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How to feed yourself in the Appalachian mtns.

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posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 12:08 AM
Someone recently asked me what skills I have for a survival situation. One of those skills, is knowing how to obtain a lot of food from the Appalachian wilderness using only your two hands, and maybe a knife. Now, before you go listening to internet advice about what to eat, the best way to learn this is to ask a country person to show you. Pictures and descriptions are not always the best source of information. These are some of the things that I know how to find. If any of you ever meet me, I'll show you.

Most of the foods I'll list here to gather, are great places to find bear, deer, snakes, pretty much any wildlife may be there eating too, so do yourself a favor and make some noise before you go jumping in the berry patch. If a large mammal represents a good source of food for your group, sneak in and maybe you'll get lucky and find a bear gorging himself. A bear or a snake will probably be your most likely encounter, and both of them can be eaten.

These are probably the hardest to find (bears get them), but the best tasting and easiest to gather food in the wild. I know of two species that can be readily gathered, that will not hurt you. Before you go mushroom picking you need to know two basic rules. Rule one, if there is any question about the mushroom's identity, DO NOT eat it. Rule two, all the mushrooms I mention here grow in groups usually, if you see only one, don't eat it. It most likely means that your friend the bear left it because he knew something that you do not. Like that it's the wrong kind of mushroom.

One is called a Morel, or more specifically a Yellow Morel. They taste very good.
READ the article, and become familiar with what it is that you are looking for, and what a false morel looks like. It's actually very easy to tell, except sometimes dried up morels look somewhat like the false ones.

Yellow morels (Morchella esculenta) are more commonly found under deciduous trees rather than conifers, and black morels (Morchella elata) can be found in deciduous forests, oak and poplar. Deciduous trees commonly associated with morels in the northern hemisphere include ash, sycamore, tulip tree, dead and dying elms, cottonwoods and old apple trees (remnants of orchards). The fruiting of yellow morels in Missouri, USA, was found to correlate with warm weather, precipitation, and tree species, and most usually in the springtime (April-May time frame).

A good place to find Morel's in the wild is any area that's been cleared more than 50 years ago. They love to grow on old farm/homesteads that were cleared using the slash and burn technique. Beware the false Morels mentioned in the article, they also grow here. We'll cover more food that can be found on old farms/homesteads later.

The second type of mushroom that I know is good to eat, is called a Bradley. In my opinion these taste better than the Morels, and they are also easier to find. These will vary in size and shape greatly, but the pinch test (remove a small section with your finger, and look for milk), along with a visual inspection makes them easy to spot. READ the article.

Like all Lactarius species, L. volemus forms ectomycorrhizae, mutually beneficial symbiotic associations with various tree species. In this association, the fungal hyphae grow around the root of the plant and between its cortical cells, but do not actually penetrate them. The hyphae extend outward into the soil, increasing the surface area for absorption to help the plant absorb nutrients from the soil. It is found growing at the base of both coniferous and broad-leaved trees, although it is more common in deciduous woods. It may also sometimes be found in peat moss beds. The fruit bodies, which appear between summer and autumn, are common. They can be found growing solitarily or in groups, and are more abundant in weather that is warm and humid.

You will most often find these growing in numbers near a stream, with moss and other rotting vegetation. They seem to thrive in a slightly damp area. They also like sandy soil, or soil with sand rock mixed in. Like the morels, they pop up after a good rain.

The second easiest food source, is the various berries that you will find. They're good to eat, they can't be easily mistaken for a poisonous plant, and they'll give you dysentery if you eat too many. They're perfect! As with the mushrooms, picking these has a few simple rules. Number one rule, make sure the bear is out of the berry patch before you decide to pick some. Number two, a snake is always just out of sight, so watch where you step and use a stick to clear the area by patting it on the ground and moving the vines/grass.

Black Berries are very easy to find, and taste good. They often grow near water, but are not restricted as to where they can be found. Many old farms/homesteads planted these for food years ago, and still have a thriving berry patch half a century after the humans have left the area. Bears and snakes people! Look out for the bears and snakes!

Blueberries are another somewhat plentiful berry to eat. Beware, many blue berries grow in nature that are not real blueberries. These are pretty tasty, and bears do not seem to like them. Birds will eat them though, so if a bird sounds good to you, make sure to sneak up on them and complete your meal.

Vaccinium angustifolium is a low spreading deciduous shrub growing to 60 cm tall, though usually 35 cm tall or less. The leaves are glossy blue-green in summer, turning purple in the fall. The leaf shape is broad to elyptic. Buds are brownish red in stem axels. The flowers are white, bell-shaped, 5 mm long. The fruit is a small sweet dark blue to black berry. This plant grows best in wooded or open areas with well-drained acidic soils. In some areas it produces natural blueberry barrens, where it is practically the only species covering large areas.

In the mountains, these will grow on the tops of dry ridges. They prefer open areas and can sometimes be the only source of vegetation in barren areas.

Another berry to eat is called a Serviceberry tree. These are actual trees, that produce small red/purple berries. Bears love these more than anything. A good place to find one, is again an old farm/homestead. People have been planting these for a long time, and due to bears loving them, you never know where you might find one.

When spring comes, the serviceberry tree greets you with an abundance of showy white flowers, which only last about a week. The flowers are beautiful but not large--only about 1-½ inches across. Then comes summer and the tree starts to grow juicy berries. These begin green and then change to red and finally to a purple-black color when they are fully ripe. The berries are delicious and can be snacked on from the tree or harvested and used to make all types of baked goods or canned into jams and jellies.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 12:08 AM
Wild Onions
Wild Onions aka ramps, is the best thing that you will find in the woods to season any meat that you need to cook. You can eat them straight out of the ground, but they're stronger than a regular onion and may cause heartburn. They're mainly for seasoning food.

The ramp has broad, smooth, light green leaves, often with deep purple or burgundy tints on the lower stems, and a scallion-like stalk and bulb. Both the white lower leaf stalks and the broad green leaves are edible. The flower stalk appears after the leaves have died back, unlike the similar Allium ursinum, in which leaves and flowers can be seen at the same time. Ramps grow in groups strongly rooted just beneath the surface of the soil.

Chop them up, and put them with your food while it cooks. Use sparingly.

That's right, you need some meat if you're going to survive. But what is easy to find an eat? Chances are, it will be something that you don't really want to find.

Rattle Snakes
That's right, lethal, scary, and good eating! The two types of rattle snakes that you're likely to find are a timber rattler or a eastern diamondback. Both of these are good to eat, and easy to find, if you know where to look.

Timber rattlers can be found around old timber processing areas (these are found on logging roads every mile or so), or:

Generally, this species is found in deciduous forests in rugged terrain. During the summer, gravid (pregnant) females seem to prefer open, rocky ledges where the temperatures are higher, while males and non-gravid females tend to spend more time in cooler, denser woodland with a more closed forest canopy.[13] Female timber rattlers often bask in the sun before giving birth, in open rocky areas known as "basking knolls".[14]

Diamondbacks can be found sunning themselves along roads after a cool night, or anywhere there's rock and sun, and:

This rattlesnake inhabits upland dry pine forest, pine and palmetto flatwoods, sandhills and coastal maritime hammocks, longleaf pine/turkey oak habitats, grass-sedge marshes and swamp forest, cypress swamps, mesic hammocks, sandy mixed woodlands, xeric hammocks, and salt marshes, as well as wet prairies during dry periods. In many areas, it seems to use burrows made by gophers and gopher tortoises during the summer and winter.[10]

The preferred method to hunt one of these is a small handgun. If you do not have that, and you're feeling brave, a long stick with a slight fork on the end will subdue the snake, long enough for you to remove it's head. Be careful not to cut the venom glands, by slicing too close to the jaw. You can often find them, when you really don't want to, so make lemonade, and eat it.
They taste like chicken, and can be cooked in much the same way. Breaded, fried, grilled, it doesn't really matter.

Yes, but not the cute kind. Snapping Turtles can be found in any kind of water. They are mean, so if you do not have a gun, or a shovel, it's probably best to stay away from them. None the less, they do turn up in the craziest of places.

Common habitats are shallow ponds, shallow lakes, or streams. Some may inhabit brackish environments, such as estuaries. Common Snapping Turtles sometimes bask—though rarely observed—by floating on the surface with only their carapace exposed, though in the northern parts of their range they will also readily bask on fallen logs in early spring.

These guys also, taste like chicken.
They are almost indistinguishable from snake. The biggest thing to know about a snapping turtle is, that even after the head is mostly gone, they may not be dead. It's quite a sight, but they die very slowly, no matter what. When you butcher it, the heart will likely still be beating and may continue for several days. It also may move or bite at you for a while after death.

If you are looking for a meal that's very easy to find, but not so easy to shoot, you're looking for a Groundhog, or more specifically, a groundhog hole. If you notice one while walking, camp it. You'll most likely see it several times, or especially right before dark. Old farms, or hay fields are a great place to find one. Pay attention to the edges, that's where he'll being moving from, or moving too. They're fast, so you've got to be a good shot.

The groundhog prefers open country and the edges of woodland, and it is rarely far from a burrow entrance. Since the clearing of forests provided it with much more suitable habitat, the groundhog population is probably higher now than it was before the arrival of European settlers in North America. Groundhogs are often hunted for sport, which tends to control their numbers. However, their ability to reproduce quickly has tended to mitigate the depopulating effects of sport hunting.

Once you get over the fact that they're extremely cute, I hear they taste good. I wouldn't know, because I never got over the cute factor.

the other white meat
During your travels you will likely come across all sorts of animals. You can eat most of them, so never discount a possible meal.
Many animals like bear, deer, and snakes, can be found near the other places you will be going to find food.

Is it bait, or is it food?
If you happen to have read Grandpadave's threads about methods of fishing, you know how to get fish. But how do you get the bait? The three types of bait that can be easily caught are crawdads, salamanders, and night crawlers.

These are just like pint sized lobsters, and you can eat them. Crawdads are best used as bait though. The best place to find them is in a stream, with calm and clear pools of water. To catch them, you ease your dominant hand into the water behind them, and use your non dominant hand to scare them right into your hand. It takes some practice, but it's not too hard.

Salamanders are not good for eating, but they're okay as bait. These can be found in fast running streams, and enjoy areas with large rocks nearby. If you can find a stream running over a large boulder, they're likely close by.

Nightcrawlers come out at night, and especially after a good rain. If it rains before dark, that's the best time to find them. You will find them basking on the top of the ground. They prefer loose soil, like a yard or even a field. Also not recommended for eating.

Hopefully you've gained some idea of how to obtain food for yourself, if you're in the eastern united states. Remember that whatever you can get from the land, means less to carry on your back, and less use of existing manufactured supplies. Always ask someone to physically show you these things in real life, before you decide to mess with a rattlesnake, or eat those mushrooms that just "look like it". Take any and all advice at your own risk. There are too many food sources to list, but these are easy to get.

edit on 12-10-2011 by Evolutionsend because: (no reason given)

edit on 12-10-2011 by Evolutionsend because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 12:10 AM
If this post violates any rules, mods let me know so I can conform or take it down. Or if anyone finds any typos/mistakes.
edit on 12-10-2011 by Evolutionsend because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 01:48 AM
i love threads like this. instead of telling people they're going to die, you're telling them how not to die.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 03:45 AM
Just a few more details that I wanted to add.

First is about rattlesnakes. The best time to find them is between 8-12am, so get an early start. They're much more common than you think, it's just that the average person can't actually spot one past 10 feet. The best way to get around that problem, is to stop looking for a snake, and start looking for the colors on the snake. It leads you to a lot of squinting, but it's the best way to spot one. Most of the time they look sort of like someone dropped a camouflage jacket on the ground, very hard to spot at any distance.

Second one is deer. If you insist on living on venison, or you have a group to feed, you can find a deer pretty reliably in two places. One, an apple tree. Deer love to come by an apply tree and eat the apples that have fallen on the ground. Set up a tree stand, or just climb up a tree a ways, and one will come by soon enough. The second place to find a deer is something I've heard referred to as a "salt lick". This is a place in the ground where deer will lick up nutrients, it's usually muddy, and covered with tacks. They're pretty rare, so it's the best place to find a deer. Again, set up shop and a deer will be by soon enough.

When hunting groundhogs, make sure that any burrow you find is active, before you go waiting around for one. You can tell if it's active by the dirt entering it. If it's loose and has no weeds, it's active. If the rain has packed it down, or it has weeds growing around it, it's not active.

I'll add anything else if I remember it.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 03:59 AM
Good thread, but I would avoid the encouragement to forage for mushrooms because of obviously the heath risks and because of the simple fact that mushrooms have little to no nutritional value and by eating them in a survival situation where food may be scarce will actually burn more calories digesting it than you would receive from it.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 10:03 AM
reply to post by Evolutionsend

Good thread, One plant one must be careful with is poke (pokeweed) It can be eaten once cooked ( boiled three times) but still it is somewhat toxic. I have picked poke and poke stalks as long as I can remember, this must be done in early spring while they are still tender. So if you haven't done this, it is best to leave it alone.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 10:38 AM
reply to post by oldshooter1979

I have actually. I don't like it, so I left it out.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 11:07 AM
reply to post by Retikx

These two seem to have some nutritional value, but are very low calorie.

Yellow Morel

Some retailers who offer dried morels label their products with respectively similar data. For instance, one such retailer states that 0.5 oz of dried morels contains about 48 calories, 3 calories from fat, total fat of 0.25g, sodium 3mg, total carbohydrate 8g, and 3g of protien. Albeit comparable, another such retailer offers a slightly different set of data - stating 84grams of morels to have 20 calories, 2g of protien, 3g of carbohydrates, 0g of total fat and 0 grams of fiber.


Lactarius volemus, dried Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 1,631 kJ (390 kcal)
Carbohydrates 64 g
Fat 4 g
Protein 25.2 g
Iron 1.5 mg (12%)
Manganese 1.4 mg (67%)
Zinc 3.3 mg (35%)

If you're concerned about health risks, follow the third rule of mushroom picking. When in a new area, always cook and sample one mushroom, before eating all of them. Wait enough time to fully digest it. One probably won't kill you, and it's a good way to alleviate your doubt.
edit on 12-10-2011 by Evolutionsend because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 12:30 PM
Another great food is the Armadillo, while they are fast theyare still easy to catch. Word of caution, they have been known to carry the leprosy bacteria, so where gloves, clean and cook thoroughly. They have a nutty flavor and are great bar-b-que. Also there is no cute factor.

Same with the Opossum.

Great post and great way to look at the survival angle.

reply to post by Evolutionsend

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 12:33 PM
Also if you find tracks then you have something to go on. Deer have a small range and usually stay within a 2 to 3 quare mile of their birth habitat. They are not that migratory. A heavy active trail is a good place to set up and get a catch after patience, especially if it is leading to a water source.

reply to post by Evolutionsend

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 12:50 PM
reply to post by mantarey

That is not so easy to accomplish, and anyone that's a novice hunter may well starve to death before they get a deer like that. The two places I mentioned are so easy to kill a deer, a child could do it (they do, do it). When you're trying to survive, every minute counts, so don't squander it huddled off a deer path, chances are they'll smell you long before they see you. If it's by water, then yes, otherwise, I wouldn't bother. That brings me to another point, always hunt a deer in a tree (15 feet or higher), they have a good sense of smell. Several times better than a bloodhound from what I understand. Not sure if that's true, but a deer has a good nose.

Don't be afraid to roam around and scout a range out for yourself. As long as there are not a lot of bears around, you can live much like a bear, and roam a range of land to feed yourself. Ideally you want a base camp and an area to forage/hunt. A lot like a bear, or the native Americans, both of which you're likely to find signs of on your search for food. Searching for arrow heads is another local hobby, where I grew up.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 03:03 PM
Great post, I love it! I'm planning to research and put together a similar "guide" for myself for upper Michigan, as that's my planned "bug-out" place if ever necessary, but I also like to go on camping trips where we plan to acquire our food from the land, and the Appalachians are one of the places on our list, so this may come in nice and handy.

Edit: Also, this is getting my first Flag since I've joined

As far as this:

Originally posted by Retikx
Good thread, but I would avoid the encouragement to forage for mushrooms because of obviously the heath risks and because of the simple fact that mushrooms have little to no nutritional value and by eating them in a survival situation where food may be scarce will actually burn more calories digesting it than you would receive from it.

He did say not to eat mushrooms you can't positively identify, and I think most people who would forage are well aware of the risks to eating mystery shrooms. And mushrooms are, in fact, highly nutritious. They have one of the most efficient forms of protein (types of amino acids, digestibility, and concentration per gram) of any food (including meats, nuts, beans, etc.) You'd be a fool to pass on mushrooms if you had to "survivalist" it out there and knew how to identify the safe ones.

edit on 10/12/2011 by dogstar23 because: edit to say I'm flagging this post

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 03:14 PM
reply to post by dogstar23

I'm glad that you and everyone else like the thread. I'm going to make some more threads hopefully, along the same lines. As far as what I say, I say to use this guide as a jumping off point and seek out someone that can physically show you this stuff in real life. If you're a sociable person mentioning them in passing to Appalachian locals (after you gain their trust), may result in them showing you "which ones to eat". It also may go a long ways towards letting them know that you're "one of them", or at least informed. Country folk are very friendly once they decide that they like you. I wouldn't recommend using any pictures or guides as the ultimate source of information. Things like berries, ramps, and meat are fine to use from a guide, but mushrooms require more caution.

You also need to take note with each species of mushroom, to read the area that indicates typical health hazards. For example, a morel is poisonous unless cooked well, but a Bradley can be eaten raw. All mushrooms also have to be searched for parasites, but that is true of any food item you find in the wild. Make sure to check the "apple" for worms, before you get some accidental "protein".

Also, it's she, not he.
These are some of the things that I was taught how to find and prepare. Some families have items that are passed down, mine passes down knowledge. My great grandmother was native American, and that's where a lot of the information originally came from, as well as my grandpa, who was an accomplished survivalist as well.
edit on 12-10-2011 by Evolutionsend because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 05:16 PM
if there are not too many salt blocks in farmer's pastures, you can CREATE your own "salt lick", just buy and shallowly bury a salt-mineral block, and leave carrots, apples, sweet corn, etc on top of it as bait, until you see sign that the deer are pawing at and licking the ground right abpve the salt block. Hunting over this block is illegal in nearly every state, but if shtf, put some more bait veggies on it, have 2 trees nearby you can put a stand in (depending upon wind direction) and have a 3 sided camo blind around you on the stand. Of course, you need to wear deer musk on your way to the stand on hunting day. Also, have a red lensed light that you wear on an eyeglass frame and a book to read while you wait on the dawn.

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 05:21 PM
reply to post by requirement

These actually occur in nature. There are places in the woods that for whatever reason, have a certain mineral that the deer like to lick up. Here, check out this link. It's not illegal if it's a natural occurring thing (at least I think it's not).

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 05:30 PM
Great thread. I too, live in the Appalachians of N.. Georgia...very rural area. One thing you can add to your diet in this area, is wild boar. They have taken over the forests, and routinely raid neighbors homesteads, and farms. Just 2 weeks ago, a couple of neighbors had to track down and shoot one of approx 400 lbs that kept tearing up local barns, and sheds.

It took 2 men on 2 horses, 3 hours to drag the boar back for butchering. Did I mention, it's all mountains and forests up here. Sometimes I see herds of 10 or more traveling together to raid places. Did I mention they are aggressive and mean as hell

But, yes they are plentiful, , to the point of being a nuisance in my area. They breed uncontrolled, and get huge, especially the bulls. Stay away from them during rutting...they have no problems chasing anything they consider a threat.

They also eat meat...any kind. Use that stick you carry to beat the bush well when out foraging for other goodies.

In the event anyone wants recipes on how to cook wild game, or getting the gamey taste out of meat....let me know.

Those mushrooms and ramps help make a fine pot-o-pig feast.

Wild Hog Hunting in North Georgia
By Guide Fisher,

Some of the largest wild hogs in North America live in the mountains of north Georgia. While wild hogs are a coveted game animal by many hunters, they are actually considered to be a nuisance by landowners, farmers and game management agencies as they compete with native species of wildlife. Most wild hog hunting in north Georgia is done with the aid of dogs.


Wild hogs are descendants of domesticated pigs, and there is some disagreement as to whether wild hogs were first introduced by the first European settlers, or the Spanish explorers. The domesticated pigs escaped into the wild and bred at will. As their numbers grew, the population quickly spread across much of the southern United States and into north Georgia, where their numbers have grown out of control. Now some of the largest populations of wild hogs in Georgia live in the Appalachian mountains of north Georgia.

The most popular method of hunting wild hogs in north Georgia is with a pack of dogs because of the thick cover that feral hogs inhabit. Hunters turn the dogs loose in an area where they have found fresh indications of wild hog activity and the dogs track the animals by scent. When the dogs have located a hog, they surround it to keep if from escaping until the hunter arrives to kill it. Other methods include still and stand hunting as well as spotting and stocking.

Read more: Wild Hog Hunting in North Georgia |

OP, Thank You for posting this thread. S&F

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 05:38 PM
reply to post by Destinyone

I don't know a single thing about wild boars.
I've never seen one, nor heard of one around here, or where I grew up. Probably too far north. You'll have to handle the boar hunting for me.
edit on 12-10-2011 by Evolutionsend because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 05:49 PM

Originally posted by Evolutionsend
reply to post by Destinyone

I don't know a single thing about wild boars.
I've never seen one, nor heard of one around here, or where I grew up. Probably too far north. You'll have to handle the boar hunting for me.
edit on 12-10-2011 by Evolutionsend because: (no reason given)

Sweet Pea...all 5 ft tall and 110 lbs of me will gladly watch other hunters hunt and kill the boars...I'll cook it for ya though

edit on 12-10-2011 by Destinyone because: (no reason given)

posted on Oct, 12 2011 @ 06:06 PM
reply to post by Destinyone

I feel the same way.

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