Butchering Lessons

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John went hunting while we were in the pottery studio. He is a very spiritual man, so he told the story to us with reverence, and I felt ashamed for being so enthusiastic. In the Ojibwe tribe, the men hunt and the women carve up the meat, so after we let the carcass rest for 24 hours (that helps tenderize the meat and allows for most of the blood to drip away), Liza and I are going to butcher it. We’re having venison liver and onions today.  

 
First we had to skin the doe, which hung upsidedown on a wooden plank as if crucified to feed our carnivorous appetites. Most of her joints were stiff with rigormortis, but her ankles were still supple.  Mom and step-pop pulled down on the skin to reveal the cobweb-like connective tissue which Liza and I carefully sliced. The sound resembled velcro or plastic unraveling. The skin near the armpit was more slippery than the rest, and little pockets of air collapsed between my fingers like bubble wrap. Her skin hung loosely mounded around her head– an oversized sweater caught around her arms. John let me carve the fatty backstrap, which was quite an honor given that the backstrap is the tastiest cut. 

 

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