Sustenance afield

Salt and preservatives preserve us

Posted on Jul 26 2021 in Outdoors
Campsite photo


As long as mankind has hunted, fished and foraged, someone has always brought along something fairly edible to help stave off hunger and starvation. In ancient times, folks went afield with jerky, pemmican and leather bags of parched corn.

Sucking on a mouthful of over-cooked, blackened corn has pretty much fallen out of fashion, as has the globs of pemmican — which consists of pounded meat, fat and berries. At least jerky — that dried, salted meat staple — despite the abundance of healthy and nutritious snacks modern outdoor trekkers have available, is still held aloft as one of the great foods necessary for sustenance afield.

Like many die-hard outdoorsmen, I, too, shied away from things labeled as healthy and nutritious. I prefer salt-laden, high-fat content, deep-fried and heavy on the gluten. Some of the more obscure yet treasured treats of us old-school hunter-gatherers are still found on our grocer’s shelves.

Top of the list are Vienna Sausages. The tiny cans containing finely ground, salty, extruded mystery meat has sustained many a sportsman. An amateur may pop the lid and perhaps pour off the salty brine, but a real woodsman will tip up the can sipping away as if partaking and relishing a fine wine.

For the heart-healthy source of mega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil, look no farther than the dollar cans of sardines. Granted, being salted and packed in mustard and Louisiana hot sauce may possibly lessen any health benefits, they will still take the edge off a hunger pang.

Alongside the sardines, the sharp eye will pick out tins of kipper snacks. Even saltier than their tiny packed sardine cousins, the heavy smoked, strongly flavored herring will keep you going. Anyone accompanying you in the close quarters of a ground blind, however, may find your breath more than offensive.

Turkey and deer hunting usually require a minimum of a couple of peanut butter sandwiches and a Thermos of hot coffee, but I’ve had to make due with far less. An instance comes to mind when my good friend Bill Barker and I found we were poorly stocked for snacks while turkey hunting. We both had a thermos of coffee, but lacked anything to go with it.

Rustling through his hunting back pack, Bill pulled out a small foil packet, ripped it open and asked, “You want some of this?”

My reply, as I looked at what appeared to be finely mashed, crushed pie dough with flecks of pink was, “What is it?”

Bill simply said, “A week or so ago, it was a strawberry Pop-Tart.”

Years ago, I was sturgeon fishing on the Wabash River with my late brother-in-law John Malady. Bored and hungry, I spied a can of Pringles in John’s fishing tackle. I popped the can open and shoved a handful of the chips in my mouth. I immediately started gagging on chips that were retched!

“What’s wrong with the Pringles, John?”

He replied, “Nothing. They were fine when we opened them two years ago.”

Sometimes, you just have to tough it out! Pass the parched corn please!

JACK SPAULDING is a syndicated state outdoors writer and a member of RushShelby Energy. Readers can contact the author by writing to this publication, or by e-mail to Spaulding’s books, “The Best Of Spaulding Outdoors” and “The Coon Hunter And The Kid,” are available from as paperbacks or Kindle downloads.