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A. Dressing. Once the animal is dead, dressing should occur immediately. This allows the chest cavity to cool, thus slowing the decay and bacteria rate. Use of chest cavity propping sticks will aid in this process.

I) Game a) Using a well-sharpened pocket knife, cut around anus. Be careful not to puncture intestines or kidneys.

b) Cut the hide from the anus towards the chest cavity. This is performed by first placing two fingers under the skin. Next, place the blade of the pocket knife in between your fingers. This prevents rupturing the intestines and contaminating the meat.

c) Reach in and pull out the heart, lungs, and liver, keeping them separate from the guts. These organs are edible. Check the liver for white spots. If white spots appear on the liver, the animal may have tularemia.

2) Birds a) Pluck feathers while body is warm or the bid can be dipped into hot water.

b) A bird can also be skinned. However, this process removes the birds fat layer and is wasteful in a survival situation.

c) Make incision from vent to tail and draw out intestines.

3) Reptiles/Amphibians

(a) Cut off head well down behind poison sacs.

(b) Cut open skin from anus to neck. Pull out internal organs and discard.

Note: Box turtles, brightly colored frogs, frogs with "X" mark on their backs, and toads should be avoided.

B. Skinning. Although, the hide acts as a protective layer it should be removed as soon as possible. This will allow the meat to cool and develop a glaze. Since blood is a food source it should be collected when possible.

(a) Find the Achilles tendon just above the feet and cut a small hole between the bone and the tendon. Now you can thread a rope, string, etc., through the hole in order to hang the animal upside down from a tree branch or a make shift rack.

(b) Cut completely around the hind legs, just below where the animal is suspended. Then cut towards the anus on the inside of the hind legs.

(c) Pull hide straight down towards the head. The procedure used on the hind legs will be repeated for the fore legs. Continue pulling the hide until it is free of the head. The hide will have to be cut if the animal has antlers.

(a) Small game can be skinned like large game or it can be cased. Casing a hide means to pull the entire skin off the carcass from rear forward, with cuts made only around the feet of the animal and from the back legs to the tail. This method allows the skin to be made into mittens, bags, and other

Willow Survival

(a) The skin of fish is usually left on.

(a) The skin of birds should be left on. There is a heavy layer of fatty tissue between skin and meat.

(5) Reptiles/Amphibians

(a) The skin of reptiles is left on.

C. Butchering. Is simply cutting the meat into manageable portions. Smaller animals are generally best left whole.

Surviver Cooking Skin

Note: Animals that were killed by the use of poisons should have a 2" cubic size square of meat removed at the point of contamination.

D. Washing. Meat should be rinsed to remove dirt and especially if any bladder or fecal organs were ruptured during the skinning process.


A. Cooking meat will kill bacteria and parasites. All game will be cooked until it is thoroughly well done. There are no leftovers in survival. Cook only what you can immediately consume. Ideally, you should eat the heart and liver first to avoid spoiling. There are two methods of cooking.

1) Boiling. This is the best method for cooking. Boiling enables the survivor to consume the animal fat and nutrients, which collect in the broth.

2) Roasting. This method is wasteful and will not be utilized in a survival situation.


A. Fleshing. Fleshing is the actual removal of meat, tissue, and fat from the hide. Fleshing is easier when done as soon as possible, preferably before the hide starts to dry.

1) Soak or wet the hide if dry.

2) Lay the hide on a solid, smooth, round object (i.e., log or canteen).

3) Holding a bayonet, blunt knife, sharp stone or bone tool scrapper at a 10 degree angle away from the body, push the fat and membrane off the leather. Be careful not to make holes in the more tender parts of the belly. For beaver and badger the fat must be cut off the hide.

4) Continue this until all the fat is completely removed.

B. Stretching. A fresh green or soaked hide must be stretched. Either making a frame or using the ground accomplishes stretching.

1) Frame stretching involves lacing the hide to a frame with cordage and pulling it tight.

2) Ground stretching involves staking the hide tight to the ground.

3) A Frame can also be created by bending a stick back on it's self.

4) The less a hide shrinks and hardens the softer it will be at the end of the process.

1) Using a sharp stone tool scrapper scrape off the hair. Soaking the hide in water will make this process easier.

D. Braining. The brain acts as a lubricant and provides a temporary water repellant.

1) Soak the hide on the stretcher.

2) Extract the brain from the animal.

3) Mix the brains with water to create a pasty solution.

4) Once the brains are warm and thoroughly mixed rub into the hide. Firmly rub the mixture into hide with your hand on only the hairless side.

E. Graining. This step forces the brains thoroughly into the leather.

1) Sponge on water to further dampen hide.

2) Using a blunt end of a pole, apply pressure over every inch, scrapping and stretching the fibers until most of the water is gone from the skin.

3) Tighten the hide on the stretcher and allow it to dry.

F. Rubbing. The next critical step is the high friction rubbing needed to create a little heat and finish the drying, stretching, and breaking of the grain. Either method can be used.

1) Cut the skin from the frame around the perimeter, leaving only the lacing holes and hair that could not be removed.

2) Use a one half-inch rope attached between two trees. Grasp the skin at different points all around its perimeter and pull, pull, pull.

3) If rope is not available, rub the skin by sitting on the ground and hooking the skin over your feet and pulling.

G. Smoking. Smoking the hide will help make the hide water repellant.

1) Add wet or green wood chips to the fire. Sage or willow are good woods. The object is to get the chips to smoke, not burn.

2) It only takes a few minutes to smoke, but be careful to prevent flame from ruining the hide.

H. Animal Hide Uses. Animal hide uses are limited only by the imagination. Listed below are a few ideas:

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