How to Prepare and Cook Game in the Wilderness

Once you have trapped and caught an animal for dinner, the job of cleaning, preparing, and cooking become your next task. If you cannot stand the thought of skinning or butchering an animal at this point in time, this article may not be your favorite. However, when faced with a survival situation, your squeamishness will quickly vanish. The will to survive will take over instead.

Skinning an Animal

Most game that you catch will need to be skinned, gutted, and butchered after you make sure it is dead. Do not do this near your shelter or near where you store your other food. Start by cutting the animal's throat. Collect the blood from the animal in a container. This can be used for stew. After you cut the throat, wait a half hour before you start to skin it so that the body has time to cool. Not only does it make it easier to skin the animal if it is cooler, it also allows time for any parasites to leave the body.

Once the thirty minutes has passed, hang the animal from the hind legs. The first cut you will make will be a circular cut above the leg joints. Do not cut through the tendon. In addition, do not cut from the fur side. This will dull your knife. Instead, slide one of your fingers between the muscle and hide, then place your knife against the muscle. Cut down the inside of each of the legs. Stop before you get to the genital area. You can then peel the skin off the legs up to the tail.

To remove the tail, slide your finger under the hide and between the tail and spine. Do this until you have space to cut the tail off. Do the same with the front side of the animal. Once you do, the hide should be able to be pulled down and separated from the membrane. Do not squeeze the belly. This will cause urine to spill into the meat. To remove the hide, slide your finger between the elbow and membrane on the front legs. You can then pull the front feet through the hide and separate it from the hide. Cut off the feet and head. Musk glands are found between the upper and lower parts of an animal's hind legs. If the animal you are gutting has musk glands, you need to remove them.

Gutting an Animal

When you gut an animal, the animal should be placed belly up on a slope or hung from a tree by its hind legs. Start gutting by putting a small incision in front of the anus. Put your index and middle finger into the cut, then spread them so that they form a "V". Next, slide your knife into the incision and between the "V". Push the organs down with your fingers so that they stay away from the knife. Cut up the abdominal cavity to the breastbone.

1. Make cuts around the anus and sex organs so they can be removed with the entrails.

2. Remove the bladder by pinching it off near the opening, then cutting it out.

3. Remove the entrails by pulling them down, then away from the carcass. The anus and intestines will need to be severed first.

4. Remove the liver and kidneys. You can also eat these. However, if the liver is spotted, throw all internal organs away. Make sure you thoroughly cook the meat. If you want to eat the liver, you will need to remove the gallbladder. It is not edible. The gall bladder is the small black sack.

5. Cut through the diaphragm. Touch the windpipe that is inside the chest cavity. You can either cut or pull out the windpipe 

6. Remove the contents of the chest cavity. You can save the lungs and heart to eat later in a stew with the liver and kidneys. 

7. Fat should be cut away from meat. If you want to use the fat in a soup, you will need to use it immediately before it spoils.

Butchering an Animal

Cut the legs, back, and breast sections free of one another when you butcher an animal. You should always cut the meat along the grain and into strips. Meat can be preserved by smoking or sun drying it. Keep in mind that the head meat is edible, as well as the brain, eyes, tongue, and bone marrow.

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Cooking the Meat

There are several methods you can use to cook the meat. You can choose your preference - or the method you feel makes the meat most edible. You can also choose a method based on the nutritional value it offers. The method that offers you the most nutrition is boiling. However, to get the nutritional benefits from boiled meat, you must drink the broth in addition to the meat. The method that offers the least nutritional value is frying.

Boiling Meat

It goes without saying that you will need a pot or other container to boil meat. If you do not have a pot or container, you can improvise by using a rock that has an indented center. Just make sure the rock is dry. If the rock has a lot of moisture, it might explode when put to heat. You can also use a hollowed-out piece of wood.

Typically, when you boil over a fire, you suspend the container above it. If you do not have a way to suspend your container, you can use a process called stone boiling. To use this method, use hot coals to heat up stones so that they are really hot. Place your container of food and water next to the bed of stones. Add the hot stones to your mixture of water and meat until it starts to boil. Cover the top of your container with bark or some other type of lid. You should keep the container covered except to add or remove stones. You will not get a rapid boil using this method. Instead, you will see a slow but steady boil.

Frying Meat
To fry meat, put a flat rock on the fire. You can even put it next to the fire. Once the rock gets hot, you can fry your meat on it just as you would in a frying pan.

Broiling Meat

Before broiling meat, you should sear the flesh with fire. This seals in the juices, which contain nutrients. Next, use a non-poisonous branch to create a skewer. Run it on the underside of the backbone. Suspend the animal over hot coals.

Mud Baking Meat

Mud baking works best for birds and fish. If you mud bake an animal, you will not need to scale, skin, or pluck before cooking it. These things will come off when the mud is removed. That said, you want to use mud that is clay-like. Pack the fish or bird in the mud. You want a tight seal to keep the meat from drying out, as well as to preserve the juices. Place the mud-covered meat in the coals of your fire. You can use a stick to pull the meat out when it is finished cooking. It will take fifteen to twenty minutes to cook a medium-sized trout or bird using this method if your coals are hot enough.

Leaf Baking Meat

You can also bake meat in leaves. To do this, wrap the meat up in a non-poisonous leaf. Place it on hot coals. The leaf will not only cook the meat. It will protect and season it. You can use seaweed to bake mussels and clams. If you do not know the type of leaf you want to use, make sure you perform an edibility test before using it.

Sun Drying Meat

Sun drying meat means using the sun to dry meat so that you can preserve it to eat later. If you do not dry or smoke the meat, you will need to eat it right away so as not to chance the meat spoiling - and making you sick. To sun dry meat, cut the meat into long and thin strips. Connect snare wire or line between two trees, and hang the meat on it by draping it over the wire or line. The meat should not touch its other side. It should also not touch another piece of meat. There is not a certain time frame for meat to dry. It can take up to a few days. However, you will know when it is dried, because the meat will be brittle and dark.

Smoking Meat

In addition to sun drying meat, you can also smoke thin strips using a smoker. To build a smoker for meat, lash three poles together to form a tripod. The tripod should be six feet tall. You will then attach snare wire or line around the poles. Make three different levels of wire or line. The lowest point should be two feet above the ground.

Hang the meat over the line by draping it. The meat should not touch its other side. It should also not touch another piece of meat. Cover the tripod with material, such as a poncho. Just make sure the material does not touch the meat. Make sure to leave a small opening at the top of the tripod for ventilation.

Next, gather green, deciduous wood, such as willow, aspen, or alter. Break it into smaller pieces or chips. Start a fire next to the tripod. Transfer hot coals from the fire to the center of the smoker. Place the pieces of green wood on the hot coals. The wood will smoke when it heats up. That said, you do not want the wood to flame up. If it does, put it out, but try not to disturb the coals.

It generally takes 24 to 48 hours to smoke meat. You will know when it is dried, because the meat will be brittle and dark.

Starting a Fire

Fire can be used to cook. However, it can also be used as a source of heat and a method of signaling rescue crews. That said, before you build a fire, you want to find a good location for it. You do not want to build a fire when it will not be protected from the wind. You want to build it in a location where there is plenty of wood or other fuel, but not in a location where there is dry vegetation that could catch fire. Once you find a location, clear it of debris. Start your fire on solid ground or on a layer of stones.

The first thing you will need for your fire are materials that ignite easily. Anything you use to ignite a fire is called tinder. Good tinder is dry. It only takes one spark to ignite it. Examples of good tinder are leaves, grass, bark, paper, and resin. Resin can be found in spruce or pine trees. It is the one kind of tinder that will ignite if it is wet.

1. A knife can be used to turn dried sticks and bark into a powdery tinder.

2. Resin can be rubbed on small twigs

You will want to have plenty of tinder on hand. Collect more than you need. It can be stored in your pockets or a backpack to use later.

Once you have burning tinder, you can add kindling to it. Small sticks and twigs are best to start out with when you first start the fire. You can also use dead branches on trees. The important thing is that your kindling is dry. Dry kindling will burn. Wet kindling can lead to your fire dying out.

It is important to remember that fires are built up gradually. Start out with small pieces of wood. Add larger pieces as the fire gets going.

NOTE: If you do not have matches on hand to start a fire, you can also use a flint striker. Although matches are a quicker and easier way to start a fire, a flint striker is low-cost, small, lightweight, and good for thousands of strikes.