How to Skin a Squirrel

Ray Shrewsberry from Pixabay

I know people who avoid squirrel hunting simply because they don’t know how to skin a squirrel. Compared to a rabbit, a squirrel is difficult to skin. The traditional method involves cutting them across the middle of the back and working the skin off from there. I’ve never been able to clean a squirrel within five minutes like that. The faster method is the one shown in the video below. A friend and neighbor taught me how to skin squirrels like this when I was maybe 10 years old. It took me a few tries to get the hang of it, but once I did, I found that I could skin one fast. My personal record is 40 seconds. Once the skin’s gone, I use game shears to remove all four legs and the “saddle,” which is the backstraps with the bone intact.

Word to the wise before trying this method: it’s easy to either break off the tail or fail to make the proper starting cut down either side of the back legs. If you do either of those things, you’re no better off than if you’d started your cut across the back. If you can avoid them, though, you can have your entire limit on ice just about the time your buddy cutting across the back finishes his second squirrel.

How to Skin a Squirrel in 5 Steps

Step 1) Make a cut at the base of the squirrel’s tail 

Will Brantley

Take a sharp knife and make an incision at the base of the tail. When you hit the tailbone, twist the tail to break it. Run your knife through the tailbone, but don’t cut through the skin. 

Step 2) Skin part of the squirrel’s back

Will Brantley

Keep working the skin away from the squirrel’s back with the blade of your knife until you’re past the back legs. Take the tip of your knife and make a small cut to expose where the back leg meets the body. 

Step 3) Step on the skin flap with your boot

Will Brantley

You should now have a flap of skin with the tail attached hanging off the squirrel’s back. Flip the squirrel on its back and place the heel of your boot on the flap of skin. 

Step 4) Skin the squirrel’s front half

Will Brantley

Grab the squirrel just above the hips with both hands and pull upward while stepping down firmly with your heel. If you’ve done everything right, the skin should start peeling off the body. Keep pulling slowly and steadily until you’ve taken the skin off of the head and front shoulders. 

Read Next: So You Think You’re Serious About Squirrel Hunting?

Step 5) Skin the squirrel’s back legs

Will Brantley

After you’ve pulled the majority of skin off of the squirrel, you’ll still have some on the back legs. find a corner of skin you can get a finger under and pull. You should be able to take the skin off of both legs in one steady motion. If you can’t repeat for the other leg. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How long can I wait to skin a squirrel?

Squirrels stiffen up and are harder to skin the longer you wait. Squirrels can also spoil in hot weather. That said, if you wait until you’re done hunting for the morning or afternoon, you can still skin a squirrel with the method above.

How do you skin a squirrel for pelt?

If you’re trying to save a squirrel hide, you’ll want to do as little damage to the skin as possible. Try using the “tube method,” which is also used on furbearers like coyotes and raccoons. Cut along the inside of each back leg until your incision meets at the base of the tail. Skin around the back legs and down towards the head. Work the rest of the hide off of the animal from back to front. This should leave you with a pelt that resembles a tube.

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