How Not to Starve While Camping! A Survival Book Review.

Howes2by Gary Howes
Guns and Gunsmiths Editor

Camping and hunting are both activities that many of us love. The great outdoors, the leaky tents, the uncomfortable sleeping pads–and the bad food.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is easy to throw in a few bags of freeze dried food that is simple to prepare, relatively healthy and tasty, doesn’t require refrigeration, and is light enough to pack. And a packet of Slim Jim’s for the really adventurous.

But after a few days even that can start to get boring, or run out. That’s where you can supplement your supplies by hunting game or foraging for edible plants. But do you have the skills and knowledge to survive off the land? Or if the zombies rise up and drive us out of our homes, can you survive on your own?


Fortunately help is at hand. Dave Canterbury, author of the best-seller “Bushcraft 101” (2014 F+W Media) has now written a new “survival” book just for us campers who like to eat real food. It is “The Bushcraft Field Guide to Trapping, Gathering and Cooking in the Wild” (2016 Adams Media).

The book is divided into four parts: packed-in food, bushcraft cooking methods, living off the land, and emergency cooking, each part containing chapters that cover all the basics as well as some more advanced information that will help keep you fat and happy when away from mom’s home-made cooking. Some of these chapters include “Whole Foods That Don’t Require Refrigeration”, “Tools Improvised From The Landscape”,”Hunting:Beyond The Basics”, “Butchering Game”, “Catching Fish and Frogs”,”Foraging”, and “Making A Stove”. All in all Dave covers just about everything you need to be able to survive off the land.

The text is accompanied by simple but clear illustrations and there is also a color photograph section identifying plants to eat and plants to avoid–very important to know if you are to avoid poisoning yourself with the wrong type of berry.

Lesson 1 for making rabbit stew.

Lesson 1 for making wabbit stew.

The trapping and hunting section has some great tips for setting traps and snares, hunting with a firearm (interestingly enough the author claims his favorite hunting weapon is a single barrel 12 gauge) as well as tips on skinning, butchering and of course cooking your kill.

A variety of techniques are clearly described and illustrated that will teach you to trap or kill small game, birds, and fish. Throw away those Slim Jim’s–we got squab on the menu tonight!

Foraging for plants is covered as well, however I found this section a little skimpy. Of course, the edible plants you will find vary greatly with your location and the time of year, so those of us who eschew eating animals may want to add another book to your library specifically related to finding plants you can trust to be safe. My go-to reference for this is “Edible Wild Plants” by Thomas S. Elias and Peter A. Dykeman (1982 Sterling Publishing).

A nice feature of the book is its size–at only 5-1/2 by 8-1/2 inches and 5/8 inches thick, it is compact enough to throw into your backpack so you can study how to find dinner while you are around the campfire enjoying a pre-meal cocktail. (It also has a chapter on building fires just in case.)

Retail price for this book is $16.99, although I found it on Amazon for only $9.60. At either price, you couldn’t go wrong by adding this book to your camping gear. After all, one day I might come wandering into your campsite, and you wouldn’t want to send me away hungry would you?

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