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hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat?
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Kevin Burton
(burtonator) - F

Locale: norcal
hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/28/2012 13:59:16 MDT Print View

I suspect this may devolve into a flamewar ... which I don't want to happen. I'm trying to tread lightly here :-P

That said.

I've never hunted before. I don't have any problem eating meat especially if done sustainably, ethically, within regulation/season.

I was thinking about doing a long trek in Denali and was thinking about hunting during the trek.

I want to target smaller game which are sustainable. Food for 1-2 days.

I'm an avid fisherman and always practice sustainable fish harvesting.

Has anyone done this before? How did it work out?

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Not done it myself. on 08/28/2012 14:16:20 MDT Print View

That being said, expect your daily mileage to drop. If you're spending time hunting, you're not spending time hiking. As long as that's okay with you (and you follow local regulations regarding small game), have at it! I'd love to hear how it works out.

However, it might be worth fishing instead of hunting. Since you already know where to look for fish and have the skill set associated with catching them, you won't be trying to find protein using unfamiliar skills. You might see a larger return on that versus hunting. On the other hand, that's very dependent upon your route choices, seeing as how fish aren't commonly found on dry trails...

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Hunting for small game on 08/28/2012 14:24:19 MDT Print View

I don't think hunting is legal in Denali but it could be done in other areas of Alaska. I think combining hunting/fishing with backpacking could be a very interesting trip but it would be different.

If you were planning a trip you'd have to somehow balance time and energy spent hunting with time spent hiking. To much hunting and you won't hike far, not enough hunting and you'd be better off swapping the gun for a couple extra meals.

Ultimately I don't think hunting or fishing for food would help you hike longer but it might be a very interesting experience.

spelt with a t
(spelt) - F

Locale: SW/C PA
trip goals on 08/28/2012 14:36:29 MDT Print View

Hunting takes considerable time and skill, and small animals have less meat on them than you think. If you want your trip to be a hunting experience like an old-timey trapper expedition, that may be what you want (I'm not knocking it; that could be a very interesting premise for a trip). However, if you want your hike to be about sightseeing, covering long distances, or photography, the time it would take to successfully provide a portion of your diet by hunting would severely curtail those other aspects of your trip.

Craig W.
(xnomanx) - F - M
Hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/28/2012 14:48:52 MDT Print View

If the typical UL backpacker is carrying roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per day (that's my standard) and a rifle, ammo, and whatever you need to dress game weighs 7 pounds (which is pretty light for a full kit), you could carry an extra 3-5 days worth of food for the same weight, save yourself the trouble and mess of killing, gutting, and skinning/plucking things, and spend more time on your back watching clouds.

Dena Kelley

Locale: Eagle River, Alaska
hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/28/2012 15:18:45 MDT Print View

Check first to make sure you're eligible for hunting in Denali -

Even if you are, frankly I recommend against it. As a lifelong Alaskan, I've learned that hunting/fishing is a hit and miss affair and that's fine so long as I've got a grocery store to run to when I strike out. Not so good if you are depending on animals for food.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Check this out on 08/28/2012 15:52:40 MDT Print View

If you really wanted to give hiking and hunting a try take a look at the Pack Rifle. Its basically a one pound .22 rifle that can be taken down and put in a pack. That and some ammo would be light enough for what we might call "Oppurtunistic Lightweight Hunting" i.e. hiking and hunting if you see something.
With a more traditional gun I think it makes more sense to pick one or the other. Either go hunting or go backpacking.

Andrew Weldon
Pretty worthless on 08/30/2012 16:13:56 MDT Print View

The time spent hunting will probably consume more food than it provides, or at the very least, be unbelievably time inefficient.

I don't know what sort of tools you're imagining that will be lighter than another 2 days worth of food. Even if you go with something like snares, you're going to spend a day setting up 10+ snares, wait the night, check them all, find possibly 0-2 catches, clean and cook them?

Game hunting isn't exactly something you can just start doing out of the blue. It takes significant skill like anything else.

michael levi
(M.L) - F

Locale: W-Never Eat Soggy (W)affles
. on 08/30/2012 20:01:14 MDT Print View

"If the typical UL backpacker is carrying roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per day (that's my standard) "

Thats fine if your taking that but iv'e found manys UL to be packing slightly less at 1.25 - 1.75

+1 on fishing, I would imagine its pretty hard to catch a squirell. And catching a chicken or something just seems like too much work IF you are on the move.

Randy Nelson
(rlnunix) - F - M

Locale: Rockies
Re:"hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat?" on 08/30/2012 22:10:58 MDT Print View

"If the typical UL backpacker is carrying roughly 1.5 to 2 pounds of food per day (that's my standard) "

"Thats fine if your taking that but iv'e found manys UL to be packing slightly less at 1.25 - 1.75"

That does seem to emphasize slightly. Isn't the difference between 1.75 and 2.0 a 14% increase? If you have a hiker at say 150 lbs and 175 lbs, that would seem to be about the same thing to me. Let alone a hiker at 130 vs a hiker at 190 lbs.

I don't think you'll ever lighten your load by hunting. Maybe if you really like squirrel. Fishing, maybe.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/30/2012 22:24:17 MDT Print View


As a 5-generation Urban Northern California now in my 14th year in Alaska, I've transtitioned from being expert at foraging in grocery store + wild plants to being an ever more competent hunter-gatherer. My path included:

Friends and strangers giving me tips on fishing, reading a few books and trying different places at different times.

Participating in the Personal-use Fishery (for Alaskan residents only) for my 30+ salmon each year.

Having a friend with boat, a motor and local knowledge who takes my family along on fishing trips (I bring a great lunch, happily pay for all the gas, and bait more hooks and fillet more fish than anyone else (i.e. I'm the kind of guy you want on the boat).

More recently, I've been drafted on hunting trips because of my stunningly gorgeous legs. Or rather, that I can hike a lot and be a cheerful companion. After one has shot an elk, a few bears or a mess of caribou, the work really starts. Capable sherpas are very desireable and, in my experience, get the same share of fillets, burger and sausage as any hunter along.

But, to save weight?

From worst to best:

Big game. Just don't. State law and my ethics dictate that if you take any animal you use all of it and that means getting from the hunting ground to a truck and on to freeze/packing house. Shoot something? End of trip.

Waterfowl. Seems to involve sitting in cold water in cold weather with a shotgun, blind, and decoys. It would be a lot easier and lighter to bring a frozen chicken.

Small game - ground squirrels, grouse, ptarmagin, marmot(?), and ESPECIALLY "low-bush moose". A .22 pack rifle as suggested above. But have a bail out plan if unsuccessful.

*"low-bush moose" are what you bring home when unsuccessful at getting 900-pound "high-bush moose". low-bush moose are 2-3 pounds and better known as "rabbits". Alas, they are now coming off a population peak, but should peak again in 7-9 years.

Fishing, especialy if well off the road system. Char, Grayling, and of course salmon during the summer / early fall runs. I'll go for grayling and ptarmagin on Adak (1100 miles off the road system) in October, I'll let you know how it goes. The reports are anyone with a pulse should limit any day they want to. Mostly I'll be on sherpa duty for friends going for caribou (they introduced the caribou for the 6,000-airmen base and then closed the base leaving 300 people on the island. With no predators, they get shot or starve.

Wild plants - My wife and I mostly hiked yesterday on a trail (!) on the popular Kenai Peninsula (!) and were mostly hiking (!) and gathered 2 quarts of high-bush cranberries and 2 quarts of low-bush cranberries in 2 hours of hiking. 3 pounds of fresh fruit in maybe an extra 25-30 minutes. For eating fresh above (elevation or lattitude) above treeline, I like crowberries and they are on the plant for much longer.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - F

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/30/2012 23:23:19 MDT Print View

A rifle does not need to weigh 7 pounds. He mentioned small game, you can get a marlin papoose (.22) that weighs 3 lbs. The ammo is very light, much lighter than shotgun rounds.
You can get some hunting opportunities just walking down the trail at a reasonable pace. Look around and you will eventually see a few squirrels you can shoot at. Hunting is a good thing to do while hiking, but when you stop going to your intended destination to hunt, you are loosing the advantage. Carry a whistle. If you spook a rabbit you can blow the whistle and they will stop moving for a few seconds. At least, they do that around here.
Trapping could be an option. Snares would be very light.
You can also gather plants. There is no reason that all of this can't happen while you are hiking to your destination, provided that you are on an underused trail or going off trail.

Mike M
(mtwarden) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Re: hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/31/2012 06:53:57 MDT Print View

it can certainly be fun (just like fishing), but the chances of lowering overall pack weight is very (very) slim

I used to carry a .44 mag handgun when working the backcountry for the FS, I carried .44 snake shot shells in my pocket and found that load to very effective for mountain grouse (blue, spruce, ruffed) you'd find along the trail. It was nice to get a little fresh meat on a 10 day hitch, but it certainly wasn't anything I counted on.

there are some very light .22 rifles out there (tigoat used to make a really neat one) that might be worth looking at

Ben Crocker
(alexdrewreed) - M

Locale: Kentucky
Mousetrap on 08/31/2012 07:35:55 MDT Print View

This option is light weight and almost certain to catch small game along established trails/campsites.

John Almond
(FLRider) - F

Locale: The Southeast
Re: Mousetrap on 08/31/2012 08:12:18 MDT Print View

"...part of any AT thru-hiker's essential kit..."?

That's one of the funniest (and, possibly, most useful) suggestions for ~4 oz of gear I've seen for a thru yet!

Greg Mihalik
(greg23) - M

Locale: Colorado
Re: Calories Per Ounce on 08/31/2012 08:16:52 MDT Print View

Roasted chicken is about 50 calories per ounce.

Any wild game you get will be about that lean, or less. Add skin, bones, and guts, and you're down to 25 calories per ounce of harvested meat.

Not only do you expend a lot of energy and time harvesting, you have to eat a Lot to meet your needs.

There is an earlier post by someone fishing the JMT to "supplement" his rations. He lost a considerable amount of weight in a short amount of time.

If you are camping to hunt, that's one thing. If you are hiking to hike, that's another.

Edited by greg23 on 08/31/2012 08:20:48 MDT.

Jake D
(JakeDatc) - F

Locale: Bristol,RI
Re: Re: Mousetrap on 08/31/2012 08:51:15 MDT Print View

There was an AT nobo named Mousetrap this year.. for that reason.

Franco Darioli
(Franco) - M

Locale: @Tarptent
hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/31/2012 18:04:06 MDT Print View

To celebrate the first day of Spring I thought of posting something useful for a change :
grilled rat
Enjoy !!!
Sorry I forgot about the taste.
Nothing like chicken, for a change, but a bit like young wombat (12 months or so)

Edited by Franco on 09/01/2012 00:37:24 MDT.

Mary D
(hikinggranny) - MLife
hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/31/2012 23:21:34 MDT Print View

At least for rats, you don't need a hunting license, something that can be extremely expensive if you're not a resident of the state in which you're hunting! That's especially true in states where non-resident hunters are required to have a licensed guide with them!

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: hunting to lighten pack load by eating meat? on 08/31/2012 23:29:16 MDT Print View

Why did Scott die but Amundsen succeed at the South Pole?

Many reasons, but a significant one was that ponies need hay (Scott). Whereas dogs can eat dog (Amundsen).

Self-propelled food. There are a large number of Chinese recipes.

And then there's the Donner Party method.