Survival Guide – Hunting and Field Dressing a Rabbit

When you are out in the wilderness, hunting is always a useful skill to know. From the earliest time, men would seek for their food in the wild, perfecting their hunting skills to sustain themselves and their families. While hunting requires a certain dose of skill, a part of it should still come naturally to most men, and if you are an avid outdoorsman then you should already be familiar with certain aspects of it.
Most small game and fowl are easy to dress and prepare, and not too difficult to catch with proper weapons and patience. In this short and basic guide we will attempt to guide you into the basics of preparing a rabbit for food.

The Path to a Successful Hunt
To successfully hunt and kill a rabbit it is logical to know a bit about them beforehand. Most rabbits prefer to dwell in dense cover, like bushes and thickets that provide them with needed heat and are also close by to their food sources. In these dense growths they are provided with heat and protection from elements, as well as with a place to hide from predators. Try to look for them on the edges of fields and banks. Often enough they can be spotted on large properties besides barns and similar outbuildings. Something like this would be a logical place to observe for rabbit activity. Remember that rabbits are mostly active in the early mornings and late afternoon, but can also be seen during the daylight if they perceive no threat in their surroundings. Observe the dense growth and bushes of brambles, thorns and briars, or any similar brush. Be patient and observe such areas for any movement. Rabbits will often wait until the very last moment before bolting out of cover, and if you spot them while they are “paralyzed”, take the shot – sometimes they are not quick to move after spotted. But it is often the cast that once you come close enough, without even spotting the rabbit, it will bolt out of the brush with great speed. Be prepared to act quickly and aim an intercepting shot with your weapon.
Be Prepared
Understanding the behavior of the game you are hunting is the crucial aspect of success in the matter. Venturing out unprepared can often enough leave you disappointed and hungry, as well as a waste of time and precious resources. This is why you want to make sure you are as familiar with the process as possible. Visit a library beforehand, read up on the internet or talk to a local hunter. Learning the tips and tricks of the trade from literature or someone with previous experience can help you a lot when the time comes and you need to hunt your own meal in the wild.
The other aspect of preparation is the suitable equipment. Invest in some recommended equipment to add to your overall survival gear. A weapon of your choice and a good hunting knife for field dressing are definite choices in these circumstances. The most common choice of weapon is a shotgun. The benefits of hunting rabbits with a shotgun is the wider area affected with a shot, since all of the pellets are fired over a wide space. This makes it easier for the rabbit to get hit as it is moving. Consider all the options available to you and listen to advices from those with previous experience. If your budget is limited and prevents you from buying a gun of your own, consider renting one.
Field Dressing Process
The next logical step after your successful hunt is the preparation. Considering you are out camping and you want a nice and invigorating meal on the open fire, then a spit roast rabbit, or a warm stew is a perfect choice. To prepare these meals you naturally, need to prepare the rabbit as well. In colder weather a killed rabbit will not go bad for a few hours, and you should always try to prepare it sooner rather than later. Prepare your fire beforehand, as this will make sure the embers are nice and hot by the time you are finished with the dressing. Remember that you don’t really need a roaring flame to spit roast an animal, glowing hot embers will do just fine without burning the meat to a crisp. In case you’re making a tasty and warm rabbit stew, then a good flame is a better choice.
1. After the fire is prepared, you can begin working on your meal. Hook the animal upside down. A useful tip for doing this easily is to cut holes in the tendons of its hind legs, also known as Achilles tendon which is just below the rabbit’s thigh. Once raised up it will be much easier to work with, and cleaner as well, leaving both of your hands free to work. Consider working on the rabbit as soon as you can, as a warmer animal is easier to dress than a cold and stiff one.
The first step after that is removing the skin and the fur that comes with it. To do this easily, cut a circle above the feet, right at the ankle joint. Pinch the skin either at the back or at the stomach, making a small incision in just the skin. If you have no intention of saving the fur, then proceed by pulling the skin in the opposite directions starting from the incision you just made. It should come off easily and without snags, as the rabbit’s skin is sort of like a jacket. Keep pulling the skin off until you reach the neck and the hind feet and you can either cut of the fur at these points, or preferably remove the feet and the head entirely. To do this, place the rabbit on a hard surface and either using an axe or a large knife remove them with a firm chop at the joint. This makes the carcass much more convenient to work with.
2.  Next up is the final step and that is removing the organs from the body cavity. Make a careful incision in the thin skin on the belly of the rabbit, paying attention not to pierce into the stomach itself.  Learn to recognize the different organs in an animal, and know which to discard and which are great to consume. Once you have opened an access to all the organs, carefully remove the guts by pulling them down and out. Inspect the liver for any obvious signs of illness or imperfections, as these are indications of a sick or diseased animal. You can save the kidneys and the heart for your meal as they are healthy and tasty to eat.
Final Steps
After all this is done properly, you should have a nicely prepared rabbit for your meal. Consider rinsing it in a stream or other water source to clean any blood and dirt, and you are ready to proceed. If you opted for spit roasting the rabbit, then no further work should be needed. Just prepare the spit, pierce the rabbit and place it over the fire.
If , on the other hand, you wish to go for a tasty stew, chop the rabbit up at the major joints and sections and place them in a pot with all the other ingredients that you brought with you. In either case you are guaranteed a tasty and healthy meal that will fuel you with necessary nutrition and boost your confidence for the time to come.

We hope that this little basic article will introduce you to the general outline of hunting and preparing rabbits for food. Remember to follow every safety precaution and take all responsible measures when out in the wild. Hunting without license is usually illegal so always consult with authorities or people with experience.

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