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4 Ways To Put Meat On The Table When The Lights Go Out

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Lately, I have been very concerned about what is happening in this world. Terrorism around the globe, political games in D.C., and devastating natural disasters fill news reports every day.

As a husband to my lovely bride and a father with three young children, I often think how on earth I can consistently feed them if things get really bad. By now, we should all know how to grow vegetables. We are all stocking canned and emergency food. But how can we put meat on the table consistently?

Here are a few methods of providing for your family. Using them all together in concert can consistently put food, specifically meat, on the table.

1. Raising Livestock: If you have land, this is one of the most solid methods of providing meat for your family. Chickens, turkey, duck and pheasant are all viable options and relatively easy to raise. Coops, poultry tractors and even fenced-in grazing areas all work for poultry. Eggs and meat will provide a steady stream of nutrition for your family.

Goats and pigs are a great option because both can be free-ranged within a fenced-in enclosure. Beef is a viable option, but also can make you a target in desperate times. Knowledge in raising beef also is required. I prefer to raise hogs and poultry for meat since both are relatively low maintenance and breed frequently.

2. Hunting Small Game: Small game hunting is a great option, but it requires skill and patience. It also requires good marksmanship. I recommend everyone considering small game for a food source have at least one, preferably two rifles chambered in .22 long rifle and a good supply of ammunition. Personally, I like an old Marlin model 60 or Ruger 10-22 semi-automatic rifle because both models allow for a quick follow-up shot in case you miss.

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Small game hunting usually involves the pursuit of squirrel and rabbit and both species make fine table fare. Ever had Spanish rice and rabbit? You are missing out if you haven’t.

The key is to becoming an excellent shot with a rifle is to master the art of silence and stealth. For every single kid I have taken deer hunting, I first started by taking them squirrel hunting. Become an excellent small game hunter, and you will be on your way to becoming a well-rounded woodsman.

3. Hunting Big Game: If the lights go out and don’t come back on, big game hunting will be very different. I don’t buy into the notion that all big game will be wiped off the continent within six months of things turning sour, but it certainly will be harder to hunt. What we consider big game also may change. In addition to deer and elk, feral cattle, wild hogs and other such critters will no doubt increase in population.

deer_green_fieldMy advice to everyone considering using big game as an additional way to put meat on the table is to treat it as a valuable resource. Take only as much as you need and learn how to properly care for the meat immediately after a kill. Our ancestors did not treat this as a valuable resource. Because of this, it took 70 to 80 years for game numbers to repopulate. I pray we could skip on repeating that past.

That said, I’m not a PETA member. To take big game you will need something larger than that .22 you keep for rabbits and squirrels. Now, there are more calibers out there than potential presidential candidates. I’m going to list a few that will take nearly everything on the North American continent. If you want a well-rounded big game rifle, I would consider the .270, .308, or the more powerful .30-06. A .30-30 is another great option, albeit you will be limited on range (200 yards or less). These four calibers are the four most popular game cartridges in North America and are easy to procure. For a rifle platform, a Remington Model 700 or a Savage Model 11 with an AccuTrigger are my two favorite sporting rifles on the market. If you are on a budget, the Ruger American Rifle or Savage AXIS are both great choices. For a lever action rifle chambered in .30-30, I would choose a used pre-2008 Marlin Model 336 or a Winchester 94.

The skills you need to hunt big game take time to learn. I don’t have two years to write down everything, so I suggest you find an experienced hunter to teach you. Pay attention to proper field dressing and butchering skills.

4. Raising Fish: Fish are often an overlooked resource. Our waters on this continent are filled with them. Fly fishing, using boats and trotlines are all viable options in the pursuit of fresh seafood. We would be here until the apocalypse discussing methods to catch fish and equipment, I pray that most readers already have that basic knowledge on hand.

Adding a pond to your land, if you can, is a great idea to raise fish for consumption. Bass, bluegill, shell cracker and channel catfish stocked together provide a continuous stream of food to your dinner table. A one- to three-acre pond can produce a few hundred pounds of fish every year.

In closing, I have listed several methods to procure meat for your family in a crisis. Keep in mind: You will need the necessary equipment on hand before it begins. Having enough firearms, ammunition, fishing gear, feed for livestock, etc., is a necessity. Don’t get caught unprepared.

What would you add to this list? Share your thoughts in the section below:   

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  1. I am from the netherlands, meaning when you have one neighbor, i got ten. Hunting or poaching is out of the question here. Would take one day to wipe out the deer population. Fish would take a week. To put meat on the table I would prefer rabbits First they are small enough to have a meal for a family, so no need to process the meat for storage. Next rabbits would take care of a lot of the leftovers from your vegetable garden. Cabbage stems cut lenghtwise would be a good fodder that otherwise goes to waste. I would keep my rabbits indoors in a cage. Breed my females twice per year. First youngs would have to be born as soon as the temperature would make it possible and the second batch would be born in July. During the fall I would butcher my year old females and from the best producing female of that year I would keep my replacement females for next year breeding. In the past it was the habbit that poor people who could not afford a piglet would keep about ten female rabbits and preferly two males
    Divide the females in two groups , each group with its own male. Next year from each of the best producing female from each group you keep a replacement male and use it in the other group. To fatten rabbits you do not use any grains. During the growing season they would get cut grass from along the roadsides. During the winter period you could feed them some hay and rootcrops. If possible give them some cuttings from the willows too. They will eat the bark off and you have sticks for your rocketstove and kellykettle. Even the leftovers from the cabbagestalks can be used as fuel when dry.
    If at the same time you could keep two dairy goats indoors and bring in the grass with the cut and carry idea the rabbits would utilise the grass that the goats do not consume. Just to remind you, dairy goats need no grains eighter, green plants will do, but cut it daily and feed the goats several times during the day. Store the grass under cover on a banche like construction so the air can circulate all around it and any exit moisture can drip out. Next start a wormfarm with the manure and leftover plants and you produce the best protien for your poultry you ca imagine, next to the best compost for your vegetable garden and corn, wheat, potatoes and roots. And it is easier to feed your neighbors than to kill them when they try to steal your food.

  2. I agree with Henk. Rabbits should be considered a very important option. One New Zealand Doe can produce an equivalent (or more) amount of meat as one cow per year. The advantage of rabbit production is that dinner can be “dispatched” and served the same day, if long term storage of meat is a problem. Off grid, without electricity can make that a serious issue. Rabbits can survive on trimmings and whatever can be gathered naturally around the homestead. The manure is ideal for use directly into the garden with very little composting necessary and is ideal for worm bed (think… fish bait for the homestead stocked pond). Rabbits take up very little space also. As few as three does and two bucks, with the keeping of high producing replacements can produce a great deal of meat in one year. Homesteaders would be best to consider both chickens and rabbits as their go-to animals as they don’t require the actual growing and harvesting of crops feed them in the quantities necessary for larger stock.

  3. Good info from Henk and Karen. One thing I don’t see mentioned is that you can’t rely on rabbit meat as your only protein. There’s a thing called rabbit starvation if you do – incomplete protein for habitual eating. So keep goats, chickens, ducks, quail, pigs, fish, cattle – anything in combination with rabbits, except another rodent (squirrel, etc.). I’m not sure if you can supplement with beans and corn (together a complete protein) to make up the difference or not. If you can’t keep poultry for eggs, be sure to eat liver regularly for choline. Heart and kidneys are valuable nutrition also. Never, ever eat brains or any nerves of any animal. That’s how you would be exposed to Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (the human equivalent of “mad cow”). You can’t cook that out – it’s aberrant protein-based, not a microbe. If you have a pond or low area, and live in a temperate region, crawfish are an option along with fish, and you’ll have to manage the raccoon population.

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