With the onset of the Covid, more people than ever have tuned in to the importance of self-reliance. Life’s essentials become clear when you can’t get basics like toilet paper.
Since 2020, state agencies have sold hunting licenses and big game permit applications at record rates. Hunts that used to be easy to draw are inaccessible. This is putting increased pressure on big game populations, and the agencies that manage them.
When we think about hunting seasons, we often think about deer and other large ungulates. But we should be thinking about small game instead for three compelling reasons.
Small game hunting opportunities abound
Big game hunts are harder than ever to go on. New restrictions in many states are limiting opportunities. But small game seasons are as liberal as ever and small game species abound. You can hunt hunt rabbits, squirrels, and fine tasting game birds in every state. And if you're willing to hunt smaller, you can spend every weekend in the woods this fall. By being in the woods chasing even small game, your woodsmanship skills improve. You learn the terrain and the sounds, you see animals and you learn more about their behavior. This builds a pool of knowledge that guides your decisions on later hunts.
Small game hunting requires less expensive, less specialized equipment.
Big game hunts need big time gear. Basic deer hunts demand some knowledge of high-powered rifles or complex archery equipment. In fact, the more primitive your big game equipment, the more accomplished in the woods you’ll need to be. Understanding how your weapon shoots at distance is a learned skill. You’ll also need better optics like binoculars and rangefinders. This gear adds to the expense of hunting.
You can hunt small game animals with much simpler weaponry. Small caliber rifles, shotguns, and basic archery equipment will suffice. A simple .22 rimfire will dispatch squirrels and rabbits. And inexpensive shotguns can handle anything that flies. Because most of the work at close range, you won’t need expensive optics.
A basic gear set up will cost less than $200. But don’t skimp on a good cooler to keep your game meat cold. But you can get by with a smaller cooler than you’ll need for bigger animals. A 35 or 55 quart cooler will work for any small game hunting trip.
Small game is as good table fare as larger animals
With a variety of small game animals to hunt, you can find something that will suit any non-vegetarian’s palate. Humans have been eating small animals for thousands of years. They’re an excellent source protein that’s easier to get.
And if self-sufficiency is ever a matter of life and death again, you’re most likely to hunt small game animals than the big game. A 12 or 20 gauge shotgun is more valuable as a survival tool than a 300 Winchester Magnum.
In a world increasingly aware of self-reliance, the merits of small game hunting come to the forefront. Abundant opportunities, economic efficiency, and versatile utility align with the principles of self-sufficiency. As change continues to reshape our perspectives, let's shift our focus from the grandeur of big game to the subtle significance of small game hunting. This is a practice that mirrors the essence of resilience and self-reliance.