President Calvin Coolidge once received a raccoon as a gift from a voter — a gift that was meant to be part of his Thanksgiving dinner. But Coolidge grew fond of the furry varmint, named her Rebecca and walked her around the White House on a leash. If only he knew what he was missing.
Referred to as "the other dark meat" by enthusiasts, raccoons are abundant in nearly every part of the country. They are generally nocturnal (sleeping during the day), so hunting them at night is best. An online hunter safety course can help you determine not only the legality of night hunting, but help keep you safe in unorthodox conditions. You can either catch them with a makeshift trap, use an air rifle with laser illumination technology or use a .22 caliber rifle. If the raccoon is acting strangely aggressive or is awake during the day, these could be signs of rabies. Though you may not catch the disease from eating the infected animal, its still best not to, just in case.
What does it taste like? The best comparison is brisket. The process of gutting the raccoon is similar to other small game, but preparation is a bit more tedious. Remove the scent glands and soak the carcass in salt water up to 24 hours. If you remove the hide carefully, you can use it for clothing or even sell it.
The peccary, also known as a javelina, is often mistakenly identified as a wild pig. Javelinas are actually better described as a hairy hippopotamus, but related to both animals. Javelinas can only be found in New Mexico and Arizona, but the animal can provide a lot of meat if you catch one. They generally travel in packs and will only attack if you display aggression toward them first. Like raccoons, you need to remove the scent gland from the skin before eating. The Arizona Game and Fish Department suggest not touching the meat with the same hand you skinned the hide with to prevent contaminating it with the smell. A pit barbeque is a common preparation method, as is making breakfast and summer sausage.
A LiveScience.com study found that the common fear of snakes among humans may be a survival mechanism that has carried over through time. A human's ability to spot a snake quickly triggered a flight mechanism that likely saved lives in the old days. Snakes, however, can provide a delicious meal if you can get past the fear factor.
Once you remove the head, skin it and remove the guts, you're left with only the meat. Try not to sever the rib bones. If you keep them completely intact, they are simple to remove once the meat is prepared. You can soak the meat in salt water overnight to get rid of the gamey taste. The closest meat, as far as taste, to compare snake with is pheasant. Of course, snake also gets the proverbial "tastes like chicken" from first-timers.
Andrew Parr blogs about doomsday prepping, survivalist topics and self-sustained living.