Harvesting Wild Birds for Food after the SHTF

In the not-so-rural area where I live (in Massachusetts), we have ducks, geese, and wild turkeys wandering about town. Sometimes I have to stop my car, to let a few wild turkeys cross the road. And the local park is often filled with geese, as if it were a geese version of Coachella. Then, too, we have the usual assortment of small birds, including noisy crows that seem to be everywhere.

After the SHTF, some of these wild birds might be harvested for food. But it’s not so simple as it might seem. First, there are a plethora of laws governing hunting birds, which vary from State to State, and from place to place within a State, and from time to time within any year. For example, in MA, crows may only be hunted on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays, and then only during the open season for crows. Other, more desirable birds have greater restrictions.

When I lived in Florida, there was a certain type of large bird, with a long neck and long legs, standing about four foot tall. I think it was some kind of sand crane. These birds walk around like they own the place. They strut leisurely down the middle of the road, and wander across your lawn and driveway. They are heavily protected by law, and they seem to know it.

So the first obstacle you encounter when you wish to harvest wild birds for food is the legal restrictions. And I don’t want to be a scofflaw, but maybe, if law and order has broken down, you could hunt some of the smaller, least restricted birds without much problem.

The next concern will be how to take the birds. I would say that an accurate air rifle is perfect for taking small game. Those rifles are surprisingly accurate, and air guns currently have far fewer restrictions than firearms. The typical air rifle comes with a sound moderator (which is not legally a silencer or suppressor because the air rifle is not legally a firearm). So the gun is quiet enough not to alarm the neighbors. And an air rifle can take a small bird at 50 yards or more without much damage to the meat.

On the other hand, a nice .22LR rifle, such as a Henry Rifles lever-action, is a good step up in power from an air rifle, and is perfect for hunting a wide range of small birds and other small game.

For the largest game birds, a shotgun is arguably the best tool for the job. Turkeys, geese, and wild ducks are the perfect game for a reliable pump-action shotgun like the Remington 870. And a shotgun can serve double duty as a home defense gun, so it’s a good investment.

Aside from guns, what other means can be used to hunt small game? Traps and netting are generally illegal. And they require a skill set that not many persons possess. Hunting with a bow and arrow is particularly difficult on small game. So I think you are better off with an air rifle or a firearm.

Preparing wild game birds is an art in itself. Not sure if you can just hand the Mrs. a recently-departed duck and expect dinner later that day. You might have to dress that bird yourself and then grill it outside. Fortunately, a little-known information service called YouTube has many instructional videos on just this topic.

Will your kids eat game birds? Maybe you should tell them it’s a new kind of chicken. Or have plenty of catsup on hand to flavor the bird. Then again, if the kids are involved in hunting the food, they might be more open to trying it.

– Thoreau

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