Hunters and Vegans – A Three Day Odyssey and the Quest for Calories..


Over in Asheville, North Carolina, a ridiculous war is being waged. An army of vegan extremists have descended upon a fellow instructor who teaches students how to raise, slaughter, and butcher their own meat. Their attacks have been focused on harassing calls, cyber bullying, and even death threats. Read more here: Vegan vs. Farmer

A friend of mine sent me a link for a counter-petition and an invitation to a counter-protest. I signed it, even though I have little faith in petitions and instead of attending the counter-protest, I decided to attend the opening day of deer and bear season in a “bushcraft” canoe excursion.

Loaded  with guns, beaver snares, some fishing gear, and zero food we set out to better understand our relationship with food and the natural world, during a three-day “living off the land trip”.


For a couple years, I have been mulling over the idea of offering three day “bushcraft” trips. A “no food”, minimal gear, private class on bushcraft, foraging, trapping, fishing, hunting, and survival skills. Maybe you eat, maybe you don’t, but it is a great way to learn, test, and apply your skills.

I have very strong opinions on self-reliance, hunting, trapping, and the like, so when I read the nonsense about stopping people from participating in “nature”, I get pissy. Since being pissy isn’t enough to change anything, I endeavor to bring BigPig Outdoors “Bushcraft” Trips to life in 2017. Stay tuned…

Enlisting my long time, bushcraft buddy, we set out to scout a potential route on Calderwood Lake, from Magazine Branch to Calderwood Dam. It is seven miles of beautiful lake bordered by Wildlife Management Area on one bank and National Forest on the other. Green star = put in & Red star = take out


Typically there is a sluggish flow towards the take out, but thankfully a frigid headwind kept us from enjoying a silent drift and forced us to fight for every mile. Even better was the fact that Greg “I am going to borrow your sleeping bag for a camping date” Grieco still has my 20 degree bag, leaving me with a 45 degree bag for the mid-twenties nights. The extra challenge was welcome, even though the purpose of the trip was scouting and obtaining calories. Since a fire ban was in effect, I utilized fluffy leaf beds, my clothing, and a hot water bottle (canteen) to supplement the bag and make it through the cold nights,

One of my “rules” for living off the land is to become an Equal Opportunity Omnivore focusing on calorie dense foods. Since we would be burning around 350 calories for every hour of canoeing, the best strategy was to forage for nuts, while opportunistically hunting, trapping, and fishing.

We trolled a lure off the back of the canoe, kept our eyes peeled for game, and scouted for beaver sign, but with two ounces of hickory nuts yielding roughly 360 calories, it wasn’t hard to figure out what would be on the menu.

Majestic mockernut..


Day 1:

AppetizerOrganic, free range hickory nuts served in shell with a rusty nail as a picker

Entrée – Curried squirrel stewed in a hickory nut milk reduction

Dessert Multiple servings of  warm and hearty hickory nut milk

Calorie countA gazillion – 

  • Hickory nuts (shelled) – 2976 per pound
  • Squirrel –  450



 Day 2: 

AppetizerOrganic, free range hickory nuts. All you can eat.

Entrée –  Sautéed groundnuts and hog peanuts with a touch of pepper & garlic salt

DessertToasted black walnut chunks

Second dessertRich, hearty, warm hickory nut milk. Multiple cups

Calorie count –  A gazillion and one

  • Groundnuts – estimate 500 per cup
  • Black walnuts – 700 for 4 ounces
  • Hickory nuts – 2,976 per pound


Day 3:

Breakfast – Hot leached acorn porridge and toasted acorn crackers

Caolries – 1,757 per pound

One huge, calorically charged meal per day and binge eating hickory nuts left me with plenty of energy and I didn’t feel hungry or tired the whole trip. On my return to the cabin, I knocked out my regular workout.

As you can see, we stepped into the world of the vegan for a couple days by neccesity. I heard one squirrel bark right at dusk, but we were in full-on nut processing mode by then.

Unfortuately for the vegan crew, the slow cooked, squirrel stew was by far the best meal and could only be challenged if a bear, deer, or hog had crossed our path. Fortunately for their side, the conditions, timeframe of the trip, and terrain weren’t very favorable. On Day 2, I did find some beaver sign where we dug for groundnuts, but setting my snares there would have required us to backtrack on our exit day.

Foraging yellowroot for tinctures and squirrel skinning lesson..

Mighty eagle watching over us and canoe camp..


Robert, a Continuous Improvement Director for a large corporation, recounted a story of the Mongols after they invaded China and were exposed to all the luxuries and amenities. They became soft, and seeing this, the Khan required the generals to return to the cold and barren Asian steppe each year to be re-hardened by the elements and minimal luxuries.

Regularly depriving yourself of food and taking responsibility for acquiring it allows you to feel and experience our true primal nature. I have seen it transform vegetarians into meat eaters and make meat eaters consume their veggies. In a society awash in calories and macronutrients, it is easy to lose touch with the hunter in all of us.  Some struggle with that, others don’t, and the pangs of hunger know no emotion, they only possess the drive to be appeased.



2 thoughts on “Hunters and Vegans – A Three Day Odyssey and the Quest for Calories..

  1. Tim Smith

    Great post. Love the ideas put forth, and the emphasis on getting out and doing it. Also loved the pics. I may have leave my northern abode to paddle your region one of these years – beautiful. Keep me posted about the 2017 programs.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s