Saturday, December 3, 2011

Surviving the Urban Forest

There have been times, when fishing on the Pearl River, that I've met homeless folks. Men and women. They have a tendency to fish much harder than folks with homes and good incomes. Losing a fish means a lost source of much needed nutrition, which, over time, leads to malnutrition which can cause a terrible disease called pellagra. -- Pellagra -- LINK-- It's one of the reasons why I give away a part of my catch to those who don't own a small boat like I do. Folks who fish from boats can get out to channels where the fish schools are and have better opportunities to catch larger fish. What goes around, comes around. Cast your bread upon the waters...

If I were suddenly homeless, just me and the truck with the tiny camper, the first thing loaded into the camper would be all my survival books on plant identification, how to survive off the land with traps and snares, survival hunting and fishing, how to make primitive but effective hunting and fishing gear, and then the store bought gear I've accumulated through years of hunting and fishing. What cash is available will be saved for tags, taxes, licenses, and emergencies. Signing up with several temp job agencies is next on my list. The wider the job cast net, the greater your chances of getting a job. Even a crappy cash job working in the sweltering heat or freezing cold beats no job and no money. Boy, I know that for a fact.

You gotta eat and sleep. Pee and poop. Keep clean and brush your teeth. Take vitamins. Security. Safety and street smarts. Running for cover or standing your ground. Beating the crap out of some dumb ass who was stupid enough to get you riled up. You'll feel so good afterward, too, even if your hand does hurt something fierce. Help those around you. Smile and wave at folks. A big hand grabbing and shaking Mississippi thank you when someone is kind to you. These things you must have and do to live the nomadic Freegan life style.

There are easy to identify basic plants and tree in the woods all over the USA that you probably have easy access to. Pine trees. Pine needles and candles are rich in vitamin A and C and have protein in them. Brew up a weak tea and get use to the mildly fruity flavor. Brew the next cup stronger and get more good stuff in your body. Goldenrod is easy to recognize. Brew up a tea from the flowers and leaves (fresh or dried). Great for a mildly running nose or light sinus condition and has a wee bit of a pick me up, too. Persimmon trees. Pick the leaves and let dry for a week. Leaves will have a supple yet brittle around the edges texture. Brew up a cup of tea that is beneficial for your blood.

Any decent library with an Internet connection can take you to web sites that will teach you about herbs, bushes, trees and such that can be made into nutritious food or warming teas. And it's all free. Just growing there in an abandoned parking lots or along a fence line. Just make sure no one has sprayed poison recently to kill weeds.

Acorns, too, are a nutritious food. Acorns contain an acid called tannin. You boil them in several changes of water to remove it. Last time I did it, it took five changes, but these acorns around here are very bitter. Acorns taste like peanuts when properly prepared.

Over at Eat The Weeds . com --LINK, you can learn many varieties of plants and how to process them for food. Altnature . com --LINK is another good plant identification website.

If you learn wild foods, you won't go hungry. Learn how to fish and hunt and how to use a dutch oven or bake foods in the ground, and you will never go hungry.


  1. Can you gather enough edible plants and critters to eat off of the land? I find that just a bit surprising today. It seems as if all of the good land is on private property. Seems like a tough way to earn one's grub - trapping, fishing, and hunting. Have you lived this way? What's the furthest you can go?

  2. I've lived off the land and it's a tough way to live. Meat is the hardest thing to come by. Animals get wary and go nocturnal quickly when their forest mates start disappearing a little faster than normal.

    Learning how to preserve food is the best course you can take from a homesteading course. Drying, salting, and canning will help your food stores last a long time and get you through rough winters. Even nomadic folks can hunt off International Paper company land here in Mississippi after buying a relatively cheap permit. Some people join deer camps and live on site for several months. You can hunt, gather, and prep the food for storage while living in camp.

    Once you start practicing the basic of survival skills, you can build on them to include smoking meats to make them last longer, caching goods underground or in hollow trees, and trapping. You have to get out there and do it. It's not easy, but it beats starving to death. It will give you confidence knowing that you can survive in the woods if push comes to homelessness.

  3. I'm afraid we don't have deer around in the desert. At best, we have large boar-like creatures called javalinas. Some brave souls actually hunt them with spears. I use a crossbow on occasion.

  4. We have feral pigs tearing up the ground and gardens over here in Mississippi. There is not a bounty on them yet, but there should be. Feral pigs are breeding with Russian wild boar and producing really large hogs. I'd have to use a deer rifle on the hogs that occasionally roam my property.

    Wouldn't mind catching a couple of wild pigs (about twenty to forty pounds) and feeding them corn and fresh vegetables for a month or so after de-worming them. Makes the meat taste much better. Salt the meat real heavy and I'd have enough pork to go through a mild winter with.