Step by step instructions for going about skinning, primitively cooking and eating the Common Pocket Gopher.
Warning: The skinning and gutting of an animal is considered graphic by some. Pictures within this Instructable may be discomforting.
Disclaimer: A creature was harmed and consumed in this instructable. I will say that he struck the first blow by mercilessly eating my garden veggies. I'f you'd like to see how I trap these, by CLICKING HERE you can watch a video on how its done.
Step 1: Remove the Head
Though this is inelegant and a distasteful task for some, the removal of the head is a step that all of our meat products must undergo. A knife should have no problem cutting through the skin and muscles of the neck. Your knife can find a joint between vertebrae and work its way through to sever the spine or, being a small creature, you can twist the head until it "pops" the spine apart.
Note: If this is being done for survival reasons, cooking and consumption of the head may be an option to consider.
Step 2: Removal of Guts and Organs
Once the head has been removed, it is time to open the abdominal and chest cavity in order to remove the guts and internal organs. An incision can be made with a knife starting at the genital opening and shallowly cutting up towards the chest and neck. This should open the body cavity of the gopher so that the internal organs are visible and accessible.
Note: Take care not to cut the digestive organs or bladder as meat contamination will occur if either is ruptured.
Remove all organs, again taking care not to rupture or tear the bladder and portions of the digestive system. The heart and liver are particularly useful for fishing/trapping as well as additional meat to cook and consume.
Step 3: Remove the Skin
Gophers are small creatures which can make skin removal relatively easy (no knife necessary for this step). Starting at the nape of the neck, pulling the loose skin from the back will begin to reveal clean muscle. Continue separating skin from muscle until you reach the arms or legs. With the limbs of the gopher, peel the skin off of the paws like you would a sock. The skin should release revealing smooth muscle and bare claws.
You can remove the claws if they bother you, but at this point it is assumed that you've already made some questionable choices making the decision to skin and cook this thing.... claws or no claws might be the least of your concerns at this moment.
Step 4: Spit for Cooking
Once the meat has been washed, it is time to prepare it for the fire. There are many types of spit that can be used to cook over a fire, for this Instructable I have incorporated a two pronged spit. Regardless of spit design, all should be made from young living branches (spits made of dead wood will catch fire causing you to lose your meal). The spit is sharpened and pushed through the largest/thickest portions of the gopher to ensure that it will not fall off during the cooking process. Notice that the forks are also keeping the body splayed to increase surface area, thus insuring even and complete cooking of the meat.
Step 5: Place Your Meal Over the Fire
Cooking should be done slowly and steadily. Coals are ideal, but a small fire will do the job. The meat should be placed high enough to receive mild heat and smoke from the campfire, NOT IN THE FLAMES! It is better to cook meat slowly and thoroughly rather than searing and charring your potential meal. The small/thin nature of this meat means that it can easily dry out and become inedible quickly if exposed to intense heat. Be sure to turn your spit to allow for even cooking, but be patient. I will usually wait until browning has occurred before re-positioning. The more you move and handle the spit, the more chances you have of dropping and losing your meal to the fire.
Step 6: Eat Up!
Once your gopher has been thoroughly cooked, it is time to eat this unique delicacy. To make sure that the meat is full cooked, check for blood or uncooked portions deep in thick muscle and within joints (I usually pull a limb off to do this). If the meat is cooked, begin pulling segments off and enjoy!
WARNING: Be sure to allow for the meat to cool after it has come off of the fire.
If in a survival situation, do not forget about the bones. The large bones of the gopher will contain nutritious marrow which can be ground up or cooked down in a soup for an additional meal.
Step 7: Watch This Video to See How It's Done
Not a step, but if a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video ought to be worth at least a thousand
pictures. Click on the video above to see how it's done.
Check out my YouTube Channel to see more Videos like this one: HorseBackBob https://www.youtube.com/user/horsebackbob