In a disaster scenario finding a regular supply of food is going to be one of your hardest challenges. You'll be competing with the millions of other patriots who have their own families to feed and are just as hungry as you are, but a little knowledge can go a long way in giving you an edge. Before we get started though I need to state that you need to be very careful practicing these techniques before we descend into a truly lawless society. Most states have strict regulations on hunting, and depending where you live there are particular licenses you need and hunting seasons you must abide by. Join a local hunting club and speak to your local state wildlife agency to get the right information you need, to ensure you're not accidentally breaking any laws as you practice. Right, good. Now let's get into it.
Using a rifle to target big game When you're after a big animal like a deer, you need to remember they have a very acute sense of hearing, and can pick up even the most subtle smells. Wash with scent-free soap, and always approach your target from downwind, treading as stealthily as possible through the undergrowth. Good camouflage gear can help, but you're probably best served constructing a "hide" between the area where deer are grazing during the day and where they bed down at night. Then simply hunker down, staying quiet until one passes close enough to give you a shot. Take care, you'll only get one shot, and make sure you have the appropriate tags for every animal you harvest if you're out hunting now before a SHTF event.
Using a .22 to target small game One of my favorite pastimes is getting out hunting small game. We used to go spotlighting rabbits at night on the farm when I was a kid, and in a disaster you may not have the capacity to properly dress and prepare the meat from a large animal without it spoiling, so it makes sense you're able to hunt "just enough" meat from a smaller animal. I've found that altering my speed is the best way to draw rabbits out on my property, taking 10 or 12 steps in quick succession, then pausing for at least 30 seconds while I scout the area. The suspense is often too much for a rabbit to bear, and they'll bolt, and if you're ready with your rifle you'll be able to take a shot. Squirrels often pause for long enough to allow you to take a shot, and duck hunting is another way to get a meal, just be prepared to slog through a lot of mud and reeds to retrieve each bird if you've not got a dog who has been trained to.
Trapping your meals Using spring traps and snares is illegal in many areas, but in a true SHTF scenario it's one of the most effective ways you can get meat for the table. When setting snares, the more you put out the higher your chances of catching a meal, and you'll get the best results when targeting rabbits, squirrels and other small game. The trick isn't to place them randomly throughout the woods. You need to spend time locating the game trails where animals are frequently running through, or at the entrance of their den or burrow. The simplest snares are simply a loop of wire to form a noose, with one end tied securely to a tree or a stake near the game trail or their burrow. You may need to prop up the noose with a small twig so it stays open and ready to catch your dinner. When the rabbit runs through the noose it will pull tight, sometimes enough to suffocate but often you'll be facing a live (and angry) animal when you return to check the snare.
Fish as a food source I've always loved the ocean, and would take any chance I could to get out fishing. In my bug out bag I've got a small fishing kit that takes up hardly any space, but has been used time and time again to bring in food when I've been out in the wild. Just remember to keep an assortment of hooks, in little streams and ponds there will be smaller fish than you'd find in a large river or lake. In an emergency you should set a number of baited lines to significantly up your chances of catching dinner. This technique is illegal in most states, but when your life is on the line you need to use every advantage you can. Let nature help, and fastening your lines from overhanging tree branches, or on an empty shore simply collect a number of stakes and drive these into the ground so you can "set and forget" each line until it's time to check them. It can take minutes or hours to actually catch a fish, but this technique is similar to snares, which you can set and then leave to get on with other important survival tasks. These four hunting skills are all relatively basic, but tap into fundamentals that too many Americans have never taken the time to even consider. As far as many people know, their meat comes from a chilled section in the supermarket, and they would not have even the slightest idea where to turn when the shelves have been emptied. Even a working knowledge of how to shoot, trap and fish will put you miles ahead should a disaster occur, so take the time now to teach yourself the fundamentals and you'll not go hungry when it may matter most.