Cleaning a Snowshoe Hare
The 'No Nonsense' Way
Featured: August, 2002
I have to admit that the nicest part about hare hunting, for me, is running the dogs, meeting super new people and trying to get in a strategic spot to harvest the bunny. My least favorite things about it are cleaning out the kennel (yuk), and cleaning the game. But, alas, it must be done -- so here's the easiest way that I know of to make the dreary task of cleaning the game a little easier.
First, begin with a decent work area and a small knife. Lay the hare on some type of cutting surface. It's helpful to have a bowl of cold water handy to drop the meat in and use to rinse your hands as you go. Now it's time to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Use your knife to cut a little slit somewhere in the fur of the hare, just big enough to stick your finger in below the surface. Pull the fur off from the the back and off from the front and hind legs. That's all that is necessary at this point. There's no need to gut the hare at any point. It is nice to avoid that step, because as anyone who has ever done this will tell you, it is not a pleasant aroma.
Cut off, at the joints, the hind and front legs. Then, with the fur pulled off from the back of the hare, place the hare on it's stomach and fillet off the back meat. It's much like filleting a fish, really. Insert your knife on one side of the backbone, up by the neck. Then, follow the backbone down, all the way until you reach the lower back, near the hip joint. Take your knife and trim down, around the ribs. It isn't necessary to cut it all, because once the initial cuts are made, you can use your finger to separate the rest of the fillet from the body, it'll tear off easily (see a picture of the fillet's below - on the far right).
With the front legs, hind legs and fillets done, you have the vast majority of all the meat on the animal. There's nothing else worth messing with, in my opinion.
Take the meat to the sink and rinse it off good, and pull off the layer of slimy skin that surrounds the outside of the meat. Hare are a rather tough meat, so it's necessary to parboil the meat before you cook it. Take a pot of water, big enough to fit all the pieces, and put in a few table spoons of salt. Put it on the stove and get it boil. Drop in the meat pieces and cover the pot. Turn down the heat so it just stays at a modest boil. Let it go for anywhere from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. The longer the better. Some people like to soak it overnight in salt water, but I prefer to just parboil it and be done with it.
Once it's done, turn off he stove and let it sit in the salt water until the water cools off (or longer), then take out the pieces, dry them off, and they're ready to be frozen or used in your favorite rabbit recipe. Check out all the great rabbit recipes on Rabbit Hunting Online's recipe page. I also give the left over juice from boiling to the dogs, over their food that night. They love it!
Enjoy the good eating that you've got ahead of you and happy hunting!