Five Alternatives to a Gun for Survival Hunting


I’m sure many of you are avid outdoorspeople. Perhaps you’ve been hunting and/or fishing for decades, or just a few years. Most hunters have their own preferred methods for harvesting game, and for me it’s without a doubt with a firearm of some sort – be it a rifle, shotgun or handgun.

Have you ever stopped to consider taking game via a method you are not accustomed to or have never even tried? In a survival situation you could find yourself without your favorite rifle or shotgun. Trying other methods to take game outside of your comfort level will make you a better survivalist, should the need ever arise.

Keep in mind you should stay within the confines of your state game and fish laws, but in most states, I find that you can use many of the methods suggested below, so long as you have proper licenses. Some states have no specific regulations or licensing requirements for small game such as rabbits or certain bird species. Of course, in the case of a true survival need the concern over rules is out the window.

Below are a few tools and methods other than a firearm I have personally used to collect and harvest game and fish over the years. There is little doubt that each one of them will require some practice and perhaps a good mentor to guide you along:

Bow and Arrow

Survival Hunting
Bow and Arrow, a proven method of taking game for centuries

Nothing new here, except to say that the world of archery and related equipment has changed drastically over the years.

As we all know, the gear available today is light years ahead of the gear used in the 1960’s or 1970’s. I am personally a recurve or straight bow guy, but the compound bows of today are truly exceptional. But past icons like Fred Bear leave little doubt that the bow is a very lethal weapon in the hands of someone who’s put in the time and effort to master it. A bow is a great hunting tool and I have personally taken much game and fish over the years with a recurve bow.

Air Gun

Survival Hunting
Air Rifle, ideal for small game

Like the bow, air guns has changed drastically over the last several decades. I do not have the hands-on experience in the hunting realm with an air rifle as much as a bow, but I have taken small game on many occasions, especially in my youth, with a pellet gun. It is a great survival hunting tool. Easy to transport, not highly regulated, pellets/BBs are easy to obtain, and perhaps the biggest advantage, it’s silent but deadly.

I have never owned a high-quality air gun but have nevertheless taken much small game with a Daisy BB gun. Today’s air rifles are more than capable of firing a projectile well over 1000 feet per second, making it a contender for not just small game but medium or even large game with a well-placed shot.

GAMO air rifles is a good place to start.

Sling Shot

Survival Hunting
Sling Shot for taking small game

What a great tool to have in a survival kit for hunting. It’s lightweight, portable, and you can pick up ammo off the ground if all else fails. The slingshot is more than capable of taking small game and even larger with a hit to the head. As with any weapon, practice makes perfect and slingshot ammo is cheap so practice is always doable. There are high-quality models such as the Scout XT out there if you want to get serious and one should consider having extra replacement bands in a survival kit. Worse case, you can make a slingshot out of materials around the house with just a little effort and creativity.

Limb Line/Trot Lines

Survival Hunting
Trotline is a sure way to bring home a few fish

Here, I’m actually referring to any method of catching fish that does not require a great deal of attentiveness, such as your everyday rod and reel.

Those I have used the most include trotlines and limb lines, to include the automatic yo-yo reel type devices. The idea being I can set several of these devices, leave them overnight, and come back the next day to collect my quarry.

Some folks may believe you need a boat to deploy these fish catching methods, but that’s not true. I have set many trot lines across the mouth of a small cove, or parallel to the bank close to deeper water. Bait can include any number of enticing delicacies, to include:  cut bait from the small game you harvested earlier in the day, minnows you have trapped in the shallows, or insects like earthworms or grasshoppers you have dug or gathered. The most targeted species are catfish, but I have caught many bass and panfish by these methods as well.


Survival Hunting
Steel leghold traps

Having trapped fairly extensively years ago, I can assure you that with some basic knowledge and know-how, use of traps is a surefire method of harvesting game. Most of my experience was centered around the use of leg hold traps for furbearers during the heyday of the fur market. A wide variety of traps could be used in a survival situation to procure food if need be, to include steel leghold traps, snares (neck or foot), conibear, Havahart and a variety of others. All of these traps and the skills to go along with can be mastered via trial and error or better yet, getting someone who knows the ropes to teach you. As a point of interest, several small wire snares can be coiled up and carried in a day pack very easily and weigh almost nothing.

This list is not all inclusive by any means, but rather reflect experiences from my past that I know will provide results. Pick one or two and give them a try, it may just prove to be the edge you need one day if you’re looking for your next meal in trying times.

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