SHTF Blog has a really good piece up on building a squirrel gun for SHTF scenarios. I don’t want to detract from it because it’s solid and you should read the whole thing, but I do want to offer a note of caution. (I’m certain that the author is aware of everything I’m about to say. Again, I’m not detracting.) I’m a longtime squirrel hunter, and like everyone else, I see them everywhere here in the city and have thought on more than one occasion that if the SHTF I could bag a few for the family.
But let’s not be under any illusions: the squirrel population is going to drop to zero really fast when the food runs out. Anyone who’s planning to eat for more than a week on squirrel will go hungry. They just aren’t as plentiful and calorie-rich as you think they are.
Assuming that you can get a pound of game meat from an average squirrel, which is optimistic, you’re looking at about 540 calories per squirrel. That may sound like a lot, but it isn’t. If you’re planning to use squirrel for, say, only a quarter the calories of a 2,000-calorie per day diet, then you have to bag one per day per family member.
There are about five or six squirrels per acre in urban areas (about two per acre in rural areas), so with four family members to feed and a 100% success rate in killing every squirrel you see, you’re clearing out around three acres every four days in the city. And you’re not the only one trying to eat them! How long is the squirrel population really going to last in your town?
Another way to think of it is that in the city you’ve got 2,750 calories of squirrel per acre. That is just not very much, even if you’re the only family out harvesting them, which you won’t be.
In rural areas it’s just as bad, since there are far fewer squirrels per acre and they’re harder to hunt and kill. Unless you’ve got a pretty massive spread of land, you’re going to exhaust your hunting range really quickly.
So by all means, buy and build a squirrel gun for TSHTF (I know I have one), and stockpile as much .22lr ammo as you can get your mitts on, but don’t even imagine that you’re going to do anything more than supplement your diet for a few weeks, at best, with squirrel meat.
A combination of a farm and a black rifle to defend it with is a lot better backup plan for procuring protein in a grid-down scenario than any small game gun.