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Thread: Highest calories via foraging

  1. #1

    Default Highest calories via foraging

    I'm looking to turn foraging into something full time or at least close to it. I'm ok with storing foods for a long time if needed, however, many foods require more calories to obtain than you get in return. Most greens would qualify under this category.

    I know Acorns are high calorie, and very good for you if processed correctly. Are there any other foods?

    I'm in the northeast of Pennsylvania so whatever exists here would have to do.


  2. #2

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    The first thing I would say is that foraging is awesome, but stay away from mushrooms unless you really know what you're doing. In most cases, you'll have to spore print a mushroom in order to be fairly certain in identifying it - and even then it isn't perfect because there are "look alikes."

    The short answer is that you'll need a reliable book with pictures to help you. You're also going to have to put some serious time into studying it. If you aren't dedicated enough to get a book and learn, you won't have the discipline to safely put knowledge into practice. This is the book I got started with and I haven't died yet.

    The main thing you want to look for is nuts and berries, in my opinion. If you're talking about foraging alone, most of your diet should be protein (nuts) and you're going to need calories (berries) or you'll get hypoglycemia. The thing is that there's also lots of tasty vegetables hiding in nature that a lot of people aren't aware of.

    Oh, and make sure you boil your acorns or you'll probably get sick. Acorns are one of your best food sources to foray in Pennsylvania though in my opinion.

  3. #3

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    I plan on storing acorns, and I've boiled them in the past so remove tannic acid.

    Any other specific foods I should look for?

    I just want to maintain about 2000 calories a day

  4. #4
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    My favorite "go to" has always been cattail roots....cooked, raw, dried and pounded into flour.....
    Other parts of the cattail are edible as well in season.

    Of course nuts , berries, couple of mushrooms,.....are also on the menu in season...

    Your problem is going to be gathering and storing enough supplies to survive on foraging alone.
    Small game, birds, fish crawfish, turtles (meat and eggs) as well as deer, hog and what even else you have in your location, that can be killed, dried, canned......
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    Senior Member kyratshooter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmcgov1985 View Post
    I plan on storing acorns, and I've boiled them in the past so remove tannic acid.

    Any other specific foods I should look for?

    I just want to maintain about 2000 calories a day
    You have just discovered why the average life expectancy in a hunter-gatherer culture is 35 years.

    They can not maintain a balanced diet that will sustain life long term. They die from malnutrition, deficiency diseases and parasites.

    Are you aware of how much wild vegetable matter is required to provide 2,000 calories?

    And in real life you do not have enough land mass to adequately forage without trespassing, since many of the "forage crops" are thickest on burnt over, clear cut or second growth land.

    Your question, and its answer, is the explanation of why agriculture was developed


    It seems we have picked up a different kind of ROTTW entry member all of a sudden.

    The focus is this form is not sustaining yourself in the woods as a lifestyle choice like Mick Dodge or some other bigfoot imitator. It is staying alive until rescue can find you or you can self rescue to GET BACK TO CIVILIZATION.....NOT ESCAPE IT!
    Come to the dark side, we have pudding.

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    Not sure about Pennsylvania but my area there is wild rice that can be harvested. Maple syrup and maple sugar. Both store well after processing
    so the definition of a criminal is someone who breaks the law and you want me to believe that somehow more laws make less criminals?

  7. #7

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    there's no reason, in "normal times" to forage at all, actually. you can easily take with you enough food for 2 weeks of hard hiking. 'thru hikers, on the appalachian trail, do this all the time. they mail in boxes of stuff, to be held by the park rangers, every 200 miles or so. the foraging life can be done, but it requires disregarding of property rights and much moving around, to be where the harvest is for that season. long term foraging is much, much easier done today, with a slingbow for the big stuff, and a pellet rifle for the small critters, cable snares, nets that don't rot, etc. as long as everyone else aint trying to do it at the same time. If shtf, they WILL be, tho. So that is the problem.

  8. #8

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    you'll have to put up, in waterproof, rodent proof containers, with dried rice, as a dessicant, all your stuff, or it will soon rot or be contaminated with mouse=droppings/fur/saliva. you'll need at least a ton of food per year for that sort of high stress life, per adult. Most places, that means shooting or snaring big animals, and using salt and smoke to preserve the meat, and eating jerky/pemmican for most of your meals, along with whatever else you can find. Long term, you can have gardens. Learn to grow sprouts. they can produce food for you in 1 week.

  9. #9

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    gill nets, 2.5" mesh, can be doubled up to make 1.2" mesh, for the purse-shaped weir part of your setup, which then will trap the fish. So the big "wings" of gill net will "herd" the fish into the weir and you can then move the gate across the mouth of the weir, trapping the fish inside. The gill net kills the fish, so ASAP, remove the wings. Then you dont have to get into near freezing water all the time. In the weir, fish are easily speared, snagged, or caught with hook and line. When your catch gets small, re-set the gill net "wings" and chum/bait the weir with fish guts and fish heads. it will again be full of fish. Very low effort, low risk,but you DO have to have the gill nets. they are cheap, on amazon. several 12-15 ft diameter weirs, set at different places, are far more efficient than one huge weir, and less polluting to the body of water, too.
    Last edited by taint; 03-05-2016 at 09:45 AM.

  10. #10

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    remember, circumference of a circle is diamter x 3.14. and you need many meters of "wings" to "aim" the fish into the weir. So you'll be buying at least 100 yds of gill net per weir, due to the doubling of the mesh in the actual "purse" area. and twice that size is more like it. gill nets are illegal to use nearly everywhere, so this technique is strictly for life and death scenarios. But it works REALLY well.

  11. #11

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    u should not be "out there" without a rental satellite phone and your ccw pistol, folks, along with proper gear and 2 lbs of trail food per day of anticipated journey, plus a bit more, a way to treat water, and reliable people who know where/when you are going and expected to return (or at least, call). If you take care of these matters, foraging is just entertainment, not the horror of "gotta", like seen on Naked and Afraid. Every one of those guys lost at least a lb per day, and much of it was muscle mass. several nearly died of disease, heat stroke, and the like.

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    Large bipedal Primate Billofthenorth's Avatar
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    If you aren't a vegetarian you could set up multiple snares and other traps for small (or larger) game. I would think having enough time to gather all you need as well as do all of the other work needed to stay alive would be a major problem. Hopefully you'd have some companions to share the workload with and benefit from the synthesis of your labors. If you know what areas you would be doing this in, planting or indentifying edible flora ahead of time would be an advantage.

  13. #13

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    If you don't own land, you will probably have to trespass to forage, you have no control over herbicide application and you can't control wildlife. You probably will not be able to forage enough to put by for winter. Not if other people also forage in the same place.

    If you own land where you plan to do your minimalist living, you should start planning now what you are going to plant and how you are going to protect if from being eaten by wildlife.
    There is a somewhat fine line between planting to draw in animals but not having the area overrun with pest critters that take too much of your harvestable goods.

    The most high calorie food you can find via foraging is going to be animal lard.
    If you aren't raising animals but have pasturage, you may want to plant something that will draw in the critters for hunting. Acorns, Beach nut and fruit trees (edible crabapples) for deer and smaller things like rabbit or possum. Ironwood, sometimes called muscle tree (Carpinus sp) sets a small seed/nut that wild turkeys love.
    Wind-rows could be nut trees and fruit setting high shrubs.

    Don't forget pine nuts. They are high in calories as well and will give you something to do digging them out of the cones when you aren't busy with other things. The Colorado Pinon will grow in PA. Takes a good long while to get large enough to set cones (25+ years!). And you will need more than one. Wind pollinated so check your prevailing wind direction.

    If you are planting now, nut trees begin producing anywhere from 5 to 15 years down the road. The older the planted sapling is, the better. Here's a website with average years to fruit set for various nut trees:
    http://www.starkbros.com/growing-gui...-until-harvest
    Be aware that you would need to plant blight resistant varieties of filberts in PA or they will die just after setting their first harvest, or sooner.
    Pecans are very iffy there too unless you have a warm microclimate that keeps the flower tassles from freezing in a late frost.
    Also be aware that most walnut roots will kill most plants growing near them. Keep Walnuts and most other Juglans sp. well away from garden areas.

    For other wild plants in your area, consider high bush blueberries, cranberries, service berries, pawpaws or any other shrub/tree that suits your taste. A good place to check out disease resistant cultivars of native fruiting trees is http://www.raintreenursery.com
    If you want low-cost seedling plugs, here is another good place: http://www.nurserymen.com/trees-broa...seedlings.html

    Let your yard go to clover for the pollinators and harvest the dandelions, chenopods, mache and miners lettuce. Don't use pesticides on the areas you are going to forage (obviously.) Keep and sow seed. You can start with purchased seed if you want, especially with teh mache and miners lettuce, but there are also some Italian varieties of dandelion that are a little leafier and less bitter than the wild variety. They cross so won't last forever though. Learn to recognize purslane which will readily grow in disturbed garden soil without any help from you. Try to avoid herbaceous weedy things or keep them contained. Some of the wild mints are just as aggressive as their domesticated cousins. Always collect and resow seed. Replant root cuttings. Don't harvest every specimen of a plant in your yard unless you intend eradication.

    Determine if you want to grow native medicinal plants. Avoid some of the more poisonous types like digitalis and monkshood. Digitalis might look nice in the flower garden, but it self-sows everywhere, and in a forager's yard, it can be confused with other plants when not in flower.
    Either know it, or don't grow it.

    If you have near neighbors try not to let the birds get into blueberries, mulberries or other car and pavement staining berries, just to preserve the peace.

    Learn to kill, skin and eat squirrels and rabbits. They will be the bane of your existence otherwise. Chipmunks will be too, but to me those are just better off as fertilizer.

    Make your property into an edible oasis. It isn't cheating to facilitate your foraging. If you plan on ''living off the land,'' it will be a necessity.
    Last edited by LowKey; 03-05-2016 at 09:13 PM.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Nice write up....said I have to spread rep around......

    But I gonna guess the OP doesn't own any land or he would be already mentioning what he does have on that property.

    BTW our local state wildlife area....requires permit for foraging....including weed worms (ice fishing bait that are in the round galls on certain weeds)
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    It's kinda funny H63, but a lot of people wouldn't consider turning their lawn under and seeding ''weeds'' and ripping out the lilacs for almonds. Today's tiny wild pockets of natural flora that most foragers run into just don't have enough diversity, or quantity, to make much more than a salad. I gotta admit I kinda sorta laughed at the GPS marking of ''good foraging spots.''

    You can grow pretty intensely in a one acre plot with a house on it. Probably not enough to sustain year round though. That would be a diverse 5 acres I'd say at the very least. Unless you made a career out of it.
    Last edited by LowKey; 03-07-2016 at 07:57 AM.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Lot of stuff has been written and published over the years on foraging, and use of wild plants, gardens, and managed acreage.

    I believe to a point it mostly true, but needs a lot of attention, knowledge, plain old work.

    As things are seasonal, or you have a large amount of room to grow, and forage... you end up eating a lot of the same thing in season.
    These days we aren't used to this...as we get most anything you want, anytime you want.

    The old rhyme come to mind....:

    Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold,
    Peas porridge in the pot...
    Nine days old.....

    If you garden and have a good selection of crops with area forage, and animals....You can do very well on providing for your self.
    But yeah, becomes a lifestyle.
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    lowkey hit the nail on the head. Something to think about... the Native Americans, before European contact...farmed in PA. As others have hinted... if you want to "forage", you have to farm and store up for winter. In other words, you have to find much more than 2000 calories a day.
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    Senior Member WalkingTree's Avatar
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    When thinking of trying to live long-term by foraging/hunting/gathering alone, that tends to lead me to wanting to garden or farm to some degree - as a natural extension of the approach. Making what I'm trying to forage for be more available and closer. Because, as has been revealed already by others here, you just can't do it for a variety of reasons. Not permanently/long-term and exclusively. But the idea in my mind seems to naturally/logically lead to the approach of "leveraging" your foraging/hunting/gathering by gardening and farming at least to some extent. To get more calories than you expend, not have to range so widely over acreage, not have to be at the mercy of the seasons and whatever state your ecosystem is in, and get more of the vitamins and minerals that you need...you create the space from which you forage - a garden. "Leveraging" in the sense that you take more control over what's growing and where. More bang for your effort, and more bang for your space/distance traveled. You want to "just go get from what's growing naturally", but to make that work you do so by exerting some influence on exactly what is out there growing and where. I know that some primitive people even today do well mostly or only on hunting/gathering, and they're very resourceful and improvisational, taking whatever mother nature has to offer in their area from one time to the other...but that is not something that just anyone anywhere can be successful at and I don't know about the health and lifespans of all of these folks. Actually I believe that for some of them their health and lifespans are pretty good considering, but this lifestyle just isn't some kind of blueprint that very many people can replicate just anywhere and anytime. They are definitely the exceptions and couldn't be practiced as the norm...not without deteriorating health and lifespan. Try to "just take from the wild", but recreate and mold that "wild" in miniature in some fashion here or there in order to make it work. And even then you'll need to have various ways of saving surplus foods for those times when you can't obtain or grow certain things.
    Last edited by WalkingTree; 03-08-2016 at 02:40 PM.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Maybe why for the earliest times, versions of "gardening farming" came to be......for all the above reasons.

    I hear many people say, dig up wild plants and plant them at your house......That's gardening.

    BTW have done this and haven't ever had much luck with "wild plants"......except maybe weeds.
    They all seem to need something that was there, in their original location....soil, sun, moisture....something, but they just didn't do well being dig up and moved.

    Domesticated plants kinda leveled this off, or provided varieties that would grow in many locations.
    But didn't happen by it's self.
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    Senior Member WalkingTree's Avatar
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    Yea, gardening in whatever form takes some skill. Knowledge, experience, holding your tongue just the right way. Etc. A green thumb aptitude. And some luck. Just like everything else I guess at least to a point. Or just some good intuitive instinct, which might be the definition of "green thumb" for some people.

    Even if you transplant something to a place which has all of the same conditions of it's original home, it may not automatically be happy, and you gotta sit down and talk to it. Sing to it. Become buddies. Read it some Shakespeare.

    In such an occasion when I'm trying to utilize wild plants and transplant them...assuming that time wasn't an obstacle...I'd instead take that plant's seeds and tubers etc and start those in my own location. Often it's just a matter of the plant wanting to stay where it was born. Experiences too much shock. A non-domesticated variety might be just fine, but just needs to be born where you want it to stay. You'll get any positives of that wild variety instead of having to turn to domesticated...unless something domesticated is better in all respects of course...and it'll thrive pretty good and be there for you.
    Last edited by WalkingTree; 03-08-2016 at 03:13 PM.
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