Knowing how to forage and select edible plants from your yard and surrounding areas is a vital skill for a survivalist, but it’s not necessarily an easy one to master. That’s because, though many backyard edible and highly nutritious plants grow all around us, some have poisonous look alikes.
Mistake poison hemlock for wild carrots, for example, and you may find yourself on your deathbed, which will not be the first time that’s happened to someone. Most places try to keep poison hemlock under control, since it’s also toxic to animals, but other common foraging mistakes are easy to make.
Here are a few essential things you need to know about plants when you hunt for a meal in the underbrush.
The Right Rhubarb
Rhubarb is very familiar, even among urban dwellers, because many people put it in strawberry pies and jams. What many may not know is that people typically eat only the stems.
That’s not just because the stem tastes better than other parts of the plant, but also because rhubarb contains oxalic acid, a toxin that’s most prevalent in the leaves.
You wouldn’t normally have to worry about the amount of oxalic acid in rhubarb, even in the denser leaves, but when food is scarce, steady consumption of the leaves, even at moderate levels, would cause illness.
About 11 pounds of leaves can be fatal for a 145-pound person and far less than that could provoke serious illness.
You Say Tomato
Tomatoes come in many shapes and sizes, and in color may be anywhere from green to purple, depending on the variety and ripeness. But you should be familiar with their toxic copycat, horse nettle.
Like many of the members of the nightshade family, horse nettles are poisonous to humans. Though they’re not likely to kill you, horse nettles can lead to stomach problems and heart and respiratory issues when consumed, so skip those maybe-tomatoes in favor of a plant you’re more certain is safe to eat.
Berries are among the most dangerous — and the trickiest — potential edibles out there, partly because there are so many kinds of them. Sure, even little kids know they should avoid the red berries on their neighbor’s bushes, but what about beautiful purple pokeberries?
Pokeberries grow from a remarkably bright pink stem, which sets them apart, but seen in isolation, they closely resemble blueberries. However, just a handful of pokeberries can kill a child, and since we often eat delicious berries by the bushel, even adults can too easily swallow a lot of this tempting fruit.
The same goes for wild cherries, an appealing but toxic version of a summer favorite. In general, beware of berries, especially if you haven’t picked them yourself.
Roasted Over Fire
Chestnuts! What a lovely tradition: a meaty nut roasted during the holidays and shared with family. While these nuts have a special place in the compendium of Americana, the same isn’t the case for buckeye.
The best way to distinguish poisonous buckeyes from other nuts is by cracking them all the way open. Buckeyes cause confusion primarily when foragers aren’t sufficiently skeptical.
From the outside they look like chestnuts, which is to say shiny, and from the inside they look more like walnuts or pecans, with a lot of texture. If the nut doesn’t match one you know all the way through, toss it; it’s probably a buckeye.
It’s essential to practice foraging when you’re not in a crisis situation; that is, when you have the leisure time to do some research on the plants involved. Learn about what grows near your home, and commit what you learn to memory.
Some of the worst mistakes come from assuming a familiar plant grows nearby, when only its lookalike is common to your region.
Your experience outdoors can always be fun depending on how prepared you are in the wilderness. Some people might complain of experiencing the worst hiking trip while it is their fault for not having the essentials for such a trip. Below you will get to learn about the essentials needed for wilderness survival.
It is not always that you might end up with clean water in the wilderness. So, you have to be prepared to keep yourself hydrated while outdoors. Carry a water bottle full of water and additional collapsible reservoir of water. You still need to have a water filter or purifier that will help purify the water for drinking once your reservoir is empty.
In the wilderness, you might not get the best cell reception to use your Google maps, this means we have to go old school. You will need a map and compass as your navigation tools in the wilderness. You can always toss in a GPS and wrist altimeter as additional navigation tools to help with moving around. Make sure that you can read the map and compass or else they would be useless out there in the wilderness. If it is a hunting trip, make sure that you actually get to use an updated map with any additional features you need to know. GPS navigation could still be useful to help get back to the starting point with the logged GPS coordinates.
It is no brainer that accidents sometimes happen while in the wilderness without even really hoping for them. The worst would be when you have no first aid kit to help with the preventing bleeding or easing the pain. If you are going to carry the first aid kit, just make sure that the medicine is still viable and the bandages too still work. Some of the things to include in the first aid kit are adhesive bandages, gauze pads, disinfecting ointment, pain medication, gloves, adhesive tapes among many other important supplies.
It will get dark some point in the wilderness, so you always have to be prepared. This calls for having illumination tools to light up your way. The common source of light would be a headlamp, flashlights and packable lanterns. The headlamp is liked by many as it allows for hands free operation and also have a longer battery life. The headlamps, often come with the strobe mode, which is important in emergency situations. The flashlights on the other hand have gained popularity too. Many people would comfortably buy a flashlight knowing it will have powerful beams important for the wilderness maneuvers.
Other than your hunting gear or clothes, you still need to have a supply of clean clothes. This is for those who are looking to spend more time in the wilderness. The additional clothes can include jackets and hats that should help to keep you warm during the cold weather at night. Keep in mind only to carry the necessary clothes for the trip, carrying too many clothes might make your bag too heavy for the trip.
Food is crucial for any survival in the wilderness. You would want to make sure that you have enough food to last you for a few days if you are going to stay for longer in the wilderness. This is great to keep you going before you can start relying on the food you get after hunting. Just make sure that the food does not need a lot of preparation since you will be still in the wilderness. Freeze-dried meals would be ideal in such situations.
It is not always that something will end up breaking, but having a repair multi-tool sometimes should be great to repair the component to its working status. You are likely to find the repair multi tool to have components such as blades, screwdrivers, can openers, scissors, wrenches among many others. You simply need to compare between various models of multi tools to find the best for your activities in the wilderness. Never forget the duct tape as you might be surprised just how useful it can get whenever you are outdoors. The knives also fall into this category and can never be left behind. The right knives will always be important to get you surviving in the wilderness.
The night can get chilly sometimes in the wilderness. You will need to have a fire to keep you warm at all times. This means you need to have several matches with you. Make sure that the matches are waterproof and should also be stored in a similar waterproof container. This means that should be able to handle the wet or damp conditions of the wilderness. You can still use a mechanical lighter in the wilderness, but just have the matches as your backup fire starting method. In some cases, the campers can use a Firestarter. This is simply a device that helps the camper to jump start the fire while in the wilderness.
If you are going to stay in the wilderness for a long time, chances are that you would be exposed to the harmful sunrays. You will need protection such from UV rays, which might cause conditions such as skin cancer. You can use the sunglasses to protect your eyes from the UV rays. Using the right sunglasses model, you can block 100 percent of the UV rays. Another way for sun protection would be using sunscreen. Choose sunscreen with at least an SPF rating of 15 for better protection.
Of course, you would need to have a shelter over your head at some point. This will mean you need all the necessary shelter building tools for the trip. If you are unsure of what to choose for the building materials, visit a camping shop and ask for help from the vendor. You will get to learn more about what to expect in such a shop.
Author Bio: Roy Ayers, Hunter and Survivalist
Thanks for stopping by to learn more about hunting and surviving in the wilderness. I am a dedicated and a full time survival author, editor and blog writer on hunting. Over the years, I have managed to work on various article and blog series that all talk about hunting and surviving the wilderness. I manage to do this because of personal experience outdoors. This has always helped me to having an easy time crafting the articles for my audience over the years. Keep on reading my articles and blogs to get the useful tips and guides important for outdoor survival and hunting. Come back more often to my website to update yourself on the best new hunting and survival tips.
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