How To Prepare & Store Animals You Caught In A Snare Long Term: Open Fire Cooking With NO COOKING Equipment



You've been trapped in the wild for days and have finally managed to slay the biggest game you can, the mighty tree squirrel... But now what?

​If you're like most people who manage to snare wild game in a survival situation you have two reactions you experience almost simultaneously. The first is that you're overjoyed and impressed with yourself you managed to do it! The second is that you realize you don't know how to skin an animal properly to harvest the meat you worked so hard for.

Well take heart mighty rabbit slayer, we're here to equip you with the knowledge that will allow you to safely skin, and feast on anything from rabbits to elk!


  • The Most Humane Way To Dispose Of Animals Once They've Been Caught
  • The Best Knife To Use For Skinning & Processing
  • How To Skin & Clean Everything From Fish To Elk
  • Cooking To Eat Now
  • Cooking To Store Or Carry With You

How To Humanely Dispose Of The Animal


In no way shape or form do we support animal cruelty of any kind. Killing an animal for food should be done with the utmost respect and appreciation for the animal that gave it's life so you can live. If you don't have to kill an animal to survive then don't

If you have a soul then this shouldn't be the easiest part of hunting and trapping for your food. This is the part that will either be quick and clean or leave you with nightmares for weeks​

Using A Firearm

If you happen to have a gun on you then this is the most preferred method. You want the death to be instant and as clean as possible, for the animal and yourself.​ To dispose of the animal with a firearm the best methods are:

  • Frontal method - the firearm is directed at a point midway across the forehead where two lines from the topside of the base of the ears and top of the eyes intersect (pigs – from the bottom side of the ears to the eyes). The line of fire should be aimed horizontally into the skull towards the centre of the brain or spinal cord.
  • Poll method (for horned animals) - the animal is shot through the skull just behind the base of the horns. The line of fire should be in line with the animal’s muzzle.
  • Temporal method - the firearm is directed at a point midway between the eye and the base of the ear on the same side of the head. The projectile should be directed horizontally into the skull.

Without A Firearm

This method is a little less clean and should only be used as a last resort or emergency situations. If you're a woman then this will take a solid amount of force, so if possible get a male to do it. If only for the animal's sake at least.​

The most effective and humane ways to kill an animal without a gun are:​

  • Club & Bleed Out- This should be your go to method if you don't have a gun and have caught a rabbit or other small game in a snare. You'll club the animal to force loss of consciousness and puncture a major artery in the neck so that it bleeds out quickly.
  • Sever The Spinal Cord- You'll want to use this method on larger game, such as small deer or elk. Also you'll want to study some anatomy before you go hacking at their necks. The rule of thumb is that the place to sever is where the neck and skull connect. You want to press hard quickly and not slice. 

Best Survival Knife For Skinning and Processing Animals

This could quickly turn into some long winded product review of several knives that are good in some situations but bad in others. But let's be frank, you don't care about this situation or that situation, right? You just want what's going to work in MOST situations

So Here's The Knife WE Would Use

Swing Blaze By Outdooredge

The SwingBlaze is two blades in one—a drop-point skinner and a gutting knife that pivot around the handle. Bachmann praised its versatility and felt it provided the "best overall value." It was sharp right out of the box, said Bixler, adding, "It's a good, sturdy blade, and the rubberized handle provides a secure grip, even when wet." Koehler liked the orange handle, which would be "easy to see if you left the knife on the ground when in the field." He also said the knife was very rugged and versatile.​



  • Rubber Handle, Easy To Use When Wet
  • Two Knives In One
  • Best In Versatility & Overall Value


  • Not A PURE Skinning Knife
  • Folding Blade Is Hard To Keep Sanitized
  • Changing The Blade Can Be Challenging

How To Skin & Clean Game

So you've humanely taken care of the animal, you have your perfect knife in hand and ready to go. Now comes the most technical part of the process, skinning the animal without ruining the meat.

I'm sure you've heard horror stories of those who nicked an intestine and ruined the whole animal.

We're going to do our best to avoid that situation. You worked so hard to get this animal after all. It would be upsetting just to see it go to waste from one wrong move of the knife.


Fish have to be the easiest to clean and eat of any animal in the wild. If you keep a metal pot scrubber with you and you're good to descale most river fish!

But before that you'll want to remove the intestines, which again is far easier to do on a fish than a deer.

You just slice the fish, enough to break the skin and no deeper, from the tail to the gills. Reach your fingers in and scrape out the intestines without puncturing any and you're good to go! Just don't go and choke on the bones.


This might take a bit more stones to do than cleaning a fish, and is a good place to start if you're new to killing and skinning your own game. Just think of it as taking their jacket off.

After you followed the same steps as taking the intestines out of the fish, again don't nick the intestines unless you want some nasty meat. 

So here's how you do it:​

  • Cut a horizontal line under the tailbone, don't cut the tail off because you'll need it
  • Cut around the hind legs to widen the original cut while working your fingers between the skin and muscle to separate the two a little
  • Work the skin away from the front legs in the same way you did the hind legs, continue this up into the body until most of the skin is separated from the muscle
  • Place the squirrel on it's back on the ground, step on the tail with room to grab the hind legs
  • Now grab the hind legs while stepping on the tail and pull up while holding the tail down and the skin should come off easily


Now this is where the boys become men!

And thankfully this method of skinning is transferable to basically any game bigger than a little  squirrel. So ​you might want to write this one down and keep it with you.

To start this process you'll want to hang the animal up by its neck because odds are that you're not going to have a way to hang it by it's hind legs. So for now we're going with this method:​

  • Cut around the neck only cutting through the skin, go all the way around. It helps if you pinch and pull the skin away from the muscle as your cutting
  • Pull and separate the skin from the muscle some cutting with your knife as needed
  • Cut down the chest of the animal past the belly, SLOW DOWN ONCE YOU PAST THE CHEST! The last thing you want to do is nick an intestine and ruin the meat
  • Work the skin away from the muscle with the knife once again, continue this from the neck down to the legs
  • Once the skin is loose and has been worked off slice the belly so that the intestines can fall out on the ground. But don't cut so deep that you puncture the intestines 
  • Pulling from the top, after most of the skin is separated, you should be able to pull the skin down and off like it was a jacket

This process will differ some when you go from deer to bears, but overall this method of skinning animals is the tried and true method for most bushcraftmen.

If the animal is too large for you to hang in a tree by the neck, or just too heavy to lift off of the ground then we recommend following's strategy of laying the animal on the ground with the belly up, and simply cutting from the throat to the anus, avoiding the sexual organs. Then cut the hide all the way around their "knee" joints and connect that cut to the one across the belly. 

Then you'll slice the cavity that holds the entrails  and roll them out, and cut the gullet away from the body. Remove the organs from the chest cavity, such as the heart, lungs, urine bladder, kidneys and liver. Inspect the liver at this point to ensure the animal was healthy. A healthy liver will be smooth and deep red or purple. If it has worms or other obvious signs of poor health then you might consider not eating that animal for your own safety.

Now remove the hide by pulling it away from the muscle and cutting the connective tissue wherever necessary. Once you have all the hide off you'll want to separate the limbs from the body and split up the carcass to make it more manageable if you have to move it. If you don't need to move it then set you up a fire right there and read on!

Cooking To Eat Now

Believe it or not there is a way to cook the meat if you're wanting to eat it now or to take it with you as you travel. We'll go over both just so you'll have all the information you need to make it through any survival situation!

Cooking the meat to eat now is a simple process of taking your knife, slicing off the meat that you want (preferably from along the back or hind legs) or putting your squirrel on a stick and sticking that over the fire for a few minutes.

And in no time at all you've got some meat on a stick that's good for eating!​

Smoking  Meat To Eat Later

This method takes a bit more skill and patients to accomplish, but once you get it down you'll have a way to preserve meat, fruits and vegetables in the wild to sustain you for months. It should be noted that you don't have to smoke the meat to preserve it, all you're really doing to preserve it is dehydrating the meat. The smoke just adds flavor and keeps the bugs away.

You can follow along with this video, and if you get lost we'll be outlining the process below.

We're going to be building a tripod to smoke the food on, and to start you'll want to decide how big this tripod will be. Obviously the bigger it is the more meat you can smoke at once, but at the same time if you're on the move then you don't want to take too long setting this up.

So your tripod can be anywhere from 2 ft tall to 8 ft tall, it's up to you.​


First of all you'll want to find somewhat level ground to build your base on so your tripod doesn't tip over and waste all the meat. Then you'll want to dig a shallow hole that the fire will go into, the fire won't be a raging one so no need to dig too too deep.​


​If you're setting up for a long stay in one location then you'll want to  build a tripod that's roughly a few inches taller than you. To do this just find 3 reasonably straight branches, lash them together at the top with vine or parachord and dig the bottoms into the ground a little for some extra support.

The width of the base should be about 8 inches out from the fire, for obvious reasons that you don't want to burn your own smoker to the ground​


You'll want to make something similar to rungs on a ladder on the sides of the tripod, they should be about 3/4 up the base of the tripod (see video) and roughly two fist apart to safely put the meat on. These will be the supporters for the shelves that will hold the meat over the smoker.

Tie these together with either extra parachord, if you can spare it, or some vines. And do this for all three sides of the tripod​.

Once that's done you'll want to make the racks solid by laying barkless branches over the ladder rungs to make a solid shelf. You want to scrape the bark off because the meat could stick to the bark and just break apart. If bamboo or river cane is available that would be best.

Make sure the sticks are as close together as possible to avoid the smoked meats, fruits and veggies from falling through into the fire.


If you happened to kill anything bigger than a deer then you can use the hide as a cover to hold more of the smoke in and enhance the smokiness of the meat.

You'll simply take the hide and drape it over your tripod to trap the smoke in the shelf area​


The easiest way to remember which kinds of wood are best for smoking is just to pick up a piece and thump it. If it feels hard then you're good to go. If it feels pretty flimsy and brittle then it's not what you're wanting.

The reason you want hard wood is that it won't burn quickly and hot, instead for smoking you want to keep a fire stoked and not roaring. If the coals are bright red and putting out lots of smoke then that's where you want to keep it!

You want a set it and forget it type of setup so just use trial and error to find the minimal amount of effort needed to keep it going and that's your best bet!

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About the author

Cory Thomas

Chief editor here at Survive The Wild, I'm a proud husband and father passionate about survival and preparedness that doesn't involve dependence on anyone but myself!

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