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Old July 18, 2016, 11:27 AM   #1
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Ethics of Squirrel Hunting

I gave up hunting several years ago for a variety of reasons and mentioned to a coworker how I missed it. One issue was that I never ate the meat and it just seemed wasteful. My friend then suggested I consider squirrel hunting which has a fairly long season and high daily limit in Georgia. He then went on to tell me he simply shoots them and leaves them where they fall since he has no use for the meat. His reasoning was that scavengers will benefit more from the carcass he leaves behind than if he bags them and tosses the bag in a dumpster.

So, do you think it is ethical to shoot even squirrels and simply leave them laying dead on the ground? Initially I thought it seemed wrong, but then I sort of understood his reasoning. However, now I’m just not sure. If you shoot squirrels do you gather them up? If you have no desire to eat them do you just toss them in the trash? Also, since there is a daily limit does the law require you to collect the dead squirrels?

Please let’s avoid any anti-hunting rants.
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Old July 18, 2016, 11:50 AM   #2
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If there is a season and a hunting license is required I think a game warden would consider it wasteful and would give you a fine and lecture
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:08 PM   #3
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Not good !!!

His reasoning was that scavengers will benefit more from the carcass he leaves behind than if he bags them and tosses the bag in a dumpster.
Well, with all due respect, your "Friend" is a bit short on ethics, if not completely wrong. The law list this as Wanton Waste and comes with a fine. Your personal hunting code, is telling you that this is not right. Personally I do not hunt with folks that I classified as poachers. ......

Don't get me wrong, there are time when I bend the rules and at one time, I was a poacher. That is the primary reason I got into teaching Hunting Ethics. ..

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Last edited by Pahoo; July 18, 2016 at 12:15 PM.
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:18 PM   #4
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I always clean them and make squirrel gumbo or squirrel gravy. I know a lot of people who enjoy squirrel very much and lots of other folks who have never had it are curious enough to try it if you cook some for them. It may not be rabbit, raccoon, or venison but it is still a distinctive meat. Surely you know someone who likes squirrel. Why not just give it to someone who likes it. You can always freeze the meat until you have a dozen or so for a batch of gumbo. I once served gumbo to a dozen folks (30 squirrels), only one of whom had ever had it. The shrimp gumbo I served that evening as well was, admittedly, more popular.
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:37 PM   #5
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I'm sure there are plenty of elderly people within a close drive that would love to have them. They may even offer you a seat at their table when they cook them. My kids absolutely love squirrel meat. I boil it til tender, pull all the meat off the bone then put the meat in a gravy. A pot of mashed potatoes or rice and they are happy. This is also why I have two squirrel dogs. One that is crippled and loves to hunt with my kids and the other a younger dog that my kids can't keep up with.

Another idea would be to find a young hunter that will go with you. Plenty of young men and women would love a chance to hunt. I'm sure their parents or grandparents will help find a good place for the meat to go.
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:39 PM   #6
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Seem there's probably a fine line where I agree and disagree with the guy that leaves the animals in the field.

Ok so here's my stance. My parents live in Norther Michigan where red squirrels are pests that burrow in their house and rip out the insulation. On the 8 acres of their wooded yard a red squirrel is a dead squirrel. I believe michigan rates them as rodents. They are small and depending on the gun used could be of little use. But there are a lot of predators around and if you put the squirrel out in the open it would be gone in under 30 minutes.

If there is a red squirrel anywhere else it can go as it pleases but in this yard they are pests.

As for the other squirrels out there.. Grays, Blacks, Fox... I shoot those and eat them.
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:41 PM   #7
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I don't know where or what "The ATL (OTP)" is but most states have laws against wanton waste, which would include both leaving them in the field, AND throwing them in the dumpster.

The reason squirrels have a season and a bag limit is to prevent indiscriminant extermination because they are a valued game animal and food source. If that is your purpose, I would suggest looking up "varmints" in "The ATL (OTP)" game laws, which are pests that need to be exterminated, and stop throwing the food that hunter covet into landfills or feeding it to scavengers.

Your friend is partially right in that carcasses feed a lot of other wildlife, and are better left in the field than thrown into a landfill, but it is very unethical to shoot quality food game animals for the purpose of feeding scavengers, and denying them to hunters with better ethics. If you are going to shoot them, then dress them, and find somebody who would enjoy quality meat.
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:42 PM   #8
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This question is probably close to the coyote debate. I've heard of people that shoot coyotes and leave them in the field. Most people skin them out but I don't think I ever heard of anyone eating them. But someone must.
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:51 PM   #9
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had a squirrel up on my gutter a few times ,finally shot it , was pregnant ,and left it in the road so the bald eagle could get it ,on way back from town carcass was gone......felt bad bought a trap have caught 8 and released them near corn field
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:52 PM   #10
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"...he simply shoots them and leaves them..." That'd be illegal here. Tree rats are considered game animals. Can't find anything in Georgia's hunting regs one way or the other. Wanton waste is about migratory birds. Not that it's ok to pitch any game meat.
However, varmints, like ground hogs, crows, fox, coyotes and a few other beasties, are not. Still requires a hunting licence.
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Old July 18, 2016, 12:55 PM   #11
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I do share my kills !!!

I'm sure there are plenty of elderly people within a close drive that would love to have them.
Very good option and normally I do not hunt anything to give it away. Some states have programs called; Feed-The-Hungry and they actually have food pantries as well as processors that are part of this program. I personally do not participate in these programs but won't fault those that do. ....

I had an old friend that use to hunt squirrels as he and his wife really enjoyed them. He got long in the tooth and could no longer hunt. He asked me if by chance, I ever had any squirrels I did not want, he would take them and willing to pay me. About a week later, I delivered three cleaned and frozen squirrels to his home. Again, offered me some money which I declined. Later he gave me a box of shells and that was fine. I just wish he was still around to do this favor for he and his wife. .....

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Old July 18, 2016, 01:21 PM   #12
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To shoot them and leave them on the ground is wasteful and in my state get you a fine if caught. His comment about shooting them and they will feed a predator is dead wrong, pardon the pun. Predators sharpen their hunting skills by catching prey. Providing them easy meats deadens their skills and they will resort to hanging around humans that provide them free food. This is why it is illegal to feed gators, bears and such. Also predators tend to kill the infirm and sick. Your friend doesn't do this. He randomly kills health or sick animals without regard. For all he knows he might kill the Einstein of the rodent world. random kills can weaken a native population.

I would follow your initial instincts and only kill what you eat or what you can provide others to eat.
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Old July 18, 2016, 01:58 PM   #13
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I am definitely not a hunter, but absolutely not because I am against or opposed to hunting. Quite the opposite -- I passionately support hunting for all the right reasons, but I was never mentored as a hunter and given my schedule and lifestyle (among other things) it is basically "too late in the game" now to become one. With that said, I do an annual prairie dog hunt out west, with a non-resident license to do so, research and follow every single nuance of the laws surrounding it, and am also basically prohibited from touching or otherwise doing anything whatsoever with the ones that I kill and there is no limit.

It requires a license and it is loosely termed "hunting", but realistically, we are target shooting and very purposefully killing moving targets. However, there is a laundry list of reasons that folks hunt prairie dogs and most around these parts are familiar with those reasons.

I've had a friend casually tell me that we'll go squirrel hunting some time and I have already agreed to it, but he's fully planning on cooking something with the meat. If he were not or weren't able, I'd be opting out. I am also looking forward to trying this food but I kind of think I'm not going to care much for the taste.

To be completely honest, I find most all manners of hunting extremely interesting and compelling, I truly do... but not enough to wish to go (well) out of my way to become a hunter. But I quietly wait for some real, hardcore hunter to invite me along on a hunt, if even with a camera or simply to enjoy the experience. Assuming the logistics worked, I'd be raring to go.
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Old July 18, 2016, 06:11 PM   #14
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Maybe it's just a tie back to my youth, but if I could only hunt one critter, it would be squirrels. I truly enjoy hunting them, long seasons, liberal bag limits, no pressure if yiu don't kill any, some of the greatest fall days ever created, and delicious too. While I have no problems with shooting things like prairie dogs or mangy coyotes and leaving them lay, I would not spend a second day with someone who did that with even small game. Reducing issues with them chewing on homes, gardens and car wiring, no problems I would prefer someone eat them but removing them is the main issue. Do you simply not like the ideal of eating any wildlife at all, or just squirrels? Maybe give them a try. If you truly don't want to eat any wildlife that is fine, either find someone who wants them or stick to target shooting, which is also fine.
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Old July 18, 2016, 06:23 PM   #15
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Regarding hunting and shooting, I grew up with the rule of "don't kill it unless you are gonna eat it".

Guess I am still that way to a great extent.

I will admit that I have never killed a skunk or a porcupine cause I did not think they would taste that good.

I guess that you guys up north would puke if someone cooked up a batch of prairie dogs or whatever sort of vermin that you shoot up there.

By the way, I did grow up eating everything that I killed...even possum.
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Old July 18, 2016, 07:04 PM   #16
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And don't forget to cut off the tails and send them to MEPPS. They'll pay for them as they use for fishing lures.
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Old July 18, 2016, 07:08 PM   #17
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Strikes me as wrong to kill any sort of edible-meat animal and just go off and leave it, other than in rare instances such as the pregnant squirrel mentioned above.

Predatory critters around farm or ranch, to me is a different matter entirely. That's more in line with self-defense. Let the buzzards do the re-cycling. : )
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Old July 18, 2016, 07:11 PM   #18
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I've never tried my hand at squirrel hunting. Besides stews and gumbo, what are some of the other popular preparations?

Oh, and I while I am not beneath some pest extermination, walking through the woods and leaving the game on the ground would not be that.
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Old July 18, 2016, 07:23 PM   #19
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It's illegal in GA to not make a reasonable effort to retrieve a game animal you shoot, even squirrel. It is not illegal if you leave non-game animals such as coyote or feral hogs. If you don't want all of the meat you'd be surprised at how many others would be quite happy to take it.
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Old July 18, 2016, 07:35 PM   #20
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Field dressing is also part of the hunt !!!

He then went on to tell me he simply shoots them and leaves them where they fall since he has no use for the meat.
There are many folks who claim to be hunters when they are poachers and killers. You see local incidents where this is quite common. They come up with all kinds of excuses and in most cases, they don't know how to field dress anything as it's too much work. I always clean my squirrels, in the woods, bring home the meat in plastic bags. Whatever is left, in the woods, I gladly share with God's other creatures. .......

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Old July 18, 2016, 07:45 PM   #21
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There is not much squirrel hunting where I live.

But,in the same light as bird hunting,I believe you are missing out on something.

Pick up the squirrels,take them home,skin and dress them.I've never cooked squirrel,but I might start by brining them a day.

Then you and your buddy figure out how to make and enjoy a great meal together with them.

Add them to a ragu,or braise them in Guinness with carrots and garlic,???I don't know,I just made those up.

Making a great meal and having a few beers with the friend completes the circle. And that is what you are wasting.

It IS the answer to your question.
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Old July 18, 2016, 08:20 PM   #22
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When I was young we lived in the piney woods of eastern Oklahoma. Dirt poor. My father, with me tagging along, would hunt grey squirrels. Mother made squirrel and dumplings many times for us 8 kids to eat. I remember it being very tasty! Wish I had that recipe now.
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Old July 18, 2016, 08:44 PM   #23
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Like frog legs, squirrel is a lot of work for the meat.

I've trapped and killed a number of pest squirrels that made it into live traps in my garage and garden. I've been informed by local law enforcement and wildlife officers that consuming their meat out of season constitutes poaching, hunting inside city limits, or similar and they must be thrown away. Doesn't make any sense to me, but I'm not going to take the chance on losing my hunting rights over a lonely squirrel. I think city squirrels do a lot of dumpster diving, so I am not too excited about eating them anyways.

I wouldn't "hunt" them in the woods if I wasn't going to eat them. I am not sure what the point would be if they are not being a nuisance, and if a squirrel in the treetops of the woods is a nuisance I guess we should just pave the place over.
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Old July 18, 2016, 08:58 PM   #24
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Game law interpretation of waste aside, squirrels are sort of on the line between game and varmint as with many small destructive vermin. There's plenty of folk that would toss a groundhog or a chicken coop raiding raccoon carcass without a thought, even though they have plenty of (sometimes nasty) meat on them.
Me, I always end up killing squirrels, skinning and dressing them, and tossing them in the freezer. Then I forget about them till they're nasty and freezer burned. Then I make terrible Brunswick stew out of them, covering up the terrible flavor with excessive spices. It's a poor practice, but my family mostly disdains squirrel meat right out of the tree.
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Old July 18, 2016, 09:49 PM   #25
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Seems like a real waste to me. And ignorant of the law.

Brother Squirrel possesses a nice flesh with a smooth flavor. It isn't fair to him to kill him only to leave his life energy on the forest floor. I FIRMLY believe in eating what you kill, unless it's a damaging pest. If it's a sweet animal like Brother Squirrel or Brother Deer, they deserve to get eaten.

I know this is weird, but one of my dreams in life is to die (hopefully peacefully) and then get returned to the Earth in the form of buried fertilizer or fresh meat for a wild (NOT ZOO) animal. I think it's the circle of life, I want my nutrients to go back to nature.

I think if Brother Squirrel could talk, he would say the same.
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