Saturday, September 27, 2014

It's That Time of Year Again





Squirrel season opened up again around here and I noticed a few trucks parked along the National Forest land areas and a couple of hunters stopping in down at the gas station. One in particular said it was a good year for em.

We have two kinds in pretty much equal amounts in this part of Missouri. The smaller Gray ones as you see above and the larger Fox Squirrel pictured below.


As a kid and an early teenager I couldn't wait for the opening of squirrel season. I would be up bright and early carrying my little Mossberg 51M .22 rifle. I would sneak into a section of the woods I knew was just full of squirrels and find a convenient log or tree to put my back on and just wait for the little buggers to come to me.

It never really took very long and even after bagging one there wasn't much of a wait before I heard the scurrying SSSHHHHISKK SHSSSISK of another squirrel foraging around in the leaves.

I would bag 3 or 4 of them and then walk over to my Grandparent's house because there was only one other person on earth who was more excited about the opening of squirrel season than I and that was my Grandfather.



Sure as the sun had come up there he would be sitting on the porch waiting. The first thing he would do as he took the little tree rats from me is check to see where I had hit them. See that area right under the ear in the above picture where the different colored fur from the cheek meets the fur on the side of the body? That curved section? That was the target spot and it had to be done with a .22 no shotguns allowed. Why? Because the nasty old man....

ATE THE DAMNED BRAINS LIKE SOME ZOMBIE OUT OF AN OLD MOVIE!!!!

It was friggin disgusting.

OK in all fairness he did cook the brains first somehow. I never bothered to stay around long enough to find out. I do know one year my Grandmother bribed me to not go squirrel hunting for a couple of weekends if that tells you how nasty the entire family found this brain eating concept to be.

Gramps would watch me fumble around cleaning the first squirrel for a while. We always did it out back under the addition they had built on the house. The remains always went into a paper bag (wasn't a lot of plastic around then) and would be delivered to a neighbor who was actually a commercial fisherman on the Missouri river. Believe it or not there were still a few around back then and he would use the offal as bait. Said it was great for catfish and spoonbill.

In very short order Gramps would get annoyed at my slow squirrel cleaning abilities and have the others finished before I got the first one done. I swear that man could clean a squirrel quicker than it took me to pull the trigger on one. He then soaked the bodies in ice water for a while and I went on my merry way. I never took any squirrel home my mother would have thrown it in the garbage.

If there is one critter around these parts that I am convinced will survive a collapse and remain a source for wild meat even after all the other game is killed it's the squirrel. While I remember my Grandfather claiming he rarely if ever saw a deer, turkey or game bird after about 1920 or so, and didn't see em much even before that, he always claimed there was never a shortage of squirrel. Although in typical "walking barefoot in the snow up hill" fashion he did like to claim they were much harder to hunt when he was a kid. According to him those squirrel back then could swoop down and take your throat out like some bunny from a Monte Python skit and not only that they could camouflage themselves better than a Predator fighting Arnold too.

Regardless there were always a lot of them. My guess is that so many of them were in such remote areas that no matter how the hunting pressure grew they always bounced back. I know Grandpa ate a lot of squirrel in his life and claimed for a while it was about the only meat they had at one time for a spell here and there.

I got that Mossberg out this morning. No I didn't go hunting although I did think about it. After a while I oiled her down and put her back. She has a little 2x scope on her these days that my son used when he went through his hunting education course a several years back. I never had the privilege of hunting the little tree rats with a scope before, of course now I don't need to save the brains either. Maybe I will give it a try one of these days.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!!


17 comments:

  1. Had an old uncle who always complained if I shot them in the brain. We would skin the head and he would fry the skull. Then hold the skull in one hand and crack it open with the handle of a butter knife to get the brains out. Nope..never been hungry enough to try it.

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    1. Anon - I know right? The thought simply grossed me out even back then. I fled before he would start cooking them so to this day I have no idea how he did it. Could have been the method you mentioned. I asked my Grandmother once and she even said she didn't stick around to find out but would go read in the furthest room when he was cooking squirrel.

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  2. The husband hunts squirrel. Especiallly when he doesn't get a deer. I don't think I've ever caught him eating their brains, though. He hates zombies...

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    1. XL - I agree with your husband on zombies. I have never been particularly so fond of squirrel I would go hunt them for myself but it isn't so bad that I would pass it up if we needed food to say the least.

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  3. I like the looks of that rifle, never saw one around here. A squirrel brain has to be a little larger than a goat brain from what I have seen of goats. Someone said that they eat goat brains in the middle east, they would have to kill a whole herd to get a cup full. Has to be about the same with squirrels. My grandfather loved squirrels and people used to bring him some after he got too old to hunt. I haven't had one in years and haven't seen any this year though they were eating the garden last year.

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    1. Sf - The Model 51M was made from 39 to 42 I think before the factory was switched over for war production. The rifle I have was actually my dads originally but he gave it to me when I started hunting on my own. I don;t think he ever liked it much for some reason but I suspect it had something to do with the costs of ammo when he was a kid where as by the time I got it .22 rounds were cheap. I used to shoot that thing everyday during the Summer just plinking at stuff.

      And you are correct I would think those brains couldn't have been more than a teaspoon in size I would think. If that.

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  4. Squirrels, rabbits, and Nutrina will always be good eatings.

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    1. K - Never seen Nutrina up here. We get a lot of rabbits but you have to wait until after a few good frosts to keep the vermin down on em before skinning.

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  5. Squirrels do depopulate. I have an Aunt in Shenandoah Valley. The area was becoming less rural when she was moving in, and she said it was about 7 years before they saw a squirrel.

    Our season is mid-Oct. to the end of Feb. We get your two squirrels, plus a red squirrel. They are sometimes called pine squirrels and eat the seeds of conifers as a specialty item. I think we are just outside the edge of their territory as I have never seen one in my local.

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    1. Russ - Well I imagine removal of habitat would do it. I have never seen it done on a large enough scale to say but it makes sense. I try to stay away from areas that are becoming less rural if I can help it :)

      Pine Nut eating Red squirrels hmmmmm. We had ones with big ears when I was in Germany.

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  6. squirrels?? You would need a lot to feed a family??

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    1. Rob - Ina stew one would go a ways. Some of the Fox type get really big actually.

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  7. Grandpas are quirky sometimes, that's why we love them. My great-grandpa really liked pickled pigs feet. He, too, liked squirrel but I don't recall him ever mentioning eating the brains (thank goodness.... the pig's feet was enough!).

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    1. Hobo - Ewww Mine liked pickled pigs feet too. Now you went and reminded me of that as well... Yuck!!!

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  8. I've eaten squirrel, it tasted pretty good really. They've got huge nuts though, I found that a little disturbing! Also when you skin them they do look a lot like a rat! But fed on nuts and berries they're going to taste good I think. Not sure about the brains though - maybe on toast?

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    1. Kev - Well once Grandma admitted he ate the brains whole in some way. I told her I didn't want to know anymore about it and fled.

      Yes squirrel really isn't bad tasting as long as you don't see it skinned before it is cooked :)

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  9. I have never tried eating squirrels...I've seriously thought about it as I picked them off because I was tired of them chewing on everything around my house (including my chain-link-fence).

    I have to admit that I have eaten fish brains. I was eating some fried minnows at a friend's house and was leaving the heads on my plate. My friend told me to eat the heads, that it was the best part. I figured my friend was just trying to see if I would eat the head but I gave it a "so what" and tossed it down the hatch. That truly was the best part of those little crispy minnows.

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