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?
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