Is there more than one way to skin a squir­rel? - the editor asks.

The editor needs your help. Is there re­ally an easy way to skin squir­rels?

Air Gunner - - Contents -

Ilike to think of my­self as a skilled butcher, and I’m proud that most of the meat my wife and I eat is har­vested by me. I reg­u­larly pre­pare rab­bits, pi­geons, trout, game birds, and even deer at ev­ery stage from the field to the fridge, but I have a neme­sis; the grey squir­rel. I find gut­ting and skin­ning them in­fu­ri­at­ing and, to be hon­est, I don’t ever make a very good job of pre­par­ing them. The skin is so strongly at­tached that I’ve ripped the front legs off the ribs be­fore I’ve de­tached the skin, sev­eral times, and ran­dom knife cuts all over the car­cass speak of a frus­trated butcher’s inaccurate slash­ing.

I have su­per-sharp knives of ev­ery shape and size, but they’re of no help. Mus­cle power alone won’t re­move the skin, and try­ing to hold it away from the meat whilst mak­ing ac­cu­rate cuts is some­thing that I find al­most im­pos­si­ble. I’ve asked other shooters if they know the se­cret and their an­swers have var­ied from, ‘ I’d rather starve than skin squir­rels,’ to ‘Search me, they’re a night­mare!’ Yet around the world this tasty an­i­mal is eaten in its thou­sands, so some­body some­where knows how to do it well.

One sug­ges­tion I was given was to skin them as soon as you kill them. The idea is that be­cause the skin and fat is still warm it will de­tach far more eas­ily, but I see a prob­lem with this. I of­ten find that when the squir­rels are busy feed­ing you’ll find one af­ter another, so stop­ping for butcher­ing du­ties would cost too much time. Next, I pre­fer to do my butch­ery on a clean, hy­gienic, well-lit work sur­face. Mud and leaves on the wood­land floor aren’t quite the same. Then how do you carry the skin­less car­cass home, whilst keep­ing it clean? It’s a nice idea, but has too many draw­backs for me.

So, dear reader, please write and tell me your squir­rel-skin­ning se­crets. I know some­body must have an an­swer to this. I shoot a large num­ber of squir­rels over the win­ter and I have to con­fess that I give lots away as fer­ret food be­cause I just can’t face the strug­gle to get them ready to cook, and I’m miss­ing out on some ex­cel­lent meals. Please share the knowl­edge and make the lives of many air­gun­ners just that bit bet­ter.

“One sug­ges­tion I was given was to skin them as soon as you kill them”

Be­low right: I’ve tried spe­cialised skin­ning tools but they’re no help Bot­tom right: I find small cuts work best but they’re so slow Mainw: Half­way there but still a long way to go

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