There’s a good reason why animals hibernate: Winter is a lean season. For both man and beast, the colder air creates a huge drain on a body’s energy reserves. If you don’t have incoming calories or a massive fat reserve, you won’t make it through this season. This fact makes food procurement a much higher priority in a winter emergency than in a summer emergency. Compounding the issue, food gathering is often at its hardest in the winter. Many plant foods are hidden or non-existent, and the animals we would seek for game meat can be scarce. If you have to survive in the winter wilderness, look for these top foods.
There are a few high-calorie critters that aren’t sleeping through the winter. Though they are less active now, especially in bad weather, you can still find them out in the colder months if you’re lucky. Don’t starve to death on lean rabbit meat when there are some fattier animals that can give you the calories to survive.
Beaver: 3 ounces of beaver meat has 180 calories, half your daily iron, and many B vitamins.
Opossum:** 3 ounces contains 188 calories, with lots of Iron and riboflavin.
Canada Goose: 3 ounces of skinless meat contains 201 calories; leave the skin on for even more.
Raccoon: 3 ounces has 217 calories, with loads of iron, thiamin, and B12.
The plant kingdom is a trickier place to find food in the winter, but you can still pick up some calories if you are observant, lucky, and knowledgeable. Tree nuts are your best option for calories, while hardy winter greens are the least calorie dense.
Acorns: Oak nuts have 100 calories per ounce. Just leach out the tannins before eating.
Beech Nuts: Three-sided beech nuts contain 164 calories per ounce.
Hazelnuts: The Hazelnut has 170 calories per ounce and a good portion of Vitamin E, thiamin, copper, and manganese.
Pine Nuts: The seeds from pine cones have 175 calories per ounce, plus thiamin and manganese.
Black Walnuts: These nuts contain 173 calories per ounce, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper.
Hickory Nuts: Hickory nut meat packs a whopping 193 calories per ounce.
Tell us in the comments what you forage, trap, or hunt in the winter.