Hunting for small game is an exciting hobby. Learning how to clean your small game will make you a more well-rounded hunter and will also improve your enjoyment of the sport, no matter are you using a rifle, bow, or a crossbow.
There are many different types of small game that you can hunt year round and can be found just about anywhere in the United States. Like many other hunters, hunting small game was my first introduction into hunting as a sport.
It is essential that along with gun safety we also teach the novice hunter how to clean and eat what we harvest. This to me is the most important and enjoyable part of the hunt.
This article will cover one technique that works well with most small game. I will not go into game birds in this article, but this technique works well with rabbit, raccoon, groundhog, and squirrel as well as various other similar small game.
To clean small game, you will only need your pocket knife. The knife does not even need to be very sharp since you will only use it to cut a small piece of the soft tissue behind the neck and tail.
Start by pinching the animal’s loose skin behind the top of its neck, or in the middle of its back. When you have the skin pinched in one hand use the other to make a small cut with the knife. Then grab the skin with one hand on either side of the incision and pull in opposite directions toward the head and neck. The skin will peel off easily.
At the tail pull the skin back around the base and cut the tail off with skin attached. Pull the skin down around the feet and remove the feet. Next, pull the skin over the head and down around the front feet. Remove the head and front feet. Now you have skinned the animal. The next step is to simply place your fingers inside the animal and pull out the insides. Place them directly into a cooler after cleaning.
This technique is simple and will take no time to get used to. It is best to clean these small game animals in the field, but delay rinsing them until you are back at the house and are ready to freeze or cook. Many tasty recipes for small game are available on the web, and the meat will save for a long time in the freezer. So enjoy your hunt and pass on a long tradition of hunting enjoyment to a friend or young enthusiast. Please be safe.