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Illinois hunting and fishing

Cleaning, preparing and eating squirrel

August 02, 2010 at 04:35 PM

My son, Jed went on his first successful squirrel hunting trip last fall. He was 8 years old and I want to instill in him the notion that we don’t waste what we harvest. Therefore, I showed Jed how to clean a squirrel. 

Aftrewards, Jed and I thought it might be a good idea to show through a step-by-step series or pictures just how easy squirrel cleaning and preparing can be.

When my daddy, Ed Sr. taught me back in the late 1960s, I vividly recall Dad describing squirrel skinning as follows, “Ya got to take off his shirt first then take off his pants.”  I don’t know exactly where my dad learned this technique but, I’ve heard it is quite well known with the old timer “Hill Folk back east.”

First, lay the squirrel on it’s back.

Illinois hunting and fishing

The first thing to do is make a cut at the base of the tail, between the tail and the rectum. It’s imperative that the cut goes through the two tendons just under the vertebrae that make up the tail bone. Continue the cut on each side in a V pattern about one-half inch around the hind quarters.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing


Then, firmly step on the tail up near the base and grasp the hind legs firmly and pull slowly but steadily “taking off the squirrel’s shirt.” Start the front legs out but don’t pull them out all the way just yet.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Once to this point, turn the squirrel around and step in the partially removed hide as close to the head as possible. There will be a V piece of hide on the stomach side of the body Grasp the V part of the “shirt” and as you firmly stand on the other part of the skin near the head, firmly pull the rest of the skin down to the hind just beyond the last joint in the legs. Now you can cut and remove the feet and skin at the joint.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Next, remove the rest of the skin so that only the carcass remains.

Illinois hunting and fishing

If it weren’t for the loins, the internal organs of the squirrel wouldn’t need to be removed. However, for it’s size, a squirrel has substantial loins and they are worth removing from the carcass. Split the carcass similarly to how you would a deer.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

At this point the process is just a matter of getting as much meat off the carcass as possible. I personally do not like frying squirrel on the bone so I de-bone every piece of meat before I continue. Here’s what I have when I’m done with the cutting up part.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

After a quick rinse in cold water, the meat can be prepared numerous ways.  My momma likes to pressure cook squirrel.  I simply chunk it into bit size morsels and bread with my favorite seasoning.

Illinois hunting and fishing

Then, for me, the breaded chunks go into the fry pan until they are a dark, golden brown!

Illinois hunting and fishing

Illinois hunting and fishing

Once out of the pan…a little Sweet Baby Ray’s and it’s down the hatch!

Illinois hunting and fishing

Your CommentsComments :: Terms :: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

that looks good and as a shed hunter i would definatley enjoy removing a few tree rats from the eco system!!!i have some skulls out in my rock garden along the house that i have found over the years some are 5 years old and during the day when im at work they even come and chew on em still!

Posted by trolloni on 08/02 at 09:55 PM

I was always taught to remove the glands in the armpits as well.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 10:22 AM

I second the gland removal.  Opinions?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 10:27 AM

yep, gotta remove the glands.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 11:54 AM

Thanks for sharing!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/03 at 02:23 PM

Great pictorial and how to article - nice way to help those who are just starting out with squirrel hunting. Thumbs up!

Posted by G on 08/04 at 06:47 AM

Squirrel hunting is about the easiest way to get young ones into the sport.  I started when I was 6 (I’m 36 now) with my Uncle’s singel shot 410.  You can use a 22 or 410 so the really young ones don’t get gun shy (recoil), good weather, and it’s really nice to walk or sit and really teach them and to get the practice of do’s and don’ts.  The classroom is a good starter, but you learn so much more from doing.  I started before the safety class was mandatory and I remember sitting with my Dad… he held the shells until we saw something and didn’t let me load until I was ready.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/05 at 11:34 AM

coot et al—-Yes, I did inadvertently leave out removing the glands.  When I bone out and chunk the meat, it pretty much just without thinking about it.
Kudos on picking up on that!

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/05 at 04:40 PM

“You can cook em up in about any asian dish and nobody is any the wiser on what meat you got in there.”

Isn’t that what every “Asian” restaurant counts on?

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/06 at 09:18 AM

Nice process.  I have a 1” scar on my index finger from my hunting buddy ‘helping’ me skin a squirrel.  His last instructions were “hold still while I chop off the foot”.  I like this method a whole lot better:)

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/06 at 05:26 PM

Good info I am going to take my 8 yr old as soon as it cools off

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/07 at 01:47 PM

Super Job, a good ole pot of Gumbo is the trick.  Buy some Bootsie rouge and follow the directions.  I put in some chicken with the squirrel for those who just cannot eat it.  Lip smacking good and works very well with those old fox squirrels that are tough as nails.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/08 at 08:37 PM

Thats the way I clean um. Take some zip loc bags out hunting with you and put a wet rag in one. As soon as you can after you bag your squirrel, while the woods are calming down, skin him out and clean him. Put him in one of the zip loc bags and get out your wet rag and clean up. They are a whole lot easier to skin when their still warm and when you get back home the hard work is done.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/10 at 11:29 AM

You got that right wild.  My grandfather who taught me how to hunt would clean them as soon as he shot em.  Of course, we were on the river with plenty of water to clean up.

Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) on 08/11 at 02:08 PM

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