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Slingshot Hunting: An Essential Skill for Survivalists and Preppers
You are stalking in the woods, stepping carefully to avoid breaking any twigs. It is getting dark and your stomach rumbles.
But there, up ahead, a rabbit pauses. Its little brain calculates, did that scary thing see me? Should I run?
The slingshot in your hand slowly rises. You place a steel bearing in the pouch and pull it back. For a brief moment, you and the rabbit make eye contact, then thwack! Thud!
A steel ball to its head, and the rabbit falls, dead. You have secured dinner for the night, time to return to camp.
A slingshot can make an effective hunting tool. Quiet and small, it is easy to make and conceal. But a heavy projectile traveling at several hundred feet per second can be lethal to small game.
Enter the hunting slingshot.
What Can You Hunt With A Slingshot?
A well placed shot from a slingshot can injure or even kill a person. Please don’t use a slingshot on a person.
However, when it comes to hunting, keep in mind you are firing a relatively slow projectile (compared to, say, a rifle) using a handheld weapon.
It takes a lot of skill to accurately deliver enough energy to kill on impact, which is what you should be aiming for (pun intended).
Slingshots are best for small game at close ranges. Accuracy is more important with a slingshot than with a rifle or a shotgun, so getting close to your game is extremely important.
Rabbits and pheasants may be the best targets, as both tend to freeze when they think a predator is around, giving you a better shot. Pigeons and squirrels are good targets as well.
Somewhat larger prey, such as ducks and geese, can also be taken with the slingshot. While hitting a headshot is important for any prey, it is even more important for these larger animals.
An improper shot on a squirrel can wound it, allowing you to close the distance and finish it off with, say, a club.
An improper shot on a goose will at best result in the game animal fleeing, and at worse, well, angry geese wings can break arms.
Either way, practice practice practice so you know for sure you will hit the head with the first blow.
Do not hunt until you know you are accurate enough to hit a one inch target within ten yards with the majority of your shots.
What’s the Best Slingshot for Hunting?
There are two ways to answer this question. The simplest answer is that the best hunting slingshot is the one you have with you.
If you have no slingshot and need one for an emergency situation, they are easy to make yourself.
In fact, we already have an article on making a homemade slingshot!
The other answer sends you down the path of commercialism. The best slingshot you can buy will have top quality elastic bands, a wrist support to brace the slingshot to your forearm, and will have an extension so the forks are further forward.
These upgrades will cost you, however.
You can find a basic slingshot online for about ten dollars, while a fancy once will cost you forty dollars or more.
Here is a high quality slingshot with all of the fancy bits.
And here is a basic, cheap slingshot, for a quarter of the price.
A corollary to the question is that the slingshot with which you are most experienced will be the best slingshot for you.
Tournaments have been won with simple, handmade wooden slingshots. They also have been won with the fanciest of fancy slingshots.
Hunt with the slingshot you use to practice.
What’s the Best Ammo for Slingshot Hunting?
You can place nearly anything smaller than a golf ball (actually a golf ball wouldn’t be bad) into the pouch of a slingshot and fling it at your foe. Not all ammunition is a great choice for hunting, however.
Glass marbles are great for practice. Smooth and round, they fly accurately through the air. However, they are lighter than other options, and so are not a good choice for hunting.
Rocks can make a surprisingly good choice. They will be heavier than glass. You want to use smooth rocks, as round as possible.
The heavier the rock the more accurately it will fly; the added mass helps ensure momentum keeps it from deviating.
Steel balls are the standard slingshot ammunition, and for good reason.
They are smooth and round, like marbles, but heavier, so they keep momentum better and hit harder.
You can use found steel bearings or buy purpose made slingshot balls.
For hunting, you want to use steel balls that are seven-sixteenths to one-half inch. Lighter steel balls will be too light to ensure a clean kill.
Lead balls are even better for hunting than steel. Lead is denser than steel, so for the same size shot it will be more accurate and hit harder.
However, lead balls are either more expensive than steel or require casting your own, and tend to deform on impact and so are not always reusable.
Plus, lead can have a negative impact on the environment. Avoid using lead balls around wetlands, and always wash your hands after handling.
If you choose to use lead ammunition, .38to .45 caliber balls work well.
Larger hex nuts are a surprisingly good choice of hunting ammunition, at close range. They are cheap when bought in bulk.
The odd shape is a disadvantage when shooting at longer ranges, but shape also causes more damage than a steel ball of the same weight.
If you use hex nuts, try to use ones which weigh between eight to twelve grams each, and keep your range to eight yards or less.
Slingshot Hunting Tips
Practice! The most important tip for hunting with a slingshot is to be very well practiced. Slingshots require more practice than other hunting methods, so practice.
Think you are well practiced enough? Practice some more.
Did you notice I used the word “practice” a lot? I want to pound it into your head. Practice.
You need all of this practice because it is imperative you hit the head of the animal you are hunting. A body shot most likely will not kill your target, and you want a clean kill.
Practice stealth and try to get as close to your game animal as possible. A single yard can make a large difference in accuracy.
Learn to be patient and listen. A moving animal makes noise, so you can find prey by being still and quiet.
Watch for brief movement as well. Rabbits and squirrels will pause before running away, but before they do so they will move. A flash of movement can call your attention to prey, but you have to be watching for it.
Know the animal you are hunting. If you know the food they like and the plants they are comfortable around, you can use this knowledge to figure out where prey will be without even seeing them.
Know what to do with the animal you are hunting. Have an idea of how to skin that rabbit or pluck that duck. We don’t want to kill an animal and let it go to waste now do we?
Learn the laws regarding hunting with a slingshot in your area. Unless society has collapsed, be respectful and follow those laws.
Did I mention that you should practice?
For more tips and to go in-depth with some of the tips given, please visit our article on tips for hunting squirrels with a slingshot.
And here’s a video with even more tips:
In well practiced (there’s that word again) hands, a slingshot is a lethal tool. It’s a good item for your bug out bag. They’re small, light, fun, and can potentially feed you in the woods. Good luck hunting!