After a successful day's ferreting, I found myself with a lot of rabbits to process - and by the time I'd fed the dogs and the ferrets, cleaned the guns, hung up the wet clothing, etc, I wasn't too enthusiastic for staying up half the night skinning and jointing all those bunnies.
So I invented a 'quick and dirty' method which is the rabbit equivalent of breasting a pigeon or a pheasant. Basically it lets you get 95% of the useful meat out of a rabbit, with no need to paunch it or even take the skin off fully.
You can probably see all you need from the photo (click on the picture to see a larger version), but just in case, here's how it's done...
1. Take your rabbit, and make a slit in the skin about half-way along its body. Tip: make the slit over its back, not its belly. The skin here is looser, so it's easier to pinch a bit to get the knife point in - and there's no chance of digging too deep and breaking the gut open. (Regular readers will spot that I'm using my Karesuando knife which I ground a new edge on recently - it worked brilliantly).
2. Slip your fingers into the slit, and tear the skin all the way round - separating the rabbit's jacket from its trousers, as it were. Unless it's a tough old buck, the skin should tear quite easily.
3. Pull the 'jacket' and 'trousers' apart to expose the body and legs. No need to pull the skin right off.
4. With the rabbit belly-down on the table, slit along one side of the backbone, from the base of the ribcage down to the pelvis. Don't cut too deep or you'll break through into the gut area.
5. Use the knife point and your fingers to tease the fillet away from the backbone. Once it's free, cut at each end and simply lift the fillet out.
6. Repeat on the other side of the backbone.
7. Now the back legs: cut in towards the hip joint (marked with green lines on my photo), then turn the knife and follow the leg-bone, removing the meat in two chunks.
8. That's it - you now have six nice bone-free chunks of meat that will make a lovely stew, pie, etc. The rest of the rabbit can be thrown away with a clear conscience - there is hardly any meat wasted.