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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

THE BEST OF ALASKA ROSE: Butchering Large Game

Alaska Rose (right) and her mother with a moose.

I have made some sketches of how to skin and gut and clean any large game animal without getting up to your shoulders in the body cavity. I can butcher out a moose, skinned and quartered without having anything more than the wrist of my plastic gloves smudged with blood. I just dropped my Registered Hunting Guide license after several years of enjoying getting paid for what I love to do, so I do know about butchering large game. Those (latex) gloves are worth it, to pack in, no matter how light you want your pack to be.

I don't have running water, so I like to stay as neat as possible. If you skin out the critter, and leave it on the hide, remove the top legs before attempting to gut it. Here (in Alaska), as soon as the gut cavity is opened, we have bears, and they are not interested in who got there first. So since I am usually doing a moose by myself and cannot turn one by myself, I remove all 4 legs and the back-straps, cut the head off, and THEN cut along the edge of the ribs to open the entire gut cavity, keeping the flesh over the gut as one large piece.

In the 2 sketches, the first shows an alternate way to gut an animal without getting in up to your shoulders and working blind with a sharp knife. That has never been high on my list of things I really want to do, LOL. Cut back along the ribs to the back, down to the pelvic bone and across. The gut will roll out fairly easily. If you are working on an elk, this is almost a necessity for gutting, as they have sheets of muscle hanging down inside, to hold the intestines in place, since they are jumpers. This large flap of flesh should be used for burger or make rolled stuffed roasts out of it, cook long and slow to tenderize and you will have a nice meal that is usually wasted meat. You can cut any connective tissue, as elk have hanging to hold the loops of gut in place, without reaching up to your armpits and having your head halfway in when the bear shows up. Cut the ribs loose from the backbone and section the backbone and pelvic bone into chunks you can carry and leave the gut pile in short order.
The second sketch is a standard skinning, gutting diagram, showing where most folks cut, skinning and gutting and removing the lower leg sections.
One other small tip, use a utility knife with quick change blade, to skin and section out your large critter. No stopping to sharpen a dull blade, the blade is sharp enough to skin a tough hided moose in short order, and you can get back to camp as soon as possible for another cappuccino. Oh yeah, we eat really well in any camp I am in.

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