I have found they skin easiest when still warm. Let them cool in the game bag and they get more difficult to skin.
The way I do it is really quite quick and easy. Make a knife cut thru the SKIN ONLY all the way around near the middle of the body. Grab ahold of this skin with both hands and just pull it toward each end. When freshly killed it will zip right off with no trouble. Continue to pull until only the head, feet and tail still have skin on them. Cut these off with knife or shears and then the skinning job is done.
If you really want a clean and neat job now just cut off the rear and front leg quarters without even gutting it and you've gotten about everything worth eating with no fuss and no muss.
Thoroght cooking kills that germ in both rabbits and squirrels if they happen to have it. It is mostly a concern in transfer if you have a cut on your hands when cleaning the game and get their blood mixed with yours. Always wear latex gloves when cleaning any game and you'll be better protected.
Here's how I do it: First, make a perpendicular cut on the undside of the tail at the base, going through the tailbone, but not through the skin on the top side of the tail. Secondly, slit the pelt, not the muscle, along the back of the rear legs. Get the pelt started off of the squirrel with your fingers. Now, place the squirrel on the ground on it's back and place your foot on top of it's tail at the base. Grab the squirrels hind legs with your hands and lift up, which will pull the pelt off going towards the front of the squirrel. This is easier to me than having to pull the pelt off using only my hands. After this, the squirrel will still be wearing 'britches', which will come off rather easily using only your hands. Lastly, I ring off the head and feet with my pocketknife, and then gut him. Of course, my way of skinning is strictly for eating meat, and not saving the pelt.
P.S. - Always be sure to wear protective gloves when dressing wild game. Exam or surgical gloves tend to work good for me.
Just got back from a Mich Squirrel hunt in the snow ....about 20 degrees....found out that the key to it all was skinning as soon as the kill is made.......much better warm than cold.....thanks to all that wrote and were very helpful.......Hal
I grew up huntin these things for the table as a kid..I have skinned em every way you can imagine. Best way is to ALWAYS have a pair of cheap rubber gloves with you( makes warm animal skinning alot cleaner)
grab the head cut thru the skin only just behind the shoulders about 2 inches. all the way around. Work yoru fingers under it and pull towards each end. Dont even bother guttin. Qtr the frt and rear legs and feed the rest to the fox and yotes! Throw em in a plastic bag for washing up later. :grin:
Wildman, I was tought that method by a "mountain man type". He got a big laugh everytime I tore a tree rat completly in two. Dad learned me to just put a small slit behind the sholders (just big enough to get the first 2 fingers of both hands under the skin) and turn them inside out. Dad's way almost always gets no hair on my varmit...but I have tore several apart. That makes them real hard to clean.
I too clean them asap after dispatch and put them in a plastic grocery bag. ( I once got a nasty case of mites from putting a squirrel in my back pocket)
When skinning squirrels I LOVE to use what I call my deer/squirrel knife. It's a sheath knife with about a 5" blade that balances perfectly and has just the right amount of weight to it. The weight is important. I hold it by the bottom of the handle and use it like a hatchet to sever heads, paws, and tails. Using it this way, I can cut/break right through bones and make nice clean cuts with just one shot. With a smaller pocket knife I used to break the bones and then cut the meat around it. This way seems much quicker and easier. Then I continue skinning in my usual manner by cutting the skin on the back and tearing/pulling it off the head and rear. Seems to go a little easier because the feet and tail don't get in the way of the skin.
One word of caution: BE CAREFUL and pay attention so you don't chop one of your fingers off along with the squirrels feet.
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