Squirrel hunting season means fresh dinner ideas

All it takes to kill a squirrel is “a little bit of patience and a good aim,” and the result can be one tasty meal, said food writer Jonathan Miles.

With Kentucky in the midst of its squirrel-hunting season, which runs through Feb. 29, those who enjoy the sport can also turn their game into a dinner or two.

“I think it goes back to tradition,” said Miles, a food writer for Field and Stream magazine. “There’s a very long tradition of squirrel hunting in the South.”

After killing the animal, you can skin it like a rabbit and make dinner, Miles said, and then the cook should determine the animal’s age.

“A young squirrel can be cooked just like chicken. The meat is not too tough,” Miles said. “If you have an older squirrel, you need to braise it.”

Frying the squirrel in a pan is a simple, tasty dish that tastes a little stronger than rabbit, and tender like chicken, Miles said.

Another way to prepare squirrel is Brunswick stew, which Miles calls “the ultimate squirrel dish.” Bruswick stew, a southern dish, is a tomato-based stew with lima beans, corn, okra, other vegetables and meat — traditionally squirrel or rabbit.

“If you can’t beat ‘em, eat ‘em,” Miles said.

Some UK students only see squirrels as they walk along paths on campus and root in garbage cans. But others have seen squirrels in a more natural environment.

“Literally, they’re everywhere back home,” said Nolan Taylor, an animal science junior.

Taylor said that he began shooting with his family when he was younger, but that he doesn’t, “go hunting,” on the weekends. Instead, he said growing up he shot squirrels he saw around his house.

“You all hit them with cars, we hit them with guns,” Taylor said.

Ben Robinson, a ranger with the Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources, said the squirrel is an easy animal to begin hunting. He first learned to hunt as a boy with his grandfather showing him how to shoot.

Many weapons can be used to hunt squirrels, Robinson said, including a .22 rifle, a BB gun or even a crossbow.

Squirrels are also good animals to hunt because there are so many in Kentucky, which makes them an easy animal to track, Robinson said.

“It’s a good way to share company with your family, friends,” Robinson said.