Living off the land

Via Maggie's Farm, a sober look at what it would really take to live as a modern hunter and gatherer long-term--not just for a few days when lost in the wilderness.


E Hines said...

Couldn't I just fix up some long pig? Reduce the competition for food, too, for a bit, until I ran out of competition.

Or shoot the bear after it's caught my supply of salmon. Get some clothing that way, too....

Tough to live off the land, if I have to do it without community.

Eric Hines

douglas said...

Going through his numbers is also a perfect rebuttal to vegetarians that claim we're not made to eat meat. If you live in a temperate clime away from the ocean, as a hunter-gatherer you're going to need to get upwards of 80% of your calories from meat, or you'll be working too hard for too little return.

Eric Blair said...

Actually, the whole premise is silly:

let’s assume a scenario where a person will be going into the wilderness with the intention of living off the land. He will practice wilderness self reliance, he will thrive in nature, and whatever other cliché you want to insert here. Let’s also assume for the moment that there are no hunting or fishing regulations that we have to comply with, and let’s assume that the person has all necessary equipment, including hunting and fishing tools. What would the person need to procure each day in order to live in a sustainable manner for a prolonged period of time?

Nobody is going to actually go do that, ever. Hunter-gatherers don't live alone. They live in tribes.

All these people would be much better served by going and reading first person accounts of the pioneers.

james said...

Eric Blair is, of course, correct. There's another issue as well, which is the validity of the caloric requirement. The estimate is, as far as I can see, based on well-fed Americans. As dieters know to their sorrow, the body can adapt to lower levels of calorie intake.

Assuming the American survived the initial cutback, I'd predict that after some months/year the body would function on fewer calories. I'd also predict that there'd be a price to pay in terms of energy reserves and disease resistance. Speaking of which, our hypothetical Robinson Crusoe's drugs have probably expired by now.