How To Skin A Squirrel? Step By Step Guideline For Beginners
Hunting small game animal such as squirrels are considered a rite of passage in many families. It offers an entryway to the world of hunting, without putting yourself in any real danger.
Since you do not need any special equipment, it helps you get grips on the basics of shooting without any hassle.
After making a successful hunt comes the part of skinning. Despite what many people believe, hunting a squirrel is quite easy and should not take more than a minute.
You do not need any special tools for the process, and also do not need to wait long hours to start skinning.
In our handy article, we will give you a step by step guideline on how to skin a squirrel so that you know what to do after you make your first successful kill.
So without further ado, let us dive in.
What Things Do You Need To Skin A Squirrel?
Before getting into the nitty gritty of the details, you need to make sure you have everything ready. Equipment-wise, you do not need anything too substantial, and you can carry almost everything with you in a carry bag.
Here is a list of equipment that you need to skin a squirrel.
Let's Get Started How to Skin a Squirrel
There really is not much to skinning a squirrel. As long as you are not too squeamish, you should not have too much trouble. And for how you should proceed, our easy to follow guide below should give you enough information to get through it quickly and easily.
01. Prepping your hunt
Before you start skinning your squirrel, you should make sure everything is in order. The steps mentioned below, if followed correctly, will ensure that you have an easier time going through with the rest of the process.
02. Keep the body in a cooler
The first step to skinning the squirrel is cutting it open. Although you can start skinning it the moment you shoot it down, if you have a cooler, you can postpone it until you get home and continue your hunt.
However, you should try to start skinning within three hours. Otherwise, the meat might start to smell and turn bad. Keeping it in a cool temperature will help you keep it fresh longer.
03. Use water
By rinsing the body with water, you can keep unwanted hair away from the meat. The last thing you want is to eat squirrel hair with your meat.
You can skip this step if you have previous experience with removing hair from meat, but the process can be extremely difficult for amateurs.
Do not go easy on the water; clean it thoroughly until you are satisfied.
04. Use a flat surface to lay down the squirrel
You need a flat surface to start making the cut on the squirrel. If you have a table, then lay it down on the surface with its tail pointing towards you. For some reason, if you do not have a table, a flat rock would work just fine.
As long as you have a flat and hard surface to work with, you should face no stability issues. If you have a friend, you can ask him to hold it down while you make the cuts.
05. Make the first cut
With all the above steps covered, you can proceed to make the first cut. It would help if you used a sharp knife that can cut through fur cleanly without too much force. Make a small cut of about 2.5 cm on the tailbone by lifting the tail with your fingers.
Continue your cut until you get to the skin without piercing the other side of the tail.
06. Cut along the back leg
From the cut you made on the tail, you need to cut through the outer skin layer directing your knife towards the powers. This cut will make the skinning process easier, giving you a gripping point to pull off the skin. So you do not need to worry about making the cuts too long.
However, if you want to preserve the hide, you should keep cutting until you reach the ankle so that it does not tear easily.
07. Loosen the skin
Now that you have made the initial cuts, you can loosen the skin from the back legs using your fingers. Slowly peel off the skin from the leg to the tail until you have a good grabbing space.
From here, you can pull off the rest of the skin without making any cuts, although the skin may tear in the process.
If you wish to preserve it, you need to make additional cuts along the tailbone while pulling it.
08. Removing the Hide
Now that you have taken care of the primary preparations, this is where you need to put in some effort. With the initial cuts out of the way, you should have a loose flap of skin to work with.
From there, you can pull the rest of the body out from the hide.
09. Turn the squirrel upside-down
Until this point, the squirrel was placed in a belly-down position on the table surface. Although it was necessary to make the initial cuts, for the next section, you need it facing upwards.
While keeping it on a flat surface, position it in a way that the loose skin is facing towards you and not away from you.
10. Peel off the body skin
At this stage, your grip is all that dictates how efficiently you can remove the hide. Hold the legs up using your primary hand away from the rest of the body. Then press your heel down on the loose skin that you made by cutting initially.
You should now be able to pull the hide off without any hassle by pulling. Make sure that you are stepping on the tail hard so that it does not get out of position. While pulling, you will notice most of the skin comes off quite easily.
As long as the tail is stabilized, you should be able to peel off the skin. If you notice any resistance check if you need to make incisions, but generally, brute strength is the way to go.
If you feel the skin will not come off around the belly, pinch the skin of the belly using your free hand while holding the front legs with your dominant hand.
11. Cut off the connecting tissues in the front legs
When you get to the front legs, you cannot just apply force to peel it off. There are many tissues in this area, connecting the hide to the inner skin. In most cases, you will be able to cut it using your fingers.
Insert your fingers under the hide and slide it around on the inside, and the connective tissues will tear right off. If you have kept the process clean thus far, it should not pose any problem.
12. Pull off the hide up to the neck
After you got the skin off the front legs, you can now pull it up to the neck without any hassle. It will look as if you are pulling a shirt from the bottom up to your neck. If there is any piece of skin stuck to the back legs, now is the time to deal with it.
However, if you already peeled all the skin from the hind legs, you can take the skin off completely. Getting rid of the skin from the hind legs is similar to that of the front legs. You need to check the connective tissues and break them off by inserting your fingers underneath the hide.
Once all the connections are severed, you can pull off the rest of the skin easily.
13. Cleaning and Storing the Meat
With the hard part out of the way, all you need to do now is to clean the meat and put it in the freezer. However, if you do not clean it properly, it might get rotten even in cold temperatures.
Follow the steps below for the best storage method.
14. Snip off the head and paws
For this step, you will need a sturdy pair of shears, preferably one intended for game animals. Make sure you cut the head as close to the body as you can, and for the paws, cut it around the ankles. Do not worry; you cannot eat these parts anyways.
Do not slice through bones using a knife, or you might find small chunks of bone in the meat. After that, lay down the body upside down on its belly on a flat surface. This might be a good time to check if there is any fur stuck to the body.
If yes, rinse it well under a jet of water to get rid of it. Then by angling the tail end, you start cutting open the meat from the spine.
15. Slicing the meat
Now you can start slicing your meat using a knife. The best way is to start at the groin and go all the way to the sternum, which is the bottom of the breastbone in a straight line.
To prevent puncturing the organs, always kip the tip angled upwards slightly. Once you get to the sternum, you can stop cutting.
16. Opening the chest cavity
To open the chest cavity, you need to use a good pair of shears. Knives will not do the job and might get dull after a few slices.
Drive the shear through the sternum, pushing behind any muscles, all the way to the chest cavity. Then press down on it, and it will pop off.
After that, you can spread it open using your fingers.
17. Removing the organs
Until this point, we were carefully avoiding puncturing the organs. Ripping holes in the stomach may cause bile to come out, spoiling the meat. But now that you have a proper opening, you can pull them out.
However, do wear gloves as this step can get quite messy. Dispose of the organs if you prefer not to eat them. But despite the size, they are edible when fried or roasted.
Before eating the liver, you should inspect the color. If it looks pale or spotted, it might not be healthy. The deep, dark red color is what you want in a healthy, edible liver.
18. Rinse thoroughly
When you are done with the organs, you can now rinse off the open body to get rid of any remaining bone fragment, hair, or blood. It is best to use a powerful hose since the strong stream will thoroughly wash away the unwanted elements.
If you do not have a hose available, just use water from a bottle or tap. You can also store it for now, and wash it off later if you do not have access to water.
19. Freeze it in a cooler
Your meat is ready to store in the cooler after you are done with the above steps. Use a resealable plastic bag to store the meat so that it does not get rotten.
You can also store the hide if you want to use it later, but make sure that it is dried and sealed off well.
Do not store both hide and meat in the same bag.
20. Some Essential Tips
With the steps mentioned above, you should have an easy time skinning a squirrel. Before we leave you, here are a few tips for you to follow when the time asks for it.
FAQs About Skinning The Squirrel
Q. Is squirrel meat delicious?
Yes, squirrel meat is quite delicious. In fact, you would have a harder time finding a better tasting game animal. Some consider squirrel meat to taste like a blend of rabbit and chicken along with a nutty flavor.
For this reason, any cookbook you buy will have one or two recipes for squirrel meat.
Q. How soon should I skin the squirrel after hunting?
As soon as you can. Since skinning a squirrel is not a very time-consuming process, you should get to it right away.
However, if, for some reason, you cannot take care of it at the moment, you should store it in a cooler to keep it fresh.
Squirrel meats can go bad if not preserved well.
Q. How do I work with a frozen squirrel?
Before cooking a frozen squirrel, you need to defrost it. Let it come down to normal temperature before you start cutting the meat. That way, you will have an easier time since the meat will not be as hard and ice-cold.
Q. How do you cook a squirrel?
There are thousands of different recipes when it comes to cooking squirrels. Depending on the type of dish you are preparing, you need to cut the meat down to smaller pieces or fry it whole.
We recommend you look at different recipes and choose the one that you think would be most tasty.
Q. Is squirrel hide worth anything?
Yes, they are. If you preserve the hide and tan the pelt, you can get quite a decent sum from it. It quickly adds up if you have a few pelts worth selling.
Depending on the species of the squirrel, the price may vary.
Q. How do I get the hair out of squirrel meat?
It is possible to get hair on the meat even if you are careful. But the process of getting them out may be quite annoying. For one thing, you can use a wet towel to remove the hair and dry the meat right away. If you are going to preserve the meat in the freezer, you could use running water.
Another method, though we would not recommend, is to gently go over the location where hair fell with a burning torch.
Skinning a squirrel is not a very difficult or time-consuming task. You can and should start skinning it right after the hunt if you want the meat to stay fresh. If you have all the equipment at hand, then you have no reason to delay it.
Our guidelines should give you enough information to make the experience hassle-free. We hope you enjoyed our article on how to skin a squirrel. For your benefit, we tried to keep it simple, and our instructions are also written in detail.
Hopefully, we could help provide you with everything you need for your next squirrel hunt.