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Hunt, Fish, Forage for Food and Save Money

September 19, 2014

If you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and get dirty there is food available to stretch your food dollars. It’ll get you out of the house – it takes effort and it takes learning some new things…but when it comes to having food or going hungry most agree having food is preferred!

In many areas mushrooms, wild grapes, watercress, fall greens and Jerusalem artichokes are but a few things that await. Check with the conservation department – often this can be had for the effort. MAKE SURE you properly identify all plants in the wild and especially are accurate on mushroom identification. The wrong thing can be fatal.

Many areas have fish – bass, bluegill, catfish, crappie and many others – as well as frogs and turtle. You will need to get a fishing license and, if private land, permission from the land owner. If you’re allowed to use someone’s pond clean up after yourself and leave things better than you found it. Make sure you properly identify the fish and keep only what is allowed to legally keep. Learning to filet a fish, and which ones can be prepared whole makes a difference. Some you can remove scales, heads and intestines and cook. Some fish will taste a little stronger than others and there’s many books that will guide you towards how-to for fishing. Remember you’re not looking for trophy fish – you’re looking to fill the freezer! Make sure of the regulations.

Others may take to larger prey by bow or gun – 2 or 3 deer can mean a lot of meat you don’t have to buy. As grim as it sounds – in many cases farmers fed these grains just like the cattle so they’re in a way farm raised even if wild. Thinning the herds means winter resources can stretch further. You will need a hunting license. Get firearms training to learn proper handling of a weapon – many conservation departments have free courses. Keep in mind firearm safety. If you’re going on private property get permission and leave gates as you found them – closing a gate that was open may mean livestock don’t have water and leaving one open means they can get loose. Again – you don’t need trophy animals – a big healthy two point fills the freezer just as well as the eight point the sports hunters want. One deer can provide a venison meal per week for a year! With a couple of them you can easily have ground meat, sausage, stew meat and deer steaks for quite some time.

Other large game depending on where you live might be pronghorn antelope, elk, bear and others.

Small game is another option for the freezer – squirrel, coon, ‘possum are but a few. Birds – duck, goose, turkey, quail, dove, pheasant – are all possible for freezer stuffers – but take a more practiced shooting skill than larger game.

I remember many a fall weekend we’d load up wood bushel baskets, heavy gloves and drinks and embark on what I thought was boring but now look back on differently. Walnuts drop to the ground with a messy outer area – run over with a vehicle to crush and and leave the shell of the nut inside. Take these home and leave where there’s good ventilation – the shells dry and are then ready to crack for the walnut meat inside. Often these near the roads are the black walnut – with a little different taste than the English. Put in ice cream, on pies and in cookies they’re expensive to buy in the store but literally bushels and bushels of them lay going to waste, rotting along roadsides and fields. An afternoon’s work can easily result in 50 pounds of walnuts – with a bag costing $4-5 in the store that’s easily a couple hundred dollars of nuts. Some people also have pecan trees – the nuts lay rotting on the ground.

Other areas apples, lemons and other tree-borne food falls to the ground to be eaten by wildlife and wasted.

Those with small livestock might look into gleaning fields. Corn often gets dropped in low spots in the field – a few hours can yield enough for stretching feed for small livestock or a winter supply for those who feed squirrels or birds.

There is a wide variety of foods out there to stretch the budget – it takes effort.

  • The forests hold food for those willing to learn and get it.
  • Large and small game can provide meat.
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