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How to Butcher

Once you learn to butcher your own meat, you'll have a better chance at survival
Knowing how to butcher for meat in a survival situation could be a skill worth having. That year my husband and I spent in the woods I had to learn to butcher a deer just so that we had something to eat. I’ll tell you right now that butchering the deer was a lot easier than butchering the elk which probably weighed as much as a large steer.

The one thing you need to know, that most books about how to butcher never mention is the smell. Even now as I write this I can almost smell that odor that is unique to herbivores; a wet grassy, almost sweet, but nevertheless unpleasant smell that stays with you for a long time. So, suck it up and just know that in order to survive you are going to have to face a number of unpleasant tasks and butchering for meat is only one of them.

How to Butcher

There are a few basics you need to know when you are learning to butcher venison, the first of which is: Don’t waste anything! In a survival situation you cannot afford to be picky. That cut of meat that you wouldn’t consider buying from the supermarket, like tripe, kidneys, lungs, pancreas, tail and feet, will be too valuable to toss away.

Another basic when you butcher a deer or fresh killed animal is bleeding. This involves suspending the animal from the rear legs; head down with a catch basin to catch the blood. Cut either the carotid artery or jugular vein by stabbing the neck on both sides. It’s best NOT to do an ear-to-ear cut across the throat as this can contaminate the blood with stomach contents.

butcherdeerWhile the blood is draining, the next step is to begin skinning your kill. First of all remove the scent glands and testicles. Then cut the skin in a circle around the hocks on both legs. Then from the circle on the rear legs cut on the inside to the groin, cutting around the genitals.

From the circle extend the cut down the center of the body towards the neck. Then from the sternum area cut down the inside of each foreleg.

Be careful NOT to cut too deep and pierce the stomach cavity. Starting at the rear legs, pull the skin away from the body, using the knife sparingly and folding the hair side of the skin inside. Cut carefully around the tail, using your fingers to force the skin away from the meat. Pull the hide from the front legs and neck.

The next steps in how to butcher is all about retrieving the meat.

Learning how to butcher wild game is a skill necessary to survival. In fact, once you learn to butcher a deer or elk, then preparing a squirrel or rabbit will seem like child's play.

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