The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Hide > The Hunt

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old January 22, 2012, 11:58 AM   #1
blacksky
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 21, 2008
Location: OH
Posts: 738
Why I eat squirrel, really, by Georgia Pellegrini

Quote:
Published January 22, 2012 By Fox News
Some consider squirrel to be the best meat in the woods. On my journey as a chef, I have come to think that it may be the best meat period. The phrase, “You are what you eat,” befits a squirrel as it does a Spanish acorn-fed pig that are prized so highly by those with means.

But when you think about it, squirrels are hoarders, and after having feasted on a grove of pecans or acorns, their meat is nutty and sweet, buttery and tender. And so a fat, nut-fed squirrel is not only better tasting than any meat in the woods, it can be even better tasting, and much more economical than that Spanish pig that sells for one hundred seventy dollars per pound.

If you were to tell that to a group of my stiletto-heeled pals on a warm Manhattan evening—which I have done—you would be met with textbook female gasps and sideways glances. Those squirrels linger around the soot-covered fire escapes of their studio apartments. Aren’t they really tree rats?

But the truth is that squirrel hunting is more American than apple pie, than Babe Ruth, than a twenty-dollar Manhattan. Whole traditions have formed around these squirrels; guns have been crafted in their honor. Few things are more intertwined with American history and tradition.

Squirrel is, in fact, one of the most popular game animals in the eastern United States.

In fact, the most recent report from the National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation finds that there are 1.8 million hunters of squirrels in our country.

I didn’t grow up hunting. In fact, it didn’t occur to me that it was an important part of being human until I became a chef and was directed to slaughter turkeys for a well-known restaurant’s dinner service.

It was a terrifying notion at first, but in the end, as I did it, it made a kind of sense I could feel deep within my marrow, the kind that makes me want to be a true omnivore.

In that moment I realized that while it was remarkable to meet the food artisans who brought ingredients into these high-end restaurants I worked at, it wasn’t enough for me. I wanted to take part in every part of the process, I wanted to pay the full karmic price of the meal. And so I set out to learn how to hunt.

Even as a city chef turned hunter, the popularity of the squirrel surprises me still, perhaps because I had never understood squirrel, or had never cared to until now. But as I have crossed the bridge from city-chef to hunter-chef I have discovered all of those towns, tucked-away, linked by the spines of narrow roads, where children skip school on the opening day of squirrel season.

I have learned too that more than any other kind of hunting, squirrel hunting says something about a person. It may seem from the outside that there isn’t much to a squirrel. But in pursuit of a squirrel, you learn things, such as how to follow the gentle rhythms of the woods, just as you do in pursuit of deer or on a walk in nature.

America has never been a land of rabbit eaters the way that we have been squirrel eaters—or chicken and beef eaters. We leave that to China, Italy, Spain, and France, and are instead content with our squirrel.

There is something about the squirrel that resonated with us from the beginning, that propelled us to craft special guns and seek keen dogs. We go into detail for squirrel.

A squirrel lives for six to seven years, whereas a cottontail lives for only one. The texture of squirrel meat is denser, the color grayer, and the flavor more complex because of this.

Squirrels are wanderers, sometimes ground dwelling and social, living in well-developed colonies; or sometimes tree dwelling and solitary. Squirrels persevere, hoard, and make dietary sacrifices to survive. Maybe the early pioneers saw a bit of themselves in squirrels. Or maybe these animals just tasted better.

Either way, this meat has somehow never reached our elite dinner tables. It has never gained favor with the palates of kings abroad, the way it has here among certain Americans.

I’m happy to say I have crossed over and become one of those Americans. Eating squirrel that I’ve harvested with my own hands, in fact, makes me feel distinctly more American and undoubtedly more human.

Georgia Pellegrini is a chef, hunter and author. Her most recent book is "Girl Hunter." Visit her website at http://www.GeorgiaPellegrini.com
__________________
By the choices we make, we define ourselves, thereby revealing what we truly care about.
blacksky is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 02:04 PM   #2
playin' hookey
Member
 
Join Date: August 20, 2011
Location: South Boston, VA
Posts: 44
Yep, best meat in the woods

I grew up hunting them, and our family enjoyed many a meal of squirrel, parboiled then fried, with pan gravy, cooked by my mother and my grandmother. This was in the 70's, and after a 20-year spell of hunting rarely due to education, career, family and a dalliance with golf, I'm back to hunting. I spend most of my time after deer and wild turkey, but I still enjoy squirrel hunting. My interest in cooking all of the above game grew out of my hunting rather than the other way around and it is interesting that you are embarked on this journey in the opposite direction. I am going to buy your book.

Last edited by playin' hookey; January 22, 2012 at 02:25 PM.
playin' hookey is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 02:18 PM   #3
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 5,764
They are excellent eating.

Can't speak for squirrels in other parts of the country but Midwest Squirrels have to be some of the best, especially the grays. As I have learned from this forum, piney squirrels are not all that good to eat. Just like other meats, it all depends on what they feed on. ......

I would agree that it is probably some of the best game eating one can have, as far as fur bearing animals. On upland, Quail is hard to beat. On water foul, my wife bakes Mallards and Canadians that taste better than roast beef and I can't get her to eat venison. ....

I like to roast my squirrels with potatoes, unions and gravy. About 2hrs. at 350degF.


Be Safe !!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
Pahoo is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 02:38 PM   #4
Bigfatts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 20, 2005
Location: Lutz
Posts: 1,514
This is the 1st weekend of small game where I hunt and we've bagged a couple. Kind of a still morning. Just ate lunch and heading back to it. Can't wait to eat some squirrel nuggets, or squirrel and gravy...
Bigfatts is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 02:54 PM   #5
warbirdlover
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2009
Location: central Wisconsin
Posts: 2,324
Okay, I like to hunt squirrels but where are the recipes? I'm really wanting squirrel right now but back in the olden days (50's and 60's) my grandma would parboil them and then fry them in a pan. Were tasty but still kind of tough. Looking for a crock pot recipe maybe!
warbirdlover is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 02:57 PM   #6
VINCENT1
Member
 
Join Date: December 16, 2011
Location: LAKE COUNTY FLORIDA
Posts: 52
my family has never hunted, but i get venison and boar from friends. i have been wanting to try squirrel but nobody i know hunts it. perhaps this should be my first foray into hunting. i have plenty of squirrels living here on my 10 acres. but most are in pines. the above poster said they are not as good. are they so bad i shouldnt bother, or would it be a worthwhile venture to begin there?

as for hunting them which so you recommend? a .22, or a .410?
VINCENT1 is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 03:01 PM   #7
locnload
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 20, 2010
Location: Northern Colorado
Posts: 101
I to, grew up hunting squirels, in my case, rural Northern Wisconsin. In the fall, I often got off the school bus, tied my 22 rifle to the handlebars of my Schwinn, and peddled over to some nearby woods for a "mini-adventure" of squirel hunting until dusk. I looked forward to squirel season more than deer season. I spent hundreds of hours alone in those forest learning woodcraft, stalking skills, and just enjoying the sights, smells, and sounds of nature. I imagined myself in the shoes of our local doctor, a big man who told tales of lone wilderness hunts to exotic places like Montana, Idaho, even Canada (hey, I was a kid). To me, deer season was an event that although exciting, came and went quickly. After the first couple of days, the adventure began to be overcome by the frozen fingers and toes, the heavy old 30-40 Kraig, and the "camp stews" prepare by various members of my Dad's hunting party.
Ah, but squirel season lasted from September through February through crisp autum days and bright sparkling winter mornings. I could spend the whole day in the woods with my Dad or a friend, or all alone to my thoughts of adventure.
I live in Colorado now and although our big game hunts are a special time, our squirels just aren't the same as those fat busytails in the Midwest. Those were the days.
locnload is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 03:36 PM   #8
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 5,764
A simple recipe !!

Quote:
my grandma would parboil them and then fry them in a pan. Were tasty but still kind of tough.
Folks parboiled them in order to tenderize them as these little guys can be rather tough. Ya just can't fry them, like chicken. Crock pot, all day works well. I follow many recipes but one of of the most common, is the good old Campbell soups. Many hunters use this basic one on other game.

Cut squirrel into 5-pieces (you do the math) and I usually do 5-squirrels at a time. Pan fry then just like chicken, until brown. Put them into a baking pyrex pan. Sprinkle chopped onions over the top. In a bowl, put in one can of Cambells cream of mushroom soup and thin with milk. Add whatever spices you want, to the soup mix, like salt, pepper, garlic powder and I like to add Chili powder. You can use hotter if you with. Some Worcestershire sauce. Stirr the soup mix and cover the squirrels. Bake in oven for 1-1/2 to 2 hrs. at 350degF. Try to maintain a gravy consistency in that pan by adding more milk.

Boil some New Potatoes in a separate pan or you can use some wild or tame rice. Now, go for it !! ....

Be Safe !!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
Pahoo is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 06:20 PM   #9
blacksky
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 21, 2008
Location: OH
Posts: 738
Grew up hunting them in WV and OH

Mom and dad were WV native hill people. We hunted rabbit, bird and squirrel...
Good hill people would always tell you to help yourself to those critters when asked if you could hunt on their property.

Quote:
Noticed I said hunted not harvested. Back in the day it was politically correct to hunt... Today one must harvest... I still hunt!LOL
Mom and dad would par-boil and fry them in seasoned iron skillets. Seemed like mom a had skillet that was used just for this or for that and nothing else. We'd have mashed potatoes and gravy with green beans and cornbread.

https://www.google.com/search?q=cook...rchBox&ie=&oe=
__________________
By the choices we make, we define ourselves, thereby revealing what we truly care about.
blacksky is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 07:41 PM   #10
BIG P
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 8, 2010
Location: North Georgia
Posts: 1,622
Everybody says I grew up eating squirrel,Well we still do.grill,stew or with dumplins.The GRAYS are the best & the fox squirrels work good in stew but they are pine cutters & a little stronger & a lot bigger up to 34'' around here noise to tip of tail.They make for some great times with the kids & grandkids.
Also makes for some great table talk about the hunt. being from the country & american too it dont get any better than that.
BIG P is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 08:52 PM   #11
warbirdlover
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 13, 2009
Location: central Wisconsin
Posts: 2,324
When I'm in my deer stand I should have a .22 along. There's dozens of the big gray, red and even black squirrels running accross the roof of my blind, up and down all the trees around me and feasting on the acorns from the oak woods I'm located in. The pine squirrels are over in the pine woods 200 yards away.
warbirdlover is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 08:59 PM   #12
blacksky
Senior Member
 
Join Date: November 21, 2008
Location: OH
Posts: 738
Only if I go back home...

Quote:
[Everybody says I grew up eating squirrel,Well we still do.][/
They aren't worth a darn here in my part of CA...
__________________
By the choices we make, we define ourselves, thereby revealing what we truly care about.
blacksky is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 09:24 PM   #13
AndersonG22
Member
 
Join Date: January 12, 2012
Posts: 82
How do you tell the tasty squirrels from the not so tasty ones? I might be hunting squirrel in a few weeks, the only ones I see are gray.
AndersonG22 is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 10:00 PM   #14
playin' hookey
Member
 
Join Date: August 20, 2011
Location: South Boston, VA
Posts: 44
If fried squirrel is tough it wasn't parboiled long enough. Old squirrels take 2 hours or more, young ones about 1 hour. You just have to poke them with a fork to see if they are tender yet. It is best to segregate your squirrels by age for cooking, so they will take the same time to get done. Same if you freeze them, old with old, young with young, and mark the package accordingly. And it is best to freeze them in a ziploc in water, which protects them from freezer burn.
playin' hookey is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 10:14 PM   #15
teeroux
Senior Member
 
Join Date: December 12, 2006
Posts: 1,494
Squirrel is the best meat in the woods unless its a 40 of pine.
teeroux is offline  
Old January 22, 2012, 11:32 PM   #16
chewie146
Senior Member
 
Join Date: October 25, 2010
Location: New Mexico
Posts: 853
The little reds out here in NM are great tasting with a good hint of pine nut. The big Aberts are less flavorful--more akin to dove with a lot of darker meat. The little reds taste like pinon.
chewie146 is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 01:03 AM   #17
deerslayer303
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 10, 2011
Location: Leesville SC
Posts: 1,392
Quote:
as for hunting them which so you recommend? a .22, or a .410?
A .22 or .410 will certainly do the job, but they will mess the little guys up. I use a plain old Crossman Powermaster with a good 4x scope on it, shooting regular copper plated BB's. A pellet rifle is also deadly on the bushy tails. And I also find that the bb gun don't scare the rest of them off as much as the dead silence you get after you crack off a shotgun.
deerslayer303 is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 01:07 AM   #18
deerslayer303
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 10, 2011
Location: Leesville SC
Posts: 1,392
As far as eating squirrel, I was raised on wild game. As mentioned above my Dad would par boil them then fry them in this gigantic cast iron pan then make his own gravy from the drippings and let them simmer in that for a few hours. And GOOD GARDEN PEAS was it delicious! My Dad still to this day has feeders around his property for the bushy tails. There is more squirrels out there than you can shake a stick at. When he wants one he just walks out on the back porch with his ANCIENT stevens .410 bolt action single shot, and in the pot they go.
deerslayer303 is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 01:26 AM   #19
farmerboy
Junior member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2009
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 1,343
Yep I still eat them alot. I live in Buffalo, Tx. We have tons of them. Cat squirrels and fox squirrels.
farmerboy is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 09:05 AM   #20
huntinaz
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 21, 2010
Location: az
Posts: 1,015
One of my favorite meats as well. I like it much better than rabbit. Fun to hunt too. I have numerous firearms all but dedicated to squirrel hunting.
__________________
"Once you quit hearing sir and ma'am, the rest is soon to follow." - Cormack McCarthy
"Feed me, or feed me to something. I just want to be part of the food chain." -Al Bundy
huntinaz is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 12:43 PM   #21
Doyle
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 20, 2007
Location: Starkville, MS
Posts: 5,100
Quote:
How do you tell the tasty squirrels from the not so tasty ones? I might be hunting squirrel in a few weeks, the only ones I see are gray.
Much depends on what they've been eating. Squirrel from an all-pine forrest will taste nasty. Those who are from an acorn-rich area will taste great.
Doyle is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 01:07 PM   #22
Pahoo
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 16, 2006
Location: IOWA
Posts: 5,764
Squirrels vary ???

Quote:
How do you tell the tasty squirrels from the not so tasty ones?
Yes, as stated, it all depends on what they are eating. Here in the Midwest, they mostly eat Hickory, Black Walnuts, Acorns and quite often, will drag an ear of corn from an adjoining field. The do have a pecking order on what they eat but will settle for what's available..

Quote:
Yep I still eat them alot. I live in Buffalo, Tx. We have tons of them. Cat squirrels and fox squirrels.
Now,
I'm seeing a lot of replies on regional squirrels and for; farmboy, what in the heck, is a Cat Squirrel??
Also, for; When hunting in Alabama, noticed that their squirrels had different markings and colors but they were still calling them Fox squirrels. The were also bigger than our Midwest Fox Squirrel. ....

Be Safe !!!
__________________
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
Pahoo is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 01:38 PM   #23
farmerboy
Junior member
 
Join Date: May 16, 2009
Location: Central Texas
Posts: 1,343
cat squirrels are grey squirrels, fox squirrels are reds. cats are smaller, more tender and run like the wind, foxs will just hide on a limb and are easy to shoot, are bigger and alittle tougher when theyre really mature. if you get a cat squirrel corned in a tree and he cant go to another tree he will dive out of the top, bouce twice and away he goes. you have to have a shotgun and be really fast but both are great fun, and eat really good.
farmerboy is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 08:29 PM   #24
misterE
Senior Member
 
Join Date: March 3, 2009
Location: Benton, Arkansas
Posts: 187
Sqirrel and dumplins is definitely the way to go. I eat this 4 or 5 times every winter. Never stopped squirrel hunting. After we tag out on deer, squirrel hunting begins in my family. Some of us get a sick maybe satisfaction out of shooting those squirrls that pestered us on the deer stand. But really, I'm 32 and we've always deer hunted, but here in Arkansas, my dads generation and for sure my grandpas had no deer to hunt. All of their game for the table was small game so it's always been a traditional family thing to hunt squirrel.
misterE is offline  
Old January 23, 2012, 09:01 PM   #25
playin' hookey
Member
 
Join Date: August 20, 2011
Location: South Boston, VA
Posts: 44
Squirrels as scouts

If you are stand hunting deer or set up trying to call in a turkey and you hear a squirrel cut loose barking, get ready. He is barking at something and it may well be what you are after. Same goes for pileated woodpeckers.
playin' hookey is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:34 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.14022 seconds with 9 queries