A cottonmouth snake is a highly venomous water moccasin species found in North American lakes and rivers. Though aquatic and primarily fish eaters, the cottonmouth can also be found on land, sunning or hunting for food. Most cottonmouth snakes are killed and cooked in survival situations or on camping expeditions, when the opportunity for a protein-rich hot meal presents itself. Preparing the snake properly is imperative to avoid eating the lethal venom contained in glands just behind the head.
Make sure the cottonmouth is dead before handling it. Use a shovel, stick or knife to poke at it and make sure it won’t jump up and bite you.
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Cut off the head. Give yourself several inches behind the head to make sure you cut the venom glands off. Be careful not to accidentally prick yourself with the the fangs, which can still transfer venom after the snake’s death.
Dig a hole in an area off the path and bury the head where no one will accidentally step on it and get pricked by the fangs. The hole should be at least 6 inches deep. Pat the soil down firmly over the head to dispose of it properly.
Skin the snake by inserting the knife between the skin and the flesh. Wiggle the knife enough so you can stick your finger in between and peel the skin away from the flesh.
Slice the body open lengthwise and remove the guts. Dispose of the guts and skin.
Cut the snake flesh into 2- to 3-inch pieces. Skewer the piece either on a barbecue skewer or sharpened stick found near the campsite.
Light a campfire. A small fire is sufficient to cook the snake — three to four fire logs stacked into a teepee shape and kindling under the logs to ignite the wood more easily.
Hold the flesh directly over the flame for 5 to 10 minutes, rotating it every few minutes to cook the meat evenly. It is better to overcook the meat, getting the exterior slightly charred, than eating undercooked snake flesh that may contain bacteria and parasites.
Slice the flesh open in the center to ensure it is cooked throughout.