should be noted), is that rabbits aren’t included as a member of the rodentia family, though they are rodent like in their mannerisms and they make an excellent source of protein for quickly gotten meals.
So with that understanding, here are three important things to note about survival in a hostile environment.
- Food sources need to be obtained quickly. They also need to be easily prepared and discarded and then replaced quickly as well. This means that if you’re on the move you won’t have the time to prepare and deal with a large mammal such as a deer, an elk, or a bear. These food sources need to be killed easily, cooked quickly and evidence of their presence discarded easily.
- Small animals such as squirrels and rabbits take very little time to prepare. Not only can a small mammal be captured and killed efficiently, they can literally be cooked on the run. Even if using the meat as a base for a stew to feed an entourage or a small team or family, the cooking of the ingredients or the parboiling of the meat is easily achieved on the move.
- Small animals can be collected passively. Unlike deer or other large game, small game can be trapped while you sleep or pursue other endeavors, (yes, I know large game can be trapped as well, but not easily or quickly for that matter). Simple knowledge of a trigger snare or a simple figure four trap can produce lots of small game in a very short period of time if set correctly.