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August 29, 2008

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Squirrel Seasons Are Opening. Will You Be Hunting?

From southwestern Illinois’ News-Democrat :

Squirrel hunting in Illinois opened on Aug. 1 with little fanfare.

Unlike the start of deer season -- which many consider an unofficial state holiday, causing hunters to skip work or play hooky from school -- and opening day of turkey season, there is no breathless countdown to bushytail season.

"There's still a few people that hunt them, but definitely not as many as there used to be," said Jerry Simpson, owner of Jerry's Tackle and Guns in Highland. "Years ago, I used to get a lot of guys coming in
here who loved to go squirrel hunting.

"Now, everybody is too busy. . . ."

What about you? Will you hunt squirrels this season?



I have to drive 40 miles each way to where I have permission to hunt and I'm not doing that for squirrels (especially with gas @ $3.75 a gallon).



No better eating than when I used to get a few squirrels and go to grandmas house. She could fix it like nobody else. She boiled, fried and then baked them. Did I mention squirrel gravy? If I could have a freezer full of squirrel or beef there would be no thinking about. Squirrel rules. You bet I am going to hunt them.


yup i love squirral and also it trains me for deer season


Yeah, I'll be out there this weekend... but I certainly feel ya, Jim. The round trip is hard to take on days when you don't get much.

Mike Diehl

Never had 'em. Wouldn't know how to cook 'em. Therefore wouldn't shoot 'em. But I wish all the best of the start of another autumn of hunting to all hunters, & the best of success at whatever game you're pursuing.


I went 8 days ago. Shot 3 gray squirrels but ended up with hundreds, maybe over 1000 chigger bites. From my ankles to over my back. I love to squirrel hunt but i'm not sure if i'll go again. My doctor said it was the worse case she has ever seen, prescribed some kind of steroid for me to take. I'm in complete hell!!


My grandfather and I have been going on opening morning since I was 12. 17 years later we still enjoy it, even when I have to drive 300 miles. It is more about spending time with him than with the squirrels.


Ya I'm going out for squirrels. With school, sometimes you don't have time to get into your stand properly to hunt deer. With squirrels you can basically just stroll into any patch of woods. And they taste pretty good too.


Any tips from you squirrel fans on making them easier to skin?
I like the meat, but they seem to be tougher than a bunny to get cleaned.
Also, are there any dangers with them (like rabbits) in warm weather?

Chad Love

John, I don't know how other guys do it but I make a cut around the midsection of the body (just the skin, like when you're skinning a deer).
Once that cut is made I simply get a fold of skin in each hand and pull in opposite directions.
On young squirrels it comes off pretty quickly. Older squirrels take a little more effort but with a little practice you can do one rather quickly.
That's the way I've always done it, but I too am open for a better, faster way if anyone has one.
As for concerns about the meat in warm weather, our squirrel season starts on May 15th and runs all the way through summer so I don't think there are any worries there.


In virginia squirrel season opens Sept. 6th, I can't wait, I can get in some nice deer scouting in, and get some tasty meat. I"m trying to be as self reliant as possible, and there are plenty of squirrels to feed this man. Squirrel hunting also has helped me tremendously with my still hunting, I tend to have to go hunting solo which makes it a pain in my but when they run to the other side of the tree. Another bonus is being able to get out and shoot more, which will only be benificial.


Now, favorite recipes?
Anyone notice any difference between grey, red, black squirrels or are they pretty much the same?


I love squirrel hunting. Unlike deer and duck hunting, it has not been overwhelmed with all sorts of hightech gadgets. It's simple the way hunting should be. I suppose someone will eventually come out with a stuffed electric squirrel that makes noises and moves around, but until then, it is a pure form of hunting and they taste great!


I was thinking of trying that habenero mustard recipe that F&S had for doves, I feel that that would be a pretty universal recipe, and sounds very appetizing. I have my great grand mothers hand written cookbook that has a great Brunswick stew recipe, my grandfathers favorite.


Squirrel sausage, squirrel gravy, squirrel stew, squirrel chili. This blog got me thinking about all the good recipes that I haven't used in far too long.

If it is the first thing to come into season, I'll hunt it that day. I live to hunt and don't care for what or how. Morhen, squirrel, deer, dove, hog. Handgun, rifle, recurve compound or blowgun it doesn't matter to me.

Elmer Fudd

You bet I love to hunt squirrels. A very under-appreciatted sport.

Good things about squirrel hunting:

*plentiful, but still often a challenge. You get a lot of shooting in.

*A delicacy. Really!

*More and more, you have less competition, even in public hunting areas.

*It is another way besides archery season for deer, to get out in the woods while the most beautiful in terms of weather and scenery. If you don't like this aspect, you are not a true hunter IMO.

Bad things about squirrel hunting:

*more and more the general public can't understand the sport. Admitting you hunt them can be a problem at work and in social situations. Generally I just tell people I hunt small game without explaining, and bear up to the Elmer Fudd jokes, which is bad enough. I chill these people out with tales of turkey hunting.

*They are difficult to clean.

My favored method of cleaning a squirrel is the "Joy of Cooking" method. You heard me right, but you better get an old version, 1960 or so. This is the one where you step on the tail, but it is not intuitive, you need instructions.

Elmer Fudd

this appears to be such a method of cleaning:



I find it easy to skin them. I just cut off the head and feet and pull the skin off. I clean them right after I shoot them, that way the skin is still warm and is easier to pull off. Then I take the meat and cut it into chunks. To cook them I deep fry them in a batter and then I have squirrel nuggets!



So you deep fry the meat chunks? Hm.. I guess instead of chicken nuggets you'd have squirrel nuggets. I'll have to try it.


Thanks for the hints guys.
I think squirrel nuggets might be kinda small, but for the rest of the carcass you might consider this.
With late season, or second season pheasants, or prairie chickens, or even very strong ducks, turkeys, anything gamy or tough, or anything been in the freezer a little long, I take the breast and thighs, and cut them in nuggets, 1x1 etc. Bread them, milk-egg, flour etc, then freeze the nuggets on a pan not touching, then fry in oil either in a pan or deep fry. They hold together and I think taste better if they are frozen when they go in the oil, rather than thawed.
I learned this years ago with turkey fries and mountain oysters.
If you've never had turkey fries, you're missing a treat, but hard to find.
For the rest of the carcass, and the tough legs etc, put them in a crockpot until the meat falls off the bone, let them cool, pick the meat off the bones (get rid of all bones, shot, feathers, whatever,)then put the picked off meat into the food processor and grind as fine as you want it. Add mayo, pickle relish, jalapenos(?), whatever other flavors you like and mix it well.
Put it in the fridge, and later serve it on crackers, or on a sandwich. Deeeelicious, and a good way to use meat either too tough or gamy for your friends.
Guess could even do this with old deer, antelope, or anything suspected of being tough or dry.
The boiling in the crockpot gets rid of most gamy taste for the delicate palates.
Have had many people say how good it was, until they learned what they were enjoying. Then only fools didn't want more!
Thanks to sister-in-law for this.


You betcha!


I look forward to squirrel season every year! i have 3 sons and a daughter on the way and I plan on keeping the tradition going for years to come. I am a Chef from new Orleans and have many many recipes for squirrel that would make anyones mouth water! they are very easy to clean, the meat is very tender when you soak them in buttermilk and fresh rosemary, and if you marinate in white wine overnight, surround them with vidalia onion and sweet potatoes, and baste in polaner blackberry all fruit in oven with cajun seasoning on them you will have a meal fit fot a good ole conservative right wing Kng.... just like me!


hell hey i will

I love squirrel it taste so good!
I went this weekend and got five and have them on the stove right now. All you squirrel hunters keep on rocking.


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