Any­one know a method of skin­ning squir­rels when they’re cold? Please tell the editor!

Why is skin­ning squir­rels is so hard? – the editor asks

Air Gunner - - Contents -

O ver the win­ter, I shoot a lot of squir­rels for the game­keeper who hates them with a pas­sion. When I say ‘a lot’, I av­er­age 150 to 200, which is a lot of meat when the car­casses are prop­erly pre­pared. I con­sider my­self skilled at prepar­ing meat for the ta­ble and have taken a lot of time to study, and at­tend train­ing events, to build my knowl­edge and skills. I reg­u­larly prepare trout, pi­geons, pheas­ants, ducks, rab­bits and even deer, but I sim­ply can­not skin squir­rels! I’ve tried and tried, yet one lit­tle grey can take me as long to skin as five rab­bits. I have a col­lec­tion of sharp knives in ev­ery shape and size, and game shears, to face the task, but they’re no help at all. I’ve even re­sorted to ask­ing my wife to hold the squir­rel’s back legs as I tried to skin the front – she wasn’t keen.

SE­CRET TRICKS

Peo­ple have told me time and again that they find the job quick and sim­ple, all claim­ing to know a se­cret trick or tech­nique, but I’ve never made any of them work for me. The best ad­vice I was given was to skin the an­i­mal as soon as you’ve killed it, right there and then in the field. As much as I can see the logic in this ap­proach, it has too many draw­backs for me. For ex­am­ple, when I get into the woods, the squir­rels are of­ten found one af­ter an­other, and I need to fo­cus on shoot­ing as many as I can. Stop­ping for 10 min­utes to skin one would waste too much time. Also, I’ve shot 15 in a ses­sion. That would be a lot of butch­ery time when I only have a morn­ing free to hunt.

FOOD HY­GIENE

Next we come to the very im­por­tant sub­ject of food hy­giene. Mostly, I shoot squir­rels in the cold weather and take head shots, so I leave them out of reach of the foxes to cool, and af­ter col­lect­ing them up, gut them at home. This min­imises the chance of dirt or in­fec­tion en­ter­ing the an­i­mal’s body – I keep my larder scrubbed and ster­ilised, and have soap and wa­ter to keep my hands prop­erly clean, too. If you skin an an­i­mal in the field, you need zip- lock bags to trans­port the meat, and some means of clean­ing your knife fully be­fore putting it away. Dis­pos­able gloves can keep your hands clean, but you’d need to carry a lot of them to process 15 an­i­mals.

If you’ve found a prac­ti­cal way to skin then when they’re cold, please write to me and ex­plain the tech­nique. I re­ally need your help be­cause my win­ter sea­son isn’t that far away!

Skin­ning in the field might be eas­i­est, but it has its draw­backs

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