The title seems like a ridiculous question, right?

Well obviously food is essential, it is one of our Six Elements of Survival
  • Shelter
  • Fire
  • Water
  • Medical
  • Food
  • Social/Rescue

BUT… And you know something is coming anytime you see a “but”… anyway, food is essential for certain, however, it’s not as urgent as we might think.

So here’s the deal, most people are rescued in less than three days, and are found at or near where they were lost or broken down. The average person  can live longer than three weeks without any food at all. Knowing this, is it essential to immediately go out setting traps or start foraging for plants to eat?

No. A person would be better served setting up a comfortable enough shelter to allow for a good 8 hours of sleep each day, to arrange fire as needed, and a water supply, set up a pre-staged signal fire, have mirrors handy, etc. then get cozy and relax. Did you know that young children are among the best survivors? They lay down and sleep.

Years ago I had a good friend in Canada that was a trapper. I used to go around with him sometimes on his traplines. One thing is certain that I learned from that experience; many traps need to be set in order to have a chance at food, they have to be checked often as some will false trip, or if an animal is caught, it is easy prey for predators and you’ve got to get there before they do. You need 12 to 24 traps set. Also it’s not just setting the traps, it’s being familiar with the animal life and patterns in order to set up properly for the  type of game you are after. It can be a lot of work, building traps, setting them, making rounds checking them, resetting them and all, and that effort = CALORIES.

There are two mindsets on this, one says unless you really know what you are doing you’ll be better off calorie wise to just rest. The other says you need the calories, so go get “em. The caveat is if you spend more calories than you get in food, it’s better to rest. The same applies to eating plants, if you are not thoroughly familiar with those in the area, it may not be worth the risk.

In the end you have to evaluate the options and risks based on likelihood of rescue in a few days to a  week.

Does anyone know approximately where you are? Are you missing now? Or soon? If so it’s probably best to get comtfortable, get ready to signal, and wait for help.

Over the years I’ve studied certainly hundreds of survival accounts, and a good number of them have gone over a month without food and still been healthy enough to recover quickly after rescue. One preeminent case I recently talked about in a blog was Helen Klayben and her pilot Ralph Flores, who crashed in the Yukon in the winter, enduring temperatures of -40 F and living 49 days with virtually no food, just what they had on the plane for lunch.

So yes food is needed for survival, but perhaps we spend an inordinate amount of time on it as related to a survival experience. Of course each situation demands it’s own set of rules, but don’t think all is lost without an immediate known source of food. I certainly would not want to go a long period of time without food, but I would not want to give up hope early due to a lack of it.

Until next time, this is Perry Peacock, “Simplifying Survival”

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