Do you know how valuable sinew is? Here’s how to harvest your own.
Sinew is the tough connective tissue that attaches muscle to bone or connects bone to bone. It is an extremely useful material with many applications.
Once processed sinew is most commonly used to secure arrowheads and fletching to arrow shafts, as a backing for bows in order to increase strength and resiliency, as a general binding material, and as cordage and thread for sewing.
Primitive archer and survivalist Billy Berger explains how to harvest sinew from a deer.
Sinew’s physical properties include a high tensile strength (the strength required to pull something apart until it breaks) at approximately 28,000 psi; its elasticity; its ability to shrink and harden as it dries from a wet state, making it ideal for permanently binding objects such as arrowheads; and its ability to be separated into smaller strands (in that regard you might consider it an early form of paracord).
A deer (or elk, moose, bison, etc.) will typically yield ten pieces of the best quality sinew: two pieces from each leg and two from the backstraps. Berger expertly illustrates how to get the most sinew possible in the video.
Processing sinew for use is a relatively simple matter. Clean it of any muscle tissue that may be attached, and then simply allow it to dry thoroughly. In its dried state it will last practically forever unless insects or rodents get to it.
When ready to use, it generally must be separated into individual strands. This is accomplished by gently pounding it with a stone until the fibers begin to separate. Then the individual strands are patiently pulled apart and separated by hand.
Now you’ve got many small, thread-like strands that may be used separately or intertwined with one another, depending on the application you intend, to create an extremely strong and resilient binding and/or strengthening material.