So I gutted and skinned my very first Small Animal. Observations:
- Squirrels are not easy to skin. That pelt wants to stay on the squirrel, and getting it off requires a sharp blade and lots of pulling with force. The fact that you don’t have a lot of animal to grab while you’re peeling off the suit makes the process more difficult.
- Squirrel skin is tough. A small set of sharp scissors is more useful and precise than a blade for this particular job.
- There’s not a lot of meat on a squirrel, not even a chunky one with a visible layer of fat under the skin. Dressed, this one’s about the size of a Cornish hen.
- Dachshunds can smell squirrel guts from a considerable distance, and will come to investigate. Trash bags containing squirrel parts need to be tied up and put in a dog-safe location.
- Removing the internal plumbing and bits isn’t too tricky if you have even a passing familiarity with general mammal anatomy.
- Once the head and tail are gone, the squirrel loses 99% of its cuteness factor, and becomes just a slab of meat.
- Squirrel fur is very fine, and will get everywhere.
The squirrel was a fresh kill—zapped him at the feeder this morning, and took him inside for processing right away. For the curious: Quinn and Lyra were not bothered in the least by the process, and actually came into the kitchen to watch. Quinn is quite aware of the food connection, and asked if we’re going to have squirrel for dinner. So no, the kids were not traumatized by the sight of a dead squirrel, or by witnessing the processing of same.
It just occurred to me that if I cook the little bugger today, it will most likely be the freshest meat I’ve ever had, when you consider the time between harvesting and serving it up on a plate. (Can you tell I’m a city boy?) It’s not something I’d care to do for a living, but knowing how to shoot and gut one’s lunch is probably not a bad set of skills to acquire. For that, I appreciate the local squirrel population’s assistance in the training process.