Several years ago I produced an instructional video series on survival skills; we grouped these videos under the term “neo-tribal”: taking modern, easily-scrounged materials and using primitive or less-modern skills to make them into tools.
We made the rebar knife in this video series, among many other useful things. I also learned shiv-making, weaving discarded plastic bags into rope at least as strong as nylon cord, how to knap and flake stone and glass to make cutting implements, and a lot more.
While we were finishing a scene on cooling a forged, red-hot knife in ash rather than oil, the author’s wife came in, holding a dead squirrel in a handkerchief. Half of its head had been crushed, and its remaining eye stared at us like an onyx marble.
“A UPS truck ran over it right outside the house,” she told us. “It’s still warm!”
After some discussion, we decided to use the dead squirrel to show how our knapped pieces of glass could be used to dress a small animal. So, in the waning light of mid-afternoon, we went outside and filmed the author skinning the squirrel and removing its organs with flaked shards of glass. As I was not familiar with the process, never having watched or done it myself, I found it an interesting experience. There wasn’t as much blood as you might expect, though I was a little bothered by the sight of the squirrel’s guts sort of dangling from its esophagus and rectum when the author lifted the skinned corpse up.
Later that day, as we packed up for the evening, the author’s wife came back to the workshop with a plate bearing a small pile of little gray pieces of meat, cooked and glistening.
It was the squirrel, you see. She had butchered and fried it in a pan.
“Try some,” said the author, smiling.
The gleam in his eye told me he was testing us to see if the citified boys from Colorado would actually chow down on roadkill squirrel. My production assistant and I shared a look. I shrugged, nodded, and picked one of the larger pieces. It was mostly bone, and a bit greasy, but not bad. The andouillette sausage I had eaten in Paris was much, much worse, consisting of stinking flaps of intestine and tripe. This was just little bits of rodent meat.
I didn’t suffer any ill effects (that I know of), and the rest of the shoot went swimmingly. I would probably eat squirrel again if offered, though I have no plans to make it a frequent meal unless circumstances require it.