People living in a self-reliant or survival situation must be resourceful. That seems obvious, but it is worth remembering.
This point is constantly reinforced when you watch someone on a survival show learn about living a more natural existence. As we’ve previously covered, creativity is a must in a survival situation, and that promotes resourcefulness. Resourcefulness refers to both finding new resources to use as well as fully using the resources you have. In other words: Waste not, want not.
One resource routinely discarded, but particularly useful, is the bones of animals after the hunt. Most folks today don’t give bones a second chance after dressing a carcass. It’s either a short trip to the dump or off to a deep hole for the coyotes and flies to pick clean. But in a situation where you must be completely self-reliant, you can’t afford to let all of the potential uses of bones go to waste.
If you ever do find yourself in that kind of situation, you’ll want to know these top three uses of bones.
1. As a cutting edge
Prior to the importation of iron to this hemisphere, Native people needed to be innovative to find a cutting tool. A cutting edge is simply one of the most used tools for primitive skills. It is common knowledge that stone materials, such as obsidian and flint, were widely used for cutting tools. What is known to a lesser degree is the use of both bone and copper by Native people for cutting tools, as well. Fresh bones take an edge very well and were used for knives, arrowheads, needles and spear points, as well — anything that needed a cutting edge.
The processing of bones is very simple. Cutting tools can come from a variety of bones, but big leg bones work well. Bones can be split by smashing between two rocks or cutting lengthwise if you have access to a saw. Smashing tends to produce small chunks well-suited for arrowheads, while cutting in halves creates ideal material for making larger points. Once you have your bone pieces broken to size, you simply start to file it to shape using a modern metal file, or a hard stone of some kind. When you have your general shape it’s only a matter of honing the cutting side to a sharp edge. You’d be surprised how fast you can knock out a sharp bone point.
2. As heavy working tools
Heavy-duty bones, such as shoulder bones and pelvic bones, also can be put to work. Native American people would have used these bones for heavy labor, like scraping hides, to be tanned or turned to rawhide. Scraping can be a rather labor-intensive process, and the heavy-duty bones would have stood up to the test just fine. It also has been said that rib bones were used for scraping hides, and with their concave nature that seems to be a likely scenario.
Bones were used for farming purposes by many people. Eastern woodland tribes depended heavily on agriculture for their sustenance, and farming takes a lot of work. Bones were used as shovels and bound to handles to make crude hoes, as well. These bone tools would have been quickly exchanged for steel and iron tools, but they were the tools used by millions of people prior to the importation of harder metals.
3. As nutrition
Heavy leg bones are packed full of nutritious bone marrow, which has omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. It can be cooked in several different methods or boiled and made into a broth. This broth has been used by doctors around the world to treat a variety of diseases, from digestives issues to cancer. It is also consumed throughout the world by different cultures for its taste and nutrition. The Native Americans, too, ate bone marrow. I would doubt that most Americans have ever even considered eating bone marrow, but in a situation where food is tight, you can’t afford to let a single thing go to waste.
Next time you return home from a successful hunt, be thankful for the meat you’ve been blessed with, but also take advantage of the bounty of bones, as well.
What survival uses would you add for bones? Share your tips in the section below: