How To Make Primitive Jerky
The intention of this article is to demonstrate a method of drying meat for long term storage in a primitive survival situation. The techniques shown in the video and article that follow can be used on all varieties of animals that you may trap or hunt such as deer, rabbit, squirrel, etc. Normally, cooking the animal immediately is a wise choice as it results in a more filling meal and tastes better... however the benefit of drying meat is that it lasts much longer and can be stored in your primitive shelter for emergency rations or prolonged travel away from camp. I hope you enjoy this, and if you have experience with these techniques please feel free to send me an email if you have any pointers.
Building The Tripod
The tripod is very easy to construct by using three separate poles lashed together in a "tipi" fashion. You will then lash individual sticks between each of the three poles to create drying racks for the meat. The purpose of this apparatus is to keep air circulating around the meat, maximize its contact with sunlight, and hold it safely above the smoke of a smoldering fire.
Rack the Meat!
In this example we are using beef that has been cut into very thin strips. If you are butchering the animal yourself, be sure to select only the leanest cuts because the fat can go rancid over time. When racking each piece, drape them such that they are not touching each other and have ample space for smoke and air to circulate.
Start a Fire
Now just start a small fire and let it burn down to a hot bed of coals. You do NOT want to cook the meat... the goal is simply to smoke it so that the flies, bees, and insects do not eat the food or lay eggs in it. (As a side note, this is a great opportunity to practice your fire starting skills... I have found so much more long term growth by continually forcing myself to use the bowdrill rather than resorting to a lighter each time I need fire.)
Ready for Drying
Here you can see that all of the meat has been racked and a small fire is started beneath. The smoke is not necessary for the entire process because the bugs are only a bother when the outer surface of the meat is still wet. Remember, it is the sunlight that does the drying... not the smoke.
We kept the smoke on the jerky for about half a day and then it was dry enough that the bugs were no longer interested. Having said that, it took two days of sunlight to fully cure this jerky. You may find that you have to move your tripod throughout the day to keep it in the sunniest areas. All in all, definitely NOT a delicious snack... but it is certainly an effective technique!
Best always, Paul Scheiter
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