Written by Sierra Bullets Ballistic Technician Duane Siercks
Sometime back, I was approached by my boss and was asked if I could do a blog post on the finer points of skinning squirrels. I thought to myself, “What brought this up?” He went on to explain that a group had been discussing this subject and he had told them that he was sure that I might be able to touch on this subject.
Now let me say this before I start. I know there are many, many methods used, and each dyed-in-the-wool squirrel hunter has their own method. It is almost sacrilegious to even consider another method other than the one Grandpa instilled in us at age 3. Almost as bad as messing up Aunt Lula’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have hesitated doing this because I knew that I was touching on something very sacred. Anyways….. here goes.
I start by making a small cut behind the tendons of each hind foot and hanging the squirrel through the cuts on a small game gambrel. This was purchased for me by loving wife and daughters (they didn’t want to hold squirrels for me any longer) from the Bill Boatman catalog. How many remember that catalog?
Once the squirrel is hung, I make an incision at the base of the tail completely through the tail bone and then a cut from this incision down each back leg. The cut down the leg is usually made along the line where the color change occurs from the back to the underside. Then grasping the tail, pull the skin down until the front legs are partially showing. Then you will need to pull the front legs out of the skin. Do not break or cut the skin at the front legs yet. Now, go ahead and cut off the tail.
Take the squirrel off of the gambrel (or whatever you are using to hold said squirrel) and hang by the skin and front legs with the stomach facing you. There should be a V-shaped section of skin on the stomach, I will grab this with a pair of pliers and peel the skin down and off of the back legs. Then hang the squirrel by the hind legs again with the stomach facing you and you can now remove the front feet and skin. The front legs can be separated from the ribcage by cutting between the leg and ribcage.
Now remove entrails by cutting through the pelvic bone between the back legs and cutting away the flank membrane down to the ribcage. I then cut through the backbone at the ribcage and remove back feet. Then I separate the back legs from the back and you now have 5 pieces of squirrel ready for your favorite recipe.
The bane of most cooks is squirrel brought in to their kitchen that has hair stuck to the meat. This will get you chased out the back door and around the wood shed with a tongue lashing to go with it. The method I have described has almost eliminate any hair on the meat. Always check and wash thoroughly.
I hope that helps those who need it. I hope not to have offended my squirrel hunting brethren who do it different. Remember, isn’t the end result of fried squirrel, fresh biscuits and gravy, the same no matter how you skin them?