Hunting Rabbits and Squirrels newbie question

  • roadrunner0311
    Participant
    Posts: 18
    #2208714

    Hi everyone,

    I’m new here, and a novice to hunting in general.

    I’ve hunted small game before with uncles, but that was when I was a kid. I have also harvested squirrels and rabbits on private back yard property during hunting season.

    The problem is that next season, I want to hunt squirrels and cottontail rabbits on public land, and I need to understand the logistics of it.

    When hunting on private property, I would just harvest the squirrels or rabbits, bring them inside to the kitchen, and skin/gut them on the kitchen counter, and then rinse them in the sink before putting them into a bucket filled with salt water in the fridge.

    If I’m out in public land a mile from my car, what do I do with the rabbit or squirrel once it’s been shot? I would think I would skin/gut them right then and there. But what would I do next? I cant just rinse them where I shoot them. How do I get them back to my car, and then my kitchen?

    I obviously can’t drag a cooler and jugs of water with me wherever I decide to stalk.

    Sorry if this comes across as an extreme newbie question, but there isn’t much info online on these sorts of minutae.

    TH
    Participant
    Posts: 406
    #2208726

    Why wouldn’t you put them in your vest and clean them after the hunt? That’s what you do with pheasants, grouse and ducks. They are fine for hours.

    Tom schmitt
    Participant
    Posts: 854
    #2208733

    If it’s warm out your best method would be to open their gut sack and remove the guts, lungs and heart.
    Leave them lay with the open cavity up to release their heat.
    When you get to your car skin them and put them in an ice cream pale of water.
    They will slosh around in the water on the drive home and be fairly clean by the time you get to the kitchen.
    If it’s cooler out you can skip the gutting part until you get to the car.

    Huntindave
    Participant
    Shell Rock Iowa
    Posts: 2931
    #2208739

    Everyone may do it a bit different. I do what I do because it has worked the best for me over a long hunting span of over 60 plus years.

    I find squirrels can be skinned with much greater ease, while they are still body temperature. So, 1st order of business is to skin the squirrel, then gut them. Then I wipe any excess blood from the body cavity with a small towel. I find the 12 by 12 inch micro-fiber towels sold in the auto dept to be ideal for this. Then the cleaned carcass is slipped into an empty plastic bread sack and put into my waist pack or hunting vest.

    The other side benefit to pausing to take care of the game immediately is, it often leads to harvesting the next squirrel, before I ever take another step. Squirrels are very curious and more than once, I have looked up during the cleaning process to see one or even two squirrels sitting in a tree just watching me and what I’m doing.
    A slow deliberate motion of picking up my gun and taking aim, has resulted in the next victim on the ground, awaiting his turn to be cleaned. mrgreen

    My preffered gun started as a .22 cal Bolt action Marlin, but now I am using a Savage bolt action .17HMR,,,,,,,,, head shots only.

    roadrunner0311
    Participant
    Posts: 18
    #2208743

    Thanks for the advice guys. Solid info. I plan to hunt all day before I get to my car. Just as an idea, do you think it would be a good idea to buy a portable cooler with shoulder straps, filled with ice water, so I can just skin/gut game and toss them in, while still out in the forest?

    roadrunner0311
    Participant
    Posts: 18
    #2208744

    Everyone may do it a bit different. I do what I do because it has worked the best for me over a long hunting span of over 60 plus years.

    I find squirrels can be skinned with much greater ease, while they are still body temperature. So, 1st order of business is to skin the squirrel, then gut them. Then I wipe any excess blood from the body cavity with a small towel. I find the 12 by 12 inch micro-fiber towels sold in the auto dept to be ideal for this. Then the cleaned carcass is slipped into an empty plastic bread sack and put into my waist pack or hunting vest.

    The other side benefit to pausing to take care of the game immediately is, it often leads to harvesting the next squirrel, before I ever take another step. Squirrels are very curious and more than once, I have looked up during the cleaning process to see one or even two squirrels sitting in a tree just watching me and what I’m doing.
    A slow deliberate motion of picking up my gun and taking aim, has resulted in the next victim on the ground, awaiting his turn to be cleaned. mrgreen

    My preffered gun started as a .22 cal Bolt action Marlin, but now I am using a Savage bolt action .17HMR,,,,,,,,, head shots only.

    What kind of bread bags? You mean the long plastic bread bags that loafs of bread come in at the grocery store?

    Huntindave
    Participant
    Shell Rock Iowa
    Posts: 2931
    #2208745

    Thanks for the advice guys. Solid info. I plan to hunt all day before I get to my car. Just as an idea, do you think it would be a good idea to buy a portable cooler with shoulder straps, filled with ice water, so I can just skin/gut game and toss them in, while still out in the forest?

    Guess it would depend on the temps. that day. A soft sided cooler certainly wouldn’t hurt. I try to take heads shots to minimize getting bodily fluids scattered onto the meat. As long as the meat is clean, and the air temps are typical fall temps (60’s or below) I think the meat should be fine with out ice.
    I will say most of my squirrel hunting is after the leaves have fallen, therefore the temps are already getting cool to downright cold.

    Huntindave
    Participant
    Shell Rock Iowa
    Posts: 2931
    #2208746

    What kind of bread bags? You mean the long plastic bread bags that loafs of bread come in at the grocery store?

    Yep, great secondary usage for these bags.

    roadrunner0311
    Participant
    Posts: 18
    #2208762

    Fantastic advice. Really cleared things up for me. You guys are great!

    These ideas really do solve my dilemma.

    John Rasmussen
    Participant
    Blaine
    Posts: 4915
    #2208828

    Good advise above. When we squirrel hunted we would just toss them in the vests or my dad used to carry a leather pouch and toss them in there and wait to clean them when back at the truck. Never had one go bad. We would usually hunt for hours but not an entire day. Funny memory was when one of the squirrels came to in the bad and it started moving around, my dads friend was carrying it at the time and the look on his face was priceless when he said to my dad, hey one of them is still alive! Like Dave mentioned get good enough with a riffle to take only head shots. I haven’t picked up my old 10-22 in a long time but used to be able to hit them in the head from a good distance. This is making me think I should get back out and try it again.

    One last piece about public land and squirrel hunting is be careful out there. The last time I stepped foot in Carlos Avery we had bullets flying around us and bailed out of there, some of the close public land is far from safe with to much pressure and no one else having a clue what should be happening.

    stillakid2
    Participant
    Roberts, WI
    Posts: 4594
    #2210116

    I have public land near me and I only see deer and pheasant hunters using it. I would expect the pressure to be low for small gaming. It will certainly be low if you exercise late season hunting.

    I, like HuntinDave, process my game immediately because it is MUCH easier to do before rigor mortis sets in. Squirrel skin is tough and can test your knife, I suggest doing it long before returning hours later. I waited one time; I’ll never do that again!

    Now, think about this:
    The pioneers never had coolers and sometimes hunted for days bringing meat home. There is a way to do that. But, I have never, ever had meat go bad in my vest pouch from a day’s hunt. It’s been carried with blood on it on several occasions, but cleaner is nicer. If temperature is a concern, either shorten your day or make loops from “basecamp” and return every 2-3hrs, throwing the meat on ice in a cooler. But, as said above, by the time the leaves are dropping, you’ll be in cool enough weather 99% of the time to just carry it.

    I also agree about using the dressing time as another opportunity! I’ve had other animals, including the one I’m dressing out, come into the area while I’m quietly processing. It’s almost predictable! Finding the first one is usually the hardest I’ll work all day. And my main method is still/stalk hunting. Standing and listening more than walking and looking has been a very good strategy for me. When I was a kid, my dad would get mad because I took to long moving through the woods. By age 14, he just turned me loose because I’d get more game than he did. He’d go cut wood or something like that instead.

    I also combine small game hunting with scouting big game quarries. I’ve never had it bite me and a little reward for doing some scouting is a nice reward!

    Good luck and happy hunting!

    robby
    Participant
    Quad Cities
    Posts: 2673
    #2210125

    I have always been taught to and have gutted rabbits immediately upon kill, never did that with squirrels and never have gotten sick because of it.

    Atavar
    Participant
    Posts: 47
    #2240663

    I agree with the statement that squirrels are easier to skin before the meat cools. Once the squirrel cools down it’s like the skin glues itself to the meat.

    If you are worried about bacteria there would be nothing wrong with carrying a baggie of salt and dusting the carcass with it after skinning and gutting. You’re going to brine soak it anyway, right?

    robby
    Participant
    Quad Cities
    Posts: 2673
    #2240790

    I was taught to and have always gutted all rabbits immediately upon harvest. Not the case with squirrels.

Viewing 14 posts - 1 through 14 (of 14 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.