The North American Frontiersmen




Freelance Writer

   Smoke Signals

                   Jul./Aug. '09



Your editor Monsieur Conner sent me this question and asked if I could write a response. 

"What would need to be done to a beaver so I could properly freeze it , if anyone can help with this, I'd appreciate it, things along the line of how to gut them, whether to quarter it, etc.."


Preparing a Beaver for Freezing

First, skin the critter.

Next, using just the tip of your knife, slit up the centerline of the abdominal wall from vent to breastbone, cutting to one side of the penis if a male. Cut away the diaphragm (the muscle between the abdomen and chest). Reach into the chest as in into the neck as possible and cut away the trachea and esophagus (throat). Pull on these two structures to remove the lungs, and heart. Stop when these structures are pulled just below the sternum (breastbone).

Take a bit of string to tie off the urethra as near the genitalia as you can. Use another bit of string to tie off the large bowel as near the anus as possible. Use a knife to severe these structures as near the surface as you can. The string is used to help prevent contaminating your meat with urine or feces. Once the bowel and urethra are severed, removed everything that's inside the carcass. Clean up any blood or other gunk spilled onto the meat by rinsing it in cold water, but don't let the meat soak in water as that will only drive blood and stuff in deeper.

Remove the front legs by slicing the shoulder blade away with your knife. Remove the rear legs by slicing the muscle between the thigh and spine until you can see the ball joint of the femurs (large thigh bones). Cut away any ligaments you see, and twist and pry until the femur pops out of the joint. You'll then have the entire rear leg in your hand. Cut the back away from the ribcage by cutting through the meat just behind the last (floating) ribs on both sides, all the way to the spine. Break the spine over your knee (like a stick of wood) and cut the two pieces away with your knife.

If you wish, you can use a knife to split the sternum. By breaking the ribs near the spine you can then make the breast lie more or less flat. I prefer to wrap each piece separately in film, then again in butcher paper. Use a permanent marker to mark the species and date, and place it in your freezer. I use a chest-type freezer for game, and first place it as near the coils of the freezer as possible to freeze it deeply. Once it's frozen through I can move it to the other end of the freezer for storage.

If you wish to ship it, contact a local meat packing house. They should be able to provide heavy cardboard containers or perhaps even Styrofoam shipping boxes. Dry ice can be purchased from an ice-cream wholesaler, some meat packing plants, or a fire-extinguisher repair/servicing company (Carbon dioxide is also used in some extinguishers). To ship 1 beaver frozen, you'll need about 1 lb. of dry ice. Be sure the dry ice is wrapped in several sheets of newspaper or similar so it doesn't rest directly against a package of meat.

Be sure the recipient knows to expect the package so they can remove the meat and place it back in a freezer as soon as possible. This is pretty basic stuff, you could get this information in the library or the Internet.

Good luck       


Roast the tail (as caught) over a camp fire, then cut it open and strip off the skin. It's that simple. BEAVER ROAST Clean the carcass; strip off all fat, including the scent glands. Cover with water, add 1/4 cup vinegar and leave overnight. Next day, wash the meat and pat dry. Place the joint and other bits such as paws in a roasting pan, add 1/4 cup water. Brush with butter, cover, and bake in a moderate oven. When the roast is half cooked, add a cup of chopped vegetables. Finish cooking with the lid off, until the meat falls from the bones. BEAVER PAWS Season the cooked paws with salt, onion, bay leaf (your choice). Freeze or seal in sterilized jars. (Same treatment for bear paws.) 

These recipes are copied more or less from Leona Kananen. *Yukon Cookbook* Vancouver: Douglas, 1975. Barbara Belyea Dept of English, University of Calgary Calgary (Alberta) Canada T2N 1N4

See yaa.....

   Elmer Doolittle




Page 7



updated  07/10/2009   

This website may not be reproduced in part or in whole without the written permission of the North American Frontiersmen.

All Rights Reserved, Copyrighted 2005-2009.