When it comes to surviving in the wild, you want to make sure you are prepared to go against all odds. You want to be certain you’ll be able to survive whatever might come. In such dangerous circumstances, you will rely heavily on your skills and knowledge.

You want to make sure you’ve got options, which you can then adapt to your specific circumstances. Learning how to trap small game could be a life-saving skill. Your odds of survival will improve tremendously if you learn how to hunt, trap and cook small game since it’s widely available and quite easy to get by. So once you’ve caught your meal, here’s what to do:

Common Sense 

Start by examining the outside of the animal. Look for sunken eyes or emaciation, tick infestations, scabby skin, or traces of dark blood or green creamy substances coming out of its orifices. If the animal is decaying, you’ll be able to smell it. If the animal was wounded, it might have maggot infestation. Make sure you check for all of these red flags.

Once you’re done with the visual examination, put some gloves on and run your hands over the body.

In a survival situation you might not have gloves, so use whatever is convenient and disinfect hands thoroughly. Muscles shouldn’t have parasites, blood spots nor should it smell bad. Body fat shouldn’t have a cheesy appearance. Make sure you check if the hair falls off easily, the skin’s soft or gelatinous or for any traces of blood that weren’t of your making.

Don’t eat if you notice any yellow lumps on the ribs or in lung tissue, as this is a sign of tuberculosis. You could get infected even by touching the meat, so make sure you double check a few times until you are certain it’s safe.

You should do the same for upland birds and waterfowls. First, check how easy is it to pluck the feathers. Discard any bird that seems diseased or that has weird feather patterns. Most people get infected because they don’t adhere to these four principles:

#1 Keep it clean

Wash hands before and after handling any animal parts. Don’t puncture the stomach or intestines while preparing it. Don’t use water unless you really need it, it stimulates bacterial growth. If you need to clean the meat, make sure you clean the insides using alcohol or vinegar, and try the meat afterwards. 

#2 Keep it safe

Clean all utensils thoroughly, when you’re done. Some diseases reside in the animals’ nervous system, so never cut the brain or backbone of a wild animal.

#3 Keep it cool

Bacteria develop mostly in moist and warm environments. Once you are done cooking it, bring the temperature of the food down to 40 degrees F. You want to do this as quickly as possible.

#4 Keep it cooking

Cook it for a longer period of time just to be on the safe side. It will kill a lot more bacteria. You want to move really fast and waste no time whatsoever. Cooking will kill normal levels of parasites and bacteria. If you didn’t move quickly enough and the meat got infected, it will be impossible to clean it. You are better off throwing it away.

When hunting and cooking wild animals, a little caution certainly goes a long way. The risk of getting sick is so high that you shouldn’t take any chances regarding food safety. If you have the slightest doubt regarding what you caught, just leave it. You are better off setting another trap or go looking for something else to eat, rather than dying of food poisoning or even worse.

Have you ever cooked a wild animal? How did you do it? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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