Biscuits are a Squirrel’s Best Friend

February 11th, 2018

Victory is Sweet

My hunting adventures are proceeding well. Today I bagged a third squirrel, and later on, I fried her along with her friends.

The last time I had an opportunity to eat squirrel was probably in the late Seventies. My grandfather either shot some or received some as a gift, and my grandmother fried them. I thought they smelled funny, so I passed. Today I remedied that mistake.

I made a mixture of flour, salt, pepper, paprika, chipotle powder, and garlic powder. The squirrels were all treated in a solution of baking soda and salt, and then I soaked them in buttermilk for a short time. I dredged them in the flour mix and fried them in olive oil (which is what I happened to have) and bacon grease.

I screwed up the first batch and had to re-bread them. The second ones came out much better. I made gravy with the grease, and I also made buttermilk biscuits with half butter and half bacon grease. Then I made gravy.

The squirrels were very nice but not much of a meal. I would say a grey squirrel contains about as much meat as a chicken breast. The meat tastes like the meat you find on a chicken breast alongside the backbone. It’s dark, but the flavor isn’t very strong. It was surprisingly tender.

I think you would need to have two squirrels to make a decent meal for a man.

I’m happy about the results. Squirrel meat is tasty, and it’s rewarding to eat something you killed.

I’m looking at air rifles now. One corner of my property is loaded with squirrels, but it’s close to neighboring houses, and for all I know, some of the neighbors are liberal yankee retirees. I don’t want to get into it with ignorant people who moved here from Long Island. It’s perfectly legal for me to shoot near their property, but northern retirees are idiots about firearms. They wouldn’t know the law, and they might think they were in their rights to waste my time and the time of the local LEO’s. An air rifle will avoid the whole question. No noise. They wouldn’t know what I was doing

It’s hard to choose a rifle. I want something with some power, but I don’t want to spend $700. And if it’s too powerful, it will be an awful lot like the .22 I’m trying to supplement.

The neatest rifles are PCP guns. I forget what PCP stands for, but it means the air is pre-compressed. You don’t have to pump them up every time you fire. You fill them before you go shooting, and you get a large number of shots before you have to pump again.

I don’t want a PCP rifle because it takes forever to pump them manually, and they fill up with moisture that eventually rusts them out. You can drive to a dive shop and get them to fill a scuba tank for you, and then you can use that to fill your gun with dry air, but the pressure in the scuba tank will drop each time you fill the gun, so every refill gives you a different velocity and trajectory. What a pain.

PCP guns are powerful and convenient to use, but who wants a product which is designed to rust out? And I don’t want to spend all day pumping a rifle with air.

You can get around the water problem with desiccants, but it sounds like a hassle.

It looks like the best choice is a spring-powered air rifle that shoots .22-caliber pellets. It will be powerful enough to kill squirrels and even coons, and I won’t have to fool with the Rube Goldberg pump business.

A company named Diana makes a nice .22 that gives a lot of velocity, but it is said that this particular gun ruins scopes. The recoil is too much. Apparently you have to be careful which scope you use with it.

–PAUSE–

I stopped writing last night, and now I’m back.

Yesterday’s squirrel came with an unpleasant lesson. I had learned that I should leave squirrels on the ground after shooting them, to draw out others. This is what I did yesterday. I walked around a bit and came back to get the squirrel. When I looked at it, I was surprised to see movement. It was still breathing.

New lesson: check your game as soon as you shoot it, to make sure it’s not suffering. This won’t prevent me from leaving a squirrel where it lies. I can check it and move on.

I wish I had understood this before I let a live squirrel lie on the ground for 5 minutes. I don’t think it was conscious, because it didn’t react to me, but there is no reason to take a chance. I had to blow its head off.

I have been trying to find out whether I can carry a .22 pistol for the purpose of finishing game off. Game laws can be stupid. In some states, it’s illegal to use a pistol to euthanize a wounded deer. Shooting a wounded deer with a rifle round doesn’t sound smart. It would mess up the carcass, and I don’t know how safe it is to fire a high-powered rifle at the ground at your feet. I also have to wonder if flying bone fragments would be an issue.

Again, air may be the answer. Or at least CO2. A CO2 pistol would finish a squirrel off just fine, and it would be quiet.

I am trying to obey the law, but I can think of 3 illegal things which would have been illegal had I done them. Not saying I did these things. Always the lawyer, and there are at least two people from my past who can’t get over rejection, and who probably read my blog every day and would be happy to try to have me cited. Some people never move on and get lives. I’m not saying I did the illegal things. But I did consider them.

I thought about putting some peanuts down to see if they would attract squirrels. I had done my best to research the law on baiting squirrels, and I had found nothing. I eventually turned up an applicable law. You can’t shoot animals near food (other than crops) unless the food was there 6 months before the season opened. What? I don’t understand it, either. Anyway, I will not be putting peanuts out in the future. At least until March 5, after the season closes. Then I’m putting up a permanent feeder!

I plan to put it at a nice distance from the back of the house so I can sit in my yard and make 75-yard shots with a scope. In Florida, it’s perfectly legal to shoot from your house. You can put a sandbag on your dining room table and shoot deer through the window.

There was an incident in which I could have fired some shotgun pellets over some woods belonging to a neighbor. In Florida, you can shoot in your front yard in the suburbs if you want, but you can’t send a projectile onto someone else’s property. I’m sure no one would care about a few spent pellets up here, but I don’t want to get in the habit of ignoring the hunting laws.

The third thing, well, why talk about it?

Game laws are often counterintuitive, so you almost have to be a lawyer to know what you’re doing. I am a lawyer, and I made mistakes, even after reading up.

The other day I shot at a squirrel and stunned it, and it came down and stared at me from maybe 10 feet up. I was out of rifle rounds, so I just stared back. I had a pistol in my pocket, and it would have been easy to draw and kill the squirrel, but I didn’t do it. For one thing, it didn’t occur to me. For another, the pistol holds 11 rounds. My understanding is that you are limited to 5 in Florida. But what if it held 5? Would it have been okay to shoot? I don’t know.

I am wondering if I should get camo or a blind. Sometimes the squirrels hide, and sometimes they pay no attention to me at all. Do they really know what I am, or is their behavior random? Hard to say. I thought about getting a ghillie suit just for fun. Easier to move than a blind.

No hunting yet today. If anything happens, I will update you.

7 Responses to “Biscuits are a Squirrel’s Best Friend”

  1. Cliff Elam Says:

    So, if you are using a scuba tank to fill up an air rifle you would have an 80 ft^3 tank at, say, 3,000 lbs.

    The air would have zero humidity in it so no rust, just FYI. Be sure to buy a tank that’s been visually inspected (no rust) and is in age for pressure testing. Or get one that’s out of age and is only filled to 2K.

    In either case you’ll need something (a regulator) to step the pressure down to fit whatever the air rifle needs.

    In any case, I suspect that the air rifle will also use a regulator to take the in-gun tank air from, say, 150cc’s @ 500psi to 100psi and 1cc per shot.

    Long story, I suspect you’d get a couple of hundred refills from a scuba tank before you had to haul it down to the dive shop for a $10 refill.

    Oh, and you can “lease” commercial air cylinders at 6Klbs for 150ft^3 of air for not very much, and they will do the swap for you. This air will also be dry.

    Good luck!

    -XC

  2. Juan Paxety Says:

    I have a .22 breakbarrel pellet rifle. One pump per shot. Use the heavier lead pellets and they don’t go supersonic. You get little noise and enough mass to kill.

  3. lauraw Says:

    Guy I knew came from a big Italian family, and they were constantly shooting squirrels. They addressed the gameyness by simply tucking the squirrels into the pot of tomato sauce bubbling all Sunday morning.

    Did your salt and baking soda treatment remove all the gameyness? I know it’s a flavor that people accustomed to hunting savor, but we don’t all come from that background.

  4. Ron Says:

    Before I found the pleasure of the “Spring-air” rifle, I was hunting squirrels in Iowa using .22 long rifle hollow point ammunition. Then I bought some.22 short hollow point and found they do an excellent job, especially with head shots and if you are “still hunting”, that is, sitting quietly under a tree and waiting for the squirrels to forget you are there (takes about 20 minutes of no movement on your part) these little .22 short hollow point rounds are very effective. Quiet, too. I recently bought some on line from a vender “cheaper than dirt”. The .22 short hollow point are a little hard to find, but I think you should try one box to see what you think. Good luck hunting.

  5. Steve H. Says:

    Cliff, you may not have noticed, but I mentioned the dry nature of scuba air. According to air rifle nuts on the web, the actual number of refills you get from one tank is more like 20 than a couple of hundred.

    Laura, the squirrels didn’t taste gamy to me. Baking soda works wonders on pigs, and it looks like it works for squirrels too. I need to start cleaning them outside the house, though, because they definitely stink before they’re brined, and the stink seems to linger in the air.

    Ron, my .22 only takes long rifle. Thanks for the suggestion, though.

  6. lauraw Says:

    Yeah, when I cleaned a wild rabbit from my yard I did it outdoors and with disposable vinyl gloves on. The kind you get from restaurant supply places.

    The rabbits are ridiculously plentiful and destructive here. If I took the time to create a proper hygienic cleaning station out there instead of a table built out of 2x4s maybe I would try to get more backyard coney. Especially now that I know baking soda probably draws out the gameyness. Yay!

    An aside; there were residues in the yard after we dispatched that rabbit. He peed a stream when I picked him up. Plus, the stuff I hosed off of the table when I was done. That night, coyotes came up to right under my bedroom window, sniffing around and singing. Maybe you can use this knowledge.

  7. JayNola Says:

    With deer you generally make sure by sitting their throats. Squirrel you break their neck. At least in my experience.

Leave a Reply; Comments are Moderated and Not All Are Posted. Keep it Clean.

*