The Magdalenian subsistence economy was based on hunting and gathering. Large herbivores were the primary source of game. Which animals depended on the biotope: reindeer, of course, but also deer, horse, bison, and saiga antelope. In the mountains, ibex were also targets of specialised hunting expeditions. They were hunted with the sagaie, which was launched using a propulsion device. Ideally suited for use in open spaces, this powerful weapon offered the Magdalenian hunters speed, power and accuracy. The use of bows remains hypothetical for the period, and trapping was likely, although we cannot be completely certain.

The invention of a dedicated fishing tool, the harpoon, caused an unprecedented upsurge in fishing some 13,000 years BP. Fish was likely dried, salted or smoked, and would have represented an excellent dietary supplement. Fishing basically took place in rivers (mainly salmon and trout). However, at coastal sites, shellfish and fish were widely consumed.

It is nearly impossible to say much about gathering activities for these periods, since the foods consumed only rarely leave traces. However, the gathering of bulbs, tubers, roots, berries and mushrooms is certain, since the lipid and protein intake in meat and fish are insufficient for the human diet.