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Survival Skills: How Critter Scraps Can Keep You Alive

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July 15, 2013
Survival Skills: How Critter Scraps Can Keep You Alive - 0

In recreational hunting and fishing, many of us are all too happy to ditch the guts, bones, fur, and feathers of our quarry. In these modern times, most people keep only the meat, and return the rest from whence it came.

But if you’re lucky enough to get an animal during a survival situation, those less traditional edible parts (and all other parts and pieces) become a lot more desirable and valuable. With that in mind, here are some of the best ways to use critter scraps for survival. 

Edible Organs
Healthy looking hearts, lungs, livers, and kidneys can be eaten from most game animals. The other guts, like the stomach and intestines, could be cleaned out and turned into food or containers. Or you can make a fine fish bait, trap bait, or chum out of any of the previously mentioned parts.

Furs, Hides, and Feathers
Furs and hides have been used for rugs, shawls, boots, clothing, bedding, and a wide variety of other survival gear since the beginning of man, and feathers have been used for fletching arrows for about 10,000 years.  Match together your right wings, right tails, left wings, and left tails for best results. With hides and furs, scrape off the meat and fat and dry them to preserve them for the short term. Salt, tannins from acorns, tanning chemicals, or brain tanning will preserve the fur and hides for longer.  

Tendons
Raw tendons can be dried for a few days, then pounded with a round rock or hammer to separate them into small fibers of sinew. This sinew is a very strong tying material, and works well to fletch arrows fin dry climates. It can even be twisted into string if you have enough of it. The legs have some of the best and biggest tendons for sinew, but you can also use the sinew on the animal’s back straps (often called silver skin).

Hide Glue
Hide glue comes from the skin of any animal, bird, or fish. You can procure the glue from fresh or dried skins by simmering the furless/featherless pieces in 150-degree water for a few hours. Strain out the skin pieces and then continue to simmer and reduce the water in an open vessel until the fluid looks like maple syrup. The glue is ready to use then, or it can be cooled and cut into pieces to dry for future use. Fish skins make some of the strongest holding (and smelling!) glue.

Bones
Animal bones in various sizes and shapes can be used to build a variety of tools and supplies. Fishhooks, handles, needles, scrapers, punches, and many other appartati can be made from bones. Soft, fresh bones or old, dried bones can be carved, sanded, sawed, or ground, into many useful camp items.

Do you save the scraps? Tell us what you have cooked or crafted from critter parts in the comments.

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