Sunday, April 1, 2012

Fielddressing my first animal ever!!

To me, being a wimsy big-city-boy, this was a mayor achievement and an outdoors milestone.
I never killed an animal this size, never witnessed one being killed and never witnessed one being dressed or butchered.
I had no one present to tell me exactly what to do, so I had to go by what little I had read in the past and thanks to my wife I have a fully documented report of this event!!

The bird in question, a Garrulus glandarius, had been caught by one of our cats yesterday and I was too late to save it. It allready had a broken neck and wing, but was still alive. The cat left it for me to finish off, which was done by simply tilting the head in another direction.

a picture from the internet
It was a large bird and I felt kind of sorry to just let it go to waste, so i decided yesterday that I was going to fielddress it, in order to use the resources at hand and learn from it, making the kill seem at least a little less unnecessary.
I hung up the bird in a foragingbag for safe keeping overnight. It's a Fjällravenbag, for those interested in brands and I won it last year in a competition held by Johan Forsberg's of Nordic bushcraft;

My son Sven was with me all the way.
 First we marveled for a while at the beauty of this bird. We never had the chance to examine one so up close and we took advantage of it! The colours, the texture of the different wings; it was a great and wonderfull experience to share...

I never knew the beak had such a hook. Very handy for carrying and cracking nuts and seeds, indeed.
The downfeathers. I collected those for my wife to be used in future handworkingprojects.
He, who otherwise is not so much into animal-, nature and plantthings was very fascinated!
When being plucked, not much remains!!
Other familymembers showed a great interest, too!

The first cut!!!
I wore latexgloves while doing the actual cutting. My hands have several cuts and scrapes right now and I did not want to take any chances...

mugshot of the suspect....
I love the primal instincts in him, so unlike his black buddy....

When cutting up the bird I did not really pay attention were I made the cut, since the bones were easily severed. Trying to open up the abdomen was a lot trickyer! The skin and underlaying layers were tough. I also applied too much force on the chest and cracked right through the ribcage.
This made it easier to see what's inside and we all took our time learning about it. I was able to tell the different organs apart and could tell the kids what was what. I did miss the intenstins, though....
open up and say...... wow, this is interesting!

happy his nose isn't too big, though.....

ahhh, the suspect returning to the scene of the crime!!

Even my youngster was fascinated and examined a leg up close.

My oldest daughter, the one with the outdoorenthusiasm, wasn't too enthusiastic this time. Her face says it all...

After we were done, I returned the remains to the woods, left it there for others to feed on, said my thanks and returned home.

Addition 02-04;
I got some questions if I did eat it and what it tasted like.
well, I did not eat it.... Why?
There was barely anything to eat!! If I had collected all the meat on this bird I guess I would have had a mouth full; 1 mouth full. Not even worth the trouble of firing up the stove...
Plus I did not see the bird befor it was caught. It looked healthy, but I'm no expert and for a cat to catch a large bird like that intact... Made me wonder a little and made me a little apprehensive. That's why I wore gloves, too.


  1. I think it's good that you made use of the cat's kill to do some experimentation and practice field dressing. We non-hunters (or should I say future-hunters) don't often have opportunities for this. Great that the kiddos got to have a look as well.


  2. Thanks Matt,
    I have to admit I was a bit skittish at first and this was a psychological barrier to overcome mostly.
    How I will fare on dressing larger game remains to be seen, as is with killing it. I hope to be able to learn it or part of it this year.
    Fishing is on the agenda for this year; the whole proces from catching till eating...

  3. Hi,

    thanks for sharing this. I think it is a valuable lesson, not just for you bt for the kids.

    One piece of advisse: Upgrade to some nitrile gloves, they are better suited for this kind of work. You can find them in a pack of 100 or so at a pharmacy or at amazon.

    The problem with latex is that things can seep through when some oils acid break down the stuff. They are also not as tough.

    More info here:

    Best wishes from a fellow bushcrafter!