Feasting on Small Game When TSHTF – Skinning for Survival

Today’s guest post includes a product giveaway – this basic hunting knife:

The giveaway drill is simple. You comment (once) on this post and a random commenter is chosen via random.org. Your comment must answer this question:

Should preppers that have never captured, skinned and eaten squirrel-like small game do so now, as preparedness practice, or is that just unnecessarily taking the life of a poor little critter?

Comments that critique or supplement the subject matter of this post will also count. Your comment can also praise me … actually, don’t do that. People would call me biased when you win.

Good luck!

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People often grumble because rabbits ravaged the petunias or squirrels got into the birdfeeder again. But in a survival situation, those small yard pests can become an important food source – if you know what to do with them.

Whether you’re lost in the woods or living in an urban area when TSHTF, knowing how to skin and clean small game can keep you from starving. Rabbits, squirrels and other small animals are plentiful even in densely populated areas and can provide a decent source of meat. Of course, everyone and their dog will have the same idea, so pickings could become slim pretty quickly. If you do manage to bag one, however, it won’t do much good unless you know how to get the most out of it.

To skin a rabbit, squirrel or other small game, you’ll need a sharp hunting knife or skinning knife. It’s also helpful to have pliers and a sturdy pair of scissors; a quality multi-tool can provide everything you need in one compact, portable device. Whatever tool you use, make sure it’s good and sharp to reduce the risk of injury.

STEP 1: Use your hunting knife to cut off the front feet behind the knee joint.

STEP 2: Slice the underside of the tail at the anus to cut it loose from the body, leaving the tail attached to the skin.

STEP 3: The next step is to peel off the skin, which can be done several ways. The simplest is to place the tail under your foot, grab the hind legs and pull the body upward, which will skin the animal from tail to head. It may take some work to get the front legs out – continue pulling until the skin is hanging from the head.

STEP 4: With the tail still pinned, use your pliers to pull off any remaining skin from the belly to the back legs.

STEP 5: Place the carcass on a flat surface, and use your hunting knife to cut off the head and back feet.

STEP 6: Remove the genitals using the scissors or pliers on your multi-tool.

STEP 7: Carefully cut open the underside of the animal with your scissors or hunting knife, beginning at the anus and cutting up through the ribcage. Don’t cut too deeply or you risk slicing into the stomach, which can contaminate the carcass.

STEP 8: Open up the animal and remove all of the organs. (It’s helpful to have a bucket nearby.) When removing the bladder, be careful not to spill any urine on the meat. Ensure the cavity is completely clear before cooking.

STEP 9: Place the carcass into a bowl of clean water and soak it overnight to remove any excess blood.

STEP 10: To cook your small game, boil it in a stock pot with water or broth for two hours. You can also cut it into pieces, dredge in flour and seasonings, and fry in oil until browned. Then let the meat simmer for 30 minutes.

Skinning a small animal may not sound pleasant, especially if you’ve come to think of these critters as woodland pals. But knowing how will add one more skill to your survival arsenal.

Tom Huntington lives in the Pacific Northwest and writes about hunting knives, outdoor survival and emergency preparedness.

 

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Diggity Dog May 10, 2011, 7:12 am

    If you don’t have any food left, or really need protein, then taking urban wildlife might not be a bad idea. But due to all the chemicals that urban squirrels, rabbits, etc are exposed to, they’re not really a food source I’d like to take in until there had been at least a few months if not a year past a horrible disaster.

    I ABSOLUTELY recommend that people learn to take small animals now, before they need to use the skill to survive. If you buy a hav-a-hart trap, you’ll be stunned at just how easy it is to catch the little buggers with you not needing to exercise any effort at all. They’re $20 and you could easily recover that cost in food in a couple months if you’re just trapping your land.

    Also, you have to find out your local laws about trapping or hunting animals. I’m lucky, as Kansas allows me to take almost any small furry critter if the buggers are eating my garden. So it’s a double whammy as I get to stop garden predators and get some free meals for the dogs.

    Generally, since I garden, I’m more a fan of raising a few rabbits for meat than hunting the local varmints for human consumption due to the chemical concerns I listed above. So I get to use the rabbit manure to fertilize the garden and the rabbits get leftovers from my cooking preparation like beet greens, potato and carrot shavings, etc.

    • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 6:33 am

      Blanch and sautee said beet greens in a little olive oil, with shaved garlic and a little shaved onion, salt/pepper…. I guarantee you won’t be feeding them to the rabbits anymore! That is if you like beets of course, but I assume you do since you have them in your garden. Just be sure not to overcook them, or they will have a much stronger alkali flavor

      • Diggity Dog May 11, 2011, 7:33 am

        I ate way too much greens in military college as a freshman, since it was all the upperclassmen would let you eat. I can’t stand the things anymore. I appreciate your efforts to expand my horizons, but eating cooked greens is just one thing that I’ll never be able to appreciate.

  • SD May 10, 2011, 7:45 am

    EVERYONE SHOULD TRY IT FIRST DEEP FRIED SQUIRREL IS NOT THAT BAD… I PREFER RABBIT BUT IF THE TIMES CALL FOR IT THERE ARE PLENTY AROUND….

  • Casey May 10, 2011, 8:00 am

    I absolutely think people should try to learn now because in a SHTF situation you are not going to have time to be screwing up the gutting process and risking contamination of the meat. This could result in the death of you or your family in which case why even prepare at all. I hunt rabbits and squirrels already and enjoy the meat. I feel that as long as you actually enjoy eating it then it is not a waste of the life of the animal. Plus it also helps keep the population under control so I don’t have to hit them with my car all the time.

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 10, 2011, 8:34 am

    I agree with the above – practice makes perfect, and learning how to take advantage of every opportunity to smooth things later just makes sense. Also gives you the opportunity to find out how much meat is really on a small animal, and how much you will need to feed yourself and others who depend on it. Not to mention the practice on getting the free vittles with the least amount of effort – they just don’t come traipsing up to you, holding a bullseye on their chest. :^)

    • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 6:37 am

      If you want to stretch the meat a little, stews are a great option, with the addition of vegetables and stock (if you have it, water if you don’t); You not only add flavoring components to the dish, but you also give the illusion that there is more meat than what is truly there. If you use the bones in said stew, you will extract the nutrition from the bones as well, not to mention it will give the finished product a more complex flavor profile!

  • jeff May 10, 2011, 8:43 am

    people should have the skills in place for survival but people who have never killed and skinned out squirrels and other such small game for the pot will learn quickly enough when faced with starvation.

  • Jay Lambert May 10, 2011, 9:34 am

    Yes. Practicing this skill in a low stress situation would be ideal as opposed to trying this for the first time when one is on the verge of starvation!

  • GT May 10, 2011, 9:43 am

    I would imagine that it would be a good idea, whenever possible, to practice before you need it. That being said, it may not be possible. For those that can’t practice right now, I would recommend doing some homework. Either asking a family member, a friend with experience, or even an hour or two on the internet. Bottom line, some knowledge is better than no knowledge. so don’t put it off entirely just because you can’t practice at the moment. Push comes to shove, if you are hungry enough and even manage to catch the animal, you will figure out how to eat it.

    • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 6:41 am

      Even people living in large cities, who cannot hunt these animals for whatever reason (none around, laws, PETA hippies pounding on their door with an arm full of bean sprouts calling you a “murderer”, etc.) can possibly have access to practicing this skill. One of my favorite markets in the US is the Eastern Market in Detroit. There you can purchase whole, or even live rabbits, goats, lambs, chickens, ducks and geese. There may be a similar market available in other cities, if not some ethnic markets may offer some “skinin’ fodder”!

  • gat31 May 10, 2011, 10:09 am

    Well being from the South, l have eaten many things.Squirrel, rabbit, alligator, and turtle to name a few. However, out of all of those l personally only helped skin a rabbit. This is a perfect post for the times and l agree on practicing. Even if you’re only feeding the dog, (or the neighbors darn cat that tips your trash every freaking day) at least you gain the skill. Someone told me there was glands on a squirrel you also wanted to get rid of, does these come off in the skinning process above or do you still need to remove them too? Anyone know how to clean a softshell turtle? The meat is awesome, but l’ve never seen one cleaned so l’m clueless.

    • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 6:53 am

      I have only cleaned a turtle a couple times, never a soft-shell, but I would venture a guess that it’s not to much different from a snapping turtle… Start by dispatching the turtle in the most humane way possible… Place him in cold water, preferably with some ice, it will slow down it’s metabolism to the point where it wont move/feel much at all, then using a VERY sharp knife, insert it at the base of the skull, into the brain stem to sever it… instant death (I don’t care what anybody says, it wont feel it, and if it does it wont for long… fraction of a second MAX).
      Take the same knife and cut the bottom shell off around the edges. Then it’s similar to filleting a fish, separate the meat/membrane from the bottom shell, remove the guts, cut out the anus and any parts that don’t look to savory, then rinse and you realize the best part about a turtle… IT COMES IN IT’S OWN POT!!! Just toss that puppy on some hot coals, and let it cook until the juices from the meat have been boiling for at least 5-10 min… A little salt, some pepper and wild herbs, and it’s dinner time! By the way, there are 7 different “cuts” of meat inside a turtle, so there is something for everyone! My favorite part is right behind the tail, near the rear legs.

  • sput May 10, 2011, 10:36 am

    Knowing how to harvest and process game is a survival skill that every serious prepper should have. Basic hunting and trapping skills, as well as knowlege of game habits should be learned. Do not base your survival on shooting every bunny, squirrel or cat in your neighborhood, because that is what the unprepared will be doing.

  • mainerinexile May 10, 2011, 10:53 am

    i think it’s good practice **as long as the intent is to follow through with the rest of it – that is, prepare and eat that small animal. it should not be wasted…

  • DaveNV/AZ May 10, 2011, 10:55 am

    It is better to have a working knowledge of skinning and preparing small game animals so that when and if TSHTF, you can maximize the food animals that you may harvest. Having hungry, cold, tired, injured, frightened family members depending on You, will cause enough of a strain. Not being able to prepare the animal in an efficient and safe manner will just put more stress on you and possibly put your family members at risk of food poisoning. Besides if you get out and hunt small game animals during the proper hunting season will add to all of your survival skills.

  • johnboy May 10, 2011, 11:17 am

    Practice. It is most definitely necessary to do and learn now so you’re not put into even more of a situation after shtf

  • TMM May 10, 2011, 11:18 am

    Since many people may live in an area where quietly trapping a squirrel is not a choice right now (apartment dwellers, city folk, etc) they should see about maybe teaming up with a friend who hunts. They don’t have to actually do the hunting if they have no license, but could be in on the skinning to learn what is involved.

    Find a local farm in the area that processes their won chickens.. ask to learn.. the point is, it is much easier to learn from a person than a book….

    Some folks may even find that they become vegetarian afterward..:)

  • fortunateidiot May 10, 2011, 11:22 am

    Good article, it should be mentioned when skinning around the anus, one should take care not to actually enter the anus but cut around it. This will minimize contaminating the meat from excrement.

    All of your survival skills should be practiced now, when things are good rather than later when you’re in the stew and stressed. Practice makes perfect.

  • WSC May 10, 2011, 11:23 am

    Everyone should know how to trap or hunt small game. They also need to learn to prepare what they kill. I grew up in the city but we owned a hunting camp in the swamps. In the city, the squirrel are tame, but that will not last. In the swamp, they are harder to hunt. Perfecting technique takes time. Wasting your kill because you do not know how to properly clean it just compounds the problem.

  • PrimalCane May 10, 2011, 11:35 am

    I had the idea a few years back that I wanted to try my hand at some small game hunting just to have the experience. It took a few squirrels to get the hang of it, so I am definitely glad I went through the process before my life depended on it. Once I had enough for a meal I tried to pan fry them with some salt and pepper, and they toughened up harder than leather. Needless to say but low and slow probably would have been a better way to go. Lesson learned.

    • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 9:25 am

      Quick cooking methods can and do work, the key is to try and break-up the protein structures before cooking. Because of the size of the animal, and the ratio of meat to bones, the best method is through chemical reaction… which means a marinade/brine. When considering a marinade remember that the proper acid is the key. Personally, I prefer using a mild-moderate acid, think cirtus juice and wine. I know folks who use vinegar, but that is overkill in my opinion. I would rather use a brine, though it does take at least 2x the time that a marinade would, but I find that it controls the “wild” taste without overpowering it. My favorite recipe for brine can be found on this site, here https://www.shtfblog.com/how-to-cure-with-liquid-brine/
      The brine, also refered to as a liquid cure, is good for anything from fish to your favorite steak/roast.

  • NebraskaHunter May 10, 2011, 12:02 pm

    While I was in Survival school in the Air Force, this was one of the first things they taught us. It was invaluable when we were running around the woods for days trying to evade capture.

    Don’t waste the skin as it can be useful for many other things.

  • Jennie May 10, 2011, 12:06 pm

    Absolutely. I can’t think of any small mammal that’s in danger of extinction. Kill one and try. Of course you should be responsible and try to use/eat what you kill, but that’s the point of the exercise, so it should be no problem.
    I’ve never skinned anything, I hope I win. :-D

  • Jason May 10, 2011, 12:09 pm

    I am planning this very project as soon as hunting season rolls around. If a person thinks they may need the skill of hunting and preparing their own meat, then they should perfect the craft while it’s not essential.

    That does not mean that a person should practice the killing for killings sake. The animal should not be wasted.

    I also think the same thing is true for gardening. This is my first year for a garden & it’s much more difficult than I originally expected. I am glad I’m doing this now, rather than when it’s essential.

  • Matthew May 10, 2011, 12:20 pm

    Maybe. If you are going to actually eat the squirrel (or whatever), then I suppose that’s fine. It’s worth the practice. But no, not if you’re going to skin it and then throw it away.

  • Ezel May 10, 2011, 12:30 pm

    Now is the time to learn trapping and preparing your catch. The simple Hav-a-hart traps are easy and effective and you can get rid of pests from your garden and learn at the same time. I also have the #110 conibear traps, but don’t use them much now because they might kill or hurt a local dog or cat. But after the SHTF, I’ll be eating those dogs/cats.

  • JP in MT May 10, 2011, 12:31 pm

    “Should preppers that have never captured, skinned and eaten squirrel-like small game do so now, as preparedness practice, or is that just unnecessarily taking the life of a poor little critter?”

    Is eating wild game of any kind a possible in the survival situation that you see yourself in? If so, you should practice how to take the game and prepare it. During the stress of a SHTF situation you are going to have enough problems. Proper Prior Planning and training will prevent later issues and insure that you have the proper equipment and know how to use it.

    • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 9:41 am

      What’s that old saying? The 6 P’s??
      Proper Planning (could sub Practice) Prevents Piss Poor Performance….
      At least that’s what coach Garlic used to tell us in football practice

  • T.R May 10, 2011, 12:56 pm

    Rabbit is good and can be plentiful but ya need s few to make a meal . Hate to think how many squirrels you need to get for a days food .

    • Spiderman May 11, 2011, 1:11 am

      I agree with most that have commented here. Like any other skill, this should definitely be practiced, and the practice should be complete (i.e. no wasting).
      Ranger Man, perhaps you have covered Rabbit Starvation in another article, but it might be worth a mention here. In connection with this, I don’t know why you say rabbit is a ‘decent meat source’.

      • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 6:28 am

        While it is true that you can fall victim to a condition known as “rabbit poisoning”, it is really only seen in people who eat pretty much nothing but rabbit, or some other extremely lean meat, over long periods of time. There are dissenting opinions over what actually causes the condition, however most agree that it is due to lack of fat in the meat. This could be offset by other additions to your diet, like fish, beans, and some grains which can all be found wild in some parts of North America (I will not speak to other areas, because I am not very familiar with them).

        Another way to get around the possibility of “rabbit poisoning” is by selecting a cooking method which utilizes the addition of fat to transfer heat from the cooking vessel into the meat. A perfect example is deep frying, while I understand that this would more than likely not be an option for someone who finds them self in the wild and relying on small game for food, it is a viable option for the savvy prepper staying at their “home base” or retreat. A more easily available option for someone in the field, is pan-frying. I have used this method, in combination with my skills as a butcher, a sharp knife (to cut the meat into small pieces) and my trusty US Army issue 2qt canteen cup. You don’t need breading to pan-fry, contrary to common belief, it is typically used to create a crust on the surface of the meat which will serve 1 or 2 of the following functions:
        – It creates a nice texture if it is to be served straight out of the oil
        – It will help to thicken a braised or stewed dish
        – It will deepen the flavor (if allowed to properly caramelize) in said braised or stewed dish, it will also darken the color of said dish, depending on how heavily caramelized the starches become
        – It will add a nice aesthetic touch, because of the caramelized starches, giving it a golden-brown color

        If you would like more information on the subject, I have discussed it briefly in one of my articles on this site, though which one exactly escapes me at the moment. Possibly in the article where I discuss butchering, but I am FAR to lazy at the moment to look it up, sorry.

  • Frank May 10, 2011, 1:10 pm

    15 Years in the military taught me one thing: Train as you fight. I could read all about how to do a task, but NOTHING beats hands-on training.

    W ether it be starting a fire, making a shelter, reading a compass to determine direction or skinning an animal to prepare a meal- just get out and do it.

    Remember- The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.

  • Wally May 10, 2011, 1:21 pm

    Heck yes one should not only practice how to skin a small animal (like a squirrels and rabbits ) but practice should be taken in snaring them. Great article and timely subject matter.

  • pBarnhart May 10, 2011, 1:51 pm

    I would first like to say that I am all for animal welfare. Not animal rights, animal welfare. There’s a difference. However, when it comes to something like knowing how to survive when the SHTF, nothing beats being prepared and having experience. So I say go for it! Taking the life of these animals is no big moral problem as long as there is experience gained and you actually use them. It seems silly to let the animals go to waste. If you dont want to eat them all, find someone that will. Animal shelters and sanctuaries are always looking for donations of meat for their animals as are some people and maybe even your friends.

    The main point is, get the experience and utilize what you catch one way or another

  • Doug May 10, 2011, 1:54 pm

    There are a number of good videos on YouTube that show this process. It really is not very difficult or messy. Surely beats starving!

  • Scott May 10, 2011, 2:23 pm

    Hell Yeah practice while you can perhaps not in your BO local but definatly learn how and prepare it for supper just dont tell the family what it is until AFTER they tell you how great your cooking is!

  • Joe O May 10, 2011, 2:36 pm

    I don’t think it would be such a wasteful thing to practice. After all, you are going to eat it, and there are plenty of things to use the pelt for, so it isn’t so unnecessary at all. Even if TS doesn’t HTF, you still have that knowledge that could come in handy some day should you ever be stranded in the middle of nowhere for days on end. If it could mean the difference between you living and dying, it isn’t wasteful in the least.

  • Rich May 10, 2011, 2:50 pm

    I used to just make a slit across the back of the squirrel, stick a couple of fingers under the hide and pull it off.

    After pulling to the legs, head, and tail, they can each be cut off.

    Gut and soak in salted water overnight. Then fry them up.

  • travis May 10, 2011, 3:29 pm

    I say do it now, not just for practice but for the enjoyment.

  • Leon May 10, 2011, 4:32 pm

    Yes! Start small game hunting now! Small game population, such as rabbits and squirrels are widely distributed.
    Seasons are long, and bag limits are generous, and legal hunting will not hurt the populations. Also, as any fish and game department can tell you, there is no such thing as stockpiling game. At some point, without a reasonable harvest, the animals will overpopulate, degrade the habitat and disease or starvation will break out.
    Here are the skills a non-hunter will learn:
    * Hunting in general. If you can effectively hunt squirrels with a .22 rifle, you’ll have no trouble switching over to whitetail deer or other large game animals.
    * Learn the skills now: When the Sewage Hits The Fan is no time for on the job training.
    * Learn how to cook the meat now!
    * Start gathering wild game recipes you like, so when SHTF, you won’t have one more variable in your life.
    * Start killing, cleaning and cooking the game now, under survival situations, and that will be one more skill in your collection.
    * Learn a deeper appreciation of nature. Hunting requires an immersion in the whole natural scene that most people never experience.

  • Jack Fallin May 10, 2011, 4:40 pm

    Most people are unwilling to do that which is new to them. Killing an animal for practice is not a good idea under any circumstance however, as much as I love the little critters, I love my family more. I once killed a snake and ate it and was quite happy to do so and I hope I never have to do it again even though I had never done it before, Anything you learn you take with you and you don’t have to pack it into your bag. My head is so full of stuff that if I lean over it runs out but I do use some of it. I heartily suggest that everyone who wants to survive SHTF at least practice with a friend who does hunting or learn from someone who does. Worse case from a book or even on line. The worst that can happen is that you get sick now instead of when you need to keep your wits about you. Some of the little critters that run around are cute and in a pinch mighty tasty, with some salt. Learn every thing you can, It can’t hurt you and who knows you might have a hidden talent for marmot butchering. Maybe a squirrel skin hat or a prairie Dog jacket. Good luck at it,
    Semper Fi

  • Tony C May 10, 2011, 6:03 pm

    I personally do not like to eat either one. Therefore, I do not plan on “practicing” until I need to for a food source. I figure if I can do chickens and deer, a smaller critter should not be that difficult for me to figure out. For people that have no idea what so ever, I think they should do it at least once.

  • David Chojnacki May 10, 2011, 6:10 pm

    Yes!!! The only way to master a skill is to practice, practice and practice! When you find yourself needing that protein from a small animal it would be nice to have the confidence that you can provide for your family.

  • razr May 10, 2011, 7:00 pm

    While living with friends in CA we ate a lot of rabbit, but they grew them…….and the were very tasty. While living in Main, we hunted both squirels and rabbits with dogs…..nothing went to waste…..there is nothing wrong with taking care of ones self

  • NoME Preppy May 10, 2011, 7:27 pm

    I agree that it is a great way to “put meat on the table” so to speak. a couple squirrels cut up and put in the pot can help make a decent stew for a half dozen people. more squirrels and more water, more people can be fed.

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned in the article was how you obtain these animals. You can trap them or hunt them. Trapping them would require knowledge of where they live. Observing the environment helps solve that problem. Trapping also requires less dedicated time.

    If you were to hunt the animals, you would need a small caliber rifle or pistol, or a shotgun. You can also get away with using a pellet/bb gun or even various archery equipment. You still need to know where these critters live. You also have to dedicate more time to the task.

    Cooking the food can be done in a quite a variety of different ways. I’ll leave Chef Bear to that task.

  • Jen May 10, 2011, 8:40 pm

    I don’t think it is necessary to be killing squirrels right now; however, practice on similar animals would be very beneficial for getting over the yuck factor. I plan to start raising bunnies in my back yard for just this reason. Learning a necessary skill is not the only thing to be gained either–thankfulness for what we now have should grow. We, well most of us, are entirely removed by a generation or more from growing and butchering our own foods.
    I know people who are raising chickens and had to kill off a rooster. That homegrown, fresh bird has been sitting their freezer for over a year. They can’t bring themselves to eat him, and they HATED that particular bird. Yet, I wonder how many chickens have come home cradled in sterile plastic wrap which have joined them for dinner.

  • Aaron May 10, 2011, 9:09 pm

    Yes, practice is very important. No amount of studying and learning can replace practicing.

  • marc May 10, 2011, 9:11 pm

    Yes Sir, practice all you can. I suggest practice with different varieties of weapons also. Shooting a rabbit in the head with a high powered pellet gun is much different than shooting one with #8 shot from a shotgun. Lessons to be learned when you break a tooth when you bite into a bb you missed while cleaning the animal.
    Live trapping may make some people realize they now have to kill an animal at close range in a cage, and can’t do so. Get out there and do it, and consume whatever it is you kill.

  • John Henry May 10, 2011, 9:55 pm

    start practicing YESTERDAY! you wouldn’t wait till TSHTF to begin learning how to shoot, would you?

  • JeSter May 10, 2011, 10:00 pm

    Most definitely practice now. Seek out folks in your community that lived through hard times. They’ve been there and done that…learn from them, becuase our turn is next!

  • Schatzie Ohio May 10, 2011, 10:54 pm

    The husband was raised on a homestead and he raised rabbits and butchered them but hasn’t done it in many years. He would probably rise to the occasion should the need happen.

  • Richard H May 10, 2011, 11:08 pm

    I think it is not only a good idea to practice now but would be irresponsible to do otherwise. In a teotwawki situation, if you were to do ruin a catch it would be ruined and you would suffer. But right now it is hard for anything like that to go to waste. Even if you don’t know what you are doing now you have options. Go online and find out how to skin and clean it. or find a person who knows how and have them teach you. If you were to completely dash any chance of it being salvaged you might still use. Trapping bait or a snack for a pet, perhaps. If you practice now you will be more prepared for the future and will not be truly wasting the creatures life by way of your own inexperience.

  • Casey in CA May 11, 2011, 2:43 am

    I don’t think it would hurt for people to learn such new skills. Growing up one of the things that I did every fall and winter was dove and quail hunting. As long as you are not waisting what you take I see nothing wrong with it.

    Now that I no longer live in an area that is accessible to hunting I miss such activities, or frustrations. I have always wanted to know how to skin and clean mammals and larger game. I have gone deer hunting with my grandpa while I was young, but we never got anything so I never learned how to take care of a deer after one was taken in the field. Someday I plan on doing more hunting and getting the opportunity to get some venison, but I do plan to learn what I’m doing before. This is because the worst thing as a hunter is to hunt, stalk, and kill game but not know what to do with it then it rots and goes to waste.

  • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 2:54 am

    Sorry folks I haven’t read the other comments, because my brain is a little “foggy” at the moment due to some pretty strong stuff the doc’s have me taking. So please forgive me if this comment is not up to my typical standard.

    First off, that is a pretty SWEET lookin’ skinnin’ knife! FINGERS CROSSED! TOES TOO!

    I am pretty sure, though again I didn’t read the other comments, that someone has mentioned getting a recipe for cooking the delicious furry “forest friends”… My favorite way is to brine them in a simple super-saturated salt/sugar/spice marinade that I season with whole peppercorns and a healthy dose of bourbon; Then season with salt, pepper, citrus for acidity- I like Myer lemon but almost anything will do, sage/rosemary/thyme/mint and a little olive oil; Rub in the seasoning well and allow to marinate for at least 30 minutes. Grill the meat over a charcoal grill, or even better a campfire fueled with oak, hickory, or almost any fruit/nut tree wood- I like pear/apple and pecan/butternut. Serve with a vinaigrette made with the same herb you marinated with, salt/pepper, white wine/champagne vinegar, honey, extra virgin olive oil and mint (if you don’t already have it in the mix, cuts some of the “gamy” flavor for those who don’t like game) and a splash of citrus to “open the flavors. Serve the meat with rice and use the vinaigrette to further season the meat… The leftover meat, mixed with the rice and vinaigrette makes great leftovers too!

    I use a little different method to skin squirrels and rabbits…
    I cut the skin around the ankles, but don’t cut the feet completely off. Then cut the skin around the head, and make a cut through the skin along the belly and legs. When you are done, the skin is much easier to remove, and leaving the appendages intact will give you a better grip to use when removing the hide. Then I open up the belly with a shallow, swift cut, cut around the anus and testicles (if it’s a male); then remove the guts… Remember the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs are all good sources of nutrition and don’t taste as bad as most people think they would (for best results, grill until seared and then cut into chunks and toss in some soup/broth); The bones can also be cooked until nice and dark/crunchy, they are a good source of calcium and iron from the marrow (in larger animals the marrow is an excellent source of VERY dense nutrition [fat]). Before cooking I usually trim off the feet, tail, and sometimes the head (if you skin the head, the meat around the head has more fat, the brains are VERY nutritionally dense and you can get about 8-10% more meat by going for the head.

    One of the great things about targeting small game, is that they mature and reproduce MUCH more quickly than large game like deer. In a short time (maybe a year or two), a diminished squirrel/rabbit population can rebuild itself if there is enough food/space/water/lack of predators (humans in this case)

    • ChefBear58 May 11, 2011, 3:01 am

      Forgot to mention… Good article!

  • j.r. guerra in s. tx. May 11, 2011, 8:37 am

    I should have mentioned above – when cooking birds on the grill, cutting through the backbone and removing the internals from that opening leaves you the option of laying the carcass more opened for more even cooking.

  • Schatzie Ohio May 11, 2011, 8:50 am

    For those who haven’t hunting small game before – I was told that when you butcher them, check the liver and if they have spots on the liver you should disgard them.

  • rdnkrfnk May 11, 2011, 9:43 am

    first off i skin my squirrel a lil different from the way you do as i make a around the belly like your gonna cut it in half but only through the skin then place my fingers just under the skin and put my thumbs in the tail area and push this just peels the skin away leaving it hung around the tail and back feet then i cut off the back feet and then the tail reverse procedure for the head end the rest is basically the same ive tried boiling them and dont realy care for it i prefer fried or broiled over an open flame i have had the brains with scrambled eggs it was a favorite of my great grandfathers i dont eat the brains or the marrow from animals as this is where disease is usually carried

    • Anonymous May 11, 2011, 9:51 am

      i say if you want to try this out go out in the fall and harvest some squirrels and rabbits i think its legal to hunt them in all states a small game license doesnt cost much this is somthing that can be done in a wekend and the having the expierience is priceless compared to waiting till shtf and finding out you screwed up somehow on the only meal youve got

  • Tattoo Tony May 11, 2011, 11:58 am

    Usually when people skin small woodland creatures they say it’s a precursor to being a serial killer; I knew I was normal!

  • JeanneS May 11, 2011, 1:46 pm

    I don’t think it’s a good idea to capture, skin and eat squirrel-like small wild game now as preparedness practice unless you are committed to the time, expense, and practice involved in becoming a hunter as one of your _primary_ hobbies. It’s not that difficult to find other ways to get that experience without doing something potentially illegal (shooting a squirrel or raccoon in your yard might be illegal!), dangerous (I’ve always taught my kids that any wild animal that lets them get close to it is either sick or injured, and therefore dangerous to them!), or unhealthy (was that cute wild bunny you shot/trapped so easy to catch because it was poisoned by drinking antifreeze the neighbor poured out in their driveway?).

    If you can’t find a friend or relative who owns a small farm that keeps fowl or rabbit as a food source, who’s willing to let you come help out on slaughtering day, you can usually find a wildcrafting school which holds classes for beginners, taught by expert instructors. Also there are several cities which hold “beginning butcher” classes at old-fashioned butcher shops (this is actually becoming fashionable, as if the preppies are starting to realize these are good skills to have!). And many community colleges have non-credit classes on “hunting safely” which include butchering small game, and the classes are usually affordable. Some states’ fish & game departments also hold similar classes, or will refer you to local organizations that do.

    Don’t forget to include your kids in these classes! I have an 18-year-old that I missed the boat on; she doesn’t have a problem with messy jobs (such as butchering) but she won’t kill an animal (not even a fish!) for meat. I suppose she might if she got hungry enough, but it’s better to start teaching your kids through _firsthand_ experience where meat comes from at a young age, through fishing (as soon as they’re capable of following multiple-part instructions and have basic physical coordination, say at age 5 or 6) and hunting (as soon as they’re capable of learning & obeying safe usage of firearms, say between ages 8 to 10). All kids should be taught basic gun (and knife) safety anyway, even if their parents don’t believe in personal gun ownership — so they can protect themselves from harm if they find themselves in a situation where a weapon is unattended or being used by someone else in an unsafe manner!

  • edward May 11, 2011, 2:40 pm

    I find that hunting brings out the wild in us so it’s good to have a skill at skinning and hunnting so when the shtf you will know how to survive. A person never know what and how good they have it until shtf then every one wants to become a woodsman.

  • Brair Rabbit May 11, 2011, 5:56 pm

    All this talk of eating fluffy/soft bunnies is making me nervous!

    The last bunny I ate was a milky-momma… She was sitting at my target area, so I just HAD to shoot her. It made me very sad (when I found out about her milkyness), but she sure was yummy. My dag really liked her too.

    No mention of flying rats? Crows… They’re like really tough deer! Add some to your slow cooking beans and you’ll have a real meal! (Gotta be sneaky to get-em though…)

    Besides the salty soak, I find a pressure cooker makes even the toughest old chickens eatable.

    I do however agree with the commenter about killing/cleaning, “making you a vegitarian.” It’s like a mini horror show! (and you’re the star!) I think that effect has something to do with noticing our own mortality. It’s from seeing the fragility and beauty of the animal.

    It’s way more honorable than buying a horror-killed store-bought food critter.

    Even plants “freak out” (Via galvanic electrical tests.) when someone simply “thinks” about killing it!

    Everything is alive and deserves our respect/dignity.

    The easiest way (that I use) to justify my killing/eating, is simply to accept the fact that ALL life, feeds off of death.

    Be grateful and honor, your food.

    If you are going to eat meat, then it’s more honest to kill it yourself.

    I figure, if it stands there long enough for me to shoot it, that it WANTS me to eat it. And I say “Thank You” as I kill it.

  • Brair Rabbit May 11, 2011, 6:42 pm

    @ Diggity Dog…
    Cooked greens are horrible because the valuable enzymes have been killed off via cooking…

    Raw greens are much better for you.

    A few years ago I had to detox from mercury. So, I ate lots of raw greens. (in pill form) Barley, wheat-grass and alfalfa…They helped and I felt much better.

    Then it came time to renew my eyeglass presription. My eye sight actually improved!

    So while you wait for a yummy food critter, reach out your hand and have a snack of raw wild greens. You’ll shoot better for it.

  • BUDDY May 11, 2011, 7:11 pm

    I think it is something that should be practiced, before needed. Yes you may be able to figure it out, but how many people got to get sick before you get it right? The family is counting on you!

    BUDDY

  • Ranger Man May 11, 2011, 7:41 pm

    Comments are closed.