Author of The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices
Search around on prepping/survival articles long enough and you’ll see all kinds of recommendations for grid down/bug-out food acquisition that are incredibly novel and primitive. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong about that either.
However, I do think that one needs to go into such a situation with a realistic mindset. The reason we tell people to start gardening now rather than post-disaster is because there’s a learning curve involved, it takes time to master it, and though it’s entirely possible to learn things on the fly, Apocalypse World isn’t the best place to seek to do so. (That’s why it’s so important to have supplies on hand – click here to download our free Quickstart Guide to Building a 3-Layer Food Storage Plan.)
These tools may not be the best to rely on in an Apocalypse
The same can be said for some of these food acquisition methods you’ll see advocated for out there. While many of them find their place in history as devastating weapons or sources of food procurement for aboriginal peoples, I don’t believe they are the best of methods to rely upon in modern day.
Take a look at my reasoning as to why for each:
Throughout history the sling was a devastating weapon in the hands of a trained enemy. Consider David and Goliath. The Roman medical writer Celsus would even state that a stone slung by a sling (say that five times fast) had the ability to penetrate skin and lodge within an enemy’s body. Again, the story of David and Goliath shows that as well, as the stone sunk into Goliath’s forehead.
As lead projectiles came into play – creating projectiles 8x denser than lead – ancient slingers became even more dangerous opponents.
However, in modern times this is likely not going to work for you.
Well for one of the reasons that the sling gradually fell out of favor as a weapon: the amount of training required to use it successfully is intense. Roman historian Livy states that it was due to this knowledge that states began sling training with children at as young of an age as possible.
From my own personal experience with a sling, I can attest to the fact that it’s ridiculously hard to master. I’ve spent several hours out in the mountains over the years practicing with a sling and all to a rather pathetic outcome.
While I can typically launch a stone in the right direction getting any degree of accuracy for me is laughable. A tree that’s only 20 feet in front of me will be hit maybe 3 out of 5 times, but even then I can’t figure out how to hit the height I want to hit.
Add to that sling training is tiring. Spend an hour spinning your arm over your head and you’ll see what I mean.
It’s because of all this I don’t think a sling is a practical means of food procurement for the average prepper.
While I admit this is most certainly better than nothing – and if I had nothing else this would be a form of primitive technology I would utilize – I don’t believe that throwing sticks are a great means of meat procurement when other options are available.
For those who are unsure of what I’m talking about, a throwing stick is just a stick that’s been carved to be bulbous on one end and is then thrown parallel with the ground towards a small mammal. The stick hits the animal, either stunning or killing it, and the hunter collects his food.
The most famous historical design of such would be the boomerang. The Aborigines in Australia used these to take down animals even as big as kangaroos. That’s truly impressive.
But can the average American prepper expect similar results? I don’t think so.
I think the problems here are multiple. For starters, this is another piece of technology that takes a lot of practice. Yes, anybody can throw a stick, but can you hit what you’re aiming for with that stick? Bunnies are likely what that target is, and these are fast and observant little boogers.
You’re going to frustrate yourself more than you’re going to hit the target with these.
While there are some die-hard hog hunters out there who utilize a boar spear for their hunts, you aren’t going to find anybody in the modern world who hunts with an atl-atl – a lever designed to launch a spear farther.
While I do think that throwing a spear is a more natural form of primitive hunting for many, I don’t think that an atl-atl is something people adapt to as quickly. The few times I’ve toyed around with one it’s been fun to see how much further we could sling a spear but there wasn’t any great degree of accuracy we received with one.
Better Alternatives to Meat Procurement
While toying around with all the above designs is a fun way to spend some time, I do think that there are better investments of time if you’re interested in improving your survival game harvesting abilities. Of the potentials, I think the below are your best bets.
If there was one form of primitive technology I would want to become proficient in for meat procurement, this would be it. Bows are a fantastic way to put a steak on the plate. You can pick a nice compound model up for around $300, put another $50 into arrows, and you have the means for hours and hours of practice.
Personally, all my practice has come with a recurve, and I can attest to the fact that it still takes quite a bit of training to end up regularly hitting a target where you want. However, the level of training necessary is much less than what it would take you to become proficient with a weapon such as a sling.
You were expecting this one, weren’t you? This is easily the most efficient means of game harvesting that I know of. And yet not everybody is a born marksman. This is a skill that needs to be practiced for one to become proficient in it and not a lot of people out there have spent the time necessary to be able to reliably hit a deer from 200 yards.
You would be much better off practicing your long-range shooting or spending some time plinking with a .22LR rifle than you would throwing a stick at a target in the woods repeatedly.
It’s not enough to just have a gun. You have to train with it as well.
Trapping is a personal favorite method of mine. It’s cheap, it’s easy, and it’s silent. I can set out a trapline in about two hours, and then go back home drink some Disaster Coffee, eat some banana nut bread, and take a nap. And all throughout that time the traps are still working for me.
Unless you’re carving deadfall widgets, these don’t require a lot of labor or frustration to set up either. Snares, body traps, and leg traps all take a few minutes to set up until you can move onto the next one.
Is this the final word?
By no means! The methods you use for meat procurement in a survival situation are going to depend on the game around you, what tools you have at hand, your skillset, environment, and a number of other factors as well. My intentions here are to simply give my take on why I don’t believe you should have high hopes of relying on your homemade sling, stick, or whatever else to procure a plentiful supply of protein.
But let’s hear your thoughts on the matter. Are there other forms of meat procurement you think work or don’t work? Let us know in the comments below!
Aden Tate has a master’s in public health and is a regular contributor to TheOrganicPrepper.com, TheFrugalite.com, PewPewTactical.com, SurvivalBlog.com, SHTFBlog.com, ApartmentPrepper.com, HomesteadAndPrepper.com, and PrepperPress.com. Along with being a freelance writer, he also works part-time as a locksmith. Aden has an LLC for his micro-farm where he raises dairy goats, a pig, honeybees, meat chickens, laying chickens, tomatoes, mushrooms, and greens. Aden has two published books, The Faithful Prepper and Zombie Choices. You can find his podcast The Last American on Preppers’ Broadcasting Network.