How to: Field Dressing Small-Game

Category: Fire / Difficulty Level: 3
Posted: 2012-07-28 14:04:16
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WARNING: Graphic gore in this tutorial...If you are squeamish or this offends you, it is okay not to view.

Here I will explain how to de-hide and field dress small game by way of chipmunk. This was an accidental harvest that I am taking responsibility for and intend on using the meat in a stew, and brain-tanning this animal's beautiful coat.

Some major precautions must be taken when processing wild small-game, such as rabbits, and rodents.

Infection by hantavirus causes flu-like symptoms followed by acute respiratory distress. Click here for more info >>

And beware of TULAREMIA.
Signs and symptoms of Tularemia are a skin ulcer that forms at the site of infection usually an insect or animal bite, Swollen and painful lymph glands, fever, chills, headache, exhaustion. Click here for more info >>

Wild rodents are also notorius for carrying feas and ticks which can also carry the above mentioned and other diseases. EXTREME CAUTION MUST BE TAKEN WHEN HANDLING WILD GAME. THIS TUTORIAL IS INTENDED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. I DO NOT ADVISE YOU TRY THIS AT HOME WITH OUT PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE.

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1). Here I have rubber gloves, stone flakes, processing surface, freezer bag for storage.


2). Remove the head, and feet...


3). Determine the cutting line you will use. Here I used option B. It was much more simpler because of using stone flakes. It is important to process as soon after harvest as possible. The colder the carcass the harder it will be to remove the hide. This is true for small or large game.


4). Begin to split the hide down the middle. Be very careful to only slit the not cut into the gut. Cutting into the intestines can contaminate the meat.


5). After slitting down to the anus, start from the top of the carcass begin to pull the hid back like taking off a jacket


6). Keep pulling firmly towards the tail. You can cut the tail from here. Cutting through the hide and the tail bone or leave the tail on. Here I only cut the tail bone to leave the tail intact for the hide.


7). Now begin to cut through the chest cavity and through the the stomach muscles. BE VERY CAREFUL NOT TO CUT THROUGH THE INTESTINES!


8). Be sure to check the liver for spots. The arrow is pointing to the liver. This animal had a clean liver with no spots. Spotted liver is no good. White spots on the liver or spleen are the sign of tularemia. You really don't have to worry too much about well-cooked wild rodent meat, especially rabbits, as far as contracting disease, this is why you should wear rubber gloves while you clean the rabbits and be aware that rodents can carry ticks that can crawl off them, onto you, carrying all kinds of not very pleasant things in side of them.

The cooked meat is not generally a problem, but I would discard any wild rodent meat with white spots on internal organs because you know they've got something you don't want.

Click here for more info on Tularemia


9). once you have slit the chest and stomach cavity, slit through the pelvic girdle to the anus. Then find the esophagus, heart and lungs. Gently but firmly grasp and pull all three out and downward toward the anus. All of the innards should come out at one time. Discard innards. I reused a plastic shopping bag and discarded them there. In the bush it would be safe to bury the discarded parts well away from your camp site to avoid large predators from attempting to get at these parts. Or some parts could be reused for fishing or baiting traps.

Large game provides tools with organs such as the stomach to make containers or as a food source. Erroring on caution, avoid eating or using the intestines of any game.


10). Here I extracted the brains of the animal to use in tanning its hide. The saying goes, "Every animal has enough brains to tan its own hide"...I wrapped the brain up in the hide and placed in storage bag and placed in freezer for later use.


11). Here is the final processed chipmunk with body and hide. I washed the carcass out with running water and stored for later use.

NOTE:After processing, I wash all surfaces and tools with bleach water to disinfect bacteria.

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