When we talk about hunting, we are not talking about sport hunting. Nor or we talking about expensive "beer" camps for the rich and bored to escape their nagging trophy wives. We are talking about poaching, butchering, and cooking an animal with good meat to feed ourselves. We could care less about a bear rug, antlers over the fireplace, or other things. Never forget that by hunting you have removed a living, breathing creature from the flow of life. Whether it's a beetle or a buck, it has the same spirit and not to utilize the whole animal would be a waste. Give thanks and appreciate that a living being gave up its life for you.
See also Piece Now
5.2 Furred animals
What You need
First, you are going to need some sort of weapon or trap. Bambi the deer and Thumper the rabbit are not exactly going to walk up to you and let you eat them. This means you are going to need a gun. If you have a felony or are opposed to firearms due to some moral code, you can still hunt with composite bows and crossbows (although bows take far more skill and practice). Piece Now has more information on firearms as gun self defense and hunting have many topics that overlap.
Firearms are good for the occasional target of opportunity but in terms of bringing home the meat traps and snares are far more effective. Browsing a military survival manual will show several humane and inhumane traps, you will have to decide the level of your hunger to balance it against the cruelty level of your traps, you must plan how to deal with a wounded or trapped live animal that will not get you injured or killed. Walk all trap lines as frequently as possible especially if you are using traps which could wound animals, laziness is cruelty when using traps.
There is a limited capacity renewal capacity in every ecosystem, it is quite possible to hunt out an area to the point where there are no food animals left, this can be expected especially if it has become common for the local population to hunt to provide sustenance food.
If you do not know how to shoot or have never hunted before, it is strongly recommended to practice or get training first before depending on this to put meat on the table. Air rifles and BB guns are excellent to get a feel for things then move up to a .22. It is also highly recommended you accompany successful, seasoned hunters many times to learn the tricks of the trade that really can not be taught in a book or magazine article.
Second, you are probably going to look into a hunting or fishing license to avoid oppression from Smokey the Pig. These are issued by each state. Usually, they are pretty cheap ranging from around 10 USD to 30 USD. If you are an American Indian, many states will let you forgo needing a license if you carry an ID identifying your race as such or have tribal membership papers. Some states will not issue licenses or revoke licenses to those that owe back child support or have committed certain crimes.
Third, you need a place where you can hunt. If you live in a rural area, you have it made. If not, the best you may be able to do is Urban Pigeon!
A .22 rifle is a great gun and a good starter weapon with not as much kick. Don't use it for large game (anything larger than a rabbit) unless you're a sadist. A .22 caliber rifle beats the others out for light weight and inexpensive ammunition, you can easily pack a 500 round package of ammo and it only weighs a few pounds.
Larger firearms will bring more success and less wounded run-aways, shotguns can take down flying birds but this requires skill and ammunition is very heavy. There are special semi-auto backpacking .22 rifles that disassemble and some even float, but again, unless you want to torture a deer to death, anything below .223 is not recommended.
If you are using a black powder firearm .32 is considered the small game caliber. Some air guns especially those in .22 caliber can rival a powder burning firearm. Slingshots with lead balls and lots of practice can be powerful enough to use for sustenance hunting although are mostly only useful at very short range. Learn to take careful shots and not rapid fire.
Wire snares and improvised traps are still a better way to collect animals for food but a firearm lets you grab opportunity shots and safely euthanasia animals in traps.
If hunting large game (Deer, elk, antelope, and in some states even turkey), .270 Winchester is a good round. JO- SO is also a very common and handy round which can take most game at medium ranges pretty much anything above a .223 or so will be sufficient. When hunting more dangerous game like bear, elk and moose, a .30-06, .308, or larger is commonly used (7.62x51 or 7.62x63 mm, respectively.)
Animals like bees, and most bird, can be smoked out. Building a leafy, smoky fire under a bee's nest can cause them to pour out, leaving their honey sitting there in the hive for you to take it. Birds require something different; they need the smoke to be blown in their face, it retards them.
Deer are naturally attracted to bright light. So much so, that sometimes they stand in the road staring at an oncoming car, causing wrecks. Some folks exploit this behavior. Usually, this involves driving a all terrain vehicle up on some land and shining a high powered spotlight towards the edge of the woods. When the deer gets mezmorized by the bright light, another person waiting with a rifle shoots it dead. Fresh venison and weeks of food follow after.
Be careful if you do this, though. It is ILLEGAL in most areas. If Smokey the Pig catches you, this is a HUGE fine, possible jail, community service, and loss of any hunting license.
If the animal just got a broken neck or thorax crushed and the flies haven't got to it often the meat will be in perfect quality, as long as the meat you are able to salvage is well cooked you're ok. For cycle campers seeing a squashed animal on the road is a daily occurrence; learn how to butcher your rabbits and birds before you leave and you're guaranteed an easy meal nearly every day. If you find you can't salvage the meat you can always use the guts and any maggots it's attracted for fish or trap bait. If you are really hard up even maggot infested meat is fine to eat once well cooked, the maggots actually clean away the rot first and fatten themselves up on the good meat second. Don't be squeamish, if you are close to the edge maggots are actually extremely nutritious as they have to store up for their metamorphosis into flies, more so actually than the roadkill meat. If possible save the valuable skin.
If the soup kitchens are providing nothing but watered broth and the dumpsters are picked clean there is still an easy source of protein if you are careful and fits your philosophy. First of all realize that this is both controversial in that some will call it cruelty and secondly it could be an excuse for the pigs to haul you in.
While in China rat is sold in markets and raccoon, cat, rabbit, and squirrel all exist in the urban zones they are too often diseased or dangerous as they will fight back. Some birds like seagulls and crows are just too gross because of their diet of vermin infested animals and rotten garbage, but the occasional dove, goose, or duck while more difficult to trap should be good to eat.
The best meat we can get for free is the simple stupid urban pigeon. The easiest way to catch them is with a little bread trail for bait, a box with a stick holding it propped up, and about twenty feet of string. A cardboard box might need a rock or brick on top for weight to help it drop closed faster. It goes like this, bird follows trail of bread under box, you pull string, stick lets box fall, bird is trapped. You can use other methods like nets or a loop of string and hope to catch a leg but the box method seems the easiest and most humane. Put your hand under the box and grab your bird, he won't bite (if he does, it won't hurt), be quick so he won't hurt himself flapping, grip around his body pinning down his wings and covering his head which will calm him down a lot.
Look him over: are his feathers looking healthy or is he shedding and scabby? Is he infested with bugs or weak and sluggish? Are his eyes looking filmy or gross? If so let him go and wash your hands he is probably diseased. If he looks good snap or cut his neck quickly (with a new razor blade) so it will be over for him. Cut him open from neck to tail and look his insides over, are they glistening smooth and come out easily (good) or are they all stuck together and spotty(sick), if they look bad or wormy again chuck him out and let a cat or raccoon find him, he was not long for this world anyway. Rinse out the gut area with safe water before proceeding. You might consider plucking before cutting open (it is too hard after) to save the skin and fats, but most of us just peel the skin off and cook like a mini chicken. A pigeon soup would be the safest way to go, let it boil for at least a half hour, but an hour is better, drink or save the broth. For smaller birds like doves sometimes the breasts are all that is worth taking for pan frying but see what you can salvage of other parts at least for stew stock.
A rubber wrist rocket type slingshot, high power air pistol (.22 pellet is very good, not those wimpy BB guns), even a thrown stone can be used to zap birds at a bit longer distance but if you get caught shooting in the park expect a night minimum in the clink and your stuff confiscated for your effort. Alternatively you can build your own slingshot by using a Y shaped branch, a strip of inner tire tube (found at the local dumpster or tire shop trash) and some strong thread. Proceed to tie the ends of the rubber to the branch with strong thread loops, until it gets firmly attached. It will cost you nothing to build some, and you can even trade them later with other survivalists.
Anyone who eats meat but is offended by this idea must remember that at least this bird lived a completely free life and died quickly unlike the factory cage chickens you might be eating from the store.
Gutting and preparing meat
For people who've never done this before it may be a daunting task, but once you've learnt how to it is quite easy. Before you start, if possible sharpen your cutting tool as much as possible, it's always preferable to have a good sharp knife but you can get by in a pinch with a piece of sharp rock, a piece of clean sharp glass etc.
For feathered game such as pigeons, just flip it onto it's back and pluck away all the feathers on its front side surrounding the breast, they should just pull off pretty easily. After you've done this, feel around until you've got the very top of the ribcages and make a cut following them along, cutting all of the breast off as you go trying to cut off as much meat as you can. As soon as you've cut it off plunge it in a bowl of water and clean it thoroughly to get any dirt/blood etc off of it, be especially careful if the animal has been shot with a shotgun to remove any pellets that may have been embedded in the flesh. On pigeons the breast is the only meat worth taking, although on larger birds such as pheasant the legs have good (although sinuous) meat as well. If you have the time and are making stews or pies then the carcass can be used to make a very tasty stock, in this case pluck all the feathers off, gut as below and clean thoroughly.
The majority of animals that you'll find as roadkill or easily be able to hunt will be furred animals for which the procedure is a bit different. It is preferable to have a very sharp knife for this, so you can cut the skin cleanly and not cut too deep. Again flip the animal on it's back and make an incision from the anus up towards the throat. Try to cut only through the skin and not to make this too deep or you risk puncturing the guts, which is quite messy. If it's a large male animal some suggest tying some string around the penis so it doesn't leak urine and then cutting around it. From this point, you have to remove the hide from all of the animal, which can be used for a lot of different things once you've treated and tanned it. Make an incision along each of the legs now, either cutting the feet off or slicing a ring around the ankles and start cutting the skin away from the body. Start by pulling up the skin and gently cutting through the layers of connective tissue, trying not to cut into the meat. It should be pretty obvious where to cut, and with bigger animals once you've got a good portion of it off it should pull off with your fists underneath it. At this point cut the head and tail off, save the head as it can be used for tanning the hides. Now you'll have a large carcass and it should be pretty obvious where the meat is. Gut the animal (see below). After this, with small animals it can be easier just to put the whole carcass into a pot of stew, boil it for a good 40mins+, making the flesh softer after which the nice bits can be peeled off, put into a pot of stew and the carcass discarded. Larger animals such as deer need split up and either eaten quite quickly or preserved. With roadkill it may be easier to simply cut the legs off rather than going through the process of gutting it etc, there is a fair bit of meat on the body but if you're on the side of a road then it may be easier just cutting the legs off.
Snake is good meat! It is a bit on the bony side, though, but it more than makes up for it by being easy to get. One can kill all but the largest snakes with a decent club or rock, or even by stomping them. If you manage to kill a decent sized rattlesnake, water moccasin, or cottonmouth just cut of the head (and rattler if it has one) and slice down the underside. Snake is really good if you take it and shake the skinned snake up in a paper bag with com meal and fry it. Cajuns and folks out in Texas swear by it and there are even rattlesnake festivals in those parts. Careful though, many snakes are deadly poisonous if they take bites out of you before you can take bites out of them!
Now make an incision from the belly upwards, carefully cutting through the abdominal wall without cutting into the guts, which should now spill outwards. Put a hand inside and pull out the guts, cutting them away where they're still attached. The heart, lungs and liver on most animals are still very edible although strong tasting and can be used in stews etc chopped up finely.