Field Dressing Squirrel
While in the field it is important to field dress your harvest to help with the cooling process and keeping your meat fresh. Squirrel is one of the easiest animals to field dress and the furs are easy to preserve.
Removing and Keeping the Pelt
Step 1 - Remove Head and feet - BUT not the tail.
Once you have harvested your Squirrel, quickly remove its head and all 4 feet. The front paws remove at the wrist, the back paws are a little higher at the first joint. Removing these now is cleaner and easier to do before you gut the animal.
Step 2 - Open up and remove the organs
Pinch the skin in the stomach area, pulling it out from the body. Make an incision into this pinch making sure not to cut the organs. Once you are able to, spread the cut open just enough that you can get the tip of your knife in with the sharp edge pointing out. This will help to avoid cutting any organs. Cutting up and away from the organs, cut the skin up to the base of the rib cage. Then cut upwards and away from the organs down towards the vent (anus). Cut around and remove the sex organ. Once cut opened, hold the Squirrel head side up and let gravity help as you reach in with two fingers as far up into the body cavity as you can, grab the "guts" and pull them down and out. After the stomach and intestines are removed, you may need to cut the diaphram and reach in further to remove the lungs and heart.
Step 3 - Remove and keep the pelt
Continue the initial cut to the base of the throat. Then insert the tip of the knife into the underside where the front paw was removed and cut towards the top of the rib cage until you meet with the initial incision used to remove the organs. Repeat for the other front leg. Cut at the base of the tail, above the vent but below the tail. Cut until you reach the tail bone but DO NOT cut through the tail bone. Make sure the initial cut from the removal of the organs meets with this cut. Insert the tip of the knife where you removed the back feet and cut along the underside of the hind leg towards the incision used to remove the organs. Repeat for the other hind leg. Begin to remove the fur over the shoulders of the Squirrel as if removing a jacket. Getting started is the hardest part so take your time. Once it begins to peel away enough, work it until you can get your fingers between the back of the front leg and the pelt. Repeat for the other front leg. At this point you can begin to pull with more force, using the fur itself as leverage. Once enough is removed you can grab the body in one hand and the fur in the other and pull with force until you get to the tail. Once the fur is removed to the tail, hold the pelt with one hand as close to the tail as possible, and with the other hold the body as close to the tail as possible. Pull gently until you get roughly a little less than quarter of the tail removed. Then hold the body by the base of the tail in one hand, and with the thumb and index finger of the other hand pinching against the tail bone in front of the pelt - but not the pelt - pull the pelt off the tail bone with the thumb and index finger.
Removing and Discarding the Pelt
Step 1 - Cut by the tail
Cut above the vent at the base of the tail through the tail bone but not through the pelt on the other side.
Step 2 - Step on the tail and pull
Step on the tail as close to the body as possible and pull up by the back legs. This will split the pelt into two. Continue pulling until the meat is exposed up to the neck.
Step 3 - Pull the lower portion of the pelt over the legs and hang
Pull the lower portion of the pelt over the back legs but do not completely remove. This can be used to hang the squirrel from a branch or any other suitable object, making the rest of the job much easier.
Step 4 - Remove the pelt and open up.
Once hung, pull the forward portion of the pelt as far as you can and remove the front feet and head. Cut upwards into the lower portion of the body separating the rear legs. Then make an incision into the body canvity careful to not cut any organs. Insert your knife and cut downwards through the ribcage completely opening the body of the Squirrel. This makes removal of all organs very easy to do. Remove the hind feet.
Click Here to watch an example of this method.