Wilderness Survival food

It is essential to understand where to find survival food, even food is the least pressing wilderness survival need. With plenty of water and a comfortable resting place, most of us can live many weeks without food.

However, food is important for your mental and emotional state, as well as a source of energy and to maintain a normal body temperature.

Natural food

natural food

In a survival situation, you have to take advantage of everything available to eat. Most wilderness areas are full of natural food, ranging from plants to insects. The food sources you can exploit are determined by the habitat you are in. Vary your diet to make sure you get the appropriate proportions of fat, protein, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins.

Meat and fish are good sources of protein and fat and provide virtually everything a long-term survivor would need. However, at the first stage of a survival situation, plants are the most appropriate diet as plants are easily accessible and contain the necessary carbohydrates.

Wild edible plants

Depending of the time of the year you will almost always find edible plants, unless you are in the middle of an arid desert. Knowledge of only one or two wild edible plants can be of great help in your search for survival food.

Wild edible plants, fruits, berries and nuts are one of the survivor’s most important foods. When planning your wilderness trip make sure you learn the plant life of the region you are going to visit. As already said, knowledge of only one or two edible plants can be of great help in your search for survival food.

Poisonous plants

Nature has a lot of edible plants to offer, but it also has a lot of poisonous plants. There are many good rules on plants to avoid, for instance, any plant that has a milky sap or white berries.

Edibility test

You can find descriptions of plant edibility tests in wilderness survival literature. The whole idea of an edibility test is that you test the plant step by step. Between every step, you wait and watch for an unpleasant reaction. The procedure is lengthy, it takes many hours. The last step is to swallow a small amount and wait for half a day to see if you get sick.

If you are unlucky and pick the wrong plant, you will have some serious problems. So eating unknown plants is very dangerous, it simply isn’t worth the risk. The only way for you to know which plants to eat and which to stay away from is to learn them. Eat only those plants you know are safe to eat.

Edible insects

Your most vital nutritional needs in a survival situation are protein and fat. Most insects are rich in both. Turn off your cultural bias against eating insects.

Edible Insects

Edible bugs are an excellent nutritional food supply in any wilderness survival situation. Insects occur almost everywhere and are often easy to catch. Look for them in rotten logs, under the bark of dead trees, and in any moist shady spots.

Most insects are edible raw, boiled or roasted. However, cooking or roasting them is safer than eating them raw. I think it’s also easier to eat any insect if you cook it. Even most insects are edible, I recommend you to learn which insects in your hiking area that are edible. Examples of useful insects are worms, grasshoppers, crickets, and ants.

Man Eating Bugs

Do you want to go on a journey around the world to witness the bug-eating traditions in places like Peru, Venezuela, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, China, Australia, Japan, Mexico, and even the United States? Check out “Man Eating Bugs , The Art and Science of Eating Insects” by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Aluisio.

Man Eating Bugs it’s not a “how-to manual” but a first-class book documenting the contemporary traditions of eating insects all around the world and an excellent tool to increase your knowledge about eating bugs.


Fish are a valuable food source. Therefore, if you are near a river or stream, fishing is an important alternative to obtain food.

Survival fishing techniques to be considered are line, hook, spear, trap and net. Use whatever fishing equipment you can make work.


Angling is the most well-known fishing method. You need a hook, line, rod and a small weight to take the hook down. You also need a float to keep the bait off the bottom of the water. As a float, you can use any small floating object, such as a small piece of bark. However, in streams and flowing water, you can skip the float.

A line and hook should be part of your survival kit, if not, you can improvise hooks from all kinds of materials such as safety pins, a thorn, bone and wood. Remember, in a situation like this, success is mostly a question of trial and error and a lot of patience.

Fish are more likely to take bait native to their water, so try to figure out what they eat. For example, insects and worms can be used as bait. If one bait is unsuccessful, change to another.

Fishing hints

To succeed at fishing, you need to know something about the behavior of the fish. Spend time observing where the fish go at different times of the day.

Like most all other living creatures they choose the places where they are most comfortable and where they can most easily find their prey. If it’s hot and the water is low, deep shaded water is probably where you should look. In cooler weather, you probably will find your catch in a shallow place where the sun warms the water. Fish like to shelter under banks and below rocks.

The best time to catch fish is just before dawn, or just after dusk, or when bad weather is imminent.

Survival fishing with a spear

Spear fishing takes time, great patience and a lot of practice. Use a spear in shallow water where your catch is visible. Slowly move the spear as close as possible, when ready, quickly spear your catch. For best results make a forked spear.

Fishing net

Improvised gear can be very effective and to make a net is no exception. For instance, using an undershirt and a y-shaped branch to make a landing net is a simple way to create a useful tool.


Unless you are an experienced hunter, hunting animals for meat is inadvisable in a survival situation. Hunting is difficult and you will expend a lot of energy to get your food. Instead of hunting consider trapping. Trapping requires less skill and leaves you free to spend time searching for other food sources. The wilderness survivor needs simple traps that are easy to remember and easy to construct.

To trap animals, or trapping, is a skill that takes practice, like any other survival skill. If you are a beginner to trapping, use the information here as a starter.

* The primitive trapping techniques described here are only for wilderness survival situations. Obey the rules and trapping regulations of the area you are visiting. *

24 h

As a trapper, you can set many traps and snares, all working for you simultaneously and for 24 h every day. Regular checking of traps is crucial to minimize any suffering to the animal. Go for small prey, especially birds. All birds are edible, but some taste better than others.



The presence of wild animals can often be determined by their tracks in the snow, sand or soft mud. These trails are excellent places to set snares or traps. Following these trails in your search for prey will often lead to water-holes and feeding places. Animal tracks, and tracking in general, is fascinating.


You must determine what you are trying to catch and set your traps, specifically with those animals in mind. Look for any natural bottleneck along the track where you may use your traps or snares. Position your traps and snares where that animal passes through.

Avoid disturbing the area as much as possible. Don’t alarm the prey by leaving signs of your presence. Animals avoid humans and are very suspicious, hide your scent. If possible wear gloves when you handle the trap or hold the snaring material over smoke or underwater for a few minutes.

Deadfall trap

A simple and effective way to trap animals is to use the deadfall trap.

The deadfall trap works on the principle that when the bait is taken a weight falls on the prey. This live animal trap can be made to any size.


Setting a large version of this trap is risky and difficult to do on your own.

An often-shown trap is the figure-four trap. It’s very effective, but it needs some practice to make. You are unlikely to get it right first time. Your intention should be to create a stable trap, but with a trigger that will cause the trap to collapse, even to the slightest touch.

A horizontal bait bar is balanced at appropriate angles to an upright with a locking bar, which supports a heavy weight pivoting around the tip of the upright, see the figure above. As a weight, use a heavy log or rock.

Snare trap

Using snares to trap small animals is a simple method. Snare wire should be part of your survival kit, if not, you can improvise with ropes, strings, fishing lines, or shoelaces.

Make sure the noose is large enough to pass freely over the animal’s head. Set it at a height that’s equal to the height of the animals head and a hand’s width from an obstruction. Support it with small branches to make sure the noose is in the appropriate position. Anchor securely.

Don’t forget!

To be able to trap animals and build effective traps you need to practice.

Bird eggs

Bird Eggs

Eggs offer high nutritional value, are convenient and safe. They can be boiled, baked or fried. The first obvious place to look for them is a bird nest. However, not all birds build a nest, but instead lay their eggs directly on the ground or in a hole.

Reminder: Collecting wild bird eggs are not allowed in most countries. Eating wild bird eggs should only be considered in a wilderness survival situation.

Methods of cooking

Cooking is a skill of great importance for all wilderness travelers. Cooking not only makes many foods more appetizing to taste, but also ensure that parasites and bacteria are killed. You don’t want to get sick from food poisoning.

A compact camping stove is very convenient in the wilderness. However, in many situations, a cooking fire is more practical and allows a wider variety of cooking opportunities. As a survival skill, you should also be able to prepare your food without any cooking utensils.

Survival cooking or how to prepare food in the wild without any cooking utensils is an essential skill for the wilderness survivor. A good example of a simple cooking method is hot stone cooking.

Hot stone cooking:

Simply light a fire above a bed of non-porous stones. Don’t use soft, porous stones with a high moisture content, which might explode on heating. This cooking method is ideal for fish, thin meat slices and frying eggs.

  • · Let the fire burn for an hour or more. In the meantime, prepare your food.
  • · Brush away fire and embers with a handful of long grass.
  • · Cook food directly on the hot rocks. Use it, as you would use a frying pan.

Alternative (use fist size stones):

  • Dig a pit about 1-2 feet (30-60 cm) deep. The diameter should be equal to the depth.
  • Pack the bottom of the pit and the walls.
  • Cover the bottom with the hot stones and add a thin layer of soil on top.
  • Wrap your meat in fresh green plant parts, such as leaves or moss.
  • Place the package in the pit.
  • Add a thin layer of soil on top and then more hot stones.
  • Cover with earth or sand.

Natural food sources

When you learn more about how to find food in the wilderness you also learn more about the nature itself. The more you learn, the more you will love and enjoy the great nature we have.

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