View Full Version : Butchering.

07-19-2007, 07:06 PM
Living in the brush you learn to do things in the best order to do them.
You don't butcher any large animals in the warmer seasons, it is difficult to deal with all the meat before spoilage, and blow flies ruin everything, so the spring and summer is best used for hunting birds, rabit and small game. Besides it is also the best time of the year to go fishing too! (Remember without a fishing pole, you are just another fool standing on the bank.) Small game is easy to take care of and use it up before it has a chance to go bad on you.
I choose to soak my game in a mild salt brine, what soaks in the flesh kills surface bacteria, and flys eggs will not grow in salted meat.
I suppose I could have tried my hand at gardening, but that is too much like playing in the dirt, I was never so poor as I couldn't barter with the folks in the low lands for enough veggies for to can and get me through winter alright.
Oh I did do some canning in the summer, a few jars of saurcrout, corned critter and such. I did some smoking too, mostly just what I was going to get around to cooking soon (smoke is a preservitive,) and all the excess fish (salmon, steelhead, and trout,) I caught. These I strung together and hung from the rafters near the peak of my roof.
Come winter it was another story be it an elk or a deer, I would knock it down and butcher it on the spot. Oh thanks to the guy who invented the block and tackle when it comes to butchering a large elk. gutted, and set to the side tongue, heart, liver, and kidneys set in a pot of salt water to suck excess blood and gall from them, and the intestines pressed clear of their contents, turned inside out and pressed under a stone in the creek to rinse while I busied myselt to skinning and boning the meat.
Getting to the meat was the easy part, packing it to the cabin was another story, It generally took the best part of 2 1/2 days to pack everyting back to camp, and in between each trip there was packing jars with bits and pieces of meat, some measured salt and spice, and set in the canner and off I would go for yet another load of meat
Super large hunks of meat were rolled in salt and cure, wrapped in brown paper and tied up in string, these were hug to cure.
Trim meat mixed with spice and pork fat was ground and stuffed into the cleaned salted intestines as sausages.
As much meat as could be done so was packed into jars and canned, some would be plain meat, some spiced up fancy, some with salsa, some with spaghetti sauce, some with chili, oh well you get the picture.
In the fire pit the cauldren was filled with bashed long bones and water to rneder the marrow out to make some miners butter. somewhere along the line the head would be rolled through the live coals to burn and singe the hair from it, I cut the hed down the center removing the brain, and rinsed the interior cavities of the head, so when the bones had been done in and the marrow was collected, the head went into the cauldren to cook down. (Head Cheese)
All my empty jars filled, the casings packed with sausage, hunks of meat hung to cure, there is still a lot of meat left to deal with.
It is so nice to lay next to the fire pit looking at one side of ribs across from me propped up taking on refracted heat slow cooking them till they are near falling apart tender. Good eating!
The smoke house packed full with bits and pieces of trimmed meat, taking on a light coating of smoke without getting cooked, once the surface is colored and dry it is removed and by the time to goto bed taken and stacked in the cache where the remaining bugs can't get through the smoke induced scab on the meat.
Come morning liver would be the main item on the menu as it does not last long at all on it's own.
All in all this would be enough to survive on over winter, and not much at all would go to waste.
I one even dug a hole in the ground, and stretched the elk hide over and staked it down to it, useing pickling spice, garlic, bay leaves cloves and lot's of salt I made a brine and soaked chunks of meat in this solution over winter, the meat kept very well, but tended to be a bit on the rich side.
Those days are long gone to me today for sure, it was good living like that, now I have many fond memories.