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30 responses to “How to Cut Up a Squirrel for Cooking”

  1. Matt

    The first time I went hunting with my in-laws we had a mess of squirrel and rabbits. Being the outsider they wanted to know how I clean them. So I pull out my sharp little pocket knife and get to work peeling the skin off not unlike you described. I was almost done when I looked up to confused eyes. I asked what was up and they said they have never seen someone skin a squirrel like that. So I asked what the “right” way was. I will never forget what I saw next. A squirrel was picked up and a small incision was made in the skin at the back. Two men stood face to face and played tug of war peeling and ripping the skin off. Then one of the men would take and cut off the head tail and feet and remove the guts. They did the same with the bunnies but no incision was needed. I must admit it was fast and efficient if not messy. I still prefer your method.

  2. Chris


    I think the way that you are talking about is also the way my cousin showed me a couple of years ago. Hank have you tried it this way? Here is a link to a video for reference. It really speeds up the process:

  3. curiousforager

    I haven’t ever gone hunting (only foraging so far), but am interested to know if there are any issues to be conscious of when hunting squirrel. (Rather, are there any diseases/issues I should be aware of that can’t get cooked out?) I suppose the same goes for other small game. I live in California, too, but a bit further down the coast from you in the Monterey Bay area.

  4. Dave

    Same way I was taught in Michigan by a friend’s father.

    I do like these ‘how to’ posts that are a little more intimate to the hunting itself then just the recipes.


  5. John

    This one never gets old!

  6. Brian W

    That is the same basic method I use, except I cut the feet, tail and head off last. I know a lot of people who refuse to eat them because of the hair that is left over from the skinning process. I just hit them with a stiff vegetable brush under the tap and they turn out completely hair free and delicious!

  7. Todd W

    I learned how to skin them on YouTube. Takes just a few seconds to do. Lay them flat on their stomach and step on the back feet. Lift tail and cut the skin, cuttin in about an inch. Flip over, step on the skin flap and pull up on the back feet. Cut the feet off when the skin is pulled over them. Cut the head off as well. Grab the rest of the skin and pull it off as well and cut the feet off, then gut as normal. YouTube cleaning a squirrel. Look for the video with Sarge in it.

  8. Andy

    Use a sharp knife. I’ve two quality scars on my fingers from attempting to skin a squirrel with less than sharp tools.

  9. Tom


    I have been working on my squirell murder skills since hunting season opened here in KY. As of now, I have not managed to shoot one. I plan to dedicate more time and effort to the process this weekend. Thanks for the recipes and these directions. Without them, I would be unable to procede.

  10. Jim McGaugh

    I grew up in NW AR squirrel hunting every weekend from the time I was 8 years old and the meat provided was a supplement to the meager meals of my poor family. I am somewhat appalled that the head is discarded in this article and each of these posts. To me the head was the best part as the tongue and jaw are tender and tasty not to mention the brains. Guess in this world of “plenty” waste is a given.

  11. Sean

    You need to try using an air compressor. Makes skinning 20 times easier. Get an oilless compressor and attach a needle like you would use to inflate a basket ball. Make a small incision at base of neck insert needle just under skin and pinch shut. Give burst of air until the squirrel inflates, which is separating the skin from muscle. Pull needle out and skin as normal. Another suggestion is to dip squirrel in water before skinning. Tends to keep the hair from flying around and getting on meat.

  12. Melany Vorass Herrera

    I live in Seattle where the non-native Eastern grey squirrels are overly abundant. Because their diet appears to be just as clean as those that roam the woods, I dine on them regularly. Dispatching them is a bit more tricky in the city as we can’t fire guns, but the result is much the same: delicious. I use a slightly different method for cleaning my catch, but I’m not always successful. Really looking forward to trying your method out.

  13. Dave Orrick

    Great timing Hank! Minnesota’s season just opened this morning and I’ve got my first squirrel to deal with. Linking to it in my blog. Of possible interest to you and your readers: There’s a growing concern among a number of Hmong hunters that the squirrel population is being over-hunted in Minnesota. State wildlife officials are skeptical, but they’re planning studies. Here’s a link to my story:

  14. cm

    do you have to break them down so far before you cook them? by that second picture it looks pretty edible to me. i’ve never cooked squirrel but i seem to remember they’re on the tough side. i’m pretty lazy so i’d be inclined to just throw them in the slow cooker overnight to stew and pick out the little bones later.

  15. How to Catch, Clean And Cook a Squirrel | Smart News

    […] you’ll need to clean and prep it first. Luckily, Hawk Shaw, author of Hunter Angler Gardener Cook has just the guide for you: “If you’ve never done it, skinning a squirrel is harder than you might think. Squirrels have […]

  16. Jp

    What is the middle cut of the torso is it the ribs or is that the bottom cut

  17. Libby Thomassen

    My husband is an avid hunter and your blog has helped me find ways to use his game in creative culinary ways- I love your breadth of cooking experience with game because it makes it so much less intimidating for me!

    I just made Hmong squirrel stew last night, and it was great! My one issue is how long it took to remove those darn hairs from the sticky little squirrel! Any tips to help make the hair-removal process go faster post-skinning? Thanks,

  18. Stu

    i agree with Libby, I shot my first two squirrels today, skinned and cleaned them, but cant find a way to get all the little hairs off the meat. I’ve read people suggesting using a blowtorch to singe them off, or letting it soak in salt water over night, but have yet to try either. Anyone know a good way to get these hairs off?

  19. tim

    Try the skin on. The skin makes everything taste so much better!

  20. jacob

    Growing up in south Alabama, we would never hunt squirrels before the first frost. They might have “wolves” in them, which is botfly larvae that burrow under their skin. Not sure if that’s an issue on the pacific coast.

  21. Mike Carter

    I managed to figure out your way was the way to skin a squirrel by treating them the same way as I did a rabbit. Head and tail and feet off split and skin.

    The little swines do like to hang onto their coats though!

  22. Bob

    I have never heard of someone cleaning a squirrel this way. Talk about making something way too hard. Cut just under the base of the tail until the tail bone is cut through. Lay the squirrel on his back, step on the base of the tail and pull up by the rear legs. I can skin AND gut a squirrel in under a minute. Add another minute to quarter. There is NO reason for it to take 10 minutes to do this.

  23. What You Need To Know About Hunting Squirrel | Small Town Homestead
  24. Monju

    Botfly larvae, while unpleasant in theory, are harmless and the meat of squirrels infested with “warbles” is perfectly safe. The Georgia Fish and Game Commission, for one example, is actively trying to educate hunters so they will stop unnecessary waste of squirrels because the hunter believes or has been misinformed that “warbles” are dangerous or ruin the meat.

    If a squirrel has lesions *throughout* its musculature, it should always be discarded, but this is not related to botflies. It may indicate a serious infestation of worms or other disease.

    From GA Wildlife Dept. Website (

    “During September and October, squirrels often are infested with botfly larvae, sometimes called warbles or “wolves.” These larvae develop under the squirrel’s skin, similar to the warbles described in the chapter on rabbits. Although these warbles are not fatal to the squirrel or harmful to the hunter, the ugly lesions prompt many hunters to discard infested squirrels. The discarding of warble infested squirrels is unfortunate. Even though these lesions are unsightly, the squirrel’s meat is quite edible. By late October, most warbles have left their host.”

  25. Eugene Arnold

    A must do just after skinning. Remove the musk glands under the front arm pits by making a cut under the front sholders . Takes the wildness out of the meat….

  26. Adam

    I prefer the method i was taught by my father who grew up in Michigan:

    1. Make small incision under tail.
    2. Hold back feet together and use tail as handle and pull towards head.
    3. Pull until front legs begin to peel. Do not pull off of front legs.
    4. Use hole from legs and skin to hook over small branch (if still in the woods) or hook if at home. Skin is left on belly and comes to a point.
    5. Grab point of skin and peel to back feet.
    6. Cut feet off front and back legs and remover head.

    It may sound like alot, but i can skin a squirrel in less than 30 seconds this way.

  27. Steve

    I’ve been hunting squirrels in California for many years. Skinning techniques vary, but it’s the cooking that is important. Being a tougher meat than rabbit, I slow roast the squirrel at 275 degrees for two hours, covered. Then debone it and make enchiladas, casseroles, stew. Tasty little buggers. Someone should teach the homeless to use slingshots in the city and supplement their diets.

  28. earl

    When I skin a squirrel I chop off tail head and feet. Make a small incision down the back bone place your fingers in and rip.. Comes apart pretty easily until you hit the shoulders \ elbows.

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