Wolves at the Door (part 82)

Wolf is not the most appetizing of meats, but hunger is the best sauce. Once the first cuts had been cooked and eaten back at camp, Gil had to figure out what to do with the rest. Leftovers had never been a problem before. In the end, he hung it up as high as he could manage, in a tree some distance away. If it was going to attract scavengers, better that they not stumble right in where he was sleeping.

In the morning, the remains seemed undisturbed. He set about the task of butchering as best he could. He was hardly an expert, but he had seen it done before. Not with a wolf, but the principle was the same. The smaller game he had already trapped had been good practice for his knife work.

He managed to get most of the hide off in one piece. If he could work out how to process it into usable fur or leather, it might be more valuable than the meat. The only problem was, he knew even less about tanning than butchering. He knew it involved urine and dung-water. Though he hadn’t watched the process back in his village, there had been no mistaking the smell. The good news was, the ingredients were plentiful, even out here alone in the woods. The bad news was, he didn’t really know what to do with them. Figuring it out by trial and error would not only be disgusting, it would most likely ruin a lot of skins before he had any success.

He was pretty sure that the process started with salting and stretching the hide, before the really nasty stuff began. Gil had no salt, and the salt water of the sea was many miles away. He also lacked any stretching equipment, or the knowledge to build it. He would have to settle for cleaning the inside of the skin as best he could and drying it. If that worked, he could take some time to consider the next steps; if not, the question would be moot.

The whole job took much longer than he had expected, and was far more physical. By the time it was done, he was tired, sweaty, and caked in blood. He had thought waking up after a full moon was disgusting; this was so much worse. It was hard to look at the raw meat with any sort of appetite right now, but once he had scrubbed his skin clean he may think differently. And when the meat was cooked, he may even feel that it had all been worthwhile.

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