We covered hunting vs. trapping a few days ago, and of course, once you’ve caught an animal, you need to make sure it’s consumable for humans.
Here are some types of game you might catch in the wilderness and how to ensure they are safe for you to eat, as well as some general rules about dressing freshly caught animals in the field and preparing them for consumption.
You can usually peel off the skin of a bird, but this contains the most fat, so it’s actually better to pluck them as best you can. When you’ve gotten the majority of the feathers off, roll the bird in the fire to burn the rest off. The feathers will be your biggest concern, since all birds are edible, regardless of size or whether they are a predator of scavenger.
Mammals are also universally safe for human consumption, although you’ll have to be careful of teeth, spikes, claws, etc. However, if you skin them and cook them thoroughly, they’re all safe to eat.
Many mammals also have the added benefit of having organs that are large enough to eat. You will want to fully remove all the organs before cooking, of course, as with any other animal, but you can sometimes eat the heart, liver, and kidneys, and these will provide important nutrients.
Snakes, turtles, lizards, and gators are all safe to eat, once they have been properly killed, skinned, gutted, beheaded (in the case of snakes), and cooked. Frogs, however, can sometimes have poisonous skin. The general rule is if they are colorful, avoid them, but bigger, brown or green frogs like bullfrogs, not only have a lot of great meat, they’re normally perfectly safe to eat. If you’re at all concerned about poisonous skin and aren’t sure, just peel the frog with sticks.
As a rule of thumb, you will want to peel all reptiles.
Dressing animals you’ve caught is not always fun, but if you know what you’re doing, you can be safe and prepare yourself an enjoyable, healthy meal.