Struggles when practicing alone

5.30 am and my husband drives off. What to do today… plenty of choices, making space some plants given to me by a neighbor, jam making, etc. etc. Then, at 7.00, he comes driving back in, hadn’t expected him for hours…

What brings him back? A dead roe deer, still a bit warm, a roadkill found by someone who thought he might have some use for it. He just has time to hook it up and let the blood out before he goes again. , so here I stand with this dead deer hanging. Okay…

I know how to take off the skin nicely, which goes well enough. I talk to the deer and wish it a good journey. Nice skin, no ticks, and into the freezer it goes. However, this takes not only physical but also mental energy. I’m happy enough that I can call my mother and tell her the story. She listens and says I might like to have a cup of coffee now, even though the morning has just begun.
Good idea, nice coffee. But now, what? I feel drained. I know how to disembowel it, to cut off and clean the legs for various uses, and more, but without help the tasks feel daunting, paralyzing. I say to myself that I may congratulate myself with what I have accomplished, and also that these feelings come naturally, but at the same time I feel frustrated because of not honoring the animal more. Struggles. And yes I know that if only I’d do this more often these things would become easier…

Just wanting to share some of my rewilding struggles. Thank you roe deer.


Sharing the deer at a low key gathering of some sort has worked for me and helped push through the grief and low energy I’ve had of working with deer. In other words, taking something that feels isolating and trying to open it up. When I’ve shared deer a lot of times it’ll be the first time people have had substantial wild food beyond just the usual dandelion greens. I’d like to think it gets people thinking about their relationship to the wild.

Hide tanning is also a way to honour deer. I’ve also made bone awls out of cannon bones and wore them, which started some conversations. That was a little more gawdy then I usually like to dress, but at the time I felt really isolated with my rewilding interests, and helped “out” me among people who otherwise might not know my interests.


thank you so much for sharing this - i hear and feel it deeply. Sending you positive energy and strength for your journey. :blue_heart:

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thank you also DennisL, i really appreciate your insights with this and love what you described. :blue_heart:

Yes, DennisL, these things are wonderful. I love to have people over and work together on such things. At such times, I never find myself in such struggles. In your experience, does working with deer “require” a shared experience? Or put differently: does working with deer on your own bring out such struggles and feelings of paralyzation more than other, similar activities?

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I don’t think I’ve ever skinned/butchered a deer without someone there helping me at some point (edit: mostly at the end, with butchering), so I can’t really say otherwise. The grief has come from not knowing what to do with all the deer, or really have the energy to deal with it all, in the midst of just being overwhelmed by the process itself. I’ve always felt I’ve composted too much. Kinda like I just got a manual shifted car and people are expecting me to drive them around, yet I don’t know how to drive stick very well…

Over time, people I know have learned more and more. Including myself. Eventually we kept going deeper into skills and into the woods. We found people to learn from who knew what they were doing (more or less). I just recently learned for example, after many years of butchering, that cartilage can be pounded into sinew. I have no idea why I didn’t know this before. My confidence in rewilding skills hasn’t really grown that much. There’s always more I feel like I should know.

One embarrassing story: At one point I tried to process over thirty pounds of buffalo (from a buffalo I was helping to skin and butcher; which I had never done before of course) fat. I had no idea what I was doing. I just kept going forward trying to figure stuff out. I was also homeless and broke so I had to eat something, even if was rancid buffalo fat. (These days I’ve been taught how to process fat and know how to avoid rancidity. My big mistake the first time was not filtering the liquified fat over and over. If you end up with chunks at the bottom of your fat it will go rancid quick.)

I strive to help people with skills that I know when they ask for it because I know how hard it can be to start out with rewilding. At least it was (and is) hard for me.


Thanks for some good tips and sharing! It feels as if the struggles I went through “roughened” up my “learning surface”, making new information stick better, like your story on processing fat and the following article by Billly Metcalf that I discovered in another topic on this forum:

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