Introduction: Survivor's Supper- How to Turn an Animal Into Food **WARNING GRAPHIC CONTENT**

About: Visual Artist BioArtist Licensed Taxidermist Licensed hunter Member of the Canadian taxidermist's Association

**This Instructable contains graphic content that some may find offensive. It should be noted that no animals were harmed for the purpose of this performance and all techniques were carried out legally and professionally **

I am here to demonstrate survivalist tactics of food preparation and the values of using an animal in its entirety for food, materials and fur. This instructable's purpose is to educate the public about the uses of a whole animal and the processes necessary to use its elements for human survival.

Using a whole rabbit (human consumption grade) the performer uses skills from both hunting and taxidermy to successfully deconstruct an entire rabbit so that every available element could be put to use in a survivalist scenario. The meat ( pre-prepared) is then served up as samples in a very basic soup blend based on elements found in the wild. The demonstration on the rabbit processing  goes as such:

Whole   Skinned     gutted &Cleaned     Butchered     meat preserved    organ demonstration  peltwork

You will need:

a whole animal of human consumption grade
a scalpel or skinning knife
Paper towels
Bleach spray
Large cooking pot
Electric burner
Pre-prepared soup ingredients
2 separate tables or areas
Mask (optional)
Garbage bags
Ziploc bags

Step 1: Step #1- Animal Preparation

When using a whole animal for food the carcass should have been frozen as soon as possible after dispatching. Here I have a full chocolate meat rabbit that has been thawed slowly in the fridge. If you are in a hurry you can also thaw it in cold water but remember to change the water out to keep it cold every hour or two.

Once the limbs and neck can be moved you can begin skinning even if the core is still slightly frozen. Keep in mind this will help keep the meat from being easily contaminated but will also make the skinning process more difficult and fragile. This can pose problems if you are looking for a good quality pelt from your rabbit. 

If your animal has wounds or is bleeding from the mouth or nose use paper towel to clean the fur areas and to plug up the mouth or wound opening. I have stuffed the mouth of this chocolate just on precaution.

Blood saturating the fur should be cleaned as the bacteria that will form in the blood can cause "slippage" , a taxidermy term describing the extreme hair loss found on some pelts. Slippage can also be caused by other fluids spilling onto the fur. For a clean, quality pelt keep it as clean as possible!

Step 2: Step #2- the First Incision

Your first cut depends on what you plan to do with the pelt afterwards.

The dorsal cut goes straight along the back following the spine where after the skin can be pulled off of the carcass like a glove.

The ventral cut is an incision made along the abdomen from the breast bone to the vent ( anus).

If you are not experienced I would recommend the dorsal cut for it takes practice to execute a ventral cut without piercing the innards and causing leakage which can contaminate the meat. This is made even more difficult if the animal is still partially frozen.

I am using the ventral cut as I would like to have the option to use the pelt for a taxidermy mount at a later date. For a dorsal cut the same process would be used  as outlined here only from the back with the animal on its stomach.

Start by parting the fur to either side and making a small incision in the lower abdomen by pulling the skin up and away from the soft tissues inside. Be careful not to puncture the tissue and organs lying beneath! If you puncture the organs the leaking fluids can contaminate the meat and render the animal inedible. 

Continue to run the incision up the body until half way up the breastbone. If your animal is fully thawed it should be easy to lift the skin from the muscle tissue underneath  and you can run the blade between two fingers up the length of the animal's body. 

Step 3: Step #3- Removing the Pelt Hind Quarters

With your fingers, work the skin off of the muscle by pushing at the connective tissue (white thin membranes). Do not pull as it can tear the skin in thin areas.

Move up and around the abdomen gently so as not to disrupt the organs too much. Work down and around the haunches  and around either side of the legs until you can reach right around the ankle with the skin only attached to the foot. You will most likely have to turn the skin mostly inside out and pull it over the remaining foot.

Do this for both legs as far down as possible ( usually the ankle) and then sever the foot at the ankle joint with either a pair of sterilized garden shears or a bone saw.

Now the feet should be loose from the carcass but still attached to the pelt.

You will now want to "split" the tail, which involves an incision along its length to peel it off of the bone. After this cut carefully around the anus, completely severing the bottom half of the pelt from the carcass.

Step 4: Step #4- Removing the Pelt Upper Body

After freeing both hind legs from pelt continue working the skin up the body ( without putting pressure on the organs) to the forelegs and repeat the same procedure as with the hind legs.

Pay attention as you are working to the temperature of the animal, if it becomes too warm you may be working too slow. The meat should be kept relatively cool. You don't want to rush but you also do not want to lag. Work at a confident, brisk pace.

Once the shoulders and forelegs are free the pelt should only be connected to the head. At this point sever the head at the neck and set aside the whole pelt. The pelt should still have all four feet and head intact.

At this point we will set the pelt to the side as we want to process the meat as briskly as possible so it can be chilled to prevent the formation of dangerous bacteria. We will come back to the pelt later when we are not pressed.

Step 5: Step #5- Removing the Gut Sack

At this point you should  and have a whole naked carcass. 

If you have made any accidental incisions to the gut clean the area with cold water gently.

As with the pelt, pinch the tissue around the lower abdomen and make a careful incision, you should be able to see the organs fall away from the tissue layer you are cutting by their own weight and settle in the back of the carcass.

Again run the cut up the length of the abdomen to the sternum. There should be two fleshy flaps on either side of the gut sack which has settled along the spine.

**Be extremely careful not to rupture, cut or spill and organ fluids onto the carcass**

Spread these apart and carefully reach behind the organs to finger away the connective tissue running along the spine. You should be able to tell when all of the organs are freed of the carcass and you will have to sever the windpipe in order to free the lungs. This can be found up inside the ribs and is a strong tube with white bands running around it.

Having freed all the organs ( with the exception of the lower bowel to the anus) tilt the carcass on its side and gently spill the gut sack onto a paper towel. At this point it is safe to cut the connection to the anus. This can be done by using a cleaver to chop the pelvis in half and tear the remaining bowel and anus opening from the carcass. 

Have a look at the organs for signs of ill health, such as squiggly marks or spots on the liver or kidneys.

Step 6: Step # 6- Butchering the Meat Carcass

Now that you have this meat carcass you will have to remove the Kidneys which are embedded in the back along either side of the spine. 

Wash your carcass in cold water and dislodge any impurities or blot clots.

Next use a butchering diagram and cleaver to make the appropriate cuts into the carcass. The resulting meat cuts consist of the hind legs, loins, forelegs and shoulders. Some people also section up the back if the rabbit is hardy enough.

You should have a collection of cuts similar to the photo. Mix a good amount of salt in cold water and soak the cuts in the mix in the refrigerator overnight. This helps draw out the blood ( since a whole animal isn't bled), remove gamey flavors and to soften any tough meats.

Step 7: Step # 7- the Taxidermy Aspect

If you plan on using the pelt from your rabbit you will want to continue to skin out the remaining head and feet from the skin we set aside earlier. I will not go into great detail here about the taxidermy process since there are many resources available.

Once the head and feet are removed you should be left with a quality pelt that can be used as a base for a garment, blanket or as a taxidermy mount. It will need to be fleshed out and preserved accordingly.

Step 8: Step #8- the Supper

The theme of this instructable is based on survivalizm and so we shall create a basic soup from elements that can be found in the wilderness.

Using your rabbit meat cuts add them to a large pot filled 3/4 with water.


2-3 onions, halved
2 cuts of celery ( to taste)
3-6 potatoes
2-3 large carrots, halved
pinch of parsley

Cook the soup low and slow until the meat falls from the bone easily and no pink is left in the meat.

Personally I also add rice to my soup but I cook it separately or else the rice will absorb all of the water from the soup and make more of a porridge. 

Step 9: DONE- You Just Survived!

Congratulations! You now have the basic skills to take a whole animal and use every part of it in order to survive. I hope you enjoyed learning as I did and I hope my experience was beneficial to you!

All the best in your endeavors!