One of three gray squirrels killed during the hunt. The firearm used was a .22 Remington Fieldmaster Model 572. Long cartridges were hard to come by given the current shortage, so .22 shorts were substituted. All three squirrels killed required two shots with the shorts. There's a reason the .22 long is the preferred survival round.
Name the wild game that can meet these requirements:
* Is found abundantly throughout North America
* Has generous hunting seasons
* Is able to sustain high levels of hunting without a population collapse
* Can be hunted using inexpensive rimfire ammunition
* Is high in protein
* Lives in urban, suburban and rural areas
* Has a mild taste that isn’t “gamey”
* Eats only plant matter
* Is easy to hunt compared to most other game
* Requires minimal processing to eat
No, this isn’t the legendary snipe hunt to nowhere. I’m talking about squirrels. It’s time to rethink squirrel hunting.
I know, I know, you’re already cuing the theme song to “Deliverance” in your head. There are plenty of stereotypes about eating squirrel. Throw them away. Look at this small game animal from a self-sufficiency standpoint.
Squirrel Hunting: The Ideal Survival Food
Squirrels are the ideal survival food. They’re everywhere, and it doesn’t take a ton of effort to hunt them. You can use that emergency .22 rifle or handgun. They only need a couple months to reproduce. And unlike rabbits, they’ll sit on a branch and ask you to shoot them.
Cast aside any delusions about relying only on big game during an extended crisis. Any deer hunter knows how perceptive these animals are to human pressure. Now imagine everyone and their brother heading to the woods for dinner. Your odds are better to take the “low-hanging fruit” in your backyard and go squirrel hunting.
I recently went squirrel hunting in Minnesota to experience this for myself. The photos and video chronicle some of the highlights. (Heads up on the video: Yes, there’s some gore, but that’s part of hunting.)
The hunt was also a reminder of my roots, as I’m sure it is for many hunters. Only a few generations ago, my immigrant relatives were dirt poor and eating whatever they could find. It’s no coincidence that my family has a catalog of squirrel recipes. The self-sufficiency they practiced to survive in a new country offers plenty of lessons for today.
Squirrel Hunting in the ‘Burbs
To rural folks, squirrel hunting is nothing new. But if you’re living in urban or suburban areas, take note. This is 100 percent organic, free-range, sustainable protein that will get you to the clear side of a disaster. And you’re living in squirrel central.
Trust me, squeamish urbanites, it’s what you’ll be eating anyway if the SHTF. Better to prepare now. Get your hands on a .17 or .22 rifle and get to squirrel hunting.
How Does it Taste?
Squirrel tastes mild and mellow, without a hint of gaminess. I won’t say it tastes like chicken, but it is pretty close to grouse. The meat is clean on the tongue and finishes smooth. No need to chug a beverage to keep it down.
Preparing the meat is simple. Make a vertical cut down the sides. Pull half the skin off and over the head. Then pull the other half down toward the tail. Chop off the four legs.
It is possible with larger squirrels to cook the whole body. But in most cases, the legs (especially the rear pair) are where the meat is concentrated.
Dredge the legs in seasoned flour, then fry in oil. Eat them just like chicken wings. It doesn’t get any simpler than that.
It’s time to rethink squirrel hunting. Give it a try and discover why it’s the ideal survival food.
Recipes for All Kinds of Wild Game
If squirrel hunting just isn’t your thing, give a try to the recipes in Cooking Game: Best Wild Game Recipes from the Readers of Deer & Deer Hunting. The recipes mostly focus on big game, but there are a few surprises in the mix, too. Best of all, these come with the thumbs up from Deer & Deer Hunting, sister magazine to Living Ready.
Click here to order this wild game recipe book.
About the Author: Ben Sobieck is an online editor for Gun Digest, Living Ready, Tactical Gear and BLADE. His interests include hunting, knives and current events issues.
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