Author Topic: ColdHaven's Hunting Adventure  (Read 11068 times)

Offline ColdHaven

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Re: ColdHaven's Hunting Adventure
« Reply #30 on: October 09, 2009, 08:02:20 PM »
Squirrels have short attention spans.  One minute they see you and the next they forget about you.

How and when you dress them really depends on the temp.  Anything above 50F or so and I'd open them up and spill the guts out.  I really wouldn't worry about dressing them like a deer.  Just get the guts out so the bacteria doesn't start to swell and work.  The lower the temp, the longer you can keep the guts in.  I don't think its that huge of a concern really but others may have other experiences.  Dressing a squirrel really isn't the same as a deer.  You gut it then quarter it.  No one I know really eats anything but the front and rear "hams".  The torso really isn't worth it unless you're starving.  Everyone has their own technique, you'll find yours and then you can teach us.

Doesn't sound like a failure bro.  Anytime you get out in the wild and learn CANNOT be counted as failure. 


They are really ADD aren't they? Thanks for the info. Wasn't sure if I was doing it right. Didn't want to taint the meat. Thanks also for the encouragement.

Your adventure sounds fun. I don't know what backstop you had other than you said it was trees, but two yards with a shotgun would be a fairly safe shot if there was nothing else behind the tree rat. Many would have been less prudent even if they didn't know and I commend you for taking the high road. The shot where you stumbled can be avoided by having yourself in a steady shooting stance before evn bringing the gun to bear. This means you will miss shots sometimes, but safety has to come first. If it was a gunfight then maybe, but hunting usually isn't that urgent.

Overall I am envious. It has been 4 weeks since my last hunting adventure. And I'm tied up for the next few weekends. :(

Great pics BTW. If I ran into you in the woods I'd surrender!

Although I was in a natural ditch there were smaller trees about me that I was thinking I was using it for cover. When I think about it I think it was less than 2 yards. There were enough trees behind it that I worried that the shot may richoet back. I was not sure if it would, but I didn't want to find out when I woke up in the ER. I am a pretty cautious fellow. I usually reason that if I think there is danger then there probably is danger. I like to trust my instincts.

Yeah. I need to get over being excited when I am about to shoot. With a bit more practice I think I can do better. The first shot hit, but I do not think it was fatal. I guess I was a bit more urgent so it would not go into one of the underground dens and die there. So I kind of moved quicker towards it and fired again. I guess at that point I was worried about it suffering more than it had to. The third shot was at closer range and it did it. I was not sure at what point which shot had been the fatal one since it was still moving around and such. When I was finally right over it I had my 9mm out because it was still moving and I was going to give a headshot. I am just really inexperienced. However, at that point it was clear that it was dead.

Let us know when you do go hunting. I would like to hear how others hunt.

Somehow I doubt you would surrender, but thanks for the compliment.  :D I thought they would be good for a laugh.


check out this thread on hunting Squirrel. About half way down Jack posted a really good video on how to quickly clean a squirrel in the field. It's not him in the video, but that is how he said he does it and DEV said the same thing.

I do the tail cutting thing then step on it and pull it all off. It seems quickest to me.

Thanks. I read over the thread there. My skinning the squirrel became a problem when it was obvious that I had cut too far. How did I know? Because I tried that method and the tail came off, but nothing else. How is the better way? Do you only cut halfway into the bone of the tail?

Personally I would like to see Jack do a hunting video or such now that it is closer to that season.

A little oil on the exposed metal, yes, and either a rubber finger tip or a condom over the muzzle.

Rubber finger tips are sold in drug stores. They have several medical uses. They are much cheaper than condoms, and work just as well (for muzzles!). They look sort of like little Pixie condoms.

Hmmmm... I might have to try that. I had heard about using a condom for the gun, but I wasn't going to pay all that just to cover my shotgun. I may look into the rubber tips you spoke of. I know what they look like. I wonder if they will fit over a shotgun. Probably not, but the .22 almost definitely.

As far as pixie condoms go...that ruins my image of the sugar plum fairy...thanks...  :D


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Re: ColdHaven's Hunting Adventure
« Reply #31 on: October 10, 2009, 10:24:33 AM »
Unless it is at an extreme oblique angle, your shot would just stick in the tree.

Good on you for wanting to end the suffering quickly. Killing should be quick and merciful.

You probably did cut too far into the tail.

The other method of skinning a squirrel is to cut a slit on its back skin and get your fingers in there. A couple from each hand. Then pull in opposite directions. It does work, I just don't think it is as fast. Don't let your first efforts frustrate you. Squirrels are harder to skin than most critters. When you go aftre rabbits you'll see how easy some critters are.

Offline DeltaEchoVictor

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Re: ColdHaven's Hunting Adventure
« Reply #32 on: October 10, 2009, 06:21:25 PM »
Way to go CH, I'm proud of you for getting out & giving it a try.  It makes me realize how lucky I am to have had a Dad & Granddad that were hunters & got me started at a very young age.

This is a re-post of something I posted in the Squirrel Stew thread.
Here's what I've learned about squirrels & squirrel hunting.  I've been hunting squirrels longer than I've been hunting anything else, it's the first thing I ever hunted with my Dad.

1.  You'll see more squirrels while deer hunting than just about anything else.  You'll see more squirrels because you'll be carrying a large caliber rifle (usually) or a slug gun.  Both of which turn squirrels into gooey mush, thus you'll be less likely to shoot them....bastards, they just know when they're safe.

2.  Squirrels sound like monsters when you're a little kid & your Dad leaves you sitting against a tree & wanders off into the dark woods to find his own tree to lean against.  (Turkeys, deer, chipmunks, birds & just about everything else also sounds like monsters when you're a kid.)

3.  When you miss a squirrel that should have been an easy, close shot, even the squirrel thinks you're a poor shot.  Seriously, look at the look on his face the next time you miss one, you'll recognize it.  It's the same one your wife/girlfriend gives you when you do something stupid.

4.  Squirrels are loud when down on the ground scavenging (see #2).  One squirrel sounds like a dozen, a dozen squirrels sound like bigfoot...especially if their frolicking about happily just before the evil hunter opens fire on them.  Not that I've ever done that mind you....

5.  A Marlin .30-30 really will turn a squirrel into goo...bastard, that'll teach 'em.  (or so I've been told)

6.  Red Ozark squirrels are larger, dumber & slower moving than the ghosty little gray bastards that are only seen out of the corner of your eye.  Therefore, the Reds are more filling than the grays.

7.  Gray squirrels will run up the tree on your side, then just as you're about to shoot them they'll run around the trunk & ridicule you from the other side, for not being a quick enough shot.  Bastards...

8.  If you shoot at a gray squirrel with all 27 of your newly built wooden arrows, he'll dutifully wait for you to collect the 15 you can find before starting the whole cycle over again.  The sequence goes something like, shoot, get ridiculed from the back side of the tree...repeat until out of arrows...Find arrows & repeat until completely out of arrows....again.

7.  When you finally do shoot a gray squirrel you'll holler triumphantly, pretty much scaring everything in the woods into hiding.

Now for the serious stuff.

If it's your first time hunting squirrels take a shotgun if you have one.  It shortens the learning curve & it allows you to shoot into the thick tree tops to kill the squirrel where it likes to hide.

The best time to hunt them is usually early in the morning.  Be in the woods at your spot before daylight.  You'll start hearing them on the ground about the time the sun starts coming up.  They really do sound like monsters when they're digging thru the leaves looking for nuts.

If they're on the ground & not preoccupied looking for food, they'll be traveling quickly.  They typically like to travel along deadfall & don't spend a lot of time on the ground when not scavenging.  Use your peripheral vision as well as your primary vision, don't spend too much time looking in one place unless you know there is a squirrel where you're looking.

If you saw a squirrel head up a tree & you didn't see him leave the tree, but you can't see him, he's still in that tree, he's just a lot more patient than you are & better camouflaged too.  Be patient, get comfortable & be ready to shoot the second you see him again.

Animals don't stomp thru the woods, humans do.  Slow down, reset your human clock to "woods" time.  If you want to move thru the woods, do it like an animal would.  Take a couple of steps & stop, listen & look for a while.  Take a few steps & stop, listen & look for a while.  Take a step or two & stop, listen & look for a while.  Be soft, silent (as possible) & careful when walking thru the woods.  You're in the woods, enjoy it.  There's no need to hurry thru them, you'll miss a lot if you do.  Animals spend more time looking & listening than they do traveling, you should do the same.

Gray squirrels like thick stands of timber, especially where there are lots of nut trees.  Look for nut cuttings at the base of trees, these are nuts that look as if they've been chewed or half eaten by something.  You can also hear squirrels when they're cutting the nuts up in a tree.  It sounds somewhat like something hard being chewed or scraped.  It's hard to describe but easy to recognize if you hear it.

Gray squirrels like to use hollowed trees for dens, these are great to hunt around.  Keep an eye out for old trees that may have trunk damage, been lightening struck or otherwise have structure damage to them that would allow critters to build dens in them.  Tree hollows are the "penthouse suites" of the critter kindgom.  That's about as good as it gets for a critter to build a den in.  Less desirable are the clumps of leaves & twigs often seen in tree tops and referred to as squirrels nests.  They probably are nests but odds are they won't be inhabited because these nests aren't permanent structures.  Never shoot blindly into these nests, it's unethical & if you do hit something, you may not kill it.  You won't be able to retrieve it either, shooting something & not retrieving it is about the worst thing a hunter can do.

Watch the tree tops.  Sit quietly, move very little & be patient while perusing the tops of trees & you'll see lots of life.

It's much easier to see squirrels after the leaves come down.  I love to hunt anytime, but when the leaves come down I usually hunt harder because the odds have increased in my favor.  Gray squirrels hide easily among the leaves.

Red (Fox) squirrels are found mainly in areas with sparse tree populations...I don't know why.  That's what they prefer I assume.  They can often be found in tree lined fence rows, areas without a lot of secondary growth where the tree population consists of large well spaced, older trees.  Our variety here in the Ozarks are typically much larger than our gray squirrels.  They're red, I mean really red colored here.  They aren't as ghosty as our grays & are slower to run away.  I've actually missed reds before & instead of them running away, they'll run toward me to see what all the commotion is about.  Red squirrel populations here are typically lower than the gray squirrel populations.  I probably see 6 or 8 grays to every red I see.

Squirrel hunting is a blast, especially while doing it with an old longbow.  If you've never been squirrel hunting before I urge you to give it a try.  Find someone near you that hunts & tell them you'd like to learn.  If you've got a good friend that hunts and you don't, ask them if you can go along.  It's a great way to burn a day with a friend.  Heck, if you're ever in S. Missouri give me a shout & I'll take you.

Don't get discouraged or consider yourself a failure if you don't connect or come back with a mess of squirrels.  The learning process dictates that failure be part of the process for learning to occur, that's just the way it is.  Even if you had someone showing you the ropes there would still be a learning curve.

Don't shoot multiple times, if you've connected & the squirrel is still on the ground pay attention to his direction of travel if he's still moving.  Every squirrel that I've ever killed (FTMP) has continued to head up the tree or across the ground after hit.  He'll die, it might take him a minute but he'll die.  Pay attention to where he's going, find your first sign of blood & then track the animal.  Tracking is an art form, it takes skill, patience, a basic understanding of animal behaviour & a fair amount of also takes experience.  Find yourself a book on tracking.  Might as well start now since you're practicing on squirrels, smaller animals are harder to track than larger animals.

If the squirrel is not entirely dead when you get to it, use your boot on his head or use your knife.  There was a time when firing more than one shot could result in you becoming the hunted.  There's also no point in possibly damaging meat that you might need to depend on with a very close shot.  My only caveat to that is on an animal that is clearly wounded & suffering, a deer for example that is gut shot or has been shot in a manner that will mean it's not likely to die for an extended time.

Perhaps some of you can give me some insight into what you think is the best method of cleaning them. In the field or not? I wanted to be able to clean it somewhere that I could make sure the area was clean and I could do it on a table of some sort.
I prefer to clean them all at one time so I'll usually dump them in my game bag & clean them at the end of the day.  The outside temp. isn't really a factor IMO, I know people get squeamish when they think of meat possibly decomposing while they're carrying it, but you really won't carry it long enough to cause any harm.  There is an advantage to cleaning it as soon as you kill it though, it won't be stiff from rigormortis & will be easier to clean.  If you're going to clean them as soon as you kill them then carry some gallon sized ziploc bags, gloves, hand sanitizer & a towel or a few paper towels. 

Salt water is for drawing the blood out of the meat, it may or may not help tame some of the "gaminess".  After all the years of hunting I've done I've still not decided if it actually does that.  Salt water soaking will not tenderize the meat...a meat tenderizing mallet will. ;D  There are going to be some things that you cook that are going to be plain old tough & gamy tasting.  Find yourself a good cook book on cleaning & cooking wild game.  That will take the mystery & chance out of it for you.  I still prefer to eat wild game over domestic animals though.

Well, I tried the method I had watched many times on the net to make sure I knew how to clean it before I hunted. It failed miserably. For some reason it was really hard to seperate the skin. I had a very sharp knife and it seemed to do okay, but not like how I had watched others do it. Maybe it is because they were cleaning them right then and there. I don't know. It took me a long time, and I am not even sure that I did it correctly. I heard some say you can ruin the meat by having the skin touch the meat, but it seemed almost unavoidable. Now I am not sure if what I have is edible.
First, having the skin or hair touch the meat does not ruin the meat.  If that were the case then no animal would be edible, or so I suspect. ;)  Having hair get on the meat does make it a PITA to clean though, so yeah it's best to avoid it if possible.  The other reason is that invariably one of those hairs will make it to the portion that Joy will have on her plate & that's a good way to turn your spouse off entirely to eating wild game.

As I noted above, cleaning an animal on the spot is a little easier.  You'll have to decide what you like best, it's a preference thing pal.  Skinning & cleaning, like everything else will get easier with practice. 

I butchered what I could making as sure as I could that the guts were taken out without spilling their contents, but I am not sure if I even succeeded in this because none of the videos I watched showed taking out their innards.
Sometimes guts are going to get on the meat, just wash it off.  It may seem unappetizing at the time but the meat isn't stewing in a vat of boiling guts & you'll cook it at a temperature hot enough to kill any bacteria that might still be present after the washing.

There's not much to gutting an animal, some of the processes vary depending on animal size but for a squirrel all you really do is split it from the pelvis to the top of the sternum & scrape out everything inside.  It's as simple as that really.  You want to hold your knife in such a manner that you introduce as little of the point as possible into the abdominal cavity (lessening the chances of nicking the gut/intestines), also hold it so that the angle of the knife will cut as shallowly as possible.  More parallel to the belly line of the squirrel & less oblique to the line of the belly...if that makes sense. :-\  Hard to explain in words.  I haven't hunted this year yet, but when I do I'll post some pictures of the cleaning process.

Hunting anything is largely an exercise in patience bud, doubly so for you since you're teaching yourself.  Having to do so without a mentor may make the process longer, but in all honesty hunting is something that results in a life time of education, you'll never reach a point where you stop learning.  You will get better though & the woods & the animals have a lot to teach when we slow down & pay attention.

If you need anything else shoot me a PM.