Ypsi Coon Man

Inspired perhaps by our conversation a few days ago about the consumption of urban game, our friend Black Jake has caught and slaughtered a groundhog… But, it seems, he has a problem. Here’s his note.

I am in a pickle, friends.

I butchered a groundhog and got some dirt and groundhog hairs on the meat. I can’t get them off with a powerful spray of water, as they seem to be caught in the sticky membrane surrounding the muscle.

I hate to waste it, as that would seem a poor way to treat an animal, if you’re going to kill it in the first place. So my question is: should I try boiling the meat to maybe make the membrane less sticky (and kill any bacteria), then try cleaning it again before cooking it, or should I just regard it as hopelessly contaminated and toss it, lesson learned?

Any thoughts from experienced game butchers or anybody else?

I’d try soaking it in Coke. I’ve found that it seems to work for most things. Any other ideas?

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  1. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    You gotta cut off the membrane and fat. Just slice it thinner and it will be fine.

  2. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    I’m thinking maybe the title Ypsi Coon Man is premature. I expect there are other more deserving worthies out there in Ypsiland, eating raccoon and groundhog, contentedly unsung.

    Now if they could chime in and tell me what to do about the dirt-magnet membrane instead of bogarting the know-how like selfish jerks…

  3. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:55 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Curt. I spent too long composing my comment and missed your answer. D’oh!

  4. Posted April 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Permalink

    I mean Cousin. Double d’oh!

  5. Joanne
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Let me know if anyone gets hungry. We have a large groundhog that hangs out in our back yard. If you can catch him, he’s yours.

  6. Brackinald Achery
    Posted April 7, 2009 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

    I hate to waste it, as that would seem a poor way to treat an animal, if you’re going to kill it in the first place.

    It’s not a buffalo, it’s a woodchuck. The sliding scale goes like this:

    Mouse: kill, throw away, don’t feel bad.
    Woodchuck: kill, maybe skin or not, eat OR throw away, feel a little bad.
    Buffalo: kill, eat, make something out of every piece of its body or you’re a dick, pray for soul.

  7. Burt Reynolds
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 7:20 am | Permalink


  8. Steve Swan
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    In my line of work, there’s an old saying that I think is relevant here, if a bit off color. Please pardon me for saying what I’m about to say, OK?

    “Fuck it till the dirt and hair comes off.”

  9. Posted April 8, 2009 at 9:16 am | Permalink

    Steve — it’s a boy, and the first thing I did when gutting it was to cut out the anus.

  10. norton
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    In that case, forget the paddle, you don’t even have a shit creek to be up.

  11. tommy
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    What line of work would that be Steve? Digging up corpses? I’m puzzled – and a bit intrigued. In my line of work, I sit in a cube all day and sneak off to mmdotcom on occasion

  12. Patrick
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 11:26 am | Permalink

    How much dirt is on the thing? The things live in the ground, right? What are you worried about a little dirt?
    I would just boil the hell out of it for hours and hours with some onion. Then, eat it hair, dirt and all. I do admire you for not wanting to waste any of it. It is kind of like a higher life form or whatever and I guess it took a lot of energy to produce, so you don’t want to waste it. You could even make a little “Ypsi Coon Man” necklace from the teeth and sinews. That would be a great conversation piece, and the story behind the necklace would definitely get you laid in the right bar.

  13. Paw
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Black Jake, this new kid of yours is going to be in for one hell of a ride.

    A rat skull, filled with possum teeth, strapped to a raccoon femur with sinew, would make a hell of a rattle.

  14. Sayne
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    As soon as you figure this out we need to plan the groundhog festival. I vote we also add squirrels…

  15. E. G. Penet
    Posted April 8, 2009 at 2:40 pm | Permalink

    I’d be more worried about the amount of cadmium, lead, mercury and other heavy metals the critter absorbed living in a burrow on one of our hillsides.

  16. Posted April 8, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I’m not too worried about that stuff, E.G.,.. since I deliberately intoxicate my body with deadly nicotine, I’m less concerned about lesser, more indirect toxins.

    Also, all available evidence suggest that the groundhog has only ever eaten organic food. Even the bait I used was organic.

  17. Posted April 8, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    But all those things are in tobacco smoke, you fool.

  18. Posted April 8, 2009 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

    But the nicotine calms me so I don’t worry about them.

    Urban trappers.

  19. Paw
    Posted April 10, 2009 at 9:32 am | Permalink

    I’m wondering how you dispatched this little fellow, assuming that you used a live trap to catch him.

  20. Posted April 10, 2009 at 11:23 am | Permalink

    I cut down his self esteem till he committed suicide. I’m not sure how he snuck a razor in there.

  21. Posted April 26, 2009 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    So we finally cooked and ate one of the groundhogs today (the other ones being stored in various freezers). My bassist Joe Cooter cooked it up in a stew, because he can cook and I can’t. It didn’t taste gamy at all really. It was pretty bland, like a cross between chicken and rabbit… but blander. That’s not an insult against Joe’s cooking, just a commentary on the meat’s natural flavor. 5 of us neighbors shared in the bounty; nobody disliked it.

    The leg meat was best. The rib meat was good, but a pain to get from in between the tiny ribs. Also there were two big thin muscles from the back that go from the bottom of the ribs to the back and connect to the spine, which Joe thought were good and I thought were too tough and stringy. Little cuts I got from the back closer to the spine were also good little nuggets. Frank’s Hot Sauce was a good addition.

    We didn’t end up singing the hair off, so there were some still on the meat, but no big deal. And this one didn’t get dirty like the first one because I’ve streamlined my operation with a tarp and cutting board and whatnot.

    Everything online says to remove the scent glands. Well, I’m beginning to wonder if that’s some sort of snipe hunt that southerners tell yankees to get them to try to worry about finding something that doesn’t exist. However, I found some wierd looking stuff in the front arm pits (or whatever you call it) and cut those out, but I don’t know if that’s what it was. Looked like dijon mustard in a flat membrane. There’s supposed to be two more in the small of the back, but I never found any in either a male or female. My only guess is that maybe they come off with the skin. Or else it’s bullshit. They say if you don’t remove them, the meat tastes bad, but the meat tasted fine so there you go.

    We’ve got some left over at Joe’s place. I think next time I want to roast it over a fire or grill it.

    Next step is to teach myself how to tan the hides. I’ll keep you posted in case someone out there is interested.

  22. Posted April 26, 2009 at 2:41 pm | Permalink

    Also I should say that Joe soaked in in brine overnight, very lightly breaded it, and browned it in a frying pan before it went into the stew.

  23. Posted April 26, 2009 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

    If you have photos, I’ll post the recipe here on the site.

    Also, I talked with some folks on Friday about a varmint fest and they really liked the idea.

  24. Posted November 4, 2009 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    I know it’s an old thread, so it’s unlikely anyone will see this, but I just wanted to draw attention to Laura Bien’s recent article for AnnArbor.com: http://www.annarbor.com/passions-pursuits/argus-glances-in-1889/

    “It is said that a large number of the $161.50 worth of woodchuck scalps Ann Arbor township has just paid for,” said the July 12, 1889 Ann Arbor Argus, “were brought in from surrounding townships which pay 10 or 15 cents bounty, instead of 25 cents. Some of the boys seem to think it is easier to buy scalps in the outside towns and swear that they killed them than to hunt down the woodchucks themselves. It is evident that there ought to be a uniformity of bounty and that a determined raid ought to be made on the ‘pesky varmints.’”

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