skinning rabbits
December 17, 2006 12:00 AM   Subscribe

How do I skin and clean a rabbit?

My parent's farm has a substantial rabbit population (they are a devastating pest here in Oz). I have a lovely rifle, a steady aim, a sharp knife and two hungry wolfhounds. Help me turn vermin into a bunny dinner for my dogs. Assuming I get the skinning and cleaning bit right, I would be cooking it up with rice and vegetables for the hounds. Any outdoorsy types care to share?
posted by tim_in_oz to Pets & Animals (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
For your dogs?

My impulse is to dry it and grind it.
posted by sourwookie at 12:05 AM on December 17, 2006

The Joy of Cooking used to have a bit on this, I believe. The new version may or may not; no guarantees.

If you have a computer handy, you can explore the Joy of Googling. The first two hits there had info.
posted by wemayfreeze at 12:16 AM on December 17, 2006 [1 favorite]

I googled around and people are decidedly bashful about eating rabbit. Googling for Welsh Rarebit seemed to produce the most results. But I'm from the southern US, so we ate a lot of things that other people have never considered.
posted by kamikazegopher at 1:03 AM on December 17, 2006

Welsh rarebit = cheese on toast.
posted by divabat at 1:07 AM on December 17, 2006

There is a memorable scene in Roger & Me featuring a woman killing and skinning a rabbit in her own backyard.
posted by plokent at 2:20 AM on December 17, 2006

I'm from Portugal. We eat rabbit -either raised in farms or as game!

My grandparents lived in the countryside and when I was a kid I visited their neighbour who had some rabbits in cages in her backyard. She asked me if I wanted one and I imagined I'd have a fluffy white rabbit to bring back home and play with. As soon as I thought this, she grabbed a rabbit by its rear legs, smashed its head against a wall, made a cut on its back, held it by one leg and skinned it as if she was undressing a doll. The skin all came out almost in one piece. She put it in a plastic bag and gave it to me. I'm still traumatized. But I eat rabbit anyway. It's yummy. Too good for dogs.
posted by claudiadias at 2:45 AM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: claudiadias: as odd as it may sound, I'm vegetarian and have been for 16 years. The bunnies are a pest and must die, but I hate the idea of them going to waste, hence feeding the hounds.
posted by tim_in_oz at 2:55 AM on December 17, 2006

Tim_in_oz, I'm pretty sure (provided you kill the rabbits quickly so they don't suffer too much) the dogs will probably be happy to do they want with the whole damned unskinned rabbit. There's a bit of a trend, in fact, towards feeding dogs "whole foods" - bones, fur, skin and all. If you're not eating the rabbits yourself, I say just kill them and throw them to the dogs, and be prepared to pick up the messy left-overs.
posted by Jimbob at 3:22 AM on December 17, 2006

(Unless the rabbits have eaten some kind of bait, that is...)
posted by Jimbob at 3:23 AM on December 17, 2006

I'd agree with all of the above:

A) it's good eating for people. I've had rabbit as a kid and thought it was quite good. If it was a common food in supermarkets I'd happily buy it. I'm not sure how good wild rabbit would be, though. It's probably going to be a lot tougher.

B) Dogs have been eating other animals since there have been dogs. :) You should be able to just kill the rabbits and let them have the corpses without preparation of any kind. If I remember correctly, they like their meat a little rotten, and in the wild tend to bury it a few days before chowing down. But I'm sure they'll be happy to chomp on fresh rabbit.

Plus, if you teach them that rabbits are good food, it's always possible they might catch some on their own, saving you the cost of bullets. :)
posted by Malor at 4:00 AM on December 17, 2006

Oh... do extract the bullets, I'm sure lead isn't good for the pooches.
posted by Malor at 4:01 AM on December 17, 2006

Best answer: Wear rubber gloves - rabbits often carry tularemia. Other than that, the skin on a rabbit is really loose - it's like pulling a sock off your foot. This pretty much explains it all.
posted by zaelic at 5:36 AM on December 17, 2006

A friend and I dispatched 6 rabbits two summers ago. We made a huge feast and invited tons of people, who were very gung ho and interested through the month or so of planning, but suddenly no one was interested when we put all the food on the table. (They were all either departing for another party, had just come from a picnic or spontaeously felt unwell.)

I wonder what allows you to discharge a rifle while not permitting your dogs to hunt their own dinners? (If it's that you're worried about feeding them meat with parasites, I'm ok with that, but I'm curious.) Since you won't have the luxury of pulling them out of cages and cuddling them before you kill them with garden shears, I have to remind you that rabbits move fast, and may continue to move fast after they're shot, you know, before they die.

That aside, you've got a dead rabbit. We cut the throats and hung them by the back legs to bleed. The internet can tell you how long to hang it.

For the skinning, we went from the bottom up, so we slit the skin on the stomach and just slid our hands under the skin and peeled it away. Because we had cut off the bunny heads (with loppers! this is still an inside joke among friends. I kept the loppers for a while, but got rid of them in the move) as our method of killing, we didn't have to look at dead bunny eyes for long. Because we weren't saving the pelts we weren't careful not to rip it. The skin required a bit of tugging over the thighs and forelegs. Cutting the rabbit into pieces of about equal size was pretty easy, I think there was one part that ended up being bigger than all the other bunny parts, so we cooked all of that part together, but I don't remember which it was. This is important for cooking time.
posted by bilabial at 5:58 AM on December 17, 2006

<wavy lines>
The Venture Scout troop my Dad used to run once spent an evening skinning (and cooking) rabbits. They put the photos of the event up on the troop noticeboard and traumatised the playgroup children who saw them the next morning.
</wavy lines>
posted by pharm at 6:09 AM on December 17, 2006

We used to raise rabbits for food. The technique we'd use is:
  1. Stun the rabbit with a blow from a hammer to the back of the head. You can skip this step obviously unless you decide to trap instead of shooting the rabbits.
  2. Make a skin incision in the middle of the back. Working from the cut you can peel the skin off the rabbit towards the feet and head.
  3. Once the skin is peeled all the way to the feet/head cut off the feet and head.
  4. Scoop out the organs.
  5. Rinse with cold water.
  6. Cook or prepare for storage (freezing/canning).

posted by Mitheral at 7:14 AM on December 17, 2006

Mitheral: "stun" == alive? At what step in your technique does the rabbit die?
posted by misterbrandt at 10:01 AM on December 17, 2006

I don't know, I never really gave it much thought just followed the directions of the guy who gave us the rabbits. The whole process takes less than a minute and their isn't much blood at any stage. Stun might not have been the right word, it's quite possible the blow to the head breaks the rabbit's neck or otherwise kills it. The hammer serves the same purpose as claudiadias's grandmother's wall.
posted by Mitheral at 1:41 PM on December 17, 2006

In lieu of cutting, you can generally break the foot off near the ankle when pulling the skin off. My father-in-law showed me that trick - but be careful asthis can leave you with a sharp bit of bone sticking out.

(I applaud your desire to use the animals, even if it is only as dog food. If I won't eat it, I won't shoot it. Also, rabbits, with barbecue sauce, in a crock pot, are great.)
posted by caution live frogs at 2:27 PM on December 17, 2006

Response by poster: bilabial wrote: I wonder what allows you to discharge a rifle while not permitting your dogs to hunt their own dinners? (If it's that you're worried about feeding them meat with parasites, I'm ok with that, but I'm curious.)

I live in an urban area (my parents do not). Whilst my dogs would delight in chasing and killing rabbits, I'm very wary of skilling them up in such behaviour. I don't want to have to explain to the lady down the road with the Jack Russell terrier that my dogs were just following their instincts. If I lived full-time in the country it might be another story, but probably not even then: I can differentiate between a rabbit and a native furry animal, but an excited wolfhound won't. Ultimately my goal here is to rid some land of an introduced pest to reduce habitat competition for the indigenous animals *and* do something useful with the carcasses. Free-range dog hunting doesn't fit within that picture!

Thanks for the replies. I'll give it a go in a week or two when I'm next up there.
posted by tim_in_oz at 2:36 PM on December 17, 2006

Tim, I commend that well reasoned attitude toward hunting with dogs. The world needs more animal lovers like you, both for the sake of dogs and wildlife. Thanks for that. I hope it works out for you, and the dogs, and your folks.
posted by bilabial at 9:15 PM on December 17, 2006

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