Recently a lot of people that know I hunt, have been asking me more and more about how to hunt and how to skin, clean and gut animals. I do not know if it is the rise in the idea of self reliance or more interest in hunting, but I have been doing my best to teach people the skills to get food by their own skill.
Now I am going to show a step by step guide on how I, skin and clean a squirrel. This not the only method, but it is my method, taught to me years ago. It has worked very well for me. If you have a different way that is great. This is the way I do it and it usually results in less damage to the animal. It is not pretty to look at so if you have a weak tum tum, stop reading now.
Like any chore this calls for a knife, so make sure your knife is sharp. A sharp knife is actually safer then a dull knife. It sounds backwards but it’s not. A dull knife results in you forcing it or getting tired. So make sure you start with a sharp knife. Any kind will probably do, but a small one is better than a rambo knife in this case.
Start by pulling up the hide in the center-ish of the back. Pull it tight and cut a small slice. Now do not cut down into the meat. Just the hide. The hide will stretch away from the meat. If you do not understand, pull up the hide on your dog’s back. See how it does not hurt the dog? Thats because it’s not really connected like human skin.
Once you got it started, go ahead and make it a little bigger. Grab each side of the cut and pull. Pull toward the head and the tail.
Once you get enough to get a good grip on, pull away. Don’t be shy, it will not hurt. I promise he won’t feel a thing. You may need to take your knife and do a little trimming if some fat or skin wants to stick. It’s not difficult and you will know if you need to do it or not by how the hide does not slide off like a sock.
If you used a shotgun on the animal, you will notice the pellets falling out of the body during this time.
Next you will have the skin up around the neck and the feet. And, the tail and the bottom feet. At this time you can cut its wee wee off if you need to. Some times the skin will pull off of the feet with out needing to cut. I usually will cut the feet off at the ankle anyway to help it since they need to come off anyway.
Once you cut the feet. Cut off the tail and the head. It is not very hard, but it does call for a sharp knife and a little effort. If you need help, smack the flat back of the knife blade with a rock to get it a little help. It may scar the knife, but it may help you from cutting your finger if you are not used to this sort of work.
After this, you will have the body ready for gutting, Try to keep a bucket of water to wash it in if you can. Hair can get all over the bare skin and it sticks like snot on a pumphouse door handle. It doesn’t really hurt anything, but most people don’t like to get hair in their mouth.
Next, you are going to put the animal, ( food?) on its back and slice up its belly from the groin to the bottom of the chest cavity. Try not to stab it like Patrick Bateman. You do not want to puncture the intestines and get crap all over the place. No big deal if you do, since you are going to wash it off anyway. But like the hide, just cut through the cavity. you are not sawing through a steak.
One you get the cavity open, reach in and yank out the goop. Don’t be shy or worry about getting your nails dirty. It is messy.
You can pull out and save whatever organs you may like to eat (liver, kidney etc) at this point. Also remember that the heart and lungs are way up higher in the rib cage cavity and you have to puncture a thin membrane to get your finger up in there to pull it out. You could just split the rib cage with a knife, but I like to leave it be. Left intact, the rib cage makes for a nice holder for butter, carrots, garlic etc, during cooking.
After this you can wash it off and this is what it should look like. Depending on where you shot it and with what you shot it with, you may see dark spots in the meat or it may tear. Thats OK, it is just blood so do not worry. And if it tears, just do the best you can. It is not always going to be perfect or pretty.
If you skin it like I showed you , and you did not shoot it from 5 foot with a 12 gauge, you should just about be able to put it back together again with the yummy parts missing.
Cleaning small game is not hard. But it can be messy. Nothing hones your outdoor skills like stalking small game. Don’t let anyone tell you different. Often times deer are baited in or shot from a stand. Small game requires skill and marksmanship on a higher level then most “hunters” ever use. A lot of famous snipers started off shooting small game as kids so don’t let the so-called trophy hunter’s BS make you pass it by.
An if you follow these steps, it’s no trouble to make these..
Look ready for the fire like this.