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Cleaning a squirrel?.....

Discussion in 'Hunting, Fishing & Camping' started by W Turner, Aug 31, 2004.

  1. W Turner

    W Turner

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    I have plans to start hunting in the next two years so that I can pass this tradition down to my son, unlike my family did with me.

    My plan is to go after small game and dove this year so that I can at least get familiar with the local wildlife management area and hopefully make some contacts that will lead to me stepping up to deer next year. Part of this will be squirrel hunting and I would appreciate any tips on squirrel hunting (without dogs), and more specifically how to properly clean one after shooting.


    Thanks,
    Bull
     
  2. mpol777

    mpol777 Feral Member

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    My method for small game is to cut a slit in the skin across the lower back just above the hind legs. Then grab on to the upper and lower parts of the skin and pull in opposite directions. Pull the lower half down to the tail and the upper part up over it's head. Cut off the head, tail and legs then open up the body cavity and remove the innards. Check for shotgun pellets, if that's what you used, and to make sure that the bladder is intact. Lightly spray the cavity out with a hose.

    This process works for rabbits, squirrels and any small game where saving the skin isn't a concern. Latex gloves are a good idea in case the animal has some sort of cooties.

    I like to let small game sit in salt water in the fridge for a couple days before eating or freezing. Make sure you let the meat dry a bit before freezing however. I've heard some people soak the meat in milk, but have never done it.

    As for the hunting part I usually just walked around the woods and fields behind my godfather's with a gun. If I saw a squirrel, rabbit or woodchuck I shot it (or at least shot AT it :)). I use the same technique for rabbits out here in the desert. Walk around quitely and keep your eyes and ears peeled and you're bound to run into something eventually.

    Hopefully someone from your neck of the woods will chime in on what type of squirrels you have over there and what they eat.
     

  3. sarge

    sarge Millennium Member

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    Here is a 1mb .wmv file. This is how I do it...

    Squirrel
     
  4. W Turner

    W Turner

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    Thanks Sarge, that helps a lot.

    One question, when you make the first cut, is it between the anus and the base of the tail or is it under the anus?

    Don't have any desire for funky squirrel stew...lol.

    Bull

    Edited for truly atrocious spelling....musta been in a real hurry.
     
  5. Cicero

    Cicero

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    Between anus & tail. You'll remove the anus when you clean the innards out. Interestingly, the method shown in the video - great job, Sarge, btw - is the one in the 5th edition of "The Joy of Cooking." The 6th edition - came out sometime after 1993 - has deleted the section on preparing small game. I've tried but never gotten the hang of it, although the video helps a lot.

    My method is similar to the first one mentioned, but I first cut off the feet at the knee joint, then make a slice in the middle of the back, grab both sides of the cut, and pull from both ends. On a young squirrel, the hide will slide right off without much effort. On an older squirrel, I think Sarge's method would work better on the older, larger ones - it can get hard to pull the hide off with just arm strength. (OTOH, my problems with the method shown in the video all stem from tearing the tail off).

    Cut the head off. You might want to carry a fish filleting board (plastic from Walmart) with you if you're going to clean them in the field. Put the headless, footless, skinless carcass on your board & cut open the abdominal cavity. I start just below the ribcage & work up first, and then go back to the pelvic bone. You can cut carefully through the pelvis to get the rectum & anus out.

    All of this is much easier if you're going to get the squirrel(s) home to a wash sink in a reasonable amount of time.

    You'll want a good knife with a point and about a 2.5 inch blade. Even the one shown in the video seems too long for me. My hunting buddy actually uses a knife with a fixed 1.75 inch blade (he's a trapper & can get the hide or pelt off an animal faster than anyone I've ever seen before).

    I'd recommend using a .22 rifle and taking head shots - I've tried hunting squirrel with a 20gauge and the cleanup is a lot more difficult. Any good .22 with a scope should let you take a head shot within 50 yards. I use a Ruger 10/22 and have been very successful with it.
     
  6. ithaca_deerslayer

    ithaca_deerslayer

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    Yup. And do it while they are on the ground, or a low log, and not while they are up in the tree :)
     
  7. Cicero

    Cicero

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    Good point. Your point of impact will differ substantially from your point of aim if you are shooting at a sharp angle.
     
  8. WTSGalco

    WTSGalco

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    I've found it's easier to skin them right after I shoot them. I take bread bags with me to put them in so blood dosent get in my pockets or fanny pack, but I don't close the bags tightly since I want the squirrel to cool. I also usually gut them before skinning, but not always. When you cut the head off, cut through the neck and find a spot where the vertabrae come together and just push the blade through that and it will come fairly easily. I use a .22 rifle, but I don't make head shots any more. Twice I've hit low and shot off the lower jaw, which caused needless suffering for the animal. There isn't much meat on the ribcage so I just aim for the vitals now.
     
  9. JMag

    JMag

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    ....lift its tail and wipe 'em....;e
     
  10. Cicero

    Cicero

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    I've been using nylon mesh laundry bags - you can hold onto them, they don't rip, you don't care if they get bloody ('cause the blood washes right out), and the squirrels cool really well with the airflow through the mesh. The draw back is that you might get a little blood, but I usually just wear an old pair of bdu's for squirrel hunting - any blood speckles that don't wash out just add to the camo pattern.:cool:
     
  11. WTSGalco

    WTSGalco

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    thats a good idea!
    I also take along some surgical style rubber gloves to reduce the amount of hands clean up & some of the pre-moistened towelette things to clean the knife blade if I'm not near a water source
     
  12. StockGlock23

    StockGlock23 Hilarious!

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    I thought he meant that in the sense that if you miss the bullet won't be flying miles down range. You are right about what you said however.
     
  13. skfullgun

    skfullgun

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    Excellent advice here. I grew up in East Texas hunting squirrels. I usually make a cut in the hide across the back or stomach to make room for my fingers and just pull the skin off like you were undressing them.

    I always like to let them sit on a plate in the fridge a day or so after killing them, and then freeze them. My grandfather was from the "old country" and always warned me about eating an animal before the "life" was out of it. I'm not sure what that meant, but I got the idea that you should allow it to age a day or so before eating.

    BTW, I usually carry a .410 shotgun and a single shot .22 rifle when I hunt squirrels. I prefer to shoot with a .22, but some of those cat squirrels won't give you a shot and it is easier to take them through leafy vegetation with a .410.
     
  14. Cicero

    Cicero

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    He just probably meant that you had to make sure the intestinal parasites had a chance to wriggle out. ;f
     
  15. Cicero

    Cicero

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    That, of course, raises the question of whether a 24gr bullet from a .22 LR would actually be able to break skin if it did hit someone from miles away. I'd think that after the first few hundred yards, bullet tumble and air resistance would lower the velocity to the point that the bullet wouldn't be dangerous.

    On the other hand, I'm not in the mood to find out, and I agree that it's safer for all involved to shoot the squirrel's while they're on the ground if you are using a rifle.
     
  16. Edge

    Edge Millennium Member

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    That is a really good and helpful video. Thanks! :)