I don't have any great information for you, but oddly enough I found a dead one just a couple days ago when I was out harvesting mushrooms. It was lying flat on it's stomach under a tree that it had obviously been hanging out in for quite some time(judging by the pile of scat). At first I thought it was maybe playing dead, but on closer inspection I realized it had either died of old age or taken a fatal fall from the tree... Kind of a strange thing to see. The buzzards aren't back for the season yet so I was considering how I might be able to put the quills or skin to some use...
Just anecdotal, but I've been told the localNative Americans would eat them from time to time, but it was reputed to be a survival food only, due to the poor taste and texture I guess. I would be interested to hear if anyone has ever eaten one or used the quills or hide for anything interesting...
I have eaten some porcupines. It is difficult to just pick up a porcupine in the woods due to the quills, so be prepared to hog tie and carry off to the side of your body or throw in a tarp and carry (again off to the side of your body because some quills will cut through the tarp). Edit: having a friend to carry helps. Holding a hog tied dead porcupine and carrying it for 3 miles is difficult. Not that I would know or anything!
Are you asking how to skin the porcupine? I could explain that if needed. Short version (heavy gloves are recommended): The first step is cutting off the hands, feet, and head while the porcupine is sitting face up -- usually with a big butcher knife. This is done on a piece of plywood or large cutting board. Then you skin and gut by tying the porcupine up on a rack of some sort, neck down and belly facing out. The rope to tie goes through the pubic bone which you should expose before you rack the porcupine up. On a rack of some sort that allows the porcupine to freely hang: with meat scissors or a sharp knife you then open and pull the skin off the meat and doing your best to cut at the fascia/skin and not the meat -- using your bare hands if necessary. Separate the guts from the carcass (don't hit the gall bladder!!!) and throw in a bucket to bury later. Keep them away from your dogs!
Once the hide is off I would throw it in a bucket and deal with it the next day. Allowing some level of rot will allow the quills to come out easier. If you're wanting the quills you just pull them out with pliers. They are tenacious things, so be careful. Again, wear heavy gloves. I would then dry them over a fire of some sort. Hancock House has a book on quillwork that you could check out if you wanted. http://www.hancockhouse.com/products/indqui.htm
You could also search "Skinning a Raccoon" for more thorough instructions.
Once you have skinned the porcupine: I would hang the carcass for three days as the meat is really tough and hanging it allows it to rest and taste much better. Hang inside your house wrapped in an old sheet.
Porcupine, like raccoon, tastes like dark meat chicken. But it's super tough. I would cook cuts of the porcupine in a slow cooker with lots of poultry type spices. Do not oven cook or bbq it as it won't come out right (dry and tough). I think old Joy of Cooking cookbooks have recipes for raccoon too.
If you are intending to keep the long quills for any sort of beadwork or art be sure to take them out asap. They have a tendancy to break off in the hauling out and skinning process. Also, if you're going to eat it you'll want to brine it overnight. It'll probably still taste a bit like whatever its favourite trees are. Good luck.
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Eat'm all the time, actually very good if you have been raised "gnashing" on them. Like goat and lamb...it is an acquired taste though folks love my "quill pig chili." I will give some highlights, but if you have more questions give them to me in the 1.2.3. format to save time on my part.
DO NOT CARRY "pin squirrels" you drag them, (after the good quills have been removed for "quill work" decoration, plating and weaving".) Gut in place and drag behind you, or you can lash to a pole and carry "hobo style." Both are traditional methods.
Cook as you would any other rodent. (i.e. coal roasted, friend, broiled, stewed, etc) Some will brine the flesh but that just is not really the "trad" way of doing it and only masks the "tasty game flavor." I tend to find "brinning" a vestigial habit of Europeans as they just tend to "salt" just about everything to death (apologizes to you salt lovers) a little sea salt during cooking is fine as is some fine herb and wild garlic. If you don't like the taste, don't just kill them as they a foot source for Martin, and Fisher. I have seldom seen them cause much forestry damage of any magnitude.
If Porcupine are around and you have a dog, muzzle them, as it is better than a lost dog to infection or a huge vet bill. Quills in the nose and chin are easy to pull out...mouth and throat can be life threatening (speaking as a former vet tech, zoo keeper, and wildlife control agent.)
let me know what else you ponder about these little fellows.
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