Butchering a beaver is a straightforward task and doesn’t require much experience.
When butchering a beaver, most people only remove the legs and backstraps as these provide the most meat.
Tools to Butcher a Beaver
- Hard place to place beaver for skinning and chopping(There will be some blood)
- Large knife or ax for chopping
- Skinning knife
- Boning knife
Remove the Feet
While it’s possible to eat beaver feet, it’s not something I consume frequently or look forward to after I bring home a beaver.
To remove the feet, place the beaver on its back on a hard surface. I have a piece of a tree trunk I use as my chopping block.
Chop off the feet with a large knife or ax. Discard the feet or add them to your pile of edibles.
Remove the Hide
The first step in butchering a beaver is to remove the hide. Depending on not whether you plan to keep the hide will determine how you remove it.
If you want to keep the hide, and I recommend you do as this is one of the finest furs and the reason why most people trap or hunt beaver, you need to use extra caution when removing it.
If you are familiar with skinning other small furbearers, you may be used to tube skinning. This is fine to use with a beaver that you may not want to keep the hide from.
However, to get the most from a beaver hide, it’s best to skin all the way up to open the hide completely. Afterward, you can tan the hide.
Start with the bar on its back, use a small skinning knife, and insert the tip below the anus. Use caution to insert the knife just below the skin so as not to puncture the gut or scent glands.
Carefully work the knife up the beaver through its midsection and all the way up to its chin.
Pull the hide taught and use a small knife to cut the hide away from the midsection.
Keep the skin taught and separate the hide from the meat by cutting through the tissue.
Remove the Scent Glands
Once you have the beaver skinned, you can bring it inside to clean up and prepare to remove the meaty parts.
There is one other non-consumable part I like to remove before the actual butchering process. The scent glands are very pungent and are not edible; although they are used in many holistic recipes, I’ll let you be the judge of that one.
To remove the scent glands, I place the beaver on his back. The scent glands are located between the pelvis and the base of the tail. They look like a little sac.
Pull the scent glands lightly and use a sharp knife to cut below them closer to the body.
Remove the Tail
The tail is a hit or miss depending on when you harvested the beaver. A beaver just before winter should have a big fatty tail that is definitely worth eating.
To remove the tail, you can use a large sharp knife or an ax. With the beaver on the board already on his back, use your knife to cut through the tail bone.
You may need to apply some heavy pressure here as the tail is hard to cut through.
Remove the Hind Legs/Hams
Now is the time to remove the prized parts of the beaver. The back legs or hams are the meatiest part of the beaver and the most sought-after cuts.
Removing the legs is not so different than a chicken or rabbit.
Again place the beaver on its back and pull the leg outwards. Use your boning knife to make a cut at the armpit and work your way down towards the base.
After you have made the cut in the meat:
- Pull a little on the leg to expose the bone and joints.
- Use the tip of the knife to cut through the separation in the joint and free the leg from the beaver.
- Finish your cut through the meat, and now you have a hindquarter.
Remove the Front Legs
You can do the front legs the same way as the back legs. First, make your cuts in the meat to expose the bone.
The bone in the front shoulder goes quite far into the center of the chest, so you need to make your meat cut this far in.
This bone needs to be severed to remove the front shoulder. I like to use sharp shears to cut through this bone. However, you can also make a cut around it.
After you have freed the bone, you can cut out the front shoulder by finishing your meat cut.
Backstraps are tricky on a beaver, in that you need a particularly large beaver to really get any meat on the backstraps.
However, if you are fortunate enough to get one with sizeable backstraps, they make for excellent meat.
To remove the backstraps, place the beaver on its belly. Use a sharp knife to cut beside the backstrap, keeping as close to the spine as possible.
Continue the cut along the length of the backstrap and pull the backstrap upwards while cutting underneath to free it from the body.
Butchering a beaver is not a difficult task and one that most people can do.
There is no gutting required to get all the prime cuts of meat.
The main thing you need to pay close attention to is the scent glands to not contaminate your meat.