March 25, 2014 at 11:50 am #2486
Once you have snared or killed game for the stew pot, do you know how to field dress it? There are different types of game and just about as many different ways to dress it.
But, since most survivors hardly ever kill a deer, I will skip the big game part. For our purposes we will stick to birds, rabbits, and squirrels as that is usually what we have to deal with here in the UK.
Many people are not very excited about the idea of processing their own meals. It seems in our society today we have lost the art of killing, dressing and processing our own foods.
And, I agree with what some of you may be thinking, we don’t have a need to do that stuff much anymore.
However, once forced in to the wilds, we will need that skill if our hunting ability is to pay off. Your first step is to insure your animal is dead.
I can tell you from experience that most small game, while not able to cause serious injury, can scratch or bite you. Use caution and kill the animal before you pick it up.
A quick way to dispatch a snared or trapped animal is with a heavy blow to the head from a club. Or, you can spear it. I prefer to use a club because it kills instantly and the animal does not suffer.
While I do have to eat, I don’t relish the idea of hurting any animal. But, as survivors we must eat and part of that diet must be animal proteins and fats. Something must die for us to live.
A rabbit is very easy to dress and takes but a couple of minutes. You can hang the animals by its back legs if you want and grasp the skin on a leg.
Make a small cut, from one ankle down and across to the other ankle. You can now pull the skin down, and off, like a glove.
Remove the feet and the head.
To gut the animal, pinch the upper stomach and make a very small incision. Take the tip of your knife and slowly cut down and then up.
That procedure should have opened the stomach cavity. Remove the inner organs, with your hand, using caution not to rupture the bladder (urine). Retain the heart, liver, and kidneys, if they are not spotted.
While the thought of it may gross you out, the inner organs are very important to your survival diet. You must find a way to cook them that will allow you to eat them.
I would suggest you make a stew and just add all of the meats.
A squirrel is a little tougher to skin.
I suggest that you do not hang a squirrel when dressing it.
Make a cut about two inches long on the animals back, grasp the two pieces of skin, and pull them away from each other.
Then, remove the head and feet.
Gut and retain the inner organs just like you did the rabbit.
Remember, avoid breaking the bladder or you will get urine on the meat.
Birds can either be plucked or skinned. I suggest they be plucked. This keeps the skin on the meat, which is full of oils and fats.
Unless dealing with wood pigeon with which I just remove the breasts by slicing through the feathers following the back bone all the way down.
To pluck them you just need to pull all of the feathers out. For small birds it is easy to do, but with a goose or a turkey, it may take you a little time.
Gut them immediately, keep the inner organs, and cover them with cloth if you have any.
This is to keep flies and insects away from them.
I recommend in warm weather that your bird be cooked as soon as possible. And no matter how pretty the picture is of a bird roasting over a fire, make yours into a soup or stew.
You should boil it because you will need all of the nutrients in the animal.
Roasting will allow those important parts of your diet to drip and burn. While boiling retains them.
The thought of killing, field dressing, and preparing meat is disturbing to some people and it is easily understood.
Nonetheless, in a survival situation, you must learn to prepare your own foods.
I have eaten many rabbits, squirrels, birds and fish. Keep the will to survive alive in your head and you too can make it. Learn to live!March 25, 2014 at 4:50 pm #2772
Unbelievably useful; harder to put into practice in my own current setting, but the easy, no-frills, straight-forward manner presented here will stick with me for when I need it. Thanks, instructor!March 25, 2014 at 7:57 pm #3016
Anika, I am sorry if I wrote in explicit terms, but way back in the 80’s it was SURVIVAL not the “fashion” is Bushcraft with spoon carving and basket making, sorry, but it all boils down to survival it is that simple.March 25, 2014 at 8:06 pm #3026
No no, I was appreciating that it was simple – easier to remember that way! Thank you!March 27, 2014 at 4:50 am #3944
Gypsy Wanderer HuskySurvivalist
Great post, we do this here in newfoundland every winter. Three or four fresh rabbit always end up in our freezer!
Prepare for the unknown by studying how others in the past have coped with the unforeseeable and the unpredictable.
George S. PattonMarch 27, 2014 at 8:15 am #3961
And why not, free food and tasty as well.March 27, 2014 at 8:17 am #3962
As mentioned, it is a fairly simple procedure that many people will need to get used to doing. I would suggest this being something you need to start practicing now rather than later. And so, for the present, since most people will probably can or freeze the meat for future use, at least until SHTF happens, the two most important things are to cool the meat as soon as possible, if keeping for any period of time, and it must be kept clean. These two things will prevent a severe taste problem, and reduce the concern of loosing meat to rotting and disease.
I think it is short-sighted not to consider the possibility of hunting larger game such as we have here in the US. At least for the immediate future there will be a good supply of large game that will be around for some time after SHTF happens. In some areas the game may begin to be hunted out after an extended period of time, but not necessarily everywhere. If you do take larger game, be prepared to process it for long term use so as not to waste any of the valuable meat. Unless you have a large group it will be difficult to consume it all very quickly before losing some of it. Larger game can be dressed and processed more easily if hung by its head.
I would suggest picking up a book on dressing and butchering large game animals or even cattle, which is very similar. Here is a great selection of books to add to your library on the subject including recipes. Don’t forget, some of the healthiest meat in the world is wild game. No chemical or growth hormones in the meat, and it’s low fat.
Totally agree with the OP, don’t waste the heart and liver. I love them with a pot of rice or in a soup. Some people like the kidneys so consider those also, but be sure to clean them thoroughly. He’s also right that the human body needs a certain amount of fat to function properly. As far as birds go, most are very small and have little meat anywhere but the breast. So, I usually only cut the breast off. On a larger bird such as turkey or geese, the legs should have enough meat to make it worth the trouble. If you have a problem with getting all the feathers off to suit you, you can just skin out the bird. The only problem with this is they tend to dry out more when cooking since the skin contains most of the fat and oils.
These books will also help you to purchase the right tools for the job. I would recommend a good meat saw, a couple a different knives, and game shears. Oh, and don’t forget a way to keep the blades sharp. A sharp knife is a safer knife, because it doesn’t require as much force to cut with and therefore less likely to slip and cut you. Hope this helps.March 27, 2014 at 11:50 pm #4106
Bush rat – huh – you are smarter than you probably think. Among the minority I think that understand that what you say is so darn true. People will be grateful (even if at some point in the future) that they read and remembered your post!
My only addition to your synopsis would be the strength (especially in the hands) that is required to process most game. When older, as know well on this end, the hands do not always have the strength, grip required to do this anymore.)
Thanks for a concise intro for so many! Love to see the truly knowledgable share. You have no idea I’m sure how valuable the ‘what’ of what you know truly is to the someones like me. Again, thanks for taking the time and effort to respond.
Best to you and yoursMarch 28, 2014 at 12:41 am #4110
A couple of things that may help. To help remove feathers put the bird in boiling water for a few minutes. (If you shoot water foul save the feathers and down). Rabbits can have a dangerous liver disease, check the liver on all rabbits for white spots. Don’t eat any part of the animal if it has anything wrong.March 28, 2014 at 5:44 am #4150
Good advice about dressing game birds or even chickens. Just a slight addition to what you stated, I use to bring the water up to about 125 degrees and add a couple tablespoons of dish washing soap. This works especially well for waterfowl because it also cuts through all the oils in the feathers, and the heat loosens the skin pores and the feathers just slide right out. Make sure to soak the bird well. Don’t over heat it. Of course, if you’re only going to skin it anyway then this is a moot point. But some people like the skin left on so thought I would mention it.
Good suggestion on being careful with rabbits. Also, make sure you cook them thoroughly to kill any other bacteria that may be present. When we lived in Idaho, we use to shoot and eat Jackrabbits all the time. Real good eating, but must be cooked thoroughly. So if you live where there are Jackrabbits don’t overlook that possibility for meat.March 30, 2014 at 9:39 pm #5559
As Bushrat mentioned, we used to hunt jackrabbits at every opportunity in Idaho. No closed season since they are considered vermin and the locals loathed them. Actually they are very good eating–dark meat, plentiful supply, easy to find and shoot with a shotgun.
I devised a fast way to clean them–about a minute each–using a Gerber game shears. Take the hare, cut through the skin down the back (it’s very loose over the shoulders). Grasp the back/body just behind the front legs with your left hand, then snip off the head with the game shears. Next pull the head & skin down and back with your right hand, stopping to snip both front legs off just below the first “elbow” joint. The meaty body will remain in your left hand and entrails will come out quite cleanly along with the skin. Snip off the hind legs at the first joint (below the meaty thigh). All you have left now, is the tail which you snip off, then cut carefully around the anus and pull the gut forward with the mass of entrails/skin. Voila! Done in a minute.
Given, in a survival situation, you may want to salvage the pelt and the liver/heart. That method will take several minutes longer. But as we were not interested in the pelts nor the tiny liver/hearts, and often had several jackrabbits by the time dusk was falling, this was fast and easy.
We left the remains for the coyotes/birds of prey–which means if you are looking for really usable fur pelts, you can sit over the remains and wait for the coyotes. Think warm fur coat/mitts/hat for winter survival.
I cooked jackrabbit by rinsing at home with vinegar/water solution (to freshen and wash off any hairs), put them in a Dutch oven covered with beef consommé, garlic, onions, coarse ground black pepper and Italian herbs. Usually added a can or jar of tomatoes. Cook for a couple of hours in a 280’F oven, then add potatoes, carrots, more onion chunks, celery, whatever. Leave in the oven another hour, make biscuits, and enjoy!March 30, 2014 at 9:50 pm #5572
Another quick note: The locals sneered at eating jackrabbits, claiming they were “nasty”. Don’t always take other people’s word for things! Check it out on your own. [Anglos in Alaska also claimed snowshoe hares were inedible– “give them to the Natives”– but we enjoyed them.]
Just to be sure, I called the Idaho Dept of Conservation, and they said that they were unaware of any jackrabbit health problems. And even if the jackrabbits were infected with anything, thorough cooking would render them perfectly safe. So, yes, as posted above, check the livers. But if you’re hungry, wash your hands, cook the game thoroughly–and live!April 3, 2014 at 8:55 pm #6628
A few more thoughts for your consideration: instructor mentions saving the heart and liver of your game. Excellent advice. Also, with larger game, save the heart, liver, tongue and brains. And the second and third stomachs of ruminants (deer, cattle etc) which is known as tripe (or menudo to those who hablan Español.) All excellent food with high nutritional value. If you have access to milk, save (dry) the rumen of young ruminants for starting cheese with the rennet in the lining.
Keep and boil the bones for broth, breaking open the larger ones for the marrow. Don’t discount the gristle either. No one eats it now–but then they go and buy “Joint Supplement” pills at high cost, which is the same stuff they won’t eat.
Like the Native Americans, you can also save the bladder for carrying & storage of water (after cleaning of course.) The same applies to the small intestines–what do you think sausage casings were originally made from? (Some still are.) The Aleuts of Alaska used seal intestines, sewn together, to make durable raincoats. The fibrous tendon tissue along the backstrap should be stripped apart and used for sewing–known as sinew.
Don’t waste protein or fat from any animal. (BTW rabbits are notoriously lean, and you can die if you have no fats from other sources.) The fat can be eaten if times are hard or it’s cold; used to make candles and soap. Inuit peoples consume quantities of blubber and seal oil in the winter–a high calorie food to keep warm. Native peoples also even ate the udders of female ruminants, boiling or roasting them. Many people eat “Rocky Mountain Oysters” too… Yucky now, but when you are starving, it means life.April 3, 2014 at 11:07 pm #6678
mmmm that rabbit dinner sounds good.
after my grouse was cleaned up, i stuffed him with huckeberry’s, baked him in a pot over the fire with a bit of water, carrots, onion. very tasty.
Prepare, Preserve, Protect...April 3, 2014 at 11:11 pm #6681
Thats one of the things I miss about Maine , the sea will provide a lot of food for you , summer or winter , then there is ice fishing , clamming , etc. They even have seaweed packing plants up there .
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