5 Small Yet Nutrient-Rich Animals To Hunt in the Wilderness

When you’re merely imagining yourself in a survival situation, it’s easy to see yourself going Rambo and taking down a bear, capturing a wildcat or scoring an eight-point buck. When you’re actually thrust into survival mode, however, you can make better use of your resources and conserve precious energy by tracking and netting more practical game.

In the wilderness, the most practical and available wild animals are small game, reptiles, fish and amphibians. Not only are there are a surplus of these types of animals but also, pursuing and harvesting them requires little energy and few tools. Some of these animals you can even catch and prepare with your hands. If it’s calories you’re worried about, don’t be. The caloric density of many small animals in the wild is enough to repay your hunting efforts tenfold. So, which animals should you be looking for? Here are the top five.

1. Rabbit

Rabbits have been gracing dinner tables since long before recorded history, and in some parts of the world, these bushy-tailed creatures are even considered a delicacy. Depending on what part of the country in which you find yourself stranded, you will likely have access to thriving populations of cottontail, jackrabbits, artic hare or snowshoe hare.

Though you will likely find rabbits abound while living off the grid, be wary — consuming too much rabbit can lead to protein poisoning. Also, while tasty, rabbit doesn’t contain much fat, meaning you won’t gain much energy from rabbit alone. Maintain a balanced diet of rabbit, nuts, berries, wild greens and the other animals on this list to keep the internal fire burning strong.

2. Lizards 

In some parts of the country, slithering reptiles such as the lizard may be your only option. However, while most North American lizards are harmless and safe to eat, you need to be wary of the bigger species. Many lizards, such as the Gila Monster, are toxic and laden with bacteria. Just one bite infused with either or can be lethal. The other consideration you need to make is salmonella. If you do plan to dine on lizard, cook it thoroughly to reduce your risk of contracting bacteria or parasites.

3. Turtles

Turtles are an important survival food. They’re slow, so you won’t exert a ton of energy when trying to catch them, and they’re fairly easy to prepare. Like with lizards though, some species of turtle are toxic. For instance, poisonous mushrooms are a large part of the common box turtle’s diet. Cooking the meat does not remove the poison, so you want to steer clear of this species.

4. Nutria

If you get stuck in the Southeast United States, you can find this little critter in marshes, along riverbanks and in swamps. Though not as tasty as rabbit, it’s rich in both fat and nutrients and can give you a much-needed boost when food is scarce.

5. Fish 

A low-calorie and lean source of protein, fish is an important part of any healthy diet whether you’re in the wild or not. It also doesn’t take much to catch them, as fish are opportunists and will nibble on just about any tasty looking morsel. That said, be aware of your surroundings before going fishing. Some waterways and bodies of water contain chemical pollutants from local factories, powerplants, sewage treatment centers and other sources. If fish are exposed to chemicals, they may be dangerous to eat. You can reduce your risk of becoming ill by looking for signs of pollution, eating smaller fish and thoroughly cleaning and cooking your catch.

The wild is full of small game, and these five are just scratching the surface. However, because you can find each of these critters just about anywhere, you should learn how to catch and prepare each, just in case.

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J R Mitchell - July 27, 2020 Reply

Any redneck(like me) knows SQUIRRELS are #2 . ( actually#1)cook same ways as rabbit. However some places call them tree rats.

Kelly Goad Rorie - July 30, 2020 Reply

Asa country girl growing up in Mississippi I think,
duck quail & pheasant should be on that list as #2 #3 & #4.

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