Living off the land is a lifestyle choice and one that many people find rewarding not only for preparedness but in the way it changes your view of nature. Growing up deep in the Appalachian mountains 45 minutes from the nearest “town” I spent a lot of time around people who still live like its old times. And the topic of using hunting and fishing for not just sustenance but also sustainability is massive and it would take dozens for articles to cover it completely. But today I want to touch on a few things you can do either to make your homestead more self-sustaining or utilizing everything you can in a disaster scenario.
Fishing is not just a cathartic pastime but it can also provide a number of avenues an avid DIYer can take themselves down. Learning to use all the parts of your fish to the fullest extent can really improve your quality of life in a survival situation.
Fishing with traps
I want to be very clear here. Check your local laws and regulations regarding trapping either fish or animals. This is not something to mess around with and too many people doing wrong it can wreak havoc on an ecosystem. However in a survival situation when active fishing is less a recreational activity this can be a great way to get yourself a passive food source and score some useful materials to be used in other parts of your life. There are some excellent guides out there for how to make all kinds of fish traps and it might be something we get into a lot of detail on later. But for now, you can use the following tips on the fish your actually casting a line to get familiar with the process if you need to ramp things up one day.
Utilizing all parts of a fish
Many fish are inherently smaller than a lot of animals you would go hunting for. And as such most people don’t realize how much you can get out of the little guys. While this is not an exhaustive list it gives you a good idea of how to get started making use of them more efficiently.
The scales of a fish have numerous scientific usages. But for everyday folk, it is common to use scales as fertilizer for crops. While they don’t have everything that all plants need they are a great source of phosphorus and nitrogen, which is a large chunk of what plants use to grow. We use one part fish scales and innards and two parts water in a sealed container until they are emulsified (the time can vary but usually takes a few weeks).
Fishbones are amazing for sewing needles. My grandmother had tons, and I mean tons, of fishbone needles. It doesn’t seem like a big deal but in a situation where you do not have access to a metal needle, they can really be a lifesaver. Imagine this is a post-apocalyptic scenario and your only winter clothing gets a hole in it or pops a button. You’ll be really happy you have a way to repair clothing or even a way to make new gear. And I can’t speak to this personally but Grandma actually preferred bone needles.
Again check your local laws and regulations for using bait. But fish are excellent bait if you are hunting and can be great to attract larger fish the next time you cast a line. Think about how strong a smell fish is and then consider how many animals can smell things that you don’t even know exist.
Since I touched on the topic a second ago I wanted to say that growing crops is really important. That is a whole topic in itself and takes some time to get good at it. But if you are serious about planning for a disaster or getting more self-sustainable then this is 100% something you need to be doing. And come on, fresh fruits and veggies are always better than store-bought anyway.
Hunting is a favorite activity for millions of people and learning to use all the parts of the animal that you bag is very rewarding. It also honors the animals’ sacrifice and in a way allows it to live on through you in the things you can accomplish with their remains.
This is a huge topic and there are things about the hides of animals that peoples literally dedicate their lives to doing, and some even make a living off of it. But to keep it brief, tanning the hides of any animal you take down is a great thing to do. You can use it for so many things. Making new clothes, insulation either in a home or elsewhere, patching holes in things, decorations, etc. I promise that learning a few of these skills will definitely benefit you in more ways than one. Just to give you an example I recently used a rabbit fur to make a grip for my ax that had a bit of a rough handle, definitely improved my quality of life while chopping wood.
Antlers and bones have so many uses it’s actually mind-blowing. People use them all the time in all sorts of decorations, and some of them can serve some real purposes. Like using them as handles on your tools for example. Or making a candle holder if you will not have access to electricity, or need to use it sparingly. You can also sharpen bones for arrowheads if you want to go down that road but they are not as effective as other types of arrowheads usually due to their weight. Something else to keep in mind is the ability to make buttons for clothes. This ties in well to the next section.
So making cordage and thread is really important in survival scenarios. Making the cordage requires a little bit of time and a lot of patience but it will definitely be worth taking the time to learn this skill. This is something else I would like to delve deeper into in a later article. Just know for now that it can be a real lifesaver but also don’t go sewing your best garments with sinew thread. It is not quite as durable as the thread we can go out and buy these days, but it is good in a pinch.
This is another one that people use for decorations all the time but feathers can actually have a few other uses. Historically they have been used to make fletchings for arrows, and in a time where bullets may not be readily available, it would definitely increase your likelihood of survival. Something else to consider is being able to use feathers as padding and insulation. Ever had a feathered pillow?
As you can tell there are a plethora of ways to use hunting and fishing for more than just feeding you and your family. Though some of the skills listed above will take time to master, it’s one of those things wherein the right situation you’ll be really happy that you did it. There’s also nothing that beats the pride of knowing you can keep your life running smoothly without the use of outside assistance.
Written by: Jason Dolan Jr.