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In survival situations, hunting deer and elk may not be an option. However, small game like squirrels and birds can be a reliable alternative as you search for food. It's important to know how to hunt, clean, and cook small game—as well as which weapons are best for hunting them. Lose the Rifle Most hunters don't have the marksmanship to hunt small game with a rifle; instead, they opt for a 12 or 20-gauge shotgun with birdshot (small pellets that you’ll have to pick out of your meat). The 20-gauge has been called the perfect squirrel shotgun by "Squirrel Hunting Journal". It's easier to aim on something like a small squirrel and won't damage your meat like a 12-gauge would. Modular shotguns like Remingtons are reliable, affordable, and easy to maintain. Small switch-outs like an o-ring around the barrel are as simple as a twist and a pull. The manufacturer's website will almost always have takedown and maintenance guides, and Amazon sells print copies as well. Squirrels
Squirrels are possibly the best game in North America to hunt and were popularized by the Robertson family on A&E’s Duck Dynasty. Gray and fox squirrels span coast to coast. The eastern gray squirrel (which can weigh one to five pounds) spans the eastern half of the U.S., is heavily populated in wooded areas, and avoids open, grassy areas. Fox squirrels are more prevalent in open areas and weigh about four to five pounds—that’s one to two more pounds than the average gray squirrel.
Squirrel meat is usually chewy so it's best in a stew. Mix it with some potatoes, carrots, and peppers and you have one heck of a meal! Birds Game birds are another animal you can rely on more than deer or elk. Game birds include dove, woodcock, teal, snipe, quail, grouse, ducks, geese, pheasants, swan, and crane. In some areas, you'll Replace wild turkeys and other larger animals, but small game is what you can depend on. For bird game, stick with buckshot. It's worth the hassle of picking pellets out of the meat because firing a slug at a bird mid-flight takes serious marksmanship. Like squirrels, birds are best in a stew or, if small enough, roasted over a fire.
Practice Keep your shooting sharp by ditching standing targets and shooting trap and skeet. Small game will almost always be on the move and the ability to hit a bullseye won't do much good in a survival situation. You can practice with slugs if you'd like, but skeet and trap are very difficult to shoot with a solid round. Do you hunt small game? How do you like to prepare them as a meal? Let us know in the comments! Happy hunting.