Saturday, November 10, 2012

wild turkey & deer

There are several things that I've always wanted to try but have never done, including butchering and tanning animal hides. Well, yesterday was my birthday and, happy birthday to me, I got to try both! Warning, if you are at all squeamish, please don't finish reading this post!! 

The butchering was on a wild turkey that a friend of mine hit with her car while on her way to work.  As someone who doesn't care for waste, I decided to go and get the turkey to clean it and use for meat.  In school, I was always the one who would happily dissect any animal and wouldn't be disgusted by it, so I knew that this chore of cleaning a turkey would be very similar.  It did help that I didn't have to kill the turkey myself as there would have been a lot more emotion involved, regardless though, many prayers and chants of thanks were said to the turkey for his life and to the Earth Mother for providing this turkey for my family.

Klaus was a little unsure about the process, so he stayed away.

Preparing to gut.

After it was all said and done, I had 9.2 lbs of fresh turkey meat to go in the freezer plus a carcass, head, and feet to go in the crock pot for turkey stock.  In addition to the edible portion, I also salvaged a large bag of beautiful feathers, two huge wings, a fan of tail feathers, and a turkey beard. I feel pretty darn good about turning this amazing roadkill that was just going to rot (and feed other wild creatures, of course) into something that I could use. Humans waste so much, especially with the animals we kill with our cars, and I am happy to represent a different generation of folks who appreciate and use as much of the animal as possible. 

As for the deer, another friend of mine, Stephanie, shot a beautiful doe with her bow and was generous enough to give me the hide and the head for learning and use purposes. I've been really interested in learning the ways of Native Americans and how they preserve hides, so I used the method of tanning called "brain-tanning".  I used this tutorial as my guide to tan, and so far, so good! The hide is currently balled up in it's tanning solution for another 2-3 days, so I will have more updates as soon as I get to see the results of the labor.

deer brain

cooking the brain

Skin side up of the hide

Smearing pureed deer brain into the hide.

I hope that the hide turns out all right! We have a lot more work to do once the tanning period is over--lots of "working" the hide to turn it into something supple and not stiff.