How to Field Dress a Squirrel

by A Manly Guest Contributor on January 16, 2012 · 155 comments

in Manly Skills, Outdoors, Self-Reliance, Survival

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Creek Stewart of Willow Haven Outdoor.

**Disclaimer: This post contains a graphic step-by-step depiction of the skinning, slicing, and disemboweling of a real squirrel. If you’re eating, have always felt a deep affinity for woodland creatures, or faint at the sight of dismembered squirrel gonads, please skip this post. Seriously. You can watch this video of an adorable water skiing squirrel instead.**

For most reading this article, food is readily available on nearly any street corner.  Securing our next meal takes very little thought, effort, and time. The hunter-gatherer spirit inside each of us is slowly vanishing and so are the important self-reliant skills associated with hunting, gathering, and preparing our own food.  These skills sustained our ancestors for millennia before us, and now, in our modern society, are almost nonexistent.

But there are no guarantees in life.  Our cup may not always runneth over.  If the time ever comes when you need to summon the hunter-gatherer spirit inside of you, it is important that you know a few basic skills.  One of those skills is how to field dress wild game.  In this article I will teach you how to field dress a squirrel.

Squirrel is a very viable and practical survival food.  If you can find trees, there is a good chance you will also find squirrel.  They are easy to find, easy to hunt, and easy to prepare.

First, let me say that there are numerous ways to field dress a squirrel.  This is the method I have found to be the cleanest and most efficient.  As you will see also, the hide is not destroyed just in case you choose to have it preserved or tanned for future use.  With a little practice, you should be able to go from forest to frying pan in under 5 minutes.

As with any similar project, a sharp knife will make this process much more efficient.

How to Field Dress a Squirrel

The first step in this very simple process is to turn the squirrel on its belly and cut through the underside of the tail about ½” to 1” from the base.

After you’ve cut through the tail, slice through the skin a couple of inches on each side as shown in the photo below.

Now, for the part that makes this method so simple.  Lay the squirrel down on a solid surface.  While holding onto the back legs, step on the tail and skin that you have opened up in the previous step and firmly pull straight up on the back legs.  This process will begin to pull the hide from the body.  As you are pulling up you will need to work out the back legs.  Firmly work your fingers between the muscle and the hide around each leg.  This takes a little practice so don’t get frustrated if it feels a little awkward the first time.

Once you’ve freed the back legs, continue to firmly and steadily pull the back legs straight up.

As the hide comes to the front legs you will need to pull them out in the same way as the back legs.  Work them out with your fingers and a swift tug will separate the hide from the feet at around what would be considered the “wrist” area.

Once both front legs are out, continue to pull the back legs until the hide is up to the head and around the neck.  Notice that up until this point my hands are completely clean.

Then, go ahead and cut off the head.  I do this by slicing through the meat around the neck and then snapping the bone with my hands.  I don’t recommend cutting through bone with your knife.  It dulls your knife and also creates little shards of bone in your meat.  I use the same process around the “ankles” and “wrists.”  You can also trim the feet off at this point too, if you wish (I do that later).

Now, it’s time to remove the entrails.  This is a very simple process.  Simply pinch the stomach and make a small slit with your knife to open up the body cavity.  Note: With male squirrels like this one, you will need to trim back the penis and gonads.

Now, insert two fingers into the slit and run your knife between them (cutting edge up) toward the neck of the squirrel.  Doing it this way gives a little clearance so that your knife doesn’t accidentally penetrate any of the entrails such as the bowels or bladder.  Cutting open the bowels or bladder can taint your meat so be very careful with this step.  It is very easy when gliding the knife between your fingers.  Continue this motion through the center of the rib cage all the way through the neck.

Then, simply split the pelvic bone in the center to open up the entire middle of the squirrel.  You can easily do this with your knife.

Finally, it’s time to remove the entrails.  There is a membrane that encases the chest cavity.  By sweeping two fingers from the neck down and catching this membrane you can pull everything out in one fluid motion.

Don’t toss everything out just yet, though.  I always inspect the liver to make sure it looks nice and healthy.  The liver should always be a rich, deep, solid red color.  An off-color or spotted liver might be an indication that the animal has some health problems–in which case I would recommend not eating it.  This liver looks absolutely perfect–a sign of a very healthy squirrel.

I then slice around the “ankles” and “wrists” with my knife and snap off the feet just like you would imagine breaking a pencil in half.  I keep the heart and liver to prepare with the rest of the squirrel and discard the other entrails.  I now have a perfectly dressed squirrel that can be prepared to eat in a variety of ways.  On this day, I decided on an open flame spit-roast.

If you’ve never field dressed a squirrel before, don’t get frustrated if you run into a few hiccups.  As with most life skills worth learning, it takes a little practice.  For those of you who might be interested, I shot this squirrel with a Ruger 10/22 rifle and the knife used is a Marttiini Lynx Lumberjack.

Remember, it’s not IF but WHEN,

Creek
_______________________________

Creek Stewart is a Senior Instructor at the Willow Haven Outdoor School for Survival, Preparedness & Bushcraft.  Creek’s passion is teaching, sharing, and preserving outdoor living and survival skills. Creek is also the author of the book Build the Perfect Bug Out Bag: Your 72-Hour Disaster Survival Kit. For more information, visit Willowhaven Outdoor.

{ 155 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Rob January 16, 2012 at 6:43 pm

Why? Like, I get the survival aspect here, but….what?

2 Sobachatina January 16, 2012 at 6:45 pm

Looks delicious. I will have to try this sometime.

3 Phil B January 16, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Another interesting piece of man-knowledge, filed away in my brain in case I ever need it. Thanks!

4 Len Flack January 16, 2012 at 6:53 pm

I’ve passively wondered about how to correctly clean a squirrel for about a year. Thanks for this post, Creek.

I know folks who, when struggling to get by some years ago, ate quite a bit of squirrel. Apparently it tastes good prepared in tomato sauce; or so they tell me.

5 Benny January 16, 2012 at 6:54 pm

Rob, the two websites that I frequent for informative articles/news are here and lewrockwell.com Rockwell frequently links to articles on here. Most other articles on there discuss the state of our country. I would highly recommend checking out some of the articles there, they should answer why this article is so timely.

6 Mike January 16, 2012 at 6:59 pm

Rob, I think you answered your own question. It’s the same as hunting anything else.

7 Otis January 16, 2012 at 7:00 pm

I should share the 1 1/2 man method. I always held the legs for the skinning and gutting as a kid while dad would skin. We could finish 3-5 in 3-5 minutes. Also, you waisted that squirrel on a spit. Fry it with light breading. Use old pork chop grease. Make some cream gravy & boil some greens. Get some fresh tomatoes or some okra. Squirrel and rabbit were once rural staples, but it’s unsustainable with a population of 350 million. :(

8 Josh January 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm

@Rob
You claim to understand the survival aspect, but also don’t seem to understand it? You clearly don’t understand the survival aspect. If required for survival, you can either eat squirrel or die. Lots of people want to learn how to do these things so they can provide if a situation arises where they need to, not just for fun. Kudos to AoM to being one of the few who actually give a decent tutorial!

9 Evan January 16, 2012 at 7:05 pm

I’ve never heard the tip about checking the liver. Thanks for that!

10 Ozark Nick January 16, 2012 at 7:09 pm

I love hunting squirrel, though I can’t imagine anyone calling it “easy.” Squirrels are clever little critters that will spot you coming a mile away if you’re not careful!

As to why, the “survival” aspect has little to do with it as far as I’m concerned. I am however very interested in maintaining control over the food that I eat. I have big problems with the current methods of factory farming. It is my goal to provide the majority of what I eat myself, and since I own only a quarter of an acre raising my own livestock isn’t really an option. Fresh from the forest squirrel makes an important regular addition to my larder.

Also, in my opinion it doesn’t get any better than pan-fried!

11 T.M. Everson January 16, 2012 at 7:19 pm

Squirrel is a fine meal, and makes an excellent gravy. Thank you for posting these type of “classic manly skills” articles.

12 bran January 16, 2012 at 7:40 pm

You should do tutorials for all sorts of small game.

13 Chris January 16, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I agree with Bran. Seems remarkably similar to a deer, but I’ve never field dressed small game. Is there anything that is significantly different? Birds perhaps?

14 Daniel January 16, 2012 at 8:10 pm

You forgot to mention the other consequence of puncturing the digestive organs: the smell. When skinning an animal similar to a rabbit (this was in South Africa), the stomach was punctured and I almost vomited.

15 Critter January 16, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Very great article. Here’s a vid of this exact method (if pics/words alone don’t help).
Limb chicken is tasty and my boys and I enjoy spending a lot of time hunting them when deer season is over.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HUUR6lxnAME&feature=related

16 John January 16, 2012 at 8:34 pm

And the skin can be tanned. As boys, we used to tan squirrel skins and then make them into pouches for bullets/shotgun shells.

You should do a post on hide tanning. We used the alcoho/turpentine method.

17 zeus January 16, 2012 at 9:14 pm

I’d never hurt my pet squirrel named Peanut.

18 Gabe January 16, 2012 at 9:15 pm

This is great, I have to try it now to male sure I am able!

19 Gabe January 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm

This is great, I have to try it now to make sure this vital info stays in my head! Remember not if, but when.

20 Calvin January 16, 2012 at 9:46 pm

IMVHO, this is one of the best articles you’ve ever run. I second the request for more of these kinds of field-and-stream tutorials. I’ll definitely need to try this the next time I thin the herd in the back yard. If you do it with an airgun you can have a meal for the $.015 it costs for a pellet, not to mention mega man-cred points.

21 Chris E. January 16, 2012 at 9:50 pm

two words: squirrel gravy

22 Mike January 16, 2012 at 9:59 pm

@Rob
Why? Because some people enjoy hunting &/or the taste of squirrels. Because some people are interested in trying the sport but don’t have an appropriate mentor to show them. Because some people learned one method at appreciate learning a different way to do something.
Or how about the reason that makes all others moot: that the owners of this site (Brett & Kate) were interested enough in the subject to have an article written about it. I, for one, appreciate it and think it’s a good article. Thank you!

23 Dave January 16, 2012 at 10:12 pm

Would love to see the same thing regarding rabbit!

24 Mike W January 16, 2012 at 10:14 pm

@ Daniel: Man, that is the one thing that repulsed me about going deer hunting with my dad. A few ran in front of us, and the one deer we hit ended up being a gut shot. My dad field dressed it where it laid, and that odor is unfortunately seared into my mind… I didn’t set foot hunting even once after that, though I think the time has come to change my perspective on that.

25 Josh January 16, 2012 at 10:16 pm

Squirrels are fun to hunt and taste really good. Nothing better than waking up on a cold November morning with friends and family and hunting, Then having a whole mess of squirrel for supper. Some of my greatest childhood memories and still one of my favorite things to do.

26 Bruce Williamson January 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm

ALL fur bearing animals are edible (just don’t eat the liver of a carnivore).

27 Critter January 16, 2012 at 10:24 pm

More often than not we get nothing in the way of squirrel and have to eat “regular city kid food” for dinner…but the time spent with family cannot be replaced.

28 Tony January 16, 2012 at 10:25 pm

The only easy squirrel hunting was the ones in the back yard raiding the bird feeders. That said, squirrel hunting is enjoyable, especially with a bow. Though if it was kill a squirrel or go hungry, I’d use my .22 or maybe the shotgun if the leaves haven’t started falling yet. There are many fine ways to fix a squirrel for supper.

29 T. Hill January 16, 2012 at 10:30 pm

I certainly agree that most people will never need to use this knowledge, I willl say that it is important to know how food is processed.

Most people simply don’t know what it takes to put a meal on the table; unless it is from a market. I think that more people should learn these “primative” skills, if for nothing else, appreciation.

30 Mike c. January 16, 2012 at 10:33 pm

I agree that it’s a valuable skill to have in ones repertoir. I myself quite enjoy squirrel meat and as of this season have begun archery hunting for small game. I would love to see an article about archery hunting for small game. In my opinion it is more fun than you can shake a stick at and the challenge is unsurpassed. And as an added bonus aside from initial price of equipment if you have some basic archery equipment maintenance knowledge it is free to do and your archery skills will improve ten fold. Good article keep em comin

31 Mike c. January 16, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I agree that it’s a valuable skill to have in ones repertoir. I myself quite enjoy squirrel meat and as of this season have begun archery hunting for small game. I would love to see an article about archery hunting for small game. In my opinion it is more fun than you can shake a stick at and the challenge is unsurpassed. And as an added bonus aside from initial price of equipment if you have some basic archery equipment maintenance knowledge it is free to do and your archery skills will improve ten fold. Good article keep em coming.

32 Russell January 16, 2012 at 10:48 pm

@Dave,

It’s almost the same thing, I’m not anywhere near an expert, but last year my brother-in-law and myself raised a few rabbits for meat. We did just about the same thing for the rabbits as described here for the squirrel, and they turned out to be delicious.

33 Climbstrong January 16, 2012 at 11:46 pm

oh Ron. thank you. your comment was the only one to make me laugh.
i second the request for an article on tanning a squirrel/rabbit skin. that’d be pretty awesome!

34 Craig January 17, 2012 at 12:32 am

Thanks for the article! I enjoyed it even if it made my cityfied stomach a little jumpy.

35 Geoff January 17, 2012 at 2:28 am

I love it. My grandfather talked about doing this, growing potatoes, and noodling for catfish to feed the family during the Great Depression when there was no work. There were no unemployment checks back then…

36 Latham January 17, 2012 at 2:43 am

If you cut up the meat into legs and ribs you can bread it and fry it. Save the grease and make gravy. Biscuits and squirrel gravy is fantastic. My dad thought me a little differently but same principle. We would cut the skin around the middle and then pull off his “pants” and “coat”.

37 Adam January 17, 2012 at 2:47 am

@Bruce

Pardon my city-folk rearing, but what is it about carnivores that makes it so you can’t eat their livers? I’ve never heard that before, but when I think about it, I’ve never heard of a carnivores’ liver being offered as food. Why is that? Is it just the taste, or will it make you sick..?

38 JP January 17, 2012 at 2:49 am

I third and fourth the call for tanning the hyde and ideas on what to do with said hyde. If you have a really successful year (or two, or three), could you sew them together to make a blanket? How manly would that be, to cuddle up on the couch on a cold morning, wrapped in the skins of the animals you killed and ate for food!

Another idea for a post, which would be beneficial to me: I have been wanting to learn how to hunt for several years. I grew up in a family that didn’t hunt (my dad just wasn’t into it. No moral qualms or anything, just other things on his agenda.), so I have absolutely zero experience. How does one learn how to hunt? Can you really get into it when you are a man in his mid-30s, or is it something that should be ingrained in you as a child?

39 JG January 17, 2012 at 3:06 am

I have never hunted squirrel…mainly because they are illegal to hunt in most of southern California. I do a lot of rabbit hunting. We get lots of Jack’s and cottontails. Yes, Jack’s are edible…and good. If you order Hare in the UK or France it is the same thing as a jack rabbit.
I wouldn’t be so inclined to hunt squirrels with a .22 however. When shooting up in the air, I like to use a shotgun…a .22LR can go a long way and be a threat to others.

40 Heath January 17, 2012 at 6:42 am

Squirrel is delicious and an easy game to hunt. It is a good animal to introduce young kids to hunting for meat. I believe one should eat what they hunt. I like his “table” for cleaning the game. I must copy that.

41 Cory January 17, 2012 at 7:08 am

I just wanted to say I think this is a GREAT article. I really enjoy hunting, and it’s refreshing to see a how-to article on it on what I consider a “mainstream” website. Although we can’t hunt squirrels in this part of Ontario, it looks very similar to the method I use for Snowshoe Hares.

42 E. B. Van Arsdale January 17, 2012 at 7:48 am

As a kid, my grand dad taught me to skin small game by hanging them on a nail board on the tree in his back yard, but the process is largely the same. Novices should also be aware of warbles (fly larvae) which can sometime be seen as lumps generally around the neck and legs. They are clearly visible once the skin is removed. We never ate the meat if we found them. More common in rabbits than squirrels and usually seen before the first real hard freeze of the season.

43 E. B. Van Arsdale January 17, 2012 at 8:05 am

It’s been over 40 years since I tried it, but I remember tanning squirrel hides with brain soup.

44 DT January 17, 2012 at 8:10 am

Great info, one of those things I always wanted to know how to do but never got the chance to learn. As you said, its not if but when

45 Russ B January 17, 2012 at 8:29 am

Always made one part of this alot easier by having a hatchet (tiny woodsmans axe) handy. Chop the head off and feet with it, saves your knife blade a lot of undue stress, especially if you plan on bagging your limit.

46 Richard January 17, 2012 at 8:39 am

Great article. It caused me to think and reflect on times I went hunting with my father and with my children. Spending quality time, with those you love. The memories created by romping in the woods, fields, sitting in a freezing cold blind, watching and listening as the hounds chase a rabbit. Even if you don’t hunt spend time in the “wilds with those you love” creates great memories and story to share.

47 Paul January 17, 2012 at 9:43 am

Cool! Now please do a field dressing deer post paying careful attention to clear pictures and directions for the gonad cuts, the anus cut, and the pelvis / rib cage splitting.

That would be awesome.

48 Ed January 17, 2012 at 9:59 am

Awesome post, thanks. FYI, the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries sells a DVD on processing deer ($12) and another for squirrel cleaning and panfish preperation ($8). The method used in this post is also described in the Va DGIF video.

49 Hauser January 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

Clark Griswold: Where is Eddie? He usually eats these goddamn things.

50 Norm January 17, 2012 at 10:12 am

I used a Swedish Mora knife just like that to clean my first squirrel almost 50 years ago!

51 Phil January 17, 2012 at 11:05 am

@Adam — carnivore liver builds up lots of Vitamin A. Way too much. It’s an oil-soluble vitamin, and too much is toxic for us people. Arctic explorers got awfully sick and sometimes “got dead” by eating polar bear liver or their dogs’ livers when they had to be put down for some reason or another. Neither is done any more.

52 Ozark Nick January 17, 2012 at 11:11 am

@JP I was almost 30 before I started hunting. So yes, anyone can learn to hunt. It’d be easier if you have someone to show you the ropes. But I pretty much taught myself by reading and a lot of trial and error!

53 dannyb278 January 17, 2012 at 11:13 am

If you want to get over the “smell” of a gutted dear, which i describe as “ofally” just be in the same room as your wife when she has a baby. Very similar smell.

gross.

54 dannyb278 January 17, 2012 at 11:15 am

Also,
for those of you who deer hunt, dont forget to remove the heart from the “gut sack” after you are done field dressing the deer. if it is still intact, it makes for some of the best tasting meat on the deer. we devalve it and slice the heart (a muscle) into strips, roll in flower an fry in butter. doesnt get much better than that.

55 dannyb278 January 17, 2012 at 11:18 am

I second the request for field dressing a deer. there are many variations, but the one my dad and grandfater taught me is easy and relatively clean. just dont forget to remove the heart from the gutpile afterwords, as the heart is the tastiest and most often overlooked muscle for processing. we remove the valves, slice it into small chunks and roll in flower, fry in butter. Next to the backstraps, i dont think there is a bettter cut of meat on a deer than the heart, unfortunately most hunters leave this sizable chunk of meat for the scavengers.

56 Jared January 17, 2012 at 11:25 am

@JP

I think it is a fairly easy thing to learn to hunt at any age. While my family has been outdoorsy and I was aware of hunting as an activity, I did not “actively” hunt until I was in my 20′s. (brief explanation: my father is from the UP of Michigan where the land is open to everyone, no posionous snakes, and deer the size of horses. I grew up in central Alabama, where deer are small, land access is more limited, and there are poisonous snakes out the wazoo).

The starter resources that I can recommend for learning about hunting are as follows:
- The NRA – they are an advocate for gun owners and hunters (who often own guns). One of their monthly magazines is “American Hunter”, which includes articles about gear and tactics for various types of hunting.
- Local county extension office – The county extension offices (don’t know if this is what they are called in other states, but that’s what they are called down south) are the same folks that sponsor 4H and FFA type activities and typically involved in hunter education classes.
- Local Wildlife Departments – Game Wardens are a great resource to talk to about this as well. Most wardens are super helpful and are wardens because they care about conservancy and the outdoors. (anecdote: I contacted a local game warden regarding a depravation hunting permit to hunt coyotes at night on a friend’s property. The warden, an avid turkey hunter, was most encouraging as coyotes are predators of his game of choice.)
- sporting goods stores – particularly smaller outdoors oriented stores, although some of the big box stores (Bass Pro or Cabela’s) are very helpful indeed. I know that Bass Pro will hold clinics/seminars (think how-to lectures at Lowes/HD) and the staff that I have dealt with have always been fairly knowledgeable.
- Churches – at least churches that I have been around have often had ministries directed towards the outdoors.

A final random point that I would make is that marksmanship is a good, basic skill to work on for hunting. While I did not hunt in my childhood, the marksmanship skills that I learned plinking cans in the backyard with a bb gun are transitionable to hunting with bigger caliber rifles. If you know that you can hit your target at “insert range” yards, then you can focus on how to get within specified range of your target.

57 bMac January 17, 2012 at 11:43 am

A good friend of mine demonstrated this to me one lazy summer afternoon. We had been on an island in the Ottawa River hunting groundhogs (back when you could still do this). My friend was discussing his recent acquisition of a trapping licence, and I asked him how he went about skinning his catch. He proceeded to bring a squirrel down from a nearby tree with his .22, and skinned it for me on the rocks.
Sadly this friend is now banned from owning a firearm due to severe alcoholism.

58 Ken January 17, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Nice job, I’ve skinned and eaten a great many squirrels in my time, this looks to be a very effective, efficient, and clean method. Thanks for sharing. (two words: squirrel cacciatore)

59 Tim January 17, 2012 at 12:24 pm

Thanks for posting this! I’m curious to know if the same techniques can be applied to much larger nutria. The rodents were introduced to the Pacific Northwest as food for beaver trappers, and have taken over since no one eats them anymore. They’re apparently pretty tasty, and I have dozens right behind my house.

60 Steve M January 17, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Thanks Creek. Love your articles.

61 Spencer January 17, 2012 at 1:23 pm

Hey, I’ve done that! It is pretty easy and squirrels actually taste pretty good… I cooked mine on a two prong hotdog stick(stuck legs through it) and my brother kept the tail.

62 Jena January 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm

When my husband and brother-in-law dared me to cook squirrel, I said sure — as long as they did the cleaning. Joy of Cooking recommended “any chicken recipe,” so I made a delicious “Maryland Squirrel.” Husband and brother-in-law were less enthusiastic — maybe after cleaning half a dozen tiny little red squirrels? — and said it looked like lizard soup.

63 perez cardenas January 17, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Have you eaten the penis and the gonads?

64 Chris January 17, 2012 at 3:21 pm

I think this is a fantastic article. I would however suggest a faster skinning method. If you do not want to preserve the hide you can use what I call the pants and shirt method. Cut a slit along the back perpendicular to the spine right in the middle large enough to get two fingers in. Pull in opposite directions like you are opening a bag of chips. With a bit of force the skin comes off like a shirt and pair of pants. This method works with rabbits too.

65 JS January 17, 2012 at 4:06 pm

“This liver looks absolutely perfect–a sign of a very healthy squirrel”

Not any more.

66 Dan January 17, 2012 at 4:35 pm

Having never hunted in my life, this was a fascinating article.
Now I’ll have something to talk about with my brother in law.

67 Brad Gray January 17, 2012 at 4:54 pm

I just wanted to agree with the others above me that more articles on small game (particularly doves/ducks) would be interesting because I’d like to buy a shotgun and begin hunting them, thanks.

68 Brandon January 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm

My hot, Mississippi-born, country-raised, 20-year career nurse girlfriend says that eating squirrel brains can cause Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, that causes progressive dementia, nerve damage, and paralysis.. Don’t eat that part, I guess. LOL. Good article.

69 Justin January 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm

This is very informative. Thanks for posting this. If you were in a survival scenario and you needed to eat as much of the squirrel as possible. What organs are safe to eat? I imagine you could make squirrel stock out of the bones as well.

70 Dedicated_Dad January 17, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Ozark Nick: You’d have no trouble raising rabbits, or – hear me out, here – guinea pigs!

Pigs need little except grass, breed faster than rabbits, and are a major food source for much of South America.

Get started now with your breeding program, breed for size and sell the “extras” as pets!

Alternatively, rabbits are perhaps the second-best option and still more than doable in your small area!

71 Nathan January 17, 2012 at 6:53 pm

@Rob
Why?…Because this is The Art of Manliness and this is something that a MAN should know how to do. I’ll bet your grandfather could do this with his eyes closed.

72 Dave January 17, 2012 at 7:22 pm

OMG – thank you for the disclaimer at the top. I have in fact always felt deep affinity for woodland creatures, and thought perhaps this post was either satirical or a real post on remote veterinary procedures. You know, like field-dressing a would? At least, a small part of my thought it could be.

I just made my own squirrel feeder, and am, truth be told, somewhat nutty for them.

73 Nick January 17, 2012 at 7:28 pm

Finally I could put those backyard parasites into good use

74 Amy January 17, 2012 at 8:14 pm

That is just disgusting but do you know where you can find a legit recipe? Hint…http://readandtellme.com/2011/03/28/i-found-joy/

75 Mike January 17, 2012 at 8:48 pm

For those asking about how to field dress a deer, Kentucky Afield has a great DVD on working with a deer from field to freezer. I’ve also seen a number of videos on YouTube about it. Watch a number of them and take what works best for you.

76 Primal Toad January 17, 2012 at 9:11 pm

This is awesome. There are dozens of squirrels going crazy all around our yard and at the country club across the street. I may have to shoot one and give this a shot…

77 Ravin January 17, 2012 at 9:26 pm

Unlike most AoM readers I don’t eat beef or pork but I found this article to be extremely informative. I didn’t even think to check the liver as an indicator for the health of the animal. Very useful tip

78 Dave January 17, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Great post. Squirrels, rabbits, and wild turkeys are great survival food.

79 Critter January 17, 2012 at 11:37 pm

We will try this recipe hopefully soon. Throw a few things in a crock pot, couple hours later it’s done. Might even try to pass it off as chicken to my co-workers.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkjGiM2vGPg&feature=related

80 JulioCG January 18, 2012 at 1:11 am

Creek, I swear, every time you post I get excited to see what we’re doing lol
This I’ve actually done before. One question-why don’t you keep the rest of the entrails? In Uruguay (where I come from), roasted intestine is a delicacy known as Chinchulin [pronounced Cheen-chew-lean]. It’s bitter, but delicious! You should definitely try it sometime.
All organs are edible, that I know of, so we should definitely try to eat as much of it as possible.

On a side note, any chance you might show us what we can do with the skin? That would be awesome!
Thanks again for posting.

81 Marc January 18, 2012 at 8:58 am

Julio, Intestines have to be thoroughly cleaned in order to be edible (Here’s one big fan of them), and I suspect that, being his entrails so tiny, there is high risk of ruining it. By the way, I would not reccomend eating it straight away, unless it is an emergengy. Keep it for a week in the freezer because:
1)You can kill most of bacteria by freezing the piece.
2)The muscles will soften by this process, because freshly killed game tends to be really tough. Before, people used to hang the game for some days, allowing it to rot slightly, and thus becoming softer, but I wouldn’t do that.

82 Evan R January 18, 2012 at 11:11 am

all motions for more articles regarding tanning, small game, field-and-stream, and skinning other game have had seconds and thirds.

Of these, I think an article on tanning would be the best, I have been wondering how to tan for quite some time.

I love how AoM can pick a cool subject we’ve been wondering about for awhile and give us a quick 101!

83 Stephen January 18, 2012 at 11:22 am

This post seems a little specific to really be a case of not-if-but-when. It *may* be that the SHTF and you’ll have to field dress squirrels in the woods but it’s not inevitable ;). It’s a cool project, I’d be interested in articles on how to catch squirrels to begin with and what to do with the skin afterwards.

@Marc: Number 1 is wrong. Freezing does not kill bacteria. You can not sterilise tainted meat by putting it in the freezer. What freezing does is stop bacteria on food growing further while it’s at sub-zero temperatures but it does not get rid of bacteria that are already there.

84 The REV. January 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Great article I was taught to skin them the same way over 40 years ago.

85 Ken January 18, 2012 at 2:21 pm

I loved this article. I’ve always had issues with dressing small game, as I have always worked with larger game (deer, elk, moose, etc), so the process is a bit opposite from what I’m used to. I also love that we have the same necklace. Cheers!

86 Michael M. January 18, 2012 at 3:01 pm

Thanks for the post Creek! Cool name too!! I won’t go hungry when the world ends.

87 Mike B. January 18, 2012 at 4:13 pm

Excellent article. Thank You!

88 James B. January 18, 2012 at 8:11 pm

Um, could you please put all the gore AFTER the break? This was a very unpleasant interruption to my feed reading time.

89 Ryan January 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm

I love this website. I always wanted to go squirrel hunting. My uncle took me deer hunting and I got my first deer recently, so this turned me on to hunting more. I would like to read about skinning small game, maybe even birds to..

90 Kevin January 19, 2012 at 1:35 am

Thank you very much. The write-up and pictures were very helpful.

91 UncleBob January 19, 2012 at 11:28 am

GreatPost!!!Asamemberofalargefamily,growingupinSouthernIndiananaIhavekilledandeatenmanysquirrels,butevenmanymorerabbits.Theywereawelcomeadditiontoourtableandgennerallyconsideredasgoodaschicken.
IagreewithT.Hill,Mikecandotheresthatitisaskillweneedtoteachandwherepossiblepractice.Thatreatesuptherewithgardening,anyonecangrowafewthingsforouryoungergenerationsneedtolearn”thatfooddoesnotgrowinaplasticcontainer!”
Morelikethiswouldbeappreciated.I,asaadvocateoffamilyreunionswithsomeexpertisebelievethatisagoodmechanismforanvancingmanyofthesemanlyarts.unclebob@successfulfamilyreunions.org

92 UncleBob January 19, 2012 at 11:36 am

Regert-the-above-post–my-first.-Myspace-ber-would-not-take-nor-was-I-offered-an-opportunity-to-edit.

93 Mike January 19, 2012 at 11:44 am

After reading this and seeing the pictures, I realize I am not a man.

94 Guy January 19, 2012 at 1:40 pm

Hey Creek, how do you like that Filson Double Mac Cruiser?

95 Dave January 19, 2012 at 9:15 pm

This site is so awesome! It’s great to learn manly knowledge, this is something every guy should know how to do!
Thanks Again!

96 Cody Bruce January 20, 2012 at 2:34 am

I was hesitant to view this article because there are 100 different ways to skin a squirrel and many of them are a total pain in the neck. However, this is by far the easiest of the lot! A useful tip is to take a small limb and lay the squirrel on it when you pull up after cutting the tail—it makes things go a little more smoothly. Great article!

97 Jay January 20, 2012 at 9:53 am

Great article. Gotta say it answered a few questions for me. Never been a hugely outdoors type while growing up, got into hunting, fishing, self sustainability about 9 years ago when I was 17. Had to teach myself most everything because didn’t really have a father figure in the house to learn this kind of stuff from.

Without this article gotta say I would have probably just dressed it like I learned to dress a deer. Slice the middle, gut’s out, skin it later on. Why I love this web site, teaches me something every time I come here that I should have learned while growing up lol

98 Josh January 20, 2012 at 12:36 pm

So i am a city guy, grew up there my whole life. The only shooting i have ever done was at my Grandpa’s house in West Virginia (9 hours away…) and that was at cans. All this to say, i have never shot anything let alone field dressed it and then cooked it; however, i definitely agree that it is a skill i would like to develop. My question is: how do you know when these different types of wild game are done and ready to eat? (squirrel in this instance)

99 Marc January 20, 2012 at 2:57 pm

@Josh

I’ve you’re talking about cooking times, let’s say that game needs to be cooked longer than “domestic” meat. As a rule of thumb, one third of the time more, or even half of the time more, if you suspect the animal is old, than a domestic animal that weights the same.

100 Paul of Union January 20, 2012 at 3:45 pm

testicles are the gormey’s delight. I have killed 87 squrrels this year with my dog RoHo. It is a shame the mother castrates too many of her sons but I saved 32 pairs for the stew pot. Recipe: Two large onions, 3 sweet carrots, a bay leaf, two tbs tobasco salt and pepper to taste and a clean rock in a cast iron pot. Cook two hours on high heat. Throw away the stew and eat the rock.

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