One Sharp Knife
There are many ways to field dress a squirrel, this method is clean, quick and efficient and the hide is preserved for future use. Skinning the squirrel should take less than a minute. You can clean and prepare the squirrel afterwards which can be done in under 5 minutes.
Step 1 – Start the Cut
The first step in this very simple process is to turn the squirrel on its belly and cut through the underside of the tail about ½” to 1” from the base.
Step 2 – Slice the Sides
After you’ve cut through the tail, slice through the skin a couple of inches on each side as shown in the photo below.
Step 3 – Skin the Squirrel
Lay the squirrel down on a solid surface. While holding onto the back legs, step on the tail and skin that you have opened up in the previous step and firmly pull straight up on the back legs. This process will begin to pull the hide from the body. As you are pulling up you will need to work out the back legs. Firmly work your fingers between the muscle and the hide around each leg.
This takes a little practice so don’t get frustrated if it feels a little awkward the first time.
Once you’ve freed the back legs, continue to firmly and steadily pull the back legs straight up.
As the hide comes to the front legs you will need to pull them out in the same way as the back legs. Work them out with your fingers and a swift tug will separate the hide from the feet at around what would be considered the “wrist” area.
Once both front legs are out, continue to pull the back legs until the hide is up to the head and around the neck. At this point, your hands should still be clean.
Step 4 – Remove the Head
Cut off the head. Do this by slicing through the meat around the neck and then snapping the bone with your hands. Don’t cut through bone with your knife as it dulls your knife and also creates little shards of bone in your meat. Use the same process around the “ankles” and “wrists.” You can also trim the feet off at this point too, if you wish.
Step 5 – Remove the Guts
Now, it’s time to remove the entrails. This is a very simple process. Simply pinch the stomach and make a small slit with your knife to open up the body cavity.
Note: With male squirrels like this one, you will need to trim back the penis and gonads.
Now, insert two fingers into the slit and run your knife between them (cutting edge up) toward the neck of the squirrel. Doing it this way gives a little clearance so that your knife doesn’t accidentally penetrate any of the entrails such as the bowels or bladder. Cutting open the bowels or bladder can taint your meat so be very careful with this step. It is very easy when gliding the knife between your fingers. Continue this motion through the center of the rib cage all the way through the neck.
Then, simply split the pelvic bone in the center to open up the entire middle of the squirrel. You can easily do this with your knife.
Finally, it’s time to remove the entrails. There is a membrane that encases the chest cavity. By sweeping two fingers from the neck down and catching this membrane you can pull everything out in one fluid motion.
Step 6 – Inspect the Liver
Always inspect the liver to make sure it looks nice and healthy. The liver should always be a rich, deep, solid red color. An off-color or spotted liver might be an indication that the animal has some health problems – in which case you shouldn’t eat it.
Step 7 – Final Steps
Slice around the “ankles” and “wrists” with your knife and snap off the feet just like you would imagine breaking a pencil in half. Keep the heart and liver to prepare with the rest of the squirrel and discard the other entrails. You now have a perfectly dressed squirrel that can be prepared to eat in a variety of ways. See our wild game recipes for ideas