The Ultimate Guide to Survival Hunting: Essential Tips and Tactics for Finding Food in the Wild

Survival hunting is a crucial skill for anyone venturing into the wilderness or finding themselves stranded in an emergency situation. With the proper knowledge and techniques, you can successfully harvest wild game to sustain yourself when other food sources are unavailable. This comprehensive guide provides everything you need to know about locating, tracking, trapping, and cleaning your hunt when relying on nature’s provisions.


Hunting wild game is one of the most effective ways to secure meat when surviving in the wilderness. However, it requires specific skills and strategies to be successful. Having the proper equipment, understanding animal behavior, mastering tracking techniques, setting effective traps and snares, field dressing kills, and utilizing all parts of the animal are all critical when relying on hunting for survival.

This guide covers essential tips and tactics for the entire hunting process. We will explore how to sharpen your observation skills, identify animal signs, move stealthily, get within range, make clean kills, transport meat, preserve leftovers, and avoid waste. Following tested techniques used by prehistoric hunters, Native Americans, expert outdoorsmen, and military survival specialists will help equip you with the knowledge to gather food in an emergency.

Armed with the information in this article, you can have confidence in your ability to locate wild game and harvest it for sustenance even when lost in the woods or stranded in the wilderness. Let’s get started with the key preparations to make before embarking on a survival hunt.

Pre-Hunt Preparations

Careful planning and preparation is crucial before embarking on a survival hunt. Consider the tips below to equip yourself properly for the excursion:

Choose Appropriate Hunting Tools and Weapons

  • Bow and arrow: Excellent for hunting small to medium game like rabbits, deer, elk. Allows for repeated shots and reuse of ammunition. Quiet.
  • Slingshot: Good small game option. Easily portable and makes little noise. Able to craft ammunition from nature.
  • Snare wire: Useful for trapping rabbits and small prey. Lightweight to carry and resets itself. Can craft from wire, rope, vines, etc.
  • Sharp knife or spear: Essential for killing and processing animals. Sturdy fixed-blade knife ideal. Can handcraft spears from wood.
  • Rocks or clubs: Primal but effective hunting weapons. Use to stun or knock out prey. Sharpen rocks to create blades.

Pack Proper Equipment and Gear

  • Cooking pot: Boil or cook meat. Can also use bark, turtle shells, etc.
  • Lighter/fire starters: Critical for starting cooking fires. Bring waterproof matches, flint, magnesium rod.
  • Salt: Preserve meat by heavily salting.
  • Smoking rack: Make one to smoke or dry meat for preservation.
  • Game bags: Store and transport meat. Improvise with leather, cloth, baskets.
  • Rope/paracord: Hoist kills, create snares, tie gear. Durable and multiuse.

Know Your Terrain and Locate Food Sources

  • Scout the area in advance to locate evidence of game trails, feeding areas, water sources, and naturalfunnels where animals congregate.
  • Identify abundant prey species, noting their habits, habitats, tracks, and behavior patterns.
  • Note terrain features that provide cover or allow you to move quietly and downwind of prey.
  • Locate areas to draw animals such as clearings rich with edible vegetation.

Always be aware of the location of water and prime hunting zones to revisit. Now let’s get into effective hunting strategies and techniques.

Hunting Techniques and Tactics

Carefully stalking prey and getting within killing range is critical for a successful hunt. Use these expert tips:

Tread Lightly and Move Silently

  • Walk softly in a crouched position to reduce noise. Avoid snapping twigs or rustling.
  • Sidestep instead of stepping forward to minimize sound. Feel for sticks/branches before shifting weight.
  • Use terrain like rocks, fallen logs, and thickets to obscure movement. Stay downwind so animals cannot smell you.
  • Move slowly and pause frequently. Scan and listen for game before proceeding.

Camouflage Yourself

  • Blend into the surroundings by wearing muted colors like greens, browns, grays. Avoid bright colors.
  • Conceal exposed skin. Use mud, dirt, charcoal to camouflage face and hands.
  • Break up silhouette by kneeling/crouching to blend into vegetation. Avoid silhouette outlines.
  • Use grasses and branches to disguise outline. Kneel behind bushes or trees to obscure body shape.

Pinpoint Prey Location

  • Use ears and eyes to spot prey before they detect you. Listen for snapping branches, vocalizations. Watch for movement.
  • Search for signs like prints, scat, digging, trails. Track prey to zones they frequent.
  • Pick a spot with a broad vantage point to silently observe. Note game trails that animals use for travel.
  • Be patient and still. Stop frequently to carefully scan surroundings before progressing.

Stalk and Get Within Range

  • Once prey spotted, plan route that provides cover while allowing line of sight. Use vegetation, terrain features.
  • Circle downwind to close distance without alerting prey. Approximate 25-35 yards for bowshot. 15 yards for spear.
  • Slowly and steadily shorten the gap while using cover. Freeze instantly if prey looks up.
  • When within range, wait for good broadside shot angle before attacking. Be ready to release arrow/throw spear swiftly.

Take the Shot

  • Aim for vital organs like heart/lung area right behind front shoulders. Hits here provide quick, humane kills.
  • Be patient and do not rush the shot. Wait for clear broadside angle. Exhale fully before releasing arrow/spear.
  • Remain motionless after taking shot. Arrow impact will likely scare prey and cause them to run before succumbing.
  • If using spear or rocks, get as close as possible, approx 10 yards. Throw or thrust with force at vital area.
  • Follow blood trail if animal runs. Look for blood droplets, disturbed vegetation, trails in dirt.

Now that we’ve covered techniques to make the kill, let’s look at methods for trapping and snaring wild game.

Traps and Snares

Ingeniously designed traps and snares allow for passively catching game. Try these methods:

Simple Snare

  • Tie a noose in rope, wire, vine, fishing line. Make ~8-10 inch diameter loop.
  • Hang from branch/tree so loop dangles just above ground. Ideal for small game trails.
  • Animal puts head through, steps forward, tightens noose around neck. Suspends prey.

Spring Snare

  • Set sapling/branch under tension. When triggered, spring action tightens noose. Creates more force to lift prey.
  • Bend tree/branch down and tie end. Run noose wire/rope from end and across game trail. Anchor other end of wire.
  • Animal hits trip wire, releasing sapling tension to yank and snare prey.

Funnel Trap

  • Drive prey to narrow gap between rocks/ logs by funneling terrain. Place snare wire across gap opening.
  • Animal passes through constricted gap and encounters snare which catches around neck.
  • Close off escape routes once prey enters. Add bait inside to lure animal in.

Spring Deadfall Trap

  • Prop up boulder/heavy log with stick release trigger. Animal disturbs trigger which drops weight, crushing prey.
  • Place bait stick under boulder/log to entice animal. Precisely balance rocks/timber so weight easily falls.
  • Position over game trail. Trigger stick is removed by animal, dropping deadfall load to dispatch prey.

Processing the Kill

Once prey is successfully harvested, properly dressing and processing the carcass is important to preserve meat and avoid waste. Follow these steps:

Field Dress Immediately

  • Field dress as soon as possible to avoid meat spoiling. Move to camp location.
  • Cut along belly starting near tail all the way to throat. Remove intestines, organs, blood clots.
  • Discard inedible scraps like intestines away from camp area to avoid smells and scavengers. Rinse out body cavity.

Skin the Hide

  • Carefully skin the hide if planning to use fur/leather. Start at neck and peel downward. Use sharp knife.
  • Pull hide away from muscle, cut connective membrane away as you work downward. Keep cuts shallow.
  • If preserving hide, avoid large gashes. Roll up and store hide flesh side out.

Butcher the Meat

  • Quarter large game into sections for easy transport. Divide into front/rear leg sections, loins, ribs.
  • Remove meat from bones. Slice into thin strips for drying. Keep fat on for moisture during cooking.
  • Discard excess bones/scraps away from camp. Wolf, bird, insect activity can contaminate meat.

Preserve and Prepare

  • Quickly preserve meat to avoid spoiling. Employ multiple methods like drying, smoking, salting.
  • Cook meat thoroughly. Boil or roast over spit. Consuming raw wildlife can spread parasites and bacteria.
  • Make broth from bones/scraps. Boil to extract nutrients, fats. Strain out bits before drinking.

Let’s go over some ways to preserve and extend your harvest as long as possible.

Preserving and Storing Meat

Carefully preserving meat allows your harvest to provide sustenance long-term during an emergency situation:


  • Heavily salt meat portions to draw out moisture and bacteria.
  • Thoroughly coat meat strips on all sides with salt for preservation. Approximately 1/2 cup salt per 1 pound of meat.
  • Wrap tightly in cloth and place in cool location. Lasts 1-2 weeks.

Air Drying

  • Slice meat into thin strips, remove fat/membrane.
  • Hang strips on rack in sunlight. Meat dries and preserves after several days in sun.
  • Build smokehouse or use screen racks above fire to dehydrate. Maintain low fire, keep vent holes for airflow.

Smoke Curing

  • Preserve and add flavor by smoking meat low and slow above fire.
  • Salt meat first to draw out moisture, then hang above smoking coals for several hours at less than 200°F.
  • Hardwood chips like hickory provide best smoke flavor. Keep small fire going, avoid direct flames.
  • If no rack, wrap meat strips in leaves/bark and bury next to fire. Smoke permeates as meat cooks underground.

Storage Tips

  • Store dried meat in sealed bags or containers to prevent rehydrating and spoiling.
  • If meat gets moldy or rancid, discard inedible portions. Do not take chances with spoiled meat.
  • Submerge bags/sealed containers in cold stream or snowbank to keep meat fresh for several extra weeks if possible.
  • Consume oldest portions first before tapping into freshly harvested meat. Practice first in, first out system.

Finally, be sure to use the entire animal so nothing goes to waste.

Using the Entire Animal

Making use of all parts of the harvested animal allows you to get the most out of your hunt:

  • Meat: Protein-rich food, critical for health and strength. Roast, grill, boil into stews.
  • Fat: Excellent for frying and oil lamps. Also insulates in cold weather when rubbed on skin.
  • Bones: Make knives, spear points, needles, hooks from bone shards. Boil for nutritious broth.
  • Hide: Use for clothes, shelter, blankets, footwear. Stretch and tan hide for leather and rawhide cords.
  • Sinew/Gut: Durable fibers to make thread, bowstrings, fishing line, snares.
  • Antlers/Horns: Craft into spear points, knives, tools. Useful as attachments for leverage and digging.
  • Skull: Make bowls, jewelry, ceremonial items.
  • Teeth: Pointed front teeth handy for scraping and cutting tasks.

Waste nothing the animal provides. Now let’s cover some frequently asked questions on survival hunting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the most important tools for survival hunting?

For versatility and reusability, a bow and arrow allows for repeated shots. Snares made from paracord offer passive hunting even when not present. A sharp knife is essential for processing kills, crafting tools, and utility tasks.

What provides the greatest chance of success for beginners?

Passive snares and traps allow capturing animals while you’re away. Choose frequently traveled game trails and natural funnels where animals are channeled. Small game like rabbits and fowl are easiest for inexperienced hunters.

How can you avoid spoiling meat?

Processing the animal immediately is crucial. Field dress carcass onsite, then preserve portions using multiple techniques like salting, drying, smoking, and cold storage. Eat oldest portions first. Discard any meat that smells bad or looks discolored.

What are the easiest animals to hunt in a survival situation?

Smaller animals like rabbits, squirrels, and upland game birds offer high success rates for the beginner survival hunter. Larger prey like deer provide more meat but require greater skill. Traps are ideal, as chances of getting close enough to discharge primitive weapons are low.

What body parts provide the best targets?

Aim for the vital organs. The chest cavity right behind the front shoulders offers a large target leading to fast, ethical kills. Brain shots, while immediately fatal, require extremely precise aim. Chest provides a bigger margin of error.


While finding food in the wilderness may seem daunting, equipping yourself with essential hunting knowledge, tools, and techniques can tip the scales in your favor. Learning optimal methods for tracking, trapping, processing, and preserving wild game will help ensure your success when relying on nature’s provisions. Reference this guide when planning a survival scenario hunt, and practice the skills ahead of time so they are second nature if ever needed in an emergency. With proper preparation and strategy, you can successfully harvest meat to nourish yourself in times of need.

Remember key tips like identifying high-traffic animal zones, moving slowly and silently, getting within bow/spear range, utilizing snares/traps, dressing kills properly, and employing various preservation methods. Safeguard your harvest by storing meat securely and consuming oldest portions first. Make use of all animal parts so none go to waste. With this comprehensive expertise at your disposal, you can have confidence in your ability to gather food in the wilderness using time-tested survival hunting strategies.

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